5/24/19  Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm, US Ladies vs Mexico Sun 12 on Fox, German and Spanish Cups Sat, Full TV Game Schedule

Shane Best       The Ole Ballcoach

Indy 11

The Indy 11 look to stay undefeated at home vs 2nd place Nashville at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night. Tickets for the 7:00 p.m. kickoff remain available for as little as $15 at IndyEleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.  Special Indy 500 jersey’s and merchandise will be available during this “Racing Indy Night” with free special edition Indy 11/IMS Caps going to the first 500 in the building the night before the Indy 500. The game will also be on Wish TV.

USA World Cup

The final of the USWNT’s send-off friendlies will be this Sunday vs Mexico on May 26 (Noon ET, ESPN).  The US Ladies have dominated in their 2 other games (3-0 vs NZ + 5-0) and look ready to roll as the Women’s World Cup is now just 2 short weeks way.  Interesting stories below on Lindsay Horan’s skipping college and going to Europe before landing on the US squad and US star d-mid Julie Ertz being a bad, bad woman!  Check out the Casual Fans Guide to the Women’s World Cup, the World Cup Power Rankings and follow along on Yahoo Soccer for all the updates.  The World Cup from France gets underway June 7 with the US starting June 11.

  • Fri, June 7 3 p m  FS1                            France vs South Korea
  • Tues, June 11: 3 p.m. ET, Fox                USA. vs. Thailand,
  • Sun, June 16: Noon ET, Fox                 USA. vs. Chile,
  • Thurs, June 20: 3 p.m. ET, Fox           USA. vs. Sweden

On the men’s side – Gold Cup Preparations are underway as US Coach Greg Berhalter has called in a large squad for training before cutting down the roster on June 7th right before the first friendly in Cincy on Sunday, June 8th.  Notable omissions from the squad are defenders John Brooks and outside back DeAndre Yedlin – who will both miss the tourney due to injuries.   Headliner’s include Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Schalke’s Weston McKennie and RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams along with Toronto’s Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.  (see full roster below).  The USMNT U20’s with coach Tab Ramos at the helm start their World Cup campaign on Friday at 2:30 pm vs Ukraine, then Monday at 2:30 vs Nigeria both on Fox Sport 1.  PSG Winger Tim Weah and Philly’s Chris Richards will lead the way.  The US games along with many other U20 World Cup games will be featured on FS1 & FS2 – here’s a US quick preview and the TV games are listed on the schedule.

Europa and Champions League

Trophies are not all that’s on the line in the Europa League final on Wednesday afternoon between Chelsea and Arsenal this Wednesday, May 29 on TNT.  Arsenal finished in 5th place in the EPL – which means a victory is the only thing that will put the Gunners into the lucrative Champions League next season.  For Chelsea there are rumors it will take a win for manager Sari to keep his job next season when American Christian Pulisic will join the team.  I am afraid Chelsea will win a close one but I will be rooting for Arsenal!  Of course the All English Finals continue on Sat, June 1 at 3 pm as Liverpool will face Tottenham on TNT for the Champions League final.

World

Bayern Munich won its 7th Bundelisga Title as club legends Frank Ribbery and Arjen Robben both scored in their final home games.  Bayern edged Borrusia Dortmund by 2 pts for the title after Dortmund blew their lead down the stretch.  Good news for Americans in Champions & Europa League next season in Germany as John Brooks of Wolfsburg, Fabian Johnson of Borrusia Monchengladbach and Timothy Chandler of Enintract Frankfurt all made Europa League and Tyler Adams of RB Leipzig finished 3rd for a Champions League spot.  Of course, Tyler Adams and Red Bull Leipzig will face Bayern Munich in the German Cup finals this Saturday at 2 pm on ESPN News. Barcelona battles Valencia Saturday at 3 pm on ESPN Desportes/Watch ESPN for the Spanish Copa Del Rey title.  Meanwhile, Italy has 1 spot available in Champions League between 3 teams as Milan, Inter and Atalanta battle it out this weekend – games are Saturday on ESPN+.

MLS

Big news in MLS this week as Indiana’s own DeMarcus Beasley has announced his retirement at the end of Houston’s MLS Season, the former US international played professionally overseas for clubs such as PSV Eindhoven, Man City, and Celtic Rangers, before returning to finish out his career in Houston as a left back – here are some highlights.  I for one was hoping he might hook up with the Indy 11 at some point – who knows?   The only free TV game this week features Sporting KC vs Seattle Sunday evening 6 pm on FS1.  Of course, most MLS games are on ESPN+.

Carmel FC Tryouts & Camps are Set

Tryouts for kids from U8 till 18 are right around the corner.  Carmel FC is a community -based club who has put tons of kids on the local high school teams at Carmel High, Guerin, University and more.  Tryouts are June 4th for academy teams U8-U10, and June 10 & 11 for U13 & above. Click here for more info about CFC Tryouts.  For Goalkeepers getting ready for high school or club tryouts – Carmel FC’s Head Goalkeeping Coach Indy 11’s Jordan Farr is offering individual and small group training – contact him at farrjordn13@gmail.com.

CFC_GK_Cash

Indy 11 Soccer Camp – Carmel Dad’s Club Badger Field June 17-20 9-12 noon.ages 6-14 $135

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 9-12 pm Beginner Camp $150

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 3-5 pm Elite Player Development Camp $150

GAMES ON TV

Fri, MAY 24  

2:30 pm Fox Sport 1           USA U20s vs Ukraine  U20 WC

Sat, MAY 25  

2 pm ESPNNews                  German Cup Bayern Munich vs RB Leipzig (Adams)  

2:30 pm FS2                                           Argentina U20 vs South Africa U2

3 pm ESPN Desp                    Copa Del Rey – Barcelona vs Valencia

3:30 pm ESPN+                                     Chicago Fire vs NYCFC

7 pm WISHTV                       Indy 11 vs Nashville (Lucas Oil)

7:30 pm EPSN+                                     Cincy vs NY Red Bulls

Sun, MAY 26  

9 am ESPN News                                 Torino vs Lazio

9:30 am FS1                                            Mexico U20 vs Japan U20

12 pm ESPN                                    USA Ladies vs Mexico

2:30 pm ESPN+                                     SPAL vs Milan (champ league race)

2:30 pm ESPN+                                     Inter vs Empoli (champ league race)

2:30 pm ESPN+                                     Atalanta vs Sassuolo (champ league race)

6 pm Fox Sport 1                                Sporting KC vs Seattle

7:30 pm EPSN+                                     Toronto FC vs San Jose

Mon, MAY 27   

2:30 pm FS1                         USA U20s vs Nigeria U20 WC

Weds, May 29                      Europa League Finals

2:30 pm TNT                                   Chelsea vs Arsenal

Thur, MAY 30   

2:30 pm FS1                         USA U20s vs Qatar U20 WC

Sat, June 1                             Champions League Finals

2:30 pm TNT/FuboTV               Liverpool vs Tottenham 

8:00 pm ESPN+                                     Colorado vs Cincy

8:30 pm ESPN+                                     Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Seattle

7:30 pm ESPN2                                     Portland vs LAFC (new stadium opens!)

Sun, June 2  

11:30 pm FS2                                        U20 WC Sweet 16

2:30 pm FS2                                           U20 WC Sweet 16

Mon, June 3  

2:30 pm FS2                                           U20 WC Sweet 16

Wed, June 5  

2:45 pm ESPN2                                     Portugal vs Switzerland Nations League

Thurs, June 6  

2:45 pm ESPN2                                     Netherlands vs England -Nations League

Women’s World Cup June 7-July 7

  • Fri, June 7 3 p m  FS1                            France vs South Korea
  • Tues, June 11: 3 p.m. ET, Fox                S. vs. Thailand,
  • Sun, June 16: Noon ET, Fox                 S. vs. Chile,
  • Thurs, June 20: 3 p.m. ET, Fox S. vs. Sweden
  • Sun, July 7 3 pm ET, Fox Women’s World Cup Finals from France

Gold Cup TV Schedule June 15– July 7

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

Where to Watch Soccer Games on Which Channels

Indy 11 vs Nashville

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview of Nashville game and Indy Racing night

3 Things Indy 11 Last Week

Indy 11 Defender Garcia is Named to USL Player of Week

Late Goal leads to 1-0 Win over Charleston

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

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

Champions & Europa League

Arsenal’s Mkhitaryan forced to miss Europa Final

Arsenal’s Iwobi excited by Europa League Final – Goal.com

Champions League Winners Thru the Years – Video

Who’s Going to Win the Champions League Final June 1?

Oxade Chamberlain chasing Champions League dreams after Liverpool Injury

New Champions League Revamp would wreck EPL and others – Marcotti – ESPNFC

European League Hate the New Champions League Plan – Goal.com

USA

Yedlin & Brooks Left off US Men’s Gold Cup List – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Pulisic wants to emulate Hazard at Chelsea – EPSNFC

U20 US World Cup quick preview.

U20 World Cup Groups

Womens’ World Cup Power Rankings – Yahoo Doug McIntyre

Women’s World Cup ticket Fail

US Ladies Julie Ertz (Johnston) is Ass Kicker of US Women’s Team

US Lindsey Horan Skipped College- Road Never Traveled – Yahoo Soccer 

Get Ready for US Mal Pugh

Meet the 23 members of the USWNT 2019 World Cup roster

Carli Lloyd scores Brace in 5-0 win over New Zealand – Stars and Stripes

Ali Krieger Reaches 100th Cap for US Ladies – Stars and Stripes

Hosts France to feature 7 players from powerhouse Lyon

WORLD

Quick World Wrap-up with Marcotti – ESPNFC

30 Best players under 21 – Pulisic, Mbappe, De Jong lead list – ESPN

3 Teams battle for 2 Champions League Spots in Italy on Final Day on ESPN+ – AP

Bayern Munich win 7th Bundesliga Title as Robbin and Ribbery play last games ESPNFC

Bayern Edges Dortmund to Win Title on Final Day

Pulisic’s Warm Farewell to Dortmund

Man City could Lose Champions League Spot over FFP Breach –

Man City are the Greatest Team of this EPL Era – Gab Marcotti ESPNFC

Man City – How they Won the English Treble – ESPNFC

World Cup Qatar in 2022 Stays at 32 Teams

MLS

Chris Wondolowski Breaks MLS All Time Goals Record – Jeff Carlisle

Indiana’s own DeMarcus Beasley to Retire from Houston at Season’s End

Beasley’s Top 5 Moments for Club and Country

Run DMB – Beasley A look back – Stars and Stripes

Power Rankings MLS

Landon Donovan gives kudos to Wondo for breaking his MLS Goalscoring Record

Week 12 Review MLS – Greg Doyel

LAFC chase of history rolls on with another win

Zlatan suspended 2 games for Choking Goalkeeper

Goalkeepers

Goalkeepers – How do Pros Handle the Pressure – Mark Odgen ESPNFC

http://www.nwslsoccer.com/videos/8DC0EB23-738E-2F96-D474-B760EE0662DB  Saves of the week

MLS Saves of Week

Indy 11 THREE THINGS | OPEN CUP & WEEK 11

By IndyEleven.com, 05/22/19, 7:30PM EDT

Our three things from Indy’s back-to-back wins in U.S. Open Cup & Week 11

DONUTS FOR EVERYONE

I’ve only worked in a true office environment for a little over a year now, but it seems customary to bring donuts when you’ve shown up late or made some department’s life a little harder. That’s what goalkeeper Evan Newton did last Thursday morning after receiving an early red card in Indy’s U.S. Open Cup fixture against Lansing Ignite the previous night. He brought donuts to training to thank his guys for having his back a gracious gesture appreciated by his teammates (just ask defenders Paddy Barrett and Macauley King).But this point is about more than delicious, empty calories. It’s about how much adversity Indiana’s Team has overcome courtesy of red cards and the toll they take on you not only physically, but mentally. Just ask Head Coach Martin Rennie.

“What’s been important is we’ve had a bit of adversity early in the season,” the Scotsman said. “We’ve had red cards twice in the first 20 minutes.”Two red cards in the first 20 minutes of two matches two weeks apart; that’s going to take a toll on your squad, mentally, physically and emotionally. What’s most impressive though, were the donuts – aka “zeroes,” aka shutouts – that followed the cards. The squad pulled out a point by keeping an old-school glazed yeast against a goal heavy Tampa Bay Rowdies down a man for 70 minutes, followed by a chocolate cake clean sheet in the face of a strong North Carolina FC three days later.After a week off to recover, the Boys in Blue found themselves short-handed for 70 minutes after Newton’s early ejection against Lansing. That meant it was Jordan Farr’s turn to make the donuts with the defense (more on him later), and the team rallied to pitch a 1-0 maple long John to advance in the USOC. Another game, another donut (we’ll go vanilla sprinkled) three days later against Charleston helped spur the squad to a pivotal 1-0 win, ended a string of games that tested Rennie’s and the team’s resolve – and fitness.“We’ve come into home games with only two days recovery, but we’ve still been picking up points and winning games.”

THE HOT HAND AT HOME

Undefeated at home. Curse of the football lines, credit the defense, thank god for majestic own goals, or kiss the left foot of Tyler Pasher … regardless of whatever reason you put the most emphasis on for the home form of the Boys in Blue, they’re undefeated. as Oil Stadium is becoming a fortress, and last Saturday night’s fixture against Charleston Battery helped justify that.In the first four games at home, the ledger has been a bit unorthodox: four clean sheets – which helped ‘keeper Evan Newton become the newest Lew’s Crew to hold a USL Championship regular season record – two goals, one red card, and no losses.“We’ve been kind of unfortunate in the sense all of our home games have been after two days of recovery,” Rennie said. “As a result, we haven’t been coming out flying.”What has been flying is the defense. Indiana’s Team hasn’t allowed a goal at home in 360 minutes during the 2019 season, and 421 minutes dating back to October 6, 2018. But on Saturday night, fans had something to cheer about besides a fourth clean sheet after the 90 minutes against Charleston. The Boys in Blue scored their first goal at home, by our own player, when midfielder Tyler Pasher rocketed a shot off the chest of Charleston’s goaltender into the back of the net to secure a 1-0 win.“We talked about it before the game and again at half time that it was really important that we got a goal,” Rennie said. “At home in this stadium we haven’t had one of our players put the ball in the back of the net yet, so it was really important, even if it meant risking losing a goal, to go for it.”Now, with the proverbial monkey off the back of the collective Eleven attack and the squad able to enjoy a full week’s rest, the result could be more streamers floating over the BYB starting Saturday night against Nashville.

FARR OUT MAN

CFC_Far2

It might not have happened the way Rennie expected, but second-year goalkeeper Jordan Farr finally made his professional debut between the sticks for Indy Eleven last Wednesday against Lansing Ignite FC, the appearance coming 15 months after signing in February 2018.“It was funny,” Rennie said in the minutes following the U.S. Open Cup Second Round win at Butler University’s Sellick Bowl. “I brought him into my office [Tuesday] and spoke to him and said, ‘Look, I’m not going to play you in this game, but I do believe in you and think you’re going to be a great goalkeeper for us. I’ve got no problem putting you into a game when that time comes.’”What wasn’t funny was Farr’s performance. The 24-year-old made multiple acrobatic saves and looked more composed with every minute under his belt on his way to earning the first clean sheet in the Eleven’s now eight-game LHUSOC history.“When I got in it felt like home,” Farr said. “It felt fantastic and like I belonged there.”Farr’s next appearance will be anything but unexpected, the Corban University product is guaranteed to start due to Newton’s USOC red card suspension when Indy travels to take on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the Third Round next Wednesday. This time he’ll have to keep the net empty for a full 90 minutes, a task his head coach is confident he can handle.

“He proved what I already knew – and that is he is a very good goalkeeper.”

Indy Eleven’s busy month of May continues this Saturday, May 25, with the club’s first-ever “Indy 500 Eve” game. Kickoff for “Racing Indy Night” against Nashville SC at Lucas Oil Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m., and the first 500 fans through the gates will receive a special-edition Indy Eleven/IMS cap. Tickets remain available for as little as $15.

Pulisic wants to emulate Hazard at Chelsea

pulisic_chelsea

3:48 AM ET ESPN

New Chelsea signing Christian Pulisic has said he wants to fill the void left by Eden Hazard should the Belgian leave for Real Madrid this summer.

Chelsea signed Pulisic for £58 million (€64m) from Borussia Dortmund in January, a record fee for a U.S. player, although he remained in the Bundesliga for the rest of the 2018-19 season.

Pulisic could be the only new face to arrive at Stamford Bridge this summer with the prospect of a two-window transfer ban hanging over the club, while sources have told ESPN FC that Hazard wants to complete a move to Real as soon as possible, with the winger’s final game for Chelsea likely to be against Arsenal in the Europa League final on May 29.But Pulisic, 20, has said he is ready to replace Hazard should he exit Stamford Bridge this summer and has set his sights on emulating the Belgian, who has lit up the Premier League since his arrival in 2012.”It is incredible to see what Eden can do. He is a guy to look up to and what I would love to become,” Pulisic told BBC Sport.”It is definitely a goal. Any player would be dumb not to want to be in the same team as him.”Hazard led Chelsea in both goals and assists as the club finished third in their first season under Maurizio Sarri, scoring 16 Premier League goals while setting up another 15. Pulisic, meanwhile, scored on the final day of the Bundesliga campaign to take his season tally to four, although the forward was hit by injuries during the year.During his time in Germany, Pulisic became the youngest non-German to score a Bundesliga goal and the youngest player to play for Dortmund in the Champions League. He is also the youngest player to captain the U.S. men’s national team, but says he is motivated to set new records now he has arrived in the Premier League.”I don’t want to be looked at as someone who is the youngest to do this or that,” Pulisic said. “I just want to be an established player and someone people respect, who is successful in this league.”It is completely new to me and something not a lot of American players have experienced. It is a blessing to be in this position, so I can inspire American kids, to show them we can do it too.”Pulisic also wants to help Chelsea close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool, who finished 26 and 25 points ahead of the Blues last season respectively.”Liverpool and City are two great teams who had great seasons but I have seen Chelsea compete against big teams and do well against them this season,” he said.”We want to go in with a winning mentality and compete with them right away.”

Gold Cup: Yedlin left off U.S.’s preliminary roster

May 20, 2019Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Schalke’s Weston McKennie and RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams join Toronto’s Michael Bradley as the headliners on United States coach Gregg Berhalter’s 40-man preliminary roster for this summer’s Gold Cup, while DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks Jr. have missed out.

CONCACAF released every team’s preliminary roster on Monday.In addition to the big names, Berhalter dug up a few surprises for his list, selecting Derby County midfielder Duane Holmes as well as Tyler Boyd, currently on the books of Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes, who just had a one-time switch to represent the U.S. approved after playing a handful of friendlies for New Zealand.There is also a recall for MSV Duisburg attacker Joe Gyau, whose once-promising career has been devastated by knee injuries. Fulham full-back Marlon Fossey, himself a victim of a knee injury last year, has been added to the list as well.Andrew Gutman, currently on loan with the USL’s Charlotte Independence after signing with Celtic, was named to the list, as was defender Miles Robinson, who has been outstanding for Atlanta United this season.There were a couple of notable omissions, though the biggest were injury-induced. Newcastle United defender Yedlin will miss out after recently undergoing groin surgery, while a knee ailment has rendered Wolfsburg defender Brooks unavailable.Bobby Wood, who hadn’t made the game-day roster in over two months while on loan at Hannover 96, also didn’t make the cut.Berhalter is expected to announce the group that will participate in a pre-Gold Cup training camp on Wednesday.The final 23-player rosters will be announced by CONCACAF the first week of June. After the official announcement, only injury-related changes will be allowed, up until 24 hours before each team’s first match, and any injury replacements must come from the preliminary 40-player roster. – Morris injures hamstring as Gold Cup looms

U.S. preliminary roster:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Tyler Miller (LAFC), Zach Steffen (Columbus Crew),

Defenders: Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Marlon Fossey (Fulham FC), Greg Garza(FC Cincinnati), Omar Gonzalez (Club Atlas), Andrew Gutman (Charlotte Independence), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Matt Miazga (Chelsea FC), Tim Ream(Fulham FC), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)

Midfielders: Paul Arriola (DC United), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Tyler Boyd (MKE Aknaragücü), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Jonathan Lewis(Colorado Rapids), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke 04), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jonathan Amon (FC Nordsjaelland), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake), Joe Gyau (MSV Duisburg), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Christian Ramirez (LAFC), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

Bayern wrap up Bundesliga and say goodbye to legends. PLUS: Vincent Kompany calls time at Man City

May 20, 2019 Gabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

After another action-packed weekend in soccer, Gab Marcotti reflects on the big talking points in his latest edition of Monday Musings.

Bayern wrap up turbulent season with another league title

There was no drama on the final day of the 2018-19 Bundesliga season. Bayern won and did it emphatically, beating up Eintracht Frankfurt, 5-1, to win their seventh straight title. Despite being 90 minutes away from a Double — they play Leipzig in the German Cup final next weekend — Niko Kovac’s job is on the line.The fact that he said “I’m convinced I’m staying” rather than simply “I’m staying” speaks volumes here, and if you followed Bayern’s season, you’ll know why.

– Honigstein: Can Bayern ever replace Robben, Ribery?

This is a team that was nine points back from Borussia Dortmund in December. And rather than putting together an inspired comeback, the narrative of the campaign has been more about taking advantage of their rivals’ stumbles (and there have been many). In Kovac’s case, it was also about less-than-inspired football — the ghost of Pep Guardiola still haunts the Allianz Arena — and occasionally stormy relations with a number of first-team players. Saturday also marked the goodbye for three men who have marked Bayern’s recent history: RafinhaArjen Robben and Franck Ribery after a combined 30 seasons at the club. Robben and Ribery in particular ought to be singled out. It’s easy to forget that both started and made their name as traditional wingers, only to evolve into something different and more modern, during the Guardiola era. It’s one thing for young players to adapt to a new boss, quite another for two veterans pushing 30 to reinvent themselves and make a radically different change. That’s a credit to their professionalism and the environment that existed at the club.

There are big decisions ahead for Bayern even if Kovac ends up staying, but the lasting legacy of this season ought to be a warning shot across their bow: this title is more about your opposition’s flaws than your own merits. Fix things or watch someone else win next season.

Praise for Vincent Kompany

Watford failed to put up much of a fight in the FA Cup final as Manchester City romped to a 6-0 win, matching a record for margin of victory that stood since 1903 when Bury defeated Derby County. The win seals City’s domestic Treble and yes, they probably are the greatest English side in the Premier League era, although they certainly did not need Saturday’s win to prove it.In some ways, the day was all about Vincent Kompany, who announced his departure to join Anderlecht, the club where he grew up, in a player-manager role. Kompany, of course, may be City’s greatest-ever captain and the way he stormed back into the starting line up after three injury-riddled seasons, scoring the key goal at Leicester in the most improbable way only cements his place in history. (The fact that by shooting from 30 yards out, he chose not to follow the standard Guardiola instruction for a center-back in that position — play it out to the wings — also shows what a leader is: someone who knows when to follow orders and when to trust his gut.)Anybody who has met Kompany will tell you he is precisely the sort of charismatic, intelligent and empathetic individual who is bound to do something important in football upon retirement — if he so chooses. The fact that he opted to return home when, you’d imagine, City were willing to roll out the red carpet for him and groom him as a future coach or club executive — as they did with Patrick Vieira and wanted to do with Frank Lampard — as well as giving him the option of another season on the pitch, says plenty about him.He’s been a tremendous servant to City, but the Etihad is not reality. It’s an extreme situation, with a unique set-up and manager. If he wants to learn the ropes, he needs to dig in further down the food chain. The fact that he can do it at the (other) club he loves is a bonus.

A big summer ahead for Real Madrid and Gareth Bale

Real Madrid’s season finished with a whimper, beaten 2-0 at home by Betis in Quique Setien’s final game in charge of Betis. It was their 18th defeat of the season, their 12th in La Liga. It also marks arguably their worst campaign in more than two decades, and while the arrivals of Eder Militao and Luka Jovicmay inject new life in the side next season, Sunday also offered a reminder of how they can’t just flip a switch, blow up the team and start over.After two straight weeks where he was fit but wasn’t even called up to the match day squad, Gareth Bale made the substitutes’ bench against Betis. He was an unused sub as Zinedine Zidane sent on Marco Asensio, Isco and Lucas Vazquezinstead. Cameras pictured him laughing on the bench with Toni Kroos. At the final whistle, he disappeared down the tunnel while his teammates gathered to salute the fans: few got resounding cheers, other than Keylor Navas, who is leaving.Bale is one of the five highest-paid players in the world, with a salary of more than $30 million a year. While his output, when prorated over minutes on the pitch, has actually been relatively steady, at least statistically, he no longer fits into the club’s plans. They have Vinicius Junior, Asensio, Lucas Vazquez, Brahim Diaz and they hope to sign Eden Hazard. It’s seemingly an open secret that they’d love to sell him.Except Bale’s contract runs through 2022, on the eve of his 33rd birthday. And the reality is that very few clubs can afford those wages and those who do maybe don’t want or need Bale. Certainly not at that salary, anyway, and not if they also need to pay a transfer fee however small. Bale doesn’t want to go on loan, and as far as we know, he won’t take a pay cut either.That’s his prerogative, of course. If he’s willing to sit and wait for Zidane to change his mind about him or for a new manager to take over, that’s his choice. But he shouldn’t be surprised if people don’t understand how a guy who likely has close to $100 million in the bank is unwilling to take a pay cut in order to play. His pride may be wounded, sure, but in a couple seasons, his body won’t allow him to play the game at all. And he’ll never get that opportunity back.Here’s hoping he takes a leaf out of the Arjen Robben play book, swallows his pride, cuts his salary — in the short term, at least, in the long-term it might extend his shelf-life and the money he earns — and relaunches his career elsewhere.I don’t want Bale’s Real Madrid tenure to end the way Jack Rodwell’s did in Sunderland. I refuse to believe the fire has gone out and that this really is all about golf.

Serie A’s top-four race goes to final weekend

The FC crew have their say on who among Atalanta, Inter, Roma, or Milan will be celebrating Champions League football qualification next weekend.

Serie A is going down to the wire in the battle for the final two Champions League spots after the weekend’s matches which saw Roma draw away to Sassuolo (0-0), Inter get thumped at Napoli, Milan overcome Frosinone (2-0, after Gianluigi Donnarumma saved a penalty with the game scoreless) and Atalanta concede a late equaliser away to Juventus (1-1).The first obvious point to make is that the old trope whereby late-season Serie A games yield “weird” results as teams that don’t need points happily gift them to the opposition is out the window. Napoli had nothing to play for and neither did Sassuolo. Juventus stormed back in the second half after a horrendous first 45 minutes. And sure, you can say that they didn’t want to spoil the postgame scudetto party but equally, quite a few of their fans wouldn’t have minded seeing Atalanta knock one of the Milanese clubs out of the Champions League places.The upshot?Atalanta — home to Sassuolo in theory but in practice away to Sassuolo, since Atalanta’s stadium is closed for renovations — and Inter (home to Empoli) control their own destinies. A win guarantees a place in the Champions League. Milan (away to SPAL) need to win and hope that Inter or Atalanta draw or Milan can draw if Atalanta lose since the head-to-head tiebreaker favours the rossoneri. There’s also a scenario where Roma can qualify, but it would require three different results to go their way, and they’d need a massive swing in goal difference.The stakes are high for everyone, particularly Inter and Milan.The former have just come out of their financial fair play settlement agreement, but missing out on Champions League revenue would limit the much-needed rebuild. (And yes, if you saw how awful they were at Napoli, you’d agree they need serious help beyond just a new manager). The fact that they’re playing Empoli, who desperately need the points to stay up, isn’t encouraging either. Meanwhile, Milan have their own FFP issues, of course, and things will only get more complicated if they miss out, particularly after shelling out $90 million in January on Krzysztof Piatek and Lucas Paqueta.Whatever happens, even if they don’t qualify Atalanta have already won Serie A, metaphorically speaking.

Will the real Dortmund please stand up?

From one vantage point, it’s hard to tell who the real Borussia Dortmund are. Are they the side that lost just twice before February and enjoyed a six-point lead at the top of the table? Or are they the team that won just eight of their past 17 games in all competitions the rest of the way?Youth can be an excuse for many things, and this is undoubtedly a side packed with promising talent. Then again, that’s why they signed an experienced coach in Lucien Favre who was supposed to guard against a second-half collapse. Instead we saw a side lacking maturity in the spring, particularly when injuries hit.In some ways, their final act of the season, away to Borussia Moenchengladbach, was a metaphor of the season, only in reverse. Against an opponent that still had a shot at winning a place in the Champions League, Dortmund looked chaotic and flimsy in the first half, only to rediscover themselves in the second and storm back to a 2-0 victory. Favre needs to convince the players that the real Dortmund is the one we saw after the break Saturday.When you throw titles away, it always hurts more, but this is the club’s third highest points total ever. There is plenty of raw material with which to work, and if they sell a prize asset or two, there will be plenty of resources available to narrow the gap with Bayern, who look to be heading towards a transition year next season.

Messi wraps up another Golden Boot?

Having sealed their eighth league title in 11 years, the main purpose of Barcelona’s final match of the Liga campaign away to Eibar was Lionel Messigetting a chance to pad out his goals total with a view towards winning his sixth European Golden Boot. (Whether or not he cares and whether he’d happily swap them all for a World Cup, Copa America or even another Champions League is a matter for debate.)

As it happened, he bagged both goals in the 2-2 draw, which means his season ends with 36 Liga goals: he has 50 overall, with the Copa del Rey final to come. Assuming Kylian Mbappe fails to score five goals in Paris Saint-Germain’s final game of the season (not likely he will) and Fabio Quagliarella doesn’t bag 11 in Sampdoria’s last outing (even less likely), it’s yet another piece of silverware for his trophy cabinet.

De Rossi’s exit causes chaos at Roma

News that Daniele De Rossi will be leaving Roma at the end of the season marks the end of an era. The man once known as “Captain Future” because, of course, there can only ever be one Capitano at Roma, will play his final game next weekend at home to Parma after 18 years at the club. The club are fortunate that they have quality ready-made replacements ready to take over the armband. Just as they went from Francesco Totti to De Rossi, they’ll go from De Rossi to Alessandro Florenzi and, perhaps, one day to Lorenzo Pellegrini and then to Luca Pellegrini (no relation, in case you’re wondering).That said, it’s telling how De Rossi’s departure is wreaking such havoc at the club. He simply said he imagined himself playing for Roma until he could no longer stand and they “dragged me off the pitch.” He also said that had he been in charge, he would have renewed his contract another year. He even said he was willing to stay on a “pay-for-play” deal. That was enough for a popular uprising among some supporters against the Roma top brass, from owner Jim Pallotta to executives Mauro Baldissoni and Franco Baldini. Even Claudio Ranieri, the outgoing manager, appeared to take a swipe when he said that he would have kept De Rossi around.You can get the fans’ reaction — we want our heroes to be immortal — but some of this also feels like a case of “point-scoring” against the club for what has turned into a disappointing season.As for De Rossi, you can’t picture him wearing different colors, and you’d imagine that if he has to play for a different club, he’ll want it to be as far away as possible. The fact that he speaks good English and his wife is British-American (although she was raised in Rome) has prompted some to see Major League Soccer in his future. You’d imagine that would be an option, although the legacy of great European midfielders moving to MLS isn’t great: Bastian SchweinsteigerSteven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo didn’t exactly pull up trees.So here’s hoping he takes the more romantic option, mooted by some: he has long been an admirer of Argentine football, what if he rocked up at Boca Juniors or River Plate for a season or two?I have no idea if this is even a possibility, but yeah, if it happens I’ll want to witness it. And so will you.

Julie Ertz is the ass kicker of the U.S. women’s national team

Off the field, U.S. women’s national team star Julie Ertz is a ball of sunshine. On the field, she’s a tsunami. She’ll be a key to the U.S.’s success at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Mary Ellen Matthews for ESPN

May 16, 2019Allison GlockSenior Writer, espnW

IT’S 10 MINUTES before practice in the Chicago Red Stars’ training room, and midfielder Julie Ertz is curled up on a massage table, cupping the arches of her feet. She suctions her skin into a small, pressurized globe, a process that calls to mind medieval torture but allegedly relieves tightness. Her toenails are painted periwinkle blue. A small cross tattoo is tucked behind her ear like a flower.Ertz winces as she pops the seal of skin, then hops off the table and runs the tender pockets of her feet over a golf ball. She has high arches, a foot shape better suited to ballet than soccer and one that causes her intense discomfort every time she hits the pitch.”I was 23 in the last World Cup,” the team captain says matter-of-factly. “Now I need to listen to my body more.”On the floor, various teammates receive their own treatments: icing knees, heating quads, feet submerged in buckets soaking ingrown nails. They chat amiably about the dubious sartorial cred of Uggs, big versus small dogs, new restaurants, Gossip Girl — the free-flowing, unconcerned conversation found in groups with decades of shared history and unambiguous commonalities. Every few minutes, forward Michele Vasconcelos’ toddler, Scarlett, is rolled through the room in a plastic pushcart, a small soccer ball bouncing in the front.”It was fire,” Ertz shares about the foosball tourney she and a few other players got into last night, noting, “I made Gilly [Arin Wright, née Gilliland] switch positions because she wasn’t defending well enough.” Ertz laughs, says she had no skin in the game beyond “you know, pride.”Soon, the players hit the field and begin running laps. They shift like a flock of geese, repositioning en mass, pivoting to and fro as if nudged by the wind. During drills, Ertz transforms. She yanks her ponytail tight, walks the turf with a purpose, bowlegged, arms bent and floating at her hips like a cowboy ready to draw. Her expression is serious, contemplative, her genial demeanor subsumed by the beast within.”I’m the kind of person that wants to take advantage of all my opportunities,” she explains. And for Ertz, practice is as critical an opportunity as any.

WORLD FOOTBALL

For more on the U.S. and global stars of the upcoming 2019 Women’s World Cup, check out the June issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Capitalizing on her prospects is something the seasoned defensive champion has been doing since her teens. After a winning stint at Santa Clara University, the NWSL rookie of the year became the second-youngest player on the victorious 2015 World Cup team, a position she slid into after an injured Crystal Dunn was dropped from the roster. Former alternate Ertz seized her moment by the throat, playing every second of the tournament, emerging as a star.  In 2017, she was named U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year, and she is now viewed by many as the most critical component in the projected success of the 2019 national team — the strategic linchpin and a player head coach Jill Ellis describes as “a weapon” who “will run through anything.”Like the Kool-Aid Man, Ertz has a reputation for furiously demolishing barriers with a smile. On the outside, she is all warm, sunny blond; on the inside, it’s Game of Thrones, mother of dragons. She has etched her place in soccer history as a rare amalgamation of physical and technical threat, the uncommon defender who dissects film and tackles audaciously, her body as ruthless as her brain.”Julie is incredibly intelligent about the game,” Chicago head coach Rory Dames says. “She’s like having another coach on the field.”Dames drafted Ertz to the Red Stars five years ago, in large part because of her brute chutzpah. “Julie puts her body on the line. It’s unusual to have a player that has all the characteristics that Julie has and still have her willingness to tackle,” he marvels, adding, “There is no gray area for her.”Teammates describe Ertz as a player who thrives under pressure, joyfully running headlong into the mouth of every cannon.”Julie is probably one of the more aggressive players that we have,” says keeper Alyssa Naeher, who plays alongside Ertz on the USWNT and the Red Stars. “She’s the one that’s going to the ground. Which is weird because off the field, you don’t see that side.”Out of uniform, Ertz, 27, is chill, open, thoughtful. She makes a lot of deep eye contact. She keeps her indulgences in check. She does not smoke or drink or eat crappy food or sleep late or skip practice. She’s like Sandra Dee, if Sandra Dee possessed a secret, bone-deep desire to knock your punk ass into the artificial turf.”If her goal was just to be a great soccer player, that goal would’ve already been accomplished,” observes her husband, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. “She could rest on her laurels and be complacent. But she’s not.”Julie Ertz is the opposite, consumed by self-scrutiny, poking at what she perceives as her weak spots like a tongue prodding an aching tooth.”When you fail or you make a mistake, you learn a lot about yourself,” she explains. “That wouldn’t happen if I just did everything right. You know what I mean?”

IF YOU ASK her, Ertz will tell you she doesn’t have nightmares. She dreams nearly every night. But her head is filled instead with happy fantasies and memories. Sometimes she dreams about past vacations or trips to the sea. More often, she dreams of soccer.”I see moments of a game that could happen,” she says, knitting her brow. Premonitions and “visions,” not of trophies but of plays, of tackles. Even at rest, she is strategizing.Ertz sees nothing odd about this. The infinite calculus of soccer has been her abiding preoccupation since she was an eager child in Mesa, Arizona, stumbling into a lifelong passion while trying to beat her two-years-older sister, Melanie, at something, anything. (Ertz’s grandmother remembers Julie making up rules to win at Candy Land.)Natural athletes, the sisters were encouraged to battle. Their father, David Johnston, a starting kicker for LSU, designed makeshift physical challenges to entertain them whenever he could. Chores became races. An idle jump on the trampoline transformed into a contest to see which daughter could jump higher over a swinging pipe.David worked in the cold room at Shamrock Foods, lifting heavy stock 65 hours a week. Mom Kristi was a nurse. The family bedrock was hard work and the belief in its ability to cement character.”It was tough love,” Ertz recalls.”My dad wanted us to find that drive at a young age,” Melanie says. “The mentality was, ‘No one is stopping you but yourself.'”The two girls shared a room, an enforced closeness that Melanie says brought benefits — “We were partners in crime” — and annoyances — “Julie borrowing my Hollister T-shirt, not hanging it up, it’s on the floor types of things.”The sisters excelled in every sport but showed particular promise in soccer, a game “my parents didn’t know anything about,” Ertz recalls. By age 9, Ertz thought of little else. Local leagues were joined. A net was erected in the backyard. Self-motivated practice was expected. If this was where the family time and money was going to be spent, the girls were called upon to take their commitment seriously. Ertz says the early accountability was a blessing.”It made us super independent. Our parents made it known, we’re going to treat you like an adult.”David and Kristi logged extra shifts to pay for team expenses. The girls’ heavy sporting schedule meant cheap pizza dinners in the car, hours commuting to matches every weekend. There were no vacations that didn’t revolve around soccer.”That’s why Julie and I are so hard on ourselves to perform at a higher level,” Melanie says. Neither child wanted the sacrifices their parents made to be for nothing.Whenever Melanie joined a league, Julie followed. After a growth spurt in middle school, Julie began eclipsing her sister on the pitch. “Julie was so advanced. She played above her age,” Melanie recalls.At 13, Ertz switched to a more hard-core club with European coaches, and the die of her career was cast. “I loved how seriously everyone there took it,” she says — her most of all. It was a fevered dedication that’s only grown over the ensuing dozen years, Ertz sewing up a heady college run before dropping out to go pro in 2013, a decision that haunts her slightly.”I wanted to finish, and I really, really tried,” she says. “It was hard to balance classes while I was getting called in with the national team. My parents still ask me when I’m going to finish my education, and I tell them, ‘Soon.'”When asked why she would bother at this point, Ertz says flatly, “To say I did it.”She is a completionist. “I want to win more games,” Ertz says of her immediate goals. “I will never be satisfied,” she says of her competitive mentality. “It’s such an honor to be able to represent your country that I just don’t ever want to let it down.””Julie is a sore loser,” Zach confides with a chuckle. “If I beat her at something, I try to keep it mellow because I know the repercussions if I go all out.”Julie does not disagree.  “I want to be a good, moral person and have good values,” she says earnestly. “But I don’t think I’ll ever mature about how to act about losing. I hate losing so much.”Ertz is happiest with her husband. (The soccer field, she says, is a close second.) Her call log reads like a skipping record. Hubby, hubby, hubby, hubby, hubby FaceTime, hubby FaceTime, hubby.   The two famously met at a Stanford baseball game, him quiet, her chatty. They shared sunflower seeds. A friendship developed. Six months later, they were an item, bonding over their willingness to forgo late nights on the quad for a pursuit of athletic excellence, a commitment unusual among their peers. Zach also reminded Julie of her father: reserved, with a well of sweetness beneath the surface. She knew it was serious when the two of them could drive in silence and not feel awkward.Julie took Zach home, the first boyfriend to meet her parents. It was July in Arizona. Sweltering. “He was absolutely miserable,” Julie remembers, laughing.Adding to the discomfort, the family Johnston is a “more the merrier” extended dance remix crew, the sort that gathers every aunt, uncle and second cousin together any chance they get; boisterous, voluble — at least on the maternal side. When Zach was introduced to the cheerful chaos, “he was like, ‘This is insane!'” Julie recalls. “He was really nervous.”Since then, “Julie has pulled a lot of stuff out of me,” Zach says. When they are together, the pair put fun first. They play games of gin or Bananagrams, tease each other good-naturedly. “More her making fun of me. We rarely have a bad day.”The couple did marriage counseling before they wed, approaching their partnership like they do their sport — giving it their all, in all ways.”Zach knows me better than anyone else in the world,” Julie says. “He’s that person I’m vulnerable with. We grew up together. In the soccer world, it’s really hard to root yourself.”For Julie, Zach is home. And that home is sacred. The couple decided long ago that their marriage would come first, before football, before soccer, before the World Cup and the Super Bowl and the raining down of international acclaim.”Our relationship wasn’t built on Julie’s ability to play soccer and my ability to play football,” Zach explains.”Don’t get me wrong,” Julie clarifies. “We want to give sports everything we have. But this career isn’t something you can do forever.”

