9/14/21  Champions League is Back Tues/Wed, Ronaldo Scores 2 in 1st Man U game/US beats Honduras Tix Avail in Columbus, USWNT Thur 7:30 ESPN2  

The greatest club competition is back as Champions League is back this week on Wednesday after some big games on Tues.  Man United was upset on the road by Young Boys on the road as American USMNT forward Jordan Pefok scored the latest goal by an American in Champions League to win 2-1 in stoppage time.  United played with 10 men for the last 60 minutes of the match as Wan-Bissaka’s 35th minute Red Card sent him off.  Ronaldo scored in his 2nd straight game – but his 1 goal was not enough for the win as he came off early.  Looking ahead to Wed’s game – I have the full line-up of games below/on the ole ballcoach.  I will be watching the golazo show on CBS Sportsnetwork as they jump from game to game and show all the goals. Of course all the games will be on Paramount plus- at just $5 per month – I broke down and got my subscription last year.  12 American’s are playing in Champions League – so I will try to keep an eye on them here in the group stages. 

USMNT Tix Available for Game in Columbus

Of course the US men are feeling better after the huge comeback 4-1 win at Honduras last week where new American forward Ricardo Pepi scored 2 had 1 assist and had a hand in all 4 goals at the #9 – all in the 2nd half.  He along with Center Back Miles Robinson and forward/mid Brendan Aaronson solidified their spots moving forward without doubt!  It was a huge win without Reyna, McKinney, Zardes and keeper Steffan who were all out.  The win puts the US in 3rd place as they return to play in mid October.  In fact tix are still available for the USA vs Costa Rica at Columbus on Wednesday October 13 at 7:30 pm. 

United States Ladies vs. Paraguay

Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

The U.S. women head to Cleveland for their first game post-Olympics. Most of the players from that squad are on this roster, but four are injured: Alyssa Naeher, Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis and Megan Rapinoe. Christen Press also opted out to focus on her mental health.  Andi Sullivan, Sophia Smith, and Mallory Pugh have been called in. Pugh will be in the spotlight, having failed to make the Olympic team due to a drop in form. She has played well in the NWSL for the Chicago Red Stars, and playing well here would help improve her standing with the national team.

USWNT vs. Paraguay (Cincy) Tix Are On Sale Now

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Location: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Time: 7:30 PM ET

Deadline: First-come, first-served

Cute shot I found online Bears – playing soccer

US Men


Young Boys vs Manchester United final score: Undone by an American

USMNT World Cup qualifying: Is the team on track? Berhalter safe?

USA vs. Honduras, 2022 World Cup qualifying: Man of the Match

What the first round of World Cup Qualifying says about the USMNT By Parker Cleveland

USA v Honduras, 2022 World Cup qualifying: What we learned A tale of 2 halves.

USMNT overcome horrendous first half to pick up first World Cup qualifying win at Honduras

Wild window ends with Pepi leading the USMNT to a big 4-1 win in San Pedro Sula

USMNT storms back in Honduras for much-needed World Cup qualifying win

US Women


U.S. Soccer offers men, women identical deals
 
2hJeff Carlisle

USMNT, USWNT asked to equalize WC money

USWNT’s Press to take time out from soccer

Arsenal secure USWNT’s Heath on free transfer

USWNT September friendly roster released

Champions League


UEFA Champions League wrap: Juve, Bayern roll; USMNT’s Brooks sent off

Lewandowski at the double as Bayern outplay Barca again

 


This is it: Messi gets set for PSG Champions League bow

Mignolet takes heart from previous meeting as he prepares to face Messi

PSG boss Pochettino ‘excited’ to see Messi, Neymar and Mbappe


Liverpool face toughest Champions League group, says Klopp

Milan dreaming big ahead of Champions League return at Anfield

Ibrahimovic out of Milan’s Champions League return at Liverpool


Champions League final pain a ‘motor’ for Man City, says Guardiola

Haaland-inspired Dortmund braced for ’emotional’ test at Besiktas

Unpopular Leipzig still no match for Man City, PSG’s petrodollars

Marsch’s Leipzig maybe ‘not ready’ to face Man City


Tuchel tells Chelsea to recreate ‘addictive’ Champions League win

Lukaku fills Chelsea’s striker void

Azpilicueta: ‘We feel stronger’ than UCL champions: Pulisic, Kante injury updates

EPL and World
10 things we learned in the Premier League – Matchweek 4

Three talking points from the Premier League weekend

Ronaldo’s instant impact at Manchester United

Ronaldo’s Return Exceeds Expectations
Pep Guardiola lauds Manchester City win at Leicester


Bundesliga wrap: Haaland, Wirtz star in 7-goal thriller; Bayern rolls Leipzig

Lewandowski strikes again as Bayern sweep aside Leipzig

Young Boys vs Manchester United final score: Undone by an American 

WATCH: Ronaldo’s 1st Man United Champions League goal since 2009

Soccer on TV: The UEFA men’s Champions League group stage kicks off this week

Brenden Aaronson is one of 12 Americans in this season’s men’s UEFA Champions League group stage. He could make his debut in the competition Tuesday.  by Jonathan Tannenwald   Sep 14, 2021

Seattle Sounders v Santos Laguna, 10p on ESPN2, TUDN, fuboTV, Sling TV: Cristian Roldan is likely to feature for Seattle in this Leagues Cup semifinal, while Jordan Morris is back in training. Santos Laguna would normally feature young Mexican-USA striker Santi Muñoz, but he is on loan at Newcastle.

Champions League on Paramount+

Besiktas vs Dortmund

Wed 12:45 pm  Reyna is still out with an injured knee – but his team will start their campaign.  Paramount+)

The Golazo Show

Tuesday and Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET; Thursday, 12:45 p.m. ET. (CBS Sports Network, Paramount+)

Liverpool vs. AC Milan

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET (Paramount+, TUDN.com)

These giants of England and Italy have only ever met in Champions League Finals: 2007, won by Milan, and 2005, won by Liverpool with one of the great comebacks in soccer history. It seems hard to believe that this will be their first-ever meeting between these historic clubs in the group stage.

Inter Milan vs. Real Madrid

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET (Galavisión, Paramount+)

While Liverpool and Milan get reacquainted, Inter and Real will be saying, “Us again?” It’s the second straight season the two meet in the group stage, and Shakhtar Donetsk is in the same group again, too. Inter will not have forgotten that it finished last in the group last season, thanks in part to a 2-0 home loss to Real.

Manchester City vs. RB Leipzig

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET (Paramount+, TUDN.com)

Jesse Marsch’s first Champions League game as Leipzig manager is a beast: a trip to a stacked Man City team that’s among the favorites to win it all this season.

Club Brugge vs. Paris Saint-Germain

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET (Univision 65, TUDN, Paramount+)

PSG signed Lionel Messi to help them win the Champions League, and the entire world knows it. With Manchester City and Leipzig in the same group, both games against Brugge are must-wins. US player Owen Otasowie has made the bench for Brugge once, but has yet to play. They host Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe in their Champions League opener.

CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – MLS vs Mexico 

Philadelphia Union v Club América, 9p on FS1, TUDN, fuboTV, Sling TV: The Philadelphia menagerie of teenage American hopefuls hosts Las Águilas in the CCL semifinal second leg, trailing 0-2 after the reverse fixture at Estadio Azteca. Youngsters include Anthony Fontana, Leon Flach, Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn, and Quinn Sullivan.

EUROPA LEAGUE 

Rennes vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Thursday, 12:45 p.m. ET (Paramount+, TUDN.com)

Harry Kane and Tottenham would much rather be in the Champions League, or even the Europa League. But they almost failed to qualify for the Europa Conference League. Spurs lost the first game of a qualifying playoff at Portugal’s Paços de Ferreira before winning at home in London, 3-0.

Rapid Wien vs. Genk

Thursday, 12:45 p.m. ET (Paramount+, TUDN.com)

Mark McKenzie could get his first taste of the Europa League as Genk travels to Austria’s capital.

Leicester City vs. Napoli

Thursday, 3 p.m. ET (UniMás, TUDN, Paramount+)

In terms of big names, this is the biggest of this week’s Europa League games. A lot of eyes in the U.S. will be on Napoli’s Mexican winger Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, to see if he can lead the Italian visitors to a win in England.

  • Galatasaray v Lazio, 12:45p on TUDN, Paramount+, fuboTV: DeAndre Yedlin and Galatasaray begin their Europa League campaign at home against the Serie A side.
  • Lokomotiv Moscow v Marseille, 12:45p on Paramount+, fuboTV: Konrad de la Fuente and Marseille make the long journey into Russia as they begin Europa League.
  • Real Betis v Celtic, 12:45p on Galavision, Paramount+, fuboTV, Sling TV: Cameron Carter-Vickers scored a nice goal via deflection for Celtic at the weekend. He’ll get his first taste of Europa League action away to Betis, as his parent club Tottenham could only manage the Conference League this season.
  • Rapid Wien v Genk, 12:45p on Paramount+, fuboTV: Mark McKenzie and Genk make the trip to Vienna as they open the Europa League.
  • Brøndby v Sparta Prague, 3p on Paramount+, fuboTV: Christian Cappis and Brøndby were unceremoniously dismissed from Champions League contention by Brenden Aaronson and Salzburg. They now begin Europa League business at home against the Czech side.
  • Roma v CSKA Sofia, 3p: Bryan Reynolds and Roma get Europa League proceedings on their way.

United States vs. Paraguay

Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

The U.S. women head to Cleveland for their first game post-Olympics. Most of the players from that squad are on this roster, but four are injured: Alyssa Naeher, Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis and Megan Rapinoe. Christen Press also opted out to focus on her mental health.

Andi Sullivan, Sophia Smith, and Mallory Pugh have been called in. Pugh will be in the spotlight, having failed to make the Olympic team due to a drop in form. She has played well in the NWSL for the Chicago Red Stars, and playing well here would help improve her standing with the national team.

 

 

USMNT World Cup qualifying roundtable: Team on track? Berhalter safe? Players with stock up / down?

The United States men’s national team finished the opening round of World Cup qualifying on a high note with a win at Honduras after drab draws against El Salvador and Canada. Amid mounting injuries and off-pitch drama, the team learned tough lessons as it seeks to book its spot at Qatar 2022. ESPN looks back and breaks down the big issues.


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How do you feel about the results and the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying position?

Jeff Carlisle: If you’d told me before the start of the window that the U.S. would get five points from El Salvador (away), Canada (home) and Honduras (away), I would have been disappointed. But given where the team was at halftime of last night’s match in San Pedro Sula, being down 1-0 having been outshot 11 to 3, that mark is acceptable. The fact that out of six halves played, the U.S. performed well in only one of them is a concern as the search for consistency continues.

But the U.S. is tied for second place in the Octagonal, and while there are still some issues that have to be sorted out in terms of injuries and personnel, the Americans have a real opportunity in the October window to solidify that position. Seven points from Jamaica (home), Panama (away) and Costa Rica (home) should be the minimum obtained.

7dSam Borden

Kyle Bonagura: Prior to the first game against El Salvador, a five-point window would have seemed disappointing. That perspective changed significantly after the U.S. began the second half of the third match, against Honduras on Wednesday night, trailing 1-0 and on just two points in the standings. A loss to Honduras would have been disastrous; instead the U.S. emerged tied for second in the group (with Canada and Panama), behind only Mexico.

From a points and standings perspective, the U.S. is good shape. The way the team played, however, wasn’t exactly inspiring or confident. Until the four-goal barrage against Honduras in the second half, Gregg Berhalter’s side failed to generate consistent scoring chances, and that lack of ideas is a big reason for concern. Part of that can be attributed to the young team’s lack of familiarity from having rarely played together, but this is World Cup qualifying — there isn’t time to grow as a team; it’s about getting results.

Bill Connelly: It could have been much worse, and until the 75th minute in Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano, it looked like it would be. From a pure math point of view, you probably need to average about 1.7 points per game to feel comfortable about qualification, and if you round up, the U.S. did hit that target.

But considering the level of competition in this trio of matches — no Mexico, no Costa Rica, plus Canada at home — this was a massive missed opportunity for the U.S. to build a bit of a cushion for itself. The Americans eventually wore Honduras down, nabbed three points and cleared the “bare minimum” bar.Dan Hajducky: Honduras victory notwithstanding, there’s still an urge to defy the edict of author Douglas Adams (of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fame) and panic. However lofty the ranking, the U.S. is the 10th-best team in the world according to FIFA. Eking out ties against El Salvador and Canada, being outplayed and outcoached for half a game by Honduras — all ranked 59th or lower — is just not good enough. There’s time to correct course, but can Berhalter do it? Will Berhalter even get to?

This is still the most talented pool the USMNT has ever seen, but right now the results and statistics aren’t really good enough to be in Qatar, let alone compete there. Some of that is down to injuries, but squad selection, tactics and ultimately, execution have been suspect thus far. The turnaround in Honduras is a start; it was only the second time in USMNT’s World Cup qualifying history that the men have won after trailing at halftime. That USMNT? That should be the standard.


Is Berhalter the right man for the coaching job?

Carlisle: Yes, though even if the U.S. had lost on Wednesday, I don’t think he’d be fired. With the compressed schedule, there’s simply no time to change coaches with the qualification cycle in full swing. USSF sporting director Earnie Stewart isn’t the kind of guy to make knee-jerk changes to his technical staff, either, as was shown during his stint with the Philadelphia Union. However, there are some concerns.

Berhalter’s penchant for overthinking things tactically revealed itself on Wednesday night’s game, when he overreached by throwing James Sands and George Bello in at the deep end of a road World Cup qualifier. But give him credit for junking what wasn’t working in terms of personnel and formation and making the changes he needed to make, as those changes turned the game around. It’s a reminder that in these windows, there’s value in keeping things simple.

He also made the right call in sending Weston McKennie home. It sent the proper message to the group in terms of accountability, and the fact the U.S. won strengthens his position. The pressure has eased, at least for the moment.Bonagura: There’s a lot to like about the culture Berhalter has fostered and the results it has yielded over the past two years. The United States is unbeaten in its past 18 matches against CONCACAF opposition — including wins against Mexico in a pair of finals over the summer — and has generated at least some goodwill. That’s why it would have felt like an overreaction had Berhalter’s job truly been on the line after just three qualifying matches.

The obvious problem with changing a coach at this stage is that it guarantees nothing (see: Bruce Arena, 2017), though that doesn’t mean Berhalter is the right long-term choice, either. The team didn’t play to the sum of its parts in this window, and that’s on him.

Connelly: The bar for qualification is still pretty low for the U.S., and the Americans will probably clear it. But these matches rang some alarm bells. For three years, Berhalter has attempted to install his vision of a possession game, but he hasn’t been able to deploy it effectively in matches that genuinely matter (basically: World Cup qualifiers and any match against Mexico).

The U.S. found success against Mexico this summer with an old-school “directness and killer goalkeeping” recipe, but wasn’t able to retain the ball as he clearly wants to do. In the first three qualifiers, the U.S. (a) abandoned the possession game entirely against both El Salvador and Honduras, and (b) created no threat whatsoever from it against Canada.Bad luck with personnel certainly didn’t help. Christian Pulisic lost some form while out with a coronavirus diagnosis, Zack Steffen was out, Giovanni Reyna and Sergino Dest got hurt, and McKennie got sent home. (Plus, Daryl Dike was out of form.) That’s an incredible amount of attrition in a short time.

But it also illustrated just how strange Berhalter’s overall roster selection was. Without McKennie, he had no other midfielder capable of reliably moving the ball into the attacking third — for the 1,034th time, I must ask why Julian Green isn’t involved — and while McKennie and Reyna each created three chances in one match, Pulisic was the only other player who managed to create more than two in three matches.

Creativity is a must when your pool of center-forwards is lacking, and creativity was almost completely lacking. There was some misfortune, it’s true, but with maybe the deepest pool of talent the U.S. has ever had, Berhalter had to improvise both a lineup and a formation in the first genuine must-win (or close to it) the U.S. has faced in four years.

Hajducky: A friend, 20 minutes into the Honduras match, compared watching Berhalter’s men to a crash in slow motion. The #BerhalterOut discourse seems to have mellowed since halftime on Wednesday night, but questions about his job security are legion and well-founded.

In this Octagonal, the U.S. men are CONCACAF’s last and first-ranked teams, respectively, in percentage of touches in the left- and middle-attacking thirds. They also led, by a wide margin, in possessions lost. Translation: Predictable. And, arguably worse, substitution management was baffling until Honduras, when three halftime subs — Antonee RobinsonSebastian Lletget and Brenden Aaronson — yielded four second-half goals.

While injuries have limited both pool and starting XI selection, formations have been puzzling — and far too defensive-minded — and the McKennie situation has a whiff of impending calamity. It all feels a bit like the trash compactor scene in “Star Wars.” But, for the moment, the walls have stopped closing in and we should be grateful the cavalry arrived in time.


Which players deserve a place on the plane? Who demonstrated they do not?

Carlisle: Let’s start with those whose stock fell. John Brooks was supposed to be a steadying, veteran presence during qualifying. He was anything but in these two games, raising doubts once again about his ability to cope with the difficulties and idiosyncrasies of CONCACAF. Josh Sargent is another. He looked lost out on the wing against Honduras, but even when he plays centrally, he rarely looks dangerous. He has logged minutes because no one else has really grabbed hold of the No. 9 spot, but that looks to be changing.

Ricardo Pepi, meanwhile, is the first striker in some time to really seize his opportunity. Sure, he has work to do in terms of his hold-up play, but he can sniff out chances and creates havoc in the box too. Antonee Robinson is another player whose stock went way up. The big reason Sergino Dest has played left-back is there didn’t seem to be any other options. There is now with Robinson, whose mobility allows him to get into the attack and put in dangerous crosses, as witnessed by his assist against Canada. His defending has improved as well.Bonagura: The most obvious is Pepi, the 18-year-old FC Dallas striker. After scoring the winner against Honduras and being involved in all three other goals, he presumably went from debutant to starting No. 9. Aaronson has also proved to be a valuable option on the wing, and his emergence should make it easier for Reyna to move into central midfield, where he’s playing for Dortmund this season.

Robinson staked his claim to be the locked-in starter at left-back, which had been one of the biggest questions facing the team. After standout performances in the Gold Cup, Atlanta United center-back Miles Robinson and New England goalkeeper Matt Turner have both continued to excel.

Connelly: Beyond the obvious — Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Reyna, McKennie, Dest — it’s hard to say that anyone definitively snared a spot in this batch of matches. You could make the case for Turner, but he’s just shaky enough in build-up play that it wouldn’t be completely surprising if Berhalter still preferred Steffen. Obviously Pepi’s debut was lovely, but if you’re giving an 18-year-old a permanent spot in the lineup because of one good match, that speaks more to your own depth issues than anything else.

Hajducky: All aboard the Pepi train! Could he be the No. 9 the Stars & Stripes have long pined for? It’s early, but should his form continue, Pepi belongs in Qatar, and he might well have broken the MLS’ all-time outgoing transfer record by then. Aaronson is a shoo-in at this point, and it should also be noted just how ascendant Turner has been. Zack Steffen is still the No. 1 stonewall, but the chasm isn’t quite as vast, considering Turner’s leapfrogging of Ethan Horvath.

The most disappointing? Depends whom you ask. McKennie seems like both the fiery, bullish leader necessary of U.S. men on the field and entirely too immature off it. The moment has proved to be too big for Sargent, too, but for me, the biggest letdown has been Brooks. Both the Canada and Honduras goals were conceded due to his glaring defensive errors: a man-marking blunder and an overcommitment that left his teammates out to dry.

In light of injuries and illness, does the USMNT have enough depth?

Carlisle: Yes. If you had told me beforehand that the U.S. would win last night’s game without McKennie, Dest, Reyna, Steffen and Pulisic (for part of it, anyway) I wouldn’t have believed you. The players who turned last night’s game around weren’t European stars, but rather guys like Pepi, Aaronson, Robinson, Sebastian Lletget and Cristian RoldanMark McKenzie, in tandem with Miles Robinson, quietly put in a very effective shift as well. Turner’s play in goal was such that Steffen wasn’t missed.

It gives Berhalter a puzzle to solve ahead of the October window, but it’s the kind of problem any manager wants to have. It should also help avoid any complacency that might set in.

Bonagura: Regardless of the quality of the performances, depth remains one of the team’s strengths. Aside from maybe Mexico, no other team in the region could have weathered going without that many key players as Jeff mentioned above.

Connelly: We knew forward depth would be an issue in this cycle, especially without Dike, and it very much was. But the midfield issues — as in, the total lack of a cohesive buildup when McKennie was out — were alarming. Either the U.S. has poor depth there or, more realistically in my view, Berhalter’s midfield selections were dramatically out of whack. I would hope he brings in a completely different set of options there in October, and then we can decide whether it’s a depth problem or a selection problem.

Hajducky: It’s sort of hilarious that we’re talking about depth concerns; a year ago, we weren’t sure there’d be enough room on the field for all their emerging talent. But Jamaica is almost a full month away and three of the next four qualifiers are home games.

It would be shocking if the U.S. came out as flat in October, given Berhalter’s struggles and the home-field advantage. And make no mistake about it: This is a big moment for McKennie, no stranger to a captain’s armband. Does he make amends, hold himself accountable and reclaim his place as the team’s fulcrum? Pulisic might be the face and hope of men’s U.S. Soccer, but McKennie is its engine. The USMNT’s success hinges on McKennie firing on all cylinders.

What do you want to see from the October fixtures?

Carlisle: Assuming they’re healthy, reward the players who performed well in this window. Keep performers like Pepi, Turner and Aaronson, plus the Robinsons, in the lineup. And please keep Adams in the center of midfield. The U.S. is a better team with him in the middle, period.

And not that the U.S. has control over this, but a bit more health would be nice. Hopefully, the likes of Pulisic, Dest and Reyna can recover. If this window revealed anything, it’s how demanding triple-fixture windows are and the degree to which they can tax a squad. (Honduras found this out the hard way last night.) Getting some guys back to health will help the U.S. maintain some momentum.

Bonagura: It’s not so much what I want to see as whom I want to see: Yunus Musah. He provides a toughness and bite in central midfield that the team lacked outside of Adams over the past three games. His ability to progress the ball in an advanced midfield position was sorely lacking and would free up the wingers to work in more space. With McKennie’s status up in the air, a midfield trio of Reyna, Musah and Adams is very intriguing.

Connelly: Wins! It’s three more matches against Not Mexico, and the U.S. needs at least 5-7 points from the next nine to keep feeling good about its trajectory. Beyond that, though, I’d like to see a squad selection from Berhalter that acknowledges and adjusts for this week’s struggles. If his first-choice lineup is fully available again, then the backups he selects might not matter as much, but it would be good to see that he understands where things nearly went very wrong this time around.

(I’d also like to see an actually cohesive identity — it suddenly vanished — but baby steps. Start with the squad selection.)

Hajducky: More of Pulisic playing like a man possessed, for starters. We don’t know how serious the knock is that he suffered against Honduras, but the Chelsea forward has been transcendent of late. Four years after World Cup heartbreak, he’s no longer the baby-faced future; he’s the now, playing with confidence earned from that Champions League title with his club and not shirking from the weight of America’s soccer future on his oft-battered shoulders. But that’s a no-brainer.

I’m also all-in on the Pepi hype. There’s poetry in the U.S. scouring the globe for a true No. 9 and Pepi having just sprouted out of Texas, fully formed and lethal. Meanwhile, I’d love to see what Dike and Weah could create together when healthy, and also see Steffen get some quality minutes.

Will Berhalter be more discerning in squad selection, formation and tactics? Can the cornerstones get healthy by then? Can the second half of Honduras become the default pace and grit that this team kicks off with? How will the McKennie affair be resolved? Four weeks is somehow both an eternity and a blink of an eye.

 

 

9/8/21  US Ties Canada plays huge game tonight vs Honduras 10 pm CBSSN, Indy 11 at home vs Sporting KC 2 Sat

US Ties Canada 1-1

Ok so the concept on World Cup Qualifying is you win your home games and tie a few road games and you are good to advance to the World Cup.  The US failed to qualify for the 2018 WC after losing their first home and away games to Mexico and Costa Rica.  Now the US faces the prospect of having to steal a win tonight at Honduras as 10 pm on CBS Sports Network.   Listen we have 2 points after a tie at home to Canada.  Now Canada is good now – but they aren’t better than the US.  Of course with the US missing Reyna (injury), McKinney (discipline), and Dest (injured ankle) things we destined to dicey with Canada.  They have the best player in North America in Alphonso Davies – the Bayern Munich man ran down our left side like we were standing still and embarrassed both Dest and Yedlin multiple times.  I thought Adams did a fine job of keeping him from killing us in the 1st half – but that second half run after we scored 8 minutes earlier was vintage Canada.  The issue I had was Brooks who stood and watched Laurin tap in the goal 3 feet in front of him.  Just horrific defending – which makes me wonder if he should be replaced by Zimmerman on the left inside with Sands in the middle much like he played in the Gold Cup.  I doubt coach Gregg will pull his top rated defender however – so perhaps a 3 center back line-up with Brooks/Sands or Zimmerman with outside high back – would allow us to tuck a little more and counter attack.  Leaving lots of room for Pulisic and Aaronson to run at the defense.  For this reason I like Sargeant up top – but would love to see the kid Pepi come in around the 65th minute or so – we need goals – why not !!  

Sargeant

Pulisic/Aaronson  

Lletget

Adams

Robinson/Brooks/Sands/Miles R/Yedlin

Turner

Of course huge news on Weston McKinney – who broke Covid protocol when he spent the night out of the hotel bubble and then sneaked someone (a girl) into his room on another night.  Again – Weston McKinney is a huge leader on this team and it sucks that he not only let down his team – but also the entire damn country.   Now I assume he’ll be back in the next group of games in October – but his action probably lost the game to Canada and he needs to own up to that !!   Tonight – I just don’t see how the US pulls off this must win game tonight?   Yes we have won there 2 times in the past.  But I am hoping for a 1-1 tie tonight.  I will be so happy with a 2-1 win.  Either way – we CAN NOT LOSE TONIGHT.  We need at least a tie and 3 points after 3 games with a lot to do in October. 

US ROSTER

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 23/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 7/0)

DEFENDERS (10): George Bello (Atlanta United; 3/0), John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 43/3), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 11/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 6/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 45/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 12/0), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 9/3), James Sands (New York City FC; 6/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 64/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 17/2)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 37/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 14/1), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 29/7), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 24/7), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 25/0)

FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg/AUT; 7/3), Konrad de la Fuente (Olympique Marseille/FRA; 1/0), Jordan Pefok (BSC Young Boys/SUI; 6/1), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 0/0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 38/16), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 8/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 16/5),

Indy 11 Home Sat Night at the Mike vs Sporting KC 2 – 7 pm TV 23

The Indy 11 struggled to a 2-1 loss Sat night vs Atlanta United.  They travel to FC Tulsa for a midweek game on ESPN+ at 7 pm tonite.  This Sat Indy 11 host Sporting KC 2 at 7 pm on TV 23 for Faith and Family Night. 

Carmel Boys Pack the House Night – Fri Night vs Columbus North High

The Carmel Boys are 3-2-1 on the season and ranked 11th in the state and they host pack the house night on Friday night !!

GAMES OF THE WEEK (World Cup Qualifying)

Wed, Sept 8

7 pm               Costa Rica vs Jamaica Paramount+

7:30 pm         Canada vs El  Salvador Paramount +

9 pm               Panama vs Mexico Paramount+

10 pm            Honduras vs USA CBS Sports Network, Paramount+

Thurs, Sept 9

7 pm               Colombia vs Chile Fubo

7:30 pm         Argentina vs Bolivia Fubo

8:30 pm         Brazil vs Peru  Fubo

5 pm               Equador vs Chile Fubo

Fri, Sept 10

3 pm               Lorient vs Lille – France beIN Sport

7:30 pm         Atlanta United vs Orlando City FS1

10 pm             Tiajuana vs Santos Laguna FS2

Sat, Sept 11

7:30 am          Crystal Palace vs Tottenham NBCSN

930am            Leverkusen vs Dortmund ESPN+

10 am             Leicester City vs Man City  Peacock

10 am             Blackpool vs Fulham (Ream + Robinson) Champ

12 noon          Napoli vs Juventus  paramount +

12:30 pm       Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Aston Villa NBC  

12:30 pm       Leipzig vs Bayern Munich ESPN+

3:30 pm         Colorado vs LA Galaxy Univision

7 pm Indy 11 vs Sporting KC 2 TV 23

7:30 pm         Atlanta United vs Orlando City FS1

10 pm             Tiajuana vs Santos Laguna FS2

Sun, Sept 11

9:30 am         Frankfort vs Stuttgart

11:30 am        Leeds vs Liverpool  

12 noon          Milanvs Lazio  Paramount +

USWNT vs. Paraguay (Cincy) Tix Are On Sale Now

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Location: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Time: 7:30 PM ET

Sale opens: Now

Deadline: First-come, first-served

USA


How will USMNT line up for must-win WCQ in Honduras?

Amid a lackluster WCQ start and McKennie’s dismissal, USMNT faces pivotal game in Honduras

Analysis: USMNT stumbles in qualifying following 1-1 home draw to Canada

Pulisic, USMNT eye ‘results’ after McKennie exit
U.S. soccer braces for hostility, gamesmanship during World Cup qualifier in Honduras

What can we learn from the USMNT’s World Cup qualifier in Honduras?

United States men’s national soccer team not panicking after drawing with Canada in World Cup qualifying

Opinion: USMNT off to a disappointing start, but it’s not time to push panic button. Yet.
USA Today   Jeff Carlisle
Berhalter defends McKennie sanction ahead of Honduras clash

Reports: Weston McKennie disciplined for breaching USMNT’s COVID-19 bubble twice

USA vs.Honduras, 2022 World Cup qualifying: What to watch for S&S By Donald Wine II

United States v Canada, 2022 World Cup Qualifying: What we Learned

USA vs. Canada, 2022 World Cup qualifying: Man of the Match

2022 World Cup Qualifying: USA 1-1 Canada – a disappointing result as the Americans fail to win at home
USMNT’s McKennie sent back to Juventus for rules violation; Reyna out

Player ratings: USMNT held to draw by Canada in World Cup qualifying

Player Ratings :  
USMNT can’t capitalize on chances, plays to draw with Canada in World Cup qualifier

USA keeper Steffen tests positive for Covid-19

WORLD

FIFA ‘regrets’ chaos at abandoned Brazil v Argentina match
Uproar as Brazil v Argentina clash abandoned following Covid controversy

Uproar as Brazil v Argentina clash suspended following Covid controversy


Italy set new unbeaten record as Germany thump Armenia

Indy 11

·      PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN TRAVELS TO FC TULSA FOR MIDWEEK ACTION

·      USL CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP: INDY ELEVEN 0 : 1 ATLANTA UNITED 2

·      INDY ELEVEN AND FORWARD JORDAN HAMILTON TERMINATE CONTRACT

Here We Go Again?

The USMNT Ties Canada 1-1 At Home, Brings Back the Insecurities of Failing to Qualify for World Cup 2018

   Grant Wahl Sep 6 13 4

SMNT coach Gregg Berhalter needs a win in Honduras Wednesday (Artwork by Dan Leydon for Fútbol with Grant Wahl)

Welcome to Fútbol with Grant Wahl — a newsletter about soccer. You can read what this is about here. If you like what you see, consider forwarding it to some friends. You can also click the button below to subscribe. And if you do like it, consider going to the paid versionThis story is free since we just launched, but future stories like it will be behind the paywall due to the resources required producing quality soccer journalism. I also wrote My 3 Thoughts on the USMNT-Canada game at the final whistle. You can subscribe for free to the Fútbol with Grant Wahl Podcast, including our USMNT-Canada breakdown with Landon Donovan and Chris Wittyngham, in partnership with Meadowlark and Le Batard and Friends.NASHVILLE — During the first half of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifier against Canada on Sunday, the enormous video screens at Nissan Stadium showed a red-cheeked home supporter as he poured beer into a quart-sized cup, reared back and proceeded to empty the entire container down his throat. All told, it took about 15 seconds, and if we’re being honest there was some talent involved here. The crowd of 43,028 gave him a rousing ovation in one of the U.S.’s hardest-partying cities—never mind that the game was still going on—and as I watched I couldn’t help but think of Weston McKennie.Weston McKennie?You know him. He’s the USMNT’s mayor of fun times and good vibes, one of the coolest guys on any team he’s on—even when that team is Italian powerhouse Juventus. This is often the case with American soccer players in Europe. Injuries may have cut short Oguchi Onyewu’s time at AC Milan, but he was one of the coolest guys on the team, someone who’d hang out with Ronaldinho. It’s a measure of McKennie’s surpassing coolness that even Onyewu was impressed not long ago when McKennie revealed on the former’s podcast that he has a live-in personal photographer in Turin.The 23-year-old McKennie is a delightful guy. I know this from first-hand experience. His teammates love him. And he’s a good midfielder, enough so that Juventus paid an €18.5 million ($22.3 million) transfer fee for him last season. But there are now multiple examples that McKennie’s love for social interaction can cost his team when he should know better. During a tight Serie A race last spring, McKennie and two Juve teammates (Paulo Dybala and Arthur) were fined and suspended a game by the club after the American hosted a dinner party that broke Italy’s Covid protocols. And on Sunday afternoon, U.S. players were informed at a pregame team meeting that McKennie would be suspended for the Canada match that night. Coach Gregg Berhalter declined to specify the reasons, but McKennie posted on Instagram that he had violated team Covid protocols and apologized for his actions.  “It’s not an ideal situation, because he’s such an important player and important character to this team,” said the U.S.’s Tyler Adams on Sunday night. “He brings obviously what he does on the field, but even off the field in how close he brings the team together … it’s obviously very disappointing.”

The U.S. ended up tying Canada 1-1, a result that left the Yanks with just two points after their first two World Cup qualifiers and brought back painful memories of the U.S.’s failure to make it to World Cup 2018. McKennie was hardly the only figure at fault for the two dropped points at home, but his case strikes me as similar to that of the fan being cheered by the entire stadium for chugging a quart of beer on the Jumbotron for 15 seconds in the middle of the game. Yeah, beer’s great. So is being social. But there’s a time and a place, and there are priorities. 

Like, you know, the game.


Christian Pulisic looked exhausted. He had just played his first match in 23 days, after testing positive for Covid-19 three weeks ago, and he had gone the full 90 minutes after it wasn’t even certain he would play at all ahead of Sunday. But it was still hard to tell how much of his weariness was mental as he thought back to the World Cup qualifying campaign four years ago.

“We wanted to win both of these games, absolutely,” he said on Sunday night. “But this is the position we’re in now. I remember the last qualifying [campaign] losing both our first two games. So this is what it is now. We have plenty of games left to play in this qualifying, you know. It’s almost like a season. We still have a long way to go. So our heads are going to stay up.”Brenden Aaronson had put the U.S. ahead 1-0 in the 56th minute after a terrific passing sequence capped by Antonee Robinson’s assist. The lead held for just six minutes, until Alphonso Davies broke free down the left side, whooshed past the U.S. defense and laid off to Cyle Larin for the equalizer. The crowd went silent.

Pulisic’s postgame comments indicated he thought the U.S. would have been better off trying to shut up shop after the opening goal, but he didn’t see it happening. “After we score our first goal we need to be able to win a game like that 1-0 at times,” Pulisic said. “I think whether that’s making adjustments or sometimes even having to defend a bit more, it’s tough to say. I don’t think we changed a whole lot, but we got beat, and they score and that was tough. Then in the end we just didn’t have enough to get a winner.”

I asked Berhalter after the game about his thought process for waiting until the 83rd minute to bring on his first second-half subs. He said he felt among his attacking players, forward Jordan Pefok was still being somewhat effective with his physicality, while Aaronson had been solid with his counterpressing. “I can understand how it looks like we should have acted quicker, 100 percent,” Berhalter said. “In this situation, we’re looking at the performance of the guys and trying to figure out who we’re going to take off the field.”

“I remember the last qualifying [campaign] losing both our first two games. So this is what it is now. We have plenty of games left to play in this qualifying, you know. It’s almost like a season. We still have a long way to go. So our heads are going to stay up.” — Christian Pulisic

Ultimately, the U.S. had 72 percent of possession but just two shots on goal, the same as Canada. Pulisic talked about needing to find new ideas to break down Canada’s compact 5-4-1 formation. Berhalter said he wanted faster ball movement. And Adams, who just a few days ago said he wanted this to be a nine-point week, contemplated his leadership challenge over the next two days to get a crucial three points in Honduras—which would bring the U.S. to five points for the week.

“We’ve got to have a long look in the mirror and really establish what our goals are here,” Adams said. “Obviously, three points in Honduras is what we’re looking to do. But what do we need to do in the game to get the best out of the team and every single player? Because it’s not going to be just the starting 11 and 11 good performances. We need 16 good performances. And the subs that are coming in, how can they change the game? How can we get the best out of every single player? So we need to challenge ourselves.” 

The U.S. won’t have Gio Reyna, who’s out with a hamstring injury. Sergiño Dest (ankle sprain) may be out as well, and Berhalter said it remained to be seen if McKennie would be reinstated by Wednesday. Anything less than a win will leave Berhalter on the hot seat.


There have been a few bright spots for the U.S. this week, none more so than goalkeeper Matt Turner.

Why has the 27-year-old Turner, who plays for MLS’s New England Revolution, become a kind of American soccer folk hero? A lot of it has to do with his remarkable story. As a teenager in northern New Jersey whose main sport was baseball, Turner didn’t start playing club soccer seriously until he was 16, ancient for a youth player. The only college in any division to offer him a scholarship was Fairfield in Connecticut, where he had a solid performance his last two years but was most famous for the play that cost him his starting job as a sophomore, a terrible own-goal that was named the No. 1 play in ESPN SportsCenter’s Not Top 10 in 2013:

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/ec4TNK2laeg?rel=0&autoplay=0&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=0 Turner wasn’t selected in the 2016 MLS draft, but an agent got him a tryout with New England, and he earned a contract offer. After two seasons playing on loan with the Richmond Kickers in the lower-league USL, Turner won the Revolution starting job in 2018 under then-coach Brad Friedel, one of the greatest keepers in U.S. history. And after some fits and starts that season, Turner has over the past three years become a shot-stopping phenomenon unseen in the history of MLS.

In the modern game, the goalkeeper position is about much more than just shot-stopping, personified by Germany’s Manuel Neuer and his innovation of the “sweeper keeper” role, in which he starts the attack with his passing skills and ventures far from goal to snuff out danger in the space behind his defenders’ high back line. 

“I’ve been the fan who was tweeting about the games. I’ve been that guy. I joke around saying I’m the People’s Keeper. I’ve been in the Blind Pig in New York City before it closed down, watching EPL in the mornings and national team games at night. So I’ve seen and heard all of it.” — Matt Turner

But guess what? Shot-stopping is still a really big deal, even in the modern game. And the data shows that Turner is a savant. As John Muller of 538 noted recently using data from American Soccer Analysis, Turner has saved over 25 goals more than expected going back to the start of 2018 (including the postseason), while the second-best MLS keeper over that time (Seattle’s Stefan Frei) is far behind with less than 13. 

Berhalter is an unapologetic data wonk, so much so that he even knocked me out of my old role hosting soccer panels at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference earlier this year. (Let’s be honest: They made an upgrade.) You had better believe that Berhalter knows Turner’s analytics profile. “In terms of data, when goalies outperform expected goals, it’s always something you like,” Berhalter said the day before the Canada game. “And Matt has been doing that all season long with New England Revolution, and that means he can make the big save, and that’s what you want in goalkeepers.”Turner, for his part, says he doesn’t try to overthink his shot-stopping ability. “It’s hard for me to even describe because it always came very naturally to me,” he told me in a recent interview. “Technically speaking, I think the biggest piece would be just to make sure you’re set. Make sure your feet are on the ground when the ball’s being struck. Be brave. Make sure your head is forward. If you’re diving and you’re landing on your back, or you’re just flinging your legs out, you’re going to make fewer saves in my opinion than you would if you were [leaning] forward with your hands forward.”

