7/2/22  Indy 11 Fireworks Sat 7:30 pm, US U20s Qualify for Olympics Final Sun 8 pm FS1, USWNT Play Mon 7 pm CBSSN, Former CFC Player in Regional Final 4, Ladies Euro’s Start Wed ESPN

USMNT U 20’s Qualify for Olympics 24  – Final Sun 8 pm FS1 vs Dominican Republic

Wow our Boys came to play Friday night – A 3 – 0 THUMPING of Honduras (yes the same country that knocked us out of the Olympics last summer).  So now we are headed to the 2024 Olympic in 2024 in Paris. Check the celebration   It had the local Honduras fans so upset they hurled bottles and debris at youth soccer players.  Well that’s the difference though – now like most countries in Europe – the US had a full complement of Professional Soccer players on the field – 4 from the Philly Union, a few from Dallas, NY Red Bulls – when the DA was formed and then taken over by MLS – the # of US players playing at the U20 has literally tripled.  With MLS new found place as a selling league with millions to be made on the sale of players like Ricardo Pepi, Brendan Aaronson (who’s brother Paxton scored 4 goals in the this tourney including last night) and more.  Its unfathomable that this will be our first Olympics since 2008 when Stu Holden played.  Still what a huge accomplishment by this team to dominate this tournament (like we should).  We honestly should have NO RIVALS in CONCACAF – even Canada and Mexico were eliminated before the round of 4.  Now the US has to finish the business with what should be a pushover game vs the Dominican Republic  – who continue to shock the world with their play in this tourney after a 3-2 PKs win over Guatemala.

US Beats Guatemala Advances to Finals Sunday Night at 8 pm – American Soccer Now
USMNT end Olympics drought, qualify for Paris 2024

Grant Wahl 3 Thoughts on the Win

Indy 11 Men Play at the Mike Saturday 7:30 pm – Fireworks after 

Indy Eleven are back home again to face The Miami FC at Carroll Stadium after a month-long road trip that saw the team go 1W-2L-1D across four matches in the month of June. The Eleven are coming off a 5-0 defeat to San Diego Loyal SC, while Miami fell 3-1 to LA Galaxy II last weekend. Saturday’s match marks the first-ever match for the Boys in Blue on brand-new turf at Carroll Stadium, installed during the team’s road trip in tandem between Indy Eleven and IUPUI. The new playing surface, FieldTurf’s CORE model, is currently the playing surface utilized at five MLS venues. The boys in blue return home Sat, July 2 at 7:30 pm with a fire-works display after so make your plans to be there- tix are just $15 @ indyeleven.com/tickets.

USA Ladies Start CONCACAF Qualifying Mon vs Haiti 7 pm on CBSSN

So obviously the US ladies should finish in the top 4 needed to qualify in Monterey, Mexico– for the World Cup – but with only Canada anywhere close to the level of the US in CONCACAF the US is absolutely expected to win this tournament – even with the mix of new young players that coach A has included along with a sturdy group of veterans.  The games will all be on Paramount plus with occasional CBS Sports Network game like the opener on July 4th at 7 pm ET.  Thurs night the US faces a tougher Jamaica team at 10 pm on Para+, before group play finishes Monday at 10 pm vs home side Mexico again on Para plus.  I do have to say as I watched the US ladies take the field on Tuesday night – the cross section of players made me proud to be an American Soccer Fan !!  African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Gays, Straights, Christians, Muslims,  and the first ever player with a limb difference (missing limb)  Carson Pickett making history.  Makes me Proud. 

Shane’s Starting Line-Up Monday July 4th for Qualifying

Smith/Morgan/Pugh

Horan/ Davis/Lavelle

Fox//Sauerbrunn/cook/O’hara

Naeher

USA Ladies beat Colombia twice

The US Ladies got off to a good start in their final 2 friendlies vs Colombia.  The 3 -0 win on Sunday was impressive with Smith and Pugh streaming down the wings and Smith scoring twice before newcomer Taylor Kornieck scored her first goal in her first ever match.   I thought in both games that the Colombian goalkeeper Perez stood on her head to keep the US at bay – especially in the first  game.  (2nd Game High-lights) The 2nd game had Rapinoe starting on the left with Morgan up top and Purge on the right.  Purge was dangerous but proved why she can’t start as her final touch was just not up to par.  I would say she stands behind Trinity Rodman and of course Smith on the right side now.  Interesting minutes for Kristie Mewis in the #6 role in game 2 – a game which saw Colombia actually get some a few real dangerous shots off on the net.  Not sure Mewis showed she’s as strong as Horan or Fox here moving forward.  I thought Rodman looked good on the wing spot – and Kornieck is definitely a good late sub for the US with her Abby Wambach-like height.  Another huge moment was Carson Pickett becoming the first player with a limb difference to play in a USWNT game

Around the World of Soccer

Of course the Women’s European Championships get underway starting Wednesday on the ESPN family of networks with 2 games a day in the 12 and 3 pm slots (see full schedule in the OBC).  Top world powers France, England and Sweden are among the favorites. Read all about the Summer of Women’s Soccer.

Former Jueventus star and arguably the best defender in a generation Giorgio Chiellini gets welcomed to the 3252 (the fan section at LAFC) at the last game.  He is expected to make his debut along with former Real Madrid and Tottenham man Garreth Bale for El Traffico on Friday Night July 8th 10 pm on ESPN vs the LA Galaxy (must watch TV). 

Former CFC Player in Regional Final 4

Huge Congrats to Former Carmel FC Player Emily Roper who’s 2004 Fire Academy team advanced to the Regional Semi-Finals this week at Grand Park before bowing out.  They were one of just 2 Indiana Teams to make the Semi-Finals. Proud to have joined Carmel FC coach Bill Spencer, along with CFC Coaches Carla and Tom Baker who helped coach her up along the way. 

Women’s European Soccer Pick ‘Em Make picks throughout the Women’s European Championship for a shot at $5,000. Make Your Picks

CHS Boys -2022 Hounds Soccer Camp –July 11-14, 2022  9 am to 11 am $95 per Boys/Girls 8-14 

Carmel High School Girls – 2022 Middle School Camp – 6/7/8th Graders  $90 (includes T-shirt) July 18-21  Murray Stadium  2:30 to 4:30 pm   

I am doing some Goalkeeper Training this Summer with the high school aged – reach out if interested in small group training at inexpensive prices on Thurs. eves shanebestsoccer@gmail.com or 317-748-7174.

BIG GAMES ON TV

Fri, July 1

7 pm FS1                  U20 CONCACAF Semis Guatemala vs Dominican Republic

9 pm FS1                              U20 CONCACAF Semis USA vs Honduras

8:30 pm Para+                   Houston vs KC NWSL

10:30 Para+                         Angel City vs Portland NWSL

Sat, July 2

7 pm Para+                         NY Gotham vs Chicago NWSL

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Toronto vs Seattle 

7:30 pm TV23             Indy 11 vs Miami FC (fireworks)

Sun, July 3

1 pm Univision                  Pumas vs Tijuana

5 pm ESPN+                        NYCFC vs Atlanta

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Cincy vs New England

8 pm FS1                              U20 CONCACAF Final USA vs Dom Republic

Mon, July 4

7 pm CBSSN                        USA Women vs Haiti CONCACAF

Wed, July 6

3 pm ESPN                          England vs Austria  Euro Women’s Cup

Thur, July 7

3 pm ESPN2                        Norway vs Northern Ireland Euro Women’s Cup

10 pm Para+                       USA Women vs Jamaica

Fri, July 8

12 pm ESPN+                     Spain vs Finland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        German vs Denmark Euro Women’s Cup

10 pm ESPN El Traffico LAFC vs LA Galaxy Bale/Chiellini debut

Sat, July 9

12 pm ESPN+                     Portugal vs Switzerland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        Netherlands vs Sweden Euro Women’s Cup

4:30 pm Fox Seattle vs Portland

7 pm FS1 Charlotte vs Nashville SC

Sun, July 10

12 pm ESPN2                      Belgium vs Iceland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN+                        Italy vs France Euro Women’s Cup

Mon, July 11

12 pm ESPN2                      Austria vs N. Ireland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        England vs Norway Euro Women’s Cup

10 pm Para+                       USA Women vs Mexico

Mon, July 11

12 pm ESPN2                      Austria vs N. Ireland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        England vs Norway Euro Women’s Cup

Wed, July 13

12 noon ESPN2 Sweden vs Switzerland

3 pm ESPN2 Netherlands vs Portugal

8 pm ESPN Minn United vs Sporting KC

10 pm FS1 LA Galaxy vs San Jose

Thur, July 14

7 or 10 pm Para+          CONCACAF Women’s Semis USA?

Mon, July 18

7 or 10 pm Para+          CONCACAF Women’s Finals USA?

 Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

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US Men U20’s Olympics on Line Fri night FS1

USMNT Qualifies for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia

The U.S U-20’s down Ticos 2-0 to qualify for the World Cup, now eye Olympics

Paxten Aaronson thriving in advanced role with USMNT U-20’s

USMNT U-20’s down Costa Rica to clinch World Cup berth

SBI USMNT U-20 Man of the Match: Paxten Aaronson

Quinn Sullivan scoring in bunches at CONCACAF U-20 Championship

US U2o Game Report

 Mexico Loses in Shootout to Guatemala

U.S. Under-20 men’s national team roster

GOALKEEPERS: Gabriel Slonina, Gavin Beavers, Alex Borto, Chris Brady, Juan Carrera, Emmanuel Ochoa, Xavier Valdez.

DEFENDERS: Noah Allen, Justin Che, Brandan Craig, Mauricio Cuevas, Jonathan Gomez, Marcus Ferkranus, Alexander Freeman, Quembol Guadalupe, Michael Halliday, Kobi Henry, Jalen Neal, Serge Ngoma, Jaziel Orozco, Kevin Paredes, Kayden Pierre, Devan Canton, Caleb Wiley, Thomas Williams, Josh Wynder.

MIDFIELDERS: Paxten Aaronson, Alejandro Alvarado Jr, Esmir Bajraktarević, Zach Booth, Javier Casas, Caden Clark, Daniel Edelman, Jackson Hopkins, Tarun Karumanchi, Luca Koleosho, Daniel Leyva, Diego Luna, Jack McGlynn, Moses Nyeman, Nathan Ordaz, Rokas Pusktas, Quinn Sullivan, Nikolas Tsakiris, Obed Vargas, Tyler Wolff.

FORWARDS: Darren Yapi, Dantouma Toure, Dante Sealy, Malick Sanogo, Oluwakorede Osundina, Kristian Fletcher, Damion Downs, Cade Cowell, Ange Bohui.

USA Women

The USWNT Concacaf roster

Goalkeepers: Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).

Defenders: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit).

Midfielders: Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).

Forwards: Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC).


USWNT on-field victories tempered by post-Roe world

USWNT’s Carson Pickett becomes first player with a limb difference to appear on national team

USWNT TAKEAWAYS: LINEUP ROTATION, QUESTIONS AT THE SIX, AND MORE AS THE U.S. HEADS TO MEXICO JUNE 29, 2022 BY ARIANNA CASCONE

VLATKO’S TENURE, A NEW GENERATION, AND TACTICS: YOUR GUIDE TO THE USWNTBY JOSEPH LOWERY Backheeled.com

USWNT DEPTH CHART: POSITION GROUPS AND PLAYER ANALYSIS
Sophia Smith scores twice as USWNT beats Colombia, extends home streak

USWNT edges Colombia in final World Cup Qualifying tune-up

USWNT vs. Colombia – The USA has to overcome another defensive effort on the way to a 2-0 win

USWNT overcomes early struggles in 3-0 victory over Colombia

How Alex Morgan, Liz Cambage and Ali Krieger are solving a problem facing women in sports   LA Times
New Angel City forward Sydney Leroux says Kobe Bryant taught her to ‘never soften’

Orlando and US Defender Carson Picket makes a young fans night!

Women’s Soccer Euro’s

Women’s Euros big questions: England or Spain to win it all? Or will Netherlands, Germany go on a run? Bill Connelly
England’s White eyes Euro glory to cap glorious career

Team by Team Guide to the Euro’s – 90min.com

Switzerland 0-4 England: Player ratings as Lionesses win final pre-Euro 2022 friendly

 How Sweden went from underdogs to Euro 2022 favourites

Euro 2022 kit ranking: Which team has Europe’s best jerseys?

Read all about the Summer of Women’s Soccer

Women’s European Soccer Pick ‘Em Make picks throughout the Women’s European Championship for a shot at $5,000. Make Your Picks

US Men

STEFFEN VS. TURNER: THE USMNT GOALKEEPER DEBATE TAKES ANOTHER TURN
USMNT striker Jordan Pefok bought by Union Berlin

Steffen Loaned to Middlesbrough in Championship from Man City

Yunus Musah, Joe Scally among Americans Abroad set to play for new managers

Rounding up moves for USMNT players Chris Richards, Tyler Adams, and Zack Steffen  By Parker Cleveland

Your Guide to World Cup Stadiums for 2026 –  MLS
How Kansas City became the 2026 World Cup’s most unlikely host city

Musah and Aaronson Bond

MLS

Bale to LAFC in non-DP blockbuster, Atlanta woes, wild Philly-NYCFC game, and more
LAFC confirms 12-month Bale deal with options through 2024
 

READINGS FROM THE MLS SURPRISE-O-METER ON GARETH BALE, CINCY, AND MORE
CTE diagnosed in ex-MLS player Scott Vermillion, a first for league

First known case of CTE in American pro soccer diagnosed in brain of former MLS player Scott Vermillion

LAFC ‘perfect for me’ — Chiellini

Voting open for 2022 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target

Power Rankings: Philadelphia Union leapfrog NYCFC after Week 16

Leagues Cup Showcase to feature FC Cincinnati, Nashville SC, Real Salt Lake against Liga MX clubs

MLS midseason awards: 2022’s best players and coach so far
Carlos Vela re-signs with LAFC through 2023 season

Gareth Bale may need MLS and LAFC more than they need him

Sacramento Republic beat MLS’ Galaxy to reach Open Cup semifinal

WORLD

Romelu Lukaku loaned back to Inter Milan
Man City agree deal for Leeds midfielder Phillips: reports

As English soccer player Jake Daniels finds acceptance, others will follow | Opinion

 REFFING This Crazy Game

Female referee at men’s World Cup wants the game to shine

Ref Question    Whats the Right Call

Funny Mike Dean Story – EPL Ref who just retired

Goalkeeping

Manuel Neuer Legendary Saves

Juve’s Gigi Buffon Amazing Saves

Liverpool/Brazil Alisson Great Saves

Ochoa Great Saves

Mike Magee – Field Player GOALKEEPER

Indy 11

PREVIEW | INDVMIA

RECAP | SD 5:0 IND

USLW RECAP | ZOO 0:1 IND

Indy 11 Park Announced

Indy 11 Park

Indy 11 Bike Night & Fireworks July 2

Familiar foes Honduras, U.S. meet again for Olympic berth U20s World Cup Qualifying

Published on 30 Jun 2022 / Updated on 30 Jun 2022 at 19:11

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – A familiar scene will take place on Friday night at the Estadio Morazan in San Pedro Sula, as host nation Honduras take on the United States in the semifinals of the 2022 Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championship.

Both sides secured their place in the 2023 FIFA Men’s Under-20 World Cup in Indonesia with victories in their respective quarterfinals, but now a very big reward awaits the winner of Friday’s duel: A place in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

It will mark the third straight time in which a Honduras-U.S. semifinal match-up will determine an Olympic spot. The Catrachos emerged victorious in the previews two encounters, a 2-0 win in the 2015 Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship for Rio 2016, followed by a 2-1 victory in March 2021 in the CMOQ for Tokyo 2020.

The U.S. arrive into the contest after posting a 2-0 quarterfinal win against a tough Costa Rica side, in which Paxten Aaronson starred with a brace. Aaronson now has four goals in the tournament, just one behind Quinn Sullivan for the team lead (5 goals).

Sullivan has also played the role of provider, with three assists, but the chief playmaker for the U.S. attack has been Diego Luna, who has amassed four assists and driven opposing defenses crazy with his movement and pace.

The U.S. will be up against a Honduras team that has been outstanding at both ends of the field. The Catrachos have 15 goals thus far in the tournament and have only conceded twice following Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Panama in the quarterfinals.

Up front, Honduras can turn to the tournament’s leading scorer in Marco Tulio Aceituno, who has six goals, while Odin Ramos and Miguel Carrasco have been workhorses in the middle of the park. Ramos has two assists to go along with 13 fouls received, while Carrasco was a vacuum cleaner against Panama with four ball recoveries.

In the CMU20 modern era since 2009, there have been three meetings between the two, including a 5-3 U.S. penalty shootout win in the 2017 Final following a 0-0 draw, plus a 1-0 U.S. win in the 2018 edition. They also played to a 0-0 draw in the 2009 tournament.

The U.S U-20’s down Ticos 2-0 to qualify for the World Cup, now eye Olympics

Led by a two goal performance from Paxton Aaronson, the United States is off to the 2023 U-20 World Cup following its 2-0 win over Costa Rica. The job, however, is only halfway done as 2024 Olympic qualification is on the line Friday night vs Honduras. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta breaks down the game in detail.

BY BRIAN SCIARETTA  JUNE 28, 2022

THE UNITED STATES U-20 national team qualified for the U 20 World Cup on Tuesday after a 2–0 win over Costa Rica. It was a hard – fought when that was ugly at times, but the United States prevailed thanks to two goals from Paxton Aaronson.One of the keys to the game for the US team was to take advantage of opportunities early. Costa Rica was the US team’s toughest opponent so far and the US team had to take control of the game early and not let the Ticos remain in the game.The United States was successful in this, although not as much as they hoped. Aaronson scored in the fourth minute on a lovely build up that started with Alejandro Alvarado playing Quinn Sullivan out wide. Sullivan then sent a pass back across the box to Aaronson, his teammate in Philadelphia. Aaronson made no mistake with a left footed finish.Costa Rica responded well to the United States taking the lead. Chris Brady had to make three saves the remainder of the half and the game was even until the break.The US team should have been out more, but they missed two unbelievably good chances in the remainder of the first half. Quinn Sullivan had an opportunity that he would normally convert but Costa Rica’s goalkeeper, Bayron Mora, made a brilliant save. he beginning of the second half was eventful. The United States scored again early in the half on another goal from Aaronson. The play started with right back Michael Halliday sending in a cross that found Caden Clark. Clark then headed the ball back across the goal for Aaronson who finished from close range. Just minutes later, Costa Rica squandered its best opportunity in the 52nd minute. A handball in the box from Mauricio Cuevas gave the Ticos a penalty – Brandon Aguilera shot sailed over the goal and the game remained 2-0. That miss seemed to deflate Costa Rica who was never dangerous the rest of the game.The biggest story of the night came after the final whistle. When the US went out to the field to celebrate their win, Costa Rican players confronted the Americans. Punches were thrown, some players were kicked, and it left a black mark on what was a hard-fought game.The United States achieved one of their two goals for this tournament in qualifying for next year’s U–20 World Cup in Indonesia.The cycle will now continue after this tournament, and the United States can build for another top international tournament at the youth level.The second goal, and perhaps the biggest priority, will take place on Friday night when the United States will take on hosting Honduras, with the winner qualifying for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The men’s program in US Soccer has not qualified for the Olympics since 2008. Here are some thoughts on the game.  

AARONSON WAS FANTASTIC

 Much like his older brother, Paxten Aaronson is a very effective player who can come up in big moments. This younger Aaronson probably has the biggest upside of the players on this team. That is saying a lot because a lot of players on this team will probably have long and successful careers in the sport. It is a fun team, and it is very attacking oriented. But Aaronson‘s vision really makes the whole team play more cohesively.My guess is that when he returns to Philadelphia after this tournament, he begins to take a bigger role within Jim Curtin‘s team. From there, his development should skyrocket with more professional minutes.

 UNION’S HUGE FOOTPRINT

With Aaronson netting two goals, Philadelphia Union players have scored 10 goals for the United States in this tournament. Quinn Sullivan has five. Aaronson has four. Jack McGlynn has one.But beyond the goals, they are all playing well. This includes Philadelphia Union defender Brandon Craig who struggled against Canada but was very good against Costa Rica. All of the Union players are participating in the attack, and they fit very well into the pressing style that U-20 head coach Mikey Varas wants to play.For example, Sullivan did not score against the Tico‘s but his assist made it happen. Craig, meanwhile, is a Central defender that can take free kicks well and his deliveries in the box created numerous chances.The entire union organization should be very proud of how big they are contributing to the U-20 team and also the U-17 team. They are not just successful in development, but their entire organization wins while doing so too. These youth tournaments have reflected very well on their organization. 

U.S DEFENSE IMPROVING

One of the big takeaways for this game is that the US team’s defense looked improved. Costa Rica had a lot of possession and a lot of free kicks. The back line of the United States held up very well. Even the penalty they conceded was more of a fluke handball than a bad play.Coming into this tournament, success was going to hinge on the backline. The US team had the attacking talent but defense was going to be an issue. That concern was heightened during and after the Canada game. But this was a good performance.One of the reasons why the US backline has improved is also with the consistently strong performances they are getting from the defensive midfielders. Varas is rotating Daniel Edelman and Rokas Pukstas at the No. 6 and both are delivering big. That is making things a lot easier for the defenders. 

DISGRACEFUL ENDING

When speaking to the media after the game, Varas said that he hopes Concacacf investigates what happened after the final whistle. The video and the pictures that emerged paint a very ugly picture of Costa Rica‘s behavior.US goalkeeper Antonio Carrera was kicked in the back. Jalen Neal, the US central defender, was hit in the back of the head. Paxten Aaronson was also kicked.   The US responded, but Costa Rica clearly instigated the incident. The U.S players were simply looking to celebrate their win. The game itself indicated that the teams did not care for each other. There was pushing and shoving throughout the game, but that happens. The near brawl after the game was uncalled for, even in Concacaf where you always have to expect the unexpected.Expecting justice from Concacaf is often expecting too much. But to anyone watching, several of the Costa Rican players should be suspended from international play. Costa Rica’s own federation should think about suspending them from domestic play as well.

LOOKING AHEAD TO HONDURAS

 The United States fans should be very happy with the teams performance on Tuesday night. Costa Rica has a good U-20 team. The fact that the United States had to fight so hard is more reflective on Costa Rica‘s quality than any struggles the US team had.The United States has put itself into a good position. The team is playing well and it is improving on its weaknesses as the tournament progresses.Awaiting them will be Honduras, and this will easily be the toughest test. It is not that Honduras is simply a good team, but they are the hosts. The Honduran team has been very well supported in this tournament. In their win over Panama on Tuesday, the stadium was full and providing a lot of support to their team. It will only be even more emotional and intimidating on Friday with the Olympics on the line. For the younger age groups, it is even tougher to go away and play in such an environment with a lot on the line.Mikey Varas will have to rotate some of his squad while also keeping a good chunk of the core together. At this point, it will be very tough to change the backline too much. Halliday played well against Costa Rica, but he could be replaced by Noah Allen and move Cuevas to the right side.In the midfield, Alvarado had a great game against Costa Rica, but he is also interchangeable with Jack McGlynn and getting fresh legs into the starting lineup might make sense. Diego Luna also might swap with Cade Cowell 

Predicted U.S XI vs Honduras: Brady;  Allen, Neal, Craig, Cuevas; Pukstas, McGlynn, Aaronson; Cowell, Clark, Sullivan

 OLYMPIC DREAMS

 Everyone knows now the importance of qualifying for the 2024 Olympics. It would open up yet another important tournament for young American players. Also, the Olympics are a U-23 tournament, so it would then open the door for opportunities for the 2001 and 2002 birth years. That is different from this U-20 team which is for the 2003 birth years and younger. So qualifying for this tournament opens the door for two birth years who are not involved at the youth levels right now. This means U.S Soccer could then start calling up players like John Tolkin, Joe Scally, Ben Bender, Tanner Tessmann, etc.

 Ashley Sanchez steps up as USWNT learns to win without Catarina Macario

11:32 PM ET  Jeff Kassouf

Catarina Macario was meant to be the focal point of the United States‘ generational transition. That plan, however, had to be put on hold after the 22-year-old tore her ACL in May in Lyon‘s final match of the season.On Saturday, ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifiers, the Americans got their first look at life without Macario — and a preview of what much of qualifying will look like against lower-ranked opposition.The U.S. slogged through a scoreless first half against Colombia at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, before scoring three times in a much better second 45 minutes to win 3-0.

Washington Spirit striker Ashley Hatch started in the No. 9 role Saturday ahead of Alex Morgan, who leads the National Women’s Soccer League with 11 goals in 10 regular-season games (17 goals in 17 games all competitions). Hatch is a seasoned poacher who won the NWSL Golden Boot last season, and she is the most traditional center-forward option the U.S. has. She got her first start of 2022 on Saturday, and there appeared to be a lack of familiarity with wingers Sophia Smith and Mallory Pugh as the U.S. struggled through the first half. Movement from the front three was too stagnant, and execution in the final third was frequently sloppy.

Colombia set up in a low defensive block much like the U.S. expects to see from some opponents at World Cup qualifying, which begins July 4. Overmatched opponents have played the Americans that way for years with varying levels of success, although Colombia’s use of a sweeper behind its back four is unlike anything the U.S. has seen in a long time.”It’s no secret that they were very much focused on not getting scored on,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “So, the main focus for us is going to be [the] final third, different combinations, creating space, and executing the opportunities that we create.”Morgan — in her return to the team after a nine-month hiatus — replaced Hatch to start the second half, and that substitution, along with the insertion of Ashley Sanchez in place of Lindsey Horan, immediately changed the tone of the game for the Americans.Sanchez joined Rose Lavelle to create an aggressive system utilizing two attacking central midfielders. Lavelle and Sanchez are exceptional dribblers in tight spaces and, together, their movement to find the ball and subsequent technical mastery drew Colombia out and forced the visitors to lose their shape. Lavelle pounced on the occasion, playing a pair of sublime through-balls to assist Smith for goals in the 54th and 60th minutes.  These are the games in which Lavelle is most needed. Lavelle was ushered onto the senior team in early 2017 in response to the U.S. being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics, when Sweden sat in a low block and dared the U.S. to be creative. The Americans were not, and then-head coach Jill Ellis set out to find a playmaker such as Lavelle, who could break down defenses on the dribble and play a killer final ball on the ground. Lavelle was central to the U.S.’s 2019 World Cup victory and won the Bronze Ball at that tournament.Now, Sanchez presents a similar profile in a similar place in the cycle. Like Lavelle, Sanchez is unpredictable, trying bold moves that range from back-heel nutmegs when she is trapped on the sideline in a 2v1, to a scorpion-kick assist. She played a role in the buildup to the first goal Saturday and she was fouled on the dribble to set up the free kick that resulted in the U.S.’s third tally.”I think that Ashley Sanchez was one of the main reasons why we got a little more sophisticated in the second half,” Andonovski said.”Because she was able to eliminate players on the dribble and she was able to connect well with the players around her. She also asked different questions from the defenders. They had to adjust on a couple different occasions, which, any time you are trying to figure out how to adjust, the opponent is able to take advantage of that timeline. I thought that’s where we were very good, taking advantage of the period of adjustment that the opponent had.”Together, Sanchez and Lavelle give the U.S. an unprecedented level of ball mastery and creativity in the middle of the park. Andonovski will need that throughout qualifying, when the risk of having the back four exploited is lower. They could prove useful either in tandem or in rotation come the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.This, like with the No. 9 role, is where Macario’s absence is felt. Macario, who was one of the best players in Europe this season for Champions League winner Lyon, established herself this spring as a false nine whose interchange with Lavelle created a fluid, dangerous attack capable of confusing opponents. Andonovski marveled at how the players around Macario adapted to her.With Macario out for the foreseeable future, the No. 9 role is up for grabs, and there is a void to fill in the departments of creativity and game-changing ability. Placing such significance on the absence of a player who only has 17 caps might seem like hyperbole but building around Macario for right now, and for the 2023 World Cup, is exactly what the U.S. spent the last nine months doing.Now, it’s down to Morgan and Hatch to fill that No. 9 role. Hatch is not done having a say — and Andonovski praised her postgame when asked — but Morgan reminded the world (and Andonovski) on Saturday why she has been the U.S. team’s dominant forward of the past decade, scoring 115 goals and winning a pair of World Cups over 190 caps.Morgan evolved her game through the years to be more multidimensional than she typically gets credit for, but she is still a very different player from Macario, and that means the approach that was being developed this spring will require some retooling at a crucial stage.Sanchez will be part of that process, too. She, too, is relatively inexperienced at the international stage, but that is where the U.S. finds itself now, on the eve of World Cup qualifying: turning back to Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, who also made her return to the team and assisted on the third goal, and to new players such as Sanchez and Taylor Kornieck, who scored that final tally in her first international cap.Whether Andonovski has the right mix of veterans and youth will be determined at World Cup qualifying in Mexico. There is little danger of missing the tournament given the four spots up for grabs, but with only the winner of the CONCACAF W Championship automatically qualifying for the 2024 Olympics, getting these decisions correct now is a must.

USWNT defeats Colombia 2-0 in friendly as Kelley O’Hara scores after lightning delay

By The Athletic StaffJune 29, 2022Updated 1:49 AM EDT

The U.S. Women’s national team defeated Colombia 2-0 in a friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium Tuesday night. This is the second consecutive friendly victory for USWNT over Colombia as the squad won 3-0 on June 25.USWNT right back Sofia Huerta forced an own goal off of Colombia’s Manuela Vanegas, opening the scoring in the 22nd minute. Huerta, who plays for OL Reign in the NWSL, played in her 14th cap for country on Tuesday.Colombia poured on the pressure in the second half trying to equalize. USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher made a big save with her palm, keeping it a 1-0 lead. Despite Colombia having several looks in the box, USWNT extended the lead after the lightning delay at the 76th minute. Kelley O’Hara scored in the 77th minute, her first for country since 2016, sealing USWNT’s win.USWNT enters the CONCACAF W Championship as the No. 1 team in the FIFA Women’s rankings. They are trying to win their third consecutive CONCACAF W Championship. The winner of the CONCACAF W Championship not only qualifies for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup but will secure a berth in the Paris 2024 Olympic women’s soccer competition.USWNT opens their CONCACAF W Championship against Haiti at 7 p.m. ET on July 4.

How did the USWNT look overall against Colombia?

Steph Yang, USWNT beat writer: The USWNT looked like a typical team trying out some new tactics and some new players before settling its roster for a tournament, a typical pattern from Vlatko Andonovski and his staff by now. One interesting look from the team is his double 10 midfield setup, which Andonovski spoke about in media calls as being a possible tool for breaking open a very defensive team, something the USWNT expects to encounter in CONCACAF.

The team was also trying to use the movement of its three forwards to suck in defenses and open up wide spaces for the fullbacks, a strategy that did generate opportunities in the box but suffered for lack of finishing. Still, Andonovski told media after the game he thought the forwards did a good job.

“In a game like this, when the forwards are surrounded with four or five players at times, it’s hard to find them,” he said, pointing to things like Alex Morgan assisting Sophia Smith in the first game as positive indicators.

Who stood out for the USWNT?

Yang: Sophia Smith and Mal Pugh both showed moments of brilliance on the ball; to a slightly lesser extent so did Trinity Rodman. Sofia Huerta definitely fulfilled her assignment as a fullback in the setup the USWNT used and both Ashley Sanchez and Rose Lavelle demonstrated some of the creativity they were asked to bring in order to crack open a deep block.

What expectations should we have going into the CONCACAF W Championship now?

Yang: Andonovski told media after the game that the team will head directly to Mexico now to start training in Monterrey, and that for the most part, his tournament starting XI is known to both him and to the players.

“It’s not hard to predict who’s going to be on the field,” he told media after tonight’s game.

He complimented the team’s ability to score goals in different ways, despite acknowledging that this second performance against Colombia “was not our best performance.” For all that, Andonovski pointed out these two games were exactly the type of opponent the team wanted and needed, as they were likely to face similar tactics in CONCACAF.

“It was physical and very, very tight,” he said. “And it’s good for us to prepare for it.”

 Quinn Sullivan scoring in bunches at CONCACAF U-20 Championship

The Philadelphia Union attacker is turning heads in Honduras.

By Brendan Joseph  Jun 30, 2022, 8:20am PDT  

The United States advanced to the semifinal round of the 2022 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, qualifying for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup and on the cusp of reaching the 2024 Summer Olympics. There have been a few strong individual performances, with Quinn Sullivan challenging for the Golden Boot award. The 18-year-old is a highly-rated midfielder with the Philadelphia Union, steadily developing at one of Major League Soccer’s top talent factories. As the competition draws to a close, his scoring touch may be required to secure a place at the Paris Games.Born in Philadelphia to a family with deep roots in the city’s soccer scene, Sullivan began playing with Fishtown Athletic Club before joining the fruitful Philadelphia Union Academy at the U-12 level, while also attending the YSC Academy. The prospect contributed 32 goals in 90 total appearances, including scoring 19 times and adding six assists during the 2018-19 season. He was promoted to the club’s reserve team as an amateur in 2020, making nine total appearances during the abbreviated USL Championship schedule.The club signed Sullivan to a first-team contract in advance of the 2021 season. “[He is a] young, promising player who has fit in well with our system at every level of [his] development,” said Sporting Director Ernst Tanner. “[He] excelled at our academy, which is one of the most challenging environments for young talents. [His] work ethic is evident by [his] quick ascension and success with Union II where [he was] able to make early, immediate impacts… Quinn is strong in the tackle, covers and incredible amount of ground, and has the precise type of tenacious attitude we want in our squad.”Enjoying a “fairly smooth transition,” Sullivan made 24 total appearances during his first season, contributing two goals and one assist. After “getting better and better in training,” his first finish came during his first start, a 3-3 draw against the Chicago Fire. The “world-class” bicycle kick – which he doesn’t practice “very often” – earned the league’s Goal of the Week honor.Sullivan repeated the feat, scoring a “thunderous strike” to draw with CF Montréal. He drilled a shot from the top of the box, earning the then-17-year-old another MLS Goal of the Week accolade. “Quinn to score such a special goal on his first start, it gets no better,” said manager Jim Curtin after the initial finish. “For him to do it in his first professional start, I think is something he’ll never forget obviously… It was a great goal, a great moment for him. But Quinn would probably want three points over scoring a great goal. That’s how competitive and how good a player he is.”His debut MLS season, featuring sporadic playing time, marked him as a “strong and upcoming” talent. Despite looking ready for an expanded role, Sullivan has split time between the first-team and reserves in 2022. With his club career still waiting for consistent opportunities, the international game has provided the chance to raise his profile.Sullivan is potentially eligible for Germany, Bangladesh, and the United States, competing with the latter program. Mikey Varas named him to the roster for the ongoing 2022 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. He thrived during a pre-tournament training camp in Argentina, establishing himself as a multi-faceted attacker and signaling his importance to the upcoming campaign.In the first group-stage match against Saint Kitts and Nevis, he registered two assists. Sullivan followed that performance with a hat-trick against Cuba. In the Round of 16, the midfielder added a brace to claim a 5-0 victory over Nicaragua. Soccer By Ives praised his “clever running and clinical abilities,” a varied array of finishes from steering crosses into the back of the net or latching onto through balls.“Same mentality as we’ve had,” said Sullivan following his performing against Cuba. “We’ve got to end teams early, try and get off on the right foot like we did tonight… Every game’s a must-win to this point, with the goal to lift the trophy and qualify for both the World Cup and the Olympics. It’s vital.”An attacking midfielder with “athletic tools and a high soccer IQ,” Sullivan puts pressure on the opponent and works to block shots. He has been compared to Giovanni Reyna as an “elite playmaker” and “roaming 10/winger drifting between being out wide and cutting in and creating danger.” His primary position is “operating in the advanced and wide” areas, serving as an “auxiliary striker/winger.” His club manager praised him for the ability to “read the game, solve problems on the field on his own, and adapt to any situation.”“He is probably the most highly regarded 2004 player in the US player pool,” wrote Marcus Chairez for Chasing a Cup. “Quinn is one of the most likely candidates to move to Europe this year or next. Quinn can really strike the soccer ball with his right foot. He is a deadly shooter from all ranges. He also has a fierce, highly competitive mentality. I’d like to see [him] improve his off the ball movement so he can get in more positions to use said deadly right foot.”Youth tournaments can be hype machines, allowing observers to catch a glimpse of the next generation. Sullivan has been one of the standouts for the United States and garnered much of the attention, as to be expected for a player scoring in bunches. If he can become a regular member of the rotation and replicate the torrid form upon returning to Philadelphia, his dream of moving to Europe may be closer to being realized than previously believed.

Welcome to LAFC! Giorgio Chiellini gets drenched during victory song Bale Arrives Too!

By Jonathan Sigal @JonathanSigal  Thursday, Jun 30, 2022, 01:48 AM

Sing it loud and proud, Giorgio ChielliniLAFC’s new star defender hasn’t yet played a game for his new club, but he’s getting a crash course in all things Black & Gold before he’s eligible to debut July 8 against the LA Galaxy in El Trafico.For the Juventus and Italian legend, that meant – at US men’s national team midfielder Kellyn Acosta’s urging – singing LAFC’s victory song before their 3252 supporters’ group after Wednesday night’s resounding 3-1 home victory over FC Dallas pushed their Supporters’ Shield lead to nine points at the 2022 season’s halfway mark (11W-3L-3D record, 36 points).“Sha la la la la la la… L-A-F-C!” Chiellini belted with a megaphone in hand, as his new teammates sprayed him with water, dampening the tailored suit the 37-year-old wore to his arrival press conference earlier that evening.Jumping up and down, with an ear-to-ear smile as fans and players alike celebrated, it suggested he’ll perhaps fit right in at Banc of California Stadium.As celebratory as Chiellini and LAFC were, their charges are only going to strengthen in the coming days. LAFC recently completed a deal for ex-Real Madrid megastar forward Gareth Bale, who’s powered Wales to the Qatar 2022 World Cup and was once the world’s most expensive signing upon leaving Tottenham. Club captain Carlos Vela, the 2019 league MVP, is back on a Designated Player deal, while Bale and Chiellini both have Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) contracts.In other words, the world-renowned center back is entering a club with an incredibly strong foundation, one that’s sparking dreams of MLS silverware on multiple fronts this year. That’s something he’d know well as a Euro 2020 champion with Italy and nine-time Serie A champion with Juventus.Given how the tea leaves are forming, Chiellini might have to get accustomed to more song-filled nights in Hollywood

.

Leagues Cup Showcase to feature FC Cincinnati, Nashville SC, Real Salt Lake against Liga MX clubs

By MLSsoccer staff @mls   Thursday, Jun 30, 2022, 01:01 PM

Major League Soccer and Liga MX are facing off in Ohio, Tennessee and Utah.

The two leagues announced Thursday the addition of three matches to this year’s Leagues Cup Showcase, featuring FC Cincinnati vs. Chivas of Guadalajara, Nashville SC vs. Club America, and Real Salt Lake vs. Atlas FC in September. This will be the first time in history these clubs will face off.

The matches join the previously announced marquee doubleheader in Los Angeles featuring LA Galaxy vs. Chivas and LAFC vs. Club America on August 3. The five games will be broadcast on Univision and ESPN in the United States, and TUDN in Mexico.

The Leagues Cup Showcase will serve as a preview to the highly-anticipated Leagues Cup – the annual, month-long official tournament between MLS and Liga MX – that will kick off in the summer of 2023.

Matches and dates

FC Cincinnati vs. Chivas of Guadalajara – Sept. 21 – TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

Nashville SC vs. Club América – Sept. 21 – GEODIS Park, Nashville, TN

Real Salt Lake vs. Atlas FC – Sept. 22 – Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UT

FC Cincinnati vs. Chivas of Guadalajara

FC Cincinnati will host their first-ever international match since joining MLS as an expansion team in 2019 at TQL Stadium, which hosted its first game in spring of 2021. With a capacity to seat 26,000 fans, the arena is one of the league’s newest soccer-specific stadium jewels.

“We are thrilled to host Chivas of Guadalajara at TQL Stadium,” FC Cincinnati co-CEO Jeff Berding said in a release. “Cincinnati has hosted a number of incredible international soccer events, including FC Cincinnati’s match against Crystal Palace, which at the time was the largest soccer crowd in Ohio history, a US national team World Cup qualifier versus Mexico, and other US Men’s and Women’s friendlies. It’s an honor to continue that history with an exciting Leagues Cup Showcase match for our fans this September.”

FC Cincinnati season ticket holders will have priority access to purchase tickets through an exclusive presale. Tickets will be made available to the public on Monday, July 18 at 9 am ET via SeatGeek.

Nashville SC vs. Club America

Like Cincinnati, Nashville SC will host their first-ever international match when they take on Club America. They will do so at the brand-new GEODIS Park inaugurated this May, which, at 30,000 capacity, is the largest soccer-specific stadium in the United States.

“We could not be more excited about hosting our first international match at GEODIS Park,” Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre said in a release. “Nashville has been buzzing with excitement for soccer since we started in MLS in 2020 and even more so since we opened the doors to our new home. Facing off here against Mexico’s most decorated club side is an awesome next step on our soccer journey.”

Nashville SC season ticket holders will also have priority access to purchase tickets through an exclusive presale. Tickets will be made available to the public on Thursday, July 21 at 10 am ET via Ticketmaster.

Real Salt Lake vs. Atlas FC

Real Salt Lake enter the Leagues Cup Showcase having experienced multiple meetings against Mexican opposition, including in the 2019 Leagues Cup against Tigres and the 2011 Concacaf Champions League final against Monterrey. At Rio Tinto Stadium, they will welcome Atlas FC, back-to-back Apertura 2021 and Clausura 2022 winners, which make them the current Liga MX Campeón de Campeones – the overall Mexican league champion.

“Real Salt Lake is proud of our vast history of competing against international opponents, whether that be in Concacaf Champions League, international friendlies or the 2019 Leagues Cup,” RSL president John Kimball said in a release. “Welcoming Atlas FC in September to Utah for the 42nd RSL game against 30 different international opponents from 16 various countries will no doubt serve as a fantastic reward for our incredible supporters, who have long proven to value international pathways to prestigious regional hardware. We cannot wait to host this year’s Leagues Cup Showcase, and look forward to providing Atlas a sense of the best Utah has to offer.”

Tickets details for this match will be revealed at a later date but Real Salt Lake season ticket holders will have priority access through an exclusive presale.

The Leagues Cup Showcase will be a taste of what’s to come in 2023, when all 47 MLS and Liga MX clubs will participate in the Leagues Cup while both leagues break from domestic play. The tournament’s expansion is the product of a partnership that began in 2018 and will continue to build to the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

 

READINGS FROM THE MLS SURPRISE-O-METER ON GARETH BALE, CINCY, AND MORE

COMMENTARYMLS  JUNE 28, 2022 BY JOSEPH LOWERY

Today, we’re introducing the MLS Surprise-O-Meter, a very technologically sophisticated tool that tells us how surprised we should be by various MLS things 

  • How surprised should you be about Gareth Bale’s move to MLS? What about Cincy’s turnaround? Let the Surprise-O-Meter fill you in 

© Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

We’re in that part of the MLS season where things start happening. Things you didn’t expect. Things that make you stop your Twitter scroll right in its tracks. I had a few of those moments this weekend and in response, I’m debuting the MLS Surprise-O-Meter. 

It’s fairly self-explanatory, but just to lay it all out there quickly: the Surprise-O-Meter is a very fancy and very technologically sophisticated tool that we have here at Backheeled that displays how surprised something should make us. Its readings cannot be questioned. 

Here’s how surprised the Surprise-O-Meter was by some of this weekend’s MLS events.

GARETH BALE IS HEADED TO LAFC

Reading: Close Twitter, take a lap, and then check Tommy Scoops’ feed again to make sure you actually saw that

The Surprise-O-Meter, understandably, says that we should be quite surprised about this one. On Saturday morning, Tom Bogert reported that Los Angeles FC are finalizing a deal to sign former Real Madrid attacker Gareth Bale. Bale, 32, isn’t the same player he was in his 20s but he still has undeniable technical and physical quality that you can see when he’s on international duty with Wales. 

Prior to this year, signing Bale would have felt like a very un-LAFC thing to do. Their transfer strategy has mostly focused on watching U-20 World Cup footage and bringing in young players from South America. 

But now, LAFC have seemingly gone full “sweeping up aging, out-of-contract European superstars” mode this offseason, going after both Bale and Giorgio Chiellini. Oh, and apparently Carlos Vela is staying in LA as a DP until the end of 2023. LAFC are getting older, there’s no doubt about it. However, the fact that neither Bale nor Chiellini will be DPs this season means that the risk of signing that pairing is relatively low – lowering risk is important when you’re signing older players in a league that limits your roster resources. 

There’s room for LAFC to scour South America for talent, while still taking advantage of chances to sign players like Bale. It’s not an either/or.

But, given that there was very little noise about Bale heading to LA and that Bale hasn’t played in a U-20 World Cup for Ecuador, this move rates very highly on the Surprise-O-Meter.

FC CINCINNATI ARE ABOVE THE PLAYOFF LINE ALMOST HALFWAY THROUGH 2022

Reading: Mhmm, yep, mhmm, this feels about rig…wait, what?

Don’t look now, but FC Cincinnati is a very respectable soccer team. I know that we’ve been trained not to say those words together in the same sentence, but they just keep getting respectable results and playing respectable soccer.

Pat Noonan and Co. beat Orlando City 1-0 on Friday and by the end of the weekend, Cincy found themselves in seventh place in the East. With that win over Orlando, Cincinnati pulled within one point of their best-ever MLS total. Right now, Cincy’s sitting on 23 points, just one point shy of their record 24 points back in 2019.

After winning back-to-back-to-back Wooden Spoons, hanging out above the playoff line is a nice change of pace for Cincinnati. They now have a defined style of play under Noonan, they’re playing their best attackers, and they have some respectable goalkeepers this season. According to American Soccer Analysis, FC Cincinnati have the sixth-best expected goal difference on a per game basis in the entire league. Not just in the East.

It’s safe to say that their results have been far better in 2022 than in any of their previous years in MLS.

I, for one, didn’t expect this drastic of a change. Neither did our MLS Surprise-O-Meter, apparently.

SEATTLE PICK UP ANOTHER WIN

Reading: I’m not even dignifying that with a response

Okay, it looks like we’ve angered the Surprise-O-Meter here. This one was a little bit of a heat check, because frankly, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the Sounders are heating up in league play right now. They beat Sporting Kansas City 3-0 on Saturday and since May 15, Brian Schmetzer’s team has gone 5W-1D-1L.

The Seattle Sounders are getting results now that they’re fully removed from the Concacaf Champions League – and they’re starting to play some excellent soccer, too. Since the middle of May, the Sounders have been creating more open-play xG per 90 minutes than any other team in MLS. They’ve also been leading the league in average shot quality and they’re second in MLS in goals per 90 minutes. Defensively, Seattle’s numbers are strong as well. 

Even without some of their stars, the Sounders are humming right now – and as the Surprise-O-Meter tells us, that shouldn’t be all that surprising based on previous years. The Seattle Sounders have never missed the playoffs in their time in MLS and they’ve only missed the Western Conference semifinals once (last year). 

It’s bad news for the rest of the league, but great for Sounders fans: it looks like Seattle is back.

Women’s Euros big questions: England or Spain to win it all? Or will Netherlands, Germany go on a run?

Jun 29, 2022  Bill ConnellyESPN Staff Writer

The summer’s major European tournament is upon us. The UEFA Women’s Euro, a 16-team affair featuring four former champions, one debutant, 30 of the world’s 50 best players and, per FIFA, 13 of the world’s 21 best teams, begins July 6 in England and LIVE on ESPN.

Six teams in the field stand out as favorites, which could make for some incredible knockout-round action later in July. But let’s see what we can learn about each favorite and from the data produced at the club and international levels.


Why it’s coming home

Beth MeadLauren Hemp and Fran Kirby in attack. Ella Toone‘s microwavable offense. Ellen White‘s 50 career international goals off the bench. Do-it-all midfielder Georgia Stanway playing in midfield, or at fullback, or wherever another elite player needs to line up at a given time. Centre-backs Leah Williamson and Millie Bright providing flawless buildup play from the back. Barcelona-bound right back Lucy Bronze providing high-level defense and even more high-level buildup.

At first glance, England have the best of all worlds. They are world-class in attack and defense. They are seasoned: White (33), Bronze (30), defender Demi Stokes (30), forward Nikita Parris (28) and ever-present midfielder Jill Scott (35) have all topped 60 caps, and Scott and White have topped 100. They are also full of thrilling young energy: Stanway is 23, Toone 22, Hemp 21.

They have as many ESPN top-50 players as Spain and more than anyone else in the field. They’ve reached the semifinals in the past two World Cups and in 2017’s Euros. And since appointing Sarina Wiegman to replace Phil Neville as manager in September, they’ve been nearly perfect, embarrassing minnows and outscoring seven Euro-bound opponents by a combined 21-2. In June friendlies against Belgium and the Netherlands, they were held in check for most of the first half but slowly wore down their opponents. They scored three goals after the 60th minute against Belgium and scored four after the 50th against the Dutch.

If club chemistry matters, Spain indeed might be your favorite. England does boast a large Manchester City contingent — nine players were there last year — but their difference-makers hail from four different English clubs. However, that’s just about the only potential flaw one can find. This team is balanced, brilliant and playing at home. There’s always the chance that a home crowd becomes a liability if England starts slowly in a big match, but even in a field loaded with outstanding teams, England stands out. Cue the music: It’s coming home.*

*Unless it doesn’t, in which case I never said any of this.


2022 Spain (W) as 2010 Spain (M)

Vicente del Bosque had quite a luxury when naming his Spanish squad for the men’s 2010 World Cup: Relatively speaking, the best team in the world, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, were right in his backyard. Barca had just won their second straight LaLiga title and would win their third straight the following season. They had won the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup in 2009, and it took a mammoth effort — and some unlucky breaks — for them to lose to Inter Milan in the 2010 Champions League semifinals. (Total shots over two legs: Barca 30, Inter 10.)

Del Bosque ended up selecting seven Barca players, six of whom featured heavily — starters Xavi, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets and primary substitute Pedro — as Spain finally got the major-tournament curse off their back, losing to Switzerland in the tournament opener, but winning six in a row from there to take home the trophy.

– Watch UEFA Women’s Euros (July 6-31) on ESPN+
– Soccer on ESPN+: FC Daily | Futbol Americas
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Jorge Vilda finds himself in a similar situation. The manager of Spain’s women’s team since 2015, he’s piloting a team that (a) have only one reasonable success on their résumé (reaching the semifinals of the Euros in 1997) and (b) will be leaning heavily on a dominant Barca squad.

Barcelona Femeni have played 96 matches over the past two seasons in all competitions, winning 90 with just two draws and four losses. They have outscored opponents by a jaw-dropping 429 to 48. Despite a loss to Lyon in this year’s Champions League, they are the clear, dominant force in the sport. And 10 members of Barcelona’s squad, including captain Irene Paredes, reigning Ballon d’Or Feminin winner Alexia Putellas and goal scorer Mariona Caldentey (who has 12 combined goals and assists in Spain’s six World Cup qualification matches thus far), will represent Spain in Euro 2022.

Despite a sketchy recent record — they were eliminated in the quarterfinals at Euro 2017 and in the round of 16 at the 2019 World Cup — Spain have been generally listed as the favorite in the betting markets. Depending on your oddsmaker of choice, the 16 teams have basically been separated into four betting tiers.

Tier 1a

  • Spain: odds generally between 3/1 and 7/2
  • England: between 4/1 and 9/2

Tier 1b

  • France: around 5/1
  • Netherlands: between 5/1 and 6/1
  • Germany: between 6/1 and 7/1
  • Sweden: between 6/1 and 7/1

Tier 2

  • Norway: around 14/1
  • Denmark: around 25/1
  • Italy: around 25/1

Tier 3

  • Switzerland: around 50/1
  • Austria: around 60/1
  • Belgium: around 75/1

Tier 4

  • Portugal: around 90/1
  • Iceland: around 90/1
  • Finland: around 200/1
  • Northern Ireland: around 250/1

Like the men in 2010, though, Spain will also have to navigate through a tricky group. Group B is the only of the four groups to feature three teams ranked in FIFA’s top 15, and two of them — eight-time champion Germany and 2017 runner-up Denmark — have seen far more Euro success than they have. If Spain are to live up to their favorite status, club continuity and Champions League experience will have to play major roles.


The five biggest matches of the group stage

Once again using FIFA rankings, the distribution of the groups is about as even as you could hope — of the top eight teams in the field, two reside in each group. Based on factors such as rankings, betting odds and star players, then, it’s pretty easy to get a read on which group-stage matches will be the most high-profile. They might not determine who advances to the knockout stages — Group B aside, the favorites are clear — but they will boast particularly high quality and will go a long way toward determining who wins each group.

Germany vs. Denmark (Group B, Friday, July 8). Euro 2017 fell into chaos when Denmark upset Germany, the six-time defending champs, in the quarterfinals. Down a goal almost immediately, the Danes scored twice in the second half to pull the upset. This is the first huge match of the tournament, and Germany will be favored again. If the match produces a winner, it will go a long way toward establishing how the Group of Death will shake out.

Netherlands vs. Sweden (Group C, Saturday, July 9). The defending Euro champs vs. the reigning Olympic silver medalists and, per FIFA, the No. 1 team on the continent. These teams will both likely advance no matter who wins, as they’re both much stronger than fellow Group C members Switzerland and Portugal. But the winner — and, therefore, likely group winner — could avoid likely Group D winner France in the quarterfinals.

France vs. Italy (Group D, Sunday, July 10). France are indeed well-situated to win Group D, the only one featuring just one team with better than 15/1 odds to win the tournament. But Italy still boast Barbara Bonansea and eight teammates from a Juventus squad that both won their fifth straight Serie A title this season and thrived in the Champions League, topping Chelsea and giving Lyon hell in an aggregate 4-3 quarterfinal loss.

England vs. Norway (Group A, Monday, July 11). If Spain aren’t the favorite, a loaded English squad probably are. The Lionesses are unbeaten in their past 13 matches, and while there have been plenty of romps over minnows in that stretch, there have also been impressive wins over Netherlands (5-1 in a recent friendly) and Germany (3-1 in February’s Arnold Clark Cup) and draws against both Spain and Olympic gold medalist Canada.

Their biggest Group A test will come from a Norway squad that might not have the depth it once had but still boasts two of the world’s 10 best players (per ESPN’s list): Barcelona midfielder Caroline Graham Hansen and storied Lyon forward Ada Hegerberg, who is back in the fold with the national team. This is a heavyweight battle.

Germany vs. Spain (Group B, Tuesday, July 12). The last of the top 10 vs. top 10 battles, this one will have a very different feel if Germany slip up against Denmark. (Spain will face Denmark on July 16.) Assuming Spain handle Finland in the opener, this will be the first significant test for the betting favorites.


Group D, France and the value of elite opponents

It’s hard to find a sleeper for this tournament, if only because Groups A (England and Norway) and C (Netherlands and Sweden) each have two teams heavily favored to advance and Group B has two solid favorites (Spain and Germany) plus a clear deputy (Denmark).

While France are the clear favorite in Group D, however, second place might be up for grabs. Italy have the best odds of advancing, but while they are 14th in the current FIFA rankings, Iceland and Belgium are 17th and 19th, respectively. Iceland boast stalwart defenders in Bayern Munich’s do-everything Glodis Perla Viggosdottir and Rosengard’s Gudrun Arnardottir, and Belgium have a trio of major-club veteran forwards in Janice CaymanTine De Caigny and Tessa Wullaert; the trio have combined for more than 300 caps and nearly 150 career national-team goals, and Wullaert has been torrid in Belgium’s eight World Cup qualification matches, posting 15 goals and 10 assists.

Of the longer long shots in the tournament, Iceland and Belgium have the clearest path to the knockout rounds, and every match in Group D could therefore carry interesting stakes.

We also might not know everything we need to know about France until the knockout rounds.

France has a lot of attacking potential, including the likes of PSG’s Marie-Antoinette Katoto. But is this squad really ready to compete given an easy path to the tournament? Aurelien Meunier –

It’s difficult to glean any sort of information on a team’s form at the international level. Qualifying for the Euros ended nearly two years ago, and while most teams in the Euro field have played around 12-13 matches in the past year, a lot of those came against low-level teams in World Cup qualification, and the players a country will be counting on in the Euros perhaps weren’t asked to contribute all that much. England beat Latvia 20-0 in November, for example, and put up double-digit goals on North Macedonia and Luxembourg (plus Latvia again). Impressive? Certainly, but Latvia ranks 115th in FIFA’s rankings, Luxembourg ranks 113th and North Macedonia ranks 133rd.

We can learn at least a few things by looking solely at like-versus-like matchups:

  • The Netherlands are battle-tested, having played five top-10 (per FIFA) opponents over the past year. But they’ve pulled just three points and a minus-6 goal differential from said matches. They drew with the United States at the Olympics (losing in a shootout), drew twice with Brazil and lost to England and France by a combined 8-2.
  • Teams to average at least 2.0 points per game against top-10 opponents over the past year: England (eight points from four matches), Sweden (seven from three) and France (six from two).
  • Expanding the range to top-25 opponents, France (still six points from two matches), England (14 from six), Sweden (26 from 10), Spain (15 from seven), Iceland (15 from seven), Italy (10 from five) and Norway (six from three) all clear the two-points-per-game bar.

France beat both Brazil and Netherlands in February’s Tournoi de France. But while they’ve got a perfect record over the past year (12 matches, 12 wins), those are the only two matches they’ve played against opponents ranked higher than 29th. Among the six betting favorites, Germany (four) are the only other team to have played fewer than six matches against the top 25.

It’s hard to guarantee that this matters, but France also aren’t relying particularly heavily on league heavyweights Lyon and PSG, either. The French squad have five players from each club, but also have four who play for Bordeaux, two who play in Spain, two in England and one in Italy. This team could have used some chemistry-building challenges more than others.

Granted, one can only worry so much about a team that uses key pieces of Lyon’s midfield (Delphine Cascarino), PSG’s front line (forwards Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto) and one of the most intimidating defenders in the world (Lyon’s Wendie Renard).

The top teams are pretty hard to separate. Maybe chemistry holds France back a touch?


The Dutch were superior in the last Euros, but will they fend off the likes of Spain and England this summer for the title? DeFodi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Club form and the case for the Netherlands

Looking solely at recent results, it’s difficult to love the Netherlands’ chances. In terms of points per game, the defending Euro champions (and World Cup runners-up) are in second place in their World Cup qualifying group, behind Iceland, thanks to a pair of draws against the Czech Republic. And in their two 2022 matchups against fellow top teams, they couldn’t keep up against France and England.

Their 5-1 loss to England — now coached by former Dutch manager Sarina Wiegman — last week in Leeds was particularly galling. Lieke Martens gave them an early lead, but Bronze tied the match 10 minutes later and the Dutch completely lost their composure after halftime, suffering a comedy of errors in defense and giving up four goals in the final 40 minutes.

Still, if you look at what Dutch players are accomplishing on the club level, you can talk yourself into their chances in England this summer. They still boast some of the most high-end talent on the planet in Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema (No. 3 on ESPN’s top 50 list), Barca-turned-PSG forward Lieke Martens (No. 15) and Wolfsburg midfielder Jill Roord (No. 50). But their roster also features players who found strong form in the Vrouwen Eredivisie. Forward Romee Leuchter (Ajax) scored 25 goals with five assists, midfielder Victoria Pelova (Ajax) had six and nine, respectively, and midfielder Marisa Olislagers (Twente) had four and 10.

Granted, they aren’t nearly as proven in defense, which was painfully obvious against England, but they have as much offensive firepower as anyone in the field.


Club form and the case for Germany

Without doubt, Germany was an early adopter in women’s soccer as well as at both the club and international levels. From 2002 to ’15, German teams won nine of the first 14 UEFA Women’s Cups (soon to become the Champions League), with four other finals appearances. Meanwhile, the national team reached the finals of the 1995 World Cup, won the 2003 and 2007 World Cups and the 2016 Olympics and won an incredible eight of nine Euros between 1989 and 2013.

Since Lyon took over women’s club soccer in 2016, German clubs have had to settle for only a trio of Champions League finals losses for Wolfsburg, and the national team lost in both the Euro quarterfinals in 2017 and the World Cup quarterfinals in 2019. More recently, Germany took just one point from three matches in February’s Arnold Clark Cup — they drew with Spain and lost to Canada and England — and suffered a World Cup qualification upset loss at Serbia in April. Like the Netherlands, they haven’t established a convincing level of late.

Also like the Netherlands: Their club-level success suggests elite talent. They boast eight players from Champions League semifinalist Wolfsburg — one of only two clubs to beat Barcelona this season (in the second leg of the semis) — and another seven from quarterfinalist Bayern Munich. Bayern forward Lea Schuller and Wolfsburg forward Tabea Wassmuth combined for 29 goals and 10 assists in the Frauen-Bundesliga, Frankfurt’s Laura Freigang scored 12 goals in 23 matches, and Wolfsburg’s Svenja Huth distributed 12 more league assists. Throw in Lyon-via-PSG midfielder Sara Dabritz, and you’ve got a formidable attack. (Another Netherlands similarity: Their defense is much less proven.)

They mauled Switzerland 7-0 in a June 24 tune-up, getting a hat trick from Bayern’s Klara Buhl in the process. They have the toughest opening match of any of the Tier 1 favorites, but if they are confident, a ninth Euro title isn’t completely out of the question.


What Sweden did so well at the Olympics

It feels a little odd seeing Sweden as either the fifth or sixth betting favorite (depending on the sportsbook). They have one of the most feared defenders in the world (Chelsea’s Magdalena Eriksson), top-class attackers (Arsenal’s Stina Blackstenius, Juventus’ Lina Hurtig) and one of the most feared attacking defenders (Barcelona’s Fridolina Rolfo). They also have a track record.

Sweden pummeled the U.S. on the way to the Olympic finals last summer (their second straight silver medal), and they beat Canada, Germany and England on the way to third place at the 2019 World Cup. They have reached at least the semis in four of the last six Euros. They’re second in the world in the FIFA rankings, and their only loss over the past year or so has come via shootout in the Olympic gold-medal match.

– Lawson: Is this finally Sweden’s year to win?

They attack as well as defend at this point, something that set them apart in the Olympics. They created opportunities from a high press and generated scoring chances for not only Blackstenius and Hurtig but also Rosengard’s Olivia Schough; meanwhile, they offered opponents almost no high-quality shots in exchange.

This team has seen as much proof of concept as any over the past year, and if Sweden can get past the Netherlands in the group stage, they would potentially face the weakest team in the quarterfinals (Group D’s runner-up). The stars have aligned pretty well, betting favorites or no.

Friday Newsletter: LAFC Makes a Statement with Gareth Bale Signing, Carlos Vela Extension

Plus more fallout from FIFA’s World Cup 2026 host cities reveal, and I answer your Mailbag questions

   Grant Wahl  Jun 25   

IF LAFC ENDS UP WINNING THE MLS CUP IN 2022, the turning-point day in realizing those goals will have been today, June 25. That’s the day that Tom Bogert tweeted LAFC was set to sign Gareth Bale on a non-Designated Player deal and Taylor Twellman tweeted LAFC had re-signed star Carlos Vela to a new contract.

LAFC, which already leads the league in points (30), also recently signed Italian centerback Giorgio Chiellini to a non-DP deal and still has one more DP spot to fill. What are my thoughts on all that? Let’s break it down:

Los Angeles and Miami were up in the air as [World Cup 2026] host cities until the final day. FIFA very much wanted both L.A. and Miami to be in the final group, and the cities knew that, which is why there was plenty of pushback in the final stages after FIFA tried to strong-arm the cities with a late addendum to wrest more concessions from the candidate host cities.


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• It sends a message to the rest of MLS. What’s your team doing to keep up? Unless you’re the Seattle Sounders, which are already the CONCACAF champions and have put together a marvelous team, or maybe Toronto with the incoming Lorenzo Insigne, your team isn’t doing what LAFC is.

Let’s be clear: If Bale and Chiellini had been DP signings, I doubt I’d be feeling positive about that. But they’re not DP signings, so for me it’s a no-brainer to add them. I feel like MLS teams signing European stars in their 30s is fine these days as long as most of them are on TAM deals, but if you’re going to devote a DP slot to a player you’re better off getting someone in their 20s or teens. I’m very curious to see who LAFC lands with its DP slot. If it’s an attacker with a big upside, look out.

• I have one concern for LAFC. It’s an age-old rule: You’re going to have problems in the locker room if your best players aren’t your highest earners. If Bale lights up MLS and provides more to the team than LAFC’s DP earners, including Vela, that could become an issue.

• D.C. keeps getting kicked in the teeth soccer-wise. The nation’s capital is having a rough stretch when it comes to soccer. Bale had been in talks with D.C. United, which failed, only for Bale to take a non-DP deal with LAFC. This comes a week after D.C./Baltimore was passed up as a host city for World Cup ‘26. And D.C. United just isn’t moving the needle these days as a team on the move in MLS. 

As the Washington Post’s Steven Goff wrote this week, “Because United has struggled to keep up since it won four titles in the league’s first nine seasons, hosting the [MLS Cup final] these days is pure fantasy.”

At least D.C. was awarded the hosting rights for the 2023 MLS All-Star Game, for what that’s worth.

FALLOUT FROM THE WORLD CUP 2026 HOST CITIES ANNOUNCEMENT

As you might expect, there were plenty of stories being told about how the sausage got made in the wake of FIFA’s announcement last week of the 16 host cities for World Cup 2026. And there was a lot of sausage being made in the very last moments before the official announcement on global TV. To wit:

• Los Angeles and Miami were up in the air as host cities until the final day. FIFA very much wanted both L.A. and Miami to be in the final group, and the cities knew that, which is why there was plenty of pushback in the final stages after FIFA tried to strong-arm the cities with a late addendum to wrest more concessions from the candidate host cities.

“There was a call on the morning of [the announcement] with L.A. [and FIFA],” a person with direct knowledge of the Los Angeles bid told me. “It came down to a game of chicken and who blinked. FIFA ended up blinking, but L.A. still needs more private funding.”

“It wasn’t until the last day with Miami,” another person with direct knowledge of the Miami talks told me. “There were multiple open items that weren’t sorted out until the end. FIFA is used to strong-arming cities/venus and making it seem like a ‘favor.’ Miami wasn’t going to roll over to their demands (some unreasonable). So that delayed the process. At the end they compromised on certain things and made it work. FIFA is not used to getting pushback.”

One other tidbit: The L.A. bidders were not expecting to see the Rose Bowl ruled out when FIFA announced the L.A. games would solely be at SoFi Stadium. That was a complete surprise on the broadcast.

• The World Cup 2026 International Broadcast Center is likely going to be in Atlanta or Dallas. Those are the two main candidates right now, with Dallas (the 1994 World Cup IBC location) being the more likely destination. 

• The rift between FIFA and U.S. Soccer/MLS continues. I have reported previously on what happened behind the scenes when U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone won re-election earlier this year by defeating Carlos Cordeiro, who was being actively supported by FIFA president Gianni Infantino and CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani. 