IT IS LATE afternoon, and Alyssa Naeher is driving Julie to their midtown Chicago gym for their second workout of the day. Naeher’s side mirror is knocked off, so she wrenches her head hard left.”You look like me on the field,” Ertz jokes, dramatically swiveling her body, thick ponytail snapping. The women laugh, talk about Mike Trout’s record-breaking contract for $36.8 million a year.”Where’s our multimillion-dollar payday?” Naeher asks.”Right?” Ertz chimes in, noting that she and Trout are nearly the same age. (Ertz says she has no comment on the current USWNT lawsuit seeking equitable pay and treatment, preferring to “keep a one-track mind toward France.”)Ertz reminds Naeher that she knows Trout personally, that he’s a great guy. She and Zach have couples dinners with him and his wife. She says her second wedding anniversary is coming up, and she and Zach are going to buy each other surprise outfits to wear to dinner. She’s worried about what Zach will pick. She usually dresses him.”Hips Don’t Lie” comes on the radio, and Ertz breaks into song. She makes an inspirational playlist every December, adding songs “over the year whenever I hear one that speaks to me in the moment.” The last tune she added was “Sunshine,” by Maoli, a breezy island bop celebrating true love. She says it reminds her of a trip to Turks and Caicos with Zach.Earlier in the week, Ertz was interrupted by a soccer dad during dinner out. He said his 13-year-old daughter was holding herself back on the field and that he’d advised her to act like Ertz, told her, “It’s OK to be a savage on the field. I guarantee Julie would destroy someone.”Ertz nodded along, pleased.”My teammates all know not to go into a tackle when I go for it,” she told the man.Ertz is not ashamed of her rep for aggression. Or how observers interpret her game. “No matter what we do, somebody will have something to say about it.” She shrugs. “That’s just how it is if you’re a woman athlete.”Ertz knows all too well the cruel vagaries of pro sports, especially for women, where scarcity of opportunity casts every high and low in crushing relief.During the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Ertz was hitting her stride at center back. “The game against New Zealand was one of the best games I’ve played.” Later came Sweden: the first time Team USA didn’t win gold in 16 years and the first defeat for Ertz.”I’d never lost with the team when I was on the field until that game,” she says. “It didn’t feel real.”After the loss, Ertz was the one U.S. player randomly pulled for drug testing. She was driven to the doctor with a member of the Swedish team. They both waited for hours to pee in a cup, Ertz biting her cheeks in silence as her opponent gleefully celebrated into her cellphone, the scene something out of a goofy European farce.”I didn’t get to see my teammates, give them hugs,” Ertz says. “I didn’t hear what the coaches had to say.”When she made it back home to Philadelphia, Zach was already with the Eagles in OTAs, and Julie found herself alone in an empty house. Zach flew in her parents to nudge her out of her funk. “And I didn’t talk to them,” she says. “I literally sat in silence for two weeks.”On her phone, she kept a photo of her near-miss block in the fatal game as her screen saver. “It was not a great time in my life,” Ertz says, sighing.When you are a defender, your job is basically proving a negative, your triumphs largely invisible while your mistakes scream loud as sirens.”You could play a great game for 89 minutes, and then if you don’t do one thing …” Ertz quiets, shakes her head. “A forward can suck for 90 minutes, but if you score in overtime, no one remembers the rest of the game.”Ertz was benched from the national team after the Olympics. For nearly a year she didn’t start, an abrupt and gutting life change.”It was a really hard time for me. I never asked why. Probably never will. I don’t want to know.”Ertz is not one for self-pity. She can do the USWNT math. The bench is deep with exceptional players. Rejection is in the DNA of the cutthroat selection process. Still, it was hard to reconcile.”It’s weird to talk about,” she says. “I was pissed: ‘I’ll show you the mistake you’re making by not using me.’ I said that every day at practice in my head. Then as it went on and I wasn’t playing, I started thinking, ‘Maybe your life is going in a different direction than you think.'”She considered retirement. Sitting out game days was almost too painful to bear. But “I realized my career has been started in those moments. I could either choose to sit there and be mad or be prepared and prove my point. I still had that pride.””When you’re dealing with adversity as an athlete, you can pout and point the finger at someone else, or you can reflect and ask yourself, ‘How can I get better?'” Zach says. “That’s what she did. She ramped up to another level.”Ertz leaned in to the inescapable grind of professional sport. The monotony behind moments of elation, trudging through muddy parking lots to dimly lit practice fields to do the same drills she’d done almost every day for 20 years. She also doubled down on overall fitness.”To be elite, my fitness had to go way up. And I had to accept that mentally it’s going to be very, very hard and push past it.”Playing in the NWSL was a balm.”Feeling wanted, at least somewhere,” Ertz says, allowed her “to figure out where I belonged.”As it turns out, it was in the midfield. Asked by Ellis to sub as a midfielder for the Brazil game in the 2017 Tournament of Nations, Ertz didn’t hesitate. She did what she has always done. She said yes and worried about the details later.”I was told, ‘Don’t expect to be a midfielder.’ And I kind of just stayed there. I was working my ass off. I was thinking, ‘If this is the way that it’s going to go, at least I’m going to leave knowing that I did everything that I could.'”Observes Dames, “A lot of people would not mentally be able to overcome those obstacles. Her ability to reinvent herself in the midfield and become arguably the most vital piece of the U.S. team’s success, it’s special.””This is not a normal thing what we do,” adds Naeher. “It’s hard to understand the psychological side of it unless you’re in it.”Ertz still wants her passing completion to be higher. She wants more goals outside of the 18 she has. She wants to be fit enough to play seven games “at my top, because that’s what it’s going to take to win the World Cup.” But she is #grateful for her hardships.In the best case, failure begets knowledge, and Ertz has learned plenty. About her fortitude. About the limited value of what others believe are your limits. About going to the mattresses. She knows who she is now.”Days after the World Cup, I couldn’t wait until we could win the Olympics. And then days after we lost the Olympics, I couldn’t wait for another World Cup. I thought, ‘If I just won this, it would be everything.’ And then you get there and you always want something else.”Ertz sensed there had to be more than leapfrogging from medal to medal, goal to goal. “All I had was soccer. That was my identity. If soccer didn’t go well, nothing else was great.” So she shifted her perspective. Less end game, more journey. Ertz started asking herself, “What else is there?” And her answer was faith, family and deep friendship.”Everyone feels alone in this world,” she says. “I felt alone in college, and I lived in a room with five girls.”Ertz pauses, takes a beat to ponder her spiritual growth.”Sometimes it’s hard. I want to be a really good role model, but at the same time, look, I’m still trying to grow up.”

ERTZ LIVES OUT of a single suitcase. On the left side are her undergarments. On the right side, her toiletries. She packs only four outfits, two big old coats, leggings, sweatpants, tank tops. She’s an expert at simplifying in the service of excellence, at winnowing life to the crux of what matters.In third grade, Ertz’s teacher asked the class to draw a dream board of what the children wanted their futures to be when they grew up. Her classmates drew pictures of houses and dogs and firemen and doctors and flowers and princesses. Young Julie drew a soccer player. It was the only image on her board.Over coffee at a hipster café in the West Loop, Ertz contemplates her résumé: “I played soccer and I baby-sat. It would literally be that.”Ertz has already begun considering the end of her game. She is at her peak. And peaks do not last. That reckoning has not gone down easy. She does the mental prep, tries to focus on the joy that still awaits — children, her foundation, paying it forward, her faith. But the verdict remains heavy.”If I retire when I’m 55 or 28, it will never be the right moment. There is nothing that makes me as excited and joyful as soccer does.”Dames recently repositioned Ertz into the Red Stars’ back line, even though she’s ramping up for the World Cup at midfield.”The soccer IQ needed for juggling those two positions at this level is huge,” Naeher says.”It wasn’t best for her,” Dames acknowledges. “But she said, ‘Let’s do it!’ No hesitation. Not, ‘Well, I need to get into the six and my spot might be in jeopardy.’ Just a very simple, ‘Yep, I agree. It’s best for the team.'”To compensate for the demands of dual positions, Ertz adds extra running to her workout, concentrates on specialized ballhandling. She rarely takes a day off; she is still, as her parents imparted decades ago, accountable. The exigent complexity drives her.”When I’m called upon, I’m going to be ready.”After Red Stars practice, as her teammates trot off to showers and lunches, Ertz remains on the field. She does drills, gets in extra touches, examines her weaknesses, systematically dismantles them.In the far corner of the field, she launches the ball repeatedly into a wooden kickboard, maneuvering and adjusting her footwork centimeter by centimeter.Boom. Thump. Boom. Thump. Again and again she kicks.It sounds like a heartbeat.

Lindsey Horan’s road never traveled

Henry BushnellYahoo Sports•May 20, 2019

The sobs were audible. Chubby tear-stained cheeks visible via Skype. On her first of many lonely nights at 10 Rue de Poissy, in an apartment 10 miles west of Paris, long before she became a reticent U.S. national team star, an 18-year-old girl from Colorado called her mom and cried.It was September of 2012 when Lindsey Horan first wondered what the hell she had done. Months earlier, she had barged into her mother’s bedroom at a similarly nocturnal hour, flicked on the lights, and revealed the biggest decision of her life. She had turned down the most prestigious college scholarship in women’s soccer. Turned down a well-worn path to USWNT stardom, and instead chosen an untrodden one, all because of a dream. So in late August, to fulfill it, Horan flew an ocean and half a continent away from home, to a sprawling European metropolis, its culture and intricacies capable of swallowing up even the most mature foreign teenager. She was there to do something no American woman had ever done: Play soccer, professionally, straight out of high school. For PSG. On a six-figure contract.

But before she could, not two weeks into her trailblazing adventure, the club moved her out of a host family’s house, into the apartment on Rue de Poissy. And with her first evening alone winding down, she came to a problematic realization.She had no bed sheets.So she cried. Clicked Skype. Dialed mom, for one of several hundred emotional transatlantic calls that immediately became daily routine. She slept on towels that night, with a thought coursing through her mind.“Oh my God, what am I getting into?

With a decision no other American girl had ever made came a journey no other American girl had ever embarked on, a journey armed with challenges no other American girl had ever faced. Challenges as complex as soccer drills, explained only in French, defenders and profanities bombarding her with equal venom; and challenges as simple as grocery runs. Or cooking. Or a search for a fitted sheet.For weeks, they consistently brought Lindsey Horan to tears. “Not that I was depressed,” she recalls six years later. “But I was homesick.”But the journey, in part because of those unprecedented challenges, led her to a podium in Portland, an MVP trophy in hand. It led her to world player of the year shortlists; to the cusp of World Cup stardom; and, last fall, to a hotel lobby in Raleigh, where, sporting a black “E♀UALITY” t-shirt and an effortless smile, she reflected on her odyssey using both words and a hand motion: Up and down, up and down, the wave-like movement representing the trajectory of her rise.“There were so many learning experiences,” Horan says of her time 5,000 miles outside her comfort zone. And in so many ways, she’s stronger because of them.

The obsession

The most remarkable aspect of Horan’s story isn’t anything that transpired on glistening swaths of French grass. It isn’t her unique footballing blend of physical prowess and artistry. It isn’t a starting point or a final destination. It’s an incongruity – between the profile of a prototypical pioneer and the profile of this one.Horan, in her own words, “wasn’t outgoing whatsoever” as a kid growing up in Golden, Colorado. When an overflowing soccer schedule relented, her most common weekend diversion involved smuggling food into a movie theater with her best friend. When she arrived in Paris, she’d snuggle up in her room with TV shows or soccer streams. And when her first American teammate, Tobin Heath, arrived at PSG, Horan was the last to greet her – with minimal eye contact, in the corner of the room, timidity and nerves obstructing words.Heck, when organized footy first enticed her, 5-year-old Lindsey would only play if her mom, Linda, signed up to coach.“So shy,” Horan says now of her younger self.

Soccer, though, has transformative power. It reshapes personalities, cracks shells. And Horan, from a young age, was “just obsessed” with it. She and her older brother, Michael, would play in backyards and basement hallways. Linda remembers Michael’s friends retiring to the house after hours of friendly competition and marveling to him: “Man, your sister’s tough.”The obsession broadened around age 11 when a club coach with the Colorado Rush, Tim Schulz, gave Horan an assignment: Don’t just play the game fanatically; watch it as well. Schulz mentioned Barcelona and a 17-year-old phenom named Lionel Messi. Horan became an OG Messi fangirl – “never a bandwagon[er],” she clarifies – with multiple jerseys, a scarf, a Barca flag and posters still adorning the walls of her childhood bedroom to this day.

Then, soon after her European football indoctrination, Horan realized this magical world in which she’d immersed herself through TV screens was in the same universe as hers. After a club practice, Schulz told Horan and her teammates that one day, one of them would play professionally, perhaps overseas. Which led to her declaration, in the car on the way home: “Mom, that’s gonna be me.”Over the coming years, she’d occasionally reiterate her ambition. And after one regional coach literally laughed at it, she pursued it compulsively. After a youth national team coach cut her, leaving her in tears for three days, she became almost possessed. She’d rise with the Rocky Mountain sun for 7 a.m. training, rearranging school schedules to accommodate dream-chasing. After her last class of the day, she’d zip to practice with the academy boys from 3-4:30 p.m. Then she was off to her own team. Afterwards, she’d go again, a fourth session in 12 hours, with whoever had the field next, no matter the age group or gender.She prioritized training over school dances and family dinners, instead returning home late at night for microwavable meals. She endured criticism and rude comments from opponents for playing with a boys team. “Everything I did was for soccer,” Horan says. She fit in whatever homework she could.And that was all before what she now calls “the most stressful year of my life.”

The decision

It began with a phone call, at Denver International Airport, with vacation mere hours away. The Horans were checking in for their flight. Their destination? Barcelona, then a European cruise. The occasion? Grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary.But now Lindsey’s phone was buzzing. Schulz’s voice was coming through it, delivering fantastic yet inconvenient news: He’d negotiated an opportunity for her to train with Lyon, the reigning European champions.“You’re kidding me,” Lindsey immediately thought. “When is it?”What followed was a 12-day trip that Linda admits “was horrible.” While she and her husband – Lindsey’s father, Mark – argued about whether to let their 17-year-old daughter go to France alone, their daughter fretted about measuring up to top pros. The vacation impeded preparation. Lindsey’s solution was a small-sided field on the cruise ship’s deck that hosted daily pickup games. Her parents’ solution was to arrange for Erik Bushey, one of her club coaches back home, to accompany her to France.So Horan jetted from Barcelona to Lyon, and eventually trekked up into the Alps, with big eyes and almost zero French words in her linguistic arsenal. She ran and biked miles at altitude, the preseason fitness regimens startling to a girl who’d never sniffed a proper strength and conditioning program. She battled with and against French national teamers while French instructions rippled off tongues and over her head.And yet the brutality, the challenges, the draining work … they would have broken most 17-year-olds. But they attracted Horan.Over two grueling weeks, she earned a four-year contract offer. She and her family eventually decided it came a year too early. Back in Colorado, with a deadline looming, and with parents pushing the importance of at least completing high school, Lindsey sat down with some of her best friends, cried, hugged them, and said through sniffles, “I don’t want to leave you guys.” With fulfillment of her dream at her fingertips, she bravely turned it down.But she still yearned for it. The opportunity lingered, and therefore a decision – go to college, or turn pro? – loomed throughout senior year. The top-ranked player in her recruiting class, Horan committed to the University of North Carolina. The program’s track record – 20 of 30 national titles, 21 American World Cup stars produced – fueled unimaginable pressure to honor the pledge. To do what every other player in the history of the U.S. women’s national team had done. To take the safe route. To conform.But as she sought advice, heard opinions – most nudging her toward Chapel Hill – she found herself thinking: “No, you’re wrong. I know what I want.”

“In the end,” she says, “I knew what I wanted the whole time. I needed a push.” It came during an hours-long discussion with Bushey after training. Coach did most of the talking, impartially laying out pros and cons. Pupil listened. And cried.And drove home. Linda remembers it being after midnight. “My mom’s in bed,” Horan recounts. “I turn on all her lights. And I was like, ‘Mom, I made a decision!’ ”Linda, still groggy, wondered: “Am I having a dream?”“She’s half asleep,” Horan continues. “And I’m like, ‘I’m going pro!’ ”

The French adventure

Lindsey Horan, in case it wasn’t already clear, is a crier. She wept while telling her best friends she wasn’t ready to leave them, then a year later while realizing she was. She wept when a youth national team coach told her she wasn’t good enough. She wept without bed sheets, without family on Thanksgiving, without English-speaking friends consistently by her side. And on the Friday before her maiden away trip with PSG, the list grew.Horan had snubbed UNC for Europe. Lyon, however, had maxed out its international roster slots. With the back-to-back European champs no longer an option, Paris Saint-Germain swooped in to seal a deal. Horan, despite an arrival delayed by a July knee surgery, quickly earned a place in the starting 11.Before her professional bow, though, was a trip to France’s western tip, to tiny Guingamp. And before her team’s match was her other team’s match.One of many things Horan sacrificed to turn pro was a crack at the 2012 Under-20 World Cup. As former and future teammates marched onto a field in Tokyo for the final that Friday, Horan sat in a hotel lobby, staring up at “this tiny-ass TV in the corner of the lounge area.” As seconds ticked away on a U.S. victory, a few PSG players joined her and remarked: “Oh, you were supposed to be there!”Horan forced a laugh. Tried to stifle tears. Couldn’t.“I just started bawling my eyes out,” she recalls. “Like, ‘Oh my gosh, what did I do? I’m in Guingamp.’ It was a nightmare.”UNC also won a national championship that fall. Meanwhile, Horan would retreat to her room, resort to frozen foods or McDonald’s, too afraid of a short grocery store expedition. Adapting to a foreign land as a timid teen, she says, “was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.”On the field, assimilation came quicker, but was nonetheless turbulent. At training, Horan would wait for English explanations that never came. Some of her first French words were the soccer terms for “man on” (sa vient) and “space” (sol) – but of course she mixed them up, and would turn into pressure, or hurry passes unnecessarily, until realizing the interpretive error.She also had to reform her diet. “I was the worst with my nutrition and fitness,” Horan admits. “I knew nothing about it, nor did I care about it.” And the club’s technical staff, led by head coach Farid Benstiti, didn’t care about communicating fitness goals respectfully. “They were just terrible,” Horan says. “Especially with female players, they were just [saying], ‘You need to lose weight, you need to get thinner, you need to run more.’“But it was more [about] how you were seen and not how it was helping you play,” Horan says of the demands. At one practice, Benstiti told her she was benched until she shed weight. Afterward, she called mom and said she wanted to quit.As she struggled with adaptations, however, she largely found comfort in football. (Horan uses both “football” and “soccer” interchangeably.) With her four-a-day practice habit reduced to one per day, she would sneak in solo sessions. (“Don’t tell Farid,” she jokes.) In late September, she scored on her debut. She bagged five goals in her first five league appearances, and 17 in 20 by the end of her first season.And in January, she received a godsend in the form of Heath’s arrival. After awkward intros and unwelcoming beginnings, the two Americans bonded. They explored the city. They frequented a nearby Indian restaurant, so frequently that after a while they didn’t even have to speak to order. Heath would get buttered chicken, Horan tikki masala. “Every time,” Horan remembers with a smile. They’d sit and talk for hours, hours that felt unexceptional at the time, but that in retrospect, Heath says, “were really special.”As Horan eased into her new life, however, soccer began pelting her with adversity. After two USWNT appearances in 2013, she went 23 months without a senior call-up. U.S. head coach Jill Ellis stated publicly that Horan’s decision to play abroad – despite accelerating her development – hurt her national team chances. Then, as Ellis called in roster after roster comprising exclusively U.S.-based players, Horan suffered a January knee injury that ruled her out of 2015 World Cup contention.Instead, she trekked to Canada as a fan, and was overcome with mixed emotions. “I’ll never forget being in the stands as the national anthem started to play, just looking down onto the field, and seeing all the women with their hands over their hearts,” she recalled in a Players Tribune article. “And I mean … I lost it. I wanted to be out there so bad that I actually started to cry.”

The dream realized

In a few weeks, one of those women will be her. On June 11 in Reims, 90 miles along highway A4 from the city that hosted so much suffering and yet so much growth, Lindsey Horan will stand with her right hand over her heart. She’ll face an American flag. She’ll sing. And then she’ll justify all the four-practice days and offseason grinds; all the homesickness and risk; all the courage required to follow that heart and take a road never traveled.In January 2016, Horan left PSG after three and a half seasons as a prolific striker – and after a week of teary-eyed goodbyes. She arrived in Portland, to play for the National Women’s Soccer League’s Thorns, at the same age a typical college grad would – but with a “reading [of] the game, game intelligence, game understanding,” says Thorns coach Mark Parsons, that “was a big, big difference from the player you normally get at that age.”Since, Horan has morphed into a domineering midfielder the likes of which 21st-century women’s soccer has never seen. She sits deep and dictates play, then bursts forward into the attacking third, a 6, 8, 9 and 10 all packed into one 5-foot-9, 24-year-old frame. “There is no midfielder in the world that has all the elite tools that she has,” Parsons says. And numbers reinforce his passionate praise. In the NWSL in 2018, Horan touched the ball more than any other player; won it more than any other player; and won more aerial duels, too. She completed the second-most passes and second-most dribbles, and scored the third-most goals. Her all-around excellence earned her an MVP award and 26 consecutive USWNT appearances, a streak interrupted only by minor injury.The positional changes, Horan says, actually haven’t been difficult. Not for someone who got tastes of everything from center back to center forward growing up. Not for someone who’s “glued to the TV any time football is on”; who consumes women’s and men’s games, as fan or student; who’ll sometimes do both, greeting Barca goals with yelps, but also recording matches and re-watching for educational purposes. “Watching football is such an underrated thing to help you grow as a player,” she says. And “if you know the game,” she later continues, “if you’re a football player, you can play anywhere.”There’s a certain confidence about Horan nowadays, a confidence she credits Parsons with instilling. It shows up in the way she purposefully checks to the ball or attacks crosses, but also away from the pitch. Soccer, throughout her life, is the one thing that has consistently pulled her out of her shell, into a comfort zone. With self-belief in her soccer soaring, and with close friends almost always close by, she is no longer that timid teen who boarded a plane to Paris seven years ago.Which is not to say the accolades that accompany success don’t make her uncomfortable. She “absolutely hated” the fanfare that came with last year’s MVP announcement the day before the NWSL Final. She has “a love-hate relationship” with her nickname, “The Great Horan” – the brainchild of U.S. teammate Rose Lavelle via Twitter shenanigans. “More hate,” grins Lavelle, who considers it one of her “proudest accomplishments.” With the moniker now adorning T-shirts, Horan has reluctantly embraced it. But “she still does not like the spotlight,” her mother says – even if she’s getting used to it.At times, Horan has wondered whether well-traveled roads would have led her to similar success. Whether the homesickness and heartache were necessary. “Any player can make their situation good for them,” she admits. “If I went to UNC, I’m sure I would find a way to make myself better, make things harder, challenge myself. It’s what the player puts into it.“But then again, where I went, the challenges I went through … experiencing a different culture, language … you can’t get that anywhere else.”Occasionally, back at 10 Rue de Poissy, or in that Guingamp hotel lobby, it all felt like a “nightmare.”“That was the best thing for me,” Horan says now. “I do not regret it whatsoever.”

Previewing the US national team at the 2019 U-20 World Cup

May 20, 20195:56PM EDTTravis ClarkContributor

The Under-20 World Cup kicks off this week in Poland with arguably the best US Under-20 national team roster ever assembled, ready to compete against some of the top talents in the world.Head coach Tab Ramos is preparing to lead the US in the competition for the fourth time, and as Concacaf champions for the second straight cycle.At the start of May, Ramos named a roster of 21 players set to compete in Group D, aiming to improve on two straight quarterfinal finishes in 2015 and 2017. Ten of the players on the roster hail from MLS teams, with early season standouts like Edwin Cerrillo and Paxton Pomykal among the contenders to carve out key roles.

A familiar style

Ramos has favored a press-intensive style of play throughout his time in charge, looking to win the ball high up and the field and turn that into scoring chances. This year’s group should be similar to past Ramos teams: a 4-3-3 formation, pressing high and looking to control games and create chances in that fashion. He has a dynamic and exciting group of attackers to choose from, with Tim Weah, Konrad de la Fuente, Justin Rennicks, Ulysses Llanez and Ayo Akinola among the wide options to complement Sebastian Soto in the middle.

Defensive questions to answer

Provided the attack clicks and the US show that they are capable of scoring goals, the group’s defensive quality is going to determine how far it can go in the tournament. Chris Richards is potentially the team’s most important player, as the Bayern Munich center back has the intelligence and athletic ability to put out fires where needed.As the team presses high, if they lose out in transition moments, that could put pressure on the back line and leave them exposed. One of Cerrillo, Chris Durkin or Brandon Servania are likely to be on the field as well, shielding the team’s defense and providing a helping hand at the back.Who lines up next to Richards is the other part of the question. Matt Real, while more of a left back, saw time centrally in qualifying. Aboubacar Keita, the Columbus Crew SC Homegrown signing who is on loan at Richmond Kickers, is another. Mark McKenzie is still working his way back to full fitness from an appendectomy as well, but should be in the mix soon. Sergino Dest and Chris Gloster are the leading candidates to start on the right and left, respectively, providing support on both sides of the ball.

Group ambitions

Back in 2017, the US U-20s won Group F, advancing to a favorable Round of 16 matchup against New Zealand. The ambition heading into the 2019 edition of the competition, where they’ve been drawn into Group D with Ukraine, Nigeria and Qatar, is the same: Win the group. That would see the United States advance to a knockout game against a third-place team from Groups B, E or F, which is likely a more favorable opponent.A second-place finish means a round-of-16 clash against the first-place team in Group E; barring a huge shock or surprise, that is almost certain to be France, considered to be one of the favorites of the competition. That means getting off to a good start against Ukraine in Friday’s group opener is huge, as that provides the ideal platform to progress as deep in the tournament as possible.

Key players

D Chris Richards – As noted above, the Alabama native’s presence in the backline is huge. He’ll need to stay fit and avoid picking up too many yellow cards, as there is a notable drop-off in quality between him and the other options in central defense.

F Timothy Weah – It’s been an up-and-down club season for Weah, who spent the first half of the 2018-19 season hardly playing for Paris Saint-Germain, before playing in fits and starts on loan at Celtic FC in Scotland. Like others on the roster, he’s a versatile player, capable of lining up as the central striker or on either wing. His desire to play at the U-20 World Cup is notable, and he’ll provide an important presence and experience on and off the field.

M Alex Mendez – Winner of the Golden Ball at the U-20 Concacaf Championship, where he scored eight goals, Mendez heads into the World Cup in good form. A smooth, left-footed central midfielder who can pick a pass, smash home from distance and deliver dangerous set pieces on a consistent basis, the LA Galaxy academy product has recently scored some spectacular goals for SC Freiburg’s A-Junioren side. That threat is going to be massive for the US, whether it’s unlocking an opposing defense with his passing range or offering up a chance to score from set pieces.

F Konrad de la Fuente – Something of a mystery to US fans, the FC Barcelona prospect is one of a host of exciting options on the wing. Between him and Uly Llanez, Ramos has a pair of wide attackers that can take defenders on one-v-one, which can certainly create chances in transition moments during the game.

M Paxton Pomykal – Before picking up a hamstring injury, Pomykal had been firmly in the middle of a breakout season with FC Dallas. Assuming he’s healthy and available for selection, his two-way ability in either central midfield or potentially on one of the flanks can create space and opportunities for his teammates.

Champions League revamp would wreak havoc on Premier League and others

May 16, 2019 Gabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

There are bad ideas and there’s bad execution. The European Club Association’s (ECA) proposed “reforms” of the Champions League happen to be both.On the one hand, they are bad ideas founded purely on the self-interest of a tiny number of wealthy super clubs. On the other hand, the plan has been ham-fistedly executed. It has prompted not only threats of lawsuits and expulsion from domestic leagues, but also failed to rally the public support of other super clubs, thereby negating the leverage — rich revenue-driving clubs acting in unison to get their way — they might otherwise have had.The battle rumbles on because the deadline is not that far away. Once the current deal governing the FIFA calendar expires, in 2024, European football could look a whole lot different.

Here’s the proposal:

– Instead of eight groups of four playing a total of six games in the Champions League group stage, you’d have four groups of eight playing 14 games. The top four in each would advance to the Round of 16, which would continue as normal. So if you get to the final, you’d play a total of 21 matches, rather than 13.

– The majority of teams wouldn’t qualify, as they do now, based on their domestic finish the season before. Instead, the top six sides in each group would automatically return the following season. The bottom two would be “relegated” to next season’s Europa League, unless they managed to qualify via their domestic seasons. But, of course, that would be more difficult, since there would be only four slots (remember, four would go to the Europa League semifinalists, who get “promoted” to the Champions League) to share among 55 leagues.- To maximize global revenue, some games, maybe in the knockout stage, would be played on weekends.- It would be a three-tiered system, with the Champions League on top, Europa League in the middle and UEFA’s new third European competition on the bottom.That’s it in a nutshell, with details to be determined. The thinking is that with most of Europe’s biggest clubs guaranteed a place and with more games (and a potentially bigger audience) the competition will grow and generate far more money, some of which would be reinvested back into the system and a lot of which would go back to the super clubs. Trickle-down economics at its finest.Last week, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, one of the main backers along with ECA (and Juventus) president Andrea Agnelli, said it was “evolution” and that the fans were asking for it.This is where you might be tempted to call BS.

Given how lucrative the Champions League is to most clubs, you’d effectively be creating a permanent upper class of clubs who would be guaranteed a massive stream of income year after year, only for finishing sixth or higher in a group of eight. And if they do screw up? No worries, they can still qualify via their domestic league. In an already polarized footballing landscape, where the one-percenters dwarf the rest, is this what football needs?Then there’s the obvious issue of incentives. If four of eight qualify in a 14-round tournament, there’s bound to be somebody who locks up their spot, just as there’s bound to be somebody who will finish bottom early, with nothing to play for. You already have meaningless in a six-round format: you’d have many more with 14.Would fans of the big clubs even enjoy the group stage? Bartomeu says everybody wants to see the big clubs playing each other more often. Sure, if it means something. But if they have already qualified for the knockouts — and that will happen early and often with four of eight teams going through — is it really an audience-grabber?Agnelli loves comparing Champions League revenues with those of the NFL, which are twice as high despite having a smaller audience. I can’t tell if he really thinks this is a valid comparison or if he’s being ignorant. In any case, here are 10 reasons why it’s a foolish analogy.  Then there’s the fact that this proposal would wreak havoc on domestic leagues. Whether it’s playing games on weekends — sure, you can move the Champions League clubs’ domestic fixtures to midweek, but what about all the other clubs? Are they going to sit around weekends? — or creating situations where sides have no shot at winning the league but have already secured their spot in the UCL by December so they simply go through the motions the rest of the year, it would simply be disastrous for the domestic game. Which, of course, is the bread-and-butter for most clubs and, indeed, supporters.Why are they pushing this? One-percenters would say it’s only fair because they take on the “entrepreneurial risk”: they spend more, they have more skin in the game, they generate most of the income, so why should they share equally with clubs along for the ride?The problem with that argument is that, in an era of Financial Fair Play, owning a big club is no longer the loss-making, risky affair it once was. Europe’s top-flight clubs made more than a half billion dollars last year on aggregate. In the Premier League, 85 percent were profitable last year. The reality is that it’s really about delivering ever-increasing returns to your shareholders, which, in Juventus’ case, happens to be mainly Agnelli’s own family, who own nearly two-thirds.Or, in the case of clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid that don’t have shareholders, becoming even more of a perpetual powerhouse would be a surefire way to bolster your status as a president and maybe one day have a stadium named after you. (It worked for Santiago Bernabeu… how does Estadi Josep Bartomeu sound?)It’s not surprising that representatives from Europe’s top leagues fired back, with Liga boss Javier Tebas saying he’d go to court to stop the ECA proposal. French league officials have said they’re ready to ban any clubs participating in such a monstrosity from Ligue 1. Even the usually rather measured Premier League boss Richard Scudamore said it was “out of order.” You’d imagine mid-sized to small associations, who make up the bulk of UEFA’s 55 members, are also ready to go on the warpath.The UEFA president, Aleksander Ceferin, insists these are consultations and brainstorming. He notes that the last time we had major reform, in 2016, just before he took over, it was the result of private backroom negotiations between UEFA and the clubs. This time, he wants to bring the discussion into the open before a decision is reached.Of course, he’s caught between a rock and a hard place. Big clubs drive Champions League revenue and the threat of some sort of breakaway league/Champions League boycott is always in the background despite assurances to the contrary. It happened before in basketball with the creation of the Euroleague and it’s not lost on anybody that three Euroleague clubs — Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern — also happen to be elite football clubs.Backers of the proposal argue that there would be a windfall for everyone, with increased revenue trickling down the system. On the flip side, given how high the barriers of entry would be (and they’re already sky-high) you wonder why anybody would ever invest in a club outside the elite. For what? To play on Wednesday nights in a devalued domestic league, at best competing for a title against sides who either have 10 times your revenue (most of it due to their virtually permanent Champions League status) or who field reserve teams because their focus is Europe?

There is an additional bulwark against this: the Premier League. England’s big clubs are far less reliant on Champions League income, because the Premier League is so lucrative. Which means they would balk at anything that messes with the Premier League.It’s also notable that other continental super club bosses have stayed on the sideline. You wonder if even they realize that this is an asinine proposal, but they’re happy to let Agnelli do the dirty work: a bit like a spoiled 18-year-old demanding a Lamborghini for his birthday knowing he’ll have to settle for a Porsche.Agnelli and ECA keep pushing, while plenty worry that UEFA are in lockstep with them. Ceferin denies this. Others say he’s giving Agnelli enough rope to hang himself. The impression is that unless Agnelli can build support among the leagues and other stakeholders, which appears about as likely as Cristiano Ronaldo developing a beer belly over the summer, UEFA won’t even consider it.Yet frankly, it’s a whole heck of a lot more appealing than what ECA are proposing. If this crashes and burns it will have more to do with ham-fisted incompetence in the way it was pushed, rather than the idea itself. That’s why the game needs to remain vigilant. These guys will be back, in another guise, likely with a similarly self-serving pitch.

Goalkeepers go to ‘dark places’ after making a high-profile mistake. How do the pros handle the pressure?

3:28 AM ET  Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Tim Howard has experienced the highs and lows of goalkeeping, but it’s the lows that really stick in the memory. “You have to go to some dark places as a goalkeeper,” the former United States and Manchester United No. 1 told ESPN FC.Howard was feted by President Barack Obama and became a national hero after an incredible display during the World Cup defeat against Belgium in 2014, but his failure to hold onto Benni McCarthy’s 90th minute free kick during a Champions League second-round tie against FC Porto 10 years earlier gifted Costinha a decisive goal that knocked United out of the competition and convinced Sir Alex Ferguson that Howard was not up to the job of being the club’s first-choice keeper.”In order to be successful in England, you’ve got to be great for the better part of five-10 years,” Howard said. “I had a great season at Manchester United and then phew, I didn’t see the field for two years, so it’s not about having one or two good games.”Being a goalkeeper is a thankless task, one that requires a certain kind of individual to don the gloves and pull on the No.1 jersey. You can make 10 incredible saves — “worldies,” in goalkeeper parlance — and then allow one to slip through your grasp and into the back of the net. Guess what gets remembered?”In my experience of football, goalkeepers are more invested than outfield players in the psychological side [of the game]. And they need to be,” sports psychologist Dan Abrahams said, who has worked with Premier League players and clubs, said. “They are individuals operating in a team setting and there are times when their world can cave in if they make a calamitous mistake.”David James made high-profile mistakes during his early days at Liverpool, and once he was nicknamed “Calamity James,” it stuck for the remainder of his career. You can only imagine how former France No. 1 Dominique Dropsy — yes, that’s his real name — would have been treated in today’s ferocious, unforgiving world of social media if he accidentally dropped the ball onto the toes of an opposition forward.David De Gea, Manchester United’s No. 1 keeper, knows all about the downside of the position these days. Rated by many as the best in the world, he’s had a nightmare run of mistakes between the posts, dating back to his unconvincing performances for Spain at last year’s World Cup. His error against Chelsea on April 28 ultimately proved to be a key moment in United’s late-season slide.Loris Karius has had it even worse than De Gea. The German keeper made two huge mistakes leading directly to goals in Liverpool’s 3-1 Champions League final defeat against Real Madrid in Kiev, Ukraine, last year, and even though it transpired that he was suffering from concussion following a collision with Sergio Ramos earlier in the game, he became the target of merciless criticism. Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool defended Karius in public at the time, but he hasn’t played for the club since: He was shipped out on loan to Besiktas in Turkey, where his battle to rebuild his confidence has been marred by further mistakes. An error on his debut against Bursaspor in September resulted in Besiktas being held to a 1-1 draw and he made another high profile mistake to concede a goal during a Europa League defeat against Malmo in October. But Karius’s time in Turkey hit its lowest ebb in March when, after being jeered by fans following a goal conceded against Konyaspor, Besiktas coach Senol Gunes claimed publicly that “something is wrong” with the German.Mark Bosnich, the former United, Aston Villa and Australia goalkeeper, saw Karius make those errors against Real, and it triggered memories of his young days at Old Trafford, from 1989 to 1991 (he had a second stint at the club, 1999 to 2001). “What happened to Karius, it had been coming.” Bosnich told ESPN FC. “He had made mistakes in games running up to the final and you could see he was having a tough time. His manager, Klopp, should have helped him and taken him out of the firing line before that game and allowed him to rebuild his confidence and go again.”When I was a kid at United, I saw the same happen to Jim Leighton, who was an experienced No. 1. He had a bad run, his confidence dropped, but Alex Ferguson played him in the FA Cup final and he let in three and was dropped for the replay. Jim never really recovered from that, but sometimes a manager has to spot the problems before a big mistake happens. They have a responsibility to act before it can be too late.”Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has that decision to make with De Gea,” Bosnich added of the United manager. “I believe De Gea can come through this period but at some point, the manager has to make a decision when a keeper is struggling.”Karius and De Gea have both been in the eye of the storm, but when you are the last line of defence, you need to be able to handle that, right?”I always wanted to be a goalkeeper as a kid, but I also knew that you had to take the rough with the smooth,” Bosnich said. “As a keeper, you have to have that mindset. Whenever I made a mistake, I would just apologise to my teammates in the dressing room and move on. That’s how I was.”My best game for United was against Palmeiras in the Intercontinental Trophy, when we became world champions in 1999, but I was the same after that. No big deal. Move on.”Not all goalkeepers are as mentally tough as Bosnich, however. The Australia international was an extrovert, criticised more for being too confident rather than being riddled with self-doubt, while others have sunk after high-profile mistakes.The England careers of the likes of Rob Green and Scott Carson ended before they properly began thanks to costly errors in big games for their country. Scrutiny can be intense, especially in an era of all-angle replays, VAR and super-slo-mo analysis, but Howard said that staying strong is crucial for every keeper who has, quite literally, dropped the ball. “You have to prepare for some dark days,” he said. “You have to be strong, block out the media, the fans and even some of your own teammates when they’re looking across the dressing room at you and you know they have no confidence in you.”It’s never-ending. Your self-belief can never waver. Confidence ebbs and flows, but self-belief is not something that ebbs and flows with performances. You have to always believe in yourself.”That’s where I think a lot of goalkeepers get it wrong. I wasn’t stupid, I could look in the mirror and say, ‘By the way, you haven’t been playing very well,’ but I never discounted the fact that I belonged there or that I could play.”Ben Foster also experienced the unforgiving spotlight that comes with playing in goal for Manchester United. He, too, fell foul of Ferguson after one mistake too many. Massimo Taibi and World Cup-winner Fabien Barthez went the same way as Leighton, Bosnich, Howard and Foster at Man United. Now Watford’s No. 1, Foster said it’s taken until his 30s for him to develop the strength of mind to deal with the pitfalls of his profession.”United was definitely the wrong place at the wrong time for me,” Foster said, recalling his time as a young keeper making his way at Old Trafford. “I wasn’t equipped mentally to be able to deal with being at United at that time.”Young goalkeepers now, they get taught how to play football, with training for this and that, but they don’t get taught how to deal with stuff mentally. Personally, I think the mental side of the game is 50 percent and the coaching and football side of it is 50 percent, but the mental side is completely neglected.”The influence of psychologists such as Abrahams points to football learning that goalkeepers need specific help, countering Foster’s assertion that the area is overlooked. Abrahams said that coaching a goalkeeper to deal with adversity is the key.”There are tools and techniques to help keepers cope with making mistakes,” Abrahams said. “It’s about staying focused, using key trigger words to themselves to control the situation, projecting positive body language and, crucially, not dwelling on the mistake.”Foster agrees, insisting that “if you ever think [about a mistake], that’s when you’re going to start getting problems.”So how do you rebuild a keeper’s confidence on Monday morning, after a costly mistake, when he heads out to train?”Some keepers will want to focus on the mistake and work on it, others will just want normality and repetition of what they always do,” said Ant White, a member of Bournemouth’s goalkeeping coach team. “But they have to know their identity, what makes them a top goalkeeper and remain focused on their strengths.”A mistake could be a 1-in-5,000 incident, so you also make sure they don’t forget the other 4,999 good moments.”Only De Gea truly knows whether his energy and focus is being drained by his run of mistakes. The same applies to Karius, too: Does he have nightmares about those two errors in Kiev? Ultimately, all players grapple with mistakes they’ve made, but it’s different for a goalkeeper. They are exposed, in every sense.”I almost don’t see myself as a footballer, you know?” Foster said. “I just try to get in the way of a ball that’s going in the back of a net. That’s what it comes down to at the end of the day. But you’re on your own.”As a goalie, you’re on your own and you’ve got a deal with it on your own.”

