2/17/2020   Champions League Sweet 16 Back Tues/Wed, CCL MLS vs Concacaf starts Tues/Wed, Man City UCL Ban?

The return of EUFA Champions League Play this week and next (Tues/Wed 3 pm) leads of the week of huge games.  Its Sweet 16 time – with huge match-ups including Defending Champions Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid on TNT 3 pm on Tuesday and Dortmund (with subbing American youngster Geo Reyna) hosting Paris St. Germain at the same time.  Wednesday we Tottenham, last season’s 2nd place finishers, hosting RB Leipzig who will not have American Tyler Adams in the line-up as he is hurt.  That game is 3 pm on TNT.  Next Tues its Chelsea hosting German league leader Bayern Munich and Wed we get powerhouses Real Madrid hosting Man City.  Of course Liverpool will knock out my Atletico – so sad to see the spectacular coach Simeone on the bubble with Leti Madrid – injuries have crippled this team this season and I am not sure this is the same team in the new digs as it was at the legendary Caldron downtown.  Good to have Champions League back!

Concacaf Champions League

The CCL kicks off this Tues/Wed/Thurs on Fox sports 1 & 2 with evening games each next over the next 2 weeks and MLS squads Atlanta United, Seattle, LAFC, Montreal, NYCFC match up against teams from Mexico, Costa Rica, and other CONCACAF country teams.  Mexico has dominated the competition mainly because the season hasn’t even started yet in MLS while they are mid season in Mexico and other countries – but with 3 powerhouse squads – perhaps MLS can break thru this year?  (see full schedule on http://theoleballcoach.com)

Man City UCL Ban?

Wow huge news with EUFA handing down a 2 year suspension of Man City for Champions League for breaking rules on how much they spend on players.  If this sticks it will be huge – imagine would Pep leave Man City – would their top players like DeBruyne or leave with no Champions League player for 2 full years.  With regards to money it could cost Man City 200+ million in Champions League payouts.  The ramifications are huge.  I can certainly say while I was excited to see City win their first title a number of years back – over the past 3 years since Pep Guadiola has arrived – they have become the best team money can buy and spent billions on players while winning back to back titles.

USA

Great to see the US Ladies have no issues with Olympic Qualifying as they destroyed everyone including Canada in the finals with a huge 3-0 blanking.  Great to see 2nd string forward/Wingers Christian Press and Amanda Williams get on the board with some huge goals.  The US seriously probably has the 2 most talented teams in the America’s if not the world.  It will be interesting to see if the new coach will work in some youngsters – or stay with the same team that won the World Cup last summer.

GAMES ON TV 

Tues 2/18– Champions League

3 pm Gala, fubotv, B/R     Dortmund (Geo Reyna) vs PSG  

3 pm TNT                            Atletico vs Liverpool  

10 pm Fox Sport 2             Leon vs LAFC (CCL)

10 pm Fox Soccer/fubo     Motagua vs Atlanta United (CCL)

Weds 2/19– Champions League

2:30 pm NBCSN                 Man City vs West Ham

3 pm TNT                            Tottenham vs RB Leipzig (Adams?)

3 pm Gala, fubotv, B/R      Atalanta vs Valencia

8 pm Fox Sport 2               Deportivo vs Montreal Impact (CCL)

10 pm Fox Sport 2             Comunicaciones vs America (CCL)

Thur 2/20– Europa League+ CCL

3 pm TNT, TUDN fubotv,   Club Brugge  vs Man United

8 pm Fox Sport2                San Carlos vs NYCFC (CCL)

10 pm FS2                           Olimpia  vs Seattle Sounders (CCL)

Fri

10 pm   FS1                         USA Ladies vs Mexico (Olympic Qual Finals)

Saturday, 2/22
7:30 a.m. ET: NBCSN         Chelsea vs Tottenham

10 am NBCSN                     Crystal Palace vs Newcastle United

9:30 am Fox Sport2           Bremen ( ) vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

10 am beIN Sport               Barcelona vs Eibar

12 noon ESPN+                  SPAL vs Juventus

12:30 pm FS2                     Schalke vs RB Liepzig  
12:30 p.m. ET: NBC           Leicester City vs Man City

3 pm beIN Sport                 Levante vs Real Madrid

Sunday
6:30 am ESPN2                  Genoa vs Granada

9 a.m. ET: NBCSN               Man United v. Watford

11:30 a.m. ET: NBCSN       Arsenal vs Everton

3 pm beIN Sport                 PSG vs Bordeaux

Monday 2/24

.3 pm  NBCSN                     Liverpool vs West Ham

Tues 2/25– Champions League

3 pm TNT                            Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Bayern Munich  

3 pm TUDN fubotv, B/R    Napoli vs Barcelona

8 pm Fox Sport 1               Atlanta United vs Motagua  (CCL)   

Wed 2/26 – Champions League

3 pm TNT                            Real Madrid vs Man City  

3 pm TUDN fubotv, B/R    Lyonnais vs Juventus

6 pm Fox Sport 2               NYCFC vs San Carlos  (CCL)

10 pm FS2                           Montreal Impact vs Deportivo Saprissa

Thur 2/27– Europa League+ CCL

3 pm TNT, TUDN fubotv,   Man United vs Club Brugge

3 pm fubotv                        Olympiackos vs Arsenal

10 pm Fox Sport 1             LAFC vs Leon (CCL)

10 pm FS2                           Seattle Sounders vs Olimpia

Sat, Feb 29  MLS Season Opens

Sun, 3/1 

9 a.m. ET: NBCSN               Everton vs Man United

9am NBCSN                       Tottenham vs Wolverhampton

3 pm beIN sport/Fubo      Real Madrid vs Barcelona  (El CLassico)

3 pm ESPN                          Seattle vs Chicago Fire

5:30 pm ESPN                    LAFC vs Inter Miami

7:30 pm FS1                       Portland Timbers vs Minnesota United

WORLD, Champions League

How will Premier League clubs fare in UCL last 16?

Guardiola admits City can’t be sure Sterling will be fit to face Real Madrid

Liverpool most difficult team in UCL says Atletico Boss

Could Neymar, Mbappe antics derail PSG as season enters crunch time?
‘I don’t fear Haaland’ – Meunier backs PSG to overcome Borussia Dortmund in Champions League

Champions League squads changes for four PL teams

– Man City’s ban: What it means and what happens next
– Source: Guardiola fears for players after UEFA ban
– Klopp reacts to ban: “Complete wow!”

USA 

US women beat Canada 3-0 in Olympic qualifying final

USMNT: Brooks is back! Defender makes Bundesliga return

Tyler Adams to miss out on UEFA Champions League clash vs. Spurs
Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

Klinsmann removed from Hertha board after “unacceptable” departure

MLS

Doyle: Which MLS team has the best CCL chance?

CCL Fever! Predictions, team-by-team capsules and scouting reports

Club Leon president calls LAFC match “life or death”

Vela among reasons why MLS can finally topple Liga MX

Atlanta hit by injury bug heading into CCL opener

Report: FC Cincy closing in on deal for Ajax attacking midfielder

“Oh my gosh, I’m getting traded:” Zimmerman talks Nashville

Cincinnati Season Preview: Will FCC’s attacking makeover pay off?

40k and counting: Nashville eyeing attendance record

Wiebe: What Zimmerman trade means for LAFC, Nashville and the future

What the new CBA means for MLS: Players get their share  Jeff Carlisle

Champions League last-16 preview: don’t miss Dortmund-PSG, Man City under pressure, Liverpool to get upset?

4:03 PM ET  ESPN

With the Premier League race over, PSG running away with Ligue 1, Bayern and Juventus seemingly in charge of the Bundesliga and Serie A respectively, we might have to look to the UEFA Champions League for our soccer drama between now and May. The action returns in force this week with the start of the last-16: all 16 teams still standing are from Europe’s top five leagues and there’s upset potential up and down the draw.Will holders Liverpool successfully defend their crown or are we destined to get a new champion? What can we expect from Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona? How about RB Leipzig, who have soared from nowhere to challenge Bayern domestically but have more than enough talent to cause a shock in Europe, too? Consider this your ultimate guide to the first knockout round of the biggest club competition in soccer.

Jump to: Viewing guide and predictions | Burning questions

Your first leg viewing guide and predictions

Presented in order of watchability from “must-see TV” to “DVR for later,” Gab Marcotti breaks down all eight first legs of the last-16.

REAL MADRID vs. MAN CITY
– First leg: 2/26, 3 p.m. ET

Despite a string of injuries this season, most notably to record signing Eden Hazard, Real are leading la Liga and would love nothing more than crushing Pep Guardiola’s dream of a third Champions League crown. Especially given the fact that after his City side have been hit with a two-year ban from European competition, he won’t be getting another crack at it for a while.

PREDICTION: Tense, thrilling draw sets up possible drama at the Etihad

DORTMUND vs. PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
– First leg: 2/18, 3 p.m. ET

This has the potential to be the most wide-open and popcorn-worthy tie of the round. Both sides love to score, and score often: Kylian Mbappe and Neymar may be the most glamorous pair of forwards in the game right now, but the Dortmund duo of Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho could one day supplant them. The German side aren’t what they used to be defensively but have more than enough in attack to trouble the French champions.

O’Hanlon: Guess what, folks? PSG are going to win the CL

PSG have suffered their share of Champions League heartbreakers over the years, whether against Barcelona or Real Madrid. With former Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel leading the way, is this the year it all comes together for PSG?

PREDICTION: Borussia Dortmund to strike first against French elite

ATALANTA vs. VALENCIA
– First leg: 2/19, 3 p.m. ET

Free-scoring Atalanta’s high-energy, high-press, all-out attack have made them among the highest scorers in Europe and they’ve done it on a shoestring budget, coaxing goals galore from Papu Gomez, Josep Ilicic and Luis Muriel. Sometimes, it looks as if they’re simply playing a different sport. Valencia have had a rough season and have already changed managers this year, but they’re a classic feast-or-famine foe and you just don’t know what you’re going to get.

PREDICTION: Atalanta to take advantage

CHELSEA vs. BAYERN MUNICH
– First leg: 2/25, 3 p.m. ET

Bayern had a major wobble at the start of the campaign, but are back to their laser-focused selves in 2020, marching towards more silverware domestically and, they hope, in Europe. Interim boss Hansi Flick has revived Thomas Muller‘s form and gotten more out of Serge Gnabry, while Robert Lewandowski might be the best pure scorer in the modern game.

Chelsea have punched well above their weight with a bunch of home-grown youngsters in Frank Lampard’s first season as manager, but it remains to be seen if they can hold their own against one of the most relentless and experienced footballing machines around.

PREDICTION: First-leg draw sets up fun in Munich

TOTTENHAM vs. RB LEIPZIG
– First leg: 2/19, 3 p.m. ET

Jose Mourinho — as he’ll no doubt remind you — has won this competition twice and knows what it takes to get it done in a two-legged format, though he’ll be without star striker Harry Kane, who is injured. Without the talismanic No.9, plenty will be expected of Heung-Min Son around goal while Giovani Lo Celso looks ready to be the anchor of Tottenham’s midfield and transition game.

Leipzig are the ultimate intangible: at 32, manager Julian Nagelsmann is a veritable wunderkind who relies on a defensive beast (Dayot Upamecano), a deadeye pest of a scorer (Timo Werner) and plenty of hard running and tactical creativity in between. They have the talent to catch teams on the counter.

PREDICTION: Tottenham to seize control

ATLETICO MADRID vs. LIVERPOOL
– First leg: 2/18, 3 p.m. ET

The contrast in styles is sharp — deep defending vs. high energy, hunt ’em down, full court press — but the ethos is the same for both teams known for their gritty, tough and uncompromising attitude. The problem is that Atletico Madrid are trying to (unsuccessfully) transition from the system that brought them to a success to a more open style, whereas Liverpool boast clockwork efficiency and are finding many different ways to win games under Jurgen Klopp this season.

PREDICTION: Liverpool to walk on with first leg win

NAPOLI vs. BARCELONA
– First leg: 2/25, 3 p.m. ET

Funnily enough, these are the only two teams that have beaten Liverpool’s first team since Jan. 3, 2019 but both are going through a bumpy patch. Napoli changed managers in December, have a number of players in contractual disputes and are midtable in Serie A. Europe appears their only hope for joy this season. Barcelona have suffered key injuries (Luis SuarezJordi Alba), have also changed managers and are still coming to grips with new boss Quique Setien’s old school, press-and-possess style.

Past editions of Barca have been reliant on Lionel Messi for that burst of inspiration but it’s become a dependence in 2020. If he’s on, this game becomes routine. If he’s not, they’re in trouble.

PREDICTION: Barcelona to take a lead back to Camp Nou

LYON vs. JUVENTUS
– First leg: 2/26, 3 p.m. ET

Lyon are yet another club to have changed managers in midseason and while Rudi Garcia has righted the ship to some degree, they’re still mid-table in Ligue 1. The silver lining: they’re getting great performances from the most hyped 16-year-old in the game, Rayan Cherki.

After eight straight Serie A crowns, Juventus did a 180-degree turn in the summer, bringing in new boss Maurizio Sarri with a view towards becoming more attack-minded. It’s definitely a work in progress though Cristiano Ronaldo‘s run of 10 straight Serie A games with a goal (and 20 league goals in 20 games) has been their saving grace on many occasions this season. At 35, he’s in the form of his life: will that continue in the Champions League?

PREDICTION: Juve all the way given Cristiano Ronaldo’s scoring spree

Big questions to be answered in the round of 16

Looking to make sense of the talking points in Europe’s top competition? ESPN’s writers have you covered.

Who’s under more pressure: Zidane or Guardiola?

There’s more pressure on Pep Guardiola, no question about it. It’s not just the 25 points separating Manchester City from the top of the Premier League, or the fact that he may be watching the next two Champions’ Leagues on TV due to his club’s FFP violations, or even the fact that having won two Premier League titles delivering the biggest trophy in club football is the last unconquered peak. Rather, as Guardiola himself has admitted, he puts an absurd amount of pressure on himself. Not so much in terms of achieving results, but in terms of the process his teams go through to get there.

– Man City’s ban: What it means and what happens next
– Source: Guardiola fears for players after UEFA ban
– Klopp reacts to ban: “Complete wow!”

Real Madrid, on the other hand, is a perpetual hot-seat, but Zinedine Zidane has more padding than most. The great stone-face has been there, done that and his team are sitting top of La Liga, a competition they’ve won just once in the last seven years. — Gab Marcotti

Can Simeone spring a surprise vs. Liverpool?

Something odd happened when Atletico Madrid played Leganes on Jan. 26. Or, perhaps more accurately, nothing happened. And that’s exactly the point.

There was a moment in the second half when Diego Simeone turned towards the fans and began to do the kind of gesture he has done a thousand times before, raising his arms to try to get them going. But as he began, the reaction was not as immediate or as unanimous as it used to be (it barely existed at all, in fact) and almost as soon as he had started, he stopped again. It wasn’t a big deal, perhaps, and most people wouldn’t even have noticed, but for those that did and who know it wasn’t normal, it added to the feeling that something is not right.

TOP FOOTBALL NEWS

For a brief moment, it was as if the man Unai Emery once described as “war personified” wasn’t fighting any more. He stood alone. In front of him, Atletico don’t look like his team, the players are not his sort of players, the demands are not what they once were, the identity is not either, and the results are worse than they have ever been under him. They’re not even the second-best team in Madrid any more, let alone the first. Out of the cup, out of the league and, most suspect, soon to be out of the Champions League.

There is little faith, an inescapable, overwhelming awareness that Liverpool are the better team and that the odds are stacked against them. But then, that’s the way Atletico always liked it. And if they are to get back in touch with themselves, if this is to feel like a Simeone side again, a rebellion with the odds stacked against them, maybe that’s what they need. — Sid Lowe

Dortmund vs. PSG is the best game of the round, right?

I don’t even need to tell you as you know this already. Regardless of your team or who you support, you know that this is the tie of the last-16. There is nowhere else this month where you will find so much attacking talent, so many ballers. Who will have the most nutmegs: Neymar or Jadon Sancho? Who will score the most beautiful goal: Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappé? Who will be the most exposed defensively: Keylor Navas or Roman Burki? Who will get his tactics right: Lucien Favre or Thomas Tuchel?

– Okwonga: What makes Haaland so special

You know there will be loads of goals, loads of entertainment and loads of drama. The pressure is certainly on PSG and Tuchel, for his return to Dortmund (and it will be fascinating to see what reception he gets from the Yellow Wall). The French champions can’t afford to be knocked out early again in this Champions League. They believe they have the best and most balanced squad they have ever had. But the Germans also have faith in themselves and in their ability to cause problems for any opponent. — Julien Laurens

Who will step up next to Messi for Barcelona?

If there was any quiet jubilation around the Camp Nou when the Champions League draw paired them with Napoli, it has firmly dissipated now.

Napoli don’t have a pedigree in this competition, let alone one that bears comparison with FC Barcelona. Napoli closed out 2019 needing to change coach, seventh in Serie A and already 17 points off the top. Barca, under Ernesto Valverde, topped their Champions League group, led La Liga and their two strikers had shared 28 goals between Europe and the domestic title chase. Now Luis Suarez is injured, Valverde sacked, Messi goal-shy, Ousmane Dembele out for the season and Messi’s other great playing ally, Jordi Alba, won’t be fit to play in the San Paolo stadium.

Moreover, while new manager Quique Setien is introducing ideas that this team badly needs — a sharper use of possession, much more intense training sessions — it somewhat feels as if Barcelona’s depleted squad are struggling to cope. His side looks obedient, but they also look sluggish. All Setien’s victories have been by a maximum of one goal, have looked in jeopardy and are unlikely to frighten Rino Gattuso’s re-energised Napoli.

Fundamentally, Barcelona’s recently unrequited love-affair with the Champions League simply has to spark some kind of elemental competitive reaction, Messi must start scoring again and Marc-Andre ter Stegen needs to continue his glittering form or else, remarkably, Napoli will look like slight favourites to many. — Graham Hunter

Is the Champions League too top-heavy or should we just enjoy the show?

This year’s last-16 feels like a logical end point to a direction of travel that’s been glaringly obvious for some time. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with the best teams in Europe facing one another: that’s the whole point of the competition and taken on its own, there are bound to be some exceptional games of football.

It is also true to point out that certain match-ups between the continent’s elite are slowly gaining their own folklore in the eyes of the modern fan, such is their regularity. But the overwhelming domination of five super-wealthy leagues and their clubs comes at the expense of the diversity, intrigue and genuine unpredictability that makes the sport itself so great. It said plenty that Ajax, who have won this competition four times, were regarded with such astonishment when they reached the semi-finals last year.

Football’s landscape is an ever-shifting one and nobody is expecting a return to the period between 1981-91, when sides from seven different countries – including Yugoslavia and Romania – won the European Cup, at least not yet. But surely the possibility of that is what should make this competition great.

The spectre of a closed shop is drawing ever nearer; it should concern everyone and, while nobody should be discouraged from enjoying the games in their own right, it’s worth asking yourself if this is the future you want for our sport. — Nick Ames

Can Nagelsmann seal his status as the next “Special One” vs. Mourinho?

Julian Nagelsmann quickly became Germany’s most promising coach, but now the 32-year-old is looking to take the next step. Before coaches become great by winning, most show signs of moving in that direction. Nagelsmann has done that, and now his next opportunity to move towards greatness has come. If Nagelsmann can get the better of a serial winner like Jose Mourinho, it will show that the young coach has more than promise: he has the ability to win when it really matters. The Bundesliga might be exciting, but the value of success on the European stage is unparalleled.

Victory against a Premier League opponent and a coach like Mourinho would be a massive step forward for Nagelsmann. He’s already on the coaching map, but win here and he becomes a major attraction. To do that, he’ll have to outfox a coach and a personality who has been here many times before. He will also have to prove that he can create a plan to handle deep-lying, counterattacking opponents. After RB Leipzig failed to do so against Frankfurt and only showed up for half the game vs. Bayern, this is the ultimate test for the young head coach. — Jonathan Harding

Which Serie A side has the best shot of moving on?

Jurgen Klopp has named Juventus favourites for the competition, which is odd timing considering how vulnerable the Old Lady appears at the moment. Napoli have tended to raise their game against top sides this season, taking four points from six against Liverpool and recently defeating Italy’s top three. Honestly though, it’s hard to look beyond Atalanta.

Manager Gian Piero Gasperini feels the draw for the Round of 16, against Valencia, couldn’t have been kinder and his players have shown they’re acclimated to the speed and skill expected at this level. After becoming the first team ever to qualify for the knockouts with zero points from their opening three games, impossible is nothing to the Bergamaschi. Atalanta have already made more in TV and prize money than the total cost of their wage bill and with a return to the competition looking likely next season, they can play with minds at rest and smiles on their faces.

It may still be a bit of a leap to nominate them this season’s Ajax, but for now, Atalanta seem the healthiest and most in-form Italian side left in the Champions League. — James Horncastle

Which young talent will seize the spotlight in the last-16?

The latter stages of the Champions League is when whispers become roars regarding certain up-and-coming stars, so who should we keep an eye on as the last 32 approaches? Let’s start with someone who has already announced his arrival. Erling Haaland has eight goals in 305 Bundesliga minutes for Borussia Dortmund, and is about to face a fragile PSG defence. They also have this kid called Jadon Sancho, too.

Ideally, Ansu Fati would only be on the fringes of the Barcelona team, but things are far from ideal at the Nou Camp. Injuries to Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele mean that the 17-year-old is a regular by necessity though he certainly has the talent: Fati could do some damage against Napoli. At 16, Lyon’s Rayan Cherki is even younger than Fati: Lyon have been more cautious because they’re able to be, but if things aren’t going to plan against Juventus, we could see him unleashed.

Finally, Callum Hudson-Odoi has endured a slightly stop-start time at Chelsea since he rejected Bayern Munich and stayed at Stamford Bridge, but he’s found some form recently. It would be very apt if he did some damage against the very team he turned down. — Nick Miller

Simeone’s Atletico Madrid tenure may come to its Champions League conclusion in Liverpool tie

12:52 PM ETGraham HunterSpain writer

There’s a scenario whereby, completely unnoticed, we might be witnessing Diego Simeone’s last Champions League match at home in charge of Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.Those who’ve been thrilled by his intense, brooding, winning ways, his Johnny Cash-in-football-boots persona, will fervently hope that it’s not so. Those at Atleti who’ve benefitted from the hundreds of millions of euros he’s earned them across nearly a decade of exhilarating European exploits will be praying the same.But here’s the deal: Who’s the favourite in this tie? It’s Liverpool, by a distance. And for several reasons. Not just because they are Champions League holders but because Jurgen Klopp has his side doing a passable impersonation of peak Simeone Atletico, only better: the intensity, the fervor for winning, the same squad unity, the same feeling that everyone at the club, all the fans and owners aren’t just singing from the same hymn sheet, they wrote the words.Liverpool’s footballers are all consistently performing on a range of eight-out-of-ten to ten-out-of-ten and have been doing so for a couple of seasons. It’s an incredibly rare feat, but one that Simeone and assistant “Mono” Burgos also achieved for a couple of years around their 2014 La Liga title win. That was Atleti’s first such triumph in 18 years, somewhat less of a drought than Liverpools will be when, some time in the coming weeks, they become England’s champions for the first time in 30 years.Nevertheless, the similarities between the two clubs’ ideas, attitudes and achievements make this an extra-intriguing tie. Sadly, it comes at precisely the wrong time for Atleti.To have seen Los Rojiblancos of 2013-14 or 2015-16 take on Klopp’s Liverpool of the past two seasons would be reason enough for someone in Silicon Valley to finally confirm that, thanks to billions spent on research and development, time travel was now an app available to all of us.The stifling, aggressive press and rob of that Atleti era: the remorseless registering of clean sheets, their utter brilliance at imposing themselves in attacking set plays, the bullishness of peak Diego Costa, world-class Antoine GriezmannArda Turan‘s impishness, imperial Diego Godin; you’d pay handsomely to watch them play Alisson, Virgil van DijkAndy RobertsonTrent Alexander-ArnoldJordan Henderson and the magical forward trident of Roberto FirminoMohamed Salah and Sadio Mane across two legs of knockout football.But Liverpool are not only a mirror, showing in stark detail how Atleti have declined, England’s champions-elect are arguably a better XI and a better squad than even the remarkble levels Simeone has reached since taking over at the Vicente Calderon in 2011.The greatest thing that unites the two clubs has been messianic belief in the coach.From the day he crossed the threshold, taking a moribund bunch and immediately winning Atletico their fifth international trophy, Simeone has been the club’s benign dictator. They are defined by his standards, his rules, his personality, his spiky, relentless need to win.Klopp’s not too dissimilar, in effect at least. This is his Liverpool. The German’s personality floods Melwood and makes him an all-permeating influence, from those who serve the tea to the leading goal scorer to the academy kids who polish the first team’s boots to the data technicians. It is extremely evocative of how Simeone and Burgos have been at their Majadahonda training ground, the Calderon or now the Wanda Metropolitano during their golden years.But Klopp and Simeone want to see their football achieve different objectives: the Argentinian winning 1-0 at any cost, the German almost equally happy to win 4-3 or 6-0 so long as the three points head to Anfield and the game was entertaining. These two leaders of men convene with their most rabid followers, the fans, on a weekly basis. If they are angry, the fans are furious; if they are jubilant, the fans are ecstatic. They appeal a decision and the lava of fan anger pours down on the official. The supporters are a sea of certainty: “In Klopp/Simeone we trust.”Or at least it was that way at Atleti. Not necessarily now.Once it was like an evangelical preacher exhorting his flock to raise their their voices heavenwards. Simeone would hop from foot to foot with anxiety, imagined or real, and after spinning around like the Tasmanian devil, often with three or four minutes left on the clock, he’d flap his condor-wing arms up and down and the response would be a guttural roar of beseeching, unconditional support from the supporters to the 11 souls in red and white on the pitch. Simeone’s energy and standards were communicated via the voices of 50,000 disciples. It was magical.Then, last week, as Atletico were still holding on 80 minutes after Angel Correa gave them an early — and slender — lead over Granada, Simeone reached for the arm-flapping trick. It was like an old champion boxer knowing what punch to throw but with reactions so slow that the challenger sees it coming a mile off. There was no reaction from the fans, no messianic “we believe” roar. Instead, there was apathy, frustration and very little impact.Strange, changed times. Football is weird, let’s agree on that.

More surprising things have happened than Liverpool perhaps feeling just a little gentler than they were before their winter break and the globetrotting holidays Klopp’s players were able to cram in. They’ll benefit from the time off, eventually, but can they get back to ramming speed immediately?Stranger things, too, have happened than the warriors at Atleti — Jan Oblak, Koke, Saul, Yannick Carrasco, Correa and perhaps even newly fit Alvaro Morata — bucking themselves up sufficiently for a home win. But over the two legs, with Simeone’s troops now beginning to show the same “we’re not really sure whether we believe in Simeone anymore’ lethargy, Liverpool are demonstrable favourites to go through.Let’s say that happens. There’s a brilliant five-way race for the crucial fourth Champions League-qualifying slot in la Liga. Atletico will be most people’s favourites and, should they qualify, it’s much easier to see Simeone moving a year further towards the end of his contract, which extends until 2022. But the two clubs closest to Atleti in fourth, Sevilla and Real Sociedad, are either level on points or just two behind, while Valencia and Villarreal are, respectively, two and four points off Simeone’s team. It’s not comfortable. It will be a battle royal.If Atletico don’t qualify for next season’s Champions League, I doubt it would lead to Simeone being sacked — not after such lengthy success. However, do you doubt that Atleti are casting about just in case there’s a better alternative out there?Talking of better alternatives, it’s the gossip of the Spanish football industry that Mono Burgos — fluent in English — is starting to get itchy feet, beginning to wonder whether he could win trophies and earn a huge salary increase by heading out on his own. Will he? Would that damage Simeone at Atleti? You’d guess so.And Simeone’s infamous, brutally demanding fitness coach, “Profe” Oscar Ortega? Atletico’s players no longer maul other teams with their suffocating pressing, they no longer shut down a single-goal lead so effectively; in fact, they no longer look as if they are enjoying their football. Ortega, it would appear, has scalded those who’ve worked with him for years and, just as happened when Real Madrid said thank you and adios to fitness coach Antonio Pintus before appointing Gregory Dupont last summer, change seems both inevitable and vital.Some of you may believe that Atletico knocking out Liverpool is within Simeone’s remarkable compass. Fair enough. Some may believe that even if he’s defeated and has nothing to play for other than Champions League qualification from March onwards, he’s certain to stay with Los Colchoneros next season. OK, no problem.But the concept of this elimination either leading to a mutual agreement to change at the end of this season or yet another year in the Europa League, and then either the club or their manager deciding it’s time to part ways in summer 2021, well, neither of those scenarios now seem terribly unlikely. Each would mean that this gargantuan match against Liverpool would be looked back on as an unheralded “Adios” for Simeone in the Champions League with Atleti.It’s not the right way for a great reign to end. I hope it isn’t so.But don’t rule it out.

PSG to win the Champions League? Neymar, Mbappe & Co. compare closest to past 10 winners

How do you win the Champions League?

It turns out that “be Real Madrid” is not a bad place to start. The Spanish giants have won 13 European Cups, and no other club has more than seven. They’ve won four of the past six, and their current manager, Zinedine Zidane, has never not won the Champions League. Three tries and three trophies for Zizou, so that’s that, huh?

Although Zidane The Manager has yet to be eliminated from the Champions League, other teams have in fact won the tournament.

As I wrote about in my newsletter, Liverpool grabbed it last year with a slightly throttled-down pressing approach that relied on their defense and their goalkeeper — a sentence that would’ve been unthinkable just a year prior. Barcelona nabbed the trophy in 2015, thanks to the devastation wrought by Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez. Bayern Munich did it the year before Pep Guardiola came to town by essentially fielding the entire World Cup-winning German national team, plus Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Chelsea took down Bayern the year before that despite finishing sixth in the Premier League, and the year before that was the most recent time Guardiola won it, with the Barcelona team that Sir Alex Ferguson said was the best side he’d ever seen.

Since the 2010-11 season, only five clubs have won the Champions League title. What did they have in common?

At first glance, there isn’t a lot connecting any of those teams. But using domestic-play data from TruMedia, we can look at the statistical profiles of the past nine winners, see what the minimum benchmarks have been and compare them to all 16 remaining teams in this season’s competition. We’ll go through a number of categories and eliminate the 2020 teams that aren’t up to snuff before landing on our One True Champion.

Let’s get to it.

Measurement No. 1: Scoring enough goals

In domestic play, all of the previous nine winners averaged at least 1.7 goals per game. That low-point number, unsurprisingly, belongs to Chelsea. After all, they finished sixth in their own league that season; however, they sported a solid plus-19 goal differential and won the Champions League while Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were at their peaks. We’re not talking about a bunch of scrubs here. Plus, including an outsider team such as Chelsea in the numbers makes this exercise more interesting, as it accounts for the possibility of a non-favorite winning the whole thing.

We must say goodbye to Tottenham (1.6 goals), Napoli (1.57), Lyon (1.54), Valencia (1.43) and Atletico Madrid (1.00) at the first hurdle. No big surprises there, as none of those five sides is favored to advance to the quarterfinals, per FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index. Goals, especially given that we’re dealing with just more than half a season, can be statistically noisy; in other words, goals aren’t necessarily predictive of more goals. But even if we look at expected goals — a more predictive measure — only Napoli (1.93) break the 1.7 threshold.

Teams eliminated: Tottenham, Napoli, Lyon, Valencia, Atletico Madrid
Teams remaining: Bayern Munich, Man City, Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atalanta, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, RB Leipzig, PSG

Measurement No. 2: Goals against

Defense, it turns out, has tended to win championships over the past decade. Who knew?

Of the previous nine winners, five gave up fewer than one goal per match, and four of them — both Barcelona sides, Liverpool and Bayern Munich — were below 0.6. In fact, no team in this season’s field is below 0.6 goals allowed per match, with Liverpool landing exactly on that mark. However, weaker defenses have won titles, too. Two of Zidane’s Madrid teams, along with Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid team, allowed north of one goal per match. The worst defense, though, was, again, Roberto di Matteo’s Chelsea, who let in 1.21 goals per game on their way to the trophy.

Despite that high figure theoretically creating a low barrier for entry into our exercise, four more teams are eliminated at this stage: Barcelona (1.22), Atalanta (1.35), Chelsea (1.36) and Borussia Dortmund (1.52). Dortmund are scoring at a higher rate than any team left in the tournament, a wild 2.82 goals per game, and Atalanta are third, with 2.65 goals per game. Plus, Atalanta are doing it in Serie A, where it has traditionally been difficult to score goals. Both teams should be neutral fan favorites, but their porous backlines mean their opponents are never out of a game.

Chelsea’s defense doesn’t seem likely to stand up against round of 16 opponent Bayern Munich (second among all teams with 2.76 goals scored per game), and as has been the trend the past few years in Catalonia, it’s a shame Lionel Messi can’t play defense, too.

Teams eliminated: Barcelona, Atalanta, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund
Teams remaining: Bayern Munich, Man City, Juventus, Real Madrid, Liverpool, RB Leipzig, PSG

Measurement No. 3: Game control

Rather than looking at pure possession numbers, the next step after goals scored/allowed is to look at how the remaining teams control the field. How good are they at all the things that happen before the ball ends up in the net? To do this, we can see how many passes a team allows in their final third and compare that to how many passes a team completes in their opponent’s final third. Then we can take those two numbers and determine a team’s percentage share of final-third passes.

Unsurprisingly, Barcelona lead the way among the previous winners, but perhaps surprisingly, No. 1 is Luis Enrique’s team, not Pep Guardiola’s. The 2014-15 vintage completed 74% of the final-third passes in their matches, compared to the 10-11 side’s measly 73.1%. Bayern, Liverpool and 2017-18 Madrid were also all north of 60%. Last place, once again, was Chelsea, with 56.1% of final-third passes.

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Of the remaining seven teams, none of them is below Chelsea’s mark. City and Bayern are both above 70%, and Liverpool, Juventus, PSG and Real Madrid are all above 60%. RB Leipzig sit last, with 58.6%.

If looking at how teams tilt the field doesn’t eliminate anyone, we can then look at how long a team keeps the ball when they get it. Opta records a statistic called “sequences” — essentially, an interrupted chain of possession — and no team that has won the Champions League since 2011 has had an average sequence time below 9.4 seconds. That low (again!) comes from Chelsea, but Ancelotti’s Madrid weren’t much higher, at 9.6. That means goodbye for Leipzig, whose average sequence time is 8.7 seconds, the second-lowest figure of all 16 knockout-round teams, above only Atletico Madrid’s manic (7.3 seconds) approach.

Teams eliminated: RB Leipzig
Teams remaining: Bayern Munich, Man City, Juventus, Real Madrid, Liverpool, PSG

Measurement No. 4: Shots, shots, shots

The six teams left in this exercise are a bit harder to separate. If we look at how they press, all six are above the threshold of the previous winners. The minimum average starting point for all of their sequences — a proxy for how high up the field they win the ball back — is 47.7 meters from their own goal. That number belongs to Real, but they’re still significantly above 2011-12 Chelsea’s mark of 45.9 meters. Man City, for what it’s worth, start their average sequence 53 meters from their own goal, which is higher than that of any of the past nine winners.

In terms of how fast they win the ball back — something known as “passes allowed per defensive action” (PPDA) — all six are lower than Chelsea’s 13.26. Liverpool’s high mark of 11.02 is still below where they were last season, when they, you know, won the Champions League. This season’s most aggressive pressers are PSG (8.03), but they’re still significantly behind Barcelona’s mark of 6.98 in 2014-15. That side also scored more goals and gave up fewer goals than any other team in this season’s field.

(Side note: Luis Enrique’s team really might be the best of all time.)

Looking at how often the teams cross the ball doesn’t do us any good either, so we’re back to shots: How many do they take, and how many do they allow?

Like in PPDA, Liverpool are at the bottom, with 15.56 shots per game, but like in PPDA, that number is still better than that of last year’s title-winning team. Because they’re bottom in almost every number we’ve looked at so far, let us note that 2011-12 Chelsea took more shots (17.66) than all but three of the past nine CL winners.

How about shots against? Finally, some progress! Chelsea gave up 11.82 shots per game during the 2011-12 season, and this season, Juventus are giving up 12.3. That’s actually the third-highest figure among all of the round of 16 participants, better than only that of Valencia and Tottenham. FiveThirtyEight’s SPI gives Juve just a 3% chance to win the whole thing, and their inability to suppress shots is one of the biggest reasons they aren’t in the top tier of contenders.

Burley sees Sancho as an investment in Liverpool’s future

Craig Burley says Jadon Sancho could take pressure of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah if he joined Liverpool.

What about the quality of those shots?

All of the five teams left take above-average shots, in terms of their xG per shot. However, none of the previous nine winners allowed their opponents to take particularly good shots. The worst mark goes to Zidane’s 2017-18 team (0.12), but that’s right around the Europe-wide average. This season, though, there are two teams living by the mantra of “we don’t normally give up shots, but when we do, we give up great ones.”

Manchester City are conceding shots with an average of 0.15 per shot (worst among all remaining teams), and Bayern Munich are conceding chances with an average xG value of 0.13, which is third worst. Per FiveThirtyEight, Bayern (20%) and City (17%) are third-favorites for the title behind Liverpool (21%). The low-quantity-high-quality defensive approach works in domestic leagues in which both clubs have a significant talent advantage over almost all of their opponents, but it could implode once the competition heats up.

Teams eliminated: Bayern Munich, Man City, Juventus
Teams remaining: Real Madrid, Liverpool, PSG

Measurement No. 5: Fouls

Listen, we’re nitpicking here, all right? One of the only remaining differentiating factors for these three teams is how often they foul their opponents. Among the past nine champs, only one committed more than 12 fouls per match: 2012-13 Bayern Munich, who hacked down the opposition 13 times per match. At the other end sit last season’s Liverpool, who committed 8.29 fouls per game.

While the highlight of the Real Madrid season so far is Federico Valverde’s game-saving, last-minute, last-man, red-card tackle on Alvaro Morata in the final of the Spanish Supercopa, the team’s wider penchant for foul play earns them the boot from our list. Zidane’s team commits 13.22 fouls per match.

For whatever reason, none of the recent winners other than Bayern has fouled anywhere near that much. It could speak to a larger lack of control that then shows up in other areas of the game. It could lead to too many set pieces, which lead to the kind of scripted moments that often decide knockout games. Or, as Madrid fans will surely be hoping, it could be totally random.

Teams eliminated: Real Madrid
Teams remaining: Liverpool, PSG

Measurement No. 6: Passes

And then there were two: Liverpool and PSG, who played a pair of the more thrilling group-stage matches in last season’s tournament.

It sure seems as if PSG are trying to find a new absurd way to exit the competition every year. First, it was La Remontada, when they blew a 4-0 first-leg lead to Barcelona. Then they bought Neymar, the Barcelona player who led that comeback, only for him to miss the second leg of their round of 16 matchup with eventual winners Real Madrid. Then last year, of course, Neymar didn’t play in either match against Manchester United, and despite winning the first leg at Old Trafford 2-0, PSG were eliminated by a last-minute penalty awarded by VAR for a handball on a shot that probably wasn’t going to end up anywhere near the goal frame.

However, this season’s PSG have more in common with the previous nine Champions League winners than anyone else, including last year’s champ. None of those teams completed fewer than 84.5% of their passes, with both Liverpool and Chelsea tied at the bottom of the threshold. This season, Liverpool have dropped down slightly, to 83.7%, a barely perceptible shift that, for the purposes of this exercise, eliminates them from the list.

As long as they’re both out there, PSG can beat anyone. Of course, they’ve played together in only one Champions League knockout match since they joined the team in the summer of 2017.

PSG kick off the round of 16 against Dortmund next week, and like clockwork, Neymar hurt his ribs and hasn’t played a league game in more than two weeks. (Mbappe is also skipping this weekend’s game vs. Amiens.)

We’ll give them one more shot, but depending on how things go over the next few months, next season’s version of this exercise might include another filter, one that says “Not PSG.”

UEFA’s new Champions League Man of the Match award is truly a thing of beauty

With the Champions League due to resume this week, UEFA has introduced a brand new award to the mix and it is a glorious sight to behold…

The Toe Poke Daily is here every day to bring you all the weirdest stories, quirkiest viral content and top trolling that the internet has to offer, all in one place.

From the round of 16 onward in this season’s Champions League, the best performers in every match will be bestowed with a dazzling new “Man of the Match” award after the full-time whistle.The award comes with a trophy, which is a gorgeous D manifestation of the ournament’s iconic logo. You can hear the choir heralding “The Chaaaaaaampiooons” in your head just by looking at it.UEFA have previously handed out official Man of the Match awards as ordained by their technical observers, but only in the final — last year’s winner being Virgil van Dijk.The recipients of the new award will be chosen by a special advisory panel of technical observers, including Gareth Southgate, Roberto Martinez, Aitor Karanka, Phil Neville and Robbie Keane.According to UEFA, the beautiful trophy will be awarded to the player deemed to have excelled in decisive moments as well as tactical maturity, creativity and inspiration, exceptional skill, and fair play.

 

2/7/2020   US Women Olympic Qualifying Tonight on Fox Sport 1 10 pm, MLS avoids strike, US Men look good, German Derby 12 Sun Bayern vs RB Leipzig

The US Ladies continued to roll thru Olympic qualifying in front of alarmingly small crowds after they shutout Costa Rica 7-0, after destroying Panama and Haiti.  The US will face Mexico tonight at 10 pm on Fox Sports 1, right after Canada plays Costa Rica at 7 pm on FS1 with spots in the Olympics on the line for the winners.   Hopefully fans will show up tonight at the LA Galaxy Home Stadium in LA.  The US Ladies have looked amazing with Christen Press on the left wing and Williams on the right with Carli Lloyd in the middle forming a deadly attacking trio while Alex Morgan is out pregnant.  Midfielder Horan has scored 6 goals and has some assists to lead the way for the US Ladies.  The Defense has barely been tested at all – with Ertz holding down the #6 slot in front of the veteran 4 person backline from the World Cup.  This will be the toughest test tonight – as Mexico is probably the 3rd best team in the region behind the US and Canada.  Set the recorder if you can’t watch it live tonight and let’s see if the US can advance on to the Olympics this summer!