His baseball history, Turner argues, played a role in his rise as a soccer shot-stopper. “From a timing perspective, and an ability to react right and left, I think baseball was huge for me,” he says. “I always say that I think some baseball outfielders would be very good goalkeepers, because you see the catches they make. They’re not afraid to throw their body around, not afraid to dive and slide. Their timing, their jump on the ball, their read is all really good.”

From a national-team perspective, though, Turner started the summer as no better than the No. 3 goalkeeper behind Zack Steffen of Manchester City and Ethan Horvath, now of Nottingham Forest. But Turner seized his opportunity during the Gold Cup. With Berhalter not calling up the U.S.’s top European-based players, Turner was magnificent, conceding only one goal across six games and being chosen the tournament’s top keeper as the U.S. won the trophy. 

When Steffen developed back spasms last week, Berhalter chose Turner to start the first World Cup qualifier in El Salvador over Horvath (who hasn’t been the first-choice keeper at Forest). Turner kept a clean sheet and made a good save on Eriq Zavaleta’s set-piece header in the second half. “Matt performed really well in the game,” Berhalter said on Saturday. “I was most impressed, I think, with his calmness. It wasn’t an easy environment, but he really made everything look easy. There was one play in the first half where the ball got away from him and went out for a corner kick. Other than that, I think he was flawless. He caught the balls, came out on crosses, his distribution was good. So for me, it was a good performance.”

In a one-on-one interview on Saturday in Nashville, Turner was still struggling to put his rise to World Cup-qualifying starter in perspective. “It’s crazy, absolutely,” he said. “I want to be the guy in the goal. I’ve felt like I’ve grown into it, and I’ve done well in MLS over the past four seasons. I haven’t given much of what’s happened to me this whole summer too much thought yet. I kind of leave that for the offseason. Being present and grounded right now is something I’ve found so much power in, and it’s helped me to find consistency in my game as well.”During his whirlwind qualifying week with the USMNT, Turner took comfort from talking on the phone with his girlfriend, Ashley Herron, a consultant, nonprofit founder and former New England Patriots cheerleader; his longtime friend Vinny Macaluso (“Yeah, Vinny from Jersey,” Turner cracked); and his New England teammate and former roommate, centerback Andrew Farrell. “He’s been like my rock,” Turner explained. “If I can’t sleep and it’s the middle of the night, I can call Andrew, and he’s there for me. He keeps me going if I’m wavering in nerves and knows exactly what to say to me.”“If I can’t sleep and it’s the middle of the night, I can call Andrew, and he’s there for me.” Matt Turner relies on his New England teammate and former roommate Andrew Farrell for one club teammate Turner didn’t talk to heading into Sunday’s game was Tajon Buchanan, a rising-star winger for Canada. As Turner and the U.S. prepared to try to shut down Buchanan and fellow attackers Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Junior Hoilett and Cyle Larin, Turner and Buchanan (whose New England team is running roughshod over the rest of MLS) went radio-silent with each other.“It’s funny, Tajon and I pretty much talk almost every single day, and we sit next to each other in the locker room back with the Revs, but as soon as we leave for our national teams we pretty much don’t talk,” Turner said with a laugh. “We have a great relationship, but I think neither one of us would want to put the other one in a tough spot where you’re like, ‘Oh, so how are you guys playing?’ So I think we just sort of respect the boundary and the space, and it’s all good.”

The world works in mysterious ways, Turner thought to himself last week, but it has a way of rewarding you for your efforts over a long period of time. Turner couldn’t help but reflect on all the tryouts and trials he went on earlier in his soccer career. Some of them worked out, some didn’t, whether they were for high school, or college, or even the pros. But they helped last week when he was suddenly finding himself playing in the USMNT’s most important games with different centerbacks for the very first time: Tim Ream in El Salvador and John Brooks against Canada.

“I think the most important thing is just communication on and off the field,” Turner said. “It’s nice to get to know people. I went to so many different tryouts—you know my story. The biggest thing was I was always trying to make a team and put forth good performances with people I’ve never played with before. Learning their names quickly and how to communicate with them and how to adapt to the circumstances as quickly as possible—I think that’s definitely been a strength of mine.”

“Andrew Farrell has been like my rock. If I can’t sleep and it’s the middle of the night, I can call Andrew, and he’s there for me. He keeps me going if I’m wavering in nerves and knows exactly what to say to me.” — Matt Turner

On Sunday, Turner was one of four MLS players among the 11 starters on the U.S. team. He knows there’s a section of the USMNT fanbase that thinks no MLS players should be on the field for the Yanks in World Cup qualifiers. But he doesn’t see the point of dividing the team, nor does he feel like he’s carrying the banner for MLS. 

“Whoever goes out there and gets the job done, you just have to say they got the job done,” he said on Saturday. “It shouldn’t be hate or love. I’ve been the fan who was tweeting about the games. I’ve been that guy. I joke around saying I’m the People’s Keeper. I’ve been in the Blind Pig in New York City before it closed down, watching EPL in the mornings and national team games at night. So I’ve seen and heard all of it. I think you just have to respect everyone and their story and how it came about. Until you get as close to it as I am right now, you realize that all that Euro versus domestic stuff doesn’t even matter.”

Soon enough, Turner himself might be playing in Europe. Two years ago, he secured a European Union passport from Lithuania after finding papers owned by his paternal grandfather that showed his great-grandmother had immigrated from the Baltic country. “We didn’t even know we were Lithuanian,” he says, adding that he discovered his family had changed its name from Turnovski upon arrival at Ellis Island. 

A European Union passport makes it far easier to move to a club in Europe. “I’m highly motivated to make that happen,” Turner says. “That being said, I’m in a great situation with my club right now. I’m playing well and I’m getting called into the national team. So it’s a balance of a lot of things. You can’t force these things to happen, but I would love to go play in the Premier League or a high level in the [English] Championship.”

By Sunday night, it was becoming clear that the No. 1 U.S. goalkeeper job is now Turner’s to lose. He was solid for the second straight game and made a terrific save on Larin’s shot in the first half after Dest had blundered in defense. (There was nothing Turner could have done on Larin’s goal later.) There’s a sense of calm when you have Turner in goal; even when Canada threatened, you felt like he would be able to make the save. 

Even if Steffen can get some games for Man City in cup competition over the next month, it’s hard to imagine him taking the No. 1 spot back from Turner next month.


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USA vs. Canada, 2022 World Cup qualifying: Man of the Match

CanadaBy jcksnftsn  Sep 7, 2021, 8:36am Returning home from a disappointing draw, the USMNT settled for a second straight draw that felt more like a loss to start World Cup qualifying. With quite a bit on the line and facing a Canada team coming off a home draw with Honduras, the team came out and looked active but ultimately punch-less as they dominated possession but lacked incisiveness. The player rankings were not as dire as they were following the draw-loss to El Salvador, but they weren’t exactly a ringing endorsement either.Goalscorer Brenden Aaronson was officially your SSFC Man of the Match with the highest community ranking coming in at 7.02, edging out Matt Turner (6.72), who was Thursday’s MOTM. Interestingly, three of the four substitutes received the only ratings below a 5.0. In the case of DeAndre Yedlin, the lowest rated player, this seems to be due to the community placing primary blame for the lone Canadian goal at his feet. For Konrad de la Fuente and Cristian Roldan, the ratings seem a bit harsh as they only had a handful of minutes to impact the game due to the late substitution utilization by Gregg Berhalter.We’ve made a couple of small tweaks to the ratings this week. First, we calculated the average rankings with the highest and lowest ratings removed and have included those in parentheses behind the original rating. We’re sticking with the original rating as the primary to stay consistent, but thought there might be some interest in seeing how the ratings adjust if you remove the most biased votes. Not surprisingly, the manager’s rating is the most impacted by this adjustment, as Gregg Berhalter gains over a point in benefit. The other changes in rating are not nearly as significant and the most impacted is DeAndre Yedlin, who moves from a 4.4 to a 4.7. Second, we’ve also moved the manager and referee results to the bottom.Here are all the ratings from the match, as judged by the SSFC community:

Brenden Aaronson – 7.02 (adjusted 7.01)

Matt Turner – 6.72 (6.70)

Tyler Adams – 6.65 (6.66)

Antonee Robinson – 6.59 (6.63)

Miles Robinson – 6.43 (6.44)

Christian Pulisic – 6.37 (6.30)

Jordan Pefok – 5.40 (5.50)

Sergino Dest – 5.35 (5.51)

Josh Sargent – 5.34 (5.52)

John Brooks – 5.32 (5.48)

Kellyn Acosta – 5.25 (5.37)

Sebastian Lletget – 5.15 (5.35)

Cristian Roldan – 4.81 (5.04)

Konrad de la Fuente – 4.81 (4.99)

DeAndre Yedlin – 4.40 (4.70)

Gregg Berhalter – 2.76 (3.99)

Referee Oshane Nation – 5.43 (5.77)

Player ratings: USMNT held to draw by Canada in World Cup qualifying

By Andy EdwardsSep 5, 2021, 10:24 PM EDT

The USMNT is winless after its first two games of 2022 World Cup qualifying after drawing Canada 1-1 in Nashville, Tenn., on Sunday.Brenden Aaronson gave the USMNT a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute, but Alphonso Davies sliced and diced the Yanks’ right side of defense to set up the equalizer seven minutes later.On the whole, a few individual performances were improved from the draw in El Salvador, but the team performance and the result were still well short of the necessary standard.Here’s a look at who stood out (for better or for worse) for Gregg Berhalter’s side, with some special bonus commentary (of the dissenting variety) from PST’s Nicholas Mendola (italicized)…

Honduras vs USMNT: Start time, how to watch, live stream link, odds

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Brazil vs Argentina suspended; COVID flap over Premier League quartet

GK – Matt Turner: 6 – Once again, hardly tested (just two shots on target) but typically steady when called upon. Hasn’t had to do enough to fully supplant Zack Steffen as the no. 1, but hasn’t done anything to hand him the job either.

RB – Sergiño Dest: 4 (4.5) – Dest’s poor performance against El Salvador was perhaps explainable by the fact he’s naturally a right-sided player shifted to the left to do a very specific job. Fast-forward to Sunday, Dest was on the right and he had another nightmare outing. He’s not a reliable enough to defender to play right back and he’s not dynamic or creative enough to play as a winger. Is there a place for him going forward? After starting the first two games during this window, Dest was unlikely to start Wednesday’s game in Honduras, making the injury less of a worry for the USMNT (for now).

Looking like a more-hyped version of last decade’s DeAndre Yedlin, where his defensive naivete is glaring when his attacking game is foiled. Still just 20 until November, but that promise doesn’t do anything right now vis a vis 2022 in Qatar.

CB – Miles Robinson: 6.5 – The vibes are extremely good with Robinson deployed as the right-sided center back, whether alongside Tim Ream (game 1) or John Brooks (game 2). He’s a classically tough American defender with a nose for the ball and good emergency defending instincts. As of this moment, the starting job is his to lose.

CB – John Brooks: 6 (5.5) – The defensive veteran looked like a fish out of water against the speed of Canada’s counter-attacks, but his distribution and long-range passing proved key in setting up the opening goal. Tyler Adams roaming midfield in front helps to protect Brooks’ lack of mobility, but free attacking full backs like Dest and Antonee Robinson do him no favors to his left.

A mixed bag from the undisputed best center back in the pool. Had some dicey moments and at times looked a step slow, not usually something you’ll note from the long-striding Wolfsburg back. Hit some wonderful passes, though, and is a force of intimidation for the U.S.

LB – Antonee Robinson: 7 (8) – This is the best left back in the USMNT player pool, Gregg. Play him there, every game if you have to. Defensively responsible and dangerous going forward (as evidenced on the goal).

There were 1-2 hiccups in his own end but also a lot of good tackles and that’s before we mention his terrific night going forward. Had an assist and might’ve had a goal. Has earned left back status for now.

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1434690158847221761&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fsoccer.nbcsports.com%2F2021%2F09%2F05%2Fusmnt-canada-2022-world-cup-qualifying-analysis-player-ratings%2F&sessionId=e3ddd02cc34984287d9bebb554c530fb58a0de82&theme=light&widgetsVersion=1890d59c%3A1627936082797&width=500px DM – Tyler Adams: 6.5 (6.5) – Defensively excellent and in the right spot at the right time to snuff out a number of Canadian counter-attacks. As the USMNT attempts to work out the chance-creation issues at the other end of the field, Adams’ presence in consecutive games was like a warm blanket tucked under the chin on a crisp autumn night.

This could be as high as an 8 or even 8.5 if not for his silly and selfish foul on Mark-Anthony Kaye that deprived us from knowing whether Brenden Aaronson’s pinpoint pass might’ve set up an Antonee Robinson winner.

CM – Kellyn Acosta: 6.5 – Another request for Gregg: Please only play Acosta as an 8 in the future. His range of passing is far better than most people seem to realize. Given the lack of dynamism and chance creation from the other central midfielders this week, Acosta should start again in Honduras.

CM – Sebastian Lletget: 6 – Strong early as he teed Christian Pulisic up to hit the post midway through the first half, but faded as the game became more and more open.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from El Salvador 0-0 USMNT | Player ratings ]

RW – Brenden Aaronson: 7 – Scored the USMNT’s first goal of 2022 World Cup qualifying — a simple tap-in from Robinson’s cross — and tracked back to do a lot of defensive work, but couldn’t connect the midfield to the forward line quite like the USMNT needed.

LW – Christian Pulisic: 6 (7) – A mostly anonymous night for Pulisic in his first game back after testing positive for COVID-19. He played all 90 minutes, which could cast a bit of doubt over his availability for Wednesday’s game (no chance he plays the full-90 again). Nothing clicked for the attack as a whole on Sunday, and that fact was even more true for Pulisic specifically.

Did everything you want to see but score, demanding attention from Canada and delivering a number of won free kicks. Corner kick service was decent, too. Imagine him with better striker play.

CF – Jordan Pefok: 6 – Struggled to be more involved as he constantly battled three center backs for Canada, but his hold-up play was crucial in the build-up to Aaronson’s goal. Pefok brings a size and nastiness to the center forward position that no one else in the player pool possesses.

9/3/21 US Ties El Salvador 0-0 plays Canada 8 pm Sun FS1, Indy 11 at home vs Atl United 2, Argentina vs Brazil + other huge WCQ Games Scheduled

 US Ties El Salvador 0-0

Well I said before the game that 1 point and a draw at El Salvador against a tough team in a really tough environment against a coach that knows the US so well would be fine.  So why did last night’s 0-0 tie feel so bad. Man today on the call in shows – everyone is destroying us.  Hey this is the 1st game of Qualifying on the road – in a very difficult place to win.  Overall I thought the US played fine – defensively even though I questioned the line-up Coach Berhalter put out there – I thought they held their own.  Matt Turner was fantastic in goal as always though he wasn’t really tested all that much.  It was 50 / 50 possession – which on the road is tough to do.  But lets not kid ourselves  – the difference in level of talent is pretty large – though the US talent is young – we have 12 players playing on Champions League Level teams – El Salvador has none.  El Salvador started a USL player tonight for heaven’s sake.  And while their coach Hugo Perez – a mainstay as a US as an assistant coach – had an excellent plan and definitely seemed quite prepared to play us – at the end of the day we have much better players who should have won this game.  It was great to see local boy done good defender Eriq Zavaleta of Westfield and IU almost score for El Salvador on a header in the 1st half.  I am hoping former ISA Futsal Director Carlos Zaveleta (his dad) was in a attendance. 

The US outshot El Salvador and should have scored on a multitude of header opportunities but they just couldn’t find the net.  El Salvador also had chances but their shots all seemed to miss the target as well – though Turner was forced into a couple of nice saves.  Overall I thought the product in the final 3rd was missing.  What’s new for the US eh?  I thought surprise starter Conrad actually looked dangerous up top on the left – but was surprised to see Aaronson at midfield rather than left wing – Aaronson looked out of spot most of the night until pushed into the left wing late.  Reyna looked fine and had a great stretch midway thru the half when he flipped to the left side – but he just missed on a few balls. Sargent was active as the #9 – but again couldn’t find the net for the 3rd straight game as a starter.  Pefuk  was better up top when he came on for the final 20 minutes I thought – and he should have scored on a header.  I thought Adams looked good in the Dmid slot but boy did he have to cover for Dest all night long at left back – as Dest got destroyed at times.  I really think Dest has to be used on the right – and only when he has a really fast center d partner like Miles Robinson with him.  Robinson was very good at right center back and paired just fine with Tim Ream – though the aging Ream looked suspect at times.  Can’t wait to see Robinson and Brooks together in the middle vs Canada.  Canada now becomes must win – you must win your games at home !!  Canada will be on edge as they tied Honduras at home.  In fact everyone tied except Mexico who got a late goal to secure a 2-1 win over Jamaica.  Here’s the line-up I would come out with vs Canada – but Coach Berhalter will probably come out with 3 center backs or something – who knows. 

Pefok

Pulisic/Reyna

Lletget/McKinney

Adams

Robinson/Brooks/Robinson/Dest

Turner

US GAMES

Sunday 8 pm                                   USA vs CANADA               FS 1

Wed, Sept 8 – 10 pm                      Honduras vs USA             CBS Sports Network, Paramount+

So here’s how we look after the first game. 

 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – CONCACAF Standings

POSTEAMGPGDPTS
1Mexico1+13
2Honduras101
3Canada101
4Costa Rica101
5El Salvador101
6Panama101
7United States101
8Jamaica1-10

US Stats vs El Salvador

Sunday WCQ has multiple huge games

England vs Andorra somehow gets the noon ESPN2 slot – while the best games of the day the Swiss hosting Italy and Belgium vs the Czech Republic are both on ESPN+ Sunday at 2:45 pm.  3 pm has the best game of the Day as Brazil host Argentina on Fubo TV in a rematch of the COPA Final.  Of course the US host Canada at 8 pm on Fox Sports 1 right after Costa Rica hosts Mexico in a pivotal match on CBS Sports Network at 7 pm.  (See the full schedule below)

Indy 11 Home Sat Night at the Mike vs Atlanta United  7 pm TV 8

The Indy 11 fresh off a shutout at home by Jordan Farr are one a roll with 2 straight home victories to make the move up to 5th place over – they play Atlanta United 2 this Saturday night with 4th place on the line.  Specials this weekend include $4 Beers and an $11 Beer and Dog special. 

Carmel Girls in Zionsville Tourney

The #2 ranked Carmel Girls will face the #1 team from Kentucky in the Zionsville Invitational tonight at 6 pm in Zionsville.  Head on out if you want to see some top ranked ladies soccer this weekend !

USA

ROSTER

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 23/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 7/0)

DEFENDERS (10): George Bello (Atlanta United; 3/0), John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 43/3), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 11/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 6/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 45/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 12/0), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 9/3), James Sands (New York City FC; 6/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 64/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 17/2)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 37/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 14/1), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 29/7), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 24/7), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 25/0)

FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg/AUT; 7/3), Konrad de la Fuente (Olympique Marseille/FRA; 1/0), Jordan Pefok (BSC Young Boys/SUI; 6/1), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 0/0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 38/16), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 8/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 16/5),

Player Ratings – MLS.com
Berhalter unhappy with USMNT lack of ‘control’ in El Salvador draw

Player ratings: USMNT held in El Salvador, World Cup qualifying

3 Things We Learns vs El Salvador –
United States men’s national soccer team plays to scoreless draw vs. El Salvador in World Cup qualifying opener

USMNT’s 2022 World Cup Qualifier Squad Is Most Valuable Ever

 

A look back on a very busy transfer window for Americans. Who made the best moves?

Sonora, Reyna, Wright, & Fulham defenders highlight otherwise disappointing weekend for Yanks abroad

WORLD

EUFA WCQ Tables

England Rolls over Hungary

Sweden down Spain to gain upper hand in World Cup qualifying
Ronaldo’s record goal reminds us: No one does drama like Portugal’s captain
How Ronaldo broke goal record, plus EVERY scoring record he holds
  Chris Wrigh

Hollabd Scores to tie Netherlands 1-1

Canada player ratings: Richie Laryea, Alistair Johnston impress in WCQ draw vs. Honduras

Three takeaways from Canada’s World Cup Qualifying draw with Honduras

Grading every Premier League club’s summer transfer window\

Glory, glory! Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning return to Manchester United is a done deal
Ronaldo to wear Man Utd’s No.7 shirt

Indy 11

·      PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN VS. ATLANTA UNITED 2

·      PETER-LEE VASSELL TO REPRESENT JAMAICAN NATIONAL TEAM IN WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS

·      INDY ELEVEN AND FORWARD JORDAN HAMILTON TERMINATE CONTRACT

·      USL CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP: INDY ELEVEN 2 : 0 REAL MONARCHS SLC

 GAMES OF THE WEEK (World Cup Qualifying)

Saturday, sept 4

12 noon          Latvia vs Norway ESPN+ 

12 noon          Ireland vs Azerbajan ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         Ukraine vs France ESPN+

2:45 pm         Netherlands vs Montegro  ESPN+

7 pm              Indy 11 vs Atlanta United TV 8, ESPN+ @ the Mike

7:30 pm         Orlando City vs Columbus  ESPN+

Sunday, sept5

12 noon          England vs Andorra ESPN2 

12 noon          Iceland vs North Madcedonia ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         Swiss vs Italy ESPN+

2:45 pm         Belgium vs Czech Republic ESPN+

3 pm               Brazil vs Argentina Fubo

5 pm               Equador vs Chile Fubo

7 pm               Costa Rica vs MEXICO CBS Sports Network, Universo

8 pm              USA vs CANADA   FS 1

Tuesday, Sept 7

12 noon          Latvia vs Norway ESPN+ 

12 noon          Ireland vs Azerbajan ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         France vs Finland ESPN+

2:45 pm         Netherlands vs Turkey  ESPN+

2:45 pm         Austria vs Scotland ESPN+

Wed, Sept 8

2:45 pm         England vs Poland ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         Iceland vs Germany ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         Italy vs Lithuania EPSN+

7 pm               Costa Rica vs Jamaica Paramount+

7:30 pm         Canada vs El  Salvador Paramount +

9 pm               Panama vs Mexico Paramount+

10 pm            Honduras vs USA CBS Sports Network, Paramount+

Thurs, Sept 9

7 pm               Colombia vs Chile Fubo

7:30 pm         Argentina vs Bolivia Fubo

8:30 pm         Brazil vs Peru  Fubo

5 pm               Equador vs Chile Fubo

Fri, Sept 10

3 pm               Lorient vs Lille – France beIN Sport

7:30 pm         Atlanta United vs Orlando City FS1

10 pm             Tiajuana vs Santos Laguna FS2

USWNT vs. Paraguay (Cincy) Tix Are On Sale Now

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Location: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Time: 7:30 PM ET

Sale opens: Now

Deadline: First-come, first-served

 2022 World Cup Qualifying: USA 0-0 El Salvador – a disjointed performance and an indecisive result

Eh, it’s a point on the road  By Parker Cleveland@AekprrAcdeellnv  Sep 2, 2021, 9:13pm PDT  S & S

The USA entered the first World Cup qualifier since… you know, we all remember. It was wet and rainy and Bruce Arena was there and it wasn’t fun. Geoff Cameron was watching and looked all mad/sad about it. Not a good time. My main memory for that game was thinking that I had to write the What We Learned article and how pointless that was. Luckily, the USMNT got good at soccer in the last four years and hopefully we won’t be re-living that fiasco.Still, the team would need to go on the road in front of an unfriendly crowd and do what they could to overcome Alex Roldan. One thing was sure, anything less than 8 points in qualifying this round wouldn’t be acceptable.If there was any question about how the USMNT would approach the game, that was answered as soon as the lineup came out and Konrad de la Fuente started alongside Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie in central midfield. That’s a decision that says, I’m not too concerned about responding to what El Salvador wants to do and am looking to dictate the game from Gregg Berhalter. Also, put some respect on Tim Ream’s name.Meanwhile, Hugo Perez sent a promising El Salvador side out in a 4-4-2 featuring Greg Vanney’s nephew and a roster whose most prominent players are in MLS or play in Holland. That said, Los cuzcatlecos were coming off of a respectable showing in the Gold Cup and the home town energy would surely provide a boost against the Stars and Stripes.

In what started as a tricky fixture for the USA, the team had a difficult time creating chances. That said, the team did effectively move the ball into the attacking third though the chances were lacking. Through the first 30 minutes, the best moments of the match were created by the camera man as it seemed like the production decisions were, in close? super wide? WHO CARES JUST CUT TO CAMERA 2.The game came to life at about the half hour mark as El Salvador began to grow more bold in their pressing and the US responded by pushing forward and finding seams in the El Salvador backline. A goalkeeping error by Matt Turner gave the team in blue a corner that created a shot that nearly floated into the USA goal. The Americans tried to do lots of flicks and fancy things but nothing really looked like it would threaten the El Salvador goal and the teams went into the half at 0-0.Given the struggles in the first half, the second began with the Stars and Stripes just basically doing what they did in the initial 45 but harder and a little faster. The result was more struggle, but this time harder and faster.A trio of subs came in for the USA as Antonee Robinson, Jordan Pefok, and Kellyn Acosta entered for Sergino Dest, Josh Sargent, and Konrad.One change that did seem effective was Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson interchanging more with Reyna playing more on the left where the USA was having most of its success. That nearly paid off in the 72nd minute when GR7 floated a cross that Weston McKennie got a head to it but failed to put his shot into the net. Still, Reyna was the best player on the field and as the game wore on he continued to be the main outlet for the team as any team moves were just not coming together.Two more subs came in as Cristian Roldan and Sebastian Lletget entered for Aaronson and Yedlin when the clock hit the 79th minute. While the new additions did provide a spark, the game still lacked the decisive moment and ended in a 0-0 draw.Not the best result, not the worst, neutral.

USMNT Opens World Cup Qualifying By Drawing El Salvador

AVI CREDITORThe U.S. men’s national team’s road to redemption, in the form of a 2022 World Cup berth, began with no goals and one point away from home.The U.S. had its chances but settled for a 0–0 draw vs. El Salvador Thursday night at Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador, where the first of 14 qualifying matches took place. Weston McKennie and Kellyn Acosta missed on close-range headers late, but save for set pieces, the U.S. defense was hardly troubled in securing the point, which puts the U.S. level with six other sides in the Concacaf table.Henry Martin’s late winner gave Mexico a 2–1 victory over Jamaica at a fan-less Estadio Azteca to put El Tri atop the table, but Canada-Honduras and Panama-Costa Rica also ended in draws on the opening night of the region’s qualifying tournament.After missing the 2018 World Cup, the U.S. is focused on getting back to the grand stage—even if this group is not dwelling on what transpired four years ago. Instead, a slew of young players led by a new coach are looking to ride the momentum of having won two Concacaf trophies this summer and climbing to 10th in FIFA’s world ranking. To keep that momentum going, they had to do so without two presumed starters, with Christian Pulisic (COVID-19, fitness) and Zack Steffen (back spasms) both unavailable for the match. They’ve remained in Nashville to train before the rest of the U.S. joins them Friday ahead of Sunday’s qualifier vs. Canada at Nissan Stadium. This three-match window concludes with a Sept. 8 trip to San Pedro Sula to face Honduras.Their absences weren’t the only notables in Gregg Berhalter’s starting lineup. Center back rock John Brooks was left on the bench, with veteran Tim Ream partnering with Gold Cup hero Miles Robinson in front of Matt Turner, who earned the start with Steffen out hurt. Brenden Aaronson and Konrad de la Fuente entered the XI as well, with Pulisic out and Sebastian Lletget among the substitutes. After a raucous set of national anthems, with a crowd appearing to be significantly greater than the 29,000 cap that was supposed to be set, and with nearby fireworks blaring for the opening few minutes, the U.S. had the first early chance. DeAndre Yedlin surged forward and found Gio Reyna, who broke into the box but fired into the side netting in the third minute.A couple of minutes later, Aaronson nearly benefited from a fortuitous deflection, with the ball looping just over the El Salvador crossbar.Three minutes later, the U.S. had a chance that was eerily reminiscent of the goal that won the Gold Cup. After Konrad earned a free kick, Reyna curled in a ball to the center of the box, where Robinson headed over the bar. It was Robinson who headed home Acosta’s service on a nearly identical play to clinch the extra-time win over Mexico on Aug. 1.El Salvador provided a scare of its own in the 16th minute. Off a corner kick, center back Ronald Rodriguez was the first to meet the service and headed just wide of the mark to keep things scoreless.El Salvador was gifted another set piece in the 33rd minute and nearly cashed in on it. With Turner taking his eye off the ball on his own endline and having it go out for a corner, Alex Roldan—whose brother and fellow Seattle Sounder, Cristian, began the night on the U.S. bench—shook Yedlin and deftly lifted a right-footed chance to the far post, not missing by much.With the first half coming to a close, the U.S. had another chance to open the scoring. Konrad did well to create space for a cross from the left, picking out McKennie in the El Salvador box. The Juventus midfielder headed down for Josh Sargent, whose bouncing volley from the edge of the box went wide right of the post.Set pieces continued to be El Salvador’s best shot at breaking through, and Eriq Zavaleta, Toronto FC’s Indiana-born center back, forced Turner into a diving save with his header off a corner kick, with the U.S. goalkeeper smothering it as he went down and to his left in the 57th minute.Berhalter went to his bench for the first time in the 64th minute, making a triple substitution (teams are allotted up to five subs, across three stoppages) by bringing Acosta, Antonee Robinson and Jordan Pefok in and taking Konrad, Sargent and Sergiño Dest off.The U.S. looked livelier after the changes, and in the 72nd minute nearly went ahead. Reyna followed his own blocked shot and carried down the left-hand side before lofting in a cross for McKennie, who timed his run well. He couldn’t get his header from the center of the box down accurately, though, and it trickled wide of the post.McKennie then played provider four minutes later on another close call. Pefok did well to keep possession and slip a pass through the Salvadoran defense, with McKennie running onto it and surging down the right-hand side. His cross picked out Acosta, whose leaping header was kept out by goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez.Neither side threatened in the waning minutes, though, with both settling for the point that puts them in the middle of the pack with a long, albeit compressed, qualifying road ahead. 

Three things we learned from El Salvador 0-0 USMNT

Nicholas Mendola NBC Sports

They weren’t good.A United States men’s national team missing its best player and resting its best defender was not a good watch in a 0-0 draw with El Salvador in San Salvador to kick off its CONCACAF World Cup qualifying run.Christian Pulisic missed the match as he seemingly rebuilds fitness following a COVID-19 positive test-induced layoff, and the Yanks were anything but clinical in front of goal.Heck, they barely got there.Next up is Canada in Nashville on Sunday before a trip to Honduras.

Three things we learned from El Salvador – USMNT

1. Welcome back to nerves, second-guessing, excitement: Look, we loved the victories at the Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Nations League — especially the latter — but is there anything like the anticipation, anxiety, and excitement that comes from World Cup qualification, especially an away match in front of a packed house? Unfortunately, the U.S. did very little to ease that anxiety with most of its starting lineup ineffective, but it sure was nice to open a fresh run of qualifiers.

 Being talented enough to get selected to start in a side’s first World Cup qualifier means there are gifts to be opened on the pitch, but also long periods of adjustment. It’s understandable that Konrad de la Fuente, Josh Sargent, and Brenden Aaronson would start, especially with Christian Pulisic injured, but we were left waiting for those gifts to arrive in San Salvador for most of the first hour. The kids needed further blooding but there’s a veteran front three out there (Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes, and Sebastian Lletget in a full-health world) who delivers a halftime lead, perhaps by two.

3. Tyler Adams is very good: The youngest player to captain the United States men in a World Cup qualifier looked the part, almost always in the right position and barely putting a foot wrong when the ball found its way to him. Unfortunately, a midfield metronome isn’t a finisher.

Man of the Match: Tyler Adams

El Salvador – USMNT recap

The U.S. might’ve had it 1-0 with an unintentional chance when a low clearance bounded off Brenden Aaronson and over the bar.

Miles Robinson’s turn to put it over the frame when Gio Reyna swept a gorgeous free kick over the pack.

El Salvador forward Jairo Henriquez nodded just over the goal on one of their three corners in the first 15 minutes, but Sergino Dest bounced a shot to the home goalkeeper moments later.

The U.S. appeared anxious with the final ball in its best moments of the first half, Josh Sargent and Weston McKennie producing some magic but failing to spot a shooting opportunity and an incisive pass to Aaronson.

Alex Roldan came close to making it 1-0 for El Salvador off a corner conceded by a falling Matt Turner, as the home team’s best work came off set pieces and aggressive pressing in the U.S. half.

The best U.S. chance saw Konrad de la Fuente reclaim his blocked cross and sweep another one over the pack. McKennie nodded it to Sargent, but the Norwich City man’s side volley bid was wide of the wrong post.

De la Fuente led a terrific run early in the second half but laid off for Sargent to have a blocked shot rather than feed an open Reyna on his right. Matt Turner had

#INDvATL Gameday Preview  

Indy Eleven vs. Atlanta United 2

Saturday, September 4, 2021 – 7:00 P.M. ET  

IUPUI Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.

Local/National TV: WISH-TV 8

Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click to subscribe)  

>Radio (Spanish): Exitos 94.3 FM / exitos943.com

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

LIndy Eleven: 7W-8L-5D (-5 GD), 26 pts.; 5th in Central Division

Atlanta United 2: 6W-9L-7D (0 GD); 6th in Central Division

With all four inter-divisional games ticked off the schedule, it’s nothing but Central Division showdowns moving forward for Indy Eleven starting Saturday against Atlanta. Three weekends ago, ATL UTD 2 handed Indiana’s Team one of the worst defeats in the club’s USL Championship era, but there’s more important matters at hand than petty payback – as the calendar flips to a seminal seven-game September for the Boys in Blue, it’s now all about playoff positioning …

https://cdn4.sportngin.com/attachments/photo/9a82-163444986/Picture1_large.jpg

… and you can see why, as Indy Eleven remains tucked squarely in the middle of the Central table, currently just on the wrong side of the playoff line (with the caveat of having two games in hand on fourth place OKC). The Eleven begin the month with three of four at home before finishing out with a three-game road trip, making those contests at “The Mike” against Atlanta (Saturday), Sporting KC II (Sept. 11) and LouCity FC (Sept. 18) not “must-wins” … but, to paraphrase that famed sage Meatloaf, two outta three here wouldn’t be bad – and may just prove necessary to keep pace.The good news on that front? Indy has seemingly exorcised its demons at Carroll Stadium, collecting wins there the last two times out. The includes last Saturday, when forward Manuel Arteaga bagged his team-leading fifth & sixth goals of the season in a 2-0 win over Real Monarchs SLC. With Thursday’s mutually-agreed upon departure of fellow forward Jordan Hamilton, Arteaga is now the unquestioned talisman up top heading into the stretch drive. With that now abundantly clear, you can bet Interim Head Coach Max Rogers will further solidify the team’s high-pressure tactics that are heavily influenced by the Venezuelan’s endless energy at the point of the three-man frontline.Perhaps more important the last time out was the defensive effort, which included goalkeeper Jordan Farr making four saves en route to collecting the team’s first home clean sheet in eight outings dating back to a 2-0 win over SKC II on May 22. Center back A.J. Cochran spoke after the game about the team refocusing its efforts on securing shutouts at home and just making Carroll Stadium a tougher place to play for the opposition in general. Mission accomplished the last two games, but those were also against two of the weaker attacks in the league – it will have to emerge as an even larger emphasis against an Atlanta side whose 36 goals ranks fourth most across the entire Championship.Indy’s attack will be down another option temporarily after Peter-Lee Vassell reported to the Jamaican National Team early this week ahead of the Reggae Boyz’ trio of World Cup Qualifiers; he’ll miss the squad’s next two contests and should be available for selection next Saturday against SKC. Vassell’s presence should be offset by the continued return of winger Carl Haworth, whose 86th minute cameo against Real Monarchs marked the Canadian’s 2021 debut after recovering from a preseason leg injury.And make no mistake, ATL UTD 2 will look to “run and gun” its way to success on Saturday – and “2” looks to be their magic number. Atlanta has gone undefeated in the 10 games in which it’s scored at least twice (4W-0L-6D) but has registered a rough 2W-9L-1D record when scoring once or not at all. As impressive as Atlanta’s 36 goals scored have been, the same amount of concessions (fifth most in the Championship) have made an arguably bigger mark on their season, with the Georgia side sitting three games on the wrong side of the .500 mark.Three gaudy wins over FC Tulsa (5-0), Indy (6-2) and SKC (4-1) – the last two of which have come in recent weeks – have done wonders for Atlanta’s goal differential, and that could prove important if the standings remain as tight as they’ve been. However, heavy losses the last two weekends at Pittsburgh (1-4 L) and Tulsa (1-3 L) have tipped the “GD” scales back to even and moved Atlanta’s road record to 1W-7L-3D on the season, a trend that Indiana’s Team will look to continue Saturday as it tries to make “The Mike” a true fortress for the stretch drive.

 SERIES HISTORY VS. ATLANTA UNITED 2

USL Championship regular season: 2W-2L-2D (8 GF/10 GA)

USL Championship at home: 2W-0L-0D (3 GF/0 GA)

Deuces are wild for Indy Eleven & Atlanta United 2, with each holding a 2W-2L-2D record in their series heading into Saturday night’s clash at Carroll Stadium. Both meetings earlier this season were contested at Fifth Third Bank Field in suburban Keenesaw, Ga., where the teams dueled to a 1-1 draw on July 7 before ATL dominated from the jump in a 6-2 win on August 8. This year’s series will end back at “The Mike” on October 2.The only two previous matchups in the Circle City yielded wins for the Boys in Blue at Lucas Oil Stadium, captain Matt Watson notching an early game-winner in a 2-0 victory on June 9, 2018, followed by Alioune Diakhate’s 84th minute goal – his first and only with the Eleven – marking all the scoring in a 1-0 triumph on June 22, 2019.

 IND PLAYER TO WATCH: MF GERSHON KOFFIE

If the only thing you noticed about Koffie during his full 90 performance last Saturday were his back-to-back chances from the top of the 18 in second half stoppage time, we’re gonna take you to task a little bit. The Ghanaian was perhaps the most active player on the pitch, covering more ground than any of the Boys in Blue, completing 49 of his 57 passes (both second highest on the squad) on the evening – more than half of which (26) came in the opposing half of the field – while also winning three tackles, two interceptions, a team-high nine possessions gained, and four of his seven duels.Koffie’s active night played a big part in helping Indy Eleven own a 31%-22% advantage when it came to time spent in the final third. And during the other 47% when the ball was in the middle third? The above stats show just a glimpse of why Koffie essentially owned “Route 1” between the penalty boxes. To go along with that grit, some class as well … go back and watch his “hockey assist” on the Indy opener, his ball from midfield springing Nick Moon down the right flank to set up Arteaga’s eventual game-winner.That two-way play is exactly what Koffie was brought to Indy to deliver, and Saturday evening provided perhaps the best display of what the recently-turned 30-year-old can do in that deep-lying midfield role. An injury kept Koffie home from Indy’s nightmare trip to Atlanta last month, so it will be interesting to see how his presence will affect the rhythm of both sides’ play through the center of the pitch this time around. 

ATL PLAYER TO WATCH: MF AJANI FORTUNE

One player who might see a lot of Koffie in that middle of the park Saturday is Fortune, the 18-year-old Atlanta United Academy product who has made 15 appearances for ATL UTD 2 this season but was only officially signed by the USL Championship outfit last week. In recent weeks Fortune has been called to serve at various spots on Atlanta’s three-man midfield line … but no matter where he has lined up, his heat maps show a tendency to drift to the center channel – and if that is the case, you can be sure he’ll meet acquaintances with Koffie plenty.But therein lies the issue for Atlanta, which has seen Robbie Mertz take a more attacking presence from his spot on the midfield three. Should that be the case on Saturday, that will leave Fortune and Christian Wiley the tall task of going toe-to-toe with Moon & Co. down the right flank, especially on quick counter opportunities. Like much of ATL’s roster, while the young Fortune may favor to boldly attack, he’ll have to balance that want with the need to stay back and defend with numbers, especially if Indy can continue its recent trend of holding more of its possession in its attacking third.