Robben and Ribery’s status as Bayern legends assured, but are they irreplaceable?

May 19, 2019Raphael HonigsteinGermany writer

For one final time, the most important duo of wingers in Bayern Munich’s history graced the Allianz Arena pitch and scored as second-half substitutes in a 5-1 win over Frankfurt to help the club to a seventh consecutive Bundesliga title. Then they showed everyone how much they differed as characters after the game.Whereas Franck Ribery was overcome with emotions and broke down in tears in front of the Sudkurve stand, Arjen Robben bemoaned not finding the net for a second time in a TV interview — it would have been his 100th Bundesliga goal — and admitted that he had done everything to get one last run-out before his farewell.”It was important to me to play one more time, I was totally up for the game,” said the 35-year-old, who had missed most of the campaign with a series of injuries. They didn’t call him “ego shooter” for nothing in the local tabloids.Even as all of Munich was swept up in nostalgia as the end of a decade dominated by his and Ribery’s spell-binding brilliance, Robben retained his own perspective: first person, first and foremost. The Dutchman’s self-obsessed outlook, nigh-pathological commitment in training and single-mindedness on the pitch neatly mirrored Bayern’s win-at-all-cost philosophy and hard-nosed professionalism.However, the crowd found it easier to connect with Ribery: an uncontrollable, complicated bundle made up of rough-edged genius, warrior-attitude and puerile humour. Scarred by an accident in his childhood, the Frenchman was an unashamed anti-hero who embraced adversity and made other people’s derision work in his favour. Defenders and fans of rival clubs hated him, which only made Bayern supporters love him all the more.Club president Uli Hoeness, his biggest fan, cried in the VIP area after the 36-year-old’s irresistible solo run for the Bayern’s fourth goal on Saturday. “Someone up there wrote the script today,” Hoeness said, adding that “Rib und Rob” (Abendzeitung) should be seen as Bayern all-time greats among Gerd Muller, Franz Beckenbauer, et al.heir place in the club’s pantheon of superstar icons is indeed assured. The duo did not just magically combine to produce the most crucial goal in Bayern’s recent history — the 2-1 winner over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final in 2013 — they were also instrumental in lifting the Bundesliga behemoths back to the spheres of the European elite after a few years in the second-rank doldrums.Ribery’s pacy, unpredictable style immediately added another dimension to final third attacks after his €25 million transfer from Marseille in 2007. A couple of years later, Louis van Gaal’s insistence on balance saw Robben arrive from Real Madrid for around the same price. Seen as big risk because of his persistent injury problems, the Bedum-born Flügelstürmer(winger) was an instant sensation, providing inverse wing-play class on a level which had not been seen in Germany’s top flight for quite some time.A combined tally of 185 league goals has gone some way to help Bayern win eight Bundesliga titles in 10 seasons. Their deepest impact, however, was on the team’s identity. Germany’s most successful side had traditionally relied on dominant players in the centre: sweepers, all-action box-to-box specialists and powerful centre-forwards. Robben and Ribery made Bayern’s game lateral.Attacking space and defenders with the ball on their feet, they set off tremors of panic in the opposition and excitement in the stadium; a rush that echoed football’s pre-modern roots as a gallant battle of individual dribblers hell-bent on making inroads into enemy territory.The new-found emphasis on wing-play begot a more structural approach in midfield which now had to provide defensive cover and a regular supply of passes to the dangermen out-wide. Thanks to “Robbery”‘s domineering influence, the team’s all-important metamorphosis into a position-possession team was both smooth and inevitable. The final step to Champions League-winning excellence was made when they started working much harder to hunt down the ball and protect their full-backs at the beginning of the 2012-13 treble-winning season.In recent years, Robben and Ribery were no longer able to perform consistently in line with their gigantic wages and pronounced self-importance; the club’s regression since coach Pep Guardiola’s departure in 2016, can partially be explained by the duo’s waning powers to make a difference against top opposition.Hoeness himself came close to admitting that the club’s reluctance to let them go earlier could have cost Bayern the championship this season. The dressing room will certainly feel a lot more spacious following the departure of the two super-sized egos, but Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry, their heirs-apparent, will do well to get close to their sustained levels of mastery.”Back in the day, I used to watch them on YouTube; learning from them has been amazing,” Gnabry told ESPN recently.The Germany international, 23, has closely watched the veterans’ positioning and taken a cue from their relentlessness in front of the box. “They are always on the attack,” he added. “They don’t ever shy away from an opportunity to go one against one. Whereas I would have said to [myself] before that you sometimes have to go back [with the ball], they helped me to just go again and again, saying that ‘eventually, you will break through’ [the defence.] Mentality-wise, they have defined an era here. Just to be around them has been been brilliant.”If Bayern are to get back to the world-beating heights of the first half of the decade, the successors to the most devastating double-act since Paul Breitner and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in the early 1980s must become nothing less than world-beaters, too.That’s a tall order, though, and explains why Saturday’s title-celebrations were tinged with sadness — perhaps even fear. Robben and Ribery might well prove irreplaceable.

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5/17/19  Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm, FA Cup Finals Sat 12 noon ESPN+, German/Spanish League Wraps-Up, Full TV Game Schedule

Shane Best    The Ole Ballcoach

Indy 11

Fresh off their first US Open Cup win in a few years Wednesday night at the Butler Bowl, the Indy 11 are home this Saturday night as it’s back to USL Championship action for Indy Eleven (4W-2L-2D, 14 pts.) when it welcomes the Charleston Battery (4W-1L-4D, 16 pts.) on “Armed Forces Night” at Lucas Oil Stadium. Tickets for the 7:00 p.m. kickoff remain available for as little as $15 at IndyEleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.  Back-up goalkeeper, and Carmel FC Goalkeeper Coach Jordan Farr came in to save the day Wednesday night after starter Evan Newton was red carded in the 28th minute as he helped a 10 man Indy 11 outlast their League 1 opponents 1-0 with an extra time goal late in the first half- Highlights.  The Indy 11 also announced they will host a Coaches Symposium on Tues, May 21st at Grand Park for just $30.

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FA Cup

Tiny Watford will look to fulfill their FA Cup Dreams against EPL Champions Manchester City on Sat at 12 noon on ESPN+.   Singer Elton John’s boyhood and favorite team will hope for some FA Cup magic as they face one of the top sides in the world in Man City.  Not sure why this is on the Plus for ESPN – you would think they could find a spot on ESPN or ESPN2 for this FINAL match after serving all the other games on the Plus.  But that appears to be where we stand having to stream our overseas soccer these days.  I for 1 will NOT be watching.

USA World Cup

The US ladies won both of their Send-Off Series games this past week with a 3-0 win Sunday on Fox and a solid 5-0 win over New Zealand last night. You can watch the USWNT’s final send-off friendly next Sunday: vs Mexico on May 26 (Noon ET, ESPN).  The World Cup from France gets underway June 7 with the US starting June 11.  The US 20 World Cup featuring the US team with Tim Weah will kickoff next week with the US playing Friday on Fox Sports 1 vs Ukraine at 2:30 pm.  The US U17’s have qualified for next summer’s World Cup behind 7 goals from Reyna – yeah Claudia’s son. They lost a heartbreaker in the CONCACAF Finals vs Mexico 2-1 after dominating possession most of the game.

EPL

So the EPL season limped into the final weekend with just title race barely on the line – for about 2 minutes it was a thrill across Anfield as the score showing Man City trailing Brighton 1-0 came across the board.  Of course less than 2 minutes later Aguero scored and Man City was on its way to a 4-1 win and a second consecutive EPL title.  An amazing 98 points 1 year after having 100 total points and outlasting Liverpool who finished with 97.  How about the fact that Liverpool wins the EPL with 97 points any other year in the history of the league but this season and last except for Man City.  Amazing – great story here about the millimeters that truly separated Man City and Liverpool this season.  Of course with an All-EPL Champions League match-up of Liverpool vs Spurs and Chelsea vs Arsenal in Europa League at the end of the month we’ll have more EPL coming up.

Games to Watch

Great story about American Christian Pulisic as he played his final home game last week for Dortmund scoring his second goal in as many games after a moving pre-game celebration and after game visit to the yellow wall.  Dortmund still has a slight chance to win the Bundesliga title as they are 2 points back of Bayern Munich after having the lead for most of the season. Dortmund will be on Saturday at 9:30 am on FS1 vs Borussia Gladbach, Bayern Munich meanwhile hosts Frankfurt (who desperately needs the win to secure Champions League next season) on FS 2 at 9:30 am.  Of course, the top 6 teams in the Bundesliga are still mathematically alive for that 4th Champions League spot or certainly a top 7 Europa league position as the race will be to the finish.

In La Liga the 4th and final Champions League spot is between Spanish clubs Valencia and Sevilla FC who play at 10:15 am on beIN Sport.  If Valencia win they are 4th if Sevilla win they need tiny Getafe to lose to jump them and Valencia into the 4th position.  A day of drama for tiny club Getafe with the miracle chance to make Champions League for the 1st time ever.  Go Getafe!  Also in Spain – sorry to see my precious Atletico losing Greizmann but life goes on for the 2nd place team in La Liga this season as long as they still have the manager in black – Simeone!   Oh and Bruce Arena, former US and the most successful MLS coach ever, is back in the league as GM And Manager of the New England Revolution.

GAMES ON TV

Sat, MAY 18           (American’s in parenthesis)  

9:30 am Fox Sport 2                       Bayern Munich vs Frankfurt

9:30 am Fox Sports 1                     Borussia M’gladbach (Johnson) vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

9:30 am Fox Soccer                          Schalke (McKinney) vs Stuttgart

10:15 am beIN Sport                       Real Valladolid vs Valencia

12 noon ESPN+                    Manchester City vs Watford – FA Cup Final 

2 pm Univision                               San Jose vs Chicago Fire

7 pm WISHTV                       Indy 11 vs Charlestown (Lucas Oil)

8 pm ESPN+                                      Min United vs Columbus Crew

Sun, MAY 19  

6 am beIN sport                                  Real Madird vs Real Betis

11:30 am ESPN3                                  Netherlands U17 vs Italy u17 Eefa Finals

2:30 pm ESPN+                                     Napoli vs Inter (champ league race)

3 pm ESPN+                                            Orlando City vs Cincy

5 pm Fox Sport 1                                NY Red Bulls vs Atlanta United

Fri, MAY 24  

12 noon ESPN2?                  Copa Del Rey  Barcelona vs Valencia

2;30 pm Fox Sport 1           USA U20s vs Ukraine  U20 WC

Sat, MAY 25  

2 pm ESPNNews                  German Cup Bayern Munich vs RB Leipzig (Adams)  

7 pm WISHTV                       Indy 11 vs Nashville (Lucas Oil)

Sun, MAY 26  

9:30 am FS1                                            Mexico U20 vs Japan U20

12 pm ESPN                          USA Ladies vs Mexico

6 pm Fox Sport 1                                Sporting KC vs Seattle

Mon, MAY 27    

2:30 pm FS1                         USA U20s vs Nigeria U20 WC

Weds, May 29                      Europa League Finals

Thur, MAY 30    

2:30 pm FS1                         USA U20s vs Qatar U20 WC

Sat, June 1                             Champions League Finals

Women’s World Cup June 7-July 7

  • Fri, June 7 3 p m                                    France vs South Korea
  • Tues, June 11: 3 p.m. ET, Fox                S. vs. Thailand,
  • Sun, June 16: Noon ET, Fox                 S. vs. Chile,
  • Thurs, June 20: 3 p.m. ET, Fox S. vs. Sweden
  • Sun, July 7 3 pm ET, Fox Women’s World Cup Finals from France

Gold Cup TV Schedule June 15– July 7

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

Where to Watch Soccer Games on Which Channels

Indy 11

Indy 11 Score 1-0 Win in US Open Cup with 10 men

Indy 11 douse Landing Ignite in US Open Cup – Soc Takes – Kevin Johnston

Indy 11 win USOC as odd Trend Continues – Brian Cook

Indy 11 Sign Indy Fire U17 Player

GK Evan Newton is USL Player of Week w/2 Clean Sheets

Indy 11 in USL Academy Cup for ages U13-U17

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 8 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

 WORLD

Dortmund Hopes for Miracle on final day of German Season

Bayern has advantage but Dortmund still has a chance to German Title 2 pts back

Juve Manager Allegri to leave this summer

Former American Player and Huddersfield Town Mgr David Wagner takes over Schalke

EPL

Watford Captains Journey from jail to FA Cup Final ESPNFC

Top 10 moments of EPL Season – NBC sports

Lampard to Replace Sarri at Chelsea?

– Ogden: Epic title race decided by millimetres and seconds
– Ames: City showed character, guts to retain trophy

– Man City ratings: Laporte, Gundogan both 8/10 as title clinched

– Ogden: 10 year after City takeover — how football changed forever
– When are next season’s Premier League fixtures revealed?

USA

How Biggest Loss in Recent Memory for US exposed an Issue it Still Hasn’t Solved – yahoo soccer
Hays: USWNT solves South Africa »

Mewis, Lloyd goals lift USWNT »

US focus on firepower in search of 4th World Cup

FiFA hopes 1 billion watch Women’s World Cup

Tim Weah makes U.S.’s U20 World Cup roster, Sargent and Adams left off

U20 player Paxton Pomykal

US Qualifies for U17 World Cup on Reyna’s 5th Goal

GK

Buffon offered 1 year Extension at PSG

MLS Saves of the Week

USL Save of the Week

NWSL Save of the Week

Camps 

Indy 11 Soccer Camp – Carmel Dad’s Club Badger Field June 17-20 9-12 noon.ages 6-14 $135

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 9-12 pm Beginner Camp $150

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 3-5 pm Elite Player Development Camp $150

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN ADVANCES IN LAMAR HUNT U.S. OPEN CUP WITH 1-0 WIN OVER LANSING IGNITE FC

By IndyEleven.com, 05/15/19, 10:30PM EDT

Goalkeeper Jordan Farr’s Sudden Professional Debut – and Subsequent Shutout – Help Boys in Blue to Second Round Win

#INDVLAN HIGHLIGHTS

Playing a man down for 70 minutes was not a bridge too “Farr” for Indy Eleven in its Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup debut, as goalkeeper Jordan Farr came on in reserve duty to keep a clean sheet and help the Boys in Blue advance past Lansing Ignite FC 1-0 in Second Round action at Butler University’s Sellick Bowl. Forward Thomas Enevoldsen’s 57th minute tally was enough to give Indy Eleven its first USOC win since the 2016 tournament and set up a Third Round match-up at USL Championship cohort Pittsburgh Riverhounds in two weeks’ time. “Obviously, it was a hard game. It was doubly hard when we went down to 10 men. We had to put a lot of effort into it,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “I knew if we could get a goal that we could expect to defend well. It was nice to get the win as well. It was nice to not go to extra time with ten men. I thought we played really well given the situation.” Lansing Ignite almost took advantage of an Eleven defensive miscue within 30 seconds of the opening whistle, but thankfully defender Paddy Barrett saved an initial shot off the goalline, and midfielder Kenney Walker followed suit within the six-yard box on the rebounded effort. A scary moment and quick flash point came in the 16th minute, when Indy Eleven goalkeeper Evan Newton collided with Lansing forward Elma N’for as the two raced for a 50-50 ball just outside of Newton’s area. N’for received medical attention on the field for several minutes, and during the delay match referee Adam Behrens rescinded his initial yellow card to Newton and instead issued a straight red for the challenge, putting Indy Eleven down a man five minutes later. After a 12-minute delay, the match would restart with Steve Saint-Duc entering up top for N’for, and Farr going in between the posts in what became an impromptu professional debut. Two minutes later the substitutes would be introduced to each other, Saint-Duc’s scuffed shot from 10 yards forcing Farr to make his first save. Not much came from the next half hour, but waist-deep into 11 minutes of stoppage time Indy Eleven would create danger. Off a designed set piece, Matt Watson got free down the right flank only to see his cross towards the six-yard box driven just over the head of defender Karl Ouimette. A minute later, Lansing’s Rafa Mentzingen found space and tried his luck from 35 yards out, but his pacey shot would sail over the crossbar and mark the final shot of a fairly-even first half. A sluggish second half would spring to life in the 57th minute when header from Thomas “The Engine” Enevoldsen gave Indy the lead. After a cleared Indy corner, midfielder Tyler Gibson sent the ball back into the mixer from the midfield stripe and found defender Paddy Barrett, whose square header was nodded home by Enevoldsen to break the deadlock. Ricky Lopez-Espin had a chance to even things up in the 65th minute, but he couldn’t get enough on his near-angled shot to beat defender Neveal Hackshaw, who tracked behind Farr to cover his near post and clear off the goal line for a corner. Lopez-Espin was free again inside the penalty area five minutes later, this time sending a low shot that Farr pounced on with ease. With 15 minutes left in regulation it was Tumi Moshobane’s first-time laser that forced Farr’s best stop of the evening, the second-year ‘keeper batting the chance away off the tips of his gloves before it could reach his upper 90. The Boys in Blue withstood steady pressure by Ignite FC through the end of regulation and an additional four minutes of stoppage time to survive and advance to the Third Round. Indy Eleven and the Riverhounds are set to meet at Highmark Stadium on the banks of the Monongahela River in downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, May 29th, in an USL Championship-Open Cup mashup.  There’s no rest for the weary as it’s back to USL Championship action for Indy Eleven (4W-2L-2D, 14 pts.) this Saturday, May 18, when it welcomes the Charleston Battery (4W-1L-4D, 16 pts.) on “Armed Forces Night” at Lucas Oil Stadium. Tickets for the 7:00 p.m. kickoff remain available for as little as $15 at IndyEleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Second Round
Indy Eleven (USL Championship)  1 : 0  Lansing Ignite FC (USL League One)
Wednesday, May 15, 2019 – 7:00 p.m. ET

Sellick Bowl at Butler University – Indianapolis, Ind.   Attendance: 853    Next LHUSOC Game – Third Round

Indy Eleven at Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (USL Championship)   Highmark Stadium | Pittsburgh, Penn.

Scoring Summary:
IND – Thomas Enevoldsen (Paddy Barrett) 57’

Disciplinary Summary:

IND – Evan Newton (red card) 21’

IND – Thomas Enevoldsen (yellow card) 51’

LAN – Grant Stoneman (yellow card) 62’

IND – Matt Watson (yellow card) 62’

IND – Kenney Walker (yellow card) 88’

Indy Eleven lineup (3-5-2, L–>R): Evan Newton (GK) (red card 21’); Karl Ouimette, Paddy Barrett, Neveal Hackshaw; Tyler Pasher, Kenney Walker, Tyler Gibson, Matt Watson (captain) (Ayoze Garcia 86’), Macauley King; Thomas Enevoldsen (Dane Kelly 74’), Alioune Diakhate (Jordan Farr 28’)   IND Substitutes: Mario Perez (GK), Mitch Osmond, Emerson Nieto, Josh Penn
Lansing Ignite FC lineup (3-5-2, L–>R): Kyle Ihn; Grant Stoneman, Brandon Fricke (captain), Kevin Coiffic; Nathan Lewis (Xavier Gomez 69’), Christian Silva, Tumi Moshobane, Marshall Hollingsworth, Rafa Mentzingen (Alex Bruce 69’); Elma Nfor (Steeve Saint-Duc 28’), Ricky Lopez-EspinLAN Substitutes: Mike Kirk (GK), Rhys Williams, Kyle Carr, Nick Moon

Borussia Dortmund’s warm farewell for Christian Pulisic, a player always destined to move somewhere else

May 13, 2019Stephan Uersfeld   Germany correspondent

DORTMUND, Germany — As he walked down the tunnel, he was holding back tears. Four minutes before half-time, Christian Pulisic was again holding back his tears; he’d just scored to hand Dortmund the lead. They remain firmly in the title race and “Captain America” had come to the rescue. Just over an hour later, Borussia wrapped up the 3-2 win and Pulisic obliged with the media tour before walking to the locker room. At 6:36 p.m. local time, he left, his family waiting for him near the exit.In the end, Pulisic could not have wished for a better ending to his time at the Westfalenstadion, though there might always be a sense of what could have been. But before he joins his new Chelsea team, there’s still one more match to be played, and in a turbulent season, he could still sign off with a Bundesliga title.”We will never give up,” Pulisic vows.Going into the penultimate day of the season and Christian Pulisic’s home farewell, Bayern held a four-point lead over Dortmund and boasted a vastly superior goal difference. The fans were listless about it all, having seen their team lose control of the title race. This is what the fans discussed over prematch beers and giant plates full of asparagus and meat at Zur Sonne, one of the traditional meeting points for Dortmund fans.They also contemplated why Pulisic might not leave that big a footprint in Borussia’s club history.

– Report: Pulisic scores in final Dortmund home game
– Video: Bayern’s slip takes title down to final day

“Had he not been an American and had Chelsea not been hit with a transfer ban, Dortmund would have got €5 million for [Pulisic],” said Thomas Reske, a member of Borussia’s Goldener Oktober fan club, jokingly of course. Jens Weber, a lifelong BVB supporter like everyone at the bar, recalled the American’s first steps in the U-17 and U-19.”He’s a Dortmund youth product and he wasn’t even the most talented player of his age group,” Weber said, remembering Felix Passlack, currently on loan with Norwich City. “But he prevailed. And it was nice to see Pulisic work himself up to the first team.”The past 1,495 days have been a wild ride for Pulisic. It began with his unassuming debut for Borussia Dortmund’s U-17, a 4-1 win against Fortuna Dusseldorf’s U-17 in front of just 100 spectators at the Paul-Janes-Stadion in Dusseldorf. On Saturday, he played his penultimate game in a 3-2 win against Dusseldorf’s senior side in front of a capacity crowd of 81,365 at one of the cathedrals of world football. In between, he became the superstar of American soccer and he put his name on the map of European football. He broke records on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, making clear that he is the real deal.The 20-year-old U.S. international first set up a goal back on April 8, 2015, in his debut and scored one on Saturday, too. Overall, his record speaks for itself: he made 151 competitive appearances for Borussia Dortmund, scoring 33 goals and setting up a further 38. The vast majority (126 matches, 19 goals and 25 assists) were for the senior side.Saturday’s goal was notable in that it kept alive Dortmund’s hopes of winning a first Bundesliga title since 2012. When he leaves for Chelsea, which paid €64 million in January for him — the highest-ever fee for an American — he can say he has given his all for BVB until the final minutes. Before that, though, he has one more match to play at Borussia Monchengladbach next Saturday. It could still win him his first Bundesliga title, although his side’s chances remain slim.Of course, nobody was more aware of Saturday’s occasion than Pulisic. It felt like he didn’t even want to leave his home of the past five years; he was the last to leave the locker room down in the catacombs of the Westfalenstadion. His last home match for Borussia Dortmund had ended hours earlier, but he was still there, soaking up every moment. There was time for one final interview with the club TV and one last walk up to the journalists waiting for him.”I still can’t believe it. Everything worked out perfect today. But the most important thing is that we got the win and still have a chance,” he said in English before switching to German. “Most of all, I will miss the fans and the stadium. It was a super goodbye for me and yes, I am thankful for the fans and for Dortmund.”The American’s time at Dortmund was never going to be a lifelong love affair; rather it was laid out as a chapter in Pulisic’s career, an important one for him and one Dortmund knew they could capitalize on in the future. Turning Pulisic into a star would not only boost the club’s profile as one of the go-to places for the best young talents in world football, but it also would one day get the club a good transfer fee.Last season, Borussia and Pulisic endured a difficult campaign. Prior to 2017-18, he’d been a young player at the Westfalenstadion capable of providing that bit of extra magic. While Pulisic already was the star player of American soccer by that point, he could always return to Dortmund, where there was no extra pressure. But this year, the pressure was on him too. There were games in which he was the most experienced player in Dortmund’s attack and it was expected of him to just deliver.Pulisic’s unresolved future and his new role were weight on his shoulders, but once his next move was secured, he vowed in a statement that he’d fight for Borussia until the last matchday. The club told him he must live up to his words and, bar a few injuries, he did.Over the past couple of months, Borussia squandered a nine-point lead at the top, lost 5-0 at Bayern and, only a fortnight ago, suffered humiliation against Schalke 04 in the Ruhr derby, with their rivals taking all three points back home to Gelsenkirchen. Yet Pulisic remained true to his word: at Bremen the week before, he embarked on an Eden Hazard-like run through the opponent’s defense to hand Dortmund an early lead. He had fought back and become a force for Dortmund again, but in that same game, Borussia blew a 2-0 lead, which opened the door for Bayern to extend their lead to four points ahead of his final home match.As Dortmund’s fighting spirit resulted in a call for perseverance, with the fans stating “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” in a giant banner unfolded on the stands at Bremen, Pulisic prepared for his last match at the Westfalenstadion.He raced out onto the pitch to warm up just over half an hour before kickoff. He kicked his ball toward the Sudtribune and took a long look at the Yellow Wall. He absorbed every moment during his 17-minute warm-up, watching Dortmund’s 1989 cup heroes receive a warm welcome by the fans as they celebrated 30 years of bringing Borussia back on the map of German football.As Dortmund’s veterans left the pitch, Pulisic walked up to stadium announcer Norbert Dickel, one of those 1989 cup heroes. Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc and CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke were waiting for him ahead of a small ceremony. He got a bouquet of yellow flowers and a giant portrait thanking him for his service. Pulisic posed for photos and then grabbed the microphone, walking toward the Yellow Wall. He addressed the fans in German: “Dortmund will always feel like home!” The supporters applauded him. “All the best and hopefully see you again one day.”He then returned to the locker room to finish prematch preparations, where former captain Marcel Schmelzer gave a speech. It ain’t over ’til it’s over was the message, but Pulisic was aware that his own journey was nearly complete. “It hit me when I was walking to the locker room. It was really emotional. My last time. It was not easy,” Pulisic later said.”It was very emotional for Christian. He can just be proud how he solved it today. And also how well he handled the overall situation,” BVB squad manager Sebastian Kehl said in the postmatch scrum.While some fans might argue Pulisic will not leave a trace at the club, he earned a lot of respect over the course of five impressive years at Dortmund. Now it’s time to see what he can do in the Premier League.

Dortmund hopes for ‘small miracle’ to take title from Bayern

Associated Press•May 16, 2019BERLIN (AP) — Despite needing a “small miracle” to win the Bundesliga title on the final day of the season, Borussia Dortmund already has its celebration party planned.Bayern Munich, which leads Dortmund by two points and has a huge advantage on goal difference, is favored to win its record-extending seventh straight title on Saturday. But Dortmund hasn’t given up hope.”I have the feeling we’re on the verge of something great,” Dortmund chief executive Hans Joachim Watzke said. “I myself can’t explain it.”Bayern essentially needs only a point at home against Eintracht Frankfurt, which hasn’t beaten the defending champions in 15 league games and has lost on its last nine visits to Munich. Dortmund, meanwhile, faces a tough game at Borussia Mönchengladbach at the same time.”It’s still possible. We want to achieve the small miracle,” said Sebastian Kehl, a former Dortmund midfielder who is now a club official working closely with the players. “If there’s a little wobble from Bayern we want to use it.”Plans for an open-top bus parade through Dortmund’s streets on Sunday were made months in advance, when the team held a nine-point lead over Bayern.”We look at the standings,” said Oliver Nestler, the head of the city’s fire department.But Dortmund squandered its lead in consecutive draws against Frankfurt, Hoffenheim and Nuremberg in February before losing at Augsburg. A 5-0 win for Bayern in Munich underlined the difference between the teams last month, before Dortmund dropped more points at home against Schalke and then at Werder Bremen.Bayern could have won the title last weekend but was held to a goalless draw at Leipzig. However, the team is determined the take the second of what coach Niko Kovac described as “two match balls” against Frankfurt, his former team, and bring what has been a testing season to a successful close.”If we had this situation in winter, that we could seal it with a win at home against Frankfurt, we would have signed for it straight away,” Bayern forward Thomas Müller said.It should be straightforward. Frankfurt claimed the last of its three wins in Munich (from 47 visits) in November 2000. It avoided conceding only twice in those 47 games.Frankfurt has conceded eight goals in its last two league games and is clearly feeling the effect from a long European season. The team pushed Chelsea hard before bowing out in the semifinals of the Europa League.Frankfurt, which was fourth and in the last place for Champions League qualification, is now sixth and in danger of missing out on qualifying even for the Europa League.”We only have ourselves to blame for this situation,” said Frankfurt coach Adi Hütter, who took over from Kovac and was leading Frankfurt to its best ever league campaign. “We still have the chance to re-qualify. We have to take it.”With favors from elsewhere and a win in Munich, Frankfurt could even reclaim fourth and earn its place in Europe’s premier competition for the first time since 1960.One omen gives Frankfurt – and Dortmund – hope: Bayern has never won the title at home since moving into its new stadium in 2005.

SECOND DIVISION

Cologne has already earned promotion back to the Bundesliga as second-division champion despite only one win from its last six games.  Either Paderborn or Union Berlin will join Cologne in the top division, replacing relegated Hannover and Nuremberg.Paderborn, currently second, leads Union by a point ahead of its visit to Dynamo Dresden on Sunday. Union realistically needs a win at Bochum and a favor from Dresden at the same time to claim the automatic promotion spot.Failing that – and barring an extraordinary 21-goal turnaround from fourth-place Hamburger SV – Union will face Stuttgart in a two-leg playoff to determine which team plays in the Bundesliga next season.

Manchester City vs. Watford: FA Cup final predictions and key battles

4:34 AM ETThe 138th final of the FA Cup, the world’s oldest club competition, pits all-star Premier League champions Manchester City against able underdogs Watford.The odds may be heavily stacked in favour of Pep Guardiola’s team, but there is enough cause to believe that Javi Gracia can mastermind a memorable upset that would be a fitting conclusion to what has been a thrilling tournament this season. Here’s everything you need to know.

WHERE: Wembley Stadium, London (capacity 90,000)
WHEN: Saturday; noon ET, 5 p.m. UK (live on ESPN+)

BACKSTORY: This is Watford’s second FA Cup final (35 years ago, they lost 2-0 to Everton) and for most of their history they’ve been a second-tier club, though since their most recent promotion to the Premier League in 2015 they’ve generally been solidly mid-table, finishing 11th this season.

Manchester City are arguably the best team in the world right now and, in English terms, have completed the most dominant two seasons ever, having gained 198 of a possible 228 in winning back-to-back titles. They retained the Carabao Cup this year and would complete an unprecedented domestic treble if they win this too.

MUSICAL ICON: Oasis’ Noel Gallagher is a fixture at City games, and he led the title celebrations in the dressing room at Brighton. But Elton John has him trumped, despite having to miss the match to perform a concert in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was actually chairman of Watford on two occasions for a total of 16 years. Plus, his middle name is Hercules, whereas Gallagher’s is a more mundane Thomas.

ROAD TO WEMBLEY: The FA Cup is a straight knockout competition, so luck and happenstance play a key role, especially since the rounds are one-legged: you only play the return leg if it’s a draw through to the fourth round. City won all five of their games on the way to the final, but faced just two Premier League clubs (Burnley and Brighton) en route. Watford faced three top-flight clubs on the way (Crystal Palace, Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers) and only played at home once.

KEY COMEBACKS ON THE WAY: Watford had to come from two goals down in the semifinal to overcome Wolves 3-2 in extra time. Manchester City found themselves 2-0 down with 21 minutes to go away to second-tier Swansea in what would have been one of the shocks of the season. But they stormed back and grabbed a winner with two minutes to go, sealing a 3-2 victory.

KEY BATTLE: Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue vs. the Silva brothers

OK, the latter aren’t actually brothers, they just have a chemistry and understanding that suggests either blood relations or extra-sensory perception. If City, as expected, have the bulk of possession and Watford raise the barricades, it will be up to Bernardo Silva and David Silva (or possibly Ilkay GundoganKevin De Bruyne or Phil Foden — yes, City have that many weapons) to break them down. Capoue and Doucoure form one of the best midfield duos in the Premier League, offering physicality, workrate and tactical nous. If City can’t get through them, they’ll need to figure out a way around them.

– Ogden: Deeney’s journey from prison to FA Cup final
– United need City to win FA Cup to avoid fixture chaos
– Who qualifies for Europe from the Premier League?
– ESPN+: Man City and Watford’s road to Wembley

X FACTOR, WATFORD: Gerard Deulofeu

He doesn’t always start, but he has the unpredictability and one-on-one ability to create something out of nothing and, of course, his heroics in this very stadium in the semifinal are what got Watford here.

X FACTOR, MANCHESTER CITY: Leroy Sane

The fact that you can chuck the German roadrunner on the pitch late in games, against tired, glassy-eyed opponents is a huge boost. He gets in the box with the ball with an ease rarely seen at this level.

HEART AND SOUL, WATFORD: Troy Deeney

It’s the ninth season at the club for this battering ram of a striker who leaves nothing on the pitch and has worked under 11 different managers. Not always the prettiest to watch, but his effort and underdog redemption story — he spent time in prison for his involvement in a brawl when he was 22 and later passed the equivalent of a GED (General Educational Development) exam — make him appealing to neutrals.

HEART AND SOUL, CITY: Raheem Sterling

His is also a redemption tale, though more a factor of how he was perceived rather than anything he did. Cruelly and unfairly lampooned as greedy and bling-obsessed when he moved from Liverpool to Manchester City, he is now adored in England and has established himself as a thoughtful commentator on social issues as well. At 24, his star is still rising …

OLD TIMER, WATFORD: Heurelho Gomes

He’s 38, he’s no longer a regular, and he’s meant to be leaving at the end of the season, even though Watford have asked him to stay another year. But he’s immensely popular at the club and the chief cheerleader, whether he starts or not. Definitely one of the good guys.

OLD TIMER, MANCHESTER CITY: Vincent Kompany

He’s been here for 11 years, pre-dating the Emirati owners and the transformation of Manchester City into a super-club. Once one of the best defenders in the world, he was slowed by injuries the past three years only to come roaring back this season with some vintage performances (and an improbable key goal against Leicester City) down the stretch. Articulate, bright and a natural leader, when (if?) he leaves then he can pretty much write his own ticket whatever he chooses to do.

WHAT WATFORD HAVE TO DO TO WIN IT: Impose themselves physically in midfield with the Doucoure-Capoue partnership. If, as expected, Gracia opts for two strikers, ensure that they pin back City’s full-backs when not in possession and disrupt the build-up as much as possible. Exploit the size advantage on set pieces.

WHAT CITY HAVE TO DO TO WIN IT: Let their superior talent and know-how shine and carry them to victory. Do not get frustrated if the goals take time to come. Drop Sterling into central positions to wreak havoc if Watford pack the penalty box. Dominate the wide areas to stretch the opposition and create gaps for the midfield to exploit.

PREDICTION: Manchester City to win 3-1

It’s a combination of nous and firepower. Watford can be very awkward to play against, so if things don’t pan out early for City boss Guardiola he may need to find other solutions. Luckily for him, he has a whole array of options to call upon, either from the bench or simply by switching players around.

How the USWNT’s biggest loss in recent memory exposed an issue it still hasn’t solved

Yahoo Sports•May 15, 2019

The U.S. women’s national team has been unpredictable over the past three years. From game to game, or even within the same game, there’s consistently been a surprise from coach Jill Ellis designed to add more firepower in the attack.There were the times Ellis had the team play with just three defenders to add an extra number going forward. There were asks for offensive players to fill defensive positions so they could attack, even from the back line. And there have been the late game substitutions where balance goes out the window – just get every attacker possible on the field, even if players are in unusual positions.Many of these experiments haven’t gone particularly well, but Ellis has persisted because the USWNT suffered a trauma in 2016 that she hasn’t quite gotten over: losing to Sweden in the Olympics.At the Rio Games, the USWNT lost to bunkering Sweden team and got knocked out in the quarterfinal round, the USA’s earliest exit ever. Up until then, the USWNT had never failed to finish third in a World Cup or an Olympics, and Ellis’s mission since then has been to ensure such a disaster never happens again.But that’s been easier said than done, as failed experiments over the past three years have proven, and it’s unclear the USWNT has found its answer.After all, a far inferior South African team bunkered with two blocks of four on Sunday, and the USWNT looked stymied for long stretches. It was a friendly, and the USWNT did eventually win 3-0, but there were many moments where the Americans did not look up to the task of unlocking South Africa’s defense.A better bunkering team could surely still succeed like Sweden did. And given how that loss to Sweden has guided the USWNT’s tactics over the past three years – not to mention the fact the two countries will face each other in the final group game at this summer’s World Cup – it’s worth revisiting that match.The first thing to understand about what happened in 2016 is that Sweden’s game plan was not a surprise to Ellis or her team.”They will park the bus,” Ellis said the day before the game. “They will sit as low as they possibly can and then look to transition, and they’re going to try to kill the game off that way and not give up space. I imagine they’ll play a 4-5-1 and be very compact.”That’s exactly what Sweden did, and yet the USWNT still couldn’t take a lead at any point. The score ended in a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes, and the U.S. lost in penalty kicks.But the Americans’ performance in Brasília has been colored – tainted, even – by the fact that they ultimately lost. In truth, they found plenty of chances and were simply unlucky to not put more of them away. If the U.S. had won the penalty kick shootout, the Sweden match would’ve been a forgettable affair.

Here is each team’s shooting map from the game:

The USWNT took 26 shots and only got five of them on target – a problem of execution rather than opportunity. Of those 26 shots, 16 were taken inside the penalty box.The Americans also dominated the game in other ways. They held onto 64 percent of the possession and controlled the rhythm of the game. They won 65 duels to Sweden’s 38, and won 17 tackles to Sweden nine.Carli Lloyd even scored what should’ve been the game-winner in the 115th minute of extra time, but she was incorrectly called offside.In other words, the USWNT’s attack wasn’t the biggest problem on that day. Sweden did successfully cram the penalty box, and it made it harder for the U.S. to get the shots they wanted. The U.S. also did play a bit too directly and focused on crossing the ball more than working it into dangerous areas with combination play, which led to some low-quality chances. But there were good chances, too.The reason Sweden won in 2016 was partly because of the USWNT’s attacking-first approach. The defenders were flung so far forward in an effort to overload the midfield that it took Sweden two quick passes to bypass the entire defense. It was a textbook absorb-and-counter play, and the USWNT left itself vulnerable because it was so focused on barraging Sweden.Ellis’s takeaway, however, has been the opposite – she apparently decided the USWNT attack didn’t do enough against Sweden and more firepower is needed to break a bunker.In the book, “The National Team: The Inside Story Of The Women Who Changed Soccer,” Hope Solo recounts how the day after the loss to Sweden, Ellis spoke with her about the U.S. needing to learn to get past bunkering teams. Solo was later kicked off the team for calling Sweden “a bunch of cowards” for their ultra-defensive strategy, but up until Solo’s punishment overshadowed the loss, the talking point from the game was how Sweden successfully bunkered past the No. 1-ranked team in the world.That’s why after the Olympics in late 2016, Ellis concocted a three-back system that would remove one defender and replace her with an attacker.The experiment was a disaster. The way the USWNT got beat on the counterattack by Sweden became even easier. Romania, a team that has never even qualified for a World Cup, scored a goal that looked beat-for-beat similar to Sweden’s goal in the Olympics.Ellis abandoned the three-back but has been tinkering with other ways to give the USWNT more numbers in the final third.That’s why she has tested out some ultra-attacking rotations, such as putting Tobin Heath, one of the best wingers in the world, is in the central midfield. Mallory Pugh, another winger, started some games in the central midfield during the SheBelieves Cup. Pugh brought almost no defensive presence, but Ellis said she wanted Pugh there to race behind back lines.The USWNT is as aggressive as it’s ever been, and it’s because of how Ellis has responded to that loss at the Rio Games three years ago. The team’s fullbacks are converted forwards who bomb up the field. The center of the pitch doesn’t have a stay-at-home holding midfielder as Julie Ertz is encouraged to fly forward and join the attack.The Americans undoubtedly are going to score goals in France – that’s what they’re built for. The question is how much they will concede in the process.After all, despite everything that Ellis has tried, one simple soccer truth remains: bunkering often works. That’s especially true when the defending team can be quick on the counterattack.Ellis has to hope that teams in France don’t use the Americans’ attacking style against them. That’s what Sweden did, and becoming an even more attacking U.S. side hasn’t solved it.Caitlin Murray is a contributor to Yahoo Sports and her book about the U.S. women’s national team, The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer, is out now. Follow her on Twitter @caitlinmurr.