MLS commissioner Don Garber, who influences USSF votes on the Pro Council, refused pressure from Infantino and Montagliani to support Cordeiro. So it was no surprise that Garber, who’s based in New York City, was nowhere to be found around FIFA’s announcement proceedings, and Parlow Cone did only one photo appearance.

FIFA has acted like an occupying force when it comes to organizing World Cup 2026 so far, ending the run of Local Organizing Committees, and it remains to be seen how much (if at all) U.S. Soccer and MLS will be involved in helping to organize World Cup ‘26 despite having plenty of experience with logistics and major soccer events in this part of the world.

OPENING THE MAILBAG

The Apple-MLS media deal sounds great for current fans. But what mechanisms will exist to attract new fans to the league? Sounds like Apple TV+ subscribers who aren’t otherwise MLS subscribers will have access to a limited menu of games. That’s fine, but there’s got to be more than “build it and they will come,” I hope? Winning over new MLS fans from the Apple demographic is clearly the goal. How will this deal accomplish that?

Josh Lane

When you’re talking about attracting new fans to MLS, look for deals to be announced in which linear TV like ESPN, Univision and perhaps Fox Sports will broadcast MLS games that you can also find on Apple. That makes sense to me. And I like the fact as a cord-cutter that I can get every MLS game via streaming on Apple, though the price point is going to be important. I will say that it drives me nuts that if I want to watch every Premier League game I have to pay for multiple platforms, cable and streaming. That’s poor from NBC.

What the hell is the deal with Christen Press NOT making the squad, even before she was hurt?

Julie DiCaro

Yeah, that’s a strange one for me from Vlatko Andonovski. On her podcast, Lori Lindsey referred to some things Press was involved with behind the scenes at the Olympics that may have rubbed Andonovski the wrong way. I’ll poke around and see what’s up with that possibility.

Do you think Berhalter stays as USMNT coach after the World Cup if we don’t get out of the group stage? And who might take over if that happens?

Doug Steiger

I think it would be unlikely for Berhalter to stick around if the U.S. doesn’t get out of the group stage, which would be extremely disappointing. The obvious replacement would be Jesse Marsch, but I don’t know if Marsch would be willing to give up his job at Leeds United to do that.

When you are deciding to write a story that some may view as controversial or may cast a negative light on a certain portion of the U.S. soccer community (i.e., USSF, MLS, coaches, players, etc.), what is the calculus involved by you in determining whether or not the story is worth running if it will lead to the possible loss of inside sources or cooperation from one of the governing bodies? For example, when Brian Straus wrote his piece about the national team under Klinsmann, did he face huge blowback from the USSF?

Nicholas Concilio

That’s a really good question. From what I know, Straus (who’s terrific) didn’t have any issues from U.S. Soccer after writing that groundbreaking story. I do think there’s a misunderstanding in some quarters of the fanbase that U.S. Soccer is this over-the-top punitive force when it comes to dealing with journalists who report critical things, and that’s just not the case in my experience over 25 years. I’ve written plenty of critical stuff about the American soccer scene over the years, and I’ve never had my credentials pulled or anything like that. And I wrote an entire book of journalism about David Beckham and the LA Galaxy that never brought any blowback. 

Have a good weekend.

USWNT penalty takers: Where things stand following struggles against Colombia

By Meg Linehan  Jun 28, 2022


The U.S. women’s national team walked away with the 3-0 win in Commerce City, Colo. on Saturday night, but Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Pérez was one of the biggest stories of the game — saving not one, but two penalty kick attempts during the match.Lindsey Horan, Colorado native and the first to watch Pérez snag her attempt, cut into a question about the two saves in the mixed zone. “Yeah,” she said with a laugh, “that sucked, huh?”Unpleasantness in the moment aside, the timing may have been a little bit of a blessing in disguise. Two penalty kick saves in a friendly ahead of a major tournament where penalties could become a factor is certainly preferable to the alternative.“We’ve prepared so well for these kinds of moments,” Horan said. “Obviously, (Pérez) had two great saves. Rose and I both know that we need to be better in these moments. This stuff happens, and we move forward. Each one is a standalone moment. I had all the faith in the world in Rose at that moment, and then next one she gets, she’s going to score.”Ultimately, based on everyone’s comments about the team’s approach to penalty kicks, it sounds like nothing will change at all beyond some extra practice getting added into the mix. As Megan Rapinoe said in the mixed zone after the match, “That will be the rotation going forward: Lindsey is number one, Rose is number two.”On Monday, head coach Vlatko Andonovksi expanded on his decision-making role when it comes to choosing penalty kick takers for the team.“First and foremost is the data that we have — both Lindsey and Rose have been tremendous in taking penalties in training and in the league, or wherever the markets (are),” he said. Horan has not generally been a designated taker for her club teams, with Christine Sinclair the go-to in Portland and responsibilities split at Lyon between a number of players. Lavelle’s record at the club level this year is one-for-two with the Reign.

Lindsey Horan PK attempts 2021-2022

DATETEAMOPPONENTCONVERTED?NOTES
6/25/22USAColombiaNoSaved
11/26/21USAAustraliaYes
6/13/21USAJamaicaYes
5/8/21ThornsGotham FCYesChallenge Cup shootout

Rose Lavelle PK attempts 2021-2022

DATETEAMOPPONENTCONVERTED?NOTES
6/25/22USAColombiaNoSaved
5/4/22ReignSpiritYes
5/1/22ReignSpiritNoSaved
7/30/21USANetherlandsYesOlympic QF shootout
5/9/21Manchester CityWest HamNoSaved

And while Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are back on the roster, it sounds like Andonovski expects both of them to play more of a role off the bench. “We have to have someone that we believe is going to be a regular starter, game in and game out, to be designated as a penalty kick taker,” he said. “Even after the fact that they (Horan and Lavelle) both missed a penalty, I don’t think anything is going to change. We believe in their competency and ability to score penalty kicks.”That training data won’t ever be made publicly available, leaving those of us on the outside with only game data to work from. And there’s no hint yet at how the USWNT might approach a penalty shootout, whether one comes in the W Championship or the 2023 World Cup. In the Olympic quarterfinal win against the Netherlands last year, Lavelle, Morgan, Christen Press and Rapinoe all converted in the decisive shootout. Lavelle’s spot in the order might change, but she’s a lock. Morgan and Rapinoe are options this summer, as well. Starting or not, Andonovski would probably cause an international incident if he didn’t sub on Rapinoe for a shootout place. 

Megan Rapinoe PK attempts 2021-2022

DATETEAMOPPONENTCONVERTED?NOTES
10/13/21ReignThorns FCYes
8/29/21ReignThorns FCYes
8/21/21ReignGotham FCYes
8/21/21ReignGotham FCYes
7/30/21USANetherlandsYesOlympic QF shooutout
4/13/21USAFranceYes
4/10/21USASwedenYes
1/22/21USAColombiaYes

Morgan also has a solid case to be one of the five considering her NWSL form this year, with four penalties and a 100% conversion rate. 

Alex Morgan PK attempts 2021-2022

DATETEAMOPPONENTCONVERTED?NOTES
6/4/22Wave FCCurrentYes
5/15/22Wave FCRed StarsYes
5/7/22Wave FCGotham FCYes
5/7/22Wave FCGotham FCYes
7/30/21USANetherlandsYesOlympic QF shootout
10/13/21PrideRed StarsNoWide left
5/30/21PrideCurrentNoRight post

That’s four names for a hypothetical shootout this summer in Mexico. So who could take that final spot?There’s no other name available on the roster that’s taken a penalty for the USWNT: Carli Lloyd was in the mix before her retirement, Morgan Brian and Sam Mewis have each taken and converted their single attempt. Again, there’s no visibility to training data, but there may be a case for players based on their NWSL performances, which widens the field.Sophia Smith and Mal Push have both converted penalty kicks this season in the NWSL. With Smith and Pugh looking locked in as two thirds of the starting forward line, they may both be options (depending upon substitutions). Looking back at the 2021 season may provide one of the best candidates, though: defensive midfielder Andi Sullivan. She converted three penalties for the Washington Spirit in their run to the NWSL Championship and the victory in Louisville. She scored one against Kansas City in September, then against Racing in October, before capping it off with one in the championship match against Chicago for the equalizer. Considering her increased role as the No. 6 for the USWNT and Andonovski’s confidence in her play, she may also be one of the most likely players to still be on the field for a shootout.Two other potential names to consider based successful penalty kicks in the NWSL, though both have been fighting for substantial USWNT minutes: Ashley Hatch and Midge Purce.But for all the possibilities, Horan and Lavelle may be the only ones we see stepping to the spot for a while. “I think it’s important for them to see the belief we have in them,” Andonovski said on Monday, “and most importantly, that it’s supported by someone like Megan Rapinoe. She believes that they’re good and in what they’re doing, and she’s supporting them and also helping in any way she can from her own experience.”On Saturday night, Rapinoe acknowledged the frustration of the moment but said there will be long-term benefits if both Horan and Lavelle use it as a chance to revisit their own routine from the spot.“It’s good to miss, it’s good to have that experience and get it under your belt in a friendly and not in a big game,” she said. “Either way, no matter what, just step up there and take it. Do your routine, be confident, and the rest is it.”

Meg Linehan is a senior writer for The Athletic who covers the U.S. women’s national team, the National Women’s Soccer League and more. She also hosts the weekly podcast “Full Time with Meg Linehan.” Follow Meg on Twitter @itsmeglinehan

The Interview: John Harkes

The Hall of Famer on being the Greenville Triumph’s head coach and sporting director, the USMNT, being the first USMNT Premier League player, the successful Harkes children and much more

   Grant Wahl Jun 28 

Several years had passed since my last interview with Hall of Famer John Harkes, so it was great to catch up recently with the head coach and sporting director of the Greenville Triumph. We addressed a lot of topics in this interview, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.The entirety of the written interview below is reserved for paid subscribers. As always, you can still get the entire free audio version of my podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify or wherever you like to go for your pods.

Grant Wahl:

Our guest now is John Harkes, the National Soccer Hall of Famer who played in two World Cups. He was the first American to play in the English Premier League and won two MLS Cup titles with D.C. United. He’s now the head coach and sporting director of the Greenville Triumph. John, It’s great to see you. Thanks so much for coming on the show.

John Harkes:

My pleasure, Grant. It’s great to see you as well. It’s been a while, so I’m glad that we can find some time to reconnect.

Grant Wahl:

Yeah, me too. I was thinking back to our first interviews in the ‘90s, I think …

John Harkes:

Right. When you were 13. I was 12.

Grant Wahl:

Exactly.

John Harkes:

That’s right.

Grant Wahl:

I want to start by getting your take on the U.S. men’s national team, which has qualified for the World Cup. How are you feeling about the team these days?

“Qualifying for the ’90 World Cup, playing in the World Cup, was fantastic, but going to Sheffield Wednesday on a trial basis and explaining to them that I already played in the World Cup before I was a pro. And they were looking at me like, he’s crazy.” — John Harkes

John Harkes:

I feel great, actually. I think just such a great feeling to know that we’re going back to the World Cup, where there was an absence, and that’s the number one thing. I think sometimes, whether it be media or fans or even other coaches, get caught up with critiquing too much instead of an understanding that it’s a big challenge through the World Cup qualifying process and the rotation of players, players coming in from different countries, different styles of play.

And you’re expecting them all to come together and everyone snaps your finger and it’s perfect. It never works like that. So I’m really excited that they’ve qualified. At the end of the day, as you support them, we keep pushing forward and let’s hope that they go into the World Cup with positive attitudes and a lot of confidence.

Grant Wahl:

As someone who’s been through World Cups. Would you have any advice for Gregg Berhalter as he manages things over the next five months to the World Cup?


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John Harkes:

I mean, look, I think everybody wants to do that Monday morning quarterbacking. Everybody wants to have their opinions in the game, and I’ve spoken to Gregg numerous times about players and personnel and style of play and things like that. I think Gregg does a great job. I think the coaching staff does a good job. 

Any advice? Probably not. Just stay even-keeled through the whole process, because there’s so many emotions that go up and down and the players, a lot of them are young and they’re looking to the manager to see how he responds in really stressful situations. So if he can keep himself even-keeled throughout the process, that’s more than half the battle right there.

Grant Wahl:

You’re obviously a coach and sporting director these days. You’re not calling U.S. games on television right now, though you did in the past. Do you ever miss doing the U.S. games on TV?

John Harkes:

I do. I’ve had some great experiences and learned a lot through that process, whether I be with Ian Darke, Martin Tyler, JP Dellacamera, Dave Johnson at D.C. United as well. Some quality guys that I’ve worked with. And it’s great to see their process and the way that they approach the games and the research they do. 

Being prepared is number one, and that’s the number one thing. So from my perspective, it was like, how do we get to a point where these guys are … not only are you loving the game, but you want to call the game. But at the same time, you also want to be able to represent the team well, and it’s not about you. It’s the same with coaching. It’s as soon as you remove the ego, you start to discover your purpose in the right way.

And so for me, I miss calling the games, and it was fun. And I learned a lot. It’s the closest sometimes that you can get to the pitch when you’re not a player or a coach. But I do love coaching. I really do. I’m not afraid to have a side-hustle doing some games here and there. I’ll say that. I’ll just put that out there. But I do love the opportunity to teach, and seeing the growth in the players, the way that they respond to different adversities well, the way they get challenged and the way they come together and collaborate as a team is the best feeling in the world for a coach. So I love that side of the game. I really do.

Grant Wahl:

You’re in your fourth season as the Greenville coach and sporting director. You’ve been to the league final three times, won it once. What’s it been like there? How would you describe the experience?

John Harkes:

It’s been a tremendous experience, actually. A lot of growth, and you get thrown into being a manager and you take on the responsibility as a sporting director as well. So I’ll explain a little bit the way we approach that when you’re building a club from scratch. The coaching part and the relationships I’ve built and the trust with different players and coaches and leagues, and I’m a soccer junkie. So I watch all soccer, and discovery of players coming out of college that don’t make the MLS draft. That’s what happens for the division three, for the USL League One. But taking pride and taking on a challenge and building something from scratch is excellent. It really does. And it teaches you a lot about yourself and the way that you handle that through the process.

So sporting director, what does year one look like? What does year two, year three look like? What does year four look like? Where do we need to be with our brand? Where do we need to be in terms of building a stadium? Where do we need to be in terms of representing the local community and doing it the right way with partnerships? And so from that perspective, it’s been fun to learn both. And I love it. It’s been a lot of success early.

We’ve done a lot in a short period of time. I have a tremendous staff that’s with me. You’re only as good as the people around you. And we want to push for more. We want to win as many titles as we can, but we also want to coexist with development and pushing players up to the top levels. And through that process, you start to really enjoy it. The connection to the players is fantastic. Being able to manage the front office and manage up with the president and the league, our club owner has been great. Good relationships there, and yeah, I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been a good journey so far. I’m not sure where it’s going to take me, but it’s been a great journey.

Grant Wahl:

I guess that was a question, because you’ve built this from scratch. And so, I don’t want to just assume that there’s something else you want to go and do, but do you have any interest in potentially coaching in MLS at some point?

John Harkes:

Of course. Yeah. I mean, to not be ambitious and not to want to challenge yourself is … what’s the purpose of living? You’ve got to be able to take risks, and you’ve got to be able to put yourself in the framework to say, can I get challenged right here? And yeah, I feel like I’m up for that, to be honest with you. This has been a great learning curve for me and a good platform to kind of find my way as a coach. And you bring the leadership part of it, the teaching part of it, the aspect, the authentic kind of everyday caring atmosphere for the players, and then they feel safe, and they give you the best. So that emotional kind of, I guess, investment in the guys and in the club itself has been great.

But look, if there’s an opportunity that I can go to MLS, or even if we can get our club to the Championship level and coach at that next level, it would be fantastic too. And those stepping stone processes along the way. I’m not opposed to going overseas and coaching. You see a lot of great coaches like Jesse Marsch doing well, taking risks at different clubs and different leagues around the world. I’m really proud of him and the work that he did at Leeds going there under a lot of stressful situations there and expectations, and he’s done well. So the more that the American coaches are having success overseas in those leagues as well, it creates an opportunity for us to be looked at, I think. So why not take a challenge if you get one?

Grant Wahl:

What should we know about John Harkes, the coach, that maybe we didn’t know about since we focused on John Harkes, the player, over the years?

John Harkes: 

I mean, I think it’s understanding your core values for the team. Setting out a plan. What’s that structure look like on an everyday basis? Develop a philosophy in the game for your coaching style. I play with possession and build out of the back with a purpose. Our teams do have the ability to switch style of play during the game because we train that way as well.

So whether we come out in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 or even playing three in the back with a 3-4-3, we train on it. So to me it’s about doing the work. Communication is key. Being able to be up-front and communicating exactly what the plan is for the guys, but then leaving enough creativity and room for them to just show you who they are, to go out and enjoy themselves and take some risks as well.

So you’ve got to find that balance as a coach and still win the game, which is hard. But I love that. I love the challenges that you face during that process. It’s great. Because you never fail. If you’re trying things, you’re not failing. If you’re not trying, then you’re failing in life. And so I always tell the guys like, “Hey look, we put ourselves out there and maybe the result didn’t work for us, but what did we learn about ourselves? And let’s find solutions here to go forward.” 

And that’s the number one thing. As long as the guys are okay, you learn and you reflect on what you didn’t do well, but let’s see if we can kind of move forward. What are the new objectives in our team now? So that’s kind of me in a nutshell.

Grant Wahl:

I know your children, Ian and Lauren, are both in soccer as well, as our listeners may know too. For those who don’t know, could you explain what they’re doing?

John Harkes:

Yeah, sure. Cindi and I are very fortunate, and we’re very proud of our kids, and we raised them with tough love, and we also know as parents that they’re just passing through you. It’s not like you’re … you’re not raising them to be like you. You want them to be able to make decisions on their own and be independent. So Ian’s been over in Scotland at Dundee United for three years now.

He is currently out of contract and they want re-sign him. He’s getting some interest from other clubs in England as well. A couple in Belgium and one in Germany. So he is getting some options, which are great. And he’s in a tough place right now where he’s got to make some decisions. Dundee United has been fantastic for him. It’s been a great club. And through that journey, I’ve watched him grow as a player. He’s become more aggressive and more assertive.

He’s definitely going forward a lot more. And he became player of the year for their club this year, which was great. Great achievement for him. And just seeing that he’s showing up against Celtic and Rangers, the big clubs, scoring goals and scoring goals in the derby and everything shows how much he’s enjoying it and the growth, but he’s put a lot of work in there.

Lauren, our middle child, is playing in Denmark as a pro as well with Aalborg. It’s her first year as a pro. So she’s learned a lot, and she’s enjoyed that as well. The culture there has been fantastic for her and the process of being in a kind of new environment, a new club, on the women’s side and growing that from scratch and making it more professional has been interesting, too. So she’s taken on a leadership role as a foreign player, and it’s been good for her.

So wishing her all the best, and not sure where she’s going to take that. She’s been offered to stay there, but she’s actually getting some offers too in Scotland, which is interesting because not only is Ian there, but Ian’s wife, Sarah, plays for Celtic women as a pro. And so it could be all reunited there in Scotland. We’ll see.

John Harkes:

And then Lily’s our youngest, who just graduated Elon University in Burlington, North Carolina, last week and a political science major. She has two minors and she’s been accepted to Oxford next year.

Grant Wahl:

Wow.

John Harkes:

So yeah. She’s academically off the charts and a really smart kid, and we’re just proud of her. And she played soccer all four years at Elon and enjoyed that and had a great balance there. And I think she still wants to play soccer at Oxford if she gets a club team over there, but all three of our kids might be in Europe within three, four months. And so Cindi and I are like, what are we doing? What’s happening? But again, we wish them all the best. We’re very proud of them, and there’s still going to be a lot of challenges ahead of them. So as they grow as individuals, we’re just here to support them and guide them when we can.

Grant Wahl:

Well, congrats to you and your family on all of that, and my apologies to Lilly for not including her in my original question. So good to get an update.

John Harkes:

No, she’s good. She’s good. She’s the blonde one. She’s the third child. She’s got that third-child approach to life. She’s good. She’s good.

Grant Wahl:

I want to pull back a little bit because one thing that’s fascinating to me these days is that so many new U.S. national team fans have been created over the past 10 years that a lot of them weren’t following when you were doing big things starting in the 1990s in your career. And you and your contemporaries obviously created a lot of new fans yourselves in the ‘90s, but do you run into that at all? Where you meet soccer fans here who aren’t really aware of what you achieved in your career?

John Harkes:

Yeah, I think you do. But I think that’s also part of the challenge in the game. I mean, you’ve covered the game for a long time, Grant, at the highest level. But you’ve also gone into the lower levels of the history of the game. And I think it’s important that people continue to take accountability at all levels in the game of growing the game. It’s a big responsibility, and that’s the fan base too. Now you’re starting to see the market now, the way the game is getting exposed is tremendous. Like you know, we all talk about, wow, the game’s so small. Well, it is small. People are connected everywhere to the game.

And a lot of it is like technology today. You can watch a game on your phone. You can watch a game on Apple+, ESPN+, Paramount, whatever it may be. Fox, it doesn’t matter. It’s everywhere. And so now it’s at a point where you’re making these choices what you’re going to watch on the day when you’ve got maybe 14 games to watch in one day. So I think it’s brilliant. It grows the game, and as you know, it goes up and then it comes back down and it goes back up again. So it’s cyclical.

And for the individuals, though, to take on the responsibility to grow the game in the right way, that means respect the game, respect your national teams, respect your club teams that are local for you. Go and support them. Don’t say you support Sheffield Wednesday or West Ham or anything overseas, or Liverpool, before you support your local community team. You should support them there. And I think that’s something that’s starting to change here and take off, especially with USL. USL, with the three divisions right now, is really growing faster than anything. And to have a foundation there, a strong foundation of growth, is fantastic. So the more people get involved with that, the better it’s going to be.

Grant Wahl:

You are from Kearny, New Jersey. There’s a really good documentary film that my friend Tom McCabe was part of about Kearny called Soccertown, USA, that people should see if you haven’t. How would you describe growing up in Kearny and that sort of soccer hotbed community there?

John Harkes:

Wow, I think it was probably a consistently challenging experience. I think you were always being tested in Kearny. If you were a soccer player at the age of four, you were being tested by the kids that were six and seven and eight. It was always who came before you. And the history of the game was certainly important to them back in the day. And whether they were hosting teams from Scotland or Hungary, the international inclusion that’s there and the social clubs that are there. You were raised as if you were in Europe, to be honest with you. And I love that. I love that. So it was more of a world kind of cerebral view of football, and also of life. It made you hungry to think what’s it like, not just in Kearny, like we thought soccer was played with passion as it is in Kearny. And Tom McCabe captured that beautifully, as you mentioned.

We thought it was like that everywhere. And then as we traveled, as we got older, 12, 13, 14, and then tryouts with the state team and regional team and national teams eventually, thank God. And we were fortunate enough to stay alive and survive tough areas, tough places to live, hardworking blue collar, but lucky enough that our parents gave us the love of the game, the freedom to discover who we were, and live off the streets at times and play soccer all day long in pickup games and kind of find our way. 

I thought it was amazing. You really reflect back on that time and you’re just like, wow. We’re fortunate because it was a tough area. You had to survive. There was also, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the drugs and alcohol that was there.

And then the gangs and the violence at times too. It was so close to Newark and Harrison, but I think it raised you tough, but it also raised you to be grateful for what you had. You didn’t need much, you know what I mean? You don’t need a lot. So I think I still carry that with me. I don’t need a lot. Let’s just keep going. So I’m very fortunate, and I was very fortunate to have so many great older players around me, including my brother, Jimmy, and so many other great players before me that we could actually study and say, hey, maybe we could be like them one day.

It helped having the New York Cosmos 20 minutes away where we could be a ballboy at times and where you can aspire to play there. And say, until they folded in ’84, that was devastating. It was my junior year of high school. I was like, oh my God, what am I going to do now? So it was just great to grow up in that hotbed of soccer in New Jersey. It really was.

Grant Wahl:

You were the first American, as I mentioned in the introduction, to play in the Premier League, when you joined Sheffield Wednesday. It’s so easy to watch the Premier League in the U.S. now. It wasn’t back then. What was your experience in the Premier League like in those days? In what ways was it similar to today, and in what ways was it different?

John Harkes:

It was a tremendous experience, and what an opportunity to get over there and to go on trial. I think the crazy thing was that I aspired to be a pro as we were qualifying for the ’90 World Cup. And we didn’t really have a top-level league at that time. We talk about the A league back in the day and the USL leagues. And I played for the Albany Capitals a few games here and there, and flying up on a Thursday to train on a Friday and play a game on a Saturday. And then back down to Tampa or Miami to train with the national team for a two-week camp. We were doing what we could to push ourselves. We didn’t need anybody to challenge us at all. That’s what I think made that generation of players really hungry, really hungry, was we wanted to be respected, but we also wanted to get back to that world stage.

And so qualifying for the ’90 World Cup, playing in the World Cup, was fantastic, but going to Sheffield Wednesday on a trial basis and explaining to them that I already played in the World Cup before I was a pro. And they were looking at me like, he’s crazy. But it was a great experience. Breaking down, I guess, the stereotypical barriers of an American trying to make it in the English leagues when there was only three foreigners per team at that time. And the old division one before it became the Premier League in ’92 was interesting. And Sheffield Wednesday, at a time where Ron Atkinson was a big manager. He was already at Manchester United. He came to Wednesday. They got relegated two years prior. And then when I came to them, they were in the old division two looking to get promoted back up.

And to go through that experience in seven months, to score a goal of the year in England, to get to Wembley and win against Manchester United in a League Cup final. If you told me that, I would say, that’s the worst Hollywood film I’ve ever seen. Not going to happen. Keep dreaming, son, but it did happen. And so I was very fortunate. Had great players, great coaches, a lot of support from my family and from Cindi at the time, because I remember calling her where I was upset. I was over there for a long period of time. They offered me a very low deal, very low deal. And I was upset and on the phone, and she was like stick it out. You can make it, you’ve got to keep going. And I did. And so I was very fortunate to have those people support me during that process.

And I loved it. And the Premier League now, it’s blown out of proportion. Grant, you know this. I mean, the game has grown tremendously. The players are strong. They’re fast. Has it changed in terms of mentality and intelligence level? Probably not. But everything’s just done a little bit quicker. A little bit faster, and I think that part of it is, there’s more resources there to help the players recover. There’s better scientific approach to the game in terms of recovery and looking after themselves more. And I love it. I love watching the games. It’s fantastic to relive and go back to the old clubs and West Ham and the Derby Counties and all of that time period was brilliant.

Grant Wahl:

So you had to count as a foreign player. I know you have sort of like Scottish roots, right? You weren’t able to get a passport and count as a domestic?

John Harkes:

Well, so it’s funny. I was just telling that story today to one of the new players we have here on trial … that I had signed as a foreign player, yet when they found out all my Scottish background and everything, then we went through the process and I got my UK passport probably about five months later. And then they changed my, I guess, what I was at that point, my status, to the international side. So I became like a UK player there at that time. So I had dual citizenship.

Grant Wahl:

So you got the hard part done as being like the foreign player on the team with very few foreign slots at first. Interesting.

John Harkes:

Yeah. It was a challenge for sure.

Grant Wahl:

If I had told you back then in the early ‘90s, that soccer in the United States would be where it is today in 2022, and sort of described to you, ‘90s John Harkes, where we are now, would you have been what? Gratified, disappointed, something else?

John Harkes:

Motivated. I would’ve been inspired, because that was the goal, is to grow the game. We wanted to grow the game. We wanted respect for our country. We wanted respect for our leagues. Being part of Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, Eric Wynalda, Balboa, all of those guys, Paul Caligiuri, Christopher Sullivan, the list goes on and on and on. To be part of that beginning stages of building your own league in 1996 is a big responsibility. So to see it come, God, to fruition now, where it is, it’s just incredible. I watch games now and I’m just like, wow. You look at a stadium like Austin. And you’re like, wow, what the heck is going on here? And even my experience that I had at FC Cincinnati for the first year in the USL, and we grew that fan base.

I remember one of our games was on a midweek rainy night and we had about 17 and a half thousand people there. And I turned to my staff at FC Cincinnati, where are we? What is going on here? And it was amazing to see that growth within that passion and that love from the fan base. And we had such a great year there. It was brilliant to finish third in the league. And so those things, the way you expand the game and the business side of it now, you know it’s mainstream, can you get the right ownership in there? You need money to grow.

And so now you’ve got some of the NFL ownership groups and other people of outside interest coming in and saying, wow, I really want an MLS team. Or, hey, I want a USL Championship team or a USL League One team in my community. And when you do that, now you go again, let’s see where we are in another 10 years, which you already know. And you’ve documented very well. The history of the game is growing tremendously. Let’s continue to keep that going at a fast rate.

Grant Wahl:

And I’m continuing to be surprised. I never even thought it was inevitable that soccer would get to where we are now. And so I’ve stopped making predictions about where soccer will get in America. And I’m just curious to see where the ride takes us, because I don’t know the answer.

John Harkes:

How does that feel from your end? I mean, as somebody that’s been at the highest level in the media and been able to kind of tell the stories the right way, whether it be from coaches, clubs, towns, players. How has it been for you to see the growth?

Grant Wahl:

It’s been amazing. It’s funny to me, because I only went full-time soccer in 2009. I started in ’96 and I did college basketball and then I did soccer. But after a few years, it’s not that I dislike basketball. I just was like, I want to be a full-time soccer writer. I like what’s happening. I like telling the stories. I like the sport, but I didn’t choose to go full-time soccer because I thought it would get to a certain level in the United States. I just liked it. I like the people. 

And so it’s been a nice thing, just personally, to see soccer grow maybe to in the U.S. beyond where I thought it would be now. And so I just feel like there’s maybe not even a ceiling at this point, and that’s exciting, and being able to continue telling that story has been a blast. So yeah, it’s pretty cool actually, when you compare where we are now to the ‘90s.

John Harkes:

Yeah, yeah. I always die with Martin Short. That one line. Welcome to the ‘90s. I’m always going back to the ‘90s and the old school stuff and I’m like, wow, I’m really old. When I coach some of these younger players, I’m like, nevermind, nevermind. But it’s great to see even some of our guys here, the younger players, are still researching and looking at the old school game and stuff like that. So it’s nice. And like you said, the growth has been tremendous, and you just want to keep that going. And the best thing you can do is to have, as you grow and get bigger, that’s where you get more humility and just let it grow. And just say like, it’s not about us. Just keep on growing. Let’s go. Let’s go. Do our job.

Grant Wahl:

No, definitely. Just to finish up here, I guess. You came from this hotbed town, Kearny, New Jersey, that produced several national team players, like Tab Ramos. And why am I blanking? Oh no.

John Harkes:

Tony Meola.

Grant Wahl:

Tony Meola was, yeah, Tony’s going to kill me now. But it was a definite hotbed, and I’m wondering, how do we manage this size of this country, the United States, when it comes to finding and developing soccer talent? Because I’ve had a couple instances in my career. I went to Iceland a few years ago when they were really good. And they actually talked about sort of the virtues of smallness that it allowed everyone to sort of be connected in a way that was tougher in a bigger country. And so when it comes to the United States and the sheer size of it, how do you deal with that?

John Harkes:

Yeah. It’s difficult to manage the size of something. The bigger it is, the harder it is to manage because you want to make sure that the communication, everybody’s getting the same kind of understanding of how we grow the game. And I was doing a podcast with Kevin Campbell from Arsenal the other day. And I was explaining to him like, well, Kevin, just take this for instance, in Colorado at the U-11 age group, they might be doing eight a side. Whereas in New Jersey, they’re doing 11 a side. And so he’s like, really, who doesn’t govern that? And I’m like, well again, you need leadership across a bigger country. It’s such a vast country. It’s hard to manage every little state department of what they’re doing in youth soccer. So that’s where I think the tricky part is, Grant.

I think getting momentum behind the game when you have the size of a country we have is better. That’s an advantage, because then you can grow it. But going back to Iceland and your comment there. When you’re in a smaller country that you can fit maybe inside of Alabama, it becomes much more manageable. And the communication is clear. We are going to do it this way, and everybody’s on the same page. So now you align with that. It’s just like certain managers overseas. They take on big clubs. Gasperini takes on Atalanta.

Well, he aligned himself with Bergamo, with the city, the community. How can I manage the toughness and the grittiness of this and what they went through in COVID. All the suffering in COVID, and now how can he come out and be like, we’re interchanging. We’re overlapping. We’re creative when we go forward. But everybody works together as a team. And that represents that community well. So those are the type of things you’ve got to have in terms of the behavior of your club. And I think that if you put it all together like that, eventually it’s all going to kind of come together if you can. And that collaboration takes place.

Grant Wahl:

John Harkes is a National Soccer Hall of Famer who is now the head coach and sporting director of the Greenville Triumph. John, thanks for coming on the show.

John Harkes:

My pleasure, Grant. Great to connect with you again. Thanks for having me.

6/24/22  Indy 11 New Home, US Ladies Play Sat 7:30 pm FS1, Indy 11 W into 1st, Regional Championships at Grand Park this weekend

Indy 11 Announce Indy 11 Park]

A new 20,000 seat stadium and mix use apartments/business park and retail on 18 to 20 Acres just West of Lucas Oil Stadium along the White River has been announced by the Indy 11.  Video  The Eleven Park stadium will host Indy Eleven games for both its men’s and women’s professional soccer teams. The facility will also be designed to host field sports (soccer, lacrosse, football, rugby, and field hockey) events for partners such as the NCAA and IHSAA; international matches; concerts; and various community events.“This announcement is the culmination of years of hard work and partnership between countless individuals and entities who believed in our vision, and we are beyond excited to share the results of that effort today with our community,” said Indy Eleven President & CEO Greg Stremlaw. “While there is still more work to do, today the Indy Eleven family is thrilled to put a pin in the map and celebrate what Eleven Park will provide the country’s premier city for sports and all Hoosiers who will experience and benefit from this world-class destination.”  After approximately two years of construction, Indy Eleven expects to begin play at its new Eleven Park stadium home in Spring 2025.Due to a myriad of factors, including the rise in construction costs, inflation, and an increase in the scale and scope of the project, Eleven Park is expected to exceed a $1 billion investment in the largest piece of property in an under-developed area of downtown Indianapolis. All facets outside the stadium project – retail, restaurants, hotel, apartments, and office space – will be developed by Keystone Group.

USA Ladies vs Colombia Sat 7:30 pm FS1

The US Ladies start the summer prep for CONCACAF Qualification in early July with 2 games over the next week against Colombia starting Sat.  Night at 7:30 pm at FS1.  The US bring the youngest team they have fielded for a tournament in years.  A front line of youngsters including Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith and Mallory Pugh will mix in with veterans Megan Rapinoe, Ashley Hatch and NWSL leading scorer Alex Morgan.  Of course the US will pound Colombia – look for 4 to 5 to zero with Morgan scoring at least 1 if not 2.  Too bad we don’t qualify as a European Team where we could face the best teams in the world this summer in European Cup play July 6 – 31 across the ESPN network of stations.   The US will face Colombia again Tuesday night on ESPN2 at 10 pm before starting CONCACAF play in Mexico July 4th on ESPN. Read all about the Summer of Women’s Soccer.

Shane’s Starting Line-Up

Smith/Morgan/Pugh

Mewis/Horan/Lavelle

Fox/Sonnett/Sauerbrunn/O’hara

Naeher

The USWNT Concacaf roster

Goalkeepers: Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).

Defenders: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit).

Midfielders: Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).

Forwards: Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC).

Indy 11 Women Race to First Place in the League

The Indy 11 Women’s 3-1 win at home over Louisville catapulted them into sole possession of first place in the league.  They return home next weekend as part of a Indy 11 Double Header on Saturday  – The action starts at 2:00 p.m., when Indy Eleven’s new pre-professional women’s side will conclude its successful inaugural regular season in the USL W League. Indy Eleven is looking to break the single-game attendance record for a women’s soccer game in Indiana of 4,137 (U.S. Women’s National Team vs. France in 1996 at Kuntz Stadium). Fans are encouraged to back their undefeated and first-place Girls in Blue in numbers and help them make a deserving piece of Hoosier State history! After some time for some afternoon tailgating, we’ll pack Carroll Stadium once again to back the Boys in Blue as they launch one of the USL Championship’s most anticipated rivalries against DCFC at 7:00 p.m. The boys in blue return home Sat, July 2 at 7:30 pm with a fire-works display after so make your plans to be there- tix are just $15 @ indyeleven.com/tickets.

World Cup Memories

This week marks the anniversaries of some legit big World Cup memories – like Maradona’s Hand of God.  The US Men of course have gone thru their own qualification triumph see video.   

2022 Midwest Regional Championships @ Grand Park June 24 – June 29, 2022 Westfield, Indiana

The 2022 US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championships takes place June 24 – June 29 in Westfield, Indiana. The event will feature Boys and Girls teams in the 13U through 19U age groups who will compete for a regional championship and a spot at the 2022 US Youth Soccer National Championships. (Schedule)

• Preliminary Round – Friday, June 24 // Saturday, June 25 // Sunday, June 26

• Semifinals – Tuesday, June 28

• Finals – Wednesday, June 29

BIG GAMES ON TV

Sat, June 25

3 pm ABC                          Seattle Sounders vs Sporting KC 

3:10 pm fubo tv                France vs Cameroon women

5 pm ESPN                          DC United vs Nashville FC

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1` USA Women vs Colombia

7:30 pm ESPN+                  CF Montreal vs Charlotte

8 pm TUDN                         Chicago Fire vs Houston Dynamo

Sun, June 26

3 pm ABC                             LAFC vs NY Red Bulls

6 pm Fox Sport 1              Philly vs NYCFC 

6 pm ESPN+                        San Diego Loyal vs Las Vegas Lights USL

Tues, June 28

10 pm ESPN                        USA Women vs Colombia

Wed, June 29

7 pm ESPN+                        Orlando City vs Nashville US Open Cup

10:30 pm FS1                      LAFC vs Dallas

10 pm ESPN+                     Seattle vs CF Montreal

Thur, June 30

7 pm ESPN+                        NY Rd Bulls vs Atlanta United

Frir, July 1

8:30 pm Para+                   Houston vsKC NWSL

10:30 Para+                         Angel City vs Portland NWSL

Sat, July 2

7 pm Para+                         NY Gotham vs Chicago NWSL

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Toronto vs Seattle 

7:30 pm TV23             Indy 11 vs Miami FC (fireworks)

Mon, July 4

10 pm ESPN                        USA Women vs Haiti CONCACAF

Wed, July 6

3 pm ESPN                          England vs Austria  Euro Women’s Cup

Thur, July 7

3 pm ESPN2                        Norway vs Northern Ireland Euro Women’s Cup

10 pm Para+                       USA Women vs Jamaica

Fri, July 8

12 pm ESPN+                     Spain vs Finland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        German vs Denmark Euro Women’s Cup

Sat, July 9

12 pm ESPN+                     Portugal vs Switzerland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        Netherlands vs Sweden Euro Women’s Cup

Sun, July 10

12 pm ESPN2                      Belgium vs Iceland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN+                        Italy vs France Euro Women’s Cup

Mon, July 11

12 pm ESPN2                      Austria vs N. Ireland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        England vs Norway Euro Women’s Cup

10 pm Para+                       USA Women vs Mexico

Mon, July 11

12 pm ESPN2                      Austria vs N. Ireland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        England vs Norway Euro Women’s Cup

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

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USA Women

Summer of Women’s Soccer

USA vs Colombia Preview
Foudy: Will USWNT’s young World Cup/Olympic qualifying roster pay off?

Rapinoe’s USWNT role has changed and she’s at peace with it

Rapino responds to Roe v Wade decision

Women’s Euros 2022 kits: England, France, Netherlands jerseys unveiled
USWNT training at Broncos’ facility ahead of weekend friendly

Title IX Helped Forge a U.S. Soccer Legacy That Continues Today

Indy 11

Indy 11 Park Announced

Indy 11 Park

Indy 11 Bike Night & Fireworks July 2

Colorado 4-3 Review

USLW RECAP | ZOO 0:1  Indy

Indy 11 beats Louisville

Goalkeeping

Best Saves Nations League Last Week

NL best saves Match Day 2

What a Save by American Sean Johnson vs Uruguay

Real’s Courtois Record 9 Saves in Champions League Final

NWSL Great Saves Week 7

Former Indy 11 & Carmel FC GK Coach Jordan Farr USL Save of Week Candidate

Great Saves

Gigi Buffons Reaction is Classic

Thoughts on Austrailian GK throwing Peru’s GK Waterbottle w/shooter tendencies in stands?

US Men

USMNT to play Japan, Saudi Arabia in friendlies
Transfer chat: USMNT players potentially (or already) on the move this summer

Sullivan’s hat trick leads the U.S. U-20s past Cuba 3-0 and into the knockouts

U.S. U-20s control the game but are forced to rally for a 2-2 draw vs. Canada

US U20s Advance in CONCACAF

MLS

Sacramento Republic scores late goal to stun Galaxy in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal
Sacramento Republic beat MLS’ Galaxy to reach Open Cup semifinal

Transformative Neighborhood Project Anchored by 20,000-seat Multipurpose Stadium;
Construction Anticipated to Start Spring 2023 Ahead of Targeted Spring 2025 Grand Opening;
Populous to Serve as Stadium Project’s Lead Architect

INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, June 24, 2022) – In collaboration with Keystone Group, Indy Eleven today announced the acquisition of over 20 acres of land in downtown Indianapolis that will serve as the future home of Eleven Park, the transformative neighborhood village development that will forever impact the skyline of the Circle City.Keystone Group is a construction, development, management, and investments company headquartered in downtown Indianapolis that specializes and invests in complicated transformational mixed-use developments that are located in premier locations. Ersal Ozdemir  is the Founder and Chairman of Keystone Group as well as Indy Eleven, which has provided a professional club for Indiana’s thriving soccer community to rally behind since its successful launch in 2013.As per the conceptualization of the development project outlined in 2019, today’s news confirmed the Eleven Park development will include hotel, office, apartments, retail and public spaces – all anchored by a 20,000-seat multipurpose stadium built with soccer at its core. Eleven Park will be constructed on the plot of land previously owned by The Diamond Chain Company, bordered by West Street, Kentucky Avenue, and the White River – an area that was recently acquired and is now 100% owned by Keystone Group.“We have been working diligently for the last several years to secure a large area of land downtown for Eleven Park, and with our prime location now secured we are eager to take the next steps for this groundbreaking development,” said Ozdemir. “This village will be a 365-day-a-year live, work, and play community that will transform this section of Indianapolis, providing jobs and significant economic development to downtown Indianapolis and surrounding areas.”The Eleven Park stadium will host Indy Eleven games for both its men’s and women’s professional soccer teams. The facility will also be designed to host field sports (soccer, lacrosse, football, rugby, and field hockey) events for partners such as the NCAA and IHSAA; international matches; concerts; and various community events.“This announcement is the culmination of years of hard work and partnership between countless individuals and entities who believed in our vision, and we are beyond excited to share the results of that effort today with our community,” said Indy Eleven President & CEO Greg Stremlaw. “While there is still more work to do, today the Indy Eleven family is thrilled to put a pin in the map and celebrate what Eleven Park will provide the country’s premier city for sports and all Hoosiers who will experience and benefit from this world-class destination.”Keystone and Indy Eleven are continuing their ongoing discussions with the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana to finalize project terms this year, which would allow for tear down of existing buildings and additional site work to begin in Spring 2023. After approximately two years of construction, Indy Eleven expects to begin play at its new Eleven Park stadium home in Spring 2025.Due to a myriad of factors, including the rise in construction costs, inflation, and an increase in the scale and scope of the project, Eleven Park is expected to exceed a $1 billion investment in the largest piece of property in an under-developed area of downtown Indianapolis. All facets outside the stadium project – retail, restaurants, hotel, apartments, and office space – will be developed by Keystone Group. As per the State legislation that was passed and signed into law in 2019 , the City of Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board (CIB) would own the Eleven Park stadium, while Indy Eleven would lease and operate the venue.“We believe this site is the best place to invest knowing it will have a transformational impact to the southside of Indianapolis, serving as a new neighborhood village within the Stadium Village Neighborhood that bridges the central business district, Victory Field, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indiana Convention Center, the White River, and the Elanco campus,” continued Ozdemir. “This location, along with the new Henry Street bridge and extension of the Cultural Trail, will serve as an important gateway to the city and bring connectivity and a pedestrian connection to the heart of downtown.”Indy Eleven and Keystone also announced three key additional partners for the Eleven Park project as part of today’s announcement. Populous, the global industry leader in soccer/multipurpose stadium design, will serve as the stadium project’s lead architecture and design firm, partnering with Indianapolis-based Browning Day Architects. In addition, D3i, a Baltimore-based international design firm with award-winning mixed-use projects that span five continents, has been hired as the master planner for the project.While the initial design process is already underway, Indy Eleven will meet with fans, community members, and other constituents regarding specific design elements to make Eleven Park a special place to create a vibrant village . Indy Eleven expects to share updated renderings of the Eleven Park stadium with the public in the coming months.For more information on this transformative neighborhood project, follow the ElevenParkIndy and IndyEleven channels on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and visit elevenpark.com.

Blockbuster summer of women’s soccer: Your guide to Euros, USWNT World Cup/Olympic qualifying and more

7:00 AM ET  ESPN

Ahh, summer — ’tis the season for the beautiful game’s biggest and best international tournaments. This year, however, with the World Cup in Qatar set to start in November, the spotlight will be on what the women’s game has to offer — and there is a lot on offer.

Almost every region in the world has a big women’s soccer tournament starting in July where the best and most exciting players will be squaring off. In every competition, the stakes are incredibly high: Either a spot at the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is on the line, or in the case of the European championship, there’s a most-ever €16 million prize pool and some major bragging rights up for grabs.

Let’s just put it this way: The month of July is going be fun. If you’re not up to speed, we’re here to help. This is your guide to an epic summer of women’s soccer, with input from a global team of ESPN’s Caitlin Murray, Cesar Hernandez, Sophie Lawson, Ed Dove and Tim Vickery.

High-stakes tournaments across the globe

UEFA Women’s Euro 2022: July 6-31
Often simply called the Euros, it’s the third-oldest confederation tournament in the world, and arguably the most prestigious. That’s because of the parity and quality throughout Europe, and also because it is a rare standalone tournament that does not double as a World Cup qualifier. Initially a four-team tournament, the Euros have gradually expanded to 16 teams now, and the tournament has seen 19 different nations compete over the years. England will host this summer, with the monthlong Euros starting at Old Trafford and wrapping up at Wembley Stadium.

CONCACAF W Championship: July 4-18
The newly formatted CONCACAF W Championship for North America and the surrounding region may not boast the competitiveness of the Euros — the reigning World Cup champion, the U.S. women’s national team, remains the perennial favorite — but it will certainly offer the high stakes. This tournament, hosted in Monterrey, Mexico, is a new one devised by CONCACAF to serve as both the qualifiers for the World Cup and the Olympics, so teams have to go all-out to win — even the mighty Americans.

Africa Women Cup of Nations: July 2-23
Kicking off in Morocco, the Africa Women Cup of Nations — called AWCON for short — is Africa’s premier women’s soccer competition. For three weeks, the continent’s finest women’s sides will contest the 14th edition of the competition, with the winner to be decided in a final in Casablanca, Morocco. Three stadiums in two cities will be used as the tournament makes its comeback following a hiatus of three years, and World Cup qualification is on the line. The four semifinalists advance automatically to the 2023 World Cup, with losing quarterfinalists getting another chance via a playoff.

Copa America Feminina: July 8-30
The women’s Copa America tournament comes to Colombia for the first time, and it’s perhaps overdue — the women’s game is well-established in the country. This Copa will qualify three South American nations for the 2023 World Cup, with another two going into playoffs. In this tournament there are two groups of five, with the final stages taking place in Bucaramanga, and an expectation that most of the matches will be played in front of big crowds.

Where to watch: FS1, FS2 (U.S.)

OFC Women’s Nations Cup: July 13-30
Oceania’s World Cup qualifying tournament in Fiji will look a little different this year because the reigning champion of the last four tournaments won’t be participating. That team is New Zealand, and as co-host of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, they’ve automatically qualified for the big stage. (Australia, the other co-host, qualifies through Asia fter it left the Oceania confederation in 2006.) But that means the OFC Women’s Nations Cup is guaranteed to have a first-time winner when it’s over. (No U.S. broadcast available yet)

Storylines to watch, questions to answer

Can the Netherlands repeat at the Euros?
At the last Euros five years ago, the Dutch were buoyed on by an ever-growing home crowd to win it all, and the question is whether or not they can do it away from home. A team undergoing something of a personality change since Mark Parsons took over, the European champs could be viewed as a wild card this tournament, still in a transitional stage.

How will hosts England do?
There is plenty of buzz around England and their potential ability to harness home support as the Dutch did at the last Euros. The English FA even went as far as to bring in the Dutch coach from 2017, Sarina Wiegman, as their new manager.

Will France falter again?
As we head into another major tournament, it’s impossible to escape rumblings around France, who are in their own mini group of death at the Euros. France have long been considered a top contender in global women’s soccer, but despite so much promise, they have little to show for it. Just like Germany, Les Bleues will have to be at their best from their first match against Italy, an outing against Belgium something of a reprieve before they end the group stage against an improving Iceland.

– Euro 2022 teams: Squad lists for all 16 countries
– Euro 2022 kits: New jerseys revealed

Will the USWNT’s youth movement pay off?
While the U.S. are fully expected to qualify for their ninth consecutive World Cup, there are lingering questions about how they’ll do it. Despite the presence of long-time veterans Megan RapinoeAlex Morgan, and Becky Sauerbrunn, the U.S. roster boasts plenty of untested youth. Ten players on the roster have never competed in a senior World Cup qualifier, and the last time the USWNT came close to missing out on a World Cup, it was during a qualification tournament in Mexico in 2011. Might Mexico have a repeat of history in store this July?

Who can challenge Nigeria’s supremacy?
Nigeria have enjoyed remarkable dominance during the AWCON’s 31-year history, winning 11 of the 13 previous editions. They’ve never lost a final — failing to reach it only twice — and to suggest they’re the team to beat would be an understatement. The Super Falcons are massively popular in Nigeria, and having won 52 of the 62 matches they’ve played in tournament history, they will be heavily expected to romp through again.

Is the opposition to Brazil’s dominance stronger than ever?
Brazil have won all but one of the eight previous Copas — Argentina came out on top when they hosted the 2006 tournament — and Brazil would still seem to be way ahead of the pack. But the opposition are getting stronger — fitter, more talented and more organized — and contenders like hosts Colombia, Argentina and Chile shouldn’t be written off. For Brazil, then, the tournament is a staging point on the way to the 2023 World Cup. An upset is always possible, but for Brazil, missing out on the title is hard to imagine, while failing to qualify for the World Cup is unthinkable. For the others, making it to the 2023 World Cup is the main priority.

Players to watch, from known stars to potential breakouts

Alexia Putellas, midfielder/forward, Spain
Considered by many to be the best player in the world, Alexia Putellas will be tasked with leading Spain to their first Euros title ever. Putellas’ accolades are plenty — she won the Ballon d’Or last year and was named UEFA’s top player of the year — but Spain hasn’t had similar success. If La Roja can top their quarterfinals appearances in the previous two Euros, they will be counting on Putellas’ creative playmaking to do it.

Marie-Antoinette Katoto, striker, France
She wasn’t picked for France’s World Cup squad in 2019 and Marie-Antoinette Katoto may yet be an unknown quantity to fans around the world regardless of a stunning goal scoring record for PSG or her increasing tally for France, which includes 24 goals in 28 appearances. A determined striker, Katoto is the goal scorer the great French teams of 2011 and 2015 were crying out for, the type of player who only needs service to score. The 23-year-old is certain to impress during the Euros if her teammates can get her the ball.

Lauren Hemp, forward, England
A talented player who has already caught the wider eye for her exploits with Manchester City as well as Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics, Lauren Hemp is set to cement herself as one of the most talented players in her age group this summer. The pacey 21-year-old winger has been delighting for the Lionesses since 2020 and is sure to be one of England’s best attacking outlets at the Euros.

Damaris Egurrola, midfielder, Netherlands
Having declared her intention to play for the Netherlands, rather than Spain or the United States, the American-born Damaris Egurrola is the natural replacement for an aging Sherida Spitse at the heart of the Dutch midfield. Despite only earning her first cap in April, Egurrola has quickly settled into the Oranje side. As well as being a reliable midfielder, she has already shown her prowess at set pieces, with two goals in her two appearances. She may not be a star yet, but she just might announce herself on the Euros stage.

ayMegan Rapinoe, winger, U.S.
Does she still got it? The 37-year-old’s inclusion on the roster for the CONCACAF W Championship raised eyebrows and drew pushback from critics, but Rapinoe has that special undefinable it-factor that coach Vlatko Andonovski said couldn’t be ignored. She probably won’t be starting every game, but her clutch play could be a key factor for the USWNT. Rapinoe, for her part, told ESPN earlier this week that she is excited by her new role as a mentor to the youngsters and isn’t worried about the critics: “If people don’t like that, that’s fine. They’re not the coach of the national team,” she said.

Trinity Rodman, forward, U.S.
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s worth keeping an eye on the youngest player on the USWNT’s roster for World Cup/Olympic qualifying. Named ESPN’s top U21 player, Trinity Rodman is more than the hype surrounding her famous family. She is the youngest player ever drafted into the NWSL, was named NWSL Rookie of the Year for her debut season last year and led the Washington Spirit to an NWSL Championship in November. The thing is, for all her club success, she hasn’t proved herself at the senior international level — at least, not yet. Andonovski has cautioned against expecting too much from her too soon, but the CONCACAF W Championship could be her big breakout.

-Exclusive Trinity Rodman interview: The future has arrived
-ESPN’s best players under 21: Trinity Rodman tops the list

Alicia Cervantes, forward, Mexico
Mexico will have no lack of forward options in the CONCACAF W Championship, but none have been as deadly as Alicia Cervantes of Chivas. The 28-year-old, who was the Liga MX Femenil leading goal scorer in both the 2021 Apertura and 2022 Clausura tournaments, is a constant threat in the 18-yard box with her potent finishing and aerial capabilities. Cervantes has averaged a goal every 83.3 minutes of regular season play since last summer and scored five times in Mexico’s four CONCACAF W qualifiers this year. If Mexico is going to qualify for a World Cup and the Olympics, Cervantes needs to play a big role.

Asisat Oshoala, striker, Nigeria
She is the undisputed superstar of African women’s soccer. A Barcelona forward, Champions League winner, and four-time African Women’s Footballer of the Year, Asisat Oshoala is the most decorated player in the history of African soccer — and many would argue she’s the greatest the continent’s game has ever seen. She’s already won the title on three previous occasions, but after recovering from a recent injury, she’ll be raring to add further Golden Balls and Golden Boots to her expansive trophy haul.

Deyna Castellanos, forward, Venezuela
There will be a lot of eyes on the Venezuelan striker, who at club level is now swapping Atletico Madrid for Manchester City. Venezuela are one of five South American nations never to have made it to a World Cup at senior level or an Olympics, but the nation has high hopes of the generation who did well in under-17 soccer back in 2014, and Deyna Castellanos is the leader of the pack. Back in 2017, she was placed on the shortlist for FIFA’s best player of the year. Castellanos should now be keen to show that her time has arrived.

Key dates and matches for your calendar

July 4: Nigeria vs. South Africa
Heavyweights Nigeria and South Africa were pitted together in their Group C opener at AWCON, which will take place at the Stade Moulay Hassan in Rabat. Not only is this a blockbuster bout between two of the tournament favorites, but it’s also a rematch of the 2018 final — the last match played in the competition — as underdogs Banyana Banyana looked poised for an upset over the Falcons before eventually succumbing on penalties.

July 6: England vs. Austria
As the opener of the 2022 Euros, this match is already worth scribbling on your calendar for the pomp and circumstance alone. The last time England hosted the Euros back in 2005, a record crowd showed up for the opener, and the atmosphere for this one ought to be even better. But luckily, this is also a solid matchup. England and Austria both reached the semifinals at the last Euros in 2017 and will be eager to issue a statement of intent.

July 9: Netherlands vs. Sweden
This promises to be an intriguing group stage match to set the tone, not just for Group C of the Euros, but the whole of the tournament and who we’re likely to see in the last four. The past two competitive meetings of the two nations have seen the Dutch triumph, knocking Sweden out at the quarterfinal stage of the last Euros before dispatching them in extra time of the World Cup semifinals in 2019.

July 9: Brazil vs. Argentina
Brazil meet Argentina in Armenia, Colombia on the second day of the Copa America Femenina. This is a meeting of the only two teams ever to have won the trophy. Argentina, as was clear from their past World Cup campaign, have worked hard on tightening their defense, while the Brazil side are not scoring as many goals as they would like. The script for this match, then, would seem to revolve around whether Argentina can frustrate the Brazilians.

Women’s European Soccer Pick ‘Em

Make picks throughout the Women’s European Championship for a shot at $5,000. Make Your Picks

July 11: USA vs. Mexico
While the rivalry between these two nations is red-hot on the men’s side, it’s been tempered a bit on the women’s side by the dominance of the U.S. and Mexico’s struggles to keep up. However, there is a huge wrinkle to keep in mind: The only time the U.S. almost failed to qualify for a Women’s World Cup came in 2011 in a loss to — you guessed it — Mexico, in Mexico.

July 12: Germany vs. Spain
Die Nationalelf and La Roja will square off in a match that pits one longtime European powerhouse against a new kid on the block. It would be prudent to remember that when these two sides met earlier this year at the Arnold Clark Cup, the match ended 1-1 and it figures to be an even affair again. With Germany and Spain both viable candidates to win the Euros in a very difficult Group B, this will be a key match.

July 15: England vs. Northern Ireland
The hosts of the Euros take on a team that is appearing in their first major tournament ever. England are the heavy favorites, and given that the Lionesses rolled Northern Ireland the last time they met, it probably won’t be close, but a scrappy performance from the debutante could keep things fun.

July 16: Denmark vs. Spain
After you watch Germany face Spain on July 12, you’ll have to come back for this one. With Group B slated to be the so-called “group of death” because it has three viable Euros contenders in Germany, Spain and Denmark, this match could deliver the final blow for one of these teams.

July 18: Olympics spot-decider
By this day, we will already know which teams in the CONCACAF W Championship have clinched their World Cup spots — we will know some berths before the knockout games start — but the final of the tournament will decide the lone automatic qualification spot for the 2024 Olympics. While most of the other tournaments in July do have World Cup spots on the line, no other tournament will decide who’s going to the Paris Olympics. The favorites are the U.S. and Canada, but anything is possible.

USWNT: Vlatko Andonovski chose a young World Cup/Olympic qualifying roster. Will it pay off?

Jun 23, 2022Julie FoudyContributor, espnW.com

When U.S. Soccer sends out press releases to announce upcoming match rosters, there are always a few stats and facts included. But I think this bullet from the announcement of the 23-player roster for CONCACAF’S World Cup qualification tournament sums up the state of the U.S. women’s national team perfectly:

  • Just 10 of the 23 players on the CONCACAF W Championship roster have experience in World Cup and Olympic qualifying. The other 13 players will get the opportunity to make their CONCACAF qualifying debuts at the senior level.Honestly, when was the last time we have read that well over half of a USWNT roster has not had any qualifying experience? Other than our very first World Cup qualifier ever in Haiti before the 1991 Women’s World Cup, my best guess is never. In fact, these 13 qualifying debutants all have 27 caps or fewer, including eight in single digits: Alana Cook (9 caps), Ashley Hatch (8), Ashley Sanchez (7), Casey Murphy (4), Trinity Rodman (3), Naomi Girma (1), Aubrey Kingsbury (1) and Taylor Kornieck (0).What does that tell you about the roster head coach Vlatko Andonovski has chosen in this moment? It tells me the youth transformation is official, and Andonovski didn’t need the USWNT’s upcoming friendlies against Colombia on Saturday and Tuesday to know the direction he will take the team. So much so that Christen Press, even before her recent torn ACL, was still not even in the final 23-player roster. And given the high-level play by the younger group in the NWSL this year, if I were Andonovski I’d be confident in them as well.

– Watch live: USWNT vs. Colombia (June 28, 10 p.m. ET)– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access

Sure, it was a major setback and disappointment when Catarina Macario recently tore her ACL given the season she had for Lyon, helping them win both the Champions League title and French league title with her team-leading 23 goals across competitions. But Sophia Smith and Mal Pugh are both equally hot with their respective NWSL teams, and with Alex Morgan scoring seemingly at will for the San Diego Wave, leading the league with 11 goals, that front three of Smith, Morgan, and Pugh will be a handful for every single CONCACAF opponent.

The midfield sitting behind them — if healthy (the ultimate qualifier in a year like this) — should be Lindsey HoranRose Lavelle and Andi Sullivan, although I know more than just San Diego Wave fans are excited to see what Taylor Kornieck can do at this level, given her dominance for the Wave.It is the back line where I think the most question marks fall. With Tierna Davidson‘s ACL injury and Abby Dahlkemper‘s continued bouts of injury, Alana Cook and Naomi Girma may be given the nod again as the chosen center-back pairing, as they were in the previous USWNT games in April.

But with Becky Sauerbrunn returning to the fold healthy, will Andonovski choose to bring the veteran captain into the starting 11? I think he probably goes with the same starting back-four he used in the last friendly the USWNT played vs. Uzbekistan — it was Sofia Huerta on the right, Cook and Girma as the center-backs, and Emily Fox on the left.

That rare positional battle where a veteran may hold onto a spot challenged by a rookie is where the pair of friendlies against Colombia before the qualifiers can sway Andonovski’s approach. His focus is clearly on the qualification tournament at the start of July, and his roster selection makes it clear his mind is made up in pushing the team younger — but still, the Colombia friendlies are his last pit stop on the road to qualifiers in Mexico, and we ought to see him test his on-field partnerships.

The one head-scratcher for many fans with the roster announcement was the fact that Megan Rapinoe made the final roster. And I say “head-scratcher” because Rapinoe had not played much at all with her OL Reign team. She was just coming back from injury and had played a total of 154 minutes for the entire season.Despite the wave of young talent, 37-year-old Megan Rapinoe made the roster for both a pair of friendlies vs. Colombia and the World Cup/Olympic qualifiers. Brad Smith/Getty Images

Given Andonovski’s insistence that all national team call-ups must prove themselves at the club level, the reason for the call up suddenly became quite clear: It’s Megan Rapinoe.

Andonovski called in Rapinoe because he loves the swagger that a player like Rapinoe brings. I don’t think he is planning on giving her tons of minutes, but wants her there as an option to bring off the bench if they need a goal, if they need a lift, and mostly, to give this younger group confidence. It is her leadership and mentality that he seeks more than anything.

Yes, you get that leadership and veteran experience with players like Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara and Alex Morgan, but there is only one Megan Rapinoe when it comes to that swagger. And I take you back to the first bullet above: With over half the team never having gone through a qualifier, Rapinoe brings stability more than anything. She has done it at every level — and the brighter the lights, the more she glows. That confidence is contagious.

Remember, these CONCACAF W qualifiers are interesting particularly because they double as the Olympic qualifying tournament.

Women’s European Soccer Pick ‘Em

With four CONCACAF teams getting an automatic spot in the 2023 World Cup thanks to the expanded 2023 World Cup field, qualifying for the World Cup should be a given for the United States. The USWNT simply has to finish in the top two of its group of Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico, and which means reaching the semifinal round of the tournament is enough to qualify for the 2023 World Cup. They don’t have to win the semifinal game to qualify for the World Cup either — they just need to get there.

But to get to the Olympics, this is where things get interesting: The U.S. must either win this CONCACAF W Championship tournament out-right or finish in 2nd or 3rd place for the right to play a playoff game to get to the Olympics. Only two teams from CONCACAF will compete in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

So buckle up: There could or could not be turbulence when it comes to these qualifiers. Given how young this group is, you just never know. And that is a variable I absolutely love.

USWNT vs. Colombia, 2022 friendly: What to watch for

We get ready for the final preparations.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jun 24, 2022, 7:00am PDT  

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Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The United States Women’s National Team begin their final preparations for the Concacaf W Championship when they host Colombia in a pair of friendlies, beginning tomorrow in Denver. The USWNT are hoping to figure out the best combinations of players as they prepare for the confederation championship, which also serves as qualifying for the 2023 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics.

The USWNT look to use their lessons learned against the 28th ranked Colombia, who are preparing to host the Copa America Femenina next month. Both teams will likely be aggressive on the ball, and the two teams have a history of physical play when they face each other. We’ll see who will own the day in Denver.

Roster

GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (7): Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

FORWARDS (7): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC)

Additional Players for June Friendlies Roster vs. Colombia:

DEFENDERS (1): Carson Pickett (North Carolina Courage)

https://7d14c4d5a7f2d49fbbeb990675f5d0d3.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html MIDFIELDERS (2): Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Jaelin Howell (Racing Louisville)

What To Watch For

Avoid the chippiness. Colombia’s physical play against the United States over the years has on several occasions become more on the dirty side. The USWNT can’t let Colombia get them off their game while at the same time matching that intensity and physicality.

Midfield should step up. The American midfield has to keep the pressure on Colombia’s defense while also ensuring the ball doesn’t get into the defensive third. They have the better talent on paper, but they have to be able to absorb the intensity that Colombia’s going to bring.

End the game early on offense. Create scoring chances, and the USWNT attackers should show no mercy. They’ve recently given opponents fits as they put big numbers on the board. Colombia is a team that will take an opposition’s scoreless droughts and turn them into momentum. The USWNT should end that quickly by capitalizing on scoring chances and ending any hope for the Colombians.

Prediction

It starts out fast for the USWNT with a couple early goals, and they cruise to a 4-0 victory.

Megan Rapinoe’s USWNT role has changed and she’s at peace: ‘A weight has been lifted’

Jun 22, 2022Jeff Kassouf

Megan Rapinoe is aware of the elephant in the room.

She turns 37 soon and she has started only one game for OL Reign this season in the National Women’s Soccer League season due to injuries. Still, U.S. women’s national team head coach Vlatko Andonovski selected her for the 23-player roster for the upcoming World Cup qualifying tournament, which starts July 4, one day before her birthday.

Rapinoe — both she and Andonovski say — will play a very different role from the one that the world is accustomed to seeing her in.”We have a really young squad,” Rapinoe told ESPN, “and I feel like what I can bring to them in a mentor role, at training, being in their ear, the level of professionalism and understanding the style that Vlatko wants to play, and [being] that conduit to what the coaching staff wants and what the players are going to ultimately do on the field, was part of the roster selection.”If people don’t like that, that’s fine. They’re not the coach of the national team. Vlatko’s the coach, and ultimately it falls on him and what he wants and what he’s willing to put his reputation on and the team’s reputation on. Ultimately, if he’s unsuccessful, he’ll be fired, and he knows that, and I think he’s OK with that. If we’re unsuccessful — if I’m unsuccessful — I’ll be cut from the team, and that’s fine, too.”Most of the world knows Rapinoe for her role as the leader of the United States’ triumph at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. With her unmistakable pink hair, Rapinoe won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot as the top player and scorer while the U.S. clinched a second straight World Cup title, all while fighting the U.S. Soccer Federation for equal pay and protesting against the Trump administration.