9/2/21 USA Men vs El Salvador Tonight 10 pm CBSSN, World Cup Qualifying this week, US Ladies Play in Cincy

 

World Cup Qualifying leads the schedule this week and next as teams across the world either begin or continue the World Cup Qualifying process.  The World Cup is just over 1 full year away as Dec 2022 Qatar will host the games.  For Europe, Africa and South America the process began earlier – but for the US and CONCACAF – (our region which includes Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Hondoras, Jamaica and more the process starts tonight.   Eight teams will battle to determine which 3 teams will represent the CONCACAF in the World Cup – the 4th team plays Asia’s 4th place team to advance.  For the US – this ended in heartbreak in 2017 as our loss at Trinidad and Tobago combined with a host of other crazy outcomes knocked us out of the World Cup for the first time since 1990. 

USA vs El Salvador Tonight 10 pm CBS Sports Network + Paramount +

The Golden Generation as I have dubbed our young US contingent – which is coming off consecutive defeats of Mexico to win the title – boast of the current Gold Cup and Nations League CONCACAF Champions.  The US won the Nations League with our European contingent of players – while the Gold Cup winning team was mainly MLS players and our not regular starters (I refuse to say B team anymore).  Still World Cup Qualifying on the road in CONCACAF is unlike any other region.  The US Starts with a huge game on the road vs and El Salvador team that has improved with former US team Asst Manager under Bob Bradley Hugo Perez in charge.  El Salvador features Westfield and IU’s own Eric Zavaleta at Center Back.  Zavaleta starts for Toronto FC and played well in the Gold Cup. 

The US returns for a huge match vs Canada on Sunday at 8 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Canada finished 3rd in the Gold Cup this summer and is certainly on the rise in the World Rankings – but the US will be expected to hold home field at Nashville on Sunday night.  The 3rd game of this round will be @ Honduras on Wednesday night on CBSSN and Paramount plus.  Thanks to Paramount + and CBS Sports Network American’s will be able to watch the Away Game US Qualifiers for the first time in years.  Last time the games were on beIN Sport which many folks don’t have.  Paramount+ will also show a bunch of the other CONCACAF qualifiers like Mexico, Canada and others – so fans can keep up if you doal out the $5 a month to sign up.  With Champions League and Europa League and NWSL – honestly I signed up last year – its worth the $5 per month.

US GAMES

Tonight, Sept 2 10 pm                   El Salvador vs USA          CBS Sports Network + Paramount+

Sunday 8 pm                                   USA vs CANADA               FS 1

Wed, Sept 8 – 10 pm                      Honduras vs USA             CBS Sports Network, Paramount+

It will be interesting to see how Coach Berhalter lines things up over the next week of games.  Already we know Christian Pulisic (recovering from Covid 19) and GK Zach Steffan (back spams) did not travel down to El Salvador and will probably be saved for Canada on Sunday night. 

Who does he start tonight

Josh Sargent

Aaronson/Reyna

Lletget/McKinney

Adams

Robinson/Ream/Robinson/Dest

Turner

I like the US to win 1-0 tonight with goals by either Aaronson or Reyna. I am ok on with a tie call it 1 -1. Again we need to get a couple of wins or ties on the road and of course you must beat Canada at home.

Projections

Via FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index, here are the USA’s odds for each of the first three qualifying matches:

– at El Salvador: 42% win, 32% draw, 26% loss
– vs. Canada: 51% win, 27% draw, 23% loss
– at Honduras: 52% win, 26% draw, 22% loss

Average expected points from this group of matches: 5.2.

How to Watch

Advertised Kick-off Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Pacific

Venue: Allegiant Stadium: Estadio Cuscatlan; San Salvador, El Salvador

Available TV: CBS Sports Network (English). Universo (Spanish)

Available Streaming: Paramount+ (App/Website), fuboTV (Free trial)

Check out all the World Cup Qualifying games on the schedule below!!

USA MEN

ASN analysis: Berhalter names long-awaited USMNT World Cup qualifying roster

USA vs. El Salvador, 2022 World Cup qualifying: What to watch for By Donald Wine II Stars and Stripes

USMNT’s World Cup qualifying preview: Can Pulisic, McKennie & Co. get off to winning start?

USMNT roster: Pulisic, Reyna, McKennie all in
Bonagura: USMNT has big talent, bigger expectations

Hugo Perez’s journey from U.S. playmaker to El Salvador’s coach ESPN Jeff Carlisle

WORLD


Tight CONMEBOL WCQ table about to be shaken up
  im Vickery

Wahl: Why Argentina Can’t Let Go of Diego Maradona

GAMES OF THE WEEK (World Cup Qualifying)

Thurs, Sept 2

2:45 pm         England vs Hungary ESPN+  

2:$5pm          Sweden vs Spain    ESPN+  

2:45 pm         Italy vs Bulgaria ESPN+

3 pm              Brazil vs Argentina Fubo

5 pm              Equador vs Chile Fubo

8 pm               Canada vs Honduras paramount +

10pm              MEXICO vs Jamaica Univision, fubo TV

10 pm            El Salvador vs USA CBS Sports Network + Paramount+

Saturday, sept 4

12 noon          Latvia vs Norway ESPN+  

12 noon          Ireland vs Azerbajan ESPN+  

2:45 pm         Ukraine vs France ESPN+

2:45 pm         Netherlands vs Montegro  ESPN+

7:30 pm         Orlando City s Columbus  ESPN+

Sunday, sept5

12 noon          England vs Andorra ESPN2  

12 noon          Iceland vs North Madcedonia ESPN+  

2:45 pm         Swiss vs Italy ESPN+

2:45 pm         Belgium vs Czech Republic ESPN+

3 pm              Brazil vs Argentina Fubo

5 pm              Equador vs Chile Fubo

7 pm               Costa Rica vs MEXICO CBS Sports Network, Universo

8 pm              USA vs CANADA  CBS Sports Network + Paramount+

Tuesday, Sept 7

12 noon          Latvia vs Norway ESPN+  

12 noon          Ireland vs Azerbajan ESPN+  

2:45 pm         France vs Finland ESPN+

2:45 pm         Netherlands vs Turkey  ESPN+

2:45 pm         Austria vs Scotland ESPN+

Wed, Sept 8

2:45 pm         England vs Poland ESPN+  

2:45 pm         Iceland vs Germany ESPN+  

2:45 pm         Italy vs Lithuania EPSN+

7 pm               Costa Rica vs Jamaica Paramount+

7:30 pm         Canada vs El  Salvador Paramount +

9 pm               Panama vs Mexico Paramount+

10 pm            Honduras vs USA CBS Sports Network, Paramount+

Thurs, Sept 9

7 pm              Colombia vs Chile Fubo

7:30 pm         Argentina vs Bolivia Fubo

8:30 pm         Brazil vs Peru  Fubo

5 pm              Equador vs Chile Fubo

Fri, Sept 10

3 pm               Lorient vs Lille – France beIN Sport

7:30 pm         Atlanta United vs Orlando City FS1

10 pm             Tiajuana vs Santos Laguna FS2

USWNT vs. Paraguay (Cincy) Tix Are On Sale Now

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Location: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Time: 7:30 PM ET

Sale opens: Now

Deadline: First-come, first-served

 

Opening three games.  

ASN  BY BRIAN SCIARETTAPOSTED   AUGUST 26, 20212:30 AM

AT LONG LAST and after months of speculations and working towards this, Gregg Berhalter has finally revealed his first roster of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign. Since the resumption of play from COVID, the U.S. national team has played in two CONCACAF tournaments – winning both – and played a bunch of friendlies just to build to this point of being prepared for qualifying.Of course, the U.S. national team will open on the road against El Salvador and that will be followed up by a home game against Canada in Nashville and then a road trip to Honduras. If the U.S. can rack up points early, it will pave the way for smooth qualification.Part of what went wrong for the United States in the failed 2018 qualification wasn’t the ending, it was the poor start – with two opening losses.Here is the roster along with thoughts on the team.
 

THE 26-PLAYER ROSTER

 GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 23/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 7/0)

DEFENDERS (10): George Bello (Atlanta United; 3/0), John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 43/3), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 11/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 6/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 45/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 12/0), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 9/3), James Sands (New York City FC; 6/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 64/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 17/2)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 37/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 14/1), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 29/7), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 24/7), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 25/0)

FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg/AUT; 7/3), Konrad de la Fuente (Olympique Marseille/FRA; 1/0), Jordan Pefok (BSC Young Boys/SUI; 6/1), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 0/0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 38/16), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 8/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 16/5), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 13/1)

 OVERALL THOUGHTS

 This is very strong roster. Is it 100%? No. There are some injuries and players left off because they haven’t played lately due to recent or possibly pending transfers. But the odds the U.S. national team or any other national team will be at 100% is very slim.What the team has right now is Pulisic, Adams, McKennie, Dest, Brooks, and Reyna on a roster. Those six players – all Champions League starters from clubs in the “Big Five” leagues of Europe – are on the team. Then you have key backups and other key contributors too.A big portion of this new qualifying formation (with eight teams, and three-game windows) is that it will be a test of depth. That is a good thing for the United States as it now has more depth than just about any team in CONCACAF.  Teams are going to be hard pressed to start players for all three games in one window – and the U.S. team can handle missing certain players at any point in time. One question many don’t seem to be asking is how opponents treat games against the United States and Mexico? Do they start their best lineups, or do they field backups while saving key players for more winnable games? That remains to be seen.Sure, there are a few quibbles some fans might make here and there with the roster. That will always be the case. But the objections are nibbling at the margins. The vast majority of the key decisions are correctBerhalter is surely very pleased with what he was able to select, and the U.S. team should feel confident heading into qualifiers.

 FORMATION THOUGHTS: 6 CBS, WINGERS, MIDS

 Calling in six central defenders (Brooks, Robinson, McKenzie, Sands, Zimmerman, and Ream) is a lot. But that has to be revealing in that Berhalter is seriously thinking about going with a three central defender formation at least some of the time in these games. Berhalter used that in the final of the Nations League and he also used it for the start of the Gold Cup – until Zimmerman was injured.The pieces seem to fit for that approach. The U.S. team has the speedy fullbacks who like to get forward – Dest, Robinson, Yedlin, Bello – plus they also have limited central midfielders.The U.S. team also has an abundance of wingers on this team – Pulisic, Reyna, Aaronson, Weah, and de la Fuente.That seems to suggest we will see (at least sometimes) a formation that is a variation of a 5-2-3 with two wingbacks joining the two central midfielders. There were also fewer central midfielders selected in proportion to the rest of the team.It’s hard to see Berhalter abandoning his typical 4-3-3 formation but he seems to be selecting a roster that gives him a chance to play a lot with a 5-2-3 formation.

 PEPI’S BIG INCLUSION

 The most surprising inclusion on the roster and the one that will generate a lot of headlines the selection of Ricardo Pepi – the latest gem from the FC Dallas academy. The 2003-born forward has always been considered a top prospect in American soccer and this season he has scored nine goals in 20 appearances for FC Dallas. European scouts are starting to circle and Pepi is justifying the hype.But lately Mexico has started to recruit him hard – Mexico’s head coach Tata Martino specifically. Pepi, a native of El Paso, is eligible for El Tri and has been publicly non-committal about such a decision.Now it’s important to note that if Pepi plays in these games, he is not permanently cap-tied due to the new FIFA rules and his age. Still, it would make it very hard to switch to Mexico as he would have to wait three years (an not play for the U.S. in the meantime). For all intents and purposes, if he plays in these games, he will likely never play for Mexico.Having Pepi in this camp is a huge win for Gregg Berhalter and his staff. If they do indeed play him, they will have likely landed the top teenager American forward in several years – and doing so in the face of the U.S. team’s arch-rival.While it is certainy a bonus to secure commitments from dual nationals who are either born and/or raised entirely abroad, it is also massively important to not let homegrown developed talent slip away.

 OTHER SURPRISING INCLUSIONS?

 There are few surprises on this roster. It was always expected that the overwhelming majority of this roster was going to come from the Nations League and Gold Cup winning teams from this summer. That turned out to be true. Of the 26 players on the roster, just two players were not part from either of the summer rosters. The first was Pepi, the other is Konrad de la Fuente.De la Fuente, 20, is a welcome inclusion into the team and he has impressed mightily since moving from Barcelona to Marseille in France. The Miami-area native didn’t stand out in his first caps last year – in the break following the COVID-19 shutdown – and he had a tough time at the 2019 U-20 World Cup where he was playing up a cycle.After moving from Barcelona this summer, he had a great preseason followed by a strong first couple of games to start the season.
He is significant for a few reasons – one being allowing players to play natural positions. Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson have been playing on the wing for the U.S. team but neither is likely to remain as a winger for his club – Aaronson plays predominantly as a No. 10 for Philadelphia and now Salzburg. Reyna has already started that central move for Borussia Dortmund.De la Fuente is a true winger. If he can play well for the U.S. team, it gives Berhalter more freedom to move Reyna and/or Aaronson into the middle.That is still a little further down the road as de la Fuente hasn’t been with the U.S. team for some time and will probably come of the bench for the coming games.

 NOTABLE OMISSIONS

 Every roster has some tough decisions of players to leave off. This roster is no different. It’s imporant to look at the players who aren’t on this roster – as many of them could be part of the team later in this qualifying campaign. 

In addition to long-term injuries to Richard Ledezma, Jordan Morris, and Aaron Long, there were also more recent injuries to Yunus Musah, Gyasi Zardes, Daryl Dike, and Paul Arriola. While Musah returned to training with Valencia this past week, he still hasn’t even been playing in preseason games. He will instead remain with his club during the break and attempt to return to the starting lineup.

Matthew Hoppe impressed during the Gold Cup but has instead returned to a poor Schalke team where he hasn’t played – likely looking to make a transfer. His lack of games this past month likely made the decision easier for Berhalter. Plus, of Hoppe does transfer within this week, he can adjust to his new club. The inclusion of Pepi also probably gave coverage to leave Hoppe off.

In much a similar fashion, Reggie Cannon hasn’t played since the Gold Cup final and hasn’t even been part of Boavista’s matchday rosters. He’s looking for a move and could also use the time to adjust to a new club should the move happen.

Berhalter has frequently spoken highly of Chris Richards and his omission was one of the more surprising decisions for the roster. But he has only played a few limited minutes for Bayern Munich and could very well go out on loan soon – making his time better spent securing a starting job. The U.S. team’s central defense is in pretty good shape now. Richards will likely be involved with the U.S. team sooner than later, but it would better for everyone if he was in a club situation where he was starting regularly.

After being the top option for the U.S. team at the Gold Cup and securing a move to Royal Antwerp, Sam Vines wasleft off this roster and Berhalter instead went with George Bello as the other left back along with Antonee Robinson. Vines has played just once with Antwerp and is still getting adjusted. Meanwhile, Bello has been in top form recently for a rapidly improving Atlanta team.

Matt Miazga is yet another player who is adjusting to a new team – Deportivo Alaves in La Liga – and he is yet to make and appearance for them after going on loan from Chelsea. Miazga didn’t play in the Nations League games and the emergence of central defenders at the Gold Cup made the position more competitive for him. Miazga is in the picture but will have to play well in Spain to get back into the mix soon.

Eryk Williamson was somewhat of a surprising omission given that the team did not select many central midfielders and Williamson impressed at the Gold Cup in the wins in both semifinal and final. The likely reason is that Berhalter felt comfortable with Aaronson or Reyna shifting into the middle if needed. His omission, however, was more surprising than expected.

Gianluca Busio showed some promise at the Gold Cup but it was also revealing in that he needed to improve in other areas of his game. He is just getting situated with Venezia where he could debut this weekend. His club is going to be in a touch fight for survival in Serie A this year and Busio needs to adjust there so that he can contribute.

Nicholas Gioacchini: The Kansas City native was a useful player off the bench at the Gold Cup but could be on the move very soon from SM Caen.

Luca de la Torre: the Heracles central midfielder played well in the March friendlies but the fact that he missed out on the summer rosters (where he asked out of the Gold Cup) cost him here. He can still get back into the team but he needs to be strong out of the gate to start the Eredivisie season.

Julian Green: another player who just lost out because of other players raising their game. If he’s a winger, he lost out to Pulisic, Reyna, Weah, Aaronson, and de la Fuente. If he’s a forward, he lost out to Sargent, Pefok, and Pepi. If he’s a midfielder, there just wasn’t any room. He can get back into the mix, but he needs to step up even more with Greuther Furth. 

USMNT World Cup qualifying: Gregg Berhalter’s squad is strong, but watch out for El Salvador, Canada

ep 1, 2021Bill ConnellyESPN Staff Writer

The time to exorcise demons — or try to, at least — has finally arrived. Exactly 1,423 days after a loss to Trinidad & Tobago prevented the United States men’s national team from qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, qualification for the 2022 competition finally begins. The USA’s 14-game path to Qatar begins on Thursday against El Salvador in San Salvador‘s Estadio Cuscatlan and finishes on March 30 in Costa Rica.

– USMNT roster: Pulisic, Reyna, McKennie all in
– Bonagura: USMNT has big talent, bigger expectations

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The first three matches of this rapid-fire schedule take place in September before things resume in October. Here are a few stats and notes to keep in mind as the competition finally begins.

The goal is 24 points

The past six CONCACAF World Cup qualification tournaments all featured six teams playing 10 matches each. While the 2018 qualification run was particularly strange — not only did the USA fail to qualify but Panama qualified with just 13 points — the dividing line has typically been around 15-17 points. Earn 17 or more and you qualify without exception. If you get 16 or fewer, you’re relying on circumstance to carry you through.

Due to the coronavirus, the format changed this time around, and now eight teams are playing 14 games each. With a couple of weaker teams in the field, there might be a couple of extra easy-win opportunities for the more high-quality countries, and that might alter the math a little. But 1.7 points per game is still a pretty high bar and would almost certainly result in a top-three finish and automatic qualification. Over 14 matches, that projects to about 24 points.This compressed sprint of a schedule means the U.S. will play eight matches between now and Nov. 16; with 1.7 points per game as the guideline, the bar for this batch is therefore 13-14 points, equivalent to four wins and one or two draws. Of course, the USA’s schedule is pretty back-loaded in terms of quality, so perhaps the early bar should be a little bit higher.World team ratings tend to separate the eight teams in the field into three approximate tiers: Mexico and the United States in Tier 1, a rising Canada and slipping Costa Rica in Tier 2, and El Salvador, HondurasJamaica and Panama in some order in Tier 3. This first batch of matches, then, features two Tier 3 road trips (El Salvador and Honduras) and a Tier 2 home game (Canada). October’s three-match swing features a Tier 2 home game (Costa Rica), a Tier 3 home game (Jamaica) and another Tier 3 road trip (Panama). Mexico doesn’t show up until the seventh match of qualifying (Nov. 12 in Cincinnati), while the USA’s first Tier 2 road trip doesn’t come until Jan. 30, 2022, at Canada.It would save everyone some anxiety, then, if Gregg Berhalter’s team kept the dropped points to a minimum out of the gate.

A first-choice(ish) lineup

It’s incredible to think about the small number of opportunities you get to use your genuine first-choice lineup in international play. In the past two years, Berhalter has been at the helm for 23 matches: 11 friendlies, six Gold Cup matches and six CONCACAF Nations League matches. He got a look at 74 different players in that span, 48 of whom played at least 100 minutes. (Only one, midfielder Sebastian Lletget, played more than 950.)

These matches have come primarily against lesser competition and rarely (if ever) in a genuine road setting, and the U.S. has performed well, winning 18 of 23 with two draws. But the heart of the roster — the quartet of attacking midfielder Christian Pulisic, winger Giovanni Reyna, midfielders Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams — played together just once in those 23 matches, in the Nations League victory over Mexico in June.

How the U.S. plays against Mexico does not typically pair up with how it plays as a favorite against a lesser team, but two other matches from this sample could be telling as we figure out what to expect over the next week: the closed-door friendlies against Wales and Panama from last November.

With Pulisic quickly trying to regain his fitness after a positive coronavirus test in August — he also didn’t travel for the El Salvador game, remaining in Nashville to train — we might not see the core foursome in action all that much over the coming week. But the trio of Reyna-McKennie-Adams should see an extended run, at least, just as it did against Wales and Panama when Pulisic was injured.The USMNT won two trophies this summer, but none of that matters now that World Cup qualifying is starting. Can they go 3-for-3 over the break? Omar Vega/Getty Images

Berhalter’s possession preferences are clear. When possible, he wants the U.S. to hog the ball, pragmatically build play from the back and apply pressure in certain areas of the pitch. He proved flexible with his tactics this summer — with a second-choice lineup, the U.S. won the Gold Cup by beating Mexico with the more vertical, counter-attacking approach preferred by American coaches in decades past. But his preferences are obvious, and with his first-choice lineup (or close to it) on the field, we should see the U.S. indeed attempting to hog the ball over these first three matches.

Against Wales, that approach provided about as much sterility as the empty stadium in which they played. The U.S. controlled 61% of the possession and averaged 6.2 passes per possession to Wales’ 3.9. It began 19% of their possessions in the attacking third, while Wales began only 3% there. But against a hunkered-down opponent, it generated almost nothing in attack. With as much of the ball as the team could possibly want, the U.S. managed just seven shots at a middling 0.11 xG per shot. Only two of the shots provided any danger whatsoever — a miss from Konrad De La Fuente in the 33rd minute and a short-range shot from Lletget in the 45th minute that was saved by Danny Ward.

The Americans did effectively limit Wales’ counter-attacking potential (just four shots worth a total of 0.34 xG), and having McKennie (90 minutes) and Adams (71) in the midfield makes a significant difference in that regard. While the goalkeeping from each of the first-teamers — Manchester City‘s Zack Steffen, the New England Revolution‘s Matt Turner and Nottingham Forest’s Ethan Horvath — was stellar, the ability to snuff out attacks before they generate shots to begin with is among the most important attributes in the sport. (Steffen also didn’t make the trip from Nashville, though Turner’s in better form.)

Against a more aggressive opponent, the U.S. thrived. Playing Panama in Austria, it faced a lot more pressure and occasionally struggled with it: Panama began 11% of its possessions in the attacking third. But the U.S. recovered quickly, allowing zero shots in those nine possessions and when it survived bouts of pressure, it created loads of opportunities. The U.S. attempted 15 shots at 0.18 xG per shot and scored six times — three times off of possessions that it began in the attacking third.

Granted, the most successful creators and attackers in the Panama match — Caen’s Nicholas Gioacchini (two goals on three shots) and PSV Eindhoven‘s Richie Ledezma (two assists on four chances created) — did not make the roster for the September qualifiers, but McKennie was an outright wrecking ball. He’ll be in uniform.

1:36

Should Christian Pulisic be captain of the USMNT?

Herculez Gomez compares Christian Pulisic to Landon Donovan as he discusses whether the 22-year-old should be the USMNT’s captain.

El Salvador and Canada can press

Combining the stats from the 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League and 2021 Gold Cup, only two teams began more possessions in the attacking third than the United States: Canada (10.3) and El Salvador (9.8).

With Bayern’s Alphonso Davies healthy and forward Jonathan David (Lille) and wingers Cyle Larin (Besiktas) and Tajon Buchanan (soon on his way to Club Brugge) all available, Canada boasts as much pure attacking speed as any team in the group. When all four of these guys were in the lineup during the preliminary World Cup qualification rounds in June, Canada outscored four opponents by a combined 15-0. Zooming out a bit and looking only at when the Davies-David-Larin trio is together, the team has won six of seven games by a combined 23-3.

Was the competition level dreadful in this sample? Absolutely. The Canadians lost to the only decent opponent on the list — 3-1 to Mexico in 2019 — but this is the most exciting young roster core Canada has potentially ever had, and only Larin is older than 22.Even if the U.S. has more overall talent, Canada can create matchup advantages you have to address. If anyone can effectively pressure an American back line that’s usually, but definitely not always, stable on the ball, it’s John Herdman’s squad. In this regard, it was a bit surprising that Berhalter didn’t bring another steady-passing midfielder into the fold for these matches — someone such as Greuther Furth’s Julian Green, perhaps, or Venezia’s Gianluca Busio.Mind you, El Salvador will also try like crazy to fluster America’s back line. This isn’t a team the U.S. has traditionally struggled with — America has won 14 of their past 16 meetings, with two draws and a scoring margin of 49-8 — but La Selecta play with energy and a strong identity, and it has brought solid results of late. El Salvador swept through six preliminary qualification matches without defeat, and although it lost a combined three times to Qatar and Mexico over the summer, each was by just a one-goal margin. Seattle Sounders right-back Alex Roldan (younger brother of America’s Cristian Roldan) and Houston Dynamo defensive midfielder Darwin Ceren give the team upside and defensive solidity, and although it doesn’t score a ton, it can frustrate the hell out of you in build-up play.

Among these first three opponents, Honduras is by far the most likely Wales of the bunch. It certainly looked the part in its 1-0 Nations League loss to the U.S. in June. Honduras created only 0.19 xG from seven shots and occupied 36% of the possession. Its primary goal was to hoof balls out of dangerous areas and bunker down, and while the Americans had all the possession they could possibly want, they didn’t find a breakthrough until Jordan Pefok’s 89th-minute goal.

Creating quality chances against packed-in defenses will be key

While opponents such as Mexico, Canada, El Salvador and Jamaica will at least selectively take the fight to the U.S., advancing stress-free through qualification will require strong execution against parked buses.On the perimeter of the attack, the USA’s quality and potential are undeniable. Reyna, still only 18, has scored 14 goals with seven assists in all competitions (for club and country) over the past 12 months, and 20-year olds Brenden Aaronson and De La Fuente appear to be thriving with new clubs — Aaronson is a pressuring machine in a pressure-friendly Red Bull Salzburg system, and De La Fuente has been exciting early in his first season with Marseille (four chances created, two assists and an 89% completion rate in the attacking third in 268 minutes). Of course, this says nothing of Pulisic, who remains the most complete attacker in the player pool even if he’s been unfortunate from an injury and fitness standpoint.Without a commanding presence at centre-forward, though, the team just didn’t have enough ideas for cracking open a stubborn defense like the one Wales features, which has been a problem for the U.S. player pool for a while now. Daryl Dike‘s emergence as a (nearly) world-class poacher in 2020-21 was intriguing, but he’s still working back toward fitness after some minor injury issues and will miss this September go-round. Berhalter did select serviceable options such as Norwich City’s Josh Sargent and Young Boys‘ Pefok, but maybe the most interesting name on the roster this time around is Ricardo Pepi.The 18-year-old has scored 11 goals in 21 matches for FC Dallas this season and recently chose the U.S. over Mexico. He’s not a commanding physical presence at 6-foot-1, 163 pounds, but he is showing massive promise. How much of a run will Berhalter give him?

Projections

Via FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index, here are the USA’s odds for each of the first three qualifying matches:

– at El Salvador: 42% win, 32% draw, 26% loss
– vs. Canada: 51% win, 27% draw, 23% loss
– at Honduras: 52% win, 26% draw, 22% loss

Average expected points from this group of matches: 5.2.

The U.S. men’s soccer team has arguably its best squad ever. Will it win on the road in World Cup qualifying?

We know so much about Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Sergiño Dest, and other American soccer stars. But there’s one thing we don’t know yet.Weston McKennie, center, is part of a new generation of U.S. men’s soccer stars who have the team aiming high in World Cup qualifying.Mark Humphrey / AP

by Jonathan Tannenwald

Updated 

Sep 1, 2021

We know so much about the players on the U.S. men’s soccer team these days, or at least we think we do.

We watch them every week on our TVs, computers, phones, and every other device imaginable. We see their exploits for some of the biggest clubs in the world, in the biggest leagues in the world: England’s Chelsea, Spain’s Barcelona, Italy’s Juventus, Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, and more.

We follow their interactions with each other on Twitter and Instagram, full of jokes and emojis and videos. We presume from this that they have chemistry that will show itself on the field when they play together.

And when they have played together, they’ve shown that to be true. Less often than anyone would like, thanks to the pandemic, but this summer’s Concacaf Nations League title win showed signs of what could be.

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» READ MORE: Christian Pulisic helps make USMNT’s Concacaf Nations League win an epic chapter in U.S.-Mexico rivalry

There’s one big thing we don’t know yet. What will they do when they take the show on the road in World Cup qualifying? Will all the hype from the best collection of individual talent in U.S. men’s team history translate into results? And will those results avenge the still-haunting failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and send the Americans to Qatar next year?

We can’t know until it happens. So we won’t know until the final whistle of Thursday’s 14-game qualifying tournament opener in El Salvador (10 p.m., CBS Sports Network and Universo).Brenden Aaronson, center, stretches during soccer practice for the U.S. Men’s National Team Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)Mark Humphrey / AP

The U.S. program has changed immensely since that infamous October night in Couva, Trinidad when it hit rock bottom — almost four full years ago.

More elite Americans than ever now thrive in Europe, with a record 12 U.S. players in this season’s Champions League group stage. Many, like former Union players Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie, grew up with MLS teams and were sold abroad for big sums. They earned the right to displace the last generation of players, many of whom never made it to bigger stages than MLS.

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Inquirer LIVE: Styling & Profiling with Damichael Cole

Of the 25 U.S. players who will be at San Salvador’s Estadio Cuscatlán (which will be half-filled due to pandemic restrictions), just four were on hand in Couva: Christian Pulisic, Tim Ream, DeAndre Yedlin, and Kellyn Acosta. Only Ream is older than 30, and only Acosta — whose skill set fits a specific midfield role in the U.S. system — remains in the domestic league.

We know Pulisic is ready for what’s to come, and raring to go after a positive COVID-19 test sidelined him. Thankfully, he was fully vaccinated, so he wasn’t affected beyond having to sit for 10 days. The resulting lack of match fitness will keep him out of Thursday’s game. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, from Downingtown, is also out due to back spasms. Matt Turner will start in his place.

» READ MORE: Christian Pulisic and Zack Steffen won’t play in the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying opener

So are the other big-name youngsters really ready? Will Weston McKennie, Sergiño Dest, Josh Sargent, Tyler Adams and Gio Reyna answer the bell? Will Aaronson, on a rocket-ship ascent with Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, step up with Pulisic out?Christian Pulisic, right, works out during a soccer practice for the U.S. Men’s National Team Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)Mark Humphrey / AP

Adams and McKennie, who by their demeanors and central midfield roles are natural leaders, say their team is ready.

“There’s no Plan B for us — there’s only been a Plan A, and that’s obviously to qualify for the World Cup,” Adams said. “When I think about the experiences that we’ve had in the past two years, I would say as a group, how much we’ve developed, it’s ultimately for this moment right here. We’ve waited a long time for this.”

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McKennie emphasized that he doesn’t feel burdened by the 2017 failure, though he knows many fans do.

“Obviously, it’s going to be in the back of our heads somewhere, but that’s not our main fuel,” he said. “Right now, we’re just trying to create a legacy of our own … We’re just looking forward to this new journey, a new cycle, and not trying to dwell on the past.”

U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter knows what’s coming especially well. Fourteen of his 44 U.S. national team appearances came in World Cup qualifiers, including a 2-0 win at El Salvador in 2004. These days, he has some of the first words in practice sessions, and will have some of the last words in the locker room before kickoff.

“One thing that gives me confidence is you have guys on the team that are playing for really high-level clubs, and their expectation is to win every single game they’re in,” Berhalter said. “There’s a different sense of urgency in these games, and a lot of times, we have a target on our backs as the United States … I think we have the quality, and now it’s about, do we have the right mentality.”

After four hard years of waiting, it’s time to find out.

As World Cup Qualifying Starts, USMNT Embraces Concacaf’s Dark Arts

Winning the game within the game can often make the difference in this region’s unique cauldron, and a young U.S. team is prepared for all of it.BRIAN STRAUS  SI

  •  

Thank you for supporting journalism that matters. Enjoy unlimited access to SI.com for just $1. Members log in.As soon as Qatari captain Hassan Al-Haydos looked up and replied, “You can come celebrate with us in the corner,” Kellyn Acosta knew he’d won. The theatrics and trash talk had paid off. Al-Haydos had been broken.“I just wanted to rile things up a little bit to put him off, to give him something to think about,” Acosta recalls. “I knew I had him when he said something back. I’m like, ‘This guy for sure’s going to miss it.’ ”There were about 30 minutes remaining in a tense and tied Concacaf Gold Cup semifinal and Qatar, which was competing in this summer’s regional championship as a guest, was threatening to spoil the party in Austin. U.S. men’s national team defender James Sands appeared to trip a Qatari attacker, and after consulting the field-side video monitor, the referee awarded a penalty kick. Acosta, aware that the Americans’ Gold Cup run probably hung in the balance, closely followed the official most of the way.“I was asking him dumb questions that I already knew the answer to,” the 26-year-old Colorado Rapids midfielder and U.S. veteran tells Sports Illustrated. “I was like, ‘What happened? Was it a foul? Who got him? Is the sky blue? Is the grass green?’ Just some bulls— questions to delay it as much as possible.”When he was done with the ref, Acosta approached Al-Haydos, who was standing at the spot, just 12 yards from lifting Qatar into the lead. That’s not a long distance. Just about anyone who’s ever kicked a ball can manage it easily. All pros can pick their spots. But penalty kicks under pressure are rarely about technique. Rather, they’re a mental exercise, whether it’s a battle of wits against the goalkeeper or a test of the shooter’s self control and composure. Al-Haydos, 30, had played more than 140 times for his country and scored 32 international goals. He’s as veteran as they come. But he was new to Concacaf.Drawing on his own experience and observation of similar climactic moments, Acosta went to work, standing between Al-Haydos and the goal and then letting his mouth run.

“I was just saying, ‘You’re going to let your country down. You’re going to miss it. I’ve seen you try to chip it before. You’re wearing No. 10 for no reason. You might as well take it off. You’re just out here. They should put a cone out there instead,’ ” Acosta remembers.

Al-Haydos retorted, the ref intervened and Acosta eventually retreated, but not before getting into it with Almoez Ali, the MVP of Qatar’s triumph at the 2019 Asian Cup. Several players on both sides then became involved, and there was shoving and jawing and more delay. Almost three minutes elapsed. It felt like an eternity. U.S. goalie Matt Turner looked like he was trying to stifle a laugh.A few yards away, Sebastian Lletget could appreciate what was unfolding.“As a penalty taker, you just want to get it done,” the U.S. and LA Galaxy midfielder says. “Let me focus on what I’ve got to do. The more time you’ve got to delay, delay, the more time you have to think and doubt.”meekly over the crossbar. There would be no sprint to the corner. The score was still 0–0, but the visitors had been beaten.

“Unfortunately, I think after we missed the penalty, we changed,” Qatar coach Félix Sánchez said afterward.Acosta would celebrate with his teammates instead. Gyasi Zardes struck in the 86th minute, and the Americans were on their way to the Gold Cup final. There, despite missing its European headliners, coach Gregg Berhalter’s relatively inexperienced squad claimed the title with a 1–0 win over favored Mexico. Combined with the Nations League trophy raised in early June, the unexpected but deserved Gold Cup crown represented a significant step forward, not to mention a statement of intent.They had already reinvigorated a program that hit rock bottom after missing the 2018 World Cup. Then these young and resilient U.S. players learned to win together. Across the two summer tournaments, the Americans won eight straight games while overcoming deficits, fluctuating personnel and a decent dose of what Concacaf can throw your way (which can be a lot, literally). Acosta’s antics against Qatar were classic Concacaf. They didn’t just reveal a desperate will to win—they reflected an ability to master the game within the game.Soccer in this idiosyncratic and occasionally infuriating part of the world is often about so much more than simply playing the game. It tests a team’s resolve. And so far, Berhalter’s group has handled those extracurriculars with both grace and grit. But now comes the stiffest challenge yet—the World Cup qualifying Octagonal gauntlet. U.S. soccer’s redemption tour will comprise 14 matches over seven months, starting with three in the next seven days. It kicks off Thursday night in El Salvador, where the majority of Berhalter’s players will face a hostile Concacaf crowd—apart from Mexico fans in the U.S.—for the first time (only six of the 25 men on this week’s squad have previous qualifying experience). https://983159dc782bf6ca52b5e10a4563cea6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html Concacaf qualifiers, especially on the road, are like nothing else in soccer, and they’re a far cry from the relatively pampered and predictable routines players enjoy at their MLS or European clubs. Disparities in talent don’t mean as much once the whistle blows. The ability to endure, and perhaps return fire like Acosta did against Qatar, can make all the difference.”You cannot be scared, because you are going to lose—even against a team that’s mediocre compared to you,” Lletget warns. “I’ve been in too many games to learn that they’ll beat you if they want it more.”Acosta, who played a small part in the doomed 2018 cycle, says this U.S. team has the right amount of character and bite.“We can’t just be those nice guys on the field. ‘Oh it’s O.K. It’s O.K..’ We’re not backing down. You’ve got guys like Weston [McKennie], Gio [Reyna], Tyler [Adams], Christian [Pulisic], even myself. We don’t take s—,” he insists. “We’re not going to let people hover over us and belittle us or anything like that. We want to show them that we’re here. We’re hungry. We’re ready. It doesn’t matter what you throw at us. We’re going to be ready for the fight.”If you follow soccer in this part of the world, you’ve become well-acquainted with the phrase, “Getting Concacafed.” If you’ve been “Concacafed,” it means that you probably lost the game within the game. Whether it was the literal or figurative atmosphere, the inscrutable refereeing or a bit of opposition chicanery or gamesmanship, something knocked you off kilter or got under your skin. That’s how the playing field gets leveled. That’s how talented teams can fail.Berhalter learned about getting Concacafed during his playing days. He was involved in an infamous incident toward the end of a 2002 World Cup qualifier in Costa Rica, where a phantom handball called against him led to a decisive penalty kick and a 2–1 defeat. U.S. coach Bruce Arena and captain Claudio Reyna (Gio’s dad) protested so vehemently that they each were handed multigame suspensions. Adversity can come from anywhere in Concacaf, and it can come quickly. How you react is critical.“The games can be hectic. I think it’s just about how you accept it and how you embrace it,” Berhalter said last week. “I remember as a player loving the fact that there’s so much attention around this game and there’s so much hostility with the opponents because I always felt we could play the spoiler. That was our job, to come into these countries and ruin everybody’s day.“It’s just about your outlook,” Berhalter continued. “It’s how you go about preparing mentally for the game, and realizing that within the game there’s always going to be things that happen that you need to be prepared for.”Dealing with the referees—and opponents trying to con them—is just a small part of the Concacaf experience, which is holistic. It surrounds you. There’s altitude in Mexico City, humidity in Central America and rough field conditions in the Caribbean. Traditionally, kickoff times have been adjusted accordingly. But the game actually begins when the plane lands. Security is tight and ever-present. It’s a constant reminder that the unexpected could be just around the corner. Cameramen on motorcycles or in pick-up trucks have been known to follow the team bus from the airport to the hotel. There, the U.S. can anticipate a quintessentially Concacaf welcome.“There are so many nightmare stories that you hear,” Lletget says. “But they’re true, and it would be naive of us to expect anything less.”Just about everything is fair game, as long as it might produce the slightest advantage. In Honduras, a local paper once published a hotel floor plan in order to assist readers interested in disturbing U.S. players the night before the match. In Guatemala, a radio station staged a late-night broadcast that featured loudspeakers on flat-bed trucks across the street. In Mexico City, a band set up in the hotel atrium. Fireworks are common. There have been unsanctioned wake-up calls.It gets rougher at the stadium. The sound can be visceral, and there are fewer barriers separating players from fans who are itching to get involved. Projectiles and bodily fluids rain down. Multiple generations of U.S. players tell tales of batteries and bags of urine. In Mexico City, a fan vomited into a cup and tossed it at Landon Donovan as the U.S. star prepared to take a corner kick. In El Salvador, someone once threw a severed chicken head at DaMarcus Beasley—and that was at a youth tournament. Berhalter’s Nations League squad got a taste of that intensity during the decider against Mexico in Denver, where fans heaved bottles and cups. Gio Reyna was hit in the head.Those Nations League games in early June were an important early exam, and they proved to be a pretty accurate Concacaf appetizer. As the semifinal against Honduras remained level, it became clear that Los Catrachos were going to try and drag the scoreless match into a shootout. There was flopping, time-wasting and multiple appearances by the stretcher team. At one point, McKennie’s efforts to speed things up included tying Rigoberto Rivas onto a stretcher himself.“And the best part, as soon as they’re off the field, they just unbuckle themselves and walk back on. I think they did it seven or eight times,” Lletget says. “They knew we were beating on the door and that was the way to get to penalties and have a chance. As annoying as it is, and it just kills you inside, you have to just stay calm.”The U.S. stayed calm, and Jordan Pefok won the game with an 89th-minute header.That set up the U.S.-Mexico final, which was a circus. The game was rough, dirty at times, and tightly contested (there were several choking incidents, eight yellow cards and a red to Mexico manager Gerardo Martino). The Americans fell behind twice but took a 3–2 lead on an extra-time penalty by Pulisic. They then clinched the title when reserve goalie Ethan Horvath saved a subsequent spot kick from Andrés Guardado.Watch the video, and you can see Acosta standing closest to the El Tri veteran, repeatedly shoving Diego Lainez out of the way. Acosta had been in Guardado’s ear seconds before, honing his Concacaf craft.“I was like, ‘You’re going to let your country down. All these fans are going to start booing you. You didn’t even start the game. You’re retired,’ ” Acosta recalls.“Kellyn does have that way about him. There’s a few guys [on the U.S.] that have that cheekiness,” Lletget laughs.“It’s important that we got a little bit of a taste of that this summer,” Acosta explains. “These experiences were hard but it helped us grow.”Concacaf is gonna Concacaf. You either lament it, or you lean in. Fielding a confident side full of players who’ve already achieved notable milestones at the club level—10 members of this month’s U.S. squad will take part in this season’s UEFA Champions League and one, Pulisic, has already won it—helps when it comes to handling high stakes. The Americans should be somewhat comfortable with the expectations, attention and pressure. As for the rest—as for Concacaf—they’ll have the wisdom gained this summer, plus the warnings from colleagues like Berhalter and Acosta about what awaits on the road. The results in San Salvador and then San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Sept. 8—there’s a qualifier against Canada in Nashville in between—will reveal how ready the Americans truly are.Meanwhile, they’re going to lean in.“We can’t wait for that. That’s what this is all about,” Berhalter says. “We’ve been developing this group to be resilient, to face challenges head on, to embrace challenges, to embrace setbacks. All these [Concacaf] things are right in line with what we’ve been talking about. When I think about the level of competition our team has been playing at … the guys are ready for this challenge and this is the natural evolution of this group—to compete in events like this. We’ll take it head-on. We know it’s going to be road filled with unexpected twists and turns and we’re going to welcome that.”The effort to forge the resilience Berhalter referenced is anchored by the development of a consistent and inclusive team culture and a preference for a pressing and proactive style of play. U.S. internationals now know what to expect when they come into camp, and by almost all accounts they’re happy to be there. Acosta says it can resemble a club environment. When Berhalter claims his squad will weather the Concacaf qualifying storm—whether that’s harsh surroundings, physical play, bad bounces, wayward refereeing or something else—he’s expecting his charges to “[go] back to who you are as a team, who you are as a player.”Rely on what you’ve already learned and achieved. Lean on who you’ve become and want to be. Count on each other.”Everything we’ve been doing the past two years has been preparing them for this,” Berhalter says.Acosta and Lletget are the only two players on the qualifying squad to win both the Nations League and Gold Cup this summer. They know this U.S. group, and Lletget remembers certain moments where bonds and confidence were strengthened. During brief pauses in the furious Nations League final against Mexico, for example, Lletget said that he and his teammates would gather briefly to center themselves, offer reminders and share some encouragement.“If there was a foul or fights breaking out, we would try to come together and kind of regroup, even if it was for a couple seconds, just to look at each other and say, ‘Relax, we got this,’ ” Lletget recalls. “We had to keep checking in with each other and keep that communication going.”That unity and alertness helped the U.S. to Concacaf (the verb) Mexico as the Nations League final reached its climax. Guardado and El Tri had their own penalty kick strategy. While Pulisic was preparing to take his 114th-minute penalty and the ref was distracted, Guardado started digging at the spot with his foot, hoping to deny Pulisic a level surface.McKennie would have none of that, however, and came over to repair it. Meanwhile, Adams entered the picture to separate Guardado from both the penalty spot and Pulisic. Around the same time, Adams helped Pulisic decide where to aim. That helped calm Pulisic and once the area had been cleared, he buried his shot in the upper-right corner.“To still get help from his teammates in that situation and in that environment was, I think, a really nice story line,” Berhalter said a couple of weeks later.“Experiencing these games just kind of draws us to each other and brings us closer. … I fight for you and you fight for me. I think that aspect is huge,” Acosta says. “I’m glad that we got a taste of it early on, rather than getting a taste of it in qualifying. Now we know what to expect. When something like that happens again, I think we’ll continue to know how to act, how to embrace those things and we’ll be ready for it.”