U.S. women’s national team solves South Africa in Women’s World Cup tuneup

11:40 PM ET  Graham Hayse EspnW.com

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The United States played its first game Sunday since announcing the roster of 23 players that it hopes will produce the latest in a series of unforgettable summers. And then promptly ran into the sort of forgettable game that is almost always a part of those stories.To get through seven games in the World Cup, there will be 90 minutes like this.So although a 3-0 win against South Africa was an exercise in problem solving more than riveting entertainment for the largest crowd to see the national team play this year, 22,788 inside Levi’s Stadium, there was at least a solution that sent everyone home satisfied. It isn’t inconsequential that it started with Sam Mewis, someone yet to play her first minutes in a major tournament.Mewis scored the first two goals for the U.S., the second time in the midfielder’s 48 games with the national team that she scored multiple goals. Carli Lloyd provided the final goal, the 108th in an international career that began when Mewis was in middle school.But for much of the afternoon, Mewis’ first-half goal looked like it might be all the Americans managed against an opponent that showed increasingly little interest in possession, let alone possession with intent to score. Missing three of its best players because of their professional commitments abroad, South Africa set out to defend en masse behind the ball.”That’s a challenging thing, I don’t care what level you are,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “That’s challenging to break down teams that are organized and get low and get a lot of numbers in the box.”For a team that itself shares a World Cup group with the likes of Germany and Spain, that plan might have been South Africa’s own sort of practice for what’s ahead. Defense first may also be what the U.S. sees from Chile and Thailand in its own group in France next month.It may even be what the U.S. sees from the other team in its group, a Swedish team ranked among the best in the world. Because more to the point, Sunday was not altogether unlike the game that eliminated the U.S. from the most recent Olympics before the medal round. Albeit that defensive strategy was employed by a more talented Swedish team with far more counterattacking intent than Sunday’s opponent.”The things that teams throw at you know now, the things that you have to adapt to, the things that you see — I would hazard to say a lot of that wasn’t there five years ago,” Ellis said. “When Sweden did it to us in the Olympics, it left a mark on me, in terms of we’ve got to make sure we have players that can break teams down. Because when there’s no space in behind, you have to problem solve in a different way.”The first half, and to some degree the first 60 minutes, was not a master class in how to do that problem solving. Ellis said the team looked “sloppy.” Veteran defender Kelley O’Hara noted that they struggled to get people into the box. No one tried to pretend it was perfect. Against an opponent that was committed but hardly impenetrable, touches were off, crosses too heavy or too light, and rhythm missing.Yet the U.S. still went into halftime with a lead, if not a fully satisfying one, because of what two World Cup rookies, Mewis and Rose Lavelle, produced in the 37th minute.obin Heath found Lavelle with a pass in a pocket of space in the center channel and between South African lines. Lavelle dribbled past one defender, then drew two more players toward her as she continued forward. That movement, in turn, left Mewis in space with only one defender to worry about at the top of the box. A quick feint to the left forced the defender to overcommit, and Mewis shot the other direction, finding the corner of the net.Amidst an otherwise messy half, two World Cup rookies broke out of the bunker.”Something we were talking about was just more central runs and more penetrating runs,” Mewis said. “So I think Rose found me kind of making a penetrating run and I just tried to find an angle. I think that we’ll grow from that and just keep trying to create chances. I think this team usually creates a ton of chances, so it was actually a really important challenge for us to face something like that.”Mewis played more minutes than any outfield player save Becky Sauerbrunn in 2017, as the national team began to retool in search of those things Ellis felt were missing against Sweden in the Olympics. But injuries slowed her progress in 2018, when she made just two starts for the U.S. and played fewer than 300 minutes. Sunday’s performance was the continuation of a strong start to 2019 for a 26-year-old who is already among the best players in the NWSL and indispensable in league champion North Carolina’s success.”Sammy’s confidence just grows and grows and grows with match play and experience she gets out there,” Ellis said. “She’s a dynamic player that can impact a game. When you go to a World Cup, your midfield — you need to have players that can score goals from distance, that can get in the box that can, obviously, play-make. I think there is versatility in Sam.”Mewis may not be among the starters when the U.S. gets to France, her place in the three-player line dependent on the health of Lindsey Horan, who was in uniform Sunday but didn’t play as a precautionary measure because of injury. Or Mewis may start in some games but not others. What matters is that the U.S. would be comfortable with her in the starting lineup, just as it would be comfortable with Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, Lavelle, Mallory Pugh and others preparing for their first World Cup.After three years of auditioning, those players now know there is faith in them.

“People don’t really seem to understand our environment — we’re basically in tryout mode every year, every camp I would say, until a major roster needs to be named,” Dunn said this week. “This is that time that it’s no longer tryout mode but more so this is our team. This is our 23 that is going to the World Cup and hopefully hoist that trophy up at the end. So I think there is that shift of, OK, you can breathe a little bit. Not get complacent, but at the same time, feel like I’ve accomplished something and I should feel really happy where I am.”It’s worth noting that an afternoon that finished so well for Mewis began with a misstep. She let an opportunity slip away in the opening minute, unable to make good contact on a ball that Heath sent across the box and that could easily have found its way into the back of the net. Mewis misplayed her share of moments in that sloppy first half. But when Lavelle split the defense and gave her teammate an opportunity, Mewis calmly gave the U.S. the lead.”When she’s comfortable,” Ellis said, “that’s when you get the best out of her.”Less than a month away from the opening game in France, Mewis looked comfortable. So although Sunday was a largely forgettable affair for fans, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t useful.”I think everyone on this team has been through adversity,” Mewis said. “All of our journeys have been amazing in the fact that they’ve led us here.”

Top Ten moments of the Premier League season

Nicholas Mendola  NBC Sports•May 15, 2019

  1. Neil Warnockstands defiantly at midfield, stares at referees

Cardiff City didn’t do enough to stay up, but it got a lot of help from officials in its fall into the Championship.

Fortunately for us, manager Neil Warnock did not lay off of the officials who made or reversed calls he perceived as major slights to his Bluebirds.

Perhaps his best tune would be best accompanied by a version of The Robot dance.

“I always thought Mike Riley was a manufactured referee from day one,” Warnock said after a loss to Chelsea. “I don’t think he’s changed since then. He’s been coached, manufactured, almost like a robot. He knows everything about the rules, but I feel these people struggle to understand the game and the human element. A lot of referees are like Mike Riley and that’s why I think we have gone backwards. Common sense is not allowed nowadays, but the best refs still use it.”

That loss ended with Warnock standing at midfield, staring at the referee crew before stating that the Premier League is “the best league in the world with the worst officials.”

  1. De Gea stuns Spurs to take Ole mania up a notch

Manchester United’s star goalkeeper was not up to his standards this season, but his performance against Tottenham Hotspur early in the Ole Gunnar Solskjaerera was impeccable.

Spurs dominated the Red Devils, but De Gea made 11 saves at Wembley to give OGS his first win over a top side.

  1. Arsenal wins thrilling North London Derby

Arsenal finished below Tottenham Hotspur on the table, but the Gunners sent a message that they were up for the fight with a thrilling 4-2 win over Spurs on Dec. 1.

It had everything, including Mike Dean calling penalties for both sides. Arsenal outshot Spurs 22-11, and the teams combined for 13 shots on target. And the Gunners trailed 2-1 at the break!

Most importantly for the Gunners, it was a victory over their hated rivals which ran their unbeaten mark to 19 matches.

  1. Wolves howl into contention with first upset

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolverhampton Wanderers became giant killers for the first time when they ended a six-match dry spell by using a second-half burst to beat Chelsea 2-1.

The win was typical of Wolves’ best days, as Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota were the goal scorers. On the season, the newly-promoted Wolves beat Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, and Manchester United, drawing the Blues, Gunners, and Red Devils as well en route to a possible Europa League berth.

  1. Mourinho’s “respect” rant

Manchester United had just lost 3-0 to Spurs at Old Trafford, but that’s not the three Jose Mourinho wanted to discuss in his post-match media briefing.

“Three-nil. Do you know what that also means? Three Premiership titles, and I also won more titles than the other 19 managers combined.”

  1. Emiliano Sala‘s plane disappears

Cardiff City’s joy at the record purchase of Nantes striker Emiliano Sala soon turned to sickening grief when the Argentine’s plane was lost at sea. His body was recovered from the wreckage a few days later.

  1. Pickford error gives Origi, Liverpool the derby

Everton supporters don’t need to be reminded that Liverpool had two moments of good fortune for every bit of bad luck in a run to second on the Premier League table. Jordan Pickford lost track of the ball in stoppage time to deny the Toffees a memorable point against their despised cross-town Reds.

  1. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha mourned

Leicester City lost its owner in November when his helicopter crashed after leaving King Power Stadium, and the world soon learned just how deeply Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was loved by the Foxes’ faithful. The scenes at the next home game were poignant and unforgettable.

  1. Kompany’s thunderbolt

Manchester City’s big Belgian leant an aire of inevitability to his side’s title defense when he busted down the door of Kasper Schmeichel and Leicester City with an absolutely stunning strike.

  1. Eleven millimeters

Let’s set the scene: Unbeaten Liverpool has a chance to put Man City in its rear view mirror at the Etihad Stadium when Sadio Mane beats the keeper and hits the post. City center back John Stones‘ effort to clear the ball hits his keeper Ederson, and the Englishman does this en route to City’s 2-1 defeat of the Reds.

GK Gigi Buffon offered contract extension by PSG

Omnisport•May 16, 2019

Gianluigi Buffon confirmed Paris Saint-Germain have offered him a contract extension.Buffon, 41, was expected to retire at the end of the 2017-18 campaign with Juventus before PSG persuaded him to move to France, and now he is considering a further extension to his career.The Italian has featured 24 times across all competitions for the Ligue 1 champions this season, sharing first-choice responsibilities with Alphonse Areola.He only signed a one-year deal with PSG, but has shown himself to still be capable of performing at the highest level despite his age.And PSG seem intent on keeping him around until he is 42.Speaking to Sky Uno, Buffon said: “The club has offered me an extension, which makes me really happy.”We will look in a few days to examine this project and see if we both believe that it is good to continue together.”It’s going well in Paris. I live an exceptional life experience at 41 years old. I arrived convinced that I would be involved as a player and as a person, and I found what I came for.”Should Buffon stay at PSG for another year, he will enter his 25th season as a professional.

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CHS Boys Soccer Skills Camp – Murray Stadium July 15-18 8:30-10:30 am ages 8-14 $85

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5/10/19  US Ladies Sun 4:30 pm Fox, Indy 11 @ Butler Bowl Wed 7 pm, All England Champs & Europa Finals + Final weekend, Full TV Game Schedule

Shane Best  The Ole Ballcoach

Champions League & Europa League  

Wow – has this Champions League run over the last 16 been something or what?  First 2 Time Defending Champ Real Madrid is bounced in the Round of 16, as does then favorite Juventus in the round of 8.  But now Barcelona are sent packing after bringing a 3-0 lead into Anfield against Liverpool.  The Miracle at Mercy-side had Liverpool score an amazing 4-0 victory to send home the world’s best player and Barcelona as the Reds advanced to the Champ League finals for the 2nd year in a row (click to see the after scenes from Anfield as You’ll Never Walk Alone gave me chills).  Then not to be outdone – Tottenham fell behind 3-0 in aggregate to up-in-comers Ajax (the team that beat Juve & Real Madrid) before scoring 3 straight goals in the 2nd half – the last one in stoppage time no less with Lukas Mora’s hat-trick.  I feel sorry for US Fans and Fox Sports – as TNT and BR Sports and their horrific coverage of Champions League – somehow got THE MOST EXCITING Champions League ever. Unfortunately, much of the US couldn’t see much of it on LIVE TV or even on replays for that matter – man do I miss Fox having the UCL.  Either way we get an all England Final with Liverpool vs Tottenham on Saturday, June 1.  And it’s an All-England Europa League final as Arsenal advanced 7-3 and Chelsea went to penalties to beat Frankfurt 3-2.  It will be the first final for Arsenal since 2006 and first for Chelsea since they won it in 2013.

USA World Cup

The US Ladies World Cup Roster was announced late last week – with no major surprises.  Of the 23 players with winners medals from 2015, 12 are back for another go. And 15 of the 18 from the 2016 Olympics are among this year’s 23. There’s a lot of experience – 1,841 national team appearances, to be exact. There’s been relatively little turnover. The names you’ll remember are Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath and Becky Sauerbrunn. They’ll be starting in the same positions (striker, winger, winger and center back) as four years ago. The fifth starting lineup holdover is Julie Ertz – formerly Johnston, before marrying Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach in 2017. A defender in 2015, she’s now the defensive midfield destroyer. Among other 2015 starters, attacker Carli Lloyd, midfielder Morgan Brian and fullback Ali Krieger are now reserves. (Conversely, defender Kelley O’Hara and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, reserves in 2015, are now starters. Forward Christen Press is still great, but still stuck behind others on the depth chart.).  The are some concerns regarding Jill Ellis’ decisions but for the most part this looks like a team that should be favored to at least make the semi-finals if not win it all.  A potential showdown with home team France in the semi’s, along with a questionable defense is one reason I am not penciling us in just yet.  Check out the Casual Fans Guide to the Women’s World Cup and follow along on Yahoo Soccer for all the updates.  You can watch the USWNT’s send-off friendlies starting this Sunday: Against South Africa on May 12 (4:30 ET, Fox), New Zealand on May 16 (8 ET, ESPN2), and Mexico on May 26 (Noon ET, ESPN).

The World Cup from France gets underway June 7 with the US starting June 11.

  • Tues, June 11: 3 p.m. ET, Fox                US. vs. Thailand,
  • Sun, June 16: Noon ET, Fox                 US. vs. Chile,
  • Thurs, June 20: 3 p.m. ET, Fox              US. vs. Sweden
  • Great to see American Christian Pulisic reward his coach with his first start in months for Dortmund with a solid solo goal run from midfield leading to Dortmund’s first goal.  He had a few other chances and was one of the top players on the day for Dortmund.  Unfortunately for Dortmund the tie at home all but eliminates them in the title race with Bayern who now has 4 pt lead with 2 games left in the season.  Dortmund will be on Saturday at 9 am on FS1, American Tyler Adams might be back from injury with RB Leipzig to face Bayern Munich with the title on the line on Fox at 9 am., while American Weston McKinney will travel with Schalke to Bayern Leverkusen at 9 am on Fox Soccer.  Of course, the top 8 teams in the Bundesliga are still mathematically alive for that 4th Champions League spot or certainly a top 7 Europa league position to the race will be to the finish. 

EPL

So we are down to the final weekend in the EPL – with Sunday’s all game coverage across all the network’s of NBC at 10 am.  Unfortunately, only the title race is still in play as Man City hold a slim 1 point lead over Liverpool.  Liverpool, fresh off their amazing comeback in Champions League midweek, will face Wolverhampton on NBC 10 am.  Meanwhile, Man City will travel to relegated Brighton on NBCSN.  Both of the top 2 had to pull a rabbit out of the hat last weekend to secure late victories so this one isn’t over yet – but realistically I don’t see Man City losing.  With Arsenal and Man United inexplicitly losing last weekend the race for the top 4 Champions League spots is over as Chelsea and Tottenham will join Liverpool and Man City.  Of course,Arsenal can still play their way in as Europa League Champions in late May.

Indy 11

The Indy 11 will host a US Open Cup game this Wednesday night at the Butler Bowl – at Butler University at 7 pm.  Tickets are available for as low as $15 at IndyEleven.com/Tickets.  The 11 threw their 2nd shutout in a row a 0-0 tie with North Carolina last weekend as GK Evan Newton recorded his 41st USL shutout earning him USL Player of the Week honors.  The Indy 11 also announced they will host a Coaches Symposium on Tues, May 21st at Grand Park for just $30.

Indy11USOpen

at Butler/Tickets.

GAMES ON TV

Sat, MAY 11           (American’s in parenthesis)   

9:30 am Fox Sport 2                        RB Leipzig (Tyler Adams) vs Bayern Munich

9:30 am Fox Sports 1                       Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Dusseldorf

9:30 am Fox Soccer                          Bayer Leverkusen vs Schalke (McKinney)

11 am beIN Sports                             Angers vs PSG

1 pm ESPN+                                            Cincy vs Montreal Impact

2 pm Univision                                     Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs NY RB

2:30 pm ESPN+                                    Fiorentina vs Milan

4 pm ESPN                                                LA Galaxy vs NYCFC

10 pm ESPN+                                         San Jose vs Cincy

10:30 pm ESPN+                                  LAFC vs Chicago Fire

Sun, MAY 12  

10 am NBC                                              Liverpool vs Wolverhampton

10 am NBCSN                                        Brighton vs Manchester City

10 am CNBC                                           Liecester City vs Chelsea

10 am USA                                               Man United vs Cardiff City

10 am SyFy                                              Tottenham vs Everton

12 noon FS1                                           Frankfort vs Mainz

2:30 pm Fox                                           Atlanta United vs Orlando City

2:30 pm ESPN                                       Roma vs Juventus

3 pm beIN Sport                                 Marseille vs Lyonnais

4:30 pm FOX                                       USA Ladies vs South Africa – Send off Series

7 pm Fox Sport 1                                DC United vs Sporting KC

Mon, MAY 13  

7 & 8 pm ESPN+                      USA Open Cup games USL teams vs lower division teams

Wed, MAY 15  

7 & 8 pm ESPN+                   Indy 11 vs USA Open Cup @ Butler Bowl

8 pm ESPN+                                            Toronto FC vs DC United

8 pm Fox Sports 1                              New England vs Chelsea

Thurs, MAY 16  

8 pm ESPN2                           USA Ladies vs New Zealand– Send off Series

Sat, MAY 18           (American’s in parenthesis)  

9:30 am Fox Sport 2                                                 Bayern Munich vs Frankfurt

9:30 am Fox Sports 1                                               Borussia M’gladbach vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

9:30 am Fox Soccer                          Schalke (McKinney) vs Stuttgart

12 noon ESPN+                    Manchester City vs Watford – FA Cup Final 

2 pm Univision                                     San Jose vs Chicago Fire

7 pm WISHTV                       Indy 11 vs Charlestown (Lucas Oil)

Sun, MAY 19  

3 pm ESPN+                                            Orlando City vs Cincy

5 pm Fox Sport 1                                NY Red Bulls vs Atlanta United

Fri, MAY 24  

12 noon ESPN2?                  Copa Del Rey  Barcelona vs Valencia

2;30 pm Fox Sport 1           USA U20s vs Ukraine  U20 WC

Sat, MAY 25  

2 pm ESPNNews                  German Cup Bayern Munich vs RB Leipzig (Adams)  

7 pm WISHTV                       Indy 11 vs Nashville (Lucas Oil)

 Weds, May 29                      Europa League Finals

Sat, June 1                             Champions League Finals

Women’s World Cup June 7-July 7

  • Fri, June 7 3 p m                                    France vs South Korea
  • Tues, June 11: 3 p.m. ET, Fox                S. vs. Thailand,
  • Sun, June 16: Noon ET, Fox                 S. vs. Chile,
  • Thurs, June 20: 3 p.m. ET, Fox S. vs. Sweden
  • Sun, July 7 3 pm ET, Fox Women’s World Cup Finals from France

Gold Cup TV Schedule June 15– July 7

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

Where to Watch Soccer Games on Which Channels

Indy 11

Indy 11 tie North Carolina 0-0 thanks to GK Evan Newtons 41st shutout

GK Evan Newton is USL Player of Week w/2 Clean Sheets

Indy 11 tie Tampa Bay Rowdies 0-0 a man down- Indy Star Kevin Johnston

Indy 11 in USL Academy Cup for ages U13-U17

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 8 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

Champions League

Recap Spurs over Ajax 3-2

Klopp made us Beliveve – Goal.com

Barca too Reliant on Messi AP

Liverpool’s Comeback tops any magic Anfield has ever seen – Mark Odgen ESPNFC

– Ogden: Spurs’ comeback fitting to season of close calls
– Ajax captain de Ligt calls loss ‘a nightmare’
– Social reaction to another Champions League classic
– Kane hopeful to be back for Champions League final

– Hunter: Barca were the ‘dopes’ in shock loss to Liverpool
– Social reaction: LeBron, Mourinho stunned by comeback
– Liverpool ratings: Origi, Fabinho top list of heroes vs. Barca
– Barcelona ratings: Alba 3/10 as his mistakes start collapse

Marcotti: In Liverpool loss, Barca didn’t learn from Roma collapse
– Tottenham vs. Liverpool: When is the UCL final?

Aubameyang hat trick sees Arsenal into Europa final

EPL

Roma ready to offer Sarri escape route out of Chelsea – Telegraph

EPL Weekend Wrap-up 

Come from Behind Win for Liverpool – Battle of Will – ESPNFC

— Liverpool ratings: Origi, Robertson rescue Liverpool’s title hopes

Tactics on the Last Goal for Liverpool-NBCSN

– Wright Thompson: What a title would mean to Liverpool

Kompany Delivering Title would be fitting farewell for Captain

– Ratings: Kompany 9/10 in thrilling win
– Kompany: My teammates said ‘don’t shoot’
– Premier League sprint to the finish: What’s left?

— The worst is yet to come for Man United
— Sanchez has been a disaster
— Man United Keep/Dump: Assessing Solskjaer’s squad

Arsenal’s Hopes of Top 4 Over after Home Draw with Brighton

USA

Pulisic’s Brilliant Goal not enough for Dortmund who are tied at home – Fox Soccer

Lletget is the most interesting man in U.S. soccer 10dNoah Davis ESPNF

Lloyd, Morgan, Rapino Headline US 2019 World Cup Roster – Graham Hays ESPNW

US Ladies Roster – 2 Reasons to Relax and 1 to be Concerned – Stars and Stripes

Women’s World Cup Hub on Yahoo Sports

Women’s World Cup Full Schedule

  • June 11: U.S. vs. Thailand, 3 p.m. ET, Fox
  • June 16: U.S. vs. Chile, Noon ET, Fox
  • June 20: U.S. vs. Sweden, 3 p.m. ET, Fox

GK

Casper Schmeichel calls Ederson the Best GK in the World along with Barcelona’s Ter Stegan and Jan Oblak of Atletico

Quick Corner Shocks Ter Stegan of Barcelona

Great Saves by both Keepers in Chelsea vs Frankfurt Europa Semi

Double Save not enough for Onana vs Arsenal in Europa Semi loss

Lloris kept Spurs in it

Liverpool’s comeback tops any magic historic Anfield has ever seen

May 7, 2019Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

LIVERPOOL, England — Jurgen Klopp hinted that he didn’t believe Liverpool could pull off a Champions League miracle against Barcelona, admitting Monday that “beautiful failure” was perhaps the best his team could hope foragainst the Spanish champions.Come on, Jurgen, you need to have more faith. Your players have shown they are capable of anything, but nothing can match this: a 4-0 rout of Barcelonawhen every odd was stacked against them.

Trailing 3-0 from the semifinal first leg in the Camp Nou, when Liverpool were taken down by the genius of Lionel Messi, Klopp and his players had the faintest of hope going into the second leg at Anfield. To make their task even more daunting, they had to make do without their two world-class forwards — Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino — due to injury.

But this is Liverpool, and this is Anfield, and, well, all the myths and fairy tales surrounding this place came true on an unforgettable night of pulsating and fearless football. Barcelona — mighty Barcelona — were ruthlessly dispatched with two goals from a makeshift striker (Georginio Wijnaldum) and another two from a player (Divock Origi) who was on loan at Wolfsburg at this time last season.

This was Liverpool’s night, make no mistake about that. It was a comeback for the ages, topping anything this historic old ground has ever seen, but Barcelona played their part in a way they never could’ve imagined in their worst nightmares.

– Hunter: Barca were the ‘dopes’ in shock loss to Liverpool
– Social reaction: LeBron, Mourinho stunned by comeback
– Liverpool ratings: Origi, Fabinho top list of heroes vs. Barca
– Barcelona ratings: Alba 3/10 as his mistakes start collapse

They were supposed to have learned their lessons from last season’s quarterfinal meltdown in Rome, when a 3-0 defeat saw them crash out in the Stadio Olimpico, but this was worse. Barca collapsed. Perhaps they started the game believing it was won — too complacent, too arrogant — and Liverpool punished them mercilessly.But this is what Liverpool do at Anfield on European nights, regardless of who is in charge on the touchline. From David “Supersub” Fairclough’s winner against Saint-Etienne in 1977 to Luis Garcia‘s “ghost goal” that was enough to beat Chelsea in 2005 to the incredible fightback against Borussia Dortmund in 2016 and the pummeling of Manchester City last season, Anfield turns the men in red into superheroes when European glory is at stake, and Barca became the latest and greatest name on that lengthy list of victims.et the noise from the Kop was only one ingredient of this stunning victory. The supporters were the 12th man, but Klopp and his players were the architects and builders of a win that took Liverpool to next month’s final in Madrid.Alisson, the Liverpool goalkeeper, was part of the Roma team that produced its own miracle against Barcelona last season, and he admitted that that result played a part in his preparation for this tie.”You try to visualise it before the game, but it’s nearly impossible to do, to imagine that things will work out just as you want them to,” Alisson told Sky Italia. “It happened for me last year with Roma. It happened again tonight.”To turn this tie around, Liverpool had to get everything right. They could not afford Barcelona any opportunity to score a killer away goal, which would leave the home side needing to score five, and they had to take every big chance that came their way.But good fortune smiled on Liverpool in the seventh minute, when Jordi Alba‘s misplaced header fell into the path of Sadio Mane, who fed the onrushing Jordan Henderson. The Liverpool captain burst into the penalty area and shot goalward, but his effort was saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The Barca keeper could only palm the ball away, however, and Origi struck from 6 yards to give Liverpool the dream start.Anfield shook, but Barcelona responded with fire, as Messi forced Alisson to tip a clipped shot over the bar on 14 minutes. Luis Suarez, once the darling of Anfield, became its enemy as he became embroiled in ugly tangles with Andy Robinson and Fabinho, prompting his old fans to decry him as a “cheat” and then sing “F— off, Suarez!”The passion in the stands drove the Liverpool players, but half-time arrived, and it was only 1-0. Liverpool needed two more goals. But Wijnaldum, a half-time replacement for the injured Robertson, earned himself a place in Liverpool folklore by scoring twice in the space of 120 seconds, on 54 and 56 minutes, to haul Klopp’s team level on aggregate.If Anfield shook after Origi’s opener, it was now rocking from its foundations because the crowd sensed that Barcelona were falling to their knees. Even Messi looked shell-shocked by the scenes around him.”Things got on top of us after those two quick goals,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde admitted post-match. “We didn’t manage to get on the score sheet, and they rolled us over, really.”Valverde was right. Barcelona were rolled over. So much for the best team in Spain; they simply crumbled when faced with Liverpool’s intensity and hunger.But it wasn’t all done at 3-0. Barcelona were still in it, knowing one goal would swing the pendulum back in their favour and keep them on course for Madrid. Yet their world well and truly caved in on 79 minutes, when Origi struck again to make it 4-0 and put Liverpool ahead.Barcelona simply fell asleep at a corner, with Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s cross to Origi catching them completely flat-footed. Origi still had a job to do by putting the ball into the net, but yes, this is Anfield, so where else was it going to end up?It was 4-0, and thousands of Liverpudlians could start to book their flights to Madrid, while the same number of Catalans began to cancel their hotels. This was Liverpool’s night, and nobody inside Anfield will ever forget it.”The whole game was too much,” Klopp said. “It was overwhelming. We played against maybe the best team in world. Winning is difficult, but winning with a clean sheet, I don’t know how they did it. It’s unbelievable.”I saw James Milner crying on the pitch after the game. It means so much to all of us. It’s the best phase of football. There are more important things in the world. But creating this emotional atmosphere together is so special.”Beautiful failure? Maybe not. Liverpool’s sixth European Cup is waiting to be lifted next month.

‘Klopp made us believe’ – Liverpool captain Henderson reflects on remarkable Champions League comeback

Goal.com Wed, May 8 7:00 AM EDT

For Jordan Henderson there is no doubt.“It has to be the top,” said the Liverpool captain, unable to keep the smile from his face. “Just an unbelievable night.”It was more than an hour since the final whistle at Anfield, since the end of the most remarkable night of European football you could ever hope to witness.Barcelona were long gone. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho had left with barely a sideways glance. They headed back to Catalunya shell-shocked, dumb-struck by what had happened.For Henderson and his team-mates, the mood could not have been different. Liverpool’s players had stayed on the pitch at the final whistle, to be hugged by their manager and serenaded by their supporters. The greatest night in Anfield’s long and illustrious history? It just might be.“From start to finish I thought the lads were amazing,” Henderson would say. “The atmosphere was amazing.”Liverpool had arrived, naturally, as underdogs. But the 3-0 advantage Barcelona had brought with them from the first leg would be wiped out within 56 ferocious minutes. And when Divock Origi netted in front of the Kop, 11 minutes from the end of the 90, the Reds were on their way to the final.“I think a lot of people would have written us off,” Henderson said. “But we have a belief in this team. We knew that if we gave everything, you know never know what can happen in football. We said we would fight for everything right to the end“I think we proved quite a few people wrong tonight, We showed that if you never give up and you keep trying you can produce special things and create a special night.”He’s got that right. Liverpool had been unlucky to lose by three at Camp Nou a week ago, but they tore into Barcelona from the first whistle here. They were ahead through Origi inside seven minutes and never looked back. Gini Wijnaldum, a substitute, scored twice in three second-half minutes before Origi’s late winner. It was frenzied.Afterwards, a beaming Jurgen Klopp spoke of “big hearts” and “genius” moments. The triumph belonged to the manager as much as his players or fans.“I think he believed because of the talk he gave before the game before we came to the stadium,” Henderson said. “I think the players could see that the manager believed which helps us believe in what he said to us. “He said we can enjoy the night and maybe tell the grandkids one day it was a special night. “The manager has ingrained that belief into us – no matter what happens you keep fighting right until the end until the final whistle goes. That is what we have done all season and we will continue to do that on Sunday [when Liverpool face Wolves in their final Premier League game] and in the final as well.“We have two big games to look forward to and we just have to keep with that belief and that spirit. Then we will be OK.”As for Henderson himself, he can look forward to joining Emlyn Hughes, John McGovern and Steven Gerrard as Englishmen to have captained clubs in two European Cup finals. The 28-year-old continues to make a mockery of those who doubt his credentials at the highest level.“I quite enjoy it now,” he smiled. “I’ve got used to it!“But is only a [good] display from me because of my team-mates. It is nothing to do with one person. Yes I contributed but so did everyone else who played. It was everybody together.“For me throughout my career I have always wanted to prove people wrong and that will never change. I will continue to do that until I finish playing football. “Football is like that anyway. It changes that quickly. Whether you are winning trophies or not there are always questions asked, someone else saying you cannot do this or that. So there are always things that you want to prove. I want to improve as a footballer and keep getting better to contribute to the team to be successful”For now though, he can reflect on a job well done. Liverpool are into the Champions League final. Whatever happens in Madrid on June 1, Tuesday night will be remembered forever.“It was just an amazing night,” he finished. “I was honoured to be a part of it.”

Barcelona’s fall highlights team’s Messi-dependency

TALES AZZONI,Associated Press Wed, May 8 9:45 AM EDT

Barcelona's Lionel Messi leaves the playing field after losing the Champions League semifinal, second leg, soccer match against Liverpool at the Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

MADRID (AP) — If Lionel Messi doesn’t come to the rescue for Barcelona, no one will.The Argentina forward has saved Barcelona time and time again over his career, coming up with extraordinary goals and incredible assists that have led the club to dozens of titles over the years.And it was his remarkable performance in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals against Liverpool that helped Barcelona overcome an off-night by the rest of the team. Messi scored two goals last week to put Barcelona in position to make it to the final for the first time in four years.But when Barcelona struggled again collectively in the second leg, Messi wasn’t able to turn things around.Liverpool reversed the 3-0 loss from the Camp Nou with a spectacular 4-0 win at Anfield, extending Barcelona’s European title drought for yet another year.The loss highlighted Barcelona’s dependency on Messi, who put in a solid performance but couldn’t produce any more epic goals to keep the team in the tournament.”We shouldn’t blame anybody,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. “We are a team in the good situations and in the bad situations. In the end, it’s the coach who has to bear the responsibility.”Catalan sports daily Sport called Barcelona’s defeat “the worst ridicule in the history” of the club, saying the result in England was “unforgivable.”A video reproduced online by Spanish media showed what appeared to be Barcelona fans verbally confronting the team’s players at the airport in Liverpool after the match.Valverde rested Messi more than ever this season, knowing how crucial he could be in the decisive moments of the season. He had been key to the team in several occasions, either deciding games as a starter or when coming off the bench.The Argentina playmaker was rattled by Liverpool players from the start on Tuesday, at one point having his head shoved by defender Andrew Robertson as he prepared to get off the ground.Messi had a few good moments, though, including two great throughballs that Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez squandered in front of the goal. Philippe Coutinho also had an opportunity off an assist from Messi but couldn’t capitalize on it.Messi missed a good chance himself, one that he would not normally miss, with the ball by his feet inside the area, but he couldn’t get a shot on goal. Still, he had the most attempts for Barcelona, with two being stopped by Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker.Barcelona had been mostly outplayed against Liverpool in the first leg, but Messi still scored twice to give his team the advantage. It was Ousmane Dembele who had the chance to add to Barcelona’s result in that match, failing to score in a late counterattack that was started by Messi.The defense also faltered at Anfield, with Alba’s mistakes being mostly to blame for two of Liverpool’s goals.Barcelona also couldn’t survive Messi’s ordinary performance in the team’s elimination against Roma last season, when it squandered a three-goal first-half advantage in the quarterfinals.”What hurts the most is that it has happened again,” Valverde said. “I think it will take a long time for us to put this behind us.”It had been a nearly perfect season for Messi and Barcelona so far, with the playmaker putting up some of the best numbers of his career and the club reaching the final stretch of the season with a chance to win the treble.Barcelona has already won the Spanish league, and it has a chance to win the Copa del Rey in a final against Valencia on May 25.But there will be no fifth Champions League trophy this year for Messi, who had promised at the beginning of the season “to do everything we can to bring that beautiful and coveted cup” back to Barcelona. Maybe next year.

Barcelona, Valverde didn’t learn from Roma shock last season. Then it happened again vs. Liverpool. Why?

May 8, 2019  Gabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Maybe as a kid you didn’t see the point in history class, reading up on all those men (and yeah, they were probably mostly men) of yesteryear, with their outdated ideas and senseless battles won and lost. Maybe you failed to see how events from centuries ago have any relevance to the here and now. And maybe that’s why some annoyed teacher or parent quoted the philosopher George Santayana to you: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”Ernesto Valverde was likely never told this. Or, if he was, he wasn’t paying attentionThere are few other explanations for what unfolded at Anfield on Tuesday night.Let’s be very clear. This column focuses on Barcelona’s deficiencies. It should in no way detract from the Herculean effort put out by Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool, from the way foot-soldiers like Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum turned into game-changers and from the way an assembled sea of red and Scouse helped turn an implausible notion into real, live history through the sheer din of wanting it to happen.It was a night that will live on in Anfield lore. It was extraordinary. But so, too, was what happened to Barcelona, and not in a good way.Rewind 13 months, because this was a mashup of “Groundhog Day” and “Nightmare on Valverde Street.” Ernesto Valverde’s Barca roll to victory by a three-goal margin at the Camp Nou against Roma. The score should have been closer than it was — Allison was in goal for the opposition — and then, in the return leg, it all falls apart. Just like at Anfield.It’s not just a symmetry of results and circumstances, it’s a symmetry of events.Barcelona slumbered through the first few minutes and conceded a goal after misjudging a speculative ball down their left flank. At the Stadio Olimpico, it was Edin Dzeko after six minutes; at Anfield, Origi after seven. Galvanized by the early strike and spurred on by the crowd, Roma held an absurdly high defensive line and pressed the stuffing out of Barca’s midfield, often engaging them in the opposing half. Pretty much like Liverpool on Tuesday night.They didn’t score again until the second half but the marker was laid down: we will give everything and gamble by pressing in your half and daring you to hit balls over the top for Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. It was a gamble — of course it was — and it put a strain on the central defenders. But Barcelona couldn’t exploit it, whether because their strikers are now in their 30s and asking them to sprint 30 yards time and again isn’t a great idea, or whether because the opposing defenders were that good on the night.Roma made it 2-0 just before the hour mark. Liverpool made it 2-0 and then 3-0 just before the hour mark. Valverde stared, helpless from the bench. In both scenarios, he was now a single goal away from elimination.So what did he do?Not much. In Rome, he waited actually until nine minutes from time to make his first change, Andre Gomes for an exhausted Andres Iniesta. At Anfield, he struck at the hour mark, taking off Philippe Coutinho for a full-back, Nelson Semedo, and moving Sergi Roberto into midfield. In Rome, a third goal conceded would have knocked out Barcelona on away goals so you can sort of see the logic: let’s take off an attacking midfielder for a defensive one. In Liverpool, because the first leg had finished 3-0, there wasn’t much to defend. Barcelona had to score or face the prospect of extra-time.Roma’s winner came eight minutes from time, when Kostas Manolas caught Nelson Semedo napping at the near post. Liverpool’s was 11 minutes from time, the difference being that at Anfield, it was the entire Barca defence that switched off and were punished by the trickery of Trent Alexander-Arnold and the coolness of Origi.Then, as now, a 60-something Bostonian billionaire owner laughed and rejoiced like he hadn’t done since he made his first million. Maybe more so.It didn’t take Nostradamus to predict how Klopp would approach the game: early gamble, high press and intensity, hope for a quick goal to get the crowd into it. Heck, he had the whole Roma blueprint from the year before. Maybe Valverde thought (wrongly) that Liverpool would do things differently, fine. But once he saw things unfold just as they had a little over a year ago, why not look for alternatives? Why not actually read the game and try something different?He might point out that, relative to the Roma game, Barca did create better chances and did force better saves from Alisson. But they also kept getting overrun in the middle of the park. For Andres Iniesta — a non-factor in Rome — read Coutinho at Anfield, bar from a single shot that was saved by Alisson. Arturo Vidal‘s wild man schtick fooled nobody, Ivan Rakitic was spending so much time helping Sergio Busquets (hampered by a first-half booking and the fact that he isn’t the one-man gang he once was) that he was gassed when he got on the ball. And the less said about Jordi Alba‘s night, the better.A coach is on the sideline, all blame must be shared with the players. We get it. It’s a footballing mantra. Nobody is exonerating the players: nine of them were in Rome too, you’d imagine they might have remembered what happened. But it’s the coach’s job to read and understand his players, to put the right ones out in conditions where they can best contribute even when they’re having a bad day. And if circumstances change, find a more suitable approach. Or change the players.Valverde chose the wrong game plan, seemingly oblivious to what Liverpool would do, and when it wasn’t working, he was slow to act. When he finally did act, he made the wrong choices. Sharing the blame with the players doesn’t mean he gets a free pass, on the contrary.Frankly, neither does the club. When you have the second-highest wage bill in the universe and your reserve centerforward is Kevin Prince Boateng — who only arrived in January, on loan from a mid-table Serie A side, is not a centerforward and is Kevin-Prince Boateng — something is seriously wrong. It means either you believe Messi and Suarez — who are 31 and 32, respectively — are invulnerable to injury or suspension (and we know with the latter, that’s not the case), which is foolish, or you believe that the rest of the team is so gifted that it doesn’t matter, which is deluded.Maybe Valverde thought Ousmane Dembele would be around to provide fresh legs off the bench, even though in Rome he only sent him on in the final five minutes: wrong. Maybe he thought that against Grandpa James Milner, any old Malcom would do: wrong again. Maybe he thought Messi would load the whole kit and caboodle on his back, like he did in the first leg and at so many points in the season: wrong. (Messi spawns more miracles than anyone, but even his supply isn’t limitless.)(Oh, and while we’re at it: Suarez has not scored away from home in the Champions League since September 2015. That’s 18 games and counting. To not have an alternative, or at least some help, other than the ubiquitous Messi, the ghost of Coutinho and Dembele, who has lasted 90 minutes just four times this season, plus of course Boateng and Malcom, boggles the mind.)Valverde may well go on to win the Double this season, just as he did last year. And just like last year, it will feel that little bit empty. Not because they were knocked out of the Champions League, per se, but because they went out in eerily similar circumstances, their reaction barely shifting as they lived out the copycat sequel to their own personal horror show.It’s one thing for a manager and his players to make mistakes; it’s quite another to not learn from them and, in near-identical circumstances, take the exact same wrong course of action they took before, hoping for a different result.

Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan headline U.S.’s Women’s 2019 World Cup roster

ESPN’s Julie Foudy joins Golic & Wingo to talk favourites to win the 2019 Women’s World Cup and her new podcast Laughter Permitted. (2:11)

May 2, 2019Graham HaysespnW.com

  • FacebookCarli Lloyd will be back for her fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup after United States coach Jill Ellis announced her 23-player roster for the 2019 edition this summer in France.Ellis attempted to bridge the gap between experience and change, with almost half of the players named to the U.S. roster set to participate in the sport’s signature event for the first time.The roster includes 11 first-time participants, three more than the team that won the World Cup four years ago and tied for the third-most rookies among U.S. entries in the women’s tournament that began in 1991.

