10/29/19 Indy 11 Advance to face Nashville Sat, MLS Semi-Finals Wed/Thur Eve, CHS Girls Advance to State Finals at Fishers Sat.

Huge congrats to the #1 Carmel High School Lady Greyhounds as the Defending State Champions are advancing to their 2nd straight Finals after a huge 1-0 victory over Castle in horrid conditions in Evansville on Saturday.  Former Carmel FC player Olivia Fray scored the winning goal on a long shot from outside the box!  Olivia, the daughter of former Carmel FC Director Andy Fray, is a senior this season – looking for her second straight state title along with a number of former Carmel FC players on the squad including All State Goalkeeper Erin Baker – who made 2 huge saves in the victory.  Here are Highlights.   /Indy Star Story .   The State Final will have undefeated Carmel (18-0-3) Facing 2nd ranked and undefeated Noblesville (16-0-3) at 4 pm at Fishers High School Saturday.  All the Indiana State finals games will be there Friday night and Saturday so head over to catch some great soccer – including the Zionsville Boys vs Lake Central at 6 pm. Sat.

CHSGirls_Olivia_Fray

Carmel’s Olivia Fray (20) is embraced by her team after making the first and only goal of the game during the second half of the IHSAA Class 3A semistate matchup against the Castle Knights at Bundrant Stadium in Evansville, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. The Greyhounds will advance to the Class 3A state championship.  (Photo: SAM OWENS/ COURIER & PRESS)

MLS Playoffs – Tues 10 pm LAFC vs Seattle ESPN &  Wed 8 pm Atlanta vs Toronto FS1

So I don’t have a ton of time to pontificate here – but El Traffico between LAFC and the LA Galaxy was epic last week !!  As LAFC behind 2 goals from league MVP and the leading scorer in a season Carlos Vela beat Zlattan Ibrahimovich and the LA Galaxy 5-3 (should have been 4-4).  LAFC were gifted the first goal with a horrible no call or VAR overrule and later the LA Galaxy had a pretty bad pushing call overturning a Zlattan goal.  That being said LAFC deserved the win and to advance on to play the Seattle Sounders in the Final Tuesday night at 10 pm on ESPN.  A boisterous crowd in the 3252 (fan section) at Banc of California carried LAFC on and Vela and coach Bob Bradley finally broke the Galaxy’s spell on them (0-2-2) and finally won when it counted.  Sad if that is the way Ibra has to go out – as if he just had a defense – 31 goals in 31 games should be good enough to get teams thru the playoffs to at least the Championship game. Either way despite little defense being played – the 5-3 finish was ridiculously exciting!   In the Eastern Conference – Atlanta United use a full house at Mercedez Benz Arena and Josef Martinez to secure at hard fought victory over the Philly Union – setting up a home match with Toronto for the Easter Conference Finals on Wed Night at 8 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Should be a doozy.  I have loved the 1 game and done format – although I have this feeling I would prefer a home and away format for the Finals.  Either way – Exciting soccer to Watch – Playoffs – MLS Style!

Indy 11 Win Home Playoff Classic 1-0 at the Mike

Huge 1-0 win for our Indy 11 as Carmel FC GK Coach Jordan Farr again had a standout night in the victory with a couple of great saves!  The threat of Rain and Storms kept the crowd at the MIKE small as only just under 6,000 fans ventured to IUPUI to watch our Boys in Blue win their first home playoff game in a few years.  The 11 scored midway thru the 1st half and held on late to take home the victory as a sold-out BYB section cued the Smoke and carried the sound thru the windy night air in victory for our Indy 11.  The 11 next face Nashville in round 2 Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be on ESPN+.  You can watch all the USL Playoff action on ESPN+.

Ladies Soccer

Defending NWSL Champs North Carolina Courage made it 2 in a row with US star Heather O’Reilly as they defeated the Chicago Red Stars 3-0 in the Finals Sunday.  Also the US Hired Vlatko Andonovski – NWSL Coach to coach USWNT.

USA

Finally a huge week for Christian Pulisic at Chelsea as he records a Hat Trick in his start vs Burnley this past Saturday as the Chelsea fans yelled USA, USA.   The 21 Year Old American earned back a start and rewarded coach Frank Lampard with some spectacular goals – making him just the second US Player to Ever score a hat-trick in the EPL!!  Can anyone tell me the other ??? Chelsea and Pulisic return to action in League Cup play vs Man United on Wed at 4 pm on ESPN+ and Sat vs Watford at 12:30 pm on NBCSN or NBC – not sure which?  Oh and a huge get for US Coach Berhalter as Dutch Defender Sergino Dest of Ajax chooses the US over the Netherlands to play his international soccer.  Hope to see him in uniform next month for the rematch with Canada.

GAMES ON TV

Tues, Oct 29

3:45 pm ESPN+                                 Man City vs Southampton – League Cup

4:!5pm  beIN Sport

10 pm ESPN                LAFC vs Seattle – Western Conference Finals (MLS Playoffs)

WEds, Oct 30

3:30 pm ESPN+                                 Liverpool vs Arsenal – League Cup

4 pm ESPN+                                       CHelea (Pulisic) vs Man United– League Cup

4 pm Fox Sport 2                              U17 World Cup – Korea vs France

4:15pm  beIN Sport                         Real Madrid vs Leganes

7 pm Fox Sport 2               U-17 World Cup USA vs Japan 

8 on Fox Sport 1         Atlanta United vs Toronto -Eastern Conference Finals (MLS Playoffs)

Fri, Nov 1

3 pm NBCSN                                      Southampton vs Leicester City

 Sat, Nov 2  

7:30 am NBCSN                                Bournemouth vs Man United

9 am ESPN news                               Roma vs Napoli

9:30 am Fox sports1                       Frankfort vs Bayern Munich  

10:30 am NBCSN                             Man City vs Southampton

12:30 pm NBCSN                        Watford vs Chelsea (pulisic)  

4 pm beIN Sport                               Real Madrid vs Real Bettis

7 pm Fox Sport 2                             USA U17 vs Netherlands U17 World Cup

8 pm ESPN+                                      Nashville vs Indy 11 (Playoffs) 

Sun, Nov 3

7:30 am NBCSN                                Crystal Palace vs Leicester City

11:30 NBCSN                                    Everton vs Tottenham

12:30 pm FS1                                   Ausburg vs Schalke (McKinney)

2:45 ESPN+                                       Milan vs Lazio

3 pm FS2                                            Cameroon U17 vs Spain U17 WC

6 pm FS2                                            Mexico U17 vs Solomon Islands U17 WC

Tues/Wed Nov 5 & 6 Champions League

Indy 11 

Indy 11 Advance with home Playoff Win – Jordan Farr Saves the Day

Highlights of Playoff Win – Including GK Jordan Farr’s Saves

Indy 11 Win Home Playoff Game Advance to Next Round in Nashville

MLS

MLS Conference Finals preview and predictions

FiveThirtyEight projects Conference Finals

Doyle: Keys to victory in the 2019 Conference Finals

For first time ever, no founding clubs in Conference Finals
MLS Best XI includes three LAFC stars, Zlatan

ATL’s Ambrose: Opposing teams “in awe” when they come to MBS

USA

US Hires Vlatko Andonovski – NWSL Coach to coach USWNT

Andonovski aware of expectations as new US women’s coach
Americans Abroad: Pulisic shines with hat trick, Sargent assists

Berhalter apologizes to USMNT supporters for actions after Canada loss

Dest commitment a big win for Berhalter, Stewart’s USMNT

Biggest Win Yet – Dest Comitting to US Team – yahoo sports

Why Sergino Dest’s decision is such a big win for the USMNT     
USMNT left back Robinson making waves with Wigan

Busio scores early, US U-17s unravel late in WC opener

2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup Schedule

EPL

VIDEO: Every touch from Christian Pulisic v. Burnley

Pulsic Scores First EPL Hat Trick

Chelsea ratings: Pulisic hat trick nets perfect 10
Pulisic watch: U.S. star makes huge impact vs. Burnley

Goalkeeping

Highlights of Playoff Win – Including GK Jordan Farr’s Saves

Carmel FC GK Coach and Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr with some good Saves in last game

MLS GK of the Year from Minn United

MLS Save of the Year – Retiring Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake & US National Team

NWSL Save of the Week

USL Save of the Month – NCFC GK

No. 1 Carmel survives challenge from Castle to win semistate title

Kyle Sokeland, Indianapolis StarPublished 10:10 p.m. ET Oct. 26, 2019

VANSVILLE – Frank Dixon has coached soccer at Carmel High School for nearly 30 years. Only one time can he recall anything like this.Mother Nature did not cooperate on Saturday with those wishing to watch the soccer semistate at Evansville North’s Bundrant Stadium. A persistent, annoying rain combined with swirling gusts of wind made the evening miserable for all involved.Well, the Greyhounds don’t hate it anymore. The defending state champions left the turf field with smiles and hugs, unlike their opponent.No. 1 Carmel survived the elements to defeat No. 5 Castle 1-0 in the Class 3A semistate. The Greyhounds advance to the state championship at Fisher High School to face Noblesville.”It was survival of the fittest,” said Dixon. “As I told Doug (Diedrich, the Castle coach) I wish we could come back on Monday or Tuesday and play in the right kind of weather. We got one ball to go in there.” Diedrich concurred with his counterpart. During his playing days, he had to combat snow, rain and winds. But this was a different beast.The winds, which gusted over 30 miles per hour, eliminated any designed game plan. It came down to when the Knights wanted to kick with the wind or against it. Take advantage of it.”I couldn’t imagine playing in it,” said the Castle coach. “Just the wind and the rain tonight was worse than anything I’ve been involved with since coaching high school. Both teams have to play in it, they took advantage of the opportunity they had.”Castle elected to go with it in the first half. Its best chances came in those 40 minutes with senior Jessica Jacobs nearly fitting a free kick under the crossbar. Carmel goalkeeper Erin Baker also corralled a loose ball in front of the net. By halftime, neither side dented the scoreboard.”When we didn’t score in the first half, we knew things were going to be a little more difficult,” said Diedrich. “We had some opportunities, but the wind made it so difficult to do anything.”Even in the second half, Castle felt confident with its possession. That changed with 15 minutes left after Carmel had a corner kick cleared.Senior Olivia Fray took possession and did what she was supposed to do: send the ball back in. The shot was high enough to avoid any defenders and the wind kept sending the ball toward the net.It sneaked past Castle keeper Kassidy Elkin to give the Greyhounds a 1-0 lead.”Those players are supposed to put it back in, not over the goal,” said Dixon. “It went a little better than she thought it was going to do.” Over the final 10 minutes, the Knights sent a flurry of chances at Carmel. Addie Turnock had a free kick outside the 18 sail high, while Jacobs had a flurry of corner kicks go unanswered. She later had a free kick clang off the corner.The loss ends a stellar postseason run for Castle (17-3-1). The Knights won their first regional title in five years and took the defending state champions to the brink.Castle won the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference and graduates 10 seniors.”They came to work every day and had fun,” said Diedrich. “This group played loose most of the year and did what you asked them to do. When you get players like that, they’re going to do well. It’s a lot of fun to coach.”Making it back to the state championship was no guarantee for Carmel. The Greyhounds graduated a strong senior group, which included a pair of all-state defenders.But they took everybody’s best shot and remain perfect in the loss column going to Fishers next weekend.”These senior, who were junior last year, just picked it up,” said Dixon. “I have the best goalkeeper in the state. She kept us in that first half. If not for her, we would have been down two or three to nothing.”Follow Courier & Press sports reporter Kyle Sokeland on Twitter @kylesokeland.

When Sergiño Dest pledged his commitment, the USMNT got more than just a great prospect

Leander SchaerlaeckensYahoo Sports•October 28, 2019

Since taking over as head coach of the United States men’s national team at the start of the year, Gregg Berhalter has won nine games. On Monday, he got a 10th victory when 18-year-old Dutch-American fullback Sergiño Dest decided to stick with the USA when the Netherlands, where he was born and raised, had recruited him as well.The long-awaited announcement by Dest, who made his debut for the U.S. against Mexico last month and can play on either flank, felt like a coup. Because he’s forsaken a chance to play with a golden generation of Dutch prospects who have already reached an international final in the UEFA Nations League. Instead, he committed to Berhalter’s wholesale rebuilding project in the wake of a humiliating loss to Canada.But Dest’s choice doesn’t represent the capture of a coveted player. It means something bigger than that.The thing to remember in all of this is that Dest probably never expected to break into the starting lineup at Ajax Amsterdam as quickly as he did this season, or indeed next season.Even though Ajax had moved on from right back Rasmus Nissen Kristensen and part-time left back Daley Sinkgraven over the summer, the logjam at both positions still made for very long odds for Dest. In Noussair Mazraoui and Nico Tagliafico, manager Erik ten Hag had well-established starters in both wing spots. And central defenders Daley Blind and Joel Veltman were the preferred alternatives. Dest didn’t figure in anybody’s projections for significant playing time, as underscored by the number he was assigned – 28.Which is all to say that chances are, not even Dest figured on having to make a difficult choice about which national team to pick. Because he likely didn’t think there was a choice at all. You don’t get a look for the Dutch national team until you’re getting steady playing time at a well-established club. So when Dest did break out during the preseason he put himself on Ronald Koeman’s map. Dest’s senior debut with the U.S. in September evidently sent alarm bells ringing at the Dutch federation headquarters, and an effort to retain the newly minted and suddenly coveted defender was quickly mobilized. A meeting with Koeman followed. And Dest rejected invitations from both nations for the October international window, in order to prevent cap-tying himself to either.Dest was likely surprised and unprepared for the choice between the country that had nurtured his international career – the United States, by bringing him to two youth World Cups – and the nation where he’d been born and raised, the Netherlands.   Monday’s choice for the American program, then, followed weeks of agonizing, a process Dest said he didn’t particularly enjoy.

“I chose America because to me that was the best choice,” Dest told Ajax’s website. “It wasn’t an easy choice. I spent a long time thinking about it. America, I spent my entire youth [national team career] playing with and they treated me well. On the Netherlands, of course, you play with the best players in the world. They have a very good team. And that’s great. But in the end, it was my gut feeling that was the most important.”Dest said he’d had several conversations with both managers and admitted to being tempted by Oranje. He felt a lot of pressure, he said, but in the end he simply followed his gut, rather than make some kind of grand calculation about playing time and positional competition. “I don’t think I have any certainty on either team,” he said. “Maybe the players are a little less good there [on the USA], I can admit that, but I still have to do my best.”Landing Dest means more than just securing a very promising player who can be slotted into two problem positions. It will inject the program with some optimism. Since the missed World Cup of 2018, it’s felt like the senior men’s national team has careened between regression and being entirely rudderless. Morale has gotten so low that Berhalter sent a letter apologizing to fans for not going over to thank them for their support during the loss to the Canadians on Oct. 15, the first loss to them in more than a generation.

Dest’s commitment finally imbues the program with some desperately needed momentum, a flash of hope that a strong new core really is forming, alongside midfielders Christian PulisicWeston McKennieTyler Adams and forwards Josh Sargent and Tim Weah.And there could be a knock-on effect down the line. In a globalized world, where dual-nationalities threaten to become the norm, any program with pretensions of belonging to the elite will need to win more of these battles for the biggest prospects than it loses. One such prospect tends to beget more. Players are sensitive to fashions. And seeing Dest pick the U.S. might reassure some other player wrestling with the same decision down the line that it’s a sensible move.Most of all, Dest signaled publicly that he buys into Berhalter’s project, that he can see his vision. National team coaches have to be salesmen too. Berhalter sold an 18-year-old on passing up on a better team, which he’d grown up fantasizing about.  Dest, above all, is a vote of confidence.Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports soccer columnist and a sports

USWNT officially hires Vlatko Andonovski as coach. Who is he, and what’s next?

Caitlin Murray,Yahoo Sports 17 hours ago

Vlatko Andonovski has officially been hired as the next coach of the USWNT. (AP)

The U.S. women’s national team has a new coach.Vlatko Andonovski, who has coached in the National Women’s Soccer League for the past seven years, was announced Monday as the eighth coach in USWNT history.“It’s a huge honor and I’m very excited to get started with this group of players and staff as we work towards continued success for this program,” Andonovski said in a statement. “All of the talented coaches and players that have come before have built a legendary tradition of excellence and I’m committed to working very hard to continue to move this program forward.”

Vlatko Andonovski? Who is this guy?

Anyone who has been watching the NWSL since its inception in 2013 will know Andonovski well, especially since he has coached his way to two NWSL titles – but everyone else will probably have no clue who he is.Andonovski left his native Macedonia in 2000 to play professional indoor soccer, and he ended up at the Kansas City Comets, which competed in the Major Arena Soccer League. When the owners of the Comets started a women’s team to launch with the NWSL named FC Kansas City, they asked Andonovski to be the coach.Although he had experience as a youth coach on the girls side, no one in the upper echelons of women’s soccer had ever heard of him, and some USWNT players listed FC Kansas City as their one allocation veto due to concerns over the unknown coach.But he quickly earned a reputation for the attractive possession-style soccer his team played, and he led FC Kansas City to back-to-back league titles in 2014 and 2015.He was poached by Seattle-based Reign FC last year and led the team to two straight playoffs, including this year despite the team being ravaged by injuries, as he employed a pragmatic approach that required fielding more than 30 different players over the course of the year. For that, he was named the 2019 NWSL Coach of the Year.

Why did Andonovski get the USWNT job?

Aside from his success in the NWSL, it seems to boil down to his work with the USWNT player pool.On one hand, U.S. Soccer is getting a manager who is already deeply familiar with the players on the USWNT and on the bubble. He has coached the likes of Megan Rapinoe, Allie Long and Becky Sauerbrunn, who were all on the USWNT’s recent World Cup-winning squad, and he has coached against most of the rest of the USWNT pool.That’s important because the clock is ticking down to the 2020 Olympics, which begin in nine months, and Andonovski won’t have much time to get his team ready.