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8/20/21 MLS All Star Game Tues FS1, American’s Pulisic and Reyna score, Indy 11 split games, US Carli Llyod Retires, International Cup Sat Eve ESPN

 

What to Watch This Weekend

CBS starts a three-season run as the home of Serie A this weekend on CBS SportsNetwork and Paramount+, Plus the Bundesliga on ABC at 12:30 as new American sensation LB Joe Scally starts for Monchengladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen , MLS on Fox Columbus vs Seattle 5:30 pm on Sat, and the Portland Thorns vs. Lyon in the Women’s International Champions Cup final Sat eve 10 pm on ESPN2.  Mon/Tues is MLS All Star Week – as the skills challenge is Mon night followed by the MLS All Stars vs the Liga MX (Mexican) Allstars on Tuesday night at 9:30 pm on FS1.  Of course Chelsea faces Arsenal Sat but without American Christian Pulisic who scored in the start last weekend – as he’s got Covid.  Sunday Serie A kicks off on CBS Sports Network as Udinese hosts Weston McKinney and Jueventus at 9:30 am. 

Portland Thorns vs. Lyon ICC Cup Final Saturday, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Women’s International Champions Cup semifinals were both electric games. Lyon knocked off reigning European champion Barcelona, 3-2, and the host Portland Thorns beat the Houston Dash in a penalty kick shootout after coming back from 2-0 down to force a 2-2 tie.So the final will pit the NWSL’s biggest team against Europe’s perennial superpower, the record seven-time Champions League winner — including five straight from 2016-20 — that Barcelona dethroned last spring.Portland will have its Olympic stars back, and Lindsey Horan will be in the spotlight amid reports she’s joining Lyon in January. But manager Mark Parsons might be tempted to give playing time to two youngsters who were heroes of the semifinal. Rookie goalkeeper Shelby Hogan made three saves in the shootout, and 15-year-old midfield phenom Olivier Moultrie scored the last goal of regulation with a free kick.Houston and Barcelona will meet in the third-place game earlier Saturday (7:30 p.m., ESPNU).  Of course huge news that US Forward Carli Lloyd is retiring after this season. She will play the next few games for the US in September and finish out the season with Gotham of the NWSL. 

 

MLS All Star Game – Tuesday Night 9:30 pm FS1 – USA MLS vs Mexico Liga MX All Stars

Hype Video

All Star Team Roster   

Captain Roldan! Sounders star Cristian to lead MLS All-Stars vs. Liga MX

 

 

GAMES OF THE WEEK

Friday, Aug 15 

10:30 pm       LA Galaxy s San Jose   ESPN2

Saturday, Aug 21

7:30 am          Liverpool vs Burnley Peacock

9:30 am       Wolfsburg (Brooks) vs Hertha ESPN+ 

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

9:30 am         Inter vs Genoa Serie A – Paramount +

10 am             Aston Villa vs New Castle NBCSN

10 am             Man City vs Norwich (Stewart) USA

12:30              Brighton vs Watford NBC

12:30 pm     Bayer Leverkusen vs Monchengladbach (Joe Scally) ABC

3 pm               Minn United vs Sporting KC  ESPN

3 pm               Saint Etieeene vs Lille (Weah)

4 pm              Barcelona (Dest) vs  Athletic Bilbao ESPN+

5:30  pm      Columbus Crew vs Seattle Sounders FOX

7 pm               Indy 11 vs  OKC  home ESPN+

10 pm             Portland Thorns vs Lyonnnais (ICC Championship) ESPN

Sunday, Aug 22  Italian Serie A kickoff

7 am               Lyonnais vs Clermont  France beIN Sport

9:30 am         Udinese vs Juventus (McKinney)  CBS Sports Network  

9 am               Wolverhampton vs Tottenham NBCSN

11:30 am      Arsenal vs Chelsea (Pulisic) NBCSN

5 pm              Sporting KC II vs Indy 11 ESPN+

8 pm NY Red Bulls vs NYCFC – FS1

Monday, Aug 23 

11:30             West Ham vs Leicester City NBCSN

2:45 pm       Sampadoria vs Milan (Ibra) Paramount+

9 pm              MLS AllStar Skills Challenge  FS1

Wedsday, Aug 25

3pm               West Brom vs Arsenal League Cup  ESPN+

3 pm               Salzburg (Ar0nson) vs Brandby UCL Paramount+

9:30 pm       MLS AllStars vs Liga MX All Stars – FS1

Friday, Aug 27

2:30 pm         Dortmund (Reyna) vs Hoffenhiem ESPN+

6:30 pm         Columbus Crew vs Cincy ESPN

10:30 pm       Orlando City vs Inter Miami ESPN

Saturday, Aug 28

10 am             Man City vs Arsenal Peacock

12 noon          Liverpool vs Chelsea (Pulisic) NBC

7 pm               LAFC vs La Galaxy  EL TRAFFICO FOX

7 pm              Indy 11 vs Real Monarchs ESPN+ TV 8

 

US Men

What to Watch this Weekend – American’s Overseas
Pulisic tests positive for COVID-19, out of Arsenal-Chelsea

VIDEO: USMNT’s Aaronson scores late Salzburg winner in UCL qualifier

Pulisic, Reyna kick off new club season with goals
USMNT youngster Otasowie moves from Wolves to Club Brugge

Dortmund’s American MF Reyna Scores in 5-2 win

Pulisic Watch: How did USMNT star perform v. Crystal Palace?

Christian Pulisic has a good problem at Chelsea
Scally left NYCFC a prospect, now he’s holding his own vs. Lewandowski
  Jeff Carlisle

USMNT teen Scally goes 90 at left back, Gladbach holds Bayern Munich 

 Q&A: Trailblazing U.S. coach Matarazzo on his Bundesliga journey

EPL

Three things we learned from Norwich City – Liverpool; video highlights      
Chelsea to unleash Lukaku on underachieving Arsenal

Revitalized Spurs look like top-four contenders

New-look Tottenham defeated in Conference League opener

Solskjaer tells Pogba to back up lavish praise

Fulham remain top of Championship with Millwall win

Top five PL goals and saves from Matchweek 1

 

WORLD

What to Watch this weekend
Five new faces to watch in Serie A

Inter’s turbulent summer leaves Serie A crown up for grabs

Serie A schedule 2021-22, standings, odds

Italian Euro 2020 winner Locatelli joins Juventus

Tammy Abraham joins Roma in $47 million move

What last season’s stats tell us about 2021-22 in Europe’s top five leagues
Lewandowski scores twice as Bayern beat Dortmund in Super Cup

Can anyone stop Bayern? Breaking down every Bundesliga team for 2021-22

What to Watch this weekend

 

US Ladies

USWNT legend Lloyd retiring; will play in 4 upcoming friendlies for U.S.
The secret to Carli Lloyd’s brilliant career? Her magnificent fury

Carli Lloyd announces retirement plans after fourth Olympics with USWNT

USWNT star Carli Lloyd content as she announces she’s retiring at the end of this year

Where does retiring Carli Lloyd rank in all-time USWNT lore?

Carli Lloyd announces retirement, ends historic USWNT career

USWNT remains FIFA’s No. 1-ranked team despite bumpy Olympics — but it’s getting close

USWNT announce fall friendlies against Paraguay & South Korea
USWNT’s Megan Rapinoe ‘thinking’ about retirement – but still needs more time

CONCACAF launches new W Championship, W Gold Cup to increase women’s international matches

NWSL Preview | Weekend matches on August 21st and 22nd
Olivia Moultrie’s first professional goal leads the Thorns to the WICC Finals


Soccer: Former Afghan women’s captain tells players to burn kits, delete photos

Taliban return causes anguish for Afghan female football pioneer

 

MLS

Americans at home: MLS still exists, it does

3 points Changes Everything – Columbus vs Seattle

California Classico

Weekend Cheat Sheet: Your guide to Week 21, Heineken Rivalry Week edition

Seattle Sounders’ Raul Ruidiaz wins second-straight MLS Player of the Week

“Not performing well enough”: Austin FC face harsh realities after third-straight loss

Goalkeepers say no! Check out the best saves from Week 20

 

Borussia Monchengladbach’s Scally left NYCFC as a prospect. Now, he’s holding his own vs. Lewandowski

9:00 AM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Back in June, Joe Scally paid a visit to his former club, New York City FC. The reunion allowed him to catch up with old friends and former coaches; after all, it had only been six months since he had completed his move to Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach — who play Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday (12:25 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+) — and yet NYCFC sporting director David Lee, who had watched Scally progress through the club’s academy system, had already noticed a change.”[Scally] looked more grown up,” Lee told ESPN. “He looked bigger, he looked stronger. Just that six-month transition — I think sometimes, we forget that with young people, whether you’re going off to college or you’re doing something else, you leave your parents and you’ve got to fend for yourself all of a sudden, and you just grow up quickly. He certainly developed even further physically, which is pretty remarkable.” In the opening weeks of the club season, Scally’s growth has been on full display. With starting left-back Ramy Bensebaini out injured, Scally — a right-back by trade — was drafted in to replace him and has made nary a misstep, excelling in both a DFB-Pokal victory over Kaiserslautern and last Friday’s 1-1 draw against the star-studded lineup of reigning champions Bayern Munich.”It was crazy,” Scally told ESPN from Germany. “Just like a dream.”Given his play in the cup match, he was pretty sure he was going to start against Bayern, which brought on a special set of nerves given the players he’d be going up against, including Robert Lewandowski and Leroy Sane.It helped that Scally’s family was visiting, allowing him to relax, and he was certainly composed once the opening whistle blew. He recalled how an early exchange with Lewandowski — in which Scally bodied up the forward, forcing him to kick the ball out of bounds — helped set the tone for him early.”It was like, ‘I just got the ball from Lewandowski, who is someon I’ve watched forever and is one of the best forwards of all time,'” Scally said. “Knowing that gave me so much confidence going into the rest of the game.”That performance caught the attention of USMNT U-17 teammate and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Giovanni Reyna, who texted Scally with his congratulations. He was far from the only one.”My whole phone was blowing up,” Scally said. “I could just keep swiping. It was great.”Even more impressive has been the rapidity with which he has settled into life in Germany.Adapting quickly to a new country, a new language and a different soccer culture is always an impressive feat. It’s an experience that takes a player completely out of their comfort zone. But the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made that challenge an order of magnitude more difficult. The relationships with teammates are more difficult to foster given the reduced opportunities for hanging out at the training ground. Even outside of the team setting, the protocols kept interactions with the public to a minimum, reducing the chances to get more comfortable with the language. It’s easy to become isolated.It was an experience that brought into focus everything that Scally had left behind. An ankle injury that he sustained prior to his departure for Germany slowed his initial progress as well.”It was definitely tough,” he said. “The first month I think was very hard just because I left my family, my girlfriend, my friends, everyone behind. And it just happened like in a split second. You think that the day will never come, that you’re leaving everyone, and then it just happens.”Scally’s father John added, “Thank god for FaceTime. Because of COVID, you practice, you couldn’t even hang out with the players… you have to just go back to your apartment and that was it. So that’s really good that he got through it. He’s a very mature 18-year-old.”Getting on the field helped speed up the acclimation process. Once the ankle injury was behind him, the defender quickly established himself in Gladbach’s second team, making 15 appearances in the 2020-21 season. He also trained regularly with the first team, and while the speed of play and thought was a challenge at first, he soon gained the respect of his new teammates. His early success gave him peace of mind, as well that conviction he’d made the right decision to head to Europe.”When you do really good, it gives you more confidence, makes you happier,” Scally said. “So I think right after that first practice with the first team, in my first game, that’s when everything really started accelerating.”It helped that his longtime friend, Reyna, was nearby. Their apartments are 45 minutes away from one another, and even when they couldn’t see each other in person, there was the video game connection. While Scally rules at Mario Kart, Fortnite is Reyna’s domain, especially when Reyna’s younger brother Joah is involved.”They’re both so much better than me,” said Scally with a laugh. “When we’re playing Fortnite, when I die or when I go down, they’ll just never pick me up because they’re better off without me.”When Scally finished the 2020-21 season, he took a couple of weeks off in West Palm Beach, Florida before returning home to Long Island. It was there that he started training for the new season, a regimen that required a special kind of discipline.Father John is co-owner of the Village Idiot Pub in Lake Grove, New York. The establishment is a two-minute walk from Scally’s home, and the lure of some of the more sinful items on the menu was tough to resist. His siblings, Drew and Anna, did little to make their brother’s adherence to a diet easy.”My brother and my sister, they would always get the wings and shove it in my face,” Scally said. “From time to time, of course, I’d have to get it, but they make a really good grilled chicken with Frank’s hot sauce. I was just fine with that and it was so good.”Scally’s biggest weakness? Fried Oreos. “They had that with vanilla ice cream,” he said. “That was the hardest thing on the menu, not to get.”Heading into the 2021-22 campaign, Scally had a new manager to impress in Adi Hutter. All the more reason to lay off the fried Oreos and report to preseason in good shape. He did just that, and as some injuries in the backline piled up, Scally put himself in the frame for first-team minutes. Two games in, he’s repaid his manager’s faith, and against Bayern, Scally kept Sane very quiet.”I have to pay Joe Scally a huge compliment,” Hutter said after the Bayern match. “He made his Bundesliga debut against Bayern Munich today, aged 18, right-footed on the left side against top players, and he rewarded me with an absolute class game.”Lee said he has noticed that tactically, Scally has shown improvement. More specifically, his decisions in terms of positioning when Gladbach don’t have the ball, knowing when to press an opponent or stay connected to the center-back have all been sharpened.”You’re playing against top-level players, and if you make the wrong decision, you can get punished,” said Lee. “I think he made, for the vast majority, just some really fantastic decisions throughout the game and that helped them to get good results and performances that they’ve had in the first games.”

With Bensebaini working his way back to full fitness, it won’t be a surprise if Scally soon finds himself back on the bench, but he’s aware that it doesn’t pay to look too far ahead. All he can do now is make himself as indispensable as possible to Hutter and his staff.”If I keep doing good and the coach has as much trust in me, maybe I stay or I go to the right side and I start,” Scally said. “So whatever happens, I always trust the coach and trust his decisions and will always keep working for the team.”Given how the first weeks of the 2021-22 season have gone for Scally so far, his growth over the remainder of the campaign will be worth watching.

MLS Allstar Week and Game Tues/Wed,

After losing his first game last weekend on the road 1-0 –American Jesse Marsch and his Red Bull Leipzig rebounded in a powerful 4-0 win in their home opener against fellow American coach Pellegrino Matarazzo   and Stuttgart.  Stuttgart had won their first game to lead the table after week 1. This first ever battle between US coaches in a foreign league

8/13/21 USA Men Ranked in Top 10 – players start Euro seasons, EPL/Germany/Spain Kickoff this weekend, Messi joins PSG

 

US Men in FIFA Top 10

Fantastic to See the US men ranked in the top 10 for the first time in like 10 years – huge wins over Mexico twice in both Nations League with our starters and the undefeated run to the Gold Cup Championship with our B team including a win over Mexico’s A team with our B/C team no doubt helped along with the close game with the Swiss in Europe.  Of course funny to see Mexico 2 spots above us – but you could say the same Italy and Argentina being ranked below Belgium after wins this summer in the European Championships and the COPA.  Either way having the US back on the radar is huge.  Remember you heard it here first – our golden young generation is bound for the Quarterfinals in Qatar in 2022 followed by a Semi-Final run at home in 2026 – so says the OBC! 

Of course a bunch of American’s overseas will start their season’s this weekend see the full update here. Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic came of the bench for the blues when Ziyech got hurt in Wednesday’s SuperCup game vs Valencia.  He actually had some good plays and was unlucky not to score in the final seconds of Extra Time.  He did take the 6th penalty kick in the Shootout and netted it to keep Chelsea in front in their 1-1 (5-4 win over the Spanish side.)  We’ll see if he gets the start Sat vs Crystal Palace at 10 am on the Peacock. 

 

English Premier League, German Bundelisga, Spain’s La Liga all start this weekend

Of course the European leagues kicked off today – with new EPL entrant Brentford knocking off Arsenal 2-0 at home in their first home game in 75+ years as members of the EPL.  The Championship team last season won the playoff over Darrel Dike’s Barnsley to advance to the Premier League – GOTTA LOVE THE EPL – there is not a more competitive league in the world than the EPL.  Of course the EPL will be on NBCSN, NBC and Peacock pay service this season, while the German Bundesliga has moved from Fox Sports to ESPN+ unfortunately.  Spain’s La Liga has moved from beIN Sport to ESPN+ as well – making the Plus – must buy TV – as they also have MLS and USL and the Indy 11.  Italy and Renaldo and of Juventus will start next weekend and will play on CBS Sports Network and Paramount + – who also has Champions and Europa League.  France with the newly minted Champions League favorites PSG with Messi, Mbappe, and Neymar play their games on beIN Sport. 

 

As Spain’s La Liga moves to ESPN+ and makes their debut on ABC Sunday as Barcelona faces Real Sociadad at 4 pm – the league is in as much flux as it has ever been.  Perennial winners Barcelona and Real Madrid – two of the most successful teams in the World – are both struggling to make ends meet after the pandemic – have had massive exits this summer and might struggle to hold in the top 4.  My Atletico Madrid returns almost intact after winning the league last year and should be favorites this year but they haven’t won back to back titles in 70 years.   Barcelona still has American Serginio Dest – but things will not be the same without Messi. I would love to see one of the minnows of La Liga knock the big boys off – maybe Sevilla or Valencia (Europa League kings).  Preview here

Germany’s Bundesliga is always Bayern Munich, Dortmund and everyone else.  But it will be exciting to see how American Coach Jesse Marsch and Tyler Adams do at Red Bull Leipzig – this is the first big gig for an American coach ever – and it will be great to see how Marsch does and if Tyler Adams will play the holding #6 midfield slot America so desperately needs him to play.  They finished 2nd last year and get started on Sun at 9:30 am on ESPN+ vs Mainz.  Of course America’s abound thru-out Germany and Dortmund’s Reyna should start up front Saturday at 12:30 on ESPN+ when they play Frankfort and Timmy Chandler, that follows John Brooks last season’s 4th place finisher Wolfsburg hosting Bochum at 9:30 am on the plus.  Preview Here     

Finally England’s EPL gets started this weekend – with what I think is the world’s most competitive and compelling league.  Sure we only have like 3 American’s in the league right now – unbelievable in my opinion.  Of course I root for the EPL teams who have American’s so Chelsea with Pulisic, Zach Steffan of course at Man City – fresh off a solid run last weekend in their loss to Leicester City and newcomer Josh Stewart just signed by Norwich.  We’ll see if he can break his way into the line-up after his 10+ million dollar transfer.  As for the season – Man City and Chelsea just have too much money in my mind – they will battle it out up top while Liverpool and Man United try to sneak in to the top 3.  I like Leicester City and Everton to round out the top 6 Europa League spots – but we’ll see.  Preview Here   This weekend we get Liverpool and Norwich at 12:30 on NBC Saturday after Man United and Leeds United at 7:30 am on NBCSN and Leicester City and Wolverhampton at 10 am.  Sunday gives us the top game of the weekend as Tottenham will host Man City as the Harry Kane drama continues – should be thrilling theater Sunday at 11:30 am on NBCSN. (why NBC doesn’t pick this up I have no idea!!)

 

Huge congrats to all those players who made high school rosters last week and are getting ready for their opening games this weekend.  Special congrats to our Carmel FC current and former Goalkeepers for making their teams at Carmel High School, Guerin and others.  On the girls side all 6 goalies came thru our program – as Aubre Empie and Bethany Ducat are on varsity, while Chloe Fouts and Claire Bartley made JV Blue and Mary Grace Knapp and Paulina Cernovi made 9th Grade.  On the CHS boys side Charlie Featherson is on Varsity, while Ryan Bartley made JV.  The CHS boys are home Thursday at Murray vs Noblesville, while the Highly ranked girls host games at Murray Sat at 11 am vs Hamilton SE, Mon Pike at 6:30 pm and vs Guerin next Fri at 7 pm. 

I promise I will get back to the Indy 11 and MLS next week  – oh MLS huge games this weekend as Saturday night we get Minnesota United hosting the LA Galaxy at 6 pm on FOX and Sunday night – Portland hosts Seattle in the Cascadia Cup at 9:30 pm on FS1 – this is always a huge matchup between hated rivals both near the top of the table !!

 

GAMES TO WATCH

Friday, Aug 13

2:30 pm         Mgladbach vs Bayern Munich Germany  ESPN+

3 pm              Brentford vs Arsenal NBCSN

Saturday, Aug 14  EPL, Bundelsiga, La Liga Kickoffs

7:30 am          Man United vs Leeds United NBCSN

9:30 am         Wolfsburg (Brooks) vs Bochum Germany ESPN+ 

10 am             Liecester City vs Wolverhampton NBCSN

10 am             Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Crystal Palace Peacock

12:30             Norwich vs Liverpool NBC

12:30             Dortmund (Reyna) vs Frankfort ESPN+ .

3 pm              PSG (Messi) vs Strasbourg  beIN Sport

6 pm              Minn United vs LA Galaxy  FOX

7 pm               Indy 11 vs  OKC  home ESPN+

7 pm               KC vs OL Reign NWSL Paramount +

Sunday, Aug 15  – EPL, Bundelsiga, La Liga, Kickoffs

7 am               Angers vs lyonnais  France beIN Sport

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

9 am               New Castle United vs Westham NBCSN

11:30 am        Celta Vigo vs Atletico Madrid Spain ESPN+

11:30             Tottenham vs Man City (Steffan) NBCSN

2 pm              Barcelona (Dest) vs  Real Sociadad ABC

4 pm               Atlanta United vvs LAFC ESPN

9:30 pm       Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders Cascadia Cup FS1

Tuesday, Aug 17  –

2:30 pm       Dortmund (Reyna) vs Bayern Munich  German Supercup  ESPN+

Wednesday, Aug 18  –

7 pm              Loudon United vs Indy 11 ESPN+

8:30 pm       Lyonnais vs Barcelona (Women’s Supercup) ESPNU

10 pm            Portland Thorns vs Houston Dash (Women’s Supercup) ESPNU

Friday, Aug 15 

2:30 pm         RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Stuttgart Germany ESPN+ 

3 pm               Brest vs PSG (Messi, Neymar) France beIN Sport

10:30 pm       LA Galaxy s San Jose   ESPN2

 

US Men

U.S.’s Marsch more confident than ever at Leipzig

American’s On TV this Weekend

American Coach Jesse Marsch takes over for RB Leipzig

USMNT’s Dest: Barca feels ‘weird’ without Messi   ESPN

Weston McKinney Video – the 18

The US is Ranked in Top 10 in FIFA Rankings –but below Mexico?  S&S  

EPL

Ian Darke’s team-by-team Premier League preview
Premier League 2021-22 kit power ranking: Which club wins title of most stylish?
  Chris Wright

EPL Preview – SI – Jon Wilson


Tottenham Season Preview

Manchester United Season Preview
Leicester City Season Preview

Brentford Season Preview


Chelsea outlast Villarreal in penalties to win UEFA Super Cup

Kepa the hero as Chelsea edge out Villarreal to win Super Cup

 

MESSI LEAVING BARCELONA FOR FRANCE’s PSG 
Messi and PSG: A drama in five acts

What does Messi’s Signing Mean for France Games on TV?  

Messi Biggest Story on last days of Olympics – Dan Wetzal Yahoo Sports

 

US LADIES

What comes next for USWNT after underwhelming Olympics?
Gators soccer legend Becky Burleigh named Orlando Pride interim head coach

 

WORLD

Which Spanish La Liga Team should you Root For now that Messi is Gone?  

La Liga in Flux as Real Madrid and Barca Struggle

Barcelona to air on ABC TV during opening LaLiga weekend of ESPN’s 8-year-deal


Can anyone stop Bayern? Breaking down every Bundesliga team for 2021-22
   ESPN
erek Rae


Messi in Paris, Van Dijk fit, and more: 24 things we’re excited to see in the 2021-22 European season
 
dESPN

 

Who Will Win the Premier League Title? Follow the Uncapped Money.

As a new season starts, it’s very much looking like a title race between the two clubs who have the means to grossly outspend the competition.JONATHAN WILSONAUG 12, 2021 Crisis? What crisis? As the rest of European football has felt the pinch of the pandemic, Premier League spending—at least for three of the very biggest clubs—has gone on unchecked with Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United all doling out in excess of £100 million on players, and with the possibility of more to come. As Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan struggle to complete the sales that would allow them to bring in any new blood, this summer has been a startling assertion of the Premier League’s financial might.There are good reasons for that—a more equitable division of broadcast revenues than elsewhere (although the biggest clubs are trying to change that) helps everybody, and also ensures a level of competition, which in turn has been a factor in making the Premier League the most watched league in the world—but they must come with caveats. The most obvious of them is that the money spent by Chelsea and Man City has very little to do with the league.It felt apt that the four Champions League semifinalists last season were Chelsea, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. In March, Madrid lost an appeal in the European Court of Justice against a ruling that it had received illegal state aid. Man City and PSG are effectively owned by Abu Dhabi and Qatar, respectively, and Chelsea is owned by an oligarch. Madrid now is in trouble, but none of the other three is dependent on football for an income, even if Chelsea has made significant efforts to be self-sustaining.And that, of course, was a key motivation behind the Super League proposal in the spring: An established elite realizing it was struggling to keep up with arrivistes who did not operate under the same financial constraints, forced into action by the exacerbating effects of the pandemic. All that matters then is how strict the financial regulations in your country are, and the Premier League’s are relatively lax, even if there is an ongoing wrangle with Man City that has already lasted more than two years.The club has already spent $139 million on Jack Grealish, with a possible deal in the $200 million range for Harry Kane still on the wish list. With Sergio Agüero gone and Gabriel Jesus seemingly out of favor, the need for Kane would seem more pressing, but Grealish offers something a little different, a dribbler with a sense of anarchy who could perhaps help to break open tight games. That said, anarchy is not often something usually associated with Pep Guardiola sides, and there is the potential for tension.Chelsea is spending a similar figure on Romelu Lukaku in the hope that he will correct its one obvious failing after the arrival of Thomas Tuchel: Struggling to convert possession and domination into an abundance of goals. If he can, Chelsea should be City’s main rival for the Premier League title. Chelsea did beat City three times in the second half of last season, across three competitions, but the doubt is whether it has quite the depth of squad to sustain a title challenge over the course of a full season.Given its debt, Man United’s spending has been more of a surprise: $100 million on Jadon Sancho and $56 million on Raphaël Varane. That perhaps is a reaction to the fan protests against the Glazer family ownership that characterized the end of last season and at the very least expresses a confidence about the financial future of the club that must in part be linked to the decision to roll over the existing domestic broadcast deals for an additional three years without tender.The two signings fill obvious gaps in the squad, and United should be stronger than it has been at any time since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. This now is a test of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s management and whether he is capable of constructing a coherent attacking plan beyond playing on the break. With what he’ll have at his disposal, there can be no excuses.Then there is Liverpool, which has lost Georginio Wijnaldum to PSG and whose only signing so far has been center back Ibrahima Konaté. The Reds will have Virgil van Dijk back from his ACL tear, though, and surely can’t be as badly afflicted by injuries as it was last season (although left back Andy Robertson already is ruled out to start the season with an ankle ailment). The drop off in the contributions of Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino last season must be a concern, but if they can rediscover their form, then Liverpool could also be a title threat again after scraping to a top-four finish last season.”We are not blind. We see what others are doing. We just have to be able to beat them. We will try to do that,” manager Jürgen Klopp recently said.But unless trying is enough for Liverpool, or unless Solskjaer can achieve something remarkable with his new assets, this still feels like a battle between City and Chelsea—the two reigning Champions League finalists, the two clubs who exist outside usual financial constraints.

Difficult days for Real Madrid and Barça plunge La Liga into uncertainty

Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos are gone, while Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid will fancy their chances of back-to-back titlesSid Lowe@sidloweThu 12 Aug 2021 13.00 EDT S   ESPN FC

Zinedine Zidane was the first one out, so early it feels like a lifetime ago. Then Sergio Ramos departed, the full-time whistle finally catching up with him. Now Lionel Messi has gone, flying back into Barcelona to find the contract he had come to sign was no longer there. Arguably the three most significant men in Spanish football over the past decade, along with Cristiano Ronaldo, all gone in a single summer. And Ronaldo had already left three years earlier.This week, Ramos contacted Messi to say he could stay at his place if he liked. There was always respect there – well, not always – but it still feels a bit weird, after all those confrontations. Between them, they have played 1,449 games for the biggest clubs in Spain or anywhere, but no more. They have won 15 La Liga titles and eight Champions Leagues. No one has played more clásicos, 45 each. Symbols of the greatest rivalry of all, now they’re teammates. The captain of Real Madrid and the captain of Barcelona have both joined Paris Saint-Germain.

 

Lionel Messi to PSG: the inside story of how a stunning deal was done

Read moreThese are difficult days for La Liga. Raphaël Varane went too and Bryan Gil, the excitement surrounding a kid who is different ended early. Luka Modric is 35, Luis Suárez 34, and Karim Benzema 33. Sergio Agüero has arrived but he is 33, injured and still not registered. Eden Hazard is, well, no one is really sure what he is yet. It may be natural to look around at what’s left and ask: is that it? Worse, on the eve of the season and a fortnight from the close of the transfer window, Spanish fans could be forgiven for hoping that’s it. Don’t take anyone else, please.

Or, in Barcelona’s case: please do. It is not just that the captains of Madrid and Barcelona have gone to PSG, it is that they have gone for free. It is not just that they went, it is that they went even though they didn’t want to. And why it happened. Barcelona’s likely salary cap this year – the limit that led to their loss – will be set at a level below Premier League clubs, and not just the biggest ones. Their financial difficulties are a full-blown crisis, the president, Joan Laporta, talking about the risk to their viability, even Messi’s departure not enough. On Sunday their season starts: right now their signings Memphis Depay, Eric García and Agüero can’t play.Barcelona’s case is extreme, their debt more than €1bn, and shouldn’t be seen as a measure of the health of the league. Yet it is true that the pandemic hit hard and the financial strain is felt across Spain, particularly at the big two, still clinging grimly to the Super League. Last summer, Real Madrid did not make any signings for the first time since 1980. This summer, only David Alaba has signed, and he came on a free to replace Ramos. Carlo Ancelotti rejoined partly because he understood and accepted the limitations.One potential solution came last Thursday when the league voted to sell 10.95% of its commercial business over the next 50 years to the investment fund CVC in return for €2.7bn. That would provide interest-free loans for clubs now, and many need that.The league promised that accepting it would have meant keeping Messi, probably thinking they had Laporta in a corner. But Madrid and Barcelona do not see it as a solution. Laporta described it as “mortgaging” the club, and Madrid insisted that the valuation was too low and have announced legal action to prevent it from going ahead.Despite that heavyweight opposition, the majority of Spanish league clubs approved the deal on Thursday . The league confirmed 38 of the 42 clubs from the first and second divisions in Spain voted in faour of the deal. The league and CVC gave the four clubs who voted against the deal the option to opt out, meaning they would not benefit from the new funds and would not relinquish a percentage of their future revenues. Athletic Bilbao also opposed the agreement. The fourth club that voted against the deal was not disclosed.There is a curious, almost amusing disconnect in the two clubs who championed the European Super League because football was dying claiming La Liga is not sufficiently valued and La Liga, which insisted it was in fine health, saying that those clubs are overvaluing its earning potential. More importantly, there is a bitter, open war for control of football whose consequences are uncertain. The Super League – a super league, at least – has not gone away. Plotting continues, an assault on power prepared. Barcelona, Madrid and Juventus met just as Barcelona backed out on Messi.

La Liga lost him too – a victim of its own rules on financial fair play, its greatest ever asset gone in the pursuit of a greater good, although right now it feels doubtful that such a thing exists. There was delirium in Paris and a hint of depression on the other side of the Pyrenees, two days before the new season.It was left to Messi himself to offer some optimism. “In the end what matters is the teams: Barcelona and Madrid are still there, so are Sevilla, Valencia, Atlético, big clubs,” he told El País. “The club has always been there despite players going. La Liga is still a big, important competition. Players go but the clubs remain. Real Madrid and Barcelona are going to find it hard but the big stars are going to return to Spanish football.”That may take a while, Messi suggested, but others remain. This week, Gerard Moreno hid inside the Villarreal mascot’s suit, pulling off his gigantic head to reveal that he had renewed his contract. Offers from elsewhere rejected, a couple of days later he produced another wonderful performance to take Chelsea to penalties in the European Super Cup final. Villarreal are Europa League holders, the seventh time in 10 seasons that a Spanish club has won the trophy, a reminder of the quality and reason for continued faith.Still around, too, are Iago AspasJoaquín Sánchez (at 40, for goodness sake) and João Félix; Papu Gómez, Mikel Oyarzabal, Comandante José Luis Morales. Modric, Suárez and Benzema are veterans but far from finished, last season showed. Toni Kroos continues to carry around his own personal patch of pitch. Ansu Fati is returning to fitness, Gareth Bale is returning.Rayo Vallecano, the team from barrio, are back. And Mallorca, who have Daniel Sturridge on trial. So are Espanyol, whose timing turned out well: relegated and promoted again during the pandemic, their fans hadn’t seen them play in the second division in 25 years and they still haven’t. And that’s the most important thing: the fans are returning, ground capacities ranging from 20% to 40% for now.

There’s plenty for the fans to see still, the emotional attachment, the identification, still deep. This weekend Pedri, the summer’s great revelation, may play despite only just returning from the Olympics. It would be his 74th game in less than 12 months. Hazard has another chance, hope still not extinguished. And then there’s Antoine Griezmann. Sometimes it seems that people forget how good he is. His sister warned him that if he went to Barcelona no matter what he did he would remain in Messi’s shadow. Could this be his moment, at last?Look at Barcelona’s likely XI and it impresses. Time for some optimism amid the gloom perhaps, a structural and a sentimental dimension to consider: the pressure will be huge and some supporters blame the men who remain for the departure of the player they least wanted to see go, but could Griezmann and his teammates – Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembélé particularly come to mind, maybe even Philippe Coutinho – finally have the balance of obligation and opportunity they need? Could the exposure be good for them, no place to hide, responsibility theirs? Some of them believe so: not all were so sorry to see Messi depart.

Standing before them and Madrid are Sevilla, perhaps offered a unique opportunity to fight for the title, and of course Atlético, seeking back-to-back titles for the first time in 70 years. Some consider them favourites, getting on with adding Rodrigo de Paul (and possibly Rafa Mir) to a settled squad with margin for improvement. Although others departed, Diego Simeone renewed for three more years. There wasn’t much noise but there should have been. When it comes to that opening statement, Spanish football’s most significant over the last decade, he is the one missing: Simeone has to be there, the ultimate competitor. And that, in the end, is the point of it all.

“We’re the champions,” Simeone told his players in training on Wednesday, “and they’re going to come and bite our arses.” All week, in the wake of Messi’s tearful departure, a question has floated in Spain: what now? Now, we play.

8/6/21 USA Women win Bronze, Canada Takes Gold, Brazil faces Spain for Men Gold Sat 7:30 am NBCSN, US Men Win Gold Cup 1-0 vs Mexico, Messi to leave Barcelona

Wow lots of news this week – the US ladies lose to Canada then claim the Bronze as Canada go on to beat Sweden in PKs to take the gold in the Olympics, the US Men’s B/C team beats Mexico’s A team 1-0 in the Gold Cup to win back to back trophies vs Mexico for the 1st time in a decade, and Lionel Messi is leaving Barcelona after 21 years with the club.  Oh and the French League starts this weekend with America’s Weah playing for French champion Lyon Saturday 11 am on beIN Sport.  The EPL season kicks off next weekend – but Leicester City will face Man City in the Community Shield this Saturday at 12 noon on ESPN+, and Christian Pulisic and Champions League Champs Chelsea will face Europa Champ Villiareal Wed at 3 pm in the SuperCup on CBSSN.  Honestly I am not ready for the European Season to kickoff – as I recover from this full summer of soccer but I guess I will be ready by next week. 