But the roster announced Thursday also includes eight players who started in the 2015 World Cup final against Japan. That experience includes Lloyd, the tournament’s reigning Golden Ball winner and now the ninth American woman to appear in four World Cups. Six more players are appearing in their third World Cup — including a potential starting forward line of Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. Morgan and Rapinoe share the captain duties with Lloyd.”Coming out of the Olympics it was looking at just not player personnel but profiles, what kind of players, where were things headed, where we trending and making sure we had players to fill those needs and being able to contribute to where I envisioned the game going four years on,” Ellis said during a conference call.”What we’ve come to is exactly that, a team with great energy, a team with great experience.”Even though there is younger players, I think those players have been with us for awhile and have experience a lot of top quality matches.”Defenders Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn also make a World Cup roster for the third time, with O’Hara and Sauerbrunn likely to fill starting roles on the back line.In all, 12 players return from the 2015 team that won the championship.There is also experience of a sort among the newcomers. Only goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, midfielders Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis, forward Jessica McDonald and defenders Abby Dahlkemper, Tierna Davidson and Emily Sonnett have no prior major tournament experience. Mewis and Sonnett were Olympic alternates in 2016 who traveled with the team before and during that tournament in Brazil.Those 2016 Olympics turned out to be something of an early look at 2019. Despite Ellis’ stated desire to expand the player pool and open up competition after the U.S. was eliminated from that event in the quarterfinals, 15 of the 18 players named to the smaller Olympic roster also appear on the current World Cup roster.Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh, all first-time World Cup participants who are expected to play leading roles, made their major tournament debuts in the Olympics.

FIFA WWC 2019: Schedule, news, analysis, TV inf

This year also marks the first time since the first Women’s World Cup in 1991 that a U.S. team will compete in either the World Cup or Olympics without either Briana Scurry or Hope Solo among its goalkeepers. Named to this roster, Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris were part of the 2015 team but did not play any minutes in the tournament. Among the notable omissions were defender Casey Short, who started 13 of the team’s 16 games as recently as 2017, and midfielder McCall Zerboni, an NWSL standout who became the oldest player to earn her first cap when she debuted in 2017. After giving debuts to current and recent college players such as Emily Fox, Hailie Mace, Savannah McCaskill and Andi Sullivan, Ellis also opted to instead complete the roster with veterans such as Morgan Brian, Krieger, Allie Long and McDonald.The average age of the World Cup roster is 28, as was the case for the roster four years ago. That despite the inclusion of Davidson, the youngest player on the roster at 20, and Pugh, 21. Both Davidson and Pugh are younger than any player on the 2015 roster.The only holdover from the 2007 team, Lloyd is the oldest player on the roster at 36.The United States plays Thailand in its opening game on June 11 in Reims, France. It also faces Chile and Sweden in Group F play. The only other team in the group ranked among the top 30 in the world, Sweden eliminated the U.S. in the 2016 Olympic quarterfinal.

Women’s World Cup roster by position (Club):

Goalkeepers (3): Adrianna Franch* (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris** (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher** (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders (7): Abby Dahlkemper* (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson* (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn* (NC Courage), Ali Krieger*** (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara*** (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn*** (Utah Royals FC), Emily Sonnett* (Portland Thorns FC)

Midfielders (6): Morgan Brian** (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz** (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan* (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle* (Washington Spirit), Allie Long* (Reign FC), Samantha Mewis* (NC Courage)

Forwards (7): Tobin Heath*** (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd**** (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald* (NC Courage), Alex Morgan*** (Orlando Pride), Christen Press** (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh* (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe*** (Reign FC)

* First Women’s World Cup ** Second Women’s World Cup *** Third Women’s World Cup **** Fourth Women’s World Cup

Galaxy creator and partner to a pop star: Sebastian Lletget is the most interesting man in American soccer

May 1, 2019 Noah DavisESPN LOS ANGELES –

Five o’clock on the Friday of a holiday weekend is not an ideal time to be driving on the highways of Southern California. But here we are, somewhere between the apartment Sebastian Lletget shares with his girlfriend, pop star Becky G, and Dignity Health Sports Park, home of the LA Galaxy — The 26-year-old star, a facilitator of his Major League Soccer club’s potent attack and arguably the one man in the U.S. men’s national team player pool with the ability to press Christian Pulisic for his starting spot (although the ideal lineup probably involves them both), weaves in and out of the early-evening traffic. He has somewhere to be.

In the past, Lletget wouldn’t have been the first one to the stadium on game day. He is now, however, hitting the gym to get 100 touches even before heading out to the field to warm up for the Galaxy’s matchup with the Houston Dynamo. The new routine is a result of growing older and having a body that’s not quite as pliable as it used to be, and also of returning from a foot injury that nearly cost him his career.In March 2017, he scored his first goal for the U.S., in a key qualifier in front of a home Northern California crowd. Minutes later, an Ever Alvarado tackle ended his night, breaking bones and tearing ligaments, requiring surgery and a long rehab. Two years later, Lletget is only now returning to form.”The first year post-injury, I basically didn’t touch a ball,” he tells ESPN FC. “To build off of all that and use last year to gather all my skills back, my sense of the game, and my instinct took longer than I expected. Prior to an injury like that, you feel invincible. When this happens, it kind of breaks you. You don’t have that Superman shield that you think you have subconsciously.”The superpower of youth becomes the preparation of a veteran. Lletget drives a Chevy Traverse that’s new enough to maintain its dealership shine but dusty enough for a Galaxy staffer to lovingly write “Wash Me” on the driver’s side door after he parks it in the bowels of Dignity Health. He jokes with the perpetrator, smiles for a few photos, says goodbye to his parents (who come to town for most of his home games), and walks down a hallway past trophies from previous Galaxy squads, and into the locker room to prepare, alone.

Sebastian Lletget the person is not Sebastian Lletget the social media account. His Instagram, @theylovedaboy, boasts 506,000 followers — a lot, until you realize that Becky has 17.6 million and counting — and a remarkable variety of selfies featuring him Blue Steeling it for the camera. He got the idea for the Drake-inspired handle one night in England when he was a teenager who was trying — and ultimately failing — to find his way at West Ham. He started the account, then went to sleep.”I wake up the next morning and I’m getting killed by my teammates,” he says. “Just murdered, nonstop. First-team players and coaches are asking what I was thinking.”Some guys would have deleted their foray into social media, or at least changed their handle. Not Lletget. He loved the reaction, the good-natured ribbing. He still does.”I got so much s— for my last media post, which is hilarious,” he says. “I love going in and everybody cracking jokes at me. It starts that banter in the locker room. It will happen without fail. I have a really good time with it.”He tells this story in a Manhattan Beach coffee shop, sipping a decaf Americano and a bottle of water, wearing a simple white t-shirt and shorts. He could be anyone, just another anonymous, fit, sun-kissed surfer with a megawatt smile and easy charisma. Lletget is quieter, more subtle than Da Boy, although the overlap is obvious. There’s an easy through line between the guy sitting in front of me, and the one in a hot tub, teaching Alan Gordon and Dan Gargan how to take a selfie. Lletget understands the balance, the value of showing off his personality.

“I think we’re at a point in sports in general of blurring the lines between street scene and fashion,” he says. “It’s kind of OK to do something away from soccer. I think people enjoy seeing a different side of you.”Of course, he also knows that the off-field fun is only tenable if he’s producing on the field.”Once a coach sees my dedication and my focus in what the common goal is in the locker room, I don’t think they care as much,” he says. “They know I know that when it’s time to work, it’s time to work. If you show every day that you’re into this, if you don’t have that brush-off mentality, I think coaches will be OK with you being you, especially off the field.”Injury aside, Lletget has been good for the Galaxy since joining the team in 2015. He’s competitive — “Not like [Zlatan Ibrahimovic],” he says. “Ibra’s intense.” — and wants the ball in a way not a lot of Americans do: gesturing for it demonstratively, emphatically and aggressively. The Galaxy offensive philosophy primarily involves getting the ball within about 40 yards of the opposition net, then looking for Ibrahimovic. (This strategy, it should be said, has been proven to work.) But there are also some intricate exchanges, weaves between Lletget, Jonathan dos Santos and Joe Corona; quick one-twos with Lletget and the big Swede; other variations that demonstrate Lletget’s improving understanding of his teammates and the game.

On the American team, he’s one of Gregg Berhalter’s No. 10s, and he’s loving the push the new U.S. boss gives him.”It’s uncomfortable, but he really does make you see the game a little bit differently,” Lletget says. “I have certain habits in my position, and they weren’t necessarily the best habits. He’s trying to take me out of those. I was comfortable, but I could be in a more dangerous area that’s more risky. He dragged me out of my comfort zone in the short time we’ve worked together. When you do things he advises you to do and they work, it’s like, ‘Oh my god, I’m progressing.'”He credits Berhalter with helping him improve his awareness, his positioning, and his game, skills that he’s brought back to the Galaxy and wants to deploy at the Gold Cup this summer.It’s a contract year for Lletget, and there are thoughts about the future. Europe calls in that way it does, although perhaps not as aggressively as it does for some others. There’s a tension between the cliché of athletes wanting to test themselves against the best in the world and the fact that Lletget did that already as a teenager and it went poorly for reasons both his fault and not. Though he thinks he has the skill to play in Europe now, he’s cautious.”Going back to Europe could be in the cards,” he says. “It has to be a right situation. You want to go to the right organization. A manager that really wants you there. I think Americans think Europe is the best thing for us, then we get there and immediately regret it.”Plus, he’s carved out a damn nice life for himself in LA. He’s nearing 100 appearances for a single club, which has been a lifelong goal. This Galaxy team might be the best in years, with a chance to bring home a trophy. His parents are close by. His favorite NBA team, the Golden State Warriors, play at a reasonable time. He and Becky share an apartment in a quiet neighborhood a few minutes from the beach. There’s parking and a pool, a place to make a home. She’s gone a lot, touring and being a star, but they are figuring it out.”We don’t see each other often. It’s almost like a long-distance relationship but we live together,” he says. “Once you get the hang of it, it’s not that hard. It’s finding that partnership.”Last year, he organized a surprise birthday party for her, an event that earned the TMZ treatment, with him being called “her soccer boyfriend, Sebastian Llejay.” The pair take the pressure off of their respective careers, Lletget pretending he knows about music to make Becky laugh, Becky kicking the ball around with him. (Lletget’s scouting report of her: “a little rat” with “some good control.”) I asked him about his skin-care routine because the dude has some nice skin, and he said that Becky always puts stuff on the bed for him. “I don’t know if I should take it as an insult, but she always gives me a boatload and tells me I’ll thank her when I’m 40,” he says, laughing. “She’s investing in herself, too. She has to look at me, so I get what she’s doing.”Whatever the next move is, the pair will decide it together. For now, however, the future can wait. It wasn’t so long ago that his return was a real question mark. Lletget’s just happy to be back playing, back taking selfies, back doing what he loves.”I feel like I’m going to keep playing better,” he says. “Maybe I only notice that. But I definitely want it more. I’m grateful for these opportunities. It’s just awesome to be part of a special moment in time with the club and with the national team.”Da Boy, man; he’s going places.

Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas released from hospital after heart attack

10:33 AM ETAssociated Press

Veteran Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas has been released from the hospital five days after having a heart attack.

The 37-year-old Casillas fell ill during a practice session last Wednesday and underwent a catheterization after being rushed to the hospital.

Casillas saidMonday he doesn’t know “what the future holds,” and that the most important thing was to be standing there talking about himself.He said he was “feeling much better” but will need to rest “for a couple of weeks or a couple of months.”The Spanish goalkeeper said he feels “very lucky” the incident didn’t have more serious consequences, and thanked the outpouring of support he’s received.Casillas joined Porto in 2015 after helping Real Madrid win five league titles and three Champions League trophies.He also helped Spain win one World Cup and two European Championships.Casillas recently had his contract with Porto extended until the end of the 2019-20 season, with an option for another year.

‘Ederson is Premier League’s best keeper’ – Schmeichel leaves De Gea & Alisson off global list

Goal.com  May 6, 2019, 3:40 AM

Manchester City’s Ederson is ahead of David de Gea and Alisson as the best goalkeeper in the Premier League, according to Kasper Schmeichel.The Brazilian still serves as number two for his country at international level behind the Liverpool shot-stopper, despite another stellar campaign for his club.City have the joint-best defensive record in the Premier League this term and Ederson has recorded 19 clean sheets in total, which is just one behind Alisson’s current tally.For many years Manchester United’s De Gea has been revered as the finest ‘keeper in English football, but he has failed to live up to his high standards at Old Trafford in recent months.Schmeichel, who will line up against City for Leicester on Monday, believes that Ederson is now the best in the business, citing “bravery” as his standout attribute between the sticks.”I would say Ederson along with Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Jan Oblak are the three best goalkeepers in the world and have been for a while for me,” he told Sky Sports.”The way Ederson plays is so brave. To dare to play like that is bravery and it also enables City to play with a much higher press.”They are able to really press because they know any ball in behind he will sweep up.”His bravery in daring to be in those positions, knowing the slightest mistake will cost his team, that’s proper goalkeeping for me and I think he has been the best goalkeeper in this league for a while.”

RECAP | EVAN NEWTON’S RECORD-BREAKING EFFORT EARNS INDY ELEVEN POINT VERSUS NORTH CAROLINA FC

By IndyEleven.com, 05/04/19, 11:00PM EDT Three Second Half Saves Help Eleven to 0-0 Draw, Newton to USL Championship Record 41st Career Shutout

#INDvNC HIGHLIGHTS via Indy Eleven YouTube Channel

Indy Eleven (4W-1L-2D, T-7th) earned another hard-fought point at home in the club’s second Week 9 match-up, this time via a 0-0 draw against long-time rival North Carolina FC (4W-1L-3D, T-4th). Goalkeeper Evan Newton made three second half saves to collect his third shutout in as many 2019 home contests, and the 41st clean sheet of his USL Championship career, setting the league record in the category.“The guys in front of me are doing a great job. We’re getting in sync and guys are battling. I think we played a lot better and had good chances,” said Newton, who joined Indy Eleven in the offseason from FC Cincinnati. “You can’t lose if you don’t get scored on. We got a point and we’ll take it and run with it. A little frustrating we didn’t get three, but it could be worse.”North Carolina looked the fresher side out of the gates, but it was Indy Eleven that nearly nicked the opener against the run of play nine minutes in. Midfielder Nico Matern parlayed a smooth turn on a 50-50 ball in his own defensive third into a free break up the middle of the field, Dane Kelly’s one-touch flick springing forward Tyler Pasher on a 50-yard foray. The speedy winger took one touch too many when baring down on NCFC ‘keeper Alex Tambakis’ goal, allowing a defender to poke the ball away and end a golden opportunity for an early lead.While fruitless, that play seemed to spark the Boys in Blue, who created numerous chances of quality in the 10 minutes to follow. Kelly, a USL Championship April Player of the Month nominee, had two bites of the apple in the 13th minute, first just getting beat to a pass outside of the NCFC area by Tambakis before his sidewinding effort from 15 yards flared wide. Pasher wreaked more havoc in the 17th minute when his low cross buzzed through the six-yard box before Kelly could catch up to it.At the stroke of the half-hour Indy Eleven nearly capitalized on its first corner kick opportunity, Alex Crognale forcing Tambakis into a save at his right post off the Indy defender’s header. The last 10 minutes of the half saw Indy press Tambakis into two more saves off of efforts by Thomas Enevoldsen and Ayoze.As it did early in the first half, “Route 1” opened once again for the Eleven three minutes into the second stanza, this time Enevoldsen’s through ball for Kelly finding its target. The Jamaican was able to fire from 10 yards, but his near-angle shot was sent into the right outside netting. In the 51st minute Neveal Hackshaw, who wore the captain’s armband out of the locker room for the Boys in Blue, did well to rise and connect with Ayoze’s back post corner, but the defender’s header was sent right to Tambakis on his line.“[Wearing the armband] was great. When [Coach Rennie] brought it to me I was like, ‘Oh me?’ So, being the guy to lead them out was so fantastic,” said Hackshaw. “It made me feel a little above. I have to make sure I’m on point because I have the band on and I have to show leadership.”It was finally time for Tambakis’ opposite number to get called into service a minute later, and Newton was up to the task for his first saves of the night. The Eleven netminder first extended low to his right, pushing Andre Fortune’s tricky shot from outside the area off his right post before bouncing off the turf to set himself for a kick save off the rebound. The saves were the first for Newton in over three halves of action after not being forced to stop a shot on Wednesday night against Tampa Bay or in this evening’s opening half.Shots from distance were Indy Eleven’s go-to in the minutes to follow, with Pasher’s 58th minute attempt sent into the hands of Tambakis and Kelly’s three minutes later whistling just over the crossbar. Kelly had another half-chance go wanting in the 63rd minute, his sliding effort to get to Thomas Enevoldsen’s flick sailing high from eight yards out.North Carolina’s Ben Speas nearly made his old team pay in the 67th minute when he had ample space to fire from 20 yards out on a counter, only to see his low shot with pace gobbled up by Newton without a rebound. In the 77th minute it was Kelly again seeing a ball sit up for him, but he couldn’t steer his shot from 12 yards out on frame. Just minutes after coming into the match, Indy substitute Josh Penn looked to have claims for a penalty after fellow substitute Graham Smith’s swim move put the Eleven attacker to ground inside the area, but the referee let play continue without a whistle.Three substitutes and three minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half wasn’t enough for either side to find another scoring opportunity, resulting in a stalemate in the Circle City. The point was not the three Indy desired, but did push its undefeated streak against its former NASL rival to eight games (6W-0L-2D) dating back to October 2016.“I think we had a lot of good chances, and in both halves we dominated play and defended well, but we need to not be too happy with that and put the ball in the back of the net,” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “The score needs to be on the scoreboard. We’re dominating these games. We’re better than the teams were playing against but we have to show it on the score.”Prior to getting back to league play in two weekends, Indy Eleven will enter the 106th edition of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in a Second Round fixture on Wednesday, May 15. The Boys in Blue will host a 7:00 p.m. kickoff at Butler University’s Sellick Bowl against the winner of next week’s First Round match between Lansing Ignite and AFC Ann Arbor. Indy Eleven will resume USL Championship action three days later on Saturday, May 18, when it welcomes the Charleston Battery on “Armed Forces Night” at Lucas Oil Stadium. Tickets for the 7:00 p.m. kickoff remain available for as little as $15 at IndyEleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

USL Championship Regular Season  Indy Eleven 0:0 North Carolina FC
Saturday, May 4, 2019 – 7:00 p.m. ET  Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.  Attendance: 9,017

Indy Eleven (4W-2L-2D, 14 pts., T-7th in Eastern Conference)

North Carolin FC (4W-1L-3D, 18 pts., T-4th in Eastern Conference)

Scoring Summary:
None

Disciplinary Summary:

IND – Alioune Diakhate (Yellow card) 90+1’
Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): Evan Newton (GK); Neveal Hackshaw (captain), Alex Crognale, Karl Ouimette; Ayoze Garcia, Tyler Gibson, Nico Matern, Macauley King (Matt Watson 72’); Dane Kelly (Alioune Diakhate 86’) , Thomas Enevoldsen, Tyler Pasher (Josh Penn 74’)
IND Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Lucas Farias, Kenney Walker, Ilija Ilic
North Carolina FC lineup (4-1-4-1, L–>R): Alex Tambakis (GK); Aaron Guillen, Sam Brotherton, Alexander Comsia, D.J. Taylor; Thomas McCabe; Steven Miller (captain) (Donovan Ewolo 81’), Andre Fortune (Graham Smith 68’), Ben Speas, Manny Perez; Marios Lomis (Robert Kristo 86’) NC Substitutes: Darrin MacLeod (GK), Caleb Duvernay, Victor Igbekoyi, Yamikani Chester

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CHS Boys Soccer Skills Camp – Murray Stadium July 15-18 8:30-10:30 am ages 8-14 $85

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

 

5/3/19  Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm, Champions League 2nd legs Tues/Wed TNT, EPL Frenzied Finish, Full TV Game Schedule

Shane Best   The Ole Ballcoach

Indy 11

The Indy Eleven return to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on North Carolina FC at 7:00 p.m. this Saturday night.  I am guessing the roof will be closed for this – just 2nd home Saturday night game of the season.  Tickets are available for as low as $15 at IndyEleven.com/Tickets.  The 11 tied league leaders Tampa Bay, the lone undefeated team in the East, 0-0 at home Wednesday night despite playing almost 70 minutes with only 10 players.  Eleven standout defender Paddy Barrett received his 2nd yellow card 20 minutes in and the Eleven battled but couldn’t quite pull off the win at home down a man.  Also this week the bill allowing the Indy 11 New Stadium and Indy Park passed the senate and the bill is now on the way to the Governor’s Desk.  Great news for the future of professional soccer in Indy!!

Champions League & Europa League  

Wow Messi.  What else can you say – he’s simply magisterial as my favorite color guy Rocky Ray Hudson on beIN Sports says.  Two goals including one spectacular free kick to make it 3-0 at home over Liverpool his 600th goal by the way.  The thing is after a 1-0 first half – Liverpool really outplayed Barca in the 2nd half – but GK Ter Stegan came up with huge saves, along with a lucky save off the line followed by a Salah shot off the post that could have made it 2-1.  Even Klopp echoed the statement – that Liverpool actually played well – especially in the 2nd half down 1-0 – they had multiple chances to score but somehow gave up 2 goals against the run of play.  It will take a magical performance to make up a 3 goal deficit heading home to Anfield next Tues at 3 pm.  Of course the youngsters at Dutch side Ajax continue their attack on the history books as they took a 1-0 win at Spurs Tuesday – a game that could have easily be 2 or 3 to zero.  Tottenham should have their talisman Son back up front Wed at 3 pm on TNT – for the away leg as he missed the home stint having received 2 yellow cards last round. (the stupidest rule is sports be the way !!  2 yellow cards in 6 games and you sit the next game – can you imagine the NFL sitting Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game?)  In the Europa League Semi-finals Arsenal used the home field  to a 3-1 lead over Valencia while Chelsea tied Frankfort 1-1 on the road.  The 2nd legs of both semi-finals will be next Thurs at 3 pm on Univision Desportes.  Remember the winner of Europa gets a Champions League entry next year which could help both EPL squads as they battle for top 4 position.  Finally – Prayers out to one of the best GK’s ever Iker Casillas, 37, who had a heart attack at training with Porto Wednesday.  See GK section below for all the Great Saves from Champions League/Europa & More this week.

EPL

Man United managed to blow its home chance vs Chelsea as they ended in a 1-1 tie at Old Trafford last Sunday – that leaves Man United on the outside of the top 4 with just 2 games left.  Man City maintains its 1 pt lead over Liverpool for the top slot after they scored a goal by 30 millimeters last weekend.  NBCSN did a great job chronicling that the EPL Title Race might just come down to 75 millimeters – as Liverpool were denied a goal by 45 or so millimeters in their 2-1 loss (there only loss of the season) at Man City earlier this year.  Ah goal-line Technology !!  Still with just 2 games to go it’s a spectacular race for the top and the top 4 slots (Champions League Qualification) in the EPL.  Liverpool travels to New Castle United Sat at 2:45 pm on NBCSN in the game of the week,  while Tottenham travel to Bourmouth and US youngster Emerson Hyndman at 7:30 am NBCSN Sat and Chelsea host Watford at 9 am Sunday. Also Sunday Man U travels to Huddersfiled at 9 am NBCSN and Arsenal host Brighton at 11:30 am NBCSN.  Finally Man City, on an 11 game winning streak in the league, will host Leicester City (who’s still battling for Europe) on Mon at 3 pm on NBCSN.  EPL Table   Here’s a Quick Glance at all the European Leagues and Standings with 2 games to go.

Good Luck to all those Carmel FC and other teams playing Cup games this Weekend oh and May the 4th Be With You! 

GAMES ON TV

Sat, MAY 4           (American’s in parenthesis)

7:30 am NBCSN           Bournmouth vs Tottenham (American Mid – Emerson Hyndman)

9:30 am Fox Sport 2                          Bayern Munich vs Hannover 96

10 am NBCNS                                        Fulham (Tim Ream) vs Wolverhampton

12:30 pm Fox Sport 2                        Werder Bremen vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

12:30 pm NBCSN                                 Cardiff vs Crystal Palace

2:45 pm NBC                                       New Castle United (Yedlin?) vs Liverpool 

2 pm ESPN                                             NY Red Bulls vs LA Galaxy

7 pm ESPN+                                           Indy 11 vs North Carolina (Lucas Oil)

10 pm ESPN+                                         San Jose vs Cincy

10:30 pm ESPN+                                  LAFC vs Chicago Fire

Sun, MAY 5  

7:30 am Fox Sport 2                             Schalke (McKinney) vs Ausburg

9 am NBCSN                                           Chelsea vs Watford

9 am CNBC                                               Huddersfield Town vs Man United

10:15 am beIN Sport                           Real Madrid vs Villarreal

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Arsenal vs Brighton

9 pm Fox Sport 1                                Sporting KC vs Atlanta United

Mon, MAY 6  

3 pm NBCSN                                           Man City vs Leicester City

Tues, May 7                                            Champions League SEMI-FINALS Leg 2

3 pm TNT                                Liverpool 0 vs Barcelona 3

Weds, May 8                                          Champions League

3 pm TNT                                Ajax 1 vs Tottenham 0

Thur, MAY 9                                           Europa League SEMI-FINALS Leg 2

3 pm Uni Desportes/BR Live       Chelsea 1 vs Frankfurt 1

3 pm Uni Desportes/BR Live       Valencia 1 vs Arsenal 3

Weds, May 29                      Europa League Finals

Sat, June 1                             Champions League Finals

Indy 11

Indy 11 tie Tampa Bay Rowdies 0-0 a man down- Indy Star Kevin Johnston

Indy 11 in USL Academy Cup for ages U13-U17

Indy 11 Draw Tampa Bay 0-0

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Season Tickets Just over $100

BYB Away Game Watch Parties Around Town

Sat 8 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

 Champions League

Liverpool made Messi Angry and Paid for it Mark Odgen ESPNFC

Messi Stole the Show But more was Wrong for Liverpool – Michael Cox – ESPNFC

Klopp Not Sure they could play Better – eSPNFC

– Cox: What we learned from the UCL semifinals
– Barcelona ratings: Perfect 10 Messi steals the show again
– Liverpool ratings: Milner and Salah misses gives Reds regret

Messi Scores 600th club goal

Spurs emerge from 1-0 loss to Ajax with hope

Away Goal gives Ajax the upper hand

Vertongen Not Concussed on Play

World

Barca Top Power Rankings Again

Sprint to Finish in the EPL

With 2 games to Go Here’s the Standings of All the Leagues

USA

US Women’s World Cup Team Announced – Stars and Stripes

US Men Viewing Guide this Weekend

Pulisic Story

US U17s look to Qualify for World Cup next 2 weeks

Gio Reyna – son of former US star Claudio Reyna scores Winner vs Canada for U17s

GoalKeepers

Barcelona Ter Stegan Saves vs Liverpool leg 1

Barca Ter Stegan vs Liverpool Alisson Becker 2019 Who’s Best Saves – You Judge

Look at that Extension – Ter Stegan

Europa League Stellar GK Play

Another tough day for Man U’s De Gea

Ajax Onana lays Spurs out

Prayers out to Iker Casillas who had Heart Attack at 37 in Training

USL Save of the Week

NWSL Save of the Week

Summer Camps 

Indy 11 Soccer Camp – Carmel Dad’s Club Badger Field June 17-20 9-12 noon.ages 6-14 $135

CHS Boys Soccer Skills Camp – Murray Stadium July 15-18 8:30-10:30 am ages 8-14 $85

INDY ELEVEN RETURNS HOME, EARNS POINT FROM 0-0 DRAW VS. TAMPA BAY

By IndyEleven.com, 05/01/19, 11:15PM EDT

Down a Man for 70 Minutes, Boys in Blue Start Month-long Homestand with Gritty Result versus Rowdies

Indy Eleven’s homecoming didn’t go according to script after going a man down 20 minutes in, but the Boys in Blue rode a stout defensive effort to earn a point from a 0-0 draw with the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Lucas Oil Stadium. The first draw of the season for Indy Eleven (4W-2L-1D, 13 pts.) moved Indiana’s Team into a sixth place tie in the Eastern Conference, while Tampa Bay (4W-0L-5D, 17 pts.), the lone remaining undefeated team in the East, pushed into a second-place tie on the conference table.“To go down to ten men in the early minutes made it so difficult,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “For the first 20 minutes I thought we were really good. We were on the ball. We were energetic. I don’t really have any question about whether we have a good team or good players, but today I got the answer about how much character and fight we have. The guys worked hard. Everybody did their job. Nobody slacked off.”Eleven forward Thomas Enevoldsen asked the first question of the evening in the eighth minute, ending a counter attack with a thumping shot from the left edge of the area that made Rowdies goalkeeper John McCarthy retreat to his near post for a save. That began a flow of one-way traffic towards the Tampa Bay goal – at least for the next 10 minutes. Eleven defender Paddy Barrett put McCarthy to work again with a header off a corner in the 12th minute – and one minute later picked up a caution for unsporting behavior prior to the ensuing corner.Unfortunately for the home team, Barrett would see a second yellow card in the 20th minute for a late tackle on Sebastian Guenzatti, putting the Boys in Blue a man down for the first time in 2019. The rest of the first half was largely uneventful, with Tampa Bay unable to put any of its four shots on frame. Guenzatti’s effort from 10 yards that missed jut wide right in stoppage time marked the only serious threat of the first half for Tampa Bay despite the man advantage.The second half began with Eleven forward Dane Kelly looking to catch McCarthy off guard in the opening seconds, his shot from 30 yards out not missing the left post by much. Rowdies midfielder David Najem tried his own luck from a similar distance five minutes later, a chance that Eleven ‘keeper Evan Newton had covered as it whistled over the crossbar.Indy Eleven did well to absorb pressure and pick moments to push forward, the approach nearly paying off in the 70th minute when Kenney Walker’s flicked ball was headed back into the Rowdies area by defender Abdoulaye Diakite. Kelly got behind the Tampa Bay backline and was there to meet the ball at the same time as an onrushing McCarthy, who appeared to injure his right arm in the ensuing collision but would stay in the contest after receiving a few minutes of medical attention. In the 81st minute it was Enevoldsen again looking to sneak one in from distance, but the Danish striker’s attempt from 30 yards was collected by McCarthy.The last five minutes saw the squads trade chances, Guenzatti dragging a good look wide left while Karl Ouimette got on the end of a corner kick with a header that veered left of frame. It was Guenzatti getting one last go of it in the final of four minutes of stoppage, his free header straight out from nine yards skipping wide right, allowing the Boys in Blue to breathe easy – and come out of the proceedings with a point.Indy Eleven is back home again during its month-long homestand this Saturday, May 4, on “Brad Ring Night” against North Carolina FC. Kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m., with the match airing live on WISH-TV and streaming live on ESPN+. Tickets remain available for as little as $15 at IndyEleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

USL Championship Regular Season
Indy Eleven  0:0  Tampa Bay Rowdies
Wednesday, May 1, 2019 – 7:00 p.m. ET  
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.
Scoring Summary:
None

Disciplinary Summary:

IND – Paddy Barret (Yellow card) 12’

IND – Paddy Barret (Yellow card) 20’

IND – Paddy Barret (Red card, second caution) 20’

TBR – Leon Taylor (Yellow card) 88’

Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): Evan Newton (GK); Neveal Hackshaw, Alex Crognale, Paddy Barrett; Ayoze Garcia, Tyler Gibson, Kenney Walker, Matthew Watson (captain); Dane Kelly (Alioune Diakhate 75’), Thomas Enevoldsen (Nico Matern 93+’), Tyler Pasher (Karl Ouimette 26’)
IND Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Lucas Farias, Macauley King, Ilija Ilic

Tampa Bay Rowdies lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): John McCarthy; Caleb Richards, Abdoulaye Diakite, Mohamed Kone; Leo Fernandes Brandon Allen 81’), Jordan Doherty (Leon Taylor 45’), Dominic Oduro, David Najem (Antoine Hoppenot 63’); Juan Tejada, Andrew Tinari, Sebastian Guenzatti (captain)TBR Sustitutes: Chris Konopka (GK), Tarek Morad, Kwadwo Poku, Zach Steinberger

Premier League sprint to the finish: Title race, Champions League chase, relegation battles in focus

Apr 28, 2019Dale JohnsonMark Ogden

The Premier League season is set for a frantic conclusion at both ends of the table, with the battles for the title, top four and relegation set to go down to the wire.With permutations updated after each game, we run through what is left to play for and ESPN FC senior writer Mark Ogden offers his thoughts and predictions.

Jump to: Title race | UCL qualification | Relegation

– Premier League table

RACE FOR THE TITLE

MAN CITY (92 points from 36 games)

Still to play: Leicester (h), Brighton (a)

Victory at Man United meant the way was set clear for Man City to retain the title. They know that by winning their final two matches the trophy will remain at the Etihad. They are out of the Champions League, will those free midweeks prove key for their sharpness and results?

In short: City are guaranteed to win the title with two victories

Ogden: The long-awaited derby clash at United was successfully navigated, and that should leave a home run to the title.

  1. LIVERPOOL (91 points from 36 games)

Still to play: Newcastle (a), Wolves (h)

Liverpool have set a new club record for Premier League points, but they will need a favour from Leicester or Brighton if they are to win the title. They also have to navigate a two-legged Champions League semifinal against Barcelona while Man City rest.

In short: Liverpool must win both their remaining games and hope Man City fail to win one of theirs.

Ogden: Jurgen Klopp’s team have done all they can do, but their fate now lies in the hands of others. Even if Liverpool win their final two games, as they probably will, it may not be enough. The time has come for one of City’s remaining opponents to deny them a win and, looking at City’s remaining fixtures, it may be a forlorn hope.

RACE FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

The top four in the Champions League will qualify direct to the group stage, with fifth and sixth into the Europa League.

  1. TOTTENHAM (70 points from 36 games)

Still to play: Bournemouth (a), Everton (h)

Saturday’s loss to West Ham was a setback for Spurs, who conceded the first goal at their new stadium. But the poor results of those below them mean Spurs, with their goal difference, need at most two points to confirm a top-four finish. A trip to lacklustre Bournemouth and a home game against Everton should provide that. It would be remarkable if they were to mess it up from here.

In short: Spurs need one win to be mathematically certain of the top four, but goal difference means two points will almost certainly suffice.

Ogden: Back-to-back defeats for Manchester United and Arsenal, and the win at home to Brighton, have kept Spurs in control of their own destiny despite the derby loss to West Ham. They now have daylight to the chasing pack.

  1. CHELSEA (68 points from 36 games)

Still to play: Watford (h), Leicester (a)

Maurizio Sarri’s men looked to be outsiders a few weeks ago, but now have their destiny in their own hands. The draw at Manchester United, combined with another defeat for Arsenal, made it a good weekend for the Blues. But you feel there might be some more twists yet. Along with Arsenal, they have the chance to reach the Champions League via winning the Europa League; Chelsea face Eintracht Frankfurt in the semifinals.

In short: Chelsea need two wins to be certain of finishing in the top four, but four will be enough unless Arsenal win both their remaining games.

Ogden: A big week for Chelsea began with a disappointing home draw against Burnley. The draw at Old Trafford might go a long way to sealing a top-four finish.

  1. ARSENAL (66 points from 36 games)

Still to play: Brighton (h), Burnley (a)

Arsenal’s away form has been their Achilles heel with only two wins on the road in five months, going back to Nov. 25. Any kind of decent recent away record and a place in the Champions League would already be theirs. Instead, the defeat at Leicester makes it incredibly difficult. Help is now required from Chelsea’s remaining opponents, Watford and Leicester. They also have a tough Europa League semifinal — the competition winners earn a UCL place — against Valencia to navigate.

In short: Arsenal must pick up at least two more points than Chelsea. If they win both their games, and Chelsea draw one, Arsenal could finish fourth on goal difference but it would be very tight.

Ogden: Losing at home to Palace and also to Wolves and Leicester has put Arsenal’s top-four chances in real jeopardy. Arsenal may regret a horrible week at a crucial point of the season.

  1. MAN UNITED (65 points from 36 games)

Still to play: Huddersfield (a), Cardiff (h)

United have suffered a dramatic collapse in form just at the wrong time, but their rivals haven’t fared much better. Failure to win at home to Chelsea has just about killed off their top-four hopes, three points behind Chelsea who have a far superior goal difference. Already-relegated Huddersfield and struggling Cardiff are left to play but wins in those games will surely too little, too late for the Champions League.

In short: United must win both their remaining games to have any realistic chance. Due to their inferior goal difference they would also need Chelsea to pick up no more than two points and Arsenal a maximum of four.

Ogden: A disastrous run of results has seen United slip down to sixth place and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are now needing others to drop points if they are to sneak a top-four finish. Nothing less than six points from their final two games will be enough, but the ship has probably already sailed.

RELEGATION BATTLE

The bottom three teams will be relegated, and it looks as though one of these sides will join the already-relegated Fulham and Huddersfield in the Championship. Southampton confirmed their safety on April 27 with a frenetic 3-3 draw at home to Bournemouth coupled with Cardiff’s loss at Fulham. This leaves two teams fighting to avoid the final relegation place…

  1. BRIGHTON (35 points from 36 games)

Still to play: Arsenal (a), Man City (h)

A late Pascal Gross goal saw Brighton earn a crucial point in a 1-1 draw against Newcastle on Saturday to give them a four-point cushion over Cardiff in the race to beat the drop. However, a pair of tough remaining fixtures means safety is far from assured for Chris Hughton’s side.

In short: Brighton’s superior goal difference means they need two points to secure survival.

  1. CARDIFF (31 points from 36 games)

Still to play: Crystal Palace (h), Man United (a)

The South Wales side need some serious help if they’re to remain in the Premier League following a 1-0 defeat to Fulham. Oh, and Cardiff still have Man United to play at Old Trafford, on the final day no less.

In short: Cardiff must win both of their remaining games and hope Brighton pick up no more than one point.

Ogden: A harsh 1-0 loss to Fulham saw Cardiff stay stuck on 31 points, four behind Brighton, but the home game against Crystal Palace gives Neil Warnock’s team hope of taking the survival battle to Old Trafford. They’ll need to win both matches and hope Brighton drop points.

RELEGATED

  1. FULHAM (23 points from 35 games) Sad to see my Fulham America and US Defender Tim Ream – go back down L 

Fulham were relegated April 2.

  1. HUDDERSFIELD (14 points from 36 games)

Huddersfield were relegated March 30.

W2W4: Will De Gea cost Man United again? Can Rodgers help Liverpool?

3:46 AM ETNick MillerESPN.com writer

W2W4 previews the penultimate weekend of Premier League action by highlighting its most compelling storylines …

The pride of Rodgers could be Liverpool’s big hope

It’s impossible not to find it delicious that this weekend Liverpool’s chances of winning their first Premier League title in 29 years is at least in part in the hands of two former Liverpool managers. The two men in charge the past two times they had a realistic chance of the title, in fact.On Saturday night, Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle host Liverpool. Then 48 hours later, Manchester City host Leicester City, managed, of course, by Brendan Rodgers. One of the things that is often quite annoying, even unpalatable, about Rodgers is that he’s not happy just to be a good manager — he wants to be seen as a good manager and wants people to know why he’s a good manager.

– Wright Thompson: What a title means to Liverpool
– Ogden: Liverpool’s ex-bosses could decide title

In his last full season at Liverpool, when the team had recovered from a tricky spell to go on a good run of form, a clutch of extremely well-sourced newspaper articles appeared detailing how, why and when Rodgers had come up with the plan to turn things around. Alas for Rodgers, Liverpool lost the next game and things spiralled, they never really recovered and he was sacked near the start of the following season.But while that hubris was detrimental to Liverpool then, it might be their saviour now: Rodgers will want the world to know he is still a good manager, and what better way to do that than beat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City? If nothing else, Liverpool can be confident their old boss’ determination will be strong.

How big will the psychological impact of Messi be on Liverpool?

The sports writer Paul Hayward had a nice line about what it’s like to face Leo Messi this week: “You can’t insure against acts of God.” Liverpool were largely terrific against Barcelona, their finishing aside, but were beaten by an otherworldly genius and his friends. There isn’t much you can do about that, but putting your plan into operation and still coming away with nothing must be demoralising at a point in the season when they can’t afford to be demoralised.Jurgen Klopp’s big task ahead of their game at Newcastle this weekend is to ensure that doesn’t impact on their performance, in what could still be a tricky game even if you discount the Benitez factor. If Liverpool win their last two games and still don’t finish top of the league, you’d imagine they will be able to just about live with that. But imagine if they didn’t win their last two games and City slip up.For the better part of a decade, the idea that a Manchester United manager might drop David De Gea has been unthinkable. However bad they have been at various stages since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, things would have been much worse without De Gea in goal. But his recent spell of bad form has led to the serious notion that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could leave him out.

– Ian Wright calls for Solskjaer to drop De Gea

Solskjaer has confirmed that De Gea will start against Huddersfield on Sunday, mainly because backup goalkeeper Sergio Romero is injured, but with a place in the top four at stake the last thing he needs is a No. 1 whose confidence is so shaky.

Still, one could argue that a De Gea who makes the odd mistake is still better than anyone else. And showing faith in him now is perhaps most important in the long term, as dropping the Spain international would make it much less likely that he would sign a new contract in the coming months.Solskjaer has enough to worry about right now, so he could probably do without this added conundrum. But if he can somehow return De Gea to his former self then it will rank among his best achievements since landing the job.

Which way will Pochettino gamble?