After that magical month in France, Rapinoe says now, she felt stuck in a “hamster wheel.” Her life changed completely as her celebrity increased, and she found herself struggling to balance the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects with the usual physical demands made harder as she aged. The Olympics were delayed a year until 2021, and the U.S. eventually slogged through some poor stretches of play at that tournament to win a bronze medal. Rapinoe scored twice in the 4-3 win over Australia in that third-place game.Then came the break. Beginning in November, Andonovski purposely left out longtime veteran national team players — including Rapinoe — from training camps. His plan was to get a better look at young, less experienced players in order to determine whether they could contribute to more important moments like qualifying and, ultimately, the World Cup. Andonovski revealed earlier this month that he and Rapinoe had a discussion in late 2021 about her eventual return to the team.

“With that conversation, she understood that we are going to bring in a lot of players, we are going to test a lot of players,” Andonovski said. “We want to give the young players lots of minutes and opportunities to play and give us a chance to evaluate as much as possible. But after everything is said and done, if she is healthy and if she is fit to get minutes, that she will be on the roster. We know what Megan is capable of doing.”

From thoughts of retirement to reinvigoration

At some point during qualifying, Andonovski says, younger U.S. players will need Rapinoe’s experience to navigate a difficult situation. Rapinoe was around for qualifying in 2010 — the previous time Mexico hosted the tournament — when the U.S. lost to Mexico in the semifinals and had to eke through a playoff with Italy to become the final team to qualify for the 2011 World Cup. It was the closest the U.S. women’s national team had ever gotten to not qualifying for a World Cup.Several veterans from that near disaster remain active. Rapinoe said that no two players’ situations are the same, and that people very generally grouped veterans together over the past nine months of this roster overhaul process. (Alex Morgan also returns to the squad for qualifying. She leads the NWSL with 11 goals in 10 games.) Everyone who got called up deserves to be, Rapinoe said, and even players who did not get the call deserved inclusion, too.”Rosters are not a compilation just of, go pick the best players and hope for the best,” Rapinoe said. “It’s about constructing an organism that works together on and off the field, that works not necessarily harmoniously all the time, but that the right pieces fit for certain reasons and for reasons most people don’t understand.”Injuries played a role in the public skepticism of Rapinoe’s return to the national team. A day after feeling like she completely recovered from a nagging ankle injury this spring, she pulled her calf muscle. Her return to the field for OL Reign, something she needed to do to show she was fit for national team selection, was then delayed.Personal frustrations mounted for Rapinoe during that time, she says, so much so that sometimes retirement became a thought of hers — not because it was what she wanted to do, but because it felt like the only way to break the cycle. Rapino credits her fiancée, Sue Bird — who announced last week that she would retire at the end of this WNBA season, her 21st — with helping her manage those feelings as someone going through a similar process. Those are thoughts of the past, Rapinoe says.”I think being able to have someone who intimately knows what it means when I say, ‘I want to retire right now I’m so frustrated,’ it may not actually mean that,” Rapinoe said. “It actually means a lot of different things. So, being able to be there for her, and her be there for me, is the greatest gift ever.”

As U.S. national team training camp convenes in Colorado this week ahead of World Cup qualifying, Rapinoe said she’s in a much better place now. The outside world saw some of her physical struggles as she tried to get back on the field this spring, but they did not see her daily, internal battles with herself.”I feel like I’m just now on the other side of healing, physically and emotionally, and getting to a place where this feels new,” Rapinoe said. “Because I couldn’t have done what I was just kind of continuing to do after 2019. That felt like a hamster wheel, and it didn’t feel like a choice, and now I feel like I’m actually making a choice. My role is different, and I think I understand what my role is and I’m comfortable with it — I’m really excited about that. It’s kind of a combination of those things where I feel like in the last couple of weeks, I feel like a weight has been lifted. But also, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m excited again.’ “Beyond leadership, Rapinoe still has an uncanny ability to change results on a dime by being unpredictable from both open play and set pieces. She is also just reliable, and that matters to coaches in pressure-filled situations. As Reign head coach Laura Harvey said in May, “I would put my mortgage on Megan Rapinoe to score a penalty.”

Growing her game

Harvey and Andonovski played significant roles in Rapinoe’s career arc. The affable winger is best known for her triumphs at the world stage, but Rapinoe credits the evolution of her game — one that helped the Americans win both the 2015 and 2019 World Cups — to her time with the Seattle-based club, and specifically Harvey and Andonovski, who have both served as her coaches at the Reign.”I feel like I owe so much of my national team career to the Reign,” Rapinoe said. “I’ve had two of the best, if not the best coaches in the world, coach here and to be able to play under them. Some of the best players in the world [were here]… I feel like it’s where my game grew up. I think up until I got here it was like, ‘Yeah, I’m talented, I’m on the national team, we’re doing stuff, we’re successful.’ But I feel like when I got here, my game changed completely, and I really took it to the next level. I just owe so much to this club.”ndonovski coached the Reign prior to taking over the national team job and in that role he insisted that Rapinoe could still be better by improving her crossing accuracy and influencing the game in small moments, like a quick throw-in to catch an opponent off guard. He said that one year before Rapinoe dominated the 2019 World Cup.”I didn’t want her to be known as Pinoe who can serve the ball,” Andonovski said in 2018, as coach of the Reign. “I wanted her to be known as Pinoe who can change the game. How? Who cares? One time she’ll serve, one time she’ll slice a through ball, one time she’ll shoot. One time she’ll get a restart — it doesn’t matter. Be unpredictable.”Harvey was the original coach of the team — then called the Seattle Reign prior to being bought by the owners of Olympique Lyonnais — and she oversaw arguably the most dominant team in NWSL history in 2014 and 2015. The Reign went 16 games unbeaten in 2014 on their way to the first of two consecutive NWSL Shields, but they lost the NWSL championship each year to Andonovski-coached FC Kansas City sides.Ten years into the NWSL and many great Reign teams later, a playoff championship trophy still eludes the franchise. Rapinoe is one of three original Reign players to have been with the team from the inaugural season in 2013 (among 21 who remain active leaguewide from that first season). Jess Fishlock is one of the others, and while she was the league MVP in 2021, she will turn 36 before next season. Add that context to the short-term loan acquisition of Kim Little — who was the engine of those Reign glory teams and the 2014 league MVP — and the arrivals of Tobin Heath and striker Jordyn Huitema, and it suggests the Reign are all-in on finally ending the drought this year.

Women’s European Soccer Pick ‘Em

I’m really motivated and focused to bring a title to a club that I feel like really deserves it and has done things the right way,” Rapinoe said. “I feel like [we play] a style of soccer that has been inspirational not only here but around the world.”Before she returns to the Reign for the stretch run of the NWSL season, Rapinoe will help guide a very different-looking U.S. team at World Cup qualifying in Mexico. Four automatic qualification berths from the region lower the stakes a bit, but only the winner of the CONCACAF W Championship tournament will earn an automatic berth to the 2024 Olympics. (Second and third place go to a playoff.)Rapinoe’s inclusion in World Cup qualifying both reinvigorated her and provided clarity for her path ahead. If Rapinoe is to play in a fourth World Cup next year, it will have to be in a much different capacity than the previous cycles. She is at peace with that, so long as it is the best path for the team.”Now, I can imagine myself in qualifiers,” Rapinoe said. “Now, I can imagine, potentially, what a run to a World Cup would look like and what’s going to be required of me, where I feel comfortable and where I can push myself, where I can be of the utmost help to the team. Ultimately, that’s what it’s about. It’s about winning, period. It’s about getting another championship and going for a three-peat, which is f—ing ridiculous and amazing. If I can be a part of that, that excites me.”

After a successful group stage, Hadjuk Split’s Pukstas sets sights on qualifying

Rokas Pukstas has had a great 2022 with his promotion into Hadjuk Split’s first team and being named to the U.S. U-20 roster for World Cup and Olympic qualifying. Now the Oklahoma native will be looking to qualify for both tournaments and perhaps follow in his family’s Olympic legacy. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta spoke with Pukstas from Honduras. 

BY BRIAN SCIARETTA    JUNE 24, 2022  11:00 AM

THE UNITED STATES U-20 national team is now entering the pivotal stage of the CONCACAF Championships that will serve as qualification for both the 2023 U-20 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics. It is a massively important tournament for the U.S. Soccer to secure participation for key American prospects in two global tournaments .Rokas Pukstas, 17, is one of the team’s central midfielders and he has been part of the cycle since the start when the team participated in November’s Revelations Cup in Mexico just days after head coach Mikey Varas was hired. Since then he has watched the team grow while also making huge strides at his club, Hajduk Split in Croatia, where he made his first team debut in April.For both club and country, it has been a huge year for Pukstas and these CONCACAF Championships are where he wants to see that progress translate into tangible results.“When I was in November camp I was still training with the U-19s at Hajduk, barely with the first team,” Pukstas told American Soccer Now from Honduras. “Once I progressed to first team in January preseason and then I was full time since then, my comfort level got so much better, especially in these camps, I have more confidence. Definitely I see myself bringing the kind of that European style – the calmness, less frantic – into these camps. I see the progress in myself, but also our team. You can see the progress from the November camp, individually too. The individual success can also bring team success.”It has been quite a journey for Pukstas to get to this point and it differs from many other top American prospects. He did not come from a major U.S. metropolitan center with professional soccer academies nearby. He also did not come from a soccer family who was able to give him proper instructions at a high level.Instead, Pukstas is from Stillwater, Oklahoma – where American football reigns supreme. His parents are both Lithuanian immigrants who participated in other sports at the highest levels. His father, Mindaugas Pukstas, even represented Lithuania at the 2004 Olympics in Greece for the marathon.Getting pushed and getting high quality games was always a challenge for Pukstas once he discovered he had the talent and drive to go far.“In Oklahoma, soccer is the fourth most popular sport there,” Pukstas said. “It all started with rec. I was from a small town. Once I competed there, once I develop, I need a place to move. So, I went to Oklahoma City to train. It’s just different there because there’s was no Development Academy. They had a lot of good players but they’re just not pushed how they should be. It was better for me to go to Sporting KC rather than stay in Oklahoma. Dike, he went away to college. Oklahoma has the talent, but we lack the system.”Like many top American kids, Pukstas had ambitions to play in Europe but there are always questions over where to being a career. Many players on the U.S. team have begun there careers domestically in MLS before heading abroad and for Pukstas, that was an option as he initially moved away to join the Sporting Kansas City academy.But with his Lithuanian passport, he was able to go on trials at an earlier age and Hadjuk Split was the first place he trialed. In the end, it was the place he decided to sign his first pro deal. In April, he signed a new deal with the club through 2025.“It was the next steppingstone from Oklahoma,” Pukstas said of Sporting KC. “Like always, it was a struggle at first, but I got comfortable and started executing. It was great. I learned a lot there. But I felt it was better to continue to go to Europe. But Sporting was great. It was a great steppingstone.”“I went on trial in a couple of places and I looked into Hadjuk,” Pukstas added. “Hadjuk was actually the first spot I went, and I was hooked. I saw the pathway and it’s been working great. Croatia is known for their really good development. I felt like my best option was to go there, learn the system, learn the best techniques for everything and grow from there.”The past six months in 2022 have seen Pukstas take his game to another level. He’s now on the first team at Hajduk Spit and has ambitions of becoming a regular next season for one of Croatia’s biggest clubs.
“I’m not going to lie, it was really tough for me at the beginning,” Pukstas said. “I was confused about the tactics.  I wasn’t getting a lot of minutes. I was being pushed down and I was kind of the guy who was different. Most of the guys there were Croatian. But once you start performing, the teammates will accept you more and it just became better and better every day. But it was really, really tough in the beginning getting used to the culture, the food, everything’s different there.”“Right now, it’s great” he added.He has also been growing in importance to Varas throughout the cycle this qualifying tournament has shown that as he was given the starting job for the group stage finale against Cuba where the U.S. team won 3-0 to secure a first-place finish in Group E. Due to the fact that the roster size is small and games taking place every two to three days, players have to get rotated into the starting XI frequently and are often asked to play multiple positions.Rokas describes himself as a box-to-box midfielder who can play either the No. 6 or the No. 8. Stylistically, he says he enjoys being the “fireman of the group” who can defensively respond to situations when the opponents create a dangerous possession (“being there defensively, aggressive with tackles, covering a lot of ground, being that leader and to win the midfield battles and just controlling the tempo of the game”).Now in Honduras, Pukstas is happy, but he knows the responsibilities of the tasks ahead. He enjoys the progress the U-20 team has made this cycle and hopes that it will be on full display in the knockout rounds where the opponents will be better and the intensity will be raised.“The first two camps we would play intrasquad matches where we would all outplay the press pretty easily. But now once we learned the system, everybody’s more disciplined. It is really hard to beat our press and trainings are more intense. It’s hard to break everything. So once people got more disciplined, got more into the tactics, it has just been a lot smoother process. We feel confident… Everybody’s been talking about the importance of qualifying but Mikey really does a good job of telling us the focus on the next game.”There is a lot of pressure on this U-20 team to end U.S. Soccer’s skid of failing to qualify for the Olympics. For this to happen, the U.S. team will have to win its semifinal game in Honduras, quite possibly against the hosts.The Olympics play a big part the Pukstas family given his family’s athletic history and his father’s participation in the 2004 Games. Even though it was a different sport, for a different country, coming from that background has helped Pukstas mentally adjust to the pressures of international sports.“It makes me really proud to show what my parents have done for their country also,” Pukstas said. “They’ve basically been through these processes. It’s a different sport, but they know what could happen. They’ve been really helpful and to help me get through this because they went through it, too.”Even though Pukstas is from a Lithuanian family, he looks forward to representing the United States (which has has represented since the U-15 level) and believes in the future of soccer in this country. Earlier this year, Lithuania’s soccer federation met with Pukstas to gauge interest and see if he would be interested in following in his father’s footsteps. Pukstas politely declined, however, with seeing the potential of the current younger generations of American players.  “My whole family is from Lithuania,” Pukstas said. “When I was from six to 10, I’d go every summer and stay with my grandparents and play for the academies there. Lithuania definitely has a place in my heart. But the future in the U.S. is great to see. I want to be part of that process. I want to help in that process for the U.S. to be good. Lithuania is in my culture but my whole family agrees that this is the best pathway for me.”

Megan Rapinoe Speaks on the Supreme Court Overturning Roe v. Wade

   Grant Wahl  Jun 24 

ON THE DAY BEFORE the USWNT meets Colombia in a friendly in the Denver area, star winger Megan Rapinoe gave her reaction to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in a press conference. Here’s what she said:

MEGAN RAPINOE:

Hi everybody. I mean, first of all, obviously it’s good to be back in the crest and seeing all of you. I wish that we could just talk about soccer today. But obviously with the ruling on Roe v Wade, that takes precedence over everything. It’s hard to put into words how sad a day this is for me personally, for my teammates, for just all of the people out there who this is going to affect. I say this all the time, but pro-choice means that you get to choose. Pro-choice allows other people to be pro-life if that is what works for them, or that is what their beliefs are, or if that is where they’re at in their life.

Pro-life doesn’t allow anybody to make a choice. Obviously you can understand from an individual perspective how difficult it is to live in a country where you have a constant, unrelenting, violent tide against you, an onslaught as a woman. And it would be as a gay person and as a non-binary person, as a trans person, whoever this is going to affect, because it affects a lot more than just women, or cis women, it really does affect us all. If people are seeing this, beyond that I would just encourage people to try to understand the intersectionality of this.

I am a cis-gendered rich white woman that lives in two of the most progressive cities in the world with protection of not only myself and my resources, but this resource and this protection, as are all of my teammates, not everyone is afforded that. We know that this will disproportionately affect poor women, Black women, brown women, immigrants, women in abusive relationships, women who have been raped, and girls who have been raped by family members. Who, you know what, maybe just didn’t make the best choice. And that’s no reason to be forced to have a pregnancy. It will completely exacerbate so many of the existing inequalities that we have in our country.

It doesn’t keep not one single person safer. It doesn’t keep not one single child safer, certainly. And it does not keep one single inclusive term woman safer. We know that the lack of abortion does not stop people from having abortions. It stops people from having safe abortions. I would encourage people to understand all of the different aspects that overturning Roe v Wade will have on so many … actually on everyone in the entire country. I just can’t understate how sad and how cruel this is. I think the cruelty is the point, because this is not pro-life by any means.


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This way of thinking or political belief is coupled with a complete lack of motivation around gun laws. It comes with pro death penalty. It comes with anti health care, anti prenatal care, anti child care, anti pre-K, anti food assistance, anti welfare anti-education, anti maternity leave, anti paternity leave.

This is not pro-life. And it’s very frustrating and disheartening and frankly just infuriating. To hear that be the reason that people are wanting to end abortion rights and this vital aspect of a woman’s not only healthcare and general basic safety in this country, but her bodily autonomy and the right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness and liberty is being assaulted.

And it’s just incredibly disheartening. Um, there are an infinite amount of reasons why a woman chooses to do what she does with her body or what they do with their body, none of which are anybody else’s business. And I just, again, like, it’s just so disheartening and so sad because some people will be okay, but most people will not, most people are not in a position or have the resources or whatever the case may be to protect themselves. And so to have the entirety of the U.S. government say to people’s faces, say to women’s faces, we do not care. We are going to force our belief system, which is deeply rooted in a white supremacist patriarchal Christianity. We are going to force that upon you. First of all, your religion is a choice and it is a belief that you have. It is not my belief and it is not many people’s beliefs, and it certainly is not the law of the land. And it certainly in the context of Roe v Wade is not the will of the country, and that has been explicit for so long. The makeup of the court is ill-equipped to handle this kind of decision. Frankly, a majority male court making decisions about my body or any other woman’s body is completely misguided and wildly out of touch with the desires of the country, the will of the country and the will of the people. And I think they acting incredibly irresponsibly and inappropriately.

Again, I think I’ll just end with pro-choice means that we all get to decide what is best for us, because that is our right as a human being in this country. And frankly, I believe in the world and pro-life does not allow anything other than one very strict religious view, frankly, and belief system to be forced upon everyone else.

So this will obviously have very wide ranging effects when it comes to racism and transphobia and homophobia and inequality and will exacerbate so many of the existing issues that we have in our country. Particularly as we come out of COVID as the economic situation will likely continue to deteriorate for so many people.

It’s a really sad day. It’s a really hard thing to deal with for all of us. And again, I encourage people to take a step back and come from a place of compassion and humanity. And understand that just because I believe something doesn’t mean everybody else has to, and we all get to make our own choices, but ultimately we need to come from a place of love, respect, and autonomy to do what we feel is best for us.

NANCY ARMOUR, USA Today:

Megan, thank you very much for taking the time to do this. You were one of the 500 female athletes who submitted an amicus brief to the court in this case, making the link between Title IX and Roe v Wade that without Roe, the gains of Title IX would not be possible. Obviously yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Can you just talk about what, first of all, the fact that this decision came down a day after that, and also just from an an athlete’s perspective, just put into perspective what Roe allowed you to do, how it allowed you to take advantage of everything that Title IX provided?

RAPINOE:

I think Title IX, first of all, it’s just oddly cruel for this to happen during this time, obviously with Title IX, celebrating a piece of legislation that gave so many women the opportunity to make our own choices about what we wanted to do with our life. And obviously in the context of athletics gave us the opportunity to pursue a unicorn talent that all of us have to be professional athletes or to go to college, or honestly gives people so many opportunities to go to college and get an education and potentially change their situation or choose for themselves what they what they want their situation to be.

I mean, for me personally, I obviously have this once in a lifetime talent that I’m able to use to take me into the rest of my life. It’s what brought me to college. And it’s what obviously has brought me beyond, but it was very clear, very early on. My parents were not in position to financially support both my twin sister and I going to college where they had to pay for it. So I was able to use Title IX to get an education. And my sister was able to use Title IX to get an education. God forbid soccer doesn’t work out, which it does not work out for almost everybody who tries to play professional soccer. So I can’t understate the importance and the impact of Title IX in the world, not just in our country, but in the world at large. And how this is yet again, another assault on women’s autonomy to do what they want. Because it won’t stop here. And this isn’t the first place that it has started. Lack of healthcare, the disgusting and cruel attack on trans kids, the bathroom bills.

A lot of the decision I believe, from what I’ve read. Obergefell comes up a lot in this decision about Roe v Wade. I think gay marriage is under attack. I think that trans rights are under attack. I think that women’s rights are under attack. We know voting rights are under attack. We know civil rights are under attack of all kinds.

So I don’t think you can understate the importance of Title IX and also the dire situation which we are in, in which a very small number of people are dictating the lives of quite literally hundreds of millions of people.

STEPHANIE YANG, The Athletic:

Thanks Megan. That was a lot of emotional labor. So please feel free to skate right past this. You’ve got me crying in the club too. So, sorry about that. And my voice is like crazy right now. You did just mention Obergefell and gay rights and you know, I’ve got colleagues in this space who are talking about, let’s go get married at the courthouse today, just in case, things like that. And I was just wondering if there was any discussion amongst you and other teammates about the impact of this on queer communities, not just in terms of gay marriage but for queer communities, bodily autonomy is also a really huge issue.

RAPINOE:

Listen, I hold space for that. And it’s a very emotional day. Of course, of course. I see everything in intersectionality. As an intersection, I absolutely think gay rights are under attack. I absolutely think we will see legislation pop up state by state by state that will eventually come to this radical court. I have zero faith that my rights will be upheld by the court. I have faith in our country and I have faith in people and I have faith in the voters. And if you ever needed a fucking motivation to vote, to get involved. Quite literally people’s lives depend on it. Like actual lives, we’re talking life and death, and also, you know, your life in terms of what does it mean to even be alive if you can’t be your full self, like what the fuck is the point? So yeah, I mean, we’ve absolutely had these conversations.

I think we’ll continue to have these conversations. I think this is obviously very new and very raw, you know, a few of us. I mean, obviously we heard about the leak. I mean, to whoever leaked that, thank you for giving us a heads up, because this is a lot to take in, and to be surprised by this would’ve just been fucking out of control.

But yeah, people are scared, you know, and it’s like, for me, I’m scared because this is just awful. And I know how important it is for me to express myself and to be who I am, but I’m going to be fine. I said that I’m rich and white and super privileged and famous. And live bicoastally. I will not be subjected to so much of the impact that this will have, but other people are not that lucky and they will be affected immediately. They’re likely already being affected. So yeah. It is an emotional day. It is a scary day. We have to be vigilant. If again there is any needed motivation for getting out and voting and using our voice and by any and all means necessary protecting the progress we’ve made, but also fighting like hell for what we still need, please let this be the siren that you need.

ME:

Hi, Megan. Your team plays in Utah a couple of days. I’m not sure what the laws are in Colorado. My understanding in Utah is that they have some sort of trigger law, anti-abortion law, that goes into effect. What do you want to see U.S. Soccer do when they schedule games in certain locations in states that have anti-abortion laws? How do you feel about playing in Utah in a few days?

RAPINOE:

I mean, obviously we’re not moving the game, and we’re not protesting the game. I think, as you guys have seen, the most powerful thing we can always do is show up and not only express our supreme skill and talent and joy on the field, but to be able to have that platform. I think moving forward we should do any and all things necessary as people, organizations, the media, corporations, government, national governing bodies and everybody to ensure the rights and liberties of every single American. So I don’t know exactly what that looks like. Thus far we’ve felt extremely supported by U.S. Soccer, by everyone here individually.

We spoke to Kate [Markgraf] last night, a group of us. Obviously, I’ve been given this platform and had conversations with [Aaron Heifetz] already. We will always be supported to use our voices, and we always have been in this federation and we will continue that. And I think we understand that as a team we have an incredible platform to do good in the world. And to me, this is not a political issue at all. This is a human rights issue.

And I think the players in U.S. Soccer and everyone in this environment and back home in Chicago feel that same way and will support a group of women who rely on the autonomy of their body to do the thing that they love and to make this circus run. So I think it is only in the benefit of everyone to do whatever we can to provide an environment where the players feel protected, supported, and have the utmost autonomy in their bodies.

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6/17/22  Indy 11 W defeat Louisville 3-1, World Cup 2026 Cities Announced, USWNT Roster, MLS games to Apple TV, USMNT ties El Salvador

Indy 11 Women beat Louisville II for 1st / Indy 11 Men tonight 9 pm

Our Indy 11 women took over sole possession of first place after an impressive 3-1 win over Racing Louisville Fri night. The 11 are off to a great start with 6 wins and 2 ties on the season for tops in the league. (story below) To learn more about the newest edition of Indiana’s Team representing the women’s game, visit indyeleven.com/wleague.  On the men’s side they will next play in Colorado tonight at 9 pm on MyIndyTV 23/ESPN+. The boys in blue return home Sat, July 2 at 7:30 pm with a fire-works display after – so make your plans to be there- tix are just $15 @ indyeleven.com/tickets.

2026 World Cup Cities Announced

The 2026 World Cup Cities have been announced and the expected cities were selected (video).  Los Angeles, San Fran, Seattle, Houston, Dallas, New York, Boston, Philly, Atlanta & Miami.  I guess the Midwest doesn’t matter in the World Cup.  And NO KANSAS IS NOT THE MIDWEST.  Cincy was, maybe Nashville – but not Kansas City which is 8 daggum hours away from us.  I plan to follow the US team anyway – but Chicago’s mayor refusing to play FIFAs game and pony up the resources needed – has left the Midwest with NO GAMES.  Thanks for nothing CHICAGO!!  I am figuring the US will play in NY/NJ, Philly and perhaps Boston – so look out friends in those areas – The Ole Ballcoach is coming!

US Ties El Salvador 1-1 in SlopFest

Not 100% sure what learned from the slopfest in El Salvador other than this US team has guts and spirit – and they won’t be bossed around.  The US found a way to tie the game late with a huge header by Seattle forward Jordan Morris  (gooooall)  to tie it at 1-1 (highlights) of a fantastic pass from Eric De La Torre in the 90th minute.  (Highlights).  I thought the boys showed some real heart in the worst possible field conditions (welcome to CONCACAF), Musah was the Man of the Match as he just played his heart out and was all over the field.  I thought the Captain Pulisic was good – but obviously he’s not a mudder – though he did not back down and the team followed his lead as McKennie, Adams (shown body slamming a player) and the center backs played this game like a WWE match.  I was proud of the way they stood up and wouldn’t back down to El Salvador’s ridiculous rough play and the horrific referring on the night.  I thought VAR would have overturned multiple calls and would have possibly given the US a PK along the way.  GK Ethan Horvath stood and watched as a screamer beat him near post – HORRIFIC.  He has played his way into 4th slot on the GK list at this point.  No way Turner gives up that goal – so we should have won the game rather than tie it.  I also though Haji Wright was not even on the field – unfortunate that his go was in the mud but he did not play well.  Everyone else was fine – and in the long run a young squad has more faith they can comeback in a tough setting against the odds. 

MLS Moves Games to Apple TV

MLS has signed a huge 2.5 billion dollar deal for 10 years with Apple TV to be their streaming home of all MLS games – replacing ESPN+.  Evidently ESPN and Fox and other TV networks are still bidding for TV rights to the games on a national basis – but all local coverage will be replaced with Apple+. 

Carmel FC Coaches Game

Man what a good looking group of Carmel FC Coaches Showed up for our Annual End of Season Game. Of course the Ole Ballcoach was the star LOL – Not!! Thanks Juergen for the Pizza’s after!

Coach Best is Doing some Goalkeeper Training this Summer – reach out if interested in small group training at inexpensive prices. shanebestsoccer@gmail.com or 317-748-7174.

2022 Midwest Regional Championships @ Grand Park

June 24 – June 29, 2022 Westfield, Indiana

The 2022 US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championships takes place June 24 – June 29 in Westfield, Indiana. The event will feature Boys and Girls teams in the 13U through 19U age groups who will compete for a regional championship and a spot at the 2022 US Youth Soccer National Championships. (Schedule)

• Preliminary Round – Fri, June 24 // Saturday, June 25 // Sunday, June 26

Semifinals – Tuesday, June 28

Finals – Wednesday, June 29

BIG GAMES ON TV

Sat, June 18

3 pm ABC                            Seattle Sounders vs LAFC  

5 pm ESPN                          LA Galaxy vs Portland

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Philly vs Cincy

8 pm ESPN+                        Chicago Fire vs DC United

8:30 pm TUDN                   USA U20 vs St. Kitts

8:30 pm Para+                   KC vs Chicago NWSL

9 pm ESPN+                Indy 11 @ Colorado

10:30 Para+                         Seattle Reign vs Angel City NWSL

Sun, June 19

3 pm ESPN2                        Atlanta United vs Inter Miami  

3:30 pm Para+                   Portland Thorns vs Orlando Pride NWSL

4 ppm Para +                      NY/NJ Gotham vs San Diego Wave

5 pm Para +                        NC Courage vs Houston Dash

6 pm Fox Sport 1              Nashville vs Sporting KC  

6 pm ESPN+                        San Diego Loyal vs Las Vegas Lights USL

Tues, June 21

10:30 pm ESPN+          LA Galaxy vs Sacramento US Open Cup

Weds, June 22

8:30 pm ESPN+                  NY Red Bulls vs NYCFC  US Open

8:30 pm ESPN+                  Sporting KC vs Union Omaha US Open

8:30 pm TUDN                   USA U20 vs Cuba U20

Fri, June 24

7:30 pm ESPN+            Cincy vs Orlando City

Sat, June 25

3 pm ABC                             Seattle Sounders vs Sporting KC  

3:10 pm fubo tv                France vs Cameroon women

5 pm ESPN                          DC United vs Nashville FC

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1 USA Women vs Colombia

7:30 pm ESPN+                  CF Montreal vs Charlotte

8 pm TUDN                         Chicago Fire vs Houston Dynamo

Sun, June 26

3 pm ABC                             LAFC vs NY Red Bulls

6 pm Fox Sport 1              Philly vs NYCFC  

6 pm ESPN+                        San Diego Loyal vs Las Vegas Lights USL

Tues, June 28

10 pm ESPN                        USA Women vs Colombia

Wed, June 29

7 pm ESPN+                        Orlando City vs Nashville US Open Cup

10:30 pm FS1                      LAFC vs Dallas

10 pm ESPN+                     Seattle vs CF Montreal

Thur, June 30

7 pm ESPN+                        NY Rd Bulls vs Atlanta United

Frir, July 1

8:30 pm Para+                   Houston vsKC NWSL

10:30 Para+                         Angel City vs Portland NWSL

Sat, July 2

7 pm Para+                         NY Gotham vs Chicago NWSL

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Toronto vs Seattle  

7:30 pm TV23             Indy 11 vs Miami FC (fireworks)

Mon, July 4

10 pm ESPN                        USA Women vs Haiti CONCACAF

Thur, July 7

10 pm ESPN                        USA Women vs Jamaica

Sun, July 10

10 pm ESPN                        USA Women vs Mexico

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

2022 Midwest Regional Championships @ Grand Park

June 24 – June 29, 2022 Westfield, Indiana

The 2022 US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championships takes place June 24 – June 29 in Westfield, Indiana. The event will feature Boys and Girls teams in the 13U through 19U age groups who will compete for a regional championship and a spot at the 2022 US Youth Soccer National Championships. (Schedule)

• Preliminary Round – Friday, June 24 // Saturday, June 25 // Sunday, June 26

• Semifinals – Tuesday, June 28

• Finals – Wednesday, June 29

Indy 11

Indy 11 Women Take on Racing Louisville 2  

Indy 11 travel to Colorado for 9 pm game on ESPN+

USA

90 Second Hightlights
USMNT showed mentality needed for World Cup on muddy night in El Salvador
  Kyle Bonagura

Player Ratings

 USA vs. El Salvador, 2022 Concacaf Nations League: What we learned

Analysis & player ratings: Musah, Morris, & LDLT lift USMNT to ugly, hard-fought 1-1 draw vs. El Salvador

Stock Up or Stock Down For US Players – Mat Doyle
USMNT showed mentality needed for World Cup on muddy night in El Salvador
 
Kyle Bonagura

CONCACAF Nations League 2022-23: All you need to know Dale Johnson

Who is the USMNT’s GOAT?


World Cup 2026 host cities confirmed: What you need to know about the 16 venues

How will the 2026 World Cup actually work?

FIFA announces 2026 Men’s World Cup host cities By Donald Wine II

USA Women

The USWNT Concacaf roster

Goalkeepers: Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).

Defenders: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit).

Midfielders: Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).

Forwards: Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC).

Rapinoe, Morgan return to USWNT roster

Why NWSL’s 2022 rookies are the best the league has ever had
USWNT star Tobin Heath joins OL Reign
 

MLS

 Analysis: The pros, cons, and unknows of the MLS deal with Apple TV

Juve legendary defender Giorgio Chiellini Joins LAFC –The 18  
MLS’ $2.5 Billion Apple TV Deal: Game-Changer or Disappointment?

Sky transformed English soccer. Will Apple’s $2.5bn deal do the same for MLS?

Goalkeeping

Best Saves Nations League Last Week

NL best saves Match Day 2

What a Save by American Sean Johnson vs Uruguay

Real’s Courtois Record 9 Saves in Champions League Final

NWSL Great Saves Week 7

Former Indy 11 & Carmel FC GK Coach Jordan Farr USL Save of Week Candidate

Great Saves

Gigi Buffons Reaction is Classic

Thoughts on Austrailian GK throwing Peru’s GK Waterbottle w/shooter tendencies in stands?

Dancing Austrailian GK Andrew Redmane Helps them Advance in Shootout

Arsenal GK Training Session

EPL

Premier League 2022-23 fixtures: Can’t-miss storylines, games
Premier League 2022-23 fixtures: Storylines and games you can’t miss
  James Olley
All ‘Big Six’ fixtures in the 2022-23 Premier League schedule

Sources: Mane agrees to join Bayern in €41m deal

WORLD


Bundesliga 2022-23 fixtures live on ESPN+
  ESPN
Mexico fans want Tata Martino fired, but time is running out for coach change
  Cesar Hernandez
Australian hero keeper says water-bottle act was ‘kill or be killed’

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Indy Eleven ended their two-game week with a 3-1 victory in front of a sold-out crowd at Grand Park in a pivotal showdown against second-place Racing Louisville FC. Two goals from forward Maddy Williams and a goal from forward Katie Soderstrom moves their record to six wins, 0 losses and two draws, crowning them the queens of the Great Lakes Division. There were many goal-scoring opportunities from both sides, as Louisville had a chance from the corner in the fifth minute before it was blocked just inside the opposing half. Williams unleashed forward Rachel McCarthy on a breakaway two minutes later as she attempted to beat the goalie, but she was stopped. Scoring the first goal in the 28th minute, forward Maddy Willams provided her veteran presence when midfielder Addie Chester delivered her a pass over the top, which Williams tucked into the far bottom corner. Williams’ goal would hold for the remainder of the half putting Indiana’s Team ahead at halftime.

“We talked before the game that we were probably going to get in on the counter-attack and that was exactly what happened,” Williams said. “Addie picked her head up and played a great ball and behind and really just caught them off guard.”The second half saw a spark for Indiana’s team as in the 57th minute a free-kick from midfielder Grace Bahr sailed into the box, where Williams fired the loose ball into the net, tallying her second goal of the game. With the goal, she now ties Soderstrom as Indy’s leading goal-scorer and one of the USL W-League’s top scorers. “The goal was on the corner. I think we all kind of felt like we had another one in us,” Williams said. “And that corner I think was just kind of a big mess in the box and landed right on my feet luckily.” The celebration did not end there, as Soderstrom’s stray shot went under the Louisville defense and resulted in a goal, putting Indy up three to nil in the 61st minute of the game. Louisville’s Emily Madril silenced the momentum of the Girls in Blue with her penalty kick into the bottom corner after the referee called a handball on Robyn McCarthy, putting Louisville on the leaderboard. The silence however was short-lived, as the Girls in Blue gathered the hard-fought victory, putting them at the top of the Great Lakes Division. “It’s a fierce rivalry; we’re competitors in nature. We knew it was gonna be a dogfight and it was a dogfight,” Assistant Coach Brandon Kim said. “But huge credit to the players, they fought, scratched and clawed their way to victory again.” Indy Eleven will embark on their final road trip of the season by making two stops in Michigan, first to take on Kalamazoo FC on Tuesday, June 21 at 7 PM followed by a trip to the east to take on Detroit City FC on Friday, July 1 at 7:30 PM. To learn more about the newest edition of Indiana’s Team representing the women’s game, visit indyeleven.com/wleague.

2022 USL W League Regular Season – Matchday 8

Indy Eleven 3  :  1  Racing Louisville FC

Friday, June 17, 2022 – 7:00 p.m.

Grand Park Events Center – Westfield, Ind.

Scoring Summary:

IND – Maddy Williams (Addie Chester) 28’

IND – Maddy Williams (Grace Bahr) 57’

IND – Katie Soderstrom (unassisted) 61’

Disciplinary Summary:

IND – Rachel McCarthy (yellow card) 45’

Indy Eleven lineup: 1-Mackenzie Wood (GK), 5-Grace Bahr), 6-Julia Leonard, 9-Katie Soderstrom, 12-Maddy Williams (18- Abby Isger 81’) , 16-Addie Chester (13-Jenna Chatterton, 61’), 21- Karsyn Cherry,  22-Greta Kraszula, 23-Robyn McCarthy, 24-Rachel McCarthy (10-Milica Bulatovic 61’), 26-Ella Rogers

IND substitutes: 15-Isidora Gajdobranski, 30- Kate Philips

Racing Louisville FC lineup: 8-Macy Enneking (GK), 3-Sam Cary, 4-Ashley Cathro, 6- Sarah Hernandez, 14-Ella Sanchez, 15-Itala Gemeli, 18- Autumn Weeks (25-Isabella Beltic 71’), 19-Allison Whitfield, 22- Emily Madril, 23-Allison Schlegel, 24-Clara Robbins

LOU substitutes: 1-Shelby Smith, 12-Kendra Pasquale, 13-Katie Erwin, 16-Audrey King, 21-Kayla Rowlett, 27-Allie George

League Leading Indy 11 Women Face Racing Louisville for First Place 7 pm at Grand Park Events Center

The first half of Indy Eleven’s two-game week began with a trip to the Kentucky region to face Kings Hammer FC. Tuesday’s match for the Girls in Blue resulted in a 1-1 draw thanks to a lone goal from Katie Soderstrom. Battling a heatwave that brought extremely high temperatures to the Midwest, Head Coach Paul Dolinsky said the girls did not appear to be themselves. He said the team did not have the extra energy and punch they are accustomed to every game. “The game was played at an incredibly slow pace for various reasons. We are not a slow pace playing team,” Dolinsky said. “The fact that it was as hot as it was definitely made the game less interesting than they usually are.”  A goal from Kings Hammer put the team up 1-nil in the opening two minutes of the contest. However, This did not deter Indy Eleven, as forward Katie Soderstrom’s lone goal in the 19th minute tied the game at halftime and eventually brought the game to a close. Soderstrom said that it was not the team’s finest performance, but she believes they battled hard and are looking forward to improving ahead of Friday’s match. “It was definitely a hard, hard-fought battle but it wasn’t our best performance as a whole,” Soderstrom said. “But we definitely showed a lot of grit and effort and to come back from being behind so early on.” Soderstrom’s goal on Tuesday was her sixth of the season, making her the Indy Eleven’s goal leader as well as one of the league’s top goal scorers. With a hand in half of Indy’s 17 goals thus far, Dolinsky believes she is one of the main components of the team’s success. “With her ability to get behind defenders and create goal-scoring opportunities to score goals herself, she’s a massive impact on any team she plays for,” Dolinsky said.Soderstrom said having the accolade is really exciting but credits her teammates for helping put her in this position. “It comes from great play for my teammates and them setting me up,” Soderstrom said. “I’m just trying to do my part to help us win games. But, it’s all on them for putting me in those positions to succeed.”  The second part of Indy Eleven’s two-game week will conclude on Friday with a home match against Racing Louisville FC. The squad had their first taste of the Lousiville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest rivalry at Racing Lousiville on May 20, dishing up a 2-0 win. With five wins and two draws, Indy Eleven sits atop of the W League’s Great Lakes Division standings, while Louisville sits in the second place with five wins, one loss and two draws. Dolinsky acknowledged that Friday’s game is going to be pivotal, but he wants his girls to be ready for the battle.  “We need to go into that game understanding that it is a game with two teams at the top of the table and as well as the rivalry game and try to beat a team twice in succession,” Dolinsky said. Tickets for that contest are available at indyeleven.com/wleague-tickets for only $8. To learn more about the newest edition of Indiana’s Team representing the women’s game, visit indyeleven.com/wleague

USMNT showed mentality needed for World Cup to salvage draw on muddy night in El Salvador

Jun 15, 2022Kyle BonaguraESPN Staff Writer

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Any hope the United States men’s national team had of using Tuesday’s CONCACAF Nations League game against El Salvador as a quasi-dress rehearsal for the FIFA World Cup faded away when the team arrived at Cuscatlan Stadium for training Monday night.They were aware the forecast called for rain, but minutes into the first warm-up drill, it became clear the field wasn’t going to hold up. Even light jogging left mud tracks in the previously undisturbed grass, and that was before the rain really started to come down.”We saw the conditions, saw how it was gradually getting worse and knew at game time it wasn’t going to be good,” USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter said. “I can only say that I’m really proud of the guys, the way they embraced that.”

– CONCACAF Nations League: Standings | Schedule | Stats
– Soccer on ESPN+: FC Daily | Futbol Americas
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access

It wasn’t exactly an ideal scenario for a team fully focused on preparing for a tournament in Qatar, where the annual average precipitation is roughly 3 inches. Instead, the team received a final dose of CONCACAF madness, where skill and precision were trumped by grit and emotion in a 1-1 draw.

Jordan Morris header in the first of six minutes of stoppage time rescued the result for the U.S. — extending its unbeaten streak against El Salvador to 20 games — but not before each team was issued a red card, El Salvador employed an array of time-wasting tactics, and chaos reigned supreme.

It was clear from the opening kickoff that neither team was going to attempt to build much from the back, instead opting to bypass the sloppy terrain with long balls.

“We thought after the warm-up that it would best suit us to play long,” midfielder Tyler Adams said. “I think with Haji [Wright] in the game, it suits him as well to hold the ball up, link up play like that.”

EDITOR’S PICKS

CONCACAF Nations League 2022-23: All you need to know

8dDale Johnson

Who is the USMNT’s GOAT?

8dKyle Bonagura and Austin Lindberg

It didn’t work. For Wright, the game was supposed to be his big audition. Starting between Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah, a convincing performance could have made an impact on his World Cup roster chances or perhaps even earn consideration for a meaningful role. Instead, his involvement was minimal and he was subbed for Jesus Ferreira at halftime.”It’s always difficult when players get an opportunity and don’t fully capitalize on it,” Berhalter said. “It’s not nice for a coach. It’s not nice for the player. It’s not nice for the group. We were all rooting for Haji to be a force. We purposely played more direct in the first half because we thought he could be the force that would unsettle them. And it just wasn’t his night tonight.”It doesn’t rule him out for anything in the future. We don’t work like that. Now it’s about him going back to his club and continuing to score goals and do his thing. It was an unlucky night for him tonight, for sure.”Goalkeeper Ethan Horvath had a similar opportunity. He made his first start in a U.S. shirt in more than a year but was caught out of position on Alex Larin’s 35th-minute goal. Beyond that moment, Horvath wasn’t really tested and will head back to Europe no closer to earning a place in Qatar.After a steady rain during the first half, it dissipated in the second, which, coupled with El Salvador’s lack of defensive pressure in midfield, led to a shift in approach. The U.S. limited the long balls — choosing to build out its attack — and the initial results were encouraging. Yunus Musah was particularly impressive on the ball, as one of the few players who seemed unencumbered by the conditions.”It was definitely fun,” Musah said. “When we came out of halftime for the second half, I just told Tim [Weah] that, ‘Yo, let’s just enjoy this. There’s not many matches that are like this, so let’s just enjoy it.’ And, yeah, we definitely did.”One passing sequence Musah was involved with led to the game’s best chance, but his shot was saved from nearly point-blank range. Being more clinical in front of goal, he said, is something he plans to work on and thinks can take him to another level as a player.”I was a little bit hesitant thinking about his skill set and how that was going to work today, but he took advantage of the dribble for sure,” Berhalter said. “Under poor field conditions, sometimes that can slow you down, and he was tremendous today. If there was a man of the match, we’d probably give it to him.”Paul Arriola replaced Weah on the right wing on the hour mark but lasted just nine minutes before being sent off with a straight red card for a slide tackle in the El Salvador box. That’s when the game truly went off the rails. A fight nearly broke out when Adams earned a yellow card after tossing an opponent to the ground in the 76th minute before El Salvador’s Ronald Rodriguez was sent off in the 79th minute when he took down Musah, who was in on goal.With the teams playing 10 vs. 10, an already discombobulated game veered even further away from the norm. The U.S. was desperate to score a goal, while El Salvador took every opportunity to preserve the win, which would have been its second against the United States all-time, and first since 1992.The U.S. could have easily packed it in, too. Had Berhalter removed Pulisic from the game as a means of preservation, few would have taken issue. The idea of the Chelsea star — or anyone else, really — getting injured on a muddy field chasing a result in a Nations League group game was terrifying for many U.S. fans watching at home.Competitive instinct overruled precaution, and the U.S. performance wasn’t lacking for effort. When Luca de la Torre‘s cross found Morris’ head for the tying goal, the celebration spoke volumes. The bench emptied. This mattered.

“One, it was Jordan scoring and I think that, for me at least, this kind of marked his comeback after all over overcoming all the injuries that and really showing the impact that it has on this group,” Adams said. “But also this means a lot to us. We want to win another trophy and as a young group, we don’t get many opportunities to do that. We’re taking it seriously. I think that showed.”If there’s a takeaway for what Tuesday’s game means for the World Cup, it must be about the team’s mentality. From a tactical standpoint, the field and rain made for mostly a pointless exercise, but the team’s ability to respond when faced with difficult circumstances points to a quality that not all teams have.”To see that from this group, to see the resiliency from this young group, the way they fought, we’re really proud of that,” Berhalter said. “Although we didn’t get the win, I think it’s a good takeaway and a good end to the June camp. It really brought the guys together in a good way.”After flying back to Miami early Wednesday morning, the players will go their separate ways, with 2½ months before they reassemble in Europe for the final pair of friendlies ahead of their opening game of the World Cup against Wales on Nov. 21.

Megan Rapinoe among the surprises on U.S. women’s CONCACAF W Championship roster

Kevin Baxter  Mon, June 13, 2022, 12:02 PM  LA Times

Megan Rapinoe, right, celebrates with teammate Alex Morgan after scoring on a penalty shot for the U.S. in the 2019 Women’s World Cup final against the Netherlands. Rapinoe and Morgan will represent the U.S. in the CONCACAF W Championship in July. (Francisco Seco / Associated Press)

U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski on Monday called up a mix of young and veteran players for next month’s CONCACAF W Championship, the qualifier for the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympics. And that makes the 23-player roster one full of surprises — both for who made it and who didn’t.Making it were forward Megan Rapinoe and defender Becky Sauerbrunn.Rapinoe’s inclusion was surprising because the 36-year-old hasn’t started for her NWSL club this season, playing just 154 minutes over four games for the OL Reign. And she hasn’t been part of the national team since October.Less surprising was the inclusion of Sauerbrunn, who is a week past her 37th birthday. Although she missed the national team’s April camp because of a knee injury, Sauerbrunn has played in the Portland Thorns’ last six NWSL games. She is also the U.S. captain and leads all active players with 202 international caps.Also returning for the first time since October is Alex Morgan, the NWSL scoring leader with nine goals in as many games for the expansion San Diego Wave. She is the national team’s leading active scorer, ith 115 goals, and she’ll be joined by Wave midfielder Taylor Kornieck, who is looking for her first senior national team cap.Among the missing is Angel City forward Christen Press, who hasn’t played with the national team since last summer’s Tokyo Olympics. She left Angel City’s match in Louisville on Saturday with a knee injury, but Andonovski said she wouldn’t have beaten out Mallory Pugh and Sophia Smith — whom he called the two most exciting players in NWSL — even if she was healthy.“She’s performing well. But it’s not just her now. It’s her competing with the players that are in front of her,” he said. “It’s not easy to be a forward in United States. The competition has just gotten bigger and bigger.”Eight other regulars were not available because of injury or maternity leaves, among them Abby Dahlkemper Catarina Macario, Sam Mewis, Crystal Dunn and Julie Ertz.The coach said Rapinoe, third among active players with 187 caps, was included largely because her experience will be valuable on a team that features 10 players under the age of 26 and eight players with fewer than 10 caps.“She is very important for this group,” Andonovski said. “Her winning mentality, her knowledge and understanding is very valuable for the group.”Alyssa Naeher, Kelley O’Hara, Emily Sonnett, Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan, all members of the World Cup-winning team in 2019, were included as well.“They’re on the team, first and foremost, because they can perform,” Andonovski said. “Their experience is a bonus.”

The U.S. will play friendlies against Colombia on June 25 in suburban Denver and on June 28 outside Salt Lake City before flying to Monterrey, Mexico, for the eight-team CONCACAF tournament, which kicks off July 4. The U.S. will play Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico in group competition. Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago and Canada, the reigning Olympic champion, will play in the other group.The top two teams in each group will earn berths in next summer’s expanded World Cup field, as well as spots in the tournament semifinals. The W Championship winner earns an automatic berth in the 2024 Paris Olympics. The second- and third-place finishers will meet in a September playoff with another Olympic invitation at stake.The last time the U.S. played in a World Cup qualifying tournament in Mexico, in 2010, the Americans suffered their only loss against Mexico, which forced them to win a two-leg playoff with Italy to qualify for the 2011 World Cup.

#COSvIND Preview   

Indy Eleven vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC  Saturday, June 18, 2022 – 9:00 p.m. ET   Weidner Field – Colorado Springs, Col.  

Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click to subscribe)   In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers   Live stats: #COLvIND MatchCenter on USLChampionship.com   

  2022 USL CHAMPIONSHIP REGULAR SEASON RECORDS  

Indy Eleven: 6W-4L-3D (+3 GD), 21 pts.; 7th in Eastern Conference  

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC: 10W-2L-0D (+14 GD), 30 pts.; 1st in Western Conference  

Indy Eleven are set for the third of a four-match, month-long road trip Saturday night in the Rocky Mountains, as the Boys in Blue face the Western Conference-leading Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. Indy is coming off of a 1-1 draw at The Miami FC last Wednesday, while Colorado Springs defeated LA Galaxy II 3-1 on Saturday.  Saturday’s match marks the first-ever meeting between the Eleven and the Switchbacks. Despite Colorado Springs joining USL Championship in 2014 and Indy joining in 2018, the two teams have yet to play, in part due to scheduling changes made during the Covid-19 pandemic.  The match is the fifth of eight against first-time opponents for the Boys in Blue this season, with Indy holding a 2W-1L-1D record in these matches so far. The Eleven drew 1-1 with LA Galaxy II on Apr. 2, defeated Rio Grande Valley FC 2-1 on Apr. 9, won 2-1 over Orange County SC on Apr. 30 and lost 2-1 to New Mexico United on May 28 in the previous four matches against new foes this season. The team will follow up their first-time match against Colorado Springs by facing San Diego Loyal on June 25, San Antonio FC on Aug. 27 and Monterey Bay F.C. on Sept. 17. After a nearly three-hour lightning delay in last Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at The Miami FC, the weather could play a factor again this week for the Boys in Blue. Possible showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast for Saturday night in Colorado Springs, something the Eleven are no strangers to playing in after the downpour in South Florida last time out. Tim Trilk returned to goal for Indy Eleven in Miami, allowing one goal immediately after play resumed following the weather delay. The third-year pro would keep the opponents off the scoreboard for the remainder of the match. Stefano Pinho scored the equalizer last week, his third consecutive match with a goal. The draw also marked a club record for the Eleven, being the eleventh-consecutive match in which the team scored at least one goal, the most in a row in team history. This mark beats out a 9-game run across July and August last year. Indy also scored in 10 straight games including postseason play spanning the 2019-20 seasons. After scoring multiple goals in only 8 of 32 games in 2021 (and none in its last 12 games), Indy has already done so in 5 of its 13 games so far this season.   Switchbacks FC sit atop the Western Conference, having won all but two matches all season, while Indy holds onto the 7th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Colorado Springs have been among the most formidable teams in the league all season, but have hit their stride in the last few weeks, winning five of six matches with a plus-nine goal differential in that time.  

  

LAST TIME OUT  

The Miami FC 1 : 1 Indy Eleven 

Wed., June 8 | Recap & Highlights  |  Stats  

Indy Eleven needed nearly four-and-a-half hours to win a hard-earned point on the road from a 1-1 draw at The Miami FC at a rain-soaked Riccardo Silva Stadium on the campus of Florida International University. Indy forward Stefano Pinho’s goal in the 55th minute countered Christian Sorto’s 15th minute goal that came mere seconds after the game restarted following a two-and-a-half-hour delay for thunderstorms in the Miami metro area.  

The result from the first meeting of the former NASL rivals since 2017 kept Indy Eleven (6W-4L-3D) and Miami (5W-4L-6D) even on the Eastern Conference table now on 21 points and in a tie for seventh place. Pinho’s team-high seventh goal pushed his scoring streak to three games and also improved Indy Eleven’s scoring streak to a club-record 11 games.  

  

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 3 : 1 LA Galaxy II  

Sat., June 11 |  Stats  

After going down 1-0 early, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC scored three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 road victory over LA Galaxy II in Southern California. Colorado Springs has won five of its last six matches dating back to a 2-0 win over FC Tulsa on Apr. 23, outscoring opponents by nine goals in that time. 

SERIES VS. COLORADO SPRINGS SWITCHBACKS FC  

Saturday is the first-ever meeting between Indy Eleven and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. 

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC will be the fifth of eight new opponents this season for Indy Eleven, due in large part to USL expansion and scheduling conflicts created during the 2020 and 2021 pandemic-altered seasons. The Boys in Blue are 2W-1L-1D in four matches with first-time opponents this season: 

vs. LA Galaxy II (1-1 D on 4/02)  

at Rio Grande Valley FC (2-1 W on 4/09)  

vs. Orange County SC (3-1 W 4/30)  

vs. New Mexico United (2-1 L 5/28)  

at Colorado Springs Switchbacks SC (6/18)  

at San Diego Loyal (6/25)  

vs. San Antonio FC (8/27)  

at Monterey Bay F.C. (9/17)  

The Eleven also meet two opponents for the first time in USL Championship competition, which the team has previously faced in other competition in The Miami FC (1-1 D on 6/08), who Indy faced in NASL, and Detroit City FC (7/09), who the team saw in a friendly.  

ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: F Stefano Pinho  

Stefano Pinho has been outstanding for the Boys in Blue all season long but has found his stride in the team’s most recent fixtures. Pinho is the only player on the team to score in three consecutive matches this season, doing so in the team’s three most recent games against New Mexico United, Charleston Battery and The Miami FC. The Brazilian is tied for third in scoring in USL Championship with seven goals and should have an excellent opportunity to extend his scoring streak to four games on Saturday. 

6/14/22 USA vs El Salvador Tues/Tonight 10 pm FS1, World Cup Set, League leading Indy W home Fri 7 pm

US Beats Grenada 5-0, Ferreira Hat-Trick

Hard to make much of the USA 5-0 shellacking of Grenada (ranked 170) on Friday night  (highlights).  While these Nations League early games are good for the minnows in CONCACAF – they certainly don’t help the top 4 teams in my opinion.  That being said – good showing by #9 Jesus Ferreira – his 4 goals (the most by a US forward in a long time).  After he scored the hattrick – I don’t understand why Wright didn’t come right in – but what the heck.  Again his movement was good and he finally finished his chances.  I thought Arriola also looked good on the right wing and had a sublime assist on Ferreira’s goal. Carter Vickers looked good on the night, and he should be in the discussion to pair with Zimmerman come World Cup time.  I also liked Eric De La Torre in the midfield on the night, he almost always takes it forward, has good vision, he had 2 assists, and did not give up the ball in tough situations.  Good win on a night when honestly the best thing might have been Berhalter’s behind the back pass on the throw in.  (Men in Blazers reaction) (The Berhalter bounce pass has become a thing to watch for lol).  Oh and is Berhalter the Worse Dressed Coach in Soccer History or what?  Seriously its embarrassing.  At least wear a dang golf shirt. 

USA @ El Salvador Tues Night, 10 pm FS1

Looking ahead – El Salvador is a legit match-up against the old US bench coach.  Berhalter has already announced that Wright will get the start at the #9 which is good – we need to see if can score against a decent team with Pulisic and Weah on his flanks.   Assuming McKinney is not going to play a full game – (recovering from broken foot) does Berhalter start him or Aaronson (either way Aaronson gets in at wing or mid at half if not starting- I think Aaronson is a must play in a must win game right now – not sure who sits to give him that spot though?)  De La Torre played most of the last game so I assume its Musah in the middle of either the MMA or MAA midfield.  Finally in the back I want more CCV – need to see him under pressure with Zimmerman.  I am merely worried about pace with CCV and Zimmerman together. On the outside does he go with our starters or give Bello and Cannon a shot to earn spots with a good show?  In goal I would hope we see Horvath – Sean Johnson got his chance – its time for Horvath to get his in between the pipes.  El Salvador is not a bad team and they tied / beat us in World Cup Qualifying there – the US needs pull out a win – and will 2-1 with Wright scoring hopefully.   US Prep video.   Preview

Shane’s Starters for Tues Night vs El Salvador

Pulisic /Wright/Weah

McKennie or Aaronson/Musah

Adams

Robinson or Bello/Carter Vickers/Zimmerman/Yedlin

Horvath

The 26-man roster for June Games

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution), Sean Johnson (DC United)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic FC), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor)

World Cup Qualifying – Costa Rica & Australia, Wales all In

Exciting games last week as Wales advanced past Ukraine, and this week as Australia defeated Peru in Penalty kicks and Costa Rica and GK superstar Keylar Navas beat New Zealand 1-0 today.  Lots of Great saves this month with Nations League and World Cup Qualifying going on (see below)..  First check out the Dancing Goalkeeper who won the PK shootout with his “dancing” before shots.    The announcement of the US Cities that will host the 2026 World Cup is expected this Thursday – here are the favorites.  Currently Cincy is the only close venue to us here in Indy – and they are a long shot – dang Chicago refused to put a bid in which means we’ll have to travel (Nashville is also a longshot as Kansas City appears to have passed them).  I plan to travel and follow the US team – though that will certainly cost me a mint. 

Indy 11 Women Play Friday night at Grand Park Events Center

Our Indy 11 women are off to a great start with 5 wins and 1 tie on the season for tops in the league, after their 3-0 win last weekend at a sold out Grand Park. They play Friday night 7 pm at the Event Center at Grand Park Friday night vs Racing Louisville so make plans to go out and see the ladies !! Tickets for that contest are available at indyeleven.com/wleague-tickets for only $8. To learn more about the newest edition of Indiana’s Team representing the women’s game, visit indyeleven.com/wleague.  On the men’s side they got the 1-1 tie at Miami last Wednesday and will next play in Colorado Sat, June 18 on MyIndyTV 23/ESPN+. The boys in blue return home July 2 at 7:30 pm with fire-works display after so make your plans to be there tix are just $15 @ indyeleven.com/tickets.

BIG GAMES ON TV

Join us at in Broadripple at Union Jacks Bar ! https://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite https://twitter.com/AO_INDY

Tues, June 14

2:45 pm FS1                        Germany vs Italy NL

2:45 pm Fubo                     England vs Hungary NL

8 pm Para+ Mexico vs Jamaica

10 pm ESPN+              USA @ El Salvador

Weds, June 15

7:30 pm ESPN+                  New England vs Orlando

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumni Soccer  

LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER IS THURS – Mid June – early August –  Games Wed/Sun  Age 18-30  Registration open thru June 16th. Call 317-846-1633 or Click Here

Make your own teams or we can add you to a team.  Cost is just $105 includes Jersey. 

CHS Boys -2022 Hounds Soccer Camp –July 11-14, 2022  9 am to 11 am $95 per Boys/Girls 8-14 

Carmel High School Girls – 2022 Middle School Camp – 6/7/8th Graders  $90 (includes T-shirt) July 18-21  Murray Stadium  2:30 to 4:30 pm   

US

Can Haji Wright and Pulisic combine like they did at the youth level for the US tonight?

Preview USA vs El Salvador

Preview USA vs El Salvador – ASN

W2W4 – El Salvador – S&S

What We have Learned so Far from US Games – Philly Inquirer – Jonathan Tannenwald

USMNT seek to end June camp “on a good note” against “more aggressive” El Salvador National Writer: Charles Boehm

Jesus Ferreira responds to World Cup pressure with 4-goal outburst for USMNT

USMNT in evaluation mode as June window enters Nations League portion Straus: The Nations League’s Utility for the USMNT Ahead of the World Cup

Creditor: USMNT’s Key Remaining World Cup Roster Battles

Creditor: Just How Difficult Is the USMNT’s World Cup Group?

Straus: The Value of the USMNT’s Toughest Pre–World Cup Test
Jesus Ferreira’s four goals tie mark as U.S. routs Grenada in World Cup sendoff

Gaga Slonina: why the US teenager is prized by some of Europe’s top clubs

USMNT urges Congress to pass stronger gun-control laws: ‘Do what is necessary’

USA Ladies

The USWNT Concacaf roster

Goalkeepers: Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).

Defenders: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit).

Midfielders: Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).

Forwards: Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC).


Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe are back with USWNT for World Cup, Olympic qualifiers

USWNT roster named for 2022 Concacaf W Championship

Rapino a Surprise on the USWNT Roster – yahoo

Trinity Rodman – the Future has Arrived to US Women’s Soccer
Legendary USWNT goalkeeper Briana Scurry pushes for greater soccer diversity, recalls World Cup heroics

WORLD


Ranking which U.S. cities should host 2026 World Cup games

Dancing goalkeeper Redmayne sees Australia to World Cup win in shootout

‘Eat your hats’: Australia celebrates making fifth straight World Cup

Honduras Stuns Canada 2-1
Ecuador still in World Cup as FIFA rejects Chile complaint

Mbappe salvages draw for France in Austria

Majestic Modric gives Croatia victory in France

England and Italy in Nations League draw as Germany held by Hungary

Wales rally to hold Belgium to 1-1 draw

Haaland strikes twice as Norway edge Sweden

Lethargic England lacking sharpness, says Southgate after Italy 

Spain celebrate as Portugal fall to 57-second sucker punch

World Cup 2022 rankings: Who are the favorites?

World Cup Schedule
Salah, Kerr complete English football awards double

Goalkeeping

Dancing Austrailian GK Helps them Advance in Shootout
Dancing goalkeeper Redmayne sees Australia to World Cup win in shootout

Former CFC GK Coach & Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr – making Saves

What a Save by American Sean Johnson vs Uruguay

Sean Johnson Stellar in Net for US

Mexico’s Ochoa Great Save vs Ecuador

Costa Rica’s Legend Keylor Navas with the saves

US Women – Legendary Briana Scurry’s Discusses Greatest Save her book
Legendary USWNT goalkeeper Briana Scurry pushes for greater soccer diversity, recalls World Cup heroics

MLS


Why LAFC signing aging Italy star Giorgio Chiellini makes sense

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USA vs El SalvadorKickoff’s at 10 pm EDT Fox Sports 1 — and at your American Outlaws chapter bar, of course.
And back to Central America our squad goes for the first time since World Cup qualifying – and likely the last time for awhile – before a three-month break from international duty.   The foe: El Salvador, who held us to zeros on our visit down there last September, and who held strong in Columbus in January before falling victim to The Force. Still coached by USMNT legend Hugo Pérez, their Nations League squad includes many of the same players who competed in qualifying. Missing, however, is perhaps their best player from the Octagon, Alex “Brother of Christian” Roldan of the Seattle Sounders.   It sounds like we’ll see another mix of the guys whose tickets to Qatar are likely booked and those who are still making their case. We do know who will start in goal: Gregg confirmed yesterday it’ll be Ethan “The Mile High Hero” Horvath.   Regardless, y’all know the drill. Playing in Central America has never been, nor likely ever will be, a walk in the park. The field will probably be a mess and the crowd will be loud.   It’s the CONCACAF Nations League – what could be better? Oh yeah, watching it with your fellow chapter members tonight. It’ll be the last time the MNT kicks off at nighttime for us in the States for a long, long while, after all.

What we learned from the U.S. men’s soccer team’s last home games before November’s World Cup

Jesús Ferreira, Haji Wright, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Malik Tillman have been among the headline names so far this summer. Here’s a look at why.Jesús Ferreira (right) looks to have the inside track for the starting striker job after scoring four goals against Grenada on Friday night.Chuck Burton / AP

by Jonathan Tannenwald  Jun 11, 2022  Philly Inquirer

AUSTIN, Texas — The U.S. men’s soccer team’s 5-0 demolition of overmatched Grenada on Friday in the Concacaf Nations League was the team’s last home game before this fall’s World Cup. Now there are just 270 minutes of soccer (plus stoppage time) for the Americans to play before the tournament kicks off in November in Qatar.

So it’s a good time to look at a few things we’ve learned so far this summer.

Ferreira first

Jesús Ferreira is now the No. 1 story, for better and worse.

He started all three home games and played the entirety of Friday’s blowout, cementing his place atop Gregg Berhalter’s striker depth chart. But there’s a case to make that he shouldn’t have played so much because at a certain point that takes away minutes that are needed to evaluate other players at that position.There’s also the none-too-small matter of his big-moment misses against Morocco and Uruguay, likely the best teams the U.S. will face before the Black Friday blockbuster against England. And yes, that includes the Americans’ first group stage opponent, Wales.When the Grenada game kicked off, Ferreira’s critics were ready to pounce. They seized on his missing his first three scoring chances, all of which were good looks.Late in the first half, Ferreira finally broke through. And he went on to score three more times, tying the record for the most goals by a U.S. men’s player in a game with four. “Any time a player is under pressure, you look for how they respond,” Berhalter said afterward. “And no matter what the level of the opponent is, the player still has to perform.”Ferreira admitted before and after the game that he’d been in a funk. This should have snapped him out of it.“I talked to him to this afternoon, and I told him that we don’t judge him just based on goals,” Berhalter said. “And I’ve said that to you [the media] all along — he does a lot of other stuff that really helps this group be successful. I just said, ‘Go out there and relax, and play your game.’”Ferreira certainly did that, but his critics still have some fuel. He shot 4-for-10 overall on the night, and you don’t get 10 chances against good teams. So how much can really be taken from pounding the world’s 170th-ranked men’s squad?We won’t know the answer for a while.

Wright’s stuff

Haji Wright clearly is in the race to go to Qatar, thanks to his close ties to U.S. teammates and the praise Berhalter has given him. Has he risen enough to overtake Ricardo Pepi or Jordan Pefok, the latter of whom has the best finisher’s touch in the striker pool?Pepi was given this camp off to recover from a taxing first season in Europe, and Pefok is injured. We can suspect, though, that the U.S. World Cup team will probably only have two pure strikers on it — unless FIFA expands rosters to 26 players, as is currently being debated. Then the calculus changes.We’ll learn more Tuesday, because Berhalter announced that Wright will start the Nations League game in El Salvador (10 p.m., FS1, UniMás, TUDN).“He’ll have an opportunity, and that was the plan all along,” Berhalter said. “We wanted to give Jesús 90 minutes today and have Haji ready and fresh for Tuesday’s game.”