US Men Win Gold Cup vs Mexico (2nd straight Trophy vs El Tri)

The US Men upset Mexico last weekend in the Gold Cup Final – 1-0 as the US B/C team found a way past Mexico’s A team.  It was truly a gritty performance as the US youthful defense and Goalkeeper of the tourney Matt Turner shut out El Tri’s offense.  Centerback Miles Robinson put in a Player of the Game Performance as he made save after save after save on defense before finally heading in the 117th minute winning goal in ET.  And of course Kellen Acosta at the #6 as his performance vs Mexico – might have been the best dmid performace for the US in years.  For American head coach Gregg Berhalter its time to give him the credit for what he is putting together.  The US Men with our European starters like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKinney, Adams, Steffan and took the youngest team to the nations league final and beat Mexico 2-1 last month when Pulisic buried his PK in the last 5 mintutes.  Now with only 1 starter from that weekend starting in the Gold Cup final – a team that was the youngest we have ever fielded for a major tournament that did it again with an impressive 1-0 win late in extra time.  Now just to confirm – this team only included 3 players who were on that roster from the nations league – in fact this was for the most part a MLS only squad – as defenders like Atlanta’s Miles Robinson, NYCs James Sands, Colorado’s Sam Vines and Shaq Moore laid claim to more playing time moving forward as they held the youngest backline to play a tourney in a while thru-out the Gold Cup.  After all the pain from not qualifying for the World Cup in 2018 – its plain to see the US Men’s National Team is Back.  With a former national team player at the helm – Coach Berhalter has turned things around for this US team.  He’s giving over 50 players a run – and is building both a group and a program that is on the verge of taking over CONCACAF once again.  Not since the Donovan/Beasley/Dempsey days when the US ran off dos a cero wins over our neighbors to the south has the US been the best team in our Region.  But after this past 6 weeks of results – its plain to see that the US Men might well be back on track to make that claim – 2 trophies back to back – something no other US men’s team has done.  So cudos coach – I have often questioned the line-ups and sometimes the formations – but there is no doubt the US is on the right track!!    So who moved themselves up the list to be considered when World Cup Qualification starts labor day weekend?  I think Miles Robinson moves into the starting line-up with John Brooks on the back line – his speed and anticipation a perfect compliment to a bigger yet much slower John Brooks.  I think Sam Vines makes roster on the left side and give Antonee Robinson of Fulham competition.  Not sure Shaq Moore or James Sands on the back line will quite make the next camp – but they are truly players to watch moving forward. Staying in the back – Matt Turner proved this Gold Cup that he deserves a serious look at the #1 Gloves over Steffan.  Turner made some saves this tourney that Steffan simply doesn’t make. It will be interesting to see – but Turner is certainly now solidified in the top 3 at GK with Zach Steffan at Man City and Ethan Horvath now at Nottingham’s Forrest.  Assuming neither of our European based GKs can earn starting slots – Turner – who goes 90 every game for New England – might just be our best bet in tough matches.  

Moving up the field – Kellyn Acosta – finally showed during the knock out rounds and vs Mexico that he can hold down the Dmid #6 slot if Adams is injured.  Jackson Yueill proved this is simply over his head and 17 year old Gianluca Busio showed he has potential in the future – but is not ready yet.  (He just signed to play in Italy – so lets follow that progress).  I thought Eryk Williamson of Portland was also solid in the final vs Mexico – I love that he attacked the goal and constantly went forward rather than backwards.  We’ll see if that gets him more time.  Of course Roldan solidified his spot with multiple assists this tourney as a super sub.  I thought Arriola and Lletget were just average but – you know Lletget is always going to start for coach – so go figure.  Up front I thought Matthew Hoppe was the biggest winner – as his play at the wing spot – (he’s an underneath forward for Schalke) was impressive.  He really reminds me of a mix of Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey.  He was my man crush this tourney – and I can’t wait to see him maybe get a shot at the #9 slot eventually.  Speaking of the #9 – we all hoped Dike would claim the spot this Gold Cup – but in the end he showed he’s just not ready yet.  He’s still young – 1 year as a pro and has a lot to learn still – but his hold up ability, his strength in the box, knowledge of proper passing and movement –were simply not there. He’s no Altidore.  Heck Zardes proved he’s still in the running as well.  Giochinni had some fine moments – including the game winning assist to Zardes vs a very good Qatar team – but he’s also just not there to be a #9 just yet.  He certainly hustles as much as anyone on the field.  I suspect it will be Josh Stewart up front but I am sure excited to see a battle in that slot.  Overall it’s a really exciting time to be a US Soccer fan.  The men’s team is Back  – just 1 month until World Cup Qualifying starts – and what I think will be a quarterfinals run in the next World Cup. The Golden Generation has arrived!

Full USMNT roster for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

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

Defenders (8): George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids),

Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

US edges Australia 4-3 in Bronze Medal Game

So the US ladies bounced back from their horrific loss to Canada by finally finding some offense in a 4-3 win over Australia.  Coach A started Rapinoe, Press and Lloyd up front and they rewarded him with 2 goals each by Lloyd and Rapinoe.  It was the first start for Rapinoe – and just like I said why she should have started all along – she scored and with humph.  Her galicto from the corner spot was spectacular but not better than her off the volley strike from the top of the box on a miss clear by the kiwis.  Its because she’s a big game player that I thought she should start the big games – coach A may have well loss the Gold Medal because he didn’t start her on that wing for the big games.  Anyway – happy to see the US win the Bronze at least.  No small feat – though this team was good enough to win the Gold and they know it.  Interesting times ahead as the average age of this team was like 29 years old.  This might be the last we see of Rapinoe, Lloyd, Heath, Saubruan, maybe even Alex Morgan who was 2 full steps behind this tourney.  Its time to start working in more kids – the question is will Coach A be around to start that movement?  I thought he was thoroughly outcoached this tournament – utterly unprepared for the Sweden debacle and not much better vs Canada or Australia.  I don’t know who else they would turn to with just 2 years until the next World Cup. But the rest of the World is getting better – the US – We are getting older.   

Congrats to Canada on the Gold Medal win – Carmel FC coaches Tom Baker and Carla Baker are Canadian and Coach Carla is a Canadian Hall of Fame Goalkeeper – so thrilled for them!!

GAMES ON TV

Saturday, Aug 7

7:30 am     Men’s Olympic Finals – Brazil vs Spain (NBCSN)

9:30 am    Beach Soccer – USA vs Japan (USA Network)  

11 am  Lyon (Weah) vs Brest French League 1 (beIN Sport)

12 noon Leicester City vs Man City Community Shield (ESPN+)

Sunday, Aug 8

8:30 am Fulham (Ream, Robinson) vs Middlesbrough ESPN+

11:30 am Coventry vs Nottingham Forest (Horvath) ESPN+

12:30 pm  Real Madrid vs Milan  ESPN

3:30 pm  Barcelona vs Juventus (ESPN+)

7:30 pm     Indy 11 @ Atlanta United ESPN+

Wednesday, Aug 11

3 pm Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Villarreal CBSSN

Friday, Aug 13

2:30 pm Mgladbach vs Bayern Munich Germany  ESPN+

3 pm Brentford vs Arsenal NBCSN

Saturday, Aug 14  EPL Kickoff

7:30 am  Man United vs Leeds United NBCSN

10 am  Liecester City vs Wolverhampton NBCSN

10 am  Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Crystal Palace Peacock

12:30   Norwich vs Liverpool NBCSN

12:30 Dortmund (Reyna) vs Frankfort ESPN+ .

7 pm     Indy 11 vs  OKC  home ESPN+

 

Olympics Women

Canada’s longtime goalkeeper dominated penalty kicks and sudden death to win gold in her final major tournament

Julia Grosso’s Penalty Kick Gives Canada its First Gold Medal in Women’s Soccer

Canada wins Olympic Gold after epic penalty shootout v. Sweden

MEN
Brazil vs. Spain will be a battle of football philosophies

Olympics-Soccer-Alves and Brazil have sights set on more gold
Brazil to play Spain in men’s Olympic soccer gold-medal game

Superb Asensio puts Spain into Olympic football final against Brazil

Mexico’s gold medal quest ends in penalty shootout loss to Brazil

 

European Signings/Departures?


Barcelona cannot afford to keep Messi, says club president

Man City’s Kane interest over if Spurs won’t negotiate: Guardiola

PSG appear most likely destination for Messi as Man City close door on move

Finances don’t add up, but can Barcelona and La Liga afford not to keep Messi?

Barcelona announces Lionel Messi will leave club; reported 5-year deal didn’t get done
Report: USMNT’s Josh Sargent close to completing Norwich move

Sergino Dest turns down multiple big money offers – report

 

US Women
U.S. women’s soccer takes bronze, but there’s ‘some soul-searching’ ahead

How did the USWNT fall short of Olympic gold? Rating the many theories
Caitlin Murray ESPNFC
Opinion: Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe are game-changers again, possibly one last time

Is this last run for these ladies ?

End of a Generation – USA Today
USWNT gets its bronze medal as Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe each score twice in likely international finale

USA coach Vlatko Andonovski fiddled but his players burned at the Olympics

USWNT stunned by Canada in semifinals at Tokyo Olympics, will play for bronze medal

– Report: USWNT lose to Canada in Olympic semifinals
– Murray: USWNT devoid of chemistry in semifinal exit
– Undefeated: How Scurry’s save opened path for Franch

 

US Men

Report: USMNT’s Josh Sargent close to completing Norwich move
Gold Cup review: U.S. win, Mexico woe and other tournament takeaways

US strength in depth and Canadian promise: what we learned from the Gold Cup

Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner’s unlikely rise to stardom

U.S. men’s national soccer team defeats Mexico in Concacaf Gold Cup final, collects second trophy in two months

UMNT C Team stands for Champions – sBI
Gold Cup grades: Which USMNT youngsters helped their stock most?

Player Ratings

Player Ratings SBI  

 

MLS
Chicharito, Vela will lead MLS All-Stars against Mexico stars

Galaxy to feature statue of former star Landon Donovan at Dignity Health Sports Park

 

 

 

USWNT reasons for Olympic struggles: Rating impact of roster age, rotation, tactics, no crowds and more

Aug 4, 2021Caitlin Murray ESPNFC 

Why has the No. 1-ranked U.S. women’s national team struggled so much at the Tokyo Olympics? Not even the players and staff seem to know.

“I don’t know,” Carli Lloyd said after the USWNT’s 1-0 upset loss to Canada in the semifinal. “I don’t know in this moment. It happens, you know? You can’t win them all.”

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Coach Vlatko Andonovski was at a similar loss on Monday, telling reporters, “I don’t really know,” before adding: “I guess we’re going to have to go back and dig a little deeper and find out what is it that didn’t go the way we wanted.” Without any clear-cut explanations for why a team that dominated its way through a World Cup two years ago suddenly looked so disjointed and ineffective at the Tokyo Olympics, plenty of outside theories have floated around.Here is a look at some of the top theories and our ratings (10=super likely, 1=unlikely) of how likely it is that each actually contributed to the USWNT’s loss:

The USWNT’s roster was too old: 5/10

It’s easy to look at the average age of the USWNT’s roster at the Olympics and point to that as the problem. All of the USWNT’s primary attackers are over the age of 30, except Lynn Williams, who is 28. The USWNT’s two biggest clutch players, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe, who were heroes in previous tournaments, are 39 and 36, respectively, and both are clearly a step slower than they once were.But there’s other important context. First, being the oldest team in a tournament hasn’t hurt the USWNT before. The USWNT had the oldest squads at both the 2015 World Cup and the 2019 World Cup, and they won both. It’s lazy to say that a team isn’t good just because it’s old.More importantly, the USWNT’s problem in Japan wasn’t its older players. Did Lloyd and Rapinoe have good tournaments? No. But how do you explain, for instance, the uncharacteristic struggles of Samantha Mewis, the 28-year-old central midfielder who many analysts have considered to be the best player in the world?

Basic execution of the soccer fundamentals — like dribbling and passing — was sloppy, and that happened all the way up and down the roster. As Rapinoe — the most honest and blunt player on the team — said after the tournament-opening Sweden loss, the U.S. was “doing dumb stuff, like not passing the ball, not trapping the ball.” After the loss to Canada, her assessment was nearly the same: “Too many errors from us, again. The space was there for us to play in, and we just couldn’t get into it — too many touches or an errant touch.”To be fair, the Olympics is a particularly grueling tournament because of how few rest days the IOC gives players between games. Having some younger players to take on more minutes and workload could have helped, but with more substitutions available than normal, Andonovski went out of his way to rest his players as much as possible. As Alex Morgan said, the USWNT had the freshest players in the tournament due to the rotations.Still, Andonovski may have found some benefit in bringing more younger players to the tournament — and then actually playing them — but it would’ve been less about their age than… (onto the next category…)

The selected players were too complacent: 7/10

When a team has won a World Cup in the unrelenting fashion the USWNT did in France in 2019, it would be tempting for any new coach to run it back. Andonovski already knew these players could succeed together in the pressure cooker of a major tournament, but what the USWNT seemed to lack more than pure fitness was desire.The players, of course, will tell you they wanted it. The veterans wanted to go out on top as they (likely) end their careers. The younger players wanted to win their first medal in an Olympics. Yet it’s hard not to notice that the one field player who had a standout performance in the entire tournament was Lynn Williams, who notched a goal and an assist against the Netherlands.Williams is playing in her first major tournament, one of the only players on the entire roster to do so. Under both Andonovski and previous coach Jill Ellis, Williams has not been the USWNT’s best attacking player — there’s a reason why she didn’t make any tournament rosters under Ellis and why she originally made the Olympic roster as an alternate — and yet she played in Japan like she had a lot more to prove than anyone else.That also raises the question of why a player like Catarina Macario didn’t have the chance to play a bigger role in the tournament, even as a substitute. She’s talented and has proved herself to be capable of competing at the highest level, but she was only named to one matchday squad (the 6-1 win over New Zealand). If Andonovski had told her he trusted her to take over a game and do her thing, could she have helped unlock an opponent like Canada, which wasn’t committing to attacking in that fateful semifinal? We’ll never know.With the Olympics being pushed back a year, Andonovski arguably had the time to break away from merely copying-and-pasting the World Cup roster and finding some players hungry to make their mark. At a minimum, it would’ve pushed the veterans harder as they fought to keep their spots going into the tournament, but it could’ve yielded some more dynamic options for Tokyo.

Andonovski rotated the starting line-ups too much: 10/10

In any tournament where a bunch of games are packed into a short period of time, a coach has one of two ways to approach it: consistency for the sake of chemistry, or rotation to keep the players fresh for each game. Andonovski clearly leaned toward rotation. Perhaps he was mindful of his roster’s age, or perhaps he just knew that playing a game every three days is a lot for players of any age.Rapinoe wondered after the semifinal if rotation was a problem but then dismissed it.”It just didn’t click for us,” Rapinoe said. “I don’t know if it was just roster rotations a lot. I know it’s a tough tournament, trying to save people. But our bench is deep as hell, so I don’t think we can really put it on that. I can’t quite put my finger on it; I’ve tried, I’ve been thinking about it the whole tournament. We just didn’t have that juice that we normally do.”If the concern about rotations is a drop-off in quality, Rapinoe was right to dismiss that. The substitutes for the USWNT are as good as its starters, and the USWNT never loses individual quality by rotating players. But as a collective, that’s a different story, and the USWNT’s biggest problem in Japan has seemed to be a lack of chemistry.While we can’t see what’s happening behind the scenes to build that chemistry, we do know that there wasn’t much consistency in games. Look no further than an unprecedented nine goals called offside throughout the tournament as tangible proof that the players just weren’t on the same page.”There was a lot of rotation, so in a way I think we had the freshest legs of any team,” Alex Morgan said after the semifinal. “But [other teams] also had the consistency in the line-ups. So that’s what you have to weigh in tournament like this. It’s very different than a World Cup. There were more substitutions than there’s ever been, so it’s very different.”It’s unclear if Morgan was hinting that the higher amount of allowed substitutions meant that less rotation should have been needed; it would have been a good point, too. With five substitutes, it probably wasn’t necessary to introduce five different starting line-ups in five games. If Andonovski had stuck to more consistent starting line-ups, he could have made better use of his substitutions to make sure impactful players were coming into games, instead of just taking players off for the sake of it.

The USWNT got too distracted by its lawsuit or politics: 0/10

Anyone who claims that the USWNT struggled in Japan because they were too distracted by social justice is someone who clearly does not watch the USWNT and has never watched the USWNT. These are people who should be laughed at or ignored.The USWNT has historically been one of the most dominant teams in sports, period, and they’ve done it all while constantly fighting for better treatment and better pay. Seriously, there’s a whole book about it, but you don’t even have to look back any further than the 2019 World Cup. The USWNT filed their equal pay lawsuit only months prior, Megan Rapinoe got into a fight with Donald Trump (which he started, for some reason), and both the USWNT and Rapinoe crushed their competition.The evidence is clear: the USWNT has won more tournaments while caring about social justice than not.

The USWNT didn’t lose enough before the Olympics: 7/10

Fans of the USWNT are very accustomed to winning. So accustomed, in fact, that a single loss is enough to set off calls to fire a coach, which has created a culture where it can be difficult for coaches to experiment and take the risks that result in losses.But losses are good. Jill Ellis has said that losing games before the 2015 World Cup allowed the team to win the trophy, and she thinks the USWNT probably wouldn’t have gone as far without those losses. It’s easy to see why, too: defeats force a hard self-examination of weaknesses and shake away any feelings of complacency.– Olympics medal tracker | ScheduleComing into the Olympics, Vlatko Andonovski had never lost a game with the USWNT, and the team was riding a 44-game unbeaten streak when it arrived in Japan. Where, then, was any serious introspection going to come from? What would have prompted players to look in the mirror and dig a little deeper? It appears the answer is that those things went missing in Japan.

The lack of crowds hurt the USWNT’s mentality: 6/10

Americans will follow the USWNT anywhere. During the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, Reims, a quaint city known for its champagne production and Gothic architecture, looked like an American resort town at the start of the tournament. As soon as the USWNT left, the throngs of traveling American fans did too, following the USWNT from city to city across France. The players admitted that every match in France, except the quarterfinal against France, felt like a home game.But no Americans have followed the USWNT to Japan.Due to the pandemic, the USWNT’s games have been mostly played in empty, dead-silent stadiums. The players have insisted it’s not a big deal — they’ve gotten used to it during the pandemic. But the truth is, if fans were allowed in Japan, no other non-host team would have as much support as the USWNT. It’s hard to measure the impact of it, but ask any athlete: fans add that extra push, and for the USWNT, that extra bit of swagger to put on a show.”With it being a major tournament without fans, we know that energy and everything is gonna come from us,” Rose Lavelle said during the group stage. “It comes from every single player and staff member, so that’s something we’ve been emphasizing too.”But it clearly hasn’t worked, and there’s no substitute for a stadium of mostly USWNT fans. The lack of fans may only be one piece of the psychological difficulty of the past 16 months during the pandemic, but it’s an important piece.

The world has ‘caught up’ to the USWNT: 4/10

If the question were whether there were other teams in Japan capable of beating the USWNT, then there is a 100% probability that it was a factor in the USWNT’s loss: teams like Sweden and the Netherlands were favorites, along with the USWNT, before the tournament even started. But if the question is whether the world has “caught up,” meaning the field has been somehow significantly more difficult than in years past, that’s a lot less likely.The fact is, women’s soccer has been growing at a rapid pace for several years now, and there have been very good teams capable of beating the USWNT all along. The 2019 Women’s World Cup was easily the most difficult in history — more teams looked like title contenders than ever — and just because the USWNT won it in impressive fashion, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t tough.Sure, it’s possible the USWNT’s failure to reach the gold-medal match in Tokyo will signal a new shift in women’s soccer where the USWNT never reaches a final again. But that seems highly improbable unless the USWNT disbands tomorrow.In truth, there are several teams that can win any major tournament, and that number is indeed growing, but the USWNT reaching a final is never a given. It wasn’t a given in 2016, when the USWNT got knocked out in the quarterfinal at the Rio Olympics, and it wasn’t a given in 1995, 2003 or 2007, when the USWNT didn’t reach the finals of those World Cups either.

The USWNT’s run wasn’t actually that terrible: 5/10

Looking at the USWNT’s performances, rather than the results, is certainly disheartening. By the players’ own admissions, they looked bad, both as a collective group and as individuals. For fans, the team on the field was unrecognizable at times.But reaching the final four of a major tournament isn’t terrible, all things considered. The USWNT has only failed to get that far once in the team’s entire history, and that was at the 2016 Olympics with a loss in the quarterfinal. That arguably puts the Tokyo Olympics in line with the USWNT’s expected results.”This was my eighth tournament, and they’ve all been different,” Lloyd said after the loss to Canada. “They’ve all had a different storyline, they’ve all started and finished in a different fashion, some have been pretty, some have been ugly and some we’ve just scraped by. This one, we didn’t get by.”It’s easy to forget that the USWNT won a World Cup in 2015 playing rough soccer for most of the tournament. The first few games looked so bad that pundits and former USWNT players were questioning why coach Jill Ellis hadn’t been fired already. The USWNT grew into its later games — something this team couldn’t do in Japan — but it was far from invincible.Sometimes in past tournaments, the ball seemed to bounce the USWNT’s way, even when they weren’t playing well. The USWNT had no such luck in this go-round, and sometimes luck makes all the difference.

Gold Cup review: U.S. Men win, Mexico woe and other tournament takeaways

Aug 3, 2021ESPN

The Gold Cup is complete, and after a topsy-turvy, 120-minute battle in Las Vegas on Sunday night, Gregg Berhalter’s U.S. team walked away deserving winners over rivals Mexico and made it two trophies out of two attempts over their neighbors this summer, having won the CONCACAF Nations League at the beginning of June.

With the trophy won, the confetti swept away and the players slowly heading back to rejoin their club teams around the globe, ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, Eric Gomez and Kyle Bonagura reflect on the tournament’s highs and lows, as well as wondering if it’s no longer just a competition for U.S. and Mexico to dominate.


Biggest takeaway from the competition?

Jeff Carlisle: The U.S. player pool is deeper than originally thought. Heading into the tournament, there were a lot of question marks about certain positions and while a few still linger — namely who is going to claim the starting striker spot — more questions were answered. Miles Robinson looks like a player who can be a real contributor at center-back. Kellyn Acosta is a solid backup for Tyler Adams in defensive midfield and given Adams’ difficulty with injuries, could very well be called upon to play. Goalkeeper Matt Turner can give Zack Steffen and Ethan Horvath a run for their money between the posts, too.

Berhalter also has the luxury of identifying players who can excel in “supersub” roles, be it a midfielder like Cristian Roldan or an outside-back like Shaq Moore. It all gives Berhalter something of a selection puzzle when it comes to naming a roster for World Cup qualifying, which begins in September, but he has many more options than he had before and that is a positive development.Eric Gomez: In the coming weeks and months, the generational shift will emerge as a huge talking point for both the United States and Mexico.

Several of Gregg Berhalter’s young champions, like Matthew Hoppe, Robinson and Turner have likely played themselves into the USMNT World Cup qualifying rotation after their stellar performances. On the other side, Mexico fans can only look on wistfully towards the under-23 team playing so well in Tokyo. They will rightfully wonder what their fortunes would have been like if the Olympic side had suited up instead of the groggy, aging group we saw throughout the Gold Cup.

Moving forward, it seems more and more like this summer served both teams as a long audition for qualifiers. The United States will revel in adding in players to their established mix of young stars, while Mexico will scramble to swap out pieces of an aging core.

Kyle Bonagura: From an American standpoint, the whole point of the roster construction was to identify players who could play roles during World Cup qualification and not only did goalkeeper Turner showcase he’s talented enough to be relied on, he made a strong case to be the No. 1 as well. Other players improved their stock, too, but because of the nature of the position — only one guy plays — it was Turner’s performance that could have the most impact on a first-choice starting XI.

Steffen has been viewed as the locked-in starter for a while now, but after Horvath came up clutch in the Nations League final and Turner’s run through the Gold Cup — the New England Revolution stopper didn’t allow a single goal from the run of play in six matches — Steffen’s standing should no longer be a given. Especially considering that when qualifying begins in September, Steffen will likely still be in a backup role at Manchester City, while Turner (and possibly Horvath) will have been getting consistent playing time.

Is anyone going to challenge the USA and Mexico moving forward?

Carlisle:Canada looks to be the team best-positioned to threaten the U.S./Mexico hegemony. The Reds had already made some noise in the CONCACAF Nations League when they defeated the U.S. at home. Then, they arrived at the Gold Cup without two of their best players (Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David) before being depleted further when forward Ayo Akinola went down with a torn ACL. And yet Canada pushed both Mexico and the U.S. to the limit, losing both matches by a single goal.Tajon Buchanan was already looking like an immense talent at the club level with the New England Revolution. Now he’s showing the same at international level. Stephen Eustaquio impressed, too. When Canada gets its full team together, it could prove formidable indeed.

Gomez: Canada is already there. As was the case with Mexico and the USMNT, Canada was without several of their biggest stars for the Gold Cup. However, they showed they’re deeper than ever and boast an electric group of young talent — Buchanan was a revelation, rightfully winning the tournament’s Best Young Player award — who will challenge to make their first World Cup since 1986.

Meanwhile, Central America is also experiencing a changing of the guard, yielding an interesting preview of what’s to come in World Cup qualifying. Costa RicaPanama and Honduras have lost quite a bit of steam, while El Salvador was a welcome surprise under manager Hugo Perez. Beyond the three North American countries, La Selecta will challenge Jamaica for the playoff spot and make life difficult for every opponent along the way.

Bonagura: Even without its two best players, Canada advanced to the semifinal, where it had its chances to beat Mexico before losing at the death. So, the short answer is: yes. Canada is on the rise and will be a tough opponent for the United States and Mexico for years to come. Canada hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1986, in Mexico, and the expectation this cycle should be for that to change.There is lots of progress to be made, but this generation of Canadian players has the potential to change how Canadian soccer is viewed in CONCACAF and beyond.

Biggest surprise or biggest disappointment of the competition?

Carlisle: El Salvador is another team that looks like it is moving in the right direction. Manager Perez — a former U.S. international, mind you — not only has Los Cuscatlecos more organized, but taking more risks as well, and to good effect. El Salvador was another team that provided a difficult test to not only Mexico, but also reigning Asian champions, Qatar. El Salvador won’t be a pushover by any means when the Octagonal begins in September.

In terms of disappointment, while Costa Rica claimed top spot in their group with three wins, it looks like a team caught between generations, and were soundly beaten by Canada in the quarterfinals. How long can players like Celso Borges and Bryan Ruiz carry the load? The start of World Cup qualifying should give us an answer.

Gomez: Tata Martino. After losing the Nations League final to the United States in June, Mexico’s manager found himself caught between a rock and a hard place. Knowing his player pool would be diminished as the under-23 team played the Olympics, Martino felt pressure for the first time in his stint as El Tri manager.Whereas the United States opted to rest all of its main talents, Martino felt he needed to bring as strong a team as he could to the Gold Cup to make up for his previous loss and risk further fatigue. The result was predictable. The Gold Cup is already as near to a zero-sum competition as there is for Mexico, and after Hirving Lozano went down with injury during the tournament’s opening game, even more pressure was mounted on the Argentine coach to deliver a trophy, which ultimately never came.Bonagura: Costa Rica might have gone 3-0 to win its group, but at no point during the tournament did it look like a team capable of making a threatening run in the knockout stages. The 2-0 loss to Canada in the quarterfinals was not an upset by any stretch.Part of Costa Rica’s uninspiring showing can probably be chalked up to introducing a new coach without any time to prepare, but it’s hard to look at the aging roster and come up with many good reasons to expect things to improve significantly in qualifying. This is a country that reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2014 and is but a shadow of what it once was.

Player who impressed you the most?

Carlisle: Miles Robinson. The U.S. center-back should have been named the player of the tournament. (That honor went to Mexico’s Hector Herrera instead.) Not that it matters that much to him as he’ll gladly settle for being part of the Gold Cup championship team, but Robinson was dominant in every game, putting out constant fires and delivering composure on the ball.In the final, Robinson even showed off his ability to carry the ball forward into the attack. And he was central to a U.S. defense that conceded but one goal — a penalty kick, at that — the entire tournament.Will it be enough to break into the U.S. starting lineup? There is an open slot alongside John Brooks, and Robinson’s mobility could make him an ideal replacement for the injured Aaron Long. There is competition as well, though, and Mark McKenzie and Matt Miazga won’t give up without a fight, but Robinson’s emergence was the most positive development for the U.S. in the Gold Cup.

Gomez: While Canada’s Buchanan was spectacular throughout the Gold Cup, Qatar’s Almoez Ali continued his prolific run with his national team, raising many eyebrows along the way.

The 24-year-old striker won the competition’s Golden Boot award and displayed a mix of speed and skill that enthralled observers and rankled defenders throughout. Ali walks away as the only player to win the top scorer award at both the Asian Cup and CONCACAF’s premier national team competition.Lastly, it would be a glaring omission not to talk about Turner’s amazing goalkeeping throughout the Americans’ title run. Especially in the knockout stages, the New England Revolution man looked unbeatable. He’ll definitely remain at the top of Berhalter’s list for any game where Manchester City’s Steffen is unavailable.Bonagura: Setting Turner aside, I think there are two players who really played their way into the United States’ World Cup qualifying conversation: Matthew Hoppe and Robinson. Robinson was deserving of Player of the Tournament honors by being the guy we see regularly in MLS and Berhalter likely comes away from the last month with confidence he can slot him next to Brooks.With that understood, I found myself more impressed by Hoppe. Not because he was more impactful than Robinson, but because we got to see a version of him that didn’t get to regularly emerge at Schalke. While breaking through as a 19-year-old in the Bundesliga was impressive, it was tough to get a good read on how he could potentially fit into the USMNT because Schalke was truly horrific. Their basic inability to progress the ball with any regularity rendered him obsolete more often than not.In the Gold Cup, Hoppe’s confidence and willingness to take people on stood out, and he’s earned a spot this fall.

Berhalter’s USMNT “C team” made the C stand for champions

By Ives Galarcep | August 2, 2021 1:00 pm ET  https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.f88235f49a156f8b4cab34c7bc1a0acc.en.html#dnt=false&id=twitter-widget-1&lang=en&screen_name=soccerbyives&show_count=false&show_screen_name=true&size=m&time=1628293730937

It didn’t matter much that we had known for months what Gregg Berhalter was planning to do with the rosters for the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup. The complaints still came when his experimental squad for the Gold Cup was unveiled.

The immediate complaint was that it made little sense to call in what was seen as a USMNT C team, especially with Mexico announcing a close to full-strength team, complete with European-based stars Hirving Lozano, Hector Herrera and Edson Alvarez.

Berhalter and the team never bought into the idea that this American team was a C team — with a B team presumably consisting of those European-based players who didn’t make the cut for Nations League and had their clubs balk at a Gold Cup call — but as it turns out it actually was a C team, only the C stands for champion.

Berhalter took a team loaded with players who had never competed in an international tournament and made them believers. He gave youngsters prominent roles and let them battle through adversity, and he convinced the veterans on the squad to buy into what he was doing.

The result was a tournament run few could have envisioned when that roster was first revealed, which was understandable because few could have seen so many players blowing away expectations.

Followers of MLS already knew Miles Robinson was a quality defender, but few were aware he had the talent to be a USMNT starter. Now they know.

Matt Turner had been the subject of plenty of buzz in MLS in recent years, but for non-MLS followers, the Gold Cup was the first chance to see a player some believe can challenge Zack Steffen for the first-choice goalkeeper role. That idea sounds far less crazy than it did a month ago.

Kellyn Acosta had already provided a tease of his impressive ability in the Nations League final, and carried that momentum into the Gold Cup, where he silenced any lingering questions about which player is the best option as Tyler Adams’ backup in the defensive midfield role.

Even fewer non-MLS followers were aware that James Sands was such a poised and technically-gifted central defender at the age of 20, and now they are aware that he is legit and a real threat to make the World Cup qualifying roster.

USMNT fans who follow Americans Abroad closely were already aware of Matthew Hoppe after his breakout season with Schalke, but the full fanbase hadn’t had a chance to see him up close, and now they know he is a legitimate and versatile attacking threat.

Those are just some of the players who fully embraced the opportunity presented by Berhalter, and rewarded him with tournaments that not only led to a trophy, and precious win against Mexico, but also leaves their coach feeling that much better about the depth of his player pool.

That as, after all, the main goal of the Gold Cup, because there is nothing more important to the USMNT program than ensuring a successful World Cup qualifying campaign, and Berhalter saw the tournament as a chance to identify and develop some new options.

That is where the ‘house money’ theme was born, because no matter what happened in Sunday’s final, Berhalter would be heading home with the knowledge he had found several players that had proven their mettle and worthiness to be included on the World Cup qualifying squad.

Berhalter wasn’t satisfied though. He believed his team had come together in a way that beating Mexico wasn’t impossible, and after leading a full-strength USMNT to a dramatic win over El Tri in June, Berhalter had detailed knowledge of Mexico’s strengths and weaknesses.

That is what led the USMNT to high-press Mexico at every opportunity, never letting El Tri get comfortable, and consistently testing Mexico’s own transition defense with consistently quick counterattacks.

Mexico still had its chances, and might have grabbed a first-half lead if not for Matt Turner’s heroics and the stellar play of Robinson and James Sands in central defense, and if not for some poor finishing by Mexico, but there was a feeling that when the halftime whistle blew one team looked rattled and one team looked energized.

Make no mistake, Mexico’s players felt the pressure of winning a final they were expected to win easily, and the pressure of doing so in a sold-out stadium where close to 90 percent of the fans in attendance were urging them on.

That it was the USMNT that kept pushing the issue late in the match and in extra time, and the Americans who finished strong despite facing a more accomplished collection of players, makes Sunday’s loss all the more bitter for Mexico and head coach Tata Martino, who has to deal with the ignominy of being the first El Tri coach to lose back-to-back finals to the United States.

While Martino suddenly finds himself no longer enjoying his honeymoon period as Mexico coach, Berhalter celebrated his birthday on Sunday with his second trophy of the summer, bragging rights over the coach some fans had wished was hired instead of him, and with another group of players riding the confidence boost that comes with winning an international trophy.

It’s a safe bet Berhalter and his team will enjoy celebrating their title in Las Vegas, before going back to their respective teams, while Berhalter prepares for his biggest challenge, qualifying for the World Cup.

Even with two trophies on the mantle, and two wins over Mexico, Berhalter knows that none of that will matter if he doesn’t lead the USMNT through a successful — and impressive — World Cup qualifying campaign.

After Sunday’s win, and after his work turning a “C team” into champions, there is a lot more reason to believe Berhalter is up to the task.

 

 

7/31/21  US Men vs Mexico Gold Cup Final – Sunday 8:30 pm FS1, USA Women Win in PKs face Canada Mon 4 am on USA  

7/31  US Men vs Mexico Gold Cup Final – Sunday 8:30 pm FS1, USA Women Win in PKs face Canada Mon 4 am on USA  

US Men vs Mexico GOLD CUP FINAL Sunday 8:30 pm FS1  

WOW the 2nd half of the US 1-0 win over Qatar was fabulous full highlights.  The 85th minute goal by sub Zardes from sub Giochinni had been building up for the 20 minutes prior to the goal as Berhalter’s subs we spot on.  Roldan, Cannon and Zardes really made a difference in the final 20 minutes of the game as they put huge pressure on the Asian Cup Champions.  Listen this Qatar team is good – the best team in Asia – winners of the Asian Cup 2 years ago – tons of experience – the leading scorers and assist men in the Gold Cup.  But when Qatar missed the PK early in the 2nd half – the young US team grew up and found a way to win it.  GK Matt Turner stood on his head and kept the US in the game – in the first half with 3 SPECTACULAR Saves –  as the US gave up way too many shots in the first half. (He’s making his bid to put the pressure on Coach to consider him as a starter come Qualifying time especially if he can keep the US in the game vs Mexico.  (Listen Turner starts and plays 90 minutes every game for New England – so having him start over 2 guys sitting on the bench in Horvath and Steffan may not be so crazy).  But back to this game – I thought Hoppe was good again tonight in his 75 minutes along with Sam Vines at left back.  Dike, and Arriola just didn’t work up top.  Hopefully Dike is hurt – because he did not look good.  (I love that Coach B started him again because he’s giving his young guys chances to get better- but he’s simply not ready yet.)  Zardes was great off the bench along with Giochinni – both might deserve starts vs Mexico or perhaps Hoppe at the #9.  For the US this was the youngest/least capped team to ever start a Gold Cup knockout game – much less a Semi-Final with a berth vs Mexico on the line. 

Now can this team beat Mexico?  Wow – Mexico brought their A team and coach Tata Martino is under a lot of pressure right now – honestly if he loses – they might fire him.  I think Mexico has too much against our very young B/C team but Canada took them to the wire Thurs night when Mexico needed a 99th minute goal to win 2-1.  Full highlights  If the US can keep it close – 2-1 loss maybe?  That would be huge – and if Matt Turner stands on his head in Vegas – in what will be a 70/30 Mexican ROAD GAME then Berhalter will have really proven he’s making some serious progress on building the US program back up.  Remember the US has not lost on US soil in 13 games – but this will be THE BIGGEST test especially without our European starters.  Either way – I am fully back on board – this young, exciting US Men’s team deserves your time, deserves you buying back in again !! Go USA !! Oh and by the way tickets will be on sale soon for US Men Qualifying games in Columbus Oct 13 vs Costa Rica (Anyone wanna roadtrip??) and in Cincinnati vs Mexico on November 12.  Interesting to see the US Men putting their opinion out regarding the equal pay argument as they support the US ladies

Here’s my starting line-up for Sunday night vs Mexico  I like Mexico 2-1 (refs will give Mexico a PK)

Zardes

Hoppe //Arriola 

Lletget //Williams

Acosta

Vines/Robinson/Sands/Cannon

Matt Turner

Full USMNT roster for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

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

Defenders (8): George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids),

Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

US Ladies vs Canada USA Network Mon 4 am Semi-Finals

Thank goodness I was wrong – I thought the Dutch would beat us 3-2 and in the 85th minute I looked to be right as the Netherlands got a PK.  But US GK Alyssa Naeher proved once again that she is probably the least respected yet one of the best Goalkeepers in the world.  She dove and made the save to keep it tied.  GK Naeher Saves US vs Netherlands Then as the US went to penalties – she did it again saving the first against the leading scorer in this game and this tournament Dutch’s Vivianne Miedema before making the 3rd save sending the US into the Semi-Final against Canada who also won on penalties.   Coach A surprised everyone by starting winger Lynn Williams, the 2nd leading scorer in NWSL history, on the right side and sending Heath to the left with Lloyd up top.  The combo was effective as Williams scored the Brace in her first legit action in this tourney.  (She’s been injured some).  The Dutch were lethal most of the game  peppering Naeher from all over the field.  Miedema (10 goals) scored two goals as she bossed America’s center backs Sauerbrunn and especially Dahlkemper most of the night.  Dunn was strong defensively in helping especially in the 2nd half when the game really opened up.  Coach A may have been thinking PKs as he sat some of our top scorers – as subs Morgan, Press and Rapino all scored from the spot to close out the game.  I don’t think Canada is as good as the Netherlands – but this is still a huge game with Sweden probably waiting in the Gold Medal game. 

About Canada – They got out of their group with a win (Chile) and two draws (Great Britain and Japan), and then played a goalless 120 minutes with Brazil before besting them in the shootout. We most recently faced them back in February in the SheBelieves Cup, winning 1-0 c/o Rose Lavelle. That match didn’t feature Christine Sinclair, the all time leading scorer in the known universe. This one very likely will. Three of her 187 goals for Canada came in the 2012 Olympics semifinal match, which … well, if tomorrow’s match is half as nuts as that one was, it’ll be a classic. Win, and we play Sweden or Australia again for the gold. Lose, and we play Sweden or Australia again for the bronze.