Football frequently doesn’t make sense. We all know this, but it’s always good to be reminded of it every now and then. To that end, it’s worth pointing out that in the past 10 league games, Tottenham have collected 10 points and are still third. That’s partly down to the inconsistency of those beneath them, and partly down to their general excellence in the first two thirds of the season.– Miller: Spurs emerge from Ajax defeat with one thing: Hope

They will probably still finish in the top four, being four points ahead of Arsenal with two games to go and basically need to win one game: either at Bournemouth this weekend or against Everton on the final day.Between those two fixtures is the second leg of their Champions League semifinal against Ajax, a tie that, despite them being 1-0 down at the halfway stage, is still winnable. So it will be fascinating to see how Mauricio Pochettino approaches this weekend’s game: Does he rest everyone he can ahead of the trip to Amsterdam and gamble on either his second string beating Bournemouth or winning against Everton a week later? Or does he reason that they have only three, hopefully four, games remaining and try to cling on by their fingernails? Or some midpoint between the two?

One last chance for Cardiff

Hopefully Cardiff aren’t the superstitious type. Their opponents this weekend are Crystal Palace, who have relegated three teams in the past three seasons. The latest was Huddersfield a few weeks ago, last season it was Stoke, and before that it was Hull. And what’s more, Patrick van Aanholt has scored the final goal in all three games.Of course, it won’t be any odd quirk of coincidence that sends Cardiff down, more the lack of quality in their squad and to a lesser extent some curious choices by Neil Warnock, the most prominent at the moment being his tactics last weekend against already-relegated Fulham. He has no choice but to go for it against Palace: They might not even survive if they win (if Brighton beat Arsenal on Sunday, then it’s game over), but they certainly won’t if they don’t.

Messi delivered magic for Barcelona but Liverpool had no plan for Alba; Ajax present beats Ajax past

Michael CoxESPN.com writer

The week’s two Champions League semifinal first legs were very different matches, but both offered plenty of tactical intrigue. Here’s a key tactical talking point from each.

Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool: Left-backs make inroads

On one hand, this home win was all about Lionel Messi. But in a tactical sense, Liverpool managed to deny him space effectively: He found himself in the right position for a fortunate rebound in front of an open goal, and then curled in yet another majestic free kick. On the other hand, the battle here was all about the left-backs. Jordi Alba has probably been Barcelona’s second-best performer this season, while Liverpool’s full-back pairing have recorded a steady stream of assists. With Trent Alexander-Arnold omitted and the more defensively solid Joe Gomez coming into the side on the right, this meant Andy Robertson would carry the attacking threat.Ernesto Valverde’s decision to play Arturo Vidal might have been designed to stop Robertson. He was used instead of the more technical Arthur, which meant Ivan Rakitic played a left-centre midfield role, and Vidal played on the right of midfield, tasked with shutting down Robertson. He didn’t always do this particularly effectively, however, and in the first half, Liverpool’s bright moments came when Robertson overlapped aggressively. With Sadio Mane‘s speed worrying Sergi Roberto, Liverpool looked dangerous down that side.

Jurgen Klopp made no such attempts to contain Alba, aside from the concession of starting Gomez. His team selection, including a fourth midfielder because of Roberto Firmino‘s injury, hinted at using a defensive-minded right-sided player — Milner, perhaps — to track Alba. Instead, Milner played as a right-centre midfielder, and Alba was often unmarked, with Mohamed Salahstaying higher up the pitch.

Alba’s trademark assist is getting to the byline and cutting the ball back for his pal Messi, and on 13 minutes, they nearly combined in typical fashion. It took a superb challenge from Robertson, covering expertly and matching Messi’s run, to stop them.But Alba remained the key player. On 24 minutes, he nutmegged substitute Jordan Henderson, played the ball inside to Messi and sprinted in behind for the return pass — the type of run he has been making for several years, most memorably for Spain’s second goal in the 4-0 Euro 2012 final win over Italy, when he did something identical to this with Xavi before finishing smartly. This time, however, Joel Matip read the danger and intercepted. The ball ended up out wide with Salah, and Alba sprinted back across to dispossess him and concede a throw.

From the next move, Barcelona switched play to Philippe Coutinho, he laid the ball back to Alba, and the left-back produced an absolutely brilliant cross/through ball that met Luis Suarez‘s perfectly timed run for the Uruguayan to put Barcelona ahead.

Liverpool rallied at 1-0 down before Messi’s double. But the crucial tactical change was Valverde turning to Nelson Semedo, a second right-back, midway through the second half and deploying him in tandem with Sergi Roberto to shut down Liverpool’s left. From then, Robertson had less opportunity to push forward, and Liverpool were far less dangerous.

Tottenham 0-1 Ajax: The Dutch defenders come out on top

The most intriguing clash in the first Champions League semifinal was the battle between the defensive trios: It was Ajax past versus Ajax present.Tottenham’s trio of Toby AlderweireldDavinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghenreceived their defensive tutoring in Amsterdam, while Ajax’s current triumvirate is Matthijs de LigtDaley Blind and Frenkie de Jong. From the outset, it was the current Ajax generation who came out on top .Fittingly, considering the Dutch interpretation of defensive play, the superiority of the Ajax trio wasn’t really about defending. It was more about their ball-playing ability. Ajax silenced the crowd by keeping possession expertly, and a crucial factor was the ability of the centre-backs, in particular Blind, to fire line-breaking passes into the feet of midfielders and attackers. One early pass into De Jong bypassed Spurs’ press easily, while another similar ball toward Dusan Tadic cut through both sides’ entire midfields. For the first five minutes, the atmosphere at Spurs’ new ground was hugely impressive. Quickly, however, Ajax silenced the home support.De Ligt was capable of something similar, and he emerged victorious from his physical confrontation with Fernando Llorente. It’s rare to see any young centre-back so commanding in the air, let alone a centre-back who is so technically gifted and still only 19.But the real star was De Jong, who played as Ajax’s deepest midfielder but often dropped back into the defence to help Ajax play out from the back, turning their 4-3-3 into a 3-4-3. His calmness with the ball at his feet is remarkable, and he exudes a physical presence with his body positioning, belying his slenderness and relatively short stature.Without the ball, De Jong was often performing two roles simultaneously. His primary responsibility was watching the runs of Dele Alli, who endured a quiet game. But De Jong was also always checking over his shoulder, assessing the positioning of Llorente and covering the passing lanes so Spurs couldn’t hit balls into the feet of the Spaniard. De Jong was helping to nullify two of Spurs’ three primary attacking threats, demonstrating tremendous tactical intelligence. It’s also notable how often De Jong finds himself in position to intercept cut-backs from the byline.Spurs’ defenders were solid enough, though Vertonghen was forced off toward the end of the first half after he suffered a nasty blow to his head. That forced Spurs to reorganise and use a diamond midfield, which prompted an improvement, as the energy of substitute Moussa Sissoko helped them compete in the centre of the pitch and carry the ball forward toward goal more directly.But Spurs struggled to create clear-cut chances, and even when they mounted spells of pressure in the second half, they found that Ajax’s defenders were capable of doing the ugly stuff too. Alderweireld and Vertonghen had a great partnership together in Amsterdam and have reprised it in the colours of both Belgium and Spurs. Nevertheless, with De Ligt and Blind plus De Jong dropig back between them, this is a superior central defensive base.

Liverpool made Lionel Messi angry and paid the price as Barcelona take charge

May 1, 2019Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

The best way to deal with Lionel Messi is to treat him like football’s version of the Incredible Hulk: Don’t make him angry and you might just be spared an ordeal of pain and humiliation.Liverpool midfielder James Milner did not get the memo, judging by his crude first-half barge on the home side’s No. 10 during Barcelona’s 3-0 Champions League semifinal first-leg win Wednesday at the Nou Camp, and it is fair to say that the Premier League side went on to reap a whirlwind of two-goal Messi’s annoyance.”In these moments, he is unstoppable,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said afterward of Messi. “My boys didn’t show him too much respect or treat him harshly to try to stop him, but he is a world-class player and he showed that again tonight. What else can I say?”For Milner, perhaps there was a sense of déjà vu. Back in March 2015, while playing for Manchester City, the former England international inadvertently became a YouTube sensation when he was nutmegged by Messi during a Champions League round-of-16 tie against Barcelona.On that occasion, the Argentine forward played the ball through Milner’s legs and left his opponent sliding on his backside before scampering away on another of his mazy runs. Four years on, Milner saw the opportunity to exact revenge.Bad move. Although referee Bjorn Kuipers did not issue the yellow card that Messi demanded, in that moment Barca’s talisman went from being a threat to a man possessed, and the full force of his fury was played out in the second half, when his brilliance left Klopp’s team hanging on in their attempt to reach a second successive Champions League final.Liverpool actually played well — Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen made several fine saves, while Mohamed Salah hit the post with a glorious chance — but ended up beaten by the same score as Manchester United, who were much less impressive during their own 3-0 defeat two weeks ago.Messi was ultimately the difference between the two sides, scoring his 599th and 600th Barcelona goals in the process, but former Liverpool forward Luis Suarez laid the foundations for victory with a stunning finish from Jordi Alba’s pinpoint 27th-minute cross.

– Cox: What we learned from the UCL semifinals
– Barcelona ratings: Perfect 10 Messi steals the show again
– Liverpool ratings: Milner and Salah misses gives Reds regret

Gerard Pique rolled back the years with a majestic performance in defence, while Arturo Vidal was an incessant bundle of energy in midfield for Ernesto Valverde’s team. But in truth, while others deserve their honourable mentions, this game was all about one man.Klopp joked in his pregame news conference that Messi sounded as though he was issuing a “threat” in August when he insisted Barcelona would make up for last season’s quarterfinal exit to Roma by going all the way in the Champions League this year. On Wednesday, the Liverpool manager saw at first hand that the 31-year-old had not been joking.Messi played like a man on a mission against United, and Liverpool got the same treatment. His first goal, a tap-in after Suarez had hit the bar, came after a period of Liverpool pressure early in the second half; his second, seven minutes later, was a jaw-dropping free kick from 30 yards that is up there with the best he has ever scored.It prompted 90,000 Catalans to bow as they chanted his name, but as ever, there was so much more to Messi’s display. Perhaps the best example of his genius was borne out in the final seconds of second-half stoppage time when, after breaking clear, he teed up Ousmane Dembele with a sumptuous reverse pass inside the penalty area.The French winger simply had to hit the target from 12 yards to make it 4-0, but Dembele somehow shot directly at Alisson, whereupon Messi threw himself to the ground in disbelief at his teammate’s wastefulness.Playing alongside Messi must be a dream, even for the likes of Dembele, who is nowhere near being on the same wavelength. Every pass is perfectly weighted into the path of a teammate, and he creates so much space by dragging opponents away when he has the ball that it is not unusual to see three Barcelona players unmarked in attacking positions.Messi coasted through this game at times, coming alive only in short bursts, but so destructive were those contributions that Liverpool are in need of a footballing miracle if they are to overturn this deficit Tuesday.Anfield has been the venue for several tales of the unexpected on European nights, but for all the magic of the old stadium, it will struggle to compete with that which exists in Messi’s boots.”It’s football, so we have a chance,” Klopp said. “But we had a better chance before the start of this game.”

Ajax exit Tottenham with vital away goal, clean sheet in first-leg win

Apr 30, 2019Reuters

Ajax’s Donny van de Beek grabbed an early goal to secure a precious 1-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday.The 22-year-old struck in the 15th minute to give Ajax a crucial away goal and leave Spurs facing a daunting task in Amsterdam if they are to reach the final for the first time.Ajax, having already knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus en route to their first semifinal in Europe’s elite competition since 1997, were too pacey for a labouring home side, especially in a first half in which they could have put the tie to bed.Tottenham improved after the break but Ajax defended their lead diligently to restrict the home attack and almost scored a second goal late on when David Neres hit the post.Erik ten Hag’s youthful Ajax side started the match full of energy and purpose with Spurs barely able to escape their own half as they spent the early stages chasing shadows.Ajax showed just why they had eliminated European giants Real and Juve in the previous two rounds as they sliced through Tottenham’s labouring ranks almost at will.The visitors needed only a quarter of an hour to go ahead as Hakim Ziyech‘s threaded pass found Van de Beek and the midfielder calmly placed his shot past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.There was a suspicion of offside but unlike in Tottenham’s epic quarterfinal win over Manchester City, when Raheem Sterling‘s stoppage-time goal was ruled out, VAR could not save the London side this time as the Ajax fans celebrated.Van de Beek should have made it 2-0 from Dusan Tadic‘s pass as Ajax dominated and when Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen was replaced by Moussa Sissoko after a clash of heads with team mate and fellow former Ajax player Toby Alderweireld, it seemed nothing was going right for the hosts.A Tottenham attack missing the injured Harry Kane and suspended Son Heung-min had looked blunt, with Spaniard Fernando Llorente wasting their best chance when he headed wide from Kieran Trippier‘s cross.The introduction of midfield powerhouse Sissoko, deemed not fit enough to start, injected some much-needed energy into Tottenham and he fizzed a shot wide from Llorente’s knockdown just before half-time.Spurs pushed on at the start of the second half and finally began to test the Ajax defence by applying some sustained pressure, with the crowd packed into the stadium responding by raising the decibel-level inside their new ground.Dele Alli, on the periphery in the first half, volleyed straight at Ajax keeper Andre Onana, then headed over the bar.Christian Eriksen, yet another former Ajax player in Tottenham’s ranks, then played in the overlapping Danny Rose but the left back’s shot was charged down.Spurs were vulnerable to the counter however and Ajax came agonisingly close to doubling the lead, and leaving Tottenham with a near-impossible task in the second leg, when Tadic linked up with Neres whose side-footed shot rebounded off the post.Considering the way Tottenham struggled at the start of the game, they will still travel with hope next week, especially with their prolific South Korean striker Son available again.

Tottenham’s Vertonghen did not suffer concussion in bloody collision vs. Ajax

Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen did not suffer concussion during Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg loss against Ajax Amsterdam, the north London club said on Thursday.The 32-year-old Belgium international collided with team mate Toby Alderweireld while challenging Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana for the ball.

After speaking to the Spurs medical staff, referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz allowed Vertonghen to return to the pitch but he soon had to be substituted.”Following a thorough review over the past 48 hours by our medical staff as well as by an independent neurologist with special interest in sport-related concussion today, it has been concluded that Jan Vertonghen did not suffer a concussion,” Spurs said in a statement.”The Belgium defender suffered an injury to his nose due to a challenge during the game which resulted in heavy bleeding.”He was deemed fit to continue playing after an on-field assessment. All Football Association concussion guidelines were followed.”Vertonghen was withdrawn after the he informed the medical staff the he was struggling to stand up. The club has been advised that this was “the result of a presyncopal episode, a near faint.””The specialist has recommended that the player undertakes a brief period of rehabilitation before returning to training,” the club added.Spurs face Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday before they look to overturn a 1-0 deficit at Ajax in the return leg of the Champions League semifinal on Wednesday.  (GOOD TO HEAR – IT LOOKED BAD – They still need to change the rules on players with Head Injuries having a Sub come in for 5 to 10 minutes while the player is fully evaluated ! So says the OBC)

W2W4: Zlatan goes coast to coast; Vela earning Tata’s attention

8:00 AM ETArch Bell

It’s a battle between the coasts as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy make the cross-country trek to face the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, (2 p.m. ET, ESPN), and later that night Minnesota United welcomes the Seattle Sounders to Allianz Field, plus Carlos Vela and LAFC host Chicago.

Zlatan goes coast to coast

Major League Soccer has changed in many ways throughout the years, with new teams and new rivalries, but a New York Red Bulls-LA Galaxy meeting still conjures some great memories of the league’s adolescence, specifically the thrilling 5-4 Red Bulls win in August 2007.

It was David Beckham’s first start in MLS with the Galaxy, and the game lived up to the hype, as more than 66,000 in attendance watched as the home side eked out a late win against Beckham’s bunch. Now, almost 12 years later, another global superstar with the Galaxy, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, will make his first appearance in New York.On the field, Ibrahimovic continues to dazzle, scoring the winner in last week’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake, but like everything else with the Swede, there is more to the story. The former Manchester United man got in the face of RSL’s Nedum Onuoha after scoring, and then promptly had his apology rejected postmatch. Oddly enough in last season’s home win over RSL, Ibrahimovic had an almost identical on-field brush with Stephen Sunday, issuing a few curt words after a goal.It’s a reminder that Ibrahimovic isn’t one to shirk from jawing with anyone around him, and while it won’t be the 66,000 that greeted Beckham in 2007, he is certain to get his fair share of attention from the fans in New York, which should make for quite the spectacle.

Vela earning Tata’s attention

Everywhere he goes, Mexico head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino is asked about Carlos Vela. After not calling up the LAFC striker for Mexico’s two March friendlies, the first matches for El Tri with the Argentine at the helm, Vela has responded with 11 goals and five assists in 10 games to start the season.It was slightly ironic that two weeks ago the Gold Cup draw was held at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium, as Martino dutifully responded to a countless number of questions that all basically asked the same thing: “Hey, are you gonna call Carlos Vela or what?” One would have to think that Martino will breathe a sigh of relief when he likely calls in the scorching-hot striker for Mexico’s Gold Cup campaign, thus ending that firing line of questions.In the meantime, Vela keeps finding the back of the net about as much as his NBA heroes, notching another goal in last Sunday’s 1-1 draw up in Seattle. He’ll probably get another chance to flash his goal-scoring grin Saturday night (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) against a Chicago Fire side that has limped to two straight shutout losses. The Fire have a weird knack of playing everyone close but not winning that much. Chicago head coach Veljko Paunovic could really use a win against the league’s top team to quiet any hot-seat talk. class=”imageLoaded lazyloaded” v:shapes=”_x0000_i1025″>play

Statement time in Minnesota

It seems that whenever a team in MLS opens a new stadium, a string of good results follows, and Minnesota United has been no different. Since the debut of Allianz Field on April 13, Minnesota has gone unbeaten in three homes games, with two draws and its first win in its new digs last weekend against D.C. United.

The singing of Oasis hit “Wonderwall” by the home fans is a great spectacle, but the team is also doing its part, amassing four wins and sitting in sixth in the Western Conference. You could say that for the first time, Minnesota has the upper hand on its expansion sibling Atlanta United.

Star striker Darwin Quintero is still yet to find the back of the net in Minnesota’s new home, but that could well come on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+) against a Seattle defense that has been uncharacteristically leaky so far in 2019 with 12 goals allowed.With the 2019 MLS season at the quarter pole, a home clash with perennial contender Seattle on a week of rest is the perfect kind of statement game for the Loons.

Indy 11 Soccer Camp – Carmel Dad’s Club Badger Field June 17-20 9-12 noon.ages 6-14 $135

CHS Boys Soccer Skills Camp – Murray Stadium July 15-18 8:30-10:30 am ages 8-14 $85

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

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

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

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

4/26/19  Champions League Final 4 Tues/Wed TNT, EPL Race Heats Up Chelsea vs Man U Sun, Carmel FC New Logo, Full TV Game Schedule

With just 3 games now left in the EPL season – the battle for the top between and Liverpool and Man City and the top 4 between Tottenham, Chelsea, Man United, and Arsenal is boiling over.  Man City had no issues at Man United Wed as they took control in the 2nd half for an easy 2-0 win over their rivals and put them back on top over Liverpool by 1 point.  Of course 3 of the Top 6 teams all lost over the weekend leaving the battle for Top 4 and Champions League qualification completely up in the air. This weekend the only top ranked games are Sunday with Arsenal still barely in 4th traveling to Leicester City at 7 am on NBCSN and Manchester United 2 pts back and hosting Chelsea at 11:30 am on NBCSN.  Why this game isn’t on NBC rather than the Saturday New Castle United vs Brighton game at 12:30 pm I have no idea.  And why the EPL doesn’t have more of its top 6 teams playing each other down the stretch is another thing I just don’t understand.  Honestly this is the last weekend featuring a top 6 match-up.  Don’t they understand what a Liverpool vs Man City or Chelsea vs Arsenal playing on the final 2 weekends would provide?  Of course that would be like playoffs which we can’t have in European football unless its Europa or Champions League.  J

World

So Champions League is back Tues/Wed with the Semi’s – underdog Ajax hosting Tottenham on Tuesday 3 pm on TNT and of course the big one – Liverpool traveling to Barcelona on Wednesday 3 pm on TNT.   As Champions League reaches the pinnacle several League Champions have already been determined at Juventus won their 8th straight Italian Championship, and PSG their 6th of the last 7 French League 1 Titles.  Barcelona can wrap up La Liga on Saturday at home at 5:30 pm on beIN Sport if they beat Levante. The top leagues still in play are of course the EPL, the German Bundesliga with Bayern Munich and Dortmund just 1 point apart and the Dutch with Ajax and PSV Eindehoven still tied.  We should get a battle of Americans in the Bundesliga Saturday 9:30 am on Fox Sports 2 as Dortmund and hopeful US sub Pulisic will host USMNT midfielder Weston McKinney and Schalke in a Derby.

US Youngster Pulisic can become the youngest to 50 Wins in the Bundelisga if he features in a win that would keep the title pressure on Bayern Munich.

Indy 11

Fresh off a 3-0 win over Bethlehem, that moved them into the top 3 of USL with a 4-1 mark in the East despite having 2 games in hand, the Indy Eleven wrap up their April away swing in USL play this Sun, April 28. The Boys in Blue travel to the Big Apple to face the NY Red Bulls 2 Sun at 5 pm on ESPN+. The Indy Eleven return to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday, May 1, at 7:00 p.m., followed three days later by another home game on Saturday, May 4, against North Carolina FC at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available for as low as $15 at IndyEleven.com/Tickets.  Also this week the bill allowing the Indy 11 New Stadium and Indy Park passed the senate and the bill is now on the way to the Governor’s Desk.  Great news for the future of professional soccer in Indy!!

MLS

So before I get started on MLS games to watch this week – can someone please tell me why DC United, Seattle, New England and the LA Galaxy wore Man City/NYCFC baby blue jerseys last week? Seriously DC United at home vs NYCFC in NYCFC’s baby blue jersey?  Really?  I was confused the entire game.  And don’t even get me started when my Seattle Sounders don’t wear Green on the road at LAFC? I understand away kits and jersey sales and all — but copying Man City’s baby blues it appears that like half the teams in MLS have one now – crazy?? The East is muddled with DC United, Montreal, Toronto FC, Philly and Columbus on top and last season’s top teams Atlanta United and NY Red Bulls in LAST PLACE- Crazy?  The West is closer to normal as LAFC, LA Galaxy, Seattle and FC Dallas are on top.  Sunday features a replay of the top 2 teams in MLS as LAFC now travel to Seattle at 3:30 pm on ESPN (after pounding them last weekend) right after Minnesota United hosts DC United and Wayne Rooney at 1:30 pm on Fox Sports 1.

Goalkeepers

Check out the Saves of the Week over the past few Weeks below and don’t forget to watch Champions League Tues/Wed especially as 3 of the Top Goalkeepers in the World – Barcelona’s Ter Stegen, Liverpool’s Alisson, and Tottenham’s Hugo Loris will battle it out.

Carmel FC New Logo

On another note Carmel FC has unveiled its new logo for next season – it’s 10 year anniversary as a travel soccer club with over 600 athletes currently playing along with celebrating 60 years of Carmel Dad’s Club.  Read full story in Carmel Current

EPL 

What to Watch For – ESPNFC

EPL Title Race and Champ League Chase Coming to the End – Mark Ogden ESPNFC

Man City too Good to let Title Slip thru Grasp at Struggling United – Mark Ogden ESPNFC

How Man City Used EPL Title Race to Overcome UCL Heartbreak – eSPNFC

Same ole Arsenal as Gunners lose on Road again – Nick Aimes ESPNFC

Watford’s Ben Foster Urges Elton John to cancel concert for FA Cup Final vs Man City May 18

WORLD

Power Rankings – Barca, Liverpool, Tottenham on Top ESPNFC

Juventus Wins 8th Straight Serie A (Italy) Title- Ari Creditor SI

PSG Wins 6th League Title in 7 years – Avi Creditor SI

Dortmund and Schalke Derby – as Dortmund battles for top spot, Schalke survival

Tiny La Liga outfit Getafe closing in on Champions League slot

Barcelona set to Win La Liga at home this Weekend

Ajax Champions League Run Exciting – SI Jonathan Wilson

Son proving Spurs are more than Harry Kane’s Team

Indy 11

Indy 11 Park Bill makes it thru the Senate headed to Governors Desk for Signature

Indy 11 Forward Dane Kelly named USL Player of Week 7

3 Things Week 7 for Indy 11

Indy 11 Roll over Bethlehem Steel 3-0 to move into 4th at 4-1 overall

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Season Tickets Just over $100

BYB Away Game Watch Parties Around Town

Sat 8 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

MLS

Battered Sounders seek payback for last week’s defeat to LAFC

Making Sense of the East is Not Easy to Do  – Andrew Wiebe MLS

How USMNT F Kenny Saeif swapped Anderlecht for FC Cincy – MLs.com

 USA

US to Play Jamaica in DC June 5, before Venezuela in Cincy June 9

Players Union opposes US Friendly in Cincy don’t want Grass over Turf

Chelsea – Pulisic key to Bringing more US Fans ESPNFC

US Men’s National Team Stock Watch – Brooks, Pulisic, McKennie Up doug McIntyre yahoo soccer

Catching up with Mark McKensie – future USA U20 star of Philly – ESPNFC

Goalkeepers

Great Story I found on Seattle GK’s Kasey Keller and Marcus Hennemann – both former US Keepers in  England

MLS Save of the Week 8

USL Save of the Week 6

USL Save of the Week 7

Top Saves La Liga Last Week

Save of the Week NWSL week 2

Premier League sprint to the finish: Title race, Champions League chase, relegation battles in focus

5:00 PM ET Dale JohnsonMark Ogden

The Premier League season is set for a frantic conclusion at both ends of the table, with the battles for the title, top four and relegation set to go down to the wire.With permutations updated after each game, we run through what is left to play for and ESPN FC senior writer Mark Ogden offers his thoughts and predictions.

RACE FOR THE TITLE

  1. MAN CITY (89 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Burnley (a), Leicester (h), Brighton (a)

Victory at Manchester United means the way is now clear for City to retain the title. Now they are out of the Champions League, will those free midweeks prove key for their sharpness and results?

Ogden: The long-awaited derby clash at United has been successfully navigated, and that should leave a home run to the title.

  1. LIVERPOOL (88 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Huddersfield (h), Newcastle (a), Wolves (h)

Liverpool have now set a new club record for Premier League points, but they will need a favour from one of the division’s lesser lights if they are to win the title. They also have to navigate a two-legged Champions League semifinal against Barcelona while Man City rest.

Ogden: Jurgen Klopp’s team have done all they can do, but their fate now lies in the hands of others. Even if Liverpool win their final three games, as they probably will, it may not be enough. The time has come for one of City’s remaining opponents to deny them a win and, looking at City’s remaining fixtures, it may be a forlorn hope.

RACE FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

The top four in the Champions League will qualify direct to the group stage, with fifth and sixth into the Europa League.

  1. TOTTENHAM (70 points from 35 games)

Still to play: West Ham (h), Bournemouth (a), Everton (h)

The late victory at home to Brighton should almost see Spurs over the line in the race for the top four. Two of their remaining three games are at their brand-new stadium, so Mauricio Pochettino’s men are very much favourites. It would be remarkable if they were to mess it up from here.

Ogden: Back-to-back defeats for Manchester United and Arsenal, and the win at home to Brighton, have kept Spurs in control of their own destiny. They now have daylight to the chasing pack.

  1. CHELSEA (67 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Man United (a), Watford (h), Leicester (a)

Maurizio Sarri’s men looked to be outsiders a few weeks ago, but now have their destiny in their own hands. The major hurdle is Sunday’s trip to Manchester United, and if they come away from Old Trafford with a positive result they will be favourites for the top four. Along with Arsenal, they have the chance to reach the Champions League via winning the Europa League; Chelsea face Eintracht Frankfurt in the semifinals.

Ogden: A big week for Chelsea began with a disappointing home draw against Burnley. Much now rests on their visit to Manchester United on Sunday; a win at Old Trafford would go a long way to sealing a top-four finish.

  1. ARSENAL (66 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Leicester (a), Brighton (h), Burnley (a)

Back-to-back defeats to Crystal Palace and Wolves have left their top-four hopes hanging in the balance. Two of their remaining three fixtures are away and they have only two wins on the road in five months, going back to Nov. 25. It’s likely they will have to win all three games to finish in the top four. They also have a tough Europa League semifinal — the competition winners earn a UCL place — against Valencia to navigate.

Ogden: Losing at home to Palace and at Wolves has put Arsenal’s top-four chances in real jeopardy. They still have to go to Leicester, who are chasing seventh spot and potential Europa League qualification. Sunday’s Manchester United vs. Chelsea clash will see at least one rival drop points, but Arsenal may regret a horrible week at a crucial point of the season.

  1. MAN UNITED (64 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Chelsea (h), Huddersfield (a), Cardiff (h)

United have suffered a dramatic collapse in form just at the wrong time, but their rivals haven’t fared much better. They still know that victory at home to Chelsea on Sunday will put them level with their visitors, and with already-relegated Huddersfield and struggling Cardiff left to play they could remarkably still qualify for the Champions League.

Ogden: A disastrous run of results has seen United slip down to sixth place and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are now needing others to drop points if they are to sneak a top-four finish. Nothing less than seven points from their final three games will be enough, but United may have to win all three.

RELEGATION BATTLE

The bottom three teams will be relegated, and it looks as though one of these sides will join the already-relegated Fulham and Huddersfield in the Championship.

  1. SOUTHAMPTON (37 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Bournemouth (h), West Ham (a), Huddersfield (h)

The draw at Watford has all but seen Saints over the line. They have a favourable final three matches compared to Brighton and Cardiff. A recent run of three wins in four games looks to have provided the breathing space they need.

Ogden: If Southampton beat Bournemouth at St Mary’s in the South Coast derby on Saturday, the Saints can celebrate survival for another year, but Ralph Hassenhuttl’s team may already have enough in the bag, barring late surges by Brighton and Cardiff.

  1. BRIGHTON (34 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Newcastle (h), Arsenal (a), Man City (h)

Brighton almost claimed a vital point at Spurs, but where undone by a late goal which keeps Cardiff within striking distance. That lost extra point could yet prove to be huge with three games left to play.

Ogden: Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Wolves ended Brighton’s four-game losing streak in the league, which included a potentially crucial defeat at home to Cardiff. With Arsenal and Manchester City still to play, the Seagulls will need something from next Saturday’s home game against Newcastle to keep Cardiff at bay.

  1. CARDIFF (31 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Fulham (a), Crystal Palace (h), Man United (a)

Victory at Fulham at the end of the month looks an absolute must to even be in contention to stay up. And Cardiff still have Man United to play at Old Trafford, on the final day no less.

Ogden: A spirited home defeat against Liverpool saw Cardiff emerge with nothing, but next Saturday’s trip to Fulham and the home game against Crystal Palace give Neil Warnock’s team hope of taking the survival battle to Old Trafford.

RELEGATED

  1. FULHAM (23 points from 35 games)

Fulham were relegated April 2. Makes me so sad—I truly thought Fulham would be a lower mid-table team this year.  One of the few American’s starting in the EPL – Tim Ream resides here.  So sad L

  1. HUDDERSFIELD (14 points from 35 games)

Huddersfield were relegated March 30.

Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs fighting for two spots in mad dash for top four

8:19 AM ETMark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

With three rounds of matches to go in the Premier League season, the race to qualify for the Champions League has become a battle between four clubs seemingly unable to grasp the opportunity.Third-placed Tottenham, sitting on 70 points, took a huge leap towards confirming a top-four spot with a late home win against Brighton on Tuesday, but Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, separated by just three points from fourth to sixth, continue to drop points.United host Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday in a game that is now crucial for both clubs’ aspirations, but with time running out to make the top four, who needs the Champions League most, which clubs are best-equipped to cope with a year in the Europa League and who is facing a nightmare scenario by failing to qualify?

3rd place: Tottenham, 70 points

Remaining Fixtures: West Ham (H), Bournemouth (A), Everton (H)

Why they need a top-four finish

Tottenham have finally moved into their spectacular new stadium, but they now have to pay for it and the money that comes from being in the Champions League is crucial in ensuring that the finances remain healthy enough for the club to avoid having to sell their best players.As this season’s run to the semifinals, and potentially beyond, has shown, Spurs are an emerging force under coach Mauricio Pochettino and are a team capable of winning the Champions League.But missing out on qualification and ending up in the Europa League would leave Spurs vulnerable to losing their top stars, and Pochettino, to clubs who can offer Champions League football.If Spurs finish in the top four, their business model and football development will only become stronger.

What happens if they miss out?

Christian Eriksen is stalling on a new contract, while Toby Alderweireld can leave for £25 million this summer, so Spurs would find it difficult to keep those two key players if they can only offer Europa League football.And for a club that has not added to their squad since January 2018, recruitment plans would be hit badly if Champions League football is not booked.Of all the clubs chasing a top-four finish, Spurs are arguably most at risk of the ramifications of missing out because of the delicate balancing act of keeping the team together and paying for the stadium, so Champions League qualification is absolutely vital.

Prediction: The win against Brighton has put Spurs in pole position and, with two home games to come, they will secure qualification by finishing third.

4th Place: Chelsea, 67 points

Remaining Fixtures: Man Utd (A), Watford (H), Leicester (A)

Why they need a top-four finish

With Eden Hazard increasingly likely to leave Stamford Bridge this summer, Chelsea need to be able to offer Champions League football in order to attract a top quality replacement.There is also the question mark over the future of coach Maurizio Sarri, who might just cling onto his job if he can guide the club back into the Champions League.Chelsea are in the midst of a transitional period and their rebuilding plans would be accelerated by a return to the tournament, both in terms of finance and the ability to attract better players.But, of course, they still have the problem of a two-window transfer ban imposed by FIFA. They do still hope to get the ban paused, or overturned, to be able to deal this summer.

The funding of owner Roman Abramovich will always insulate Chelsea from the financial hit of not being in the Champions League, but as the only London club ever to win the competition, there is a determination at Stamford Bridge to regain the prestige of being back among the elite.

What happens if they miss out?

Any slim prospect of keeping Hazard would evaporate if Chelsea face another year in the Europa League and Sarri might follow the Belgian out of the door.But there could be a positive element of missing out on the Champions League for Chelsea in the shape of their emerging youngsters.Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi have been given first-team chances this season and, if Chelsea are unable to offer Champions League football to prospective signings, the club’s hugely successful youth policy could finally bear fruit with more senior graduates. Financially, Chelsea are in a stronger position than Spurs to ride out another year in the Europa League, but if a new coach comes in and turns to the youngsters, the transition may take even longer.

Prediction: Everything hinges on Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford, and Arsenal can take advantage and leave Chelsea finishing in fifth.

5th Place: Arsenal, 66 points

Remaining Fixtures: Leicester (A), Brighton (H), Burnley (A)

Why they need a top-four finish

Arsenal’s business model has always been heavily reliant on the money earned from playing in the Champions League and two seasons in the Europa League has hit them hard.Coach Unai Emery has been restricted in the transfer market and Arsenal simply cannot compete financially with their top-six rivals as long as they sit outside the Champions League. Traditionally London’s biggest club, Arsenal as a Champions League team are an attractive proposition to potential signings, but they are forced to shop in the second tier as a Europa League outfit. So Arsenal need to be back among the big boys for reasons of finance and prestige. Another year out will see them drop even further behind.

What happens if they miss out?

Emery’s transfer budget is already restricted and he will be forced to find a replacement for Aaron Ramsey, leaving on a free transfer to Juventus, as well as bolstering every other department of his squad this summer, namely the defence.The former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain coach has worked wonders simply to make Arsenal competitive for the top four this season, but his task will only become harder if they miss out on the Champions League for 2019-20.Petr Cech has announced his retirement, so a back-up keeper will be needed, and Danny Welbeck is out of contract, so perhaps more than any club, Arsenal need the Champions League riches to keep the wheels turning.

Prediction: If Arsenal can win one of their two remaining away games, they should end the season in fourth position.

6th Place: Manchester United, 64 points

Remaining Fixtures: Chelsea (H), Huddersfield (A), Cardiff (H)

Why they need a top-four finish?

Financially, United can withstand missing out on the Champions League for one, maybe even two seasons, and there is even a school of thought that such a failure would actually trigger the reality check required to make the club focus properly on the challenge of returning to the top of the game.But even United feel the pain of not playing in the Champions League, especially when their biggest rivals — Liverpool and Manchester City — are becoming potential European champions.Champions League football would enable Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to rip up his squad and attract top quality players to Old Trafford. A year in the Europa League would force United to pay bigger fees and higher wages to get their main targets and, after upsetting the pay structure to sign £400,000-a-week Alexis Sanchez last season, that is the last thing the club wants to expose itself to.

What happens if they miss out?

The biggest pain felt by United would be to their pride, as the self-styled “biggest club in the world” missing out on the Champions League for the third time in six seasons would be a real humbling proposition.Solskjaer would be under no financial pressure to sell any of his players and United would continue to generate millions off the pitch, but they would be a less attractive proposition on it to stars whose sole focus is playing in the Champions League. No team has won the Premier League after starting the season in the Europa League, so United would already be on the back foot domestically and, with Solskjaer under pressure to oversee a “cultural reset” at Old Trafford, being out of the Champions League would only make life more difficult.

Prediction: United need to win all three remaining games to have any hope, but their recent form suggests they will fall short and finish sixth.

W2W4: Man United can still salvage season vs. Chelsea; title race isn’t over yet

4:00 AM ETNick MillerESPN.com writer

It’s been a miserable campaign for Manchester United, but despite all their suffering, they could still qualify for next season’s Champions League. Nick Miller previews the weekend’s Premier League action by highlighting its most compelling storylines …

Manchester United can salvage their season

Roy Keane’s assertion that this current crop of Manchester United players are “bluffers” is a subjective call you can agree with or not, but there’s one problem that you can’t get around: United haven’t scored a goal from open play in 527 minutes of football, and not one of any description in 280.They’ve lost seven of their past nine games — most recently in Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at home to Manchester City — and the last time they had a comparable run was at the end of the 2000-01 season, when they lost six of their last 10. The difference there was they had wrapped up the title by the middle of April and, to say the least, were winding down; in one game they fielded a midfield of Ronnie Wallwork, Michael Stewart, Luke Chadwick and Quinton Fortune. The cruel might say any of those four would stroll into the United team today.When a team goes into what amounts to an existential crisis like this, the understandable temptation is to immediately look for the wider view, to pull back and consider the fundamental, long-term problems that need fixing. But there’s the short term to think about too: even after this calamitous run, they are still only three points behind Chelsea in fourth, and if they can conjure a goal or two to beat them on Sunday, they could still stumble into the Champions League and salvage something from this season.

Should Klopp use his squad?

Jurgen Klopp suggested this week that because of the way Liverpool’s remaining games are spaced out, he won’t necessarily have to rotate his players for the purpose of keeping them as well-rested as possible. He could, in theory, put out his best XI in every one, but might it be sensible to rotate a little in Friday’s game against Huddersfield for the sake of his second string, rather than the first?Huddersfield have lost 20 of their past 22 games, and at the moment they carry a sort of haunted air, a dead look in their eyes that says they just want this season to be over. In theory, Klopp could play the collection of teenagers that won the FA Youth Cup on Thursday night and still beat them.But rather than doing that, might it be worth giving some fringe men a run-out against Huddersfield so they retain some sharpness should they be needed in a more meaningful situation in the next few weeks? Xherdan Shaqiri is the most obvious candidate, a man who could be valuable but has only played 19 minutes since the start of February, but there’s also Adam LallanaDivock OrigiDaniel Sturridge, even Alberto Moreno, who might get a game if only because Andrew Robertson is one booking away from a suspension.

The title race is not over yet …

“Is Burnley a place I would love to have on the schedule for us now? No, honestly not. It is not a place where you think: ‘Oh nice, we are going to Burnley. Easy points.'”Klopp wasn’t just playing mind games when he suggested that Manchester City would not be able to just stroll up to Turf Moor on Sunday and make off with a victory on their relentless charge to the title. In some ways, City are more likely to drop points there than they ever were against Manchester United on Wednesday.Burnley’s point at Stamford Bridge on Monday was their 28th since the turn of the year, and only four teams are above them in a table of only the second half of the Premier League season. Sean Dyche’s side have found their form, and they could still provide an upset and keep Liverpool in this title race.

Spurs just have to survive West Ham clash

With three games remaining and a top-four spot not safe by any means, it is in theory hugely irresponsible to suggest that Tottenham should take it easy against West Ham on Saturday. But if you could ever forgive a team for punting a game, it’s this one: with their Champions League semifinal against Ajax a few days later, there’s only one priority for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.Really, Pochettino should rest as many players as he dares against West Ham, not least the likes of Christian EriksenDele AlliJan Vertonghen and Toby AlderweireldSon Heung-Min is suspended for the Ajax game, so he should start, but the rest of them must be protected: Tottenham’s task this weekend is to emerge intact for their big night on Tuesday.

U.S. star Pulisic on brink of being youngest to 50 Bundesliga wins

3:36 PM ETStephan UersfeldGermany correspondent

United States star Christian Pulisic is on the brink of another Bundesliga record when Borussia Dortmund host FC Schalke 04 at the weekend.