It will be a big moment for Wright and for Berhalter.

» READ MORE: Can Haji Wright be the U.S. men’s soccer team’s answer at striker?Haji Wright, who has made two appearances this window and scored against Morocco, is set to start Tuesday against El Salvador.Jeff Dean / AP

Centerback competition

Even Berhalter’s critics can agree that Walker Zimmerman has earned the right to be a lock as one of the team’s starting centerbacks. The other starting spot and the bench places remain up for grabs.

Aaron Long is a candidate, as shown by his starting these last three games. Chris Richards would likely have taken some of that playing time had he not been injured, and a lot of observers think he’s the best choice to start next to Zimmerman.Take note, though, of Cameron Carter-Vickers. After a few seasons in the European club wilderness, the son of 1983 NBA first-round pick Howard Carter just finished an outstanding campaign with Scottish champion Celtic. And after earning a place in the Scottish players’ union’s team of the year, Carter-Vickers earned something even more important.

Carter-Vickers was at Celtic on loan from Tottenham Hotspur. On Friday, Celtic bought him outright for $7.4 million. That’s a big vote of confidence. If he keeps playing regularly and well, he’ll be on the plane to Qatar.

» READ MORE: The dream has come true for Brenden Aaronson, with Leeds United and the U.S. men’s soccer team “I’ve been on loan for the last few years now, kind of moving about,” Carter-Vickers said. “Which is not necessarily a bad thing — I’ve had some great experiences and learned a lot. But, yeah, it’s nice to have somewhere where I’m going to be settled for a few years, and try and kick on.”Who else is in the mix? Erik Palmer-Brown for sure. He missed Friday’s game with a minor hamstring injury. Former Union stalwart Mark McKenzie could be too, but needs a strong start to the season at Belgium’s Genk.Then, of course, there’s John Brooks. The 2014 World Cup hero seems to be on the outs with Berhalter, and that likely won’t change before November.

» READ MORE: USMNT rising star Yunus Musah always brings a smile, and a lot of skill when he plays

More Malik

A game against Grenada in sweltering Texas heat probably wasn’t the main reason Malik Tillman chose to play for the United States. Still, it seemed reasonable to expect he’d play Friday, after playing 25 minutes against Morocco and not at all against Uruguay.He did indeed, coming in at halftime for Weston McKennie. That put Tillman in a central midfield position, after he played on the left wing against Morocco. The 20-year-old from German powerhouse Bayern Munich was quietly effective in the middle. Fellow central midfielder Luca de la Torre — who has really raised his stock, by the way — liked what he saw.“He’s definitely got quality,” de la Torre said. “He’s young, he plays for a really big club, he has a really kind of easy way with the ball.”We’ll see if Tillman plays in El Salvador. Then the wait will begin to see if he plays more this season at Bayern.

Previewing USMNT vs. El Salvador,

ASN’s Brian Sciaretta previews the USMNT – El Salvador with a look at key positional battles. Plus, he looks at Ethan Hovartha’s media call, the big shakeup at NYCFC as Ronny Deila leaves the club, and LAFC’s big-name acquisition in Giorgio Chiellini.

BY BRIAN SCIARETTa  JUNE 14, 2022  

THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL team will conclude its four-game run on Tuesday night with a visit to El Salvador as part of its Nations League campaign. It has been a successful month for Gregg Berhalter’s team that defeated Morocco, drew Uruguay, and then trounced Grenada to open its Nations League defense. The main story, however, is that this game is the final opportunity players will have to make an impression within the team ahead of the September window – the final window before the 2022 World Cup.The competition is tight – both among players on the “bubble” to make the team and also among those who are likely to make the team but who are simply pushing for starting jobs or more minutes in Qatar.

In terms of players to watch against El Salvador, here are a few players or positions I will be watching for tonight.

Ethan Horvath: the Nottingham Forest goalkeeper is on the bubble of making the team but is facing the issue of not being a starter at his club. Mostly likely he and Sean Johnson are pushing for that third goalkeeper spot with Johnson having been playing regularly for NYCFC and also having played well for the U.S. team in the 0-0 draw against Uruguay. Horvath will start against El Salvador, and he needs to match Johnson’s performance. The pressure is on.

Cannon vs. Yedlin: This is a tight battle between DeAndre Yedlin and Reggie Cannon for the backup right back spot to Sergino Dest. Given Cannon’s positional switch at the club level to a right central defender in a three-man backline, perhaps he gives Berhalter some versatility. But Yedlin more closely resembles the main starter, Sergino Dest, in terms of style. Maybe both go, but right now this is a tight competition and not much separates the two.

Aaron Long, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Erik Palmer-Brown: While the U.S. team has not conceded any goals over its first three games, central defense has been up and down. Goalkeeping and luck bailed out the U.S. team both against Morocco and Uruguay while Grenada simply did not test the U.S. team. Walker Zimmerman has performed well but Berhalter has rotated the other three central defenders. Palmer-Brown struggled against Uruguay, Carter-Vickers was mixed against Morocco, Long has also been mixed. Whoever can play well against El Salvador could be in a good spot heading into September. Zimmerman and Chris Richards are in a good spot right now. After that, it is wide open.

Brenden Aaronson vs. Yunus Musah: Aaronson, the new Leeds United man, is a lock to make the World Cup team but it remains to be seen how Berhalter will use him. While he’s mostly been a winger for the U.S. team, Berhalter tried him as his No. 10 against Morocco and Aaronson played well. He now has his foot in the door in central midfield and that puts him in direct competition with Yunus Musah who had that position throughout qualifying. Musah has played well for the U.S. team and has a big upside, although his final ball and shot are sometimes lacking. For Aaronson, that is his strength. If Aaronson continues to play well and if Musah doesn’t improve on his finishing, Aaronson could shift Musah to the bench in terms of the first choice XI.

Haji Wright: After a strong season in Turkey, Wright has put himself into a great spot to compete for a spot on the World Cup team. The U.S. team needs a No. 9 and over the past year, Berhalter has used Josh Sargent, Matthew Hoppe, Daryl Dike, Ricardo Pepi, Jesus Ferreira, Jordan Pefok, and now Wright. Ferreira has done well in a different kind of role that helps open the game up for others. But can Wright build up the case to put distance between him and players like Pepi, Pefok, and Sargent.

Joe Scally vs. George Bello: The backup left back spot behind Antonee Robinson is wide open. Scally another talented young American player, but it remains to be seen if he’s ready or is one for the next cycle. Bello (who was teammates with Scally on the U.S. U-17 team in 2019), is also very much uncertain. Bello has had more opportunities to date than Scally but both Bello and Scally have had a tough run in Germany since the start of the new year. Scally started off the Bundesliga season well for Borussia Monchengladbach and has floated between right and left back. Bello, meanwhile, joined a Arminia Bielefeld team in a bad spot, got relegation, and now has to compete in the 2.Bundesliga. If neither Bello or Scally leave camp without having made a positive impression, Berhalter might look to other options like DeJuan Jones, John Tolkin, or Sam Vines in September. 

TILLMAN OUT FOR EL SALVADOR

Malik Tillman struggled in his sub outing for the U.S. team against Grenada but Gregg Berhalter said there was a reason for that.Berhalter indicated that Tillman suffered an injury after coming on against Grenada and it progressively got worse. The U.S. manager said that is why Tillman looked frustrated. Because of this, Tillman will not be available to play against El Salvador.Berhalter said Tillman had a good first camp for the United States team, although it remains to be seen how much in contention he will be for Qatar or if he is viewed as a potential player for next cycle.The answer will probably come down to how he does to start the 2022/23 season where there have been reports that Bayern Munich is looking to loan Tillman out.

 HORVATH ADDRESSES THE MEDIA

 Ethan Horvath is the lone American player on the roster who hasn’t yet appeared for the U.S. team the first three June games. The Colorado native, however, told the press on Monday that he will start against El Salvador for his first start with the U.S. team in over a year. That was shortly after his triumphant moment when he replaced Zack Steffen in the final of the Nations League against Mexico and stopped an Andres Guardado’ penalty in the 118th minute to preserve a 3-2 win.But after that moment, things for Horvath have been mixed. He was the backup keeper to Brice Samaba and despite playing well (aside from one noticeable error in the first half of the season), he rode the bench. Before that, he was the backup for three seasons at Club Brugge behind Simon Mignolet.With Nottingham Forest having secured promotion to the Premier League, their goalkeeping position is in flux. Brice Samba might be on the move, or might be looking for a pay increase. But there are also reports Forest are looking at bringing in another goalkeeper with Nick Pope’s name having been mentioned.Horvath, now 27, has played such little soccer over the past four years that he told the media he just wants to play and that the national team is just one reasons why.“The World Cup is coming around and that is part of the reason why I want to play, but to be honest, I just want to play again to feel that adrenaline and those butterflies and just that game-day feeling day in and day out,” Horvath said. “We’ll see what happens. We’re in close contact with Nottingham and whatever happens, happens there. The main objective is to play, with Nottingham or somewhere else.”It’s a tight competition to make the World Cup team and the third goalkeeping spot will likely come down to Horvath or Sean Johnson. It’s too early to give an edge to either of the players as it might come down to who is playing this fall and who is playing well.But Horvath said the competition is making everyone better.”It’s a healthy competition,” Horvath said. “If it’s one of the other three playing, I want them to do good. It’s a team sport. And at the end of the day, we all have the same objectives and the same goals. And in trainings, we have a good time. We have laughs, but at the same time, it’s also a healthy competition. We get our work done. We want to make each other better.”

USMNT seek to end June camp “on a good note” against “more aggressive” El Salvador

By Charles Boehm @cboehmMonday, Jun 13, 2022, 08:34 PM

As many observers and players alike have noted, World Cup qualifying is at its core a pass/fail exam – either you made it to the dance or you didn’t – and the US men’s national team earned their spot in Qatar 2022 via one of the Concacaf Octagonal’s three automatic qualification slots.

Yet the Yanks’ 1W-3L-3D record in away matches was an unsightly blemish on their campaign, a dereliction of the region’s traditional “win at home, draw on the road” formula for success that left them third in the final standings, well back of Ocho winners Canada.

For head coach Gregg Berhalter, that raises the importance of both the performance and the result in Tuesday night’s Concacaf Nations League visit to El Salvador (10 pm ET | FS1, Univision and TUDN), where the US labored to a 0-0 draw on the opening matchday of the Ocho back in September.

The USMNT opened their CNL title defense with Friday’s blowout of Grenada, as expected, and now want to round out their June camp successfully with a solid outing in what should be a much more demanding task.

“We’re pleased with the game on Friday. Any time you beat an opponent 5-0 at any level, I think is good. Any time you limit them to zero shots on goal, that’s important. So we were pleased with that performance,” Berhalter said of the 5-0 win over the Spice Boyz in Monday afternoon’s matchday-1 press conference. “You can only play against your opponent on the field, right, and we have to take care of business and we did that on Friday, we put ourselves in a good position.

“El Salvador will be a different opponent. They’ll be more aggressive, I think they’ll be a higher pressing, better counter-pressing, and away from home. So for us, it’s how do we deal with those elements and then how do we put a good performance in a way from home, that we haven’t always done since we’ve been together? So that’s certainly going to be a challenge for this group. We know it’s the last game before we go on break from each other, and we want to end on a good note.”

As the World Cup draws ever closer, assessment of both individuals and on-field relationships continues as well. Berhalter has already revealed that striker Haji Wright and goalkeeper Ethan Horvath will start on Tuesday for the first time in this international window, while newcomer Malik Tillman aggravated an injury against Grenada and is out for Tuesday.Others on the fringes are also likely to get extended minutes in a setting that could prove much more demanding than Friday’s in Austin.

“Everyone in this camp is trying to be an established player, and we have a lot of guys here that have been the core of the team for the last three years,” said the coach. “So I’d say that any time a player gets an opportunity with the national team, it’s an opportunity for him to show that he belongs there and show that he has what it takes to play international soccer.“When you’re talking about the detal of chemistry between guys and certain partnerships working together, that’s something that you don’t always get in some of the lineups that you’re playing. But it’s still an opportunity for guys to show that they belong playing at this level … that’s an important part of the evaluation process.”With El Salvador having already dropped points on their visit to Grenada last week, a 2-2 draw in St. George’s, a USMNT win on Tuesday would effectively put them in the catbird seat for winning CNL Group D even with two matchdays still to play in 2023. Making games like this a proving ground for Qatar while also picking up positive results is a priority.“The tricky thing about the national team is that you have to perform each and every time that you’re in camp,” said Berhalter. “How do we get better collectively as a team, how do we evaluate players and then how do we start defending our Nations League title? And we’re very much in the present right now and focused on, how do we win against El Salvador?“That overall evaluation process will take place, it takes place after each and every game in seeing how players do and seeing how they perform in their positions, see if they’re executing the roles that we have them in based on what we’re doing on the field. So all those things are daily work. We’re not in a position right now where we’re saying, ‘OK, this person’s locked in or not locked in,’ or this person’s out. I don’t think we’re there yet. But certainly we’re using these games to evaluate performances.”

 The USMNT Goalkeeper Roulette Wheel Keeps on Spinning

Ethan Horvath will get his long-awaited chance in a national team shirt as part of a process that’ll determine who will be the go-to backstop at the World Cup.

More than a year later, Ethan Horvath’s national team number is finally being called again.It was in early June 2021 when the goalkeeper enjoyed a Hollywood moment that seemed like it might alter his U.S. trajectory. Starter Zack Steffen went down with an injury in the second half of the Concacaf Nations League final against Mexico, and Horvath, who grew up in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch, took the Mile High field and then sensationally saved an Andrés Guardado penalty kick in extra time. The American men held on and won the trophy

“To come have a performance like that in his hometown, it’s stuff that storybooks write about,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said that night.Horvath was suddenly back in the national team fold following about two years away. And after too much time on the bench at Club Brugge, he was on his way to England and Nottingham Forest. Things were looking up. A few days after the euphoric win over Mexico, Horvath went the full 90 minutes in a friendly shutout of Costa Rica. Steffen was about to spend another season on the periphery at Manchester City. Matt Turner had one cap to his name, and Sean Johnson had yet to backstop New York City FC to an MLS Cup. The World Cup was in 18 months, and Horvath appeared to be back in the U.S. picture. That storybook pretty much ended there, however. He started just 10 times for a Forest side that earned promotion to the Premier League. Turner was outstanding in the Gold Cup and wound up battling Steffen for the No. 1 job during World Cup qualifying. And although he was called up by Berhalter a couple more times, Horvath never played.Enough time passed for the U.S. situation in goal to be settled. Horvath likely wondered if he’d get another shot. But uncertainty remains a year later, and so the American goalkeeper roulette wheel is spinning yet again. No one is certain where the ball might land when the U.S. opens the World Cup against Wales on Nov. 21. What has traditionally been a position of strength for the American men is now a source of some concern.Tuesday night in El Salvador, Horvath will get his long-awaited chance when the U.S. meets La Selecta in its second game of the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League. It’s also the fourth and final match of this international window. Berhalter’s decision to start Horvath is as much about his potential as it is a commentary on the goalie depth chart. The position, and the careers of the men who may fill it, are in flux.“We have to take them both into consideration, and it may not be perfect,” Berhalter said Monday when asked how he’ll weigh a goalkeeper’s club form against his national team experience when making his World Cup decisions. “It may come down to small differences amongst the group. But right now, it’s really too early to give an in-depth comment on it because we just don’t know what their situation is going to be.” https://104e1c5fab61e0c24097301c523229ef.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html Turner is headed to Arsenal this summer after breaking out in New England.

Katie Stratman/USA TODAY SportsAt the moment, Horvath, Steffen and Turner, who’s on his way to Arsenal, are all slated to be Premier League backups. Johnson is the only regular starter, but for a long time he didn’t seem to be anything beyond Berhalter’s third choice. Both Steffen and Turner had their ups and downs during qualifying, and while Steffen appeared to lock down the starting U.S. job last fall, some back trouble and then a couple shaky moments in March opened it back up. Berhalter had expressed concern about Turner’s comfort with the ball at his feet and his role in the American buildup, but the departing New England Revolution star has been working on that and is expected to do so even more frequently at Arsenal. The analytics (advanced stats like goals prevented, etc.) also favored Turner during qualifying.

Speaking at the start of the current window, the second-to-last before the World Cup, Turner said he’s eager to bet on himself in England after a dizzying rise from undrafted afterthought to MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and Gold Cup Golden Glove winner.“Being a week-in, week-out starter in MLS didn’t guarantee me to be a starter for the national team and going to the World Cup. I obviously want to play games, so I needed to shake things up in my club career and I think this is a positive step forward for me in the long term and in the immediate future,” he said in Cincinnati.“If you’re going to tell me that somebody’s No. 1, or a position is completely set, I’m not sure I really buy that because in professional sports, you always have to show up and you always have to put your best performances out there if you want to maintain,” Turner continued. “You can have something, but you need to maintain it and be consistent over a number of games, a number of years, whatever it is.” urner and Steffen started the U.S.’s World Cup qualifiers and appear to be the top two goalkeepers on the depth chart.Steffen and Horvath are in a slightly different spot than Turner. They made their moves to England, but they haven’t broken through. Horvath, 27, acknowledged his complicated situation when speaking on the eve of his first U.S. start since last year.“I don’t 100% know what will go on, but I think mine and everyone’s main focus going into these last couple of months is playing time and just getting as many games as possible before Gregg makes the final decisions,” Horvath said.“Yeah, there is the uncertainty,” he added. “But going into this summer period, my main objective is to play. And I know that, yes, the World Cup is coming around, and that is part of the reason why I want to play. But to be honest, I just want to play to play again, to feel the adrenaline and those butterflies and just that gameday feeling day-in and day-out. So yeah, we’ll see what happens. We’re in close contact with Nottingham and yeah, whatever happens, happens there. The main objective is to play, if that’s with Nottingham or somewhere else.”Turner played in the window-opening win over Morocco in Cincinnati and was very good, and then Johnson made his own statement with a clean sheet against South American power Uruguay in Kansas City. Turner had almost nothing to do in the Nations League opener against Grenada last Friday. Now, it’s Horvath’s turn. Steffen pulled out of this month’s camp for undisclosed family reasons, which paved the way for Johnson’s inclusion.“It’s a healthy competition, you know? If it’s Zack, Sean, Matt or myself playing, if it’s one of the other three playing, I want them to do good,” Horvath said. “It’s a team sport and at the end of the day, we all have the same objectives and the same goals. And in trainings, we have a good time. We have laughs. But at the same time, it’s also healthy competition. We get our work done. We want to make each other better.”

t’s a healthy competition that will end in one of two ways. Either someone will emerge as the starter because of form or performance (or injuries to others), or Berhalter simply will have to make a choice when the alarm rings on Nov. 21. Playing regularly has to matter to an extent, and Horvath has an opportunity at the Estadio Cuscatlán to show Berhalter, Nottingham Forest or another club that might be interested that he’s capable and worthy. It’ll be a game that doesn’t have much in the way of competitive stakes. The Nations League’s primary purpose, apart from giving Concacaf’s smaller countries more competition, is Gold Cup qualifying. All the U.S. has to do to ensure its place in the 2023 regional championship is not finish third in its three-team group when it concludes in March (otherwise, it’ll enter a four-team playoff). Grenada’s presence makes that extremely unlikely.So, Tuesday is about individuals and the opportunity to step up and stand out in a road game against an energetic Salvadoran side that has demonstrated it can be tough to deal with. The U.S. will have only two more matches before leaving for Qatar—September friendlies on European soil against a pair of Asian teams. Time is running out. Horvath has been clutch for the Americans before. He may have to be clutch again to maintain his place in the competition and boost his club prospects.“I’m very happy to get the start [Tuesday],” Horvath emphasized. “It’s one of three last games before we head to the World Cup.” “Every roster spot is going to be carefully considered, and what’s worked in the past may not work now,” Berhalter said Monday when discussing his keepers. “I’ve seen Spain, where they’ve taken a really old goalkeeper [to the World Cup] because he [Pepe Reina] means a lot to the group. I see other teams take young goalkeepers. And for us, nothing’s set in stone right now. “What we know is we want, A; guys that can perform up to the level, and B; guys that are bought into the team ethos and and fit the culture of our group. So we’ll make a decision based on those two parameters and hopefully get it right.”

Which U.S. cities will host 2026 World Cup games? We’re about to find out

Henry Bushnell

Mon, June 13, 2022, 1:03 PM

The 16 United States cities bidding to stage the 2026 World Cup will finally learn on Thursday whether they’ll get that chance.It’s been exactly four years since FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, awarded the world’s most popular sporting event to North America. Ever since, two dozen cities across the United States, Canada and Mexico have been preparing and politicking, trying to prove themselves worthy of hosting matches.On Thursday in the 5 p.m. ET hour on Fox Sports 1, FIFA will pick anywhere between 16 and 19 of them — including 10-12 in the U.S. — and leave the others feeling as if this agonizingly thorough, oft-delayed process was all for naught.In Mexico, FIFA’s decision is a foregone conclusion. Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey will host a combined 10 games down south. Another 10 will be played in Canada, where Toronto and Vancouver are locks, and Edmonton is the third candidate. The North American bid committee originally proposed that there would be three host cities north of the border, and 10 in the U.S., but there have been rumblings that FIFA could select an 11th U.S. city, or even a 12th — perhaps at the expense of the less-glamorous Edmonton, or in addition to it.With four U.S. cities long considered locks, and a few more shoring up their status in recent months, that leaves 12 American contenders for either six or seven spots in the 2026 World Cup rotation. According to conversations with people familiar with the process and previously reported information, here’s how the race looks with less than a week to go.

Which USA cities will (almost) definitely host 2026 World Cup games?

1. New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium)

An obvious choice, and the favorite to host the final.

2. Dallas/Arlington (AT&T Stadium)

The grandeur of Jerry Jones’ palace outweighs any functional aspects that make it unsuitable for soccer. Originally pitched as a semifinal venue, Jerryworld is, according to one source, the only other candidate to host the final, because it has one thing that MetLife does not: a roof. Domes can make for strange soccer settings, but, contrary to traditionalist assumptions, FIFA loves indoor stadiums for their weatherproof-ness. The nightmare scenario is a July thunderstorm in North Jersey interrupting the most-watched game in all of sports.

3. Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

With one of the few NFL stadiums that regularly hosts soccer matches, Atlanta will be a prime candidate for a semifinal. It also could be the site of the International Broadcast Center, the tournament’s main media hub.

4. Los Angeles (SoFi Stadium, Rose Bowl?)

One ideal city, two less-than-ideal stadiums — and that’s why Los Angeles’ status as a favorite to host the U.S. opener has gotten shaky. It has ritzy SoFi, with just about every imaginable amenity but not enough field space for soccer. It has the Rose Bowl, which is steeped in history but relatively bare-bones compared to the other venues on this list.It’s unclear whether both will get games or, more likely, FIFA will choose one. SoFi is the logical choice, but if FIFA is unwilling to compromise on field dimensions, it might have to sacrifice thousands, if not tens of thousands of seats — an adjustment that could jeopardize L.A.’s candidacy for a high-profile match like an opener or semifinal.

5. Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field)

Perhaps no city’s bid has been more squeaky-clean and impressive than Philadelphia’s. It began this whole process on the bubble. By late-April, according to a report from Grant Wahl, it was in the running for a semifinal, which could coincide with the 250th anniversary of the crafting of the Declaration of Independence in … the nation’s original capital, Philadelphia. (July 4 itself, though, would likely be the date of a quarterfinal.)

6. San Francisco/Santa Clara (Levi’s Stadium)

Grass field at a modern stadium in a moderate climate near an airport and an attractive metropolitan area. There’s a reason Levi’s has hosted some high-profile soccer matches since it opened, and there’s no reason to think it won’t get more in 2026.

7. Houston (NRG Stadium)

City infrastructure and the retractable roof are two big pluses — nobody wants to play in 95-degree Texas heat in June. It’s unclear whether Houston’s proximity to Dallas is a pro or con, but its proximity to Mexico, and specifically Monterrey, is another plus. Teams will, at some point, have to travel between the U.S. and its neighbors, and only two other American host cities (Dallas and Atlanta) are within a four-hours-or-less flight from Mexico City.

8. Seattle (Lumen Field)

Rich soccer culture? Check. Proximity to two other host cities (Vancouver and San Francisco)? Check. Natural grass? Nope, and that’s the reason Seattle doesn’t get more big-time internationals and preseason friendlies. But it isn’t alone here — nine of the 17 American stadiums in the mix have artificial turf. FIFA has said that, in general, “that’s not a concern.” Sod can be temporarily installed. And Seattle should be selected.

Which American cities will likely host 2026 World Cup games?

9. Miami (Hard Rock Stadium)

The first of the modern NFL stadiums built to accommodate soccer, Hard Rock has hosted summer friendlies over the past six years, including the first stateside Barcelona-Real Madrid Clasico in 2017. The assumption all along has been that FIFA will pick one of the two Florida cities still standing, and that Miami is the destination of choice.

10. Baltimore/Washington D.C. (M&T Bank Stadium)

FedEx Field, as you’ve probably heard, is a dump. FIFA officials confirmed that perception when they toured the then-Washington Football Team’s stadium last fall. So, with D.C. slipping from contention, and Baltimore always a longshot, the two DMV cities merged their respective bids into one.

The games would be in Baltimore. Many festivities would be 45 minutes away in D.C. On one hand, it seems ridiculous to even consider such an unwieldy arrangement over a dozen other solid options. On the other hand, it seems ridiculous to hold the world’s biggest tournament in the world’s most powerful nation without the nation’s capital involved.

An alternate solution could be to hold various ceremonial events in D.C., but not games in Baltimore, which is why this joint bid remains on the bubble. But two sources with knowledge of the process said recently that they couldn’t fathom FIFA snubbing it.

Which U.S. cities are on the World Cup 2026 bubble?

11. Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium)

Kansas City is the only contender even remotely close to the middle of the country. (Chicago, which would have been a near-lock, pulled its bid in 2018 due to taxpayer risk, leaving the Midwest without another legitimate option.) The question is how FIFA will interpret that geography. Does K.C.’s location help bridge geographical divides between the two coasts and Texas, because it cuts some flight times in half? Or, if FIFA wants “clusters,” as one of its top officials has said, is Kansas City a tad too isolated?

Local officials are confident enough in a favorable answer that they’ve scheduled a downtown watch party for Thursday’s announcement.

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Perhaps the most polarizing bid of the bunch, Boston has first-hand World Cup hosting experience and, most importantly, Robert Kraft — a Major League Soccer founder and 2026 bid committee honorary chair who boasts a personal relationship with FIFA president Gianni Infantino. Unfortunately, it also has an inconvenient, barely-even-suburban stadium with neither a roof nor natural grass, which makes it extremely unattractive. There has also been a litany of minor issues behind the scenes. If it weren’t for Kraft’s political pull, Boston would surely be out. As it stands, it’s squarely on the bubble.

13. Nashville (?)

FIFA officials left Nashville impressed after their visit last fall, but uncertainty surrounding the future of the Music City’s NFL venue — the Titans now plan to build a new stadium rather than renovate Nissan Stadium — has left FIFA asking a simple question: Why, with so many low-risk options, would we gamble on a construction process that could become a race against time?

Unless they’ve secured assurances in recent weeks, Nashville will be on the outside looking in — though it could remain in contention to host non-soccer events, like the preliminary or final draw.

Which USA cities are FIFA World Cup 2026 longshots?

14. Denver (Empower Field at Mile High)

The calculus here is similar to Kansas City, but Denver is much more of a longshot. There’s better soccer infrastructure and a richer soccer culture in K.C.

15. Orlando (Camping World Stadium)

See Miami. (The stadium in Orlando is one of the least impressive and, more importantly, least weatherproof.)

16. Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium)

With all due respect to Cincinnati, whose training facilities have twice lured the USMNT, it probably shouldn’t even be in this conversation.

What factors are being considered in World Cup 2026 host cities?

FIFA considers dozens of factors, from a city’s hotels and public transportation, to its willingness to commit public funds to events, to its training sites. But there is one absolute non-negotiable: “The pitch is everything,” FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani said last November. “The pitch is sacrosanct.”

More broadly, the stadium is the single most important factor. As spectator venues, each of the 17 proposed American stadiums is beyond sufficient. The difficulty is in converting them to soccer venues with natural-grass surfaces that are wider than NFL fields, and that don’t have any imperfections that might mar games that billions of fans around the world will watch. (The World Cup is, above all else, a television extravaganza; what matters is the quality of the product that shows up on TV screens.)

Who, exactly, will make the decision?

FIFA. Colin Smith, its “chief tournaments and events officer,” is leading the charge. But he and his team have consulted a wide range of stakeholders, from local bid committee officials to U.S. Soccer Federation executives. In fact, FIFA recently hired two former USSF employees, former CEO Dan Flynn and VP of events Amy Hopfinger, to help lead the local subsidiary that it has created for the 2026 World Cup.

How many games will each selected city host?

That hasn’t been decided, but if there are 10 sites for 60 stateside games, that’s an average of six per city. The North American bid committee originally proposed that each U.S. city would get a minimum of five.

And it’s reasonable to assume that each host city will get at least one knockout-round match. In fact, the bid committee sketched out a schedule way back in 2018 that put at least two knockout games in each U.S. city. With the World Cup expanding to 48 teams, there’ll be a truncated group stage (16 pods of three teams, and three games each) and a Round of 32, meaning 31 win-or-go-home games over a span of three weeks.

Will the snubbed cities get any consolation prizes?

The half-dozen cities that aren’t selected on Thursday, plus others who weren’t even finalists, could host ancillary events, team base camps and pre-World Cup friendlies. North American officials also proposed “pop-up fan fests” — tamer versions of the official fan hubs that FIFA sets up in each host city — in cities that don’t stage matches.

When will ticket sales begin?

Likely sometime in 2025. But if you’re interested in buying tickets, get ready to pay handsomely. The average ticket across all rounds, based on sales and revenue projections submitted by the North American bid to FIFA years ago, will cost upwards of $300.

What, exactly, will FIFA announce on Thursday?

Not much beyond the list of host cities. Details will likely trickle in over the coming years, in part because intermittent announcements mean more opportunities to build excitement and generate interest, but also because the logistics of organizing a World Cup are unfathomably complex.

FIFA originally hoped to announce the host cities in 2021 and the match schedule in 2022. Delays, some of them related to the COVID-19 pandemic, have pushed back the timeline. An early draft of a schedule, including the hosts of the final and openers, could be revealed in 2023. Qualifying processes and the “preliminary draw” will likely be set in 2023 as well.

When does the 2026 World Cup begin?

In June, and most likely on or around June 11, specifically. The final would likely be on July 12. Despite the expansion to 48 teams, the tournament will still fit in the traditional 32-day window.

How to watch the host city selection

The Thursday announcement will be made during an hour-long live show that begins at 5 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. The network will announce details soon.

A follow-up news conference is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET, and can be streamed live on FIFA’s website.

Will the Women’s World Cup come back to the U.S. anytime soon?

Possibly. U.S. Soccer officials have said they’re planning to bid for either the 2027 or 2031 tournament. The more likely option is 2031. But FIFA hasn’t yet finalized bidding processes for either of the t

Megan Rapinoe among the surprises on U.S. women’s CONCACAF W Championship roster

Kevin Baxter  Mon, June 13, 2022, 12:02 PM  LA Times Megan Rapinoe, right, celebrates with teammate Alex Morgan after scoring on a penalty shot for the U.S. in the 2019 Women’s World Cup final against the Netherlands. Rapinoe and Morgan will represent the U.S. in the CONCACAF W Championship in July. (Francisco Seco / Associated Press)

U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski on Monday called up a mix of young and veteran players for next month’s CONCACAF W Championship, the qualifier for the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympics. And that makes the 23-player roster one full of surprises — both for who made it and who didn’t.Making it were forward Megan Rapinoe and defender Becky Sauerbrunn.Rapinoe’s inclusion was surprising because the 36-year-old hasn’t started for her NWSL club this season, playing just 154 minutes over four games for the OL Reign. And she hasn’t been part of the national team since October.Less surprising was the inclusion of Sauerbrunn, who is a week past her 37th birthday. Although she missed the national team’s April camp because of a knee injury, Sauerbrunn has played in the Portland Thorns’ last six NWSL games. She is also the U.S. captain and leads all active players with 202 international caps.Also returning for the first time since October is Alex Morgan, the NWSL scoring leader with nine goals in as many games for the expansion San Diego Wave. She is the national team’s leading active scorer, ith 115 goals, and she’ll be joined by Wave midfielder Taylor Kornieck, who is looking for her first senior national team cap.Among the missing is Angel City forward Christen Press, who hasn’t played with the national team since last summer’s Tokyo Olympics. She left Angel City’s match in Louisville on Saturday with a knee injury, but Andonovski said she wouldn’t have beaten out Mallory Pugh and Sophia Smith — whom he called the two most exciting players in NWSL — even if she was healthy.“She’s performing well. But it’s not just her now. It’s her competing with the players that are in front of her,” he said. “It’s not easy to be a forward in United States. The competition has just gotten bigger and bigger.”Eight other regulars were not available because of injury or maternity leaves, among them Abby Dahlkemper Catarina Macario, Sam Mewis, Crystal Dunn and Julie Ertz.The coach said Rapinoe, third among active players with 187 caps, was included largely because her experience will be valuable on a team that features 10 players under the age of 26 and eight players with fewer than 10 caps.“She is very important for this group,” Andonovski said. “Her winning mentality, her knowledge and understanding is very valuable for the group.”Alyssa Naeher, Kelley O’Hara, Emily Sonnett, Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan, all members of the World Cup-winning team in 2019, were included as well.“They’re on the team, first and foremost, because they can perform,” Andonovski said. “Their experience is a bonus.”

The U.S. will play friendlies against Colombia on June 25 in suburban Denver and on June 28 outside Salt Lake City before flying to Monterrey, Mexico, for the eight-team CONCACAF tournament, which kicks off July 4. The U.S. will play Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico in group competition. Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago and Canada, the reigning Olympic champion, will play in the other group.The top two teams in each group will earn berths in next summer’s expanded World Cup field, as well as spots in the tournament semifinals. The W Championship winner earns an automatic berth in the 2024 Paris Olympics. The second- and third-place finishers will meet in a September playoff with another Olympic invitation at stake.The last time the U.S. played in a World Cup qualifying tournament in Mexico, in 2010, the Americans suffered their only loss against Mexico, which forced them to win a two-leg playoff with Italy to qualify for the 2011 World Cup.

DEILA LEAVES NYCFC

As one of the more impressive foreign managers in MLS, Ronny Deila has decided to return to Europe and join Standard Liege after the Belgium club agreed to terms with the Norwegian Deila and agreed to pay a termination fee to New York City FC.It marks the second time NYCFC has lost a successful head coach midseason after Patrick Viera left in 2018 to take the job at Nice.Deila has been a successful manager having won a Norwegian title at Stromsgodset in 2013, then in Scotland with Celtic in 2015 and 2016. In 2021, he won MLS Cup with NYCFC.His time in New York was very successful as he guided the team to a 46-29-15 record across all competitions. In 2022, following its elimination from the CONCACAF Champions League in the semifinals to Seattle, NYCFC has been the best team in MLS. The team has one of the best rosters in the league and is 7-0-1 in its last eight league and has also advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.Former Manchester City women’s head coach Nick Cushing will take over as the interim head coach after he joined NYCFC as an assistant coach in 2022.

What to make of this?

This is the business of soccer and the price for success. After he left Stromsgodset in his native Norway to move abroad, Deila has never stuck around with a club for more than three seasons. It is the same with Tata Martino who left Atlanta after winning MLS Cup in 2018 but who rarely stayed at any club for more than two seasons. Some managers move frequently and there is a good chance Deila won’t be at Standard Liege in more than three seasons.NYCFC knew or should have known that this is what happens when it looks for talented foreign managers who have a history of moving around. There is nothing wrong with it, but it’s the business. You’re not going to get a talented local manager like Brian Schmetzer or Jim Curtin who is going to build up a good team over many years. Instead, it becomes a priority for the front office to set the philosophy and culture while then looking to bring in a manager who fits the culture.The problem, however, is that it is never easy. Just look at Atlanta United in the years following Martino’s exit. The good news, however, is that NYCFC has done a good job so far with Viera and Deila both having success. NYCFC has a pretty good idea of what works.

 CHIELLINI JOINS LAFC

 While most big-name imports made by MLS teams have been younger in recent years, LAFC made a throw-back signing on Monday when it announced the signing of legendary Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini from Juventus.Chiellini, 37, is not a designated player but was signed using TAM money.Such signings were more common in the earlier days of MLS when teams would bring in older players from Europe in the twilight of their careers. That trend ended within the last decade as top targets were younger, often from South America. MLS teams found the younger players were often hungrier and looking to still make their way in the game. Meanwhile, older imports like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Andres Pirlo, Rafa Marquez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and others were struggling.Chiellini is certainly older but is not far removed from incredible moments. In 2021, he was named European Championship’s best defender as Italy defeated England in the final.LAFC is also looking to add a player who will complement what the team already has as opposed to hoping that Chiellini can elevate a club by himself.“Giorgio is a special, one-of-a-kind player and person,” LAFC Co-President & General Manager John Thorrington said. “Signing Giorgio was a unique opportunity to improve our club. He will complement what we believe is already a strong team as every day he will set the right example with his leadership competitiveness, and experience. He is a serial winner at the highest levels, and we are grateful he has chosen LAFC to join in our pursuit of trophies.”For me, it would not be surprising at all if Chiellini turns out to be a success. LAFC is one of the better teams in the league and Chiellini is not a designated player. The club can bringing him into the fold as its own pace and the fact that he will be surrounded by the better teams in the league will only help him.While this is a throw-back signing in terms of bringing in an “big-name” older player, there still will be those in that mold who will find success. The question is whether it is a right fit.

Premier League season is second-most watched

The English Premier League season averaged 507,000 viewers per window across the NBC family of networks (including additional streaming data not tracked by Nielsen), up 21% from last year (414K) and behind only 2015-16 (514K) as the most-watched ever on U.S. television.Last weekend’s season-ending EPL Championship Sunday averaged a combined 2.2 million across NBC’s linear networks and Peacock, matching 2019 as the highest on record. Manchester City-Aston Villa led the way with a 0.48 and 817,000 on NBC, that figure rising to 955,000 with Peacock included — the largest audience on record for a Championship Sunday match. Liverpool-Wolverhampton on USA averaged a 0.33 and 652,000 (681K including additional streaming data), a record for a Championship Sunday match on cable.

Maddy Williams’ Historic First Half Hat Trick Helps Keep Indy Undefeated, Atop Great Lakes Division

WESTFIELD, Ind. (Friday, June 10, 2022) – The Indy Eleven women’s squad remained undefeated and atop the Great Lakes Division standings courtesy of a 3-0 victory over Flint City AFC in front of another sellout crowd of 1,041 fans at the Grand Park Events Center. The result included a historic performance from forward Maddy Williams, who notched the first hat trick in Indy Eleven’s short USL W League history, with all three tallies coming in the first half and lifting her into a tie for the team’s scoring lead alongside Katie Soderstrom.The result pushed the Eleven’s undefeated record to 5W-0L-1D after the first half of the squad’s 12-game W League campaign. The three points also pushed Indy back into solo possession of the Great Lakes Division lead on 16 points, with Indiana’s Team now sitting two points clear of Racing Louisville FC and holding a game in hand on its rival.The action towards goal started early on both sides, with Rachel McCarthy pushing a near-post header just side from five yards only 30 seconds in and Flint City defender Abby Werthman putting a 3rd minute free kick from just outside the area just wide of the left post. The scoreboard wouldn’t stick on zeroes for long, however, as Williams started her hat trick off in the 7th minute by taking down Robyn McCarthy’s diagonal into the left side of the area with a touch in space before finishing into the middle of goal past Flint netminder Kayla Shuk for the opener.It was another well-placed diagonal into the left side of the area that set-up Williams’ second of the night in the 17th minute, this time via a low ball by midfielder Ella Rogers that took three defenders out of the play. With ample time and space Williams chose to chip Khuk, with her bending effort from 15 yards dipping perfectly into the upper right corner for a classy finish and a 2-0 Indy lead. Williams upped the degree of difficulty to cap off her hat trick in the 22nd minute, when she took a popped up clearance attempt first-time with an audacious volley from 20 yards out that hit the inside of the far right post, leaving the Purdue product shrugging her shoulders and Flint asking plenty of questions down 3-nil just a quarter of the way through the match.Flint City AFC nearly pulled one back in the 36th minute after a long spell of possession ended with Eleven ‘keeper Nona Reason chasing a cross off her line and the ball eventually landing at the feet of Alexa Sabbagh, but the AFC striker sailed her chance from six yards over frame. Williams looked to continue her dominating performance in the 41st minute by nutmegging a defender to get into the left side of the area once again, but her clipped effort from 10 yards missed the upper right 90 by a foot. The Eleven closed out the first half in stoppage time with Grace Bahr’s 25-yard rocket off a free kick that Shuk did well to grab onto without spilling at her left post, allowing the score to stay at 3-0 Indy heading into the halftime break.The second half saw the Noblesville H.S. grad Reason called into more action during her first start of the season, starting in the 51st minute when she extended fully to her right to get both hands on a shot across her frame from 15 yards. Five minutes later AFC midfielder Alana Wood ended a mazy run from midfield and into the area with a solid 15-yard effort, but once again Reason was on the spot at her right post to make a sure-handed stop.As substitutions chopped up the game following the hour mark, Indy Eleven still kept its foot on the gas, with forward Rachel McCarthy looking the most dangerous down the stretch. The BYU striker nearly had Indy’s fourth in the 78th minute with Kruk drawn off her line, but late pressure forced her to dribble an angled effort just past the base of the far post. Half chances would be all that was left for the remainder of the match, giving Indy a second straight victory and third win at its Grand Park home in as many outings.Indy Eleven will kick off the second half of its USL W League campaign with a two-game week, starting on Tuesday evening when it travels to the Cincinnati area to take on Kings Hammer FC at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Girls in Blue will return home to the Grand Park Events Center next Friday, June 17, for a pivotal showdown against Racing Louisville at 7:00 p.m. ET. Tickets for that contest are available at indyeleven.com/wleague-tickets for only $8, and fans who cannot make it to the match can watch the proceedings via ISC Sports Network. To learn more about the newest edition of Indiana’s Team representing the women’s game, visit indyeleven.com/wleague.

2022 USL W League Regular Season – Matchday 6
Indy Eleven  3 : 0  Flint City AFC
Friday, June 10, 2022 – 7:00 p.m.
Grand Park Events Center – Westfield, Ind.

Scoring Summary:
IND – Maddy Williams (Robyn McCarthy) 7’
IND – Maddy Williams (Ella Rogers) 17’
IND – Maddy Williams (unassisted) 22’

Disciplinary Summary:
none

Indy Eleven lineup: 1-Nona Reason (GK), 5-Grace Bahr, 6-Julia Leonard, 9-Katie Soderstrom (7-Becky Dean 62’), 12-Maddy Williams (10-Milica Bulatovic 62’), 13-Jenna Chatterton (17-Emily McCalliget 73’), 22-Greta Kraszula, 23-Robyn McCarthy (Selena Barnett 73’), 26-Ella Rogers (15-Isadora Gadjobranski 73’)

IND substitutes: 1-Mackenzie Wood, 4-Kristina Lynch

Flint City AFC lineup: 0- Kayla Shuk (GK), 2-Kendra Zak, 5-Isabelle Karkaba (15-Kayla Robbins 45’), 10-Abby Werthman, 12-Arianna Hudson, 13-Zoe Hudson, 14-Alli Leonard, 16-Anna Schroeder, 17-Sam Lopez, 18-Alana Wood (11-Alexis Kufta 64’), 22-Alexa Sabbagh

MID substitutes: 7-Jaden Frigerio, 16-Katie Ferguson

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

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

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

 

Attend a Free 20-Minute Webinar on Nursing Bridge Programs

6/9/22 Indy 11 Women home Fri 7 pm Grand Park, USA vs Grenada Fri 10 pm ESPN+, USMNT ties Uruguay, Nations League continues

USA Ties #13 Uruguay

The US had good moments against the top team they have played in the Greg Berhalter Era – but they settled for a 0-0 tie with the South American power Uruguay.  US Game Hightlights   I thought the US played well especially from about 15 minutes in until after halftime.  The US had numerous chances including two that US #9 Jesus Ferriera just has to finish if he wants to start for us in the World Cup.  In the end – Uruguay probably should have ended the US 23 game home unbeaten streak in as US GK Sean Johnson stood on his head to make these 2 spectacular saves.  Another miss by Man United’s Cavani, who subbed in with 30 min to play, in the final minute probably could have scored as well.  But it didn’t and the US finished with a solid even game against the top ranked team (#13) the US has played in years.  Overall I thought Johnson was great in net, the middle of the defense was fine with Long and Zimmerman but the outside backs – Yedlin and the 19 year-old MGladbach man Joe Scally really, really struggled on the night. Not sure Scally is ready for big time competition just yet.  Musah was fantastic in the midfield #8 slot as his combos with Pulisic were mighty dangerous again.  (See tons of stories on the OBC/below).

USA vs Grenada Fri 10 pm ESPN+ 

The team flips to Nations League play in CONCACAF now with a home gimme vs Grenada on Friday night on ESPN+ from Austin, Texas.  I look for the US to play a lot of guys who have not played yet in this match – as they will probably return to a normal starting side for their Tues Night game in El Salvador at 10 pm on FS1.  US Men Use platform to Question Gun Violence.  Also Funny Berhalter bouncepass issue.   Sign up Weston McKinney up for the Celtics Quick!

Shane’s Starters for Fri Game vs Grenada 10 pm ESPN+

Haji Wright

Morris/Arriola  

Roldan/De la Torre

Acosta

Bello/CCV/Palmer Brown/Cannon

Ethan Horvath

The 26-man roster for June Games

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution), Sean Johnson (DC United)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic FC), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor)

Indy 11 Women Play Friday night at Grand Park Events Center

Our Indy 11 women are off to a great start with 4 wins and 1 tie on the season for tops in the league.  They play Midwest United Friday night 7 pm at the Event Center at Grand Park Friday night vs Flint City AFC so make plans to go out and see the ladies !! Tickets for that contest are available at indyeleven.com/wleague-tickets for only $8. To learn more about the newest edition of Indiana’s Team representing the women’s game, visit indyeleven.com/wleague.  On the men’s side they got the 1-1 tie at Miami on Wednesday and will next play in Colorado next Sat, June 18 on MyIndyTV 23/ESPN+. The boys in blue return home July 2 at 7:30 pm with fire-works display after so make your plans to be there tix are just $15 @ indyeleven.com/tickets.

Former Carmel Dad’s Club and Carmel High School Standout Forward Katie Soderstrom and Noblesville’s GK Nona Reason are local players helping to lead to our Indy 11 Women’s Team who plays Friday night, June 10 7 pm at the Grand Park Events Center. 

Participants in the Carmel Dads’ Club big sisters/little sisters soccer program with Carmel FC (Carmel’s Travel Program). Back, from left, Lyla Barnhart, Rylie Heath, Ava Donofrio, Lily Bose, Amit Gat, Molly Broach, Liz Putts, Olivia Ritchey, and Kate Huitsing. Front, from left, Gabriella Roesner, Natalie Guibault, Adeline King, Molly Keen, Ruby Crosby, Alexis Westphal, Zipporah Brown, Madeline Nies, and Carly Orr. (Photo courtesy of Abigail Donofrio)  Read full Story from the Carmel Current

Congrats to the Carmel FC 2008 Girls Gold Team who capped off the year with a Gold Medal at the Siege of St. Francis tourney last week.
Coaches Tim Broach (right), Charles Switzer and Bill Spencer (not pictured).

CARMEL FC 2022 Tryouts Monday June 13

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

——————————————————————————————————————–

Monday June 13, 2022- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2004 to 2012)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.

Tryouts for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012: 5:45pm to 7:15pm

Tryouts for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008: 7:30pm to 9pm.
——————————————————————————————————————–
Use this link to register for tryouts before hand.   Visit : carmelfc.teamapp.com   Please email  info@cdccarmelfc.com. with any questions.

Interested in Group Goalkeeper Training this summer – call me at 317-748-7174 and I’ll look to add some more early evening or weekend sessions.  

BIG GAMES ON TV

Thurs, June 9

2:45 pm FS1                        Portugal vvs Czechs NL

10:30 pm Para+                 Canada vs Curacao

Fri, June 10

2:45 pm FS1                        Austria vs France NL

10 pm ESPN+              USA vs Grenada 

Sat, June 11

2:45 pm FS1                        Ireland vs Scotland NL

3 pm ABC                             Charlotte vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm Para+                       Mexico vs Suriname

Sun, June 12

9 am FS1                              Northern Ireland vs Cyprus NL

12 pm FS1                            Norway vs Sweden NL

2:45 pm FS2                        Spain vs Czech Republic

2:45 pm Fubo                     Switzerland vs Portugal

3 pm ABC                             Sporting KC vs New England MLS

Mon, June 13

2 pm FS1                              Australia vs Peru WCQ

2:45 pm FS1                        Croatia vs France NL

2:45 pm FS2                        Denmark vs Austria NL

10 pm Para+                       Canada vs Honduras

Tues, June 14

2:45 pm FS1                        Germany vs Italy NL

2:45 pm Fubo                     England vs Hungary NL

10 pm FS1             USA @ El Salvador

Weds, June 15

7:30 pm ESPN+                  New England vs Orlando

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumni Soccer  

LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER IS NEXT THURS – Mid June – early August –  Games Wed/Sun  Age 18-30  Registration open thru June 16th. Call 317-846-1633 or Click Here

Make your own teams or we can add you to a team.  Cost is just $105 includes Jersey. 

Carmel Dads’ Club Soccer Camp Powered by Indy Eleven – Next Week -June 13-16

9am-12pm (Rain day reschedule June 17)  Ages 6-13   Shelborne Soccer Fields – 3451 W. 126th St. Carmel, IN 46033 –  REGISTRATION IS LIVE!

USA


USMNT’s Pulisic, Dest among top 100 transfer values

Halfway Thru June Games – what have we Learned?  Matt Doyle – MLS.com

US Game Hightlights

US ties Uruguay – SI – Avi Creditor
Holding Uruguay to a scoreless draw will help the USMNT come the World Cup | Opinion

USMNT forwards struggle for goals in World Cup tuneup vs. Uruguay

USMNT vs Uruguay: Yanks hold on for draw as World Cup prep continues

USMNT plays 2018 World Cup quarterfinalist Uruguay to scoreless draw in international friendly

Player Ratings – 3 players who Stood Out of the US – the 18

Player Ratings –USA – Ben Wright- MLS.com

US Holds Off Uruguay but issues At hand

US to Play Asian Powers Japan and Saudi Arabia in Sept in Europe
2022 FIFA World Cup: What to know about USMNT’s Group B opponents

Wales Coach Says the US Game is Winable – Yanks Abroad

Just How Difficult Is the USMNT’s World Cup Group? SI Avi Creditor

Will American’s Be Fit for the World Cup?  Landon Donovan

USMNT urges Congress to pass stronger gun-control laws: ‘Do what is necessary’

USA Ladies


USWNT forward Catarina Macario tears ACL while playing with Lyon

Rose Lavelle and the freedom to be herself: How her OL Reign, USWNT form has taken off
1dJeff Kassouf

Could Rodman eclipse Pulisic as the face of U.S. soccer?

Rodman scored her first US goal in here 2nd game in a US Jersey.

Trinity Rodman – the Future has Arrived to US Women’s Soccer

Rodman Heads list of Top U 21s

Hall of Fame Class of 2021 – Christie Pearce Rampone

Class Hall of Fame Class of 2022 Clint Dempsey

Really Cool Clint Dempsey Hall of Fame Speech

Hall of Fame – Class of 2022 Shannon Box
Legendary USWNT goalkeeper Briana Scurry pushes for greater soccer diversity, recalls World Cup heroics

NWSL: Orlando Pride head coach, assistant placed on leave amid ongoing investigation

WORLD


Mexico’s good, bad and ugly from recent friendlies: Ochoa in form, but who’s scoring the goals?
  Cesar Hernandez
Bale hails ‘greatest result’ as Wales deny Ukraine World Cup dream

Ukraine misses out on World Cup after losing 1-0 to Wales

Wales spoil Ukrainian dreams to reach first World Cup in 64 years

Australia beats UAE in AFC playoff, faces Peru for World Cup berth 

Australia coach wants more from team after World Cup playoff win

Canada-Panama match canceled amid spiraling World Cup bonus dispute

Inexperienced Italy side hold Germany in Nations League

World Cup Schedule

Goalkeeping

What a Save by American Sean Johnson vs Uruguay

Sean Johnson Stellar in Net for US

Mexico’s Ochoa Great Save vs Ecuador

Costa Rica’s Legend Keylor Navas with the saves

US Women – Legendary Briana Scurry’s Discusses Greatest Save her book
Legendary USWNT goalkeeper Briana Scurry pushes for greater soccer diversity, recalls World Cup heroics

Indy Eleven Women Remain Undefeated with Victory at Grand Park

WESTFIELD, Ind. (Friday, June 3, 2022) – After nearly a month on the road, vocal chants from the Brickyard Battalion got the Indy Eleven USL W League squad and the sellout crowd of 1,023 crowd back into the homecoming spirit, as the Girls in Blue captured a 1-0 victory over Midwest United FC at the Grand Park Events Center. Forward Kristina Lynch’s left footed shot from 20 yards near the end of the first half was enough to keep Indy atop the Great Lakes Division and remain the division’s only undefeated side, pushing its record to 4W-0L-1D (13 pts.) on the campaign.The first half was an intense 45 minutes filled with chances for both sides and energetic pressure and aggression across the pitch. Many scoring opportunities came on the counterattack, and they started early as in the fourth minute of the game Indy midfielder Jenna Chatterton had the first big chance of the match, but her shot from 12 yards straight out from goal was just wide of the left post. Midwest United FC responded seven minutes later on a 3-v-2 break, but Avery Lockwood’s shot was blocked and the rebound effort was just missed. In the 33rd minute, Chatterton’s up-tempo speed found Maddy Williams down on the left side, who cut back to get inside the area and unleash a near post blast that stuck in the gloves of Midwest United goalkeeper Lauren Kozal at her near post.Just when it looked as if the first half would go scoreless, Lynch had other plans. In the 41st minute, the Indy attacked space in the middle of the field before splitting two Midwest United defenders and finding an opening at the arc, where she powered a shot that left Kozal diving at air, putting Indy up 1-nil heading into halftime.“Everybody was just pressing really well, we pushed up the field and everyone was marked up and the ball just kind of bounced to where I happened to be and took a few touches,” Lynch said. “The gap opened up, tried to hit it with the left foot, and it went in.”The second half saw both sides using their full allotment of five subs, indicative of the fresh legs needed to get through the more physical final 45 minutes that saw the flow of the game become a bit choppier. One of those subs, Indy attacker Milica Bulatovic, nearly got on the board in the 55th minute when she lashed Katie Soderstrom’s laid off ball into the heart of the area, only to see Kozal leap across her line to make the save.Another bench performer, Heather MacNab, nearly scored with her first touch in the 63th minute, only to see Kozal go low to make another fine save. Deep into four minutes of stoppage time, Rachel McCarthy had an opportunity to add Indy’s long-awaited insurance goal off a 2-v-2 break, but her miss just wide right of frame mattered not, as the chance marked the final action of the hard-fought victory for the Girls in Blue.“The game is supposed to be a battle and you should know what you’re up against,” Eleven W League Head Coach Paul Dolinsky said. “We still tried to play and there were some very good spells where the ball was moving pretty well. And in a day where we have one and the other team has zero, then we don’t try to find too many issues.”Indy Eleven will continue its June homestand in Westfield next Friday, June 10, when it hosts Flint City AFC at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for that contest are available at indyeleven.com/wleague-tickets for only $8. To learn more about the newest edition of Indiana’s Team representing the women’s game, visit indyeleven.com/wleague.

Scoring Summary:
IND – Kristina Lynch (unassisted) 41’

Indy Eleven lineup: 1-Mackenzie Wood (GK), 4-Kristina Lynch (8-Heather MacNab 62’), 5-Grace Bahr, 6-Julia Leonard, 7-Becky Dean (10-Milica Bulatovic 45’), 9-Katie Soderstrom (24-Rachel McCarthy 62’), 12-Maddy Williams (19-Selena Barnett 80’), 13-Jenna Chatterton, 22-Greta Kraszula, 23-Robyn McCarthy (17-Emily McCalligett 70’), 26-Ella Rogers

Former Carmel Dad’s Club and Carmel High School Standout Forward Katie Soderstrom and Noblesville’s GK Nona Reason are local players helping to lead to our Indy 11 Women’s Team who plays Friday night, June 10 7 pm at the Grand Park Events Center. 

Armchair Analyst: Matt Doyle

Halfway through the USMNT’s June camp, what have we learned?

By Matthew Doyle @MattDoyle76Tuesday, Jun 7, 2022, 11:00 AM

The US men’s national team’s June camp, with a pair of friendlies (in the books!) and a pair of Nations League contests (coming this week!), is half done. While it has been a somewhat experimental camp – we’ll discuss how in a minute – its main purpose has been to fine-tune the team, both in terms of its personnel and baseline tactical shapes and concepts, ahead of November’s World Cup.With 180 minutes logged we’ve learned some stuff about what Gregg Berhalter’s thinking, and we’ve learned some stuff about what he’s trying to do.

Let’s dive in:

Changing the midfield shape

The biggest thing that’s jumped out to me over the course of these first two games, a delightful 3-0 win over Morocco and a scoreless draw against Uruguay that was alternately rugged and wide open, is that Berhalter has inverted the US’s base midfield triangle. Throughout most of World Cup qualifying it was a single pivot with a pair of No. 8s pushed forward; through these two games it’s been inverted, with Yunush Musah (or Luca de la Torre) dropping deeper to play alongside Tyler Adams, making a double pivot.

There is a “coming full circle” aspect to Berhalter’s decision here, as when he initially took over he was working with various rotations to create a double pivot. Back then it was Adams, deployed as a fullback, who would push up and inside next to the nominal d-mid – Michael Bradley or Wil Trapp, and yes, 2019 seems a million years ago – to sit in front of two central defenders and a stay-at-home left back who basically never overlapped. The idea was to get a solid enough defensive foundation to let the five more advanced players just go to work in attack.

Over time Berhalter, as mentioned, went to a single pivot. Adams (it was almost always Adams) had a very clear remit: Protect the backline, snuff out any opposing transition moments, win the ball and play it quickly to those who are able to do more with it.

What we never saw was something like this:

That’s Adams pressing way, way up, which is something I can’t recall him doing any of since the US moved to a single pivot. In this instance he gets cut out of the play and it becomes the responsibility of Musah to slide over and protect the backline from the exact sort of cutback that almost led to a goal here, but Musah never sees it. It’s just not something he’s used to with club or country.

The flip side is he’s now, in possession, doing more of the types of things he actually is used to (and is excellent at): ball progression. Pushing Musah deeper gets him on the ball earlier in sequences, which draws opposing defenders upfield and, once he cuts them out of the play, puts the US into positions of numerical advantage.

Here ya go:

That is the value of getting him on the ball deeper, and earlier in the play (and the same goes for de la Torre, who is a like-for-like sub for Musah). He doesn’t produce goals and assists, but he does produce the stuff that needs to happen first in order to make goals and assists possible.

The other advantage of putting Musah deeper is, by the end of qualifying, Adams had kind of been figured out by the rest of Concacaf. He is iffy receiving the ball in traffic and is limited in his distribution, and so as the windows went on the US veered more and more toward becoming a team that played against the ball rather than a team that plays with it. Adams is not, by any means, the only cause of that tactical drift, but he’s definitely at the heart of it.

And I think it’s pretty telling that, in the first two games after qualifying, Berhalter changed the midfield shape and responsibilities so drastically.

A true(ish) attacking midfielder

The upshot of all of the above is that Brenden Aaronson and Weston McKennie have both been put into spots where they can play as something closer to what I think most would consider being a true attacking midfielder. It wasn’t 100% across the board – there are still moments where each drops deep into a line with Adams and Musah in the US’s base 4-3-3 – but more and more often the US, on the front foot, looked like a team playing out of a 4-2-3-1.

Whether you consider the player in this spot to be a true No. 10 or not doesn’t really matter; what does is understanding their job is much less about ball progression through the middle, which falls to Musah and (to a lesser extent) Adams, and more about operating in the half-space as part of the attack. If, for example, they’re operating in the right half-space it’ll usually be the right winger out wide, the center forward occupying the middle channel, the left winger (Christian Pulisic basically all the time) in the left half-space and the left fullback trying to get around the edge out wide.

The goal is to get to the baseline 3-2-2-3 formation in possession and to create both positional and dynamic superiority. Throughout 2021 and most of 2022, the US had aimed for a 2-3-2-3 instead.

It sounds minor, but it’s really not a trivial distinction. Getting efficiently into final third kill patterns, and getting your most talented attackers into spots in that final third where they can execute said kill patterns, is how you can make a solid team good or even great.

I’m not sure scrapping the single pivot is the way to do it, but I understand the ideas behind what Berhalter’s done here.

Attacking balance from the fullbacks

Against Morocco, Berhalter tinkered with a rotation that turned what was nominally a back four into a back three, as Antonee Robinson was given license to overlap all day long in his usual manner from left back, while Reggie Cannon – who has played mostly as a right center back for Boavista in Portugal this year – didn’t overlap at all. Instead, he’d slide inside to create that 3-2-2-3 look.

Against Uruguay the fullbacks, Joe Scally on the left and DeAndre Yedlin on the right, were operating on the basic “you stay I go” system. In other words, if one was overlapping then the other stayed home. Nobody was cutting inside to create midfield overloads and nobody was sliding inside, Cannon-style, to create a permanent back three.

Scally, who was targeted all night by La Celeste, couldn’t manage it. He barely got forward and the few times he did, he created nothing. The knock-on effect was a significant attacking imbalance for the US:

(Note you can see McKennie’s positioning there in the right half-space. He’s No. 8).

An attacking imbalance is not, in and of itself, a calamity. Just look at the Musah clips above and you’ll see the two best US chances of the game came down the right-hand side.

But Jedi’s played 85% of available USMNT minutes this year and his absence against Uruguay (he came on midway through the second half, but the game was truly gone by then) was visible. Not having him – or someone like him – at left back drastically changes the way the US can play.

Ideally, that’s not something the US will have to worry about in Qatar. Ideally, Robinson will play every single minute.

But what if he can’t? Putting Sergino Dest at left back and slotting Cannon or Yedlin in at right back is just a massive shift for the US since Dest doesn’t create width or penetration on the overlap when he’s inverted. George Bello came up short both in qualifying and at Arminia Bielefeld, while Scally’s a right-footed wingback who evolved from a starter into a sub over the course of last season.

I wouldn’t be against bringing Sam Vines in for another look. Vines struggled at first in Belgium, but wound up winning a starting job down the stretch and into the playoffs. The other high-upside option is young Kevin Paredes (my favorite player of the bunch), who was outstanding last year for D.C. United, but didn’t really break through at all for Wolfsburg when he moved in January (nobody breaks through for Wolfsburg right away, unfortunately).

Both of those guys are left-footed, overlapping, attacking fullbacks. Both are plausible like-for-like back-ups for Jedi, and I think we’ve got to have that on the roster.

The No. 9 situation

So here’s the question: Do you credit the player who finds high-upside chances for understanding attacking patterns well enough to actually find those chances in the first place? Or do you ding him for not finishing?

That’s what the situation with Jesus Ferreira is at the moment.

Now, understand on a long enough timeline, a given player’s actual goals will tend to match their expected goals, and in that instance Ferreira is massively underperforming for the US. But he massively underperformed for Dallas in 2020, then found his level last year, then upped his level this season. That feels like a pretty natural progression for a young attacker, and since Berhalter keeps showing faith in Ferreira, and since the overall attack keeps operating better with Ferreira out there, I tend to think the No. 9 is Ferreira’s job to lose.

I am sympathetic to those who would rather Berhalter go in a different direction (and for what it’s worth, I expect Haji Wright to get a start in at least one of the next two games). Guys like Wright, Daryl Dike, Jeremy Ebobisse and Brandon Vazquez don’t just move well; they have dominant physical characteristics that make them a different type of center forward than Ferreira, who’s more of a false 9 than a classic striker.

The question is, though, will they even find the types of chances Ferreira is currently failing to finish? Dike has struggled mightily in his non-friendly appearances for the US, while Wright missed his one good open-play chance against Morocco, then touched the ball just four times in 29 minutes against Uruguay (which is in line with his underlying numbers from Turkey, which say he finds good chances, but doesn’t find many of them and doesn’t do anything else at an above-average level). Vazquez and Ebobisse might not even be a glint in Berhalter’s eye as far as we know.

I do think Ricardo Pepi has a chance to work his way back into the picture, provided he actually puts the ball into the net a little bit for Augsburg. For Jordan Pefok and Gyasi Zardes, however, I think the ship has most likely sailed.

Regardless, what we’ve learned about the No. 9 job for the US is we’ve got a lot more to learn about the No. 9 job for the US.

Center back hierarchy

I think it’s telling Aaron Long started both games alongside Walker Zimmerman. Long wasn’t perfect – there were a couple of times he scrambled slowly in the 18, which led to a spectacular block vs. Morocco and a massive let-off vs. Uruguay – but he was better than the other two options, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Erik Palmer-Brown.

Carter-Vickers does a lot of good stuff when the ball’s on the ground, but he’s not Long’s equal in the air, and that matters. Here are two clips from CCV’s 45 minutes against Morocco. The first is a header Long wins, and the second is a header Carter-Vickers completely whiffs on:

Misjudging the cross to allow Tarik Tissoudali a free look speaks for itself, but that first clip is important as well. Carter-Vickers has never really shown the ability to muscle a center forward and win a long clearance like that for the US, and has struggled to do it for his club at higher levels. His weakness in the air is the reason he plays in Scotland rather than England, full stop.

So right now I think Zimmerman’s first in the center back pecking order, with Chris Richards second, Long third and either Carter-Vickers or Mark McKenzie (who did not have the best year with Genk, but played more down the stretch and into the playoffs) fourth.

One thing I will say is if there needs to be a fifth center back – and there should be if rosters are expanded to 26 – it should be James Sands because of his versatility. He’d slot into the depth chart as a fifth center back as well as a third d-mid and a third right back.

I’m not sure Berhalter sees it that way, and the fact neither Sands nor McKenzie are in this camp doesn’t bode well for them. But going five-deep at center back and three-deep with d-mid ball-winners should be non-negotiables.

A few other thoughts…

• Taylor Twellman said during the Morocco game he thinks the No. 1 goalkeeper job is Matt Turner’s to lose, and I tend to agree. He’s the superior shot-stopper, which is what matters most, and is going to be training with an Arsenal side that demands improvement in his footwork playing out of the back.