But USWNT general manager Kate Markgraf also emphasized that player input would be part of the coach selection process, and Andonovski has reportedly been the most popular choice amongst the USWNT core.That also matters because it wasn’t long ago that a group of veterans on the USWNT tried to stage an unsuccessful coup to get coach Jill Ellis fired. Ellis had the last laugh, sticking around and winning another World Cup, but even after that, the relationship between Ellis and the players seemed surprisingly cold for a team that had enjoyed so much success.When Ellis announced her plan to step down, sources close to the team told Yahoo Sports the decision was probably affected by a dynamic where the veterans didn’t seem to like Ellis very much. When Ellis coached her final game at the helm, newer players who Ellis brought into the fold offered kind parting words in videos produced by U.S. Soccer, but veterans were absent, and the players’ social media channels offered deafening silence.Of course, the players don’t need to like the coach, as Ellis’ World Cup win in France proves. But it’ll be better for the federation and the players alike if the team isn’t trying to stage mutinies.It’s worth noting that every coach of the USWNT since Tony DiCicco has been the subject of a player revolt. Whether Andonovski will break that streak remains to be seen.

What kind of coach is Andonovski, and will he be a good fit?

Although he arrived in the NWSL as an unknown, he quickly won praise for the style of play he implemented in Kansas City. It was positive, possession soccer that involved knocking the ball around in the way soccer fans say they love.But he has also proven himself tactically flexible, willing to adapt and pragmatic, which the 2019 season demonstrated in a nutshell. Each week, the Reign FC injury report looked like a page torn from a phone book, but Andonovski kept conjuring up ways to keep his team afloat. He finished the year giving minutes to 34 different players, which is impressive since the maximum roster size in the NWSL is 22.Andonovski is also known for his intensity and his thorough preparation at the most granular level. Staff at FC Kansas City can tell stories about surreptitiously moving Andonovski’s perfectly aligned cones for drills, which the coach always noticed and fixed, frustrated with himself for messing up.Players rave about playing under him and say he makes them better players. He is also talked about as being a very direct and blunt with players, but a good people manager who is generally well-liked and offers a calming influence.

Are there any concerns about Andonovski?

Perhaps the biggest concern is a lack of experience, which was the primary reason he was left off Yahoo’s list of top coaching candidates when Ellis stepped down.Andonovski has never coached at the international level – not even at the youth level – and he hasn’t played on national team duty either. National teams and club teams are very different, and the transition from club coach to international coach isn’t always an easy one.For a clear example, look no further than Gregg Berhalter, who took over the U.S. men’s national team last year. Berhalter was lauded for the complicated possession system of triggers and movement he built with the Columbus Crew, but he is finding it much more difficult to implement something similar with the USMNT.The USMNT hasn’t shown much progress since Berhalter took over, losing in a shock upset to Canada, and there is growing concern that a system-oriented coach like Berhalter is a bad fit for the USMNT. After all, there is a big difference between training with a club team everyday year-round, and getting together with a national team every couple months for a week or two at a time.But, keep in mind, the USMNT is not the USWNT.The USMNT, which lacks talent relative to the rest of the world, probably needs a pragmatist to put the country’s best players in their best positions and worry less about finding players for specific tasks. The USWNT, on the other hand, has a glut of talent and the apparent capacity to execute just about anything Andonovski can dream up.After all, going into the 2019 World Cup, much of the conversation around the USWNT was that the team wasn’t playing its best and players weren’t being used in their optimum positions. There was a feeling that the team had more potential – and yet they won the whole darn tournament in France. That’s the difference.

What should be his first order of business with the USWNT?

How do you take a World Cup-winning team and make it better? That’s the seemingly impossible question that Andonovski has signed up to answer.If Andonovski has any grand notions of expanding the player pool to find the next wave of USWNT stars, or implementing a new system with a different style of play, he’ll probably need to wait.The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo start in July, but the qualification tournament comes much more quickly – that schedule hasn’t been announced yet, but usually the CONCACAF qualification tournament is held in January.For all of Ellis’s success in the World Cup, the less-discussed part of her coaching tenure was a disastrous 2016 Olympics where the USWNT suffered its earliest exit in a major tournament in program history. In other words, winning a World Cup is not a guarantee of success at the Olympic stage.Although Andonovski is already set to host an identification camp in December that will include only players not already in the USWNT fold, he actually needs to shrink his USWNT before he expands it. That’s because the Olympic roster has only 18 spots, down from the 23 players that go to the World Cup.When a team is as good as the USWNT, paring down to just 18 players may be the toughest part, and there’s an argument that Ellis’s roster selections in 2016 ultimately doomed her, particularly bringing an unfit, recently injured Megan Rapinoe over Heather O’Reilly.Andonovski has to decide what to do with the likes of Carli Lloyd, who has said she’d rather retire than rot on the bench for the USWNT, or Alex Morgan, who will have recently given birth by the time the Olympics roll around.There are no easy decisions when it comes to the USWNT roster, and Andonovski doesn’t have a lot of time to figure it out.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.

Armchair Analyst: Previewing the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Finals

October 28, 20199:53AM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

MLS is now just shy of a quarter century old. The past half-decade of this existence – the TAM era, for all intents and purposes – has seen the league at least partially shed its previous skin. As in: This is no longer a league of parity.Atlanta UnitedToronto FC and the Seattle Sounders have accounted for the past three MLS Cups. LAFC are trying to join them this year after breaking all sorts of records en route to winning the Supporters’ Shield and the admiration of neutrals across the continent. These four teams also (not entirely coincidentally) have four of the seven highest payrolls in the league, as per the MLS Players Association release, and when you factor in all the ancillary stuff – transfer fees, scouting and analytics departments, academies and reserve teams – it probably stands to reason that these are four of the five or six highest-spending teams in the league.They mostly showed that in the regular season (Toronto FC are the only stragglers in that regard, though they had a great second-half of 2019 after splashing out during the summer window), and have mostly reaped the rewards by achieving and then capitalizing upon home-field advantage in the playoffs.Is this the new normal, the endpoint after salary budgets really started to expand in 2015? Or is there now a blueprint that others will follow, as the early majority begin catching up to the early adopters?

I honestly don’t know. But the story of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs thus far is that the most holistically ambitious clubs have put themselves in position to win MLS Cup. Let’s take a look at what’s to come:

Western Conference

LAFC vs. Seattle Sounders
Tuesday, 10 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Bob Bradley did his work in 2018. He didn’t just lay the foundation – it wasn’t just the core players that he acquired and the core principles that he drilled. No, the LAFC boss went out and got literally all but two of his rotation players throughout an extremely busy inaugural season. He was wheeling and dealing all last year, even while pushing for a high seed in the playoffs, with the idea of getting into this season at a running start.  It’s worked. Saying it’s worked spectacularly probably sells it short, because LAFC just had the best regular season in league history and they are literally the best team I’ve ever seen in MLS. The 2017 Toronto FC team will still go down as the most successful, but LAFC are better.  What they do so well is … everything. It’s like Bradley saw last year’s MLS Cup-winning Atlanta team and last year’s Shield-winning New York Red Bulls and said “I think, with this group, we can press like the Red Bulls and pass like the Five Stripes.”

If that was his line of thinking, he was right. LAFC finished third in possession, second in possessions won and possessions won in the final third, second in chances created and first in big chances created. Bunker in and they would pass through you. Try to build out vs. them and they would turn you over and jam it down your throat. Let them build back-to-front, or get out into any sort of transition and…

Carlos Vela is the best player in the league and is currently having the best season in league history. Eduard Atuesta is the best d-mid in the league. Diego Rossi will probably be sold for $10-15 million this winter. And Adama Diomande just missed six weeks and scored a brace in his first game back, which included a goal where he looked like prime freaking Ronaldo.  Yeah, you can’t let them do that.

How to beat them: Throughout the year, the best recipe was either “bunker and hope they’re not sharp” or “have Zlatan.” The Galaxy tried to do both the other day and LAFC beat them 5-3, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Of course, LAFC didn’t exactly let the Galaxy sit deep, did they? They were entirely willing to let their next door neighbors have the ball, with the idea of pulling them upfield and scoring goals exactly like that one above (and the first one of the night, and the second). LA didn’t have the personnel or the discipline to pull it off, and LAFC suckered them into digging their own grave.  Which is to say that I still think the only thing you should try against LAFC at this point is putting numbers behind the ball and trying to hit on the counter. Frustrate them, be physical and chippy with them, and keep the game compact. Because if it gets open you’re going to lose.

The Big Question: Are the Sounders good enough in their own 18 to play like that?

Seattle have a match-winning goalkeeper in Stefan Frei. Just ask FC Dallas about that:

They also have three shutouts in their last four games, including a pair of 1-0 wins at San Jose and then against Minnesota United to end the season, There’s also a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semis. That’s a good run of results. But that wild 4-3 win over Dallas in Round One of the West playoffs is a worry, one that is in keeping with the not-so-great defending we saw from this team over a 7-8-2 stretch from mid-May to early September. The Sounders conceded 33 goals during that 17-game run, and while they’ve mostly done better than that lately, they still lean heavily on Frei and still often sit way too passively in their deep blocks. That wasn’t a problem against RSL, but “home vs. RSL” and “at LAFC” are entirely different types of tests.  Of course, Seattle have survived stern tests in the playoffs before. I do think this is one where we should see Nico Lodeiro sit deeper and try to spray through-balls – like he did back in 2016 when he first arrived – as opposed to moving upfield and trying to run the show.

Two matchups to watch:

1) Latif Blessing vs. Gustav Svensson

  • Blessing’s been this season’s biggest revelation, and his work at the front of LAFC’s press is what changed this team from “Shield favorites” to “historical juggernauts.” If he’s able to either disrupt Svensson’s distribution or drag the Seattle d-mid out of Zone 14 – or both – Seattle could be in real trouble.

2) Jordan Morris vs. Empty Space

  • I’m pretty sure LAFC aren’t going to sit in again like they did against the Galaxy. I’m pretty sure they want to attack and use the ball and win emphatically like they have most of the season. That means both fullbacks will be pushing up, which should leave Morris room to hit out on the counter. It would be a risk for Brian Schmetzer to just leave Morris high – have him cherry pick – but there’s an argument that it’s the risk that’s worth taking when playing this team, especially when you’ve got a through-ball artist like Lodeiro to lean on.

X-factor: Mark-Anthony Kaye‘s health. I’m convinced that the other reason (besides being cleverly pragmatic) Bradley didn’t have LAFC press against the Galaxy is that Kaye was not available with a hamstring strain. His replacement, Lee Nguyen, is a different type of player, one who’s more functional these days as a field-opening orchestrator than a creature of the final third on either side of the ball.

In a not-entirely-unrelated development, Nguyen had three secondary assists on Thursday night.  Anyway, if Kaye is good to go even for 30 minutes, then Bradley’s got multiple looks he can throw out there. Schmetzer can’t say the same.

Atlanta United vs. Toronto FC Eastern Conference

Wednesday, 8 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

It’s wild to try to think through and pick apart all the various iterations of this season’s Atlanta United team. A small sample: the turgid and slow 3-4-2-1 of the early part of the year; the unadventurous and uninspiring 4-2-3-1 of spring; free-flowing and open 3-4-2-1 of mid-summer and early autumn; the methodical and opportunistic 4-3-3 of the Conference semifinals.

Frank de Boer’s first year in Georgia has been a journey. It hasn’t always looked nice and it doesn’t make sense that they got here looking like this, but they’ve already won two trophies and are 180 minutes away from a third. You can quibble with the aesthetics, but this is a results business – and the results say something’s going right.

Here’s what “going right” looks like:

Where’s that Pity Martinez been? And Ezequiel Barco had an equally gorgeous assist in Atlanta’s first game of the playoffs, a 1-0 win over New England.

This team can throw out a metric ton of attacking talent – arguably more than LAFC, depending upon how highly you rate each side’s youngsters.

And even with all that, they’re probably better defensively than they are going forward. Their 2-0 win over Philadelphia was their 18th shutout of the year across all competitions, and they’ve managed it all while juggling some pretty serious injuries and squad rotation throughout the year, especially in October. It’s been a seriously impressive title defense, even while being weirdly up-and-down.

How to beat them: Back when they were playing that 3-4-2-1, I would’ve told you long diagonals to the flanks behind the wingback in order to disorganize the backline. In that 2-0 win over the Union, though, they almost completely took that ball away. Haris Medunjanin had maybe his worst game of the year, and I think I’m chalking a good chunk of that up to Atlanta.

But we don’t know if they’re going to play a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-2-1, do we? If Miles Robinson or Michael Parkhurst are back, then it’s probably the latter. If they’re not it’s likely the former. Or maybe it’s the former anyway, given how thoroughly they outplayed the Union.

I really don’t know. But I will say this: Atlanta never look good if you get inside their OODA loop. If you press the hell out of them or you possess with purpose, the goal should be to make them react to you and play the game you want. When that happens, they collectively get frustrated – and it shows.

The Big Question: Will the Reds have enough firepower to make it count?

Toronto surprised almost everyone by not just beating New York City FC without Jozy Altidore, but by largely dominating them both in the first half and over the game’s final 10-15 minutes. They managed it despite starting Alejandro Pozuelo as a false No. 9, which disoriented the Pigeons’ entire defensive structure:

It was a really good game plan from Greg Vanney, and it produced no actual goals. What produced actual goals were catastrophic NYCFC mistakes.

Atlanta haven’t made a ton of mistakes this year, and you probably can’t count on an inexplicable backpass or one of the worst tackles in league history as a bailout mechanism from week to week. The Reds need to take what possession and danger they create and turn it into actual goals, and 15 minutes of madness against D.C. United aside, they haven’t been particularly great at doing that lately.

They will get their chances. They have to do better with them than New England and Philly managed.

Two match-ups to watch:

1) Michael Bradley vs. Darlington Nagbe

  • Bradley has had two strong defensive performances, but it’s not exactly a secret that he struggles these days against quick players who are able to progress the ball via the dribble. And nobody in the league is as quick nor as adept at advancing the ball via the dribble as Nagbe, who was poor vs. the Union but has put in some breathtaking performances these days. On the flipside, Atlanta’s central midfield (Nagbe included) have to do to Bradley what they did to Medunjanin.

2) Josef Martinez vs. Chris Mavinga

  • By a few measures, I’m actually more impressed by what Josef’s done this year than what he accomplished last season, when he justifiably won the 2018 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player award and then MLS Cup MVP. His goalscoring hunger and ability are unchanged, while he seems to be even more of a leader. And as he showed against Philly, he’s still always looking to get out into the open field. Obviously Mavinga – who had his best game in damn near two years against NYCFC – has to make sure that doesn’t happen.

X-factor: Robinson’s health? Parkhurst’s? Altidore’s? Omar Gonzalez‘s?

Yeah, all of those. But I actually think it’ll be whatever curve ball Vanney comes up with. The TFC manager conjured up a good one in Queens, and has always been willing to change it up a bit, whether it’s formation, line of confrontation, where and how to press, and obviously personnel.Vanney’s been dealt a lot of weird hands as manager and has mostly played them very well. I kind of expect that to be the case again here.

NC Courage defends NWSL title with 4-0 win over Chicago Associated Press

CARY, N.C. (AP) — Debinha scored in the fourth minute and the North Carolina Courage beat the Chicago Red Stars 4-0 Sunday for their second straight National Women’s Soccer League title.Jessica McDonald, Crystal Dunn and Sam Mewis added goals for the Courage, which won the NWSL Shield for the third straight year with a league-best 15-5-4 regular-season record.Debinha was named the game’s MVP, the first Brazilian to win it. North Carolina’s four goals were the most in an NWSL title match.Debinha’s rebound shot got past Red Stars goal keeper Alyssa Naeher to open scoring early before McDonald’s header off a feed from Lynn Williams in the 26th minute. After Dunn scored in first-half stoppage time, Mewis added a goal off a long ball from Abby Dahlkemper in the 61st.A sellout crowd of 10,227 attended the championship at Sahlen’s Stadium.The Red Stars had a six-game winning streak heading into the final, including a 1-0 victory over the Portland Thorns in the semifinal. The Courage beat Reign FC 4-1 in extra time in the semifinals.

It was the third time the Courage and Red Stars had met in the playoffs. The Courage also won the first two and didn’t give up any goals.The game capped an eventful week for the league.Chicago’s Sam Kerr was named the league’s MVP this season after scoring a record 18 goals in just 21 games. The Australian forward was absent for part of the season because of the Women’s World Cup.Kerr won her second league MVP award, after earning it in 2017 while with Sky Blue.”Eighteen goals doesn’t just come from one player, so thank you to my teammates. I love playing for Chicago,” Kerr said. “I love the girls, I love the team, and they allow me to be the best player I can be.”The Reign’s Vlatko Andonovski was selected the league’s Coach of the Year after leading the Reign to the playoffs despite a spate of injuries and the World Cup absences of several key players, including U.S. star Megan Rapinoe.Andonovski is expected to be hired as the new coach of the U.S. national team at a news conference on Monday in New York. He replaces Jill Ellis, who led the United States to back-to-back World Cup titles.The nine-team league also announced an expansion team in Louisville, Kentucky, to start play in 2021.The game Sunday was the last for Courage midfielder Heather O’Reilly. The former national team star is retiring from pro soccer and joining the staff of the women’s team at North Carolina.O’Reilly retired from the national team in 2016, finishing with 231 caps and 47 goals, along with the 2015 World Cup trophy and three Olympic gold medals. She earned an FA Cup from her time with Arsenal and two College Cup trophies at North Carolina.

MLS clubs’ interest in NWSL continues to grow behind the scenes

October 27, 201912:00PM EDTJonathan SigalContributor

e National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) championship match between the North Carolina Courage and Chicago Red Stars capped a 2019 season — the 7th in the league’s brief history — of increasing buzz, steady expansion news and greater overall attention. The spring in its step this year was in no small part helped by the U.S. women’s national team winning back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cups. After knocking off Japan in 2015, they beat the Netherlands this past July to become the tournament’s first repeat champions. “That week-in and week-out competition for the US national team players and other internationals has helped us move forward,” said Houston Dash player Amber Brooks, who has played for three different clubs NWSL since 2014. “It’s not a coincidence.”That momentum is only building. Louisville was announced as the NWSL’s 10th club earlier this week and speculation has since surrounded potential NWSL clubs for Cincinnati and Sacramento, which was named as an MLS expansion on October 21And there are still other MLS clubs engaged in fact-finding about the prospect of joining NWSL, according to interviews with the four MLS clubs currently fielding teams in the women’s pro soccer league.