US Men Youth Wins 1-0

The US men – or boys if you will looked pretty good vs a solid first team Costa Rican side last Saturday.  The 1-0 victory probably should have been 2-0 US – but certainly the US dominated all phases of the game – including possession.   Youngster Ulyssess Llanez (just 18 years old) from Wolfsburg stole the show in his first cap with solid attacking midfield play and a great awareness in the box.  His PK goal just before the half was the only goal for the US team that probably deserved at least 1 or 2 goals from the run of play.  Most impressive was the US ability to maintain possession as they must have had at least 70 to 30 possession throughout – including solid play moving the ball from the back to the front without turnovers.  A veteran backline of Long and Zimmermann along with Cannon on the right and new comer Sam Vines on the left looked good and barely took a misstep most of the game.  Newly mented 18 year old forward Jesus Ferreira started in the 9 jersey and had some good hold up front – before giving way to Zardez who almost scored in his 25 minutes on late.  All in al l thought it was a fine showing by the young US squad with plenty of U23’s playing in anticipation of Olympic Qualifying in March.  I can honestly say our U-23 group is looking pretty strong – I hope enough of them will be released from club play in March to allow us to qualify for the Olympics – so Pulisic, McKinney, Reyna, and Adams can join this summer.

Games on TV

As for Big games this weekend the biggest is of course the German Derby Sunday at  between league leaders Red Bull Leipzig and US mid Tyler Adams and Bayern Munich at 12 pm on Fox Sports 2.  Plenty of stories on the https://theoleballcoach.com/ for this one.  Its winter break time in the EPL with just 4 games this weekend Everton host Crystal Palace Sat at 7:30 am on NBCSN while  Brighton vs Watford is on NBC at 12:30 (don’t ask me why they have shit games like this on NBC – just the screw up the ratings I guess – seriously why???  Also at 12:30 on FS2 Leverkusen hosts Dortmund and US mid Gio Reyna- coming off bench).  Sunday at 2:45 pm we also get the Milan Derby – Inter vs Milan on ESPN+.

USA
USWNT guarding against letdown with Olympic berth on line

USMNT Betting on Veterans not young Stars to Capture Olympic Gold – Leadner Schaerlaneckens – Yahoo

Boehm: US win again in a rout, but two players face Olympic cut

Doyle: The big winners from the USMNT’s January camp

Olympic boost? Youngsters provide “snapshot” of USMNT future

The kids are alright: Ferreira, Llanez lead the way for youthful US

Three things we learned from USA-Costa Rica

Player Ratings: Llanez, Berhalter get highest marks in win vs. Ticos

Man of Match – S&S

Jay Berhalter steps away from U.S. Soccer

Saucedo denied USMNT call-up by Pumas, eyes Olympic qualifying

The former Real Salt Lake winger instead played 71 minutes in his fourth Liga MX appearance for the club during the Clausura.

Watch: Gio Reyna scores stunner for Borussia Dortmund

Bradley echoes Arena with bold USMNT prediction

Three reasons to believe in Bruce Arena’s bold USMNT prediction

USMNT: Dest’s rise continues; named Man of the Match in Ajax win

MLS’s 25th anniversary won’t be marred by strike

MLS, MLSPA agree to new CBA

Ranking the new 2020 MLS jerseys
High-profile influx of Latin American talent is altering Major League Soccer for the best

Chicharito positioned to deliver a David Beckham-level impact with the Galaxy

Reports: NYCFC to play CONCACAF CL game at Red Bull Arena

FC Cincy continue adding to attack with Regattin

 

WORLD, Champions League

US Players Weekend Viewing Guide

Guardiola admits City can’t be sure Sterling will be fit to face Real Madrid

Liverpool most difficult team in UCL says Atletico Boss
Real Madrid & Barca in 65-year first after Copa del Rey elimination

GAMES ON TV 

Fri

10 pm   FS1                         USA Ladies vs Mexico (Olympic Qual Finals)

Saturday
7:30 a.m. ET: NBCSN         Everton v. Crystal Palace

9:30 am Fox Sport2           Schalke vs Paderborn

12:30 pm FS2                     Leverkusen vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)
12:30 p.m. ET: NBC            Brighton v. Watford

Sunday
9 a.m. ET: NBCSN               Sheffield United v. Bournemouth

9 am ESPN2                        Napoli vs Lecce
11:30 a.m. ET: NBCSN       Man City v. West Ham United

12 noon FS2                       Bayern Munich vs RB Leipzig  (Adams)

2:45 pm ESPN+                  Inter vs Milan

3 pm beIN Sport                Real Betis vs Barcelona

Wed

2:45 pm ESPN+                  Inter vs Napoli (Coppa Italia)

12:30 beIN Sport               Dijon vs PSG (Coup de France)

3 pm beIN Sport                 Lyonnaise vs Marseille

Thurs

2:45 pm ESPN+                  Milan vs Juve (Coppa Italia)

fri

2:30 pm FS2                       Dortmund vs Frankfurt

3 pm NBCSN                       Wolverhampton vs Leicester

Sun

9 am NBCSN                       Aston Villa vs Tottenham

1130 am NBCSN                 Arsenal vs Newcastle United (Yedlin)

USWNT seems to be betting on veterans — not its plentiful young stars — to capture Olympic gold

Leander SchaerlaeckensYahoo Sports•February 6, 2020

Carli Lloyd (10) has been a focal point of the USWNT’s attack in Olympic qualifying, and that appears to be the plan for this summer too. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)

Meet the United States women’s 2020 Olympic soccer team, same as the United States 2019 Women’s World Cup team. Or largely, anyway.If all goes as it should, the American women will qualify for the 2020 Summer Games on Friday with a win over Mexico in the semifinals of the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship. Which, by the way, begs the question why there will be a title game on Sunday, since it isn’t an actual championship but a qualifying event and there is no prize other than an Olympic berth for the winning semifinalists. While the team has a new coach in the Macedonian-American Vlatko Andonovski, it looks remarkably similar to that of Jill Ellis, who left the job late last year after a second straight World Cup title.

In December, Andonovski held an identification camp in Florida, inviting 24 players who hadn’t made the 2019 World Cup roster to do his due diligence, to get a better sense of the player pool. Yet when it came time for the new head coach to submit his roster for this qualifying tournament, 18 of the 20 names on it had also been to the World Cup. And of the two who didn’t go to France – Andi Sullivan and Lynn Williams – neither had been part of the identification camp and both were well into double-digits in caps prior to the tournament.Which is to say that the national team has stayed much the same. Even Alex Morgan, the star striker seven months pregnant with her first child, has actually been practicing with the team in Southern California, in a feat more impressive than anything her peers have done in actual competition.That also means that, absent the 30-year-old Morgan, the national team is anchored by veterans very much in the last flush of their careers. Carli Lloyd, now leading the line, will be 38 by the time the Olympics begin, although her conditioning remains irreproachable. The defense is still anchored by Becky Sauerbrunn and the revived Ali Krieger, who are 34 and 35, respectively. Megan Rapinoe, who provides much of the creative impetus, will be 35 in Tokyo. Even the sparkplugs Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Kelley O’Hara all turn 32 this year. A young team this is not.ertainly, there isn’t time to rebuild a team between the Women’s World Cup and the Olympics. Such is the nature of the women’s international cycle that the two major tournaments fall in back-to-back summers, followed by almost three years of nothing other than friendly tournaments and a single and typically unchallenging World Cup qualifying event.

Ellis ran into much the same quandary. She was appointed a year out from the World Cup and had no time to shape her team until after the Rio Olympics, almost a year and a half later. Only then could she begin cutting players who were aging or didn’t fit her vision, and integrate new ones and introduce her ideas. But what rankles about this roster is that not so long ago, the impression of this team was of a young, talented bunch with a future every bit as rosy as the recent past. Yet the attacking prodigy Mallory Pugh and upstart defender Tierna Davidson, both 21 years old, were left off the qualifying roster, as was 26-year-old midfielder Morgan Brian. The latter decision was understandable, considering the logjam in central midfield and the similar age of her competitors. Pugh, however, was supposed to be the future of this team. And her omission meant there is no player on the team younger than 24. Fully half of it is 31 or older. Only the midfield is young, with Sullivan, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis and Lindsey Horan all between 24 and 27 years of age. The trouble with that is the Olympics force the two finalists to play six games in just 17 days. And the roster is much smaller than at the World Cup – 18, instead of 23. The tournament will scatter its games all over Japan, but it’ll be warm in all of them in July and August. The Olympics weren’t pretty for the Americans in 2016, in the aftermath of a first World Cup title in 16 years. In Brazil, the group stage was a slog. And then they were eliminated by a well-organized Swedish team – the “cowards” in Hope Solo’s famous putdown – in the quarterfinals. It was the first time the Americans hadn’t reached the final at the Olympics, after four gold medals and a silver.There still isn’t a country that has won Olympic gold the year after winning the World Cup. Judging from this qualifying tournament, the Americans seem to be betting on veteran experience, at the expense of youth, to become the first. Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports soccer columnist and a sports

Match preview and schedule: USA vs Mexico, Olympic qualifying

Win and the USWNT are in the Olympics.  By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Feb 6, 2020, 6:00am PST

The United States Women’s National Team have completed the group stage of the 2020 CONCACF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, and the scene shifts to Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California for Friday’s semifinal against Mexico. The winner of that match will punch their ticket to Tokyo, Japan and the 2020 Olympics. The loser will not be in Tokyo, falling short of the goal.The USWNT have not allowed a goal so far in Olympic qualifying, scoring 18 goals in Group A play. After struggling a bit in their opening match against Haiti, the USWNT has settled in and dominated Panama and Costa Rica on their way to the semifinals. For Mexico, they’re here after beating St. Kitts and Nevis as well as Jamaica, but their loss Tuesday to Canada meant they finished 2nd in Group B and will have to go through the Americans to get to Tokyo.

Predicted USWNT lineup

USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski will likely go back to a similar lineup that he had to open the group stage against Haiti:

Predicted Lineup vs. Mexico

Andonovski clearly has several options at every position. Lindsay Horan could very well get the start in the midfield alongside Julie Ertz and Rose Lavelle, but Andi Sullivan could also factor as well. Up front, Tobin Heath could get a shot, but Lynn WilliamsCarli Lloyd, and Christen Press have thoroughly destroyed every team they’ve faced. It’s likely they will get another chance to do just that.

Time, TV, and streaming options

USA vs. Mexico

Friday, February 7, 2020

10:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM PT

FS1, TUDN

US women beat Costa Rica 6-0, win Olympic qualifying group

Costa Rica midfielder Gloriana Villalobos (9) goes over the back of United States midfielder Samantha Mewis (3) during the first half of a CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying soccer match Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

HOUSTON (AP) — Christen Press and Samantha Mewis each scored a pair of goals and the United States beat Costa Rica 6-0 on Monday night to finish atop its group in the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.The World Cup-winning U.S. team extended its unbeaten streak to 26 games. The Americans wrapped up the group stage with three shutouts and 18 goals.Both teams had already earned a spot in the semifinals of the tournament later this week in Carson, California. Eight teams are playing in the tournament, which will determine the region’s two berths to the Tokyo Olympics this summer.The semifinal matchups will be determined on Tuesday when Canada plays Mexico on Tuesday in Edinburg, Texas. The winner of that match will avoid the top-ranked Americans.Press extended her scoring streak to four straight games with a goal in the fourth minute. Lindsey Horan, who had a hat trick in the U.S. team’s 8-0 victory over Panama on Friday, scored some six minutes later.Press, who plays for Utah of the National Women’s Soccer League, added her second goal in the 36th minute.Mewis scored on a free kick by Press in the 63rd minute and Jessica McDonald added a goal in the 77th before Mewis’ second goal, which appeared to just barely hit the line after deflecting down off the crossbar.The crowd at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium was announced at 7,082. Already eliminated, Haiti beat Panama 6-0 in the other group game earlier in the day.Costa Rica rested top players Shirley Cruz and Raquel Rodriguez in anticipation of the semifinals on Friday.The U.S. has qualified for every Olympics since women’s soccer was introduced in 1996, and has won the gold medal four times. The team has five consecutive titles in the qualifying tourname.  Six teams have already made the field for Tokyo: Japan, Brazil, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and New Zealand.

Three reasons to believe Bruce Arena is right about USMNT reaching World Cup 2022

February 2, 20209:12AM ESTGreg SeltzerContributor

This week, former US boss Bruce Arena went out on a limb we didn’t think existed a few years ago to declare he holds “no doubt” the US men’s national team will escape a dark cloud period by making their way through the forthcoming World Cup qualifying campaign to see the sunny other side once again.It was the type of reassurance we’d want in the lingering wake of a stunning Concacaf hexagonal failure that left the US men’s national team on the big dance sidelines for the first time since 1986. Since that fateful, sobering night in Couva, so many of us have spent two years and counting reaching for hope that missing out on Russia 2018 was a mere blip. But is Arena right? Was that qualifying calamity just a perfect storm of letdown circumstances not to be repeated? Can the US pick themselves up off the mat to start a new World Cup attendance streak in Qatar 2022.Of course, you can’t notarize an official blip explanation by rebounding to qualify for just one or two World Cups. No no, this program wants to get back to being a regular invitee routinely found at the top of hex tables. While the last couple of years have involved a lot of soul-searching and fretting about the USMNT’s place in the Concacaf hierarchy, there are reasons to believe Arena’s declaration is sound and the ship will then remain righted for qualifying campaigns to come. Here are three.

Outside factors

There’s a lot that goes into a World Cup cycle, good or bad. A lot had to go wrong for the US to court disaster enough that a phantom goal could help knock them out. The good news is, in my estimation at least, the variables that led to the downfall don’t seem repeatable. Take Concacaf’s competitive level of play. Helped in part by an improving MLS, several of the so-called “second-tier” Concacaf teams have closed the gap on the US and Mexico a bit. Countries like Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica and Panama got a little stronger and a little deeper. They then proved an ability to up their game for stretches to hit historic program-high notes and, umm, end our streak of playing in World Cups at seven. Each of these countries had many good recent times authored by national team icons who now have and/or will soon leave their international playing days behind. A lot of guile and skill in key positions will need to be adequately replaced, a task harder and slower to do for these smaller nations. The US is in a rebuilding period, but those teams appear headed for their own bumpy phases. As the entire USMNT bubble knows, growing new linchpins is a time-consuming task. It feels like the Nats have a head start on that and can soon re-open that gap for a while. They should also bounce back stronger once better fitness luck returns. These injury bug sprees come and go, but it can’t be missed that injuries have consistently taken major bites out of Gregg Berhalter’s selections. So far we’ve seen Tyler Adams, Jozy Altidore and Christian Pulisic together in red, white and blue on the same field a grand total of zero times. Guys like John Brooks, Weston McKennie, Jordan Morris and Timothy Weah have often missed time. It’s always harder to regain team swagger when it’s not complete, let alone missing multiple key cogs and hot prospects. Once depth is no longer stretched thin and the team can go about more ideal business, USMNT bubble confidence will repair much faster.

Growing pain relief

There’s no denying it. Some missed growth opportunities at the Under-20 level some years back combined with the cruelly bunched retirement of numerous national team stars set us back big. The roster needed a restock, plain and simple. Of course, the star men that came before had to fight through a development process before racking up international accomplishments. Happily, we have a squadron of notable young talent now doing the same.They’re all over the map. We have guys who are already important to big clubs in their respective leagues like Chelsea, RB Leipzig and MLS Cup champs Seattle. Several are at talent farms like Ajax, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Even behind greener full internationals such as Miles Robinson and Josh Sargent, there’s a loaded Under-17 pool. Heck, the FC Dallas youth set-up could probably cobble together a full lineup of future promise.Systems can be drilled all you like, but what usually matters in the end is a capable crew on the pitch. Blooming standouts like Adams, Pulisic, McKennie, Morris, Zack Steffen and Sergino Dest are gaining experience and confidence that should pay off big. I could go on all day dropping names like Chris Richards and Paxton Pomykal and Gio Reyna and Julian Araujo and Gianluca Busio and Joe Scally and Ulysses Llanez (you get the point). We could stack a hefty depth chart with exciting talent on a collision course with the senior team. Even if half our strong stable of youngsters fulfills expected potential, USMNT happy days would come back to us, possibly hit new heights and probably stick around.

It’s all about balance

Real quick, scroll back up to gander at all the players mentioned thus far. You may notice a pleasant even distribution around the field. Go ahead, draw up an actual working formation from the names. You’ll see a lineup and bench pieces that could cause trouble now. There’s no barren spot on the field and it’s fun just to imagine them combining into a unit.I often say balance is the key to everything. That goes double for soccer. Winning teams need solid pieces that fit together, they need flexibility and depth, they need to stop wishing for a left back (and yes, there are even a handful of good prospects aiming to fix that). I’m not sure if a more evened-out field cover in the squad will cancel all those fiery “he’s out of position!” debates or light more off, but settling them both on and off the field will be much more fun either way. It’s not just a straight depth chart thing, either. Tilt our squad outlook on another axis, and you’ll find the names mentioned above also strike a good balance across age levels. Chart everyone in the pipeline and it starts to look like a wave pool. The young risers won’t arrive all at once (which would be one of those annoying “good problems”), but they should consistently arrive in groups over the coming years.Frankly, I’m ready to move on from feeling down about the last few years. Even a conservative estimate of the double dose of USMNT roster balance we’re set for is the best reason for World Cup optimism going. Now we just need to start that new qualification streak, prove Arena right and take it from there.

Three things we learned from the US national team’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica | Charles Boehm

February 1, 20206:36PM ESTCharles BoehmNational Writer

The US men’s national team kicked off a busy year with a deserved, if somewhat incomplete 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica on Saturday. Here are a few thoughts on the outing.

Give Gregg his due

Look, if you’re reading this you probably know all about the overarching negativity that’s lingered around the USMNT since the woes of 2017. While you could argue that Gregg Berhalter and his players might have done more to vanquish that with a couple more big wins last year, they deserve the chance to keep their heads down and do their work, and be evaluated fairly on days like this.And Berhalter deserves some praise for giving new faces a chance, both in Saturday’s lineup and the January camp roster in general. The starting XI was 23 years, 216 days on average, the youngest in “Camp Cupcake” history and marked by four debutants, all 20 or younger. Another three came off the bench to mark their first caps. And I’d contend that all over them looked like they belonged, at the very least.The coaching staff looked to offer some stability with the familiar Aaron LongWalker Zimmerman center back duo, Sebastian Lletget and Paul Arriola in the attacking band of three, and Reggie Cannon and Jackson Yueill look increasingly like nailed-on regulars. The core ideas they’ve worked on over the past year were recognizable and often pleasing to the eye. As for the top newcomers…

Jesus and Uly

For many of us one of the long-running asks of the national team is the desire for greater Latino representation, not only in personnel but also style. And there were genuinely exciting signs of progress here as Jesus Ferreira and Ulysses Llanez shined on their first exposure to this level.Confident on the ball, full of ideas and already showing promising chemistry, they linked play and drifted into dangerous spaces around the attacking third. Given their modest top-flight experience, this really should encourage supporters. Though it would’ve been a tremendous boost to see one of them score in the run of play, Llanez will savor his game-winning goal from the penalty spot in front of a big hometown crowd of family and friends. Maybe some US fans can even watch his Kobe Bryant-tribute celebration and dream of a someday where “Uly”, too, can become a first-word household name across the nation.As for Ferreira, the intelligence and variety of movement he showed in the No. 9 role belied his tender years, and troubled the Tico defense. As new USMNT GM Brian McBride said at halftime:“I thought Jesus Ferreira was excellent in dropping into that hole and really making the game, connecting, opening things up. [Costa Rica] realized it, they condensed the space, and then we started going wide.”

Time for transitions?

Nothing’s perfect, of course, especially in January. Amid plenty of positive buildup play, the finishing nous wasn’t quite there for the home side. And if I were to nitpick further, I’d wonder why the USMNT continue to look uninterested in quick, aggressive counterattack bids for long periods under Berhalter.Given that some of Costa Rica’s most dangerous moments came off transitions and set pieces in their direction, it might’ve behooved the Yanks to respond in kind where and when balls turned over in promising areas going the other way. When such situations arose, it didn’t appear that there were practiced collective movements at front of mind for those in positions to stretch the opposition.It was a recurring theme in 2019 and at this point I’m not sure whether Berhalter has pushed it down the to-do list, or just doesn’t see it as a priority at all in his system. Time is short in most international windows, so January is a period in which you’d expect to see more signs of automation in this regard.

 

 

1/31/2020   US Women Olympic Qualifying Tonight on Fox Soccer, US Men Sat 4 pm ESPN News vs Costa Rica, US ladies in Superbowl Commerical, Madrid Derby Sat 10 am beIN Sport

Ok soccer fans – so the US Men play this Saturday at 4 pm on ESPN News vs Costa Rica in LA.  And yes its just MLS US players vs not a complete roster for Costa Rica- no reason to watch right?  Well actually if you are interested in seeing the US Under 23s qualify and play in the Olympics this Summer – many of the players playing on Saturday will be the players trying to get the US Qualified in March vs Mexico, Costa Rica and Domican Republic.  The US needs to finish top 2 to advance – something they haven’t done since 2008 when Michael Bradley, Altidore, Edu, Adu, Holden, Davies, Feilhaber, Parkhurst, and Guzan. This roster has a bunch of U23s that would hopefully help us qualify  – including Reggie Cannon, Walker Zimmerman, Sam Vines in the back, Jackson Yueill at Dmid, Justen Glad, Christian Cappis, Julian Araujo in the middle and Jonathan Lewis and newcomer Jesus Ferreira up top.  And hopefully Matt Turner in the 2nd half between the pipes.  These guys along with perhaps Carter-Vickers will be responsible for getting the US in the Olympics so hopefully Pulisic, Adams, McKennie, Gio Reyna and more can join from Europe this summer.  Speaking of Gio Reyna – son of Claudio Reyna – Captain America Man City mid back in the day is now coming off the bench for Dortmund – he became the youngest US Player to play in Germany 2 weeks ago beating Pulisic’s record by about 5 months.  Certainly worth watching on Saturday !!   Plenty of stories on the https://theoleballcoach.com/ for this one.

National Team Roster Ready to Face Costa Rica on Saturday on ESPN News  DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals):

GOALKEEPERS (3): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 8/0), Bill Hamid (D.C. United; 6/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; 0/0), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 10/0), Chase Gasper (Minnesota United FC; 0/0), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 16/3), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union; 0/0), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids; 0/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 11/2)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union; 0/0), Christian Cappis (Hobro/DEN; 0/0), Bryang Kayo (Unattached; 0/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 13/2), Brandon Servania (FC Dallas; 0/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 6/0)

FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 32/5), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas; 0/0), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; 5/0), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg/GER; 0/0), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 55/12)

 US LADIES – Tonight 8:30 pm – Fox Soccer +  Can Watch online if you have Fox Sports 1 Access

The US Ladies took a while to get going – but finally put 4 goals in vs Haiti Tuesday night on FS2.  Sad to see such a small crowd on hand in the 20K arena in Houston but CONCACAF doesn’t know how to market in the US to actual US fans.  Hopefully we will have more there tonight and of course Monday night on Fox Sports 1 when we face leader Costa Rica in the game that really matters.  I thought the US ladies looked like they hadn’t played since the World Cup – which for the most part is true.  The team will need to play better up front if it wants to outscore Costa Rica Mon night for sure.  Of course the Defense was solid as normal with hardly a shot on goal (except for the corner kick goal that I thought should have counted).  Anyway it will be good to see the ladies clean some things up as some new players have stepped including Williams on the left wing good for an assist and a goal on the night.  (Again thank you Fox Sports for stepping up to cover these games at all – tough to fit them in when the contract was finalized Monday – Bravo and well done!!)   Cool story on Krieger and Harris Power Couple Role Models for the Future and their Superbowl Commercial –    Ali and Ashlyn  US Ladies in Bud Commercial

US Ladies Olympic Qualifying

Fri Jan. 31 Panama* 8:30 p.m. ET Fox Soccer + TUDN BBVA Stadium; Houston, Texas
Mon Feb. 3 Costa Rica* 8:30 p.m. ET Fox Sports 1 BBVA Stadium; Houston, Texas

2020 Oly Q Standings

TEAM GP W D L GD P
Costa Rica 1 1 0 0 +5 3
United States 1 1 0 0 +4 3
Haiti 1 0 0 1 -4 0
Panama 1 0 0 1 -5 0

GAMES THIS WEEK 

As for Big games this weekend the biggest is of course the Madrid Derby Saturday at 10 am on beIN Sport and Fubo TV with Real Madrid hosting Atletico Madrid. Everyone thought Atletico would be challenging for the top but its Real on top again as Zidane continues to work his magic for the Madridistas.  Plenty of stories on the https://theoleballcoach.com/ for this one.  Before the Derby in Spain the EPL kicks off with Chelsea (minus Pulisic) traveling to 3rd place Leicester City.  I will be rooting for the Blues – for a 1-0 win – I don’t like to see them score without Pulisic on the pitch (sorry).  Liverpool hosts Southhampton at 10 am and Man United will host Wolverhampton at 12:30 pm on either NBC or NBCSN.  RB Liepzig and US mid/Defender Tyler Adams will try to defend their slender lead at the top of the Bundesliga vs Borussia M’gladbach and US defender Johnson at 12:30 Sat on Fox Sports 2.  Sunday has a battle for top 4 as Tottenham hosts Man City at 11:30 am on NBCSN in the EPL,  Inter will travel to Udinese on ESPN News & desportes at 2:45 pm, while Barcelona will host Levante on beIN Sports.

US Ladies

US Ladies in Bud Commercial

USWNT’s far-flung Olympic qualifier vs. Haiti is yet another indictment of CONCACAF Leander Schaerlaeckens Yahoo Sports

Sock it to me! USWNT’s Williams assists goal after her boot comes off

Carli Lloyd talks about those field goals, and her career

Sinclair tops Wambach’s international goals mark

USWMNT Kreiger and Ashlyn Harris  – hit the Superbowl as Trailblazing Role Models ready for the future

US Ladies story about Bud Commercial

US MEN

Lineup I wold like to See vs Costa Rica – Matt Doyle Armchair Analyst MLS.com

Aaron Long ready to take USMNT leadership role – ePSNFC

US vs Costa Rica Preview – S&S

US 19 year old Ferreira of Dallas flips to US and will Start Saturday

Who has Most to Gain on Saturday vs Costa Rica – Matt Doyle

US Players Abroad this wEekend

Where should the US Play its Hex Games?

AC Milan does not Complete Transfer for US Left Back Antonee Robinson after all

U.S. defender Miazga out for ‘significant’ spell

Exclusive: Why Sergino Dest chose USMNT and what’s next for young Ajax star

U.S. confirms March friendly vs. Wales in Cardiff

Josh Gatt isn’t giving up on soccer, even if soccer seems to be giving up on him

US Can Be a World Power Some Day –FIFA Prez Says

Bedoya questions US Naïve Style of Play

US Plans for Qualifying for 2020 Olympics with Jason Kreis – Doug McIntyre Yahoo sports

WORLD

Atletico vs Real Madrid Derby Preview
Zidane leaves Bale out of squad for Atletico but dismisses departure 

Relentless Real Madrid a reminder of what might have been for Atletico

Klopp plays down record-breaking Reds as title looms near

Preview: Leicester City v. Chelsea

Report: Cavani to stay at PSG after Atletico Madrid transfer falls through


Sinclair’s all-time goals record a unique moment for the game

The 36-year-old scored her 185th goal for Canada on Thursday, passing USWNT legend Abby 

MLS

Key Games and Dates for the 2020 Season

Fire Hire’s New Coaching Staff

Report: Toronto FC re-sign Michael Bradley

LA Galaxy add former MLS assist king Kljestan

ATLUTD complete permanent transfer for Hyndman

Meg Whitman explains Cincinnati investment : “The right sport, right town”

Charlotte officially granted Major League Soccer expansion franchise

Indy 11

Indy 11 Sign 3 Local IFJ players to USL Academy Contracts

US U19 Player Signs on Loan from Atlanta United

Indy 11 Schedule Released

Season and Half Season Plans on Sale

Armchair Analyst: The US men’s national team lineup(s) I want to see vs. Costa Rica

January 31, 20209:45AM ESTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

First off, let’s take US men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter at his word:The roster he’s called for Saturday’s friendly against a similarly young and short-handed Costa Rica has 13 Olympic-eligible players out of the 22 total. I don’t think all of them will see playing time, but I do hope that Berhalter goes with the idea of creating useful combinations – seeing how two or even three players at crucial spots work together in concert as a way of building chemistry ahead of Olympic qualifying, which takes place in March down in Guadalajara.At the same time, reliable veterans like Aaron LongSebastian LletgetPaul Arriola and Gyasi Zardes aren’t here to just get tossed into the trash. Forget Olympic qualifying – World Cup qualifying itself starts in nine months, and chances are all four of those guys (and a few other of the non-Olympic eligibles on this roster) will play major roles.So Berhalter’s got to use this game for two different purposes. To that end, here are the two different lineups I’d like to play each half:

Doyle’s First Half

Zardes

Lewis/Arriola

Lletget/Serviana

Yueill

Gaspers //Zimmerman//Long //Cannon

Johnson

Some bullet points:

  • Lletget and Zardes deserve to start. They earned it with their 2019 performances – right up to and including that big, dominant win over Canada to end the year. As of now Lletget’s the No. 10 and Zardes is the 9, and it’s up to guys like Paxton Pomykal, Richie Ledezma, Josh Sargent and others to beat them out.I want to see the Long/Walker Zimmerman Given the way Matt Miazga has backslid over the past eight months and given John Brooks’ propensity for injury, Long and Zimmerman can expect to play a lot of minutes together.Chase Gasperis “young” in that last year he was a rookie, but is actually too old to be eligible for Olympic qualifying. I still want to see him for 45 minutes, though.You could talk me into Bill Hamid or Matt Turner starting over Sean Johnson. I’m sanguine about all of that.
  • And here’s what I’d like to see for the second half:

Ferriera

Lewis/Arriola

Leggit/Cappis

Yuele

Vines  Glad McKensie    Cannon

  • I’ve kept the starting wingers and No. 10 out there because I want to make sure Jesus Ferreiragets a fair shot at proving he can do the No. 9 job at this level. Let’s see him with what I think would be considered this camp’s version of the starters.Reggie Cannon and Jackson Yueill are the two U-23 eligibles at this camp who are the closest to being full-time members of the USMNT (I’d argue Cannon is already there). They need to show veteran leadership and poise, and to stand out the way, for example, Lletget did at this time last year. So they’re going 90.Christian Cappis and Brandon Servania are both long-term No. 6s who have spent most of their careers thus far playing as No. 8s. I’m fine with giving one half to each/either, and if Yueill struggles I wouldn’t hate seeing each/either given a shot to play his regista role.I need to see Justen Glad & Mark McKenzie together for a half. Almost every other U23 eligible CB – Cameron Carter-Vickers, Auston TrustyMiles Robinson, etc. – is a question mark for the qualifying tournament for one reason or another.Getting to see Jonathan Lewis and Sam Vines work together on both sides of the ball is potentially illuminating.These are five of the six subs that are usually allowed in friendlies. I’m happy going in whatever direction – Brenden Aaronson at the No. 10, Uly Llanez on one of the wings, some sort of switch in goal – that Berhalter decides for the final sub.And so here we are. The nightmarish 2010s are over and hopefully a better decade has begun. It’ll start for real with Olympic qualifying in March, but we can get a big taste of how that’s going to go from what we see on Saturday.

Aaron Long seeks consistency to lead by example for USMNT and New York Red Bulls

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9:18 AM ET  Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

 

CARSON, Calif. — Aaron Long has experienced no shortage of life-altering events this offseason.He got engaged in Maui to his fiancée, Elise, and also took a trip to Japan, visiting Tokyo, Kyoto and Mount Fuji, while sampling the local cuisine and some kimonos. As for getting around, that was made easier by the fact that one of his traveling companions spoke some Japanese. “‘Three beers,’ was a common phrase for sure,” Long said. “But it was probably my favorite vacation I’ve taken thus far.”But the itch to get back on the field needed to be scratched, as the memory of New York Red Bulls’ playoff defeat to the Philadelphia Union lingered.”It’s good to clear your head. You want to let your body heal,” Long said. “But you want to start training again. You start getting fit, then you want to start touching the ball. It’s just a gradual process that makes you hungry and just want to get back into things.”Long has been doing just that for the last several weeks, taking part in the U.S. men’s national team’s annual January camp. Meanwhile, transfer speculation from overseas has resurfaced, with ESPN sources confirming a Sky Sports report that the Red Bulls rejected an offer from West Ham United to take the defender on loan.Long, 27, declined to address his club situation and, while there is a sense the 2018 MLS Defender of the Year has progressed as much as he could in New York, he also seems at peace with the possibility of remaining with the MLS side.”There’s plenty more for me to achieve at the level I’m at now, for sure,” he said. “While I’m here, I have to set my goals as high as I can set them.”Staying at Red Bull arena will see demands increase on the Oak Hills, California, native, especially in the leadership department. The Red Bulls have lost club icons Bradley Wright-Phillips and Luis Robles, and ESPN sources confirmed a report from The Athletic that defender Kemar Lawrence is set to join Belgian side Anderlecht.Such departures seem like an annual occurrence with the Red Bulls. Three years ago, Dax McCarty was traded; the following season Sacha Kljestan got dealt. That does not mean the challenge facing Long should be minimized, though.”I know that I’m one of those guys that’s definitely gonna have to fill some big shoes and take even more of a leadership role on the team,” he said at the U.S. team hotel. “I guess when I get there, I’ll see how big those shoes are and what I need to do and kind of assess that situation. But I know what’s coming and I know that big things are going to be asked of me for sure.”That is already the case with the national team. Manager Gregg Berhalter has assembled a side with 13 Olympic-eligible players and said on Thursday that the lineup for Saturday’s friendly against Costa Rica (LIVE on ESPNEWS, 3:55 p.m. ET) will be “a mix” of youngsters and more veteran types.Long, as a member of Berhalter’s leadership council, is among those asked to help bring the young charges along. The fact that this is his second camp has made things easier.”You’re problem-solving as a group now instead of seeing everything for the first time, and everyone having their own opinions,” he said. “It’s a little bit easier this camp. And I think that the returning guys from last January to this January have done a good job [of] coming together and having a clear picture for the younger guys.”Taking on a leadership role is not something that has come naturally to Long. During his first season with the Red Bulls, then-manager Jesse Marsch almost made him wear a microphone in a bid to get the player to be more vocal and a better organizer on the field.”Marsch didn’t [do that], thankfully,” Long said. “I probably was not talking as much as I needed to at the time, but that example just shows that there’s this learning curve for sure, and I wasn’t always an outspoken guy.”Long prefers to lead by example — maybe with a quiet word here and there — and that means his play needs to be among the best in the side. He admits he was not consistent with the Red Bulls last season and that the trait is as elusive as it is desirable.”I think just your mindset going into games is: What does success for you look like on the day? Is it winning on the day? Is it stopping Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] on the day? Every game there’s a different task and different things are asked of you, and I think how you’re able to change your game, to help your team win, is going to determine how good you were on the day,” Long said.That quest for consistency will resume with the U.S. on Saturday. Unlike last year, there is only the one friendly to cap off the January camp and that has added a sense of urgency when it comes to playing time.”Everyone’s been fighting for a spot,” Long said. “There’s no next week.”It sounds like the approach that will carry him through the season.

Armchair Analyst: Who has the most to gain for USMNT vs. Costa Rica

January 28, 20202:45PM ESTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

 

If  you have followed the US men’s national team even casually for the past five, 10 or 15 years — or even longer — then you probably know the drill with January camp, colloquially nicknamed “Camp Cupcake” amongst the fans because it always ends with a friendly or two against usually overwhelmed, less-than-full-strength opponents.The reason those teams were/are less than full strength is the same reason the US themselves always are: the entire month of January is not an international date. In fact there are no international dates at all from mid-November until the end of February, which means that clubs are under no obligation to release players (and thus don’t). That means January camp has traditionally been the domain of preseason MLS players and a select few based in Scandinavia, with the occasional dash of out-of-contract players (hello, Bryang Kayo!) or European-based youth players (greetings, Uly Llanez!) sprinkled in.This is all by way of saying that Saturday’s friendly against a similarly short-handed Costa Rica is, uh, not exactly a live-or-die affair.That is not the same thing as saying that Saturday’s game has no stakes. Costa Rica are rivals, and by definition every game against a rival has stakes. Beyond that, Concacaf Olympic qualifiers will be held in March, and just as with this camp, teams are not required to release their players for the duration of Olympic qualifiers. That means guys like Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Josh Sargent, Sergino Dest and Tim Weah, who are all Olympic-eligible, are all massive question marks (to be honest I’d be surprised if we saw a single one of them released for the tournament). That in turn means there are spots up for grabs.I’m not going to say that the US “absolutely have to qualify for the Olympics.” What I’ll say is that it’d be a massive failure — the first of Gregg Berhalter’s tenure, to be honest — if the US didn’t. And while Jason Kreis is the head coach of the U-23s, he’s Berhalter’s guy and it’d be under Berhalter’s watch that it’s happening.To that end, this is not the standard January USMNT roster. Instead this roster skews young, and in fact more than half of the rostered players this weekend (13 of the 22) are age-eligible for Olympic qualifying. Three of them (Kayo, Llanez and LA Galaxy right back Julian Araujo) are actually age-eligible for 2024 Olympic qualifying, which should give you an idea of how deeply Berhalter is looking into the potential depth chart.

So yeah, it’s Camp Cupcake. But at the same time this is all very, very big.

Let’s take a look at who’s got the most at stake:

Jackson Yueill

It’s probably too much to say that Jackson Yueill was the breakout USMNT performer of 2019, but simply saying that he overdelivered on expectations undersells it. Yueill looked the part of a proper, international-caliber regista against Uruguay in a friendly played in third gear back in September, then was a central part of the US team that absolutely dusted Canada in November’s Concacaf Nations League game — one that was played at something close to World Cup Qualifier-level intensity. He was very, very good:the exception of right back Reggie Cannon, Yueill is the U-23 in this camp who’s closest to being a significant part of the full USMNT. He’s also someone who might stay in a starting role even if/when Adams and McKennie are available, since you could very easily play those two guys as pressing 8s and Yueill as a regista behind them in a three-man midfield.Which, taken as a whole, means that Yueill has the most to lose as a bad showing means that guys like Christian Cappis and Brandon Servania, both of whom are in this camp, could close the gap on him. Yueill also arguably has the most to gain, as a commanding performance could cement him as a leader for the Olympic qualifying group no matter who else is/isn’t available.

Jonathan Lewis

Pulisic and Weah. Nick Taitague mostly healthy for the first time in forever, and said to be close to the Schalke first team after spending the month with them. Gio Reyna, having debuted for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, and Indy Vassilev, having debuted for Aston Villa in the EPL.Richie Ledezma, Paxton Pomykal and Brenden Aaronson — guys who I think are central midfielders, but who are often played out wide. Llanez ripping it up with Wolfsburg’s kids. Bofo Saucedo starting for UNAM Pumas in Liga MX.That’s the competition for Jonathan Lewis, who has always produced when given a chance but has reached the “put up or shut up” phase of his career when it comes to winning a starting job. He has the ability to do it:He’s also saying all the right things — talking specifically this winter about how he needs to improve upon the defensive side of the ball (he does) and be a two-way impact player.He certainly has the tools to make it a reality. He could do himself a big favor if he brought that to bear this weekend.

Justen Glad

For each of the past two years RSL have been significantly better with Justen Glad on the field than off of it. He has the size and speed, and as of 2019 seemed finally to add a bunch of the strength necessary to play CB against even the best center forwards in the league (though Zlatan owned him, to be fair).But for each of the past two years RSL’s head coaches – first Mike Petke and then Freddy Juarez – benched Glad in the playoffs.He’s still just 22. For context: He will be younger at this point in the 2026 World Cup cycle than Aaron Long is right now, so there is still plenty of time for Glad to mature into a USMNT starter.This is his shot to prove he should be an Olympic qualifying starter, though. Cameron Carter-Vickers’ career going into a tailspin, Chris Richards failing to break through into anything higher than the German third tier and up-and-down seasons from most of his age-group competition in MLS (including the guy who’s next on the list) have this door wide open for Glad.

Mark McKenzie

That door is wide open for the Union‘s Mark McKenzie as well. He’s two full years younger than Glad, and thus much less experienced — Glad has over 10,000 career minutes across all competitions while McKenzie is shy of 3,000. He’s also not, I don’t think, as athletic as Glad or Miles Robinson (who’s not in this camp — more on that in a second), and his defensive instinct still need polishing.The difference is that McKenzie’s often asked to be a line-breaking passer of the ball for Philly, and he often delivers. He was asked the same by Tab Ramos with the U-20s, and he usually delivered there as well. He is able to see and hit passes that cause real stress on the opposition’s shape, and that’s the kind of distribution from the back Berhalter seems to want to weaponize.For what it’s worth I would expect Robinson to have one of the starting CB jobs on lock. Though even that’s not guaranteed, especially since Atlanta United are under no obligation to release him and probably won’t be eager to if they’re in the midst of a CCL run.

Sam Vines

Sam Vines snuck under the radar and into Colorado’s lineup by the middle of spring last year, and stayed there right through the end of the season by playing no-frills, mistake-free soccer. He is one of two young left backs on this roster, though the other – Minnesota United‘s Chase Gasper – is too old to be eligible for Olympic qualifying. So in this game, if Vines gets onto the field, he’ll be competing against himself and trying to show that he can add value in Berhalter’s system.I have few concerns he’ll manage that on the defensive side of the ball. The big questions come in possession, where Berhalter justifiably asks his fullbacks to be more than just “mistake free.” In the modern back four the fullbacks have to be, at the very least, competent at meaningful ball progression. If they turn out to be less than that, opponents will see it as an exploitable weakness they can target to starve the midfield and frontline of any sort of service (if you want an example of this, go re-watch Canada’s 2-0 home win over the US in the Nations League, and how often and effectively they targeted Daniel Lovitz).Vines is never going to be a Dest-level possession hub, but it would be a major boost for both the U-23s and potentially for the full USMNT if he could go out there and show that, at the very least, he can work nearly as well on the left as Cannon and Nick Lima did on the right in 2019.