Add in Zack Steffen’s repeated struggles for both club and country, and I will be surprised if Turner’s not the starter this autumn.

• Sean Johnson, who’s having a wonderful year with NYCFC, got a chance to make his case for inclusion and did so with a Man of the Match performance on Sunday. Here he is bailing out Aaronson and Scally:

I don’t think Johnson truly has a shot to win the No. 1, but I would honestly choose him, Ethan Horvath or, obviously, Turner over Steffen at this point.

• For me the Musah/McKennie/Adams midfield is written in pen. I understand there is a sentiment in certain corners of the internet to bench one of Musah or McKennie in favor of Aaronson, but… no. Inverting the midfield triangle, as Berhalter did this week, did a nice job of showing how Aaronson* could play in the midfield effectively (he’s been disastrous when played as one of the dual 8s). But to me, that was more of a “let’s see what he can do in case Wes is hurt” type of thing.

(*) Also, this role was made for Djordje Mihailovic. I can see now why Berhalter kept insisting he was brought to camp as a midfielder.

• If Aaronson’s competing for a starting spot anywhere, it’s on the wing. And the truth is nobody – not even Pulisic – should have their name in pen in that front three. If all four of Aaronson, Pulisic, Tim Weah and Gio Reyna are healthy and good to go in November, then most likely two of them will be coming off the bench (though there is at least a chance Weah could be used as a No. 9 instead).

Still, if I were a betting man I’d wager Pulisic and Weah are the starters. But just think about how much has changed in the past five months, and imagine about how much can change in the next five.

We’ve learned a lot about what Berhalter is thinking, and about the state of the player pool. There are only two games left in this window – just four games left until the freaking World Cup itself is finally here! – but we’ve still got a lot of learning left to do.

Benefit or burden? USMNT begin Nations League defense

By Charles Boehm @cboehm

Wednesday, Jun 8, 2022, 06:51 PM

Concacaf Nations League got a mixed reception among the region’s largest and most established programs when the concept was unveiled in November 2017. The new tournament was meant to give a helping hand to smaller nations by replacing often-meaningless friendlies with official competitive matches, thus raising the region’s overall level of play. But for the likes of Mexico and the United States, there was some frustration at the prospect of losing already-scarce opportunities to test themselves against elite opponents from Europe, South America and points further afield.Thanks to COVID-19, the inaugural edition of the CNL didn’t conclude until a year ago this week, and the joy of the US men’s national team was palpable and authentic as they hoisted the hardware following a dramatic extra-time victory over their rivals El Tri that night in Denver. The Yanks extended that high in a dogged march to the 2021 Gold Cup title a few weeks later, building momentum heading into their ultimately successful 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.In retrospect, the event many fans feared as a hindrance turned out to be a platform for collective growth.“This tournament helped us a lot to gain confidence in the team as a whole,” USMNT winger Paul Arriola told reporters in Spanish in a Wednesday afternoon media availability ahead of Friday’s 2022-23 CNL opener vs. Grenada in Austin (10 pm ET | ESPN+, UniMas, TUDN). “Winning this tournament for the first time was very important for us, it gave us the confidence that we can win cups and tournaments. So for us right now the most important thing is to focus on defending our title, and also trying to improve.”In recent days multiple other players have also pointed to the value of that CNL final triumph over Mexico as milestone and proof of concept in Gregg Berhalter’s team-building process.“Each tournament was a stepping stone in the right direction for us,” midfielder Kellyn Acosta said on Tuesday. “Nations League was a stepping stone for us to go into Gold Cup and have a great result, then to go into the World Cup qualifiers and obviously prevail and qualify for the World Cup. I think we’re using each and every opportunity to grow as a group.”Added fullback Reggie Cannon: “That group set the standard and it’s been carried out ever since, all the way through World Cup qualifying.”CNL also served up instructive moments like the dispiriting 2-0 group-stage loss to Canada in Toronto in October 2019, one of the low-water marks of Berhalter’s tenure and a result that seemed to prompt some tactical and personnel rethinks.So now the Nations League is a conquest that the USMNT fully intend to defend, even if it requires matches against what are likely to be less-demanding opponents like Friday’s – which is also their final game on US soil before the World Cup proper, a de facto sendoff in which the team wishes to “joy and confidence,” in Arriola’s words, to their fans.“I think anytime that you’re playing for a trophy, it’s a great experience. It obviously doesn’t mimic a World Cup but it’s a similar sense, that you’re trying to accomplish a goal and win a trophy,” said Jordan Morris. “The mentality throughout the last one was great … it brought the group closer together, instilled confidence and pushed us forward, and I think that we’re going to use this as a similar platform these couple of games.”After Friday’s match the USMNT will jet to Central America for another CNL fixture, a visit to El Salvador at Estadio Cuscatlan, typically one of the loudest and most spirited environments in Concacaf and another evaluation point in the countdown to Qatar. Their group stage will conclude with two more ties next spring.It might not get pulses racing on the level of a meeting with Uruguay or a comparably world-class opponent, but it’s another step towards the desired destination just the same.“Nothing changes based on the opponent,” said Morris. “We go out and execute our game plan and work on the things that we want to work on in the game. Everyone’s going to go out and compete and show themselves to the best of their ability.

“It comes back to the collective and getting better as a team, because there’s not that many games left before the World Cup and we want to continue to take steps before that tournament.”

 Jun 8, 2022, 10:32 AM

Motivation in short supply? Nations League tests players’ pride and exhaustion

By DaMarcus Beasley @DamarcusBeasley

The number of matches and multiple tournaments players partake in each year is always a big topic of discussion, not only for executives at FIFA or the presidents of each footballing region, but for coaches and players alike.

In a recent press conference with Belgium, Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne offered a very honest take on the UEFA Nations League: “For me, the Nations League is not important. We have to play these games, but it feels like a campaign of friendly games. Just glorified friendlies after a long and tough season. I’m not looking forward to it.”

That perspective was echoed by his club teammate and Portugal star Bernando Silva, who offered this about a stretch where they’ll play four Nations League games in 10 days: “After a season in which we’ve had 60 games, to come here and then have to play four more… many people have spoken about it. There are too many games, in the end, too many injuries. We start the new season in a month’s time and I’m certain we are not going to be 100% ready.”

I will tell you now, they’re not the only ones thinking this.

If it is not a World Cup Qualifier or a major tournament, most players will have the same sentiment as Mr. De Bruyne. Now, not every player will come out and say that but, speaking from my experience of playing in Europe with a lot of other internationals, that is the reality.

After a long season, half of the time most players want to go on holiday for a few days, get away from the game and enjoy their time off. And you better believe they couldn’t be bothered with playing in a friendly match against countries ranked low or participating in newer tournaments like the Nations League.

Fatigue, motivation & an increasing number of games

I know everyone is different and the age where a player is in his respective career can be a factor in how one feels about playing international friendlies or the Nations League. We can sit here and throw different variables of why players don’t see the importance of these games, but the simple fact is this: There are too many games and fatigue becomes an issue.

It is not that players don’t want to represent their country or are not proud to do so. Not every player will play 50-60 games a year for their club and country and being able to do so is a privilege. However, the ones who have this opportunity would prefer not to play in matches where the competition isn’t as high as what they are used to.

Nowadays players have an increased number of games throughout a season, mostly due to the added international matches and bevy of competitions. It makes it basically impossible to keep the same intensity and mentality at a high level for all of them.

I remember playing in USMNT matches after a long season where we knew we were going to win. The competition was not very high, and neither was my motivation. In those situations, you do enough to get through the match because in your head you know it doesn’t mean much in the bigger scheme of things.

That said, I loved playing for my country every chance I got. The feeling of putting on your nation’s colors is almost indescribable. I always felt a sense of pride as I was honored to be representing my country and to be viewed as one of the best soccer players in this country. Still, when you have been playing in so many matches in the year and then need to rustle up any energy or motivation to play these games, it is difficult.

Finding meaning in Nations League

The USMNT will start the defense of their Concacaf Nations League title on Friday against Grenada after winning the first version of the tournament against Mexico last year. I know this tournament was brought on to be a substitute for meaningless friendlies throughout the year and the hope was that adding a trophy would stop players from backing out of friendly matches. Also, the tournament serves to help the smaller nations play in more high-level matches, something I think is important for the growth of Concacaf as a whole.

However, with this being a World Cup year, does the Nations League serve a purpose? I do not think so.

Now, more than ever, we have top players in Concacaf playing at big clubs around the world. Keylor Navas (PSG), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Jesus “Tecatito” Corona (Sevilla), Hirving Lozano (Napoli)… I mean, the list goes on and on.

Do I think this type of top-level player will take the tournament seriously? Maybe to a certain extent, but not for long. We have seen it before with the Concacaf Gold Cup when the USMNT, Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica, arguably the top four teams in Concacaf, do not always bring their “A” team.

I have never played in the Concacaf Nations League, so I can only compare it to the Gold Cup. And in these matches, the motivation wasn’t always high. Obviously when you get to the final you want to win it, but it is true the vibe and atmosphere in camp are very different when playing in a Gold Cup than when preparing for a World Cup Qualifier.

During a World Cup Qualifying window, everyone has the same mentality, the same mindset. It was easy to be self-motivated in matches of this magnitude. When you came into camp, the atmosphere is relaxed and a bit tense at the same time. And that is a good thing. The level of concentration and focus needed to play those types of matches were through the roof. You didn’t need to worry about players being checked out or less motivated to be in camp. Everyone wanted to go to the World Cup, and more importantly, everyone wanted to be a contributing asset on the field.

I don’t think the same can be said about the Gold Cup or the Nations League.

A lot of times, not every time, players who came into camp had different agendas and mixed emotions. Some wanted to be there, and some didn’t. There were players who took it seriously because this was their chance to prove themselves on the international stage and others, more “seasoned,” who were there just after a long season and were too relaxed. When you add 40-50 international games under your belt, mixed with playing against low-ranked teams, your mindset is already thinking about vacation.

And I will be honest: I did both. There was a time that I took matches like the Gold Cup seriously and other times when my motivation didn’t really come until we reached the final of the tournament. But I will say the professionalism of our group was always there. Did we have that driving force needed in every single match? No, but we always tried to win our matches and bring home a trophy.

In 2003, our motivation level needed to play in a Gold Cup wasn’t there. A lot of players were held over from the Confederations Cup in France to play in the Gold Cup that summer. Others were allowed to head back to their respective clubs. Not everyone had the same goal in mind that camp, including myself. Some were on vacation; some didn’t even want to be there, and yes, others wanted to show their worth. You can say it is easy to pick out that year because we didn’t reach the final, but ask anyone who was a part of that group that summer. These matches were viewed as “glorified friendlies”.

Playing for your country is a privilege. It is earned, not given. I loved playing for my country, and I know players who get the opportunity love playing for their country. So, when players voice their concerns about why they see these games as non-important or “glorified friendlies,” it is not because of a lack of passion or love for their flag. It is simply because they are exhausted.

USMNT draws Uruguay, disagreement in second half on number of subs allowed

By Jeff Rueter

June 6, 2022Updated 12:54 AM EDT

The United States men’s national team played Uruguay for 90 minutes and drew their friendly 0-0. The most noteworthy thing to happen may have been a disagreement over the nmber of subs.Just days after Uruguay beat Mexico by a comfortable 3-0 margin, the USMNT held them scoreless in Kansas City. The USMNT looked more dangerous in the first half, benefitting from Weston McKennie’s return after a three-month layoff due to a metatarsal injury. His interplay with Christian Pulisic helped keep the hosts on the front foot, while benefitting from strong service via Walker Zimmerman. Unfortunately, Jésus Ferreira’s performance was the latest in a long line of U.S. strikers failing to make their mark. The FC Dallas designated player sent a wide-open header over the bar despite standing two yards short of the goalmouth, just minutes after sending a one-on-one chance into goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.The second half highlight came off the pitch, as Uruguay coach Diego Alonso made a seventh sub despite the U.S. claiming the sides had agreed on six. If Alonso used an illegal sub, it may run the risk of negating the 90 minutes altogether. Still, Sean Johnson put in a fine shift between the posts which helps make his case to join Zack Steffen and Matt Turner on the projected World Cup roster.The USMNT also wore orange armbands during the match in support of a letter the team penned to Congress calling for stronger gun legislation. “We want to affect the United States on and off the field,” Zimmerman said. “[I’m] proud of this group, proud of the message that we sent, and hopefully there’s enough action that we can get some progress.”

My 3 Thoughts on USMNT-Uruguay

U.S. defense hold firm against Núñez and Cavani in a 0-0 tie against the best team the U.S. has faced all year Grant Wahl  Jun 5 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The USMNT tied Uruguay 0-0 in a friendly between the two World Cup-bound teams on Sunday. Here are my three thoughts on the game:

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• The U.S. central defense held its own against the world’s most coveted young striker and 30 minutes of Edinson Cavani. Even without Cavani starting and missing Luis Suárez entirely, this Uruguay team was by a wide margin the toughest foe the U.S. has faced this year. Darwin Núñez, the 22-year-old Benfica striker, tore up the Champions League this season and is the top transfer target of Manchester United and other wealthy clubs. But the U.S. central defense of Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long (and Erik Palmer-Brown, his second-half replacement) did mostly well against Núñez and Cavani, keeping them from having a major influence on the game. Núñez did get free in on goal in the first half when a poor U.S. throw-in allowed him to get to the ball before Zimmerman, but Núñez made the wrong decision to pass the ball instead of shooting it. And Núñez 63rd-minute close-range shot was saved beautifully by Sean Johnson. Uruguay had another golden chance in stoppage time, but Núñez decided to drop off a pass to Cavani, who missed the chance. Long is still very much in audition mode for a starting centerback spot in the wake of Miles Robinson’s Achilles injury, but he did pretty well during the Morocco and Uruguay games. The main question here is whether Chris Richards (not in camp due to injury recovery) can make a good enough case for that spot at club level and in the U.S.’s two September friendlies. Personally, I think Richards should have a slight edge over Long to play alongside Zimmerman, but it’s clear that U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter really likes Long.

• The U.S. center-forward position continues to be an open battle. Jesús Ferreira played 61 minutes and remains Berhalter’s top choice for the spot, not least because of his mobility and ability to combine with other front-line players. Berhalter loves his expected goals stat, which reflects a player’s ability to put himself in positions to score, and Ferreira’s individual xG is higher than the other U.S. strikers. But at some point Ferreira is going to have to finish more of his chances, and once again he was unable to do that, failing to convert scoring opportunities in the 20th and 21st minutes. What’s more, Ferreira wasn’t great at holding the ball—an important skill facing high-pressure teams like Uruguay—and on several occasions managed only to get one touch before losing possession. The chance is there for Haji Wright to stake a claim to be the starter, but Wright was unable to do much in his half-hour on the field Sunday. Wright’s play is more in the mold of Jordan Pefok, which is to say his mobility isn’t quite what Ferreira’s is. That means Wright will have to bang in some goals to win over Berhalter. I’d like to see Wright get a starting opportunity against Grenada or El Salvador, even though those opponents won’t bring as much to the table as Uruguay and Morocco have done.

• I liked Christian Pulisic’s edginess and ability to release the ball quickly. Early on in World Cup qualifying, there were a number of occasions when it was clear that Pulisic didn’t totally trust his teammates. You could tell because he often tried to play “hero ball” and dribble through opposing teams when it would have been much better to pass the ball and continue an attacking threat. We didn’t see any of that from Pulisic on Sunday—or, for that matter, for a while now—and instead he has played more like he does with Chelsea, taking on defenders when he can and passing the ball when he should. I also like the harder edge Pulisic has showed with referees and opponents in games like Sunday’s. There’s nothing dirty about it, and I have often felt that this U.S. team has missed having some of that quality since the days of Jermaine Jones. Weston McKennie can provide that as well, and it was good to see him start and get 45 minutes on the field as he continues his full return from his broken foot.

Premium: Business in the Front, Party in the Back

With Aaron Long appearing a likely World Cup starter, an imperfect but resolute USMNT back line gets its second straight clean sheet against a Qatar 2022 team in a 0-0 tie against UruguayGrant Wahl Jun 6 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Uruguay’s Darwin Núñez, with Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland off the market, is at 22 the most coveted transfer target among young strikers in the world these days. Teammate Edinson Cavani, now 35, is a lion who can still summon the old furies—he scored twice against Mexico last week—as he prepares for one last World Cup.

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They were exactly what the U.S. central defenders needed on Sunday: a significant test beyond any they’d faced during CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. And while the Uruguayans certainly had chances to score—U.S. keeper Sean Johnson saved Núñez’s point-blank second-half shot, while Cavani misfired on a stoppage-time sitter—the combination of Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long (and second-half sub Erik Palmer-Brown) helped give the U.S. its second clean sheet in as many games against World Cup-bound foes in a 0-0 tie at Children’s Mercy Park.“They’re very good forwards,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said afterward. “Núñez is a younger guy with a huge potential and is going to be a huge transfer. He’s had a great season at Benfica. Cavani from Man United is a workhorse, a battler, a guy who competes for everything. He gets chances like you saw against Mexico, and he’s able to finish it. We talked to the centerbacks about embracing that challenge, enjoying that challenge. It’s not often that you get to play against guys of that quality, and I think they did a really good job.”Zimmerman said: “It’s very important to have back-to-back opponents [Uruguay and Morocco] in the top 25 in the world. Uruguay, I think 13th, with quality players all over the pitch and guys that have experience, World Cup experience, big-time game experience. So it was an opportunity for us, and we didn’t take it lightly. It was a dress rehearsal for a World Cup. We wanted to compete as if this was Game 3 in our group and we had to get points to move on. So that was the mentality.”Zimmerman has become the rock of the back line, and that was the case again on Sunday over 90 minutes. He rarely put a foot wrong, delivered some nice passes to start the buildup and covered for his teammates on occasion. But one of the big questions coming into this four-game window was whether Long would stake his claim to be Zimmerman’s sidekick after starter Miles Robinson suffered a ruptured left Achilles last month. And while Long wasn’t perfect handling Uruguay’s pressure, he acquitted himself well enough in his 45 minutes after going 90 in the U.S.’s 3-0 win over Morocco on Wednesday. “It’s great to get a shutout, right?” he said afterward. “At the end of the day, that is what matters. I think we gave up a couple chances that were a little bit self-inflicted a couple times. Overall, a shutout is great, but there’s room to improve.”Enough room, in fact, to make you wonder what might have happened had Chris Richards been fully recovered from injury to participate in this month’s games. Richards, 22, who played for Hoffenheim last season on loan from Bayern Munich, has a higher upside and a bit more speed and ball-playing ability. Long, 29, has more experience and a slightly more imposing presence against physical forwards. It remains to be seen if Richards’ club performance starting in August can help make his case, but it’s going to be hard with only two U.S. friendlies in September coming before the World Cup. Centerback is a position of trust, and Berhalter appears to believe in Long at this point—much as he did when Long was a regular USMNT starter before his own right Achilles rupture in May 2021. Goalkeeper is another intriguing situation. Zack Steffen is out this month for family reasons, and Matt Turner was solid putting up a clean sheet against Morocco. Johnson got the nod on Sunday over Turner and Ethan Horvath (a late camp arrival after Nottingham Forest, where he’s the backup, won the promotion playoff to the Premier League). “As a professional player who has been around the national team scene for a while, and been around this group for a while, the opportunity meant everything,” Johnson said.Since none of Steffen (Man City), Turner (Arsenal) or Horvath appears likely to be the starter at his club come August, I asked Johnson on Sunday if he thought being a starter for your club—in his case, New York City—should influence playing time for the national team and which keepers are named to the World Cup team.“Ultimately, I think for me it’s just playing every single game and maintaining a high level,” he responded. “I’m not really worried about too much else besides what I have to do. And when I’m with my club team, it’s putting in performances week in and week out and holding myself to a high standard, maintaining a good level and good form. Good rhythm coming to these camps helps. So it was a smooth transition into the game today, having gotten a ton of games.”Christian Pulisic, for his part, kept it simple: “SeanJohn was incredible today.”


Two other pieces of news dominated the day for the USMNT in addition to the Uruguay game. The 1-0 victory by Wales over Ukraine ended the latter’s inspiring World Cup qualifying run in the wake of the Russian invasion and meant the U.S. will face Wales on the opening night of the World Cup, November 21. “It’s a great feeling [to know the U.S.’s opponent],” said Berhalter when asked about it. “It’s kind of strange when you get drawn into a group and it’s one of three teams that you can play. So in terms of prep you get stalled a little bit, but now it’s full steam ahead and concentrating on Wales. My heart goes out to Ukraine. The whole world was probably behind Ukraine wanting them to go to the World Cup. So: England, Wales, Iran and the U.S., an interesting group.”The other big announcement was the letter from the USMNT players and staff to every member of Congress imploring them to pass legislation to counter gun violence. “We implore you to stand with the majority of Americans who support stronger gun laws,” they wrote in an eloquent and direct letter. “As athletes who have the privilege of traveling the globe representing the greatest country in the world, we are often asked how in a place like the United States there can be such horrific gun violence. We are also asked why the representatives of the people do nothing even though most Americans want them to take action. Those of us who play professionally abroad experience none of these things in our daily lives, yet we return home to a place where mass shootings are frighteningly common and the victims are often defenseless children.”

USMNT @USMNT

Today we are sending this letter to every member of Congress pleading with them to act and help end gun violence. #BetheChange #DontLookAway

 

Zimmerman, who has become one of the team’s leaders, explained it this way: “We look at our motto Be The Change, and we didn’t just want to sign something. We wanted to take action and really send it to Congress, to those who can make a difference with these laws, and we’re really proud of the group and the way that we stepped up. Gregg kind of helped us draft that letter. And we kind of looked over it as a leadership council first and then with the bigger group, talked through it and said, ‘Is everyone good? Is this something that we want to do?’ And it was unanimous, a hundred percent yes. We want to take action and speak up on that.”Pulisic added: “I hope you guys can all realize why we did it. I think it’s getting to a point where [it’s about] anything that we can do and trying to take action. People can say it’s not the guns, it’s the people, but we have to start somewhere, and that’s where we wanted to start.”This may be a young U.S. team—the youngest squad, in fact, at the World Cup—but it’s finding its voice. And that matters.

USMNT draw with Uruguay key takeaways: Midfield questions and more striker struggles

By Sam StejskalJun 6, 2022  Athletic

The U.S. men’s national team passed their final big test of the June international window, but only just.

Five days after putting together one of their more cohesive recent attacking performances in a 3-0 win against Morocco in Cincinnati, the USMNT was mostly stymied against a strong Uruguay side on Sunday, struggling to string much together going forward and nearly conceding on a few occasions in a relatively ugly 0-0 draw in Kansas City, Kan. 

The U.S. battled well against a difficult, albeit rotated, opponent, but most of the pressing questions that were facing the team at the start of this camp remain unanswered. That’s unlikely to change in the upcoming CONCACAF Nations League contests against comparatively weak Grenada and El Salvador, meaning U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter will likely enter the September window with plenty to suss out.

In the meantime, here are a few main takeaways from Sunday’s scoreless affair: 

Midfield still a work in progress

More than four months since their last match together, the U.S.’s “MMA” midfield of Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah and Tyler Adams got the start on Sunday, teaming up for 45 minutes before McKennie, who is still working his way back from a lengthy injury absence, was taken off at halftime in a planned substitution.

They had some good moments, with McKennie shaking off some rust and growing into the game as the half progressed, but they mostly had a tricky time trying to play through the well-organized Uruguayans. Things became even more congested for the U.S. in the second half, with the Americans struggling to maintain what little rhythm they built in the opening 45 after McKennie departed for Brenden Aaronson and Uruguay brought in some of their midfield stars. 

The performance stood in stark contrast to the more flowing soccer the U.S. exhibited against Morocco, when the tucked-in Christian Pulisic and Aaronson found a good amount of space between the lines and combined well in buildup play. There was a lot less of that against Uruguay, who didn’t press as high or as hard as Morocco did on Wednesday, a tactic that made things a bit difficult for the U.S. 

“They didn’t press as much, they kind of sat back, so it was asking us to kind of get on the ball a little bit deeper and kind of make the game from there. It was tough for us,” Aaronson told The Athletic. “In the first half, I thought it was better, I think we had some good moments where we could get out the other side and maybe get an overlap from the outside back. I think especially Yunus did very well in the midfield dribbling out of pressure, Tyler did, I think Weston did, too. But it was a tough game, really. They were very good, they crowded the middle and they made it tough for us.” 

There were some positives: As Aaronson mentioned, Musah dribbled out of pressure impressively on a few different occasions, showing the technical skill and graceful athleticism that have so many so excited about his potential. This play, where he carried the ball forward out of the back, found a teammate, received a return pass and found winger Tim Weah with a good switch to set up a chance in the 29th minute, was perhaps his best moment.

Of course, there were also a few instances when he broke pressure with his dribble but ended up holding the ball too long, carrying it into trouble instead of finding an available teammate. It’s a consistent, though not overly concerning, issue for Musah, who was indeed good on Sunday. 

“Yunus is a guy that just blows me away,” Berhalter said. “At his age, what he can do, he’s got a crazy level of talent. We need to work with Yunus on the final product, the final pass, the finishing, because he has a huge ceiling.” 

The midfielders also played roles in creating the U.S.’s two best chances of the afternoon in the 19th and 20th minutes. On the first, center back Walker Zimmerman found Adams with a quality, line-breaking pass to the middle of the attacking third. Adams quickly played a ball forward to Pulisic, who hit striker Jesus Ferreira in for an opportunity on goal. Musah was involved in the second, receiving a layoff from Ferreira and playing a well-weighted through ball into the area for right back DeAndre Yedlin, whose cross Ferriera failed to convert. 

Those kinds of plays weren’t all that common, however. Uruguay made it difficult on them, to be sure, but the midfield struggled to help build out of the back and, as a unit, looked a little bit off in possession. That’s not the biggest strength for the trio of Adams, McKennie and Musah, which creates some real questions for Berhalter ahead of the World Cup. Two of the U.S.’s three opponents in Group B — Iran and Wales — will likely look to sit deep and remain compact against the Americans. The U.S. typically struggles against those types of opponents. Playing Aaronson in a more attacking role gives them a little bit of a different look, though he wasn’t at his best on Sunday, either. Gio Reyna could also be an option, but his continuing injury issues and the fact that he’s never before played as a No. 8 for the U.S. could make integrating him at the position somewhat trickier. 

Berhalter was complimentary of McKennie after the game on Sunday, but there are reasonable questions about how he fits in this setup, too. He’s a big talent — athletic, active, disruptive to opponents, great in duels, dangerous on set pieces, adept at arriving late into the box and finishing — but he’s not as smooth on the ball as Musah, not quite as quick or efficient in tight spaces in the attacking end as Aaronson and sometimes seems to freelance a bit with his positioning. When he’s firing, he makes a huge impact for the U.S. But against countries that are organized and savvy in defense, it might make sense to either drop him a little bit deeper or perhaps start him on the bench and play a more natural attacker in midfield.  

No matter who’s playing, it’d be nice for the U.S. midfield to be a little bit smoother with their buildup play than they were on Sunday. They’ll need better in that area to unbalance the well-organized, disciplined opponents they’ll see in Qatar.

Struggles continue at striker

The U.S.’s long-standing issues at the striker position continued on Sunday, with Ferreira missing the mark on a couple of opportunities and substitute Haji Wright not seeing much involvement after he entered at the hour mark. 

As described above, Ferreira’s two best looks came in the 19th and 20th minutes. He made a good run off the shoulder of Uruguay center back Jose Gimenez to free himself up for the first opportunity, but couldn’t get his 15-yard attempt far enough away from goalkeeper Fernando Muslera to open the scoring. 

The second miss was more glaring. Ferreira helped start the play, checking back to the ball, receiving and laying it off to Musah before turning and sprinting into the area. He got onto the end of a fizzed-in cross from Yedlin at the left post, but couldn’t quite redirect his header on frame. 

Ferreira caught plenty of stick on social media for not converting the chances, and he looked a bit downcast after the game for not scoring either opportunity. Both plays were a bit tricky, however. He didn’t really have much of an angle on the first attempt; Gimenez did a good job of blocking off his path to the back post and Muslera was positioned well. He had an open net on the second look, but Yedlin’s cross was hit hard and a bit behind him. It was a great chance, but not the completely unexplainable miss it may have appeared.

Still, you’d expect an international-caliber striker to finish at least one of those two opportunities. Ferreira does a good job of getting himself in positions for chances on goal and has been on a tear for FC Dallas, but his finishing for the U.S. has been mostly lackluster. That needs to change.

Wright, after scoring a penalty and making a solid impact in his debut on Wednesday, was pretty anonymous against Uruguay. He didn’t really find the ball and mostly struggled to connect with teammates when he did. 

“Overall, the strikers — it’s a difficult game,” Berhalter said. “Difficult game against big, strong center backs, aggressive center backs. I think there were moments, Jesus had another really good chance, there were moments, and we came up a little bit short, but we’ll keep working with these guys.” 

“We want to get them chances, we want to see how they’re finishing chances, we want to see how they’re competing against elite international players,” he later added. “That’s important. I still don’t think there’s enough of a sample size for Haji, and we’ll continue to work with him. We have two Nations League games and we’ll see if Jesus and Haji can hit the back of the net in those.”

In the 17 games dating back to the start of the Octagonal, the U.S. now has just four goals from open play from their strikers: one from Ferreira and three from Ricardo Pepi, who wasn’t called to this camp after ending the German Bundesliga season on a 25-game goalless streak for club and country. The U.S. can succeed without much production from the position, but the margins will be thinner in Qatar than they were in qualifying. Clear chances like Ferreira’s second opportunity need to be converted if this team wants to achieve its objectives at the World Cup.

At a certain point, Berhalter might begin to wonder about making a change at the position, as well. He’s tried Ferreira, Wright, Pepi, Jordan Pefok, Josh Sargent and Gyasi Zardes up top since last September, all with middling to poor effect. If the U.S. continues to get such little production from their out-and-out striker options, maybe Berhalter would eventually consider shifting Weah, who has been excellent on the wing this window but has experience as a No. 9, or Reyna into the role.

Scally’s tough outing another example of depth issues at left back

Regular starting left back Antonee Robinson came down with a non-COVID-19 illness following the Morocco game, keeping him out of training on Saturday and relegating him to a reserve role on Sunday.

His absence was keenly felt. Joe Scally had a hard time filling in for the Fulham defender, struggling with his positioning on three different occasions in the first 10 minutes, each resulting in chances for Uruguay. All three times, Scally was positioned too far inside and was too slow to release to Uruguay players who had made their way down his flank and received the ball via a switch from the left side. 

“Joe was getting too tight to the center backs,” Berhalter said. “They were playing with two forwards and the forwards are inside of our center backs, so he doesn’t need to be that tight. He can start opening up and read those diagonal switches and get much tighter pressure on their wing back. Once we made that adjustment, it helped.”

Scally adjusted his positioning in a way that helped stem the tide down the U.S.’s left, but he had another bad moment in the second half, when he fell asleep at the back post on the Mathias Olivera shot that goalkeeper Sean Johnson denied with a tremendous save. He also struggled to get into the attack, not providing much of a vertical threat on either flank (he switched to the right when Robinson entered for Yedlin at the hour-mark) throughout the match.

Berhalter, who appeared to be visibly frustrated with Scally early in the match, commended the 19-year-old afterwards for “the way that he managed the game and hung in there, battling even though he was cramping and going from left to right back. Really proud of that effort.” 

Scally, who was making his first-ever start for the USMNT, certainly did put in an honest effort, but that comment from Berhalter was likely a preemptive strike to soften any criticism against him and help preserve his confidence. That’s well and good, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was an afternoon to forget for the Long Island native.

His poor performance — and the strong play of Robinson after he entered — is just another reminder of the U.S.’s depth issues at left back. If Robinson is healthy and available, the U.S. should be just fine. If he picks up an injury or suspension that keeps him out of a match at the World Cup, though, the options behind him seem bleak. Scally got the chance today, but failed to take it. George Bello, who didn’t dress for the match on Sunday, didn’t really impress in qualifying. Sam Vines seems far from claiming the role. Kevin Paredes is an intriguing prospect, but he needs to play at Wolfsburg, where he only got 13 minutes after transferring to the Bundesliga club in January, before he can break in with the USMNT.

If none of those options emerge over the next five months, Berhalter’s best cover for Robinson might be starting right back Sergiño Dest. That’s uncomfortable. 

Johnson steps up in rare opportunity

After 11 years and just nine caps, veteran goalkeeper Sean Johnson got one of the biggest opportunities of his USMNT career on Sunday. Knowing what he has in potential No. 1 Matt Turner, who started on Wednesday, Berhalter chose to give the Uruguay game to Johnson, who, despite being a regular call-up, hadn’t played a game for the U.S. since 2020. 

The NYCFC backstop rewarded his coach’s decision with a fine performance, making three saves, including his game-changing stop against Olivera in the 63rd. 

“Sean Johnson in goal, who’s been really asking for a difficult opportunity or a challenging game, he got his game and he responded,” Berhalter said. “I thought he played an excellent game.”

“I wanted the opportunity for quite some time, and just stayed ready for the opportunity whenever it might come,” Johnson said. “Then to get it against an opponent of this caliber in a window where we have two friendlies against two high-level opponents headed into Nations League, then the last two tuneups (in September) before the World Cup, I think, for me, meant everything.”

The performance could potentially have some serious ramifications for the U.S. As things currently stand, Johnson, who was only added to this roster after Zack Steffen had to withdraw late due to family reasons, looks like he’ll be the only one of the USMNT’s top-four goalkeepers who will be getting regular playing time with his club in the months leading up to the World Cup. Turner is headed to Arsenal, where he’ll likely back up Aaron Ramsdale; Steffen is ensconced as the No. 2 behind Ederson at Manchester City; Ethan Horvath, who backed up Johnson on Sunday, spent this season as the second-choice for Premier League promotion winners Nottingham Forest.

It’s a longshot, but in the event that those three options falter as they mostly sit on benches across England, Johnson could theoretically work his way into the starting goalkeeper discussion ahead of the World Cup. He diplomatically deflected a question on the subject on Sunday, but ESPN’s Taylor Twellman said on the broadcast of the Morocco match on Wednesday that Berhalter brought up Johnson in that exact context during his sitdown with the commentary team before that game. Even if those conversations never materialize, Johnson at the very least showed on Sunday that he’s a viable option in net if needed. There weren’t a ton of overwhelming positives for the U.S. on Sunday, but that was a clear one.

USMNT Player Ratings: Zimmerman, Johnson stand out in tough test vs. Uruguay

By Ben Wright @benwright  mls.com

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Sunday, Jun 5, 2022, 07:39 PM

The US men’s national team weathered a tough test against a difficult opponent Sunday afternoon in Kansas City, drawing 0-0 with No. 13-ranked Uruguay.

Walker ZimmermanSean Johnson and Timothy Weah were among the standouts in a tricky outing for the US.

7.5

Sean Johnson

Goalkeeper · USA

The New York City FC netminder was excellent with the ball at his feet and gave the USMNT another dimension in possession. Johnson capped off his strong showing with a ridiculous point-blank save in the second half to deny Uruguay from close range.

3.5

Joe Scally

Defender · USA

Scally struggled mightily in his first international start. He was consistently caught out of position and left acres of space in behind. He lost possession far too frequently, either due to poor decisions or under-hit passes. A night to forget for the 19-year-old.

6.0

Aaron Long

Defender · USA

It was a fairly neutral night for the New York Red Bulls defender. Long had a couple of nervy moments in possession, including a poor back pass to Johnson, but defended well enough when needed. He was called on to cover for Scally’s poor positioning on multiple occasions, making his job harder.

7.5

Walker Zimmerman

Defender · USA

Zimmerman put in one of his best showings in a national team shirt against Uruguay. His aerial ability has been well-documented, but he showed another level to his forward passing and defended on the break better than he’s done before on the international stage. The Nashville SC defender got caught out of possession once in second-half stoppage time, but Edinson Cavani missed the ensuing chance.

5.5

DeAndre Yedlin

Defender · USA

Yedlin made plenty of trademark overlapping runs and was a consistent outlet on the right flank, but he lost his marker on the back post and picked the wrong pass too many times.

5.0

Weston McKennie

Midfielder · USA

The Juventus midfielder was eased back into action with a 45-minute run-out. McKennie went for a spectacular overhead kick attempt early in the match, but overall looked a bit timid around the box and struggled to make a major impact.

5.5

Tyler Adams

Midfielder · USA

The RB Leipzig midfielder started the match strong and faded the longer it went on, especially defensively. Despite some good moments in possession, Adams uncharacteristically missed a handful of tackles in the second half.

6.0

Yunus Musah

Midfielder · USA

It was another mixed bag from Musah. The Valencia midfielder made several excellent runs with the ball out of midfield, but too often the final ball let him down.

6.0

Christian Pulisic

Forward · USA

Pulisic looked consistently dangerous around the box, creating the most chances for either side and linking up well with the frontline. As usual for the Chelsea man, he took a beating and drew fouls throughout the night.

4.5

Jesús Ferreira

Forward · USA

The FC Dallas striker and MLS joint-leading scorer got into good positions all night and linked up well in and around the box. Ferreira couldn’t find the finishing touch, hitting one shot right at the goalkeeper and putting a header over an open goal. The cross made his header tricky, but it was the type of chance a starting striker at the international level should finish. At some point, he needs to start finding the back of the net.

5.5

Timothy Weah

Forward · USA

Weah is consistently the most dangerous attacker in a US shirt, but wasn’t able to find the ball enough. The Lille attacker flashed a couple of attempts across goal and looks sure of his place on the right.

5.5

Gregg Berhalter

Manager

Berhalter’s side weathered the early storm and grew into the match. After being caught on the back foot, they controlled possession more and more as the night went on and created several chances with the ball. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was a good measuring stick.

Substitutes

4.0

Erik Palmer-Brown

Defender · USA

The Troyes defender struggled significantly in his 45-minute showing. He was slow to read the game and got caught out of position on more than one occasion, forcing Zimmerman and Johnson to bail him out.

6.0

Brenden Aaronson

Midfielder · USA

The Leeds-bound man once again played in a central midfield (No. 8) role, and once again brought a spark and an edge to the match that had been previously lacking. Aaronson had the right ideas in possession and showed a grit that will serve him well in the Premier League.

5.0

Paul Arriola

Forward · USA

Arriola brought his typical industry and work rate to the match. He stretched the field with intelligent off-ball movement, but he couldn’t pick out the right final ball into the box.

6.0

Jedi Robinson

Defender · USA

Jedi made an impact off the bench on both sides of the ball, illustrating just how important the Fulham defender has become for this USMNT side.

4.5

Haji Wright

Forward · USA

Wright couldn’t make a real impact off the bench, touching the ball just four times in his 29 minutes on the pitch.

N/A

Luca de la Torre

Midfielder · USA

The Heracles midfielder was brought on in the 85th minute for a cameo appearance.

 

NYCFC’s Sean Johnson stakes claim for USMNT GK job with clean sheet vs. Uruguay

By Charles Boehm @cboehmSunday, Jun 5, 2022, 10:01 PM

Amid all the analysis and debate of the US men’s national team’s goalkeeping situation – all the fretting over Matt Turner’s impending move to Arsenal, Zack Steffen’s errors at Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals, Ethan Horvath’s ups and downs with Nottingham Forest, and the very real possibility of the program’s top three ‘keepers riding the bench in the English Premier League as the months count down towards the 2022 World Cup – one noteworthy name has rarely been uttered:

Sean Johnson‘s.Despite being the oldest and most experienced member of the USMNT’s GK corps, despite backstopping New York City FC’s 2021 MLS Cup title run, despite playing for a club with a similar game model to Gregg Berhalter’s, despite getting regular call-ups during their Concacaf Octagonal qualifying campaign, it appears the Georgia native just hasn’t been treated as a serious contender for the starting job by fans, pundits or the coaching staff.

That may have changed on Sunday afternoon in Kansas City.Handed his first USMNT start in more than two years, “SeanJohn” was the man of the match in the Yanks’ 0-0 friendly draw with an impressive Uruguay side at Children’s Mercy Park, making three saves – the best a jaw-dropping denial of Mathias Olivera at point-blank range – and completing 85% of his passes.“It’s great to get the opportunity and to take advantage of it. A clean sheet’s always nice,” Johnson told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “But ultimately, against a good opponent that’s going to be competing in a World Cup in Uruguay, I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to step out and perform.”

With Turner minding the nets vs. Morocco on Wednesday and Steffen not in the current squad due to family issues, the NYCFC mainstay nosed ahead of Horvath, who arrived in camp late due to Forest’s promotion playoff triumph last Sunday, to earn the nod vs. La Celeste. He can feel secure in the knowledge that he seized the chance.

“I’ve been waiting some time for this opportunity,” said Johnson. “But I did the best job I could to prepare every single week at my club and then coming in, the transition was easy. The guys in front of me made the job a lot easier today, so I was happy to contribute to the performance and yeah, we’ll always take a clean sheet.”

While both teams can claim to be disappointed not to win, Uruguay’s attack posed real problems for their hosts, especially in the early going, when the USMNT backline found itself under waves of pressure.

“Sean Johnson in goal, who has been really asking for a difficult opportunity or a challenging game, and he got his game and he responded,” said Berhalter. “I thought he played an excellent game.”

The South Americans probed the US left in particular, testing inexperienced left back Joe Scally and sending several dangerous deliveries into Johnson’s penalty box.

“Yeah, it’s a quality opponent. I think they were dynamic in the way they possessed the ball and built up, so we had to adjust on the fly and really look at how we were getting pressure on the ball, also how we were shifting as a team,” explained Johnson.

“We had a few chances, a few good chances, half-chances. So that’s how games are against quality opponents; there’s not much in them. There’s quality on both sides of the pitch. So obviously just doing anything I could to help my team on the day, being there when I was called upon.”

His resourceful shin save on Olivera, one of two Uruguayans left startlingly wide open deep inside the US six-yard box by Walker Zimmerman and Erik Palmer-Brown on a 63rd-minute cross to the far post, will probably linger longest in everyone’s memory.

 “I think it was a long action, quality play by them to switch the field a couple of times and to offset us a little bit with a cutback and get the ball behind the backline,” said Johnson of the sequence. “Just getting ahead of it, positioning myself to make a save was what was necessary in that moment. Those are the moments that you train for and prepare for.”He said his teammates and the coaching staff were otherwise largely satisfied with their work in KC, with this match and Wednesday’s providing an eye-opening glimpse of the caliber of opposition that awaits them in Qatar this fall after two years of a Concacaf-dominant schedule.

“Ultimately, we’ve got a really good taste of what the level is going to be moving forward, playing Morocco and now Uruguay,” said Johnson. “To manage, on a day where maybe things offensively didn’t work out for us, to keep it together with with a clean sheet defensively, I think we can look to build on these two games moving forward into Nations League.”Asked during a Tuesday media rond table why he hasn’t been a more central part of the USMNT goalkeeping discourse in 2022, Johnson let slip a brief flicker of a smile before responding, “I think it’s up to you guys. You guys are the ones that do all the talking, put up all the articles and all that stuff.”

The 13-year veteran is the quiet sort, loathe to do any sort of self-promotion, preferring to fly below the radar in the collective-oriented culture of Berhalter’s national team. He was happy to stick to the same outlook on Sunday, after his 90-plus minutes on the pitch rang out quite loudly on their own.

“That’s not my job to talk about those things,” said Johnson. “Getting opportunities, taking advantage of them and playing consistently and keeping my level where it is with club and country, I think is important. That speaks volumes.”

USMNT, Uruguay Play to Scoreless Draw in Pre-World Cup Friendly

Fresh off learning who will be its first opponent at the World Cup in November, the U.S. men’s national team took aim at what was likely its toughest test ahead of the competition, and it walked away with a scoreless draw.The U.S. played 13th-ranked Uruguay to a 0–0 tie at Sporting Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday, following its 3–0 win over Morocco on Wednesday night with a less fruitful result. Jesús Ferreira had the U.S.’s best opportunities in rapid succession in the first half, while Sean Johnson, getting a rare start in goal, made a point-blank save in the second half to preserve the draw. It also helped the U.S. that Edinson Cavani missed a wide-open net in second-half stoppage time.It probably won’t get more difficult for the U.S. than Uruguay, a two-time World Cup champion that was drawn into a difficult group with Portugal, Ghana and South Korea, before it begins group play against Walesa 1–0 playoff winner against Ukraine earlier Sunday. That’s because after this match, the U.S. has two Concacaf Nations League group games during the ongoing window (vs. Grenada, at El Salvador), followed by a pair of friendlies in late September abroad, where the options for opponents are limited due to the scheduling conflict with the UEFA Nations League.Prior to the draw, Uruguay had won all five matches since Diego Alonso replaced longtime manager Óscar Tabárez, including four straight South American qualifiers to surge into the top four in CONMEBOL and automatically qualify for Qatar. It has still only conceded one goal in that time.Uruguay heavily rotated its squad, with just one starter carried over from the team that beat Mexico 3–0 on Thursday night in Arizona—veteran defender Jose Maria Giménez—though it still fielded a squad with plenty of firepower and experience. While Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde and Cavani were left out (Luis Suárez isn’t with the team altogether), the likes of Darwin Núñez and Diego Godín suited up from the start.The U.S., meanwhile, made multiple changes as well, with Johnson in goal and Joe Scally getting an important chance at left back, with Antonee Robinson dealing with a non-COVID-19 illness (Robinson entered later in the match). In the midfield, Weston McKennie returned to the U.S. starting lineup for the first time since breaking his foot in the winter, though was limited from the start to 45 minutes.Núñez had Uruguay’s first chance five minutes in, when Martín Cáceres delivered in a ball from the right to the far post, only for the in-demand Benfica star unable to do much with it despite his acrobatic efforts.Another dangerous ball came in from the right a couple of minutes later, with Guillermo Varela’s cross turning into more of a shot and whizzing right by Johnson’s far post.It was another long switch to Varela that resulted a dangerous header for Maxi Gómez that was deflected over, and following the ensuing corner kick, DeAndre Yedlin was forced into a goal-line clearance that kept the U.S. from conceding.The U.S. had its first glimpse at goal in the 14th minute, and it was McKennie who had it in spectacular fashion, attempting a bicycle kick after Tim Weah had won a corner kick with a run down the right. The chance sailed just over the bar, though, keeping the match scoreless.Ferreira, getting another start at center forward as the U.S. searches for a long-term option at the position, called veteran Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera into action in the 20th minute, firing on target only to have his chance parried to safety. The shot capped a sequence started by a line-splitting pass out of the back by Walker Zimmerman. He found Tyler Adams, who laid it off for Christian Pulisic to deliver the set-up to the FC Dallas star.

The USMNT held off Uruguay, but hinted at major flaws

Henry BushnellMon, June 6, 2022, 3:35 AM  In this article:

On the surface, 180 minutes of friendly soccer yielded plenty of positivity around the U.S. men’s national team this week. Two tests against World Cup participants yielded three goals scored and none conceded. An ultra-young USMNT kept two clean sheets using two different goalkeepers behind two different pressing schemes. It created chances in two different attacking shapes against Morocco and Uruguay, two of the sturdiest defensive platoons on their respective continents.It claimed two results that would likely be sufficient to see it through a World Cup group, and that alone will fuel optimism for months to come.Those results, though, were a bit deceiving.Beneath the surface, there were flaws.Gregg Berhalter, the team’s head coach, knows this, and hinted at it after a 3-0 win over Morocco and a 0-0 draw with Uruguay. He spoke about vulnerability on Wednesday, and danced around some questions without doling out his customary praise on Sunday. He likely knows that his team’s Expected Goal differential across those 180 minutes was, according to most modelsnegative. He knows that, amid all the promise that his players wield, they are an incomplete unit that hasn’t yet learned to paper over its cracks, which were evident as World Cup prep kicked into gear.There are, of course, also reasons for optimism. The bubbliest of the many is a 19-year-old who’s been stuck in a suboptimal position at his club, but whose potential the USMNT is beginning to unlock.The worry, however, is that deficiencies at both ends of the field could mask promise in Qatar come November.Sunday’s tussle with Uruguay offered no solutions to the USMNT’s two most nagging dilemmas. Neither of its strikers, Jesus Ferreira nor Haji Wright, looked capable of leading a line under Uruguayan pressure. Both of its left-sided center backs, Aaron Long and Erik Palmer-Brown, looked shaky.They weren’t punished by Uruguay’s B-plus team, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be in five-and-a-half months.

The search for a second center back goes on

When Miles Robinson crumpled to Atlanta United’s turf last month, and when subsequent scans revealed a torn Achilles, a seemingly settled partnership at the heart of the U.S. defense ruptured. Walker Zimmerman, as he embraced an off-field leadership role, had established himself as one starting center back. Robinson was “so valuable” next to him, Berhalter said last month, because pressing teams “need guys that can win duels convincingly” and that possess elite speed to clean up messes behind a high back line.Robinson could do both of those things.Long tried to on Wednesday, but got rolled and spun by Moroccan striker Ayoub El Kaabi. And the same unawareness that triggered problems on Wednesday emerged again on Sunday. In the fifth minute, a split-second of indecisiveness dragged Zimmerman with him toward the ball, and left Darwin Nuñez free at the far post.In the 23rd minute, Long dawdled in no-man’s land in the penalty area, and failed to spot Manuel Ugarte lurking free at the top of the box.Long, though, seems to be the primary candidate to partner Zimmerman in Qatar, especially after Palmer-Brown’s shoddy second half. The 25-year-old was primarily, and sometimes singlehandedly responsible for a few of Uruguay’s best chances. A simple, straight ball over the top caught him flat-footed in the 94th minute, and nearly won the game for the visitors.Cameron Carter-Vickers looked solid in 45 minutes on Wednesday, but he’s never started a game under Berhalter. Chris Richards has the most raw talent of the lot, but he’s 22 years old and currently injured. They’re the two most intriguing options, but the U.S. will enter September, its last window for World Cup tuneups, with those two having never faced a World Cup-caliber opponent alongside Zimmerman.Whoever does emerge will inevitably shoulder responsibility. This U.S. team is at its best when pressing ravenously. As Berhalter said, pressing puts stress on center backs — stress that Long didn’t handle all that well on Wednesday.Scoreboards didn’t reflect any of that, but more predictive metrics did. The USMNT’s 3.7 Expected Goals Against over the two friendlies, per Tru Media’s Paul Carr, suggest the defensive cleanliness was misleading. Backup fullbacks exacerbated issues, but Sergiño Dest won’t solve them, and they could limit Berhalter’s aggressiveness in Qatar.

A no good, very bad day for USMNT strikers

The USMNT’s single biggest positional weakness, though, is at the top of the field, where encouraging Wednesday performances gave way to Sunday flops.Ferreira’s lowlight was a wayward header on the Uruguayan doorstep. The real problem, though, was nearly everything else. Ferreira can influence games without scoring, but on Sunday, most of his impact was negative. He seemed to struggle in tight spaces with European title winners breathing down his neck. His first touch was uncharacteristically sloppy.And that, precisely, was always the concern with Ferreira — that characteristics developed in MLS, against weaker competition, would crumble against unfamiliar resistance.Sixty minutes, of course, is far too small a sample size to draw grand conclusions. And conclusions could have been wildly different if a well-struck 19th-minute shot had found a corner, or if DeAndre Yedlin’s cross had been a half-foot lower or a half-ounce more controlled. Berhalter knows not to overreact to one game. He has said that club form will be his primary evaluation tool — and at FC Dallas, Ferreira has sizzled.But he didn’t offer the USMNT a target or outlet on Sunday. He didn’t score or create.Wright,who was crisp on Wednesday, then entered at the hour mark, and completed one pass in 30 minutes.He could’ve counted his touches on one hand.He was all but invisible.The U.S. doesn’t necessarily need goals from its striker, but it needs something, much more than it got on Sunday.

The brilliance and intrigue of Yunus Musah

The optimistic spin on Sunday’s performance, on the other hand, is that ball progression and chance creation are far more sustainable than finishing; and that the USMNT has found a ball-progression wizard.His name is Yunus Musah, and he is an absolute delight to watch. He skates by opposing midfielders and zooms from defensive third to attacking third with the ball on a string. He has qualities without precedent in American soccer, and again, he is only 19.To empower him, Berhalter has tweaked the USMNT’s shape in possession this month. Musah has dropped deeper, next to Tyler Adams in a 3-2-5/3-2-2-3 (against Morocco) or a 4-2-4 (against Uruguay), when the U.S. builds from the back. He now regularly picks up the ball from center backs, and can foil an opponent’s press with one simple drop of his shoulder and burst of acceleration.”When you play the 3-2-2-3 type of shape, you have a guy deep that can take people on the dribble and break lines dribbling, it’s really valuable,” Berhalter explained Wednesday.On Sunday, he raved: “Yunus is a guy that just blows me away, at his age, what he can do. Craaazy level of talent.”The next step, Berhalter said, is the end product, the final or penultimate pass. It’s the ability to carry the ball the length of midfield and then release it to teammates who can do damage with it.That “finishing attacks phase,” in general, is where the team struggled on Sunday, Berhalter said.But it largely withstood Uruguay’s pressure. It will never perfect any phase of play, but it’s moving toward mastery of the middle third of the field. That’s where the raw ability of players like Musah, Adams, Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic takes over. Their ability is why this USMNT is so tactically flexible, and potentially dangerous in Qatar.It’s those flaws, though, that can unjustly dump a talented team out of a World Cup. And they’ll loom over this youthful, innocent American team until they’re solved.

USMNT analysis

USMNT questions and observations from Uruguay & Morocco friendlies plus US U-19 & U-20 notes

The U.S. team’s two toughest games from the four-game June run are now over and ASN’s Brian Sciaretta looks at the big takeaways and questions remaining after these two games. Plus, Sciaretta also looks at the U.S. youth teams including the U-19 team’s win over England on Monday and the U-20 team getting ready for qualifying.

BY BRIAN SCIARETTA  JUNE 07, 2022 :25 PM

THE UNITED STATES national team is two games through its four-game June run but the first two games offered the best opportunity to learn given the World Cup-quality opponents. There still will be an opportunity to build up chemistry and work on tactics, but there are some important questions raised and lessons learned from the fist two games of the summer.The U.S. team has shown some positives from the first two games, but the team remains a work in progress. Here are some observations from the first two games.

 STRIKER REMAINS OPEN

After first two games, the question over the striker position isn’t any clearer. The current situation is that the player pool consists of many players who have produced at the club level but who haven’t yet made a big impact for the national team. Haji Wright and Jesus Ferreira are in this camp while the extended pool has Jordan Pefok and Daryl Dike – who was great at the club level for 18 months prior to his latest injury. There are also players like Josh Sargent and Ricardo Pepi who are in a funk at the club level.
It made sense that Berhalter took Ferreira and Wright to this camp. They are the two most in-form forwards who are healthy at the moment. While Wright buried a penalty in the win over Morocco (given to him by Pulisic, who earned  the penalty), neither had scored from the run of play or from a set piece either has earned.The question for Berhalter then becomes will he continue to ride the hot hand and call-up whoever is hot? Or will he settle on his options now and work with them to build-up chemistry.
Ferreira and Wright still both are able to help the team even if they’re not scoring. Typically that wouldn’t be good enough, but it’s better than simply disappearing. Ferreira has a good soccer sense and gets into dangerous positions. He also combines well with his wingers. Wright is strong and physical. He also can make runs into the attacking half that open the game up.When you compare that with Pefok, it is different. Pefok can finish, but if he’s not finishing well or the service isn’t there, he disappears.Anything can happen but at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Berhalter sticks with Ferreira and Wright.

CENTRAL DEFENSE PARTNER

Berhalter brought in four central defenders to this camp: Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, Cameron Carter-Vickers, and Erik Palmer-Brown. With the two toughest games in June already completed, it’s safe to say that Walker Zimmerman will leave this camp in strong contention. He’s not simply a lock to make the World Cup team, he’s likely a starter and an important part of the team. His distribution out of the back in addition to his defense has been very good.The other three are still in a battle. Long has played fairly well with some good moments and some tough moments. Carter-Vickers also was pretty good in his one half against Morocco. Palmer-Brown struggled against Uruguay in the second half but is still in the mix.
Most likely, Berhalter will take four central defenders, even with a roster increased to 26 players because it is rare that the fourth central defender plays. The only way he might take a fifth central defender is if the three-man backline becomes more of a preferred formation.If you consider that Chris Richards is likely to make the World Cup team if healthy, that makes one from the current camp likely to be cut. If John Brooks is still really in contention, then two from the current camp could get cut. Other options like Mark McKenzie, James Sands, and Tim Ream are all probably on the “outside looking in” right now.For the remaining two games, Berhalter will probably give opportunities to Carter-Vickers and Palmer-Brown – along with Long. The quality of opponents probably makes it tough to draw conclusions but it will be interesting to see how they play tactically.My guess is that that leaving this camp, the front runners to be the four central defenders at the World Cup are Zimmerman, Richards, Carter-Vickers, and Long. Heading into September, I can see Berhalter wanting to use that camp to test the chemistry of a Zimmerman-Richards pairing.

BACKUP FULLBACKS

Few would argue that if everyone is healthy, the starting U.S. national team fullbacks are Antonee Robinson and Sergino Dest. Whether it be in a three-man backline or a four-man backline, those two have been first-choice players for well over a year now and both are still going strong.But there is a question of backups. This is an important question two given that Dest and Robinson have both had injuries in their past and few would assume that the U.S. team will be 100% healthy come the World Cup since the U.S. team has only very rarely ever been 100% healthy.On the right side, there is Reggie Cannon and DeAndre Yedlin backing up Dest.On the left side, there has been George Bello and Sam Vines having stints as Robinson’s backup.Meanwhile, Berhalter has used Sergino Dest also as a backup left back (while then opting to play his backup right back). There is also Joe Scally who can play both the left and the right.The backup right and left back situations are both unsettled but are both different. Berhalter seems as if he is comfortable with either Yedlin or Cannon. On the flip side, Berhalter is likely uncomfortable with any of the backup left back options right now.Scally battled hard against Uruguay but ultimately didn’t make a solid case he is ready right now – albeit is certainly one for the future. George Bello has had a bunch of chances but really struggled positionally with Arminia Bielefeld the second half of the season and has never looked compelling with the full team.As of now, the position hasn’t really addressed itself well during this camp. If that doesn’t change in the final two games, perhaps Berhalter will callup different faces in September.There are always players who emerge late in the cycle to earn a spot and the fact that the U.S. team is concerned over a back-up left back, as opposed to a starting one, is a big sign of progress. Club form could be key but two names to follow would be DeJuan Jones and John Tolkin. Neither of these players are capped but Berhalter indicated Tolkin was in consideration for this camp while he also had Jones in camp with the team in January.As for Vines and Bello, they are both in the picture. Bello might get minutes in the final two games albeit now against teams who struggle in CONCACAF. For these players, it will come down to the start of the Belgian season for Vines and the 2.Bundesliga for Bello.

MIDFIELD COMPETITION

Right now, the midfield positions look solid for the U.S. team. If the U.S. team rolls with the typical 4-3-3 formation with a healthy roster, Adams and McKennie are starters. Musah has typically been a starter but it’s not as much of a lock to start as the other two. That’s because Brenden Aaronson has been given a chance to start centrally in the midfield – where he is most comfortable. Thus far, Aaronson has played well and Aaronson might have more of a lethal final ball than Musah right now.Berhalter should be comfortable the midfield right now. He has options he is comfortable starting and the backups are in good position too. Kellyn Acosta might not be a great No. 8 with the U.S. team right now, but he has shown to be a good backup for Tyler Adams at the No. 6. The more advanced “dual No. 8” roles can go to two of McKennie, Musah, or Aaronson.
Assuming there will be a 26 player roster, Berhalter will probably take 6-8 midfielders. Adams, Acosta, McKennie, Musah, and Aaronson are five.The remaining backup options for the No. 8 or No. 10 positions could see a little bit of competition. At this camp there are Luca de la Torre and Christian Roldan, who are dependable. In terms of other here are also players like Gianluca Busio, Djordje Mihailovic, Richard Ledezma, and potentially others knocking at the door who are more distant options – such as Cole Bassett, Paxton Pomykal, or Alan Sonora.

GIO’S RETURN

One big question to consider is Gio Reyna and how he might fit in once he returns. Since the Nations League last year, Reyna’s appearances with the national team have been few and far between. He’s coming off what was essentially a lost season with Borussia Dortmund.Reyna, 19, is a great talent but the U.S. team has been progressing without him. If he gets healthy in time for Qatar, he’ll go to the World Cup – but what is his role? It’s impossible to say as you can never really tell with a player who had a lost season. Sometimes they rebound strong but other time it can take awhile to get back in that rhythmFor Reyna, is he going to start in the midfield over either Aaronson or Musah? If he’s a winger, does he unseat Pulisic or Weah? He’s not in a position now where he looks like a lock starter. Potentially he could get that back if he hits the ground running at Dortmund in preseason and the early parts of the season while then looking sharp in September with the U.S. team.But that’s a lot of “ifs” and it’s too early to project when he wasn’t even healthy enough to make this camp. Right now, he’s looking like a spot starter or a super-sub.  

GOALKEEPER LOOKS SAFE

With this current camp, one position that has given itself a little more clarity is goalkeeper. The first two games have seen Matt Turner and Sean Johnson put in really solid shifts to boost their resumes.Turner is a lock to make the World Cup team but is he the starter? If the World Cup was right now, he would probably start. It all comes down to the playing time in August in September. Zack Steffen might push for a loan and that could help his case if he starts and performs well.As for Johnson, he made a strong case to be the team’s third goalkeeper. He’s been around the team the entire cycle and has been, and will be playing regular minutes this entire year.Ethan Horvath is very tough to read right now. There are reports that Nottingham Forest starting goalkeeper Brice Samba wants a transfer. Normally, that would be good news for Horvath except for the fact that Forest is reportedly after English international Nick Pope. If Forest is willing to spend that money on Pope, then it is the same situation Horvath dealt with Brugge when the club brought in Simon Mignolet. Only this time, he can’t wait for years.It seems most likely that right now, the three goalkeepers heading to Qatar are Turner, Steffen, and Johnson with Turner right now having the strongest case to start. 

YNT UPDATES

Turning away from the senior U.S. national team and shifting down to the youth national teams, which are going to have an extremely busy month.On Monday, the United States U-19 team defeated England 2-1 in Marbella, Spain. The U.S. team had a slight advantage in age as England opted to field a roster entirely of its 2005 birth year. The United States had a 20-player roster with six players born in 2004 and 14 born in 2005.In the win over England, the U.S. goals were scored by Atletico Madrid B’s Rodrigo Neri and Orange County’s Korede Osudina. Neri’s goal (seen below) came just minutes after he was subbed on. England played with a man down after the 60th minute.The U.S. U-19 team (like the U.S. U-18 team) exists almost as a second team to the United States U-20 team. Many of the players are eligible for the following cycle but are too young for the U.S. U-17 team. This is a way of keeping these players involved with the program between youth cycles.It also gives players a platform to potentially compete for the United States U-20 team this cycle. The current U.S. U-20 team will attempt to qualify for both the 2023 U-20 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics but if the team qualifies for the U-20 World Cup, the cycle will continue for almost another year to prepare for the that tournament.If you look at the U-20 cycles, there was always heavy turnover between qualifying and the World Cup. With such a long gap between the two, this cycle there could be more over a turnover. It could very well start with this U-19 group.Two players to pay close attention to are Joshua Wynder and Brooklyn Raines. Wynder was the U-19 captain against England and he plays central defense – which is a huge position of need for the current U-20 cycle. Wynder was actually a surprising omission for the U-20 team for qualifying given the way he has been playing Louisville City and the fact he (along with players like Obed Vargas) is among the top 2005-born players in the United States. If the U.S. U-20 team qualifies for the World Cup, Wynder has an excellent chance of making a quick rise through the team.Now there is the U.S. U-20 team which is set to travel to Honduras later in the week ahead of its opening group stage game against St. Kitts and Nevis on June 18.That roster is still not announced but there are a few nuggets. Sounder At Heart reported that U.S. Soccer reached a deal with the Sounders for the release of Obed Vargas and they reported that Vargas will join the team after the group stages.Releases are a massive issue with this team and ASN understands that Kevin Paredes, Justin Che, Caleb Wiley, Gaga Slonina, and Bryan Gutierrez. Once considered a top prospect, Malick Sonogo is not on the team although it is unclear if he was either cut or this was a coach’s choice. The same for Dante Sealey who is also not included.On the flip side, head coach Mikey Varas will have the three Philadelphia Union core of Jack McGlynn, Paxten Aaronson, and Quinn Sullivan – the latter of whom scored four goals in the two March games in Argentina. Cade Cowell is likely going to participate along with the New York Red Bull duo of Caden Clark and Daniel Edelman. From USMNT analysis

abroad, Varas could have midfielders Rokas Pukstas from Hadjuk Split and Alejandro Alvarado from FC Vizela.

Analysis & player ratings: USMNT play Uruguay to a 0-0 draw in Kansas City

The United States played Uruguay to a 0-0 draw on Sunday in Kansas City. The effort reflected a team that is still a work in progress but also one that can hang compete well against difficult opponents. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta breaks down the game and the performance of the players after a second viewing. 

BY BRIAN SCIARETTA  JUNE 06, 2022  6:30 AM

THE UNITED STATES national team played Uruguay to a 0-0 draw at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City on Sunday in its final test against a World Cup-caliber opponent before the September window. The result was certainly not bad, but it once again revealed that the U.S. team is still very much a work in progress.The most important perspective to have when judging this game is that Uruguay entered the game having won its last five games by a combined score of 11-1. In other words, Uruguay is playing extremely well right now on both sides of the ball. They boast a powerful attack as well as a defense that can keep opponents off the board.“Give this team credit, Uruguay is a team that doesn’t give up many goals,” U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “They have top of the line defenders and they compete like crazy.”That streak was snapped by a U.S. team that got a little lucky at the end, but still played well for stretches. Overall, the first two games have indeed been productive as it shows the U.S. team does have talent and quality, but still needs to be more ruthless and aggressive.Berhalter announced his starting lineup the day before to the media. The changes from the 3-0 win over Morocco saw Sean Johnson get the nod in goal over Matt Turner. Joe Scally and DeAndre Yedlin replaced Reggie Cannon and Antonee Robinson. Weston McKennie replaced Brenden Aaronson although Berhalter noted that McKennie was capped at 45 minutes as he is still rehabbing his foot injury. The front line of Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, and Jesus Ferreira remained unchanged.Uruguay did well the first 10-15 minutes and it’s best chance of the half came in the 10th minute when DeAndre Yedlin was able to clear a shot from Diego Godín off the line.  U.S. team mostly controlled the final 30 minutes of the half, despite not scoring. The U.S. had its chances. Weston McKennie seemed to bring some life into the attack in the 14th minute when he sent a bicycle kick over the goal. From then, the U.S. had more chances. Jesus Ferreira had his shot late in the 19th minute saved by Fernando Muslera. Minutes later, Ferreira was not able to drive a header on goal in the 21st.Sean Johnson had strong performance in this game and two of his three saves were difficult. The first of which was in the 23rd minute when Johnson denied Manuel Ugarte from close range.In the second half, as is typical with friendlies, the game became disjointed due to both teams making a wave of substitutions. Pulisic hit a shot wide in the 53rd. Minutes later, Uruguay squandered a chance when they hit the U.S. team on a counterattack after a turnover in the midfield. Fernando Gorriarán’s shot ended up going over the bar from close range.In the 63rd minute, Mathías Olivera had his shot saved by Johnson for the NYCFC goalkeeper’s second impressive save of the afternoon.In the 81st, the U.S. team thought it had earned a penalty and if VAR existed, perhaps it would have been called. On the play, Pulisic played Robinson into the box. The speedy Fulham left back sent in a cross but it appeared to hit a sliding Sebastián Coates in the had but a penalty was not awarded.In a game that was filled with misses, the game ended in stoppage time just after the biggest miss from this game’s biggest player. Edinson Cavani had an open net off a transition play but shanked it wide right.