Here’s the team I would send out if I were coach A against Canada Monday morning.  Dahlkemper really struggled – she has to come out this game.  I like getting Press back into the starting line-up and giving Williams a shot up top – she’s plays the 9 for her club and maybe she’ll actually stay onsides unlike Morgan and Lloyd.  (The US had 2 more goals called back on offsides for an Olympic Record 9 goals wiped out to the flag.) 

Announcer Arlo White was classic when he said – the Americans would like to get their HANDS ON THAT FLAG – man he’s good!!  Horan needs a rest at mid and Kristie Mewis deserves a run along with Lavelle in the middle. 

My Starting Line-Up Monday – US Wins a tight one 2-1

Press/Williams/Heath

K Mewis, Lavelle

Ertz

Dunn/Davidson/Sauerbrunn/Ohara

GK Superwoman -Naeher

US Ladies Roster

GOALKEEPERS (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash)

DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars),

MIDFIELDERS (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Catarina Macario (Lyon),

FORWARDS (5): Tobin Heath (Unattached), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Unattached), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

Olympics Local Ties

Lori Lindsey – a former US National Team Midfielder who is an Indiana Native and former Pike High School star who went to UVA has done a great job as an analyst on NBCSN for the Women’s Olympic Coverage.   Lori’s the blond with short hair giving us the half-time updates and occasionally serving as analyst on the non US ladies games.  Cool to see !! 

US Men    Sunday – 8:30 pm vs MEXICO FS1 Gold Cup FINALS

CONCACAF Gold Cup Final: Scouting Mexico


Zardes rewards Berhalter’s faith, wins Gold Cup semi for USMNT
  ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle
Gyasi Zardes’ goal pushes the USMNT past Qatar and into Concacaf Gold Cup final

USA squad blanks Qatar to reach Gold Cup final

Gold Cup: USMNT survives Qatar scare, sets up USA – Mexico final
Gold Cup: Mexico tops Canada, reaches final amid controversy involving homophobic chant

US Ladies –Mon 4 am USA vs Netherlands

Greatest Game Part 2? – Dan Wetzel Yahoo Soccer
Why USWNT won’t get an easy game vs. Canada in Olympic semifinal
  ESPNFC
Caitlin Murray
Opinion: Canada believes it can beat USWNT in Olympic semifinals. Except it rarely has

GK Naeher Saves US vs Netherlands – the 18
Vlatko Andonovski’s big gamble paid off in setting up USWNT showdown with Canada

U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Advances to Olympic Semifinals After Close Win Against the Netherlands

How USWNT beat dangerous Dutch: Naeher No. 1, Williams takes her chance  ESPN – Caitlin Murray

Video  USWNT wins thriller vs. Netherlands, Team USA swimmers make statements in and out of water | What You Missed  

The USWNT needed a hero, up stepped Alyssa Naeher

U.S. Women’s Soccer Goes Where It Hasn’t Gone In 9 Years After Win Over Netherlands

The hero of the US Women’s Soccer knockout stage win took a winding journey to Tokyo after a 2019 World Cup snub

Re-Watch USWNT’s Full Shootout vs. Netherlands, with Red Stars Goalie’s Diving Saves
Opinion: Alyssa Naeher lets her play do the talking in USWNT’s win over Netherlands at Tokyo Olympics

U.S. women’s soccer team edges Netherlands on penalty kicks to advance at Olympics

USWNT uses penalty kicks to escape with quarterfinal win against Netherlands at Tokyo Olympics

Is Mexico the Best Men’s Team Left Standing?  

GAMES ON TV

Sunday, Aug 1

2:45 pm     Super Cup France Lille vs PSG (beIN Sport)

8:30 pm GOLD CUP FINAL USA vs Mexico FS1

Monday, Aug 2 Women’s Olympics

4  am        Semis – USWNT  vs Canada (USA)

7 am           Semis – Aust vs Sweden (USA)

Tuesday, Aug 3 Men’s Olympics

4  am         Semis – Mexico vs Brazil (NBCSN)

7 am           Semis – Japan vs Spain (NBCSN)

Wednesday, Aug6

8 pm          Indy 11 @ FC Tulsa myIndy TV, ESPN+

Thursday, Aug 5

4 am          Bronze Medal-Ladies (USA)

7 am           Gold Medal-Ladies (USA)

Saturday, Aug 7

7:30 am     Men’s Olympic Finals – (NBCSN)

12 noon Leicester City vs Man City Community Shield (ESPN+)

3 pm Troyes vs PSG (beIN Sport) French League 1

Sunday, Aug 8

8:30 am Fulham (Ream, Robinson) vs Middlesbrough ESPN+

7:30 pm     Indy 11 @ Atlanta United ESPN+

USMNT, Mexico meet in Gold Cup final with expectations high for differing reasons

Jul 31, 2021Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

LAS VEGAS — When the U.S. men’s national team and Mexico meet in Sunday’s 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, it will be the second time in 56 days that the longtime rivals have faced each other with a continental title on the line. And yet the two matches could not be more different in terms of the relative stakes involved.Back on June 6, the sides met in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League final, and it was the U.S. in desperate need of a win because, for the entirety of manager Gregg Berhalter’s tenure, there had yet to be a victory that confirmed that the team was back on an upward trajectory. A statement was needed, not only to generate some confidence in the coach’s methods but also to give this generation of players something tangible to go with its undeniable talent. And, regardless of the wild sequence of events that took place during the game, the collective group stepped up, absorbed the pressure — and a bottle or two to the head — to ultimately walk away with a 3-2 win after extra time.As for Mexico, while the loss stung — they always do against the U.S. — there was a belief that Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s men had played well enough to win, having led twice and with the chance to make it 3-3 but for Ethan Horvath to save Andres Guardado‘s penalty. As it stood, El Tri would be back to fight another day. So what has changed heading into Sunday’s encounter at Allegiant Stadium? In a word: expectations.

The U.S. came into this tournament with an intentionally youthful, inexperienced roster, with one fundamental reason the desire to give presumptive first-team regulars — Christian PulisicWeston McKennieGiovanni Reyna and others — rest ahead of what is expected to be a busy season for both club and country.But there was also a need to get a better idea of how impactful up-and-coming members of the player pool could be at the international level. This is especially important given that triple-fixture windows dot the horizon for World Cup qualifying, which begins in September, and depth will be tested.Expectation-wise, this left the U.S. in a bit of a conundrum. Berhalter has said from the beginning that the goal was to win the tournament, regardless of roster construction. And yet there have been times when the team’s youth has been trotted out as an explanation for shaky performances.

A 1-0 group-stage win against Canada, who had a slight edge in experience but also fielded some new faces in the absence of stars such as Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, was seen as a case in point, yet it was not so much the young players who let the U.S. down that day but rather veterans who did not step up.In Thursday’s semifinal win, Qatar looked a cut above in the first half but were unable to find a way past the impressive Matt Turner in goal, which allowed the Americans to rally late in the game and seal victory through an all-important Gyasi Zardes goal.That this U.S. squad has reached the final speaks well of its ability to adapt, grow and grind out results. Moreover, while injuries to the likes of defender Walker Zimmerman, midfielder Paul Arriola and defender Reggie Cannon have limited options, they have also given Berhalter data points on players like Shaq MooreMiles RobinsonJames Sands and Matthew Hoppe.Given those developments, the U.S. would seem to be playing with house money on Sunday, although Berhalter denied that was the case in his pregame press conference. Its objectives have largely been achieved and little is expected against the pre-tournament favorite. Yet Berhalter wants his side to be greedy and finish the job.

“We’re not done, and that was the message to the team,” the U.S. coach said after the semifinal. “It’s nice to make the final, but we want to win the final. Our No. 1 goal is to win the Gold Cup. We said that before the Gold Cup, and we’ll say it again.”By contrast, the stakes for Mexico could not be more different. This is a game it dare not lose, even if it almost cannot win; beating a short-handed U.S. team to claim a 12th Gold Cup title would prove little, even if there are a players absent like Raul Jimenez and Hirving Lozano.But in the event of defeat, pressure would increase and doubts would be raised heading into World Cup qualifying. Would it even be enough to cost Martino his job?There has certainly been that impulse at times in the past, but the tenure of predecessor Juan Carlos Osorio is instructive. The Mexico Football Federation stuck by him after a 7-0 thrashing by Chile in the 2016 Copa America Centenario quarterfinals, and that patience and emphasis on stability was rewarded with World Cup qualification and a famous victory over holders Germany in Russia.This Mexico team has found a way to get results, even if the actual play has sometimes fallen short of its lofty standards. Jonathan dos Santos has been rallied around following the death of his father, and one would expect that its experience edge all over the field, but especially in a midfield led by Hector Herrera, will tell at some point.Berhalter noted how poor his side was in terms of winning duels against Qatar, with just 42.7%, while the tackle success was even worse at 30%. If that happens again, the likes of Rogelio Funes Mori should benefit and make it a long night for a back line that has performed so well.But the very nature of this long-standing rivalry means that another drama-filled chapter seems inevitable. Given the mental fortitude shown over the past few weeks by the U.S., as well as the must-win nature of the game for Mexico, expect another compelling encounter.

USA vs Mexico, 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup final: What to watch for

The two regional titans meet for another trophy.By Brendan Joseph  Aug 1, 2021, 10:07am

The United States Men’s National Team has the opportunity to win a second trophy this summer, progressing to the final of the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Once again, the opponent is Mexico, which Gregg Berhalter and an almost wholly different roster dispatched in June’s Nations League championship. The rivalry is renewed one again at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada, the last remaining test in advance of World Cup qualifying.Neither team has looked completely convincing during the competition, an understandable state considering the squads range from the C+ to B+ range. The struggles have provided the opportunity for both managers to discover and integrate depth options, mild experimentation that should continue into the final. However, this is still the United States versus Mexico, with all of the elevated tensions expected from such a fixture. Both programs would receive a slight boost from winning this Gold Cup, although perhaps El Tri manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino would face more criticism after a second consecutive defeat.“We are calm to be in one more final,” the Argentine said in his press conference. “It is what always has to happen with Mexico and more because we know that it is not easy despite the favoritism. We are going to face the United States team. We have the United States jersey in front of us in another final and we will seek to win it.”

What To Watch For

Limit defensive mistakes. Playing in possession is always a risk, with harsh lessons ideally learned in less meaningful matches. The USMNT back line has made a few catastrophic mistakes in the defensive third. Opponents have thus far been unable to take advantage, failing to get past goalkeeper Matt Turner during the run of play. Mexico’s attackers, which includes elusive target man Rogelio Funes Mori, will not be as forgiving.

Keep pace. Outside of the rout against Martinique, there is a paucity of goals. Striker Daryl Dike appears to have hit a mild cold streak relative to his high standards and could probably use a break. If Mexico scores multiple times, the USMNT might not be able to keep pace. The team that finds the back of the net first will probably win.

Fullbacks will be tested. Sam Vines and Shaq Moore have been two of the better USMNT players at this competition, likely solidifying inclusion on future rosters. Both have been involved in the build-up while helping to put out defensive fires, although the occasional opponent counter attack has outpaced their arrival. This final presents their greatest test, as wingers Jesús Corona and Orbelín Pineda play high up the field and cut inside, making space for additional raids from overlapping fullbacks. The American defenders may be instructed to commit fewer runs forward, in turn limiting their influence in possession.

Lineup prediction

Berhalter has some interesting choices to make, particularly in light of recent results. The attacking group has experienced the most rotation throughout the competition, although the same lineup featured in both knockout round matches. Expect the same team except for a major change up top.

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Predicted Lineup vs. Mexico (via LineupBuilder.com)

There is no sense in making any great alterations to the defense this late in the competition. Matt Turner has likely cemented himself as the permanent back-up or third choice at goalkeeper. The back line has continued to put in “bend but don’t break” performances, looking to see out one last match.The midfield could experience some changes, but Berhalter appears to have settled on this three as his preferred group. Mexico’s press will challenge Gianluca Busio, looking to force the young player into bad decisions. If the manager chooses to go with a more aggressive option, Cristian Roldan is available and put in an impressive performance against Qatar.The wingers appear established, as Paul Arriola overcame an injury and Matthew Hoppe displays intriguing positional versatility. After scoring the game-winning goal against Qatar, Gyasi Zardes could be rewarded with a spot in the starting lineup. Dike struggled to score outside of his brace against Martinique, possibly forcing Berhalter to instead select the veteran. Both players will likely feature, but the decision of which would serve as the greater impact substitution could wield the greatest influence over the result.

Prediction

The already precarious USMNT defensive depth was further stretched by the injury to Walker Zimmerman. James Sands has performed admirably, even stepping into a four-player back line against Qatar. Unfortunately for this group, Mexico simply has more talent and experience on the roster, handing Berhalter a 3-1 loss.

Gyasi Zardes rewards Gregg Berhalter’s faith, wins Gold Cup semifinal for USMNT

Jul 31, 2021Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

LAS VEGAS — When the U.S. men’s national team and Mexico meet in Sunday’s 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, it will be the second time in 56 days that the longtime rivals have faced each other with a continental title on the line. And yet the two matches could not be more different in terms of the relative stakes involved.Back on June 6, the sides met in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League final, and it was the U.S. in desperate need of a win because, for the entirety of manager Gregg Berhalter’s tenure, there had yet to be a victory that confirmed that the team was back on an upward trajectory. A statement was needed, not only to generate some confidence in the coach’s methods but also to give this generation of players something tangible to go with its undeniable talent. And, regardless of the wild sequence of events that took place during the game, the collective group stepped up, absorbed the pressure — and a bottle or two to the head — to ultimately walk away with a 3-2 win after extra time.As for Mexico, while the loss stung — they always do against the U.S. — there was a belief that Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s men had played well enough to win, having led twice and with the chance to make it 3-3 but for Ethan Horvath to save Andres Guardado‘s penalty. As it stood, El Tri would be back to fight another day. So what has changed heading into Sunday’s encounter at Allegiant Stadium? In a word: expectations.

The U.S. came into this tournament with an intentionally youthful, inexperienced roster, with one fundamental reason the desire to give presumptive first-team regulars — Christian PulisicWeston McKennieGiovanni Reyna and others — rest ahead of what is expected to be a busy season for both club and country.But there was also a need to get a better idea of how impactful up-and-coming members of the player pool could be at the international level. This is especially important given that triple-fixture windows dot the horizon for World Cup qualifying, which begins in September, and depth will be tested.Expectation-wise, this left the U.S. in a bit of a conundrum. Berhalter has said from the beginning that the goal was to win the tournament, regardless of roster construction. And yet there have been times when the team’s youth has been trotted out as an explanation for shaky performances.

A 1-0 group-stage win against Canada, who had a slight edge in experience but also fielded some new faces in the absence of stars such as Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, was seen as a case in point, yet it was not so much the young players who let the U.S. down that day but rather veterans who did not step up.In Thursday’s semifinal win, Qatar looked a cut above in the first half but were unable to find a way past the impressive Matt Turner in goal, which allowed the Americans to rally late in the game and seal victory through an all-important Gyasi Zardes goal.That this U.S. squad has reached the final speaks well of its ability to adapt, grow and grind out results. Moreover, while injuries to the likes of defender Walker Zimmerman, midfielder Paul Arriola and defender Reggie Cannon have limited options, they have also given Berhalter data points on players like Shaq MooreMiles RobinsonJames Sands and Matthew Hoppe.Given those developments, the U.S. would seem to be playing with house money on Sunday, although Berhalter denied that was the case in his pregame press conference. Its objectives have largely been achieved and little is expected against the pre-tournament favorite. Yet Berhalter wants his side to be greedy and finish the job.

“We’re not done, and that was the message to the team,” the U.S. coach said after the semifinal. “It’s nice to make the final, but we want to win the final. Our No. 1 goal is to win the Gold Cup. We said that before the Gold Cup, and we’ll say it again.”By contrast, the stakes for Mexico could not be more different. This is a game it dare not lose, even if it almost cannot win; beating a short-handed U.S. team to claim a 12th Gold Cup title would prove little, even if there are a players absent like Raul Jimenez and Hirving Lozano.But in the event of defeat, pressure would increase and doubts would be raised heading into World Cup qualifying. Would it even be enough to cost Martino his job?There has certainly been that impulse at times in the past, but the tenure of predecessor Juan Carlos Osorio is instructive. The Mexico Football Federation stuck by him after a 7-0 thrashing by Chile in the 2016 Copa America Centenario quarterfinals, and that patience and emphasis on stability was rewarded with World Cup qualification and a famous victory over holders Germany in Russia.This Mexico team has found a way to get results, even if the actual play has sometimes fallen short of its lofty standards. Jonathan dos Santos has been rallied around following the death of his father, and one would expect that its experience edge all over the field, but especially in a midfield led by Hector Herrera, will tell at some point. Berhalter noted how poor his side was in terms of winning duels against Qatar, with just 42.7%, while the tackle success was even worse at 30%. If that happens again, the likes of Rogelio Funes Mori should benefit and make it a long night for a back line that has performed so well.But the very nature of this long-standing rivalry means that another drama-filled chapter seems inevitable. Given the mental fortitude shown over the past few weeks by the U.S., as well as the must-win nature of the game for Mexico, expect another compelling encounter.

USWNT won’t get reprieve vs. Canada in Olympic semifinals: Why this could be another classic in the rivalry

ESPNFC Caitlin Murray

After the U.S. women’s national team eked past the Netherlands, the reigning champions of Europe, following a grueling 120-minute slugfest and penalty shootout, it would be tempting to see Monday’s semifinal against Canada (4 a.m. ET) as a chance to take things easier. After getting clobbered by Sweden and landing in arguably the toughest quarterfinal of the Tokyo Olympics, Canada is the USWNT’s reward, right?

Not so fast. “This is probably going to be our hardest game: We know that, and we are preparing for it that way,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said Sunday. “It’s a semifinal — it’s four of the best teams in the world,” he added. “Regardless of who plays who, it will be a difficult game.” Whether Andonovski really feels that way deep down or not — cynics will surely doubt it — the U.S. ought to know better than to write Canada off. Here is a look at the history of these two teams, and why Monday’s semifinal could be an explosive one:

Could this be another Olympic classic?

It would be difficult to top the excitement of the USWNT’s quarterfinal match over the Netherlands, but the semifinal against Canada surely has the potential, especially considering what happened the last time these two sides faced off in an Olympics.If you’ve never seen the 2012 Olympic semifinal, then do yourself a favor and avoid spoilers, set aside 2½ hours, and go watch it. If you need your memory jogged: that was the wild back-and-forth shootout where Christine Sinclair scored a hat trick and the USWNT somehow came back three times to win 4-3. Alex Morgan scored the game-winner at the last possible moment in the 123rd minute.That match holds firm as a testament to the USWNT’s tenacity and never-say-die attitude, but it’s also the moment where Canada asserted itself as a top-tier team on the global stage. At the time, it was a bit of a shock to see the Canadians giving the Americans such a battle, but the Canadians earned a bronze medal in 2012, and then earned bronze again in 2016.”In 2012, we were kind of on a hope and on a prayer,” Canadian veteran Desiree Scott said Sunday. “We were hoping we could get to that match, but now we truly believe in ourselves and what we can do on a soccer pitch, and we believe we can get to that gold medal game.”What is perhaps most memorable about that 2012 semifinal at Old Trafford is the way Abby Wambach loudly counted into the ear of the Norwegian referee every time Canada’s goalkeeper, Erin McLeod, held the ball. After McLeod had been warned about time-wasting at halftime — there is a six-second limit on goalkeepers holding the ball that referees almost never enforce — Wambach counted to 10 and the referee blew her whistle, awarding an indirect free kick at the spot McLeod was standing. On the unusually close free-kick inside the box, the referee then called a Canadian defender for a handball, allowing Wambach to score a crucial penalty.As far as USWNT wins go, it was a messy one, but it was thanks in large part due to the gamesmanship and shamelessness of Wambach to needle the referee. That ref has never officiated in another major tournament since, but does the USWNT have another player like Wambach, willing to be a pest and do whatever it takes to win?The players have credited defender Kelley O’Hara as being the one who brings out the most aggression on the field — “I think we could all hear her voice the whole game,” Rose Lavelle said, as if she was putting it as politely as she could, after the U.S. beat New Zealand. O’Hara was also the one who gave a post-Sweden pep talk about being “absolutely ruthless” going forward.Then there’s Megan Rapinoe. Given her performances so far in Japan, it seems unlikely she will reprise her heroic role from 2012, but maybe she’ll dazzle for old time’s sake.The flagship game of Rapinoe’s career will surely be the quarterfinal against France at the 2019 Women’s World Cup — when the president of the United States tries to pick a fight with you and you then score two goals to shut him up, it’s hard to argue otherwise — but her 2012 Olympic semifinal against Canada is runner-up. She scored a pair of sensational goals, including an olimpico (at an Olympics!), and was an all-around menace to Canada.Another unforgettable aspect of that game? Canada’s brutal physicality, which included a pre-VAR incident of Melissa Tancredi stomping on Carli Lloyd’s head after she got taken out on a set piece.Canada’s game plan was pretty clear: do everything possible to disrupt the USWNT so they get frustrated and can’t get into an attacking rhythm. Monday’s semifinal will probably be a bruising affair again, but Canada is also plenty capable of bringing some extra sophistication.”Our team is completely different now,” Scott said compared to 2012. “We’ve developed as a program and the brand of soccer that we play has evolved. Now we’re an attacking threat: we’re not just that defensive Canadian grit.”

The one-sided rivalry due for a revival

The thing about that previous USA-Canada game is that it was the first time in the past 20 years the North American rivalry between these two teams has really felt real. That’s because Canada hasn’t beaten the United States since 2001. In their last 36 meetings, the USWNT won 30 of them and tied in six.As far as Canadians are concerned, the USWNT’s win at the 2012 Olympics deserves an asterisk because of the bizarre refereeing, and they are right. But at times it’s felt like optimism has fueled the rivalry. To wit, after Canada lost to the U.S. in 2019 Women’s World Cup qualifying, then-coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller was asked what it would take to close the gap with the Americans. His answer? “There is no gap.” He offered no further explanation.Ever since 2012, however, Canada has been firmly on the rise. In addition to their bronze medals at the last two Olympics, they reached the quarterfinals of the 2015 World Cup and the knockout stage of the 2019 edition after back-to-back group stage exits before that. Even if Canada covets the rivalry a bit more than the Americans do, it doesn’t matter — if one team plays like it’s a rivalry, the other one will have to follow suit.”It’s easy to get up for it because of the rivalry,” USWNT defender Casey Krueger said Sunday. “We know that they are going to bring their best and we have to do the same.”Although the Americans have comfortably had the upper hand in this rivalry and are the favorites heading into Monday’s semifinal, tournament soccer is often different, and Canada in particular has seemed to learn how to step it up on the world stage. The USWNT has played Canada more than any other team in history, and while that could be an advantage for the U.S., it’s certainly an advantage for the Canadians too.Canada’s coach, Bev Priestman, said that she, a non-Canadian, is more motivated by the last time the U.S. faced her team. In February, the U.S. barely eked out a 1-0 win after a tight match in which Canada did well to cut off the Americans’ chances for most of the game.”I do see the same opportunities available that we’d seen in February, so I’m excited,” Priestman said. “We have some freshness in areas where they don’t, which is critical in a game like this. The Canadian-U.S. rivalry is there — I don’t need to even talk about it, it’s a given. But more importantly, when you talk about having a strong vision and that driving everything, this is the game that changes the color of the medal.”There’s one more thing that stands out about that 2012 semifinal, and it’s the sheer brilliance of Christine Sinclair. She put the Canadian team on her back, scoring three goals while the supporting cast around her wasn’t nearly as talented.That’s still a bit of a future worry for this Canada team: once 38-year-old Sinclair retires, will the goals still come as often? The team does have quality attackers in Janine Beckie and Nichelle Prince, with fullbacks Ashley Lawrence and Alysha Chapman also adding attacking threat when they bomb forward. But Sinclair is irreplaceable.No man or no woman has scored more international goals on the planet than Christine Sinclair, who now boasts 187 goals for Canada. (She’s also two shy of tying Christiane’s record for the most goals in women’s Olympic play.) But crucially, Sinclair isn’t just a goal-scorer — she is the glue of the attack. It’s easy to see in Portland, where she plays for the Thorns, in the middle of the field: her vision for distribution is impeccable, she’s excellent at keeping possession in transition, and she sets up her teammates as much as she scores herself.The USWNT will need to limit Sinclair’s impact, in whatever form it comes. If not, Sinclair, who may be playing in her last Olympics, could be playing for a gold medal to cap off her international career.

USWNT’s Rose Lavelle on Alyssa Naeher’s Tokyo 2020 heroics: No one else I’d rather have in the net

12:20 PM ETESPN

United States women’s national team midfielder Rose Lavelle has said there is “no one else” she’d have in goal other than Alyssa Naeher, who stopped three penalties and made several other crucial saves in their Tokyo 2020 quarterfinal win over Netherlands on Friday.Naeher saved a penalty from Lieke Martens in normal time before saving two spot-kicks after the game ended 2-2 following extra-time.

“There’s no one else I’d rather have in the net than her,” Lavelle said. “She’s saved us so many times.”Netherlands were awarded a penalty on 80 minutes when Lineth Beerensteyn was brought down by Kelley O’Hara in the box. Martens stepped up to take the spot-kick but was denied by Naeher.The Chicago Red Stars keeper then saved two penalties from Vivianne Miedema and Aniek Nouwen to see the USWNT go through, 42, to the semifinal, where they will face Canada.”This team just kept pushing for 90 minutes, 120 minutes, and we just kept believing that we were going to find a way to get it done,” Naeher said. “Very proud of the four players to step up and score their four penalties to go four-for-four. That is huge.”Lavelle, Alex MorganChristen Press and Megan Rapinoe scored the USWNT’s penalties.”I just try to be calm,” Rapinoe said after the game. “I say to myself, the worst that’s going to happen is that we lose the whole thing.”Both Morgan and Press had found the net within four minutes of each other in extra-time which would have given the USWNT the lead but both were adjudicated to be offside.”I’m incredibly proud of them, proud of the way they handled, not just this game, but the way they’ve handled this tournament,” coach Vlatko Andonovski told a news conference after the match.”Coming in and losing the first game, and actually, not just losing but getting our butt’s kicked, it’s not easy for this team that is not used to losing. They’re not even used to having a bad game, and to lose like that was not easy.”It’s not easy to handle the pressure, to handle the loss, and to bounce back in to play the game that we did against New Zealand. That was not easy to do, to win by multiple goals and then to be disciplined enough to do something that is not quite who we are but to be disciplined enough to take it because it’s going to help us get to the point where we want to go.”Then to come in here and impose yourself from the first second, and literally I mean, I felt like we took the game over at the beginning of the game and showed who we are.”

With legendary core on its way out, USWNT will need guile to win gold in Tokyo

Dan Wetzel

Dan Wetzel·ColumnistSat, July 31, 2021, 5:38 AM·5 min read

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TOKYO — When the United States women’s soccer team’s starting lineup was released ahead of Friday’s quarterfinal against the Netherlands, many fans were dumbfounded.The frontline that started the previous game against Australia — Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press — were all on the bench.Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s reasoning speaks to the underlying story of the Americans at these Olympics — if it’s legendary, yet aging, core is going to secure gold here in a last-dance, last-chance run to glory, it will be achieved through guile, strategy and duct tape. That includes the starting lineups.“I didn’t know if they started the game, if they would have been available at the end,” Andonovski said.It was the end, Andonovski correctly predicted, when they would be most valuable. As the 2-2 tie went to a shootout after 120 grueling, humid minutes, it was his veteran scorers (along with 26-year-old Rose Lavelle) who were most capable of rising up — rather than crumbling — under the pressure of the moment.Each was a second-half sub so they could do just what they did — step to the dot and bury shots into the back of the net, sending the U.S. to a semifinal showdown with Canada on Monday (4 a.m. ET).“If you noticed, those are the four players that took the penalty and scored,” Andonovski said.This is how it has to be for a team that is attempting — in its current form — one final run at a major international title. This crew has little to prove — they’ve already won two World Cups and an Olympic gold. But U.S. Soccer doubled down that an encore performance was possible.Rapinoe (age 36), Press (32) and Morgan (32) have a combined 520 appearances and 224 goals for the national team. They can still be great players, just not for 90, let alone 120 minutes, of grueling knockout-round play anymore.It’s the same for Carli Lloyd (39) and Tobin Heath (33), who started but were replaced by the others. Then there are backline mainstays Becky Sauerbrunn (36) and Kelley O’Hara (32). All but Press (who joined the team in 2013) won gold at the 2012 Olympics.

“2012 is a long time ago,” Morgan said.Back then no one wondered if she, or the others, could run for an entire game and still deliver late. Morgan was on her 123rd minute of play in the semifinals of those Olympics when she soared in the air to head in a game-winner against Canada in the semifinals. These aren’t tireless 23-year-olds anymore, though. They still have talent and tenacity and a will to win, but the challenges are different. Time is undefeated. It’s the opponents who have youth on their side.The Americans’ median age is 29.5. Canada’s is 26.“Right now it’s just getting our bodies ready,” Morgan said of the lack of rest days and quick turnarounds at the Olympics. “This tournament is incredibly short for six games.”That means Andonovski has had to find ways to find rest so the team isn’t shot in these later stages. All 16 of the active roster field players have started and 15 of them have also not started (only Crystal Dunn has begun each game).Andonovski even had to convince a notoriously competitive group to lay back in a 0-0 tie with Australia at the end of group play because that result was all they needed and they could preserve energy in the process.“We are disciplined enough to do something that isn’t who we are but will help us get to where we want to go,” Andonovski said. If that means the players best equipped to deliver on penalty kicks are fresh and ready, then so be it. Under the enormous stress of the situation on Friday, the Americans just shrugged. It was just another big moment in careers full of them.“[I just think], ‘The worst that is going to happen is you are going to lose the whole thing,’” joked Rapinoe. “’You are going to lose the Olympics for your country.’”

She laughed. That’s how you win shootouts. That’s why you have Megan Rapinoe in the game.There isn’t much public talk thus far about any potential finality to this tournament, but it’s there. By the time the U.S. heads to the 2023 World Cup in Australia, new blood will have to be pumped into the roster, perhaps drastically. Lavelle, at 26, is the youngest regular contributor. This isn’t a sport that is typically kind to 30-somethings.The greatness of this group is beyond reproach. They’ve been victorious. They’ve been dominant. They’ve been champions over and over.Now they are going for one last title, one last run for gold. No World Cup champ has ever followed up with an Olympic title. It may be their final accomplishment.It can’t be done the old way, though, just run them out and watch them run people over. You can see that in the starting lineup.

Let’s hope this USWNT-Canada Olympic semifinal lives up to the greatest women’s soccer game ever played

Dan Wetzel·ColumnistSun, August 1, 2021, 4:29 AM

TOKYO — Abby Wambach was desperate. A Christine Sinclair goal — her third of the game — had put Canada up 3-2 in the 2012 Olympic women’s soccer semifinal. Now the seconds, and the United States’ gold medal hopes, were melting away.And so Wambach did what he was always so brilliant at doing. She found a way to change the game … by counting.The referee’s decision that Wambach would inspire/force/bully would go on to infuriate the Canadians, give life to the Americans and set the stage for Alex Morgan’s epic winner in the 123rd exhausted, exhilarated minute to send the U.S. to the Olympic final, 4-3. They’d capture gold a few days later over Japan.It’s been hailed as the greatest women’s soccer game of all time. Comebacks. Heroics. Gamesmanship. Bitterness. Legacy.Nine years and two Olympics later, the two rivals, with plenty of familiar faces, meet again in the semifinals.“Are you guys hoping it’s like that again?” Morgan asked.Yeah, pretty much.Morgan’s goal — where she summoned the energy to win a Heather O’Reilly cross in the air and slip the ball just under the crossbar — is what is most remembered in the United States. In Canada, it’s what happened late in regulation, when Wambach managed to steal the game via clever referee manipulation.“We felt like we didn’t lose,” Sinclair said that night. “We feel it was taken from us … the ref decided the result before the game started.”Wambach was America’s all-time great goal-scorer and one of the most competitive athletes ever. Part of her game was to constantly seek any advantage in any way possible. Might be the intimidation of an opponent. Might be the working of a ref.“She’s well aware of the ‘dark arts,’” Riahn Wilkinson told the Globe and Mail in a 2015 retrospective of the game. “She uses them when she needs to.” Wilkinson’s comment wasn’t meant as a compliment. To Wambach, it might be.Either way, early in the contest Wambach noticed that Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod was trying to slow the game down by holding the ball for a long time before punting it away.For example, in the 27th minute, with the Canadians leading 1-0, McLeod held a ball for 16 seconds. The rule is no more than six seconds, although it is rarely, if ever, enforced, especially in a major international tournament.Wambach didn’t care. She later told Yahoo Sports that she began running toward Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen and counting as McLeod had the ball. In the 60th minute, McLeod held it for 17 seconds. In the 68th, about 15 — 10 or 11 of them while she was on her feet.Wambach said she would get into the teens, but Pedersen would ignore her. No whistles were blown.At halftime, though, an assistant referee had warned McLeod to be quicker on her kicks, but the goalkeeper told the Globe and Mail she assumed it concerned goal kicks.When the U.S. again trailed, 3-2, in the 78th minute, now with time drawing short, McLeod hauled in a Megan Rapinoe corner kick. Wambach again approached Pedersen and started counting.McLeod got possession of the ball at 76:36. She got up from the ground at 76:40. Wambach said when she got her count to 10, Pederson blew the whistle.The clock read 76:49, just as McLeod was kicking it away. Too late. Pedersen had called a delay and awarded the U.S. an indirect kick in the box.There was confusion and pandemonium at Old Trafford in Manchester — England’s ancient and storied “Theatre of Dreams” — where the game was played. The Canadians were confused. So were many Americans. No one on either team could recall such a decision.“The referee said I had the ball for 10 seconds,” McLeod said after. “She, obviously, counted the time when I was on the ground with the ball. Once I got to my feet, I calculated I only had the ball for five seconds.”It was at least nine, but you can understand McLeod’s immediate reaction.“Very harsh,” McLeod said.Sinclair and teammate Jonelle Filigno aggressively sought an explanation but got little they could accept. “[Pedersen] actually giggled and said nothing,” Sinclair claimed. “Classy.” Others couldn’t believe Wambach’s incessant counting had worked.

“I was by her when she was counting on that play,” Lauren Sesselmann told the Globe and Mail. “I wanted to punch her.”But she didn’t. No one did. Canadian coach John Herdman later said his team’s failure was not matching Wambach’s antics by either getting in her face, distracting the referee or, well, whatever it took. Of course, Wambach, at 5-foot-11, was an intimidating presence.Regardless, Rapinoe, who scored two brilliant goals that night, including curling in a corner kick (an Olympic Olympico), took the indirect kick. Her shot hit the arm of Canadian defender Mary-Eve Nault.The U.S. now had a penalty kick. Wambach would take it and, of course, make no mistake, banking a shot in off the left post. Just like that, it was 3-3.

Over the ensuing 40 minutes of regulation and extra time, there was a relentless back and forth, chances for both sides that just missed, crossbars and posts hit, incredible saves and inspired defensive stops, not to mention pushing, shoving, clawing and even more pushing.The game was a frenzy with Old Tafford (full of mostly neutral English fans) hitting states of delirium. At the 2019 World Cup, members of English women’s national team credited the game — its intensity, quality and dramatics — with helping the women’s version of the sport gain credibility in their country. Even skeptics of women’s soccer couldn’t deny this.Eventually, in the last moments, Morgan would end it.The United States won, the Canadians fumed.“[Pedersen’s] got that to live with,” Herdman said. “We’ll move on from this, I wonder if she’ll be able to.”“Put on your American jersey,” Canadian Melissa Tancredi said she told Pedersen. “That’s who you played for today.”For the Canadians, this was an upset denied. They hadn’t defeated their rivals in 11 years, a stretch that included 26 games. The Americans were the global powerhouse, rich with funding and talent, the chosen team of the establishment. They were … well, Canada.When they arrived that night for the game, the U.S. was given the opulent locker room of Manchester United, the stadium’s famed tenant. Canada got a small visitor’s space. The decision by Pedersen just played into it all. They would go into win the bronze medal, but it never felt right.One person with no regrets was Wambach. In this case, a woman whose 184 international goals were the most in the sport’s history (until Sinclair broke the record herself) figured out how to impact the game even when she didn’t even have the ball.“Yes [the call] is uncharacteristic,” Wambach told Yahoo Sports the next day. “But the rules are the rules. You can say it’s gamesmanship, you can say it’s smart, but I’m a competitor. We needed to get a goal. They’re trying to waste time, I’m trying to speed it up.“I wasn’t yelling, I was just counting,” Wambach continued. “I got to 10 seconds right next to the referee and at 10 seconds she blew the whistle.”

It was genius. Eventually even Herdman, the Canadian coach, would agree.“Good on her …” he said a couple days after the match. “She knows how to win matches … She’s a quality player who’ll do whatever it takes to win.”Both Herdman and Sinclair were “investigated” by FIFA for their comments about the refereeing. There are rumors of a heated exchange between Sinclair and Pedersen, but details are unknown. Sinclair eventually served a four-game suspension.Pedersen, meanwhile, returned to ref in Norway, but, according to the Globe and Mail, resigned from working international tournaments with FIFA in 2013, not long after the Olympics.The legacy of the game carries on. And now it’s back. Same two teams. A number of the same players (Sinclair, Morgan, Rapinoe).Same Olympic semifinals.So, yes Alex Morgan, one more like that on Monday, one more U.S.-Canada classic, would be quite fine.

7/29/21 USA Men vs Qatar tonite Gold Cup Semis 7:30 pm FS1 , US Ladies vs Dutch Fri 7 am USA

7/30 US Men vs Mexico Sunday 8:30 pm FS1 

WOW the 2nd half of the US 1-0 win over Qatar was fabulous.  The 85th minute goal by sub Zardes from sub Giochinni had been building up for the 20 minutes prior to the goal as Berhalter’s subs we spot on.  Roldan, Cannon and Zardes really made a difference in the final 20 minutes of the game as they put huge pressure on the Asian Cup Champions.  Listen this Qatar team is good – the best team in Asia – winners of the Asain Cup 2 years ago – tons of experience – the leading scorers and assist men in the Gold Cup.  But when Qatar missed the PK early in the 2nd half – the young US team grew up and found a way to win it.  GK Matt Turner stood on his head and kept the US in the game – in the first half with 3 SPECTACULAR Saves –  as the US gave up way too many shots in the first half. (He’s making his bid to put the pressure on Coach to consider him as a starter come Qualifying time especially if he can keep the US in the game vs Mexico.  (Listen Turner starts and plays 90 minutes every game for Philly – so having him start over 2 guys sitting on the bench in Horvath and Steffan may not be so crazy).  But back to this game – I thought Hoppe was really good again tonight in his 80 minutes along with Sam Vines at left back.  Dike, and Arriola just didn’t work up top.  Hopefully Dike is hurt – because he did not look good.  (I love that Coach B started him again because he’s giving his young guys chances to get better- but he’s not ready yet.)  Zardes was great off the bench along with Giochinni – both might deserve starts vs Mexico or perhaps Hoppe at the #9.  For the US this was the youngest/least capped team to ever start a Gold Cup game period – much less a Semi-Final with a berth vs Mexico on the line. 

Now can this team beat Mexico?  Wow – Mexico has brought their A team and coach Tata Martino is under a lot of pressure right now – honestly if he loses – they might fire him.  I think Mexico has too much against our very young B/C team.  But if the US can keep it close – 2-1 loss maybe?  That would be huge – and if Matt Turner stands on his head in Vegas – in what will be a 80/20 Mexican ROAD GAME then Berhalter will have really proven he’s making some serious progress on building the US program back up.  Remember the US has not lost on US soil in 13 games – but this will be THE BIGGEST test especially without our European starters.  Either way – I am fully back on board – this young, exciting US Men’s team deserves your time, deserves you buying back in again !! Go USA !! Oh and by the way tickets will be on sale soon for US Men Qualifying games in Columbus Oct 13 vs Costa Rica (Anyone wanna roadtrip??) and Cinncinatti vs Mexico on November 12. 