Other things to keep an eye on:

  • Sebastian Lletget: He’s literally never played a bad game for the USMNT, and usually plays very, very well. He’s also going to have to fight for his life to lock down and hold onto a starting spot given the young midfield talent coming up.
  • Jesus Ferreira: The latest dual-national to commit to the US, Ferreira’s maybe a No. 9, maybe a winger, maybe a No. 10, and probably a second forward. Too bad the US don’t use a two-man front line. I’m curious to see where and how he plays.
  • Walker Zimmerman: Can he match consistency to his physical gifts? If so he has a chance to solidify his place on the CB depth chart.
  • Matt Turner: His shot-stopping has been otherworldly the past two years in MLS, and there’s a good chance this weekend will see him debut. If and when that happens, he will be asked to play with his feet. I am intrigued.

Gregg Berhalter: Jackson Yueill, Reggie Cannon & other USMNT mainstays likely for Olympic qualifying

January 25, 20201:02PM EST  Ian QuillenContributor

With the US national team facing two high-profile European friendlies in the March international while the U-23 squad aims at qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokoyo, manager Gregg Berhalter and his staff have a difficult balance to juggleSpeaking with Tony Meola of SiriusXM FC this week, Berhalter revealed that the USMNT’s priority over that stretch will be reaching the Olympics for the first time since 2008, at least in terms of players who are likely to be released for the Concacaf qualifying tournament.Making the 2020 Olympics is vital for @ussoccer! “I think it’s going to be very challenging to get players like Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie released for qualifying because it falls outside the current FIFA window,” Berhalter said. “But players who have been mainstays for the US national team like Jackson Yueill and Reggie Cannon, we’re going to want them to go through that qualifying process and help the team qualify.It’s an important event to participate in, and we want to qualify.”The US have a difficult road if they are to return to the tournament where they last finished ninth at the 2008 games. They begin the Concacaf qualifying tournament in a group with Mexico, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, with the top two finishers reaching the semifinals.Only winners of those subsequent semifinal matches — Scheduled for March 30 — will represent Concacaf in the 16-team Olympic tournament in July and August.Group play of Concacaf’s Olympic tournament begins before the March window opens. The senior US team will play friendlies at the Netherlands on March 26 and at Wales on March 30.

AC Milan, USMNT’s Antonee Robinson can’t complete Deadline Day transfer

Doug McIntyre

January 31, 2020, 3:23 PM EST

United States men’s national team defender Antonee Robinson won’t be joining seven-time European champion AC Milan after all.

A day after the rather surprising news broke that the Italian titans had agreed to purchase the speedy left back from English second-tier struggler Wigan Athletic, the deal fell apart at the final hurdle, Wigan announced on Deadline Day.

Robinson had traveled to on Milan Friday morning in anticipation of the move. He had taken his physical. However, “further medical tests with the Italian authorities were required, which were subject to a 72-hour deadline,” Wigan’s statement read. With Italy’s transfer window closing at 8 p.m. local time [2 p.m. ET], there wasn’t enough time to get the deal across the line.

The last-minute collapse has to be hugely disappointing for the Liverpool-born Robinson, who has American citizenship through his father. Milan’s haul of European titles is second only to Real Madrid’s. But the club has fallen on relatively tough times in recent years, and is currently eighth in Serie A. Wigan, meantime, sits 22nd in the 24-team Championship and is in danger of being relegated to the country’s third division.

Robinson has earned six caps with the USMNT, all of them in 2018. He has spent most of the last two years with the U.S. under-23 squad that in March will attempt to break the country’s 12-year Olympic drought by qualifying for this summer’s Games in Tokyo.

2020 Olympics: Inside Jason Kreis’ plan to qualify the U.S. men for the first time in 12 years

Doug McIntyre

January 30, 2020, 10:36 AM EST

United States under-23 national team coach Jason Kreis is hoping to qualify the Americans for an Olympics for the first time since 2008. (Jose Breton/Getty)

Jason Kreis is well aware of the challenge he faces in getting his United States under-23 mean’s national team to this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.

After all, the U.S. has not taken part in the Summer Games since way back in 2008, where a team led by future World Cup players such as Michael Bradley and Stuart Holden failed to make it past the group stage in Beijing.

“The way I view it is that it makes my job easier,” Kreis told Yahoo Sports in a phone interview, amid three-plus weeks of working with many of his players during the senior team’s annual January training camp. “We know that this isn’t easy. We know that there’s been failure before. So we should have a little extra energy, a little extra something to prove. I like that situation for us.”

Kreis will get a preview of March’s all-important CONCACAF qualifying tournament opener against Costa Rica on Saturday in Carson, California, where a senior team heavy on U-23 players will meet a similarly young Ticos side in a friendly. No fewer than 13 of the 22 players remaining on USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter’s January camp roster are eligible for the March squad.

To hear Kreis tell it, the experience of working alongside established senior internationals such as Paul Arriola, Sebastian Lletget and Aaron Long this month has been vital preparation for the games that count.

Still, the path to Tokyo 2020 promises to be anything but smooth. The qualifying tournament was held on American soil the last two Olympic cycles, and the 2012 and 2016 teams still failed. This year’s event is in Guadalajara, Mexico.

In addition to the first match against Costa Rica, the U.S. also plays the hosts and Dominican Republic in Group A. Only the top two nations will advance to the do-or-die semifinals, meaning one of CONCACAF’s three traditional powers will miss out.

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Looked at another way, however, the draw isn’t that bad. Should the U.S. survive the first round, they’d avoid the big boys in the semis, with a win over Canada, El Salvador, Haiti or Honduras enough to send them to Japan.

“Going into the draw I was thinking that it would be nice to be in Mexico’s group,” said Kreis, who pointed out that the U.S. would get an extra day of rest if they reach the decisive match.

The bigger question concerns the makeup of his roster. Some of the most prominent American players — Christian Pulisic, Westin McKennie, Tyler Adams, Josh Sargent and Sergino Dest — almost certainly won’t be released by their European clubs, which are only required to let players join senior national teams. Complicating matters is the fact that the first game of the tournament falls three days before FIFA’s March fixture window opens.

Still, U.S. Soccer will attempt to convince the employers of Euro-based youngsters who have yet to break into their clubs’ first teams — think Bayern Munich’s Chris Richards, Ajax’s Alex Mendez and PSV Eindhoven’s Richie Ledezma — to let them go.

Kreis expects the majority of the MLS players currently in camp to be involved in March. But he also confirmed that domestic teams have been less cooperative than in the past.

“I think that’s fair to say for sure,” Kreis said. “We’re hopeful that the MLS teams understand that we’re still growing our sport. And part of growing our sport is having our national teams do well.”

If they do manage to end 12 years of Olympic futility come March, then Kreis, Berhalter and new USMNT general manager Brian McBride will try to sell the likes of Pulisic’s Chelsea and Adams’ RB Leipzig on the value having their Americans on a global stage, in an event watched by tens of millions of Americans and many more about the world.

“I believe that the guys we’re talking about are going to want to represent their country in the Olympics,” Kreis said. “First, we have to get there. But if the players want to play in it, and can exert some influence on their clubs, then hopefully we can all work together to make that happen. Because I think we can have a really, really exciting team.”

USWNT’s Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris hit the Super Bowl as trailblazing role models ready for the future

Caitlin MurrayYahoo SportsJan 30, 2020, 11:19 AM

Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris are living their best lives – together.Fresh off winning the 2019 World Cup in France together as members of the U.S. women’s national team, the couple married in a picturesque wedding that was splashed across the pages of Vogue magazine.They haven’t enjoyed a honeymoon yet – they had to go straight into a USWNT camp and are now with the team vying for a berth into the 2020 Olympics – but it’s been something of a whirlwind fairytale since the pair went public about their relationship back in March.Now, as a married couple and as individuals, Harris and Krieger are blazing a trail as role models and voices that in the past were often ignored. They’ve been vocal advocates for equal pay for women and they’ve quickly become one of the country’s most high-profile same-sex couples, particularly in the world of sports. And it’s all made them more popular than ever.“Ali and I talk about this all the time in terms of visibility and what culture means to us,” Harris tells Yahoo Sports in an exclusive interview. “When I think back to my childhood, we didn’t have people who looked like us when we opened magazines or watched advertisements.“We’re super proud of what we stand for and that companies and brands are getting behind that and are willing to be part of that cultural change. For such a long time, we didn’t have a place, but now we do and we’re being celebrated and it’s really rewarding.”

Harris and Krieger: USWNT power couple

The brands lining up to work with Harris and Krieger include Budweiser, which prominently features the couple toward the end of a new ad slated to run during Sunday’s Super Bowl, the most visible platform in American sports. A teaser video designed to gin up anticipation for the ad also featured them.Yet when the pair first met at a USWNT camp in 2010 and fell in love, they didn’t share their relationship beyond close friends and family for fear it would impact their status on their teams, both club and country, or alienate potential sponsors. “That was the mindset – it wasn’t, ‘Let’s keep this away from the public,’” Krieger says. “It was more, ‘Let’s make sure we aren’t losing our jobs because we don’t know how people are going to react.’ It wasn’t as if we were hiding.”Over the years, however, things changed. There were the changes that happened outside of the bubble Harris and Krieger created for themselves. More and more prominent figures were coming out, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to mke gay marriage legal, and public sentiment increasingly became more accepting.But then there were the changing attitudes of Krieger and Harris themselves. “We are private people and we want to keep something at the end of the day just for ourselves, but also we want to create this change,” Krieger says. “We want to have families and young kids and adults understand that this is also normal life – two women can be together, two men can be together. You’re two humans who love each other and are living this beautiful life together and are successful, so there’s nothing wrong with that.”Over the years, they sought advice from close friends, like past and present USWNT players Abby Wambach, Lori Lindsey and Megan Rapinoe. They spoke to their agents at Wasserman. Ultimately, they revealed their relationship when the timing felt right for them. “When I think back, I’m a little disappointed in myself that I waited this long,” Harris says, “because I have kids come up to me and they have families who look like me and Ali. Or older people say, ‘Hey, you saved our lives and we’re finally able to start living an authentic life.’ I know what it feels like to only give a part of me to someone.“I wish I had felt I was in a safe space to do this a long time ago.”The timing has seemingly worked out for the pair, even if it’s much later than they would’ve liked.After they won a World Cup together as a newly out couple, brands eager to attach themselves to strong, powerful women especially took notice of Krieger and Harris.After years of having to try to advocate for better investment in female athletes and women’s soccer on their own, the assist from brands like Budweiser, which has become the flagship backer of the National Women’s Soccer League, is a game-changer.“We can only do so much, but we need companies to invest in what we’re trying to create,” Harris says. “We can only take it so far. We show up, we do our job and we’re the best version of ourselves.”

The USWNT testing their relationship

But before they became the winningest power couple in sports and clinked beers in a Super Bowl ad, Krieger was going through perhaps the most difficult moment of her professional career – and it wasn’t easy on her relationship with Harris either.Not long after the 2016 Olympics, where the USWNT bombed out of the quarterfinal stage, coach Jill Ellis sought regenerate the team by eliminating veterans in favor of grooming up-and-comers. Krieger, a center back and right back, was one of those cuts.

“I really went through it. I got fired,” Krieger tells Yahoo Sports. “And that was difficult to go through because I knew my worth and I knew I deserved to be there but I didn’t really have a reason of why.”

w photos

Ashlyn Harris and Ali Kriger won the World Cup together for a second time last summer in France. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

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“I’m thinking to myself, I’m still good enough to be there. What did I do wrong?” she adds. “I had to go through it without closure. It’s like leaving a relationship and not understanding why you broke up.”For two years, Krieger didn’t even get a call-up to a USWNT camp to try to prove she belonged. For all she knew, her time representing the United States was over.But as hard as it was, Harris was still part of the USWNT as a backup goalkeeper and Krieger needed to compartmentalize her feelings to be a supportive girlfriend.“I detached the emotion and I was committed to supporting her,” Krieger says. “She’d drag my ass out of bed, no matter how tired and upset I was, and said, ‘You’re gonna be kicking balls with me’ or whatever it was.“Ash was my rock through that whole experience, and it was really s—ty for us. Our relationship took a hit because of how upset and sad I was, but we pushed each other, we pulled each other up, and we supported each other.”Together, they made sure Krieger would be prepared if her second chance ever arrived with the USWNT – and it did, unexpectedly in the USWNT’s final camp before Ellis had to pick her World Cup roster. Krieger admits the call-up was as out of the blue as it seemed for fans and journalists – but she was ready for it, thanks in part to her then-fiancée, Harris.Everyone knows how the story ends by now: Krieger ultimately did make the World Cup roster, and together Krieger and Harris lifted their second World Cup trophy together after winning in 2015.But Krieger’s experience being cut from the team wasn’t entirely negative. It helped her and Harris envision their lives after soccer. After all, the USWNT players know their soccer careers are temporary and they still have the rest of their lives together.Krieger began doing work as a studio analyst for BeIN Sports and Major League Soccer, she launched her own youth soccer camp program called AKFC, and she completed coach license courses.

“It was an opportunity for her to figure out a little more of herself and what life was going to be like outside the national team,” Harris says. “Was it hard for her? Yeah, but she was still fine. She was doing all these things and she was thriving because people like her, with her mental strength, she’s going to be OK.”For now, the couple is focused on getting through CONCACAF qualifying for the Olympics, where the USWNT beat Haiti to open the campaign Tuesday and faces Panama on Friday. After that, they will try to make the Olympic roster and then attempt to do what no team has ever done by winning a gold medal after winning a World Cup. A honeymoon for the couple will come sometime after that, when it can truly be stress-free, Krieger says. Where the pair ends up longer-term after they hang up their cleats is still up in the air, but everything they’ve been up to – playing soccer, being spokeswomen, and so on – will help them get there.“Everything we do is building a future,” Harris says. “To me, the possibilities are endless.”

US Ladies in Bud Commercial

Caitlin Murray is a contributor to Yahoo Sports and her book about the U.S. women’s national team, The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer, is out now. Follow her on Twitter @caitlinmurr.

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1/27/20 US Ladies on FS2 Tues 8:30, US Men on ESPN News Sat – Top Teams, Players, Goals of the Decade, US Women’s Team Earns Time, SI & other accolades, Kobe loved soccer

So I will start with a wish of a very Happy New Year to everyone!  Yes I have been swamped at work and haven’t had time to do my weekly updates.  However with the US ladies and men about to start qualifying and now that Fox has stepped in late (thank you Fox Soccer – a lot of folks put down the coverage but they actually show the games on TV- unlike TNT and Champs League and ESPN+)  So I will continue to give them cudos for stepping in and buying the rights to US games when no one else (READ ESPN???) will.  Anyway  Fox Sports 2 will carry the USA vs Haiti Olympics Qualifying game this Tues night at 8:30 pm from Houston, and again Fri.   The US Men will host Costa Rica Sat Feb 1 at 4 pm on ESPN News.

2020 USWNT OLYMPIC QUALIFYING SCHEDULE:

Date Opponent Time TV/Result Venue
Tues Jan. 28 Haiti* 8:30 p.m. ET Fox sports 2 BBVA Stadium; Houston, Texas
Fri Jan. 31 Panama* 8:30 p.m. ET Fox Soccer + TUDN BBVA Stadium; Houston, Texas
Mon Feb. 3 Costa Rica* 8:30 p.m. ET Fox Sports 1 BBVA Stadium; Houston, Texas

Nice to see the US ladies receive tons of recognition as Time’s Athletes of the Year, Rapino as SI’s Sportsperson of the Year, Ertz as US Athlete of the Year, and Carli Llyods Hat Trick in the 2015 World Cup as women’s Goal of the decade.  Hugely sad to see Kobe Bryant’s tragic passing this past weekend.  Kobe was a huge supporter of soccer and specifically US Soccer – especially the the ladies team as his daughter’s love the sport.  Kobe’s influence on supporting Soccer in the states, he was loved in Europe especially since he is so well versed in the game, will be hugely missed.  RIP Kobe – great NBA player and great friend of Soccer.

This week we get on top of the US Games above – we get Man City vs Man United in league cup play on ESPN+ at 2:45 pm on Wed at the same time West Ham hosts league leader Liverpool on NBCSN.   Saturday gives us the Madrid Derby – league leading Real hosting Atletico on beIN Sports & FUBOTV at 10 am.   Leicester City hosts Chelsea at 7:30 am on NBCSN.  Liverpool hosts Southhampton at 10 am and Man United will host Wolverhampton at 12:30 pm on either NBC or NBCSN.  RB Liepzig and US mid/Defender Tyler Adams will try to defend their slender lead at the top of the Bundesliga vs Borussia M’gladbach and US defender Johnson at 12:30 Sat on Fox Sports 2.  Sunday has a battle for top 4 as Tottenham hosts Man City at 11:30 am on NBCSN in the EPL,  Inter will travel to Udinese on ESPN News & desportes at 2:45 pm, while Barcelona will host Levante on beIN Sports.

USA Qualifying 

US Ladies Match Preview with Haiti

US Ladies Olympic Qualifying

Schedule and TV, stream info for Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament

US Men Face Costa Rica without Europe Stars including Pulisic – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Pulisic out of Chelsea lineup until mid-Feb.
Fox to televise 2021 and 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cups

Berhalter: USMNT “in a good spot” after eventful first year

Beckham on Kobe Bryant: “He inspired me to try to be better”

Berhalter: Expect USMNT mainstays at Olympic qualifying

WORLD

FIFA floats Women’s World Cup every two years

Top 10 Goals of the Decade

Top EPL Goals of the Decade

Top 50 Champions League Goals of the Decade

Top EPL Goals of 2019

The Biggest USMNT Goals of the Decade

GoalKeeping

Top 20 Saves of the Decade

Top 10 Saves of the Decade

Top 10 Saves of the Decade in Germany

Top 20 Impossible Goalkeeper Saves Of The Year – YouTube

USA

Which Players Were the Best of this Decade for USMNT

US Carli Llyod’s Hat Trick in 2015 World Cup

Ertz beats Rapinoe to U.S. Athlete of the Year

U.S. Women’s Soccer team named TIME’s 2019 athlete of the year

USWNT dubbed Time Magazine’s 2019 Athletes of the Year

Rapinoe picks up SI’s Sportsperson of the Year

Pulisic named best U.S. male athlete of 2019

Sergiño Dest wins U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year

The Ertz’s – Zach and Julie – ESPN60

Analyzing Berhalters’s Picks for US Men January Camp –Doyle

USMNT to open 2020 vs. Costa Rica after January camp in Qatar

Schalke rule U.S. midfielder McKennie out until February

Yedlin’s Hand is Broken in New Castle Game

McConaughey: Soccer in America can take over baseball, hockey
McIntyre’s USMNT Stock Watch: John Brooks and Sergino Dest looking to end 2019 on a high note

Pulisic Watch: Chelsea’s American star shines in Champions League (video)

US Men to play at Netherlands 3.26

2019 in review: Did our bold USMNT predictions come true?

FIFA has brilliant idea to ruin the Women’s World Cup

EPL

Pulisic Review of the Brighton Game

Pulisic I can do Better

EPL Review

Football resolutions for 2020: Don’t mess this up, Liverpool

Arsenal see off Man United, but both sides have far to go

4/10 Maguire just one of Man United’s many under-performers

Arteta gets 9/10 overseeing first win as Arsenal manager

Kane limps off as Spurs lose at Southampton

Draw vs. Brighton illustrates why Chelsea need a big January window

Champions League

Who can Premier League clubs draw in the Champions League knockout rounds?

Pulisic Watch: Chelsea’s American star shines in Champions League (video)
 US Coach Jesse Marsch: ‘We will be proud eventually’ after loss to Liverpool

Azpilicueta: ‘Champions League is where Chelsea belong’

 Chelsea controls Lille to clinch UCL knockout round berth
Lampard strives for more as Chelsea edge into Champions League last 16
Liverpool, Chelsea through to Champions League last 16 as Ajax go out

Neymar makes impression as PSG crush Galatasaray

Mourinho: No one will want to draw Spurs in Champions League

Ronaldo scores as Juventus beats Leverkusen in Champs League

Bayern brush aside Mourinho’s Spurs to claim perfect six

Kylian Mbappé scores Champions League goal while fireworks go off on the field (video)

Atletico, Atalanta reach last 16 as Bayern cruise past Spurs
Madrid concludes CL group phase with 3-1 win at Brugge

Bayern Munich tops Spurs 3-1 behind Davies, Coutinho

Jesus ‘cannot stop scoring’ as hat-trick lifts Man City’s mood in Zagreb

Sessegnon beats Neuer to score first Spurs, Champions League goal

Champions League debutants Atalanta reach last 16

Jesus hat-trick downs Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta qualifies for knockouts

Napoli hires former Milan coach Gattuso to replace Ancelotti
Napoli sack Ancelotti despite 4-0 Champions League victory

Dortmund’s Favre delighted with Champions League progression

Fati makes history as Barca send Inter crashing out of Champions League

Napoli beats Genk 4-0 to reach Champions League last 16

Lyon players, fans clash after Depay secures last 16 spot

Zenit eliminated in Champions League after losing to Benfica

Dortmund hold off Slavia to reach Champions League last 16

Napoli fires coach Carlo Ancelotti despite advancing in CL

Ajax crash out of Champions League after defeat by Valencia

Ancelotti sacked despite guiding Napoli to Champions League last 16

Ancelotti’s reign ends amid feuding as Napoli turn to Gattuso

Inter out of Champions League after 2-1 loss to Barcelona

UCL wrap: Barca’s mints record young goal scorer in eliminating Inter

MLS

Boehm: Seven shifts that transformed MLS in the 2010s

An MLS Best XI for the last decade

Key Games and Dates for the 2020 Season

Fire Hire’s New Coaching Staff

Report: Toronto FC re-sign Michael Bradley

LA Galaxy add former MLS assist king Kljestan

ATLUTD complete permanent transfer for Hyndman

Meg Whitman explains Cincinnati investment : “The right sport, right town”

Charlotte officially granted Major League Soccer expansion franchise

Yes, you can watch US Ladies Olympic qualifying on TV – Fox Sports steps up!

Cutting it a bit close, guys.By Stephanie Yang@thrace  Jan 27, 2020, 7:55am PST

With the same energy of a student hitting submit on their paper at 11:59 PM, Concacaf has pulled it together and negotiated a deal to broadcast Olympic qualifying (mostly) on TV. Concacaf struck a deal with FOX Sports, they announced today, in a three-year English language deal.The deal doesn’t just cover women’s Olympic qualification; it also covers the men’s qualifying in March, 2021 and 2023 Gold Cup, and Concacaf Champions League.Given all the tournaments and competitions involved, perhaps it’s a little unfair to roast Concacaf too much for coming in late with this deal, but also it majorly sucks that the WNT will take the brunt of this bad timing since the tournament starting literally tomorrow allows zero time for proper promotion – something important to keep in mind when ratings come in. It seems likely that Concacaf was insisting on a bundle instead of trying to find a home for just the women’s tournament to ensure that it would get on TV, delaying things until now.Olympic qualifying coverage will include other countries, although some of the games will be streaming only. The full schedule is below.

Tuesday, January 28

Costa Rica vs Panama – 6 PM ET, FS2
USA vs Haiti – 8:30 PM ET, FS2

Wednesday, January 29

Canada vs St. Kitts & Nevis – 5:30 PM ET, FS2
Mexico vs Jamaica – 8 PM ET, FS2

Friday, January 31

Haiti vs Costa Rica – 6 PM ET, Fox Soccer Plus
Panama vs USA – 8:30 PM ET, Fox Soccer Plus

Saturday, February 1

St. Kitts & Nevis vs Mexico – 3:30 PM ET, FS2
Jamaica vs Canada – 6 PM ET, Fox Soccer Plus

Monday, February 3

Panama vs Haiti – 6 PM ET, FS2
USA vs Costa Rica – 8:30 PM ET, FS1

Tuesday, February 4

Canada vs Mexico – 6:30 PM ET, FS2
Jamaica vs St. Kitts & Nevis – 9 PM ET, FS2

Friday, February 7

SEMIFINAL 1 – 7 PM ET, Fox Soccer Plus
SEMIFINAL 2 – 10 PM ET, FS1

Sunday, February 9

FINAL – 6 PM ET, FS2

U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

NBC SportsJan 27, 2020, 11:51 AM

The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter ‘comfortable’ with Christian Pulisic recovery will rely on others this weekend

Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Pulisic has missed the Blues’ last five matches, including Saturday’s FA Cup win over Hull City, due to a thigh injury and is expected to return in mid-February following Chelsea’s brief break from the Premier League.

The U.S. international sustained several muscle injuries last season while with Borussia Dortmund, but Berhalter said while he’s concerned about injuries to any of his players, he’s not concerned about the Pulisic’s availability when World Cup qualifying starts up later this year.  Pulisic out of Chelsea lineup until mid-Feb.  “One thing about Christian is he’s adapting to the Premier League,” Berhalter said on a conference call with reporters. “He played a lot of games in a short period of time over Christmas. The injury didn’t appear to be that significant. He’s working through that rehab. He should be back training soon in full training.”This is part of it, a young player playing at an extremely competitive level, and it takes a physical toll on your body and him coming to terms of that is something that’s normal for the process of adapting.”So we’re we are comfortable with where he’s at. We’re working with our medical staff to make sure that you know, you can be strong and fit and compete in these [qualifying] games.”One player who is back on the field after a lengthy injury layoff is Tyler Adams. The RB Leipzig midfielder has been deployed on the right flank of late, and has played right-back for the U.S. in the past. But Berhalter said he sees Adams playing in the center of midfield for the U.S. going forward.”We played [Adams] at right back before and he’s a good fit there because of his speed, his dynamic [ability], his ability to process the ball and move forward with ball and attack with speed,” Berhalter said. “We see him primarily as a central midfielder. We always have seen him as a central midfielder.”But we know that when we need to be flexible, he can play that position as well. We think right now that the right back position is filled with depth, and he’ll be most suited in our system in central midfield.”Neither Pulisic nor Adams will be available for this Saturday’s friendly against Costa Rica (live at 3:55 ET on ESPN News), given that it falls outside the international window. The current U.S. roster, which has taken part in a training camp for most of January, has 13 Olympic eligible players. With Olympic qualifying set to take place in late March, Berhalter said he plans to give some young players a look this weekend.”I would expect there to be young players in the lineup, and that’s perfectly OK,” he said. “They’ve worked hard all month so far, and it’ll be nice to give them an opportunity to perform in front of a crowd in a real international game. This also gives us the opportunity to evaluate some players for the Olympic pool and see if they can if they can make it for qualifying.”The theme of the whole camp was guys staking their claim guys, you know, looking to improve their situation and get a firm grasp of where they fit in in the player pool. So I think the game is gonna give us the opportunity to evaluate that.”Berhalter declined to be drawn into a discussion about whether he would ask clubs to release players like Pulisic for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The U.S. hasn’t qualified since the 2008 games in Beijing, and faces a difficult path to qualification, with both Mexico and Costa Rica in its qualifying group.  “It’s going to be a difficult qualifying process,” he said. “The roster is 17 players plus three goalkeepers, There’s a lot of games in a short amount of time. A couple of the games are outside the FIFA window. We’re going to need a lot of cooperation from Major League Soccer, and I know that’s difficult given the early stage of their season.”But as far as we’re concerned, it’s a concerted effort to field a strong team for qualifying and to qualify for the Olympics. If and when we do that, it will be a different set of conversations.”The 21-year-old American attacker has not played since a 1-1 draw at Brighton on New Year’s Day.Chelsea play at Leicester City on Feb. 1 and their next league game after that is not until Feb. 17 when they host Manchester United.Manager Frank Lampard said Friday the break ”might fall at a nice time and give us a bit more to play with.” He added: ”Hopefully he will be back for the other end of that break. It’s in line with how we expected him to be.”Pulisic has six goals and six assists in all competitions this season, including a hat trick in a league match at Burnley on Oct. 26.

PULISIC OUT TILL MID FEB

hristian Pulisic‘s adductor injury appears likely to keep him out of Chelsea’s lineup until mid-February. The 21-year-old American attacker has not played since a 1-1 draw at Brighton on New Year’s Day.Chelsea play at Leicester City on Feb. 1 and their next league game after that is not until Feb. 17 when they host Manchester United.anager Frank Lampard said Friday the break ”might fall at a nice time and give us a bit more to play with.” He added: ”Hopefully he will be back for the other end of that break. It’s in line with how we expected him to be.”Pulisic has six goals and six assists in all competitions this season, including a hat trick in a league match at Burnley on Oct. 26.

Which players should be on the USMNT Best XI of the 2010s?

So many choices, but we ask you to break them down.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Dec 28, 2019, 7:00am PST  Stars and Stripes

We’re about to close the book on the 2010s, and many fans are thinking back to some of the good times (and bad) that occurred during the decade. When it comes to the players that came through the United States Men’s National Team, there can be a healthy debate about who dominated the 2010s for the team. Some people may discuss their preference, while others may break out stats and analytics. But, it’s still a debate that can carry us into the new year.Of all the players that featured for the USMNT from 2010-2019, who stood out? Who was the best of the best? We break down a list of players who form the starting XI of the USMNT All-2010s team.

Goalkeeper: Tim Howard

There really isn’t a better choice for the 2010s between the net than Tim Howard. He will go down as arguably the best goalkeeper the United States has ever produced. He helped set up the game-winning goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup and he became the Secretary of Defense with his performance in a loss against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup. He had dozens of other terrific performances throughout the 2010s, and he’s a no-brainer choice for the Best XI of the decade. (Honorable Mention: Brad Guzan)

Defenders: John Brooks, DaMarcus BeasleyMatt BeslerFabian Johnson

DaMarcus Beasley finally retired this year after a stellar career, but he bailed the USMNT out many times over the course of the decade with his performance at left back. John Brooks, Matt Besler, and Fabian Johnson were guys that were extremely important throughout the decade on the defense. At times, each of those players were the most reliable defenders on the roster, and they were called upon many times to keep the opposition out of the net.(Honorable Mention: DeAndre YedlinGeoff Cameron)

Midfielders: Christian PulisicJermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan

Landon Donovan is arguably the greatest male player the United States has ever produced. Christian Pulisic will likely take that title very soon (if he hasn’t already). Jermaine Jones was dominant in the middle for the USMNT, the fierce bull that the team needed. Michael Bradley was dominant in the middle for many years for the USMNT, and he has been a part of some of the program’s greatest goals ever. This is a strong midfield that were important throughout the decade. (Honorable Mention: Tyler AdamsGraham Zusi)

Forwards: Jozy AltidoreClint Dempsey

Clint Dempsey is the best American forward of all time and arguably the greatest male player of all time. Jozy Altidore, if he can be healthy the next few years, could still catch Deuce and Donovan atop the all-time goalscoring list. Both players throughout the decade hit a level that no other players could match, and they’re easy picks for the All-2010s team. (Honorable Mention: Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris)

Hit the comments and give us your best XI of the decade. There’s plenty of players that merit discussion, so let us know which players made your list and why you think they stood out as the best USMNT players of the 2010s.

Christian Pulisic at Chelsea: USMNT star’s performances assessed, game by game

Jan 1, 2020Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Christian Pulisic is in his first season at Chelsea, following a $73 million move from Borussia DortmundThe campaign’s first half saw the 21-year-old U.S. international make 22 appearances in all competitions, scoring six goals and claiming five assists.

ESPN will continue to assess Pulisic’s performances, with updates to this feature being added after every Chelsea match.Opponent: Brighton (1-1; Jan. 1, Premier League)   Chelsea Player Ratings

How he performed out of 10: 6. It was another lacklustre performance from Chelsea, and they were oftentimes downright dysfunctional. Pulisic didn’t stand out from that assessment, for better or worse. He enjoyed moments of quick interplay and clever close control that created opportunities, but his finishing was lacking and at times his decision-making was labourious.

Highlights: The U.S. international’s quick feet were a ray of hope throughout his 66-minute performance. His four take-ons were more than fellow attackers Tammy Abraham and Willian combined in his time on the pitch, creating a pair of chances in the first half and leading to three shots in the second. His passing wasn’t as sharp as it should’ve been, but he did dispatch a couple of clever balls that led to chances, one scooped effort to send Abraham into the area and another to Mason Mount that put the Blues in position to enjoy an extended spell of position in and around the Brighton box.

Lowlights: His decision-making in transition was at times poor, which manifested itself in a passing percentage of 77% — better than only Abraham and N’Golo Kante. He was impatient after beating two defenders in the first half, sending in a hopeful cross forward when he had no players forward with him. The shots he created for himself through clever footwork in the second half let him down; they were from positions and distances that should’ve yielded more than two missed targets and one simple save from Mat Ryan.While the lowlights paint a picture of nothing but doom and gloom from Pulisic, no one from the West London club looked particularly impressive. Pulisic was one of 11 Blues dressed in black whose performances were as dark as their kits.

Pulisic on Chelsea form: “I can do better”

Joe Prince-Wright,NBC Sports•January 2, 2020

Christian Pulisic has admitted he must improve his finishing as Chelsea dropped more points in the Premier League on New Year’s Day.The USMNT star, 21, returned to the Chelsea starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 14 in their 1-1 draw at Brighton and lasted 66 minutes after his slight hamstring issue.Pulisic had several shots on goal at Brighton but he and his Chelsea teammates couldn’t double their advantage after taking an early lead.“We said at half time that we had the chance to kill the game and we just weren’t able to,” Pulisic said. “We couldn’t get the goal and in the end they found an unbelievable goal. So now it is about doing a bit more to keep going, attack and create chances and just have that killer instinct. Just a little bit of that, we are missing that.“I can do better with that as well. Just being more clinical in the final third, finding the right pass or shot and scoring the goals. That’s both mental and technical. After we scored the first goal it was just about continuing and just not stopping there, making it two or three and putting the game to bed. We’ve had troubles with that this year and then in the end, they fought until the end, scored a great goal and that is how it goes.”[ MORE: Pulisic Watch – How did he perform? ]

Pulisic got into some great positions and caused Brighton lots of issues with his dribbling and clever runs in the final third, but his shooting was wayward. He snatched at a few shots and looked like he was hurrying a little and maybe that is because he’s now gone seven games with a goal or an assist for Chelsea.His purple patch in October and November proves he can score goals in the Premier League but Pulisic just needs that little bit of luck to get the ball rolling again. Everything else is going well but as he said himself, he needs to improve his finishing.Chelsea need to improve theirs overall too, as Frank Lampard‘s side continue to blow hot and cold in their battle to finish in the top four and cannot keep squandering big chances against teams in the bottom half of the table.Pulisic admitted that with Chelsea now able to buy players in the January window due to their transfer ban reduced upon appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) he is now relishing the chance to compete with new players for minutes.“It is normal that teams look to improve and and if players do come in there is competition, that is how it goes,” Pulisic said. “So we’ll be ready for that and hopefully we’ll have players that come in and want to help us.”

I have to be more clinical, says Chelsea star Pulisic

AFP•January 2, 2020London (AFP) – Christian Pulisic says he and his Chelsea team-mates have to develop a killer instinct in front of goal if they are to stop dropping points as they did against Brighton on Wednesday.The 21-year-old United States captain missed three gilt-edged chances in the 1-1 draw — though ultimately it was not too costly in terms of the race for Champions League places as both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur lost.Fourth-placed Chelsea have a five-point advantage over United while Spurs and Wolverhampton Wanderers are a further point adrift.However, Pulisic, who has scored five times in his first season with Chelsea since his £58 million transfer ($76 million) from Borussia Dortmund, says Chelsea must put right their lack of accuracy when chances pop up.”We said at half-time that we had the chance to kill the game and we just weren’t able to,” said Pulisic.”We couldn’t get the goal and in the end they found an unbelievable goal.”So now it is about doing a bit more to keep going, attack and create chances and just have that killer instinct. Just a little bit of that, we are missing that.”Pulisic, who earlier in the season became the youngest Chelsea player to score a hat-trick in the 4-2 win over Burnley, says he is as much to blame as the others.”I can do better with that as well,” said the forward.”Just being more clinical in the final third, finding the right pass or shot and scoring the goals. That’s both mental and technical.”

Armchair Analyst: First USMNT camp of the 2020s a sign of what’s to come

December 30, 20192:48PM ESTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

The January US men’s national team camp, which is always an extended camp and never falls even partially during an international break, is a time for experimentation. In the past that experimentation has usually meant new faces at the fringe of the roster – guys on the verge of working themselves in for real, or out for good – or tactical tweaks, or the introduction of a new head coach. Last year’s camp, the first under Gregg Berhalter, was a time for all three.This year’s camp has an almost entirely different feel. First off, it’s not in Carson, California, the traditional winter palace for Camp Cupcake. Rather, the bulk of the camp (January 5 through 25th) will be in Doha, Qatar, theoretically in preparation for the 2022 World Cup.Second, this camp roster has much more of a youth national team(s) influence than past camps. There are 14 U-23s mixed into the 25-man roster, and three of those guys are actually U-20s. Two of those have never played a first-team minute.So it is a wildly experimental group, one that seems to say “we really are trying to integrate our programs from both the bottom up and the top down.” Let’s take a look at it through that lens:

The full-time USMNTers

Sean Johnson is either second or third on the goalkeeper depth chart. Reggie Cannon (U-23 eligible) is second or third on the right back depth chart. Aaron Long is a starter at center back and Walker Zimmerman is third or fourth on the CB depth chart.Sebastian Lletget is the starting No. 10 as of now, and Cristian Roldan is second or third on the No. 8 depth chart. Jackson Yueill (U-23 eligible) is second on the No. 6 depth chart.Jordan Morris is a starting winger, while Paul Arriola and Jonathan Lewis (U-23 eligible) are probably third and fourth on the winger depth chart. Gyasi Zardes is second or third on the center forward depth chart.

The fringe guys pushing in

Matt Turner and Bill Hamid are both there to challenge Johnson and try to leap ahead of Brad Guzan. Turner was called in back in November as well, while this is Hamid’s first US camp with Berhalter.The only field player on the roster that fits this mold is left back Chase Gasper, who’s in his second straight camp after a strong rookie season for Minnesota United. Gasper’s just about a year too old to be U-23 eligible, otherwise he’d be in this next group…

The U-23s

Cannon, Yueill and Lewis have already been mentioned. There’s also Quakes Homegrown ‘keeper J.T. Marcinkowski, who’s played a bunch in the USL Championship the past couple of years and seems to be the No. 1 choice at ‘keeper for the U-23s. I will admit surprise that Philly‘s Matt Freese isn’t on this list, but there are only so many places up for grabs.Center backs Justen Glad and Mark McKenzie have both been at US camps before, though neither has made an appearance. Know who’s not here? Fellow U-23 eligible CB Miles Robinson, who has made a full US appearance but was injured (hamstring) back in October while doing fitness training after a USMNT game in which he didn’t play. Atlanta weren’t happy about it publicly, and my guess is they were livid about it privately.Twelve weeks is usually plenty of time to recover from a hamstring strain, and they have their own January camp opening up on the 11th ahead of their CCL campaign. Plus it seems like they’re no longer wild about releasing players unless they absolutely have to.Left back Sam Vines had an understated and solid – and sometimes defensively outstanding – age 20 season for Colorado. He’s not a game-breaker out there, but he’s not a match-loser, either.Paxton Pomykal has been capped once, and is healthy after an October procedure to clean up a lingering muscle issue in his lower abdomen. Brenden Aaronson‘s been to a camp but hasn’t been capped, and Christian Cappis has performed well – sometimes as a No. 8, sometimes as a No. 6 – for both his club in Denmark and the US U-23s.I still don’t know what position Jesus Ferreira is best at. What I do know is that he had one of the most productive seasons by a teenager in MLS history, registering 8g/6a while playing some as a No. 9, some as a winger and some as a central midfield playmaker. This is his first camp after officially earning US citizenship.

The U-20s

Here’s where it gets kind of fun: The inclusion of LA Galaxy right back Julian Araujo, Wolfsburg U-19 winger Uly Llanez and unattached D.C. United academy product Bryang Kayo (there are rumors he’ll be signing with Wolfsburg) seems to be Gregg Berhalter’s way of saying “we want to integrate as large a part of the core of the next U-20 group into the full program as quickly as possible.”Araujo, who played 900 minutes for the Galaxy this year, was born in 2001, as was Llanez, who’s been tearing it up in the German youth ranks after developing in the Galaxy academy. Kayo’s a 2002. It’s a very, very good bet that all three of those guys will be part U-20 qualifying, which is in June. It’s close as hell, and so let’s get these kids bloody.

A few notes:

  • Contrast Wolfsburg letting Llanez gowith Borussia Dortmund presumably refusing to release Gio Reyna, who’s made the 18 for them in the past. That suggests Llanez isn’t quite ready to break through into the first team, which is obviously just fine – he’s still a kid.
  • Michael Bradleyand Wil Trapp were regulars for the US in 2019, but neither are here, nor is Jozy Altidore, nor is Guzan (who wasn’t released). I wouldn’t bet even a small amount that this means Berhalter has permanently moved beyond those guys (there’s a good chance Bradley is still rehabbing after the injury he picked up in MLS Cup), but I wouldn’t be entirely shocked, either.
  • Conspicuous in their absenceare a pair of MLS-based U-23 strikers, Jeremy Ebobisseand Mason Toye. Ebobisse just had surgery, so that explains that. Toye… it’s tougher to say. He had a scorching run this summer, but struggled mightily in his most recent U-23 camp.Olympic qualifying is in March, by the way. For all of these age-eligible guys, the time to start performing is right now. Anybody who comes out of the gates slow in 2020 is at risk of losing their spot.
  • Another U-23, Cappis’s Hobro teammateEmmanuel Sabbi, is also conspicuous in his absence. My guess is Hobro intend to sell him next month (there have been rumors for a year now), which is why he’s not there.
  • Remember, before you lose your minds in the comments section below, that the January camp is not held during an international date and therefore clubs are under no obligation to release players. That especially includes European clubs, almost all of whom have their seasons re-starting this month and are holding camps of their own.