 Here are some thoughts on the game

FORWARDS STILL EMPTY

Through two games, the U.S. team has looked solid in goal with good efforts from Sean Johnson and Matt Turner. Central defense has certainly conceded some chances it shouldn’t have (Erik Palmer-Brown struggled against Uruguay) but for the most part, it’s been more positive than negative.Central midfield and the wings have also been more positive than negative for the first two games.The U.S. team should be concerned right now with both fullback positions and the center forward position. Both of these positions have been overall weak in the first two games.
Up top, Jesus Ferreira had chances but hasn’t been able to burry them. Instead, his shots have been saved. The 19th minute shot was such an example as Muslera was able to make a big stop.Aside from being handed the ball to take a penalty, Haji Wright hasn’t been able prove he’s the answer. Against Uruguay, Wright had just four touches over 29 minutes. Ferreira, for his limitations, has at least been able to get involved and work with the wingers. But the forwards need to score goals.“It was more the finishing attacks phase that we struggled in,” Berhalter said. “We got the ball into really good positions and then just didn’t take advantage of it…. Overall for the strikers, it’s a difficult game against big, aggressive centerbacks. Jesus had another really good chance. There were moments. We came up a little bit short, but we’ll keep working with these guys.”“We want to get them chances,” he added. “We want to see how they’re finishing chances. we want to see how they’re competing against international players. That’s important. I still don’t think there’s enough of a sample size for Haji but we’ll continue to work with him. We have two Nations League games, and we’ll see if Jesus and Haji can hit the back of the net in those.”

FULLBACKS MIXED

Fullbacks are a concern. Yes, Sergino Dest is out with an injury but the problems with the fullbacks shouldn’t be happening even with the current players. Yedlin made a big defensive play clearing a ball off the line and he also created a good chance but overall, among each of the four fullbacks over both games, the defense hasn’t been there. It has put a lot of stress on the centerbacks.In this game, Joe Scally went 90 minutes (the first 62 minutes at left back and the final 28 minutes at right back) and had a tough stretch early. To start the game, Uruguay had a field day attacking down Scally’s side – where there were acres of space.Berhalter, however, painted a positive picture on the young fullback from Long Island.“For Joe Scally, the way he managed the game and hung in there, was battling, was cramping, going from left to right back – I was really proud of that effort,” Berhalter said.“Uruguay didn’t touch the ball in the first three minutes,” Berhalter added. “Then in minutes three through seven, it was just an adjustment. Joe [Scally] was getting too tight to the centerbacks. They were playing with two forwards and the forwards are inside of our centerbacks – he doesn’t need to be that tight. He can start opening up and reading those diagonal switches and get much tighter pressure on their wingback. Once we made that adjustment, it helped.”On a more positive note, Antonee Robinson was improved after a tough first half against Morocco on Thursday night. DeAndre Yedlin created a chance and had a goal-line clearance as he remains in a very tight battle with Reggie Cannon as the backup rightback.But overall, the fullbacks haven’t been a position of strength in these games.

 MIDFIELD WAS STRONG

 The U.S. team lost its spark in the second half – which was expected with the wave of substitutions. But overall, there was plenty to like about the return of the Adams, Musah, and McKennie trio that was unable to go in March due to McKennie’s injury.In this game, the trio really helped the U.S. enjoy stretches where they controlled the game.
“Tyler Adams, for me, had an extra gear, an extra spark, was all over the place, and really helped us on both sides of the ball,” Berhalter said. “Weston was able to compete for 45 minutes after not having started a game for five months. Yunus is a guy that just blows me away with what he can do at his age. He’s got a crazy amount of talent. We need to work with Yunus on the final product – the final pass, the finishing. Because he has a huge ceiling.”It is going to be interesting to see the dynamics of how the midfield evolves over the remainder of this camp and into the fall. Brenden Aaronson came into the game in the second half an looks as if he could be more lethal in producing goals and assists right now. If that happens, how would an Adams, Aaronson, McKennie midfield look?There is also the return of Gio Reyna and whether Berhalter might want to try him in a midfield role?But right now, the midfield looks sharp and that is actually surprising when you consider that Adams and Musah didn’t really have strong club seasons. For both, playing time was irregular but especially for Musah, his club career is in its early stages. He doesn’t yet have a set position although he has been playing his preferred central role more often. Adams, meanwhile, doesn’t have the rhythm he could have if he still had a starting job at Leipzig. Meanwhile, McKennie made his first start in five months due to injury.If this group can play well despite not having rhythm of consistent club minutes, imagine what it would be like if they are all in rhythm and form.        

LOOKING AHEAD TO NATIONS LEAGUE

The Nations League games against Grenada and El Salvador are still useful opportunities to give the team repetitions and develop chemistry. Drawing conclusions from the results and specific performances could be misleading. It’s not the level of competition that is comparable to the World Cup.Berhalter indicated after the game that the September window will feature two games against World Cup opponents, but what are the positive opportunities that the Nations League represents?It’s a good chance to look at depth and how the team could hypothetically deal with injuries to key players. How would Kellyn Acosta fit in should he have to play the No. 6 in place of Adams? Or what could other central defense combinations look like even if they might not get tested?Grenada might be more experimental, but El Salvador is good enough where it might be useful to test a combined lineup that mixes first-team players and backups. That could at least give the players more familiarity to a situation that could arise if there is a wave of injuries in Qatar.

JOHNSON ANSWERS THE CALL

After the game, Berhalter revealed that Sean Johnson had been asking for an opportunity against a quality opponent. Johnson has been the loyal third string keeper behind Matt Turner and Zack Steffen. Sometimes he’s also been behind Ethan Horvath. He didn’t play in World Cup qualifying despite being a regular on the roster. Typically, his only performances have come in low-profile friendlies or Gold Cup games against lower CONCACAF teams.Berhalter, perhaps wanting to award his loyalty and give him an honest opportunity, gave him the start in team’s most high-profile friendly in years. Johnson delivered with a clean sheet performance that featured three solid saves.“Sean Johnson has been asking for a challenging game and he got it, and he responded with a very strong performance,” Berhalter said.What does this mean?
to the detriment of Ethan Horvath.

 PLAYER RATINGS

THE STARTERS

Sean Johnson: He asked for a quality game to showcase himself and he got one. He answered the call and put out a great outing with big saves in the 23rd and 63rd minutes. He was very important in keeping the clean sheet. Rating: 7.5

Joe Scally: The Gladbach defender played both left and right back. He struggled with spacing early but then settled into the game and battled. He didn’t make a big impact getting forward. Rating: 5.0

Walker Zimmerman: The Nashville SC defender played a big role in keeping a clean sheet and was the best American defender on the day. He was credited with four clearances. He won 5/6 ground duels. He also had three blocks, including a big one against Diego Rossi from close range late in the game. He was 5/7 with his long balls, which also resulted in a pair of decent scoring chances for the U.S. team. His only blemish was getting beaten in the 41st minute, but other than that, it was a good day at the office Rating: 7.5

Aaron Long: The Red Bulls captain played the first half and was forced to scramble in emergency defending early as Uruguay was often awarded too much space. He only played the first half and was decent, except for a poor 42nd minute backpass to Sean Johnson which the U.S. team only narrowly escaped without conceding a goal. Rating: 6.0

DeAndre Yedlin: The Inter Miami right back was useful early as he cleared a shot off the line in the 10th minute. Offensively, he was bright early connecting with Ferreira for a chance. But he faded after his bright start and struggled to get forward effectively. Rating: 5.5

Tyler Adams: The U.S. team’s captain battled hard, won duels, and helped in possession. He even made some nice runs that were unrecognized. Defensively, he won duels and tracked back late when Uruguay was pressing forward for a goal. Rating: 7.0

Yunus Musah: Overall, a good performance from the Valencia midfielder who showcased athleticism and ball control that is tough to stop. Once the final product is there, he’ll be a handful. But overall, he was useful against a tough opponent. Rating: 7.0

Weston McKennie: The Juventus midfielder made his first start in nearly four months. His attempted bicycle that went over the bar seemed to be the starting point for the U.S. team’s attack. Overall, he wasn’t as involved as the other midfielders but it was important to the U.S. team having him back. Rating: 6.0

Christian Pulisic: Had a nice interception that sprung him free on the wing in the 12th minute – his cross to Weah wasn’t dangerous. Unlike Wednesday’s win over Morocco, Pulisic was not able to get in isolated 1v1s with defenders or use his dribble effectively. His one shot went well wide Rating: 6.0

Jesus Ferreira: The Colombian-born forward did a lot of small things right and was helpful in the buildup to chances but he had a chance early that he needs to bury to be a lethal finisher. That still is his main job even if he’s active otherwise Rating: 5.5

Tim Weah: The Lille winger struggled to make an impact against Uruguay only managing one weak header for a shot. He tried to hit a low, hard cross to Ferreira that was just a bit too far out of reach. Rating: 5.5

THE SUBSTITUTES

Paul Arriola: Was a bit more active in this game despite Uruguay picking it up in the second half. He drew two fouls for free kicks, fought hard in his duels. Rating: 6.0

Erik Palmer-Brown: tough moment at the end when he lost Cavani, who inexplicably missed. Earlier he was beaten for a chance that Gorriaran missed high. His passing was okay at 24/28. Rating: 4.5

Brenden Aaronson: Was lively off the bench in replacing McKennie. He won duel after duel to make Uruguay’s life difficult. Rating: 6.5

Haji Wright: Wright did not make an impact in this game and only had four touches with one completed pass over 29 minutes. Part of that is on his teammates not getting him service but it’s also partly on him. Rating: 4.5

Antonee Robinson: The Fulham left back was an upgrade after coming into the game in the 62nd minute. He got forward effectively and also defended well. It was an improved performance than his game against Morocco. He arguably should have earned a penalty in the 82nd minute after he effectively got into the box and hit a cross that appeared to be a handball. Rating: 6.5

Luca de la Torre: Came into the game in the 85th but didn’t do enough to earn a rating. Rating: NR

USA v. Uruguay, 2022 Friendly; What We Learned

The USMNT took on Uruguay to a 0-0 draw. Here’s what we learned.

By Adnan Ilyas@Adnan7631  Jun 6, 2022, 2:36pm PDT   Stars and Stripes

The United States Mens National Team took on Uruguay and came away with a 0-0 draw. It was something of a tense match, with chances for both teams. However, neither could put one away and the match came up scoreless. Let’s break down what we learned.

Introducing Uruguay

Uruguay are, of course, a distinctly historic side in international soccer. Despite being a small country, they twice won the World Cup in the pre-modern era, including the inaugural edition in 1930. In more recent times, they’ve emerged as a consistently strong team. They’ve made it to the knockout rounds in three straight tournaments, reaching the quarterfinals in 2018 where they were knocked out by eventual champions, France. For sure, this was a stronger test than the (admittedly pretty decent) Morocco side the US battered aside a few days earlier.In particular, Uruguay is renowned for their defensive prowess. For this match, they put out a defensively solid 3-5-2, anchored by the renowned Diego Godín, formerly the star center back of Atletico Madrid. The side looked to keep an organized and solid defensive shape, conceding possession to attack swiftly on the counter. While the USMNT was, at times, a little exposed, the sides mostly played evenly, with a final squandered attempt from Uruguay pushing them a bit ahead of the US on the expected goals metric.While it’s not the result the USMNT were hoping for going in, it is still a good sign building up to the World Cup. This is a serious side (Uruguay did just swat aside Mexico 3-0), yet the USMNT played them even. With a little bit of luck — and better finishing — the US could have won this one. And that should be a good sign for November.

Let the Hammer Drop

With two straight clean sheets against World Cup calibre (ie, will be at the World Cup) opposition, I think we have to stop and give some credit to the defensive lines.Walker Zimmerman in particular has been the standout.Over the last year, Zimmerman has solidified his place as the go-to Center Back choice for the USMNT. In particular, he’s strengthened his passing game. We’d seen moments of good passing from the Nashville SC lynchpin in the past, but it’s clear that he’s really worked on the skill. In particular, we saw a few reallygreat long balls from Zimmerman to Pulisic. Verses Morocco, that led to the starting goal, and while it didn’t lead to a goal v. Uruguay, it demonstrated a level of consistency there.Let’s break down how those passes work.The move starts with Walker Zimmerman in space with the ball in his own half. The USMNT now has multiple avenues to progress the ball, whether that is directly through the midfield, particularly Tyler Adams, or up the flanks through the fullbacks, especially the right back. But if that progress is a bit stymied, there’s the option of going over the top. In general, Pulisic takes a position that’s tucked in from the left wing rather than out wide. From there, he can drop in and assist in possession, or, more crucially/usefully, he can make runs towards the opposition’s backline. If the run goes unanswered, the run still potentially drags a defender out of space, making room for Musah or McKennie to receive the ball. But if a defender doesn’t track him, Pulisic can get in behind, or at least stretch the backline. What he does is burst forward towards the backline, and peels himself centrally so that he splits the backline. In turn, Zimmerman sprays the ball into the exact space where Pulisic arrives. It immediately advances the ball up to the final third.

Long Time Gone

Aaron Long probably also deserves more praise than not for these games. He played a total of 135 minutes (3 halves) without conceding a goal against solid opposition, and that deserves recognition. However, he definitely wasn’t as consistent on defending one-v-one as Zimmerman was, nor was his passing as effective or ambitious as his partner. That said, this is still a good sign for where Long’s abilities will be by the time of the World Cup.Remember, Long has barely played with the national team over the last two years. While 2020 was cut short for basically everyone due to the outbreak of the (still-ongoing) Covid-19 Pandemic, Long’s achilles tear at the start of 2021 ruled him out for essentially a second consecutive year. In that time, national team has changed considerably, even as Long naturally grew less and less connected with the program. And then there’s the injury recovery itself. It’s not enough to merely recover from an injury; it also takes time to return to that same level of match sharpness as before the injury. And the longer the injury, the longer it takes to get back to that match fitness, even after after the recovery. So with a year-long injury, recovering that match fitness could take upwards of 8 months. This is to say, between regaining that sharpness and chemistry, there’s every reason to think that Long will improve in the coming months.For now, it looks like Berhalter’s center backs of choice are Zimmerman, Richards (out for this camp due to injury), and Long. The notable missing name is, of course, John Brooks. Brooks has been excluded due to what looks like some sort of feud with Berhalter. I’d personally prefer for Brooks to be in the mix, but I think the urgency of the calls for his return come with rose-tinted glasses. Brooks obviously has quality, as demonstrated by his fairly consistent play for years in the German Bundesliga. However, his last few international matches did in fact feature significant mistakes. And, with his most distinguishing skill (his distribution) replicated by Zimmerman, the need for Brooks to make a return just doesn’t seem to be there, even with the injury to Miles Robinson.

Formation Wrinkles

As has long been the norm, Gregg Berhalter put out his team into a 4-3-3 against Uruguay. In general, that first half formation looked a lot like what was expected, particularly when the McKennie–Musah–Adams (MMA) midfield has been available. Adams forms a decisive defensive shield ahead of the backline, with Musah and McKennie offering a high powered a press. In addition, Musah offers a great, press resistant outlet, while McKennie provides an offensive thrust (and a set piece target). As a trio, the three create a suffocating midfield, and we saw that on display in the first half.With Jesús Ferreira dropping back into midfield, space opened up for Christian Pulisic to tuck inside. Combined with Tim Weah’s strong play on the right wing, the US was able to generate a number of chances.However, with McKennie coming off a foot injury, he was limited to just a half of soccer. So on came Brendan Aaronson to take his spot. Against Morocco, we saw Musah tuck a bit alongside Adams, while Aaronson took on more of an attack-centric role. Aaronson’s play was a bit more well-rounded here, but the change, in conjunction with a few other ones made at half time, failed to create a breakthrough for the USMNT. Still, the half, (alongside the one v. Morocco) offers evidence that Aaronson can do a job in midfield. Aaronson already was the first reserve at wing. The ability to play in midfield merely adds to his usefulness to the squad. And it also offers something as an option for the USMNT if McKennie isn’t available.

The big wrinkle with this USMNT squad, however, remains the goals. At this point, the MNT is now much stronger at generating chances than they were at the start of World Cup qualifying. However, those chances are all too often going unfinished. For these two matches, it’s been Jesús Ferreira who’s been up top but not finishing. To his credit, he’s been creating chances and taking shots. That’s generally been more than what we’ve seen from the other options as of late. But Ferreira’s finishing has been lacking. This might be a case where, as long as the chances keep coming, they finishing will follow, at least eventually. That’s been the case to a certain extent in MLS, where Ferreira went from creating loads of shots without scoring at the start of the season, to the top of the Golden boot race in just a few months. But those goals need to come at some point. Finish just one of those opportunities in the first half and the pressure would have severely dropped off the US and changed the match.

Closing Thoughts

Sean Johnson deserves a moment of praise. While he only made the trip after Zack Steffen dropped out due to family reasons, he got the start for this friendly and did well to hold the clean sheet. This second half save in particular stood out as a good moment.

Too many American players switched off on the follow-up play, allowing Uruguay a strong opportunity at goal. However, the NYCFC shot stopper had the exact right positioning to make the save. He’s unlikely to get time in Qatar at the end of the year, but this game was evidence that Johnson’s long been a good and loyal servant for the USMNT.

Erik Palmer-Brown didn’t really look the part in this game, with a bad mistake at the end of the game that gave Edinson Cavani a nearly open look at goal (which he mercifully botched). It was nice, however, to see the Kansas City native get some time out in his hometown.

Joe Scally really didn’t look up to this level. On the defensive side, he looked to be a clear target for Uruguay and frequently either came up short on the tackle or took up the wrong position, letting the ball bounce or whiz past him and to an onrushing Uruguayan attacker. And, on the attacking side, Scally simply wasn’t very involved. At just 19, there’s still more than ample time for Scally to grow into his game a bit, but, for now, I think it’s clearly little premature to be penciling his name into the squad for Qatar.

Big congratulations goes to Christian Pulisic for getting his 50th cap. He’s not quite done it faster than anyone else, but he’s not far off. With some better luck (and one fewer pandemic), he likely would have gotten it much earlier.

There was an odd level of jank with this match v. Uruguay. First, Brendan Aaronson got his shoelaces tied up with Uruguay’s Manuel Ugarte, then Uruguay’s head coach went and made an extra substitution. So it goes with friendlies sometimes, I guess.

There was some big news elsewhere in CONCACAF, with the Canadian Men’s National Team players refusing to appear for a friendly vs. Panama. The players released a letter criticizing their federation over contract negotiations. The letter includes demands for pay equality between the mens and women’s teams and marked reforms at the federation level.

Elsewhere in international play, we saw Wales come up just ahead of Ukraine in the final UEFA World Cup Qualifying playoff. This means Wales will head to the World Cup, specifically, the USMNT’s group. Wales was the final team to qualify from Europe for the World Cup, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine forcing the delay of Ukraine’s two play off matches (first v. Scotland, then this one v. Wales). Wales won 1-0 thanks to a Ukrainian own goal and mostly looked like the weaker of the two teams. Which is, of course, a good thing as far as USMNT prospects go. The USMNT will play v. Wales to open their World Cup on November 21st.

How US Soccer Federation Should Respond To Christian Pulisic’s Comment About USMNT Fans   BY ROBERT SUMMERSCALES

Ferreira then sent a difficult close-range header over the bar, after Yunus Musah split the Uruguay defense with a ball for Yedlin, who crossed to the forward.The U.S. looked to strike just before halftime, and it nearly came through an unlikely source, with McKennie holding up the ball well in and around the Uruguay box and laying it off for Pulisic, who dummied it for Adams. The RB Leipzig midfielder doesn’t score much, and he curled his 20-yard chance on frame but right at Muslera.In addition to swapping out McKennie as was preplanned, Berhalter took off Weah and Aaron Long, bringing on Brenden Aaronson, Paul Arriola and Erik Palmer-Brown for the second half.After running the show vs. Morocco, Pulisic hadn’t had much going toward goal until the 53rd minute, when he got the opportunity to run at Cáceres before lacing a low chance toward goal, only to hook his chance wide of the post.On the other end, Núñez tried to score in highlight-reel fashion, with a header into his path on the left-hand side bouncing up nicely for him to attempt an audacious volley from a tight angle. He couldn’t quite steer it inside the far post, though, sending it flying wide right.Uruguay sent another chance wayward moments later, with Núñez getting free down the right and going at Palmer-Brown before cutting back a cross into open space in the center of the U.S. box. Fernando Gorriarán ran right onto it and tried to volley home, but his first-time chance went sailing high and didn’t threaten Johnson in goal.Johnson was tested from point-blank range just after the hour mark, but he came through with flying colors, as a pair of Uruguayan attackers were there to stab in a chance from the doorstep, only for the NYCFC backstop to deny them.An oddity took place in the 67th minute, when Uruguay made changes for the fourth time during the match, bringing on a seventh bench player. Teams are allotted six changes in friendlies, and personnel from both benches were drawn into conversation with the fourth official about the mishap. After all that, the U.S. was granted a seventh sub, and both teams carried on.As for the action on the field, the U.S. looked to sneak in a go-ahead goal with about 10 minutes to go, with Pulisic picking out Zimmerman on a corner kick, only for the Nashville SC anchor to head right at Muslera.Uruguay had a golden chance to win it, with Núñez getting in behind the defense and opting to square for Cavani instead of having a go at goal. The longtime Uruguay star missed his chance facing a vacant net, though, allowing the U.S. to escape with the draw.

Perception Is Everything When It Comes to the USMNT’s World Cup Group

Wales, England and Iran are the three opponents, and while it seems manageable on paper, it also arguably makes for the most difficult quartet in the competition.

Suffice to say, the group stage that the U.S. men’s national team is about to open up is hardly a tune-up for what’s to come in November. The Concacaf Nations League, where the U.S. will play the world’s 170th-ranked team (Grenada) and 74th (El Salvador), begins for the Americans on Friday night in Texas, and it’ll seem a world away from the World Cup—even if Austin’s Q2 Stadium is where the U.S. edged Qatar in the Gold Cup semifinals last summer.But it’s part of the prep the U.S. must take on due to the function of the international calendar, and after a win vs. Morocco and draw vs. Uruguay, time continues to tick down toward the group stage in November. Ever since the draw for the 2022 World Cup, there have been a couple of schools of thought when it comes to the U.S.’s chances in Qatar. On one hand, it seems incredibly manageable, especially when compared to the Ghana-Portugal-Germany task of ’14. On the other, perhaps there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the perception of the quartet.Wales’s qualification Sunday completed the puzzle, and it’s now known that the U.S. will open against Gareth Bale & Co. on Nov. 21 before the already scheduled dates with England (Nov. 25, for a Black Friday matinee in the U.S.) and Iran (Nov. 29). Three games in just over a week and three of the top 21 teams in the world—at least according to the March FIFA ranking—are what stand in the way between the U.S. and the knockout stage.Could it have been worse for the U.S? Absolutely. England may be England, fresh off a 2018 World Cup semifinal run and Euro 2020 final appearance, but it’s at the very least a known commodity. Facing a second UEFA nation in Wales is very much a product of the luck of the draw, but it’s one that hasn’t played in a World Cup since 1958. While so few in the young U.S. player pool have World Cup experience, there’s still an advantage on that front as it relates to the Dragons. And then there’s Iran, which may not be among the world’s elite powers, but it performed better than any other side in Asia’s qualification tournament and gave Spain and Portugal all it could handle in Russia in 2018, narrowly missing out on the knockout stage. Team Melli is the strongest “weakest link” in any of the eight groups at the World Cup. This may not be a true group of death, but in a lot of ways it’s also the most difficult and balanced group the U.S. could have drawn.Wales, 18th in the FIFA ranking used to determine the pots for April’s draw, would have been the highest-ranked team in Pot 3 had its qualification been secured on schedule, meaning the U.S. has ostensibly drawn two of the top three Pot 3 teams in addition to the Three Lions. The only reason Wales wound up as a Pot 4 team is due to the postponement of its UEFA qualifying playoff bracket on account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which forced that playoff winner to be a last-pot side regardless (for what it’s worth, Ukraine also would have been a Pot 3 team, albeit the second-to-lowest-ranked side, while Scotland would have been in Pot 4 either way).To Gregg Berhalter’s credit, the U.S. manager recognized the threat on the day of the draw, especially as it relates to the team most are undoubtedly going to overlook.“Iran, in general, I think is going to be a great challenge for us. I’m a little bit nervous that the public or the media may take Iran lightly. But it’s not a team to take lightly. It’s going to be a good opponent,” he said, well before Wales’s qualification was sealed.“So overall, it’ll be a strong group. When you add that European team to it, it’s going to be a well-rounded group and it’s going be difficult to advance. But that’s a positive, becauseI think everyone’s going to be battling and … I think it will come down to the last game.”

It may indeed come down to that last game, but it’s the first game that has the ability to really dictate the U.S.’s fortunes. In the seven World Cups in which the U.S. has competed in the modern era, a failure to get at least a point out of the first game has resulted in elimination in the group stage. Not being able to truly prepare for that first opponent for a couple of months—Spain and France are the other teams still waiting for their first marching orders; the remaining playoffs will be sorted next week—has put the U.S. at a bit of a competitive disadvantage.“It’s kind of strange when you get drawn into a group, and it’s one of three teams that you can play,” Berhalter said Sunday. “So in terms of prep, it gets stalled a little bit, but now it’s full steam ahead into concentrating on Wales.”The same way that it’s easy to look at Wales and shrug—Sunday’s performance, albeit in victory, shouldn’t have put a fright into anyone—that’s the perception from outside of the U.S. as well. English tabloids already had their fun in early April, and Robert Page, whose first game as interim Wales coach while Ryan Giggs faces domestic abuse charges was a 0–0 draw against the U.S. in Nov. 2020, was reverential, but he thinks three points are there for the taking.“We have played against the USA. We know they are a really strong outfit,” Page told BBC Wales, when discussing his team’s group prospects. “We played against their European-based players, in my first game. They [and Iran] are winnable games and when you play against a home nations team, anything can happen.”The task has cleared up for all four teams now, and with so much likely riding on the U.S.’s opener and what it’ll mean for those subsequent matches, there’s finally the chance to start crafting the game plan to navigate through it.“Now we finally know our opponent, and we can finally set our sights on that group and how we’re going to get out of it,” U.S. defender Walker Zimmerman said Sunday. “They each have their different challenges and to g to play a guy like Gareth Bale, I think it’s something we can all be excited about.”It sure beats a June Nations League night in Austin against Grenada.

USMNT-Morocco tactical notes: Why a changed shape might not be repeatable

By Sam StejskalJun 3, 202242   The Athletic


Apart from Christian Pulisic’s controversial comment about the crowd, no topic was discussed more in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. men’s national team’s 3-0 win in a friendly against Morocco than the Americans’ changed on-field shape.

Head coach Gregg Berhalter tweaked the system he used for most of qualifying, playing Brenden Aaronson in an advanced central midfield role, dropping No. 8 Yunus Musah closer to defensive midfielder Tyler Adams, giving Christian Pulisic free reign to find interior space, pushing his left back very high and shifting to a three-man backline when the U.S. had the ball. The changes led to a more cohesive, freer-flowing attack than we saw from the U.S. for the bulk of the CONCACAF Octagonal, though they also left the Americans looking vulnerable in defense. Morocco, which registered 2.07 expected goals to the U.S.’s 2.10, really should have made it a lot closer than 3-0.

While the changes were instructive, it seems highly unlikely that this exact shape will become the U.S.’s primary set. The eventual return of fullback Sergiño Dest from injury almost rules it out on its own. Dest is the U.S.’s best right back, but, unlike Wednesday’s starter Reggie Cannon, he doesn’t have the defensive attributes needed to slide into a three-man backline. Even if he did, moving him into that spot would neutralize his excellent ability to get into the attack. He could theoretically reprise the role Antonee Robinson played on the left on Wednesday, but his tendency to come inside would make him a less than perfect fit in that spot. It’d also be a bit shocking if Robinson was dropped after he’s been so steady since the start of qualifying.

That doesn’t mean Berhalter can’t implement elements of what we saw on Wednesday between now and Qatar, however. Clearly, he can use Aaronson in a central role. Pulisic showed that he can have a massive impact from interior positions, too — especially when the spacing is such that he has room to operate and the players around him are strong at combining, things that weren’t always the case in qualifying. Musah’s more reserved position helped maintain that breathing room for him on Wednesday, while Aaronson gave him someone to quickly connect with. Dropping one No. 8 deeper and having another play higher would be interesting for the U.S. to continue over the next six months.

McKennie’s looming return to the starting lineup could throw a wrench into that, however. He’s capable of playing in both of the spots that Musah and Aaronson occupied on Wednesday, but he has a different skill set than his younger counterparts. He wouldn’t be as good at combining with Pulisic in the attack as Aaronson, but he’d perhaps be more dangerous in front of goal and could be just as, or even more effective with his counterpressing. His defensive skills would serve him well in the role Musah played on Wednesday, too, though a pairing of him and Adams wouldn’t be the strongest in building out of the back. Such a role could also minimize the frequency he streaks into the box on one of his excellent, late-arriving runs.

As such, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Berhalter returns to the usual, balanced No. 8 setup we saw for almost all of qualifying once McKennie, who the U.S. is hoping can start one game this window as he continues to work his way back from his foot injury, gets into the XI.

A possible return of the mega-talented Gio Reyna from injury would also create lineup questions for Berhalter. Unless he uses Reyna or Weah as a striker, it’d mean he’d have just four spots in the lineup for those two, Pulisic, Aaronson, McKennie and Musah. That’d be a champagne problem, though, and an unlikely one for him to have, considering the USMNT’s injury history.

So while the exact shape we saw on Wednesday probably won’t carry over to Qatar, a couple of elements on display — tweaking the shape of the midfield and adjusting Pulisic’s positioning, specifically — could remain important aspects of the USMNT’s play up to and in the World Cup.We’ll see if Berhalter has any new adjustments in store for Sunday’s friendly against a strong Uruguay team in Kansas City, Kan. Until then, some additional thoughts from the win against Morocco:

No goals from the run of play, but encouraging signs at striker

Neither of them scored in open play, but strikers Jesus Ferreira and Haji Wright both displayed some solid work in their respective 45-minute shifts on Wednesday.

Ferreira got the start, linking well with the other attackers and looking confident on a couple of decent opportunities. As is typical for him, he wasn’t afraid to drop into midfield, and he actually dragged a couple of center backs with him into the center circle to open up space for Pulisic to run in behind the Morocco defense for the first goal.

He seemed decisive on his chances, but… he didn’t finish. He made a smart run off the back shoulder of a defender to free himself up for a through ball from Aaronson for a good look in first-half stoppage time, but Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou came out quickly to close the angle and Ferreira couldn’t quite direct his shot wide enough to sneak it past him.

Wright’s performance was probably more promising. Not only did he convert a penalty to put the U.S. up 3-0 in the 64th (after, it must be said, a gracious handoff from his old friend Pulisic), but he exhibited some solid hold-up play. He’s bigger than the U.S.’s other options at the position, and he showed it with his ability to maintain possession in some difficult spots with his back to goal. One of the better examples of that kind of play came in the 49th minute, part of an excellent team move (patient build up in the back, a decisive pass forward when a window for one opened, then a quick, vertical breakout) that ended with Wright nearly scoring.

He had another solid moment in the play that led to the penalty, making a darting run behind the defense, then holding up play before finding Weah at the top of the box. He wasn’t involved all that much after the goal, but the game was put to bed by the 75th. After Wednesday, Wright merits another look with the U.S., perhaps from the start on Sunday.

The lack of goals from strikers in the run of play remains an annoyance, but it was good to see both Ferreira and Wright involved in broader positive attacking movements and get into position for chances. If that continues, the goals should, in theory, follow.

Vulnerabilities in defense, questions at center back

For all the fun that was had in the attacking end, there were some real issues in defense on Wednesday. Morocco should’ve found the net on a couple of occasions, including, of course, on the penalty they were ridiculously awarded in the late stages.

Their best looks came after they broke U.S. pressure and switched the ball to left wing back Adam Masina. Weah would be caught high, Aaronson would be tucked inside and Cannon would be sitting deep, leaving Masina wide open and with tons of space to drive into. The U.S. didn’t confront him quickly enough in most of those situations, with Cannon often delaying his release until it was far too late to prevent danger. Morocco nearly took the lead on two such plays in the 12th- and 19th-minutes.

sah, who was shaded to the left, and Adams, who spent a good portion of the match man-marking Morocco defensive midfielder Sofyan Amrabat whenever he got the ball, were usually taken out of these plays when Morocco broke the American press.

Of course, the U.S. shape wasn’t familiar to most of the players on the field; there were always going to be some hiccups. If the U.S. does return to this kind of setup at any point in the future, they’ll have some work to do to clean up this part of their game.

Center back also remains a bit of a question mark following the achilles injury that will almost certainly keep Miles Robinson out of the World Cup. Walker Zimmerman was his usual solid self, but Berhalter indicated after the match that he thought fellow starter Aaron Long struggled a bit. Long definitely had his hands full with the physical nature of Morocco forwards Ayoub El Kaabi and Tarik Tissoudali and got turned pretty badly on one occasion, but, watching the match back on Thursday morning, he mostly acquitted himself OK. He wasn’t perfect, but he managed.

It was a similar story for Cameron Carter-Vickers, who came on for Zimmerman in a planned halftime substitution. He had some decent interventions, but also lost Tissoudali just before Masina found him at the top of the six for a free header that Turner did well to keep out. Look for Erik Palmer-Brown to start in his hometown of Kansas City on Sunday.

Big picture, the position bears watching before Qatar. It wasn’t the U.S.’s strongest group even before the Robinson injury; the Americans will need someone to step up to increase their odds of getting out of their group. A lot might end up riding on the progression of injured 21-year-old Chris Richards, who could be headed to the Premier League this summer, per reports.

Turner adds to case for No. 1 job

Speaking of players on their way to the EPL this summer, Turner enjoyed a solid night in net on Wednesday. He made eight saves, commanded his box well and, apart from a couple of elementary and ultimately inconsequential mistakes, looked decent with the ball at his feet. He wants to improve that facet of his game to give himself a better chance of starting in Qatar ahead of Zack Steffen, who had to withdraw from this camp due to family reasons.

Turner’s teammates certainly seemed more comfortable playing to him in possession than they did at times in qualifying, and he helped the team play out of some substantial pressure a few times, including on that 49th-minute move that led to Wright’s chance.

Taylor Twellman said during ESPN’s broadcast of the match that he thinks Turner is in the driver’s seat to start at the World Cup. I tend to agree. Turner is an excellent shot-stopper and performed better in qualifying than Steffen, who had a tough end to the season with Manchester City. Berhalter isn’t all that interested in handicapping the race, however. He talked in his pre-match news conference on Tuesday about not needing to rush into any decisions at the position. The door will undoubtedly remain open for Steffen, as well as for others, too.

The U.S. is entering strange territory with their goalkeepers. Turner, Steffen and Ethan Horvath will likely be backups in the Premier League this fall and not getting regular games in the buildup to the World Cup. NYCFC’s Sean Johnson, who was added to this roster after Steffen pulled out, seems like he’ll be the only one of the U.S.’s top-four options at the position getting regular minutes in the weeks ahead of Qatar.

That creates a potential quandary for the U.S., and, according to what Twellman said during the broadcast on Wednesday, a possible opportunity for Johnson. Don’t be surprised if he gets a start in this window.

USMNT Vs. Uruguay: 3 Players Who Stood Out And 3 With Nights To Forget

CONNOR FLEMING  JUNE 5, 2022  – the 18

IT WAS A FAIRLY ENTERTAINING SCORELESS DRAW WITH PLENTY OF FOOD FOR THOUGHT.

The USMNT vs. Uruguay friendly never got going in the way we imagined on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City. At the end of the day, the main talking point is that Uruguay manager Diego Alonso made seven substitutions — Diego Rossi and Facundo Pellistri somehow entered the match together in the 68th minute when that obviously shouldn’t have been allowed.Surprisingly the fourth official isn’t on FIFA’s list for the World Cup. I’d like to see him and Janny Sikazwe form a crew.   Uruguay made 10 changes to the side that beat Mexico 3-0 last week, and big names like Edinson Cavani, Federico Valverde and Matías Vecino started on the bench. Uruguay’s play, particularly in the final third, suffered as a result. There wasn’t much cohesion to La Celeste’s build-up play, and when the U.S. midfield or defense did them a favor with a cheap turnover or miscue, the South Americans still found it difficult to create opportunities of note. Cavani had a glorious chance in second-half stoppage time but spooned his effort wide with the goal at his mercy. The U.S. had its moments going forward in the first half, but the second half was erratic and disrupted by all the changes. 

USA Vs Uruguay: 3 Stars 

Sean Johnson

A clean sheet against Uruguay with four saves, including this one in the 63rd to preserve the draw. The 33-year-old took a massive step towards being on the plane to Qatar. 

Yunus Musah

There’s something evocatively LaLiga about Musah. He holds the ball that split second longer to give the runner that extra bit of space; he spots and hits cross-field rakers like a PlayStation footballer; he’s confident enough to dribble his marker, even if it’s on the edge of his own area.   

Musah completed a team-leading 92.5% of his passes and was untroubled by Uruguay’s physicality in midfield. How is he just 19 years of age? 

Brenden Aaronson

Aaronson ran out there for the second half and threw himself into some tackles and challenges. He brought a bit of energy to the second 45 when the U.S. was clearly lacking it. Apart from Uruguay’s fast and loose approach to subs, Aaronson provided one of the game’s best moments. 

3 Players With Nights To Forget 

Jesus Ferreira

Ferreira had two shots — one that stung the palms of Fernando Muslera and a close range header that he couldn’t direct on frame. The other attributes he brings to the table — link-up play and leading the press — weren’t clearly on display either. Overall, an ineffective 61 minutes on the pitch.  

Joe Scally

This was a baptism by fire in Scally’s first-ever USMNT start. Maxi Gómez, Manuel Ugarte and Guillermo Varela clearly targeted the 19-year-old, and there were a couple moments in the first half when Uruguay looked poised to score after dicing the left-hand side of the U.S. defense. 

He only won 30% of his duels, but this will ultimately be another great learning experience for the teenager on the road to winning us the 2026 World Cup.

Paul Arriola

45 minutes of very little on the attacking end, although he put in the defensive work. Given his form with FC Dallas, we wanted to see more of a threat from Arriola, but Christian Pulisic went at it alone in the second half. 

How US Soccer Federation Should Respond To Christian Pulisic’s Comment About USMNT Fans

The USMNT produced an impressive performance to beat Morocco 3-0 at Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium on Wednesday night.But Christian Pulisic was not impressed with the size of the crowd that came to watch the international friendly.The stadium’s capacity for soccer games is 26,000 but there were only 19,512 fans in attendance to see Brenden Aaronson, Timothy Weah and Haji Wright score in a one-sided win.Furthermore, a significant percentage of the fans that did turn up came to support Morocco – as this was their first game in the States in 16 years.After the game, Pulisic was asked by an ESPN reporter how it felt to be back playing in front of US fans again. His response was a little spiky.He said: “Yeah, it was nice. To be honest, for whatever reason, I’m not super happy with the amount of Americans here, however that works out.”But thanks to the ones that did come and the support is always great from them.”But yeah, it’s nice to be back in America and playing again.”But why was the turnout so low? After all, US men’s soccer is seemingly in a good place right now, with the USMNT heading to the World Cup in just six months.The answer is simple. Fans were priced out by the US Soccer Federation.Most of the tickets for the match had been priced between $60 and $160 plus fees. That is a lot for a friendly against a team ranked outside of FIFA’s top 20.Fortunately, the solution is equally simple for the US Soccer Federation. They just need to make international soccer more affordable and audiences will swell.Those in charge of developing soccer in the States are meant to be appealing to new audiences – many of whom may be in need of convincing.Staging the game in Middle America was a solid start, but organizers got the price point very wrong. More empty seats are expected at Sunday’s friendly against Uruguay at Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Park.Tickets for that match are still widely available, but the cheapest seats are currently being listed from around $90 including fees.

As the USMNT called and Arsenal awaited, Matt Turner met profound heartbreakBy Sam StejskalMay 31, 202292


In a world where everyone is a statistical anomaly, where even the most average players have to outlast thousands upon thousands of competitors to carve out a career as a professional, Matt Turner is an outlier.The U.S. men’s national team and soon-to-be Arsenal goalkeeper didn’t begin playing soccer until he was 14, going out for his high school squad simply so he could stay in shape for his main athletic pursuits of basketball and baseball. He only hopped in goal because the team’s one other ‘keeper got hurt on the first day of freshman tryouts. He was barely recruited to play in college, where his most notable moment was a colossal, viral mistake. He wasn’t drafted out of Fairfield University in 2016, but he made the New England Revolution roster after impressing as a preseason trialist, walking away from a more lucrative job he’d lined up in the business world to sign with the club. When he finally got a chance to play in MLS after three years spent mostly as a No. 3, he thrived, turning heads in 2018 and starring in 2019 and 2020 before being named the league’s goalkeeper of the year in 2021.His excellent performances in New England led to his first U.S. cap in January 2021. Five months later, he helped the Americans to the Gold Cup title, raising his profile with some top-tier play that culminated with him winning the Golden Glove award given to the best goalkeeper in the tournament. Turner entered World Cup qualification locked into the USMNT backup job behind presumed starter Zack Steffen, but simply being in the squad was a real achievement.Then, two days before the U.S. played its first qualifier at El Salvador, that story took a heartbreaking turn.Early in the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 31, Turner, who was in Nashville with the USMNT, got a call from his then-fiancee Ashley Herron. She had made the short trip from Boston to see Turner and the Revs play at New York City FC the previous weekend, but arrived back in Massachusetts on Monday feeling a little bit off. A trip to the doctor on Tuesday brought some awful news: She had suffered a miscarriage. Herron was about 10 weeks into her pregnancy.“I thought to myself that I needed to go home to be with her,” Turner told The Athletic. “I couldn’t imagine the fact that she was going through this alone. She was in the doctor’s office alone, she had the miscarriage alone and I wanted to be there for her. I just love her so much, and I wanted to help her, to just help ease the pain any way I could.”First thing on Wednesday morning, hours before the U.S. was scheduled to fly from Tennessee to El Salvador for the match the following night, Turner made his way downstairs at the team hotel to tell Berhalter he needed to leave camp. He ended up bumping into him immediately after he stepped off the elevator. Before Turner could get a word out, the head coach hit him with some news of his own.“He looks at me and says, ‘Hey Matty, Zack has back spasms, he can’t go. You’re playing tomorrow,’” Turner said.Turner barely remembers how he responded to Berhalter — some platitude about being ready. Internally, he was a mess, standing in the elevator bank “like a deer in headlights, trying to choke back tears.”“I just pretty much sank away,” he said. “Imagine Homer Simpson sinking back into the bushes. I just sink back into the elevator to go right back upstairs to call Ashley. I tell her what happened and she just, thank God for her, really, because she just said, ‘You have to stay. I’ll never let you miss that.’”Turner is making this story public in part because he and Herron, who got married a few weeks ago, want to do what they can to make people understand that miscarriages are not uncommon. According to March of Dimes, about 10 to 15 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. For someone like Turner, a 27-year-old who had never before been expecting a child with a partner, that fact can come as a bit of a surprise.“I never realized how many people had actually gone through it in their lives,” he said. “Even just talking around the team, some of the staff with the national team, there were loads of guys that could talk to each other about that experience. We just want to normalize it a little bit. Just hopefully make people feel like they’re not alone when they go through it.”Turner didn’t tell anyone outside of his family about the miscarriage during that initial window, however. And after his conversation with Herron that Wednesday morning, he chose to go with the USMNT to Central America instead of returning to Boston. He started in El Salvador the following night, keeping a shutout in a scoreless draw in front of a heaving crowd at Estadio Cuscatlan, and remained in net for the U.S.’s 1-1 draw against Canada in Nashville and 4-1 road win at Honduras.Turner spent most of that week holding his emotions off to the side as he and the team worked through a dramatic, controversial and draining first foray into qualifying. The strategy worked in terms of his on-field performance, with Turner playing well in all three matches, but it didn’t exactly allow him the space to process his feelings about the miscarriage.In the hours after the victory in Honduras, a rollercoaster of a match that became a turning point in the USMNT’s entire qualification campaign, he headed up to his room, had a drink, put on a disco-heavy playlist that he listens to to unwind (“That playlist is riddled with Donna Summer. It’s music that my Mom and I always bonded over.”) and gave himself some time to actually feel.“I was alone in the hotel, knocking back a beer, and I finally felt like I could breathe again,” he said. “With the pressure of the games, with the buildup, the fact that we were losing at halftime and came back and won, it was just all so much emotion, so much going on that I needed some time to myself to process everything. For me, that was the hardest part of it all. You have to compartmentalize, but then when do you have time to reflect? You have to make time to deal with the things that you need to deal with, because you can’t just forget and hope it fades into the past. You gotta be a human at some point.“So I had my music, I had my beer and I just… exhaled. Just sat there and thought about how I’m going home and facing something much scarier than those crazy crowds in Honduras or El Salvador. I’m going to have to go home and help put our lives back together.”He and Herron were able to do just that — not that his schedule got any more forgiving. Turner immediately returned to action with the Revs then was back with the U.S. a few weeks later, starting the home win against Jamaica on Oct. 7 and loss at Panama on Oct. 10. He played just fine in those two matches, but Berhalter replaced him with Steffen in the starting lineup in the third match of the window at home against Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio on Oct. 13.

Turner was, naturally, disappointed by the decision, but the trip to Ohio wasn’t all bad. Not only did the U.S. beat Costa Rica to move into a solid position in the CONCACAF Octagonal, but Herron was able to travel to the game. A few weeks later, the couple found out they had conceived in Columbus. She’s due to give birth to a baby boy on July 16.

Becoming a father isn’t the only major life change Turner is preparing for, of course. In January, New England agreed to transfer him to Arsenal for a fee that sources said is just shy of $7 million. He’ll play his last game for the Revs on June 19 and join Arsenal in time for the start of their preseason on June 24.For Turner, the move is a legitimate dream come true. He didn’t really get into watching soccer until the 2010 World Cup, when he was 16. After the tournament, he, like so many others on this side of the Atlantic, began to follow the Premier League, and became a fan of Arsenal. As he got a little bit older, during his final years in college and first season or two with the Revs, Turner spent many of his weekend mornings watching games at Arsenal supporters’ preferred bars.“A lot of those Gooners probably saw me at the bar and obviously had no idea who I was, which is pretty funny to think about now,” he said.Even after he began starring in MLS, it looked relatively unlikely that Turner would ever get the opportunity to move to Europe, nevermind to one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League. His value to the Revolution meant the club was always going to have a high asking price for him. The list of clubs that would be able to meet New England’s desired number for a soon-to-be 28-year-old goalkeeper who has never played outside of North America was always going to be pretty short, something Turner was very much attuned to. Before Arsenal came calling, he said no European club had ever made an offer for him.

“Towards the end of last year, probably in November, my agent mentioned something about Arsenal getting in contact and having a bit of interest,” he said. “He was like, ‘There’s this, this and this out there, a couple of teams in the Championship, nothing that’s going to hit the price that the Revs are going to want for you, but there’s a ridiculously long shot that Arsenal is interested. You’re on a list of probably five to eight goalkeepers that they could see themselves going for.’ That was his quote: ‘A ridiculously long shot.’”Over the next couple of months, the ridiculous long shot turned into Arsenal’s primary target to provide cover behind Aaron Ramsdale. The England international was signed last summer for a transfer fee that could rise as high as $38 million and soon won the starting job from Bernd Leno, who is reportedly set to leave the club this summer. Before Arsenal opened talks with New England, however, Turner went back to the Revs to negotiate a new contract. He had outperformed the deal that paid him $375,000 in guaranteed compensation in 2021, and, not knowing if a European move would materialize, he was hoping he might be able to cash in on his big year. The club rebuffed him, a position Turner said he understood considering the fact they had given him new contracts in August 2019 and January 2021.“And literally two days later, Arsenal comes in and throws in their first bid,” he said. “Now the wheels start turning. At that point, I already made my mind up that I wanted to go. It just felt right. … I thought it was going to be simple: They offer, great, Revs accept, done. But it was one of the biggest emotional rides I’ve ever been on, and that’s saying something considering what happened in the fall. It was off, it was on, it was off, it was on. I’m sending text messages, calling people, stuff tht I probably didn’t have to do, but at the end of the day, everyone got where they needed to get and the deal got done.”The parties agreed to the deal on Jan. 27, just hours before Turner would return to the USMNT starting lineup in place of the injured Steffen for a 1-0 win against El Salvador in Columbus. After the match, a young fan handed Turner a jersey to sign as he walked off the field. It wasn’t a New England or U.S. shirt, but a red Arsenal top.The storybook scene can’t mask the many legitimate questions about how the move will play out. Turner said that he has every intention of competing for the starting job in preseason, but acknowledged that the general expectation is that Ramsdale will be the No. 1. His job, he said, will most likely be to “come in and push him and help him get better.”Serving as Ramsdale’s backup would be a significant change from starting every single match for the Revs, for whom he recently returned to the field after injuries — which did not include frostbite, he said — sidelined him from mid-February until late-April. But irrespective of the potential for decreased playing time, Turner thinks the move will actually help his odds of starting at the World Cup for the USMNT, which will play friendlies against Morocco on Wednesday and Uruguay on Sunday and CONCACAF Nations League matches against Grenada on June 10 and at El Salvador on June 14.Turner correctly noted that starting for the Revs while Steffen was backing up Ederson for Manchester City didn’t guarantee him anything with the USMNT. He entered qualifying as the backup and, apart from the first two games of the October window, served as the No. 2 in every match for which he and Steffen, who withdrew from this camp late last week due to family reasons, were both available.“I needed to shake it up heading into Qatar. I really needed to, in my opinion,” Turner said. “Is it risky? Yeah, probably a little bit. But at the end of the day, it’s a step forward for my career. I’ve always said that I want to see how far I can take soccer, I want to really push it. This is the logical next step if that’s my mentality.”Over the course of qualifying, Berhalter consistently cited Steffen’s ability to play with his feet as a reason for starting him over Turner despite the disparity in club appearances between the two. Steffen had a very high-profile, very costly recent error with the ball at his feet, but he has improved that part of his game since he moved to Man City from Columbus, where he played under Berhalter, in the summer of 2019. Turner likely needs to up that part of his game to have a shot at winning the USMNT job outright.“I have to train at a higher level,” he said. “The style of play with the Revolution is mighty old school. If there’s pressure, we don’t really try to play out of it too much. At Arsenal, the goalkeepers are required to play a little bit more with the ball, playing in the system rather than just sort of going out there. They have to follow tactics and game plans a little more closely. Those are things that I know are valued with the national team that I’ll be challenged more with Arsenal.

“In December and January, I got to spend weeks at a time with the national team in buildup to games. And in all those games, I feel like I was pretty solid with the ball at my feet. Apart from the one blip in Canada, pretty solid connecting passes, making the right decisions. And then I don’t train exactly like that when I’m with the Revs, so I lose it. I get it for a couple of weeks, then I lose it. Now I’ll be training that way all the time.”Berhalter has been a big booster of the move, telling Turner in January that he thought it was a good step for his career and that it would challenge him in the ways he needed to be challenged. He’s already generally considered a superior shot stopper to Steffen, a stance that was borne out by the numbers in qualifying. If he can maintain that element of his game and improve with his feet, he’ll have a real argument to start in Qatar in November.

“I wouldn’t say I’m not concerned (about potentially not playing regularly), but I’m also not entirely concerned,” he said. “I’m just going to take it as it comes, you know? I’m gonna work my hardest and then put my best foot forward every time I’m out on the field with Arsenal, every time I’m out on the field with the national team. Regardless, I’m proud of the decision I made. I’m proud of where I’m headed. And I’m gonna have a lot of confidence going into November, that’s for sure.”There’s not much time between now and then, but Turner and his family have plenty on the docket. Herron flew to London with her mother on Monday to get settled in their new home ahead of the birth. Turner, who arrived in Cincinnati for U.S. camp on Sunday, will join them there on June 20. Their son, who they’re planning on naming Easton, should follow not long after. Then comes the start of the EPL season with Arsenal and the USMNT’s final preparations for the World Cup.

“You can imagine this stuff, but only in a fantasy,” he said. “You know that it’s never actually going to happen. Thinking about all the little things along the way that had to break for this to be possible, all the signs and all the omens, it’s all crazy. It’s really crazy. I never thought that this would actually happen for me. I’m just so excited and blessed.”

‘A day like this gives us hope’: Ukraine’s game in Wales, written by a fan

By Inna SelivanJun 6, 20228


Ukraine played a football match on Sunday. They didn’t win it. Yes, football doesn’t matter when compared to horrors of war, but Ukraine’s matches against Scotland and Wales have given hope, joy and pride to its people. A sense of normality at a time when life is anything but.There are no words The Athletic can write to sum up what it meant for those thousands of Ukrainians in the Cardiff City Stadium, or millions more watching around the world as refugees, or back home in their country, to play a World Cup play-off.So we have handed over this article to Inna Selivan, who attended the game with her godchildren Alex and Kira, aged 13, and her partner Michelle. This is Inna’s story.Alex and Kira, who are twins, left Kyiv at the end of March with their mother Irina. They travelled to Moldova, then to Romania, which took 30 hours in total. That’s where I met them and my mother Olga, who is disabled and needs a wheelchair. From the borders we drove to Bucharest, then waited there for four weeks to get visas, then we all flew back to the UK and to my home in Berkshire.Their mum came over to the UK at first – their dad couldn’t come for various reasons – and now Irina is back in Kyiv as she has to look after her own elderly parents. She was devastated to leave her children, but they’re safe here. They’re missing Ukraine badly, they want to go back home to normality, but the most important thing is they are safe.I’m supporting everyone I can who comes to the country, doing what needs to be done; often their English isn’t great and it’s very difficult for people. Everyone needs help.I have friends who are still in Ukraine and they don’t want to leave. I speak to them almost every day.Alex and Kira have never been to a Ukraine match before. We had to be here. We were camping in Bristol and were frantically trying to get tickets. Yes, it’s only football but it means a lot – the team is still playing and that’s absolutely huge. It’s something people cheer for and, yes, if we win it’s another victory step after winning Eurovision and beating Scotland.I have lived in the UK for 30 years and to be with my people is special. Alex is excited to be here. He’s been to a couple of matches since March — he went to an Arsenal game — but to watch his country is very different.Inside the ground, the atmosphere is incredible. People are mixing with each other, chatting, they are all from different parts of Ukraine and many of them have probably been misplaced and are far away from their home country. It is great to unite together.People have come from over the UK. I know some from London, others from the Midlands, we came from Berkshire.There are more important things going on than football but it means something to be out together, waving flags, wearing yellow and blue.There is a huge amount of respect between the Wales fans and the Ukraine fans; it’s very friendly outside and inside the ground, and I have to say the atmosphere was absolutely fantastic.

In the away end, the singing doesn’t stop. People chant “Ukraine, Ukraine” over and over again but they also shout for different regions back home which are under attack now. They chant for Azovstal, the place in Mariupol held by Russians under siege for many days.It’s political but, at the same time, they want to say that parts of Ukraine are still very much suffering in the war.People are disappointed with the result and there is a lot of frustration because of course we wanted to win, but it’s OK, it’s sport. We have more matches to look forward to soon as well, unfortunately not in the World Cup, but the team is going to play.There is a huge amount of pride in the players. Some of them hadn’t played for months and went and beat Scotland, and only lost narrowly to Wales.

The emotion of Sunday was too much for some Ukraine fans (Photo: James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

At the end of the game, there is a nice touch when the Wales team come over to clap us, that was a touching moment. Their supporters also join in with the clap we do with the Ukraine players. It’s such a respectful atmosphere and that means a lot.Alex said at the end of the game how disappointed he was, but when the team came to our corner and applauded he said, “That made my day”.The team also gave shirts away to fans, which was really nice. Kira isn’t a huge sport fan but she sang the songs, she was supportive, she was on her feet. In fact we all were – everybody stood up all game.Ultimately, it’s just a game of football, there are more important things to think about and the fact that everyone is there and safe in the stadium is all that matters.But a game and a day like this brings people together. It gives them hope.

6/3/22 USA vs Uruguay Sunday 5 pm Fox, Ukraine vs Wales WCQ Sun 12 pm ESPN, USMNT blanks Morocco 3-0, Nations League on Fox all week  

USA vs Uruguay Fox 5 pm Sunday – MUST WATCH TV

A big 3-0 win over a very good Morocco team (highlights) that had not lost by more than 2 goals in over 50 games – in Cincy on Wednesday night – has set up a huge game vs an even better Uruguay team on Sunday at 5 pm on Fox. Coverage starts at 4:30 pm – as Uruguay is coming off a huge 3-0 blanking of Mexico in Texas in front of 55K last night.  This Uruguay team is a true test – hopefully Berhalter will send out his very BEST team on Sunday as a national TV audience has a chance to tune in on Fox – against the 3rd best team in South America – behind only Brazil and Argentina.   This is a much tougher game and should really be the toughest test the US will face before the World Cup. 

Shane’s Starters for Sun game vs Uruguay

Haji Wright

Pulisic/Weah  

Aaronson/Yanus Musah

Adams

Robinson/Long/Zimmerman/Scally or Yedlin

Matt Turner

Wow what a game for the US attack on Wednesday night.  A huge 3 – 0 win was lead by Pulisic of course and a surprising strong performance by new Leed’s United winger Brenden Aaronson playing in the 8 spot for McKinney.  Pulisic was voted Coaches Man of the Match for this spectacular over the shoulder first touch and incredible assist – but also for his leadership as captain for the game.  But you could argue that Aaronson was Man of the Match with his incredible pace in the middle of the field. I am not sure how you can justify leaving Aaronson off the field anymore.  For now he slides in for an injured McKinney but you gotta find a way to get this 20 year old on the field.  I thought Tim Weah was fantastic – at the winger slot and his goal was classic – along with some good crosses and few more shots that had a chance.  Musah is honestly one of my favorite players (he always goes forward) in the 8 slot and he was fantastic again.  His combination with Pulisic and Aaronson and Jedi at left back was amazing coming down the left side of the field. So he’s another guy that’s hard to justify him not being on the field. 

Now my Man of the Match was Goalkeeper Matt Turner – who made 2 huge saves in the first 20 minutes of the match.  I will say this now – Matt Turner is our BEST SHOTSTOPPER – PERIOD!!  If he starts for the US men in the World Cup – we will Advance past the group stage.  If not – we will not!!  He’s that much better than Steffan who absolutely gives up the goal on one of the first 2 shots.  Defensively I thought the back 4 were good – Long played ok alongside Zimmerman though did give up a couple shots that Robinson would have covered.  We’ll just have to see if the communication is better vs Uruguay between the 2 centerbacks or we might be in trouble.  Surprising to see Reggie Cannon over Yedlin on the right side.  I thought Scally showed well at left back subbing for Robinson – I suspect we might see him start on the right Sunday – or perhaps it’s a more experienced Yedlin.  At Center forward I thought Ferreira was fine at the #9 – his high pressure helped lead to the PK goal, and his movement opened space for Pulisic and Weah playing the false 9 role (however he missed his 1 vs 1 with the keeper).  It was awesome to see former USYNT star Haji Wright score in his first cap for the US as Pulisic gave him the PK to wrap up the scoring (but he also sent his only shot right to the keeper).  Read about Haji’s connection with Pulisic (they were roommates) and McKinney/Adams and Weah who he teamed with at the US U15/U17 and U19 levels. It will be interesting to see who starts at the #9 Sunday – I say we give Wright a shot at it with the start on Sunday – but we’ll see what GB is thinking.   I see a 2-2 tie in this match with Uruguay, goals by Pulisic and Aaronson. 

The 26-man roster for June Games

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution), Sean Johnson (DC United)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic FC), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor)

Pulisic calls out the Crowd at Cincy

So interesting comments by our captain after the game (video) regarding the lack of US fans at the game.  Now I was there – and what looked like a 50/50 crowd on TV – in reality was more like 3 to 1 US fans in the stands.  They are red and we are red – now they were loud and the Morocco fans came from all over the country – I spoke to folks from NY, Canada and Florida at the game.  Hey if I live in Germany and the US came to play for the first time in 2 decades?  I would get to the game too.  Now I am ok with Pulisic’s comment – we had 19K on hand – I couldn’t believe we didn’t fill the stadium – but hey I ate 2 extra tickets that I literally couldn’t give away outside the stadium.  Yes it was just Morocco – (top 25 and 2nd qualifier from Africa) but they don’t have many real stars on the team. And the ticket prices are high – mine seats were $70 behind the goal but the sideline seats were $165 to $250 a seat for a friendly – honesty about the same pricing it was for the Mexico game and that is nuts and it completely US soccers issue!!   But if Mexico can put 55K in a stadium in Texas and we can’t put 25K in a stadium in Cincy?  I don’t know folks? 

Ukraine vs  Wales SUNDAY – 12  noon on ESPN2 – MUST SEE TV

Ukraine looked great in beating Scotland 2-1 on Wednesday – the national anthem was incredible as the Scotland fans joined in singing the anthem!!  Ukraine played like a team possessed – as they all laid it all on the field.  Man I feel bad for Ukraine – but the winner of this playoff-) will be our first opponent in the World Cup.  As much as I want to root for Ukraine we would much rather face Wales if we want to advance to the next round.  So go Wales and Garreth Bale !!

Reffing Section included below

Including a story about the ref shortage in the US and the reasons why.  As for the shortage – my kids both reffed all the way thru high school – and my son still refs in college.  It’s a great weekend job where you make good money – ($15-20 an hour) and you can often choose your own schedule – what other high school job lets you do that?  :Let me know if your kid needs direction on reffing – and I will point you in the right direction. 

Indy 11 Women Play tonight at Grand Park Events Center

Our Indy 11 women are off to a great start with 3 wins and 1 tie on the season.  They play Midwest United tonight at 7 pm at the Event Center and Grand Park and again next Friday night vs Flint City AFC so make plans to go out and see the ladies !!

Indy 11 on Road for all of June

Our Indy 11 will travel to Charleston then Miami FC over the next two week – the Charleston game is Sat night at 7 pm on ESPN+.  

Good Luck to our Carmel FC Team in State/President’s + Challenge Cup this weekend @ Grand Park –

U13 2009 Girls Gold Team – State Cup / 2009 U13 Boy Gold Team – President’s Cup

2011 U11 Girls Gold team, U17 2005 Girls Gold team, U15 2007 Boys Gold Team, U13 2009 Boys Blue Teams in Challenge Cup

Here’s the Schedule if you would like to go see them play Sat 6/4

U15 07 boys 10:30 am field 18

U 11 – 11 girls 12:30 pm field 2
U13 09 boys 1 pm field 6
U13 09 Girls 3:30 pm field 14
U17 2005 Girls 3:30 field 18

CARMEL FC 2022 Tryouts June 7 & 13

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

June 7, 2022 – Players 10u, 9u and 8u (Birth Years 2013 to 2016)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before evaluations begin.

Evaluations for all age groups: 6pm to 7:30pm

——————————————————————————————————————–

June 13, 2022- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2004 to 2012)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.

Tryouts for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012: 5:45pm to 7:15pm

Tryouts for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008: 7:30pm to 9pm.
——————————————————————————————————————–
Use this link to register for tryouts.   Visit : carmelfc.teamapp.com   Please email  info@cdccarmelfc.com. with any questions.

BIG GAMES ON TV

Fri, June 3

2:45 pm FS1                        Belgium vs Netherlands

10:30 pm Para+                 Portland Thorns vs Angel City NWSL

Sat, June 4

9 am Fox Sport 2 Armenia vs Ireland

12 noon Fubo TV                England vs Hungary NL

12 noon FS2 Finland vs Bosnia NL

2:45 pm FS2                        Italy vs Germany NL 

3 pm Para+ Chicago Red Stars vs Seattle Reign NWSL

7 pm ESPN+ Indy 11 @ Charleston

8 pm Para+ Racing Louisville vs NC Courage NWSL

830 para+ KC Current vs San Diego Wave NWSL

Sun, June 5 

12 noon ESPN2          Wales vs Ukraine (WCQ)

2:45 pm FS2 Czech Republic vs Spain NL

2:45 pm  FS+                        Sweden vs Norway NL

2:45 pm  Fubo TV         Portugal vs Switzerland NL 

5 pm FOX                    USA vs Uruguay

Mon, June 6

2:45 pm FS1                        Croatia vs France NL

Tues, June 7

2 pm Para+                         United Arab Emirates vs Australia WCQ

2:45 pm FS1                        Italy vs Hungary NL

2:45 pm Fubo TV                Germany vs England NL

Weds, June 8

2:45 pm FS1                          Belgium vs Poland NL

2:45 pm FuboTV                   Wales v Netherland NL

2$45 pm FS+ Ireland v Urkraine NL

7 pm ESPN+ Indy 11 @ Miami FC

Thurs, June 9

2:45 pm FS1                        Portugal vvs Czechs NL

2:45 pm Fubo TV Swiss vs Spain

10:30 pm Para+                 Canada vs Curacao

Fri, June 10

2:45 pm FS1                        Austria vs France NL

7 pm Grand Park Indy 11 Women vs Flint City

10 pm ESPN+/TUDN   USA vs Grenada 

Sat, June 11

2:45 pm FuboTV England vs Italy NL

2:45 pm FS1                        Ireland vs Scotland NL

2:45 pm FS2 Netherlands vs Poland NL

2:45 pm FS+ Hungary v Germany

3 pm ABC                             Charlotte vs NY Red Bulls

8 pm Para+ Racing Louisville vs Angel City NWSL

8:30 pm PAra+ KC Current vs NY/NJ Gothem FC NWSL

10 pm Para+                       Mexico vs Suriname

Sun, June 12

9 am FS1                              Northern Ireland vs Cyprus NL

12 pm FS1                            Norway vs Sweden NL

3 pm ABC                             Sporting KC vs New England

5 pm para+ San Diego Wave vs Seattle Reign NWSL

6 pm TUDN Nashville SC vs San Jose

7 pm PAra+ Houston Dash vs Portland Thorns NWSL

Tues, June 14

10 pm ESPN+?            USA @ El Salvador

Fri, June 17

7 pm Grand Park Indy 11 Women vs Racing Louisville

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumni Soccer  

Mid June – early August –  Games Wed/Sun  Age 18-30  Registration open thru June 16th. Call 317-846-1633 or Click Here

Make your own teams or we can add you to a team.  Cost is just $105 includes Jersey. 