MLS ties to women’s soccer

The Houston Dash (Houston Dynamo), Orlando Pride (Orlando City), Portland Thorns (Portland Timbers) and Utah Royals FC (Real Salt Lake) are all under the purview of ownership groups that are also fully cemented in MLS.

They form four of the NWSL’s nine sides, with four others – Chicago, Reign FC, Sky Blue FC and the Washington Spirit – sharing metropolitan areas with MLS clubs under separate ownership groups. But they still work together: This season Sky Blue have played at Red Bull Arena, home of the New York Red Bulls, and Washington have played at Audi Field, opened last year by D.C. United. Chicago, meanwhile, have shared SeatGeek Stadium with Chicago Fire, who will be moving back to Soldier Field beginning next year.

MLS clubs are also involved in youth development of boys and girls. An additional five MLS clubs operate teams or have affiliates in the girls’ division of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (DA) which is in its third year of operation: FC DallasLA GalaxySan Jose EarthquakesFC Cincinnati and Sporting Kansas City. Houston, Portland and Utah are also in the DA, while Orlando competes in the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL founded in 2009), a league New York City FC recently joined after a prior stint in the DA

Merritt Paulson, chief executive officer at Portland, said those numbers are only going to grow, with the recent World Cup success acting as a catalyst. In an interview with MLSsoccer.com this past July, Paulson said he expected three more clubs will launch NWSL teams by 2022. And he noted that the Timbers have hosted two different MLS clubs at Thorns games this season, as they ponder starting their own NWSL teams.“We open up everything for them,” Paulson said of hosting the prospective clubs. “We show them the good, the bad and the ugly. We show them our books, our numbers. We’re uniquely successful, but we paint a realistic picture about the opportunities and challenges that other teams have faced, so we don’t want there to be any surprises. Our goal isn’t to get people in, it’s to have them be successful when they’re in.”That’s not hyperbole from Paulson, who asserted the Thorns are “the most successful professional women’s sports team in the world.” That’s partially because Portland, led by the Rose City Riveters supporters’ group, recently set an NWSL record for attendance (25,218) in an Aug. 11 match against North Carolina, the defending league champions. But it’s also because of the infrastructure on hand.The Thorns play at Providence Park, just like the Timbers, and there’s access to the same front-office staff for each club. Even Thorns head coach Mark Parsons has struck up quite the relationship with Timbers’ manager Giovanni Savarese.“I’m at the training facility and giving someone a tour a couple months ago, showing them around,” Parsons started. “[The Timbers] were in a staff meeting and I said to my guest ‘They look like they’re in a meeting, let’s make sure they don’t catch our eye. Gio will welcome us in and tell us what they’re doing for the weekend and tell us how they’re doing it.’ I know they don’t have that time.”That was a common theme as MLSsoccer.com connected with the four groups that operate both MLS and NWSL clubs, and it’s one that Orlando’s Erik Ustruck echoed. He’s director of soccer operations for Orlando City, plus general manager for the Pride.The clubs’ respective coaches are regularly in touch, Ustruck said, with Pride coach Mark Skinner forming a strong relationship with his counterpart at Orlando City, James O’Connor, before the latter’s dismissal in early October. Both teams use Exploria Stadium, just like those in Houston share BBVA Stadium and the pair in Salt Lake City share Rio Tinto Stadium.“They’re able to bounce ideas off each other and ask what works for both,” Ustruck said of the collaboration between Orlando Pride and Orlando City head coaches. “The men’s and women’s games can be completely different, but I think there are also some similarities. That relationship was a pretty easy one to establish and maintain.”

The business of women’s pro soccer

As aligned as the front-office and technical staffs often are, another theme that emerged was that the fanbases are largely distinct.Andy Carroll, chief business officer in the front office that oversees Real Salt Lake (MLS), Utah Royals (NWSL) and Real Monarchs (USL), said only about 30 percent of Utah Royals season-ticket holders are also RSL season-ticket holders.There’s some overlap, but they’ve found the clubs have entirely different groups to which they market.

“It’s been interesting because we have bifurcated our fanbase and last year we grew soccer consumption in this market 28 percent,” said Carroll, who helped build the Utah Royals on short notice in 2018 following the folding of FC Kansas City. “We gave ourselves a very short runway with it and did something that most organizations wouldn’t do, which is launching a brand new team in four months.“It’s been additive to sponsorship, gives us more games in the stadium, gives us an entire narrative of being a constant soccer conversation in Salt Lake and throughout Utah. That will drive the overall business.”Portland and Houston echoed similar figures for fan overlap, though they all agreed that more growth is needed as the NWSL enters a pivotal stage. The 2019 World Cup bump is alive and well, with Budweiser signing a multi-year sponsorship deal with the NWSL and the league reaching a short-term deal with ESPN to air games domestically and internationally through season’s end.But Paulson said a post-World Cup “lift” is needed, not just a “bounce.” That means a longer TV deal, more sponsorships, more media attention, increased attendance and more investment. The whole nine yards.“Any time you have success at the national team level, people can fall back and think it’s going to be a different trajectory, and that’s not always the case,” Paulson said. “People need to make sure that they’re continuing to build and positioning themselves for growth, not just in the several games or the remainder of the season, but the next season and the season after that.”

What the future holds

Everyone agreed there’s no silver bullet, though Brooks argues that more can be done with marketing players of all backgrounds.“You have the best player in the world in Sam Kerr playing in Chicago and she’s not a U.S. national team player, but she’s known and she’s a great player,” Brooks said. “If clubs, if the league in general think of us more as assets with great individual stories and different selling points, that’s something that could push us forward more.”From Carroll’s perspective, it comes down to serious investment across the board.“There has to be a commitment from the overall soccer community that this is the right thing to do,” Carroll said. “It’s very similar to where MLS was when RSL came on board when you hear commissioner [Don] Garber talk about where the league was. So the owners, like Dell Loy [Hansen] did with launching a team all-in across four months — you need that commitment.”Now, as the NWSL seeks to capitalize on the USWNT’s latest World Cup victory, it’s clear that MLS-backed clubs will continue to play an important role. Houston Dash and Dynamo president of business operations John Walker noted that expansion interest has never been higher.“There are direct conversations with some franchises who might be far down the line in the thought process,” Walker said. “Probably every MLS team has had an inkling or notion to jump in, but some are more ready than others.”Walker confirmed that “a couple” have gone in-depth with Houston on evaluating the idea, while Carroll said Utah has “kicked the tires” with two other clubs.“There are extreme synergies and efficiencies whether you’re an MLS team or a USL team in operating an NWSL team that an independent operator doesn’t have,” Paulson said. “It does make it easier, there’s no question about it.”

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN DEFEATS NEW YORK RED BULLS II IN USL CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFFS OPENER

By IndyEleven.com, 10/26/19, 11:15PM EDT

Defender Karl Ouimette’s First Half Finish Marks Only Goal Needed in Eleven’s Return to IUPUI Carroll Stadium

Indy Eleven leaned on its trademark stout defense in tonight’s USL Championship Playoffs opener against New York Red Bulls II, so fittingly it was a goal by defender Karl Ouimette that made the ultimate difference in a 1-0 victory in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal showdown.The victory for the #3 seed Indy Eleven in its return to IUPUI Carroll Stadium set up an away fixture in the Conference Semifinal round next weekend at #2 seed Nashville SC, which defeated Charleston Battery 3-1 this evening. The date and time for next weekend’s match is still to be announced.“It wasn’t really one guy, and that’s how it needs to be in the playoffs,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “The guys who came on did well. They replaced guys who put everything into the game. Everyone did their job and did it well. A clean sheet and goal for a defender was fun.”In a tightly played contest, it was a stroke of brilliance by Ouimette in the 27th minute that moved  the scoreboard, his sidewinding effort set up by a smooth touch by midfielder Macca King squeezing just inside the far left post past diving Red Bulls II goalkeeper Evan Louro. Indy Eleven ‘keeper Jordan Farr made two saves on the evening, none more important than his stop on Sean Nealis’ header from close range in the 88th minute.“It means a lot. It just shows the direction we are going right now,” said Ouimette. “It just shows that now we can win and we can win in important moments. Obviously, we are going to try and continue on that path. It just shows how confident we are, how good we are, and the willingness to win we have.”Both squads came out with plenty of energy, but also looked to feel out not only each other, but the Carroll Stadium turf that was foreign to the participants. The 27th minute goal was set up at midfield by defender Paddy Barrett’s pinpoint, slicing diagonal to King, whose fourth assist of the season set up Ouimette’s volley, his third goal of the season and his first using his feet in two seasons with the squad.

Windy weather would limit chances in the first half with the Ouimette’s goal acting as the most mentionable action in the first stanza. Indy created the bulk of the chances in the choppy start, outshooting Red Bulls II 3-2 by the end of the first 45 minutes.The first 10 minutes of the second half were just as difficult when it came to creating looks towards frame. As a result, both sides worked to make the most out of set pieces, a Red Bulls II corner in the 50th minute being squandered while Indy defender Ayoze saw his free kick five minutes later seeking danger but finishing over the endline.Pressure from the Boys in Blue nearly paid in the 70th minute. After a pair of enticing back-to-back corners from Indy, Kelly took a crack at a clean look on goal, but the Jamaican’s left-footed strike from just outside the box carried over the crossbar.Six minutes later, Indy midfielder Tyler Pasher nearly “cued the smoke” after a ball played in freed the Canadian inside the box. Despite his speed, NYRBII goalkeeper Evan Louro was quick off his line to deny Indy’s goal leader in 2019 an opportunity.Red Bulls II created its best chance of the match in the 88th minute, again from a corner kick. New York defender Jordan Nealis got his head on the end of a ball played to the penalty spot, but Indy ‘keeper Jordan Farr collected the effort as he looked to record his first playoff clean sheet.New York would not seriously threaten during four minutes of stoppage time, resulting in Indy Eleven walking away with a playoff win for the second time in six seasons, and its first time since November 5, 2016, also at “The Mike.”“Really happy. I think that is the overwhelming emotion. All of our fans celebrated and seeing what it means to them was really fun. It’s fun to win big games. You notice how much it means for the organization,” stated Rennie.

USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvNY

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
(#3) Indy Eleven  1 : 0  New York Red Bulls II (#6)    Saturday, October 26, 2019 – 7:30 p.m. ET       Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.    Attendance: 5,175

Scoring Summary:
IND – Karl Ouimette (Macauley King) 27’

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 (Matt Watson 76’), Tyler Pasher (Cristian Novoa 85’)

IND Substitutes: Holden Brown (GK), Nicolas Perea, Mitchell Osmond, Eugene Starikov, Ilija Ilic

New York Red Bulls II lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Evan Louro; Rece Buckmaster, Allen Yanes (Janos Loebe 50’), Sean Nealis, Jordan Scarlett; Jean-Christophe Koffi, Christopher Lema, Jared Stroud, Vincent Bezecourt (captain) (Omar Sowe 77’); Mathias Jorgensen (Sebastian Elney 72’), Tom Barlow

NY Substitutes:  Rashid Nuhu (GK), Ben Mines, Preston Kilwien, Kyle Zajec

ATP_Gen_350x250

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

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

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

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

10/24/19 Indy 11 host Playoffs @ Mike Sat, MLS Playoffs El Traffico Thur 10 pm, Carmel Girls to Semi-State Sat

MLS Playoffs – El Traffico Thur Night 10:30 pm LAFC vs LA Galaxy -Zlattan Ibra vs Carlo Vela

I have to give MLS Credit – the one and done approach for Playoffs has really been a huge hit.  The first round game – gave us 3 overtime games and tons of goals being scored as teams put everything into each game.  2 Games were 4-3 thrillers as all but one home team won their games  – which gives more meaning to the season long results. While I love the Champions League 2 game (1 home and 1 away) – I think for these playoffs – the Excitement generated and the quality of the games – gives credence to a fantastic change for MLS. Folks if you haven’t tuned in – you missed some really great games.  I watched the two 4-3 thrillers including the Dallas vs Seattle game that featured a goal by Carmel High Grad Matt Hedges and a hat trick by Sounders and US winger Jordan Morris for the win in front of a packed house at Seattle’s Century Link field.  Of course I also watched Ibra and LA become the only road team to advance when they took on newcomer Minnesota United 2-0 setting up EL TRAFFICO – PLAYOFFO !!  Tickets are going for over $350 at LAFC’s Banc of California stadium for this classic.  Of course LAFC has NEVER beaten the Galaxy – including 2 draws at home – 1 of which I was at.  I can tell you the 3252 fan section is legit – as that is where we stood for our El Traffico experience last summer.  Set the DVR or turn it on live at 10:30 pm on ESPN as the best 2 players in the League  – Zlattan Ibrahimovich for the Galaxy vs MLS MVP Carlos Vela for the BEST TEAM in MLS this season LAFC.  Video Review.  Not to leave poor Atlanta United out – the defending MLS Champions and last season’s leading scorer Josef Martinez will host the Philly Union at 8 pm on ESPN 2 at 8 pm.

Indy 11

Huge 2-1 win for our Indy 11 at Carmel FC GK Coach Jordan Farr again had a standout night in the victory with numerous great saves!  Our Indy Eleven will host a First Round Playoff Game this Saturday night vs NY Red Bulls 2 at the MIKE – Carroll Stadium at IUPUI. The return to their former home for the playoffs should make for added excitement – as the Brick Yard Battalion section has already sold out – and the more intimate stadium might well sell out as well – so get those tickets early!!  The action begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be live locally on MyINDY-TV 23.  ESPN+.  Tickets for the first Home playoff game in years remain available for as little as $15 by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100. You can watch all the USL Playoff action on ESPN+.

NWSL Ladies FINALS Sunday

The NWSL has reached the Finals of their playoffs with the game on ESPN2 on Sunday as the Defending Champs North Carolina Courage with US star Heather O’Reilly host the Chicago Red Stars with US Goalkeeper Alysa Neurer and world’s best player Sam Kerr of Australia at 4:30 pm on the Duece.

Carmel High Girls on to Semi-State

The defending State Champion Carmel High Girls defeated Lawrence North 7-0 and Avon 2-0 last weekend to advance on to Semi-State this weekend at 5 pm in Evansville where they will face Castle on Saturday.  Great to see so many former Carmel FC girls both starting and playing well.  Good luck lady Hounds!  See Story Below.

CHSGirlsSecChamps19
Defending State Champs Carmel High head on to Semi-States Saturday in Evansville.

GAMES ON TV

Thurs, Oct 24

8 pm Fox ESPN2                Atlanta United vs Philly Union – MLS East Semi

10:30 pm ESPN                  LAFC vs LA Galaxy MLS West Semi – El Traffico

Fri, Oct 25

3 pm NBCSN                                      Southampton vs Leicester City

Sat, Oct 26

7:30 am NBCSN                                Man City vs Aston Villa

9 am ESPN+                                       Juventus vs SPAL

9:30 am Fox sports2                       Schalke (Mckkiney) vs Dortmund

12:30 pm NBC              .?                 Burnley vs Chelsea 

12:30 pm FS2                                   Beyarn Leverkusen vs Werder Bremen (Sargeant)

3 pm beIN Sport                               Atletico Madrid vs Atheltic Club

7:30 pm ESPN+                       Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls II (Playoffs) 

Sun, Oct 27

7:30 am NBCSN                                Newcastle (Yedlin) vs Wolverhampton

11:30 ??                                            Arsenal vs Crystal Palace

11:30 am NBCSN               Liverpool vs Tottenham

12 noon ESPN+                                 Roma vs Milan

12:30 pm FS1                                   Borussia MGladbach (Johnson) vs Frankfurt

4;30 pm ESPN2                  North Carolina Courage vs Chicago Red Stars – NWSLadies Final

Tues, Oct 29

3:45 pm EPSN+                                 Man City vs Southampton – League Cup

4:!5pm  beIN Sport                          Real Madrid vs Leganes

7 pm Fox Sport 1               Eastern Conference Finals  (MLS Playoffs)

WEds, Oct 30

3:45 pm EPSN+                                 Man City vs Southampton – League Cup

4:!5pm  beIN Sport                          Barcelona vs Real Valladiolid

7 pm Fox Sport 1               Western Conference Finals  (MLS Playoffs)

7 pm Fox Sport 2               U-17 World Cup USA vs Japan 

Indy 11

Carmel FC GK Coach and Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr with some good Saves in last game

Indy 11 Beats Swope Park Rangers 2-1 to claim 3rd place Playoff Slot

Indy 11 to Host Post Season Game at Carroll Stadium

Which Indy 11 Team will show for Playoffs – Indy Star – Kevin Johnson

·        Road to the 2019 USL Championship Final Unveiled

League’s ninth season to conclude Sunday, November 17 in primetime on ESPN2

USL Playoffs Bracket Challenge

US Power Rankings Week 33

USL Save of the Week 33

MLS Playoffs
EL TRAFICO –EL PLAYOFFO Promo

EL TRAFFICO – The Game Everyone Wanted – eSPNFC

Tickets for MLS Cup Playoffs version of LAFC-LA Galaxy are hottest of the MLS season

Bell: New playoff format delivers insanity, drama
A lion among men: Where Zlatan ranks in DP history
— Marshall: Vela lives up to the hype of a prodigy

It had to be the Galaxy”: Bradley relishing chance to overcome LA rivals

LAFC have smashed MLS Records in Year 2 – yet to beat Galaxy Though ESPNfC

The 3 big lineup decisions facing ATL’s de Boer

Josef Martinez is your 2019 AT&T Goal of the Year winner

Bob Bradley wins 2019 Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year

Morris takes home Comeback Player of the Year award

Real Salt Lake-Sounders Preview

Galaxy beat Minnesota United 2-1, move on to face LAFC


Red Stars defeat Thorns 1-0 to reach NWSL championship

Thorns FC’s struggles continue in postseason, fall in NWSL Semifinal

Once primed for a home semifinal game, Portland Thorns FC continued to struggle and it doomed their season.