Here’s the roster:

Pos. Player Club
GK Johnson, Sean New York City FC
GK Hamid, Bill D.C. United
GK Marcinkowski, JT San Jose Earthquakes
GK Turner, Matt New England Revolution
D Araujo, Julian LA Galaxy
D Cannon, Reggie FC Dallas
D Gasper, Chase Minnesota United
D Glad, Justen Real Salt Lake
D Long, Aaron NY Red Bulls
D McKenzie, Mark Philadelphia Union
D Vines, Sam Colorado Rapids
D Zimmerman, Walker LAFC
M Aaronson, Brenden Philadelphia Union
M Cappis, Christian Hobro
M Kayo, Bryang Unattached
M Lletget, Sebastian LA Galaxy
M Pomykal, Paxton FC Dallas
M Roldan, Cristian Seattle Sounders
M Yueill, Jackson San Jose Earthquakes
F Arriola, Paul D.C. United
F Ferreira, Jesus FC Dallas
F Lewis, Jonathan Colorado Rapids
F Llanez, Ulysses Wolfsburg
F Morris, Jordan Seattle Sounders
F Zardes, Gyasi Columbus Crew SC

My MLS best XI of the decade | Bobby Warshaw

December 26, 2019

Eveery player wants to pursue excellence. The ultimate goal is to achieve excellence that lasts, that leaves a legacy. It’s not just a singular act or year, but a mark that leaves an impression that gets remembered.That’s what we’re looking at today. The MLS Team of the Decade. The players who set the highest standards for their respective positions.This is far from a science. For me there are two main factors that go into consideration: Longevity and Peak. The maximum height of ability, significance and contribution achieved matters; and the full body of work over the 10 years matters. The final score is not a direct sum of the two, nor is there a precise weight for either category. It’s a subjective measurement of the players’ contributions as a player.Miguel Almiron, for example, might have been the most effective player the league has ever seen — high Peak. He only played in MLS for two years, though, so he has a low Longevity score. Put together, he doesn’t quite make the list.

 

Stefan Frei – Goalkeeper
2 MLS Cups, 1 Supporters’ Shield, 1 USOC, 3 Canadian Championships
It would be nice to ease into a column like this, but we start with one of the toughest decisions in the team. Nick Rimando has the most games played and the most wins; he’s been consistently excellent for 10 years (though hasn’t won a trophy this decade). Luis Robles won three Shields and a Goalkeeper of the Year award (and the Best XI nomination that comes with it). Both would be worthy picks. It’s tough to skip over a guy with seven trophies (!) in 10 years, though. Stefan Frei won a trophy in six different years this decade. His 2016 MLS Cup performance included one of the most iconic saves in league history. He’s been good for the 10 years, and great in the biggest moments.
Runners-up: Nick Rimando, Luis Robles

 

Justin Morrow – Left Back
1 MLS Cup, 2 Supporters’ Shields, 3 Canadian Championships, 1 Best XI, 16th in Games Won
It’s been easy to overlook how good Justin Morrow has been throughout his career. He entered MLS in 2010 as a second-round draft pick and took two years to become a starter. Since then, he has been one of the left backs almost every season. To put his 2017 Best XI selection into context: Only three outside backs have made the Best XI this decade (Todd Dunivant and Kemar Lawrence are the others). Morrow has been equally adept at both sides of the ball. He can lock down opposing wingers and then use his speed to fly into the attack. He’s also been able to adapt between styles and formations, from the bruising “Goonies” of the San Jose Earthquakes to the cerebral treble-winning Toronto FC sides.
Runner-up: Todd Dunivant

 

Steven Beitashour – Right Back
1 MLS Cup, 3 Supporters’ Shields, 3 Canadian Championships
It’s not a coincidence that two of the best teams of the decade — the 2012 Quakes and 2017 TFC — had Steven Beitashour and Morrow controlling the flanks (and we could add 2019 LAFC to Beitashour’s list). Beitashour was drafted two spots (No. 30 overall) after Morrow in the 2010 draft. Like Morrow, it’s been easy to miss Beitashour’s excellence. (Such is life as an outside back, I suppose.) It’s interesting to describe Beitashour as a player. He doesn’t have an A+ trait; he doesn’t stand out of the page in any way; he hasn’t had any specifically spectacular individual seasons. Rather, he’s simply an excellent soccer player who always plays to a certain level. He’s diligent defensively, solid on the ball and smart going forward. Beitashour might have been the best value-for-championship-potential player in MLS over the last decade.
Runner-up: Graham Zusi

 

Chad Marshall – Center Back
Omar Gonzalez – Center Back
Marshall: 1.5 MLS Cups, 1 Supporters’ Shield, 1 USOC, 1 Defender of the Year, 2x Best XI
Gonzalez: 3 MLS Cups, 2 Supporters’ Shields, 1 Defender of the Year, 4x Best XI
It’s often difficult to get excited about defenders. They stop the excitement rather than create it. Chad Marshall and Omar Gonzalez, though, were as fun to watch as any attacker in the league. They went about the position with equal measures of grace and dominance. They could hang with the most talented attackers, and you’d struggle to find a moment when they looked frazzled. They were each dominant in the air – count them in the top tier with Ike OparaKei Kamara and Alan Gordon – and deceivingly quick on the ground. While neither received enough credit for their passing, they both played in two of the best passing teams of the last 10 years. Most importantly, they were both winners. Eight of the 10 MLS Cups in the 2010s have featured either Marshall or Gonzalez.
Runner-up: Matt Besler

 

Diego Chara – Midfielder
Ozzie Alonso – Midfielder
Diego Valeri – Midfielder
Chara: 1 MLS Cup
Alonso: 1 MLS Cup, 1 Supporters’ Shield, 3 USOC, 1 Best XI, most games won
Valeri: 82 goals, 62 assists in 229 games, 3x Best XI, 1 MVP
Ozzie Alonso and Diego Valeri are locks. They both embody the combination of Peak + Longevity. You could build a base for Nico Lodeiro, who has had the single largest footprint on his team of the options here, or Kyle Beckerman or Dax McCarty, who have been steady forces in the engine room for almost every possible game, to take Diego Chara’s spot. It’s always been easy to overlook the Colombian. If we look at the full body of work over the 10 years, though, I feel safe giving Chara the spot. He’s been one of the best players on the field in just about every one of the 278 games he’s played this decade.
Runners-up: Nico Lodeiro, Kyle Beckerman, Dax McCarty, Federico Higuain, Brad Davis

 

Robbie Keane – Forward
92 goals, 51 assists in 146 games, 3 MLS Cups, 1 Supporters’ Shield, 4x Best XI, 1 MVP
Robbie Keane only played five full seasons in MLS, but he had one of the highest Peaks possible. He made the Best XI four (!) straight years and won three MLS Cups. He was virtually un-defendable from 2012 to 2015. He made the list over David Villa and Thierry Henry, who lived in similar “what’s a defender supposed to do?” territory. Ultimately, their MLS tenures are apples to oranges; Keane landed into a dynasty while Villa started a club from scratch and Henry’s New York Red Bulls had just missed the playoffs when he arrived. It’s unfair to keep Villa or Henry off the list just because they didn’t win trophies that nobody expected them to win, but we need a differentiator, and the game is about championships in the end.

 

Sebastian Giovinco – Forward
73 goals and 57 assists in 125 games, 1 MLS Cup, 1 Supporters’ Shield, 3x Best XI, 1 MVP
Sebastian Giovinco gets the last spot because he was the most spectacular individual of the decade. Villa, Keane, Josef Martinez et al could put together unreal performances; Giovinco’s were better. Nothing in the past 10 years compared to some of the individual performances that Giovinco provided. He had the highest Peak score of anyone in the league. He set a new bar for how an individual player could impact a game.

 

Chris Wondolowski – Forward
153 goals, 35 assists, in 312 games, 1 Supporters’ Shield, 3x Best XI, 1 MVP
Chris Wondolowski’s in. You can’t dispute that. He receives a max Longevity score — in the last 10 years, he went from Development Player to Designated Player and scored 152 of his record 159 goals. He also hit a high peak, with an MLS MVP award in 2012.
Runners-up: Kei Kamara, David Villa, Thierry Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Landon Donovan, Josef Martinez
It hurts to leave Kamara and BWP off the list. They both pounded home goals for almost the entire 10 years — BWP finished with 117, Kamara 115 — and I would understand if someone would pick their steady Longevity over Giovinco’s ridiculous peak.

 

Bruce Arena – Manager
3 MLS Cups, 2 Supporters’ Shields
Bruce Arena won more trophies than anyone else during the decade. He also put together the last unquestioned dynasty, and perhaps the best team in league history. Peter Vermes turned Sporting Kansas City into one of the model clubs, winning four trophies along the way. He established the first “pressing” team in league history, only to pivot halfway through the decade and continue winning. The last spot goes to the Sigi Schmid/Brian Schmetzer combination. Sigi guided the Sounders through the first half of the decade, quickly pushing an expansion team into the top echelon of the league. Schmetzer took the club the last mile, winning two MLS Cups in four years. It’s hard to decouple their work and what they’ve each meant to the Club of the Decade.
Runners-up: Peter Vermes, Sigi Schmid/Brian Schmetzer

 

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12/13/19 US Ladies Time Athlete of year, Champ League Sweet 16, El Classico, Club World Cup Wed,

USA

U.S. Women’s Soccer team named TIME’s 2019 athlete of the year

USWNT dubbed Time Magazine’s 2019 Athletes of the Year

Rapinoe picks up SI’s Sportsperson of the Year

McConaughey: Soccer in America can take over baseball, hockey
McIntyre’s USMNT Stock Watch: John Brooks and Sergino Dest looking to end 2019 on a high note

Pulisic Watch: Chelsea’s American star shines in Champions League (video)

 

WORLD

What you need to know about the FIFA Club World Cup

FIFA Club World Cup: How to watch, stream, follow

 

EPL
PL Club Power Rankings: Week 16

 

Champions League

Who can Premier League clubs draw in the Champions League knockout rounds?

Pulisic Watch: Chelsea’s American star shines in Champions League (video)
 US Coach Jesse Marsch: ‘We will be proud eventually’ after loss to Liverpool

Azpilicueta: ‘Champions League is where Chelsea belong’

 Chelsea controls Lille to clinch UCL knockout round berth
Lampard strives for more as Chelsea edge into Champions League last 16
Liverpool, Chelsea through to Champions League last 16 as Ajax go out

Neymar makes impression as PSG crush Galatasaray

Mourinho: No one will want to draw Spurs in Champions League

Ronaldo scores as Juventus beats Leverkusen in Champs League

Bayern brush aside Mourinho’s Spurs to claim perfect six

Kylian Mbappé scores Champions League goal while fireworks go off on the field (video)

Atletico, Atalanta reach last 16 as Bayern cruise past Spurs
Madrid concludes CL group phase with 3-1 win at Brugge

Bayern Munich tops Spurs 3-1 behind Davies, Coutinho

Jesus ‘cannot stop scoring’ as hat-trick lifts Man City’s mood in Zagreb

Sessegnon beats Neuer to score first Spurs, Champions League goal

Champions League debutants Atalanta reach last 16

Jesus hat-trick downs Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta qualifies for knockouts

Napoli hires former Milan coach Gattuso to replace Ancelotti
Napoli sack Ancelotti despite 4-0 Champions League victory

Dortmund’s Favre delighted with Champions League progression

Fati makes history as Barca send Inter crashing out of Champions League

Napoli beats Genk 4-0 to reach Champions League last 16

Lyon players, fans clash after Depay secures last 16 spot

Zenit eliminated in Champions League after losing to Benfica

Dortmund hold off Slavia to reach Champions League last 16

Napoli fires coach Carlo Ancelotti despite advancing in CL

Ajax crash out of Champions League after defeat by Valencia

Ancelotti sacked despite guiding Napoli to Champions League last 16

Ancelotti’s reign ends amid feuding as Napoli turn to Gattuso

Inter out of Champions League after 2-1 loss to Barcelona

UCL wrap: Barca’s mints record young goal scorer in eliminating Inter

 

MLS

Report: Toronto FC re-sign Michael Bradley

LA Galaxy add former MLS assist king Kljestan

ATLUTD complete permanent transfer for Hyndman

Meg Whitman explains Cincinnati investment : “The right sport, right town”

US Men’s College Cup Final 4

12/5 Megan Rapino, Messi Win Ballon D’Or, Manchester Derby Sat, Champions League Tues/Wed, Carmel FC Coaches Gather 12/12

Nice to see Megan Rapino take home the World’s Best Player award on Monday, she really has become more than just a soccer player after her performance in the World Cup – helping the US Ladies win their record 4th World Cup Title, I for one was rooting for Virgil Van Dyke to become the first defender in forever to win the Men’s Best Player Award but of course Messi wins it again. Hard to deny Messi again had a great year but I really wanted to see someone different win it this year – I guess it was the closest ever vote as Van Dyke lost by less than 1%.  Too bad.  Big Games this weekend on Saturday at noon on NBC we get Manchester City hosting Manchester United in the Manchester Darby, and Saturday morning on Fox Sports 2 at 9:30 am we have the top 2 teams in Germany as US midfielder Johnson and top seeded Borussia Mgladbach host Bayern Munich with their new coach looking to take themback to the top of the league.   

Champions League Final Group Games Next Tues/Wed

I have had a blast watching US Starlet Christian Pulisic at Chelsea not only start but also score important goals.  His Champions League goal 2 weeks back helped Chelsea garner the tie – which leaves them in prime position to qualify for the knockout rounds (Sweet 16).   The two U.S.  players who have been getting regular minutes in the UEFA Champions League, Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic and Sergino Dest of Ajax, both head into next week’s final group stage matchday with a spot in the knockout stage on the line. It would be foolish to bet against Pulisic pulling the Blues, though. The Pennsylvania native’s otherworldly recent displays for Frank Lampard’s team have been flat-out unprecedented for an American at the highest level.  Games are Tuesday and Wed with 4 groups still open as to who will either win the group or who will qualify.  Chelsea faces Lille Tuesday at 3 pm on FuboTV and BR Live, while Ajax must win to hold onto 1st in the group vs Valencia at 3 pm on BR Live,  If Ajax and Chelsea win they are thru.  American Coach Jesse Marsh, the first American to ever coach in Champions League, will lead his Salzberg squad into a loser goes home match vs Champions League Holders Liverpool.  Salsberg has the GD lead – so they only need a win to advance while a tie or win on the road will put Liverpool thru to the round of 16.  If course this game will be on Tuesday at 1 pm on TNT, while at 3 pm Tuesday on TNT Inter hosting Barcelona will be needing a win to advance on assuming Dortmund win.  Barca is already thru as the group winner.  Wednesday we get Bayern vs Tottenham on TNT at 3 pm- a game that means nothing, while Athletico Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen battle for their Sweet 16 lives in games vs Lockomotiv and Juve (top team) respectively on BR Live and FuboTV.  Wow how I hate TNT and BR Live having Champions League (man I miss Fox’s old Soccer coverage)

IU loses in Elite 8

I got a chance to tune in and watch the Elite 8 Match where the Hoosiers Lose Heartbreaker at Home in OT of Elite 8.  Horrible conditions with snow blowing sideways found IU tied thru regulation before losing in the 100th minute on an unlucky slip and quick goal from Cal Santa Barbara.  Still a great season for Indiana who has a very young team with most of their starters coming back from this Big Ten Champion Team.

REMINDER TO ALL CARMEL FC COACHES — GATHERING AT WOLFIES THURSDAY EVE Dec 12 at 5:30 pm to say thank you for all your hard work this season.

When: Thursday, December 12th 2019 / 5:30 pm to late

Where: Wolfies Grill – 1162 Keystone Way, Carmel 46032

Why: Carmel FC Social, celebrating 2019/2020 season

What: Light appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided; additional      food & beverages can be purchased separately.

Who: All Carmel FC coaches

GAMES ON TV

Fri Dec 6

3 pm eSPN+                                   Inter vs Roma Berlin

3 pm FS2                                         Frankfurt vs Hertha

3 pm beIN Sport                           Villarreal vs Atletico Madrid

Sat, Dec 7   

7:30 am NBCSN                               Everton vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

9:30 am Foxsoccer            Borussia Mgladbach (Johnson) vs Bayern Munich

9:30 am FS2                                      Dortmund vs Dusseldorf (Morales & Steffan)

10 am??                                             Bournmouth vs Liverpool

12:30 NBCSN                      Man City vs Man United

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Lazio vs Juventus

3 pm beIN Sport                               Barcelona vs Mallarca

Sun, Dec 8

9 am NBCSN                                      Aston Villa vs Leciester City

11:30 am   NBCSN                            Brighton vs Wolverhampton

12 noon FS1                         Paderborn vs Werder Bremen (Stewart)

2:45 pm ESPN News                        Bologna vs Milan

Mon, Dec 9 

3 pm NBCSN                                      West Ham vs Arsenal

Tues, Dec 10   – Champions League

1 pm TNT                                         Salzburg (US Coach Jesse Marsh) vs Liverpool

3 pmTNT                                          Inter vs Barcelona

3 pm fuboTV/BR Live                 Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Lille

3 pm Galavsion/BR Live             Ajax vs Valencia

3 pm                                                  Lyonais vs RB Leipzig (Adams)

3 pm                                                  Dortmund vs Slavia Praha

Weds, Dec  11 – Champions League

1 pm TNT                                         Dinamo Zagreb vs Man City

3 pm TNT                                         Bayern Munich vs Tottenham

3 pm TUDN/fubotv                     Club Brugge vs Real Madrid

3 pm futboTV/galavision          Bayer Levekusen vs Juventus

3 pm futboTV/                              Atletico Madrid vs Lokomotiv Moskov                     

Thur Nov 28

11 am BRLive/fuboTV/TUDN   Astana vs Man United

1 pm BRLive/fuboTV/Unimas Standard Legiege vs Arsenal

WORLD

Messi tops Ronaldo, wins sixth Ballon d’Or award

Messi’s Ballon d’Or form might not be enough for Barca 

Rapinoe wins Ballon d’Or but is so much more than a soccer star

Rapino wins Ballon d’Or

Euro 2020 Draw is Set

Marocotti’s Musings – Football Around the World ESPNFC

Griezmann is an outsider at Barca and an outcast at Atleti

Euro Championship on US network TV for 1st time since ‘08

USA

McIntyre’s USMNT Stock Watch: Christian Pulisic’s unprecedented rise continues

Tyler Adams returns to RB Leipzig training

DMid Yeul had great end to the Year for USMNT

https://sports.yahoo.com/looking-back-at-the-usmn-ts-upanddown-2019-170701640.html

Will MLS have a Work Stoppage ?  ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

Does Playing Pro Soccer Increase the Risk of Degnerative Disease – Soc Takes

Champions League

Table

Christian Pulisic scores Champions League goal for Chelsea

Liverpool left with work after draw vs. Napoli

Salzburg beat Genk to set up group decider with Liverpool

Chelsea denied UCL knockout spot by Valencia

Kepa blows hot and cold in Chelsea draw with Valencia

Forsberg double sends Leipzig into UCL round of 16

Inter beat Slavia to keep knockout hopes alive

Messi breaks Ronaldo UCL record in 700th game

Mourinho has ball boy’s ‘assist’ to thank for UCL comeback

Zenit beat Lyon 2-0 to stay in contention for last-16 spot

Barcelona ratings: Messi 9/10, Suarez 8/10 in convincing win

Sancho benched vs. Barca for lacking focus – boss

Mourinho high-five ‘made my life’ – Spurs ball boy

Spurs Ballboy Joins Team Dinner

Jesse Marsch, who will be first American to coach in Champions League, already eyeing Liverpool test

EPL

Arsenal sack Emery after worst run in 27 years

Marcotti: Arsenal hung Emery out to dry, but he’s not blameless

·        Arsenal interim boss Ljungberg: From CK model to Prem manager

Chelsea are young, rich and among the world’s best — and will only get better

At Man United, Mourinho was right man at wrong time. At Tottenham, it just works

Goalkeeping

Some of Alisson’s Great Saves at Liverpool last year

Pretty Funny parity Alisson Becker Video accepting Best GK

Great Saves International Break

Best Saves Week 4 Nov
Liga MX goalkeeper scores from his own box

Cilicen was a god vs Chelsea in Champions League Wed

Navas Earns Cheer from Real Madrid Crowd after PSG Champions League Game

Megan Rapinoe takes home 2019 Ballon d’Or but is so much more than the best player in women’s soccer

Dec 2, 2019Simon KuperESPN.com writer

PARIS, France — Megan Rapinoe, the second-ever winner of the women’s Ballon d’Or given to the best player on earth, had better things to do than pick up her award in Paris on Monday. “Bonsoir everyone!” she called out cheerily to the theater packed with dinner jackets and ballgowns, in a video that looked as if it was recorded in the corner of her Seattle living room. She apologised for not making it over: “It’s a bummer.” Lionel MessiKylian Mbappe and Virgil van Dijk were among those who had shown up to applaud her, yet her snubbing of the ceremony seemed fair enough: judged by her off- as well as on-field impact, she may be soccer’s biggest icon today.

A really good icon arrives at just the right moment in history. We’re living in an era when women, sexual minorities and non-white people are saying we won’t be treated as second-class humans anymore. Certain men in the traditional ruling class reply we get to decide that. And into that battle walks Rapinoe. Her expressive face, uninhibited humor and sense of style make her an ideal spokeswoman for almost any cause, and as an activist she’s an update on past stars of her sport.The face of American soccer 20 years ago, Mia Hamm, “was sort of a gateway to the world becoming used to female soccer players,” says Gemma Clarke, author of Soccerwomen. “She was marketed as wholesome, as the girl next door.” By contrast, adds Clarke, Rapinoe wouldn’t have been accepted as an icon “even five years ago.”

Messi tops Ronaldo, wins sixth Ballon d’Or award

Ballon d’Or: Messi wins (again), Rapinoe honoured, but where’s Ronaldo?

Why Megan Rapinoe’s brother Brian is her greatest heartbreak, and hope

Messi, Rapinoe win Ballon d’Or prizes

Now 34, Rapinoe spent most of her career just short of front-rank status. Yet even without the protection of stardom, she never shied away from unpopular causes. She campaigned for prisoners’ rights on behalf of her brother, Brian, who has been in and out of prison with drug problems. A former white supremacist with swastika tattoos, he watched many of his sister’s triumphs from behind bars.In 2016, she became the first white American athlete to kneel during the national anthem in solidarity with the anti-racism campaigner and NFL player Colin Kaepernick. “It took guts. It could have ended her career,” says Clarke. The U.S. Soccer Federation responded by banning the act of kneeling. Meanwhile, Rapinoe and her girlfriend, WNBA star Sue Bird, were “normalizing a lesbian relationship” in American public life, notes Brenda Elsey, coauthor of Futbolera: A History of Women and Sports in Latin America.But Rapinoe’s joint careers as athlete and activist reached their crescendo this summer. If the U.S.’s victory at the World Cup in France was expected, her domination of the tournament wasn’t. She hasn’t been the best female player of her era, but she peaked when it mattered. “She’s a big-time player,” says the USWNT’s coach Jill Ellis. Rapinoe’s confidence — exemplified by her trademark arms-outstretched celebration, known as “the Rapinoe” — was a rejection of old-style submissive femininity, and particularly stunning coming from a working-class woman.Rapinoe dared take on Trump, the candidate who had swept most voters in her rural northern Californian hometown — including her own father. She promised she wouldn’t be visiting the “[expletive] White House” if the U.S. became world champions. “Megan should win first before she talks!” tweeted Trump. A few days later she’d not only won her second World Cup, but also the Golden Ball for best player and Golden Boot for highest scorer. playRapinoe has called herself “a walking protest” and her advocacy of the U.S. team’s lawsuit for equal pay was another feet-first leap into one of the social issues of 2019. Her own career had almost been cut short by gender inequality: four years ago, she tore her ACL while practicing with the USWNT on a grass field in Hawaii so bad that it was lined with plastic-covered sewer plates. “Equal pay!” the crowd in Lyon chanted after the Americans defeated the Dutch in the World Cup final, a chant that’s resounded through stadiums across the National Women’s Soccer League this year. But the USWNT’s lawsuit shines a light for women beyond sport, and beyond the U.S. too.In modern sports, activism is usually treated as a potential distraction. Speaking in platitudes or sponsor-fed slogans is considered the professional thing to do. Even some of Rapinoe’s teammates on the national team seem to take that view. They talked about wanting to “stay in their bubble” during the tournament, says Caitlin Murray, author of The National Team, about the USWNT. Rapinoe’s spat with Trump threatened to pull them out of it, but the furor didn’t distract them; equally, it seemed to energize her.

Rapinoe is more than a professional: she is a performer. On the pitch she’ll joke with the referee, banter with opponents, or acknowledge a fan, says Murray. “She always looks like she’s having fun.” Her irreverence seems to help her stay loose on the field, and lets her relax a potentially overstressed locker room.Wowing the world has left her little time for her Seattle club, Reign FC: her stats for this season are no goals and no assists in just 333 minutes of play. But then, she’s made for greater things, like further investment in women’s soccer. In a video celebrating her Ballon d’Or, her father mused: “I don’t know where you go from here: the best player of the universe?” In fact, her international playing career may culminate with next year’s Tokyo Olympics, but that would surely just unleash her onto a new path, or maybe various paths. “At this point she’s so popular that she could do almost anything,” says Elsey. It’s easy to picture her running for political office, but that feels perhaps too tritely obvious for her.”That’s the thing about the greatest icons,” says Clarke. “There’s really nobody to compare them to.”

Euro Championship on US network TV for 1st time since ‘08

The Associated Press•December 3, 2019

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — The European Championship is returning to U.S. network television for the first time since 2008.ESPN said Tuesday that five of the 51 matches will be televised on ABC. In 2008, ABC carried two of 31 games: a quarterfinal and Spain’s victory over Germany in the final.All of ABC’s telecasts will be on weekends: Belgium-Russia on June 13, Spain-Poland on June 20, round of 16 matches on June 27 and June 28 and a quarterfinal on July 4.Ian Darke will be ESPN’s lead commentator and will broadcast the opener between Italy and Turkey at Rome on June 12 and the final in London on July 12, paired with analyst Taylor Twellman.Thirty-nine games will be on ESPN, including the opener and the final, and seven on ESPN2.Univision has U.S. Spanish-language rights.

McIntyre’s USMNT Stock Watch: Christian Pulisic’s unprecedented rise continues

Doug McIntyreYahoo Sports•December 3, 2019

It’s early December and the year is already over for the United States men’s national team and all of its MLS-based players. For those members toiling away in Europe, though, things are as busy as ever. The Bundesliga is hurtling toward its month-long winter break, with German Cup games also on tap this week.

There’s a full slate of midweek English Premier League fixtures, the Prem schedule now ramping up ahead of the jam-packed festive period at the end of the month. Meantime, the two U.S. reps who have been getting regular minutes in the UEFA Champions League, Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic and Sergino Dest of Ajax, both head into next week’s final group stage matchday with a spot in the knockout stage on the line.

It would be foolish to bet against Pulisic pulling the Blues, though. The Pennsylvania native’s otherworldly recent displays for Frank Lampard’s team have been flat-out unprecedented for an American at the highest level. The news isn’t as rosy for others, but that’s as good a place as any to kick off our latest USMNT Stock Watch.

USMNT players trending up

M/F Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (England)

Pulisic wasn’t able to prevent Chelsea from losing at home to West Ham over the weekend, but he’s been Lampard’s best player for the last six weeks, scoring seven goals across all competitions — including in last week’s thrilling 2-2 tie at Valencia in the Champions League — in his last eight outings.

Takeaway: Mexican striker Raul Jimenez took home PFA Fans’ Player of the Month honors for November, but it could’ve just as easily gone to Pulisic. After a rough start to life in London, the 21-year-old is now in the form of his young career and hitting heights never before seen from a U.S player. After a quiet outing on Saturday, expect a strong response from Pulisic in Wednesday’s contest vs. Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge.

M Weston McKennie, Schalke (Germany)

After entering as a substitute against Werder Bremen on Nov. 23 following international duty, McKennie reclaimed his starting job for last Friday’s 2-1 win over Union Berlin.

Takeaway: The Texan might not have a goal or an assist yet, but the versatile 21-year-old —who has even played a little center back this year — is quietly having an excellent season under new coach (and former USMNT midfielder) David Wagner, helping Schalke rebound from an awful 2018-19 and into third place in the Bundesliga.

G Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

After a rough outing against Bayern Munich two weekends ago, the U.S. No. 1’s five stops stole a point for Fortuna away to Hoffenheim.

Takeaway: The best news of all regarding Steffen is that the 24-year-old only has to play four more Bundesliga matches before the break provides some badly needed rest for his sore left knee.

M Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

The Berlin-born central midfielder, 29, has started four consecutive games for Fortuna, going the distance in each of the last three.

Takeaway: No player in the U.S. pool forced his way into U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter’s plans though club performances more than Morales — who hadn’t been capped since 2016 — did this year. He’s clearly established himself as a regular, if not a starter, heading into 2020.

D Antonee Robinson, Wigan (England)

Robinson has played almost every minute of second-tier Wigan’s 19 league games this season and has also been a mainstay with the U.S. U-23s.

Takeaway: The Latics have struggled mightily this season and while Robinson, 22, has struggled at times he continues to pick up valuable experience. In March, he’ll be key part of the U-23s effort to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. And given the U.S.’s ongoing depth issues at left back, don’t be surprised if he gets the opportunity to add to his seven caps later in the new year.

USMNT players trending down

M/F Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (Turkey)

Boyd was pulled at halftime of last week’s 2-1 Europa League win over Slovan Bratislava, and the New Zealand-reared attacker has played just 14 minutes over Besiktas’ last seven Super Lig matches, including Monday’s 4-1 win over Kayserispor.

Takeaway: The third-place Black Eagles have won six times and drawn once in seven games over that span, making it unlikely that the 24-year-old will see a ton of action over the club’s final four league matches before Turkey’s winter break. Whether Boyd retains his starting Europa League role next week at Premier League Wolves remains to be seen.

D/M DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle (England)

A hip injury rendered Yedlin unavailable for Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City.

Takeaway: The timing stinks for the veteran right back, as Newcastle is back in action Wednesday against Sheffield United. Yedlin had started the Magpies’ previous six Prem matches. But if he can’t go midweek, and if Javier Manquillo produces another strong showing in his stead, the 26-year-old Seattle native could be forced to win back his spot when healthy.

M/F Julian Green, Greuther Furth (Germany)

An MCL injury has forced Green out of the second-tier club’s last two matches.

Takeaway: Although he’s been ignored by Berhalter so far, Green — who is still just 24 — was quietly having a strong season for Greuther Furth, with four goals in 13 total 2. Bundesliga games, when he went down. Green will probably have to pick up where he left off, at the least, in early 2020 to earn a USMNT look in March.

F Bobby Wood, Hamburg (Germany)

After going all of October without seeing the field in the 2. Bundesliga, Wood played in each of Hamburg’s last three games. But he was yanked at halftime of Die Rothosen’s most recent match, a 2-1 loss to Osnabruck, and still hasn’t scored this campaign

Takeaway: It’s been a miserable year for the 27-year-old, who went without a cap in 2019 for the first time since breaking in with the U.S. in 2012. Even with the USMNT’s lack of depth up top, Wood figures to remain on the outside unless and until he reverses his fortunes at club level.

USMNT Stock Watch: Surprise November standout Jackson Yueill trending up

Doug McIntyreYahoo Sports•November 25, 2019

For the U.S. men’s national team, recent wins against Canada and Cuba did more than qualify the Americans for June’s CONCACAF Nations League semifinals. The two matches also provided some valuable insight into where a number of players fit within the positional pecking order under coach Gregg Berhalter.That matters, because the twin victories also guaranteed that Berhalter will remain at the helm of the USMNT through at least next summer. Berhalter’s first year had some low lows, with shocking losses against the Canadians and fellow border rival Mexico sticking out. The fanbase remains cynical, quite understandably after missing last year’s World Cup.But if Berhalter is to lead the USMNT to a more convincing 2020, he’ll likely lean on many of the names listed in the section immediately below. As for those Americans whose national team sock is trending the other direction at the moment, they should be heartened by the knowledge that fortunes can change quickly at the sport’s highest level.With the program’s 2019 slate finished, here’s a snapshot of where some of the national team’s most interesting players stand right now.

USMNT players trending up

M Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

The crafty central midfielder started both U.S. games in November, turning in two fine performances despite having not logged a minute of action since the Quakes’ season ended in early October.

Takeaway: No player helped himself more this month than the 22-year-old Yueill, who will head into 2022 as a presumed starter even when veteran Michael Bradley returns from the ankle injury he suffered during MLS Cup. “I really liked his intensity,” Berhalter said after naming Yueill his man of the match against Cuba. “He didn’t let up for 90 minutes, and to turn around from a very physical Canada match to now play again in these conditions, I thought he did a great job.”

D Sergino Dest, Ajax (Netherlands)

The USMNT officially cap-tied the Dutch-born fullback against Canada, and Dest looked like a man with a weight lifted off his shoulders in the 4-1 win.

Takeaway: With Dest’s decision to represent the U.S. now made, the 19-year-old figures to quickly establish himself as a key player on both sides of the ball. “It feels great if you can do both,” Dest said after the Canada match. “I also want to make an impact on the team defensive-wise and attacking-wise.”

M Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy (MLS)

With Christian Pulisic nursing a hip injury, Lletget stepped into a playmaking role against Canada and provided some of the attacking swagger that was missing in October’s 2-0 loss north of the border.

Takeaway: “Sebastian is a guy that gives you a little bit more of the game-changing quality that that Christian possesses,” Berhalter said after his side exacted revenge on Les Rouges in Orlando. Lletget probably returns to the bench when Pulisic’s healthy, but he definitely didn’t hurt his case for more minutes in 2020.

M/F Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders (MLS)

Morris scored five goals in the final five U.S. matches of 2019, including two in last week’s 4-0 rout of Cuba.

Takeaway: The all-action 25-year-old is coming off a career season for club and country; Morris was the USMNT’s best player during the second half of 2019. Don’t be surprised if European suitors come calling. “I’d never rule anything out,” Morris told Yahoo Sports after helping his hometown Sounders to a second MLS Cup in four years earlier this month. “If an offer or something came along that I really enjoyed and thought was right for me, I would have no quarrels with making a jump.”

D John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Germany)

Brooks made just his second appearance under Berhalter in Orlando, and his experience and pedigree made a huge difference defensively. “He’s got that quality about him that’s very calming,” center back partner Aaron Long said. “He’s very smooth on the ball, definitely a guy that calms the game down for us.”

Takeaway: While Brooks’ ability has rarely been in doubt, questions about his commitment and ability to stay heathy remain. Only time will tell if the 26-year-old answers them in 2020.

F Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew (MLS)

U.S. fans’ favorite whipping boy at least temporarily silenced his haters with two well-taken strikes in Orlando.

Takeaway: Goals aside, Zardes still had an excellent match, making smart decisions on and away from the ball. He might not be Berhalter’s first choice up top when everyone is available, but in a paper-thin forward pool he proved that he should remain in the conversation for minutes.

F Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Germany)

Sargent didn’t let the disappointment of not playing against Canada linger versus Cuba, against whom the 19-year-old scored twice.

Takeaway: It was a fitting way to end the year for Sargent, who wasn’t even in the coach’s plans as recently as June’s Gold Cup. “Overall I think you can tell he was hungry to score goals and that’s what I liked,” Berhalter said. “He had a very good mentality in this match.”

D Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls (MLS)

The 27 year-old scored the backbreaking third goal against Canada and went the distance in the 2019 finale, too.

Takeaway: It was a strong way to finish the year for Long, who suffered late summer swoon with both his club and national team after the Red Bulls turned down an offer from English Premier League strugglers West Ham.

USMNT players trending down

G Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

With tendonitis in is his left knee, Steffen was allowed to skip both games and rest. But he struggled in his return, gifting Bayern Munich its second goal in Saturday’s 4-0 loss.

Takeaway: Steffen remains the U.S. No. 1. But his position is perhaps less secure than it was a few weeks go. The 24-year-old continues to struggle playing out of the back, and veteran Brad Guzan acquitted himself well in Steffen’s absence.

D Matt Miazga, Reading (England)

Four months after Miazga started both the Gold Cup semifinal and final, the 24-year-old central defender was left off the U.S. roster entirely this month.

Takeaway: The snub is especially head-scratching considering that the New Jersey native has been ever-present for Reading in the English second tier when healthy. He even scored a game-winning goal against Preston North End shortly before Berhalter’s latest squad was announced.

F Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC (MLS)

Although he was able to recover from a quad injury enough to come off the bench (and score) in the Nov. 10 MLS Cup, Altidore did not join up with the USMNT afterward.

Takeaway: Given the circumstances, no huge surprise there. Still, the fact is that Altidore, who just turned 30, wasn’t around much during Berhalter’s first year in charge. When he was during last summer’s Gold Cup, the coach used him sparingly. It’s fair to wonder how much he fits into the plan going forward.

M Duane Holmes, Derby County (England)

After October’s embarrassment, it stood to reason that Berhalter would call in a fresh face or two. Holmes had been called in earlier in the year, and the hard-running and versatile 25-year-old seemed like an obvious candidate after starting eight of the Rams’ 10 matches before the break.

Takeaway: Holmes’ next chance to play for the U.S. comes in March. Perhaps a few goals between now and then might compel Berhalter to reconsider.

MLS CBA: Will there be a work stoppage? And what do the league and players want?

Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

During the MLS offseason, there will be countless discussions about player signings and trades. There will be various drafts and other roster maneuverings as teams try to retool for next season.Yet the biggest talks of all will involve every player from every team in the league. On Jan. 31, the existing collective bargaining agreement between MLS and the MLS Players Association will expire. The hope is that a new deal will be hashed out, and the two sides have actually been engaged in negotiations for the better part of the past year, but if an agreement can’t be found before the start of the season, the league faces the prospect of a work stoppage.

What’s at stake?

MLS has experienced considerable growth since the last CBA was hashed out in 2015. Heading into that campaign, the league had 20 teams. MLS will begin next season with 26, with another three set to join in the following two years. There has also been sizable investment made by owners, and not just in stadiums. Training facilities, once considered a luxury item, are now becoming ubiquitous. There has been greater investment in salaries as well, with the implementation of targeted allocation money (TAM) having the effect of increasing the salary budget for each team by $4 million a year. As such, according to Forbes, the average valuation of MLS teams has increased by 30% from 2017 to an average of $313 million.Complicating the negotiations is the fact that the current media rights deal is set to expire at the end of 2022, meaning a new media deal will be approved in the middle of the term of the new CBA. It is expected that the next media rights deal will be multiples higher than the existing deal, which pays MLS $90 million a year. That figures to be a complicated topic to tackle, although that hasn’t stopped the union from trying.”We have made detailed proposals to the league on how to deal with that [media rights] issue,” said MLSPA executive director Bob Foose.For these reasons, a work stoppage of any kind would blunt this momentum, although to what degree obviously depends on its length.

What are the odds that there will be a work stoppage?

Historically, the union and the league have been able to avoid a work stoppage, although there have been close calls in the past, including the 2015 deal that was struck just days before the start of the regular season. Mediators were also needed to help the two sides hash out an agreement.”The league isn’t seeking to have a work stoppage, and based on the discussions we’ve been having with the union, we don’t think they are either,” said Mark Abbott, MLS president and deputy commissioner. “I think both we and the union are working in good faith to reach an agreement to extend the CBA. That being said, we certainly recognize that you can’t eliminate entirely the possibility of work stoppage and we’ve been working with our teams over the course of the last year to ensure that they’re prepared and that we’re prepared in case that happened. Again, it’s not something that we’re seeking.”The MLSPA leadership has certainly made more noises about its willingness to go on strike, and has spoken of contingency plans players are making in case there is a work stoppage.”We’ve been talking about and preparing for work stoppage for two and a half years now,” Foose said. “At this point, talking about the details of what that would look like and how we would proceed, and how we would all work together, the players are very serious when they say they’re ready to do what’s best for the full player pool and the future of the [players’ association] and the league.”A strike would see the MLSPA flying in the face of some serious headwinds, however. The fact remains that MLS’ billionaire owners can withstand losing revenue to a much greater degree than the players can cope with missing paychecks. The latest annual filing from 2018 shows that the MLSPA has total assets of $10.5 million, a reflection of not only how relatively young the union is but also how low its salaries are compared with those of players in other North American sports.By comparison, the National Basketball Players Association has total assets of more than $200 million. For the MLSPA, that $10.5 million would disappear pretty quickly in the face of an extended work stoppage. Foose stressed that union funds are not the only resource players can dip into should there be a work stoppage. The players have been preparing on their own as well.”We obviously don’t have the luxury that some of the other [players’ associations] have with an extra zero in [their] resources,” Foose told ESPN. “But we certainly have plenty of money to do what needs to be done on the [players’ association] side of things.”All of that said, it behooves all involved to reach an agreement.”We understand exactly where the business is, and I think we have a very good feel for where it’s going,” Foose said. “And we have no incentive to damage that.””I think we were able to get a bit of a foundation [in late 2018], so going into 2019 we were further along on many issues than we ever had been,” said executive board member Ethan Finlay. “But the process, it’s still early.”So what are the chances that the two sides won’t be able to come to an agreement and a work stoppage will interrupt MLS’ 25th season? There is a 20% chance of that happening; both the league and the players have too much at stake to go down that road.

What’s the timeline?

The CBA might expire on Jan. 31, but the real deadline will take place weeks later. The CONCACAF Champions League round of 16 begins in mid-February, and as long as there isn’t a work stoppage, those games could go forward. The real deadline for a new CBA is the start of the MLS season, which will take place on the weekend of Feb. 29.To hear the union tell it, the league has tended to take a long time to respond to proposals, so while there’s a little more than two months to go until the CBA expires, time can get short in a hurry.”If things don’t move more quickly and [the league] takes the same approach that was taken the last time through, the odds of a stoppage skyrocket, so hopefully that won’t be the case,” Foose said. “A strategy to run out the clock is not going to be looked upon favorably by the player pool or the [players’ association].”