Here’s my starting line-up for Sunday night –

Zardes

Hoppe //Arriola 

Busio//Leitget

Acosta

Vines/Robinson/Sands/Cannon

Matt Turner

Full USMNT roster for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

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

Defenders (8): George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids),

Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

US Men vs Qatar Thurs 7:30 pm FS1 

The USMNT found a way to pull off a solid 1-0 win over Jamaica last weekend moving into the Semi Final match-up with the surprise of the Gold Cup – Qatar.  Qatar is the Asian League Champion and has shown their worth in this tourney as they have 3 of the leading scorers in the tournament.  This will not be an easy game for the US men as they face off at 7:30 pm followed by Mexico vs Canada at 10 pm – the winners meet Sunday at 8:30 pm on FS1.  If the US is going to book their rematch with Mexico in the finals they will need to find a way to score more vs Qatar.  Dike started up front and continued to show he is just not ready to be the #9 for the US just yet.  His hold up play, his combinations – just not there yet.  Young forward/winger Mathew Hoppe has been another revelation this tourney – and he was borderline player of the game as he scored the goal vs Jamaica.  He reminds me of Seattle & US winger Jordan Morris with his relentless hustle and willingness to at least try to run at defenders.  He didn’t always make it thru – but it wasn’t for the lack of trying as he was actually taken down twice in the box and could have gotten a PK call along the way.  His motor is fantastic and he’s definitely adding to his name to the WC qualifying roster list with his play this Gold Cup.  Another player who was fantastic – this time at the #6 Dmid was Kellyn Acosta – he played as a true #6 and shut down no fewer than 5 attacks in protecting the young backline.  While his passing could be better – and he’s not necessarily going to release a 50 yard bomb pass ala Michael Bradley – this hustle, and defensive work – tells me he’s playing his way into the #2 slot in the dmid slot behind an often injured Adams.  Let’s see if he can keep it up and help get us into the final.  The 19 year old Busio was actually huge in the right mid slot – as his hustle and cover was key in helping Acosta protect the D.  In the back Miles Robinson was POG last weekend and has been the best defender in this tourney so far for the US.  Sands was solid next to him even if his passing was a little off this past weekend.  The US has a big chance- if they can get past a good Qatar team.  I think GK Matt Turner will be a key as Qatar will get some shots off – but the US has only given up 1 goal (a PK) this tourney and if they can keep that intact – the desired matchup with Mexico will follow on Sunday! I like the US 1-0 in a tight game.

Here’s my starting line-up for tonight –

Zardes

Hoppe //Arriola 

Busio//Leitget

Acosta

Vines/Robinson/Sands/Moore

Matt Turner

Full USMNT roster for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

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

Defenders (8): George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids),

Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

US Ladies vs Netherlands USA Network Fri 7 am Olympics Knockout Round

Well its time for the US to put up or shut up as they will face-off against the team they beat 2-0 to win the 2019 World Cup.  The worry I has is this is not the same US team.  I am not sure happened in the 0-0 tie vs Australia – other than we just sat back and settled for the tie.  I have never witnessed the US ladies – the most dominant Ladies soccer team ever sit back and not try to score.  If that was Coach A’s plan to just tie and secure advancement to the next round – I am not sure he understands what it means to be an American when it comes to ladies soccer.  I think the US is so poorly coached in this tourney that I am not sure there is any way we win the next game – much less move on to the Gold Medal game with 2 more wins.  The offense is not working, the midfield is being overrun and our defense has shown more weaknesses than anytime I can remember.  I sure hope I am wrong – but when I wake up at 7 am for the showdown with the Netherlands I will have my fingers crossed but my hopes lowered.  Here’s the team I would send out if I were coach A – and we are going to have to score this time because the Dutch will score at least 1 maybe 2 against this defense – so it will take a 3-2 to win it. I am not sure we can score that many against a good team. I see 2-1 Netherlands. Again – hope I am wrong!

Rapino/Morgan/Press

Lavelle//Heath

Ertz

Dunn/Davidson/Sauerbrunn/Ohara

Naeher

US Ladies Roster

GOALKEEPERS (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash)

DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars),

MIDFIELDERS (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Catarina Macario (Lyon),

FORWARDS (5): Tobin Heath (Unattached), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Unattached), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

Tryouts for most High School Soccer Teams around the area are next week – good luck to everyone – especially our Carmel FC players trying out!

US Ladies –Fri 7 am NBCSN vs Netherlands


USWNT underdogs in Olympic quarterfinal, but players are trusting the process under Andonovski
 
Caitlin Murray
Soccer-USWNT get $1 million from women’s apparel company amid equal pay fight

Familiar foes: USWNT, Netherlands ready for quarterfinal clash

Showdown vs. Netherlands could offer a new start for Alyssa Naeher and the USWNT

USWNT progress but fresh approach needed to be gold medal contenders
 
Caitlin Murray

USWNT vs. Netherlands, 2020 Olympic quarterfinals: What to watch for
Opinion: In playing for a tie to advance at the Tokyo Games, is USWNT losing its edge?

USWNT notches scoreless draw against Australia to advance at Tokyo Olympics

Olympics-Soccer-Misfiring U.S. reach quarters, set up Dutch clash

Lloyd navigates her 4th Olympics for the US women’s team

Dunn wants Olympic gold, but inspiring future Black women’s players is her goal
Olympics-Soccer-China women’s revival will take generations, says coach Jia

 

MEN

Olympics Men’s Standings
Men’s Soccer at the Olympics: How to watch knockout rounds, schedule, start time, odds

Mexico make men’s soccer quarterfinals: Now it’s Olympic medal match or bust for El Tri

Olympics 2021 top men’s soccer goal scorers: Updated rankings from the Tokyo Games

 

US Men    Tonite Thurs – 7:30 pm vs Qatar FS1 Gold Cup

US, Mexico seek wins to book rematch in Gold Cup final

Gold Cup semifinalists: Who’s peaking at the right time?
Expectations on Hoppe keep rising, and he keeps exceeding them
  ESPN Jeff Carlisle

Hoppe rises to the occasion as U.S. withstands Jamaica test

Q&A with USMNT’s McKenzie: Racial abuse ‘happens a lot more than people think’  Jeff Carlisle

Analysis: Hoppe, Robinson, Turner, And Acosta Lead The USMNT To 1-0 Win Over Jamaica In The Gold Cup

USMNT player ratings: Kellyn Acosta, Matthew Hoppe lead US to Gold Cup Semifinals

Exclusive: USMNT’s Sebastian Lletget on how he’s perceived, MLS narratives and more

When Berhalter went to Qatar: A camp that never was and the lessons learned

Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium To Host USMNT – Mexico Qualifier In November

USMNT to play Costa Rica World Cup qualifier in Columbus

USMNT to host Mexico in World Cup qualifying outside of Columbus for first time since 1997

 

GAMES ON TV

Thursday, July 29th

7:30 pm     Gold Cup Semi – USA vs Qatar (FS1)

10 pm       GOLD CUP Mexico vs Canada FS1

Friday, July 30th  Women’s Olympics

4  am         Canada vs Brazil (NBCSN)

5 am          Great Britain vs Australia (universo)

6 am          Sweden vs Japan (NBCSN) 

7 am          USA Ladies vs Netherlands (USA Network)

7:30 pm     Orlando vs Atlanta United (ESPN)

10 pm        LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers (ESPN)

Saturday, July 31st Men’s Olympics

4 am         Spain vs Ivory Coast (NBCSN)

5 am         New Zealand vs Japan (USA)

6 am         Brazil vs Egypt (??)

7 am          South Korea vs Mexico (??)

5:30 pm   MLS – Seattle vs San Jose (ESPN+)    

Sunday, Aug 1

2:45 pm     Super Cup France Lille vs PSG (beIN Sport)

8:30 pm    GOLD CUP Final FS1

Monday, Aug 2 Women’s Olympics

4  am         Semis – USWNT/Dutch vs Canada/Brazil (USA)

7 am           Semis – GBR/Aust vs Sweden/Japan (USA)

Tuesday, Aug 3 Men’s Olympics

4  am         Semis – (NBCSN)

7 am           Semis – (NBCSN)

Wednesday, Aug6

8 pm          Indy 11 @ FC Tulsa myIndy TV, ESPN+

Thursday, Aug 5

4 am          Bronze Medal-Ladies (USA)

7 am           Gold Medal-Ladies (USA)

Saturday, Aug 7

7:30 am     Men’s Olympic Finals – (NBCSN)

Sunday, Aug 8

7:30 pm     Indy 11 @ Atlanta United ESPN+

LADIES OLYMPIC RESULTS


Women’s soccer at the Olympics — Standings

Group E

Great Britain – 7 points (Qualified for quarterfinals)
Canada – 5 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
Japan – 4 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
Chile – 0

Group F
Netherlands – 7 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
Brazil – 7 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
China – 1
Zambia – 1

Group G
Sweden – 9 points (Qualified for quarterfinals)
USWNT – 4 (Qualified for quarterfinals)Australia – 4 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
New Zealand – 0

Familiar foes: USWNT, Netherlands ready for quarterfinal clash

Joe Prince-WrightThu, July 29, 2021, 10:53 AM

For the USWNT and Netherlands, it’s simple: on to the rematch.The USWNT plays the Netherlands on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Olympic women’s soccer tournament — bringing together the two teams that played in the World Cup final two years ago in France.

The USWNT won that one 2-0 and afterward the crowd chanted “Equal Pay!” in support of the team’s legal fight for equity with the men’s national team.

This time, there won’t be any crowds and the case is before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals back home in the United States, with no ruling expected in the near future. And obviously there’s greater weight on a World Cup final than an Olympic quarterfinal.

But the game in Yokohama has taken on significance because the normally indomitable Americans showed vulnerabilities in the group stage: Notably a 3-0 loss to Sweden in the Olympic opener.

After a 6-1 rebound win over New Zealand, the USWNT played to a scoreless draw against Australia, which, while uncharacteristic for the offensively dominant Americans, got the team through to the knockout stage.

The USWNT hadn’t been shutout since 2017 before this Olympics, and now the team has been blanked twice in less than two weeks.

“I think a lot of people understand that we’re here to compete and win a gold medal and however we get there, winning is the most important thing. So, yes, fans and outsiders looking in are probably like, ’Oh, this is so different.′ You’ve never seen the U.S. do this,” defender Crystal Dunn said.

“But at the same time, it’s about executing a game plan, moving on from one round to another. And whatever tactics, plans that we have that we’re given, it’s our job as players to trust and believe in ourselves and each other and live to fight another day.”

Netherlands flying at Olympics

Instead, it’s the Netherlands that has become a high-scoring juggernaut. The Dutch scored 21 goals in the group stage — smashing the previous record of 16 set by the United States in 2012.

Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema has an Olympic-record eight goals, and that’s only from the group stage.

Miedema, who plays professionally for Arsenal, is just 25 and already the all-time scoring leader for the Netherlands with 81 goals in 99 appearances. She is also the top career scorer in the Women’s Super League in England.

The United States has played the Netherlands since the World Cup final, winning by an identical 2-0 scoreline in Breda last November. The Americans were undefeated in 44 straight matches before the loss to Sweden.

“We have an understanding of what they like to do as a team, and their style of play. However, that was a friendly game and we understand that we are in knockout rounds and everything can be completely different,” Dunn said Thursday.

“It’s about focusing on our game plan and what we’re trying to do because we can’t get caught up in thinking about ‘Oh, we played them before, so therefore, this is exactly what this game is going to be like.’ That is nearly impossible to do in the knockout round.”

In the other quarterfinal matches on Friday:

CANADA v. BRAZIL, Rifu: Another rematch, but this time of the third-place game at the Rio de Janeiro Games. Canada was triumphant in that one for the team’s second straight Olympic bronze medal, spoiling Brazil’s shot to medal on home soil.

There are many of the same faces in Japan. On Canada’s side, there’s Christine Sinclair, soccer’s all time international scorer among men and women. Brazil has Marta, the six-time FIFA Player of the Year.

Brazil is now playing under coach Pia Sundhage, who led the U.S. women to the gold medal in London in 2012. Canada’s coach in Brazil, John Herdman, now coaches the nation’s men team.

BRITAIN v. AUSTRALIA, Kashima: The Australians advanced to the knockout round as one of the top third-place teams after the group stage. This is the Matildas’ fifth trip to the Olympics and third time they’ve made it through to the quarterfinals.

Britain finished atop Group E. In a quirky rule, Britain’s Olympic teams must include Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland, and all four teams must be in agreement to participate. For that reason, the only other Olympics that has included a Team GB is London 2012.

SWEDEN v. JAPAN, Saitama: The Swedes won all three of their games in Group G to advance, including that 3-0 victory over the Americans in their opener. Sweden famously knocked the United States out of the 2016 Games in the quarterfinals. The team went on to the final, but lost the gold medal to Germany.  Japan, as hosts, made the quarterfinals as one of the top third-place finishers. The Nadeshiko won the silver medal at the London Games, but did not make the field in 2016.

USWNT vs. Netherlands, 2020 Olympic quarterfinals: What to watch for

1We’ve reached the kockout stage, and our first opponent is a tough one. By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jul 29, 2021, 6:00am PDT

The United States Women’s National Team have reached the knockout stage of the 2020 Olympics, and from here on out the margin for error is gone. One loss, and they will not see through to their goal of inning the program’s 5th gold medal. Standing in their way tomorrow is the team that faced them in the 2019 Women’s World Cup Final, the Netherlands. The Netherlands arrived at this position by way of winning group F, scoring 21 goals and allowing 8 in their group stage matches. The USWNT were the Group G runners-up, scoring just 6 goals and allowing 4.The USWNT will have a tough road to the gold medal, and it starts with this quarterfinal matchup. The two teams last faced each other back in November, where the USWNT won 2-0 in Amsterdam. Now, the winner of this match will move on to have 2 chances to win a medal.

What To Watch For

  • Control Miedema. Vivianne Miedema has been the best player in the tournament so far, scoring 8 goals in the group stage. The USWNT will have to keep an eye on her and make sure she can’t engineer any offense. Of course, Miedema’s not the only Dutch player that can make you pay. Lieke Martens and Daniëlle van de Donk are also potent goalscorers that the Americans need to check. However, if they can keep Miedema at bay, that will really help the confidence of the USWNT.

Assert themselves. The USWNT has not played to their capability yet in this tournament. Tomorrow would be a great time to assert themselves and play like they are the best team on the planet. They should play with confidence, but also with chips on their shoulders. People are saying the world has caught up and that their chances of getting a gold medal, or a medal of any kind, aren’t nearly as promising as we thought. The Gals should come out ready to squash all doubt and show they are the team that needs to be feared.

Put shots on goal. The Netherlands may have scored 21 goals, but they’ve also allowed 8 so far. The Dutch defense hasn’t played particularly well, so the Americans should do all they can to light up the net with shots. Make the defense have to make plays, and eventually they will stop doing that. Goals can come. They need to have a focus on creating those scoring chances and then taking those shots.

Prediction

This is a hard one to predict. The USWNT can beat anyone in the field, but they haven’t yet played like the team we expect to see on any given day. It’s another tough one, but the USWNT break through late and it’s Christen Press with the goal to win 1-0.

USWNT underdogs in Olympic quarterfinal, but players are trusting the process under Andonovski5:02 PM ETCaitlin Murray

If the U.S. women’s national team wants to win their fifth gold medal in an Olympic women’s football tournament, they need to get through Friday’s quarterfinal (7 a.m. ET) against a team that has looked like an early favorite: the Netherlands.While the U.S. is limping out of Group G with a loss, a draw and a win, the Netherlands are flying. They topped Group F with a plus-13 goal differential, and even their one draw of the group stage was a wild 3-3 shootout with Brazil, another top team competing in Japan this summer. But the shaky performances of the group stage need to be behind the U.S., because if they lose to the Netherlands, they are going home, and they will match their worst-ever finish in a major tournament.”This is where the real tournament starts,” said Alex Morgan. “You have to win and beat the best to get to that gold-medal match.”

USWNT as the underdog

Today, the USWNT finds itself in unfamiliar territory. For perhaps the first time, the USWNT arrives in an Olympic quarterfinal as the clear underdog. Dutch midfielder Danielle van de Donk told reporters that the Netherlands’ high-scoring performances in the group stage should serve as proof that “we are not afraid of America.””Somehow I feel like, save the best for last, but maybe they are not the best at all, this tournament,” she added of meeting the USWNT so early in the tournament.The U.S. has certainly gotten to know the Dutch team quite well. The USWNT beat them 2-0 in the 2019 World Cup final, and when the USWNT resumed playing after about eight months of dormancy due to the pandemic, their first game back late last year was in the Netherlands. But those meetings don’t mean much for the Americans, U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said — not because the Netherlands are expected to change their approach, but because they aren’t.”The Netherlands are not a big surprise for the simple fact that they believe in their system, and they believe in what they do,” Andonovski said. “They’re very rigid at times, which makes them who they are and as good as they are. Their system works and they’ve shown that over and over in different games.”If the USWNT is going to get past the Dutch team, they need to turn off the faucet of goals coming from Vivianne Miedema. She has been on fire, with eight goals in the group stage at a rate of one goal every 22 minutes on the field. She has already set the women’s record for the most goals scored in an Olympics prior to the knockout rounds as her team racked up 21 goals over the three matches.But what makes the Dutch team dangerous is that it’s not just Miedema the USWNT needs to worry about, in the way that all of their attention against Australia focused on Sam Kerr. Lieke Martens and Van de Donk are also two especially potent pieces of the Dutch attack that the USWNT will need to contain. The Dutch attack oozes chemistry — the attackers have an uncanny ability to read each other on the field, and they are well-drilled on set pieces, meaning the threats are varied.Limiting the Dutch attack ought to be enough on Friday; the Dutch team has shown defensive vulnerability, and the USWNT should feel confident they can score goals. In the group stage, the Netherlands surprisingly conceded three goals to Zambia, a first-time Olympic team that isn’t on the level of most of the other teams in Japan. Then they conceded twice to China, another underpowered team known more for its disciplined defensive bunkering and organization than its firepower. (The Dutch conceded eight times in the group stage, more than any other team that reached the quarterfinals.)The question is whether the Netherlands will stick to their approach from the previous games or give Andonovski the surprise he suggested he isn’t expecting.”I don’t know if they are very vulnerable: they are very good defensively and they are very disciplined and we’ve seen that in numerous occasions,” Andonovski said. “Obviously, as open as they play sometimes, they do have areas of the field that are more open, so hopefully we can take advantage of it.”

Andonovski’s tactics under the microscope

When a manager switches up how his team plays, the success or failure that follows will almost certainly be pinned on him. As former USWNT coach April Heinrichs once said: “In coaching, you’re either a jackass or a genius.”After a disastrous opening 3-0 loss against Sweden, the USWNT unleashed itself against New Zealand to run up the goal differential with a 6-1 win, but then played with a conservative — some might say “scared” — approach against Australia for a 0-0 draw. Vlatko Andonovski and his staff knew that the U.S. only needed a draw against Australia to advance, so the thought process seemed to be: why risk a loss going after a win?In the end, the USWNT clinched its spot in the quarterfinals, but the team didn’t look like the USWNT fans have been watching for years. The team that dominates and imposes itself was nowhere to be found. When told Thursday about the reaction to the USWNT’s style of play against Australia, it seemed to be news to Crystal Dunn, who said: “I’m not on social media. I have no idea what’s going on in the outside world: it’s been the best thing.”But it’s funny you say that because I think a lot of people don’t understand we’re here to compete and win a gold medal. However we get there, winning is the most important thing.”Yes, fans, outsiders looking in, are probably like, ‘Oh this is so different, we’ve never seen the U.S. doing this,’ but at the same time, it’s about executing a game plan and moving on from one round to another,” Dunn added. “Whatever tactics, plans we’re given, it’s our job as players to trust and believe in ourselves and each other and live to fight another day.”When asked about making the difficult call to rein the USWNT’s attacking instincts, Andonovski admitted it’s a bold approach and probably not what the players would prefer.”It’s not easy, and sometimes you have to sacrifice some of the things that we believe or we’ve worked on to be able to execute the game plan,” he said. “We saw that in Game 3 in the group stage — that was not something that we’ve done in the previous games, but it was a game plan and I felt like we executed it well from the defensive standpoint.”It’s not easy for the players from the tactical and technical standpoint to execute it, but they’ve done a great job,” he added. “Also, from the mental standpoint, it’s not easy, but again lots of credit to them in being ready to do whatever it takes for the team to be successful.”

Echoes of the 2015 World Cup

The prevailing memory of the 2015 World Cup for Americans may be Carli Lloyd’s goal from the midway line en route to her hat-trick in the final. But before that — and before the USWNT’s dominance — the U.S. looked to be struggling. The U.S. never lost in that tournament before they won the trophy, but they played some bad soccer early on, leading fans and pundits alike to worry the USWNT was in for a short tournament.The players stuck to a common refrain: we’re just doing what the coaches want.”We’re just following the direction of our coaches, the coaching plan, doing everything they ask of us,” Lloyd said before the 2015 quarterfinal. “At the end of the day, I’ve got full faith and confidence in everyone that we’ll find our rhythm. We’re working, we’re grinding, the effort’s there.”After the USWNT won their semifinal against Germany and finally played their best soccer of the World Cup, Megan Rapinoe echoed that sentiment: “We stuck to our game plan and stuck to what our coaches were telling us. We always stayed true to what we were doing and felt it was going to come together.”That sounds a lot like the players in this Olympics so far.”It was a tactical decision by Vlatko for us to shift defensively, play a little more conservatively and allow them to get impatient and play it long and give it back to us,” Morgan said after the 0-0 draw to Australia.”The tactics we’ve been given is what we need to execute and we trust our staff to put us in the best position to succeed,” Dunn said Thursday. “So yeah, every game is different and every opponent is different and with that comes new tactics we need to execute.”The USWNT advances to the knockout stages in Tokyo, but fails to impress in a 0-0 draw with Australia.While the players haven’t openly said it, there is a slight tinge of dissatisfaction in their comments, a wish that they could unleash themselves and show the world what they are capable of. But it’s probably fine that the players feel this way, especially if the 2015 World Cup is any guide. After all, the Olympics is a lot of games packed into a small time frame, and teams can risk burning themselves out and peaking too early if they go full throttle from the beginning.Christen Press hinted (ever so slightly) that she and her teammates would prefer to play a more attacking style, but she also made it clear she understands why the game plan worked, and that just because that’s how the U.S. played in the group stage, that doesn’t mean the knockout round will be the same.”This tournament is really tough, with the amount of games you need to play without as many days in between as other tournaments, so there has to be tactical sophistication in how we manage,” Press said Thursday. “Ultimately, when this team’s at its best, we are relentless and we are lethal.”She later added: “In the last three games you’ve seen us take different tactical approaches in the group stage, and now we’re in the knockout phase and I think that’ll look really different. The team is really hungry, and the group stage has left us feeling like we have more to give — I think that’s a great thing, it’s a powerful thing and it’s intimidating.”

USMNT-Qatar semifinal clash presents “very different” Gold Cup test

By Charles Boehm @cboehm  Wednesday, Jul 28, 2021, 12:24 PM

The US men’s national team have had to grind out results at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, edging past three of their four opponents by narrow 1-0 scorelines, all of which involved some scrappy play, and suffering, on the part of the host nation and favorites.

They’re expecting a change of pace in Thursday’s semifinal against Qatar at Austin FC’s Q2 Stadium (7:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision, TUDN).

“I think this game coming up is going to be very different from all the rest,” said LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget during a Tuesday media availability. “That’s one thing you get in Concacaf, just different styles. Jamaica was a very physical team and now going against Qatar is going to be quite [the] opposite. They’re going to want to play the ball on the ground and they’re going to want to attack and throw numbers forward.”Invited to participate in the tournament as a guest team in keeping with a strategic partnership between Concacaf and the Asian Football Confederation, Qatar have turned out to pose the competition’s most prolific attack. Asia’s reigning champions banged in nine goals across their three group-stage matches and netted another three in their pulsating 3-2 quarterfinal win over El Salvador as they aim to become the first-ever invited team to win the Gold Cup.The Maroon also carry a 12-game unbeaten streak, recording 10 wins and two draws since a November 2020 setback against the Korea Republic. Their entire roster is based in Qatar and hails from the same four clubs, allowing for increased chemistry that’s rarely found on the international stage. Each layer makes the first-ever meeting between these two senior national teams only more challenging. “Qatar is definitely a great team. They’re a very offensive-minded, counter-attacking team and they’ve scored a lot of goals so far this tournament,” said Atlanta United center back Miles Robinson, one of the USMNT’s most eye-catching starters thus far. “So it’s just a matter of us sticking to our game plan and trying to stay solid defensively.”Qatar’s Almoez Ali is currently the Gold Cup’s leading scorer with four goals, one of several skillful, vibrant performers in the pass-and-move style overseen by Spanish manager Felix Sanchez, a former FC Barcelona academy coach. Conversely, the USMNT have been the stingiest side, conceding just one goal.

“We’re definitely aware of it; we definitely respect them,” said Lletget. “They’ve done really, really well overseas and now they come here and not many people know much about them and they’re doing good.“They play a very attacking [style],” he added, “so we definitely have to respect that. But I think we have a lot of tools that can hurt them, and I think we can exploit their weaknesses.”

As potent as the 2022 World Cup’s host country has been this month, the USMNT might welcome a change of pace from the rugged affair with Jamaica they survived on Sunday. And they sound highly enthusiastic about their first visit to brand-new Q2 Stadium, which has been a vibrant venue in its opening weeks and was recently announced as the site of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifier vs. the Reggae Boyz in October.“I’ve heard it’s a great stadium, a great atmosphere, I’ve heard the fans are energetic and just the stadium as a whole is really great,” said Robinson, who also said the squad is ignoring “the outside noise” about the rough edges on their performances thus far. “So I’m definitely excited to play there for the first time. We checked out the training ground today, when we were training, it’s nice. So I’m expecting big things from Austin.”It’s the first visit to Texas’ capital city for Lletget, whose LA Galaxy don’t visit Austin FC until late September.

“It’s definitely been a topic of discussion, just being in the new stadium, and everything’s just fresh,” Lletget said. “We’ve heard a lot about this place and the fans that are in the city, so we’re definitely hoping for a really good crowd.”

Expectations on USMNT, Schalke forward Hoppe continue to rise, and he continues to exceed them

Jul 28, 2021  Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Time was running out for Matthew Hoppe, in more ways than one. There was little more than seven minutes left in Sunday’s Gold Cup quarterfinal between the U.S. and Jamaica, but Hoppe’s night was going to end before the full-time whistle. Nicholas Gioacchini was on the sidelines ready to replace him. The next stoppage in play would see Hoppe carry a night’s worth of frustration with him to the bench.

At which point, Hoppe, 20, made sure he went out on a high. With Cristian Roldan’s deft cross arcing across the Jamaica goalmouth, Hoppe skied at the far post, outleaping Jamaica’s Oneil Fisher, avoiding attentions of Reggae Boyz keeper Andre Blake and headed the ball home to give the U.S. men’s national team a 1-0 victory.Hoppe then exited the pitch, his job done. Nothing that happened before the goal mattered, be it the two times that Blake had stymied Hoppe’s fierce drives, or the occasional missed pass. What mattered more was the relentlessness with which Hoppe played and helped his team.”When a guy puts that type of effort in, and hangs in there and keeps going, we want to stick with him because we thought it was doing a good job and because he’s goal dangerous,” said manager Gregg Berhalter about Hoppe. He later added, “It’s also something we talked about; no space between the backline and the goalie. We’ve got to get it to the far post, and so it was a good play.”

For Hoppe, it was the latest milestone in a year full of them. Last November he made his first-team debut with club side Schalke 04. Six weeks later he became the first American to record a Bundesliga hat trick in a 4-0 win over TSG Hoffenheim, one that allowed Schalke to avoid setting a dubious Bundesliga record for longest winless streak in league history. He was soon adorning the front page of Kicker, the German soccer bible. (Hoppe made sure to grab a few extra copies.) People were soon stopping him in the street, although due to COVID-19 restrictions, neither as many nor as often as in normal times.

“A lot changed for me,” Hoppe told ESPN. “But at the same time, I tried to make everything the same, so I can just keep focusing on what I had to do because we were in a relegation battle. We didn’t have time to celebrate anything. We just had to focus and get on to the next game.”Schalke was unable to avoid the drop, but that didn’t stop Hoppe’s run of success. He impressed Berhalter enough during a U.S. training camp prior to the CONCACAF Nations League finals that he was named to the Gold Cup roster. His debut came against Martinique and now he’s bagged his first international goal, all while playing an unfamiliar position on the left wing.”I’ve been having to adapt to that, except it’s not something that’s new to me necessarily, because when I play striker, I like to move around to confuse the defenders, create spaces for myself and for other people,” he said. “So I’m used to not only stretching the backline, making runs in behind, but also dropping into the pocket to get the ball, and turning and driving at the opponent. I have what it takes to be a complete player, a complete attacker. I just have to keep developing my skills.”There is a swagger to how Hoppe plays. Outwardly, there’s no shortage of confidence given the way he attacks opponents off the dribble, and strikes the ball with venom. But in the past year, new challenges have emerged. That transition from unknown to the cover of Kicker has waylaid plenty of players. Expectations get raised. Attention increases.Hoppe admits there have been times during his career when expectations have weighed heavy. When he was at Barcelona’s residence academy in Casa Grande, Arizona, he said it wasn’t uncommon for him to throw up before games. Perhaps it was residual hurt from being cut from the LA Galaxy’s academy at age 14, or not getting called into U.S. youth national team camps. Or maybe with his dream of being a pro getting closer, he sensed what was at stake.”I’d just be so tough on myself because I expected a lot from me,” he said. Over time, Hoppe learned to make pressure his friend and not his enemy.”Embrace how you feel,” he said. ” And [it’s about] how you adapt, rather than how you react to it, you know? However you feel, that’s how you’re supposed to feel, and you’re supposed to work with it no matter what.”By the time he got to Schalke, Hoppe had become more adept at being comfortable with being uncomfortable. When he moved up to the first team, he spoke of feeling “good nerves,” the kind that didn’t cause him to freeze up, but gave him the energy he needed to excel on the field. It made each step up the ladder easier to manage, although the demands to perform never completely went away.”When I made my move to the first team, I guess there’s some pressure on me at first, things like, ‘Why are you playing this guy? Why are you letting him play forward? Why are you letting him lead the team?’ I got some goals and then eventually I just stopped letting the pressure get to me, and just decided to play.”That freedom is now emerging with the U.S. team. Berhalter noted how Hoppe took some time off following the camp prior to the Nations League, and that it has been a process for the attacker to get up to speed. Now he sees progress.”[Hoppe’s] improving with the concepts, with the position, with his fitness, the sharpness, so all these things have been progressing during the tournament in a positive way,” said Berhalter. “We know we’re asking him to play at times out of position, but it is what it is. We don’t have wingers on this team and it’s an opportunity, and sometimes that’s what you need to really make a difference.”With Schalke set to spend the 2021-22 campaign in the 2. Bundesliga, the expectation is that the club will transfer Hoppe elsewhere. Various reports have clubs from six leagues — including the Premier League quartet of Newcastle UnitedSouthamptonTottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers — showing interest in the American. One source cited AS Monaco and Eintracht Frankfurt as being among those who are chasing Hoppe.”I don’t know what the future holds,” said Hoppe. “My focus is on winning Gold Cup and getting another trophy for the USA.”And meeting increasing expectations.

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7/23 USA looks to bounceback vs NZ Sat 7:30 NBCSN, US Men vs Jamaica Sun 9:30 pm FS1 Gold Cup Quarters, Indy 11 home vs Birmingham 7 pm, Full TV game Schedule, Westfield/IU’s Eriq Zavaleta plays for El Salvador Sat on Fox 7:30.

US Ladies vs New Zealand NBCSN Sat 7:30 am Olympics

Wow- so I was wrong with my prediction last week.  I could have seen a 2-1 or possibly a 2-2 game – but 3-0 a$$whipping from Sweden?  Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised – Sweden has played the US the best over the past 8 years and they were obviously very prepared for this game.  I had to watch the game 2 times to really get a feel for what happened.  Sweden found a weakness attacking down the right side constantly putting Crystal Dunn in 2 v 1 situations.  I think Sweden took advantage of Dmid Julie Ertz missing to confuse and perplex the US midfield and defense. Without the protection centerbacks Dahlkemper and Sauerbrunn were split and exposed at times especially Becky no supporting Dunn properly.  With Horan clueless at the #6 Dmid spot – and Sam Mewis completely disappearing – the Sweden side countered the US 3 forward alignment with their own 3 forward line-up and an overlapping right back who crossed the ball into danger no fewer than 7 times.  They scored on 2 of them as Dunn was left to decide by herself which of 3 players to cover at times. Amazingly poor coaching by the US – as an adjustment was NEVER made and the Swedes probably should have won this game 6 to nothing – they blew 2 one v one’s and another breakaway before finally scoring in about the 30th minute.  While Coach A finally did bring in Ertz to add some bite to the midfield – she was sloppy with her passing as she rarely completed a pass.  Heck Dunn turned the ball over 9 of 13 times that I counted in before finally being pulled thankfully late in the 2nd half. Oh and Alyssa Naeher played fine – I have heard some folks questioning our GK – she made 3 early saves that kept us in this game.  Yes she could have maybe handled the corner better by coming to punch out – (no back post defender by the way-AGAIN!! but overall she was fine.  While the defense was the worst that I have seen the US play in years – the offense was honestly not much better.  Again I didn’t count more than 4  passes completed by the US in a row until late in the game.   Sweden won every 50/50 until Ertz came in and was first to the ball almost every time.  I was surprised Heath got the start over Rapinoe on the front line – just because I thought he would ease Heath back in and Rapinoe is such a Big Game player – I thought she would start.  We know Rapinoe can’t go 90 – but I honestly think Coach A got this wrong.  Heath had a nice shot early – but when Rapinoe finally came on down 2-0 – she immediately made hay as she almost beat the keeper near post before setting up Press with a perfect cross that Press dinked off the post.  The US actually hit the post twice – as Levelle blew a perfect pass from right back O’hare when she headed past the open net and into the post.  Two post balls and perhaps this is the 2-3 game this should have been.  Still we kept waiting for the US to wake up – and it never happened.  I am not sure if they overtrained or partied too hard pregame but they looked worn out and tired and not like the US team we are used to.  I still expect coach A to mix things up Sat vs New Zealand – they are not good – and we should win at least 4 or 5 to nothing.  Australia looked equally as weak in just beating this terrible New Zealand team 2-1 so the US should cruise thru the next two games.  But as the #2 team from the group the US will have a tougher road with the Netherlands, and Great Britain sitting in the other bracket.  Of course you didn’t expect the US to coast did you?  At least this way you have to watch – as this is anyone’s Olympics and don’t forget NO Team has ever won the World Cup and then won the following Olympics.  We’ll see if the US can fight their way back and compete for this title – I wouldn’t bet against them – but I also think this could get tricky as we get to the knockout rounds- I am just not sure we have a go to scorer when down by 1 with 5 minutes left.  We’ll see !!

US Ladies Roster

GOALKEEPERS (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash)

DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars),

MIDFIELDERS (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Catarina Macario (Lyon),

FORWARDS (5): Tobin Heath (Unattached), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Unattached), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

US Men vs Jamaica Sun 9:30 pm FS1 

So the US men found a way to survive Canada with a hard fought 1-0 victory last weekend.  After scoring in the first 30 seconds – the US dominated for about 10 minutes with their flexible new look 3 man back line with a wondering center mid James Sands introducing himself full scale to the US fans.  But when captain Walker Zimmerman, MLS Defender of the Year went out at the 11 minute mark it all changed.  Sands and a newly subbed in left center back Donovan Pines -now meant there were 3 relative newcomers on the 5 man back line with about 10 caps between them all.  What happened next was the US held on for dear life while Canada continued a barrage on the US goal.  GK Matt Turner stood strong and center backs James Sands and 20 year old Miles Robinson turned into stars as each player put in Man of the Match performances with their last second saves and incredible defending against a Canadian team bent on getting the equalizer.  US Coach Gregg – tried a back 3/5 with 2 forwards in Dike and Zardes up top.  I will admit I was excited to see two forwards in the line-up.  But this did not work as both #9s simply did not work off of each other very well.   Zardes moves better and has better quick passing while in the #9 slot – and while I thought Dike would shine – he was surprisingly week in his hold up play and willingness to battle for balls now that he was playing a real soccer team.  Dike is no Altidore – yet – he’s like 5 notches below that right now – but has tons of potential.  His movement is ok – but his hold-up play and passing off that hold-up play leaves A LOT to be desired.  He’s young – its just his 2nd year as a pro and It shows – but again he’s got potential.  The US really never threatened to score after the opening stanza which is worrisome moving forward for the US.  Coach B – needs to figure some things out.  For 1 – we don’t have a next level Dmid #6 on this roster (well James Sands maybe- but he’s playing center back for us).  Jackson Yueill is showing he can’t match up vs better competition just yet and the young Italian KC man Gianluca Busio  who played so well vs Martinique – was completely overrun by Canada last weekend.   Busio might well be the future but he’s no Adams just yet.  Coach B truly has a challenge as we move forward in the tourney – anything less than a finals matchup with Mexico will be seen as a failure – even with a B team – edging on C team at the moment.  Still its exciting to watch – can some players from this young US team emerge and contend for a World Cup birth next winter?  I think so as Sands, Robinson and Sam Vines are all making themselves a lot of money with the potential for moves to Europe after this showing.  I could see those players replacing – Ream, and Yedlin at least along with back line.  Here’s who one writer thinks we should start – I have no idea what the US will do or what alignment they will use vs Jamaica on Sunday night – I just know I will be watching and rooting us on!  Ah heck – so here’s my line-up. 

Dike (if healthy/if not) Zardes

Hoppe //Leitget

Williamson//Roldan

Acosta

Vines/Robinson/Sands/Moore

Matt Turner

Full USMNT roster for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

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

Defenders (8): George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids),

Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

Gold Cup Bracket

Huge quarter finals as 2022 World Cup Host Qatar faces former US Asst Coach Hugo Perez and the most exciting team in the tourney El Salvador Saturday at 7:30 on Fox.  Watch as former Westfield and Indiana University forward Eriq Zavaleta (son of Carlos Zavaleta, owner of Indiana Soccer Academy/futsal in Noblesville) plays centerback!  The Toronto FC Defender has become quite the young centerback and should give Qatars tourney leading scorer all kinds of fits. 

Indy 11 host Birmingham @ the Mike — Sat 7 pm ESPN+, TV 8

Fresh-off a disappointing tie at home to Memphis last weekend, the Indy 11 are home this Saturday to face Birmingham at 7 pm at the Mike!   Tickets at a special Discounted Price are Available Here– Friends of Indy 11.  On the MLS side check out  this goalazo by Seattle’s Raul Ruidiaz as Seattle remained top of the MLS with a 1-0 win over Austin with 5 home-grown players under the age of 19 starting the game. 

The State Runner-Up Carmel High School Girls will be hosting a soccer tourney Fri/Sat 7/24 at River Road (126th & River Road).  Drop on by to see some solid soccer and of course good luck to those trying out starting Aug 2.  

US Ladies –Sat 7:30 am NBCSN vs New Zealand

True Grit US Must Dig out of Olympic Hole – Dan Wetzel
Opinion: USWNT has time to turn around Olympic prospects, but they’ll have to be ‘ruthless’

‘We Got Our Asses Kicked, Didn’t We?’ USWNT Reels After Olympic Loss BY MOLLY GEARY SI

USWNT determined to not let blowout loss to Sweden derail its gold-medal hopes
Why the USWNT shouldn’t panic about their Olympic thrashing by Sweden (yet)

USWNT already in tough spot after losing to Sweden 3-0 in Olympic opener

USWNT 0-3 Sweden: Not great Bob, not great!