Champions League

Pulisic sets up Game Winner for Chelsea In Champions League

Lampard Hails Pulisic as Chelsea Babies Come of Age in Win – ESPNFC

– Ames: Chelsea’s young team comes of age in gritty win
– Chelsea Player Ratings: Batshuayi 8/10, Pulisic 7/10
Chelsea grab huge win late on at Ajax

Lampard proud of ‘best win’ as Chelsea manager

Sterling, Mbappe light up Champions League with hat-tricks while Spurs claim key win

Dybala double rescues Juventus against Lokomotiv Moscow
Kane, Son double up to reawaken Tottenham’s Champions League challenge

Dybala scores 2 as Juventus rallies to beat Lokomotiv 2-1

Substitute Mbappe gets hat trick, PSG routs Club Brugge 5-0

Neuer annoyed as Bayern need Lewandowski double to win at Olympiakos

– Hunter: Real shouldn’t fire Zidane, they should promote him

EPL 

Man United Hiring of Solskjaer is a Warning to Other Clubs – ESPN

– Miller: Kane becomes Tottenham’s playmaker-in-chief
– Ogden: Are Man United bold enough to go for Kane?
Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal

PGMOL explained that the incident did not represent a clear & obvious error.
Liverpool winning streak ends with draw at United

CHSGirlsSecChamps19
Defending State Champs Carmel High head on to Semi-States Saturday in Evansville.

El Trafico rivalry hits MLS playoffs: Vela vs. Zlatan is exactly what fans want

oah DavisESPN

Great rivalries are supposed to develop over time. Players come and go, fans grow old and bring their children, the games continue. Longevity is the appeal.The New York Red Bulls and D.C. United have played 95 times since 1996, with United prevailing 43 times and winning 13 Atlantic Cup titles to the Red Bulls’ 11. The Seattle Sounders-Portland Timbers rivalry dates to Seattle’s 1-0 win over their southern foes on May 2, 1975. In total, they’ve played 102 matches across 44 years and five leagues, which equates to roughly three generations of bad blood and bruising tackles.AThen there’s LA Galaxy vs. LAFC. It will have been just 572 days since the start of El Trafico when the two squads meet in the Western Conference Semifinals on Thursday at Banc of California Stadium (10:30 p.m. ET, watch live on ESPN). It took a little more than 18 months for these matchups to morph into one of MLS’ strongest, tensest and most entertaining rivalries, with this week’s game — the first with real stakes — promising to add to the rapidly developing plot. Get your tickets if you can.It’s remarkable how quickly El Trafico has become a thing, but it shouldn’t be all that surprising. Consider the squads. The Galaxy always thought of themselves as MLS’ glamour franchise. They wanted to be the U.S.’s answer to Real Madrid, an American Galacticos that could export itself internationally. This is the team of David Beckham and Hollywood, a five-time MLS Cup winner that never wavered in its ambition, even if the results on the field suffered. The team projected style and class and largesse, regardless of results.Then LAFC showed up, all black-clad and badass, bringing a downtown cool. This team was a startup that had history with the Chivas USA fanbase, only with a team and a front office that made all the right decisions. Banc of California Stadium, located just off the freeway and near public transportation, exudes confidence and embodies what MLS needs to be in 2019 and beyond. If the Galaxy wore the crown, LAFC were coming for it — and coming for it fast.The games between the two helped. In that first match, Carlos Vela scored in the fifth minute and again in the 26th while a Galaxy own goal saw LAFC jump to a 3-0 lead. The Galaxy clawed back through Sebastian Lletget, then Chris Pontius, down a goal with 15 minutes to play. Enter The Lion. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, less than 48 hours removed from landing at LAX, scored a laser from deep in the 77th minute, then won the game in stoppage time.”Since an MLS Cup, I haven’t felt that much energy,” Andrew Alesana, a capo for Galaxy supporter group the Riot Squad, said of the match.In the July rematch, LAFC again jumped to a 2-0 lead, only to watch goals from Romain Alessandrini and Ola Kamara after the 82nd minute tie the match. In August, Zlatan scored first, Vela tallied a penalty kick, and the teams tied. The Galaxy finished 2018 one point out of the playoffs, and those three matches with LAFC were the highlights.Move to 2019, and there’s a narrative that LAFC can’t beat their rivals. A 3-2 loss at Dignity Health Sports Park did nothing to change that, especially considering that Bob Bradley’s side had been the best team in the league by far up to that point. A wild 3-3 late August affair, featuring five first-half goals and a 53rd-minute equalizer from Vela, was the last match before Thursday’s meeting. Tally so far: two Galaxy wins, three draws and zero LAFC victories.hat’s fun and all, but a good rivalry needs more than exciting games to attract the casual fan. It needs characters and villains. El Trafico succeeds there, too.

It starts with the big man. Ibrahimovic talks the talk and walks the walk. He’s a physical specimen unlike any other that MLS has seen, a goal scorer nonpareil and kind of a jerk in the (mostly) most wonderful ways. There’s a real venom in his comments about LAFC, an obvious dislike that occasionally crosses the line. On the other side, there’s Vela, an elite enigma with the league’s best left foot hidden behind a grinning, aloof expression. He’s the MLS equivalent of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ — maddening, brilliant, whatever. Ibrahimovic and Vela get there in different ways, but they are equally captivating, and the rivalry benefits.As for the name, well, El Trafico is a name that’s perfect, dumb and perfectly dumb. Bob Bradley isn’t into it, and that’s fine. He’s probably not wrong. It is silly. But it’s memorable and special, too, something that stands out in a league dominated by FC this and United that. It is, like the rivalry itself, growing into something special.Seattle vs. Portland boasts the history and the passion, and the Cascadia Cup is a thing of North American soccer brilliance. The Atlantic Cup, contested between D.C. United and New York Red Bulls, has some of that same flair. Same goes for the California Clasico (LA Galaxy vs. San Jose), Hudson River Derby (NYCFC vs. New York Red Bulls), Rocky Mountain Cup (Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids) and, even now, Hell is Real between FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew SC. These all have their moments, occupying special places in the hearts and minds of an MLS club’s most rabid supporters.  But if you’re a neutral, El Trafico is perfecto.

Indiana high school soccer regional roundup: Top-ranked Carmel girls, Zionsville boys advance

Staff reportsPublished 10:40 p.m. ET Oct. 19, 2019 | Updated 12:00 p.m. ET Oct. 20, 2019

Saturday’s IHSAA soccer regional finals involving Indianapolis-area teams:

Carmel 3, Avon 0: When Kelsie James needs motivation, she looks down at her armsOn the underside of her left forearm, written in black Sharpie, the letters “FTB” are on her wrist, dedicated to the Carmel boys soccer team, which was knocked out of the sectional tournament by Zionsville last week in the semifinals.A symbol of solidarity, James says, as the top-ranked Class 3A Carmel girls continue to steamroll toward the state finals in their honor.Next to those three letters is “Mamaw,” reserved for her grandma, who passed away during her junior season a year ago. On the Carmel senior’s right arm, in all capital letters, is where her and her teammates’ hearts are focused, right now, in this moment.

HARGIS.

Mike Hargis, the father of Elizabeth Hargis, who is currently at Mercer after helping the Greyhounds win a 10th state title last year, owns that spot on the Valparaiso recruit’s arm.“Her dad has been in the hospital since August, waiting for a heart transplant,” James explained. “I’m really close with the family, so I’ve had him on my arm all season. A lot of the players have Hargis written. Our goalie has it written on her leg.”When Susie Soderstrom stole the ball in the 14thminute and fired the New Palestine regional championship’s first goal into the net on Saturday night, it was for Hargis.After the Greyhounds defeated the Orioles 3-0 for their 15th regional title in program history and 17th win this season, it was for family.“Elizabeth was really close to a lot of us, and Mike was a big part of it. He would announce during our games at home. The Hargis family is really close to all of us,” James said. “We like to keep ourselves reminded and play for him.”The Greyhounds gave everything they had in the title game, rolling toward their 12th shutout victory with Erin Baker in net and a 10-goal day after defeating Lawrence North 7-0 in the regional semifinal.“I love the game and this team especially. We’re all like sisters out there, and it’s an amazing feeling to keep winning with them,” James said. “Our motivation is that we’re all so close, and we don’t want our season to end. We want to keep playing together. We don’t want to go back to club season and all go to different teams. We want to keep driving and working hard, so we can stay together.”For one more game, they will be and if tradition holds true, they will be for two more and possibly the program’s first back-to-back state title runs since winning five straight from 2000-2004.“We’re always trying to win a state championship. That’s my expectation. That’s their expectation,” Carmel head coach Frank Dixon said. “But sometimes, it’s bad. We’ve had a great year. We haven’t lost a game, and if we would lose one of these next two, then we feel like we didn’t have a great year, and they shouldn’t feel that way, but that’s the way they will take it, if they can’t run it all the way through.”At 17-0-3 so far, the Greyhounds have never tasted defeat, and with their motto of “Back For More,” they don’t intend to this October.James made sure of it with an assist to Emma Antoine for the Greyhounds’ insurance goal with 23:21 left in the second half. She later added the team’s 54th goal this season (vs. only six allowed) in the 62nd minute off a free kick to make it 3-0.“Last year’s state championship really helped us prove to ourselves that we can get through our sectional and we can push all the way,” James said. “That drove us this year.”Along with Hargis.Friends with the Hargis’ since she was 6, James calls Elizabeth and her brother Charles, family. Much like both boys and girls program’s themselves. It’s more than a game. It’s tradition.“FTB means, for the boys because our boys lost in sectional. Both soccer teams support each other a lot. We come to each other’s games,” James said. “Every win is for (Hargis) and our family.” — Rich Torres

 

Tickets for MLS Cup Playoffs version of LAFC-LA Galaxy are hottest of the MLS season

October 23, 20196:22PM EDTAlex DwyerContributor

LOS ANGELES – For Thursday’s version of El Trafico (10:30 pm ET | ESPN in US; TVAS, TSN4 in Canada) in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, the media credential requests have already exceeded 300, according to a club source.That’s a staggering number in and of itself, but what about ticket prices for the Western Conference Semifinal clash between LAFC and the LA Galaxy? Tom Penn, president and co-owner of LAFC, has seen how high those figures are.“It’s not unlike our last El Trafico, where the demand for tickets is just super high,” Penn told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. Exactly how high are we talking?

LAFC vs. LA Galaxy

Thursday, October 24 at 10:30pmBanc of California StadiumGET TICKETS

According to SeatGeek, the league’s official ticketing partner, as of Wednesday evening the lowest-priced ticket was just under $160, with the highest one listed at just over $750. The average resale price for the game is $307. Those numbers easily make it the hottest game of the MLS season, with the next being the regular-season matchup between these L.A. rivals in late August (average resale price of $214). In fact, SeatGeek indicated that the last matches to garner a higher average resale price were the 2017 MLS Cup final between Toronto and Seattle (average resale price of $336) and the 2018 MLS Cup final between Atlanta and Portland (average resale price of $308).But even before LAFC knew they’d be facing their rivals from down the 110 Freeway, most tickets had already been purchased.“The vast majority of our tickets were already sold prior to the playoffs beginning, because such a high percentage of members took all their seats [for the postseason],” said Penn. “Like any other first-rate event in LA, it really rewards the people who are season-ticket holders because the members of LAFC have those tickets at a deep discount for what the market says the value is, which is great.”With the limited inventory left, LAFC have accommodated an estimated 300 visiting Galaxy supporters for the marquee matchup that again pits MVP finalists Carlos Vela against Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The game comes days after the 2019 NBA season opened with the Clippers beating the Lakers, 112-102, bringing together stars like LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard at the Staples Center. Tickets for that marquee matchup hovered at or below the asking price for the postseason El Trafíco.That also doesn’t surprise Penn, who worked extensively in the front office of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. “I went to that game last night,” Penn said of the Clippers-Lakers meeting. “Our event is more exciting and better.”For both regional and national attention – not to mention the global eyeballs that Vela and Ibrahimovic bring to the table – it’s shaping up to be a memorable LA night. And odds are as the game nears, ticket prices will continue to climb.“It was really surprising to us, the last [match against the Galaxy], how high the value was [on the secondary market],” said Penn. “It’s a real good sign for the health of MLS here.”

Frank Lampard hails Christian Pulisic as Chelsea’s ‘babies’ come of age

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic was left out of the squad entirely when they beat Lille in the Champions League earlier this month, but the 21-year-old’s career sprang to life against Ajax Amsterdam on Wednesday.

The forward joined Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund for a fee of around €64 million in the close season to become the most expensive American player in history but has struggled for minutes, making only three Premier League starts. Pulisic gave manager Frank Lampard a timely reminder of his talent by setting up fellow substitute Michy Batshuayi to score the winner in Chelsea’s 1-0 triumph over last year’s semifinalists Ajax at the Johan Cruijff Arena.

– Ames: Chelsea’s young team comes of age in gritty win
– Chelsea Player Ratings: Batshuayi 8/10, Pulisic 7/10
– Pulisic Watch: How U.S. star is doing at Chelsea, game by game

– Who will qualify from the UCL group stage?

“Sometimes the toughest part of management is leaving out players that really want to play week-in, week-out. You rely on them being positive and coming on to make an impact,” Lampard told reporters.”You have to give Christian huge credit because he looked so lively and the assist is just as important as the finish.”Pulisic had admitted to being frustrated by limited playing time, with the media speculating that he could leave Chelsea on loan during the January transfer window.”I’ve tried to shut my ears to a lot of the outside talk … I understand his quality, his young age and the fact that it’s a big move for him,” Lampard said.”He wants to know what I want from him, what the Premier League is like and that’s not always an easy ride but we’ve stayed calm and kept looking at the big picture.”Lampard said the result, which left Chelsea with six points after three games in Group H, had set the benchmark for his youthful side.”It feels huge. That always scares me because there’s a lot to do and it’s just six points halfway through the group now, but we’re entitled to be excited,” he said.”It can be a bit of a blueprint for us in terms of the work from the midfield players which was outstanding … but there’s no excuses for us now to dip from that.”The younger players are still babies in Champions League minutes so this was a huge test … but the balance of our team between young players … and experienced players who they rely on to set examples was good.”

Who will qualify from the Champions League group stage?

6:21 PM ET  Dale JohnsonGeneral Editor, ESPN FC

The Champions League group stage has reached the halfway stage, 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.

GROUP A

Paris Saint-Germain have won all three game and will be through if they avoid defeat at home to Club Brugge — who they beat 5-0 in Belgium — at the Parc des Princes on Nov. 6. They would also be through with a loss if Real Madrid vs. Galatasaray is a draw.

Real Madrid have had a poor campaign so far, and only got their first win away to Galatasaray on Matchday 3. They only have a two-point advantage in second, but victory at home to Galatasaray next time out, coupled with defeat for Brugge in France, would almost have them over the line.

– Hunter: Sack Zidane? Madrid should promote him

Club Brugge and Galatasaray, who will be eliminated if they lose at the Bernabeu, are most likely to be battling it out for a place in the Europa League, unless either can pull off a shock on Matchday 4.

ESPN FC’s Julien Laurens revels in Kylian Mbappe’s performance off the bench in PSG’s 5-0 win vs. Club Brugge.

GROUP B

Like PSG, Bayern Munich have dominated their group, having won all three matches, and a draw at home to Olympiakos in the next fixture will qualify them.

Tottenham Hotspur go into Matchday 4 in second place but with much work to do, one point ahead of Red Star Belgrade. They next travel to Red Star, who they beat 5-0 at home, and victory, together with a win for Bayern over Olympiakos, would give them a four-point advantage. A win at home to Olympiakos on Matchday 5 would then see them through. But fail to win in Serbia and the group remains wide open, especially as Spurs finish their group campaign away to Bayern.

Red Star Belgrade still have two home games left, with Spurs and Bayern to visit, so cannot be ruled out, but Olympiakos look an outside bet as they must visit Germany and England in their next two games and only have one point.

Steve Nicol says Tottenham’s win vs. Red Star will have Mauricio Pochettino rethinking his plan for Liverpool.

GROUP C

Manchester City have a 100% record and are all but assured of progressing. Victory away to Atalanta in their next game will complete the job.

Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk both have four points, and much will depend on the meeting of the two sides in Croatia on Nov. 6 — especially as the winners would go clear and hold the head to head between the sides. A draw would probably leave qualification down to how the teams perform against Atalanta, with Shakhtar having a home fixture against the Serie A side.

Atalanta have lost all three matches and will be eliminated if they lose at home to Man City and there is a winner between Dinamo and Shakhtar. If Atalanta can shock City, or if Dinamo and Shakhtar draw again, there is the outside chance of a late challenge for second place.

GROUP D

Juventus and Atletico Madrid top the group on seven points, having drawn with each other and beaten both group rivals.

Juve will be through with a win over Lokomotiv Moscow on Matchday 4, while Atletico can advance with a victory at Bayer Leverkusen as long as Juve win too.

Lokomotiv have four points to make up on the top two and may need to take something from their home game against Juve to stay in contention, and realistically need to win with a trip to Atletico on the final matchday.

Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen have yet to record a point and will be eliminated with defeat at home to Atleti. It is more likely to be a battle for a Europa League place with Lokomotiv, and Leverkusen to visit Moscow on Matchday 5.

GROUP E

Napoli lead the group on seven points, and will qualify with a win at home to FC Salzburg on Nov. 5 as long as Genk do not win at Anfield.

– Reddy: Oxlade, Keita provide options in midfield

Liverpool are second, a point further back, and will also move to the brink of qualification if they beat Genk but they cannot get over the line.

FC Salzburg have been one of the success stories of the competition this season, but still look unlikely to emerge from the group. Should Salzburg lose at Napoli, and Liverpool win against Genk, the Austrians would need to win their two remaining games, and Liverpool lose both, to go through.

Bottom club Genk have only one point and will be out if they lose at Liverpool and Napoli avoid defeat.

GROUP F

Barcelona sit top of the table, three points ahead of Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund.

Barca cannot seal their place in the knockout stages when they host Slavia Prague on Nov. 5, but victory will leave them needing just a point to be absolutely certain.Inter are looking good after winning at home to Borussia Dortmund, and they know that a victory in Germany next time will put them in a very strong position. Dortmund’s chances may rest on winning at home to Inter, as a draw would leave them behind the Serie A side on the head-to-head rule going into the final two games. Dortmund still must go to Barcelona, while Inter will host the Spaniards.

Slavia Prague sit on one point and will be all but eliminated should they lose and there is a winner between Dortmund and Inter.

GROUP G

RB Leipzig hold top spot in what is a very tight group, with three points separating the four teams. Victory for Leipzig at Zenit Saint Petersburg on Nov. 5 would move them to the brink of a place in the round of 16. If Zenit win that game, however, and the group will remaining wide open — especially if there’s a victor in the other match between Lyon and Benfica to truncate the picture even further.