What the MLSPA wants

The growth and investment of MLS has been noticed by the MLSPA, and it understandably is keen to carve out a bigger chunk for its members. But the union’s core issues are centered less on total salary numbers and more on systemic changes such as freedom of movement and allowing the players a greater ability to compete for the league’s dollars.A greater degree of free agency is one of the union’s goals. Although the union faced criticism in 2015 for not extracting more concessions from owners, one goal it did achieve was a limited form of free agency. As it stands, players who are at least 28 years old and who have played in the league at least eight years can be free agents when their contracts expire. They can also receive raises of only between 15% and 25%, depending on their salary level. The union wants the age and time of service threshold to be reduced and wants the cap on salary increases removed or at least raised considerably.The MLSPA would also like to see the salary budget rules simplified. Although the union was pleased to see the league pump more money into player salaries during the existing CBA, the implementation of TAM grated in that it was money that was available only to players making a salary of between $530,000 and $1.5 million. That excludes a large chunk of the rank and file, who are shoehorned into senior, supplemental and reserve roster categories that limit what those players can make.The union would also like to see the league allow its teams greater autonomy in terms of how they build their rosters, rather than have rules dictated by league headquarters.”In the simplest terms, TAM is silly,” Foose said. “It’s not necessary to try and tell our front offices how to sign players; they’re perfectly capable of doing that themselves. And frankly, if they’re not, then they should suffer the consequences, and that’s the kind of accountability that we want to see happen.”The union’s stance is that simplifying the rules would lead to more of a meritocracy. Players’ earnings would be a reflection of how they have performed on the field. It’s worth noting that, according to salary data provided by the MLSPA, 37.4% of the players make annual salaries under $100,000.The union also wants increased spending on charter flights. At present, the vast majority of teams fly commercially, which can lead to long travel days, especially when teams are flying through multiple time zones. This can hamper a player’s physical recovery. Teams are allowed four discretionary charter flights a year, but there is no mandate that they have to use them. Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya recalled how his team didn’t use a single charter flight during the regular season. Foose added that, at the end of 2018, only about half of the available charter flights were used.”It’s unfortunate that this is discussed in a CBA context, because this isn’t a CBA ssue,” Foose said. “It isn’t in other sports and shouldn’t be in ours. It is an infrastructure issue and is tied to player performance.”t’s difficult to imagine this being a “hill to die on” issue for the MLSPA, but Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said, “This is one piece of the pie for us, a very important piece, a commonsense piece, but one that we’re taking very seriously.”

What MLS wants

Broadly — beyond avoiding a work stoppage — MLS wants the same thing it always wants: a level of cost certainty as it pertains to player expenses. Its single-entity structure, whereby the player contracts are with the league rather than with individual teams, has helped achieve this to a large degree. This is especially true to the extent that in most instances teams retain the MLS rights of players even after that player has been transferred or his contract has expired.But MLS also wants control over where that money goes. The introduction of TAM is proof of this, whereby it wanted its teams spending more on players within a specific salary range. The league feels that a program such as TAM has been successful, and MLS will want to retain that kind of discretion as to where investments are made. Could the league have gotten to where it is without TAM? Who knows, but MLS doesn’t sound as if it wants to find out.”There are a variety of different areas that will be the subject of discussion as to where we should be making investments, whether it’s the senior team, whether it’s player development, whether it’s on other benefits,” Abbott told ESPN. “And in the CBA what we’re seeking to do is within the limits of what we’re able to spend that we ensure that we’re allocating those expenditures in the areas that are most likely to have the most impact.”

What happens now?

There were rumblings that an agreement was almost reached in 2018, although that ultimately didn’t take place. At present, the respective positions have been laid out and the two sides have exchanged proposals, but it’s also still early. The talks likely won’t get into serious mode until early January.”We have a ways to go to reach an agreement,” Foose said.Foose had stated previously that the league has been fully transparent in terms of its financials at the league, team and SUM [Soccer United Marketing] level. He has no doubt that MLS is leveling with the union on this topic. He added, “We also have a common understanding with them on the cost of various proposals, so we’re clear on what the changes that we’re seeking are going to cost.”

Euro 2020 draw: Will Germany, France or Portugal be the odd ones out? England, Croatia meet again

Nov 30, 2019James HorncastleItaly writer

Now the Euro 2020 draw has been made, the previews and predictions can begin! The tournament can be viewed LIVE in the U.S. on ESPN networks, from June 12 to July 12.

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

Group A

Prediction: 1. Italy 2. Wales 3. Turkey 4. Switzerland

Overview: Italy were one of two teams (Belgium) to finish qualifying with a perfect record, but avoiding France and Portugal must come as a relief. Turkey took four points from six against France and go to the Euros with the best defensive record on the continent: an almost impregnable wall comprising Merih DemiralOzan Kabak and Caglar Soyuncu. Wales went the furthest of any of these teams at Euro 2016, and we all know where Gareth Bale‘s priorities lie. Switzerland have a wily coach in Vladimir Petkovic and keep games close.

X factor: The atmosphere at the Stadio Olimpico, starting with the tournament opener on June 12 against Turkey. Italy manager Roberto Mancini has talked up replicating the fervour he experienced at Italia `90, and doing so could give an intrepid and fresh-faced side an edge, providing an emotional charge their opponents will find tough to play against.

Must-watch game: Italy vs. Wales (June 21) If Italy knock their heads against Turkey’s brick wall and find it hard to play through a stodgy Switzerland side, the Wales game at the end of this group could light some fireworks. For all his troubles in Madrid, Bale is the arguably the one attacking player in this group who can win a game on his own, while Aaron Ramsey will know all about that Italy backline, having spent a year either training or playing against it.

Group B

Prediction: 1. Belgium 2. Denmark 3. Russia 4. Finland

Overview: No.1 in the FIFA rankings, Belgium had the best attack and defence in qualification and should not be worried by Russia, having beaten them 7-2 on aggregate during their journey to the finals. The Danes are an altogether different proposition and will fancy their chances. Finland, meanwhile, have nothing to lose after reaching a major tournament for the first time in their history. Teemu Pukki scored 10 goals in qualifying.

X factor: Looking beyond Belgium’s array of stars, Christian Eriksen ended qualifying as Denmark’s top scorer and the qualifying rounds’ second-best chance creator behind Antoine Griezmann. Out of contract in the summer, unless he extends with Tottenham, the playmaker could be playing to attract the calibre of interest he was unable to arouse [Real Madrid] at the end of last season.

Must-watch game: Finland vs. Russia (June 17) Saint Petersburg is a ferry ride away from Helsinki so expect the boats to be full. Routinely biffed by bigger neighbours, the Finns impressed in qualifying, and Pukki’s battle with Artem Dzyuba, the towering Zenit striker with the best xG numbers of any forward in qualifying [inflated by games against San Marino, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and Scotland], should be fun.

Group C

Prediction: 1. Netherlands 2. Ukraine 3. Kosovo (assuming qualification) 4. Austria

Overview: After missing the past two major tournaments, Netherlands’ run to the Nations League final, combined with Ajax making the final four of last season’s Champions League, is undoubtedly to the benefit of the Euros. Ukraine were so good in qualifying that they forced their way into the top seeds, dumping France into pot two. Austria are reliant on maverick striker Marko Arnautovic, but have talent elsewhere in Marcel Sabitzer, Valentin Lazaro and David Alaba. Of the playoff teams competing to complete the group, Kosovo were such a joy to watch in qualifying that it’s hard not to root for them to reach their first major tournament.

X factor: The Dutch have arguably the best centre-back partnership at the Euros. No centre-back has gone closer to becoming the first defender to win the Ballon d’Or since Fabio Cannavaro than Virgil van Dijk, while his partner Matthijs de Ligt emerged as perhaps the brightest talent of his generation in that position. Moreover, the pair also present a real threat from attacking set pieces.

Must-watch game: Netherlands vs. Ukraine (June 14) Andriy Shevchenko’s side are a tough cookie, having kept five clean sheets in eight unbeaten qualifiers. Draws in Portugal and Serbia indicate Ukraine won’t be fazed in Amsterdam, meaning it is a trap game for the Dutch. Atalanta playmaker Ruslan Malinovskyi looks like he came through Ajax’s finishing school, such is the refinement of his technique, while Gent striker Roman Yaremchuk — four goals in seven qualifiers — could not wish for a better mentor than Sheva himself.

Group D

Prediction: 1. England 2. Croatia 3. Norway (assuming qualification) 4. Czech Republic

Overview: If England go one better than at the past World Cup when Gareth Southgate’s team reached the semifinals, five of their seven games will be at Wembley. World Cup runners-up Croatia should push them for top spot, although the Czechs beat England in qualifying. When it comes to the playoff teams, a home nations game between England and Scotland appeals, but what about Norway and the talent emerging in their ranks? Don’t you want to see Erling Haaland, Martin Odegaard and Sander Berge putting on a show?

Euro 2020 begins on June 12, with the final in London on July 12. Getty

X factor: Haaland firing Norway to the Euros would be a fantastic story, particularly in the same year he became the first teenager to score in his first five Champions League games. Not guaranteed to see that, we can at least count on the presence of Harry Kane, who finished top scorer in qualifying with 12 goals in eight games.

Must-watch game: England vs. Croatia (June 14) Group D’s opener is a repeat of the 2016 World Cup semifinal and a Nations League tie, in which England came from behind to win late, even if much has changed in recent times. After winning the Ballon d’Or on the back of inspiring his country to the final in Russia, Luka Modric has had one of the worst years of his career, while Ivan Rakitic is on the margins at Barcelona. England, meanwhile, have more talent with Jadon Sancho having burst onto the scene, but have not necessarily pushed on in the past two years.

Group E

Prediction: 1. Spain 2. Poland 3. Sweden 4. Bosnia and Herzegovina (assuming qualification)

Overview: Tensions are high in the Spain camp following Luis Enrique’s return and subsequent war of words with former assistant Robert Moreno; whether the ripple effects are still felt by June remain to be seen. Poland have the best striker in the world in Robert Lewandowski, skilful midfielders like Piotr Zielinski and Wojciech Szczesny, who is overlooked whenever there is a conversation about the best goalkeepers on the planet. Sweden made the quarterfinals of the last World Cup — without Zlatan Ibrahimovic — and look to have found an exciting talent in Dejan Kulusevski. Joining this trio through the playoffs could be Bosnia and Herzegovina. Edin Dzeko would be the third-most prolific international goal scorer at the tournament behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lewandowski, while watching Miralem Pjanic against Spain’s midfield would be quite something.

X factor: Look no further than Lewandowski. Just when you thought he could not get any better, particularly in an unsophisticated and poorly-coached Bayern team — that is, until Hansi Flick replaced Nico Kovac — the 31-year-old is hitting new heights and has scored 31 goals already this season, including four in 14 minutes against Red Star in the Champions League. There is not a more complete No. 9 on the planet.

Must-watch game: Spain vs. Poland (June 20) The question is whether talented Poland can fulfil their potential has been an issue for them since the 1982 World Cup (hosted by Spain). Watching Lewandowski against Sergio Ramos will be one of the matchups of the group stages, and while Spain have a ridiculous amount of skill and can fold in the winners of last summer’s Under-21 Euros, it is also true that they no longer inspire the same fear as a decade ago.

Group F

Prediction: 1. France 2. Germany 3. Portugal 4. Romania (assuming qualification)

Overview: Didier Deschamps (France) laughed, Joachim Low (Germany) looked ashen-faced and Fernando Santos (Portugal) stared into the distance. Group F, with its six European Championship titles, features holders Portugal and the most recent two world champions in France and Germany, all three of whom reached the semifinals in 2016. Whichever team makes up the numbers via the playoffs, it will be hard to avoid the thought they have simply won the right to finish bottom.

X factor: This could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final international tournament, and, recently his best form has been reserved for Portugal, with 10 goals in qualifying. The 34-year-old is 11 goals away from passing Ali Daei’s mark of 109 as the most prolific international goal scorer of all-time. Ronaldo tends to turn it on against elite nations; remember that hat trick against Spain in the last World Cup?

Must-watch game: France vs. Germany (June 16) Since the end of Spain’s dominance, France and Germany have become Europe’s preeminent nations, with one knocking the other out of two of the past three major tournaments. Recent results suggest France have the edge; Antoine Griezmann, for example, inspired a comeback win in the Nations League. This game will set the tone for the rest of the group, and eyes will be on Low. Can he go again after disappointing at the past World Cup and in the Nations League, where Germany only avoided relegation because the competition got restructured and expanded.

For more on the Euro 2020 finals, click here; details of the playoffs for the final four places can be found here.

Does playing pro soccer increase risk for neurodegenerative disease?

October 23, 2019by Nipun Chopra   www.soctakes.com

Zlatan Ibrahimovic rises for a header over Victor Ulloa in the LA Galaxy’s 2-0 win over FC Cincinnati on June 22. Photo credit: Jamie Smed/Soc Takes

A new article in the New England Journal of Medicine by Daniel F. Mackay et al. raises the question of whether soccer follows the trend of “contact” sports in terms of increased risk of neurodegenerative disease for athletes. My article attempts to (1) summarize the key findings of the article with limited use of scientific jargon, and (2) place it in the larger context of where the beautiful game currently stands in its understanding of head injuries.

What did the study show?

The study showed that a subset (more on this later) of professional soccer players exhibited an increased risk of dying due to neurodegenerative disease than non-soccer players did. It also showed that professional soccer players — aside from the neurodegenerative disease part — seemed to be less likely to die from traditional killers such as heart disease and cancers such as lung cancer.

Which neurodegenerative diseases did they look at?

  1. Alzheimer’s disease – The most common form of dementia. Risk factors include age and a history of brain injuries.
  2. Parkinson’s disease – A primarily motor disease affecting a specific part of your brain.
  3. Motor neuron disease – This is a type of neurodegeneration that affects the nerves controlling your movement. A common example is Lou Gehrig’s disease (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
  4. Non-Alzheimer’s dementias – Dementia is a catch-all term for change in cognitive function. Non-Alzheimer’s dementias are diseases that have some overlapping symptoms as Alzheimer’s, but involve different symptoms as well. These differences are due to brain regions affected, particularly during early stages of the disease. An example is frontotemporal dementia.
  5. Dementia NOS – All dementias (Thank you Dr. Stewart for this correction).

It is important to note that this study did not measure rates of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) directly. This was due to limitations in how the authors were able to procure the data (not their fault, by the way).

The sampling question

Something that is being missed in the analysis is that it was a study of male professional soccer players. This unavoidable bias is due to the fact that pro soccer players in Scotland are men. Therefore, the controls were required to be age and sex-matched, and hence all of this data comes from male soccer players and male controls. Whether this is applicable to women soccer players is an unanswered question. This is an important consideration as some data suggests that the rates of head injury in women’s soccer exceed those in the male version of the game.

Additionally, is this a Scotland-only effect? I ask this because there was a study that showed increased Lou Gehrig’s disease in a sample of Italian soccer players. To the best of my knowledge, this result had not been shown in soccer players from a different geographic region. This would suggest a synergistic effect of genetics (Italian for ALS or Scottish for soccer) and sport. To put it simply, this data may not be applicable to the soccer population at large. (It should be noted that this article shows an increased rate of motoneuron disease generally, but not ALS specifically.)

A particular strength of this study is that it mitigates a prevalent problem in the field of brain injury research — the self-selection bias of “bad brains.” The idea is that when someone is experiencing symptoms of neurodegeneration, they are more likely to donate their brain to science. Therefore, the percentages we get are skewed. In this study, the authors examined data to basically ascertain how it was that a person died. Therefore, they eliminate the “bad brains” bias, and their data can be interpreted as representative of — at the very least — the male soccer-playing population of Scotland.

Other takeaways

  1. No soccer position-specific effect on neurodegeneration, but existing one on prescription for dementia.
  2. Increased rate of dementia-related prescription in soccer players versus controls (reason unknown and the authors don’t speculate, but it could be due to increased awareness or socioeconomic status.)

Where is the sport with head injuries?

The sport is dragging its feet. FIFA needs to mandate harsher penalties on high-impact contact to the head, regardless of intention/getting the ball. Recently, the USL explored temporary substitutions for head injury diagnoses, which deserves applause. MLS, on the other hand, has failed to update its concussion protocol in spite of telling Four Four Two and the Associated Press that it would. It’s been over three years.

The overarching question about the risk of heading resulting in CTE remains unanswered in the literature. Previous work suggests that technically proficient headers of the ball are unlikely to be concussed due to ball to head impact. However, the hand-wavy question of subconcussive injuries (due to an impact on the brain that causes minor, externally unnoticeable changes in the brain) remains under-explored. Given that we have a case report of CTE in a soccer player who had no history of concussion, the subconcussive question is an interesting one. (The TL;DR version is that it’s just too early to say anything about heading the ball and CTE. I previously explored the question of heading in youth soccer.)

Overall thoughts

This is a well-powered and important study — the first of its kind for soccer — that shows that professional soccer players are likely to have an increased risk for neurodegeneration later in life. This is in agreement with data from other more traditional “contact” sports such as MMA and American football. Future work will need to expand this data set to include women soccer players, amateur soccer players and soccer players from different geographic/genetic backgrounds.

Follow Nipun on Twitter: @NipunChopra7.

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11/26 Champions League this week Tues/Wed games

American Christian Pulisic becomes youngest American to score in Champions League as he scores for Chelsea vs Valencia Wed.

Pulisic’s Goal

Some huge games this week in Champions League !

GAMES ON TV

Tues Nov  26

1 pm TNT                                         Galatasaray vs Club Brugge

3 pm fuboTV                                  Juventus vs  Atletico Madrid

3 pm                                                  Man City vs Shaktar

3 pm TNT                                         Real Madrid vs PSG

Wed, Nov 27

1 pm TNT                                         Valencia vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

3 pm TNT                                         Liverpool vs Napoli  

3 pm fuboTV/BRLive                   Barcelona vs Borussian Dortmund

3 pm                                                  RB Leipzig vs Benefica

3 pm                                         Genk vs Salzburg (US Coach)

·       
UCL Tuesday preview: Man City, Spurs, Real Madrid can all clinch knockout place

Klopp ‘not worried’ over Salah fitness ahead of Napoli clash

Who needs what to qualify for Champions League last 16?
Ancelotti’s future in spotlight as troubled Napoli visit Liverpool

Champions League: Who will qualify from the group stage?

Dale JohnsonGeneral Editor, ESPN FC

The Champions League group stage is drawing to a close, but who is best placed to make it through to the knockout rounds?We look at each group, with the top two going through and third dropping into the Europa League.

– Champions League group stage: All you need to know
– ESPN Champions League fantasy: Sign up now!
– Champions League tables | Fixtures Statistics

WHO HAS QUALIFIED: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain

GROUP A

Nov. 26: Galatasaray vs. Brugge, Real Madrid vs. PSG
Dec. 11: Brugge vs. Real Madrid, PSG vs. Galatasaray

Paris Saint-Germain have qualified and will secure top spot if they avoid defeat at Real Madrid on Nov. 26.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, would need to beat PSG to seal their place on Matchday 5, though they would also be through if Club Brugge fail to beat Galatasaray.

If third-placed Club Brugge win at Galatasaray and Real Madrid do not beat PSG, the Belgian club will definitely qualify with a home win over Madrid on Dec. 11.

The only hope for Galatasaray is now the Europa League, but even that dream will die if they lose at home to Brugge.

GROUP B

Nov. 26: Red Star Belgrade vs. Bayern Munich, Tottenham vs. Olympiakos
Dec. 11: Bayern Munich vs. Tottenham, Olympiakos vs. Red Star Belgrade

Bayern Munich have qualified with two games to spare and will be confirmed as group winners if they win at Red Star, or Tottenham fail to beat Olympiakos, on Nov. 26.

Tottenham Hotspur look to be almost there too, through with a win at home to Olympiakos, or if Red Star to not beat Bayern.

For Red Star Belgrade to go through they must win at home to Bayern and at Olympiakos, and hope Spurs pick up no more than one point.

Realistically it now looks to be a battle for the Europa League spot, which is likely to be decided when Red Star go to Olympiakos on Dec 11.

GROUP C

Nov. 26: Atalanta vs. Dinamo Zagreb, Manchester City vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Dec. 11: Dinamo Zagreb vs. Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Atalanta

Manchester City are five points clear at the top and will qualify with a point at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on Nov. 26, or if Dinamo Zagreb fail to beat Atalanta. Victory against Shakhtar would secure top spot, as would a draw if Dinamo do not win.

Shakhtar Donetsk were in deep trouble until they scored twice in injury time to draw at Dinamo Zagreb. They sit second on the head-to-head rule which means their fate in is their own hands. They can qualify on Matchday 5 with a win at Manchester City should Dinamo lose at Atalanta. They know two victories guarantees progress regardless of Dinamo’s results.

Third-placed Dinamo Zagreb now must pick up more points than Shakhtar in the remaining two games to qualify, and cannot secure anything on Matchday 5.

At the foot of the table, Atalanta finally have a point, but need to win both remaining games and hope neither Shakhtar or Dinamo win against Man City. Despite not winning a single game yet, they certainly are not out of it.

GROUP D

Nov. 26: Juventus vs. Atletico Madrid, Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Dec. 11: Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen vs. Juventus

Juventus are through after winning at Lokomotiv Moscow and can top the group if they win or draw 0-0 or 1-1 at home to Atletico on Nov. 26.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid need to win in Turin to guarantee their passage on Matchday 5, though a draw would also send them through if Lokomotiv-Bayer Leverkusen is a draw too.

Lokomotiv Moscow will still be in contention if they avoid defeat against Leverkusen, but they will need help from Juve to give them a shot at qualifying when they host Atleti on Dec. 11.

Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen have to beat Lokomotiv and win at home to Juve, and hope Atleti pick up no more than one point.

It is more likely to be a battle for a Europa League place, which Lokomotiv would definitely seal and Leverkusen could seal by winning the head to head in Moscow on Nov. 26.

GROUP E

Nov. 27: Genk vs. Salzburg, Liverpool vs. Napoli
Dec. 10: Napoli vs. Genk, Salzburg vs. Liverpool

Liverpool top the group ahead of Napoli, and the winners of the head-to-head meeting at Anfield on Nov. 27 will be through. Both would go through if Salzburg do not win at Genk that night.

That means FC Salzburg must secure victory against Genk and win at home to Liverpool on Dec. 10. They are guaranteed qualification with six points as long as Liverpool do not beat Napoli.

Bottom club Genk have been eliminated and must win at home to Salzburg to stay in Europa League contention.

GROUP F

Nov. 27: Barcelona vs. Borussia Dortmund, Slavia Prague vs. Inter Milan
Dec. 10: Borussia Dortmund vs. Slavia Prague, Inter Milan vs. Barcelona

Barcelona are almost there and victory at home to Dortmund on Nov. 27 would secure their safe passage. A draw will also be enough if Inter Milan do not win at Slavia Prague. If Barca lose to BVB, the group is thrown wide open.

Borussia Dortmund are second, three points ahead of Inter Milan — but it is the Serie A side who hold the head-to-head advantage. Dortmund can only qualify on Matchday 5 if they better Inter Milan’s result, while four points from their last two matches would also secure qualification.

While Inter Milan are third, they can go into the final day in second if they win in Prague and Dortmund lose at the Camp Nou. But with Barcelona to visit the San Siro on Dec. 10, they may face a tough task to win that final match to guarantee progress.

Slavia Prague sit on two points and must win at home to Inter to stay in contention.

GROUP G

Nov. 27: RB Leipzig vs. Benfica, Zenit vs. Lyon
Dec. 10: Benfica vs. Zenit, Lyon vs. RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig will be through with a point at home to Benfica on Nov. 27.

In second sit Lyon, who will guarantee their place in the round of 16 with victory at Zenit. A draw of 2-2 or higher-scoring would also do the job as long as Benfica do not win in Leipzig.

Zenit St Petersburg most likely need to win at home to Lyon, which would move them second on the head to head and leave them requiring a win at Benfica on Dec. 12 to be sure of progressing.

The outsiders are now Benfica, but if they win both of their remaining games and Lyon pick up no more than one point they would be through.

GROUP H

Nov. 27: Lille vs. Ajax, Valencia vs. Chelsea
Dec. 10: Ajax vs. Valencia, Chelsea vs. Lille

Ajax, Chelsea and Valencia share top spot on seven points in a group that could go any way, but both Valencia and Chelsea know they are guaranteed to be in the knockout rounds if they win their meeting in Spain on Nov. 27. Valencia know that a draw would leave them needed a win at Ajax to definitely go through, while Chelsea would definitely be through by then winning at home to Lille.

If Ajax, who cannot qualify if Chelsea beat Valencia and then all three teams finish on 10 points, win in Lille next time that would leave them needing a draw at home to Valencia on Dec. 10.

Lille have been eliminated and have only a slim chance of qualifying for the Europa League.

UCL Tuesday preview: Man City, Spurs, Real Madrid can all clinch knockout place

A number of teams have an opportunity to snag a spot in the Champions League knockout phase as the group stage begins the home stretch on Tuesday.

Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid highlight the list of teams that would see their way into the next round with victory tomorrow.

Gabriel Jesus gets the opportunity of his Man City career as the club begins a three-week stretch without injured striker Sergio Aguero. Jesus has often spoken about his lack of playing time at the Etihad and now his time comes to prove he can lead the lines. As City welcomes Shakhtar Donetsk to Manchester, the hosts can seal qualification to the knockout stage with a win, while a draw and a Dinamo Zagreb loss or draw would also do the trick with their magic number at just two. Shakhtar is a familiar opponent for City, drawn with the Ukranian club into each of the last three Champions League groups, with a comprehensive result in four of the five matches in that span, earning a clean sheet in all four wins.

Jose Mourinho gets his first taste of European football inside the beautiful Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which he dubbed the best ground in the world upon his hire. Spurs host Greek side Olympiakos, and while outside results could see them through despite dropped points at home, a win would do the trick on its own. Spurs will be up for the match knowing that with the Premier League outlook still questionable with regards to their initial goals, the European journey is still very much a theater of opportunity.

Real Madrid can secure passage to the knockout stage with victory against group leaders Paris Saint-Germain at the Bernabeu. Angel Di Maria was Real Madrid’s worst nightmare when these two teams met in the French capital back in mid-September, but the Spanish side is in much better form of late. While all the focus seems to be on Gareth Bale, Madrid has quietly gone unbeaten across its last six matches in all competitions, outscoring opponents 19-1. Madrid could still go through with a less successful result, so long as Club Brugge does not beat Galatasaray in Turkey.

Editor’s note: Looking for last-minute tickets to today’s games? Click here

A slumping Atletico Madrid side has the tough task of a trip to Turin to face Serie A leaders Juventus, but will be boosted by the knowledge that a win could see them through. Any less, however, and things become quite dicey, especially should either Bayer Leverkusen or Lokomotiv Moscow win in Russia. A draw for Atleti would see them through to the knockout stage if Bayer and Lokomotiv draw, but otherwise the final place in Group D remains up for grabs. Diego Simeone’s side has won just three of its last nine matches across all competitions, with just three clean sheets across that span. Cristiano Ronaldo was rested by Maurizio Sarri over the weekend as he looks to manage a knee problem, but is likely available for the match at home.

Bayern Munich has already secured passage to the knockout round, but could again put Robert Lewandowski on display as they travel to Serbia to take on Red Star Belgrade. The Ballon d’Or candidate failed to score for the first time in 12 Bundesliga matches this season over the weekend, but still remains in white-hot form. He has also found the back of the net in each of Bayern’s four Champions League games to date, but could potentially be rested with the German side already confirmed through and the top of the Bundesliga table clogged with challengers to the throne. They could do Spurs a favor by winning and confirming Tottenham’s place in the later stages no matter their result against Olympiakos.

Atalanta’s Champions League journey has not gone to plan, but the surprise Serie A contenders last season still have a chance to save face as they host Dinamo Zagreb before finishing out the European campaign with a visit to Shakhtar later on. The Italians have just one point through four group stage matches thus far, and they have not won any of their last five matches across all competitions, falling 3-1 to Juventus over the weekend in league play. However, a 1-1 draw with 10-man Manchester City last time out in Europe will give them hope that a challenge can be mounted. They are not eliminated yet, given they are just four points behind both Shakhtar and Dinamo in the group, but the opportunity is a longshot that would require victory in both their final matches.

Finally, both Galatasaray and Club Brugge look to mount a last-gasp challenge to a Group A that seems destined to see PSG and Real Madrid through to the knockout stage. The Belgian club sits on just two points while Galatasaray welcomes them to Istanbul with just one of their own. Two victories down the stretch are required by either side to stay alive, and even then Real Madrid could end the battle with a win over PSG who has already clinched a spot. The road gets even tougher for the home side who will see Radamel FalcaoFlorin Andone, and Ryan Babel all out with injuries, leaving the Turkish side aching for attacking players.

 

11/22 US Men Advance to Finals, Chelsea vs Man City Sat 12:30 NBC, Champ League Tues/Wed, IU host UK in NCAA’s Sun 12 noon, Jordan Farr returns at GK for Indy 11

US MEN Advance to Final 4 on Nations League

So the US men did what they had to do this last week to secure the expected first place finish in the CONCACAF Nations League after pounding Canada at home 4-1 before defeating Cuba 4-0 in a neutral site game on Tuesday night.  Some good things we saw was a solid defensive effort led by Aaron Long and John Brooks in the middle.  Sergio Dest put in a solid game on the right side vs Canada – as he flew up and down the wing and actually provided our first assist.  Tim Ream continued his captaincy playing the left side vs Canada before moving to the middle (his more natural position) vs Cuba.  He continues to show ability to pass out of the back under pressure – combined with his defensive efforts in the air, are certainly valuable especially against CONCACAF sides.  He’s still a starter for Fulham in the English Championship and it shows.

EPL & World

Wow Tottenham – really? Mourinho for Pochitno?  Hard to believe – the Spurs have taken this move now – but they pulled the trigger earlier this week. I for one don’t see it working – Jose will call out his players, turn the top players against him and have this team flailing just outside top 4 if you ask me.  He certainly doesn’t have the money – in the winter window to buy players – which is what he normally does.  As for big games this weekend none is bigger than Chelsea vs Man City this Saturday at 12:30 pm on NBC.   US star Christian Pulisic is expected to play after resting his injury over the 10 day international break.  The American has notched 5 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 league games.  Other EPL games of note have Mourinho and Tottenham heading to West Ham at 7:30 am on NBCSN Saturday followed by Liverpool traveling to Crystal Palace without Mane at 10 am on NBCSN.  In Germany American’s Mckinney (Schalke) and Stuart for Werder Bremen will faceoff at 9:30 am on Fox Sports 2 or Fox Soccer while US GK Steffan and dMid Morales of Dussledorf will host Bayern Munich at 9:30 on Fox Sports 1.

Carmel FC Goalkeeper Coach Jordan Farr Returns to Indy 11 for 2020 Season! 

Fantastic news that Carmel FC Director of Goalkeeping Jordan Farr is returning for his 3rd season for the Indy 11 next season!  Jordan started the final 5 games of the season and helped lead the Indy 11 to the Eastern Conference Finals.  In 12 combined USL Championship regular season and playoff games (10 starts), Farr registered an impressive 0.66 goals against average (seven goals allowed in 956 minutes), while notching a 7W-1L-2D record and five shutouts – including clean sheets in both of Indy Eleven’s 1-0 wins during postseason play.We look forward to having Jordan back coaching our Carmel FC goalkeepers again this spring!

 

 

GAMES ON TV

Sat, Nov 23 

7:30 am NBCSN                                West Ham vs Tottenham

9 am ESPN+                                       Atalanta vs Juventus

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                       Dusseldorf (Morales & Steffan) vs Bayern Munich

9:30 am Fox Soccer                         Schalke (Mckinney) vs Werder Breman (Stuart)

10 am NBCSN                                    Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

12:30 pm NBC                                  Man City vs Chelsea (pulisic)  

3 pm beIN Sport                               Real Madrid vs Real Sociadad

Sun, Nov 24

9 am beIN Sport                               Monaco vs Bordueaux

11:30 am NBCSN                              Sheffield United vs Man United

12 noon FS1                         Hoffenhiem vs Mainz

Mon,  Nov 25 

3 pm NBCSN                                     Aston Villa vs New Castle (Yedlin)

Tues Nov  26

1 pm TNT                                         Galatasaray vs Club Brugge

3 pm fuboTV                                  Juventus vs  Atletico Madrid

3 pm                                                  Man City vs Shaktar

3 pm TNT                                         Real Madrid vs PSG

Wed, Nov 27

1 pm TNT                                         Valencia vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

3 pm TNT                                         Liverpool vs Napoli  

3 pm fuboTV/BRLive                   Barcelona vs Borussian Dortmund

3 pm                                                  RB Leipzig vs Benefica

3 pm                                                  Genk vs Salzburg (US Coach)

Thur Nov 28

11 am BRLive/fuboTV/TUDN   Astana vs Man United

3 pm BRLive/fuboTV/Unimas Arsenal vs Eintracht Frankfurt

Fri Nov  29

3 pm FS2                                         Schalke (McKinney) vs Union Berlin

Sat, Nov 30 

7:30 am NBCSN                               New Castle (Yedlin) vs Man  City  

9:30 am Foxsoccer                          Hoffieheim vs Dusseldorf (Morales & Steffan)

9:30 am Fox Soccer                         Hertha vs Dortmund

10 am??                         Liverpool  vs Brighton

10 am NBCSN                                   Chelsea (pulisic) vs Westham

3 pm beIN Sport                               Real Madrid vs Real Sociadad

 

Sun, Dec 1

9 am NBCSN                                      Norwich vs Arsenal

11:30 am                                           Man United vs Aston Villa

11:30 am   NBCSN                            Leciester vs Everton

12 noon FS1                         Wolfsburg vs Werder Bremen (Stewart)

12 noon  ESPN News                       Napoli vs Bologna

3 pm beIN Sport                              Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona

Wed, Dec 4

2:30 pm NBCSN                                Man United vs Tottenham

2:30 pm ???                                      Chelsea vs Aston Villa

3:15 pm ??                                        Liverpool vs Everton

 

 

 

 

USA

Does the U.S. have a leadership problem? 8hNoah Davis

USMNT takes care of what’s expected — but same questions persist  16hJeff Carlisle 

Berhalter: USMNT responded well to challenges of 2019

US to face Honduras in CNL semis

Warshaw: Three things from USMNT’s win over Cuba

U.S. ratings: Sargent, Morris solid in win

Player Ratings: Who was USA’s MOTM?

US Finally Shows Fight in 4-1 blasting of Canada ESPNFC  Jeff C

No Consistantcy with this US Squad – Leander Schaelaeckens – Yahoo Soccer

Brooks 8/10, Zardes 7/10 as U.S. avenges last month’s Canada defeat

Player Ratings: Who got top marks for USMNT, CanMNT?

Berhalter: USMNT “were ready to overcome anything” in revenge win over Canada

Sources: U.S.’ Konrad set to extend Barca deal

Some Ajax teammates ‘didn’t like’ Dest’s U.S. choice
US, Canada U-20s learn qualification path for 2021 World Cup

US Players on TV

 

 

Local College NCAAS

IU Hosts UK in NCAAs Sunday 12 noon

#8 Indiana U wins Big 10

Butler loses in 1st Round at home to WV

 

  • MLS

MLS Allstar Game vs Liga MX Allstars for 2020

MLS Players in Euro 2020

Piette on Henry as coach: Biggest announcement Impact could have made
Reyna quits New York City for Austin expansion team in MLS

Chicago Fire FC arrive as part of major rebrand

EPL

Chelsea-Manchester City Preview

PREVIEW-Soccer-Pressure on Man City as Lampard returns to the Etihad

Mourinho: Tottenham can win the Premier League

Hard to See how Mourinho will help Spurs before a messy Ending –
PL Preview: Can anyone put pressure on Liverpool?

Top Premier League storylines: Week 13

Stag’s Take – Gameweek 13

Pochettino leaves emotional whiteboard message to Spurs
Mourinho seeks quick fix to win over Spurs doubters

WORLD

Euro 2020 qualifying: All you need to know

·        Mexico beat Bermuda on Antuna’s last-gasp goal

·        Messi makes the difference but Argentina, Brazil remain works in progress

Brazil boss on Messi spat: He told me to shut up

Brazil beat Mexico to win U-17 World Cup

Ronaldo has goal record in his sights, Kane hot on his heels

Sources: Luis Enrique to return as Spain coach

England top Kosovo to secure seed for Euro ’20

GOALKEEPING

Below are the 10 goalkeepers shortlisted for the 2019 Yachine Trophy:

  1. Andre Onana (Cameroon/Ajax)
  2. Wojciech Szczesny (Poland/Juventus)
  3. Jan Oblak (Slovenia/Atletico Madrid)
  4. Kepa Arrizabalaga (Spain/Chelsea)
  5. Samir Handanovic (Slovenia/Inter Milan)
  6. Hugo Lloris (France/Inter Milan)
  7. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany/Barcelona)
  8. Alisson Becker (Brazil/Liverpool)
  9. Ederson (Brazil/Manchester City)
  10. Manuel Neuer (Germany/Bayern Munich)

 

 

 

 

Hard to see how Jose Mourinho will help Spurs before the inevitably messy ending

Leander Schaerlaeckens  ,Yahoo Sports•November 20, 2019

For the fourth time in his career, Jose Mourinho has been hired for a Premier League job. On Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur installed the Portuguese in his ninth managerial position, following the instantly controversial sacking of Mauricio Pochettino on Tuesday.Mourinho’s English appointments trace the arc of his much-discussed career, spanning from the cocky-yet-charming managerial prodigy upon his first appointment at Chelsea in 2004, to his return in 2013 as a highly decorated manager, to his 2016 arrival at Manchester United as both a three-time Premier League champion and damaged goods, to, now, a point where his signing by Spurs is widely considered a huge risk.It is, any way you look at it, a strange marriage. Mourinho, somehow still only 56 and out of work for almost a year since his December firing by United, might well be the most divisive manager in the sport’s history. His personal trophy case is inarguable: three Premier League titles; two Serie A titles; a La Liga title; two Champions League trophies; two UEFA Cup or Europa League trophies; eight domestic cups. The thing is, Mourinho has provoked as many crises and skirmishes and meltdowns as he has won prizes. And you don’t get one without the other.So for Spurs, of all teams, to hire him under the rule of the ever-sensible, risk-averse chairman Daniel Levy, feels like an odd fit. But there are other pressing and worrying considerations.The downturn in Pochettino’s last eight or so months in charge – the miraculous run to the Champions League final very notably excepted – was much to do with a widespread fatigue among the players, who slumped to their present 14th place in the league. Pochettino was a demanding manager, imposing a strict and imposing playing system. There is a habit among soccer teams to vacillate between opposites in your managerial hires. After the disciplinarian, you go with the nice-guy players’ manager to give the players a fresh experience. And then the cycle resets. Yet Mourinho is no less demanding than Pochettino, albeit in different ways. Rather than a dogmatic, Marcelo Bielsa-inspired high press, Mourinho applies something antithetical, a sort of reactive non-press. But he drains his players in different ways. Mourinho creates a culture of perpetual tension through instigation and conflict. That might not work particularly well on players who appear to be burned out as it is, while many of them were already itching to leave the club. What’s more, Mourinho relies heavily on massive investment in his teams to solve problems, rather than developing existing players or ushering in academy products – although Mourinho has always disputed this reputation of ignoring youth, even if the stats clearly support it.“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me,” Mourinho said in a statement. “Working with these players is what has attracted me.” Yet historically, that’s not what he has actually ever done. It could be that he may have evolved during his time away from the game, mostly spent doing TV punditry in England, but that feels unlikely when you consider that Mourinho has replicated the same playbook everywhere he’s gone – until it stopped working, and then simply did it all over again someplace new. Mourinho would arrive, demand heavy spending on new players, foster urgency in a pressure-cooker environment, win a few major trophies, and move on when it all blew up.But at Spurs, the institutional lack of investment in players drove Pochettino to despair – and it’s likely that the failure to refresh the squad caused its steep decline. It’s doubtful that Mourinho got concessions from Levy that he denied his predecessor. Taken together, it’s hard to see how any of this ends very happily. Mourinho doesn’t give you happy endings. He gives you a few highs and then a crash. And maybe that’s the plan. One of the many things that jarred about Pochettino’s firing is that the timing was so awkward – toward the end of an international break with almost no qualified managers available. But then maybe this is a short-term play. Veteran regulars Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen all have expiring contracts. Perhaps hiring Mourinho is a last-ditch attempt to win something with a splendid, carefully cultivated squad before it inevitably breaks up.Because the only structural problem Mourinho will solve in short order is the erosion of intensity. He isn’t a long-term solution because he doesn’t do the long term. He’s a fresh face, yet a familiar one.“In Jose we have one of the most successful managers in football,” Levy said in the statement. “He has a wealth of experience, can inspire teams and is a great tactician. He has won honors at every club he has coached. We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”Belief? Perhaps. Energy? Sure. But what kind, exactly?Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports soccer columnist and a sports

Soccer-Fit-again Pulisic available for Chelsea against Man City

Reuters 11 minutes ago

Nov 22 (Reuters) – Chelsea’s in-form forward Christian Pulisic has shaken off a hip problem and will be available for Saturday’s Premier League game at Manchester City, manager Frank Lampard said on Friday.Pulisic sustained the injury in Chelsea’s 2-0 Premier League victory over Crystal Palace earlier this month and missed the United States’ CONCACAF Nations League matches against Canada and Cuba during the international break.The 21-year-old former Borussia Dortmund player has been in superb form for third-placed Chelsea after a slow start to his career at Stamford Bridge, scoring five goals in his last three league matches.”He didn’t go (to the U.S. camp), he was struggling against Palace. He has been training and is in contention,” Lampard told a news conference on Friday.Winger Callum Hudson-Odoi is a doubt for the match due to a hamstring issue he picked up on international duty with England.Lampard said that he was pleased with the understanding between his midfielders N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic with all three players fit and playing well ahead of the clash with the defending champions.”I want it to be a positive issue… it is great for me. It is something we have done pretty well. We have had fluidity in our midfield. We can use them all collectively,” Lampard added.”You have to give Jorginho the freedom to leave his position. He has a perception for the press.”Former Chelsea midfielder Lampard, who ended his Premier League career with a season at City, said he was looking forward to facing City who are one place below his side.”The levels they have reached have been incredible. For us to be in that position, I am pleased with. But I want more,” Lampard added.”It’s not the end story, they are a strong outfit. I won’t make huge judgements on tomorrow, our story is three months in the making.

Chelsea-Manchester City Preview

The Associated Press 11 hours ago

For all the talk of Manchester City’s relentless offence, their hopes for a third consecutive Premier League title as well as any silverware they may add to their collection this season could hinge on the guy who prevents goals rather than scores them.Ederson could make his return between the sticks for the Cityzens in a top-four crunch encounter with Chelsea at the Etihad on Saturday.The Brasil international has been sidelined since suffering a muscular injury in the first half of City’s 1-1 draw versus Atlanta in Champions League play on Nov. 6. It kept him out of their 3-1 loss to Liverpool before the international break four days later, a defeat that dropped Manchester City (8-1-3) nine points behind the table-topping Merseysiders and into fourth place behind both Leicester City and Saturday’s opponents Chelsea (8-2-2).