Carmel Dads’ Club Soccer Camp Powered by Indy Eleven – June 13-16

9am-12pm (Rain day reschedule June 17)  Ages 6-13   Shelborne Soccer Fields – 3451 W. 126th St. Carmel, IN 46033 –  REGISTRATION IS LIVE!

USA

Uruguay had little problem handling Mexico. What should the USMNT expect from Cavani and Co.?  Tim Vickery ESPNFC

Roster wrinkles pay dividends for USMNT, Berhalter in pre-World Cup win over Morocco
US players relishing Uruguay test

Fire’s Slonina ‘cannot say no to Real’ – agent

US shows it can Score afterall – yahoo

USA vs Uruguay the ties
USMNT vs Morocco final score: Three-star Yanks get another show from Turner

USMNT player ratings from 3-0 friendly win over Morocco

Pulisic had a number of nice touches prior to his postgame toe-bomb

Has USMNT found their identity?
Pulisic calls out U.S. fans after beating Morocco

Pulisic is unhappy with USMNT fans. But price rather than passion is to blame

USMNT star Christian Pulisic calls out lack of American fans at World Cup tune-up vs. Morocco in Cincinnati

Im not Crying You Are – Pulisic Gifts Debut goal to Childhood Friend

SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Christian Pulisic – SBI Soccer

Haji Wright great DEbut

Pulisic was Skillful, Selfless and Blunt in leading US to impressive win – SBI

Haji Wright and Pulisic were the top 2 scorers for the USMN Youth Teams

WORLD 

Champions League Most Watch UCL Final in US History
More than just a game: World Cup qualifier is ‘like a moment of hope’ for Ukraine

Ukraine soccer team fulfilling its duty in World Cup mission

Ukraine beats Scotland 3-1 in World Cup qualifying playoff

Bale at a crossroads: Take Wales to World Cup or retire?
  4hMark Ogden

Martino: Mexico ‘not ready’ for World Cup  Cesar Hernandez

Why Argentina and Brazil look like title contenders for World Cup in Qatar 1dTim Vickery
Messi sets up two goals as Argentina beats Italy in Cup of Champions 
video

Dutch shock Belgium – 4 – 0


Spain pegged back by late Portugal equaliser

Two-goal Neymar closes on Pele record in big Brazil win

Indy 11

W LEAGUE RECAP | IND 1:0 MID

PREVIEW | CHSVIND

ELEVEN TRIO EARNS NATIONAL TEAM CALLS

Uruguay had little problem handling Mexico. What should the USMNT expect from Edinson Cavani & Co.?

Tim VickerySouth America correspondent

By the time Diego Alonso’s Uruguay squad arrived in Glendale, Arizona, he had come to some important conclusions about the balance of his side. After beating Mexico 3-0 at State Farm Stadium on Thursday, La Celeste can now move forward with confidence to Sunday’s meeting with the United States in Kansas City, Kansas.

In two of the past three World Cups — statistically, at least — Uruguay have been South America’s best team, remarkable given it’s a nation with a population of just 3.5 million. Being so small inevitably limits their options; if they are to get the best out of their resources, they must achieve the right collective balance. And over time, a hardened group of wonderful veterans have helped haul Uruguay back to football’s top table after a spell between 1994 and 2006 in which they failed to qualify for three out of four World Cups and were eliminated in the group phase the one time they did qualify. In 2010, they finished fifth in South America’s qualifiers and had to go through the playoff to make it to South Africa — where they announced their return to the big time by finishing fourth. Many of the players responsible for that remarkable run are still involved, but how should they be handled? Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani have formed a magnificent front pair, but can they both still operate together? And is 4-4-2 still the team’s best formation?Toward the end of his marathon reign, manager Oscar Washington Tabarez appeared to have decided that it was time to move on. In his last nine World Cup qualifiers, only once did the team play in a 4-4-2 formation. Suarez and Cavani took the field together away to Brazil, where Uruguay were lucky to come away with a 4-1 defeat. In came Alonso — fresh off a futile tenure as Inter Miami‘s first-ever coach — and turned the clock back. Uruguay had to win and their remaining fixtures were relatively straightforward, so he went back to a 4-4-2 set-up, pairing Suarez either with Cavani or with the emerging star, Benfica’s Darwin Nunez.Three consecutive wins took the team over the line and, interestingly, with a place in Qatar secure, Alonso tried something different in the final round, away to Chile. He started with Cavani on his own up front, ahead of a five-man midfield. It looked closer to the team that he’d use in the World Cup — an impression confirmed by his selection against El Tri. Suarez is unavailable this time. but Alonso can call upon Nunez, plus the strength of Maxi Gomez.There are, though, clear advantages of playing a single central striker. It allows the team to field three in the centre of midfield, which these days is playing to a new strength. Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde has emerged as probably the most important member of the side, and he works well with Tottenham Hotspur’s Rodrigo Bentancur. Even in the absence of Bentancur due to injury, Uruguay can play Lucas Torreira holding in front of the defence and Matias Vecino alongside Valverde in a mixed attacking/defensive role. It is a formation that makes the current Uruguay side more fluent in possession, and harder to play through.Having one striker also frees the flanks. In Thursday’s match, Uruguay effectively won the game over Mexico in the first few minutes of the second half, when a 1-0 lead was quickly turned into a 3-0 rout by two Cavani goals. The quick strikes both came from breaks down the right, where Facundo Pellistri is a gamble that has come off for Alonso. The Manchester United attacking midfielder is on loan at Alaves, where he’s not seen a great deal of action. Alonso took a chance on him early this year and has been rewarded — especially against Mexico, where his running with the ball caused untold problems. He set up the second goal, while the final strike was made by a forward burst from substitute right-back Damian Suarez.It’s true that all of Uruguay’s opponents will not be as obliging as Mexico, whose formation seemed ill-equipped for the occasion. With a back three against one striker, they left themselves light in central midfield. The USMNT on Sunday can be expected to provide a stiffer test, which is exactly what Uruguay need. They have one final game in these June FIFA dates, a chance for their fans to see them in Montevideo on June 11, but opponents Jamaica have pulled out, leaving Uruguay scrambling for a replacement.There is a chance, then, that the rescheduled opponent could produce a festive occasion more than a serious international, which adds to the importance of the match against the USMNT.Centre-back Diego Godin will presumably play in Kansas City. The team captain was on the bench against Mexico, coming on for the last few minutes. It will be a surprise if he’s left out against the USMNT, but some will be surprised if he keeps his place in Qatar. Godin is at the veteran stage of his career, and a move back to South America has not gone especially well. He has struggled to get a regular game with Brazilian champions Atletico Mineiro and could soon be on his way to Velez Sarsfield in Argentina.

Will Alonso phase him out? At the World Cup, he could certainly pair Atletico Madrid‘s Jose Maria Gimenez with Ronald Araujo of Barcelona. Araujo has been used at right back, but this seems like a waste. He went off injured in the first half against Mexico — and the advantages of a genuine right back were made clear when Suarez made the forward run that set up the third goal.

Sunday’s game, then, may well be an important one in the long career of Godin. He has been a rock all the way through Uruguay’s reemergence. He needs a sound display against the USMNT to show that he can end his international career on a high in Qatar.

US PLAYER RATINGS

The United States men’s national team began its summer with a 3-0 win over fellow World Cup entrant Morocco on Wednesday in Cincinnati.There was a lot to like about the USMNT’s day, even including some of the big chances they allowed due to the fact that goalkeeper Matt Turner showed the goods with a number of fine saves.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from USMNT vs Morocco ]

Christian Pulisic and Timothy Weah showed great technique to build a couple of highlight-reel goals in the first half, while Europe-based Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach), and Haji Wright (Antalyaspor) all earned their first caps.

Of course it wasn’t all all-stars for the Stars and Stripes, as the midfield had its struggles and the center forward question remains to be answered ahead of Qatar 2022.

Here are our player ratings for the USMNT players in their win over Morocco, with the base line being 6 as an average performance.

Latest USMNT news

Christian Pulisic wishes more USMNT fans attended friendly vs Morocco USMNT vs Morocco final score: Three-star Yanks get another show from Turner Pulisic, Weah turn on class as USMNT takes 2-0 lead vs Morocco (video)

USMNT player ratings vs Morocco out of 10

Matt Turner: 9 — Again, the only question about Turner is whether he’s good enough with the ball at his feet. The incoming Arsenal goalkeeper was terrific in making several diving saves and others where he was just well-positioned to make a decent save look easy.

Antonee Robinson (Off HT): 6 — Not one of his better days, though hardly dismal; There are no doubts going forward, but teams like Morocco will test how honest he can be against better attacks.

Walker Zimmerman (Off HT): 7.5 — Picture-perfect can-opener of a pass to get Pulisic behind the Moroccan defense for the opening goal.

Aaron Long: 6.5 — Steady enough. One big shot block. A couple dicey moments but no glaring gaffes.

Reggie Cannon: 7 — Good going forward, drawing a couple of fouls and getting an assist. Some questionable moments at the back.

Tyler Adams (On 66′): 6 — Not a banner day, by any means, including one ill-advised pass that put Matt Turner under pressure.

Yunus Musah: 6 — Just okay. He’s a ball mover who moved the ball, but more than a couple of unnecessary fouls.

Brendan Aaronson (Off 72′): 7.5 — Got his goal through typical relentless running to be in the right position, and generally delivered the type of performance Gregg Berhalter expects from him.

Christian Pulisic (Off 66′): 8.5 — Electric from the opening whistle, Pulisic showed class with the ball at his feet for his assist. He also delivered when the ball was in his hands, deferring to debutant Haji Wright after winning a second-half penalty.

Timothy Weah: 8 — Man is he good when he’s going, and he was going on Wednesday.

Jesus Ferreira (Off HT): 6 — One very decent chance was also one you’d want to see finished… but Yacine Bounou is a very good goalkeeper.

Substitutes

Joe Scally (On HT): 6.5 — A promising day on the left, even if the referee awarded a weak penalty against the Gladbach man.

Haji Wright (On HT): 7 — Scored his penalty and made some solid runs. His imposing nature is unmissable. If he’s going to finally live up to the hype he acquired at a young age, that’s big big big for the U.S.

Cameron Carter-Vickers (On HT): 6 — Couple of good interceptions, caught out by a well-drifted cross.

Malik Tillman (On 66′): 6 — Didn’t have much to do. Trouble the keeper once.

Luca De La Torre (On 66′): 6.5 — Typically-steady.

Weston McKennie (On 72′): N/A — Good to see him back

USMNT analysis

Analysis: Turner, Pulisic, & Aaronson fuel USMNT to 3-0 win over Morocco

The United States national team enjoyed a strong, but still flawed performance in a 3-0 win over Morocco. The team needed solid goalkeeping and emergency defending at times but in the end, had the superb individual quality to prevail. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta breaks the game down. 

BY BRIAN SCIARETTA  JUNE 01, 2022  11:55 PM

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THE UNITED STATES national team opened its June run of games with a 3-0 victory over Morocco. Gregg Berhalter’s team completely deserved the victory, and it was an entertaining game, but not revealed in the score is that there is still plenty of work to do ahead of the World Cup in November.Berhalter’s starting XI was completely expected. Matt Turner was in goal, Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman started in central defence while Reggie Cannon and Antonee Robinson were on the outside. In the midfield was Tyler Adams, Yunus Musah, and Brenden Aaronson – who Gregg Berhalter revealed would start in the middle – where he typically does with his club. Up top was Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah on the wings with Jesus Ferreira at center forward.The U.S. team conceded possession but both teams had chances up to the 26th minute when the U.S. team took the lead. Walker Zimmerman hit a beautiful long ball into the final third for Christian Pulisic. The Chelsea winger controlled the ball with fantastic first touch and laid it off to Brenden Aaronson for the easy finish.”I take a touch; I look up to see further down the field what are my options. I see [Pulisic] look at me and change pace and immediately I put my head down to strike it over the top,” Zimmerman said. “It’s one of those things that you’ve got to constantly work on your chemistry and I think we have a good feel for each other in that regard.””The ability of players to control the ball at high speed and change direction at high speed with the ball is what really separates players at the next level, and Cristian definitely has that,” Berhalter added on Pulisic’s touch to create he first goal.Then in the 32nd minute, Tim Weah doubled the U.S. lead with a shot from distance that probably should have been saved by Morocco’s goalkeeper Yassine Bounou who plays at Sevilla. Still, it was a great shot from Weah who hit it with pace and saw it knuckle to find its way into the back of the net.

The U.S. team continued to push on and nearly had a third just before the half when Jesus Ferreira had his shot from close range saved by Bounou after the Dallas attacker got behind Morocco’s backline.In the second half, the U.S. team made a lot of predetermined substitutions. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Joe Scally, and Haji Wright made way for Zimmerman, Robinson, and Ferreira.The U.S. team found its third goal in the 64th when Christian Pulisic was fouled in the box. Pulisic gave the ball to Haji Wright, his former Bradenton teammate with the U.S. U-17 team, and Wright converted with a low shot.Morocco had its best chance in the 74th minute when Joe Scally was called for a penalty – harshly, but there was no VAR. Standard Liege forward Selim Amallah took the penalty for Morocco, but his shot hit the crossbar. The subsequent loose ball in the box was eventually cleared.The remainder of the game was relatively uneventful and the U.S. team was able to see out its 3-0 win.Here are a few thoughts on the game.

 TURNER HELPED FLATTER THE USMNT

 

Matt Turner was very good in this game. He made several point-blank saves to keep Morocco off the board. Good goalkeeping is excellent, but these are not the kind of opportunities that can be given up too often. At the World Cup, teams will bury these chances more times than not.As for Turner, he is only strengthening his grip on the starting goalkeeping position. This was the type of game that gives confidence in the team around him.

AARONSON SHARP IN THE MIDDLE

 

There has been some debate over where Brenden Aaronson should play. He starts centrally for his club but in a way that might not translate to the national team, where he typically plays on the wing. The U.S. team has depth on the wings and there is a need in the midfield with Gio Reyna hurt and Weston McKennie still not at 100%.Now was another great chance to give Aaronson a look in a central attacking midfield role. Berhalter announced this the day before.The result is that it worked. Aaronson scored the opening goal when he made the lethal run into the box to hammer home Pulisic’s feed.
On top of that, Aaronson looked sharp in many areas that helped the team. He won a huge percentage of his duels (9/13 of his ground duels), his dribbles helped put Morocco on his heels (he was 3/3), and his passing was an outstanding 28/31. His shot in the 64th forced a save that eventually resulted in the penalty getting awarded.

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Aaronson’s strong play centrally puts him in a good position to continue to stay there. It remains to be seen what happens when McKennie is able to start. That is where one of the big questions is right now. The Adams, Musah, and McKennie trio that was preferred in qualifying could open a competition between Musah and Aaronson as to who starts. Aaronson very well might prevail.

 NEW FACES WERE MIXED

 Against Morocco, Gregg Berhalter awarded first caps to Joe Scally, Malik Tillman, and Haji Wright. Cameron Carter-Vickers had been capped before, but this was his first appearance in three years.As you would have expected, it was a bit of a mixed bag.

Joe Scally conceded a harsh penalty that probably would have been overturned on VAR but it was still a penalty. Other than that, he was aggressive getting forward – which is good to see.

Malik Tillman kept the pressure on Morocco, which was tiring in the second half. He is still a bit raw and his duel winning wasn’t great, but he nearly scored and forced a tricky save in the 74th.

Haji Wright scored the third goal from a penalty, which was fortunate. In games that matter, those kicks will likely be taken by Pulisic. But aside from that, he was dangerous. His run behind the defense helped start the attacked that ended up in that penalty.

Cameron Carter-Vickers was pretty good in this game playing the second half. His passing was decent although he was beaten to conceded a point blank header in the 53rd, which Turner saved.

 TOO MUCH SPACE CONCEDED

 The U.S. team obviously has the quality to make big plays in the attack. Whether or not the team finds success at the World Cup will come down to the backline and defensive midfield positions. The team cannot concede that much space and the defense needs to avoid being pinned back so much.A lot of this is on the fullbacks which often were caught up-field or were isolated. This left a lot of work for the centerbacks, who made some big plays but also struggled at times. Aaron Long made a great emergency-defending play to block a point-blank shot, but also conceded a yellow card when he was beat.But there was often way too much space, and this was on the team’s defensive shape as a whole.”In the first half, Hakimi had too much time on the ball and Antonee was a little bit late releasing, I think at times the back line was too deep, gave the opponent too much space and in the physical battles, I think at times we got dominated on our back line,” Berhalter said. “For us it’s about team defending. Getting pressure on the ball makes it a lot easier for the center backs.”

NO. 9 REMAINS OPEN

 

While Haji Wright scored a penalty after Pulisic drew the foul, neither he nor Ferreira were able to convert dangerous chances. Still, both players had their moments where they stretched the defense to open up the game. Wright did that on the play that led to the penalty, and Ferreira was very active and aggressive in his pressing – which helped.The point being is that both players were at least bringing something else to the table if they’re not going to score chances from the run of play. Still, there needs to be more production from whoever plays this position.Neither player was poor, however, and Berhalter probably will continue to stick with these two because there still should be optimism that goals will come. Jordan Pefok is an interesting case after a great season in Switzerland but there is the question as to whether he can also help the team in other ways. 

PULISIC QUESTIONS FAN SUPPORT

The TQL Stadium wasn’t at a capacity in Cincinnati but it was also very red. While that would give the impression that the U.S. enjoyed a home-crowd advantage, it did not. Many of the red-wearing fans in the crowd were there for Morocco, who sung their national anthem loudly before kickoff.“I’m not super happy with the amount of Americans here, however that works out, if I’m being completely honest,” Pulisic said. “But thanks for the ones who did come and the support is always great from them. It’s nice to be back in America and playing again.”Pulisic should speak his mind but the comment makes him seem like he’s late to a problem that has been ongoing for generations. When the U.S. team plays Mexico at a big venue (as opposed to small ones in Ohio), the crowd is 80% for Mexico. El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil, Italy, Ireland, England, Ecuador, Peru, Jamaica, France, and many other national teams enjoy strong support in the United States.Pulisic was there when the U.S. team lost a crucial 2017 World Cup qualifier to Costa Rica and the Ticos had a huge amount of support.

There are a bunch of factors to this. Soccer in this country is still a heritage support. Second and third generation immigrants still use the sport to connect to the identity of their family’s heritage. The process converting these fans to embrace the U.S. team over the teams of their ancestors is a long, long process. It’s a generational issue and while progress has been made since the 1990’s when the U.S. team would be outnumbered in qualifiers at RFK to Jamaica and Guatemala, it’s a long process.What helps is winning and making the U.S. team fun to follow. The team has improved in recent years, but it still is in a position where it missed the last World Cup. That’s a hole it is still digging out of, in terms of image.But complaining about it is a complete lost cause and isn’t a good understanding of the issues.Some have also mentioned ticket prices. They’re expensive, but they’re expensive for Morocco fans too. The U.S. team doesn’t play a lot of home games and they’re an expensive operation. Unlike a club team that can burry fixed costs over the course many games throughout a season, a national team cannot.Sure, fans of the U.S. team would always like to see stadiums full of its own supporters whenever there is a home game. But we are still a ways from that.

PLAYER RATINGS

STARTING XI

Matt Turner: Excellent game from the Revolution goalkeeper who will soon join Arsenal. He made seven saves, including several a point-blank range, to help give the U.S. team a flattering cleansheet. Rating: 8.0

Reggie Cannon: The Boavista right back was beaten off the dribble to allow a 12th minute chance and was off sometimes with his spacing. But made some good clearances in the second half an fed Weah for his goal. Rating: 6.0

Walker Zimmerman: The mainstay central defender had a good first half before leaving as part of a preplanned sub. Like Cannon, he struggled to defend an attack in the 12th minute but was fine aside from that. His pass to Pulisic on the opening goal was instrumental to giving the U.S. team an opening lead. Rating: 6.5

Aaron Long: Long was beaten in the 28th minute and picked up a yellow card. He also made some nice defensive plays in emergency defensive situations, most notable in the 12th minute. His mobility helped and he’s beyond his injury. Rating: 6.0

Antonee Robinson: It was a tough first half for Robinson who misplayed balls inside of the first 10 minutes and then was caught out of position defensively in the 12th minute. Eventually he made way for Joe Scally for the second half. Rating: 5.0

Tyler Adams: Was the defensive cover behind Aaronson and Musah. In 66 minutes he won his duels, tackles, and was solid in his passing. Any defensive miscues were minor. Rating: 7.0

Yunus Musah: A relatively quiet performance from Musah who started off well helping to set up Ferreira for a 3rd minute shot. He helped in possession but wasn’t part of anything too dangerous either. Rating: 6.0

Brenden Aaronson: An outstanding performance from the new Leeds United man who got the team on the board early. The finish was easy but the run and the speed he showed starting from the halfway line was impressive. His shot also was a big part of the penalty for the third goal. He looked confident in the middle of the field with his pressing and dribbling as well. Rating: 8.0

Christian Pulisic: A terrific performance full of skill. The touch on the first goal was remarkable and he was always drawing defenders who respected his talent. He also showed leadership after drawing the penalty and let Wright take it so that he could build up confidence. Rating: 8.5

Tim Weah: The Lille winger continued the strong form he showed at the end of the last season with a nice shot from distance. In addition he also forced two other tough saves to keep Morocco on its heels. Rating: 7.5

Jesus Ferreira: Should have done better with his chance just before halftime with a shot strikers need to finish. But he was a “pressing machine” as Berhalter put it and that helped wear Morocco down in the first half. Rating: 6.0

THE SUBSTITUTES

Haji Wright: Converted his penalty but, like Ferreira, also had chances he could have done more with. He did help boost the U.S. team’s attack with his runs and his physical strength wore down Morocco’s defense. Rating: 6.5

Joe Scally: Was aggressive getting forward and showed promise. He conceded a very questionable penalty but was bailed out by the crossbar. Rating: 5.5

Cameron Carter-Vickers: He had one tough moment early in the second half when he was beaten in an aerial duel and his man had a point-blank header which was saved. Other than that, he did his job. Rating: 5.5Luca de la Torre: Despite having a tough end to his club season, the San Diego native was sharp off the bench in a limited role as Morocco began to tire. Raing: 6.0

Malik Tillman: Nearly scored on a good shot in the 74th and helped keep the U.S. team in control. Rating: 6.0

Weston McKennie: The Juventus man continues his recovery from suffering a broken metatarsal in February. He helped the team see out the game in a quiet performance. Rating: 5.5

National Writer: Charles Boehm

USMNT reality: World Cup tryouts underway as final roster decisions loom

By Charles Boehm @cboeh    Friday, Jun 3, 2022, 11:28 AM

Jordan Morris wasn’t in the mix to make the US men’s national team’s World Cup roster eight years ago. Yet through a quirk of fate, he got a glimpse of the agony when ex-manager Jurgen Klinsmann made his final cuts for the 2014 squad that would go to Brazil.

In what proved one of the more momentous inflection points in his life so far, Morris was a student-athlete at Stanford University, where the USMNT held their pre-World Cup camp, and was invited to join in a few workouts after impressing in a scrimmage against the national team. On Thursday, May 22, he was in the room when Klinsmann surprised everyone by announcing his roster selections ahead of schedule, famously dropping program legend Landon Donovan.

“I was training with the team that day actually, when all the cuts were happening,” Morris told MLSsoccer.com at the USMNT’s hotel in Cincinnati on Tuesday, recalling the raw emotions of that hot day in Northern California. “I was in the locker room and I was just thinking, ‘I shouldn’t be here for this. This wasn’t my place to be part of this.’

“Everyone wants to make the team and be part of the team, and when those cuts happened there were people that were sad and frustrated,” he added. “As a college kid that hadn’t really been part of the program, it was kind of wild for me to be in that environment.”

Stick to the basics

The Seattle Sounders star and most of his current US teammates are bearing down on a comparable moment in the coming months. This month’s slate of two friendlies (vs. Morocco, Uruguay) and two Concacaf Nations League matches (vs. Grenada, El Salvador) offers their longest stint together this year. A briefer gathering will occur around two to-be-announced friendlies in Europe during the September international window.

Then at some point, probably in early November, Gregg Berhalter and his staff will finalize which 23 or 26 (depending on FIFA’s final decision regarding roster sizes) players will board the plane to Qatar ahead of the Yanks’ Group B opener on Nov. 21. At the other end of the spectrum, at least a handful of those who’ve contributed to qualification, and probably some of those taking part in this month’s camp, will be walloped with one of the most painful disappointments of their careers.

As the old joke goes: no pressure!

“I don’t try to see it as myself trying to force my way into anything. I just try to be myself, try to work hard for the team and good things will come,” said Atlanta United product George Bello, who is competing for the backup left back slot behind Jedi Robinson. “No World Cup roster spot is given. So everyone has to show what they can do and keep working hard and everything will decide itself.

“I mean, there’s pressure in all sports in any given moment, but obviously there’s pressure with this as well. But you’ve got to use that pressure in a good way and not let it get to you or be like, ‘Oh, I have to do this, do this.’ I just try to clear my mind and just know that I’m here for a reason.”

Amid such high stakes, between now and then the balance between individual ambition and service to the program becomes more crucial than ever.

“Yeah, it’s an interesting one, because you want to continue doing what you’ve done to qualify, what you’ve done to be on the roster each and every camp,” said Morris’ club and country teammate Cristian Roldan, who has been a squad regular though a rare starter. “And sometimes people can try to overplay and feel like they’re doing too much.

“When there’s a little bit of pressure here with making a World Cup squad, you’ve just got to go back to the basics and do what you’ve been doing to get called up. For me, that’s being a great team player, being a really good practice player, itching for some time and showing that I’m capable of playing here. So that’s my goal for this camp, and as a team, hopefully we can get better.”

Friendly rivals

Berhalter spoke last month of his assessment that “the culture needed fixing” when he took over the program in late 2018. He and his staff – with the help of a “leadership council” of several prominent players – have endeavored to unify the group, to make it “a brotherhood” even with a high churn rate across USMNT camps due to injuries and other factors.

After Wednesday night’s 3-0 friendly win over Morocco, he pointed to the warm reception for fresh dual-national recruit Malik Tillman, even though the Bayern Munich attacker represents yet another talented competitor for a spot in Qatar.

“Sometimes when a new player comes into the group, it’s very difficult for them to break in. But what I hear time and time again, when new players come into our environment, is that they’re welcomed and they feel really comfortable, and they’re in a good position to perform. And that’s the most important thing,” said the coach.

“And I’m proud of that, because I know now is a competitive time, right? People are jockeying for positions on the World Cup team, potentially, but you don’t see it from these guys. You see they work extremely hard, and they’re extremely close together as a group, which is fun.”

Like Matt Turner, who is days away from departing the New England Revolution to join Arsenal, several USMNTers may be on the move in the summer window. While Berhalter encourages the pursuit of the highest possible level of club competition, losing out on regular playing time could be disastrous for World Cup hopes.

In some areas of the depth chart, like the stacked right back position, even the best-case individual scenario might not be enough to make the cut. If ever a situation called for the proverbial “mentality monsters,” it’s this one.

“It’s no secret that we have so many talented right backs and the way I look at it is, DeAndre Yedlin and I are competing, Joe Scally and I are competing, Sergino [Dest] and I are competing, Shaq Moore and I are competing, and that just makes me excited,” said FC Dallas product Reggie Cannon, who started against Morocco on Tuesday.

“Because that gives me an opportunity to work on the things I need to work on and push me to be a better player while I push them to be a better player. Like I’ve said many times, competition breeds greatness. And the only way you’re going to make a deep run in a World Cup is if you have players that are constantly challenging the players in front of them because again, that makes you have consistency.”

Therein lies the paradox at the heart of most top national teams: The ferocious dogfight for minutes and spots coexists with respect, camaraderie and shared purpose. It represents the apex of the high-wire act that these players have pulled off to advance this far in their careers.

“I don’t have any hostility towards any of those guys. I actually welcome it, because it makes me a better player. It gives me more pressure. And it makes me more happy,” said Cannon. “Because this is the talent that the US has now. And I’ve always looked at it as a positive thing for my game and for the other guys’ games. So I’m really excited for what’s to come, but that competition is going to make the squad very great.”

USMNT win vs. Morocco provided World Cup-level test with “vulnerable” moments

By Charles Boehm @cboehm

Thursday, Jun 2, 2022, 12:16 AM

Fate, and the calendar, have given the US men’s national team a fleeting six matches to prepare themselves for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar over the next six months.

The first of those took place in sultry Cincinnati Wednesday night, and Gregg Berhalter’s group walks away from their 3-0 friendly win over Morocco with a raft of encouraging data points – as well as a few blemishes that the coach hinted will draw ample scrutiny in light of the daunting adversaries and tight margins awaiting them at the world’s most beloved sporting event.

“We talked before the game about establishing a baseline for this group about how we can perform against World Cup opponents. And I felt like the group went out and showed exactly how good we can be, but also at times were vulnerable,” said Berhalter after a victory paced by a swaggering display from captain Christian Pulisic. “We’re very happy with the result. We still know that we need to keep improving, and that’s why this game was so good for us.”

This was the first step in an unconventional and unavoidably imperfect buildup to Qatar. Two of their six opponents are outside their choosing, thanks to the Concacaf Nations League. And the COVID-19 pandemic and the compression it imposed on the World Cup qualifying process have prevented the USMNT from testing themselves against elite global opposition for most of the past two years.

The Yanks passed this first test.

“It was a good opponent, very, very dangerous opponent. And I think we controlled the match pretty well, and were able to create a number of chances against a good defensive opponent,” said Berhalter.

“These guys are playing regularly in Europe and playing for big teams and big clubs,” he added of the North Africans, who cruised through their CAF qualifying campaign undefeated. “Really happy that we got to play against them.”

The USMNT flashed a tactical wrinkle as their usual 4-3-3 formation morphed into a 3-2-2-3 in the buildup. Left back Jedi Robinson roamed forward while Reggie Cannon tucked centrally. Brenden Aaronson and Pulisic were freed to probe between the lines, while spearhead Jesus Ferreira drifted and combined in his usual elusive fashion.

The result: Flowing stretches of attacking possession as well as threats from direct play, like Walker Zimmerman‘s ball over the top that released Pulisic and led to the opening goal.

“Based on what we saw Morocco do, based on how we wanted to control the game, we think that it’s a very difficult formation to play against, to build pressure against,” explained Berhalter of the 3-2-2-3.

“If [opponents] want to really commit to building pressure, you have to bring numbers forward. And once you bring numbers forward there are spaces that open up on the side of the field, and between the lines. So we wanted to use Christian and Brenden in those positions to really hurt the opponent, and then still have three guys high on the backline that could be running behind them and keeping their five pinned back.”

If the scoreline threatens to send fans’ expectations soaring, they merely need to review the Yanks’ defensive jitters – and the ensuing eight saves required from goalkeeper Matt Turner – to gain some grounding.

Gent striker Tarik Tissoudali bedeviled Aaron Long and Cameron Carter-Vickers with his physicality and movement. The Atlas Lions’ talented wingbacks, Paris Saint-Germain regular Achraf Hakimi and Watford’s Adam Masina, repeatedly sparked danger down the flanks, each playing a game-high four key passes. Young substitute Joe Scally was baited into conceding an admittedly quite questionable late penalty-kick decision that Selim Amallah wastefully clanged off the woodwork.

“Sometimes the center backs, [Morocco] got a good cross in the second half, we were out of position,” noted Berhalter. “For me, it was about how quickly we could release to their wingback in the first half; Hakimi had too much time on the ball, and he was a little bit late releasing. I think at times our backline was too deep, gave the opponent too much space. And in the physical battles, I think at times we got dominated on our backline.

“It was a good opponent, good forward [Tissoudali], the guy’s scored a ton of goals this year, and he got really physical. But for us, it’s about team defending. Getting pressure on the ball makes it a lot easier for the center backs.”

While the degree to which Turner was exposed hinted at Achilles heels in the US setup, the extended possession that precipitated their second goal, Tim Weah’s thumping strike from distance, was more encouraging.

“I think it’s about moments. And we have to be really careful and really deliberate to keep the ball when we can, and really hurt the opponent in certain moments with the ball,” said Berhalter. “I mean, how long do we have the ball before we scored the second goal? For a while, yeah. And that’s perfect. I mean, just keep doing that. Keep wearing them down, wait for an opening and then play behind.

“You need to control the tempo of these games, because there’s going to be very little separating the teams at the World Cup, and it’s about the teams that can control the tempo and then be decisive in the key moments.”

All in all, it was a decent beginning to the end of the road to Qatar. Further progress will be demanded in Sunday’s meeting with Uruguay in Kansas City (5 pm ET | FOX, Univision, TUDN).

Indy Eleven Remains Undefeated with Victory at Grand Park

WESTFIELD, Ind. (Friday, June 3, 2022) –

 After nearly a month on the road, vocal chants from the Brickyard Battalion got the Indy Eleven USL W League squad and the sellout crowd of 1,023 crowd back into the homecoming spirit, as the Girls in Blue captured a 1-0 victory over Midwest United FC at the Grand Park Events Center. Forward Kristina Lynch’s left footed shot from 20 yards near the end of the first half was enough to keep Indy atop the Great Lakes Division and remain the division’s only undefeated side, pushing its record to 4W-0L-1D (13 pts.) on the campaign.The first half was an intense 45 minutes filled with chances for both sides and energetic pressure and aggression across the pitch. Many scoring opportunities came on the counterattack, and they started early as in the fourth minute of the game Indy midfielder Jenna Chatterton had the first big chance of the match, but her shot from 12 yards straight out from goal was just wide of the left post. Midwest United FC responded seven minutes later on a 3-v-2 break, but Avery Lockwood’s shot was blocked and the rebound effort was just missed. In the 33rd minute, Chatterton’s up-tempo speed found Maddy Williams down on the left side, who cut back to get inside the area and unleash a near post blast that stuck in the gloves of Midwest United goalkeeper Lauren Kozal at her near post.Just when it looked as if the first half would go scoreless, Lynch had other plans. In the 41st minute, the Indy attacked space in the middle of the field before splitting two Midwest United defenders and finding an opening at the arc, where she powered a shot that left Kozal diving at air, putting Indy up 1-nil heading into halftime.“Everybody was just pressing really well, we pushed up the field and everyone was marked up and the ball just kind of bounced to where I happened to be and took a few touches,” Lynch said. “The gap opened up, tried to hit it with the left foot, and it went in.”The second half saw both sides using their full allotment of five subs, indicative of the fresh legs needed to get through the more physical final 45 minutes that saw the flow of the game become a bit choppier. One of those subs, Indy attacker Milica Bulatovic, nearly got on the board in the 55th minute when she lashed Katie Soderstrom’s laid off ball into the heart of the area, only to see Kozal leap across her line to make the save.Another bench performer, Heather MacNab, nearly scored with her first touch in the 63th minute, only to see Kozal go low to make another fine save. Deep into four minutes of stoppage time, Rachel McCarthy had an opportunity to add Indy’s long-awaited insurance goal off a 2-v-2 break, but her miss just wide right of frame mattered not, as the chance marked the final action of the hard-fought victory for the Girls in Blue.“The game is supposed to be a battle and you should know what you’re up against,” Eleven W League Head Coach Paul Dolinsky said. “We still tried to play and there were some very good spells where the ball was moving pretty well. And in a day where we have one and the other team has zero, then we don’t try to find too many issues.”Indy Eleven will continue its June homestand in Westfield next Friday, June 10, when it hosts Flint City AFC at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for that contest are available at indyeleven.com/wleague-tickets for only $8. To learn more about the newest edition of Indiana’s Team representing the women’s game, visit indyeleven.com/wleague.

2022 USL W League Regular Season – Matchday 5
Indy Eleven  1 : 0  Midwest United FC
Friday, June 3, 2022 – 7:00 p.m.
Grand Park Events Center – Westfield, Ind.

Scoring Summary:
IND – Kristina Lynch (unassisted) 41’

Disciplinary Summary:
MID – Paige Eli (yellow card) 87’

Indy Eleven lineup: 1-Mackenzie Wood (GK), 4-Kristina Lynch (8-Heather MacNab 62’), 5-Grace Bahr, 6-Julia Leonard, 7-Becky Dean (10-Milica Bulatovic 45’), 9-Katie Soderstrom (24-Rachel McCarthy 62’), 12-Maddy Williams (19-Selena Barnett 80’), 13-Jenna Chatterton, 22-Greta Kraszula, 23-Robyn McCarthy (17-Emily McCalligett 70’), 26-Ella Rogers

IND substitutes: 0-Nona Reason,

Midwest United FC lineup: 1- Lauren Kozal (GK), 2-Elle Otto (18-Hannah Crum 77’), 3- Matea Diekema, 5-Paige Eli, 7-Maya Dean (4-Heidi Thomasma 60’), 9-Macey Wierenga (14-Olivia Brunink 60’), 10-Avery Lockwood, 12-Anna Bennett (19-Taryn DeShane 81’), 13-Martha Corby, 15-Olivia Albert, 17-Jennifer Blitchok (16-Regan Dalton 77’) 

MID substitutes: 0-Isabelle Okoroafo, 6-Bria Schrotenboer

Pinho’s Fifth Goal of Season Not Enough to Continue Home Winning Streak

INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, May 28, 2022) – Indy Eleven saw its four-game home winning streak snapped this afternoon at IUPUI Carroll Stadium after falling 1-2 to a surging New Mexico United side in the teams’ first-ever meeting. Stefano Pinho’s fifth goal of the season with 10 minutes remaining sparked a comeback bid to life, but Justin Portillo’s first half golazo and an own goal early in the second half proved too much to overcome for Indy Eleven (5W-4L-2D, 16 pts.). While the early stages of the match saw both sides create pressure in their respective attacking thirds, Indy Eleven midfielder Jonas Fjeldberg’s header off a second minute corner marked the only shot in the opening 20 minutes. Fjeldberg saw his day cut short in the 20th minute dur to an apparent hamstring injury and was replaced by midfielder Nicky Law, who just a minute later set up Indy’s best look of the half on a cross that Pinho headed off the crossbar.It took New Mexico 37 minutes to get its first shot off, and a minute later its first attempt on frame changed the scoreboard against the run of play. Portillo ran onto Chris Wehan’s laid off ball at the top corner of the area, where he struck a first-time blast that curled off the underside of the crossbar, giving Eleven goalkeeper Tim Trilk no chance and putting the visitors in the lead. Two chances in quick succession by Pinho and Eleven midfielder Noah Powder in first half stoppage time were thwarted, sending Indy trailing into the locker room for just the second time in six home contests in 2022.Trilk, who was making his first league start for Indy between the posts, came up big early in the second half, diving to his right to parry away a shot by Sergio Rivas. The 57th minute saw nervy moments for United with Indy flooding the area with numbers, the chance ending with Justin Ingram’s shot from the edge of the 18 headed away by a defender inside the six with United netminder Alex Tambakis scrambling.An Indy back-pass gone wrong resulted in New Mexico’s second in the 63rd minute. Defender Mechack Jerome failed to make contact on Alex McQueen’s ball played back towards goal, and with Trilk away from his line the ball frustratingly rolled inside the left post to gift United a 2-0 advantage. Indy forward Manuel Arteaga nearly clawed one back in the 69th minute with a near-angle shot that forced Tambakis into a near post save.After a couple of close calls in the first half, Pinho made his first chance of note in the second pay off with Indy’s opener in the 80th minute. Newcomer Solomon Asante, who entered just past the hour mark, showed off his MVP pedigree with a low, driven cross into the six, where Pinho beat his mark and dove in to redirect past Tambakis, setting up a potential Eleven comeback bid. However, only a few set piece opportunities would come out of the late going, sending Indy to its first home loss in eight games dating back to last September.Indy Eleven will embark on a month-long, four-game road trip beginning next Saturday, June 4, when it heads to the Palmetto State to take on Charleston Battery. Kickoff at Patriots Point in Charleston is set for 7:00 p.m. ET (streamed live on ESPN+).Indy Eleven’s next home match will also take place during a holiday weekend, as Indiana’s Team will host The Miami FC during its “Indy-pendence” Celebration game on Saturday, July 2. The special 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff at Carroll Stadium will be followed by a post-game fireworks display, and more details on the evening will be updated in the coming weeks at indyeleven.com/promotions.Tickets for that July 4th weekend affair – and all remaining Indy Eleven regular season contests – are available starting at just $15 and can be purchased online at indyeleven.com/tickets. Fans who cannot make it to The Mike can follow the action on MyINDY-TV 23, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com, and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.

2022 USL Championship Regular Season – Matchday 11
Indy Eleven  1 : 2  New Mexico United
Saturday, May 28, 2022
IUPUI Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.

CARMEL FC 2022 Tryouts and Evaluation Information

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

June 7, 2022 – Players 10u, 9u and 8u (Birth Years 2013 to 2016)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before evaluations begin.

Evaluations for all age groups: 6pm to 7:30pm

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June 13, 2022- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2004 to 2012)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.

Tryouts for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012: 5:45pm to 7:15pm

Tryouts for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008: 7:30pm to 9pm.
——————————————————————————————————————–
Use this link to register for tryouts. Please email  info@cdccarmelfc.com. with any questions.

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumni Soccer  

Mid June – early August –  Games Wed/Sun  Age 18-30  Registration open thru June 16th. Call 317-846-1633 or Click Here Make your own teams or we can add you to a team.  Cost is just $105 includes Jersey. 

 Carmel Dads’ Club Soccer Camp Powered by Indy Eleven – June 13-16 9am-12pm (Rain day reschedule June 17)  Ages 6-13   Shelborne Soccer Fields – 3451 W. 126th St. Carmel, IN 46033 –  REGISTRATION IS LIVE!

======================RackZ BAR BQ ====Save 20% ====================== 

Heading over to Badger Field for Training?  Try out the Best BarBQ in Town right across the street (131st) from Northview Church on the corner of Hazelldell & 131st. RackZ BBQ

Save 20% on your order 

(mention the ole ballcoach) 

Check out the BarBQ Ribs, pulled Pork and Chicken, Brisket and more.  Sweet, Tangy or Spicy sauce. Mention you heard about it from the Ole Ballcoach — and Ryan will give you 20% off your next mealhttps://www.rackzbbqindy.com/ Call ahead at 317-688-7290  M-Th 11-8 pm, 11-9 Fri/Sat, 12-8 pm on Sunday.  Pick some up after practice – Its good eatin! You won’t be disappointed and tell ’em the Ole Ballcoach Sent You!  

5/31/22  I Have 2 Tix for USA vs Morocco Wed night in Cincy AO Seats $75 each (USA vs Morocco Wed 7 pm ESPN2, Real Madrid wins 14 UCL, Ukraine vs Scotland Wed 2:45 pm   

I have 2 tickets to tomorrow Nights Game $75 each – AO Section behind the US Goal section 108 – if anyone wants to come along to Cincy. 

USA vs Morocco Wed 7 pm ESPN2 / Sun 5 pm vs Uruguay FS1

The US Men are back with 4 big games here in June – the first 2 friendlies against top ranked World Cup Teams in Morocco and Uruguay.  Morocco is ranked 24th right behind the US at 15th in the latest FIFA World Ranking while Uruguay is ranked just ahead of us at #13.  I am headed that way tomorrow afternoon and have 2 extra tickets if at cost of $75 each. 

Returning to the team off a broken foot is Weston McKennie of Juve (though I suspect he may not play more than a half in these 1st 2 games in early June.)  Former German Youth National Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich) -whose dad is an American serviceman has flipped to the US and should get his first game action in the Red. White and Blue most probably at the #9 slot as a sub on Wed night I would think.  Center forward Haji Wright hopes to ride his hot streak of goals at Antalyaspor into a June chance at claiming the unclaimed #9 shirt for the US along with a fairly hot Jesus Ferreira from Dallas FC.  The Backline is looking for a replacement for starter Miles Robinson who is lost to an acheles heel injury for the year. Erik Palmer Brown and Cameron Carter Vickers fresh off his helping Celtic win the league in Ireland will battle with Aaron Long for the spot opposite Penciled in starter and Captain Walker Zimmerman.  Also good to see 19 YO outside back Joe Scally (MGladbach starter) back in the fold and hopefully we’ll see him in action in 1 of the first 2 games.  Sad to see midfielder Mihailovic who has reinvigorated his career in Montreal in MLS has been dropped due to a hurt ankle over the weekend.  Also expect Turner to gets of lots of goal time in these next 2 games especially – as Steffan is out for these June games.  I expect newly EPL promoted GK Ethan Horvath of Nottingham Forest to start the 2 Nations Cup games next week and the week after.  See my starters below I have inserted Turner of course with #9 forward Haji Wright – (interesting story about him here), and I expect to see Weah on a wing and Aaronson to get a go at the #8 slot with Musah.  I think he will give McKinney a 30 min runout until Sunday to give him more time to adjust.  With more time – I would love to test Pulisic in the 10th beneath Wright, with Aaronson on the left and Weah on the right wing mid slots.  And McKinney and Adams in the 2 man 6/8 roles.  I am interested to see how Berhalter approaches this – does he play his strongest squads this week – against the best competition then let the tired EURO Starters go for next week’s Nations League games vs Grenada June 10 and @ El Salvador June 14, or does he keep everyone in camp for the entire 2 weeks ?  I would keep everyone healthy in camp to give these guys a chance to build chemistry!  I do think we will win 2-1 over Morocco (with a goal from Pulisic and hopefully Haji Wright.) 

Shane’s Starters for Wed game vs Morocco in Cincy

Haji Wright

Pulisic/Weah  

Aaronson/Yanus Musah

Adams

Robinson/Long/Zimmerman/Yedlin

Matt Turner

The 26-man roster for June Games

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution), Sean Johnson (DC United)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic FC), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor)

Ukraine vs Scotland Wed 12 noon on ESPN2

Ukraine will finally return to action trying to secure a birth to the World Cup thru the Playoff that was put off in March due to the War in Ukraine.  Man I feel bad for Ukraine – but the winner of this playoff – (Winner faces Wales on Sunday at 12 noon on ESPN2) will be our first opponent in the World Cup.  As much as I want to root for Ukraine we would much rather face Scotland if we want to advance to the next round.  So go Scots !!

Champions League – Real Wins 14th, Courtois  lays claim to top GK in the World

So it wasn’t the greatest game – but Real Madrid found a way to win again – a record 14th UCL Title despite being outshot 5 to 1 on the day.  Liverpool dominated the opening half but Belgium Goalkeeper Courtois was up to the task making 9 huge saves on the night when he set the save record for a UCL Final.  The heroics earned him player of the Match and Goalkeeper of the Tournament.  Checkout all the Stories Below. 

Reffing Section included below

Including a story about the ref shortage in the US and the reasons why.  I still think 2 man instead of 3 man is a possible option in this time of low #s.  I have reffed 2 man for almost 10 years now and I while I will admit the 3 man system gives more coverage – 2 man is just fine for U12 and below.  Heck for Rec – 12 man is fine in my opinion until high school age kids are involved and even then its often ok and the 2 man system allows the two refs to actually get paid decently for the games – especially the U13 and below games. As for the shortage – my kids both reffed all the way thru high school – and my son still refs in college.  It’s a great weekend job where you make good money – ($15-20 an hour) and you can often choose your own schedule – what other high school job lets you do that?  :Let me know if your kid needs direction on reffing – and I will point you in the right direction. 

BIG GAMES ON TV

Monn, June 2

3 pm Para+                         KC vs Racing Louisville NWSL

Wed, June 3

2:45 pm ESPN2           Scotland vs Ukraine WCQ

2:45 pm FS1                        Italy vs Argentina NL

7:30 pm ESPN2           USA vs Morocco in Cincy

Thur, June 2

2:45 pm FS1                Portugal vs Spain NL  

7:30 pm ESPN2           USA vs Morocco in Cincy

Fri, June 3

2:45 pm FS1                        Belgium vs Netherlands

10:30 pm Para+                 Portland Thorns vs Angel City NWSL

Sat, June 4

12 noon ??                          England vs Hungary NL

2:45 pm                                Italy vs Germany NL 

Sun, June 5 

12 noon ESPN2                  Wales vs (Scotland or Ukraine)

2:45 pm                                Sweden vs Norway NL

2:45 pm                                Portugal vs Switzerland NL 

5 pm FS1                     USA vs Uruguay

Mon, June 6

2:45 pm FS1                        Croatia vs France NL

Tues, June 7

2 pm Para+                         United Arab Emirates vs Australia WCQ

2:45 pm FS1                        Italy vs Hungary NL

2:45 pm FS1                        Germany vs England NL

Weds, June 8

2:45 pm                                Belgium vs Poland NL

2:45 pm                                NL

Thurs, June 9

2:45 pm FS1                        Portugal vvs Czechs NL

10:30 pm Para+                 Canada vs Curacao

Fri, June 10

2:45 pm FS1                        Austria vs France NL

10 pm ESPN+?            USA vs Grenada 

Sat, June 11

2:45 pm FS1                        Ireland vs Scotland NL

3 pm ABC                             Charlotte vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm Para+                       Mexico vs Suriname

Sun, June 12

9 am FS1                              Northern Ireland vs Cyprus NL

12 pm FS1                            Norway vs Sweden NL

3 pm ABC                             Charlotte vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm Para+                       Mexico vs Suriname

Tues, June 14

10 pm ESPN+?            USA @ El Salvador

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumni Soccer  

Mid June – early August –  Games Wed/Sun  Age 18-30  Registration open thru June 16th. Call 317-846-1633 or Click Here

Make your own teams or we can add you to a team.  Cost is just $105 includes Jersey. 

CARMEL FC 2022 Tryouts and Evaluation Information

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

June 7, 2022 – Players 10u, 9u and 8u (Birth Years 2013 to 2016)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before evaluations begin.

Evaluations for all age groups: 6pm to 7:30pm

————————————————————————————————————————————

June 13, 2022- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2004 to 2012)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.

Tryouts for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012: 5:45pm to 7:15pm

Tryouts for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008: 7:30pm to 9pm.
———————————————————————————————————————————–
Use this link to register for tryouts.   Visit : carmelfc.teamapp.com   Please email  info@cdccarmelfc.com. with any questions.

 Carmel Dads’ Club Soccer Camp Powered by Indy Eleven – June 13-16

9am-12pm (Rain day reschedule June 17)  Ages 6-13   Shelborne Soccer Fields – 3451 W. 126th St. Carmel, IN 46033 –  REGISTRATION IS LIVE!

USA

USA vs. Morocco, 2022 friendly: What to watch for  By Donald Wine II Stars and Stripes

Ex-phenom finds way back, could lead U.S. in World Cup
Weah ready for World Cup stage

USMNT Friendly: Scouting Morocco  By Brendan Joseph  S&S

Robinson’s injury puts USMNT depth to the test  1hJeff Carlisle

  Pulisic raves about U.S. reunion with Wright  Jeff Carlisle

USMNT Friendly: Scouting Morocco  By Brendan Joseph  S&S

Brash Brendan Aaronson ready to Light up England and EPL

Aaronson Agonized over the Relegation battle for Leeds

50 Games in How has Berhalter Made his Mark on this team?  

Matt Turner has 1 more NE Game after US stint  before heading to Arsenal

Former US Player Alejandro Bedoya leads Gun-Control Fight

Being Japanese American in Soccer – Kellyn Acosta  

Mexico Beats Nigeria in Friendly
Will Chicharito finally return to the Mexican national team? Tensions are thawing

Our US Keepers at Work

Mexico Beats Nigeria in Friendly
Will Chicharito finally return to the Mexican national team? Tensions are thawing

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 28: Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid CF in action during the UEFA Champions League final between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Getty Images)

WORLD CUP QUALIFYING


World Cup qualifying betting: Scotland is favored to beat Ukraine

Scotland’s sympathy with Ukraine to stop for 90 minutes – Clarke

Chiellini set for ‘beautiful’ end to Italy career at Wembley

Champions League Final


Courtois earns respect with heroics to thwart Liverpool in Champions League final

Courtois ‘put respect on my name’ with Real heroics against Liverpool

After winning Madrid another Champions League, Courtois deserves respect

 Real Madrid, nearly overwhelmed by Liverpool, steals yet another Champions League title
Liverpool still an elite side but UCL final loss will test mental toughness
  James Olley
Champions League final chaos must not happen again because football, fans deserve better
abriele Marcotti
Real Madrid missed Mbappe, so whom could they target instead?
  Jon Molyneux-Carter
‘I can’t do much more’ to win Ballon d’Or – Benzema


Vinicius strikes as Real Madrid beat Liverpool in Champions League final

Liverpool’s regret: Season for the ages has sour ending

Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool fans can ‘book the hotel’ for next Champions League final

Liverpool vs Real Madrid player ratings

‘Record man’ Ancelotti puts his landmark down to luck

Ancelotti keeps calm amid the storm to make Real Madrid champions again

Real Madrid are champions of Europe for a record-extending 14th time after Carlo Ancelotti’s 
Which managers have won the most European trophies?

What caused pre-match chaos at the Champions League final?

‘Fake tickets’ to blame for Champions League final delay say UEFA

The Belgium GK Courtois was Man of the Match after his spectacular saves kept Liverpool off the board.

REFS

6 women including an American will be in Qatar.

A record 5 American Refs were selected for the World Cup in Nov
US referee numbers are plunging and aggression is to blame

Bad Call ??  Hudersfield vs Nottingham Forest?

Legendary EPL Ref – Mike Dean’s Final Final Whistle

Ref Watch: Joe Machnik on calls the rules don’t cover clearly Soccer America

Poor Reffing in NWSL ?

Results in the EPL without VAR

USA vs. Morocco, 2022 friendly: What to watch for

The first prep for Nations League with an eye on the World Cup.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  May 31, 2022, 7:00am PDT  

The United States Men’s National Team are in Cincinnati to take on Morocco tomorrow night in a friendly at TQL Stadium. The USMNT is using this friendly to begin preparations for the Nations League group stage, which begins next week. They are also using this as the beginning stages of preparing for this fall’s World Cup. USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter will use this camp for final evaluations as he decides who will make the final roster that heads to Qatar.

They face a strong team in Morocco, ranked 24th in the world and who will also be at the World Cup this fall. With this window and September being the final opportunities to play decent competition to prepare for the World Cup, Morocco will serve as a formidable test. Fans should be in for an intriguing matchup, as the two teams have not faced each other since 2006.

Latest Form

USA

L (0-2) – Costa Rica – World Cup Qualifying

D (0-0) – Mexico – World Cup Qualifying

W (3-0) – Honduras – World Cup Qualifying

L (0-2) – Canada – World Cup Qualifying

W (1-0) – El Salvador – World Cup Qualifying

Morocco

W (4-1) – DR Congo – World Cup Qualifying

D (1-1) – DR Congo – World Cup Qualifying

L (1-2) – Egypt – Africa Cup of Nations Quarterfinals

W (2-1) – Malawi – Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16

D (2-2) – Gabon – Africa Cup of Nations Group C

What To Watch For

Keep the back line in sync. The defense will have the most scrutiny with all eyes on who will be the centerback pairing. The back line will want to remain in sync all match so that Morocco doesn’t get behind them for scoring chances.

Who’s stepping up on offense? The biggest question facing this team is who will do all the scoring, particularly at the center forward position. So many have been unsuccessful, so there’s an opportunity for players to show that they can be the consistent scorer that the team needs heading into the Nations League and the World Cup.

It’s the midfield’s match to control. The American midfield should be ready to battle all night, but they should be the ones in control. If they can do that, it will relieve pressure from the back line and give the forwards more chances to push ahead and look for the goal.

Lineup Prediction

Gregg Berhalter will have some options when setting out his lineup. In the end, this is what we predict he’s going to do:Predicted Lineup vs. Morocco

With Zack Steffen out of camp due to family reasons, the starting goalkeeper job is Matt Turner’s. His back line will consist of Antonee Robinson and DeAndre Yedlin at left and right back, with Erik Palmer-Brown being granted the starting centerback role next to Walker Zimmerman.

In the middle, it’s MMA time, as Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah join Tyler Adams to form probably the best midfield core. Up front, Christian Pulisic will occupy the left wing, while Paul Arriola will be tried on the right. Haji Wright gets a shot to show he can provide the scoring in the middle.

Prediction

It’s a difficult match for the USMNT, and it ends in a 1-1 draw.

One-time phenom has chance to find himself as USMNT’s starting World Cup striker

Henry Bushnell Yahoo Sports = Mon, May 30, 2022, 1:43 PM·9 min read

CINCINNATI — Haji Wright’s World Cup dreams initially sprouted amid broken glass. That’s what his mother, Serena, lovingly recalls about the boy who seemed attached to his soccer ball. His feet would carry it from the family’s Los Angeles backyard to the dining room table. He’d dribble it to the bedroom he shared with his younger brother, Hanif — and that’s where the window would shatter. The brothers broke it at least twice, Serena says. She threatened to leave it unrepaired. She offered them a squishy soccer ball alternative, but to no avail. They were obsessed.“They also broke a glass in the TV console,” Serena says. “And I was just livid each time.”She also cherished Haji’s attachment to the sport. He’d grown entranced by YouTube reels of early 21st century stars. After the family moved from Culver City up into L.A.’s hills, 11-year-old Haji would venture into the backyard alone and try to emulate legends. On long summer days, he’d pound the ball against the garage for hours on end, honing his non-dominant left foot and his shooting technique. He’d mimic the Thierry Henrys of the world, and he’d dream — of Europe, of World Cups, of goals in finals.or most pre-teens, they’re far-fetched fantasies. For Haji, they quickly became “real possibilities.” Soccer moms and scouts alike recognized his rare talent. The L.A. Galaxy academy came calling. Haji excelled at U.S. Soccer’s residency program, where he roomed with a fellow innocent teen named Christian Pulisic. He tallied 18 goals and seven assists in 22 matches for the U.S. under-17s, and became “one of the hottest prospects” in the country. He was the player who reportedly attracted German giants Borussia Dortmund to a youth tournament in 2014, where Dortmund ultimately discovered Pulisic. He was, according to FIFA’s official website in 2015, “poised to become the next big thing for football in America.”And then, to many American fans who’d lapped up the hype, Wright seemingly disappeared.He signed with Schalke in the German Bundesliga at age 18 in 2016. He’s since bounced around to five different clubs. He never got the U.S. men’s national team call-up that many assumed would come before his 21st birthday. And as he endured a goal-less 2019-20 league season at VVV-Venlo in Holland, he essentially fell off USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter’s radar.That’s when he turned to an outlook he’d adopted as his remarkably steep trajectory turned sideways. “All these experiences,” Serena would tell him, “are going to lead you to where you need to be.” He learned to shun negative thoughts and search for positivity. “There’s always tomorrow to prove myself,” he’d think, and he now says.Just two years later, he’s the hottest American male striker on the planet. As he banged in 14 goals in 32 appearances for Antalyaspor in the Turkish Super Lig this spring, those childhood dreams came back into focus. Wright is here in Cincinnati as the only true No. 9 at the USMNT’s most important pre-World Cup training camp, where it will face fellow 2022 qualifiers Morocco.And he will, Berhalter said, “get an opportunity” — to debut, at age 24, for the team he always seemed destined for, and maybe, just maybe, to make the USMNT’s neediest position his.

Haji Wright stood out amid star-laden USMNT youth teams

The hype first bloomed before Serena Wright knew much of anything about soccer, and perhaps even before she knew that Haji had taken to the sport during recess at school. She enrolled him in a rec league around age 7. Other parents were taken aback by his skill. Clubs began making their recruiting pitches. Summer camp invites multiplied. Before long, the words “Europe” and “overseas” entered conversations. “It just did not seem normal to me,” Serena says. It all happened “very quick.”It fueled young Haji’s confidence. On U.S. youth teams that also included Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie, he and Pulisic were the headliners and the stars. Wright scored twice in a 4-1 U-17 victory over Brazil that resonated among American soccer diehards. He moved to Schalke as soon as he was eligible, shortly after his 18th birthday, and “talent-wise, he was ready,” Serena says.“There were some other pieces that still needed to develop,” she continues. He was, of course, still a boy. He needed Mom’s help with typical teen things, like driver certification. But he picked up the German language surprisingly quickly, and settled into a quiet life that revolved around soccer. In downtime, he absorbed himself in “Call of Duty” and an addictive, “Candy Crush”-like smartphone game called “Toon Blast.” After McKennie joined him at Schalke in August of 2016, the two Americans “were together almost every day,” Wright recalls.They also seemed to be on parallel paths. They were jointly promoted to Schalke’s senior team toward the end of Wright’s first full season. They were still teens, but “they belong in the first team next year,” Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel said at the time.As McKennie established himself in the Bundesliga, and Pulisic starred 40 minutes away at Dortmund, Wright began to struggle. After a difficult first preseason with Schalke’s senior team, he was sent on loan to SV Sandhausen in the second division. “And I remember he was really, really upset after that,” Serena says — not because he felt wronged, or unenthused by Sandhausen, but rather because he hadn’t “performed to his full potential” in preseason.“He was down on himself,” Serena says. And, alone in a foreign land, he had to learn how to pick himself back up.

Wright says he didn’t necessarily arrive in Germany envisioning a specific trajectory toward the top of the sport. He did envision playing in packed stadiums in the Ruhr Valley, and across the Bundesliga. He surely envisioned success, because as a child and teen, that’s all he really knew.“So then when [a setback] happens, it’s unexpected,” Serena points out. “He expected his path to be straightforward,” she continues, but inevitably, “the path, sometimes, is not linear.”Wright now understands this, more so than most 24-year-olds. But the “twists and turns,” Serena says, were initially challenging. Her son leant on her and his agent for encouragement as his visions failed to materialize. After a sputtering loan spell at Sandhausen, he returned to Schalke for the 2018-19 season, and made his senior debut in November. He scored his first goal in December, but it would be his only one for the club. After just seven appearances, he left the following summer.At Venlo, where he scored one cup goal and none in 22 league appearances, “it just wasn’t clicking,” Wright says. He understands how unfathomable those numbers are to fans who saw what he once did and see what he’s doing now. Soccer, he explains, comes with “rough patches.” Goalscoring often requires “a bit of luck.” Adjustments to new systems have taken time. Berhalter remembers watching Wright play as a winger rather than a striker, and saying: “We don’t think that’s his strength, and it’s gonna be hard to make an impact with our team in that position.”By 2020, Wright had acclimatized to soccer hardship. “He wasn’t upbeat, for sure,” during that season at Venlo, Serena says, “but I don’t think he was discouraged.”

Is USMNT about to find the striker it’s long been looking for?

The following year, he took a step down to SønderjyskE in Denmark, and that’s where things began to click. For years, Wright had been a “humble,” “modest,” “chill” team player — which aren’t necessarily the best qualities for a forward. “As a striker,” he now realizes, “you have to be selfish.”“I don’t think you have to be overly selfish,” he continues. “Like, if you’re 2-v-1 vs. the keeper, you [don’t] shoot, it’s not like that. But I think you definitely have to be selfish to a certain degree.”His coaches have noticed a new mentality that Wright puts into words: “I have to be the guy to score.”As he started doing just that last season in Denmark, Berhalter called to tell him: “You’re doing well, we’re watching, keep doing your thing.”He moved to Antalyaspor on loan last summer, and started slow, but caught fire over the season’s second half. He scored eight goals in eight games throughout April and May, and that’s why he’s here, in U.S. camp with the World Cup six months away.For years, ever since Jozy Altidore’s prime ebbed away, the USMNT has not had a consistent striker. Josh Sargent and Jordan Pefok are injured. Ricardo Pepi, who exploded into the starting lineup last fall, hasn’t scored in almost eight months, and needs a break. For Wright, Berhalter said last week, “now is the perfect time.”It is, perhaps, not precisely what Wright dreamed of all those years ago. But here he was Sunday, grouped with Pulisic, Adams and McKennie for a pre-training warmup circuit, riding with his former U-17 running mates on the national team bus. They swapped some old stories. “It’s a little nostalgic,” Wright says, and “crazy” that it’s been almost a decade since those innocent residency days.And it’s “fun,” he says. It feels “normal.” There’s “no weird energy or anything. It’s good times.”And “obviously,” he says of his impending national team debut, “I was hoping for it to happen earlier. But I’m here now. And that’s really all that matters.”

Miles Robinson’s injury testing USMNT depth in year that’s challenged resolve of Gregg Berhalter’s team
Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent ESPN


CINCINNATI, Ohio — In the moments after Atlanta United and United States men’s national team defender Miles Robinson went down with a torn Achilles tendon, international teammate Walker Zimmerman got a text from a friend who was inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium telling him that Robinson’s injury “looks bad.” Zimmerman then found the video on Twitter and saw the responses, and his “stomach just completely sank.”
“You start thinking about the timelines, you start thinking about the math, and while it’s not impossible to come back, certainly it’s going to be an uphill battle,” Zimmerman told members of the media on Monday. “I just immediately reached out to [Miles].”Zimmerman then called up Aaron Long, who almost a year earlier had suffered the same injury as Robinson, and let him know what happened.”It was a weird feeling I got,” the New York Red Bulls defender said upon hearing the news. “It was like heartbreak and instantly, like, ‘I need to be the one that that reachesout to him as fast as possible to let him know that I’ve been through this, and I will help him through this process.'”Both players have stayed in steady contact with Robinson since, with Long saying he’s called Robinson once a week, the better to answer questions and talk timetables. It helps that Robinson, at age 25, is three years younger than Long was when he was injured, but it’s a long process, one that will be filled with ups and downs. Long stressed the best thing Robinson can do right now is be patient.”There’s certain ways you can speed up the rehab process, but you’ve got to listen to your body,” Long said. “I’m just trying to tell him that now’s not the time to speed things up. You’ve got to let it heal for that first month or two.”Every player is different, although for Long, the mental hurdles were the toughest to get over.”I think more than anything, it’s just trying to get your calf and your brain just to be on the same page, and to almost trust yourself in certain moments of like exploding or backpedaling, things like that,” he said.
The irony is that Robinson’s ascension was aided in part by Long’s injury. The Red Bulls defender had been a mainstay under U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter during the first two years of his tenure. With friendly matches against Morocco on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN2) and Uruguay on Sunday, followed by CONCACAF Nations League games against Grenada and El Salvador, the door has been opened for Long to take on a greater responsibility than the substitute role he had in the final qualifying window.Robinson’s injury is the latest to strike a core U.S. player in what has been a year beset by them. Borussia Dortmund midfielder Giovanni Reyna missed most of World Cup qualifying with multiple hamstring injuries. Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie missed the last qualifying fixture window with a broken foot, and has just recently made it back.
But the U.S. team’s depth helped carry it to World Cup qualification. When Reyna went out, Timothy Weah and Brenden Aaronson stepped in and produced some dynamic displays on the wing. The same happened when McKennie was injured, with Kellyn Acosta and Luca de la Torre picking up the slack. Now the same will likely have to happen at the World Cup. Long is among those poised to step in, as is Chris Richards, although the latter suffered through ankle and thigh injuries during the latter half of the club season with TSG Hoffenheim.
The center-back position is of critical importance, and this was evident during qualifying. Even on the days when the U.S. didn’t play well, the center of defense was usually solid, evidenced by the team’s 10 goals conceded in 14 qualifiers. It didn’t seem to matter who was on the field either, be it Zimmerman, Robinson or Rchards.Yet chemistry is important, and there will need to be some retooling in this regard during the current camp, as well as in the last international window in September. When asked what traits they would like to see in a center-back partner, both Long and Zimmerman cited good communication as a critical attribute.”It’s more of a mental connection than like anything physical, or like a guy that’s fast, or a guy that’s strong, or good in the air or anything like that,” Long said. “I think it’s more just trust in being on the same page in not only like tactical moments, but big defensive moments, like putting out fires. I know where my other center-back is going to be in a moment where we can’t talk and we can’t discuss things. We know what we’re going to do in those moments together.”Zimmerman added, “I love when I have that [communication] on my back shoulder. You know, when I’m getting the instruction, consistently, constantly, that’s huge. And when you get games with other center-backs, you kind of develop that almost without them even talking sometimes. You know exactly where they’re going to be.”The coming months will reveal the extent to which that familiarity can increase.Center-back isn’t the only area of the field where depth will be tested in the coming months. In fact, while there are plenty of options at the striker position, none have performed with the kind of consistency to make the position their own. That’s why Antalyaspor’s Haji Wright — fresh off a 15-goal season in all competitions — will be the latest to get a look from Berhalter and his staff.”I think generally being called into camp, it’s always an opportunity for you to show yourself and take hold of your position, whatever it may be,” Wright said. “I do think it’s an opportunity for me and I’m ready to take it.”Left-back has been a position cited by Berhalter as one where there aren’t many options behind presumed starter Antonee Robinson. Joe Scally looks to be a candidate given his ability to play outside-back or wing-back on either side — during the past season with Borussia Monchengladbach he even had a brief spell at center-back — but so far (and yes, it’s early in camp) Scally has lined up on the right side of the U.S. defense. That leaves George Bello as the only alternative to Robinson.The hope is that the U.S. will enjoy a greater degree of health than it’s had in the first five months of 2022.