Realistically, Benfica may be out of contention if they lose in Lyon on Matchday 4.

GROUP H

Ajax and Chelsea share top spot in the group on six points, with the two teams meeting next at Stamford Bridge on Nov. 5. If Chelsea can get the home win, they will almost be over the line due to their superior head to head with Ajax and would need a point at Valencia on Matchday 5 to qualify.

– Ames: Chelsea’s young team comes of age

A win in London for Ajax would be almost as decisive and, as long as Valencia do not win at home to Lille, a point in France on Nov. 27 would put them through.

10/22/19 Indy 11 host Playoffs @ Mike Sat, MLS Playoffs Wed/Thur, Champ League Tues/Wed, Carmel Girls to Semi-State

Champions League


Criticism ‘bothers me’ says Zidane ahead of crunch Galatasaray game

Mbappe set for bit-part Champions League role against Club Brugge

Guardiola slams Man City finishing in Champions League

Ronaldo happy with ‘more attacking’ Juventus

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo gave coach Maurizio Sarri a vote of confidence on Monday when he said he was happy with the “more attacking” approach the club had adopted since Sarri came on board in the summer. “I think the team is getting better,” said Ronaldo on the eve of

Tottenham faced with fresh Champions League rescue mission

Tottenham’s miserable start to the season shows little sign of improving quickly, but prior to Red Star Belgrade’s visit on Tuesday, Spurs can take some solace from the fact they are in a better position in the Champions League than they were 12 months ago. Defeats to Inter Milan and Barcelona

MLS Playoffs
Real Salt Lake-Sounders Preview

Toronto FC-New York City FC Preview

After working all season to claim home-field advantage, New York City FC must deal with a late switch in venues Wednesday night when it hosts Toronto FC at Citi Field in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Bronx Blues (18-6-10) play their games at Yankee Stadium, but the rainout before Game 4 of

Galaxy beat Minnesota United 2-1, move on to face LAFC

The latest edition of ”El Trafico” will take place in the MLS playoffs, with the pair of powerhouse Los Angeles teams set to stage their biggest matchup yet. Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos scored four minutes apart midway through the second half, leading the Los Angeles

Red Stars defeat Thorns 1-0 to reach NWSL championship

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP) — Sam Kerr scored in the ninth minute and the Chicago Red Stars advanced to the National Women’s Soccer League championship match with a 1-0 victory over the Portland Thorns on Sunday.
Thorns FC’s struggles continue in postseason, fall in NWSL Semifinal

Once primed for a home semifinal game, Portland Thorns FC continued to struggle and it doomed their season.

EPL 

Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal

PGMOL explained that the incident did not represent a clear & obvious error.
Liverpool winning streak ends with draw at United

SHOWS: MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UK (OCTOBER 20, 2019) (REUTERS – ACCESS ALL) 1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LIVERPOOL MANAGER, JUERGEN KLOPP, SAYING: “And for us, (Manchester) United is obviously a place – there are worse things than getting a point here,

GAMES ON TV

Tues, Oct 22

1 pm TNT                                         Atheltico Madrid vs Bayer Leverkusen

3 pm TNT                                         Man City vs Atalanta

3 pm                                                  Club Brugge vs PSG

3 pm TUDN                                     Tottenham vs Crvena

3 pm TNT                                         Galastary vs Real Madrid

Wed, Oct 23

1 pm TNT                                         Ajax vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

1 pn Galavsion                              RB Leipzig vs Zenit

3 pm TNT                                         Inter vs Borussian Dortmund

3 pm fubotv                                   Genk vs Liverpool

3 pm                                       Salzburg (US Coach) vs Napoli

3 pm TUDN                           Slavia Praha vs Barcelona

7 pm Fox Sport 1               NYCFC vs Toronto MLS East Semi

10 pm Fox Sport 1             Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake West Semi

Thurs, Oct 24

8 pm Fox Sport 1               Atlanta United vs Philly Union – MLS East Semi

10:30 pm ESPN                  LAFC vs LA Galaxy MLS West Semi – El Traffico

Fri, Oct 25

3 pm NBCSN                                      Southampton vs Leicester City

Sat, Oct 26

7:30 am NBCSN                                Man City vs Aston Villa

9 am ESPN+                                       Juventus vs SPAL

9:30 am Fox sports2                       Schalke (Mckkiney) vs Dortmund

12:30 pm NBC              .?                 Burnley vs Chelsea  

12:30 pm FS2                                   Beyarn Leverkusen vs Werder Bremen (Sargeant)

3 pm beIN Sport                               Atletico Madrid vs Atheltic Club

7:30 pm TV 23                                  Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls (Playoffs) at the Mike !  

Sun, Oct 27

7:30 am NBCSN                                Newcastle (Yedlin) vs Wolverhampton

11:30 ??                                            Arsenal vs Crystal Palace

11:30 am NBCSN               Liverpool vs Tottenham

12 noon ESPN+                                 Roma vs Milan

12:30 pm FS1                                   Borussia MGladbach (Johnson) vs Frankfurt

4;30 pm ESPN2                  North Carolina Courage vs Chicago Red Stars – NWSLadies Final

8:30 pm ESPN                    ??  (MLS Playoffs)  

Tues, Oct 29

3:45 pm EPSN+                                 Man City vs Southampton – League Cup

4:!5pm  beIN Sport                          Real Madrid vs Leganes

7 pm Fox Sport 1               Eastern Conference Finals  (MLS Playoffs)

WEds, Oct 30

3:45 pm EPSN+                                 Man City vs Southampton – League Cup

4:!5pm  beIN Sport                          Barcelona vs Real Valladiolid

7 pm Fox Sport 1               Western Conference Finals  (MLS Playoffs)

7 pm Fox Sport 2               U-17 World Cup USA vs Japan  

10/18/19  MLS Playoffs Start Sat, Indy 11 to host Playoff Game next Sat at the MIKE, US Men lose to Canada, Carmel High Girls on to Regionals

Indy 11

Huge 2-1 win for our Indy 11 at Carmel FC GK Coach Jordan Farr again had a standout night in the victory with numerous great saves!  Dane scored the winner late as the 11 secured their 3rd place finish in USL Championship division.  Our Indy Eleven will host a First Round Playoff Game next Saturday night at the MIKE – Carroll Stadium. The action begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be live locally on MyINDY-TV 23.  ESPN+.  Tickets for the first Home playoff game in years remain available for as little as $15 by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

MLS Playoffs Start this Saturday

So its MLS Playoff time – and for the life of me I can’t understand how all the games are not on network TV? Wow we just aren’t there yet are we?  The games are on ESPN+ if not one of the big games on TV.  – the first round playoff games are 1 game affairs at the home of the higher ranked team – so positioning really matters.  Lose 1 and you are going home.  So the LA Galaxy last home loss sends them to expansion side Minnesota United for their first round game!  Other intriguing matchups include Philly hosting NY Red Bulls and Seattle traveling to FC Dallas and Carmel Alum Matt Hedges.

NWSL Ladies Semi-FINALS Sunday

The NWSL has reached the Semi-Finals of their playoffs with both games on ESPN2 on Sunday as the North Carolina Courage host Reign FC at 2 pm while the Chicago Red Stars host the Portland Thorns at 4 pm also on the Duece.

US Loses to Canada

Canada 2- USA 0 – that’s not a typo folks.  Yes the US Men’s National Team lost 2-0 in Toronto in a Nations League game in Toronto.  The first lost to Canada by the US Men since 1985 – yes 1985 – the year  I graduated for high school.  Canada deserved the win and quite honestly could have won by more as they were definitively the better team.  On a night when America’s shining light Christian Pulisic pulled a disappearing act so bad he was pulled in the 60th minute in a game where he didn’t complete 10 passes. Its only a Nations League game – but honestly this rivals the loss to Trinidad and Tobago 2 years ago that knocked us out of the World Cup?  Analyst Taylor Twellman was not wrong when he said after the game – the US has some serious questions to answer.  After some moments and games where it looked like Berhalter ball was beginning to take a shape – tonight EVERYTHING fell apart?  Yedlin was horrible at right back and partially responsible for the first goal as he simply didn’t care to defend the back post on a well crossed ball.  Not sure he should be on the field for the US again anytime soon.  But it wasn’t just Yedlin – the entire team was horrific save perhaps Center Back Aaron Long.  Sloppy balls, poor passing, almost no 50/50 wins and it looked like they really didn’t want to be there – much less playing a soccer game vs a Canadian team playing for their lives.  Yes Canada looked good – but this was more about the US looking like it had no clue – and didn’t much care to play on this night.  No fight – no leadership, no one seemed to care. I am not sure if Berhalter has ALREADY LOST THIS TEAM – or they just weren’t mentally ready to play – but its not a good sign for a US team  – which at this point – might have a hard time qualifying for the next World Cup – AGAIN!  Oh the US did beat Cuba 7-0 on Friday night – making one wonder why National League in CONCACAF even exists – I am pretty sure our U15 boys team could have challenged this Cuba team.  The US returns to play in mid-November – Berhalter best get his team together by then – losing to Concacaf teams not named Mexico or Costa Rica is simply not acceptable !!

Carmel High Girls on to Regionals

The defending State Champions defeated Guerin High at home last weekend 2-0 to advance on to the Regional this weekend at New Palistine on Saturday.  Good luck lady Hounds!

 

Canada played with emotion and we failed to match it, say humbled US national team

October 16, 20191:10PM EDT

James GrossiContributor

TORONTO – It’s never fun to be on the wrong side of history.The US men’s national team lost a tough one on Tuesday night in Toronto, falling 2-0 to Canada in Concacaf Nations League action, a result that sees the Canadians remain top of Group A ahead of November’s final round and marks their first defeat to their northern neighbors in 34 years.“The first thing that stands out to me was desire, the desire of Canada,” said USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter post-match. “Give them credit, but the minimum we expect is to match that. We need to compete on every single play in games like this.”Matching that aspect of a contest is the baseline.“It’s very disappointing,” said Christian Pulisic. “It’s one thing that we can control.”Added Berhalter: “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. Sloppiness with the ball, too many miscontrolled touches, too many missed passes. Too many things we normally make that we weren’t making tonight.”As the first match played outside of the US under Berhalter, the trip to BMO Field was a new experience for the group.”I wouldn’t make a statement about the program based on this game,” he said. “The reason why is that these games are difficult. It was never going to be easy and come here and win the game. There was no way. When you look at their team, when at their quality, when you look at where they are right now, it wasn’t going to be an easy game. We have to accept that. I think all of us have to accept that.”We wanted to win the game, and hopefully we’re going to keep improving and hopefully we’re going to start winning games on the road, but tonight wasn’t the night to do it.”While the US had their chances – most notably Pulisic when Jordan Morris squared to his wide-open teammate deep in the hosts’ penalty box in the second half – from basically the opening whistle the balance gradually tipped in Canada’s favor.“[Canada] put a lot into that game, treated it like it was a cup final,” said Michael Bradley. “They stepped up harder, reacted quicker to every loose ball. In all the little ways in a game like that, they were on top of things. We can talk about tactics, this, that, the other. On a night like tonight, over the course of 90 minutes you have one team that, play by play, minute by minute, manages to gain the upper hand and has a better grip because of what they put into it.Absolute SCENES at the full-time whistle!!This was for you, Canada. “We’re disappointed with ourselves,” he concluded. “That we couldn’t do more in terms of better reactions, stepping up harder, coming away with little plays in different parts of the field that make a bigger difference.”hat frustration was most visible when Pulisic was removed in the 60th minute, replaced by Paul Arriola.“He was struggling with flu-like symptoms, light fever for the last two days,” explained Berhalter of his decision. “He wanted to continue, you could see the disappointment in his face. We wanted to inject some energy into the team.”Pulisic admitted to being troubled in recent days, but said he was “fine” and thought, as his reaction indicated, that he had more in the tank.“I still felt like I could help my team,” he said. “No one wants to come out of the game, so I was just frustrated a little bit.”That it was such a physical contest, much more so than the five yellow cards indicated, sets up the November rematch in Orlando, Florida nicely. Berhalter said he’d expected it would be. Who’s moving up and who’s moving down?“Desire leads to physical games, leads to them competing on every single play,” he said. “When you saw the emotion that they played with, guys like [Samuel] Piette, [Steven] Vitoria in the back, these guys were playing with emotion and we didn’t match that.

“It carried them into being physical on every play, sometimes on the borderline of being a little bit dirty, but that’s soccer. That’s how the game is played sometimes,” he added. “We have to come to terms with that side of the game.”The US have two games left in the Nations League next month, first the return fixture against Canada and then an away match against Cuba in the Cayman Islands. To take top spot and move on to the knockout stage of the competition, they will need to win both and score some goals to overcome Canada’s plus-9 goal differential. Until then, they must ruminate on this result and regroup.“We’re going to lose games, we’re going to win games,” summed up Pulisic. “It’s a tough one tonight, but we’re going to be alright. We’re going to move forward.”

Why Sergino Dest should represent Netherlands instead of the U.S.

Oct 10, 2019  Simon KuperESPN.com writer

Oct. 2 was quite a day for Sergino Dest. First, Ajax’s 18-year-old Dutch-American right-back was unexpectedly missing from the U.S. men’s roster announced for the upcoming games against Cuba and Canada. These are competitive matches, in the CONCACAF Nations League, so if Dest had played, he would have been bound to the USMNT rather than the Netherlands for his career. That evening, he played all 90 minutes in Ajax’s 0-3 triumph at Valencia in the Champions League. After the game, he appeared on Dutch TV.Dutch fans hoped he would announce that he had decided to play for their national team. Instead, he said he hadn’t chosen either country yet. “I still need to think longer about both options … It is a decision I have to make for the rest of my life and I want to handle that carefully.”He said he hoped to have a decision by next month. Gregg Berhalter, the U.S. coach, who had previously found Dest “enthusiastic” about playing for the USMNT, now sounded guarded. “I’ve had conversations with Sergino. The conversations were positive, and the content of these conversations is going to remain private,” Berhalter told the Washington Post.The cautious conclusion must be that the Netherlands are favorites to win this race. Certainly, they would be the rational choice for Dest. And though it’s far too early to tell, he may prove a prize worth having for the next 15 years.Dest was born and raised in Almere, a working-class town just outside Amsterdam, with a Dutch mother and a Surinamese-American father from Brooklyn. The first time he set foot in the U.S., on a visit to his dad’s hometown, was in 2014. “At home in Almere we just spoke Dutch,” Dest told the Ajax website. “In fact, a couple of years ago my English was still very mediocre. And I wasn’t thinking about my American roots [until] I started to play in U.S. youth teams. From then on my English improved, and I kept feeling more American. I realised: hey, this is my nationality too. And the U.S. passport is one of the most beautiful in the world.”

Dest had arrived at Ajax from Almere City as a child winger in 2012, and gradually transformed into an attacking right-back. Other Dutch boys’ teams enduring the ritual humiliation at Ajax’s youth complex, De Toekomst in those days, recall him flashing down the touchline, while his teammates queued in the box shouting “Serra,” each begging Dest to grant them the final touch. After every cross, Dest would trot tirelessly back to position and resume his tackling, dribbles and “pannas” (Dutch-Surinamese slang for nutmegs). He was the Everywhere Back, sometimes popping up at center-forward, but for all his activity he made few mistakes, despite being a year younger than his teammates.Yet the Dutch federation didn’t pick Dest for its national youth teams. “I never got a chance,” he says. The U.S. Soccer Federation pounced after Dutchman Dave van den Bergh, then one of the federation’s youth coaches, heard from Ajax about the boy’s American passport. Dest represented the U.S. in the Under-17 World Cup in 2017 (Ajax didn’t wanted him to go) and excelled in the team’s run to the quarterfinals of this summer’s Under-20 World Cup.For a long time, Ajax seemed ambivalent about Dest, possibly because although he’s dedicated, he was also rather headstrong. Even last fall, when he was already 18, he looked headed for the exit in Amsterdam. Only in December did Ajax finally come through with a professional contract.This summer, his career took off. After the Under-20 World Cup, Ajax head coach, Erik ten Hag, requested that Dest be given just 10 days holiday. Ten Hag had plans for him. Dest made his first-team debut in late July, and since then has become a regular, usually as a starter.

You can see why, because he is the full-back that a high-pressing modern side needs. Ten Hag says, “A back at Ajax has to be able to function as a midfielder and winger, too. It’s a very dynamic role. We want to introduce a lot of variation into our game, to surprise opponents.”That’s Dest’s way. He told Amsterdam’s Het Parool newspaper, “I think of myself [as someone who has] a good technique. I don’t get frightened when I get the ball — also not when under pressure, or on the opponents’ half.”His high-risk game gives Ajax an attacking threat from right-back that they lacked even in their extraordinary last season. “Maybe in the past, when I first got into a higher team, I’d take it easy,” Dest says. “But I’ve stopped doing that. Now I show at once what I can do.”In Ajax’s opening Champions League game in September, a 3-0 win over Lille, he produced a roulette through two opponents from the full-back position — a showboating move that Ten Hag may not have enjoyed as much as the fans did. Dest also has the good fortune that his partner on Ajax’s right wing is Hakim Ziyech, a world-class player whose continued presence in the humble Dutch league is a mystery.Dest’s main shortcoming, for now, is that for a defender, he isn’t great at defending. Being the speediest member of Ajax’s back four, he’s essential in snuffing out counter attacks, but he sometimes gets caught out of position. (Ajax’s opening two clean sheets in the Champions League are above all down to keeper Andre Onana, surely headed for a giant club next summer.) Ajax demands that players “defend forward,” that is, charge into challenges to try to win the ball back fast rather than sit back and cover space. Dest has yet to master this difficult art.The consensus in the Netherlands is that he isn’t ready for Oranje. Still, the Dutch federation knows it has to act fast. In September, Berhalter gave him his debut for the USMNT, starting him against Mexico and Uruguay. But these were non-binding friendly games; Dest retains the option to switch to the Netherlands. The Dutch would like to give him a full cap in a competitive match to claim him for life, then let him mature in the under-21s side.The Dutch federation still laments missing out on Ziyech, who trained with Oranje in 2015 before choosing Morocco. It’s determined not to make that mistake again. It is focused on recruiting Dest and the possibly even more talented 17-year-old Dutch-Moroccan Mohamed Ihattaren, PSV Eindhoven’s playmaker who is tearing up the Dutch league.Like the U.S., the Netherlands is short a top-class right-back: PSV’s Denzel Dumfries, who has been filling the role with Oranje, lacks the technique for international level. Netherlands’ coach, Ronald Koeman, and the Dutch FA’s director of “topvoetbal,” Nico-Jan Hoogma, sat down with Dest in September. Hoogma reported afterwards: “You can’t promise someone a first-team place, but you can indicate who their rivals are. Based on our story, Dest has to make a decision.”Koeman said, “I’m not promising anyone anything, but I indicated to him that I see a future for him with the Dutch team. He decided to take his time. That he hasn’t travelled to the U.S. now shows that the issue isn’t decided for him.”The Dutch have a good story to tell. Since the U.S. returned to World Cups, in 1990, the Americans have progressed further than Oranje at a tournament only once, in 2002. (Of course, both countries failed to qualify for 2018 in Russia.) Moreover, if Dest chooses the Netherlands, he won’t have to spend his career making disruptive exhausting trips to play second-rate national teams from the CONCACAF region.On the other hand, Dest has an emotional attachment to the U.S., and the USSF was good to him at youth level when the Dutch FA ignored him. The Americans have a chance. But as battles for binationals become the norm in international soccer, the Dest case ought to be a prompt for the U.S. to ask itself: Why does the tiny fraction of American passport-holders raised in western Europe still produce such a disproportionate share of this giant country’s best players?Meanwhile, in a joint interview on the Ajax website with the U.S.-Mexican Alex Mendez, who plays for Ajax’s reserves, the conflicted Dest turned to Mendez and asked: “What would you do if you were in my shoes?”These decisions are always in part matters of the heart, but the betting must be that Dest chooses Oranje.