Ederson returned to practice this week, though manager Pep Guardiola has yet to confirm if he will reclaim his spot from deputy Claudio Bravo. Ederson is not the only City player tipped to make a return, as midfielder and playmaker David Silva and holding midfielder Rodri are also potential inclusions into the first XI.Another part of the defence still in flux is in the spine, where Fernandinho has been deployed as Aymeric Laporte continues to recover from a knee injury. The 35-year-old had been City’s linchpin in midfield but is making the adjustments to form a partnership with John Stones.”I feel good,” Fernandinho said of his new position to the Manchester Evening News. “Of course, I have the help of my teammates and manager. It’s been great for me, trying to do my best as always since I signed for City.”Sometimes you feel you have to improve a little bit – but that’s beauty of football. You can. Every morning, you can make it happen.”City forward Sergio Aguero looks to continue his stellar strike record versus Chelsea. The Argentina international has 13 goals in 17 matchups versus the Pensioners in all competitions, which includes his time with Atletico Madrid, and had a hat trick in the most recent league meeting when City smashed six past Chelsea without reply at the Etihad in February.”In terms of an out-and-out goalscorer, Aguero is the best I played with,” Chelsea boss and one-time City midfielder Frank Lampard told SkySports in 2017. “He can be quiet for much of the game and then he’ll score the winning goal. He’s lethal around the box.”Lampard, though, has a few goal-scorers who could eventually realise a level similar to Aguero at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have won six on the spin in league play, and their 27 goals trail only fellow top-four sides City (35), Liverpool (29), and Leicester City (28).

Tammy Abraham has shown his scoring prowess at the Championship level can transfer to the top flight, pacing the Pensioners with 10 goals in league play – putting him joint-first with Jamie Vardy for the Premier League lead — and 11 overall. U.S. international Christian Pulisic also went into the break in fine form with all five of his league goals coming in the last three wins.Pulisic, though, is a question mark for this game with a hip injury that also prevented him from crossing the Atlantic to play for the U.S. during the international break.Despite the impressive string of results, Lampard has yet to record a signature Premier League victory. Chelsea have lost their two matches against fellow Big Six sides Liverpool and Manchester United, while one of their two draws came against surprise package Leicester City.The sides split their league matches last term, with Chelsea recording a 2-0 victory before City hammered them in the return encounter. Guardiola’s side won the rubber match on penalties after a scoreless 120 minutes in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley.]Raheem Sterling converted the winning penalty in the fifth round after a bizarre incident towards the end of extra time in which keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga defied then-manager Maurizio Sarri’s bid to sub out the keeper as he was dealing with cramps. Arrizabalaga did make one save during the shootout, but it was not enough to prevent City from completing the first leg of an unprecedented domestic treble.Chelsea have just two wins in their last 11 visits to the blue side of Manchester (2-1-8) after going 10-1-1 in the first 12 of the Premier League era.

 

 

Does the U.S. men’s national team have a leadership problem?

11:42 AM ETNoah DavisESPN

Winning a soccer game requires two things: an off-field plan and on-field execution. The first part is a coaching challenge; the second is one for the players, who need to prevail in dozens of individual battles all over the field.Against Canada in October, the United States men’s national team had the first in head coach Gregg Berhalter’s much-discussed “system” but failed in the latter. All over the field, the Americans lost to their northern opponents in specific moments. There were obvious failures, such as Alphonso Davies‘ outworking Aaron Long and DeAndre Yedlin to the back post to tap in Canada’s opener, and subtler ones, such as 50-50 ball after 50-50 that went to the Maple Leafs. The result was a 2-0 loss, the first since April 1985, a frustrating and lackadaisical effort too reminiscent of many lost matches under Jurgen Klinsmann.Defeats are excusable. Not showing up isn’t.After the match, Berhalter noted as much. “We need to compete on every single play in games like this,” he said. “I don’t think it was lack of effort. I don’t think it was purposeful, but I wasn’t happy with the desire we displayed tonight to win the soccer game. Too many 50-50 balls we lost, and that hurt us.”Trying hard is an intangible thing, tough to measure with stats but obvious enough to teammates. Is a player giving everything, the proverbial 110 percent, or is he slacking? More importantly, who will hold accountable a player who isn’t? Doing that requires strong leadership, an individual willing to say the unpleasant truth and get results. For too long, the American team has lacked this person.”We’ve been waiting for this leader to step into the role,” said Jay DeMerit, a former U.S. captain who knows something about leadership.So far, Berhalter seems to be searching for a leader. Although his Columbus Crew captain, Wil Trapp, got the armband eight times in the U.S.’s 11 2018 matches, Berhalter has picked 10 players across 18 games in 2019. The list is long and varied. Tim Ream leads with six times as captain; Aaron Long, Zack Steffen and Christian Pulisic have done so two times; Trapp, Yedlin, Michael BradleyMatt MiazgaOmar Gonzalez and Weston McKennie have each gotten it once. This is, at least in part, by design.”The group has done a good job of sharing leadership,” the coach said in a news conference before the Canada fixture. “When I think about meetings we have, there’s not two players that speak up. There are probably 15 players that speak up. When we analyze video or talk about team goals or talk about expectations, it’s by committee … For us, it’s been refreshing. There’s not two guys talking and the rest being quiet. It’s many guys sharing leadership, and we think that’s been effective.”Ream echoed the sentiments of the manager. “There are guys like myself, Michael [Bradley], Brad [Guzan],” he said. “We’ve been around the block. We’ve played a lot of games, a lot of meaningful games. We can kind of pass on our expertise or not, whatever these guys want to know, but it’s more leader by committee. The young kids aren’t shy. That’s fantastic.”Shared experiences, multiple opinions and a plethora of ideas are valuable things, but so is having a player or two to hold everyone accountable.”Guys that may not be the prettiest on the ball, but they will put their head through a wall for the team,” DeMerit said. “Is there enough of that right now? I don’t know.””Roy Keane is a strong personality. You don’t even see that. Somebody who is kind of an a–hole out there. I think we lack that a little bit,” former U.S. defender Jimmy Conrad said. “Sometimes your best 11 players aren’t necessarily your most talented 11 players. A lot of that does come down to chemistry, report and trust — and counting on guys in tough moments, having personalities on the field. Who is going to step up and hold people accountable? All that stuff matters.”Spend enough time around the team, and it’s clear that there’s a lack of personality, at least outwardly. McKennie, likable and fun in Germanyis dull and demure. Others, such as Tim Weah, have electric personalities that are muted with the national team. It’s a trend that started under Klinsmann, so desperate to be the largest personality in the room, and has continued through a vanilla 2018 and 2019. It’s too bad, considering that there’s nothing wrong with showing a little bit of personality. Look how doing so, combined with success, vaulted the women’s national team into the popularity stratosphere over the summer. In the past, the men weren’t the best in the world, but at least they were interesting.”Bob Bradley did a great job creating character within the dressing room,” DeMerit said. “If you look down the line at teams we have from 2008 through the 2010 World Cup, we had a wide range of characters. We had a wide range of leaders. Guys like Michael Bradley, fantastic work ethic, people who came in, kept their head down. Guys like me and Clint [Dempsey] riding their horses into training camp, saying, ‘Let’s go!’ I think Bob appreciated that about me, how I brought that renegade spirit to the group. Frankie Hejduk comes in and brings a bit more character.”Although being a leader and having a personality aren’t the same thing, the lack of both is an example of how the U.S. keeps falling short of its potential. It isn’t an intractable problem, but it’s one that needs to be fixed for the team to progress.Tyler Adams, a natural and intense leader who willed himself to the Bundesliga, has been absent for months. Could he be the answer when he rejoins the squad? Let’s hope he steps up or someone else does. Otherwise, the Americans are in danger of remaining a collection of individuals, desperate for someone to show them the way.

USMNT takes care of what’s expected — but same questions persist

10:10 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

The U.S. men’s national team did what was needed against Cuba in the group stage finale of the CONCACAF Nations League, prevailing 4-0 over the Lions of the Caribbean.

Jordan Morris continued his renaissance with two goals, with Josh Sargent adding two of his own. The win secured the Americans’ place in the semifinals of the competition, as they edged Canada in Group A on goal differential.Beyond that, there weren’t any overriding takeaways from the match. Cuba’s struggles with defections and organization — the match was played in the Cayman Islands due to stadium issues in Cuba — are well-documented. As such, it was a game the U.S. should have dominated, and it did, with a 69%-31% edge in possession and a 14-6 advantage in chances created.That said, there was some sloppy play mixed in among the goals, as the U.S. clearly took its foot off the pedal in the second half. The match will not be included in any 2019 highlight reels.One might argue that the Nations League gave a young U.S. side some needed experience for when World Cup qualifying comes around. Certainly, the Americans got punched in the face when they were beaten by Canada 2-0 last month, and the poor field conditions on display against Cuba might well be encountered again next year. But the Cayman Islands aren’t exactly San Pedro Sula in terms of difficult environments. Neither is Toronto, for that matter. As tests go, there are much, much tougher ones to come.As such, 2019 ends with many of the same questions that were present at the beginning. The U.S. won 11 games during the year, but there was no signature win among them to put a stamp on the Gregg Berhalter era. The Canada loss means the nerves present since the 2018 World Cup qualifying failure haven’t really gone away. Granted, the fact that the U.S. secured passage out of the Nations League group stage counts as a positive. But such sentiments have more to do with the fact that if the U.S. had been eliminated from the Nations League, a full-blown crisis would have ensued. Now the pressure will ease a bit, and the U.S. can regroup when the calendar moves into 2020.If there was one reason for optimism on Tuesday, it was the continued emergence of Morris. After a torn ACL wiped out almost all of his 2018, the Seattle native was an afterthought. But Morris found his form, settled into a wide position, won a title with the Sounders and added plenty to his team’s attack, whether it was for club or country. The five goals in his past five games for the U.S. were the same total he had in his first 34.Morris’ progression might end up being a critical development for a U.S. team that has long been too dependent on Christian Pulisic. The fact that Morris provides more of a classic wing presence than Pulisic gives the U.S. attack an added wrinkle.Sargent’s two goals came in vastly different ways, bundling home Paul Arriola’s deflected cross with the game just 36 seconds old and then a powerful finish from Tyler Boyd’s deft pass in the 66th minute. His performance highlighted what a critical season this is for him. Gyasi Zardes might lead the U.S. with six goals this year, but it is Sargent who has the higher ceiling. He’ll need to develop with Werder Bremen and show his ability when Berhalter calls him in. With Jozy Altidore still struggling to be consistently fit, having Sargent play at a high level would be a boon for the U.S.

But the same could be said for so many other players on the U.S. team from front to back. The matches in 2020, be they Nations League, World Cup qualifying or even Olympic qualifying for the U-23s, will be more intense.Success on those fronts means the level needs to be raised.

 

Player Ratings: Who earned the highest marks in USMNT win over Cuba?

November 19, 201911:07PM EGreg SeltzerContributor

The US national team sealed first place in League A, Group A of the Concacaf Nations League with a slightly underwhelming 4-0 defeat of Cuba in the Cayman Islands on Tuesday night. Gregg Berhalter’s boys lacked energy for large portions of the proceedings, but still made light work of an easy foe thanks to braces from Jordan Morris and Josh Sargent. Either way, they’re into the semifinals of the Concacaf Nations League against Honduras.

United States Player Ratings

Starting XI:

Brad Guzan (6.5) — The veteran backstop came up with a couple of solid saves, including one on a tricky deflected shot that wrong-footed him slightly in the first half.

DeAndre Yedlin (5) — The Newcastle right back helped the Nats drive to the final third plenty of times, especially early, but played inaccurately once they got there. Regardless of how he performs in the EPL, Yedlin will find himself chasing green youngsters if he can’t snap a string of flat US outings.

Aaron Long (6) — The Red Bulls defender was tested so little at the back, his grade mostly came down to a few contributions on offensive restarts.

Tim Ream (7) — The skipper was by far the most active US player at halting Cuba advances and at moving the ball positively out of the back.

Daniel Lovitz (6) — While the new Nashville SC left back did well leading Morris into attack and served some dangerous corner kicks, he also had a couple of hiccups in defense.

Jackson Yueill (5.5) — The San Jose midfielder had his moments knocking the ball around Cuba’s end, but was a lot less firm defensively than he was against Canada on Friday.

Cristian Roldan (6.5) — As one of the few Nats intent on making overload runs, Roldan did his best to liven up the attack. He was also robbed on a diving bullet header.

Weston McKennie (6) — For the second game in a row, McKennie adequately found the game in central park. Even with an assist to his credit, though, he fell short of offering enough cutting edge to shine bright.

Paul Arriola (5) — After darting down the right to help set up Sargent’s quick opener, Arriola was largely ineffective the rest of the night. To boot, most of his restart deliveries were weak.

Jordan Morris (8) — The in-form Seattle flank ace was easily the best player on the field, making two goals and some tempting crosses look like child’s play.

Josh Sargent (7) — The Werder Bremen forward applied a fatal doorstep touch in the opening minute, but was all but invisible the rest of the first half. Sargent markedly picked up the pace after intermission, and was rewarded with a second goal.

Coach Gregg Berhalter (6) — The boss went with a very straightforward game plan against a clearly overmatched opponent. The result was the expected run-of-play dominance and a bare minimum margin of victory.

Subs:

Tyler Boyd (5.5) — It was rather disappointing to see the Besiktas winger be so lackadaisical in attack, but he somewhat rescued his grade with a nifty leaping backheel assist.

Reggie Cannon (6) — Although his defensive work was less than stellar, Cannon should have been credited with a second assist for the excellent cross that led to Sargent’s second.

Alfredo Morales (7) — If not for a pair of outstanding saves by the Cuba netminder, Morales could have made it three US players with a brace. It was a strong all-around 21-minute shift for the Fortuna Düsseldorf man.

 

 

Brooks 8/10, Zardes 7/10 as U.S. avenges last month’s Canada defeat

Nov 15, 2019Jason DavisU.S. soccer writer

The United States men’s national team put in something of a redemptive performance in Orlando, Florida, on Friday night, besting Canada 4-1 at Exploria Stadium. The victory not only earned the Americans some relief from the negativity that has marked the past month and a measure of revenge against Canada, it set them up to advance atop their Nations League group with a win over hapless Cuba on Tuesday.

Positives

The Americans responded to the call for more fight with a spirited performance in a must-win game. Last month’s 2-0 loss in Toronto prompted serious questions about the lack of effort under Gregg Berhalter that were refuted, at least on some level, on Friday. The USMNT used tried-and-true methods, set pieces and counterattacks, to punish a sloppy Canadian side and ease some of the pressure.

The U.S. didn’t play the cleanest match, and Berhalter’s preferred possession-based approach was sacrificed on the altar of winning. After calls for change and a more pragmatic plan, that can’t be used to criticize the coach now. Still, the Americans won’t point to this victory as an example of an ideal performance.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — Berhalter gets credit for streamlining the tactical approach and playing to the strengths of his team. Pregame worries about the lineup proved unfounded, though it’s still worth asking why several players (Gyasi Zardes and Jackson Yueill among them) earned a place in the first XI despite long layoffs. That said, Zardes delivered for his manager, scoring a brace amid widespread criticism from USMNT supporters.

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

GK Brad Guzan, 7 — Faced limited action and made no obvious mistakes with possession. Controlled his box well and was hung out to dry on Canada’s goal.

DF Sergino Dest, 7 — Solid on defense facing the explosive Alphonso Davies, he was as adventurous as ever going forward in an excellent overall competitive debut.

DF Aaron Long, 6 — Contributed on the attacking end with the set piece goal and was part of a strong defensive performance for the Americans during open play.

DF John Brooks, 8 — Dominant physically and smart with his positioning. Notably was good in possession, particularly when under pressure in the first half.

DF Tim Ream, 5 — Complicit at the back post on Canada’s goal and wasteful with possession on occasion. Provided little going forward, by design.

MF Jackson Yueill, 6 — Played proactively, helping to set the tone with energy and industry in the first half. On the other hand, he was a step slow tracking runners in midfield.

MF Weston McKennie, 5 — Poor in possession but gave the midfield a much-needed toughness. Not influential, but not poor.

Gyasi Zardes’ selection for the national team has come under fire, but the 28-year-old answered the bell with a brace vs. Canada. Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

MF Sebastian Lletget, 8 — Consistently dangerous, he often took advantage of reactive defending from Canada. Integral in setting up numerous chances.

FW Jordan Morris, 7 — Got the U.S. off to a great start with an opportunistic early goal and laid on the second for Zardes. Industrious and put in a good shift, particularly after playing in an MLS Cup final just five days earlier.

FW Gyasi Zardes, 7 — Scored two goals in his return to the lineup, rewarding Berhalter for his faith. Added to the defensive effort with effective back-pressing.

FW Paul Arriola 5 — Solid on both sides of the ball and set up the second goal with a smart pass on the counter.

Substitutes:

MF Alfredo Morales, N/R — Chaotic and overexuberant in a short cameo.

DF DeAndre Yedlin, N/R — Showed his danger up the wing as a sub, setting up Zardes’ culminating goal.

FW Tyler Boyd, N/R — The Besiktas man came on for injury time after the U.S. had already sealed things with a fourth.

 

 

Indiana Punches 33rd-Straight Ticket to NCAA Tournament, Earns No. 5 Seed

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – After winning both the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, the Indiana University men’s soccer team earned the No. 5 overall seed for the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

Indiana earned a bye in the first round and will host the winner of Kentucky and Loyola-Chicago on Sunday, Nov. 24. First kick is scheduled for noon at Jerry Yeagley Field at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth (18 & under)and can be purchased at IUHoosiers.com.

Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets online to avoid game day lines. Reminder that there are no service fees for tickets purchased at IUHoosiers.com.

Indiana University students will get in free as IU Athletic Director Fred Glass and IU Athletics will purchase their tickets for each round of the NCAA Tournament that the Hoosiers host. Students must show student ID at the ticket window to redeem free ticket.

The berth for the Hoosiers is the team’s 33rd-straight bid to the NCAA Tournament and the 44th overall in the program’s history. The 33-straight berths are the longest active streak in the country.

Indiana earned the No. 5 national seed for the second time since the tournament expanded to the current seeding. The Hoosiers secured the fifth seed in the 2014 season and lost to Xavier, 2-1, in the second round.

Since the NCAA began its current seeding format in 2003, the Hoosiers have earned a top-16 seed in 15 of the 17 tournaments and a top-8 seed 10 times. IU has appeared in 20 College Cups, which leads all Division I teams, and won its eighth national title in 2012.

The Hoosiers enter the NCAA Tournament with an overall record of 14-2-4. Indiana repeated as Big Ten regular season and tournament champions for the first time since going back-to-back in the 1998 and 1999 seasons. The regular season title marked the 16th in program history, while the tournament crown is the 14th won by IU. The championship double marked the 10th time in the storied history of Indiana men’s soccer.

IU posted a mark of 5-2-4 against NCAA Tournament teams this season, including victories over No. 13 Michigan and No. 15 Penn State. Maryland also secured an at-large bid out of the Big Ten Conference into the NCAA Tournament.

The Hoosiers played to a 0-0 draw earlier this season against the Kentucky Wildcats. Overall, IU has an all-time record of 25-2-4 against UK and have not matched up against Loyola-Chicago.

 

 

 

 

 

11/14/19 US Men face Canada Fri 7 pm ESPN2, Cuba Tues 7:30 pm FS1, International Games Thur-Tue, Seattle Wins MLS Cup, Indy 11 fall to Louisville

US Men vs Canada Friday 7 pm ESPN2

Nations League play returns this Friday night on ESPN2 at 7 pm as the US Men’s National Team will look to pay back Canada for the loss last month in Toronto. The US will be home in Orlando for this critical Nations League match which could determine if Canada or the US Advances as the top seed.  Of course the US will be missing talisman Christian Pulisic who was injured scoring in his 3rd straight game for Chelsea over the weekend.  Pulisic scored another header giving him 5 goals and 3 assist on the season for Chelsea.  The US will also be missing starting GK Zach Steffan, who was hurt for German side Dusseldorf last weekend.  Look for Brad Guzan of Atlanta United to take the gloves this week for the huge games along with the return of centerback John Brooks, who is back from injury for Wolfsburg.  Sergino Dest, fresh off pledging his allegiance to the US over the Dutch, looks to be cup tied in a starting role on defense as well this week.  I certainly hope to see D-mid handled by Alfredo Morales who has returned from injury for Dusseldorf and played so well vs Mexico a few months back.  His bite in the middle could lead to good things as we wait for Tyler Adams to return from injury. (Bradley is hurt from the MLS Title game and Will Trapp stinks).

As I see it this is a HUGE game for US Manager Gregg Berhalter, who does he put where, and how does the US play in what many see as a must win game for the new manager.   There were whispers that a 2nd straight loss to Canada (a team we hadn’t lost to since 1986) could end the tenure of the US headman, but GM Earnie Stewart shot those down.  It doesn’t mean the US doesn’t need to win this game and big on Friday night.   I still think the big issues with US soccer are at the top – all the way down.  Still not sure Tab Ramos, who took our U20s and U23’s to the Quarter Finals of the last 3 WC’s shouldn’t have gotten a shot at least at the interim role.  Anyway hopefully the US shows up with some pride and dominates Canada at home the way we need to.

 The 23-man USMNT roster:

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

DEFENDERS (9): John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Sergiño Dest (Ajax), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Tim Ream (Fulham), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles Football Club)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke 04), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC)

 MLS CUP – Seattle Wins !

Wow as a longtime Seattle Sounders Fan – (someday I will get to that stadium!) – it was fantastic to see not only a win – but the extreme jubilation with 70,000 fans – the largest to crowd to see a sporting event in Seattle on hand.  Yeah the game was just ok – as Toronto dominated the first half – only to have Seattle strike back in the 2nd with a lucky off the defender goal.  Toronto dominated possession, but without Altidore up front to finish – they simply could not get a solid shot on goal.  And when they did Sounders GK Steffan Frie was up to the task. A 2nd goal on the counter attack followed by a third sent the crowd into a frenzy before Altidore finally subbed in late to make it 3-1 the final and Championship #2 to Seattle in the last 4 years.  Great to see the TV #s come back strong – as over 2 million watched on TV on an NFL Sunday on ABC.  Great to not only have the game on Network TV again – but to have a high scoring game that fans tuned into as well.  MLS is on the rise, the new playoff format with 1 game win or go home formats combined with more story lines and better TV viewership can only mean good things for the league as #s on ESPN+, Fox Sports and ESPN were up this year. Also ending the season in November rather than early December has to help.  With new cities like Nashville, Miami, Austin and more on the horizon – the future is looking for MLS.  Me  I am happy to see a city like Seattle that embraces their Sounder’s and soccer get to raise the Cup in their home stadium.  Someday Seattle – I will be amongst your masses !  Oh late note – sorry to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not returning to MLS and the LA Galaxy next season – he was a big personality and gave people someone to dislike or at least played the role of BAD GUY as well as anyone in the history of the league. Not sure El Traffico will be the same without him – I know the league will not.

Indy 11 Fall At Home in Eastern Finals

Disappointment city for our Indy 11 – as they let their 1 goal lead slip in the 94th minute in route to a 3-1 Championship game loss to Louisville at home Saturday afternoon.  A pretty good Indy 11 crowd – bolstered by over 1500 traveling Louisville fans was on hand to see the excitement.  The Indy 11 took a 2nd half lead on Tyler Pasher’s goal.  Louisville however kept the pressure on and when a questionable 4 minutes of extra time was added – Louisville capitalized on a 94th minute goal off their 3rd corner in extra time. Louisville scored 2 goals in Overtime including a horrible call when 11 GK Jordan Farr was whistled for a penalty on a perfect slide out to protect his goal.  The PK was the 3rd and final goal for Louisville as they now move on to their 3rd  USL Championship Final on Sunday night at 7:30 pm on ESPN2. (ah what could have been).  For the Indy 11 a disappointing finish to a really good season. I will have more wrap up next week.

US Ladies Wrap-Up Year with 2 Big Wins

The US Ladies wrapped up the year with a huge 6-0 win Costa Rica after surviving Sweden 3-2 last week.  A Good start for new coach Andonovski as he made some needed tweaks that seems to have helped the US team. He worked in some new players and some old stalwarts -like Carli Llyod (3 goals) really stood out in this looser, more attacking approach. The Olympics are right around the corner – so the US Ladies will look to continue tweaking things.  Lots of games during this international break England, Spain, Germany, Italy will be on ESPN+ a couple of times for Euro Cup Qualifying, Brazil faces Argentina in a Friendly Fri at noon on beIN Sport and of course the 2 huge US Games. 

CARMEL FC CLINICS SAT

Carmel FC would like to offer its youngest members, U8-U14 Boys and Girls, the chance to participate in the first ever Pass, Shoot, and Play Fall Clinics this SATURDAY ONLY – Nov 16th at Murray Stadium.  The sessions will focus on enhancing players’ basic abilities such as foot skills, passing, touch, and shooting featuring different perspectives and tips from our diverse and experienced coaching staff.  Coaches from throughout the club have volunteered to make this clinic a completely FREE opportunity for your player to experience a new, unique training environment with other members from around the club!  The schedule will be as follows:

Friday, November 15 – CANCELLED DUE TO COLD WEATHER

Saturday, November 16

  • U8s through U10s from 12 – 1 PM
  • U11s and U12s from 1 -2:30 PM
  • U13s and U14s from 2:30 – 4 PM

Please RSVP in this link if your player is interested in participating http://carmeldadsclub2016.org/81dd903881283f0fe6f402d9ac64aba4.form

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Nov 15

12 noon beIN Sport           Brazil vs Argentina (friendly)

2:$5 pm EPSN+                                 Boznia vs Italy

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Spain vs Malta

7 pm ESPN2                        USA vs Canada (Nations League)

10 pm FuboTV, TUDN   Panama vs Mexico

Sat, Nov 16

12 noon EPSN3                                 Russia vs Belgium

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Germany vs Belarus

Sun, Nov 17

9 am  ESPN News                            Luxenberg vs Portugal

12 noon  ESPN+                               Kosovo vs England  

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Albania vs France

5 pm Fox Sports 2                           U17 World Cup FINALS

7:30 pm ESPN2                  Louisville City vs Real Monarchs  USL Championship Game

Mon, Nov 18

2:45 pm ESPN News                        Ireland vs Denmark

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Italy vs Armenia

TUes, Nov 19

2:45 pm ESPN2                                 Germany vs Northern Ireland

7:30 pm Fox sport 1          Cuba vs USA (Nations League)

7:30 pm FuboTV, TUDN                   Mexico  vs Bermuda

Sat, Nov 23 

7:30 am NBCSN                                West Ham vs Tottenham

9 am ESPN+                                       Atalanta vs Juventus

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                       Dusseldorf (Morales & Steffan) vs Bayern Munich

9:30 am Fox Soccer                         Schalke (Mckinney) vs Werder Breman (Stuart)

10 am NBCSN                                    Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

12:30 pm NBC                                  Man City vs Chelsea (pulisic)  

3 pm beIN Sport                               Real Madrid vs Real Sociadad

Sun, Nov 24

9 am beIN Sport                               Monaco vs Bordueaux

11:30 am NBCSN                              Sheffield United vs Man United

12 noon FS1                         Hoffenhiem vs Mainz

USA

Is Berhalter the Right Guy for the US Head Job – ESPNFC – Jeff C

How Will US Line-up vs Canada?  -yahoo sports

What’s at Stake – especially for Canada

Stewart on Berhalter: “What I’ve seen today, I’m a pleased man”

Stewart assures Berhalter safe as USMNT boss – Jeff C ESPNFC

Doyle: Latest USMNT roster has one job

Berhalter: “I can guarantee” vastly improved display vs. Canada

U.S. Soccer to honor RunDMB on Friday

Zach Steffan to Miss US Nations League Games with Injury

 

USWNT put 6 past Costa Rica in friendly

Andonovski purposeful, thoughtful with early USWNT tweaks

Carli Lloyd, Morgan Brian, Williams inspire US Past Costa Rica

Rose Lavelle, Lynn Williams shine bright in 6-0 USWNT win

US Women beat Sweden 3-2 in Andonovski’s Managerial Debut

Match Stats vs CostaRica

MLS Finals

Sounder’s Cement Love Affair with Seattle after MLS Cup Home Win

Sounders take down Toronto to win 2nd MLS Cup

Sounders’ MLS Cup triumph reward for team that took its chances

Seattle Takes Rubber Match vs Toronto – Avi Creditor – SI

Sounders Step Up in Decisive Moments to Win MLS Cup – Grant Wahl SI

Toronto ‘our own worst enemy’ in MLS Cup – Vanney

Seattle GM Garth Lagerwey Reaches the Cup Final Again – Grant Wahl – SI

Monchengladbach pay seven figures for NYCFC teenager

Zlatan’s best goals of 2019

Doyle: Zlatan leaves Galaxy without conquering

He’s back: Thierry Henry is the Impact’s new head coach

Indy 11

Indy 11 Stunned by Louisville in Final – Indy Star – Kevin Johnston

Indy 11 Defender makes 1st Team

Indy 11 Loses Heartbreaker in Conference Finals 3-1

EPL

Pulisic Watch: How U.S. star is doing at Chelsea, game by game

Premier League Player Power Rankings

Unstoppable Liverpool, not VAR, the story as Reds make title statement vs. City

Mourinho declares title Liverpool’s barring injuries

Pep’s shallow squad |

Liverpool’s title to lose |

Emery is throwing stuff at a wall |

Foxes better than Claudio’s heroes |

West Ham sweating on Fabianski |

Luckiest moment of the weekend |

A final word on VAR … again

Power Rankings – Liverpool stay top ahead of Juventus

Arsenal and Emery are regressing in real time  3dGabriele Marcotti Getty

World

European Cup Qualification

– Qualifying tables | Upcoming fixtures

Euro 2020 qualifying: All you need to know

Who will take part in the playoffs? | Finals draw seeds and pots

USA vs. Canada: Here’s what’s at stake in the Nations League rematch

November 12, 20195:43PM ESTDylan ButlerContributor

There will be a lot on the line for both the US men’s national team and Canada when the teams meet up Friday (7 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN) at Exploria Stadium.By virtue of a historic win at BMO Field a month ago, Canada hold first place in Nations League Group A with a perfect nine points heading into its final group stage match.  A win or draw would put John Herdman’s squad into the tournament’s final four and earn them valuable points in the FIFA rankings as they seek to reach the 2022 FIFA World Cup.Following the 2-0 victory in Toronto a month ago, Canada moved into a top-six spot among Concacaf teams where they need to be in June 2020 to ensure a spot in the Concacaf Hexagonal for FIFA World Cup qualifying. But there is little room for comfort, with El Salvador, Curacao and Panama all within striking distance.“The USA have their motivations for this match, but for us it is another cup final, another game that could decide our fate for qualification to the Hex, so we will give absolutely everything we have to move this country one step closer to achieving that goal,” Herdman said.Canada have already secured a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup by guaranteeing a place in the top two teams in the group. The US have also effectively sealed their qualification, given their huge goal-differential advantage over bottom-placed Cuba.A USMNT win would pull them within three points of Canada heading into the final group stage match against Cuba on Nov. 19. Canada currently have a +4 goal differential advantage over the USMNT.

How will the USMNT line up versus Canada?

Nicholas Mendola,NBC Sports 15 hours ago

No Christian Pulisic.  No Tyler Adams.  No Timothy Weah. No Michael Bradley, Matt Miazga, and no Zack Steffen, either.  Ugh.Still, the United States men’s national team will be favored to get a home decision over Canada on Friday as the CONCACAF Nations League begins its final two match days of the group stage.How will Gregg Berhalter line up his team without so many key components?

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan is probably going to get the start here, and he won’t kill the team, but we’d love to see Sean Johnson get a chance to improve on his 100% clean sheet success rate across two tournament caps for the U.S.

Back line: It would be insane if Sergino Dest didn’t start at one of the full back spots given his election of the USMNT over the Netherlands. Also insane would be not starting a finally-healthy John Brooks.After that, it seems likely Berhalter will opt for Aaron Long to pair with Brooks. If his left back option is Dest, then it’ll be DeAndre Yedlin at right back (or Reggie Cannon). If Dest is on his preferred right side, than Daniel Lovitz may get a look over Tim Ream on account of the speed in Canada’s attack.

Midfield: Might Berhalter pull back an attacker and use a four-man midfield against the Canucks? Weston McKennie and Alfredo Morales will take two spots, and it seems pretty likely Jackson Yueill will get the chance to be a deep-lying playmaker with McKennie and Morales running their shorts off to make his life easier. We suppose Berhalter could opt for Wil Trapp over Yueill. It’s possible. A little too possible.

Attack: Josh Sargent is going to get the center forward spot, and it would be wild if Jordan Morris doesn’t join him. Then it’s down to Tyler Boyd or Paul Arriola, exciting versus a bit safer. And Arriola would give him more of a midfield presence than the forward-thinking Boyd.Here’s how we think Berhalter starts in Orlando:

Guzan

Yedlin — Long — Brooks — Dest

Yueill

Morales — McKennie

Morris — Sargent — Arriola

Is Berhalter right for the U.S. men’s national team? 10 burning questions for the USMNT in 2019

3:13 PM ET   Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

On a conference call with the media on Tuesday, U.S. Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart had a Chip Diller moment. Despite some poor results by the U.S. men’s national team, including a humbling loss to Canada, Stewart said Gregg Berhalter’s job as manager is safe no matter what the results of the next two games are, and that the U.S. was making progress.It’s Stewart’s duty to back the work of Berhalter, of course. He hired him, after all. But Stewart’s assessment flies in the face of reality. Even if the U.S. gets the wins it needs against Canada on Friday (7 p.m. ET, watch live on ESPN2) and Cuba four days later, and thus advances to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Nations League, the team has at best treaded water and more accurately taken a step backward in 2019. The insistence on playing out of the back seems misguided. The competitiveness that was once the U.S. team’s hallmark has nearly evaporated. Most sobering of all is the fact that while the U.S. roster has plenty of good players, outside of Christian Pulisic, there are few — if any — great players. There aren’t any Clint Dempseys or Landon Donovans coming to this team’s rescue. That last aspect isn’t Berhalter’s fault, but it does magnify mistakes, and there have been a few.Here are 10 questions that need answering for the U.S. as it goes forward.

1. Is Berhalter the right man for the job?

It’s looking more and more like he isn’t. New England Revolution manager Bruce Arena was right when he said in October that Berhalter was running the national team like it was a club team. Berhalter has been stubborn in terms of his style despite the scant time he gets with the team, but Stewart is clearly intent on keeping him on board for the foreseeable future.

The U.S. manager’s chances of survival hinge on his willingness to find a pragmatic streak. Soccer is a results-driven business; Berhalter needs to win any way necessary rather than insisting on his ideal way of playing. Sure, the U.S. reached the final of the Gold Cup, but that was a case of the Americans dispatching teams that they should beat on a regular basis. Against the likes of Mexico, other than the first 25 minutes of the Gold Cup final, the U.S. has come up well short, and last month’s defeat to Canada revealed that his side continues to lose ground to its regional competitors. Berhalter needs to accept the realities of what the player pool is handing him and regroup.

2. What have we learned about Berhalter’s approach?

So far Berhalter has been too rigid in his tactics and squad selection. The September friendly against Mexico was a case in point, when he praised his side for continuing to play out of the back even as it became evident that the U.S. didn’t have the ability to play through El Tri‘s press. There needs to be a mix of playing direct and indirect, depending on what the opponent gives you. Against an Uruguay team that was content to sit back, the U.S. wisely engaged in a patient buildup. Against Canada, the U.S. was guilty of some brutal giveaways in its own half that led directly to goals.Then there’s the broader question of whether the U.S. has the personnel — and perhaps more importantly, the time — to implement what Berhalter is asking of his players: to control the game by way of long spells of possession and unbalancing opponents to create goal-scoring opportunities through the individual brilliance of Pulisic and utilizing the wings. Against run-of-the-mill CONCACAF sides, it does. Against better teams, it doesn’t. This isn’t a surprise. It sums up the state of the U.S. team going back 40 years. Berhalter and the U.S. need to show more flexibility in terms of their style.

3. Does Berhalter know what his first-choice XI is?

Only in bits and pieces. I’d say roughly half of the starting lineup in his preferred 4-3-3 has solidified, while the remaining positions are open with varying degrees of competition. Some of that is health-induced, with the absence of Tyler Adams especially problematic. Here’s a stab at a starting XI assuming Berhalter has a full complement of players to choose from:

Zack SteffenDeAndre YedlinAaron LongJohn Brooks, Sergino Dest; Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic; Jordan MorrisJozy AltidorePaul Arriola.

4. Which players form his core?

Steffen is the entrenched starter in goal. Brooks, health permitting, will take up one of the center-back spots, while Yedlin has reclaimed his position at right-back. McKennie, Adams and Pulisic have to be on the field in some form or another, although they haven’t all been in camp together enough for Berhalter to settle on how that will be done.McKennie thrives as a No. 8 with his box-to-box running. Adams is the midfield engine adept at breaking up plays and his passing has improved to the point of him being able to link defense and attack. Pulisic is the creative linchpin, although he could use some help in this area.

5. Which positions are still unsettled?

Left-back remains a sore spot, with Dest looking to be shoehorned into that position even though he plays on the opposite flank for Ajax. The center-back situation is more solid, with Long, Tim Ream and Walker Zimmerman in contention to play alongside Brooks, although why Matt Miazga did to not get called in this time — despite playing regularly for Reading in England’s Championship — remains a mystery.In the absence of Adams, Berhalter is still looking for the right balance in midfield, especially in terms of which player (or players) sits in front of the back line. Michael Bradley remains an option, but his advancing age (32) demands that Berhalter look at other possibilities. Alfredo Morales, who plays with a bite that in large part is missing from this team, could be a solution, but he’s not exactly youthful at age 29. That merely highlights the fact that Adams can’t return to health soon enough.Altidore is still the best option as the lone striker, but health remains an issue for him. Based on the Gold Cup, he also doesn’t seem to have the faith of Berhalter, leaving Josh Sargent as the heir apparent. On the wing, Morris has made steady progress this season, while Arriola and Tyler Boyd are still in contention.

6. Is Berhalter getting the most out of Pulisic?

Not yet he isn’t, and it’s still not clear what Pulisic’s best position is in Berhalter’s setup. Pulisic has excelled playing out on the wing for Borussia Dortmund and now Chelsea, looking dynamic when he cuts inside from wide positions. But for the U.S. there’s a question of whether he can get the ball with enough frequency in that spot and whether the USMNT can afford to have him so isolated. Playing as one of two advanced central midfielders, Pulisic has looked promising at times, and this approach ought to be looked at again. It gives him a bit more freedom within the U.S. side to find space, whether its centrally or out wide.There’s also the question of how much Pulisic is chafing at how he’s being used. He showed visible frustration when he was subbed against Canada. No player wants to come out, ever, but against Canada, Pulisic’s insistence that he wasn’t feeling ill — as Berhalter stated — hints that player and coach aren’t always on the same page.

7. Which players should be shown the door?

In many ways, this process has already started. Wil Trapp, as good as he is on the ball, hasn’t shown the necessary physicality to excel with the national team, and his playing time has decreased as a result. Gyasi Zardes is everyone’s favorite whipping boy, and his playing time has largely been a function of Altidore’s injuries. But at this stage, he should make way for others.

8. Which players should get more chances?

There has been plenty of clamoring to see more of the U20 squad that reached the quarterfinals of last summer’s FIFA U20 World Cup. Berhalter has established a standard whereby players have to be getting minutes with their first team in order to get called up. I have zero problem with this. Too often in the past, players with minimal club achievements have been called into the national team, often to their detriment.Despite fans’ enthusiasm for a youth movement, a better development path for these players is to cut their international teeth with the U23s and focus on qualifying for the Olympics. It’s a tournament that is often derided as being far down the totem pool in terms of international cachet, but it’s still international experience, and can provide an important step in terms of the international game.However, one player who should be exempt from the above line of thinking is Paxton Pomykal, who has shown in 2019 that he’s deserving of additional opportunities. Injuries late in the season meant he hasn’t been able to build on his initial call-up in September, and he recently had surgery to repair a core muscle injury. But his skill on the ball would seem to suit what Berhalter is asking for. The potential, composure on the ball and playmaking ability of the Philadelphia Union’s Brenden Aaronson makes him another to watch.If the likes of Ulysses Llanez and Alex Mendez break through at Wolfsburg and Ajax respectively, by all means call them into the senior squad. The same can be said for Richie Ledezma at PSV. Until then, they should be left to develop with their clubs.In the absence of Pulisic, Sebastian Lletget is one player who ought to get some more looks. He’s crafty on the ball, and can pop up for the occasional goal, although there wasn’t enough of that last season for the LA Galaxy. So far, he hasn’t gotten all that many minutes when Berhalter has had first team available. If the U.S. manager is really intent on playing Pulisic out wide, Lletget may be the key to making that work. If Pulisic and Lletget are installed in these roles, Sargent could be suited for being the connection in front of goal given his skill set.Sargent is one player who needs to see the field more often given his all-around game and Altidore’s health issues.

9. What’s the U.S. team’s most glaring deficiency?

Depth or creativity, take your pick, although one tends to bleed into the other. The biggest problem with the attack is that there is no one to take the creative load off of Pulisic. If no one emerges to provide a secondary attacking outlet, then the Pulisic can expect a steady stream of tactical fouls.

10. What must Berhalter and the U.S. do better in 2020?

Besides everything? First, find the aforementioned pragmatic streak. The U.S. has historically been at its best when it has known its limitations and played within them. That’s not to say that playing a more expansive style can’t be tried, but it shouldn’t be the only club in the U.S. team’s stylistic bag.Find a dedicated place for Pulisic to play and then build the attack from there. And pray that Adams returns to health.The U.S. also needs to rediscover its competitive streak. The Canada game in October was embarrassing in terms of how badly the U.S. was outworked. If the U.S. is to make any progress at all in 2020, that trait needs to return in abundance.

Earnie Stewart: USMNT has made progress under Gregg Berhalter

1:31 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

U.S. Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart indicated that Gregg Berhalter’s job as men’s national team manager is safe, no matter what the results are in the upcoming Concacaf Nations League matches against Canada and Cuba.Berhalter has come under fire recently for some poor results, namely a 3-0 friendly defeat to rivals Mexico back in September in which the U.S. was thoroughly outplayed, as well as a 2-0 loss to Canada in the Nations League last month. The latter defeat makes Friday’s rematch against the Reds in Orlando a must-win if the U.S. is to progress in the competition.