The future Chelsea midfielder can become the youngest player ever to win 50 Bundesliga games if he features in a Dortmund victory over Schalke in the Revierderby on Saturday.Pulisic, who would be 20 years and 221 days old at the time of kick-off, would assume the record from Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Julian Draxler, who was 11 days older when he accomplished the feat with Schalke in May 2014.Plagued by injuries, Pulisic has made only 16 Bundesliga appearances in the 2018-19 season. However, 12 of those 16 matches were victories.Second-placed Dortmund won the reverse fixture at Schalke, 2-1, on December 8.Pulisic, who debuted for Dortmund as a 17-year-old in January 2016, became the youngest non-German to score in Germany’s top flight and then the youngest ever to score two goals in April of that year.This January, he joined Chelsea for €64 million, which is a record transfer fee for a U.S. soccer player. He was then loaned back to Dortmund where he will finish out the season.

Learning languages, talking race and soccer: U.S. U20 captain Mark McKenzie opens up over dinner

Apr 19, 2019Arch Bell

BEAR, Del. — It has been a busy day in the McKenzie household; that’s only natural when there are inhabitants ages 20 and younger. One of them, Mark, just so happens to be a second-year center-back with the Philadelphia Union and one of the rising stars within U.S. Soccer. But it’s another McKenzie who has the more pressing matter. Younger sister Madison has prom coming up and a decision needs to be made.”Sorry I’m late,” says Mark, who slides into a booth at a Buffalo Wild Wings, just miles away from the McKenzie home. “I had to help my sister pick out her prom dress. It’s a big deal, you know?”The same could be said for Madison’s big brother. In the past 12 months, the 20-year-old made his MLS debut, started 18 matches, captained the United States Under-20 team to a first-place finish at the 2018 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship and then earned his first U.S. senior national team call-up. Not exactly normal stuff for someone who still can’t order a beer with dinner.He’s yet to play for the Union in 2019, but McKenzie is expected to start against Montreal on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+). It will be the latest step forward as he prepares for this summer’s Under-20 World Cup.”The last year has been great. There were a lot of ups and downs but it’s been a learning experience,” McKenzie says. “I just wanted to put my head down and do my work, and ultimately, I feel like my play would do the talking and it did. It’s been a whirlwind to keep it all together, but I’m extremely humbled and thankful for what happened last year.”On this night, however, McKenzie is like any U.S. fan experiencing the emotions that comes with watching the national team, this one a late March friendly against Chile. There is praise for Michael Bradley (“Dude, I picked his brain so much during camp”) and Gyasi Zardes (“That first touch bro, how ’bout that?“). But there is also angst when Chile equalizes. (“Argh! Can’t let that happen.”)

One of the biggest takeaway from watching the Chile game with this budding U.S. star is that McKenzie is a true student and lover of the game. He’ll sit there and patiently wait for your reasons as to why Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo while munching on his sandwich, and then counter it with his own in support of the Portuguese superstar.

He’ll also wade into waters that divide much of American soccer. Promotion and relegation? “We need it. We need that incentive so we don’t get complacent.” That night in Trinidad in October 2017? “It was a sad night. So much buildup for a big game and to see it crumble hurt me personally, because I’m part of it in a way.”McKenzie has a passion for other sports, too. His occasional glances at the other televisions in the restaurant reveal as much. The NBA is a favorite, and while he enjoys watching the games, it’s the off-court stuff that really gets McKenzie’s attention. “NBA Twitter, man. It’s so petty! I love it,” he says with a laugh.McKenzie is also a big follower of the NFL. MLS locker rooms boast players from around the world, which means players from overseas make for prime targets when it is fantasy football time. Pity the new foreign arrival who decides to join the Union’s league. “I’ll say, ‘Yeah bro, Ryan Fitzpatrick is a solid choice,'” McKenzie says, drawing laughs from the two Union staffers across the table.Just as easily as McKenzie jokes around, he is sincere on other topics. One such discussion in which he finds himself in the middle is whether he’ll be in Poland this summer with the U.S. at the U20 World Cup. It all depends on the Union releasing him for the tournament, and of course getting selected by head coach Tab Ramos. The look in his eyes shows clearly that McKenzie adores his time with the U20s, fondly recalling the 2-0 win against Mexico in the 2018 CONCACAF Under-20 final.”That game was so much fun, I just kind of sat back and watched Paxton [Pomykal] and Alex [Mendez] run the show,” McKenzie said. “You know, you spend the whole month together, and when you spend that much time together, a bond grows. I talk to a lot of them sometimes on a daily basis. We’ll get on Snapchat and comment on each other’s tweets or Instagram pics. I’m really tight with those guys.”It’s also a situation that has the potential to serve as a headache for Union boss Jim Curtin if McKenzie is not released for the tournament. The last thing anyone wants is for a bridge to burn between player and team.”It has to be what’s best for the Philadelphia Union, what’s best for the national team and most importantly what’s best for Mark at this stage of his development,” Curtin told ESPN FC. “He’s a big part of what the U20s have accomplished, he’s worn the captain’s armband because of his leadership. We need to recognize that it means a lot to him. We’ll see where we’re at as a team health-wise, fitness-wise and where Mark is in the group.”While not making the trip to Poland would be disappointing, McKenzie gives off an air that bigger things are headed his way. Driving that is his unquenchable thirst for knowledge. As the U.S.-Chile match drifts into the second half and the food has been cleared away, the conversation turns to his life away from the field and non-sporting interests.The void of not being in college like many 20-year-olds is being filled by teaching himself French and German. There is also a casual mention that he is learning to play guitar and piano. It’s all very impressive and it doesn’t come off as boastful. If anything, it is spoken with a confidence that reinforces his desire to feed his brain, something that teammates notice daily.”After training he’ll come back and he’ll be like, ‘Remember that situation, you want me to shift over a little bit, you want me to step?’ And we’ll talk through it,” Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya told ESPN FC. “He’s always learning and that’s what you want out of a young guy, always asking questions.”At the dinner table, the conversation is briefly interrupted by sister Madison, who just happened to swing by to say a quick hello. The dress Mark saw is a finalist for selection, and Madison’s date has apparently been properly vetted by big brother — he is a defender, of course.Madison’s cameo is a reminder of the strong bond that exists within the McKenzie family and has emboldened Mark to wield his influence as an emerging African American player in MLS, serving as an ambassador for Future Soccer Stars, a local nonprofit that brings soccer to inner-city kids. When McKenzie is with the kids, he is present in every way: spending time with them, talking or playing soccer.This commitment to community is nothing new, though. If anyone watched McKenzie take part in MLS’ Black History Month roundtable, they found someone who has long thought about what it means to be an African American in this sport.”I’m proud to be black,” McKenzie said. “I think you see so much negativity, so much racism popping up here and there in this game, so if I can stand up and speak for a broader audience, and be a face for those who may not want to or have the courage to speak up, I want to inspire them to raise their voice.”I don’t want it to just be a conversation, I want there to be action. I want to see others involved in stuff like this. Off the field I feel like this is something that we need to be proactive about and that will grow on the field.”As with any international friendly, the number of second-half substitutions has disrupted the flow of the game, and now less attention is being paid to the USA’s fate. Free to head back home to rest up ahead of another day of training, McKenzie instead waits around to make sure that this author and first-time visitor to Delaware isn’t standing by himself while waiting for his ride. It’s a small but thoughtful gesture that encapsulates the positive vibe that McKenzie emits both as a player and a person. The next morning at Union training, Curtin smiles when the previous evening’s activities are retold.”That’s down to how good of a person he is and how good his parents are,” Curtin said. “With Mark, the sky’s the limit. I’m really proud of his accomplishments on and off the field. It’s been fun to watch.”Make no mistake, big things are headed McKenzie’s way for club and country, and even bigger things in life.

 

INDY ELEVEN FORWARD DANE KELLY NAMED USL CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOR WEEK 7

By IndyEleven.com, 04/23/19, 2:00PM EDT

Jamaican striker tops league’s Best XI after notching three goals, one assist across two wins

Indy Eleven forward Dane Kelly has been voted the USL Championship Player of the Week for Week 7 of the 2019 season. Kelly opened his account for the Boys in Blue in grand fashion with three goals and one assist across a pair of road victories against Swope Park Rangers (3-1) and Bethlehem Steel FC (3-0) to help Indy push its winning streak to four games, the best start to a season the Eleven has seen in its six-season history. The 28-year-old continues to lead the Championship all-time scoring charts with 70 career goals to his name.Eleven midfielder Tyler Pasher also earned a nod on the Team of the Week list alongside Kelly, earning an honorable mention tab on the Week 7 chart’s seven-man bench.Kelly snapped a frustrating start to his season – included four hit posts in his first three games – last Monday by factoring into all three goals against Swope Park, notching an assist on Thomas Enevoldsen’s 6th minute goal in between scoring the fastest goal in Indy Eleven history (67 seconds) and a 56th minute insurance tally. Kelly would pass Enevoldsen for the team’s scoring lead on Saturday at Bethlehem Steel FC, scoring his third of the season in the 28th minute to put the Boys in Blue up two early in the eventual 3-0 victory.Kelly received 56 percent of the poll conducted by a national panel of independent media representing every USL Championship market. Austin Bold FC’s Diego Restrepo finished second with 22 percent after recording seven saves over back-to-back shutouts in Bold FC’s victory against Phoenix Rising FC and draw against El Paso Locomotive FC.Kelly earned a slew of accolades at the conclusion of the 2017 season, including being named USL Championship’s Most Valuable Player and was named to the All-League First Team. Additionally, Kelly claimed the 2017 USL Championship Golden Boot after recording 18 regular season goals. The Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica native made his MLS debut for DC United in early 2018. Outside of regular season action, Kelly started at home in United’s fourth round US Open Cup 1-1 draw (4-3 on penalty kicks) against USL Championship’s North Carolina FC.Indy Eleven’s April on the road comes to an end next Sunday, April 28, when the Boys in Blue travel to the shadows of the Big Apple to take on New York Red Bulls II. Indy Eleven’s visit to MSU Soccer Park in Montclair, N.J., is set for a 5:00 p.m. ET kickoff for a match can be seen exclusively via streaming video on ESPN+ (sign-up for a free 7-day trial here).Indy Eleven returns to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday, May 1, at 7:00 p.m., followed by a second home match three days later against North Carolina FC at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available for as low as $15 at IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

The story behind how Kenny Saief swapped Anderlecht for FC Cincinnati

April 25, 20199:29AM EDTTom BogertContributor

 

A few months ago, Kenny Saief wasn’t aware city called Cincinnati existed, much less could he spin a globe and point it out. The creative attacker was still on the books for Belgian giants Anderlecht, his fifth season in the country and second at the club. But things weren’t going as well as they had the four seasons prior. He got hurt, there was an unfavorable coaching change and Saief found himself on the bench all too often.Things are much better in the Queen City.“I didn’t even know there was a Cincinnati to be honest!” Saief told MLSsoccer.com last week with a self-deprecating laugh. “It’s a very nice city, the people here are very friendly. It feels good to be in the city.”Still, FC Cincinnati weren’t Saief’s only option. There was work to be done to ensure that the US international would soon be one of FC Cincy’s most important players. Fans can thank technical director Luke Sassano for getting the deal over the line.“The guy who convinced me was Luke,” Saief said. “I knew there was interest from multiple teams in MLS, but at that point I was focused on staying at Anderlecht. At one point, Luke took a flight over, we had a chat and he convinced me this is the right place. Something inside of me said this is the right choice to take right now.”Saief was born in Miami but spent only the first three years of his life in the country before his parents moved their family to Israel, where he would spend his youth. Saief then joined Gent in 2014 and enjoyed three strong seasons with the Belgian side, earning him a move to the storied club RSC Anderlecht, who have far and away won Belgium’s most league titles. “At the beginning at Anderlecht, it was all good until I got injured,” Saief said. “Things changed with the new coach. I wanted to play, that’s what I like to do, to play soccer. That’s the most important thing, to get my minutes. Once I saw it was difficult, I had a chat with the coach. He didn’t want to let me go but I tried to convince everybody I want to play. They promised me in the future I’d get a chance but I didn’t want to wait anymore.”With Saief ready for a change of scenery, clubs came calling, including more than one from MLS. He had a decision to make.“You can talk to many people, but when you don’t feel this is the right thing between you and yourself, it’s something you won’t do, you know what I mean?” Saief explained. “Something inside me felt good with this move. People tried to talk to me, but when Luke talked to me I felt good. I trusted him. I’m very happy with this choice, hopefully it will keep getting better and better.” In Cincinnati, just as he longed for, Saief hasn’t struggled to get his minutes. Even as the 25-year-old asserts he is still regaining his form and fitness, he has impressed with a goal and two assists across six appearances (four starts). “There’s a lot still to improve,” Saief said. “My level is higher than what I’m showing right now. I believe I can do much more to help the team get more points. It’s the beginning, to get used to the league and the players I’m with, it takes time.” If he is able to continue to raise his level to where he believes he’s capable, a return to the US national team may be on the horizon. In 2017, Saief was selected to Bruce Arena’s provisional Gold Cup roster seemingly out of nowhere. He was not on the radar for casual USMNT fans, having represented the Israeli youth national team at various stops and even earned a pair of friendly appearances with their senior national team.But when America called, Saief had no hesitation about filing for a one-time nationality switch.“At one point I got a call from Bruce Arena, they asked if I was interested to switch,” Saief said. “I said yes, it’s been my dream through my youth to represent the country I was born. Israel also has a big part in my heart, but I wanted to represent the country I was born in. I didn’t doubt this decision.”Could a run of form spark a return to the US national team?“I hope so,” Saief admitted. He added that he hasn’t spoke with USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter yet. “Now, I’m focused on getting my level back step-by-step. It’s an honor to represent your country, I hope I can show the coach that I deserve to be there. I’ll do my best for my team. It’s an honor for every American to represent their country, this is a dream of every kid.”For now, all he can do is focus on himself, his new team and new city. “It’s really nice, it’s a great group and I’m enjoying my time here,” Saief said. “On and off the field, I’m having a great time right now.”

Indy 11 Soccer Camp – Carmel Dad’s Club Badger Field June 17-20 9-12 noon.ages 6-14 $135

CHS Boys Soccer Skills Camp – Murray Stadium July 15-18 8:30-10:30 am ages 8-14 $85

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4/19/19  Champions League Semi-Finals Set, Carmel FC New Indy 11 Goalkeeper Coach, Full TV Game Schedule

WOW what a set of Champions League Quarterfinal results – first Ajax and their magical win over Juventus and then Tottenham with their huge defeat of Manchester City in what some are calling the greatest UCL game ever played with 7 goals and 3 VAR decisions and drama and excitement into stoppage time.   It leaves us with Tottenham vs Ajax on one side and Barcelona vs Liverpool on the other.  Most will consider the Liverpool vs Barca match as the true final – and I for one am looking forward to a 2 leg home and home series to decide the champion rather than a 1 game at a neutral site.  I think like everyone else I just assumed Man City with their billions spent would advance vs Spurs – especially with Harry Kane out – but man did Son show he’s truly world class in leading Spurs to the win.  As for the VAR decisions – I feel the ball to hand goal should have stood – as it was not 100% obvious it went off his hand and it certainly wasn’t a purposeful hand ball.  I also think that last offsides call was mighty, mighty close against Man City.  I still think the offsides rule should be relaxed somehow which would lead to more goals in games.  Anyway – it sets up an exciting set of semi-final games.  Oh and either the Spurs or Ajax is going to make the finals – who would have thought that could happen when this tourney started.

Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr to Coach Carmel FC Goalkeepers

Jordan Farr has signed on to serve as Head Goalkeeping Coach for Carmel FC this season.  Farr is in his 2nd season as a goalkeeper for the Indy 11.  He also serves as GK coach for Indiana Wesleyan.  Farr was a standout goalkeeper for the record-setting 2016 Corban University Warrior team that advanced to the NAIA National Tournament Round of 16 for the first time in program history. He ranks number two all-time in the NAIA with 44 career shutouts, tallying nine during his senior campaign and owns a career goals-against-average of 0.74.  A Portland native, Farr also was all-conference for the Portland Timbers U-23s.  Welcome Jordan!

Indy11Farr

Indy 11

Fresh off a win the Indy Eleven continue their April away swing in USL play this Saturday, April 20, when the Boys in Blue travel to the Philly area to take on Bethlehem Steel FC. The matinee kickoff from Talen Energy Stadium – the home of MLS side Philadelphia Union – in Chester, Penn., is set for 4:00 p.m., and the match can be seen exclusively via streaming video on ESPN+.  Indy Eleven return to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday, May 1, at 7:00 p.m., followed three days later by another home game on Saturday, May 4, against North Carolina FC at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available for as low as $15 at IndyEleven.com/Tickets.

MLS

Huge announcement this week as MLS has announced they will add 2 more teams -probably Sacramento and St Louis and will plan to expand to 30 total teams in a few years.  Of course Indy is on the list but I really don’t think we have the $200 million MLS is asking in expansion fees now.  Sunday features a battle of the top 2 teams in MLS as LAFC will host the Seattle Sounders at 7 pm on FS1 before turning around and playing again next Sun at Seattle.  Cincy has won 2 in a row and will host Real Salt Lake tonight on ESPN+ at 7:30 pm.  Saturday former Carmel High defender Matt Hedges and Dallas travel to defending champs Atlanta United at 4 pm on ESPN while Sunday Wayne Rooney fans get national coverage as DC United, tops in the East, will host NYCFC on ESPN at 4 pm on Sunday.

EPL

With just over a month left in the EPL season – the battle for the top between and Liverpool and Man City and the top 4 between Tottenham, Chelsea, Man United, and Arsenal is heating up big-time.  Man City hosts Tottenham this Saturday with a 7:30 am kickoff on NBCSN.  Then they host Manchester United in a Manchester Derby on Wed at 2 pm on NBCSN.  We get Americans at 12:30 on Saturday as Newcastle United and US Defender Deandre Yedlin will host Southampton at 12:30 on NBC, while on Fox Sports 1 Borussia MGladbach and midfielder Johnson will host RB Leipzig and American DMid Tyler Adams.   Sunday we get Man United traveling to Everton and Liverpool traveling to Cardiff at 8:30 am and 11 am respectively.

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Apr 19

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Cincy vs Real Salt Lake

8 pm ESPN+                                            Toronto vs Minn United

11 pm Uni Desp                                  LA Galaxy vs Houston

Sat, April 20

6:30 am ESPN2                                     Parma vs Milan (Italy)

7:30 am NBCSN                                  Man City vs Tottenham  

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                         Bayern Munich vs Werder Bremen

10 am CNBC                                           West Ham vs Leicester City

10:15 am beIN Sport                          Eibar vs Atletico Madrid

12:30 pm NBC                                      NewCastle United (Yedlin) vs Southampton

12:30 pm Fox Sports 2                    Borussia Mgladbach (Johnson) vs RB Leipzig (Adams)   

1 pm ESPN+                                            Chicago Fire vs Colo

2:30 pm ESPN+                                    Inter vs Roma

2:45 pm beIn Sport                          Barcelona vs Real Sociedad

4 pm ESPN+                                      Bethlehem Steel vs Indy 11

4 pm ESPN                                               Atlanta United vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Columbus Crew vs Portland Timbers

Sun, April 21

8;30 am NBCSN                                    Everton vs Man United

9:30 am FS1                                           Freiburg vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

10:15 am beIN Sport                          Real Madrid vs Athletic Club

11 am NBCSN                                         Cardiff City vs Liverpool

3 pm beIN sport                                  PSG vs Monaco

4 pm ESPN                                               DC United (Rooney) vs NYCFC

7 pm FS1                                                   LAFC vs Seattle Sounders

Mon, Apr 22

3 pm NBCSN                                           Chelsea vs Burnley

Tues, Apr 23

2:45 pm NBCSN                                   Tottenham vs Brighton

Weds, Apr 24

2:45 pm ESPNDes, ESPN3              Werder Bremen vs Bayern Munich German Cup

2:45 pm ESPN+                                    Milan vs Lazio  Italian Cup

3 pm NBCSN                                    Manchester United vs Man City  

Fri, Apr 26

3 pm NBCSN                                           Liverpool vs Huddersfield Town

Sun, Apr 28  

9 am NBCSN                                           Burnley vs Man City

9:30 am FS1                                            Hoffenheim vs Wolfsburg

11:30 NBCSN                                         Man United vs Chelsea  

3:30 pm FS1                                           Seattle Sounders vs LAFC

5 pm ESPN+                          NYRB vs Indy 11

Tues, April 30                                        Champions League SEMI-FINALS

3 pm TNT                               Barcelona vs Liverpool

Weds, May 1                                          Champions League

3 pm TNT                                                  Ajax vs Tottenham

7 pm ESPN+                          Indy 11 vs Tampa Bay Rowdies (Lucas Oil)

Tues, May 7                                            Champions League SEMI-FINALS

3 pm TNT                               Liverpool vs Barcelona

Weds, May 8                                          Champions League

3 pm TNT                                                  Tottenham vs Ajax

Sat, June 1                             Champions League Finals

World

EPL Sprint to the Title Race is On – ESPNFC

Has Liverpools Win over Chelsea Swung Momentum in EPL? World Wrap-Up Gab Marcotti  ESPNFC

Dortmund win again

Champions League

7 Goals, VAR Drama as Spurs Stun City – Was this the Greatest UCL Game Ever? – Mark Odgen ESPNFC

Player ratings: Laporte 3/10 as City’s dream dashed
Manager reaction: Guardiola laments City’s ‘cruel’ exit, VAR calls
Social reaction: Kane, Alli on Tottenham’s unforgettable night

Miller: Liverpool’s ‘ugly’ wins show they’re true contenders

Liverpool player ratings: Mane 9/10, Fabinho 8/10

Juve in Danger or Collapse All Season – Gab Marcotti ESPNFC

Allegri dismisses Juventus exit speculation

De Jong: Ajax should’ve beaten Juve by more

Ajax’s ideals triumph over Juve and Ronaldo’s riches

Inside Ajax’s dream factory: How they produce so much talent

Inside Ajax’s dream factory

Messi is Genius enough for Barcelona to win it All – Mark Ogden ESPNFC

Two-goal Messi ‘unstoppable’ at his best – boss

Solskjaer: Man United rebuild could take years

De Gea gets 4/10 after howler ends Man United hopes

Messi 9/10, Coutinho 8/10 as Barca sweep past Man United

Arsenal and Chelsea win to Advance to Europa League Semis

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview of Sat 4 pm Game @ Bethlehem Steel

Dan Kelly Brace Gives Indy 3-1 Win at Swope Park Rangers Mon

Chaos in the USL – Soc Takes

Indy 11 to Host US Open Cup game at Butler Bowl – SocTakes Kevin Johnston

Indy 11 moving 3 Games during Colts Football Season

3 Things Indy 11 home Win

Indy 11 Win Home Opener In front of Record Crowd – Kevin Johnston – Indy Star

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Season Tickets Just over $100

BYB Away Game Watch Parties Around Town

USA

Gold Cup Groups Unveiled – S&S

US Men to play Venezuela in Cincinatti –Sunday, June 9th

America Coaches Abroad- Harder and Harder for MLS Coaches to Move to Europe S&S

Jesse March, former Red Bulls Coach, to coach FC Red Bull Salzburg

Luna Bar donates over $700K to make Up Women’s pay to equal men’s

US Ladies Celebrate Past and Rout Belgium

Alex Morgan Notches 100th goal vs Australia in 5-3 win

US Ladies Confident blueprint in Place for World Cup

NWSL Week 1 Round-Up

Top NWSL Storylines

MLS

W2W4

MLS to Expand to 30 Teams Jeff Carlisle ESPNFc

MLS Clubs to Receive Solidarity Payments

What does Training Compensation mean for MLS

Power Rankings MLS

GOALIES

Ter Stegen Didn’t Celebrate Messi’s Goal vs De Gea citing GoalKeepers Union  See here

Great Save Szczesney Juve vs  Ajax

Ter Stegan Great Save on CK

TerStagan again

Great PK Save Hugo Loris vs Man City

Official Top Saves Sweet 16 UCL

Top Saves in Sweet 16 UCL

Great Story I found on Seattle GK’s Kasey Keller and Marcus Hennemann – both former US Keepers in  England

Seven goals and VAR drama as Tottenham stun City. Was this greatest UCL game ever?

6:35 PM ETMark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

MANCHESTER, England — It was Pep Guardiola’s Jose Mourinho moment. A late, dramatic winner in a Champions League tie, followed by the victorious manager sprinting down the touchline to celebrate wildly with his players.But then, in the flash of a video screen, it wasn’t.The Etihad Stadium went from raucous noise to mournful silence as Raheem Sterling‘s 93rd-minute hat-trick goal, Manchester City’s fifth on the night, was ruled out — correctly — following a VAR review that ruled that Sergio Aguerohad been offside at the beginning of the move for the goal. It was a tight call, but it was the right one, and Guardiola was forced to sheepishly retreat to his bench, knowing that his team had just two more minutes to score to claim the crucial goal required to eliminate Tottenham and reach the semifinals. Back in 2004, there was no such pin-pricking of Mourinho’s balloon as he celebrated Porto’s late winner at Manchester United — a goal that propelled the Portuguese club to Champions League glory that season. But on this occasion, it was like Guardiola had been abruptly woken from a dream to find himself in a living nightmare. City could not score again and Spurs went through on away goals, with the score tied 4-4 on aggregate.”It is cruel,” Guardiola said. “But it is what it is and we have to accept it.”Once again, City had fallen short in the Champions League. Once again, Guardiola had failed to take his team to the final, having now not done so since guiding Barcelona to victory against Manchester United in the 2011 final at Wembley.But such was the drama of this quarterfinal second leg in Manchester that the events in stoppage time were only a small element of the story of the tie.The damage was done to City in the first leg, when Spurs won 1-0 after Aguero had missed a penalty — awarded by VAR — inside the first 10 minutes. It was also a night that saw Harry Kane — ranked No. 1 among the world’s strikers in the ESPN FC 100 — suffer the ankle injury that threatens to rule him out for the rest of the season and, potentially, the Champions League final.Yet what happened in the first leg was only a taste of what was to come at the Etihad on a night of football madness: a pulsating encounter that will go down as a Champions League classic.City went ahead inside four minutes, leveling the tie on aggregate, when Sterling curled past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris from 12 yards. The Etihad erupted, but within five minutes the home side were 2-1 down with Son Heung-Min — scorer of the only goal in the first leg — netting twice on the counterattack.City now needed to score three more times without response to stay in the Champions League and keep their Quadruple dream alive. Bernardo Silvapulled one back within two minutes of Son’s second to make it 2-2, and it was then 3-2 on 21 minutes after Sterling converted Kevin De Bruyne‘s cross at the far post.Just let that sink in: 3-2 after 21 minutes. This was video-game football, attack versus defence, with attack winning every time. Sterling and Son were running riot, terrifying their direct opponents whenever they had the ball, while De Bruyne was also producing his best performance of the season.But at 3-2, City needed one more goal to go through, and nobody scores more late goals than Manchester City. And the loss of injured Spurs midfielder Moussa Sissoko on 41 minutes, which forced Mauricio Pochettino to change his formation by introducing Fernando Llorente as a lone striker, appeared to play into City’s hands.Spurs were now light in midfield and had lost their biggest strength — pace on the counter — and they began to ship water as the second half progressed. City pushed them deeper and deeper toward their own goal, and the pressure told when Aguero scored from De Bruyne’s pass on 59 minutes to put Guardiola’s team ahead for the first time in the tie.Rather than sit back and play the game out, City went for the kill. One more goal would surely finish Spurs off.But it didn’t come, and then came the first crucial VAR intervention, when Llorente deflected in Kieran Trippier’s corner before Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was called to review it on the video screen by VAR. Cakir took an age, reviewing numerous angles before shrugging his shoulders and awarding the goal, judging that the ball went in off Llorente’s hip rather than his hand. It was the right call.But City still had 17 minutes plus stoppage time to tilt the pendulum back in their favour, and they pushed once again, pouring forward and targeting the byline. The clock ticked on, into stoppage time, until Christian Eriksen’s loss of possession gifted the ball to Aguero, who laid it off for Sterling to score.Guardiola sprinted to celebrate and the Etihad went wild, but VAR had one more card to play. Bernardo Silva’s outstretched leg had diverted the ball toward Aguero and the cold, emotionless VAR once again called a big decision correctly: Aguero was offside and the goal would not count.City would not win and the Quadruple dream was over, for another year at least. The Champions League, the biggest prize of all, continues to elude City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan. Perhaps Guardiola & Co. can take solace in knowing they will get another shot at Spurs on Saturday, in the Premier League.It is Spurs who march on, with a semifinal looming against Ajax — a tie they will expect to win, even without Kane and Son (the latter will miss the first leg through suspension). Pochettino is eyeing Champions League glory, not Guardiola, but the Spurs coach insisted it was all down to his players.”My players are heroes, making the semifinal, making history,” he said. “I am so proud of them. This team has such strong mentality that all is possible.”But to reach a semifinal in the Champions League, you need fate, good spirit, lots of preparation in preseason. It is a long time ago that we started to build this achievement.”UEFA have confirmed the dates for the Champions League semifinals, with Tottenham vs. Ajax first leg on April 30 and Barcelona vs. Liverpool on May 1. Liverpool vs. Barcelona in the second leg is set for May 7, while Ajax host Tottenham on May 8.

Juventus have been in danger of collapse all season long. Against Ajax, it happened

1:19 PM ETGabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Imagine a warning light flashing on your dashboard as you speed down the highway. You know it’s there. You know it’s potentially important but no matter what you do, no matter what tweaks you make, it won’t go away.Welcome to Max Allegri’s view while driving Juve’s team bus. All season long he beat the same drum, even as the side were sailing through their Champions League group and establishing a record-setting pace

We need to play better. We need to dominate the opposition for longer stretches. We can’t be too reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo. We need to show more personality. We need to get out of our comfort zone. This was his message and on Tuesday, chickens came home to roost. Juventus were beaten and thoroughly outplayed at home by Ajax, particularly over the first 25 minutes of a stunning second half, in a 2-1 defeat that dumped them from the Champions League. What struck you most, perhaps, is that over the 180 minutes, Juve generally matched Ajax for the other 155. The problem is that at this level, it’s not about staying in the game and holding your own, waiting for a set-piece or an opponent’s mistake to strike. It’s about being able to raise your game for spells in which you dominate, creating chances repeatedly and snuffing out every reaction before it begins. That’s what Ajax did so well after half-time on Tuesday, with the crowd waiting for a home comeback that never came, and that’s what we’ve rarely seen from Juve this season, at least not against good sides.Think back over the campaign. How many times have Juve played well this season against good sides?

In the Champions League? Atletico Madrid and Valencia at home, Manchester United away. In Serie A? Roma at home, arguably Milan away and Napoli at home back in September. You’ll note that only one of those games took place after Christmas.I know that “playing well” is subjective but there’s still a “know-it-when-I-see-it” eye test. If you’re into something more “objective” how about the xG? Against Champions League opponents Valencia, Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Ajax — yes, I’m excluding Young Boys for obvious reasons — they managed 9.06 Expected Goals and conceded 7.23. Against Serie A’s top six, they fared even worse, with an xG of 9.54 and and an xG conceded of 10.84.Some of us who thought that Juventus could still go deep in the Champions League believed Allegri would fix this, that he’d make the light stop flashing by coming up with something brilliant in the second half of the season. Because let’s face it: it would have taken something brilliant to overcome the Ajax side seen on Tuesday night. This time, he wasn’t able to conjure up the magic.We can drive ourselves mad with microanalysis of the match, decisions made and not made, the impact of Giorgio Chiellini‘s absence and the sluggishness in midfield, Cristiano Ronaldo being too isolated and whatever else. But the bottom line is that Juve’s wage bill is five times that of Ajax. If the resources to perform better — not win, mind you, because Ajax were out-of-this-world, but at least react and not get battered for 25 minutes at home in the second half — are there (and they obviously are) there can be only one of two explanations: either Allegri got it wrong (not just last night, but all season long, given the performances) or this team is poorly constructed.Allegri bears plenty of responsibility, no question. But this is also a team with two right-backs, one of whom can’t attack consistently and one of whom can’t defend. (Put Mattia De Sciglio and Joao Cancelo into one of those machines from “The Fly” and that might do the trick). A midfield where, other than Miralem Pjanic, most players appear as if they’d rather not have the ball, given their tendency to either pass it sideways or simply run with it when they do get it. A frontline with a battle-scarred center-forward who turns 33 in May (Mario Mandzukic) and a would-be “No.10” whose confidence has been thoroughly destroyed over the past 18 months (Paulo Dybala).

People have pointed to Juve’s average age and yes, that’s a concern too. What we saw is pretty much their Best XI — bar Chiellini for Mattia Rugani (which would actually make them nearly a year older) or, possibly, Mandzukic for Dybala (which would also make them older) — and it borders on age 28.Juve president Andrea Agnelli said he disagreed that age was an issue, adding that “apart from Ronaldo, the team that faced Ajax were all young.” Given that nobody was younger than 24 and that six were 28 or older, you can only conclude he has his own definition of “young.” It’s easy to mock Agnelli (I just did) but the reality is that he can’t get too caught up in issues of age for the simple reason that this is no time for a rebuild.Tempting as it may be, and as many are wont to do after this most traumatic exit, to talk about clear-outs and rebuilds, Juve simply can’t do it. They made a very clear choice when they committed some $375 million in wages and fees over four years to Ronaldo. They need to win right now and they built their side accordingly, packing it with pricey veterans. (There’s another one on his way next year in the form of Aaron Ramsey, who turns 29 next season.)  What’s more, they made a $22m loss in the 2017-18 financial year (the one before Ronaldo’as arrival) and while they did show a profit in their half-yearly statement this year ($9m), Financial Fair Play only gives you so much wiggle room.Agnelli understands this and that’s why he knows Juve have to stay the course. He left no doubt that Allegri would be back next season and that he had faith in this group of players. They’ve put a destination in their GPS and chosen a route to get there. It’s too late to find a different way of getting to where they want to be: supertankers don’t do U-turns particularly well.Allegri will still be driving because when you have a team of veterans, shocks to the system can be dangerous and counterproductive. He has six months to get that warning light to stop flashing.

Ajax’s ideals triumph over riches of Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo

6:55 PM ETJames HorncastleItaly writer

TURIN, Italy — It turns out Cristiano Ronaldo is not enough. The Portuguese scored in both legs of Juventus’ Champions League quarterfinal against Ajax. He put the Bianconeri in front at the Allianz Stadium on Tuesday. They wouldn’t even be here without his face-saving hat trick against Atletico Madrid in the round of 16. The 34-year-old kept up his side of the bargain. Ultimately, though, Juventus came up short.What Ajax have achieved is stunning. As Erik ten Hag noted on the eve of the game, “it’s already a big deal to still be in Europe after winter.” Ajax had not reached the competition’s knockout stages in 13 years. They began the campaign in the second qualifying round. When Ajax played Sturm Graz at the end of July, they couldn’t have imagined they would be the first Eredivisie side to reach the Champions League semifinals since PSV in 2005. The game has become so economically stratified since then. Consider the wealth gap. The €112 million Juventus spent on acquiring Ronaldo is €20m more than Ajax’s annual revenues. The team’s wage bill is €4m short of what the five-time Ballon d’Or winner makes before tax.But sometimes ideas trump investment. Ajax deserved to win in Amsterdam a week ago and outplayed Juventus in the second half Tuesday for a 2-1 win and 3-2 aggregate edge. They remain unbeaten on the road in Europe despite going to Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and now Juventus. The feat of coming back from behind in the backyard of a team who are about to become the first in Europe’s top five leagues to win the title for eight straight years is jaw-dropping.

Not least because Ajax did not look themselves in the first half. Six fouls in the first 15 minutes stopped either team getting into a rhythm. Frenkie De Jong‘s influence was initially more limited than it had been in the first leg, perhaps because of the muscle injury he sustained at the weekend, and the early loss of Noussair Mazraoui to injury meant Ajax were without either of their first-choice full-backs with Nicolas Tagliafico also missing the game through suspension.Ronaldo’s goal came just as Ajax were beginning to build some pressure, too. Teams of lesser character would have resigned themselves to their fate, thinking this is just the way it is. Ronaldo has scored 65 goals in 78 knockout games. He has wn this trophy four times in the past five years. This is what Madrid were missing when Ajax dumped the holders out of the competition last month.But Ten Hag’s players never let any doubt creep into their minds. That in itself is astonishing. Ajax are the youngest side in the competition. Legs are supposed to tremble under this kind of pressure. But this team didn’t waver an inch. Before kickoff, Juventus’ vice president Pavel Nedved was asked what stood out to him about their opponents in Amsterdam. “I was surprised by the

That composure came to the fore again Tuesday. Ajax got back level within six minutes of going behind. A deflected Hakim Ziyech shot found its way to Donny van de Beek, who didn’t look up to check whether he was onside or not, focusing solely on beating Wojciech Szczesny. The flag stayed down, as it should in today’s VAR era, correctly too because Federico Bernardeschi, late to step up, played the Dutchman onside.A different Ajax emerged after the interval, the one we’ve become accustomed to over the course of this season. It was as if they’d overcome whatever had been inhibiting them in the first half. It was as if they realised there ws nothing to be afraid of.They proceeded to cut Juventus to shreds. Were it not for Szczesny, the Old Lady’s man of the match, the defeat would have been heavier. The Poland international needed a strong left hand to repel a Ziyech shot and then tipped a Van der Beek curler over the bar with his right. Like Ronaldo, he cannot be blamed for Juventus’ elimination.In the moments before Matthijs de Ligt‘s towering header, it looked as if Ajax might be found guilty of attempting to walk it in. Dusan Tadicand Ziyech both passed when they had ample time to shoot, letting Juventus’ defenders off the hook. But their 19-year-old captain — just let that sink in for a moment — ensured Ajax left with no regrets, emulating Gerrie Muhren, who scored the decisive goal in the Dutch side’s last win over Juventus 45 years ago.And so the dream lives on. Ajax are in the semis for the first time since 1997.This wasn’t supposed to happen. The best team they’d had in years was picked apart two seasons ago. Just the Europa League final in Stockholm felt like a fairy tale in the modern game. No one thought Ajax would be back and do even better. Davinson Sanchez and Davy Klaassen left for the Premier League. Last summer, Justin Kluivert decided it was time for him to go to Serie A.The rest made a pact to stay together one more year, curious to see what might happen if they realised their potential. It’s fair to say they have exceeded all expectations. In the next round Ajax will play Spurs — a team consisting of alumni like Toby AlderweireldJan Vertonghen, Sanchez and Christian Eriksen— or Manchester City, whose coach Pep Guardiola learned everything he knows under Johan Cruyff.Whatever happens, Ajax will have great cause to be proud. It is the triumph of their idea.

Premier League sprint to the finish: Title race, Champions League chase, relegation battles in focus

Apr 16, 2019Dale Johnson  Mark Ogden

The Premier League season is set for a frantic conclusion at both ends of the table, with the battles for the title, top four and relegation set to go down to the wire.With permutations updated after each game, we run through what is left to play for and ESPN FC senior writer Mark Ogden offers his thoughts and predictions.- Premier League table

RACE FOR THE TITLE

  1. LIVERPOOL (85 points from 34 games)

Still to play: Cardiff (a), Huddersfield (h), Newcastle (a), Wolves (h)

The late victory over Southampton sent Liverpool back to the top of the table, though with a game extra played. The home match against Chelsea, which turned into a 2-0 home win with a brilliant Mohamed Salah goal, was their toughest test remaining but Jurgen Klopp’s men must remain perfect from here on out in order to be top of the pile on May 12.

Ogden: Liverpool are beginning to display the never-say-die spirit that could take them all the way to the title. Having dispatched Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday in what could have been a real nightmare, Klopp’s team look set to win all their remaining games to turn the screw on Manchester City.

  1. MAN CITY(83 points from 33 games)

Still to play: Tottenham (h), Man United (a), Burnley (a), Leicester (h), Brighton (a)

After a good win away at Palace, the title is still City’s to lose, and the key would seem to be the back-to-back matches at home to Spurs and away to Man United — which is their game in hand — later this month. But will their attempt to win all four trophies take its toll?

Ogden: City are looking strong in their bid to achieve the Quadruple, but they now face a crucial stretch of league games. Spurs (home) and Manchester United (both away) are dangerous fixtures, and dropped points in any of them will hand Liverpool the initiative. Expect a slip against United.

RACE FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

The top four in the Champions League will qualify direct to the group stage, with fifth and sixth into the Europa League.

  1. TOTTENHAM (67 points from 33 games)

Still to play: Man City (a), Brighton (h), West Ham (h), Bournemouth (a), Everton (h)

Three of Tottenham’s remaining five games are at home at their brand-new stadium, with Brighton among the visitors, so Mauricio Pochettino’s men are still very much favourites to book a Champions League place.

Ogden: Tottenham’s run of games in their new home should be enough to see them finish in the top four, particularly with rivals United and Arsenal losing in recent games. Four more league wins should be enough to secure a top-four spot, so it’s a simple equation: collect maximum points from the remaining home fixtures.

  1. ARSENAL (66 points from 33 games)

Still to play: Crystal Palace (h), Wolves (a), Leicester (a), Brighton (h), Burnley (a)

Arsenal are in a decent position and do not have to face any of the top six, but three of their remaining five fixtures are away and they have only two wins on the road since Nov. 25. A tough Europa League quarterfinal tie against Napoli means the Gunners cannot take their eye off the ball in the Premier League.