Wiebe: Why your team will (or will not) win MLS Cup in 2019

October 17, 20196:07PM EDT

Andrew WiebeSenior Host & Producer

Back in 2017 and 2018, I wrote this column ahead of opening weekend of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Here’s what I had to say about the eventual champions from the past two seasons, edited for brevity…

From 2017…

Toronto FC will win MLS Cup because the best players in the league refuse to be denied this time around. The roster that took them to the brink of an MLS Cup triumph is even better this time around, and lifts the treble (Canadian Championship, Supporters’ Shield, MLS Cup).

And now 2018…

Atlanta United will win MLS Cup because nobody can slow down Tata’s Four Horsemen. The Five Stripes wreck opposing defenses on the counter as King Peach pulverizes the league’s top attacks, building on their fourth-best MLS defense from 2017 with the help of a TAM d-mid picked up during the summer.

In summation: NAILED IT, I AM ALL-SEEING

Just ignore the cases I made for all those other, not-championship teams. That stuff absolutely could have happened! The TFC treble absolutely did! And you can’t deny the existence of Almiron and Martinez’s insane partnership (the only two horsemen who matter) and that TAM d-mid did arrive in the summer (Eric Remedi) just as I predicted.

Now that you know I mean business, let’s get down to staring into the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs crystal ball ahead of Saturday and Sunday’s Round One matches. We’re going in alphabetical order so you can’t claim I’m biased in any way.

Atlanta United will win MLS Cup because

… they have the most ruthless, single-minded, voracious goalscorer in MLS. Yes, in a league that boasts Carlos Vela and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, that’s still Josef Martinez. Plus, Darlington Nagbe is capable (yes, I know it’s not an every-game occurrence) of taking over games singlehandedly, and Brad Guzan is more than capable of erasing any defensive mistakes, which is important because…

Miles Robinson is likely to be out until at least MLS Cup with a hamstring injury suffered with the USMNT. That, more than any other, is reason to believe the Five Stripes won’t repeat.

D.C. United will win MLS Cup because

… they strangle the life out of teams defensively – oh my Gawwwwwd, is that Bill Hamid’s music? – and get some breaks. Emotionally, I wanted to predict the return of LuchoRoo. Logically, I just can’t do it. That era is dead, but they’ve got five straight shutouts, harkening back to a different era with a catchy name! The first break came when Jozy Altidore stepped on a defender’s leg and did his quad. Greg Vanney says he won’t be 100 percent for Saturday. Second break, NYCFC won’t play at their usual home, should D.C. get that far.

Why won’t they win it? They can’t score. Fewest goals scored in the playoff field, fourth lowest total (42) in the entire league. Gotta score to win, or just throw up scoreless draws and bang the ball home from the spot, I guess.

FC Dallas will win MLS Cup because

… the Cobra goes absolutely crazy. Zdenek Ondrasek went from a big, fat TAM goose egg from March through August to unstoppable (in MLS and on the international level) from August onward. That, and Paxton Pomykal plays like March and April Paxton Pomykal instead of the beat up Pomykal we’ve seen the past two months. This long break to rest up ought to help.

But they’re not going to win – zero offense intended – because they’d have to go 4-for-4 on the road, where Luchi Gonzalez’s team is 3-11-3 in 2019. Never. Gonna. Happen. I will go ahead and Baerantee it.

LAFC will win MLS Cup because

… they’re the best team in the league. They have the best player in the league. They only have to win three games, all at Banc of California Stadium, to get it done. Pretty simple math here.

If you were watching Canada’s big win on Tuesday night, you know there’s now an unknown variable introduced to LAFC’s previously straightforward MLS Cup equation. Mark-Anthony Kaye’s hammy. First Robinson, then Kaye? It’s a cruel world we live in. Lee Nguyen is more than capable, but he’s a different sort of player. Will it matter? We’ll find out. Heal up, MAK.

LA Galaxy will win MLS Cup because

… Zlatan thrives on big moments, and that Galaxy backline doesn’t have to keep teams off the board for 180 minutes thanks to the new playoff format. LA are a flawed team, but anything can happen in a single game. The draw was kind, too. Minnesota have never been here before. LAFC can’t seem to get over the rivalry hump. The other side of the West bracket is sort of meh.

They won’t win because this is a team that lost to Vancouver and Houston to finish the regular season. Flawed might be a kind word for the Galaxy. Probably is, actually. They’re sorta … bad. Like, third most losses in MLS (14) behind FC Cincinnati and Houston since the start of May bad.

Minnesota United will win MLS Cup because

… they’ve got a championship spine and one of the strikers gets hot. Vito MannoneIke OparaOzzie AlonsoDarwin Quintero (I’m counting the good Darwin) and … I’m gonna say Mason Toye is the guy who goes on a heater. Ike vs. Zlatan is must-watch stuff. That’s the sort of matchup that might just quiet the big man. Plus, they’re the only team in the league to win at LAFC this year. Gimme all the Adrian Heath “You never believed in us!” shade and a lemonade to sip on while I sit in it.

Why won’t they win it? Because this is their first time in these waters. I feel like a gut punch is coming after all the good vibes. Also, the comment section said it better than I ever could: Minnesota won’t win the Cup, not because it’s our first time on this stage, but because we are a Minnesota team.

New England Revolution will win MLS Cup because

… they have arguably the three best players on the field, no matter the opponent. Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou are that good. The third? Matt Turner. Goalkeepers on a heater are going to play a big part in this new postseason format. Like D.C., the Revs got a big break when Robinson got hurt over the international break. They’ve also got the only manager in the playoffs with multiple MLS Cup wins.

But Bruce Arena will probably have to wait at least another year for his sixth ring because New England, like FC Dallas, would have to win four straight on the road. They don’t lose much on the road, but they don’t win much either. Bad odds there, less than one percent according to 538.

NYCFC will win MLS Cup because

… they’re arguably the most balanced team in MLS. Goalkeeper? Sean Johnson got my vote for Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year. Backline? Not a weak link. Midfield? Maxi Moralez (4th in my internal MVP vote), Alex Ring and whoever Dome Torrent figures is best for the moment. Goalscoring? Three players in double digits, and a potential hatty off the bench in Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.

Home-field advantage (11-1-5 at Yankee Stadium in 2019) is the other reason they’ll win MLS Cup, unless it isn’t. The club announced Citi Field will host the Conference Semifinal match. Will it matter? We’re gonna find out.

New York Red Bulls will win MLS Cup because

… there’s no pressure this time around – well, less pressure than in previous seasons – and being on the opposite side of the bracket of NYCFC is a pretty sweet reward for finishing sixth in the Eastern Conference. On paper, the backline could chuck a couple straight shutouts. They could also get the Revs in the Conference Semifinals, a home game. If they got that far, maybe New York is red in the Conference Finals.

Lots of maybes here. Maybe the Red Bulls are going to come up short in the playoffs again. Almost certainly they will, in fact.

Philadelphia Union will win MLS Cup because

… all the pieces fit together and some of those pieces are game-changers. Looks like Kacper Przybylko, he of 15 regular season goals, is gonna be good to go. Same for Alejandro BedoyaJamiro Monteiro can boss a game on his own. Ilsinho can change it off the bench. The collective is greater than the individuals, which is a credit to Jim Curtin and all the players.

They won’t win it because their form is poor and, to borrow some Calen Carr logic, the Union don’t have veteran central defenders. That seems to matter a lot in the playoffs. Find me a team that was missing experience in that position who won the Cup. Good luck.

Portland Timbers will win MLS Cup because

… nobody believes they’ve got it in them, and that might be just what Giovanni Savarese needs to light a fire under this sleepwalking team. They’ve been in a daze for the past month. Their big summer signing is out dealing with personal issues. The soul of the club, Diego Valeri, seems disconnected. Win a playoff game and maybe something changes. Win two and who knows!

I feel like I just made the case for why they’d win and lose in the same graf. They don’t have Brian Fernandez. Their form is poor. They look uninspired. They go to Real Salt Lake, who are tied for the second-most home wins in the league, one behind LAFC. They’ll be lucky to repeat last year’s epic almost.

Real Salt Lake will win MLS Cup because

… adversity and distractions don’t seem to faze them. This season has been … interesting. And yet, RSL are the third seed in the West with a reeling Timbers side missing Fernandez and their mojo coming to to town and a ho-hum Sounders team likely up after that. They could easily win both games. If they do that, who knows? July-to-August Real Salt Lake was sort of a menace.

But also … Mid-August-to-September Real Salt Lake, far less menacing. Why should you believe in them? That’s sort of the problem. I can make a decent case for RSL, but it doesn’t feel that convincing. They could win a couple games, and I wouldn’t be surprised. They could get bounced and same. What sets them apart?

Seattle Sounders will win MLS Cup because

… they’ve got a bunch of gamers in the squad and home-field advantage against everyone but LAFC. Their side of the playoff bracket shouldn’t put fear in Brian Schmetzer’s heart. The Sounders should push through to set up a showdown with, I am assuming, LAFC. Bad news is that LAFC whooped them at the Banc early in the season, 4-1. Good news is that that was a long time ago!

They won’t win it because there just seems to be something missing from this team. I can’t put my finger on it, but they look more vulnerable more often. Oh wait, they don’t have Chad Marshall. The theorem exists for a reason. Plus, Raul Ruidiaz hasn’t scored in five games. If that continues, not gonna happen for Seattle.

Toronto FC will win MLS Cup because

… Jozy Altidore’s quad injury is more headline than real concern and he goes full-on beast mode. If he’s in the laboratory, cooking up some great stuff for the Toronto faithful, we know that’s liable to end in a parade. Two years ago, it was with Sebastian Giovinco at his side. This time it’s Alejandro Pozuelo. Toronto FC have the talent. They are on a 10-game unbeaten run. They are absolutely capable of winning four straight games. I’m talking myself into this now.

They won’t win it because it is NYCFC’s year and Dome Torrent gets some revenge for the 4-0 whooping the Reds laid down in late March and the 1-1 draw at Yankee Stadium a month ago, a game in which Pozuelo missed a PK and NYCFC was denied a spot kick in second-half stoppage time. Please please please let me see the rematch in the playoffs.

NWSL Playoffs: Key Questions, Players for All 4 Contenders

The North Carolina Courage, Portland Thorns, Chicago Red Stars and Reign FC are vying for NWSL’s title.

MOLLY GEARYOCT 17, 2019

The 2019 NWSL playoff bracket is set, with four teams having punched their ticket to the semifinals: the North Carolina Courage, Chicago Red Stars, Portland Thorns and Reign FC. The Courage will host the Reign and the Red Stars will host the Thorns on Sunday, Oct. 20, with the winners advancing to the final in Cary, N.C., on Sunday, Oct. 27.

Here’s what you need to know about each team heading into this year’s playoffs:

No. 1 Seed: North Carolina Courage

One Big Question: Can They Make It Two in a Row?

No NWSL team has gone back-to-back since FC Kansas City in 2014 and 2015. The Courage though, recently wrapped up their third straight NWSL Shield and will enter the playoffs as the favorite to repeat. Their quest is not without challenges though: for one thing, they recently lost right back Merritt Mathias to a torn ACL, thrusting veteran Heather O’Reilly into a starting role that no one saw coming. O’Reilly is retiring at the end of the season and had largely played a bench role this year for the Courage, but she’ll now be counted on in a big way. One year ago, North Carolina overcame the loss of midfielder McCall Zerboni, who had been playing like the team’s MVP, right before the playoffs and still went on to win the title. Can they do it again?

X-Factor: Debinha

The Courage are littered with high-quality and high-profile players—the likes of Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis, Jessica McDonald, Abby Dahlkemper, Lynn Williams and more—but Debinha has quietly been integral to their success. The Brazilian midfielder has come into her own in 2019, recording seven goals and six assists, and has generally been a force in the North Carolina attack with her vision, mind-bending passes and goal-scoring ability. The Courage have won all seven of the games in which she’s scored, and she figures to play a crucial role if this team is to repeat.

Why They Will Win It All: While its season wasn’t quite as dominant as in 2018, North Carolina is still the NWSL’s most complete team and actually scored one more goal than it did last season, breaking its own league record. The Courage’s relentless, high-pressure attack (they’ve taken an absurd 103 more shots than the next closest team) wears opponents down and has been known to have a snowball effect, turning a 1-0 or 0-0 game into a two or three-goal margin in the blink of an eye. Motivation isn’t a problem for this squad, which has fully bought into Paul Riley’s system and famously embraced an underdog mentality in 2018 despite being anything but that. Additionally, North Carolina has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, with the final already set for Sahlen’s Stadium—where the Courage haven’t lost this year.

Why They Won’t: The Courage have looked strangely vulnerable at times of late, including needing a highly questionable PK call to edge the Houston Dash 1-0 at home in September and then falling 2-1 to the Washington Spirit less than two weeks later. In both games, a familiar issue plagued North Carolina: finishing. Houston opted to crowd the box in its matchup, conceding possession and getting as many bodies as possible in the way to either block or alter shots. Against Washington, N.C. logged 27 shots, including nine on target, but only found the back of the net once. This is the same team that took 40 shots to score twice in a last-second win over Manchester City in the summer ICC tournament, a reminder that despite all its weapons, one collective bad or unlucky day in the playoffs could sink the Courage.

No. 2 Seed Chicago Red Stars

One Big Question: Can They End Their Semifinal Curse?

Being in the NWSL playoffs is nothing new for the Red Stars, who are making their fifth straight appearance. That’s the good news. The bad news is that their last four trips all ended in the semifinal round, by a combined score of 8–1. Needless to say, one goal in four years is not going to cut it. But there is more good news for Chicago: this year, it avoids North Carolina in the semis after being eliminated by the Courage in back-to-back seasons. If the Red Stars, a team that’s been around since 2009 in the WPS days, can get by Portland and wind up facing N.C. for the championship, it may give them the mentality shift they need to win their first title.

Key Player: Sam Kerr

It’s hard to picture Chicago snapping its semifinal curse without a big day from Kerr. A full-fledged star, the 26-year-old Australian striker has scored a combined 51 goals in the last three seasons and broke her own NWSL single-season record this year with 18. In the 12 matches Kerr has scored in this season, Chicago has gone 9-1-2. She’s still looking for her first career NWSL playoff goal, having been held scoreless in last year’s semifinal and in two starts back as a 20-year-old for the Western New York Flash in 2013.

X-Factor: Casey Short

Painfully left off this summer’s USWNT World Cup roster, Short responded by putting together a campaign that could win her NWSL Defender of the Year. The left back has had a brilliant season and is someone Chicago can trust to lock down the wing and make life miserable for opposing attackers. In the regular season, she logged 43 clearances and 26 interceptions and even chipped in offensively with two goals and three assists. Short was the league’s only player named to all six NWSL Team of the Month lists in 2019, a testament to her consistency. The Red Stars’ defense will need to be staunch against an attack like Portland’s (and in a potential final matchup with North Carolina), and that starts with Short.

Why They Will Win It All: The Red Stars have gone through their share of highs and lows this season, but their highs are as good as anyone. After hitting a rough patch in August, Chicago won five straight in September to end the regular season, outscoring those opponents by a combined 10–2. The connection between Kerr and Yuki Nagasato is the best in the league and tough for anyone to contain, and the defense has the likes of Short and Julie Ertz in front of goalie Alyssa Naeher.

Chicago will enter the Oct. 20 semifinal having last played a club game on Sept. 28, a break of 22 days (the other three playoff teams played on Oct. 12). Rust is a natural concern, but the Red Stars’ lowest points this season have felt influenced by the fatigue of a crazy year around the league. Six of Chicago’s players spent the offseason playing in Australia’s W-League, and four more are U.S. players who went the distance at the World Cup. And while those U.S. players had a couple friendlies since their last NWSL game, the bonus time off could be a difference-maker.

Why They Won’t: For one thing, there’s that aforementioned semifinal curse. Chicago must get that monkey off its back before it can even think about winning a championship, and to do so it must beat the Thorns for the first time this season. Beyond that, the Red Stars’ attack can at times grow too dependent on Kerr, and if they’re struggling to keep possession or create chances, they may be tempted to revert to lobbing balls over the top and hoping their star can get on the end of them. It’s not a bad strategy with someone as good in the box as Kerr, but Chicago is at its best when it’s giving different looks in the attack. Only three Red Stars (Kerr, Nagasato and Vanessa DiBernardo) have scored at least three goals this season; compare that to Portland and North Carolina, who have five players apiece.