– Watch U.S. vs. Canada live at 7 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN2
– CONCACAF Nations League: All you need to know

Speaking on a conference with reporters, Stewart was asked directly if Berhalter’s job was safe, no matter what the results are against Canada and Cuba, Stewart said, “We’re looking at the future, so yeah. When I evaluate Gregg and the coaching staff, and what I’ve seen today, I’m a pleased man. An individual result is not going to change that. I think that answers the question in itself.”Stewart admitted that the performance against Canada “wasn’t good enough”, but he believes the U.S. men have made progress in the last year.”I do think there’s been progress, I really do,” he said. “What we’ve seen in the Gold Cup is that in Concacaf we have a really good level, and that we can play the game we want to play. Getting to a place where we can do that over 90 minutes, that’s the place we need to get to. That progression is there, except against teams like a very good team in Mexico and a very good team like Uruguay, it becomes a little bit more difficult.”Berhalter has also come under criticism for implementing a possession-based, play-out-of-the-back style. The U.S. has at times struggled to implement this approach, leading to concerns that it doesn’t necessarily fit the collective skillset of the player pool. Stewart believes he seen enough positive moments that the approach is the right one.”Our players showed that they can perform at a really, really high level. The question is not so much, can these players do that, because they’ve already shown that they can. What I would say is we need to do that over 90 minutes, and that’s something that we’re constantly talking about. How can we get there? How can we progress to have enough players to keep that an maintain that for 90 minutes.”Stewart’s optimistic outlook extends to qualification for the 2022 World Cup.”I have no fear that we’re not going to qualify for the World Cup,” he said. “I’m very, very confident about that.”Stewart also hit back against what he called “conspiracy theories” about the process in which Berhalter was hired. Berhalter’s brother Jay is currently the USSF Chief Commercial Officer, and there have been suggestions that he had an unhealthy influence on Stewart during the coaching search, especially given the fact that just two candidates were interviewed.Stewart was also asked about the role that the Hispanic community plays in the U.S. program. Hispanics are not well represented in the USSF hierarchy, and a newly created a 59-person youth soccer task force that outside of USSF president Carlos Cordeiro, doesn’t contain a single Latino member.”When we put it together, we were just looking for the best people, it’s as simple as that,” said Stewart, speaking generally about Hispanic representation.”There’s not other stuff that goes on or anything like that. Is the Hispanic community an important part of the U.S. and U.S. Soccer? Yes, I truly believe that. Should there be representation? I believe that as well. That is hopefully what the future will also entail and what that will look like. But it’s also about the quality of people that you bring in and everything. It’s an important part of our heritage, it’s an important part of our community, so that should also be represented within the USSF. And I don’t believe anybody within the USSF thinks differently than that.”

Anything less than revenge win over Canada is unacceptable, say United States

November 12, 201912:47PM ESTAustin DavidContributor

ORLANDO, Fla. — Over the past few weeks, a number of billboards sprung up around the city of Orlando advertising the US men’s national team’s Concacaf Nations League match against Canada on Friday (7 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN), with the word “payback” written on top.After the team’s disappointing 2-0 loss to Canada in October, this game has been billed as a revenge game by many. Now, with the team facing a must-win home match against their northern neighbors, the players seem to feel the same way.“I don’t like to put that pressure, but in reality, it is,” defender Reggie Cannon said on Monday. “We lost and now it’s time to step up and respond to the challenge that we’re placed in. We dug ourselves in this hole but we can definitely get out of it.”That self-imposed pressure is one that seems to resonate through the entire team. With some frustrating performances and results over the last few months, the USMNT are eager to show their fans just what they’re capable of and put on a show for the Orlando faithful.

United States vs. Canada

Friday, November 15 at 7:00pmExploria StadiumGET TICKETS

“You use that game to learn from and get better,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “We certainly weren’t good enough on the night and we need to make sure that when we step on the field, come Friday night, we give ourselves the best chance to get three points.”Building off the performance in October, head coach Gregg Berhalter felt that his team lacked intensity against Canada, a part of the game he’s hoping his players not only learned from but also build on.“I can guarantee you that it will be a different-looking game on Friday,” Berhalter said. “Sometimes it takes a fire getting lit under you to get that response and we’re always striving a mixture. We want that super-high intensity but we also want to be able to pick teams apart and play our way.”With the team missing two of their star players in Zack Steffen and Christian Pulisic, others will need to fill their shoes with a next-man-up mentality, as they hope to rectify the result of the previous game and produce a better performance in a match the US must win handily if they are to retain any hope of winning Group A of CNL League A and advancing to the new competition’s knockout stages.“Nothing less than a win is going to be good enough,” Guzan said.

Armchair Analyst: Berhalter’s latest USMNT roster has one job

November 12, 20192:14PM ESTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

There was justifiable anger, frustration and despair from the US national team fanbase last month following a humiliating and one-sided 2-0 loss at BMO Field to Canada in the Concacaf Nations League.It was a very, very bad loss. Not because Canada are a bad team – the US have lost to much worse teams this past decade (Guatemala, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago) – nor because the stakes were particularly high (the losses to those above teams all came in World Cup qualifiers, and Jamaica won in the 2015 Gold Cup semifinals as well).What made it bad was how slow and defensively disorganized the US were all over the pitch, and how soft and uncompetitive the US were in central midfield. Michael Bradley and Cristian Roldan were put in a no-win situation by Gregg Berhalter, asked to play 2-v-4 basically all night against Canada’s box midfield. But even so they were just overrun by their Canadian counterparts. Sam Piette and Liam Fraser are good players, but they are not prime Arturo Vidal and Charles Aranguiz.Against the US, they looked like it.  So here’s a list of things that I want to see from the USMNT for these upcoming Nations League games, in which they host Canada in Orlando on Friday (7 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN) and then travel down to the Cayman Islands to face Cuba next Tuesday (7:30 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, TUDN):

1. Change the defensive shape

At some point it has to be recognized that the 4-4-2 mid-block is too passive, too prone to losing numerical superiority in central midfield, and too simple to game plan against (hence Canada’s box midfield). Berhalter has to put another guy in there.I’m open to seeing how the US look defensively in a 4-2-3-1 with a double pivot. Or Berhalter could invert the triangle and go with a single pivot in a 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1. Either way, it’s time to get more numbers there.

2. Change the defensive function

Can you think of a single dangerous transition moment from the past half-dozen games? Can you remember a single time the US won the ball and then just immediately vamos‘d into the attacking third?Neither can I. The US plan under Berhalter is to bottle teams up in that mid-block, force a turnover, and then methodically go about breaking them down with the ball.When you can do that, that’s good! But if everybody already knows you’re doing that, and is planning to stop you from doing that, and you don’t have a Plan B, then that’s bad! That’s how you get absolutely punked by Canada!ore than anything else, the modern game is about transition moments. The US in 2019 do not do transition moments. It is weird, and it is worrisome, and it is wearing me out. Win the ball and run.

3. Return the Punking

Canada out-toughed, out-swaggered, out-coached and out-Concacaf’d the US in October. It was a pure beating, a one-sided lesson in aggression, game-planning and will.And if you’re a member of the USMNT, a national team that had not lost to Canada for 34 years prior last month’s embarrassment, you can not let that stand. You have to go out there and, first and foremost, win the rock fight. Yes, soccer is a game of high strategy and subtle tactics and nuance and beauty, but at its heart it will always be a physical competition. Those Barcelona teams that played the most gorgeous soccer anyone’s ever seen? To a man they’d push you in front of a bus if they thought it would give them an edge. To a man they went out there not just with the desire to play their game and impose their tactical will, but to dominate and demoralize their opponents.The US have too often looked like they were going through the steps of an academic exercise, just processing information and forgetting that there was a sporting competition happening around them (or maybe “to them” is a better way of putting it). Tata Martino had El Tri just press the US into oblivion back in September, and John Herdman simply wouldn’t let the bedrock principle of the academic exercise – Bradley’s long diagonals to the flanks – be a thing.The US got punked. The players played soft, confused and frustrated.

Here’s the XI I’d like to see:

Morris/Sargent .Arriola

Mckennie Yueill

Morales

Dest, Brooks, Long, Cannon

Johnson

A few notes:

  • Jordan Morrislooked exhausted after MLS Cup, but with Christian Pulisic officially ruled out, he will have to step up for the USMNT, while Tyler Boyd is an off-the-bench option.
  • Bradley is officially out after turning his ankle in MLS Cup, which means it’s Jackson Yueillor Wil Trappas the regista.

I have my doubts about Yueill’s ability to do some of the physical work required of a No. 6 – he’s become good at winning the ball in a scrum, but isn’t one to cover much ground or inflict much pain (yet) – but I think this is a fairly easy call. If he does well, great! If he doesn’t… well, at least it’s a useful data point for evaluating a young, high-upside player in the pool.

  • A more traditional look would have Alfredo Morales as the No. 6 with Weston McKennie and Yueill as dual No. 8s. You could also talk me into Sebastian Lletgetas the more advanced, left-sided CM, McKennie as the No. 8 and either Morales or Yueill on the bench.
  • Yes, I went with Reggie Cannonover DeAndre Yedlin. As with Roldan and Bradley, there has to be accountability for a performance as poor as last month’s. Plus Yedlin’s defensive inattentiveness has not lessened over the years.
  • Tyler Adams and Timothy Weah have returned to training. Zack Seffen, Paxton Pomykaland Miles Robinsonwill be healthy come January. Richie Ledezma is on the verge of breaking through into the PSV first-team squad. Duane Holmes continues to impress at Derby County. Bobby Wood is playing actual minutes again, maybe. And the U23s – who also have a camp this week – are stacked.  Help is on the way.

Most to gain (or lose) from decisive USMNT matches

By Nicholas MendolaNov 12, 2019, 4:23 PM EST

The United States men’s national team will not be changing coaches regardless of the scores against Canada and Cuba this month, giving added incentive to 23 men called into the team to get the job done.Long- and short-term injuries continue to open the door to players well past Gregg Berhalter’s top 23, even deeper considering the concurrent U-23 camp and the coach’s apparent disinterest in some other players still performing well in Europe.Christian PulisicZack Steffen, and Michael Bradley picked up injuries that won’t allow them to join the team, while Timothy Weah and Tyler Adams have just restarted training with their clubs after long injury absences. Miles Robinson is still absent after being injured at the last camp and missing Atlanta’s playoff runThrow in Berhalter’s decision not to call up Matt Miazga, Duane Holmes, and Julian Green to go with Jozy Altidore‘s lack of fitness, and you’ve got another month for some players to surprise (We haven’t even mentioned Antonee RobinsonCameron Carter-Vickers and Richie Ledezma are at a loaded U-23 camp).Edit note: Maybe we need to write up a Top 50 USMNT depth chart this evening or soon…

Chase Gasper and Corey Baird were sent home from camp ahead of the European arrivals, so here are the players whose fortunes could hinge on delivering for a coach who needs it. Make no mistake about it: Earnie Stewart’s vote of confidence means the coach is going nowhere, but anyone who helps Berhalter score a berth in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals will take a place near his heart.

Who’s gotta carpe sabbati? Read on…

Sebastian Lletget ,Jackson Yueill, Cristian Roldan (in that order) — We probably wrote something similar to this last month, but future camps without Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic, and Weston McKennie are only going to happen if all are (again) injured or there is absolutely nothing on the line against Jamaica’s B Team.

Include Bradley’s absence and you’ll get an even deeper understanding of why who is chosen alongside McKennie and (probably) Alfredo Morales for this big match against Canada is a big deal. Lletget is 27 and Berhalter hasn’t shown a lot of love for him despite bringing a unique skill set and decent performances when he’s been given time on the USMNT pitch. Roldan might be the best non-prospect American player in MLS. Yueill is just 22, but again there are a lot of absent players ahead of him. We’re not included Wil Trapp in this discussion because he’s clearly a Berhalter favorite.Out-fight Scott Arfield and out-fox Jonathan Osorio, and give Berhalter a reason to keep calling you into the fold.

The goalkeepers — There’s no reason to expect Zack Steffen to lose his first XI spot through injury, especially given his status as a Bundesliga starter on loan from a Champions League outfit — Oh, and he was Berhalter’s club No. 1, too! — but at some point these goalkeeper call-ups and their performances will determine who will be Nos. 2 and 3 for qualifying and for, probably, the 2022 World Cup.

Jonathan Klinsmann, Ethan Horvath, and Brady Scott aren’t here, and boy did Leicester City’s Chituru Odunze open some eyes during the U.S. flame-out at the U-17 World Cup.

So here’s Brad Guzan, the presumptive No. 1 in a post-Tim Howard world who proved presumptions aren’t foolproof.

Only two of Sean Johnson‘s eight caps were not friendlies, and both were Gold Cup clean sheets (six years apart). Might he get a chance in Orlando?

And Matt Turner is new here after an outstanding 2019 season in MLS. You can bet Berhalter rang up a respected Bruce Arena to get plenty of info before calling in the New England Revolution’s No. 1.

Aaron Long — This isn’t about gaining a spot on the squad, as the 27-year-old Long looks like a mainstay for Berhalter, rather a steady place in the XI. Miazga not being here could’ve been heard as a clarion call to the center backs who were called up.

Long has struggled in his past few months wearing the national team shirt, and a healthy John Brooks is an automatic starter. That leaves one spot, a pivotal one given Berhalter’s preferential formation, and Walker Zimmerman is a better passer than Long. This is a big camp for proving whether the Red Bulls man is a starter or security blanket.

Seattle’s home MLS Cup win cements Sounders in the city’s rich sporting legacy

Kevin PeltonESPN Senior Writer

SEATTLE — Seattle’s 3-1 win over Toronto FC to claim MLS Cup 2019, in front of a sellout crowd of nearly 70,000 fans on Sunday, was the culmination of a love affair between the city and the Sounders a decade in the making.

It’s easy to forget, in the wake of the successful expansion launches of Portland, LAFC and particularly Atlanta — which won MLS Cup in front of a similar sellout crowd last year and has surpassed the Sounders as the attendance leader — just how unbelievable Seattle’s support once seemed. When the Sounders played their first Major League Soccer game 10 years ago, no team in league history had averaged 30,000 fans per match. The Sounders broke the MLS record in their inaugural season, and again in each of the next four before eventually peaking at more than 44,000 fans per game in 2015.None of that was predictable in 2009. At the time, the big question in Seattle sports circles was whether the excitement over the Sounders’ debut could last. After all, it’s common for expansion franchises to see their attendance decline in Year 2. The WNBA’s Seattle Storm, for example, saw their average decrease by almost a third during their second season. And though the Storm have carved out an important place in Seattle’s sports scene, winning three championships of their own, they’ve still yet to reach that inaugural attendance again.Several factors helped the Sounders not only maintain, but actually improve their fan support in Year 2 and beyond.First, the timing of the team’s debut on the MLS stage couldn’t possibly have been better. Without question, 2008 was the most miserable year in Seattle sports history. The University of Washington fielded the only winless FBS team. MLB’s Mariners lost 100 games for the first time in 25 years. The NFL Seahawks, just three years removed from reaching the Super Bowl, bottomed out at 4-12. And, most painfully, the NBA SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City after 41 years in Seattle.Though the Sounders could never replace the history lost with the Sonics’ move, their arrival helped fill a void in the Seattle sports landscape and the Sounders took full advantage by nailing the expansion process. Even their one misstep — the team originally excluded Sounders, part of Seattle’s soccer heritage dating back to their NASL participation from 1974 to 1983, from a fan naming vote — only ended up increasing excitement when they reversed course.Second, the atmosphere created by Sounders supporters made CenturyLink Field an experience unlike almost any in American professional sports at that point, with the Emerald City Supporters in the south stands leading chants for the full 90 minutes. That made Sounders matches more entertaining for casual fans and the home stadium a fortress for the team, rather than depressingly cavernous like other NFL stadiums used by MLS teams.Thanks in part to their home crowd, the Sounders won — and kept winning. From Day 1, they’ve consistently been one of the best teams in MLS. They’ve reached the playoffs in all 11 of their seasons, a new league record. And while it wasn’t until Brian Schmetzer’s promotion to head coach in 2016 that the Sounders were able to break through in the postseason and reach MLS Cup, they claimed the US Open Cup three consecutive years starting in their inaugural MLS season and added a fourth in 2014.Still, none of that — not even the MLS Cup the Sounders did win on the road in Toronto in 2016 — could compare to the enthusiasm hosting MLS Cup generated in Seattle.– Replay MLS Cup: Seattle Sounders 3, Toronto FC 1 (U.S. only)  “This week was a week I will not forget,” majority owner Adrian Hanauer, who led the group that brought the Sounders to MLS, said in the winning locker room. “Starting 10 days ago with Toronto knocking off Atlanta and realizing, ‘Holy crap, we’re going to host an MLS Cup,’ I made a concerted effort to appreciate it and breathe it all in a little bit, because that’s not really in my nature.”The first two Sounders wins en route to the MLS Cup, over FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake, were modestly attended by Seattle standards with 37,000-plus fans. The combination of the Sounders’ improbable upset over Supporters’ Shield winner LAFC in the Western Conference finals and the opportunity to win a league championship at home — something only the Storm, among the city’s major pro sports teams, have done — put them in the front of Seattle sports fans’ consciousness and made the Sounders a hot ticket. When MLS Cup tickets went on sale nine days ahead of the match, the building sold out within 20 minutes, guaranteeing both the largest attendance ever for a sporting event at CenturyLink Field as well as the largest to watch soccer in the state of Washington. On resale sites, tickets were running more than $200 just to get in the door.For Sounders forward and Seattle-area native Jordan Morris, the chance to play for a trophy in his hometown was a unique experience.”I got emotional before the game because I was thinking about that,” said Morris, whose father is the team’s chief medical officer. “I was here at the first game 10 years ago, and now I’m on the field playing for a championship. It’s pretty special.”Hanauer had a similar feeling a few hours earlier, when he reached Pioneer Square and saw fans already gathering hours before the match. More than anyone, he knows the hard work, planning and luck it took to get to this point.”You’re never quite sure how it’s all going to shake out, but obviously you want to play for championships, you want to win championships,” Hanauer said. “Doing it in your home city, where you were born and raised, it’s pretty special to see the joy that you give fans and how beloved these players and coaches are. It’s pretty cool.”Sports moves communities and brings people together. To see what this group of players and coaches was able to do for this community, for those 69,000, for the hundreds of thousands watching on TV and giant watch parties, it’s awesome. It’s great for the city.”

Seattle Steps Up in Decisive Moments to Win MLS Cup Rubber Match vs. Toronto

For a second time in four seasons, the Sounders have won MLS Cup, and based on how the club is structured, they’re not finished making noise.GRANT WAHL19 HOURS AGO

SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders beat Toronto FC 3-1 to win the 2019 MLS Cup final on Sunday, sending a sellout crowd of 69,274 at CenturyLink Field into a frenzy. With second-half goals by Kelvin Leerdam, Víctor Rodríguez and Raúl Ruidíaz, Seattle won its second MLS championship and first at a final in front of its rabid home fans. Jozy Altidore scored a late goal for Toronto.Here are three quick thoughts on the game:

Seattle won the rubber-match despite being dominated in possession

This was a better game than either of the previous two finals these same two teams played in 2016 and ’17, but the biggest surprise of Seattle-Toronto III was Seattle having only 35% of possession and looking to counter much more than anyone had expected coming into the game. Toronto didn’t park the bus by any means and actually played the better soccer for much of the game. Alejandro Pozuelo was fantastic at times on the ball in the Seattle half, but Toronto never created enough truly dangerous chances despite all that possession and suffered for it. When it came down to it, Toronto also didn’t have anyone quite as good in the decisive moments as Seattle’s Nicolás Lodeiro, whose brilliant pass to Víctor Rodríguez set up the second Seattle goal—and the team’s second MLS Cup title in four years.

Michael Bradley played like a man with $6.5 million on the line

The fact of the matter is that Bradley plays like someone with his hair on fire all the time anyway (if he had hair), but with a Toronto win reportedly set to trigger an extra year of his contract at $6.5 million, Bradley was everywhere on Sunday. Has there ever been a bigger single-game win bonus in the history of the sport? Bradley orchestrated the Toronto build-up when TFC had the ball, and whenever Seattle had a counter it was Bradley who would race back and try to put out the fire. Bradley’s range was incredible in this game, and you would have to think that even with the loss he’ll come back to Toronto next year and continue to play a major role—even if it’s at a lower salary number than it would have been with a victory in the final.

If we’re deciding to name eras, this may well be the Seattle Era in MLS

This was obviously the third Seattle-Toronto final in the last four years, and while Toronto’s 2017 team makes a great case as the best single-season team in MLS history, the best teams are the ones who can reign over a period of several seasons.AWith its second win over Toronto in a final, Seattle now has a better claim to this era than TFC. What’s more, this Seattle run may not be over. Sounders pillars Lodeiro and Ruidíaz are nowhere near the end of the line, the roster put together by GM Garth Lagerwey is stacked, and now the Seattle homegrowns (which have been winning age-group titles for the last two years) could really start impacting the team starting next season. f the Seattle championship era started in 2016, the end-date on this era has yet to be decided.

Let’s call it what it is: MLS Cup has been cruel to Toronto FC

Joey Gulino,Yahoo Sports 18 hours ago

  • Michael Bradley and Toronto FC have had a ridiculously hard time solving Seattle in MLS Cup finals. (Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports)

SEATTLE — You-know-who said it. You know what he said.Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t factor into Sunday’s MLS Cup final whatsoever. But his comments on how the league determines a champion – “I think the system is s***” – rang loud back in August.They ring even louder now thanks to Toronto FC.Three times, Toronto has met the Seattle Sounders with a championship on the line. Three times, Toronto has a strong claim to being the better side.One time, they hoisted the trophy. That’s it.“That’s how it goes,” TFC captain Michael Bradley said. “Nobody’s feeling sorry for themselves. It’s frustrating. … On these days, things hang in the balance, and you need a little bit of quality, skill, a break, a little bit of luck. By and large, that’s what opens these games up.”By and large, that’s not what Toronto has gotten.Sunday’s 3-1 scoreline was unflattering of the bravery the Reds displayed on the road for the third time in as many games this postseason. They’d already gone to Eastern Conference top seed New York City FC and won. They did the same against defending MLS champion Atlanta United in the conference final.With 69,274 fans stuffed into CenturyLink Field, almost all of them rooting vociferously for the Sounders, Toronto was the aggressor for the first half and beyond. Their exchanges were crisp, their ideas clever, their lack of a goal verging on obnoxious.There wasn’t one chance that necessarily stood out as unfortunate, just the entire run of play.“It’s frustrating, because I thought we were fluid,” TFC coach Greg Vanney said. “I thought generally we had good organization. I thought they didn’t have a great answer for some of our movement and some of the ball circulation.”By the time Seattle’s goal arrived in the 57th minute, officially credited to Kelvin Leerdam but thoroughly attributable to TFC defender Justin Morrow’s deflection, the game changed completely.Toronto broke it open. They just did it against themselves.“I thought it was a gut punch, just in terms of how we played,” said striker Jozy Altidore, who battled back from injury to come on as a substitute. “We dominated the game. It’s shades of 2016 a bit.”What happened in 2016? Oh nothing, just Toronto FC bossing the run of play with zilch to show for it, thanks to Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei’s heroics and the wrong spin of a penalty shootout wheel.A year later, when the Reds returned to MLS Cup with arguably the best team in league history, they dominated the Sounders again but didn’t score until Altidore’s 67th-minute strike, and didn’t feel truly comfortable until an insurance goal in stoppage time.Then came Sunday. Three games. Well over 300 minutes of play. Nearly 500 more passes attempted, and still a higher percentage of passes completed. An aggregate of nearly 60 percent possession. Toronto even registered nearly as many shots on goal (23) and Seattle registered shots period (24). “It doesn’t matter,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “You put the ball in the back of the net, you’re dangerous in attack, and that’s how championships are won.”He’s right. That’s how soccer works sometimes. The most important statistic is MLS championships, and that reads Sounders 2, Toronto FC 1.There’s an art form to winning when you don’t have as much of the ball, when you live on the back foot. When, to borrow Zlatan’s terminology, the “s***” system works in your favor.“They’re a team that knows how to counter,” Altidore said. “They know how to absorb pressure, create. They’ve been doing it a number of years. Credit to them, they did it again to us tonight. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”This run for Toronto FC will do nothing to quiet one of the sport’s signature debates in America. No, these Reds did not win the Supporters’ Shield, but their superiority over vast stretches still goes unrewarded, much like how the regular season champion isn’t just hot at the right time, but all the time.Take nothing away from the Sounders. Toronto FC isn’t.Cruelly for them, that’s not all they’re leaving Seattle without.

Premier League review: Manchester City’s depth is a problem, despite their financial might

Nick MillerESPN.com writer

nother wild weekend in the Premier League is done and dusted. We get you caught up on the action with the Weekend Review.

City’s depth is becoming a problem for them

Instinctively it feels slightly absurd to suggest one of Manchester City’s weaknesses is their strength in depth. After all, on Sunday £60 million worth of Riyad Mahrez didn’t make it off the bench and Gabriel Jesus would start every game for about 98 percent of other teams on the planet. But in specific areas, City’s squad is shallow, it cost them the game against Liverpool and it could cost them the Premier League title.

EDITOR’S PICKS

The most obvious place to start is in goal, where Claudio Bravo wasn’t quite the calamity he was in the Champions League against Atalanta (36 minutes, no saves, one goal conceded, one red card) but he was terrible in a more low key way, letting in three goals that, for at least two if not all, you thought “Ederson would’ve saved that.”

Maybe Bravo would be a safer bet with some proper defenders in front of him. The decision not to recruit a centre-back when Vincent Kompany left in the summer seemed odd at the time, but looks even worse now. Perhaps City thought they could muddle through with Aymeric Laporte and someone beside him, but when the Frenchman was struck down with his knee injury, their options looked bleak. Guardiola has always been fond of playing midfielders in defence, but he’s learning pretty quickly that it’s not always a good idea.

And then there’s left-back, a position that Guardiola has never really nailed at City but is proving particularly tricky this season. To illustrate the point Benjamin Mendy wasn’t injured for Sunday’s game, but Guardiola preferred to give Angelino just his second league start, which turned out to be a pretty thankless task. Asking the Spaniard to deal with Trent Alexander-ArnoldJordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah — probably the toughest right flank in the world to face — was ambitious, and went about as well as you’d expect.

All of this was a big reason for Man City’s 3-1 defeat at Anfield. Sure, Liverpool got a little lucky, but they also exploited City’s weaknesses ruthlessly and as a result are nine points ahead with a third of the season gone.

Liverpool can’t throw this away from here … can they?

Since three points for a win was introduced in 1981, only three teams have been eight points or more ahead after 12 games: Manchester United in 1985-86 and 1993-95, and City in 2017-18. The first United side collapsed pretty soon afterwards and finished fourth, but the latter two strode on and won the title at a canter.

“Other people will 100 percent say that from now on Liverpool can only lose it,” said Klopp, who had a similar lead with Borussia Dortmund in 2010-11 when he won his first title there. “That’s a very negative approach, but you can see it like this. But we don’t care.”

The question now is how Liverpool deal with being such emphatic front-runners, given how they stumbled after taking a big lead last season. Klopp, as with most things, seems aware of that.

“It’s not important because who wants to be first in November? You want to be first in May. The pressure is not there yet,” he said. “It will come, but at the moment it’s just opportunity.”

Emery is throwing stuff at a wall, but not much is sticking

Unai Emery has now said after three straight games, none of which Arsenal won, that for at least some of the match his team followed the plan and carried out his instructions. After the 2-0 defeat to Leicester on Saturday, you could sort of see what he was getting at, because Arsenal weren’t too bad in the first-half. But surely anyone with even a little self-awareness would realise that continually saying that the team were doing what you tell them to, but not winning, will make you look like an idiot.

A charitable interpretation would be that he’s trying to take the heat off the players, but there isn’t much charity in the Arsenal fanbase at the moment. They have won just two of the last 10 league games, two away games of any description all season, and Emery is showing the telltale sign of a floundering manager by throwing formations and team selections at a wall and seeing what sticks.

But not much is sticking, and it just looks like Emery is guessing at this stage: Brendan Rodgers observed that, as far as he could tell, Emery had only used the 5-2-1-2 system deployed on Saturday once before, in last season’s Europa League final. You will probably recall that Arsenal lost that one 4-1.

If Leicester win the title again, it would be better than the first

To give a small illustration of the work Rodgers has done at Leicester, they were a whopping 32 points shy of second place when he took charge of his first game last March. Now they are second, with broadly the same players, a point above City going into the international break and one of the most exciting teams to watch in the Premier League.

Implausibly, they’re very much in the title race again, and you could feasibly argue that A: This team is better than the one that won the league in 2015-16, and B: If they managed it again this time, it would be a better achievement due to the higher calibre of opposition they’re facing.

West Ham are praying for Fabianski’s return

If a player’s value is determined by the difference in quality between them and their replacement, then Lukasz Fabianski might be the most important player in the Premier League.

It probably wasn’t a great sign when his back-up Roberto played in West Ham’s Carabao Cup game against League One Oxford United and conceded four times. The man with the neck tattoos has very much continued that form since replacing the injured Fabianski in the Premier League side.

With Fabianski in goal this season West Ham conceded eight goals in six-and-a-half Premier League games, five coming in one game against Manchester City, which happens. Since Roberto took the gloves they’ve let in 12 in five-and-a-half games, winning none of them, the latest being the 3-0 defeat at Burnley this weekend where Roberto was responsible for at least two of the goals conceded.

The current third-choice is David Martin, who had a solid enough career in the Football League before joining the Hammers in the summer — surely he can’t be much worse than Roberto. In the meantime, expect Manuel Pellegrini to use the international break to take Fabianski to Lourdes and dip his entire body in holy water.

Luckiest moment of the weekend

On the weekend when his side moved another place higher, to fifth in the Premier League with a draw against Tottenham, it’s worth reminding ourselves that when Chris Wilder arrived at Sheffield United in 2016, his team had failed for a fifth season to escape League One, finishing in a limp 11th place.I’m tired of talking about VAR,” Wilder said, after his midfielder John Lundstram’s big toe apparently meant he was offside and ruled out a goal for the Blades.”The main talking point for me was seeing my team go toe to toe with a team that got to the Champions League final last year.”Damn right, and Tottenham can consider themselves fortunate to have got away with a point.

Hislop: VAR has become a ‘monstrosity’ in Premier League

After a day of more VAR controversy, Shaka Hislop says the way it’s been implemented in England is “not working”.

VAR oscillates between one extreme and another

With apologies to Wilder, a quick word on VAR — pun intended. It feels like the ways the system is being implemented this season are oscillating wildly from one extreme to the other. A couple of weeks ago we had a few penalties very softly overturned after weeks of none, and now after most people agreed that reviews were taking too long, some came in the Liverpool vs. City game that were so quick it was doubtful they actually watched the incidents properly.

There is a middle ground to all of this, guys. It doesn’t have to be one extreme or another. That, or scrap VAR completely. That would work too.

Late Comeback Leads Louisville City FC to 3-1 Win over Boys in Blue

Indy Eleven was a minute away from qualifying for its first USL Championship Final, however, it was back-to-back defending league champion Louisville City FC that would have the final say in a 3-1 victory after added extra time in front of 7,171 fans at IUPUI Carroll Stadium.Indy forward Tyler Pasher pushed the home side forward midway through the second half with a goal that looked as if it would stand as the match-winner. And it would have until the fourth of as many minutes of stoppage time, when LCFC striker Antoine Hoppenot stunned the crowd with a shot off a corner kick that snuck through traffic, pushing the match to 30 minutes of added extra time. In the first extra session it was Magnus Rasmussen giving the visitors the lead four minutes in, while Luke Spencer’s conversion from the penalty spot seven minutes from time sealed the result for the defending champs.The defeat ended the most successful season in Indy Eleven’s six-year history, as the Boys in Blue notched club records in regular season wins (19), standings points (63) away wins (6), and home wins (13), while also adding its first two victories in USL Championship play. Despite the numerous accomplishments achieved across the season, Indiana’s Team will head into the offseason thinking about the opportunity that was in front of it this afternoon at Carroll Stadium.“The reality is we’ve done really well this season. The club has come forward a long way,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “We put ourselves in a great position to host the Eastern Conference Final.”It was Indy Eleven who would create the most opportunistic looks of the first 15 minutes as neither side gave the other an early edge. A pair of crosses from Pasher nearly connected with forward Dane Kelly and midfielder Kenney Walker, respectively, but neither materialized into shots on goal as the tug of war for the Eastern Conference Final got off the ground.Fans would wait 36 minutes before the game’s first true chance would present itself. Indy midfielder Macauley King played a lofted ball into the box after a Walker effort on goal had been blocked. King’s cross would find Kelly at the penalty spot, where the Jamaican snapped a header that forced Louisville ‘keeper Chris Hubbard into an impressive, acrobatic tip save.Six minutes later, King connected with a header from a Walker corner that nearly gave the Boys in Blue the lead, but the effort glanced inches wide of the right post. Indy continued the pressure 60 seconds later when Pasher drove into the Louisville box before laying a driven cross down for a teammate, but Hubbard would coolly collect, his action ending a tight first 45 minutes.The first chance of the second half came from out of nowhere a minute in, as Indy defender Paddy Barrett nearly caught Hubbard off his line with a lofted ball from midfield, but the LCFC ‘keeper scampered back to get both paws on the ball to steer it wide. Two minutes later, a deep corner connected with Louisville defender Paco Craig, whose headed effort softly glanced past the post. Indy generated a chance from a corner as well seven minutes later, but Karl Ouimette was unable to redirect fellow defender Ayoze’s service on frame.Despite a flurry of Louisville corners, it was a quick counter by the Boys in Blue that broke the deadlock 67 minutes into the match. A lofted back-heel flick by Kelly over Louisville’s backline freed Pasher into space. The Canadian took one large touch forward before slotting home a low, left-footed effort, giving Indy the upper hand down the stretch.Louisville began pressing harder in search of an equalizer, which they nearly found in the 81st minute. Indy ‘keeper Jordan Farr was caught in no man’s land after an awkward clearance that turned into a shot from Louisville’s Abdou Mbacke Thiam. The chip hung in the air for what seemed an eternity before clonking off the cross bar and away from the net, keeping Indy’s lead alive at 1-nil.  Louisville substitute George Davis IV tested Farr again six minutes later after the forward played a whipping cross into the box, forcing Farr to into an aerial save. From there, Indiana’s Team launched a counter that freed Pasher for a clean look on goal in the Louisville box, but the Canadian’s effort flew over.Despite Indy’s best efforts to hold onto the lead, Hoppenot leveled the match in the 94th minute after a corner was cleared to the waiting midfielder. Hoppenot sent in a one-time effort that glided through a box full of players and somehow into the back of the net, sending Louisville’s sizable away support into a frenzy – and the match into extra time at one all.Four minutes into stoppage time Louisville took their first lead of the match, set up by a back heel flick from Thiam that connected with Rasmussen in the Indy box. Rasmussen took one touch before passing the ball into the bottom left corner of Farr’s net, keeping the momentum squarely on the side of the visitors.Indy almost drew level in the 101st minute after a darting run from Pasher resulted in a cross for Indy substitute Ilija Ilic, who would settle and send an effort on net only to see a Louisville defender block the equalizer attempt.Louisville earned their chance to put the game away after a being awarded a dubious penalty in the 111th minute after Farr collided with LCFC’s Brian Ownby in the box. Spencer stepped up to take the penalty in the 113th minute, which he placed in the top right corner to secure the insurance goal.Louisville went on to withstand Indy’s attempts from there on out, bringing an end to the Eleven’s impressive postseason run and a home undefeated streak across all competitions that spanned 27 games dating back to last July.“Those players have done us proud,” Rennie said. “We’re going to keep improving and make sure we’re right up there at the top.”

Louisville City through to 3rd-straight USL Cup final after topping Indy Eleven in thriller

Kevin Johnston, Special for IndyStar   Published 7:11 p.m. ET Nov. 9, 2019 | Updated 7:46 p.m. ET Nov. 9, 2019

Louisville City FC’s Magnus Rasmussen celebrates his game-winner against the Indy Eleven in the USL Eastern Conference finals at Carroll Stadium. (Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski/Indy Eleven)

INDIANAPOLIS – Louisville City FC has already proven itself as a juggernaut in the USL Championship entering 2019. Now, the club might be approaching dynasty status.LouCity will host the USL Cup final with a chance to make it three titles in a row after downing the Indy Eleven 3-1 in dramatic fashion Saturday afternoon at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium.And about that word “dynasty,” LouCity attacker Brian Ownby has thoughts on it.“We want to be considered that,” he admitted. “I think (our goal is) — starting from the beginning of this club — to reach this point every year. So, we’ll start talking about that hopefully after we get another win in the USL Cup. But we’re going to enjoy this one tonight and start preparing for the next.”It took Louisville City some brilliance in the desperate waning moments of the match to send it to extra time before the visitors tacked on two more goals to close the door on Indy’s season.With about a minute remaining in stoppage time, Louisville City stunned the crowd at Carroll Stadium with an equalizer from outside the box. Antoine Hoppenot found some space and ripped a shot through heavy traffic that avoided all bodies and limbs on its way into Indy’s net.“I think I need to be in a better position when that shot comes in,” confessed Eleven goalkeeper Jordan Farr. “Granted, I don’t see it until it’s right in front of me, but I think my positioning needs to be better.”Before the late stunner, the often-dangerous left foot of Tyler Pasher opened the scoring for Indy. He blasted in a flicked pass from Dane Kelly in the 67th minute, a goal that seemed destined to put Indy through to the final until Hoppenot’s heroics. “We thought we had the game won,” Eleven manager Martin Rennie said. “Pretty much the last kick of the ball we lose a goal, so that was really disappointing. I didn’t feel like it was four minutes of stoppage time. There were no injuries and there were only four subs. So, there shouldn’t have been that long and that could’ve made a difference in the game.Magnus Rasmussen quickly gave Louisville a 2-1 lead in the first few minutes of stoppage time, then Luke Spencer converted a penalty after a questionable foul call on Farr to settle the scoreline at 3-1.The loss also snaps Indy’s home unbeaten streak at 27 games across all competitions.While LouCity departs Indianapolis with the spoils, the Eleven can find solace in putting together their best campaign since 2016. That year, Indy made the NASL title game but fell in penalties to the New York Cosmos. But that league only had 12 teams; the USL Championship boasts 36 squads.Louisville City will host the SLC Monarchs, winners of the Western Conference, in the USL Cup final next Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Mark & Cindy Lynn Soccer Stadium and on ESPN2.

Euro 2020 qualifying: Who will reach the finals?

Nov 14, 2019Dale JohnsonGeneral Editor, ESPN FC

Euro 2020 kicks off in June next year and 20 of the 24 places at the tournament will be secured this month. Here is a look at the latest qualifying permutations and scenarios. hich is based on UEFA Nations League performance.Ten nations have sealed their place so far.

QUALIFIED FOR FINALS
Belgium
Czech Republic
England
France
Italy
Poland
Russia
Spain
Turkey
Ukraine

JUMP TO: Who will take part in the playoffs? | Finals draw seeds and pots

GROUP A

Nov. 17: Bulgaria vs. Czech Republic, Kosovo vs. England

England have qualified and need a win in Kosovo to guarantee they are seeded in the draw.

Czech Republic have also made it to finals, while Kosovo will take part in the League D playoffs.

GROUP B

Nov. 17: Luxembourg vs. Portugal, Serbia vs. Ukraine

Ukraine have qualified but may need at least a point in Serbia to secure a place among the seeds for the finals draw.

Portugal will be through if they can win in Luxembourg.

Serbia must win at home to Ukraine and hope Portugal fail to beat Luxembourg. Serbia are guaranteed a playoff if they finish outside the top two.

GROUP C

Netherlands control their own destiny after beating Northern Ireland. Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

Nov. 16: Germany vs. Belarus, Northern Ireland vs. Netherlands
Nov. 19: Germany vs. Northern Ireland, Netherlands vs. Estonia

Netherlands will qualify for the finals if they avoid defeat in Northern Ireland on Nov. 16. Even if the Dutch suffer a defeat, leaving the two nations level on points, they would remain favourites with Estonia to play at home while the Irish travel to Germany.

Germany are level with the the Dutch on 15 points, but second on head to head. They will qualify if they win at home to Belarus next time, and Northern Ireland do not win. A point would also see them to the finals if the Irish are beaten.

Northern Ireland are three points behind but all 12 have come against the group’s lesser lights. To have a chance of qualifying automatically, Northern Ireland will now surely have to win at home to Netherlands and in Germany, and hope one of their rivals drop surprise points.

There is an unlikely scenario where all three nations finish on 18 points, which means it would come down to head-to-head goal difference as each team would have beaten each other once and lost once.

GROUP D

Nov. 15: Denmark vs. Gibraltar, Switzerland vs. Georgia
Nov. 18: Republic of Ireland vs. Denmark, Gibraltar vs. Switzerland

Republic of Ireland remain on top of the group from Denmark on head to head. They only have one qualifier remaining, at home to the Danes, and are guaranteed to qualify with a win as long as Switzerland do not draw one of their two remaining games.

If Switzerland do draw a game (and win the other), and Denmark beat Gibraltar, the three teams will finish on 15 points and they will also be level in the head-to-head mini-league, meaning it comes down to goal difference in games between the three teams. In this scenario, Ireland will have to win by two goals to qualify at Denmark’s expense; Switzerland would be guaranteed to qualify.

If Denmark get at least a point against Gibraltar, they would be then assured qualification with a point in Dublin. They cannot qualify if they lose to Ireland and Switzerland win both matches.

Although Switzerland sit outside the top two, they are now firm favourites to qualify. They are sure to go through with four points from games against Gibraltar and Georgia. Their injury-time second goal against Ireland means they no longer have to win both matches.

Denmark and Switzerland are both sure of a playoff, should they need it.

GROUP E

Nov. 16: Azerbaijan vs. Wales, Croatia vs. Slovakia
Nov. 19: Slovakia vs. Azerbaijan, Wales vs. Hungary

Croatia lead on 14 points, and will be guaranteed qualification if they at least draw at home to Slovakia on Nov. 16 — their final qualifier.

Second place is held by Hungary on 12 points, and they too have only one match remaining, away in Wales. If Slovakia fail to beat Croatia, Hungary would be guaranteed to qualify with a win in Cardiff.