Rapinoe: ‘No time to dwell’ on loss to Sweden
USWNT looked lost, confused as Sweden end unbeaten run
  Caitlin Murray ESPN FC

Tactical Approach Used by Sweden to SWAMP the US
Sweden dominates USWNT in a 3-0 victory in their opener at Tokyo Olympics

All About Megan Rapinoe, Olympic Soccer Star and USWNT Leader

Australia find winning formula in Olympic opener

The Standings

 Men
France thrashed by Mexico in Olympic opener as Brazil beat Germany

From Copa America to Olympics, Richarlison nets 3 for Brazil

 

US Men   Sunday 9 pm vs Jamaica FS1 Gold Cup

Zimmerman Out While Kessler And Cowell Join USMNT Camp Ahead Of Jamaica

Analysis: USMNT Starts Strong, Holds On In 1-0 Win Over Canada by Brian Sciaretta ASN

Defender Miles Robinson Making the Most of his Chances – S&S

Walker Zimmerman departs USMNT camp By Donald Wine II

 USA v. Canada, 2021 Gold Cup: What we learned

USA vs. Canada, 2021 Gold Cup: Man of the Match

2021 Gold Cup Recap: USA 1-0 Canada – The Americans score early and come away with a lucky win

USMNT player ratings: Miles Robinson, James Sands shut down Canada in group-topping win

Three USMNT takeaways from a skin-tight Gold Cup win over Canada

Exploring James Sands’ rapid USMNT rise: “It’s not a surprise to me”

USMNT icon Hugo Perez has made El Salvador the Gold Cup’s best story so far

What we learned from the USMNT Gold Cup group stage showing

 

MLS and Indy 11


MLS Atlanta United dumps Heinze as coach after poor start

Why Atlanta United parted ways with Gabriel Heinze

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Saturday, July 24 Women’s Olympics

4:30 am        Sweden vs Australia (NBCSN)

7 am               Netherlands vs Brazil (universo)

7:30 am        USA vs New Zealand Ladies  (NBCSN)

3:30 pm        MLS Atlanta United vs Columbus Crew  (ABC)

7:30pm         Gold Cup Qatar vs El Salvador (Westfield’s Zavaleta)

10 pm            GOLD CUP QF Mexico vs Honduras FS1

Sunday, July 25th Men’s Olympics

3:30 am        Egypt vs Argentina (telemundo)

4 am             New Zealand vs Honduras (univserso)

4:30 pm        Brazil vs Ivory Coast (NBCSN)

7 am             Japan vs Mexico (NBCSN)

3 pm           Racing Louisville vs Washington Spirit NWSL (paramount+)

7:30 pm        GOLD CUP QF Canada vs Costa Rica FS1

10 pm            GOLD CUP USA vs Jamaica FS1

Tuesday, July 27 Women’s Olympics

4 am             USA vs Australia Ladies  (USA)

4:30 am        Sweden vs New Zealand (NBCSN)

7 am               Canada vs Great Britain (??)

7 am               Netherlands vs China (universo)

Wednesday, July 28th Men’s Olympics

3:30 am        Germany vs Ivory Coast (NBCSN)

4 am             New Zealand vs Romania (univserso)

7 am             Japan vs France (NBCSN)

Thursday, July 29th

7:30 pm        GOLD CUP Semi FS1

10 pm            GOLD CUP Semi FS1

Friday, July 30th

4 am               Olympic Ladies QF  NBCSN

6 am               Olympic Ladies QF NBCSN

7 am               Olympic Ladies QF USA vs ? (USA) 

7:30 pm        Orlando vs Atlanta

10 pm            LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers

Saturday, July 31st

4 am               Olympic Men QF  (NBCSN)

5 am               Olympic Men QF (USA)

7 am               Olympic Men QF (USA)

Sunday, Aug 1

8:30 pm        GOLD CUP Final FS1

Monday, Aug 3

4 am               Olympic Ladies Semi US Ladies?   (USA)

7 am               Olympic Ladies Semi (USA) 

United States looked lost and confused in Olympic opener as Sweden ended its unbeaten run

Jul 21, 2021Caitlin Murray

There was a moment early in the first half of the United States women’s national team‘s opening match of its Olympic campaign when midfielder Rose Lavelle, dribbling into Sweden‘s half with the ball at her feet, looked around furiously and put her hands out, as if she was lost. Even without being able to hear what she said in Tokyo’s cavernous Ajinomoto Stadium, it’s easy to imagine it was something along the lines of, “Where is everyone?”

That, in a nutshell, was how the USWNT began its 2020 Olympics, looking confused in a 3-0 loss to open Group G play.The defeat was notable, first, because the team rarely loses. It came into Wednesday’s match unbeaten in its previous 44, with 40 of them wins. Its last loss was in January 2019, at a friendly in France.To say the reigning Women’s World Cup champions arrived in Japan as a favorite is perhaps an understatement. The U.S. has reached the gold-medal match in five of the six Olympics since women’s soccer became an event, and unlike some of the teams in Tokyo, the USWNT has played warm-up games for the months leading up to this amid the pandemic.But the defeat was also notable because of just how bad the loss was. Confused expressions abounded as players, including Lavelle, looked for an open American to pass the ball to but couldn’t find anyone. As Sweden swarmed, pressing and bossing the midfield, the Americans looked rattled and gave the ball away too cheaply.”It felt like there were holes everywhere defensively,” striker Alex Morgan said. “I didn’t feel like we were pressing together, and then when we were on the attack and we’d lose the ball, we didn’t have the numbers around the ball to win it back.”The hopelessness and confusion wasn’t in spurts, as is wont to happen for even the best teams sometimes — rather, it endured for the full 90 minutes and the USWNT never looked close to waging a comeback. That is a rare feeling in USWNT history. The last example might have been at the 2007 World Cup, where Brazil pummeled the U.S. 4-0 — but there were the extenuating circumstances of then-coach Greg Ryan bizarrely benching first-choice goalkeeper Hope Solo on nothing more than a hunch.There was no reason for the USWNT to lose as badly as it did Wednesday, but plenty of credit belongs to Sweden, a team that over the years has become the tactical thorn in the USWNT’s side. After all, the only Olympics the USWNT crashed out of were in 2016 when Sweden, playing a disciplined, ultra-defensive bunker, knocked the Americans out in the quarterfinals.This Sweden was not a bunker-and-counter team, however. This Sweden was out for the jugular, delivering crunching tackles to stop any whiff of American possession and committing numbers forward to slice through the American defense and strike.Sweden’s first goal, in the 25th minute, went seemingly just as planned: the USWNT got stuck in the midfield with nowhere to go and lost possession, springing Sweden in the other direction. Yellow shirts flew forward and, before the U.S. even seemed to know what had happened, Stina Blackstenius headed the ball into the back of the net.When the USWNT dominates games, it likes to use every inch of the field, spraying the ball around and using the wide spaces to its advantage, and Sweden certainly recognized that, closing passing lines and choking those spaces. That rendered the U.S. midfield a turnover machine. But as much as Sweden deserves credit, the Americans also deserve blame.”We got our ass kicked a bit,” Megan Rapinoe said afterward. “There’s a lot of stuff we can clean up — trap the ball, pass the ball to your own team is probably the first one.”In other words, the USWNT looked flummoxed and unprepared for what it faced Wednesday. It would be easy to say that perhaps the USWNT was just overconfident. Maybe the No. 1-ranked team in the world and the favorite in this tournament had expected it to be a breeze. On the contrary, the USWNT seemed to lack confidence from the opening whistle. That put the Americans in trouble immediately because their confidence is perhaps their deadliest weapon — the mentality that no matter the score, they always believe they can win and find a way to outwork the other team.”We were a little tigh, a little nervous — doing dumb stuff like not passing the ball,” Rapinoe said. “… I think a lot of it was just us not playing free and not being who we are and not enjoying it.”If there is a positive spin to put on the performance, it’s that at least it happened in the tournament’s opener. After 44 games unbeaten, the USWNT might have needed a reminder of the pain of losing.”We’ve had a long string of wins, and we haven’t had a lot of games where we’ve had to come back or anything like that,” forward Christen Press said. “I think it was actually really good to have this match.”Take, for instance, the 2008 Olympics. There, the U.S. lost 2-0 in its opening match to Norway. It bounced back without losing the rest of the way and won gold. While the U.S. doesn’t usually lose in major tournaments, the Americans do usually have bad performances. During the 2015 World Cup, which the U.S. later won, calls to fire then-head coach Jill Ellis over the lackluster performances came from the media and even from former members of the team.At the 2019 World Cup in France — where on paper the U.S. dominated, scoring within the first 12 minutes of every match en route to the final — the round-of-16 match against Spain was shaky, and mistakes allowed Spain to score, making for a surprisingly close match given Spain’s still-rising status in women’s soccer.But the proper lessons will need to be learned, which includes by coach Vlatko Andonovski, whose substitutions projected panic and nervousness rather than the composure that comes from a clear game plan. At halftime, he yanked Morgan, who was the least of the U.S.’s problems as the most advanced player on the field, in favor of Carli Lloyd, who has usually been reserved for late-game minutes. He also took off Samantha Mewis for Julie Ertz, the stuck-in defensive midfielder he surely would’ve preferred to have started Wednesday. After all, Ertz is known as a midfield enforcer who flies in challenges and wins balls. But crucially, Ertz is coming off an injury and hasn’t played competitive soccer since May, and some rust was evident, making her an unlikely solution in a game as difficult as this.The good news, at least, is that New Zealand, the USWNT’s next opponent in Group G, is not at Sweden’s level. It’s also hard to imagine the USWNT can play any worse, so its Olympic campaign can only improve from here.”We, like Vlatko said, got ourselves into this mess,” captain Becky Sauerbrunn said. “Now it’s our responsibility to get ourselves out of it.”

Plunged into an Olympic hole, the USWNT now must prove it can still fight like hell out of it

Dan Wetzelbbv ·Columnist   Wed, July 21, 2021, 8:33 AM

TOKYO — Even as they stacked up victories and championships, even as they were celebrated and decorated in ways women before them could never have imagined, this core group from the United States soccer team always focused on their grit more than talent.This was a team full of fury and fight, they’d tell you, mentally and physically tough, the best in the world because they could always dig deeper and push harder. It wasn’t just skill. It wasn’t just tactics. That was their mantra, at least. You can’t argue with the results.Now, after a shocking and humiliating 3-0 loss to Sweden in their Olympic opener, the Americans are going to have to prove it, this time in a way they never have before.If the U.S. is going to take gold — and when you arrive as the World Cup champs on a 44-game unbeaten streak, that’s the only goal — it’ll need every bit of the tenacity it can muster.It didn’t just lose to Sweden, the Americans were dominated in ways they just never are.“We got our asses kicked, didn’t we?” Megan Rapinoe said afterward.Sure did.Now what are they going to do about it?This is just a 12-team event, so the U.S. has ample opportunity to get out of group play and reach the eight-team knockout stage. It needs to finish second in its group, or be one of the two best third-place teams.The U.S. plays New Zealand on Saturday and Australia on Tuesday. It can certainly bounce back, but there is little margin for error.Even then, if Sweden can push the U.S. around like this, do the Americans have what it takes to come back and win this tournament?It wasn’t like they just slept-walked into this. Sweden was a circle-the-date matchup, a true contender and a chance to gain a measure of revenge over the team that eliminated them in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Rio Olympics.“One of the worst results that the senior national team has had in a major tournament,” captain Becky Sauerbrunn called that loss. 

Yeah, well …The U.S. was slow to the ball, poor in possession and outclassed from start to finish. The team looked like it was wilting in the heat and humidity of Japan, despite a training camp based mostly in Florida and Texas.“I don’t even know how many goals we have given up this whole year,” Rapinoe said with a laugh. “I don’t even remember the last time we gave up a goal.”The Americans had given up one goal in their previous 13 games … in a tie with Sweden in April.“So to give up three is … not great,” Rapinoe said.It’s not like this is a group that is just learning to play together. This is essentially a run-it-back roster. Coach Vlatko Andonovski favored experience over youth when putting together the roster. Ten of the 18 active roster players available Wednesday were 30 or over, including seven over 32. Seven of the 10 starting field players saw action in that 2016 Olympic loss. Six starters had 100 or more international appearances, and that didn’t include Carli Lloyd (306), Megan Rapinoe (177) or Julie Ertz (110), who were the first three to come off the bench.This was an encore performance for this group, a curtain call trying to do something (follow a World Cup with Olympic gold) that no team ever has.“This is not something we expected,” Andonovski said. “We don’t expect to lose to begin with, especially not 3-0 … I don’t think this team has ever been in a situation like this. It’s a bit of a shock.”So now what? Is there an adjustment to be made? Is there an attitude to fix? Is there a lineup that works? Was this just a bad night after years of near invincibility?Alex Morgan lasted just a half before being pulled. Same with Sam Mewis. The midfield was particularly exposed. Really, no one played well other than perhaps goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who kept it close for awhile.One loss doesn’t end the dream or destroy a dynasty. This is one of the greatest teams of all time, legends to the sport. It can absolutely spring back and win it.Yet age is undefeated. Sweden’s three goals were scored by a pair of 25-year-olds: Stina Blackstenius (two) and Lina Hurtig.And with just two off days, the Americans need to regroup. New Zealand offers a chance for that, it’s ranked 22nd in the world. Australia, however, is different, a top-10 team capable of — and likely eager to — beat the suddenly bloodied top-ranked USA.This is when we’ll see what this group still has. Lloyd. Morgan. Rapinoe. O’Hara. Sauerbrunn. Dunn. Press. Heath. Ertz. They’ve won and won to the point where it looked effortless. They were always quick to remind everyone that it wasn’t, that behind the success and behind the commercials and behind the parades these were women who fought like hell to get to the top.Now here’s the chance to show it, this time with a stunned soccer world suddenly doubting them.

‘We Got Our Asses Kicked, Didn’t We?’ USWNT Reels After Olympic Wake-Up Call vs. Sweden

A 3–0 defeat to Sweden was a rude awakening for the U.S., whose gold medal outlook got a lot cloudier in Tokyo.

MOLLY GEARYJUL 21, 2021

For the last five years, even as the U.S. women’s soccer team won a World Cup and rattled off victory after victory, its quarterfinal Olympic exit to Sweden has lingered.It lingered in the run-up to the two sides’ meeting at the 2019 Women’s World Cup (the United States won, 2–0, against a less-than-full-strength Sweden XI). It lingered ahead of an April friendly in Stockholm, a pre-Olympic test for both heavyweights (the two sides drew, 1–1, after a late penalty by the U.S.). And it lingered—of course—as the countries returned to the scene of the crime, with the USWNT fittingly opening up its Tokyo Olympics run against the same opponent it left off against in 2016 on a field in Brasília, stunned after its earliest elimination ever in the tournament.On Wednesday, Sweden took that enduring narrative and kicked down the door, setting an unsettling Olympic tone for the U.S. and giving itself a leg up in its own quest for gold.Dominating in just about every facet, the Swedes put on a clinic against the world’s No. 1-ranked team, executing a note-perfect game plan in a 3–0 win that exposed the United States in a way that even the ‘16 iteration of Sweden did not come close to doing. “We got our asses kicked, didn’t we?” forward Megan Rapinoe, who subbed on in the 64th minute Wednesday with her team already down 2–0, succinctly said afterward.From the start, you could sense something was amiss with Vlatko Andonovski’s team, normally the one stepping on the gas pedal from the first whistle and never letting up. “Off days” for the U.S. are usually code for days when it struggles to finish chances, eventually figuring it out enough to build what had been a 44-game unbeaten streak and a torrid run across the last four years, when its only defeat came to France in January 2019.But in Tokyo, it was the U.S. that was put on its heels almost immediately, repeatedly succumbing to Sweden’s relentless pressure and disruptions and failing to generate any kind of cohesive attack.Missing star Julie Ertz—who entered the Olympics as a major question mark, having not played since May due to a knee injury—the normally formidable U.S. midfield was thoroughly outplayed in the first half, and the defense sliced and diced amid uncharacteristic games from the likes of Crystal Dunn and Abby Dahlkemper. Pointed halftime subs by Andonovski—bringing in Ertz for Sam Mewis and Carli Lloyd for striker Alex Morgan—did little to change the match trajectory and failed to stop the bleeding as the Swedes tacked on two more. Back in 2016, Sweden received plenty of attention for the defensive style of play that successfully led that game to penalties and cracked the U.S.’s code, including then-U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo’s famous postgame remarks.“We played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today … They didn’t want to open play. They didn’t want to pass the ball. They didn’t want to play great soccer,” Solo said that day.No one could make a similar accusation this time. Sweden was brave and assertive, discombobulating the U.S. in a way few opponents can and consistently applying attacking pressure on the Americans and GK Alyssa Naeher. And while Naeher made a series of highlight-reel saves early—and kept the game from being an even worse blowout than 3–0—there was little she could do to stop an onslaught that grew increasingly inevitable.

The United States’s chances, meanwhile, were few and far between, summed up by the fact that it took nearly an entire half for the team to earn its first corner kick. Attempts by Rose Lavelle and Christen Press that clanged off the post were about as riveting as it got for the U.S. attack, normally so potent and unyielding but held to five shots on goal by the Swedes, who were playing without star center back Magdalena Eriksson.“We need to learn from our mistakes this game and then we need to move on. We need to forget about it,” Morgan told Telemundo. “We need to take each game as it comes and then obviously it’s taking care of our bodies because it’s a shorter tournament than a World Cup, so the turnaround is a lot faster.”The U.S. arrived in Japan with a clear expectation—anything less than its fifth gold medal will be a disappointment. Andonovski opted for a battle-tested—and also older—roster filled with experience; of the original 18 that made the cut before rosters expanded to 22, only 30-year-old Kristie Mewis was not a part of the 2019 World Cup-winning squad. This is a team that has long embraced and prided itself on its ruthlessness, its confidence and its will to win. It has felt defeat just four times since that 2016 Olympic exit, three of which came during a five-month period in 2017 when the team’s seeming invincibility displayed real cracks and had then-coach Jill Ellis on thin ice.The response to that rough patch—losing just once in the four years since—is a testament to the group’s mentality and resiliency. Those traits will now be fully tested in Japan, where the U.S. still controls its own destiny but has complicated its path to the podium.Sweden is now in the driver’s seat of Group G with two group-round games for both (vs. New Zealand and Australia) remaining. The winner of the group will face a third-place team from one of the other two groups in the quarterfinals, while the runner-up gets a difficult draw with the Group F winner, very likely to be the Netherlands or Brazil (third place would not necessarily doom the U.S., either, as eight of the tournament’s 12 teams advance to the knockout rounds).Brutal draws are nothing new for the USWNT—look no further than its ’19 World Cup run, when it took down host France in a raucous quarterfinal atmosphere before winning a slugfest with England in the semis—but it hasn’t had to answer to such an early disappointment at a major tournament in quite a long time. And aside from Lloyd and Tobin Heath, the current roster is in uncharted waters.“2008 Olympics, I was part of that team, we lost our first game as well and came away with a gold medal,” Lloyd told Telemundo after Wednesday’s defeat, recalling the U.S.’s 2–0 opening loss to Norway in the Beijing Games. “It’s really, really important for us not to dwell too much on this game.”There won’t be much time to, with New Zealand waiting on Saturday before a group-stage finale vs. Australia on Tuesday. The U.S. will be favored to win both, and New Zealand in particular presents an excellent opportunity to bounce back nicely and get itself on track. With the need for lineup rotation, it will have to be a true team effort on Saturday after Andonovski put what was seemingly the U.S.’s best foot forward against Sweden.Ultimately, the U.S. women will be judged by one thing in these Games—whether or not they bring home the gold medal that they failed to in Rio. To get there, they might not be done with the Swedes, either. Presuming they finish 1-2 in the group one way or another, when is the next time these two sides could possibly meet, and further add to their decorated rivalry?The Olympic final.You want story lines? Nothing could quite beat that.

Megan Rapinoe after USWNT loss to Sweden in Tokyo Olympics: ‘No time to dwell’

Jul 21, 2021ESPN

Megan Rapinoe said the United States women’s national team must move on quickly after a surprising 3-0 loss to Sweden in its Olympic Games opener on Wednesday.

The USWNT saw a 44-match unbeaten record end in humbling style as the tournament favorite and world No. 1-ranked side was undone by two Stina Blackstenius goals and one from Lina Hurtig.With four gold medals, the United States has more than any other nation and is vying to become the first team to win Olympic gold following a World Cup title.To do that, though, the team must move on quickly after the loss to Peter Gerhardsson’s side. Speaking after the match, Rapinoe said: “We got our asses kicked, didn’t we? … I thought we were a little tight, a little nervous, just doing dumb stuff.”There’s no time to dwell and think about if Sweden is living in our heads or not. We’ve got another game in three days.”Rapinoe, who came on in the 64th minute with the score 2-0, added: “Did we expect this result tonight? No.”It’s frustrating, and it’s frustrating that it’s Sweden. They found a lot of space on us. I don’t even know how many goals we have given up this whole year. I don’t remember the last time we gave up a goal. So to give up three is not great.”Sweden, ranked No. 5, has been the U.S. team’s nemesis of sorts in recent years. The Swedes bounced the Americans from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in the quarterfinals, their earliest U.S. Olympic exit ever, by making a defensive stand.In April, Sweden played the United States to a 1-1 draw in Stockholm, which snapped a winning streak dating back to January 2019 when the Americans lost to France in the runup to the World Cup. It was the U.S. team’s only draw this year.U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said: “It’s obvious we put ourselves in a big hole, but we’re the only ones who can get ourselves out of it.”It’s not going to be easy. We’ve got to get positive results in the next two games, but the fact there is still a chance [means] I know this team is not going to give up.”Sweden leads Group G heading into Saturday’s game against Australia in Saitama, while the United States faces New Zealand. The top two teams in the group advance to the knockout round.”We have very brave players and very good leaders,” Gerhardsson said. “Brave attitude to win the ball and transition so well. Yeah, I’m satisfied.”In 2008, the United States also lost its first match (2-0 to Norway), but went on to win the gold medal.”I think ultimately as an athlete you go through ups and downs, and this is a hard result, but it’s the nature of a tough tournament,” U.S. forward Christen Press said. “It wasn’t going to be easy. We weren’t going to breeze through six games no matter what. So here we are.”

Zimmerman out while Kessler and Cowell join USMNT camp ahead of Jamaica

Gregg Berhalter took the first steps towards potentially changing his roster ahead of the quarterfinal matchup against Jamaica on Sunday. Walker Zimmerman has been rulled out. Henry Kessler and Cade Cowell have joined the team’s camp in Dallas. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta is here with his thoughts. 

BY BRIAN SCIARETTA  JULY 21, 2021  7:00 AM

UNITED STATES national team manager Gregg Berhalter revealed important news to his Gold Cup roster on Tuesday night when he announced that winger Cade Cowell and central defender Henry Kessler were going to join the team’s camp on Wednesday. It was further announced that defender Walker Zimmerman has been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.Per the amended tournament regulations, teams can replace injured players up to 24 hours prior to the quarterfinal. At this time, however, the United States national team has not made a formal change to the roster. These plans simply give Berhalter more leeway to make a switch.The U.S. team learned it will face Jamaica on Sunday night at 9pm EST in the quarterfinals in Dallas. Changes for the knockout rounds therefore need to be made by Saturday night. Here are a few thoughts on the potential changes. 

EXTREMELY INEXPERIENCED CENTRAL DEFENSE

 If New England Revolution defender Henry Kessler replaces Walker Zimmerman, the central defense is extremely inexperienced with it now consisting of Kessler, Miles Robinson, James Sands, and Donovan Pines. Prior to the Gold Cup, three of those four central defenders had zero caps and Robinson had just three. While Robinson and Sands have played well, it’s very little experience in the back and that will come into play as the tournament gets harder.ne thing to consider is whether this limits Berhalter’s ability or confidence to play three central defenders in the back. Pines was shaky at times against Canada and with these changes, three central defense adds to the inexperience of the entire team.  To drift away from the three central defense lineup, it will depend on how the winger situation is resolved. This team is thin on wingers and that limits the usage of the typical 4-3-3. To return to the 4-3-3 will depend on Paul Arriola getting healthy or Cade Cowell being ready. Otherwise, Berhalter will have to revert to variation of a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1.

 COWEL’S VERSATILITY GIVES OPTIONS

 Paul Arriola has missed the past two games and Daryl Dike played the final 10 minutes against Canada with a hurt shoulder. Cowell has versatility to play both forward and winger so it remains to be seen who he could be brought into replace.Cowell, 17, has been playing very well recently for San Jose so he has momentum heading into this tournament. This is a very big opportunity for Cowell who could get his first cap in a very big moment.

BERHALTER HAS TIME TO MAKE MORE CHANGES

 One thing to consider is that the rules of the tournament give Berhalter until Saturday to make a change. Kessler and Cowell have yet to appear for the U.S. national team and it’s good that they are arriving on Wednesday for an added training session.It’s important to note that MLS has a big slate of games on Wednesday night (and another two games on Thursday). Perhaps more announcements are on their way after these games?
There are a few possibilities – bearing in mind the names must come from the 60-player provisional roster. Moses Nyeman and Kevin Paredes recently trained with the U.S. team before the start of the Gold Cup. Chris Mueller is also playing well for Orlando (which plays on Thursday) and he plays as a winger, which could be needed. Jeremy Ebobisse is also in form for Portland and he is a striker option. Justin Che could add defensive depth and he at least trained with the team in May.We will see if more players arrive in camp and if any changes are being made but for now it’s in flux.

Analysis: USMNT starts strong, holds on in 1-0 win over Canada

In its biggest test of the Gold Cup so far, the USMNT got the result it wanted but it didn’t necessarily get the performance. In the end a strong start gave the U.S. team a 1-0 win over Canada to win Group B. Now Gregg Berhalter will have a week to prepare and hopefully have his team healthy for the quarterfinals. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta is here to give his throughts.

BY BRIAN SCIARETTAPOSTEDJULY 19, 20211:30 AM

THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL team scored early and hung on to defeat Canada 1-0 in Kansas City to win Group B with a perfect nine points. While Group B might have been secured, the performance was far from good enough if the team wants to win this tournament ahead of the knockout stages.The U.S. team once again rolled out with a three-central defense set up (Walker Zimmerman, James Sands, and Miles Robinson).The U.S. got on the board very quickly with one of its fastest goals ever – 20 seconds into the game. Kellyn Acosta swung the ball to Sebastian Lletget inside the box, left of the goal. The California native hit the bouncing ball with his first touch back across the goal and it found Shaq Moore at the far post for an open finish.Gregg Berhalter was forced into an early change in the 10th minute when Walker Zimmerman was forced out of the game with a hamstring injury following a collision. He was then replaced by D.C. United’s Donovan Pines.After a strong start, the U.S. team faded around the half hour mark following the first hydration break. After that, Canada controlled possession of the game and the U.S. was pinned back. Liam Fraser, Tajon Buchanan, Samuel Piette, and Richie Laryea all had strong games for Canada which impressed in the midfield and will likely be a tough out in the knockout stages. Still, the U.S. team limited Canada’s dangerous despite struggling to maintain possession. Buchanan was the most dangerous offensive player in the game for either team and he was effective getting the ball on the left side and cutting in. In the second half, he nearly equalized when his bending shot just missed bending into the far side of the post.The U.S. team was able to see out the win and will now have an entire week off to prepare for the quarterfinal against either Costa Rica or Jamaica next Sunday.Here are some thoughts on the game.

ROBINSON AND VINES STANDOUT

 The U.S. team’s two best players on the day were Miles Robinson and Sam Vines who were fantastic on the backline. Both players were the reason why, despite losing the possession battle, the U.S. team was able to drastically limit Canada’s number of very dangerous opportunities – which were few.

1-0 #USMNT defeats Canada to win group. Not a great performance.
some thoughts
?Miles Robinson was terrific. Wow
?Vines had a very good game
?Lletget had his moments, great assist
?Hoppe solid off bench
?Buchanan: best player on the field
?Injuries are a huge concern

— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) July 18, 2021

 This was the performance many hoped Robinson could deliver for the U.S. team. This was the first time he was significantly tested for the U.S team and the Massachusetts native delivered with important clearances, duel wins, and passes out of the back. He was a massive obstacle that Canada could not get around and, in my opinion, the most influential player in the game.Robinson has an opportunity to crack into the national team for World Cup qualifying as there are so many questions in central defense. John Brooks is a lock starter for the national team when healthy but Mark McKenzie isn’t quite a set starter at Genk. Meanwhile Matt Miazga, Erik Palmer-Brown, and Cameron Carter-Vickers are all yet to have their club situations sorted out.Sam Vines, likewise, had a massively important game both for the U.S. team and for himself. Long thought of as an offensive left back, Vines showed his defensive attributes in this game – which were always the questions surrounding his game. He was simply everywhere defensively while also being one of the team’s few assets getting forward.Sam Vines: raw # for the #USMNT in 1-0 win over Canada
90 mins
71 touches
0 shots
2 key passes
41/46 passing
3/3 accurate crossing
0/1 long balls
5/7 duels won
5 clearances
2 interceptions
1/1 tackles
1/1 dribbles
0 fouls
1x fouled
2/3 aerials won
– very good game

— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) July 18, 2021

 Vines is likely heading to Royal Antwerp after this tournament on a transfer from the Colorado Rapids and anyone who has been paying attention to his game has noticed his improvement every single season. It is possible he cracks into the World Cup qualifying team this fall.

FORMATION ISSUES AND STRUGGLES

 The U.S. team seemed to fall off dramatically after the hydration break at the 30th minute. Canada adjusted and the U.S. team didn’t respond.Canada put a lot of pressure on the U.S. team’s deeper central midfielders in Gianluca Busio and Kellyn Acosta. Neither of those two players had strong games and that is where the possession game fell apart. One of the big consequences is that the two outside backs, Sam Vines and Shaq Moore, were pinned back. As wingbacks, the plan was to push them into the midfield on a regular basis but the lack of possession saw them pinned back.The design was that the U.S. team would defend with five in the back but that, when in possession, it would shift to a narrow diamond with James Sands moving to the six and the fullbacks pushed aggressively into the attack to provide width. It never really materialized.The U.S. team played with a two-forward set in Gyasi Zardes and Daryl Dike but was never able to get the benefit given the midfield’s lack of possession. Instead, it turned into a wasted player. If the fullbacks were able to get forward, it would have been a different story as the midfield would have had more outlets out wide and more crosses could have been sent into a pair of forwards who are both good in the air.The U.S. team’s mostly poor performance was a chain of things that went wrong and it started with Acosta and Busio. That led to the outside backs being pinned back and not enough offensive outlets – with everything being geared up the middle. Sebastian Lletget, meanwhile, had a nice game for the U.S. team. His outstanding assist was the defining moment of the game but he was given a very tough task as his two midfielder partners were struggling, and the wingbacks were pinned to the backline. His forward outlets were limited. Canada’s backline was able to mark Zardes and Dike out of the game. Still, Lletget was able to help the team hold the ball better than just about everyone else and help to set up whatever offensive chances it had.

INJURIES MOUNT

It was welcome news for the U.S. team to have Reggie Cannon return from injury and be able to play off the bench. The Boavista-based fullback was effective defensively and Shaq Moore, who started all three games, has been almost overworked given his preseason form.Meanwhile, Paul Arriola remains out and that limits the ability to play from wide positions.The U.S. team badly needs Walker Zimmerman to be healthy and his hamstring will be evaluated this week. Meanwhile, Daryl Dike suffered what appeared to be a shoulder injury after falling on it awkwardly in the second half after the U.S. team used all of its substitutions. He was able to continue but clearly wasn’t 100%. James Sands also finished out the game after having to spend some time getting treatment.

 PLAYER RATINGS

THE STARTING LINEUP

 Matt Turner: The New Jersey native made all the saves that were asked of him and was confident whenever called upon. Rating: 6.0

Shaq Moore: The Tenerife-based fullback took his goal very well with a nice run to back post. For the rest of the game he defended well but struggled to make an impact offensively. Rating: 6.0

James Sands: The New York City mainstay played two roles. Defensively he was a centerback but when the U.S. team had the ball, he shifted to a No. 6 in a narrow diamond. He was relatively solid although didn’t do much in his midfield role. Rating: 6.5

Miles Robinson: This was an important game for Robinson where he showed a lot of defensive quality in helping the U.S. team see out the win. His made a lot of important clearances, won several important duels, and his passing out of the back was solid. He was the MOTM and Robinson should have a lot of confidence moving forward. Rating: 8.0

Walker Zimmerman: The Georgia native left the game early due to injury and his loss was a big setback for the team. Rating: N/A

Sam Vines: Along with Robinson, Vines was one of the few U.S. players to have a solid performance against Canada. His defense was important at several key moments and he shut down Canada on his side of the field. Rating: 8.0

Kellyn Acosta: Aside from his important pass to Lletget on the goal, it was a poor outing from Acosta who was outplayed by the Canadian midfield and was not able to help the team much in possession. It is never good when a central midfield manages just 22 touches in 74 minutes. Canada clearly wanted to shut him out and Acosta had no response. Rating: 4.5

Gianluca Busio: The Sporting Kansas midfielder is a newcomer to the deeper No. 6 and No. 8 positions as opposed to the No. 10 position he grew up playing. He failed to win many duels to win the ball back for the U.S. team. Once in possession, he didn’t make much of an impact and was mostly invisible. Rating: 4.0

Sebastian LLetget: The U.S. team’s best performer in the midfield. He not only assisted, but was the only one capable of getting the ball into dangerous spots and holding the ball. Rating: 7.0

Daryl Dike: Along with Zardes, Dike was effectively controlled by Canada. He was fairly dangerous in the first 25 minutes but after that was quiet. It was admirable how he was able to play hurt the final 10 minutes plus stoppage time. Rating: 4.5

Gyasi Zardes: The Columbus forward had his moments early and worked hard to run down some long balls. At times, he stretched the defense and could send in some crosses. But overall it wasn’t nearly enough and Canada contained both him and Dike. Rating: 4.5

 THE SUBSTITUTES

 Donovan Pines: Some decent moments but also some moments when he looked extremely nervy in the back and new to the moment. Rating: 5.0

Reggie Cannon: The Boavista fullback defended well off the bench for the U.S. team but mishit a good chance on a goal. Rating: 6.0

Cristian Roldan: Mostly invisible in his 16 minutes off the bench and didn’t do much or enough. Rating: 4.5

Jackson Yueill: Managed to get on the ball a little bit to help see the game out. Rating: 5.5

Matthew Hoppe: Very lively off the bench. Dribbled into trouble a few times but overall brough some energy and helped advance the ball. Rating: 6.0

Who will, and who should the USMNT start vs. Jamaica?

By Ives Galarcep | July 23, 2021 1:50 pm ET  https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.06c6ee58c3810956b7509218508c7b56.en.html#dnt=false&id=twitter-widget-1&lang=en&screen_name=soccerbyives&show_count=false&show_screen_name=true&size=m&time=1627063338462

The Concacaf Gold Cup group stage was a learning experience for Gregg Berhalter’s young U.S. men’s national team squad, and the team’ 3-0 record would suggest the group passed some tests along the way.With the knockout rounds up next, the USMNT will need to shift away from the learning portion of the tournament to the testing phase, and it will be pass-fail the rest of the way. For that reason, it is a good bet that Berhalter starts to shift toward his more experienced players.Of course, there will be some new blood in the mix to start based on some impressive group stage showings. James Sands is at the top of the list, having made himself an indispensable starter after his group stage showings. Shaq Moore has also been one of the revelations of the Gold Cup, and Berhalter will have a tough decision to make between starting Moore and starting Reggie Cannon, who has recovered from the injury that kept him out of the USMNT’s first two Gold Cup matches.Daryl Dike and Gianluca Busio had some impressive moments as well, but both struggled in the win against Canada, making it less certain that they will be in the starting lineup on Sunday against Jamaica. There is also some concern about whether Dike will be forced to withdraw after suffering a shoulder injury against Canada.You also have some veterans who haven’t necessarily lit it up at the Gold Cup. Cristian Roldan had a good second half against Martinique, but had forgettable cameo against Canada, putting his chances of starting against Jamaica into question. Kellyn Acosta hasn’t quite maintained the high level he set at Nations League, but should still have a key role to play against Jamaica.With all that in mind, here is the starting lineup we could see the USMNT deploying against Jamaica on Sunday, as well as the lineup we would deploy if we were making the final lineup decisions:


Projected USMNT Starting Lineup vs. Jamaica

Zardes

Hoppe/Gioacchini

Lietget/Roldan

Acosta

Sam Vines/Miles Robinson/James Sands/Reggie Cannon

https://sbisoccer.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/89/2021/07/USMNT-Projected-XI-vs.-Jamaica.png?w=300

SBI’s Preferred USMNT Starting Lineup vs. Jamaica

https://sbisoccer.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/89/2021/07/SBI-Preferred-USMNT-XI-vs.-Jamaica.png?w=300

GOALKEEPER


Who will start: Matt Turner

Who should start: Matt Turner

Not a big mystery at goalkeeper, where Turner has been solid in goal.


DEFENDERS


Who will start: Reggie Cannon, James Sands, Miles Robinson, Sam Vines

Who should start: Shaq Moore, James Sands, Miles Robinson, Sam Vines

Sands and Robinson are locks to start in any scenario. It is at fullback where things get interesting.Moore has had a solid Gold Cup, but if Berhalter is forced to go with a 4-3-3 it can be argued that Reggie Cannon is a better fit and better defender than Moore as a right fullback, whereas Moore was more adept at handling a right wingback deployment. Walker Zimmerman’s injury will likely force Berhalter to shelve the 5-3-2.At left back, Sam Vines has been solid and has the experience edge on George Bello, who didn’t impress in his start against Martinique.


MIDFIELDERS


Who will start: Sebastian Lletget, Cristian Roldan, Kellyn Acosta

Who should start: Eryk Williamson, Kellyn Acosta, Gianluca Busio

Two players who are safe bets to start are Sebastian Lletget and Kellyn Acosta. The question is where will they be deployed?

Lletget has operated strictly as a midfielder at the Gold Cup, but he has played on the forward line in the past and is no stranger to being deployed on the wing. It is something Berhalter should consider as he deals with the absence of wide threats.The safe bet for Berhalter is the Lletget-Roldan-Acosta midfield, with Acosta in a defensive midfield role. Berhalter knows this trio, and has used them in important matches before.That being said, Roldan’s Gold Cup hasn’t been a memorable one, and as much as Busio struggled against Canada, he could find more success playing against a Jamaica side that doesn’t boast as strong a collection of central midfielders as the Canadians.One player who has shown well in his Gold Cup appearances is Eryk Williamson, and he could help bring some defensive bite. Partnering Williamson with Acosta in front of Busio would give the midfield an edge that could serve the USMNT well against Jamaica.


FORWARDS


Who will start: Matthew Hoppe, Gyasi Zardes, Nicholas Gioacchini

Who should start: Matthew Hoppe, Gyasi Zardes, Sebastian Lletget

Dike’s health status complicates things a bit because if he is healthy he will absolutely be in the mix to start.Having said that, look for Zardes to step into his more familiar target striker role ahead of Dike in a 4-3-3. Zardes’ superior hold-up play gives him the edge, and he also has experience playing against Jamaica.Hoppe has impressed every time he has been on the field, and why he isn’t the prototypical wide player, Hoppe has shown a liveliness and skill on the ball to be an effective wide forward option. The only doubt about him being a starter is whether there is a concern about his fitness and if he can give Berhalter 70+ minutes as a starter. Berhalter could decide that Hoppe is a better weapon off the bench, and start Lletget on the left wing.Then you have the right forward spot, which could go to Nicholas Gioacchini, or Paul Arriola if he is recovered from the injury that has sidelined him since the opening win against Haiti. Gioacchini has been a lively threat in the opportunities he has been given, and could be a problem for Jamaica’s suspect defense.If trying to maintain possession and dominate the ball is what Berhalter will ultimately be hoping for, then deploying Lletget as a wide forward would serve the dual purposes of giving the USMNT a player who can provide effective service from the wing, and also help free up a midfield spot for someone like Eryk Williamson to provide some added bite and creativity to midfield.


What do you think of our projected lineups? Which would you start? Who are you most excited to see play?

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