No. 3 Seed: Portland Thorns

One Big Question: Can They Turn Things Around Quickly?

Unlike its semifinal opponent, Portland certainly isn’t entering the playoffs on a high note. Since winning three straight in August, the Thorns are 1-3-1 over their last five games, the lone win being a 1-0 home victory over the Houston Dash. Even more concerning is the fact that the one goal against Houston, scored by Tobin Heath, was Portland’s only goal in that five-game span. That window also included a brutal 6–0 loss to the Courage in front of 17,500 of its home fans, a game that the Thorns had entered as the first-place team in the league table. Instead, they sputtered down the stretch and now must win on the road if they are to reach their third-straight final.

Key Player: Lindsey Horan

It’s been an interesting year for Horan, who was coming off a career season in which she scored 13 goals won the 2018 NWSL MVP award. Even acknowledging a club season cut short due to the USWNT’s time in France, Horan hasn’t had nearly the same production in her 13 games in 2019, scoring just one goal and adding two assists. The 25-year-old also recently returned from a concussion but played 78 minutes in the Thorns’ regular-season finale and seems to be a go for Sunday. Portland needs Horan to be a force in the midfield and could especially use some of the set-piece magic that helped her score seven goals with her head alone in 2018.

X-Factor: Midge Purce

With the likes of Horan, Heath, Christine Sinclair and Hayley Raso all missing time at the World Cup this summer, it was Purce who stepped up in the Portland attack and helped the Thorns go 5-2-2 in the span when their U.S. players were away. With six goals in eight games, Purce proved she deserved minutes even after the Thorns’ stars returned and has continued to play a role in the attack. While she’s cooled off in terms of scoring (her only goals since were a brace against Chicago) and may come off the bench on Sunday, she could be a valuable piece for Mark Parsons if Portland is hunting for a goal in the second half.

Why They Will Win It All: Portland is not lacking in playoff experience, having played in each of the last two finals and winning the championship in 2017. Parsons has a star-studded roster led by Heath, Horan, Sinclair, Adrianna Franch, Meghan Klingenberg and Emily Sonnett, plus a number of promising young players like Purce, Ellie Carpenter, Simone Charley and Andressinha. This team had a great shot at the Shield before its late-season slide, and it has too much talent to think it isn’t capable of flipping the switch. The semifinal matchup could work in its favor as well; the Thorns went 2-0-1 against the Red Stars this year and have only lost once to Chicago (back in 2013) in 20 all-time meetings.

Why They Won’t: The Thorns’ disappearing attack (which perhaps not coincidentally coincides with midfielder Gabby Seiler’s season-ending injury) is a major concern, and something that must be corrected before going against a Red Stars team with Kerr and Nagasato at its disposal. And while Portland is certainly capable of turning it on, it’s hard to look at its recent form and feel confident it can win one game, let alone two in a row. If it were to get past Chicago and potentially meet North Carolina in the final for a third straight year, that 6-0 blowout will linger in everyone’s minds (Portland did previously beat the Courage back in August, but it took a pair of N.C. own goals to do it). Even if the Thorns meet Reign FC, they lost all three matches against their Pacific Northwest rival this year.

No. 4 Seed: Reign FC

One Big Question: Will the Vlatko News Loom Large?

On Monday morning, the BBC reported that Reign head coach Vlatko Andonovski will be the next USWNT coach, news that U.S. Soccer told SI’s Grant Wahl is not a done deal yet and Andonovski himself has since tried to play down. While Andonovski was long rumored to be a serious candidate, the report comes just days before Sunday’s semifinal, naturally leading to questions about whether this could potentially affect Andonovski’s team, especially mentally. It’s possible knowing their coach is (likely) leaving could give them extra motivation to play for him, or it could serve as a distraction at an inopportune time. Both can also be true. Regardless, this story is sure to hover over the semifinal weekend.

Key Player: Megan Rapinoe

After missing the vast majority of the NWSL season due to a combination of injuries and the World Cup, Megan Rapinoe is back. Fresh off winning the FIFA Best Women’s Player of the Year award, Rapinoe brings a new dimension to the Reign FC attack, especially when it comes to her service into the box or on set pieces, where the USWNT forward is known to shine. For a team that has struggled to create this season (the Reign’s 27 goals lag far behind the other three playoff teams) amidst a string of injuries, Rapinoe’s presence alone makes them more dangerous.

X-Factor: Bethany Balcer

Balcer has been one of the biggest surprises of the entire NWSL season. In a perfect example of Andonovski’s keen ability to find and develop talent, she was invited to the Reign’s preseason after going undrafted out of NAIA school Spring Arbor, then earned a supplemental contract to open the season. She started the second game of the year and scored her first career goal, then made her mark when internationals were away at the World Cup with two more. Balcer has continued to get starts and minutes throughout the season and has especially come on of late, scoring three goals in the Reign’s last five games. Rapinoe gets the headlines, and English international Jodie Taylor has also stepped up her game down the stretch, but don’t be surprised if Balcer comes up big for the Reign.

Why They Will Win It All: No team has been more snakebitten by injuries this season than the Reign, who played most of the season without stars Rapinoe and Jess Fishlock (the latter of whom remains sidelined), lost two goalkeepers and now start rookie Casey Murphy. They have had their depth tested so much that they had to sign and start assistant coach Steph Cox out of retirement at one point. Yet despite all of this, here they are, one of just four teams still standing. They’ve been one of the league’s most consistent teams, losing back-to-back games just once, and they’ll be playing with house money against the Courage. The Reign have been defying the odds all season—why stop now?

Why They Won’t: Even with Rapinoe back, the attack remains a question mark. The Reign’s goal differential of 0 is the worst of the playoff teams, despite the fact that they’ve held their own defensively and conceded three or more goals in just three of 24 games. Their 17 assists rank sixth in the league, and they’re going up against a Courage team that’s had 42 assists and a plus-31 goal differential. Keeping North Carolina off the scoreboard will be a Herculean task—it’s been shut out just once this season, and that was without its U.S. players—and the Reign will need to be clinical with whatever chances they do get if they are to keep pace. One other thing of note: the Reign led the league in fouls committed and are well ahead of the other playoff teams, and set pieces are not something you want to be giving out in an elimination game.

Forward Dane Kelly’s Brace Lifts Boys in Blue to 2-1 Victory over Swope Park Rangers

 

A second half brace by forward Dane Kelly paced Indy Eleven to a 2-1 win over Swope Park Rangers in tonight’s regular season finale at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The victory, Indy’s seventh straight at home, not only capped the team’s most successful regular season on a winning note, but also secured a top four finish in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference – and the home Quarterfinal Round game that comes with it.

Indy Eleven (19W-9L-6L, 63 pts.) will begin its postseason run next Saturday, Oct. 26, back at its old home of IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium, with kickoff against a yet-to-be-determined opponent at 7:30 p.m. (live on MyINDY-TV 23). ​ Tickets will be available to the general public starting this Friday, Oct. 18, at 10:00 a.m. at IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

Indy Eleven, which will finish the regular season in third place in the 18-team conference, will play host to one of the troika of the Tampa Bay Rowdies (58 points), New York Red Bulls II (57 pts), or Louisville City FC (57 pts.), with this Saturday’s slate featuring those teams determining the foe.

“I think that the crowd are even more of a factor in that stadium,” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “I think it’ll be a really hectic atmosphere and I think that will be a big positive for us. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for us. Playing at Lucas Oil Stadium, it was something that we felt we could make a home-field advantage – and we have. So we need to do that at Carroll [Stadium] as well.”

Despite Swope Park’s struggles this season, the Kansas-based side made Indiana’s Team work for the full three points tonight. After a physical first half, Kelly put the Eleven up in the 56th minute, but Rangers countered quickly through Wilson Harris just a minute later. Kelly would stamp his mark on the match with a gutsy effort in the 67th minute, taking a hard knock just after touching his shot past former Butler goalkeeper Eric Dick in the SPR goal for his 10th of the season.

Indy Eleven finished its 2019 home campaign undefeated with a 13W-0L-4D record and pushed its unbeaten streak at the corner of Capitol & South to 25 games dating back to last July.

“We’ve broken a lot of records this year. We’ve had more wins than ever before, more points, I think more clean sheets than ever before, more wins away from home, a longer unbeaten streak at home than ever before,” Said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “The club is building these records and these milestones and it’s making progress. It’s making excitement and a positive culture.”

A physical first half saw the two teams combine for more yellow cards (5) than shots on goal (4). Indy Eleven nearly struck first just under the quarter-hour mark when Kelly rocketed a header off the crossbar. A whipped in cross from the foot of defender Ayoze connected with the Jamaican on the penalty spot, but luck favored Swope as his effort was denied by the woodwork.

Ayoze looked to assist again 10 minutes later after stealing the ball just outside the Swope Park 18-yard box. The Spaniard slipped in forward Cristian Novoa, who took a touch in stride and attempted to place the ball past goalkeeper Eric Dick, but the Butler University alumnus ultimately denied the Venezuelan’s chance. Indy’s offensive tempo continued to flow through the Spanish maestro as he played yet another key pass in the 34th minute, this time through defender Mitchell Osmond, but his header ended wide of the goal.

Indy goalkeeper Jordan Farr made sure the sides went into the locker rooms even after saving Swope Park defender Rennico Clarke’s open header from a corner kick in the third minute of first half stoppage time. Despite a first half that saw Indiana’s Team control 63% possession, both sides were unable to break the deadlock.

Ayoze would finally help crack the egg 11 minutes into the second half, a cross from his smooth left foot connecting with Kelly on Swope’s penalty mark. The USL Championship’s all-time leading goal scorer adjusted in the air to redirect into the bottom-left corner, garnering a 1-nil lead for the Boys in Blue. The advantage was short-lived, however, after Swope Park would draw level a minute later in the 57th minute via a header from Harris on the doorstep off Ethan Vanacore-Decker’s clipped cross from the endline.

Indy Eleven edged back into the lead ten minutes later. A quick one-two play between Kelly and midfielder Kenney Walker played the Jamaican attacker into the Swope Park box before dinking the ball past Dick – and absorbing a heavy challenge from the SPR ‘keeper in the aftermath of the shot. The Boys in Blue went on to create a few more decent looks from distance in the final 20 minutes of the match, mostly coming from midfielder Tyler Pasher, but the score line would remain 2-1 in favor of Indiana’s Team at the final whistle.

USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvSPR
Indy Eleven  2 : 1  Swope Park Rangers

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 – 7:00 p.m. ET

Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.Attendance: 10,251

2019 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (19W-9L-6D, 63 pts., 3rd in Eastern Conference)

Swope Park Rangers (6W-20L-8D, 26 pts., 18th in Eastern Conference)

Scoring Summary:
IND – Dane Kelly (Ayoze) 56’

SPR – Wilson Harris (Ethan Vanacore-Decker) 57’

IND – Dane Kelly (Kenney Walker) 67’

Disciplinary Summary:

SPR – Ze Pedro (Yellow card) 16’

IND – Mitchell Osmond (Yellow card) 23’

SPR – Ethan Vanacore-Decker (Yellow card) 29’

SPR – Felipe Hernanadez (Yellow card) 37’

IND – Drew Conner (Yellow card) 40’

IND – Neveal Hackshaw (Yellow card) 61’
Indy Eleven lineup (3-5-2, L–>R): Jordan Farr; Ayoze, Paddy Barrett (captain), Karl Ouimette, Mitch Osmond (Neveal Hackshaw 45’), Tyler Gibson, Drew Connor, Kenney Walker, Tyler Pasher, Dane Kelly (Nicolas Perea 83’), Cristian Novoa (Ilija Ilic 62’)

IND Substitutes: Holden Brown (GK), Eugene Starikov, Matthew Watson, Gabriel
Swope Park Rangers lineup (4-2-3-1, L–>R): Eric Dick; Alexsander Andrade, Rennico Clarke, Graham Smith (captain), Jaylin Lindsey, Camden Riley (Tyler Freeman 88’), Felipe Hernandez, Wilson Harris, Wan Kuzain (Tucker Lepley 75’), Ze Pedro, Ethan Vanacore-Decker (Mark Segbers 75’)

SPR Substitutes: John Pulskamp (GK), Jacob Davis, Kaveh Rad, Luis Olivera

10/10/19  US Men Begin Nations Cup Play Fri 7 pm vs Cuba on FS1, Playoff Bound Indy 11 on Road Sat,  MLS Playoffs Set, Euro Qualifying

Its time for the US Men to show what new coach Berhalter has taught them over the past 10 months – as we take on Cuba tonight on FS 1 at 7 pm and Canada on Tuesday at 8 pm on ESPN2.  Hard to say – but new coach Berhalter has a plan and he appears to be sticking to it.  Not sure we have the player quality to play out of the back and possess all game –but he seems heck bent on doing it.  I do think the US has perhaps its strongest set of U23s  – really U20’s since the Donovan/Beasley/Bocanegra group. I love that our coach wants to possess the ball and take it to teams rather than absorb pressure and counter attack.  Its going to take some time and but I like the idea of expecting to play better teams hoping to dominate or at least be even on possession.  Now we can see if the US can dominate possession and destroy these 2 light weights in our CONCACAF Region – honestly playing Nations League games against this poor quality competition DOES NOT HELP the US or Mexico or Costa Rica – and not being able to play strong South American or European teams is going to hurt in the long run.  I suspect almost no one will be watching tonight – which can’t help TV ratings for FS 1 or ESPN as well.  But it is what it is – in Europe Nations League has been pretty cool – in our Region – well we’ll see. Or perhaps no one will watch and we won’t see.  Hey at least our US Ladies are still World Cup champions – best of luck to the winningest US Coach Jill Ellis as she moves on to the next Chapter in her life.  Will be interesting to see who the US gets to take the new head spot next as we head to the Olympics next summer.

Indy 11

Our Indy Eleven will close out its regular season slate over the next two matches, starting with a huge top-five fixture this Saturday at the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  The action begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be live locally on MyINDY-TV 23 and online via ESPN+.  After this Saturday’s crucial top-five clash at Tampa Bay, Indy Eleven will close out its sixth and most successful regular season in club history this Wednesday, Oct. 16, against Swope Park Rangers, at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff for Fan Appreciation Night, presented by Community Health Network Foundation, is set for 7:00 p.m. (live on ESPN+ and MyINDY-TV 23). Tickets remain available for as little as $15 by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

MLS Playoffs Start Oct 19

I missed MLS Decision day as teams battled for Playoff positions that final Sunday of the season.  Remember this year – the first round playoff games are 1 game affairs at the home of the higher ranked team – so positioning really matters.  Lose 1 and you are going home.  So the LA Galaxy last home loss sends them to expansion side Minnesota United for their first round game!  Other intriguing matchups include Philly hosting NY Red Bulls and Seattle traveling to FC Dallas and Carmel Alum Matt Hedges.

GAMES ON TV

Thur, Oct 10

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN3                Netherlands vs Northern Ireland (Euro Qualifying)

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN3                Russia vs Scotland  (Euro Qualifying)

9 pm Fubo TV , Univision                Haiti vs Costa Rica (Concacaf Nations League)

Fri, Oct 11

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN+               Czech Republic vs England (Euro Qualifying)  

2:45 pm Fubo TV,ESPN 2               Iceland vs France  (Euro Qualifying)  

7 pm Fox Sport 1, FuboTV,              USA vs Cuba (Concacaf Nations League)

9 pm Fubo TV , Univision                Bermuda vs Mexico (Concacaf Nations League)

Sat, Oct 12

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN+                Norway vs Spain (Euro Qualifying)

2:45 pm Fubo TV,ESPN+                 Italy vs Greece (Euro Qualifying)

7 pm ESPN+                                       Tampa Bay vs Indy 11

Sun, Oct 13

12 pm Fubo TV, ESPN3                    Belarus vs Netherlands (Euro Qualifying)

2:45 pm ESPN                                  Wales vs Croatia  (Euro Qualifying)  

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Estonia vs Germany (Euro Qualifying)

Mon, Oct 14

2:45 pm ESPN +                               Bulgaria vs England  (Euro Qualifying)  

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 France vs Turkey (Euro Qualifying)

Tues, Oct 15

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN+                Lichenstien vs Italy  (Euro Qualifying)

2:45 pm Fubo TV,Univision            Sweden vs Spain (Euro Qualifying)

7 pm ESPN2, FuboTV                    Canada vs USA (Concacaf Nations League)

9:30 pm Fubo TV , Unimas              Mexico vs Panama (Concacaf Nations League)

Sat, Oct 19

7:30 am NBCSN                                Everton vs West Ham

9 am ESPN+                                       Juventus vs SPAL

9:30 am Fox sports2                        RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Wolfsburg

10 am NCBSN                                   Chelsea vs New Castle United

10 am beIN Sport                             Atletico Madrid vs Valencia

12:30 pm NBC                                  Crystal Palace vs Manchester City

12:30 pm FS2                                   Dortmund vs Borussia MGladbach (Johnson)

3:30 pm Fox Sport 1                      Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas (MLS PLAYOFFS)

7 pm ESPN+                                      Indy 11 vs Swope Park Rangers (home)

10 pm ESPN Des/ESPN+                 Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers (MLS Playoffs)

Sun, Oct 20

11:30 am NBCSN                            Manchester United vs Liverpool 

12:30 pm FS1                                   Hoffenheim vs Schalke (McKinney)

3 pm Fox Sport 1                           Philly vs NY Red Bulls (MLS Playoffs)

8:30 pm ESPN                                 Minnesota United vs LA Galaxy (MLS Playoffs)  

USA

What’s the best USMNT XI for games v. Cuba, Canada?

US Must show they have turned corner under Berhalter –Jason Davis – ESPNFC

Gregg Berhalter explains the USMNT’s role in player development

US star Pulisic confident in form despite Chelsea benching

– CONCACAF Nations League: All you need to know

— Pulisic keen to prevent Chelsea woes from carrying over

— Kuper: Should Dest pick the U.S. or the Netherlands?