USMNT’s Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie rave about resurgent Haji Wright


6:33 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent
The United States national team’s Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie said they’re excited to be reunited with former teammate Haji Wright.
Pulisic and Wright played together at the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup, and seven years later now are playing together with the full team ahead of a quartet of games over the next two weeks.The U.S. will begin its four-game run on Wednesday against Morocco at Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium (watch live at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2). That will be followed four days later with a match against Uruguay at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Then come a pair of CONCACAF Nations League matches, first against Grenada at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas, on June 10, followed by a road game against El Salvador four days later.

Carlisle: U.S. seeks defensive depth after loss of Robinson

Back when they played together at the U17 World Cup, their roles were similar to what they are now, with Pulisic acting as the playmaker for Wrig. That was the duo back in the day, me and Haji,” Pulisic said during a roundtable with reporters. “We played a lot of games together in the youth national teams. And it’s cool to have him back in, first of all, seeing him do so well at club level, and having him in here is great.”So he’s gonna get his opportunity and yeah, I’m just so excited for him. And I know he’s going to use the opportunity.”McKennie not only crossed paths with Wright at youth level, but they were teammates at Bundesliga side Schalke 04 from 2017-19. And while Wright had the greater success at youth level, McKennie made bigger inroads at Schalke before moving to Juventus.”I think it’s beautiful,” said McKennie about Wright’s recall. “I didn’t have an easy path through the national team, especially in the youth. We had a bit of a different story at the youth age. And just to see that some players would be knocked down, some players would be [where] their spirit is gone, and I think just for him, finding his own path to get back in here is definitely one that’s inspirational and something that I can kind of relate to.”It’s wonderful and exciting just to see him in here, and kind of sharing the same story at the same time.”Wright’s meandering path saw him move from Schalke to a loan stint with Sandhausen and then to VVV-Venlo in the Netherlands, and he struggled to find the net at all three stops. He saw his fortunes improve with Danish SuperLiga side SonderjyskE starting in 2020, but it was a loan spell last season with Turkish Super Lig side Antalyaspor — where he scored 15 goals in 35 league and cup appearances — that got Wright back in the national team frame.”I really respect people who haven’t necessarily had it easy and given to them and everyone’s on their own path,” said Pulisic. “I’ve seen it myself. Ups and downs and to come out the other side and be performing like he is now is impressive.”
USMNT’s 50 games of Berhalter: How coach has made his mark on the national team
Espn
When the United States men’s national team takes on Morocco in a friendly on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, watch live on ESPN2), it will be the 51st time the Americans have taken the pitch under the stewardship of manager Gregg Berhalter. The former Columbus Crew boss took control of the national team in December 2018, and the 50 games he has since overseen give us a more-than-reasonable sample size to evaluate his impact on the USMNT.How has Berhalter put his stamp on the U.S.? How has he shaped it in his image? How has he influenced games from the dugout? How will his management style dictate results at this winter’s World Cup in Qatar?In order to answer these questions, we asked Kyle Bonagura, Bill Connelly and Jeff Carlisle to dive into Berhalter’s national-team tenure and detail where the U.S. stands after 50 games of Berhalter.
What is Berhalter’s style?
From a 20,000-foot view, one would guess that Berhalter has installed the identity he wanted with the USMNT. Known from his Columbus days as a manager with a preference for long spells of possession — building patiently from the back and unfurling more lengthy possessions than opponents (albeit without the rigorous counter-pressing that some sides attempt) — Berhalter has established exactly that: In 50 matches, his U.S. has enjoyed 56.8% possession overall and averaged 5.6 passes per possession. For context, that would have ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Premier League this season. Acknowledging that international opponents vary widely in quality, that still suggests that execution is matching intention.
Under Berhalter, the U.S. has also slowly eliminated the sudden-turnover disasters that can occasionally emerge from patient build-up play; opponents scored four goals from possessions starting in the attacking third in 2019, three in 2020-21 and none in World Cup qualification. Meanwhile, the possession rates have slowly risen — the U.S. was at 63% possession in 2021 friendlies and 57% during qualification.This all makes it sound like things are working out as imagined, but if you’ve watched the U.S. play in the past year or so, you’ve seen something that amounts far more to pragmatism than possession. Thanks to injuries, the quintet of Christian Pulisic, Giovanni Reyna, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Sergino Dest — all of whom currently play for renowned European clubs — have played in the same match just once for the U.S.: They teamed up to beat Mexico in last summer’s CONCACAF Nations League final … in a match in which they saw 43% possession and averaged 3.4 passes per possession.
In last summer’s Gold Cup, with what was considered a primarily second-choice squad, the U.S. beat Canada with just 45% possession (thanks in part to the fact that they led for 89 minutes), produced just six shots from 58% possession against Qatar, then managed just 37% possession in the victory over Mexico. And while they may have averaged 57% in World Cup qualification, the range was immense: from 72% in an easy win over Honduras and 71% in a draw with Canada, to 51% in a dispiriting loss to Panama and 50% in a draw with El Salvador to 39% in a win over Panama and 38% in a draw with Mexico.
In qualification, the U.S. was far more placid in possession on the road than at home and catered its style dramatically to game state. And against an opponent like Mexico, which also prefers to dominate possession, the U.S. seemed to often revert to the old “tenacious goalkeeping and route-one counterattacks” style of previous decades. It occasionally worked, too. The U.S. qualified despite a run of injuries that prevented its top 11 players from ever seeing the pitch at the same time, but its identity — both what’s preferred and what’s optimal — seems blurrier than it did a year ago. — Connelly
How has Berhalter managed his team?
Berhalter is not one to rule with an iron fist. In his relatively short tenure, he has established himself — mostly — as a players’ coach who has facilitated a culture that players want to be part of, and generally, speak highly of. In public, he’s so overwhelmingly positive that oftentimes it comes off as protective of the young squad.Take the 2-0 loss to Canada in qualifying, for example. Anyone who watched that game understood that even though the U.S. had the bulk of the possession, Canada was in control for nearly the entirety. Berhalter described it as a “dominant” U.S. performance. It wasn’t. The only way to make sense of what he said is if Berhalter wasn’t genuinely assessing the game as much as he was trying to send a positive message back to the locker room. Whether that’s an effective approach is up for debate, but that has been his style.It’s easy to see how Berhalter’s positive demeanor plays well when recruiting dual nationals, which is one area where he has experienced some big wins. Dest (Netherlands), Yunus Musah (England) and Ricardo Pepi (Mexico) all committed to the U.S. under Berhalter’s watch and played key roles during qualification. Bayern Munich’s Malik Tillman (Germany) and Chicago Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina (Poland) made similar decisions this month, and while others haven’t gone Berhalter’s way — namely LA Galaxy right-back Julian Araujo (Mexico) — his track record has been very impressive.The most confounding part of his man management centers on one man: veteran center-back John Brooks. Despite playing more than 600 minutes more than any other American in a top-five European league this year (2,617 minutes in 31 league games for VfL Wolfsburg), Berhalter has routinely passed over him in favor of less proven options. Brooks wasn’t great when he did play for the U.S. early in qualifying, but Berhalter’s vague, changing reasons for his continued omissions indicate it’s something more than form or fit within the system. There’s no other way to explain how someone can ostensibly go from one of the team’s most important players to out of the picture in less than a year. More questions than answers remain. — Bonagura
How has Berhalter influenced games?
It was halftime of the United States’ away World Cup qualifier against Honduras, and Berhalter’s side was staring into the abyss. The Americans trailed 1-0, and a September window in which they had thought they were capable of getting nine points was suddenly looking like it would only result in two, a potentially disastrous start that would leave the U.S. in a sizable hole.
Berhalter was then aggressive in his choice of alterations. Out went Brooks, George Bello and Josh Sargent; in came Antonee Robinson, Brenden Aaronson and Sebastian Lletget. The formation changed, too, from a 3-4-3 to a 4-3-3. The changes worked a treat, as all three substitutes scored, and with Pepi tallying as well, the U.S. went on to secure a vital 4-1 win. While the rest of the campaign had a few hiccups, that victory in San Pedro Sula allowed the U.S. to breathe easier and stay firmly in control of its own destiny throughout qualifying.
Granted, not every tactical change has that kind of impact, but the victory highlighted Berhalter’s flexibility. Rather than stubbornly persist with his initial plan, he was willing to junk it if it wasn’t working. He didn’t care about reputations either, as evidenced by his decision to pull Brooks — widely regarded as the U.S. team’s best defender — from the match. He hasn’t played for the U.S. since.
All of these are positives in terms Berhalter’s ability to adjust on the fly.
Of course, the path the Honduras game took raises the question of how Berhalter and the U.S. found themselves in such a situation to begin with. In fact, there were other instances in which Berhalter seemed to overthink things, whether it was the decision to start Gyasi Zardes against Canada or the near-wholesale changes made for the away qualifying defeat against Panama.
But it’s also clear that triple-fixture windows, which typically involved three games in a seven-day timeframe, forced Berhalter into some tactical and personnel decisions that he otherwise wouldn’t have made. Injuries at times to key players like McKennie, Reyna and Pulisic only amplified that.The World Cup will offer up a more forgiving schedule. There will be three full days between games in Qatar instead of the two that were the norm during qualifying, yet it seems likely that the extra day won’t be enough for Berhalter to trot out the same lineup for all three games. The U.S. team’s depth will still be tested, and given the greater stakes involved, a premium will be placed on the manager getting his tactics and personnel decisions right from the get-go.Berhalter’s tactical evolution hints at progress in this area. The U.S. manager started out his tenure with an almost dogmatic approach of building out of the back. As time went on, starting with the home match against Canada in the CONCACAF Nations League, pragmatism crept in, and there was a greater willingness to be direct when circumstances dictated. There was more of an emphasis on pressing as well.Granted, at the World Cup, things never go fully according to plan. Berhalter’s willingness to adapt and change gears bodes well in that regard. — Carlisle
How will Berhalter’s team perform at the World Cup?
Group B seems impossibly tight in terms of the relative strengths of the teams involved. England has a clear talent advantage over the others and seems to have hit its stride under manager Gareth Southgate, although the U.S. has given the Three Lions fits in the past. Securing the second spot in the group looks like a challenge, though. The U.S. could just as easily advance as not. If one of Wales or Ukraine makes it through, it will have a roster comparable to the U.S. team’s in terms of quality. Iran is a complete wildcard given the relative unknown strength of the Persian Gulf Pro League, although history has shown that it would be a mistake to take Team Melli lightly.
Stylistically, the games will likely be a bit more open for the U.S. given that, unlike matches in CONCACAF, opponents won’t be as inclined to bunker in, but circumstances will dictate that as well. If the U.S heads into its final game against Iran needing a result, which seems likely, it might find itself facing precisely that circumstance. The U.S. team’s health will play a huge role. If the likes of Pulisic and Reyna can avoid injury, that will bode well. The big worry remains the No. 9 position. Pulisic, Reyna, Aaronson and Tim Weah can each win a match, but production out of the center-forward spot would be a big boost.The U.S. is a confident bunch, borne of a core group of players performing for some of the best clubs in the world, but advancing out of the group will likely go down to the wire. — CarlisleThe pragmatism we saw from Berhalter’s squad in the past year, shifting in intent and strategy depending on the opponent, isn’t going to go away in Qatar. And that’s probably the way it should be. While we don’t know who will join England, the U.S. and Iran in World Cup Group B — Ukraine and Scotland will play on June 1, with the winner facing Wales on June 5 for the final spot — we can already see that the diversity of approaches within this group is immense.In England, the U.S. will face one of the most talented teams in the world, one that combines an often conservative approach with pure playmaking talent. England is often OK with bunkering deep to defend at times, but with the skill in possession its players naturally possess, it still tend to dominate the ball against all but the best competition (last two years in tournament play: 61.9% possession, 7.9 passes per possession). The U.S. will almost certainly end up with 40% possession or lower whether things are going well or poorly. — Connelly
Since the draw, just about every casual conversation I’ve had with anyone about the national team has begun with some version of: “Do you think they’ll get out of the group?” For the USMNT, that’s the most basic way to measure success at a World Cup. If the answer is yes, it’s a success; if it’s a no, it’s a failure. For an event that is generally considered the only one that really matters for the United States (good luck making the case for the Gold Cup or Nations League), it’s a bizarre paradigm.
It’ll be easier to have a stronger feeling once the final team in the group is determined, but one of those teams will be widely considered the USMNT’s chief rival to get out of the group, behind favored England. Iran can’t be taken lightly, but on paper, it is the weakest of the six. — Bonagura

USMNT’s Matt Turner to play one more game in New England before Arsenal move

By Charles Boehm @cboehm  Monday, May 30, 2022, 08:43 PM

CINCINNATI – Matt Turner knows about the risks.

He knows how difficult it will be to earn playing time at mighty Arsenal, how difficult a transfer overseas can be. He’s heard the concerns among US men’s national team fans and pundits that he and two of his fellow goalkeepers are staring at limited minutes in the run-up to the World Cup in Qatar.

“Those same people are probably the ones that were saying that because I play in MLS, I don’t deserve to play for the national team,” Turner told reporters at a media availability in downtown Cincinnati on Monday before the USMNT’s first match of their portentous June camp, against Morocco on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN).“So it’s hard for me to swallow all the things that people say from time to time. I’m going to go out there, I’m going to put my best foot forward. I think it’s definitely a step up for me, and I’m going to take this as far as I can do it.”

By “this,” Turner means his whole unlikely adventure with soccer, the sport he picked up very late in his adolescence by modern standards, only to turn out to be quite good at it. And even though staying with the New England Revolution might possibly give him an inside track in the competition with Zack Steffen (Manchester City) and Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest) for the national team’s starting job, he sounds certain that this is the time to leap into the English Premier League.“Well, I’ve been playing pretty well in MLS for the better part of three years now. And given the environment of transfers for goalkeepers in particular, this is the first real interest, first real offer that I’ve had,” the New Jersey native explained. “And I’ve been trying to make things happen for quite some time. So it seemed like the right time for me.“Being a week in, week out starter in MLS didn’t guarantee me to be a starter here for the national team, and going to the World Cup, I obviously want to play games. So I need to shake things up in my club career and I think this is a positive step forward, for me in the long term and in the immediate future.”Turner says he’ll play one more match for the Revs after this international window (June 19 home to Minnesota United FC), then jet across the Atlantic on June 21 to begin his Arsenal career in earnest. His wife Ashley, who is pregnant with their first child, is already en route to London to dive into the relocation process while Matt is with the national team.“I still have a little business to take care of over in Foxborough, one more game,” said Turner. “I’m hoping that it’ll be a nice little send-off and I can say bye to the fans and people that are so close to my heart, that really welcomed me to the area. It’s pretty emotional, though, overall, with everything because it’s where I first became a professional.“It’s where I became a man. It’s where I fell in love. It’s where I got married. It’s where I found out I was having my first child. So a lot of firsts in that area. And it’s going to be tough to leave behind, for sure. But I think I’m ready. I know who I am. And I know I’m ready for a new challenge.”Already a Cinderella story with his unheralded climb from undrafted rookie to US international, he’ll have to push his own limits yet again to earn a prominent role with the Gunners while competing with incumbent Aaron Ramsdale. And he’s just fine with betting on himself.

“I’m going to have an entire preseason to get comfortable, learn the system, learn the ropes. And I think there’s going to be a pretty busy fixture list in the beginning of the season. So I’m looking forward to the opportunities that will present themselves and I just want to showcase the best of my ability,” he said. “For me, I’ve always wanted to just get out there and see how far I can take this thing. That has always been my goal for football, for soccer. And so I’m going to take it a step further into the Premier League and we’ll see how it goes for me.

“It’s the sport that I love and I never thought that I’d be in the shoes that I’m in. So I’m playing with house money, and I’m going to just go for it.”

In World Cup year, can Matt Turner “take this leap and challenge myself” at Arsenal?

By Jonathan Sigal @JonathanSigal  Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 04:11 PM

A short 15-plus months ago, New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner was making his US men’s national team debut in a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago.

Now, with the Qatar 2022 World Cup six months out, there’s a realistic chance the Arsenal-bound netminder could start when the USMNT’s Group B campaign begins Nov. 21 against a to-be-determined European opponent.

The 27-year-old doesn’t lose sight of that arc, and he’s determined to force manager Gregg Berhalter’s hand with his strong play, having started eight World Cup qualifiers as the Yanks placed third in the Octagonal phase.

“My long, arching goal was to be on the roster in any facet,” Turner told The Call Up’s Jillian Sakovits and Susannah Collins. “And I think that’s changed and shifted a little bit to I want to be challenging to be the guy that’s playing in those games. Not just happy being on the team – happy being on the team, but also wanting to be between the sticks when that opening whistle happens.“I’m going to work hard, whatever it takes, whatever I need to prove when I’m over with Arsenal and give it my best shot like I always do. Wherever the chips fall, I’ll let them fall and I’ll do my role to the best of my ability, whatever it is.”

Turner’s likeliest competitor for the No. 1 role is Manchester City’s Zack Steffen, a former Columbus Crew standout. Also 27, he started five WCQs and played under Berhalter during their mutual MLS days.

They face remarkably similar obstacles toward earning first-team minutes, with Steffen the backup to Ederson at club level and Turner slated for a similar role behind Aaron Ramsdale. But Turner covets that test in London, challenging himself to succeed in the Premier League.

“I was talking to Alexi Lalas yesterday and he was like, ‘At what point are you going to stop being this underdog story and own everything?’ I think it’s around this time,” Turner said. “I think it’s around time for me to start putting on my big-boy pants, becoming a father, becoming a husband and moving over, changing leagues, changing scenery.

“I think that’ll be good for me. I think that’ll be good for my career, to sort of take this leap and challenge myself in a lot of ways, on the field, off the field and just help me to really continue that growth in personal and professional life.”

in-world-cup-year-can-matt-turner-take-this-leap-and-challenge-myself-at-arsenal&sessionId=684135d9c97889fd62bb3332a554907e5522122c&theme=light&widgetsVersion=c8fe9736dd6fb%3A1649830956492&width=550px Before making that jump, Turner’s Revolution career has a few final chapters to write. In late June, he’ll depart the club where he went from an undrafted free agent to the 2021 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and earning a transfer that nets New England around $6 million initially and can reach just under $10 million with incentives.

Turner’s replacement seems to be rising Serbian talent Djordje Petrovic, a midseason acquisition by the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners. But filling the shoes of a player approaching all-time-great territory won’t be easy.

“Do I deserve a legacy? Am I a club legend? I don’t know,” Turner reflected. “I just hope that fans remember some of the fond memories that we all shared. They remember me for the things I was doing not just on the field but also off the field.

“… I just hope people know I always gave my all to this club every time I stepped out onto the field and I always really cared about the results and I always really cared about where this club was headed. I hope that it’s going to be continuing to trend in the same direction it has been since Bruce [Arena] got there.”

For more from Turner on The Call Up, check out his entire interview here.

Kellyn Acosta – Being Japanese American in America These Days


Los Angeles F.C. | United States
May 27, 2022
I’m Japanese. Most people can’t see it. That’s O.K. Some are surprised when they hear it. Again, I can understand. But once people know, the reactions are quite different. Some say, “Hey, that’s awesome!” Others go, “No way. You can’t be.”Yeah. It’s a weird feeling when people refuse to believe who you are.Sometimes I’ll go through the whole spiel. My dad was born in Japan and lived there until he was 10. My grandma is full Japanese. My stepdad, who I consider my grandpa, he’s Mexican — hence Acosta. There’s some Irish blood in there as well, so it’s kinda crazy. A lot of people think I’m Mexican or Spanish or Colombian but, you know, I’m American. Japanese-American. But even after I have said this, some people continue to insist that I’m not. Sometimes I have resorted to showing pictures of my family. Hard proof, right? Case closed.They still won’t believe me. “Naaaaaaaaah. No chance.”Some people have told me I’m adopted. For real. Thankfully I’m at a point in my life where I’m embracing my identity, which is why I’m writing this for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. It’s been a long journey to get here though, which is why I want to tell my story. Not just for all the Asian-Americans out there, but also for anyone who’s been made to feel like they’re somehow different. You see, when I was a kid, I was heckled for standing out. I grew up in Plano, in Texas, which is predominantly white. I’m not just Asian — I’m Black as well. Double minority. Double whammy, right?I was a complete outcast. Even my education was different. My dad is a hard-nosed engineer, very strict, so at home I got the streotypical Asian upbringing. Straight A’s. When my parents divorced, I spent a lot of time with my grandma, who I called Mimi. She would speak Japanese on the phone, watch Japanese news and eat food from the Asian market. In Asian culture a full stomach means a happy heart, so no matter how full I was when I got there, I had to eat. I’d wolf down rice bowls and sushi with wooden chopsticks. Sometimes I’d tell her that I wanted to become a soccer player. She just said that she didn’t care what I became, as long as I had a good heart. But it was hard. Plano is Cowboys Country. The average boy there will play American football, aim for collge and dream about the NFL. Fewe than .10% actually make it, but if you don’t try it’s like, “So what do you do?” Which is shorthand for, You must be a loser. Soccer? That was for girls. Some days I’d wear my soccer tracksuit at school, and I’d get all these comments. “Hey, why are your pants so tight?”“Why are you wearing skinny jeans?”“What are you doing?”If my parents worked late I would be in this after-school program, and my grandma would pick me up. People would see the Black soccer kid in the tracksuit walking over to this Asian lady, and then they would go, “What’s going on here? This guy’s a mess.”They would ask me, “Is she your nanny?” I’d say that she was my grandma.“But you’re not Asian.”“You don’t look like her.”“You’re adopted.”I heard it all. I heard it all. So eventually I tried to kind of hide my grandma away. I would ask her to call the school and let them know she was there so that she didn’t have to get out of the car. I wasn’t embarrassed. I was just tired of people making fun of me. But sometimes she would come in anyway. She’s my grandma, right? She didn’t care. So yeah, it took a toll. My family would tell me that the other kids were jealous, but when you’re a kid it’s hard to understand. One day, when I was about eight or nine years old, I snapped. I’m a pretty reserved person, but it just boiled over. This girl kept making fun of me. She just wouldn’t stop. So I grabbed a pair of scissors and threw them at her. They flew through the air. SWOOOOSSSSH. And they just missed her. Got stuck in a door right behind her. Everyone in the room gasped like, What just happened?I wasn’t trying to hit her. I had decent aim, so it was more to make a point. But I was shocked too. I didn’t know that I was capable of doing that, you know? The teachers called my parents and said they had to come get me immediately. They even kept me away from the other kids, as if I was a dangerous lunatic. I began to cry. I was like, This isn’t me. This isn’t who I am.My head was so cloudy. Being an outcast was eating me up. So I ended up trying to fit in. I’d ask for certain clothes so that I didn’t stand out. I had been in love with soccer since I was about five, and I had also been playing basketball and running track and field, but in seventh grade I began playing American football. It wasn’t me at all. I just wanted to make friends and be part of the group. I was trying to create a new identity.
Luckily, I had a friend who showed me how to be me.This guy was a real legend. His name was Zequinha, a Brazilian former professional soccer player, and in the ’60s and ’70s he had been a striker for some of the biggest clubs in Brazil: Flamengo, Botafogo, Grêmio, São Paulo. The guy was legit — he even played with Pelé. Toward the end of his career he had moved to Dallas, where he had started to coach and, when I was seven years old, that’s how I met him. Zequinha was a bit like my grandma: Strict, but sweet and soft-spoken. When you got to know him, he would tell all these crazy stories, like how he’d had to walk miles to training in Brazil, or how they used to tie grocery bags together to make a ball. Stuff that changes your outlook on life. We got so close that I’d stay at his house, ride with him in the car to games and hang out with his son, João, who was about my age. My life became even more multicultural. One night I could be eating a good old American burger. The next I’d be at Mimi’s slurping noodle soup, and then I’d be at Zee’s having feijoada.It was amazing. And you know, Brazilians, they’re different, right? They love creativity and freedom. They are who they are. So when I told Zee about being heckled at school, he told me to stop caring what people said. Stop tiptoeing around others. Stop trying to fit in. Stand out. Be who you are. This guy was my hero. I even dressed up like him once for Halloween, which was supposed to be scary but it didn’t matter, hahaha. (And yes, he had that hair.) But it took some time before I fully embraced what he’d said. It was only once I reached my teens that everything changed. I stopped hiding who I was. I didn’t care about trying to fit in. I told my grandma to come out of her car to get me. I quit American football. I did whatever felt right for me.And guess what? I performed a lot better.I was drawing on all these cultures for inspiraion. My dad always told me to give it 110%, because 100% wasn’t good enough. His buzzword was intensity. Zequinha told me to express myself. Suddenly I was thriving on this mix of Asian discipline and Brazilian creativity. By the time I was 13, people could see that I would turn into a special player, and they gravitated toward me. I was no longer an outcast. I came out of my shell. As I got older and more independent, nobody could really tell that I was Asian, so I didn’t really show it as much as I could have. I wouldn’t say I wasn’t proud. It was more like I was proud in silence. It’s only in these last few years that I have fully embraced my complete identity. Once I did that, it was like the clouds made way for the sunshine. I’m 26 now, and I love being different. I love that I understand so many cultures and that I can relate to so many people, like a social chameleon. I also feel proud that I may have the opportunity to become the first Japanese-American to play in a World Cup. I really hope that I can help inspire others with a similar background. But I wish it hadn’t taken so long. I wish that I had accepted who I was at a younger age.Unfortunately, I still know what it’s like to suffer discrimination and racism. Like walking down the street and seeing people cross the road to avoid me, as if I’m about to rob them. Or going into stores and getting asked, “Are you lost? You know how much that costs?”It’s crazy, it really is. And those are just the ones that pop into my head.Then you have the discrimination against Asian-Americans. There is a national coalition called Stop AAPI Hate that reported more than 9,000 anti-Asian incidents in the 15 months after the pandemic began in March 2020. I didn’t experience any racism like that personally, but I know that my grandma did. We have to keep speaking up about this, so that people realize it’s not O.K. In some ways, things are getting better. A big part of that is social media, and the fact that people are filming racist behavior. Before, it was always a matter of “he said, she said.” Now we have proof. We have to fight to keep that trend going. I also hope that we can celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Mnth more, and educate people about thculture and history of Asian-Americans. It’s amazing how history can teach you things about yourself. A few weeks ago, I went to visit the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, here in L.A., with my dad and my grandma. My dad has become very Americanized since moving here, but in that museum he remembered things like, “Oh, this is what we had in school. This is what my teacher used to tell me.” My grandma hasn’t been to Japan in half a century, so to see her wind back time was really special, too. Apparently they would take refuge in a cave during the war. She’d have to grab a pail, go to a lake and get water for her brothers and sisters. When they moved to the U.S., they had to stuff everything they had in a bento box, which is like a picnic basket. They turned up here with nothing but a blanket, one change of clothes and a pair of bamboo sandals. I just remember going, This is nuts. Think about it. You wouldn’t even go on a three-day trip with that. My grandma was packing stuff for a new life. In six hours I felt more connected to her than I ever had in my whole life.After that I looked at her and dad with awe. Even though they had been strict with me, I thanked them for the upbringing they had given me. I’m Japanese-American. How could I hear those stories and not be proud of who I am?hoever you are, I hope you embrace your identity too. It doesn’t have to be about being Asian-American — it can be about your sexual orientation, or some interest that you’re afraid to share, or a fashion style that nobody’s into. It can be whatever. Once you embrace that, you’ll have a better understanding of yourself. Then you will realize that there are many people just like you. You’ll find people who support you and love you for who you are. And then you’ll be a lot happier. I’ll leave you with the words that Zequinha gave to me. Whatever you do in life, play with freedom. Be brave. Don’t hide. Forget what the others think.Only you decide who you are.

US referee numbers are plunging and aggression is to blame

We all want better officiating. But it’s tough for referees to develop when abuse from players and spectators hound them out of the game
Beau DureThu 26 May 2022 05.00 EDT The Guardian


My three-year-old could’ve made that call!” exclaimed commentator Kaylyn Kyle after an apparent handball wasn’t called at the end of an NWSL Challenge Cup game between OL Reign and the Washington Spirit.Unfortunately, most three-year-olds who grow up to be soccer fans will be armchair referees rather than being on the field where they’re actually needed.They’ll grow up to spend their hours on Twitter, dissecting photos and videos often taken from sightlines the actual referee and assistant referees do not have. They will also have far more time to process plays than the officials. And too many of them will grow up to become parents and coaches who prowl sidelines yelling at referees until those officials finally toss aside their whistles and quit.We all want better referees. But it’s tough for referees to develop when there’s much more incentive for them to quit than there is for them to stick with it and improve.It’s a simple spiral. Referees drop out of the sport, especially after discovering the joys of extra free-time during the pandemic. Less experienced referees fill their spots. Coaches, players and parents harass and abuse the less experienced referees. Then those referees quit. And then the pool of referees drifting upwards to the top level is that much smaller.

The story is familiar to players in England, where some semi-professional games are going forward with teenagers and some games below that level have no officials at all. In the US, the shortages are rampant at youth level and can even reach up to MLS Next, Major League Soccer’s academy program, for which some grassroots referees in Virginia have seen urgent calls for help.
In Utah, the state youth association had reached the point of canceling 570 matches and rescheduling more than 1,000 in one season. They sent out an email trying to drum up interest in referee certification. The response was telling.
“We were flooded with responses stating they would never register as referees or allow their children to register because they’ve seen how horrible the treatment of referees has been, and they refuse to be subjected to it,” said Jen Rader, the Utah association’s marketing and media manager.

The response: A ”zero tolerance” policy on complaining to referees. The name is more draconian than the actual policy, which recognizes the reality of heated competition.
“Exclamations in the moment are part of the game,” the policy states. “A ‘handball’ or ‘offside’ as an immediate response to a situation is more than acceptable so long as that exclamation ends there.”
Coaches and players can still speak respectfully with refs. And if things are unresolved, there’s a complaint procedure that takes place electronically, not with a barracuda parent going after a terrified teenager.
To an extent, referee shortages aren’t new. Wisconsin’s youth association instituted its own zero tolerance policy in 2015, citing a “persistent shortage of referees.” The most recognizable referee in recent history, the imposing Pierluigi Collina, warned in 2017 that soccer may face a global shortage of referees. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which oversees all US scholastic sports, launched a recruitment drive in 2017.
But the pandemic has worsened the situation. The US is dealing with labor shortages in many fields, all part of what has been called the Great Resignation, and refereeing is no exception. Spending weekends somewhere other than a soccer field has proven alluring for some, especially when players apparently have pent-up frustration to unleash.
“Since the pandemic, I have seen more heated parents, coaches and players than usual,” said Janet Campbell, who chairs referee abuse and assault hearings for North Texas Soccer. “They need to settle down and let the children play the game and let the referees do their jobs. They don’t seem to understand that you have to have referees to play the game.”
And the NFHS, five years after launching that recruitment drive, has had to redouble its efforts after seeing referee numbers drop from about 240,000 to 200,000 in three years.
Wisconsin is now offering financial incentives – paying for certification and uniforms for new refs, then raising game fees paid to referees in fall 2022 – in addition to beefing up its zero tolerance enforcement.
“Zero tolerance policies continue to be enforced and we are also taking steps to be more transparent back to referees and referee leadership of suspensions and sanctions that have been assessed to show the association is working to curb behavioral issues,” said Brandon Wachholz, Wisconsin’s youth referee administrator.
Another factor feeding the frenzy on the sidelines – the US now has no shortage of games on television, which means parents and players witness (and are perhaps tempted to emulate) pundits and the professionals dissenting referees’ decisions.
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And to be sure, sometimes the critics have a point. Though Kyle’s rant of nearly three minutes over what was, at worst, a simple mistake was over the top, NWSL fans can’t be faulted for complaining about a few institutional issues. Namely:
• The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) assigns NWSL games to Tier B and Tier C referees in their development ladder, multiple tiers below MLS.
• The league lacks VAR, which might have shed some light on the incident Kyle decried as well as a horror tackle, committed by Washington’s Sam Staab, of which the referee didn’t have a clear view – screened, as is so often the case even with top-notch referees, by the defender trailing back to catch the attacker.
• MLS has some transparency via a weekly YouTube review, while PRO offers a weekly behind-the-scenes look at VAR in MLS.
• Refs assigned to the league also have a curious aversion to red cards – in 2018, Carli Lloyd and Marta were the only players to be sent off.
Kyle also happened to be on the field for one of the most controversial games in recent international play – a 2012 Olympic semi-final in which her Canadian team suffered two dubious calls in quick succession that allowed the US to get back into the game and eventually march on to the final. That game still elicits strong feelings in Canada. It was also the last major international game officiated by Norway’s Christina Pedersen, who was just 31 at the time. By the letter of the law, she didn’t even make mistakes – she simply made decisions that aren’t usually made. Fifa and Uefa aren’t prone to announcing that a referee has been removed from the public arena, but whether her disappearance was their decision or Pedersen’s, those two calls were clearly pivotal.
Pedersen’s exit from the international stage also proves that referees are held accountable – in many ways, more than players or coaches are. One bad game or even a couple of simple mistakes can sink a referee’s career. Players can fill blooper reels and still get called up to national teams. Players, coaches and even commentators can look at a play multiple times and still misunderstand the call. Case in point: On a 2010 World Cup broadcast, Efan Ekoku ranted about what he considered an erroneous offside call, either failing to notice that the attacker was well past the goalkeeper or failing to realize the rules say “second-to-last opponent,” not “last outfield player.”
And there’s no shortage of commentators. Ex-players happily line up to take a microphone, not a whistle. We’ll never hear of a broadcast in which the broadcaster simply couldn’t find anyone willing to take the gig.
But if the referee pool keeps dwindling, plenty of games will go forward without a full officiating crew. Maybe Kyle’s three-year-old should go ahead and sign up now.

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Attend a Free 20-Minute Webinar on Nursing Bridge Programs

5/27/22  Carmel FC Teams Advance to Finals, Champs League Liverpool vs Real Madrid 3 pm Sat CBS at The Pint Room downtown Carmel, USA vs Morocco Thur 7 pm ESPN, Indy 11 500 day Sat 4 pm

Congrats to the U13 2009  Carmel FC Boys Gold team with coaches Jeremy Slivinski and Chris White as they advance to the President Cup Final after a perfect 3-0 mark last weekend at Grand Park. Good luck next weekend in the Finals boys!  Also the 2009 Girls Gold Team coached by Doug Latham and Paul Cullington advanced to the State Cup finals.  I will try to dig up some game times for our teams at State/Prez/Challenge Cup finals next weekend at Grand Park in case you want to come watch.  I hope to be reffing as well. 

Champions League Final Sat 3 pm CBS Liverpool vs Real Madrid,  coverage starts at 1:30 pm.

Wow what a final we have lined up – certainly Liverpool has been dominant in this competition since coach Juergen Klopp arrived – they face the winningest team in Champions League history in Real Madrid.  The Madridistas have been on the edge of their seats as Ballon D Or Leader and #9 Benzema has helped this team pull out some late game dramatics in 2 huge come from behind wins.  The late goals vs Man City – the things legends are made of as they scored 2 goals in the last 5 minutes to force extra time where they won it on a Benzema goal.  I love the match-up and see a hard fought and high scoring affair – both teams like to attack and neither is necessarily the best on the defensive wings especially.  Both teams have great goalkeepers who can win for them in Alisson for Liverpool and Courtios for Madrid.  I see an early goal by Liverpool being the difference and a 3-2 win by the men in Red.  The Reds will fall just 1 pt short of the Quadruple (League Cup/FA Cup/Champs League/EPL title) if they can pull it off.

CARMEL FC COACHES AND FRIENDS – Join us at the PINT ROOM in DOWNTOWN CARMEL 110 W Main St.  2:45 pm Game starts at 3 pm

Finally a Network – CBS Treats Champs League with the respect it deserves

 CBS is going all out with wall to wall coverage live from Paris France– The pregame starts at 1:30 pm with the best in the business Kate Abdo on site with Jamie Carragher, Thierry Henry, and Micah Richards, Peter Schmeichel, Jenny Chui.  Unlike Fox and TBS/TNT (which was a friggin nightmare on Coverage) – CBS is employing real soccer talent to give us the full perspective on the game.  Camilla Cabello – has the pregame concert and my favorite Anthem in all of sports We Are the Champions  will get things started at about 2:45 pm.  Over 400 million (4 times the Superbowl) will be watching Worldwide – a # only matched by the World Cup and the Olympics.  So tune in and enjoy!!   (here’s the intro from the last time these teams played).

USA vs Morocco Wed 7 pm ESPN

The US Men are back in action as we have some huge June Games set to prepare us for World Cup play in Nov.  Returning to the team off a broken foot is Weston McKennie of Juve (though I suspect he may not play more than a half in these 1st 2 games in early June.)  Former German Youth National Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich) -whose dad is an American serviceman has flipped to the US and should get his first game action in the Red. White and Blue most probably at the #9 slot.  Center forward Haji Wright hopes to ride his hot streak of goals at Antalyaspor into a June chance at claiming the unclaimed #9 shirt for the US along with a fairly hot Jesus Ferreira from Dallas FC.  The Backline is looking for a replacement for starter Miles Robinson who is lost to an achilles heel injury for the year. Erik Palmer Brown and Cameron Carter Vickers fresh off his helping Celtic win the league in Ireland will battle with Aaron Long for the spot opposite Penciled in starter and Captain Walker Zimmerman.  Also good to see 19 YO outside back Joe Scally (MGladbach starter) back in the fold and hopefully we’ll see him in action in 1 of the first 2 games.  The other interesting callback is midfielder Mihailovic who has reinvigorated his career in Montreal in MLS I would guess we’ll see him in the Nations League games in late June. Late note that Zack Steffen will miss these summer games so I see I have my starters below in a game which I think we will win 2-1 over Morocco. 

Shane’s Starters for Wed game vs Morocco in Cincy

Haji Wright or Malik Tilman

Pulisic/Aaronson

Luca De La Torre/Yanus Musah

Adams

Robinson/CCV/Zimmerman/Yedlin

Matt Turner

The 26-man roster for June Games

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution), Sean Johnson (DC United)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic FC), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor)

This is why the EPL is the Best League in the World

The EPL came down to the final minutes on the final day of the final game of the season as Man City had to make up a 2 goal deficit to Aston Villa with 20 minutes to play to pull of the 3-2 victory at home to win their 4th straight league title by 1 point over Liverpool – who also had to come from behind to keep the pressure on Man City (they won 2-1).  Arsenal won but couldn’t make up points on Tottenham who won and had Son Min tie for the Golden Boot with Mo Salah of Liverpool after tallying 1 on Sunday.  Man United tied but still finished in the 6th spot automatic qualifier for Europa League play over West Ham United who lost and will now have to qualify their way in.

American Manager Jesse Marsch Keeps Leeds United in the EPL

Wow – I am going to have to get me a Leeds United America Shirt now – as coach Jesse Marsch pulled a rabbit out of the hat and kept his team alive be winning on the final day in the last minutes of the game (again) to secure their way out of the relegation zone.  Leeds finishes in 17th place – but picked up a solid # of points since Marsch took over to help keep them alive.  Now Marsch and the Club have signed American National Brenden Aaronson (who Marsch coached at Salzburg) for 30 million making him the 2nd highest US signee to Christian Pulisic’s $75 million a couple of years ago. Also on the short list for wants at Leeds – Barca’s Sergino Dest and Tyler Adams from Red Bull.  All the crap about Marsch’s American accent and him being Ted Lasso and he doesn’t belong in the EPL  – well boys if you believe!!

Indy 11 Indy 500 Game 4 pm at the Mike  Promo

Come Downtown, attend the AES 500 FESTIVAL PARADE & then make your way to Carroll Stadium to see Indy Eleven throw their version of a Race Day celebration in partnership with Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Kickoff is set for 4 pm vs New Mexico with multiple special Indy 500 like celebrations, shirts, and the BYB Little 500 BigWheel Race starting at 1:30 pm.  Preview of Game  Indy Eleven closes out a run of six home games in seven matches with a rare matinee at Carroll Stadium against its practical mirror image from the Western Conference in New Mexico United. Both teams enter Saturday’s match on hot streaks, the Boys in Blue winning five of their last six and the Black-and-Yellow going unbeaten in their last four outings, including two straight wins. After enjoying plenty of home cooking since the beginning of April, Indy Eleven will embark on a June-long, 4-game road trip before returning to “The Mike” on July 2. Indy Eleven will look to stay unbeaten in league play at Carroll Stadium, where its 4W-0L-1D mark in Championship action includes four straight victories. Order your tickets now.

BIG GAMES ON TV

Champions League Specials on CBS Sports Network

Friday, May 27, 2022

CBSSN1981 European Cup Final: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid – 9 p.m.

CBSSH 2018 UCL Final: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool – 11 p.m.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

2019 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 1 a.m.

2007 & 2012 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 1:30am ET

1 pm CBS, TUDN        Champions League Pre-Game

3 pm CBS, Univision        Liverpool vs Real Madrid  Final

4 pm ESPN+, WNDY         Indy 11 vs New Mexico United (Indy 500 Day)

8 pm Para+                         Chicago Red Stars vs Portland Thorns NWSL

Sun, June 1

3 pm Para+                         OL Reign vs San Diego Wave NWSL

6 pm Unimas, ESPN+      LA Galaxy vs Austin

9 pm Para+                         Angel City vs NY/NJ Gotham

9:10 pm Univision            Pachuca vs Atlast  Liga MX

9:30 pm Fox Spprts 1      Seattle Sounders vs Charlotte

Monn, June 2

3 pm Para+                         KC vs Racing Louisville NWSL

Wed, June 3

2:45 pm ESPN2           Scotland vs Ukraine WCQ

2:45 pm FS1                        Italy vs Argentina NL

7:30 pm ESPN2           USA vs Morocco in Cincy

Thur, June 2

2:45 pm FS1                Portugal vs Spain NL  

7:30 pm ESPN2           USA vs Morocco in Cincy

Fri, June 3

2:45 pm FS1                        Belgium vs Netherlands

10:30 pm Para+                 Portland Thorns vs Angel City NWSL

Sat, June 4

12 noon ??                          England vs Hungary NL

2:45 pm                                Italy vs Germany NL 

Sun, June 5 

12 noon ESPN2                  Wales vs (Scotland or Ukraine)

2:45 pm                                Sweden vs Norway NL

2:45 pm                                Portugal vs Switzerland NL 

Mon, June 6

2:45 pm FS1                        Croatia vs France NL

Tues, June 7

2 pm Para+                         United Arab Emirates vs Australia WCQ

2:45 pm FS1                        Italy vs Hungary NL

2:45 pm FS1                        Germany vs England NL

Weds, June 8

2:45 pm                                Belgium vs Poland NL

Thurs, June 9

2:45 pm FS1                        Portugal vvs Czechs NL

10:30 pm Para+                 Canada vs Curacao

Fri, June 10

2:45 pm FS1                        Austria vs France NL

10 pm ESPN ?             USA vs Grenada 

Sat, June 11

2:45 pm FS1                        Ireland vs Scotland NL

3 pm ABC                             Charlotte vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm Para+                       Mexico vs Suriname

Sun, June 12

9 am FS1                              Northern Ireland vs Cyprus NL

12 pm FS1                            Norway vs Sweden NL

3 pm ABC                             Charlotte vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm Para+                       Mexico vs Suriname

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumni Soccer  

Mid June – early August –  Games Wed/Sun  Age 18-30  Registration open thru June 16th. Call 317-846-1633 or Click Here

Make your own teams or we can add you to a team.  Cost is just $105 includes Jersey. 

CARMEL FC 2022 Tryouts and Evaluation Information

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

June 7, 2022 – Players 10u, 9u and 8u (Birth Years 2013 to 2016)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before evaluations begin.

Evaluations for all age groups: 6pm to 7:30pm

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June 13, 2022- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2004 to 2012)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.

Tryouts for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012: 5:45pm to 7:15pm

Tryouts for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008: 7:30pm to 9pm.
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Use this link to register for tryouts.   Visit : carmelfc.teamapp.com   Please email  info@cdccarmelfc.com. with any questions.

 Carmel Dads’ Club Soccer Camp Powered by Indy Eleven – June 13-16

9am-12pm (Rain day reschedule June 17)  Ages 6-13   Shelborne Soccer Fields – 3451 W. 126th St. Carmel, IN 46033 –  REGISTRATION IS LIVE!

Champions League Final Sat 3 pm CBS

Liverpool vs Real Madrid lineups: Projected XI’s, team news, analysis

 10 Years Ago this Week Liverpool came from 3 goals down to win the Final in Instabul

In 2018 it Was Bale who beat Liverpool
Real Madrid’s Ancelotti, the players’ coach, is on the brink of UCL history
  hMark Ogden


Euro glory would make Liverpool the best ever: McManaman

‘One in a million’ Klopp makes Liverpool a European giant again

Harmony reigns as Ancelotti and Real Madrid proves a winning combination

Benzema looks to cap great season with 5th European title

Benzema needs final triumph to make Champions League his own

Real Madrid remain Europe’s most valuable football club: studies

Liverpool’s Diaz from indigenous community that breeds ‘toughness’

Liverpool vs Real Madrid lineups: Projected XI’s, team news, analysis

‘World’s best’ Alisson: The goalkeeper who transformed Liverpool

Klopp confident Thiago will be fit for Champions League final

Which managers have won the most European trophies?

Paris readies for Liverpool fan invasion

Stade de France gets new pitch for Champions League final

USA

US World Cup Video 

Marsch Survives, Mckennie Returns, Weah Has big day on final day of play – American’s Abroad

Milhailovic’s Montreal Renaissance reignites USMNT Interest

Leeds United’s Jesse Marsch Focused on the Future – Yanks Abroad

Leeds United Sign USMNT Brenden Aaronson from Salzburg

US Mailbag – Matt Doyle

3rd Goalie Huge – even if he doesn’t get Playing Time

USWNT World Cup Qualifying begins this Summer

US Youth Teams Women’s team Progress to World Cup  

INDY 11 & MLS & US Open Cup   

New Goalkeeper Meredith from Nashville Sent Down to Indy 11

GOALKEEPER ELLIOT PANICCO RECALLED TO NASHVILLE

Asante is Finally Here Ready

RECAP | IND 2:0 NY

W League Team Establishes a New Side of LIPAFC Rivalry

FNT 1:6 Indy 11W

Indy 11 GK Elliot Panicco starts and wins for Nashville in US Open Cup
Galaxy again own bragging rights with U.S. Open Cup win over LAFC

Fantastic LA Galaxy Goal to win the El Traffico – US Open Cup Style

CupSet – Union Omaha beats Minnesota Union in US Open Cup

3rd Tier Team Union Omaha knocks off Minnesota United with Sports Center Top 10 Goal

NWSL & Ladies

 Women’s Champions League final: Lyon (Horan/Macario) are unstoppable, which Barcelona learned the hard way  Sophie Lawson

How the USWNT and USMNT achieved equal pay, rewrote history ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

Crystal Dunn: ‘Black athletes can’t be put in a box and just be athletic’

NC Courage’s Challenge Cup win shows best and worst NWSL has to offer  ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

American Lindsay Horan and Caterina Macario help Lyon Win the Champions League over Barcelona

EPL Wrapup

Relive Man City, Liverpool’s final-day title fight
Klopp named Premier League manager of the year

Marsch saves Leeds United, boosts U.S. soccer

Premier League awards for 2021-22 season

Premier League 2021-22 season grades for all 20 clubs

How Man City pulled off title-winning comeback

Erik ten Hag: Manchester United must return to Champions League

Son Heung-min’s ‘joyous’ Golden Boot hailed by S.Korea president

Premier League awards for 2021-22 season

Leeds United Want’s Sergio Dest

Leeds Highlites

Leeds – BELIEVE – TED LASSO – Jesse Marsch

Jesse Marsch from Alexi Lallas

UECL

 Jose Mourinho on Roma’s UECL win: ‘We had to write history. We wrote it’
Roma vs Feyenoord final score: Zaniolo, Patricio lead Mourinho’s men

Roma Goal

REFS

 

A record 5 American Refs were selected for the World Cup in Nov
US referee numbers are plunging and aggression is to blame

Legendary EPL Ref – Mike Dean’s Final Final Whistle

Ref Watch: Joe Machnik on calls the rules don’t cover clearly Soccer America

Poor Reffing in NWSL ?

Results in the EPL without VAR

WORLD

 Road to Qatar: Zinchenko wants to make Ukraine ‘proud’ in World Cup playoffs
Ukraine will be ready for World Cup play-off: Scotland boss Clarke

Ibrahimovic endured sleepless nights to deliver Serie A title for Milan

Kylian Mbappe exclusive: ‘I talked to Liverpool, but things were not over for me at PSG’

Final Bundesliga standings, 2021-22

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Liverpool vs Real Madrid lineups: Projected XI’s,

Liverpool lineup (projected 4-3-3)

—– Alisson —–

— Alexander-Arnold — Matip — Van Dijk — Robertson —

—- Henderson —- Fabinho —- Keita —-

—- Salah —- Mane —- Diaz —-

Alisson will obviously start in goal and the back four pretty much picks itself now that Virgil van Dijk is back from his injury scare. Joel Matip will get the nod over Ibrahima Konate but the latter has done absolutely nothing wrong when rotated into the lineup and he’s been very good in the Champions League this season.

In midfield Jordan Henderson is expected to start but then it gets interesting. Fabinho is back in training after his hamstring issue which is a huge boost. But will he be ready to start the final? Klopp told reporters that Fabinho is back training normally, while another huge boost for Liverpool is that Thiago Alcantara is fit. Will he start? He didn’t really do anything too rigorous on the pitch in Liverpool’s final training season before the final and it is tough to see him starting. That leaves one central midfield spot open and it is likely that Naby Keita will start in the midfield three over James Milner and Curtis Jones.

Up top Mohamed Salah will start on the right and Sadio Mane could well start through the middle again with Luis Diaz starting on the left. Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota are pushing to start but both are very good options off the bench.


Real Madrid lineup (projected, 4-2-3-1)

—- Courtois —–

—- Carvajal —- Militao —- Alaba —- Mendy —-

—- Casemiro —- Kroos —-

—- Valverde —- Modric —- Vinicius Jr. —-

—– Benzema —–

This Real Madrid team is very settled and has an excellent blend of youth and experience.  Veteran left back Marcelo is their only injury concern as Carlo Ancelotti has been able to rest plenty of players in recent weeks after they won the La Liga title with weeks to spare. That means Real will be fully fit, but will their rhythm be impacted by players going in and out of the lineup?

In defense Dani Carvajal is expected to start at right back with Eder Militao and David Alaba at center back and the excellent Ferland Mendy at left back tasked with shutting down Salah.

In midfield the duo of Casemiro and Toni Kroos will start as the holders with Luka Modric pulling all of the strings just ahead of them. In attack Federico Valverde and Vinicius Jr look set to start on the right and left respectively with red-hot Karim Benzema leading the line. Youngsters Rodrygo and Eduardo Camavinga have played extremely well in cameos off the bench and they will have a big part to play in this final.

Liverpool vs Real Madrid live! Champions League final, how to watch, latest news

By Joe Prince-WrightMay 27, 2022, 1:50 PM EDT

Liverpool vs Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final in Paris (Saturday, 3pm ET kick off) is the epic showpiece game that this season’s tournament deserved. 

These two teams epitomize this competition as Real have won more European titles (13) than anybody else, while Liverpool sit joint-third in the all-time list of European champions with six.Jurgen Klopp vs Carlo Ancelotti. Virgil van Dijk vs Karim Benzema. Trent Alexander-Arnold vs Vinicius Jr. Mohamed Salah vs David Alaba. The list of epic head-to-head battles goes on and on as these two European giants collide at the Stade de France to be crowned European champions.Given that these teams met in the final in Kiev in 2017-18 (when Real prevailed) and Liverpool won the title in 2018-19, these two Goliath’s continue to dine at the top table of European soccer season-after-season and their fanbases hold this trophy in even greater esteem than winning the domestic title.Below is everything you need to know ahead of the Champions League final, as Liverpool vs Real Madrid will see two heavyweights go all-out to be crowned Champions of Europe once again.

Premier League news

Liverpool have ‘learned to win’ as they prepare for Real Madrid…

Liverpool vs Real Madrid lineups: Projected XI’s, team news, analysis

 

How to watch Liverpool vs Real Madrid live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Saturday (May 28)
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
TV Channel: CBS, Univision, TUDN
Live analysis from Stade de France: From Joe Prince-Wright here on NBCSports.com
Online: Stream via Paramount+


Sights and sounds in Paris + Press conferences, live! – By Joe Prince-Wright at Stade de France


Wrapping things up from a sunny Stade de France!Final question of Klopp’s press conference was about the final being moved from St Petersburg to Paris. His response was emotional and her’s what he said.Jurgen Klopp is asked Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara. He says it looks good for both. Great news for Liverpool fans.Robertson and Alexander-Arnold are being asked a lot about Liverpool not winning the title on the final day. They so they have ‘put it behind them’ and say Champions League final is best way to get over it.Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are both batting away questions about Liverpool not being fresh and Real Madrid having a bit of an edge as they’re rested.“It goes without saying we have a world class opponent staying in our way,” Alexander-Arnold says.Trent and Robbo are here…

Welcome to the Stade de France! The Liverpool team have arrived in Paris and we are about to speak to Jurgen Klopp, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson here in the press conference room.

Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options

Klopp has breathed a huge sigh of relief after Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk were both injured in the FA Cup final but Salah played in the final Premier League game of the season and VVD was on the bench, so they’re fine. His main issue is in midfield. Thiago Alcantara trained with the group on Friday at the Stade de France, while Fabinho has been back in full training for a few days. The latter news is massive as Fabinho’s ability to help cut off the service to Benzema will be huge.

If Thiago isn’t fit to start, expect Naby Keita to start in midfield with Jordan Henderson and Fabinho. Up top Klopp has a huge call to make (he’s been getting it right for months with his rotation of his front five) as Luis Diaz may start on the left with Sadio Mane through the middle and Salah on the right. However, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota have consistently shown they can impact the game and it would not be a surprise if either started ahead of Diaz in attack.

Real Madrid team news, injuries, lineup options

Carlo Ancelotti has had the luxury of resting his key players in recent weeks as Real won the La Liga title at a canter. Veteran left back Marcelo is Real’s only injury concern and that leaves Ancelotti with plenty of options in midfield and attack as youngsters Rodrygo and Eduardo Camavinga have pushed hard to try and grab a starting spot in the final.


Liverpool vs Real Madrid head-to-head record

Liverpool wins: 3
Real Madrid wins: 4
Draw: 1


Liverpool record in European Cup finals

Title won: 6
Runners up: 3
Seasons they’ve won the European Cup: 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005, 2019


Real Madrid record in European Cup finals

Title won: 13
Runners up: 3
Seasons they’ve won the European Cup: 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018


Liverpool vs Real Madrid odds 

(-105) Liverpool vs Real Madrid (+260). Draw: +270

Champions League final: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid will be box office

May 25, 2022   Gabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

PARIS — If the Champions League final is the European game’s answer to the Super Bowl — and there are some powerbrokers who ould love to make it even more so — then most will be more than happy with Saturday’s contenders. Liverpool versus Real Madrid ticks many of the hype boxes so dear to sponsors and broadcasters, but also likely reflects the current pecking in order in Europe.There’s no fairytale here. There’s merit and savvy, quality and confidence, experience and grit. Most observers would rank Liverpool, runners-up in the Premier League and winners of the League Cup and FA Cup, and Real Madrid, winners of LaLiga, as two of the top three club sides in Europe this season. (In case you’re wondering, the third member of this season’s dominant trinity is Premier League champions Manchester City, who were beaten by Real Madrid in a dramatic semifinal comeback).Those three were the elite among Europe’s already elite super clubs as the others fell to the wayside. Paris Saint-Germain, despite the NeymarKylian MbappeLionel Messi frontline, and Chelsea, the reigning European champions, were felled by, yes, Madrid, whose run to the final has seen them knockout multiple potential winners with late comebacks. Bayern Munich and Juventus fell to giant-slaying upstarts Villarreal (themselves beaten by Liverpool, after giving them a scare). Fellow blue-bloods Barcelona and Manchester United also made early exits, burdened respectively by the fallout of a near financial meltdown and the ongoing chaos and psychodrama that is Old Trafford.

So you have two more-than-legitimate finalists. We’ll let marketing folk with their consumer surveys work out where they rank, but it’s safe to say that in terms of global fan base and brand strength, both Real Madrid and Liverpool are in the top five. Part of the reason why the City of Light’s tricolor may as well ditch the blue for the next few days and leave just Madrid’s white and Liverpool’s red, because that’s all you’ll see on the streets.Nobody can question their history, both past and present. Nobody has been European champions more than Real Madrid, who have won it 13 times, dating back to the days when it was called the European Cup (same trophy, by the way, just rebranded as Champions League) in the mid-1950s. But Liverpool have won it six times and victory on Saturday will see them match AC Milan‘s seven victories in second place. And we’re talking recent success, too. This is Liverpool’s third trip to the final in the past five years; Real Madrid have won it four times in the past eight campaigns.But you also have a delicious tasting menu of subplots and backstories.For a start, in some ways it’s a grudge match following the 2017-18 Champions League final in Kyiv. That night, Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1, but, for many Reds, the way the game unfolded still smarts. Goalkeeper Loris Karius made two colossal blunders and star forward Mohamed Salah had to be substituted after half an hour following a clash with Sergio Ramos. Salah will be there on Saturday night, along with 18 others from both teams who were involved in Kyiv. Ramos, the sort of player loathed by opponents and adored by supporters, might be temped to be there too, and not just for trolling purposes: after all, he spent 16 years at Real Madrid and now plays for PSG, just a short trip around the Peripherique from the Stade de France.

Then there’s the fact that Real Madrid arrive with the ego somewhat bruised. Not the players mind you — if there’s one thing this season’s comeback run to the final has taught us is that few can match them for resilience, unflappability and sheer self-belief — but Madridismo, that great collective (part-philosophy, part-flesh and blood) of supporters and club members itself.After months in which it appeared dead certain that they were signing star striker Mbappe, one of the two heirs apparent to the Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo duopoly, as a free agent, the French superstar said “non” and instead opted to stay at PSG.It was a shock to many and even prompted Mbappe to personally reach out to Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and give long interviews to explain his decision. It’s not just the fact that it throws Madrid’s summer transfer plans into disarray, it’s the fact that this is a club unaccustomed to not getting its way. Mbappe, who was born and raised just a few miles away, will hang over Madrid fans on Saturday; in spirit, if not in body. playhere’s more to ratchet up the hype meter and the star power. Real Madrid have the presumptive Ballon d’Or winner (Karim Benzema) and a pixieish turn-back-the-clock floppy-haired genius who, even at 36, sees and hits passes others can only draw on whiteboards (Luka Modric).

Liverpool have Salah, the Premier League’s top scorer, and Sadio Mane: bitter rivals on another continent — Mane’s Senegal outlasted Salah’s Egypt in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations — brothers in goals on the pitch. The goalkeepers, Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois and Liverpool’s Alisson, are arguably the best in the world, capable of the sort of stand-on-your-head performance that can single-handedly win you a final. Both coaches are wildly popular and quick with a smile, albeit all business in the 90 minutes in their own way: Jurgen Klopp maniacally waving his arms and roving the sideline, Carlo Ancelotti intensely chewing gum and huddling with his assistant, Davide, who also happens to be his son. Klopp is looking for his second Champions League title; Ancelotti his fourth, more than any other manger in the history of the game.

They arrive at the final having taken different paths. Real Madrid wrapped up the Liga title some three weeks ago and spent their final games recuperating and resting their battle-weary stars; Liverpool, who reached the final in every competition they entered, played an FA Cup final and contested a Premier League title right up until the dying minutes of the last day of the season, less than a week ago. (That’s another age-old question to be resolved: better to be well-rested, or better to keep the competitive juices flowing until the very end?)The scene is set and it could not shape up any better: for the supporters, for the neutrals, for the lucky 80,000 in the ground and the hundreds of millions watching around the globe, for the organizers and for the sponsors, for the storytellers and for the dreamers.All that’s left is for the two teams to take the pitch and deliver. Do not let us down.

Zack Steffen to miss U.S. World Cup prep matches; Sean Johnson added

12:42 PM ETAssociated Press

Manchester City‘s Zack Steffen will miss the United States‘ four World Cup prep matches next month for what the team said was family reasons, and he was replaced on the roster Friday by D.C.’s Sean Johnson.

The 27-year-old Steffen was considered the top American goalkeeper going into qualifying last September but was sidelined at times by a back injury and started six of 14 qualifiers. New England‘s Matt Turner, who joins Arsenal in July, started eight.

Steffen has 29 international appearances.He played in just nine matches this season for Manchester City, where he is Ederson’s backup. He appeared in just one Premier League game along with four in the FA Cup, two in League Cup, and one each in Champions League and the Community Shield.Johnson, 32, joins Turner and Nottingham Forest‘s Ethan Horvath on the roster. Johnson debuted for the U.S. in 2011 and has nine international appearances.Forest faces Huddersfield on Sunday in the Championship promotion playoff final for a place in next season’s Premier League.The U.S. plays exhibitions against Morocco on Wednesday in Cincinnati and against Uruguay on June 5 at Kansas City, Kansas, then has CONCACAF Nations League matches against Grenada on June 10 in Austin, Texas, and at El Salvador four days later.The Americans have just two more World Cup prep matches after, a pair of friendlies in Europe in September. They open the World Cup in Qatar on Nov. 21 against WalesScotland or Ukraine. They play England four days later and close group play against Iran on Nov. 29.

USMNT analysis

Analysis: A deep dive into Berhalter’s 27-man USMNT roster for June

The roster is out, Gregg Berhalter has named a 27-player roster for the upcoming friendlies against Morocco on June 1, Uruguay on June 5, followed by the start of the Nations League against Grenada on June 10 and El Salvador on June 14. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta breaks down the roster with his thoughts and analysis. 

BY BRIAN SCIARETTA    MAY 20, 202211:30 AM

UNITED STATES NATIONAL team head coach Gregg Berhalter today announced his 27-player roster for the upcoming friendlies against Morocco and Uruguay along with the start of the CONCACACF Nations League. The roster is most important, obviously, because it is one of the final opportunities Berhalter will have with his players prior to the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.Many of the top stories on the roster have already been leaked over the past few weeks.Haji Wright and Cameron Carter-Vickers were going to get a chance.Sergino Dest, Gio Reyna, Jordan Pefok, Chris Richards, and Josh Sargent have all been carrying injuries.As announced by the German U-21 head coach, Malik Tilman will switch to play for the United States. Regardless of most of the surprises being known ahead of time, here are my thoughts on it all.
THE ROSTER

 

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 29/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 16/0)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld/GER; 6/0), Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 24/1), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 8/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 23/3), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes/FRA; 3/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 25/2), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 0/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami; 73/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 28/3)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 51/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 27/1), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED; 7/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 31/9), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal/CAN; 6/1), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 16/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 31/0), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich/GER; 0/0)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 18/5), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 44/9), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 9/3), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 46/10), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 48/21), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 22/2), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor/TUR; 0/0)

 MCKENNIE’S RETURN

 Weston McKennie was named to the roster and at a time when many key American players are injured, McKennie looks ready to go. He’s an important part of the team and it was obvious in the loss to Costa Rica in March that the team needs grit in the midfield in the form of a two-way midfielder who can do the dirty work, win balls, disrupt the opposition, and get the ball forward into the attack.McKennie has been out since suffering a broken metatarsal in his foot while playing for Juventus in March. For that, Berhalter tempered enthusiasm as to what he can accomplish in this camp.  “I wouldn’t be expecting him to play major minutes in these in the first couple of games,” Berhalter said of McKennie. “Hopefully, and this is hopefully, we can get to a point where he can start one of the Nations League games, but that’s not guaranteed. He’s been doing a great job and getting back and for us it’s just great to have him back in camp and hopefully get him some playing time throughout the camp.”

MALIK TILLMAN’S ADDITION


On Thursday, German U-21 national team head coach Antonio Di Salvo announced that Bayern Munich attacker Malik Tillman would no longer represent Germany and would instead represent the United States moving forward. Di Salvo admitted to being surprised by the decision.We regret Malik’s decision and it surprised us very much,” said Di Salvo. “We encouraged him as a younger player with the U-21s, placed a lot of trust in him, and gave him playing time. In addition, we were in intensive exchange regarding his prospects on a path to the senior national team.”After that, Tillman’s addition to the U.S. roster was expected although his change of association has not been completed. He will not be eligible to play until it is completed.The United States needs more attackers across the board and more goal scoring threats. Right now, there are still a lot of players who haven’t been scoring enough goals for their club teams – whether it be on the wings or in midfield. Players such as Luca de la Torre, Yunus Musah, and Tim Weah, have all has seasons that haven’t produced goals. Those players all have something to offer, but the question is where are the goals going to come from? Tillman is certainly a useful player to add to the mix.”He’s an attacking midfielder in a 3-4-2-1,” Berhalter said. “He could be a pocket winger in a 4-3-3. He could be a center mid in a 4-3-3 depending on if we can get his defensive work up to where it needs to be. But he’s really talented between the lines, he really has a knack for scoring goals, good and calm around the penalty box, good technique scoring both feet – both footed. So, he’s an interesting player.”Expectations should be tempered. It’s not wise to start posting him into key roles for Qatar until it is seen how he can do with the team. He is young, at age 19, and has shown glimpses of great promise and potentially a high ceiling. But until first team minutes establish a benchmark, it is tough to tell. Even with German youth national teams or dominating at the reserve level, it can be hit and miss. Shawn Parker, Gedion Zelalem, Julian Green, Terrence Boyd never materialized into full national team quality for any length of time. On the other hand, John Brooks a