Slovakia sit third on 10 points, and while they face the difficult trip to Croatia, the final fixture is at home to Azerbaijan, who have only one point. Win both games and they will qualify. If Slovakia do not win in Croatia, they will still be guaranteed to qualify if they beat Azerbaijan and Wales draw at home to Hungary.

Wales only have eight points and must win both their matches to have a chance, the first being away to Azerbaijan. They must also hope Slovakia fail to win one of their matches. If Slovakia and Wales finish level on 14 points, Wales will qualify on the head-to-head rule.

There is a combination of results (it would need Slovakia drawing at home to Azerbaijan) that leaves the three teams tied on 14 points. In this eventuality, it would be 1. Croatia, 2. Wales, 3. Slovakia.

GROUP F

Spain clinch qualification for Euro 2020 with a late equaliser against Sweden. Getty

Nov. 15: Norway vs. Faroe Islands, Romania vs. Sweden
Nov. 18: Sweden vs. Faroe Islands, Malta vs. Norway, Spain vs. Romania

Spain have secured their place, but the real battle follows behind as Sweden sit in second, one point ahead of Romania with Norway a further three points behind.

Sweden should only need a point in Romania as they have Faroe Islands to play at home on the final day, but need a victory to absolutely confirm it on Thursday.

It means Romania know they must beat Sweden to be in contention. If Romania win against Sweden and in Spain, qualification is guaranteed. If draw their final match in Spain, they would need to have beaten Sweden 1-0 or by two goals or more to be second on the head to head. Because Sweden play Faroe Islands, it is very unlikely they are able to qualify if they lose to Spain.

Norway must beat Faroe Islands and Malta, plus hope Romania-Sweden is a draw and that Romania get no more than a draw in Spain, and Sweden lose to the Faroes. Again, the Sweden-Faroes fixture effectively rules that out.

Sweden and Norway have a guaranteed playoff should they need it.

GROUP G

Nov. 16: Slovenia vs. Latvia, Israel vs. Poland, Austria vs. North Macedonia
Nov. 19: North Macedonia vs. Israel, Latvia vs. Austria, Poland vs. Slovenia

Poland are through and Austria are almost there too, five points clear of Slovenia and North Macedonia with two games left to play. They will qualify with a point at home to North Macedonia. Even if they lose the first game, a point in Latvia then will almost certainly see them in the finals.

North Macedonia must win in Austria to stay in contention, then beat Israel at home and hope Austria lose in Latvia (who do not have a point). If Austria draw in Latvia, North Macedonia would need to have overturned the 4-1 head-to-head deficit with Austria in their meeting.

Austria and North Macedonia would both be guaranteed a playoff.

There’s only slim hope for Slovenia, who must win at home to Latvia and away to Poland plus hope Austria lose both their games, and North Macedonia fail to beat Israel.

Israel have a similar situation to Slovenia. They must win at home to Poland and in North Macedonia, and need Austria to lose both fixtures as well as Slovenia fail to win a game. They are almost sure of a playoff.

GROUP H

France are assured of a place at Euro 2020. Getty Images

Nov. 17: Albania vs. France, Andorra vs. Turkey

France and Turkey have both qualified for the finals, while Iceland will be in the playoffs.

France have a chance of being seeded in the finals draw should they win in Albania.

GROUP I

Nov. 16: Russia vs. Belgium

Nov. 19: Belgium vs. Cyprus, San Marino vs Russia

Belgium and Russia have qualified, while Scotland will take part in the League C playoff path.

Belgium need a point in Russia to top the group and line up a likely place among the seeds in the finals draw.

GROUP J

Nov. 15: Armenia vs. Greece, Finland vs. Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Italy
Nov. 18: Italy vs. Armenia, Liechtenstein vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece vs. Finland

With eight wins out of eight, Italy are through to the finals but may need one more point to be seeded in the finals draw.

Finland are almost there and will qualify for their first-ever finals with a win at home to Liechtenstein, or if Bosnia fail to beat Italy that day.

Bosnia and Herzegovina must beat Italy and Liechtenstein and hope Finland pick up no more than one point (second match is vs. Greece), and also must hope that Armenia do not win both matches. Bosnia lose the head to head with Armenia, and if the three teams finish level on 16 points it will be Finland who advance to the finals. Bosnia are guaranteed a League B playoff.

Armenia‘s defeat to Finland all but ended their hopes. They must win both remaining games, their final group match being away in Italy, and hope Finland lose both matches.

PLAYOFFS

The best-performing nations from the UEFA Nations League who do not qualify automatically for Euro 2020 will get a playoff place.

There will be 16 teams in the playoffs, with four in each from a UEFA Nations League path.

The winners of the two one-legged semifinals will meet in the final for a place at Euro 2020.

The playoff system is explained in greater detail here.

The UEFA Nations League rankings are below.

As it stands, the teams in bold would enter the playoffs. Romania would likely be drawn into the path of League A because, as hosts, they require a playoff route to the finals that does not include another host and Scotland, as Nations League group winners, have the right to take the League C path.

There would be a draw to decide which of Bulgaria and Israel takes the remaining slot in the League C path.

*Guaranteed to take part in playoffs

League A: Portugal, Netherlands, England, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Poland, Germany, Iceland

League B: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Austria, Wales, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland

League C: Scotland*NorwaySerbia, Finland, BulgariaIsrael, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania

League D: Georgia*MacedoniaKosovo*Belarus*, Luxembourg, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Malta, San Marino

It means the playoffs, at present, would look like this:

Switzerland vs. Bulgaria/Israel/Romania
Iceland vs. Bulgaria/Israel/Romania

Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Northern Ireland
Wales vs. Slovakia

Scotland vs. Bulgaria/Israel
Norway vs. Serbia

Georgia vs. Belarus
North Macedonia vs. Kosovo

FINALS DRAW

The draw will be held on Saturday, Nov. 30 in Bucharest, Romania. The draw ceremony will begin at midday ET (6 p.m. CET) and is expected to last 50 minutes in total (with 20 minutes for the draw itself).

– Euro 2020 finals draw: All you need to know

As it stands, based on teams in automatic qualifying positions, the draw pots would be:

Pot 1: Italy, Belgium, Ukraine, England, Netherlands, Spain
Pot 2: Poland, France, Croatia, Republic of Ireland, Russia, Germany
Pot 3: Denmark, Czech Republic, Portugal, Turkey, Austria, Sweden
Pot 4: Finland, Hungary, Switzerland, Bosnia, Scotland, Georgia

*Highest-ranked nations are used for the playoff winners in this illustration.

One team from each pot would be drawn into the six groups.

ATP_Gen_350x250

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11/7/19 Indy 11 host Louisville in Finals Sat 3 pm, MLS Cup Sun 3 pm ABC, US Ladies vs Sweden tonight 7:30 pm FS1

Indy 11 host Eastern Conference Finals vs Louisville at the MIKE – Sat 3 pm

Huge 1-0 win for our Indy 11 at Nashville as Carmel FC GK Coach Jordan Farr again had a standout night in the victory with a couple of fantatic saves! Indy Eleven forward Tyler Pasher’s goal just inside the hour mark and a second straight shutout helped Indy Eleven advance past Nashville SC 1-0 in their Eastern Conference Semifinal showdown in Nashville.  Our Indy 11 will now host Louisville in the Eastern Conference Finals this Saturday afternoon at 3 pm at Mike Carroll Stadium on the IUPUI Campus downtown.  The Weather looks to be pretty warm – now is the time to get those tickets and join me in rooting on GK Jordan Farr and our Indy 11 to victory at home!!  The BYB is sold out but tickets are still available in what should be an electric atmosphere for the finals visit indyeleven.com/tickets or call for your tickets today at 317-685-1100.  Here’s CFC GK Coach and Indy 11 Starter Jordan Farr calling on everyone to come out at cheer him on!    

MLS CUP – Sunday 3 pm ABC – Seattle vs Toronto

Unbelievable that both road teams pulled off victories last week – in the Eastern and Western Conference Finals – as Toronto stunned Atlanta in front of 65K at Mercedez Benz Stadium 2-1 and Seattle shocked LAFC, the leagues’ top point scorer in MLS history.  With the newcomers sent home – the blue bloods of MLS soccer Seattle and Toronto will battle for MLS Supremacy as they are about to meet in the finals 3 of the last 4 years, with each team claiming the cup 1 time – both in Toronto.  For Seattle it will be their first time hosting the MLS Final (now that the Finals are played at the time with the best record).  The Stadium is a sellout = marking the 2nd straight year that MLS has filled a football stadium for its final.  The Game will be on Network TV – ABC for the first time in over 8 years – as MLS continues to make strides in the US sports world.  The exciting new 1 game format has been a huge hit – and I for one and thrilled to see the MLS Season and MLS Cup wrap up in early November rather than the 1st week of December.  The final kicks off at 3 pm on Sunday on ABC!

USA Ladies vs Sweden  Tonight in Columbus on FS1 7:30 pm

New US Coach Andonovski will coach his first game for the US Ladies tonight vs arch nemesis Sweden in Columbus. Quite a first game to manage – vs the only team to knock off the US in games that matter over the past 4 years.  It will be interesting to see how they look tonight on ESPN2 at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Of course the US Men have announced their roster for next weekend’s Nations League games vs Canada (Fri 8 pm) and Tuesday vs Cuba.  See full breakdown below.  Oh and boy do I love having a player like US Starlet Christian Pulisic playing in the EPL and Champions League competition.  Pulisic had a fine game Tuesday as he drew a penalty and had an assist in the amazing Chelsea comeback tie vs Ajax.  Chelsea battled back from a 4-1 deficit midway thru the 2nd half to time the game and stay alive as they look to advance to the round of 16 if they can edge our last season’s 2nd place finishers Ajax. Sorry to see the U17 Men out in 3 games in the U17 World Cup –  Mexico got to the round of 16 but for the US is was 3 games and 3 losses.  It appears on the US Men’s side –unfortunately we are consistently bad across the board.  Lets hope the U23’s do better in Olympic Qualifying.

Great Games on TV this Weekend

On top of the Indy 11 Final match-up Sat at 3 pm on ESPN+ (go and see it live!!), and the MLS CUP Final on Sunday on ABC at 3 pm, we have a ton of league match-ups in this last weekend before the international break.  The top 2 teams in the EPL – league leader Liverpool hosts 2nd place Man City at 11:30 am on Sunday on NBCSN, also Sunday we get the US Ladies hosting Costa Rica at 8 pm on ESPN2, and Milan vs Jueventus on ESPN+ at 2:45 pm.  Saturday gives us Leicester City vs Arsenal on NBC at 12:30 pm, after American’s are featured early as Chelsea and Pulisic host Crystal Palace at 7:30 am on NBCSN in the EPL and in the Bundesliga as McKinney and Schalke host American Goalie Zach Steffan and Fortuna Dusseldorf at 9:30 am on FS1. Finally Satuday Bayern Munich host Dortmund at 12:30 pm on FS2.

CHS_OliviaFray

Congrats to the Carmel High School Lady Greyhounds as the Defending State Champions finished 2nd to Noblesville 0-1 in the Finals.  Former Carmel FC player Olivia Fray, the daughter of former Carmel FC Director Andy Fray (left), won the Mental Attitude award.  Great to see so many former Carmel FC players on that roster – looking forward to next year.

CARMEL FC CLINICS NEXT FRI/SAT

Carmel FC would like to offer its youngest members, U8-U14 Boys and Girls, the chance to participate in the first ever Pass, Shoot, and Play Fall Clinics on November 15 and 16th at Murray Stadium.  The sessions will focus on enhancing players’ basic abilities such as foot skills, passing, touch, and shooting featuring different perspectives and tips from our diverse and experienced coaching staff.  Coaches from throughout the club have volunteered to make this clinic a completely FREE opportunity for your player to experience a new, unique training environment with other members from around the club!  The schedule will be as follows:

Friday, November 15

  • U8s through U10s from 6 – 7 PM
  • U11s and U12s from 7 – 8 PM
  • U13s and U14s from 8 -9 PM

Saturday, November 16

  • U8s through U10s from 12 – 1 PM
  • U11s and U12s from 1 -2:30 PM
  • U13s and U14s from 2:30 – 4 PM

Please RSVP in this link if your player is interested in participating http://carmeldadsclub2016.org/81dd903881283f0fe6f402d9ac64aba4.form

Indy 11

Indy 11 Defeats Nashville 1-0 advances to Eastern Finals Sat

Indy 11 Earn 1st Franchise Postseason Road Win at Nashville – Soctakes.com

Pasher Lifts Eleven Past Nashville, Into Eastern Final

Vote Indy 11 Most Impactful goals

USL Playoffs

DelPiccolo’s Header Sends LouCity Back to East Final

MLS CUP FINAL Sun 3 pm ABC

Warshaw: How the Sounders can topple TFC in MLS Cup

MLS Cup 2019: What you need to know about Seattle vs. Toronto FC 4hArch Bell

Spotlight on Schmetzer as Seattle returns to MLS Cup ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

Seattle ready to regain spotlight from Atlanta, LAFC

Wiebe: Michael Bradley is the model for American players

Vanney: “It will take a lot to keep Jozy out” of MLS Cup

How much will home-field advantage help Seattle?

Kasey Keller: Seattle will show what MLS Cup means to the city

Vanney the master tactician? TFC players make the case

How TFC have fared with and without Jozy

MLS Cup in Seattle is hottest MLS ticket … EVER

The best moments in Seattle-Toronto MLS history

Jozy: It’ll take “a bit of a miracle” for me to play in MLS Cup

The neutral’s guide to MLS Cup

Carlos Vela wins Landon Donovan MLS MVP in a landslide

Vela is not just MLS MVP — he may be the best in all of North America

USA

The USWNT’s Andonovski era begins with familiar foe – Graham Hayes ESPN

USWNT players revved, ready for Andonovski era

Dest, Pulisic called into USMNT camp ahead of Nations League matches

who-should-the-usmnt-call-for-the-november-nations-league-matches

five-foreign-based-players-the-usmnt-should-call-in-for-novembers-nations-league

Reality checks for USA, Canada at U-17 World Cup

Champions League

chelsea-and-ajaxs-champions-league-epic-showed-both-sides-strengths-and-weaknesses

Lampard hails Chelsea spirit after ‘mad’ Ajax draw

Son refuses to celebrate out of respect to Gomes

Rodrygo, 18, nets hat trick in Real Madrid win

Leverkusen spring to life with win over Atletico

Icardi scores as PSG beat Brugge, reach last 16

Superb Costa winner seals Juve round-of-16 spot

Bayern reach round of 16 with Olympiakos win

City’s Ederson a doubt for crunch Liverpool clash

Man City average all over field ahead of Liverpool match

Goalkeeping

Highlights of Playoff Win – Including GK Jordan Farr’s Saves

Great Saves by Farr for Indy 11

PSG GK Kaylar Navas Saves the PK in UCL

GAMES ON TV

Thur, Nov 7

7 pm Fox Sports1               USA Ladies vs Sweden in Columbus

Fri, Nov 8

11 am Big 10 Network                     Penn State vs Purdue Ladies

3 pm NBCSN                                      Norwich vs Watford

Sat, Nov 9 

7:30 am NBCSN                                Chelsea (pulisic)  vs Crystal Palace

9:30 am Fox sports1                       Schalke (Mckinney) vs Fortuna Dusseldorf (Steffan)  

10:30 am NBCSN                              Tottenham vs Sheffield United

12:30 pm NBC                                  Leicester City vs Arsenal  

12:30 pm FS2                                   Bayern Munich vs Dortmund

3 pm ESPN+                        Indy 11 vs Louisville (Playoffs)  @ IUPUI

3 pm EPSN+                                       Real Monarchs vs El Paso Locomotive (Western Finals)

3 pm beIN Sport                               Eibar vs Real Madrid

Sun, Nov 10

7:30 am Fox sports1                       Mgladbach (Johnsnon) vs Werder Bremen (Stuart)  

9 am NBCSN                                      Man United vs Brighton

10 am bein Sport                             Athletico Madrid vs Espanyol

11:30 NBCSN                      Liverpool vs Man City  

12:30 pm FS1                                   Ausburg vs Schalke (McKinney)

2:45 ESPN+                                       Milan vs Jueventus

3 pm ABC                    Seattle Sounders vs Toronto FC  MLS Cup

8 pm ESPN2                        USA Ladies vs Costa Rica

Mon, Nov 11

2:30 pm FS2                                      Spain U17 vs France U17  wC QF1

6 pm FS2                                            TBD vs Brazil U17 WC  QF2

Fri, Nov 15

12 noon beIN Sport           Brazil vs Argentina (friendly)

2:$5 pm EPSN+                                 Boznia vs Italy

7 pm ESPN2                        USA vs Canada (Nations League)

10 pm FuboTV, TUDN                     Panama vs Mexico

Nations League Game Sat-Tues

TUes, Nov 19

2:$5 pm EPSN+                                 Boznia vs Italy

7:30 pm Fox sport 1          Cuba vs USA (Nations League)

RECAP | INDY QUIETS THE MUSIC CITY, ADVANCES TO EAST FINAL sat 3 pm at IUPUI

By Indy Eleven Communications, 11/03/19, 12:30AM EDT

Pasher goal and another shutout sets up LIPAFC showdown for East crown

Indy Eleven forward Tyler Pasher’s goal just inside the hour mark and a second straight shutout helped Indy Eleven advance past Nashville SC 1-0 in their Eastern Conference Semifinal showdown at First Tennessee Park. Indy Eleven put together one of its most composed away efforts of the season at the biggest time possible, calmly controlling the run of play and having the bulk of the chances until Pasher’s breakthrough finally came in the 59th minute.The gritty road win, coupled with fourth-seeded Louisville City FC’s upset at top-seeded Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, set up Indiana’s Team to host the USL Championship Playoffs Eastern Conference Final between the regional rivals next Saturday, Nov. 9. Kickoff for the biggest Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest in history is set for a 3:00 p.m kickoff at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium. ndy Eleven Season Ticket Members can already save their seats for next Saturday’s Eastern Conference Final via an exclusive on-sale opportunity, while tickets will go on sale to the public Monday at noon via indyeleven.com/tickets and by phone at 317-685-1100. “It’s really exciting for the club … it’s going to be a fantastic occasion,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie of next weekend’s match-up. “Two really good teams, two close, local rivals. Two of the best teams in the country outside of MLS playing against each other for the right to host the league final. It will be a fantastic day at Carroll Stadium.”It was Indiana’s Team that controlled the first half, using high defensive pressure, calm possession, and a steady stream of corner kicks to keep Nashville back on its heels. The pressure nearly paid off in the 20th minute on a flurry of chances, starting with Pasher’s cross from the left that was spilled by Nashville SC goalkeeper Matt Pickers and just missed an onrushing Dane Kelly deep inside the area. Thirty seconds later it was another Pasher cross that drew calls for a handball when it ricocheted off center back Jimmy Ockford inside the area, followed shortly thereafter by a lash by Indy midfielder Kenney Walker that again forced Pickens into action.The action got heated a minute later when Eleven defender Ayoze stopped Alan Winn’s run up the middle of the field with a tackle from behind that resulted in pushing and shoving by both teams and yellow cards for Ayoze, Indy defender Karl Ouimette and Nashville midfielder Taylor Washington.The rest of the half would see the teams trade shots at goal that were handled relatively easy by Pickens and his opposite number in the Eleven goal, Jordan Farr. Pickens would stop efforts from within the area by Kelly, Pasher and defender Paddy Barrett, while Winn served as Farr’s nemesis on net, stopping one chance and watching another come perilously close to his right post.“I thought we played really well tonight. We possessed the ball with a lot of composure and played in their half a lot, especially in the first 25 to 30 minutes, which was important because that allowed us to settle into the game,” explained Rennie. “We had a few corners and opportunities around the goal, quite a few decent shots that [Nashville goalkeeper Matt] Pickens made some good saves on.”Farr would be forced into his best stop of the night just minutes into the second half, going low to his right to bat away forward Daniel Rios’ dangerous sidewinder from the penalty spot. It took until the 59th minute for another quality chance to come to pass, and this time Pasher would not pass it up. The Canadian striker would notch his team-leading 12th goal of the campaign with a first-time, half-volley touch that put Tennessee native Tyler Gibson’s pinpoint ball over the top of the backline inside the left post, giving the Boys in Blue a deserved advantage heading into the final half hour.  From there on out Nashville would wrestle control of the possession, but Indy absorbed the pressure well, allowing mostly half chances that struggled to make it through Indy’s increased numbers inside the penalty area. The hosts thought their moment to equalize had come in the 90th minute when defender Justin Davis tapped home Matt LaGrassa’s ball deep into the six-yard area, but the assistant referee’s flag was immediately – and correctly – raised to deem the play offside, allowing Indy Eleven to breathe easily and hold on for the massive result.“In the second half I thought we continued to play well. We got a great goal – great run, great pass over the back line and ended with a good finish,” Rennie said. “We continued to do pretty well on the ball after that and then in the last five minutes we had to really defend a few balls around the box. I thought we handled it all really well to give ourselves a great win. One of the great nights of Indy Eleven’s history, and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

USL Championship Playoffs – #NSHvIND
Eastern Conference Semifinals
(#2) Nashville SC  0 : 1  Indy Eleven (#3)
Saturday, November 2, 2019 – 8:00 p.m. ET
First Tennessee Park – Nashville, Tenn.
Attendance: 4,174

Scoring Summary:
IND – Tyler Pasher (Tyler Gibson) 59’

Disciplinary Summary:
IND – Ayoze (Yellow Card) 21’
IND – Karl Ouimette (Yellow Card) 23’
NSH – Taylor Washington (Yellow Card) 23’
NSH – Matt LaGrassa (Yellow Card) 81’
NSH – Jimmy ckford (Yellow Card) 90+2’
Indy Eleven lineup (3-5-2, L–>R): Jordan Farr; Neveal Hackshaw, Paddy Barrett (captain), Karl Ouimette; Ayoze, Drew Conner, Tyler Gibson, Kenney Walker, Macauley King; Dane Kelly (Cristian Novoa 70’), Tyler Pasher (Matthew Watson 86’)
IND Substitutes: Holden Brown (GK), Nicolas Perea, Mitchell Osmond, Eugene Starikov, Ilija Ilic
Nashville SC lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Matt Pickens; Justin Davis, Forrest Lasso, Jimmy Ockford, Darnell King; Taylor Washington (Derrick Jones 62’), Boluwatife Akinyode, Matt LaGrassa, Alan Winn (Kharlton Belmar 82’); Lebo Moloto (Ropapa Mensah 67’), Daniel Rios

NSH Substitutes: Connor Sparrow (GK), Ken Tribbett, Bradley Bourgeois, Kosuke Kimura

The USWNT’s Vlatko Andonovski era begins with a familiar foe

Vlatko Andonovski faces a challenge in his first game as head coach of the U.S. women’s national team. Sweden is No. 5 in the world and a team that has got the best of the United States in major tournaments. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Graham HaysespnW.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Maybe it’s for the best that Vlatko Andonovski’s first game as head coach of the United States women’s national team will skip right past the beginner stage.Rather than easing in, Andonovski gets Sweden. The team that finished third in the most recent World Cup. The team the U.S. can’t seem to escape in World Cups and Olympics. The only team that ever knocked the Americans out of one of those major tournament before the medal round. Pesky Sweden, ranked fifth in the world and already safely qualified for next summer’s Olympics in Japan. And just for good measure, forecasts for this part of Ohio call for temperatures dropping into the 20s by kickoff Thursday night with the potential for rain, sleet, snow — or all of the above.It doesn’t matter that the game, well, doesn’t matter. There’s nothing on the line for either team, and the U.S. players are tantalizingly close to a well-deserved break that begins next week. But it’s Sweden, and it’s going to be a soccer game. And that’s the one thing that will feel familiar to Andonovski right now.

– USWNT players revved, ready for Andonovski era
– U.S. Soccer names Andonovski manager
– How Reign FC coach made a name for himself
– Without Jill Ellis, what’s next for the USWNT?

So as much as the team’s first training camp with Andonovski is about introductions — of himself, of new assistant Milan Ivanovic, of a playing style, a philosophy and expectations — it is also about the more routine act of preparing for 90 minutes on the field.”He has touched on Sweden a bit,” U.S. midfielder Rose Lavelle said this week. “Obviously we’re pretty familiar with them, but he’s already shown us film of us playing against them. I think it’s obviously going to start to ramp up even more so in the next two days, but he’s already getting us prepared.”Those are comfortable rhythms for Andonovski. As a coach in the National Women’s Soccer League, the remit wasn’t to prepare a team for games of consequence months down the road. Whatever game in front of him was the game that demanded his attention. The standings demanded as much.That will change as coach of the U.S., which plays a lot of games that aren’t really about the result but instead about building toward those handful of weeks in World Cups or Olympics when the results matter more than anything he has yet experienced in the sport.It’s just one way in which Andonovski’s new job, his first at the international level, differs from any previous job he held. He’s coached two of the players who will be available Thursday — Allie Long and Becky Sauerbrunn. He’s coached against almost all of the others, Paris Saint-Germain defender Alana Cook the lone exception. But it’s still different in this environment.”Any leap between professional and international, you’re bringing together all the players that are the best in the league and putting them together,” Sauerbrunn said. “It’s not a big step, but it’s just an elevation of the speed of play, of tactics, obviously the pressure of having so many people watching you.”So it’s a little bit of a leap, but also a leap I know Vlatko can do because when I first met him, he had never coached the women’s game [at the senior level]. And he did all this research.”That was in Kansas City when the NWSL launched. He wanted that coaching job so much that he made himself an expert on the player pool of a league that hadn’t played a game — watching film, talking to other coaches, doing whatever he could to learn. He learned quickly enough that the team reached the playoffs that first season.”So when he got hired [for the U.S.], I knew he was going to be staying up late watching all this film,” Sauerbrunn added. “I have no doubt in my mind he has researched and is very thoroughly knowledgeable of all the Swedish players, all the formations that they’ve played in the past — he’s probably watched all their games from the past year. He’s just that type of coach.”In that sense, Sweden is the perfect opening opponent. This isn’t really a meaningful game, a friendly at the end of a long year. But that doesn’t mean it will be an uncompetitive game. It is something to prepare for.”I’ve never had Vlatko before, but I feel like I’ve already learned so much from him,” Lavelle said. “Individually and as a team, too, I feel like he’s just somebody who is going to make us better.”He’ll have to make do this week without Crystal Dunn, Alex Morgan, Kelley O’Hara and Megan Rapinoe, all of whom started when these teams played in the World Cup (Tierna Davidson and Ali Krieger are also absent with injuries, leaving the back line seriously depleted in experience).Sweden’s roster isn’t at full strength, either. Captain Caroline Seger didn’t make the trip, with coach Peter Gerhardsson making that sound like a load management decision at the end of a long year. Also missing are defenders Nilla Fischer and Linda Sembrant and midfielder Elin Rubensson, all of whom started the World Cup semifinal against the Netherlands.Conversely, the reigning Olympic silver medalists are bringing uncapped forward Hanna Bennison, who just turned 17 last month. She’s the youngest of four uncapped players on the roster, while three more players have single-digit appearances for the national team.With confirmation Tuesday that the United States will host CONCACAF Olympic qualifying next January and February, the sites still to be announced, the timeline begins to take shape. This is just the beginning.After playing for him for five years in Kansas City, Sauerbrunn knows Andonovski better than anyone on the roster. She described a meeting between the two this week in which he asked about things the team had done before, ways they went about their work that they liked and that he might be able to incorporate. There will be a lot of that in the weeks ahead, a learning curve.”It’s just so early that I didn’t really have any feedback to give him,” Sauerbrunn said. “But I think that was his way of seeking me out in case there is something that I see that players would prefer over how it’s been going the last few days.”But for all that is to come, Thursday offers something familiar to go with all that is new.Thursday is a game that won’t be easy to win, a game that merits preparation. And that should make Andonovski feel right at home.

MLS Cup 2019: Familiar foes Seattle and Toronto FC face off in an MLS Cup grudge match

10:39 AM ETArch BellU.S. soccer writer

And then there were two.After a pair of major upsets in the conference finals, MLS Cup will again be contested by the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC on Sunday at CenturyLink Field (3 p.m. ET; ABC/ESPN 3 | Tickets).According to FiveThirtyEight’s SPI, the Sounders are a 65% favorite to win it all on Sunday and are fancied by the sportsbooks, too (-210 Seattle, +185 Toronto). But you can’t always trust the numbers. Here’s everything you need to know heading into Sunday’s final.

Backstory: It’s deja vu all over again. For the third time in four seasons, these two teams square off for MLS’ biggest showpiece. The previous two meetings occurred at Toronto’s BMO Field, with Seattle winning in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw in 2016 and Toronto winning 2-0 in 2017. There’s a fair bit of history among the players themselves, too: 10 of the TFC and Seattle players in this year’s postseason also appeared in their previous two finals: six from the Sounders (Nicolás Lodeiro, Cristian RoldanJordan MorrisJoevin Jones, Román Torres, Stefan Frei) and four from Toronto (Michael BradleyJustin MorrowJonathan OsorioDrew Moor).

These two have met plenty outside the playoffs, too. In their all-time head-to-head series, Seattle has won nine of the 14 regular season meetings.

Playoff path: It’s fair to say that the East’s No.4 seed and the No.2 team in the West have had a serious journey this postseason. With a revamped playoff schedule and the added tension of a single-elimination format, both teams arrive at Sunday’s final with some miles in their legs. They both emerged from the first round and coincidentally, both needed extra time to do it.Seattle survived a wild affair with FC Dallas, 4-3, before rolling to a 2-0 victory against Real Salt Lake in the conference semifinal and an enormously impressive 3-1 win at Supporters’ Shield-winning LAFC in the conference final. They not only managed to nullify 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela at the Banc of California stadium, but scored with three of their five shots on target. Economical, to say the least.

As for Toronto FC, they scored a whopping four goals in extra time to overcome Wayne Rooney and DC United 5-1 in the first round before edging top seed New York City FC 2-1 in the conference semifinal thanks to a late penalty from Alejandro Pozuelo. (The foul by Ronald Matarrita was so inexplicable and so unnecessary that he should almost be credited with an assist.) The Canadians played the upset card again in downing reigning champions Atlanta United 2-1 in the conference final via a late, outside-the-box golazo from substitute Nick DeLeon — don’t let him shoot from range, Seattle, as as three of his six playoff goals have been launched from beyond the penalty area — and leaving the near-70,000 in Mercedes-Benz Arena sitting in stunned silence.

Connecting thread: As mentioned above, this is the third MLS Cup meeting between the two in four years, but perhaps providing a bigger hint of what’s to come Sunday was their lone regular-season meeting earlier this season, in which Seattle overcame a Jozy Altidore brace to win 3-2 at home at CenturyLink Field.

Another thread running between these storied foes is Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei. He was traded from TFC to Seattle back in December, 2013 and has been an institution between the posts in the Pacific Northwest ever since. Frei has played in 13 postseason wins since then, the most in MLS over the past six seasons. The only other players with more than 10 wins over that span are fellow Sounders Cristian Roldan (12) and Nicolas Lodeiro (11). Could his experience prove crucial in settling Sunday’s contest?

Tactical contrast: It will be a genuine chess game considering that both sides leaned heavily on strong defensive and counterattacking performances to reach this point. In short, they can’t both sit deep and wait for the other team to make a move: soccer’s come a long way from its days getting skewered by The Simpsons. With Seattle playing at home and having full use of its stable of attackers — unlike TFC, who might be without Jozy Altidore — the feeling is that Seattle will be the more aggressive of the two and leverage its flying full-backs to spread open the TFC defense. Still, TFC are a team that likes to press and can use that tactic to slow down the Sounders’ midfield.

Toronto and Seattle have a lot of experience in the postseason: Sunday marks their third meeting in MLS Cup in the past four seasons. ESPN

 

Headache: At this stage, one would be hard-pressed to think of a selection headache for Seattle. The XI that took the field in Los Angeles will likely take the field again Sunday against TFC. The only potential foreseeable change could be at center-back if coach Brian Schmetzer feels like restoring Roman Torres in place of Xavier Arreaga to add experience and a bit more muscle.

One thing that might be a no-brainer is continuing with the winning combo of Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz. (More on both of them in a minute). According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Sounders are 21-5-4 (regular season) and 4-1-0 (postseason) when these two are in the starting lineup together.

The big question for Toronto FC boss Greg Vanney is the status of Altidore. If the big man is 100 percent, you have to think he’ll get the start, though Nicolas Benezet and Richie Laryea have shown in this postseason that they can help fill the goal-scoring duties.

Star man: It seems like Seattle has a different star man each match. Against FC Dallas, it was Jordan Morris; Lodeiro stepped up against Real Salt Lake and Ruidiaz was the star in toppling consensus favorite LAFC. In this case, we will continue with the Peruvian striker, whose big game pedigree is beyond reproach: four postseason games, four goals and three assists.Overall, Ruidiaz has been a revelation for the Sounders. His six playoff goals since joining the team at the end of June, 2018. Not only has that pulled him level with Clint Dempsey for No.2 on Seattle’s all-time playoff scoring chart, but he’s tied for second-most goals in a player’s first five MLS postseason games behind LA Galaxy legend Carlos Ruiz (seven).

Despite a more discrete performance against Atlanta United, Alejandro Pozuelo is still the main man in red, and he will relish the challenge of playing spoiler in attack. His 12 goal, 12 assist season made him just one of four players to break double digits in both categories in 2019, with Vela the only one with more than 12 in both categories. He’s also scored twice and assisted twice in the playoffs, making him TFC’s most potent threat.

Where the game will be won or lost: Seattle took advantage of a soft LAFC midfield to put Bob Bradley’s men to the sword. TFC’s midfield trio of Michael BradleyJonathan Osorio and Marky Delgado aren’t afraid to get nasty, so chances are it will come down to whether Seattle can handle and beat the TFC press in midfield.

X factor: If Seattle find themselves struggling in the second half and are in need of a goal, Victor Rodriguez is a pretty nice playmaking option to have coming off the bench.

TFC’s penchant for big goals off the bench or from unheralded players is remarkable, with the likes of Benezet, Laryea and DeLeon scoring massive goals, so it would be no surprise if Patrick Mullins or Tsubasa Endoh somehow tilts things in TFC’s favor.

This could also be a spot where home field advantage factors in. Toronto has only won in two of its eight all-time visits to the west coast. The last time they did it? A 1-0 victory decided by Jozy Altidore’s penalty on May 6, 2017. That said, they have the third-best record away from home in MLS this season, picking up six wins and seven draws in 19 games. Only conference champions LAFC and NYCFC managed more, but they’re watching the remainder of the playoffs at home.

Toronto FC will win because: Unbeaten in their past 13 MLS matches, TFC have become a team of destiny, with contributions from almost everyone on the squad. That confidence and belief will bear out in Seattle to complete an unlikely Cup conquest.

Seattle will win because: Buoyed by their boisterous crowd, the Seattle attacking trio of Ruidiaz, Morris and Lodeiro will overwhelm TFC’s defense in the second half to lift the trophy. If they can break the game open in the first half, even better: the Sounders are 12-0-0 when leading at the break this season, including in the playoffs.

Prediction: Seattle 3-2 Toronto. The 2019 postseason has been the highest scoring in MLS history, with a current average of 4.1 goals per game, so we’d expect this game to bring the fireworks rather than offering up another tight, tense affair decided by a solitary strike.

Seattle’s third MLS Cup final in four years shines spotlight on Schmetzer — whether he likes it or not

3:32 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

In Seattle, it has become a rite of autumn. The Sounders make the MLS Cup playoffs, they usually make a deep run toward the final, and the spotlight shines on manager Brian Schmetzer to the point of discomfort.One would think that given his nearly 40-year association with the Sounders — from his playing days to managing the team in the second tier to being an assistant in MLS to managing the team in the top division — Schmetzer would welcome some deserved praise. But any attempt to bestow accolades on the Seattle native is met with near instant deflection. One can almost hear him squirm over the telephone. Praise is for the players, his assistants or even opposing coaches. That’s why the word “steward” is most often applied to Schmetzer, and it fits. He is the organization’s conscience, its north star. “The club is in his DNA,” Seattle GM Garth Lagerwey said of Schmetzer. “When he speaks, he speaks sincerely and humbly, and those are things that really resonate with not just our fanbase but the wider community.”That ethos will be put to the test Sunday, when the Sounders square off against Toronto FC in the MLS Cup final (3 p.m. ET, watch live on ABC). It marks the third time in four years that the two sides have met with MLS supremacy on the line, and it amounts to the rubber match, with each team having hoisted the trophy once. Yet this is the first time Seattle has hosted the title game, so for Schmetzer, it resonates even more.”I am immensely proud of this franchise,” he said. “Being a guy from Seattle and this being your hometown team, and then the way my career path kind of happened — [starting in Seattle with] a couple of stops down in San Diego, a year in St. Louis and Tulsa — to have the MLS Cup final here, you’re so fired up.”Seattle’s run of MLS Cup finals would normally catapult a manager into discussions about the league’s best coaches, yet Schmetzer’s name hardly ever comes up. Granted, the fact that the Sounders are always in the playoffs — they’ve reached the postseason every year since joining the league in 2009 — means there’s no “most improved” component to get him attention. There haven’t been many wow moments in the regular season, either, with Seattle finishing second in the Western Conference each of the past three seasons. There’s also the matter of high expectations, given that the Sounders have 13 players making above the maximum salary.That lack of notoriety matters not at all to Schmetzer. He is a nearly perfect fit for the organization and the city at large.”I’ll let all the experts tell me whether I deserve all the praise for all this stuff, whether it’s the team, whether it’s Garth, whether it’s [owner Adrian Hanauer], whether it’s my assistants,” he said. “I think there’s a successful enough organization and what we all have are small bits and roles and parts within the team.”How has Schmetzer achieved so much success? His approach is all about balance: when to push and when to ease off in terms of tactics and in his talks with players. His steady accumulation of experience as a player and coach positioned him well to impart his vision.Schmetzer’s style can be traced to his modest but lengthy playing career that spanned the heyday of the old North American Soccer League in the early-1980s, its demise and the transition to the alphabet soup of various indoor leagues.”My gift to the game was my endurance,” Schmetzer said with a trace of humor. “I could run, I could get up and down the left wing. Steve Daley used to raise his arm and say, ‘Schmeeetz!’ And I’d take off, and I’d run, and he’d pass the ball somewhere else.”Schmetzer recalled that when he was an indoor teammate of Preki’s, he was always aware of where his more talented teammate was, the better to pick up the defensive slack when the ball was lost.”Those little things helped me have a pro career just because I was smart enough to figure out a way how to get people to say, ‘That Schmetz, he’s a pretty handy guy,'” he said.Along the way, he made note of the different locker room dynamics on the teams for which he played. There was an American-Brit divide in Seattle, and the Tulsa Roughneck team “was the tightest group of players I’ve ever seen.” In San Diego, there were multiple cliques, so Schmetzer made sure to bounce around among them. The experience of bridging those divides was useful during his coaching career, given the disparity in pay in MLS and the impact that can have on a locker room.When Schmetzer transitioned into coaching, his time managing youth teams gave him an understanding of how to develop young players. He spent seven seasons managing the Sounders in the various second divisions of the time and then took on the role of assistant under Sigi Schmid for another seven-plus years. Under Schmid, Schmetzer would imagine he was making the decisions, and if the head man did something different, Schmetzer would tease apart the reason.Schmid passed away in December, adding another emotional layer to Sunday’s final. Schmetzer’s gratitude toward his old mentor remains clear.”Sigi’s memory was unbelievable. Organizationally, structurally, he was better than I was,” Schmetzer said. “I learned a lot from Sig as far as how to win in MLS.”It made for an extensive apprenticeship at all levels, so when the call to take over from Schmid came midway through the 2016 season, Schmetzer was ready. That included the knowledge of how his role would change once he was the man in charge.”Their livelihood is now in your hands,” he said of his players. “What they require is honesty, whether it’s the brutal honesty of, ‘Hey, you’re not playing this weekend,’ or the brutal honesty of, ‘We’re not going to renew your option for next year.’ How you say that is massively important, as much so as when you compliment a player for a good job, trying to boost the player’s confidence. It’s different as a head coach than when I was an assistant.”Schmetzer emerged as a well-rounded coach, adept in all aspects. He describes himself as a players’ coach in the mold of former Sounders manager Alan Hinton, who signed Schmetzer as a teenager in 1980. He has also shown that he can throw out a tactical wrinkle or two, as he did in the Western Conference final against LAFC.

“I think to get to the level that you need to get to in order to coach in MLS, you can’t be too light on the tactics piece,” said Sigi Schmid’s son Kurt, previously Seattle’s director of player personnel and now the technical director for Inter Miami. “But that being said, he’s definitely very good at man management. I think some people can manage big groups really well, big personalities really well. I think Brian is really good at managing individuals really well. No one bats 1.000 in that department, but I think for the large majority of players who were there, he was always pretty good about just developing good relationships with those guys and even if guys walked away after hearing things they didn’t like.”That ability to connect with players spans young and old alike. He has moved youngsters such as Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris along and bonded with veterans such as Roman Torres and Stefan Frei.”There’s a closeness there within the group because they know that we as a staff have their best interests at heart,” Schmetzer said. “That closeness is developed out of mutual respect. It doesn’t mean we’re going to go on double dates with the players and their wives.”Schmetzer has been adaptable as well. Lagerwey notes that the 2016 team that Schmetzer led to that year’s MLS Cup was more rugged following the midseason loss of Clint Dempsey to a heart ailment. The following year, there was the challenge of repeating as MLS Cup champions. The disappointment of being eliminated to archrival Portland last season was eclipsed this year by the run to the final, with Seattle dispatching LAFC along the way.”I think that his kind of enduring quality has been that he can coach that 2016 run-and-fight team, and now he can coach this team which can play soccer,” Lagerwey said. “We can score a bunch of different ways and be more varied in our attack and our approach and how we play. The credit to him is he can manage both. His message resonates with both groups.”Schmetzer called 2019 his toughest year, given the forced retirement of defender Chad Marshall, the injury to forward Will Bruin and the suspension of Torres for using performance-enhancing drugs. But now Schmetzer is on the cusp of another title.”If I can get them all to believe that if they work for each other and fight for each other, that’s the best way they can win, then I’m doing my job as a manager,” he said.With a win Sunday, praise from outside will surely follow, whether Schmetzer wants it or not.

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