Ogden: Arsenal’s poor away form could cost them a top-four finish. They won narrowly at 10-man Watford, but still have to visit Europa League-chasing Wolves and Leicester, as well as Burnley on the final day of the season.

  1. CHELSEA (66 points from 34 games)

Still to play: Burnley (h), Man United (a), Watford (h), Leicester (a)

Chelsea had virtually been written off in the top-four race after defeat at Everton, but three wins on the spin elevated them into third — though the loss at Liverpool ended that run, and they have played a game more than their rivals. The dip in form suffered by Man United and Tottenham in recent weeks opened the door, although the trip Man United later this month will test a side that has shipped 26 goals away from home and lost more matches on the road than Arsenal.

Ogden: Chelsea had at one stage regained a measure of control in their top-four destiny with back-to-back home wins against Brighton and West Ham, but a tough away trip at Manchester United will be huge. The clash with United looks like a top-four eliminator.

  1. MAN UNITED (64 points from 33 games)

Still to play: Everton (a), Man City (h), Chelsea (h), Huddersfield (a), Cardiff (h)

United have three home games left, but back-to-back fixtures against City and Chelsea, after the Champions League exit to Barcelona, could be key. Playing two of the current bottom three in their final matches provides a favourable finale, but their form has gone through the floor.

Ogden: United are playing catch-up after a dip in form, but tough fixtures ahead for Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal give them a chance to reach the top four. They simply have to beat Chelsea at Old Trafford and avoid defeat against Man City, while a trip to Everton will also be very tricky for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.

WEEK 7 – PART 2 | “STEELING” ANOTHER THREE POINTS?

Boys in Blue, Steel FC to face off in second Week 7 matchup

Two of anything is typically better than one. Two beers are better than one. Two corn dogs are better than one. Two Indy Eleven games in one week are better than one. Indiana’s Team faces Bethlehem Steel FC on the road in its second Week 7 match this Saturday afternoon, in what will be the first of two meetings in the 2019 USL Championship season, the return date in Indy coming on Sept. 14.Indy Eleven (3W-1L-0D, 9 pts.) extended its winning streak to three after defeating Swope Park Rangers 3-1 in the first Week 7 matchup on Monday. Forward Dane Kelly had the break out game he’s been striving towards, having his hand (errrrr, feet) in all three goals the last time out, netting twice and assisting on the other for strike partner Thomas Enevoldsen. Kelly’s two goals see him knotted atop the Eleven scoring chart alongside Enevoldsen, and brought his league-career-leading total to 69. The three tallies on the evening brought Indy’s aggregate goals scored to eight in 2019, while the three points earned has the Indiana’s Team resting at a deceptive seventh place in the Eastern Conference table, sitting just three points off the pace of the second-place Tampa Bay Rowdies (12 pts.).Bethlehem Steel FC (3W-3L-1D) looks to return to winning ways after a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Charlotte Independence in their first of two Week 7 matchups on Tuesday, an 80th minute goal from midfielder Chavany Willis not doing enough to plug the holes in the sinking Steel ship. The fixture was the third time in 2019 that the second-highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference was held to one goal or less in its seven games, showing that, when Bethlehem scores it does so in lumps. Meanwhile, the two goals conceded brings the team’s total to 10 goals allowed thus far in 2019. Leading goal scorer Kacper Przybylko (3 goals) did not appear for Bethlehem on Tuesday, but the team’s second highest scorer, Faris Pemi Moumbagna (2 goals), played the full 90 minutes without impacting the game. The loss sees Bethlehem one point ahead of Indy, sitting in fifth place with 10 points.Previous meetings between the sides indicate the matchup should be tightly contested, as the 2018 three-game series resulted in a win for each team followed by a draw in the final meeting.

PLAYER TO WATCH: INDY ELEVEN FW DANE KELLY

In basketball, there’s the hot hand. In soccer, there’s the hot foot? Maybe? Either way, Indy Eleven forward Dane Kelly is certainly heating up after netting twice in the previous match against Swope Park Rangers and creating a goal for Thomas “The Engine” Enevoldsen. The brace is the first pair of goals of 2019 for the 28-year-old after fighting through a difficult start to the season, which included hitting the post four times in his first three appearances.Despite the rough start, the look of relief after the Jamaican striker’s somewhat lucky and skillful first goal and the smirk of confidence after the stunning strike for the second indicate the 2017 USL Most Valuable Player has his swagger back. Cut the guy a little slack for not starting out hot – he went from 27 appearances and 18 goals in 2017 with the Western Conference’s Reno 1868 to one appearance and no goals with Major League Soccer’s D.C. United in 2018 before being loaned to now-USL League One Richmond Kickers, where he made four appearances and scored once. But the form displayed against Swope Park is what Kelly in his prime looks like, a form that the Eleven faithful – and coach Martin Rennie – hope to rely on.

PLAYER TO WATCH: BETHLEHEM DF BEN OFEIMU

One man has played every minute of every match in 2019 for Bethlehem Steel FC. A veteran of course, right? Wrong. Eighteen-year-old Ben Ofeimu, a Steel FC central defender, leads the team in minutes played and most defensive categories, as well. The Philadelphia Union youth product is in his first year on a professional contract, which he signed just four months ago.The rookie has been worth the money, too. The Michigan native leads the backline in clearances, blocks and interceptions, and has only lost one tackle so far in seven games. The lengthy 6-foot-3-inch defender uses his height to his advantage as well, as he’s won exactly half of his aerial challenges. If that wasn’t enough, he’s both scored and assisted this season, too.

MATCHUP TO MARK: INDY ELEVEN DEFENSE VS. BETHLEHEM STEEL OFFENSE

Want to know who scores a lot of goals in the Eastern Conference? Bethlehem Steel FC scores a lot of goals, at least in the Eastern Conference. That number is 12 goals (for those of you wondering), which is the second-most goals scored in the Eastern Conference through Week 7, behind only New York Red Bulls II’s 13 tallies.Time to crunch some numbers. Statistically, Indy Eleven are going head-to-head against the strongest offense in the Eastern Conference. Steel have taken 57 shots, put 26 on target and converted 12 into goals. Having nearly one out of every two of shots on target go in can’t be the most frustrating aspect of the game for Bethlehem Head Coach Brendan Burke. Bethlehem’s offense also plays unselfish soccer, as the side has assisted on seven goals in 2019. Forwards Kacper Przybylko and Faris Pemi Moumbagna will most likely lead the charge up front, as the two are the leading goal scorers on the team with three and two goals respectively.Indy Eleven’s backline, tasked with keeping the two forwards at bay, has conceded five goals in four matches during the 2019 season. The back third has helped ‘keeper Evan Newton keep one clean sheet while technically running a three-back system (although the wingers certainly pitch in on that side of the ball). Indy has enforced a high press to try and keep opponents in check when on the ball and created turnovers in the opposition’s half. It’s hard to give up chances on goal when the other team struggles to keep consistent possession and string passes together in your final third. Neveal Hackshaw, Paddy Barret, Karl Ouimette and Alex Crognale have been the consistent faces featured in Coach Rennie’s back line and can be expected to martial the back third of the pitch come Saturday’s matinee fixture on the banks of the Delaware River. Just because you’re not traveling with the team doesn’t mean you should miss any of the action! All USL Championship 2019 regular season matches are available at your fingertips on ESPN+. New users can click here to start a free seven-day free trial.

RECAP | DANE KELLY BRACE GIVES INDY ELEVEN 3-1 WIN AT SWOPE PARK RANGERS

By IndyEleven.com, 04/16/19, 12:00AM EDT

USL Championship’s All-time Goal Leader Opens His Indy Account with Pair of Tallies

Indy Eleven (3W-1L-0D) returned to USL Championship play in spectacular fashion after a 15-day break with a 3-1 win on the road against Swope Park Rangers (0W-3L-1D). A brace and an assist from Eleven forward Dane Kelly helped extend the winning streak fo Indiana’s Team to three games, resulting in nine points from the team’s first four fixtures of 2019.   “Overall, I think it was a very good team performance and a really good night for us,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “It is really hard for us to go to a team like Swope Park Rangers, who have had a lot of success in the USL [Championship], and have a game like that.”It took only 67 seconds for Indy Eleven to climb on top, Kelly taking advantage of a failed back pass by Swope Park defender Camden Riley to give the visitors a lightning fast lead. Kelly swooped in and rounded Rangers (and ex-Butler Bulldog) goalkeeper Eric Dick with his first touch and with his second rolled home from a tough angle, the Jamaican opening his account with equal hustle and ease.The Boys in Blue doubled their lead not five minutes later, left back Ayoze creating the opportunity with a 30-yard run into the final third and a perfectly-weighted chip to Kelly, who deftly one-touched into the path of Thomas Enevoldsen. Dick got a hand on the Danish striker’s low shot, but not enough of one to keep it from crossing the goal line, the 2-0 Indy advantage within seven minutes quickly putting the home side on its heels. Kelly nearly had a quick brace 11 minutes in, but his chance from 15 yards was sent right to the Rangers ‘keeper.The one-way traffic by Indy would even out around the quarter-hour mark, and Swope Park would earn their first quality chance in the 23rd minute on a set-piece just outside the Eleven area – one that was easily corralled by Eleven goalkeeper Evan Newton.Rangers would get one back in the 26th minute with midfielder Alexsander doing the heavy lifting, his 50-yard run straight up the center of the field ending with a ball that put Wilson Harris behind the Indy back line. One-on-one with Newton, Harris slotted home from left of goal to cut the Indy advantage in half, and it could have been evened up in the 29th minute had Macauley “Macca” King not have swooped across the penalty area to knock away a squared ball headed towards Felipe Hernandez.“We were a little bit late on our pressure a couple of times and they opened up,” Rennie said. “We could’ve reacted a little bit better once that happened, but it was really about one of the only shots they had on goal. Overall, we can’t be too disappointed in that, but there were a couple of things we can learn from.”Indy Eleven would take the momentum back at the half hour, Ayoze again creating havoc in the 31st minute with a ball to the six that Kelly had poked away before he could redirect. Seconds later, Indy midfielder Tyler Pasher lashed a shot inside the area that forced Dick into a save. Swope Park would see the last dangerous chance of the opening half in the 36th minute, but Newton made his finest save of the evening by punching away the in-swinger that found its way to the Indy netminder through traffic.The second half came to life in the 51st minute with Riley trying to atone for his early mistake with a shot from distance that missed a couple of feet past the right post. Two minutes later it was Ayoze helping to put Indy Eleven on the board once again, the Spanish maestro springing a 70-yard ball over the top that put Enevoldsen free on the left end line. The Dane’s cross to the penalty spot was deflected but still found Kelly, who turned and fired home a left-footed rocket to again give Indy a two-goal cushion.“It helps a lot with Dane’s confidence, especially having two goals and an assist on Thomas’ goal,” Rennie commented. “Thomas also scored, so two attackers got three goals between them. It definitely builds confidence and that’s really important for a striker. It nice to see them rewarded for the hard work they’re putting in.”In the 61st minute, Eleven defender Alex Crognale nearly increased the lead with a strong header off a corner, but Dick made a one-handed save, pushing the ball over the bar from point-blank range. The rest of the half saw Indy largely content to drop numbers and keep Swope Park at bay – which largely worked other than shots from distance that Newton had covered regardless. Kelly would have a few chances to finish off his hat trick on counter attacks, most notably in the 85th minute when Dick thwarted the USL Championship’s all-time goal king with a kick save after cutting off the angle.Indy Eleven’s April away swing continues this Saturday, April 20, when the Boys in Blue travel to the Philly area to take on Bethlehem Steel FC. The matinee kickoff from Talen Energy Stadium – the home of MLS side Philadelphia Union – in Chester, Penn., is set for 4:00 p.m., and the match can be seen exclusively via streaming video on ESPN+.  Indy Eleven return to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday, May 1, at 7:00 p.m., followed by a second home match three days later against North Carolina FC at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available for as low as $15 at IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

USL Championship Regular Season
Swope Park Rangers 1:3 Indy Eleven
Monday, April 15, 2019 – 8:00 p.m. ET

Children’s Mercy Park – Kansas City, Kansas
Scoring Summary:IND – Dane Kelly (unassisted) 2’

IND – Thomas Enevoldsen (Dane Kelly) 6’

SPR – Wilson Harris (Alexsander) 26’

IND – Dane Kelly (unassised) 53’

Disciplinary Summary:

SPR – Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal (Yellow card) 30′

IND – Dane Kelly (Yellow card) 33’
IND – Alex Crognagle (Yellow card) 41’

SPR – Jerome Ngom Mbekeli (Yellow card) 61’

Indy Eleven lineup (5-3-1-1, L–>R): Evan Newton (GK); Ayoze Garcia, Neveal Hackshaw, Alex Crognale, Paddy Barrett (C), Macauley King; Tyler Gibson, Nico Matern (Do-Heon Kim 77’), Tyler Pasher (Matt Watson 60’); Thomas Enevoldsen; Dane Klly (Alioune Diakhate 88’)Indy Eleven Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Lucas Farias, Mitch Osmond, Karl Ouimette
Swope Park Rangers lineup (4-1-4-1, L–>R): Eric Dick; Alexsander, Camden Riley, Graham Smith (C), Mark Segbers; Wan Kuzain (Ayyoub Allach 78’); Jerome Ngom Mbekeli, Gedion Zelalem, Felipe Hernandez, Killian Colombie (Will Little 68’); Wilson Harris (Sean Karani 45+1’)Swope Park Rangers Substitutes: John Pulskamp (GK), Mohammed Abualnadi, Kaveh Rad; Rassambek Akhmatov

Indy Eleven to host USOC match at Sellick Butler Bowl

April 17, 2019by Kevin Johnston  www.Soctakes.com

INDIANAPOLIS — After hitting the road and losing to vastly inferior competition in the past couple editions of the U.S. Open Cup, the Indy Eleven have decided it’s time to take one of the oldest soccer competitions on the planet a little more seriously.The Eleven will host a 2019 U.S. Open Cup second-round match at the Sellick Bowl on the campus of Butler University, the team announced Wednesday. The winner of the May 8 first-round clash between NPSL side AFC Ann Arbor and Lansing Ignite of USL League One will visit Indy either May 14 or 15 at a to-be-determined time.

It’s unclear if the Eleven, should they win their second-round game, will attempt to host their third-round match in Indianapolis as well. Such a scenario seems plausible, though the team’s Wednesday release didn’t state such.The 22 clubs that advance to the third round will all play May 29. MLS teams enter in the fourth round.If history is any indicator, Indy supporters should welcome the return to the club’s past USOC mindset, one in which spending a few extra bucks almost always turned out more positively than being a miser.In 2017-18, Indy — unwilling to take on the additional costs associated with hosting a USOC match — settled for away dates for its USOC entry-round matches. The results were utterly embarrassing.Indy flamed out on the road against the Michigan Bucks 1-0 in the second round of the 2017 tourney. And in 2018, Indy again fell 1-0 to an amateur side in the second round, this time venturing south to get eliminated by Mississippi Brilla FC.Things have generally gone far, far better for the Eleven in the USOC when hosting through the third round. They lost at home 2-nil to Louisville City FC in the third round of the 2015 tournament, but advanced to give MLS sides a run for their money in their own buildings in the fourth round on two other occasions after hosting and winning home matches to get there.In 2014, Indy lost 2-1 in the fourth round at Columbus Crew SC. Two years later, the Chicago Fire had to go to penalties to sneak by the Eleven after their fourth-round matchup yielded a 1-1 scoreline after 90 plus extra time.The moral of the story: Mostly good things occur when the Indy Eleven host mid-round USOC matches, and rather humiliating things tend to happen when they don’t. The Eleven will certainly hope for the former when they take the pitch May 14 or 15 at the Sellick Bowl.Stay tuned for more information on Indy’s opponent, the exact date and kickoff time in the second round of the 2019 U.S. Open Cup.

MLS to expand to 30 teams; St. Louis, Sacramento to make formal bids

8:43 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

LOS ANGELES — MLS intends to expand to 30 teams, with teams 28 and 29 requiring an expansion fee of $200 million, commissioner Don Garber announced Thursday following a Board of Governors meeting.Garber said the board had authorized his office to advance into exclusive discussions with St. Louis and Sacramento with an eye toward those two cities being the 28th and 29th teams.MLS currently has 24 teams and has already confirmed expansion teams in Austin, Miami and Nashville to join the league in the coming years.”In the last 10 years we’ve been experiencing unprecedented growth for a major league in North America,” Garber said. “Expansion has been a key driver of that growth, and it really is a great measure of the enormous enthusiasm and the commitment that our fans have in markets both new and old to support our league and our players and to see the sport grow.”Garber said the ownership groups from both cities will make formal presentations to the league’s expansion committee in the coming weeks. Part of the process will involve getting to know the respective ownership groups, both of which have investors who are relatively new to the process. Garber hopes a final decision on both cities would be made before the All-Star Game in Orlando in late July.”We’ll be asking them for their formal and final plans for a commitment of corporate support, the final composition of their ownership group, and detailed economics on their funding of both their team operations and their stadium plans,” Garber said.While the league has said at times that it would stop expanding at 28 teams, the announcement was not a surprise. Garber said the strength of the Sacramento and St. Louis bids was part of what drove the Board to decide to expand to 30 teams.Sacramento’s hopes of landing a team were boosted in January when billionaire Ron Burkle became the new lead investor in the Sacramento Republic soccer team. The team currently plays in the second-tier United Soccer League.Burkle is a co-owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins with a net worth estimated at $2 billion by Forbes magazine.The St. Louis group includes World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh and the Taylor family, owners of the rental car company Enterprise Holdings.In a statement released Thursday, the Sacramento Republic said: “Today is a monumental step in the process and we are closer than ever to reaching our goal of bringing Major League Soccer to Sacramento. There isn’t a better fit for MLS than our city, and today’s announcement is a testament to the strength of Sacramento’s bid, and most importantly, to the faith and devotion of Republic FC fans. We will continue our ongoing communication with the Commissioner and with MLS and look forward to finalizing all next steps to deliver MLS to Sacramento.”In terms of the number of teams at which the league will stop expanding, Garber didn’t commit to a definitive number.”I don’t know that we have a firm handle yet on what the final number of teams in the league ought to be,” Garber said. “We have a lot of work to do to determine what the future state of MLS is in 10 years and in 20 years. We continue to believe that there are many, many cities across the country that could support an MLS team, with a great stadium and a great fan base and great local ownership that will invest in the sport in their community.”Garber added that MLS will “take our time” on team 30, though it remains in discussions with the likes of Phoenix, Las Vegas, Detroit and Charlotte.”We don’t want to be unbalanced, but at the same time I think we do need to take a bit of a deep breath and onboard the teams that are going to be coming in over the next number of years,” he said.Garber lauded the bids of Sacramento and St. Louis but also stressed that both ownership groups still had work to do. Garber said that Sacramento needed to finalize its corporate sponsorship as well as some elements of the stadium plan. St. Louis needs to finalize its stadium plan as well, but Garber’s expectation is that both cities will get their respective bids over the line.”I’ve got confidence in both markets,” Garber said. “We wouldn’t be here today without the confidence of our ownership group to try to put all the elements in place to give them the opportunity to finalize the deal.”

MLS clubs to receive solidarity payments after league agrees to follow FIFA rule

7:55 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Major League Soccer clubs will be compensated for the costs of developing players from its youth academies who opt to sign their first professional contract with foreign clubs after the league announced on Thursday it will begin complying with FIFA regulations relating to training compensation and solidarity payments.The decision means MLS clubs will now receive compensation for players they develop, which could reach well into six figures. They will also receive a cut of transfer fees when those players are transferred to clubs in a different country. Conversely, MLS clubs will have to pay these fees to foreign clubs when it pays a transfer fee for incoming players.”We have been making increasing investments in youth development, and that investment has accelerated over the past few years,” said MLS executive vice-president of player relations and competition Todd Durbin of the announcement. “We intend on continuing to make that investment and we want to grow that investment. But in the event that a player that we developed decides to sign overseas, we believe that we should be able to recoup the value of that investment.” Solidarity payments are paid whenever a player is transferred to another club prior to the end of their contract, and that transfer involved moving to another country — a “change of association” in FIFA, according to world soccer’s governing body.Five percent of the transfer fee is paid to the youth clubs responsible for the player’s development between the ages of 12 and 23. The rules also stipulate that when a player signs their first professional contract with a club in a foreign country, or is transferred to a club in a different association, the professional club is obligated to pay training compensation to the youth clubs that developed the player between the ages of 12 and 21. Training compensation is also due when a player is transferred to a club in another country up until the season of his 23rd birthday.

Q&A: What does the decision mean for MLS clubs?

Not everyone is happy with the move by MLS, however. The MLS Players Association, as well as the players’ agents, view training compensation and solidarity payments as a glorified tax whose amounts have the potential to kill deals.In a statement provided to ESPN FC, the MLS Players Association said the league’s announcement was “a step backward for the development of soccer in the United States and Canada” and called it an effort by MLS to inhibit player choice.”Despite claims to the contrary, this move is not about improving youth development,” the MLSPA said. “Rather, it is simply about trying to force players to sign with MLS by limiting opportunities abroad.”The MLSPA added: “The fact that training compensation and solidarity payments are paid elsewhere in the world under applicable FIFA regulations is an indefensible justification for MLS’s change in position on these issues. The league routinely ignores regulations that protect players under contract with MLS — like those requiring guaranteed contracts, prohibiting unilateral options and limiting the length of contracts — yet is now attempting to rely upon these same regulations to limit opportunities for players in youth academies.

“We will review these changes, including the Consent Decree entered into by the U.S. Federation on this subject, and will explore all of our options with other stakeholders.”The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) had forbidden the implementation of training compensation and solidarity payments, which FIFA introduced within its Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) in the aftermath of the 1995 Bosman decision that granted free agency to players at the end of their contracts.Among their reasons were fears that RSTP violated child labor laws or would result in litigation on anti-trust grounds by various stakeholders, including the MLS Players Association. The USSF had also in the past contended that a consent decree contained in the court case Fraser vs. MLS — which stipulated that MLS would not require a transfer fee to be paid for out-of-contract players — prevented it from enforcing RSTP.The USSF contends that at a meeting of stakeholders in 2015, opposing viewpoints among youth clubs, professional leagues, and players’ unions left the organization caught in the middle.”Since that time, U.S. Soccer has maintained a position of neutrality on the issue of training compensation and solidarity payments and, accordingly, will not be a party to enforcement of those regulations,” a USSF spokesperson told ESPN FC.The spokesperson added, “We will, however, continue to pass through any claims made by clubs as required by FIFA regulations. This position remains the same regardless of the affiliation of the club making the claim.”The decision is a philosophical shift for MLS and could amount to a considerable financial benefit for its clubs. MLS has never paid or received training compensation and solidarity payments. But as the league’s clubs began developing their own youth academies — investing tens of millions of dollars annually — it ran into situations where academy products were signing their first professional contracts with foreign clubs. Elsewhere in the world, the academy would have been compensated, but because RSTP was not adhered to in the U.S., the MLS clubs received nothing in return.One example came in 2016 when current U.S. international Weston McKenniespurned his youth club, FC Dallas, to sign with Bundesliga side Schalke 04. The money invested in McKennie’s development was never recovered and the deal removed some incentives for Dallas to make investments in youth development, leaving some clubs questioning MLS’s overall commitment to youth development.Deals like McKennie’s will not be reexamined by MLS, but if McKennie is transferred to a team outside of Germany, Dallas — and not MLS — would be eligible to receive the entire solidarity payment as a return on player development.t while MLS is set move forward in the area of training compensation and solidarity payments, the future is less certain for U.S. youth clubs that operate outside of MLS.In recent years, some clubs had taken the matter of solidarity payments to FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC). A case involving the 2014 transfer of U.S. international DeAndre Yedlin from the Seattle Sounders to Tottenham Hotspur sparked a filing from one of Yedlin’s youth clubs, Crossfire Premier. A decision on the case is expected in the coming days.Two other cases — one filed by the Dallas Texans regarding Clint Dempsey‘s 2013 transfer from Tottenham to the Seattle Sounders, and another from Sockers FC Chicago regarding Michael Bradley‘s transfer from Roma to Toronto FC in 2014 — were denied by FIFA’s DRC last month, for reasons that weren’t made public.

Summer Camps – 

Indy 11 Soccer Camp – Carmel Dad’s Club Badger Field June 17-20 9-12 noon.ages 6-14 $135

CHS Boys Soccer Skills Camp – Murray Stadium July 15-18 8:30-10:30 am ages 8-14 $85

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3/26/19  USA vs Chile Tonight 8 pm ESPN2, Indy 11 home Sat 7:30 pm, Full TV Game Schedule

So the US is 3-0 under new head coach Gregg Berhalter with 3 shutouts.  I think we will learn a lot tonight as the US will finally face a seriously offensive squad in Chile.  I am sad to see Adams has gone home and the coach plans to play new players tonight. I was excited to see Brooks and Long together in the middle against a real offense.  Hopefully we’ll see Ream on the left again playing a role he has also played with Fulham in the altered 3 man defense. I thought the US dominated play vs a good Ecuador team – and had by far the most chances.  Lots of combo passing up front – I thought Pulisic was just ok – but did have a chance to score. Hugely sad to see Weston Mckinney get hurt – man – just devastating he might miss the rest of the German season – hopefully he’ll be back for Gold Cup.  Man I still think about Adams and McKinney in the middle holding down the d-mid spots.  Anyway – I think you can see the new coach has a plan and is still trying to implement it.  So far – so good.

Sad to see the U23s went 1-1 this past weekend – Weah and Sargent up front for that team is huge.  I really hope they qualify for the Olympics – and perhaps Tyler Adams, McKinney and even Pulisic could perhaps join them next summer.  Wow that would be good for this young group.  Anyway USA vs Chile tonight – 7:55 pm on ESPN2.

Indy 11

Our Indy 11 got a huge 3-2 win at Charlotte this past weekend.  The 11 are at Lucas Oil Stadium this Saturday night 7 pm vs Hartford Athletic for the HOME OPENER- Get your season ticket package today by visiting IndyEleven.com/season-tickets or by calling 317-685-1100 for those first game tickets!

Indy11_youthrefclinic

USA

Building Blocks On Display vs Ecuador –Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

U.S. Player Ratings: Adams adapts seamlessly to new role 

Zardes Deflected Goal Gives US the win over Ecuador

Gonzalez & Etha Horvath (GK) look to make impression

Jason Kreis takes over U-23s job make the Olympics

Kreis Excited to be with U23s – US Soccer

Bright Futures for U20 and U23 teams

U23’s lose to Egypt 2-0

U 23s tie Netherlands 0-0

US Men’s Schedule this Summer

US Ladies 24 for April 4 & 7 Friendlies vs Australia/Belgium

WNT HEAD COACH JILL ELLIS’ Q&A

Indy 11

3 Things win over Charlotte 3-2

Indy 11 Win 3-2 @ Charolotte

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Season Tickets Just over $100

BYB Away Game Watch Parties Around Town

GAMES ON TV

Tues, Mar 26

2:45 pm ESPN3                                    Czech Republic vs Brazil

2:45 pm ESPN3                                     Norway vs Sweden

8 pm ESPN 2                                          USA vs Chile

Fri, March 29

3:30 pm FS2                                          Hoffenheim vs Bayer Leverkusen

Sat, March 30

8:30 am NBCSN                                    Fulham vs Man City

10:30 am Fox Soccer                        Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Wolfsburg (Brooks)

11 am NBCSN                                        Man United vs Watford

1 pm EPSN+                                            Chicago Fire vs NY RB

1:30 pm NBCSN                                   West Ham vs Everton

1:30 pm Fox Sports 2                          RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Hertha

6:30 pm ESPN+                                     Cincy vs Philly

7 pm MyIndyTV, ESPN+      Indy 11 vs Hartford Athletic

Sun, March 31

9  am NBCSN                                          Cardiff vs Chelsea

9 am ESPN news                                  Roma vs Napoli

9 am FS 1                                                Hanover vs Schalke

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Liverpool vs Tottenham

1 pm EPSN+                                            Chicago Fire vs NY RB

6:30 pm FS 1                                         Orlando vs DC United

9 pm ESPN2                                            LA Galaxy vs Portland

Mon, Apr 1

3:30 pm NBCSN                                   Arsenal vs NewCastle United (Yedlin)

Tues, Apr 2

3:30 pm NBCSN                                   Wolverhampton vs Man United

Wed, Apr 3

2:45 pm ESPN+                                    Schalke vs Werder Bremen (Sargent)

3:30 pm NBCSN                                   Man City vs Cardiff

3:30 pm beIN Sport                            Valencia vs Real Madrid

Thurs, Apr 4

3:30 pm FS 1                                     USA Women vs Australia

Fri, Apr 5

3:30 pm NBCSN                                   Southampton vs Liverpool

10 pm ESPN+                                         Vancouver vs LA Galaxy

Sat, April 6

12:3o pm ESPN+                                  Man City vs Brighton  FA Cup

1 pm EPSN+                                            Chicago Fire vs NY RB

1:30 pm NBCSN                                   West Ham vs Everton

12:30 pm Fox Sports 2                    Bayern Munich vs Dortmund (Pulisic)  

3 pm FOX                                            DC United vs LA FC

Sun, April 7

9 am NBCSN                                           Everton vs Arsenal

11 am ESPN+                                         Watford vs Wolverhampton FA Cup

1:30 pm NBCSN                                   West Ham vs Everton

12:30 pm Fox Sports 2           Borussia MGladbach (Johnson) vs Werder Breman (Sargent)

3 pm ESPN                                               Cincy vs Sporting KC  

9 pm ESPN2                            USA Ladies vs Belgium

Tues, April 9                                           Champions League

3 pm BRLive/Univision Desp      Liverpool vs Porto  

3 pm TNT                                           Tottenham vs Manchester City

Weds, April 10                                     Champions League

3 pm TNT                                           Man United vs Barcelona

3 pm  BRLive/Univision Desp     Ajax vs Juventus

 

United States’ McKennie expected to miss rest of Bundesliga season – source

n examines the challenges facing Gregg Berhalter’s team and the struggles of Christian Pulisic. (1:45)

2:17 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

United States and Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie is expected to miss the remainder of the Bundesliga season with a left ankle injury suffered in the U.S.’s 1-0 friendly victory over Ecuador on Thursday, a source has told ESPN FC.McKennie, 20, left that game in the 68th minute and was later ruled out of this week’s friendly against Chile with what Schalke on Monday called a “ruptured” ankle ligament.U.S. Soccer’s description of the injury on Monday was not as ominous, however, stating that McKennie suffered a “moderate to high degree left ankle sprain” and was expected to “miss several weeks.”The former FC Dallas Academy product saw a specialist in Houston over the weekend. No fractures were found, though a source with knowledge of the injury said the midfielder is expected to be out eight weeks.That timeframe would see McKennie miss the remainder of the Bundesliga season but should allow him to take part in this summer’s Gold Cup.”I think with these injuries you take it week by week in terms of it being an ankle injury and the severity,” said U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter. “We’re confident that [McKennie is] going to recover in a good way.”The language of Schalke’s release versus our release is semantics. I think it’s an ankle sprain. There’s some ligament damage, and you wait for the ligaments to heal. You start doing your rehab now; he can start biking, doing pool running now, and he can get there. He’ll recover.”McKennie has returned to Germany for treatment.

Tyler Adams adapts seamlessly to new role in 8/10 showing as U.S. beats Ecuador

Jason DavisU.S. soccer writer

In the first match under Gregg Berhalter with the full squad available for selection, the United States found an unlikely goal against Ecuador in an encouraging, but somewhat frustrating, 1-0 victory Thursday in Orlando, Florida.

Positives

With a plan clearly in place through Berhalter’s direction, the U.S. looked cohesive and prepared. The Americans dominated possession, controlling the ball and the pace of the game for the bulk of play. They were proactive and aggressive, pushing up against Ecuador’s low block in a bid to break through.

Negatives

With the South Americans unwilling (or unable) to venture forward, the United States largely lacked the final product necessary to create clear-cut chances. The lone goal of the evening can only be termed a fluke, but it did come from a player’s willingness to take a shot — something the U.S. lacked otherwise.

Manager rating out of 10

6 — The good of the night can mostly be chalked up to Berhalter installing a system and sending out his charges with a clear idea of how to execute that system. While the match was important as a measure of progress, it was still a friendly; that makes it difficult to judge Berhalter fairly with the limits of a noncompetitive environment and an opponent who refused to engaged.

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

GK Sean Johnson, 6 — Asked to do very little but serve as a passing outlet at the back. Made zero saves on the night, passed the ball smartly as the Americans looked to build out of the back.

DF Tyler Adams, 8 — Adapted seamlessly to the “flex” role created by Berhalter. Played a conservative first 15 minutes before proceeding to roam across the field. Excellent with the ball at his feet, excellent defending, absolutely tireless.

DF Aaron Long, 8 — Among the best players on the field for the Americans. Strong in one-on-one defending when called upon, used speed to cover for space left by Adams roaming out of the right-back position.

DF John Brooks, 7 — Made key passes from the back, aided in cutting out lines and advancing the Americans up the field in attack. Smart and clean with defending. Missed three passes all night.

DF Tim Ream, 6 — Minus a late bobble that nearly gifted Ecuador a goal, played as a smart and effective stay-at-home left-back. Understood the role in a shifting line, with the caveat that a better team might have exploited a lack of foot speed.

MF Wil Trapp, 7 — Pulled all the strings from a deep-lying position, playing smart passes over the course of 59 minutes. Dropped the ball over a packed-in defense when needed, benefited from defensive help in midfield.

MF Weston McKennie, 5 — Forced off due to a silly challenge that ended with an injured ankle. Good in the air but otherwise too loose with the ball. Mobile and committed on the defensive side of the ball.

MF Christian Pulisic, 5 — Playing with a high bar based on his importance to the attack, he was moderately effective, with a few moments of good play mixed with wastefulness and a tendency to give the ball away.

FW Paul Arriola, 5 — Industrious up and down the left flank. Lacked the final ball to make that work count.

FW Jordan Morris, 4 — His night was marked mostly by poor moments and indecisiveness. Lost his mark in abetting Ecuador’s best chance, passed up numerous opportunities to take defenders on one-on-one from the right wing.

FW Gyasi Zardes, 5 — Benefited from a deflection on the goal but made the moment happen. Limited as part of the attack. Had a few good touches.

Substitutes

MF Michael Bradley, 5 — Benefited from the game slowing down and Ecuador being content to sit back. Not perfect with the ball, but clean enough.

MF Sebastian Lletget, N/R — Added energy and aggression after entering. Was willing to check to the ball and add to the defensive pressure.

FW DeAndre Yedlin, N/R — Stayed pinned to the touchline in a limited appearance higher up the field than usually deployed.

MF Cristian Roldan, N/R — Missed several passes, largely because of a desire to play aggressively.

FW Jonathan Lewis, N/R — Provided a few good moments going forward but wasn’t much of a factor as a late substitute.

U.S. win over Ecuador showed players taking ideas on board – Berhalter

Mar 22, 2019Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

ORLANDO — United States men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter said he was proud of his team’s effort in a 1-0 win over Ecuador, even as it struggled to turn its territorial domination into goals.

The home side prevailed on Gyasi Zardes‘ deflected effort in the 81st minute, but the U.S. was in control for much of the night, holding Ecuador to just one shot at goal. Given the U.S. had just three practices beforehand, Berhalter said he was pleased with the performance.

“I credited the guys in the locker room, I said I’m really proud of the effort, I’m proud of the openness to try things and to try to execute the movements,” he said. “And if some of the timing is off, that’s all right. As long as they recognized the moments and are trying to do it.”Ecuador operated out of a low block defensively and tried to hit the U.S. on the counter. And even with Christian PulisicWeston McKennie and Tyler Adamsall making their first starts under Berhalter, this strategy created some difficulty in terms of chance creation for the U.S.The home side did create a great opportunity in the 26th minute, with an intricate exchange of passes setting up Paul Arriola for a clear look at goal, but Ecuador keeper Alexander Dominguez thwarted the resulting shot. And though Wil Trapp was able to release Arriola on a few other occasions, the U.S. was not able to break through for a goal until late.”I thought in the first half we created some good moves, and were able to penetrate around the edge and get the ball in front of goal,” Berhalter said. “We were unlucky not to score with Paul [Arriola] in the first half, and created a number of, I’d say, half chances that should have amounted to more. Overall, I think when you look at the amount of information we’ve given the guys in the last two days, we’re pleased with the performance. It’s a good starting point for this group.”Berhalter added he was pleased with the team’s defensive effort. The center back tandem of John Brooks and Aaron Long was rarely troubled, and when called upon managed to keep Ecuador’s attackers in check.”Overall, our collective defense was good. We didn’t really give them any openings,” Berhalter said. “They couldn’t find penetrating passes. They resorted to long balls and those guys gobbled everything up. I think from a team standpoint, I was happy with the defensive shape, happy with the structure. It was good that our center backs, even when they were up the field, can win every duel that comes out. It was really impressive.”The biggest lowlight of the night for the U.S. came midway through the second half when McKennie fell awkwardly after attempting to head the ball away. The midfielder appeared to sprain his left ankle, though Berhalter said the player would undergo an MRI as well as have X-rays taken.”Everyone feels bad for Weston and the injury, no question,” Berhalter said. “But we realize that’s part of our sport. When you lace up the boots and go out there and compete, there is some injury risk. This was a strange play where he went up for the header and the opponent didn’t go up and challenge, so he bent over and that resulted in Weston tumbling over him and twisting his ankle. We hope that it’s not as severe as it could be, and we’re going to get it evaluated tonight.”Zardes’ goal, coming after an Ecuador turnover and a quick pass forward from U.S. captain Tim Ream, left the U.S. with a better feeling.”We’ve done zero work on offensive transition, and we were able to score in an offensive transition. That was good,” Berhalter said. “But I think on the day, [if] we’re a little bit sharper on some plays, a little bit more precise, then we end up breaking them down. What I really liked from the guys is the effort to continue to try to break then down in a way that we’re giving them.”I thought in the second half we could have operated with more diagonal balls, especially as we got them to shift to one side. Later in the game they dropped Valencia back into a back five to protect that, but that was space we could have exploited a little bit better.”

USSF hires Jason Kreis to take charge of U.S. Under-23s

Mar 19, 2019Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

  • The U.S. Soccer Federation has named Jason Kreis to be the manager of the U.S. Under-23 national team.The appointment means Kreis will oversee the team’s qualification effort for the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo.”Jason’s qualities and experience made him stand out as the best candidate to lead our U23 men’s national team in this important cycle towards the 2020 Olympics,” said men’s national team general manager Earnie Stewart.”The U23s are a meaningful part of our program, and Jason is an experienced head coach with significant success both in league and CONCACAF competitions. His knowledge of the player pool is impressive, and we are confident in his ability to implement the style of play we are building with the senior MNT and throughout our national teams. We appreciate the willingness of Inter Miami CF to allow us the opportunity to take advantage of Jason’s abilities to guide this group.”Kreis, 46, recently joined the technical staff of MLS expansion side Inter Miami FC. He will continue in that role in addition to his new duties with the U23s.Kreis had three stints as a manager with MLS clubs. He spent parts of seven seasons with Real Salt Lake, leading RSL to an MLS Cup triumph in 2009, becoming the youngest head coach in MLS history to do so. All told, he led RSL to six consecutive postseason appearances, as well as a run to the 2013 MLS Cup final. He also spent one season in charge of New York City FC, and parts of three seasons managing Orlando City FC.”It’s a tremendous opportunity,” Kreis said. “It’s an opportunity to be a part of a new system under the leadership of Gregg Berhalter and Earnie Stewart leading the national team the way that they are. It’s an opportunity to work with the country’s brightest young stars, and it’s an opportunity to represent your country. In my opinion, that’s the highest honor of all.”Kreis will lead the U23s at its training camp this week in San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain. The U23s are slated to take on Egypt on March 22 and the Netherlands on March 24.The camp marks the beginning of a long journey to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, with Kreis aiming to guide the USA to qualification for its first men’s Olympic football tournament since 2008.

U.S. U-23 MNT Roster by Position (Club; Hometown):

GOALKEEPERS: Jonathan Klinsmann (Hertha BSC/GER; Newport Beach, Calif.), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes; Alamo, Calif.)

DEFENDERS: Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; Lompac, Calif.), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City/WAL; Southend-on-Sea, England), Marco Farfan (Portland Timbers; Portland, Ore.), Jack Maher (Indiana; Caseyville, Ill.), Matthew Olosunde (Manchester United/ENG; Trenton, N.J.), Donovan Pines (D.C. United; Clarksville, Md.), Lucas Pos (FC Lausanne-Sport/SUI; Irvine, Calif.), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic/ENG; Milton Keyes, England), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United FC; Arlington, Mass.)

MIDFIELDERS: Derrick Jones (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Penn.), Cameron Lindley (Orlando City SC; Carmel, Ind.), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire; Lemont, Ill.), Keaton Parks (New York City FC; Plano, Texas), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers; Alexandria, Va.), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; St. Paul, Minn.)

FORWARDS: Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers; Bethesda, Md.), Josh Perez (LAFC; La Habra, Calif.), Emmanuel Sabbi (Hobro IK/DEN; Columbus, Ohio), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; O’Fallon, MO), Tim Weah (Celtic FC/SCO; Rosedale, N.Y.), Haji Wright (Schalke/GER; Los Angeles, Calif.)

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