Without Jill Ellis What’s Next for US Ladies – ESPNW

– Ellis’ winning legacy? Giving USWNT a bigger voice
– U.S. draws with South Korea in Ellis’s final match

GK

Great Saves by US Keeper Zach Steffan for Dusseldorf

Dutch Keeper Van Sari is Women’s GK of Year – WC Save

Great Save  of Zlattan shot

Nice to See Navas Starting Again now for PSG

De Gea vs Kasper Schmiechel Great Saves

Hugo Lloris Great Saves for Spurs

MLS Playoffs

All 14 Playoff Teams Could Lift the MLS Cup – ESPNFC

MLS Cup playoffs 2019: All you need to know
— Marshall: Vela’s goals record lives up to the hype of a prodigy

Indy 11

Which Indy 11 Team Shows up for the Playoffs – Indy Star – Kevin Johnson

Indy 11 Preview of Tampa Bay Game Saturday

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

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

 

EPL and World

Argentina surges back for draw with germany

World Rankings

Pulisic not Throwing Fit not giving up at Chelsea – SB Nation

Pulisic needs to Get Nasty at Chelsea – Klinnsman Says – Goal.com

Breaking Down Pulisic’s competition at Chelsea –NBCSports

What’s the best USMNT XI for games v. Cuba, Canada?

Joe Prince-Wright,NBC Sports 22 hours ago  [ MORE: Pulisic previews Cuba, Canada ]

Christian Pulisic will be eager for minutes after a testing few months at Chelsea, while DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Miazga are back from injury and Michael Bradley is back in the squad after being left out last month.Injuries have once again limited Berhalter’s options (Tyler Adams, John Brooks, Alfredo Morales and now Jozy Altidore are all missing) and that provides plenty of chances for youngsters and a few more for experienced veterans. This could be the last chance for a few of the former.Below we select the best possible XI for the U.S. in their games in Washington D.C. and Toronto, and provide some analysis on the current squad situation.

USMNT’s best possible XI v. Cuba, Canada

—– Steffen —–

— Yedlin — Miazga — Ream — Lima —

—- McKennie —- Bradley —-

—- Boyd —-  Lletget —- Pulisic —-

—- Sargent —-

Analysis

Zack Steffen has been playing well in the Bundesliga and should get the nod over veteran Brad Guzan, while Yedlin will likely slot back in at right back with Sergino Dest not in this squad and his future with the USMNT uncertain. Matt Miazga and Tim Ream have travelled together from England to the U.S. and could provide a good partnership at center back, although Aaron Long will be knocking on the door and Walker Zimmerman would have but his nasty injury rules him out of these games. Brooks will also come straight back into the lineup when he returns from injury. Left back remains a problem area for Berhalter and San Jose’s Nick Lima will once again be the most likely starter in that position after being solid enough in recent games.

In midfield Berhalter will likely go with two more defensive-minded players and with Adams out injured, Weston McKennie and Michael Bradley are the most likely to play in the deeper roles.  Of course, Adams could come back in at right back, but we’d all rather see him in the engine room… Wil Trapp and Christian Roldan will be pushing for those spots too, and it would be nice to see Sebastian Lletget play in a more advanced role in lieu of any true No.10’s in this USMNT squad.

Going forward Christian Pulisic should remain on the left wing, his best position, instead of trying to shoehorn him into a central position. Yes, he could get on the ball more there, but he’s better taking players on in one-on-one situations and cutting inside to cause havoc. Josh Morris, Tyler Boyd or Paul Arriola will line up on the other flank and it’s really a toss of a coin between those three right now. Up front the USMNT don’t have many options but Josh Sargent could get the nod after racking up plenty of minutes for Werder Bremen in recent weeks. Gyasi Zardes has become a scapegoat among U.S. fans during recent struggles and if Altidore didn’t have to pull out of this squad due to injury, he probably would have started up top centrally. Morris can also start centrally too and he’s looked decent in recent USMNT cameos.

U.S. must use Nations League to show it has turned the corner under Berhalter

Oct 10, 2019Noah DavisESPN

WASHINGTON — On Friday night, the United States men’s national team opens its CONCACAF Nations League campaign at Audi Field. The opponent? Cuba, the 178th-best team in the world and 25th-best team in CONCACAF, according to the most recent FIFA rankings.It’s a game the Americans should not just win but dominate. They’ve done so in the past, posting a 3-0 record and a plus-14 goal differential over the past three home matches against the island nation. “It’s an athletic team, they have a standard level of technical ability and they will present some challenges,” U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter said of the opposition. “For us, it’s about speed of play, breaking them down and trying to get the ball in front of goal as quickly as possible.”Sure, but anything other than a lopsided scoreline will be a failure, full stop.The same, frankly, could be said of Tuesday’s game at BMO Field in Toronto. Canada is a quickly improving side, bolstered by a growing investment in the youth levels of the country’s Major League Soccer teams and beyond, a handful of stars playing abroad, and a developing soccer culture.That said, Canada still remains well behind the U.S. in all facets of the sport. This isn’t the time to eke out a victory. It’s a time to control the ball, create chances, finish them, get six points. This is about reestablishing an air of inevitability surrounding the results of matches against lesser CONCACAF foes.

To help him do so, Berhalter has called in arguably the most complete roster he has had during his now 10-month tenure as coach of the national team. DeAndre Yedlin is back for the first time since March, and newly pain-free after an 18-month saga that ultimately required groin surgery. Matt Miazga is here, too, as is D.C. United’s own Paul Arriola. There are absences — John Brooks (will he ever get healthy?), Jozy Altidore (hurt again, disappointingly), and Tyler Adams (how much can we judge this team without one of the best players at one of the most important positions?) — but even so, it’s a squad that should be able to play how the coach wants, and show more progress in terms of mastering “The System” to build on the last year-and-a-half.So let’s talk about Arriola.”What comes to mind when I think of Paul is his relentless attacking,” Berhalter said. “He just goes and goes and goes, and that has a cumulative effect on the opponent. We think with him being able to repeat his high-speed running puts us in positions to create goal-scoring opportunities.”On one hand, yes, this is true. The D.C. United winger has a remarkable ability to make things happen, tallying three goals in 11 national team matches so far this season, putting in dangerous crosses, and generally running riot on the flank. He has been effective, for sure.On the other, there’s little elegance to his game, as he is largely about straight lines, verticality, work rate and repeated sprints. MLSSoccer.com’s Matt Doyle called it “attritional soccer,” which is a perfect phrase. This is not meant to be a criticism. Much of the traditional success of U.S. Soccer is a direct result of attritional soccer: wearing down opponents, playing together, leaning on good goalkeeping and being relentless and fit. Getting away from attritional soccer cost the Americans a spot in the 2018 World Cup.Yet isn’t the hope that the team moves beyond attritional soccer and finally get to a better place? That’s part of the excitement, the forward progress fans desperately want. Cuba (and to a lesser extent Canada) are perfect opponents to see how far along this project is. One player who can help get them there is Sebastian Lletget, a creative visionary fighting for the No. 10 spot.”I’ve had a good go at it so far,” the LA Galaxy playmaker said. “There is a lot of good competition in that position. That’s the fun part. You’re playing for a spot, and I think there’s room in there for me or for a lot of guys.”The hope is that he he gets it, and hope Christian Pulisic plays out on the wing where he can create (a major part of Berhalter’s system is getting his most dynamic attacker alone in pockets of space). Hope Jackson Yueill, another young guy with vision, makes a leap and presses for time. Hope that Josh Sargent, who with Altidore out should get more opportunities up top, continues to develop into his generation’s lethal finisher. Berhalter likes what he has seen from the 19-year-old, who responded well after being left off the Gold Cup roster over the summer.”He has gained confidence [at Werder Bremen],” the coach said. “They’ve been playing him sometimes on the wing and in different positions. For Josh, it’s just a matter of two things: him getting rest and being fresh in his mind, and him attacking. Him saying, ‘I want something. How am I going to go about getting it?'”“I want something. How am I going to go about getting it?” If you were thinking about a motto for the U.S. men’s national team over the next 12 months, you could do worse than that refrain.

 

Gregg Berhalter explains the USMNT’s role in player development

Doug McIntyre,Yahoo Sports Tue, Oct 8 12:47 PM EDT

Last week, United States men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter went on SiriusXM show Counter Attack and, in response to a question from co-host and former U.S. defender Janusz Michallik about the USMNT’s role in making players better, gave the following answer:“We’re not responsible for developing players — the responsibility for the most part falls to the clubs,” Berhalter said. “We’re not together that often that we can really develop a player.”On the surface, it was a perfectly reasonable reply. Most national team managers, who only get to work in-person with their squads for three or four 10-day windows per year outside of international tournaments such as the World Cup, would say some version of the same. Context is also important. The quote came as some impatient U.S. fans had been clamoring for the promotion of several youth national teamers who have yet to make a mark professionally.Berhalter’s words were still interesting, though. Because since he accepted the challenge 10 months ago of trying to steer the U.S. program back to respectability after its epic failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the former Columbus Crew boss has often spoken of trying to improve the quality of the American players, both individually and as a group.“To me, it’s about developing players,” Berhalter said, explaining why his team insisted on playing though Mexico’s eight-man press during last month’s 3-0 friendly loss in New Jersey.During a conversation with Yahoo Sports on Monday, Berhalter took the time to drill down on what could be seen as conflicting messages.“I think the starting point for me is looking at the level of the player and saying, ‘Is this player a national team-level player right now?’” Berhalter said. “If the answer is no, I’m not going to be able to get him to the national team standard. He’s going to need to do that through playing games with his club.“If the answer is yes,” Berhalter continued, “now it’s about the specifics of developing him within our system, what he still needs to work on despite already being a fantastic player.”In other words, you can’t make a national team player. But you can make a national team player better.The example Berhalter used after the Mexico game was midfielder Weston McKennie, a 21-year-old Champions League veteran with Schalke in the German Bundesliga. Schalke plays differently than the U.S. does, and as a result, Berhalter asks McKennie to do different things.For other players, the transition to the national team is smoother because their roles don’t really change when they travel between club and country.“Sergino Dest plays the same way with Ajax,” Berhalter said, speaking of the 18-year-old Dutch-American defender who won’t participate in the CONCACAF Nations League match Friday against Cuba [7 p.m. ET, FS1] in Washington, D.C., or at Canada next week. “Even though he’s young, it’s relatively easy for him to pick up what we’re doing.“You have other guys like Weston that don’t necessarily play like that with their clubs. But because they’re high-level players, you would expect that they can take on information, take on concepts. That’s why they got to the level they’ve gotten to.”Like most of his teammates, McKennie struggled against El Tri’s relentless chasing. Berhalter is hoping that the experience pays off this month, especially against Canada. While the Cubans will likely sit back defensively, allowing the U.S. to control the match, Canada’s hopes of reaching the final round of World Cup qualifying for the first time since 1997 could hinge on the Oct. 15 contest in Toronto. “It’s going to be interesting to see how they approach the game,” Berhalter said.If Canada comes out hard, the U.S. will be prepared, or at least more prepared than they were last month. Berhalter pushed back against the notion that his system is too complex to implement during short international windows.“The difficulty learning the system, I think that’s a little bit exaggerated,” he said. “It’s just time together and layering. We’re focusing on certain concepts in one camp and then we’re building in the next camps. It has a multiplying effect where the guys will be able to understand it as we go.”Competition also raises an athlete’s level, the international game providing exposure to different coaches, teammates, stakes, styles and experiences.For Berhalter, that process doesn’t stop when a particular camp ends. He and his staff remain in frequent communication with players. They’ve also been actively working with their clubs, sharing information so that both teams and the player benefits.“It’s a collaboration,” Berhalter said, admitting that some clubs are more open to it than others. “When a guy is at a high level, we want to work on specific things with him, together with his club, to get him better. I’m the type of coach that wants to create an environment where we’re always looking to improve. We make a concerted effort and say, ‘OK, this guy is a top-level player. How do we make him a world star?’“That,” he added, “I think is development as well.”

US star Pulisic confident in form despite Chelsea benching

BEN NUCKOLS,Associated Press 13 hours ago

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — Christian Pulisic said he won’t let his benching with Chelsea affect his play for the U.S. national team as it prepares for a match against Cuba, pronouncing himself in peak form despite scant playing time of late.”I feel the best I ever have. I feel very confident in my game. I’m not going to let any of that affect me,” Pulisic said Wednesday before training with the national team at George Mason University, where both of his parents played college soccer. “I feel very strong, and I’m really looking forward to this game Friday.”The 21-year-old midfielder has been mostly a spectator in his first season in the Premier League, limited to two appearances since August: a League Cup start against fourth-tier Grimsby Town on Sept. 25 and a 10-minute substitute stint versus Southampton in the EPL on Sunday during which he contributed an assist. Pulisic arrived at Chelsea in the offseason for $73 million from Borussia Dortmund.Pulisic has previously voiced frustration with his playing time under Chelsea manager Frank Lampard but declined to elaborate on those feelings.”I’m here now to be focused with the U.S. national team, so that’s really all that’s on my mind right now,” Pulisic said.The United States will play Cuba on Friday in Washington and then visit Canada in Toronto on Tuesday, its opening two matches of the CONCACAF Nations League.While he’s been a role player with Chelsea, Pulisic is the undisputed star of the rebuilding U.S. team, which is trying to recover from its failure to qualify for last year’s World Cup in Russia. He said he’s looking forward to seeing what 18-year-old midfielder Brenden Aaronson, who was added to the roster last week, can bring to the squad.”It’s fun to play with these younger guys,” Pulisic said. “He’s younger than me, right? Yeah, he’s much younger. … I don’t see myself as young anymore, but whatever.”For this week of practice, Pulisic will be in the shadow of his mother, Kelley, and his father, Mark.”My dad texted me after the first training. He’s like, ‘I scored 38 goals on this training field, and your mom scored 10,” Pulisic said. “It’s great, it’s cool to see where they used to play. I haven’t really been here, so it’s exciting.”

Can Atlanta repeat? Why all 14 playoff teams could lift MLS Cup – and why they won’t

10:57 AM ETArch BellU.S. soccer writer

Decision Day has come and gone, leaving Major League Soccer’s 14 postseason-bound sides with nearly two weeks to contemplate their paths to MLS Cup glory. In the regular season’s afterglow, playoff hopes will never be higher for many, which is why we’ve detailed precisely why each team can win MLS Cup … and, similarly, why each can’t.

Western Conference

 

1. LAFC

Next playoff match: 10:30 p.m. ET Oct. 24 vs. Minnesota or LA Galaxy (watch live on ESPN)

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Why they will win MLS Cup: The league’s best player, Carlos Vela, makes sure there is no letdown and leads the league’s best team to the title.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: The lack of a second striker and an opponent savvy enough to cut off the Eduard Atuesta-Vela connection lead to a nightmare scenario for Bob Bradley’s men.

 

2. Seattle Sounders

Next playoff match: 3:30 p.m. ET Oct. 19 vs. FC Dallas

Why they will win MLS Cup: Seattle is well versed in the postseason panorama and has the firepower in Raul RuidiazJordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro to do something special.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A team that has been plagued by defensive issues, poor road form and inconsistency simply can’t last.

 

3. Real Salt Lake

Next playoff match: 10 p.m. ET Oct. 19 vs. Portland (watch live on ESPNEWS)

Why they will win MLS Cup: The attacking trident of Jefferson SavarinoAlbert Rusnak and Damir Kreilach get on a roll, and Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando turn back the clock to 2009.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: RSL’s inconsistency rears its head at the wrong time to end a season overshadowed by off-the-field controversy.

 

4. Minnesota United

Next playoff match: 8:30 p.m. ET Oct. 20 vs. LA Galaxy (watch live on ESPN)

Why they will win MLS Cup: Their “us against the world” mentality, on top of a solid defense, takes Adrian Heath’s men on a surprising Cup run.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Ten road losses this season suggest that winning back-to-back away from home in the biggest games of the season is too big an ask.

 

5. LA Galaxy

Next playoff match: 8:30 p.m. ET Oct. 20 at Minnesota (watch live on ESPN)

Why they will win MLS Cup: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede is a threat to score anytime he has the ball, and with Cristian Pavon in the mix, the Galaxy have the offensive weapons to take down anyone.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A poor record away from home and a tendency to switch off and commit errors in defense make it only a matter of time before the Galaxy get sent packing.

 

6. Portland Timbers

Next playoff match: 10 p.m. ET Oct. 19 at Salt Lake (watch live on ESPNEWS)

Why they will win MLS Cup: Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco. The Argentine playmakers are as formidable as any in the league, and Blanco in particular has turned it up a notch the past month. Plus midfield warrior Diego Chara and the experience of coach Giovanni Savarese give Timbers fans every reason to believe.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Valeri’s contract status is looming uncomfortably over the team, and Savarese has yet to figure out how to shake his team’s inconsistent form in 2019.

 

7. FC Dallas

Next playoff match: 3:30 p.m. ET Oct. 19 at Seattle

Why they will win MLS Cup: Luchi Gonzalez’s young pups will be playing with no fear and have nothing to lose in this postseason. It’s just the type of attitude that can wreak havoc on opponents.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Their lack of experience can also work against them in a hostile environment, such as trying to hang on to a result in the last 15 minutes in a full house on the West Coast.

Eastern Conference

 

1. New York City FC

Next playoff match: 7 p.m. ET Oct. 23 vs. Toronto or D.C.

Why they will win MLS Cup: No team is cooler when pressured by opponents, thanks to one of the league’s best midfields, which lays the groundwork for a title run.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Jozy Altidore and Toronto FC have a habit of making life difficult for NYCFC and could prove to be the roadblock even before a date with high-powered LAFC.

— Stream MLS games LIVE on ESPN+

 

2. Atlanta United

Next playoff match: 1 p.m. ET Oct. 19 vs. New England

Why they will win MLS Cup: They know how to get the job done, and with a healthy and hungry Josef Martinez, a second straight crown is theirs for the taking.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: The mental lapses have been there too often this season, and in a single-game elimination format, that proves costly.

 

3. Philadelphia Union

Next playoff match: 3 p.m. ET Oct. 20 vs. New York Red Bulls

Why they will win MLS Cup: Their balance from back to front is a big asset, and Kacper Przybylko has become the goal scorer this team desperately needed.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Teams will look to take Przybylko out of the equation, and the lack of a second scorer will limit the Union.

 

4. Toronto FC

Next playoff match: 6 p.m. ET Oct. 19 vs. D.C.

Why they will win MLS Cup: One of the hottest teams in the East boasts the experience to win MLS Cup and has the firepower up front with Jozy Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A spotty road record all season means that this 4-seed can’t string together the wins away from home to lift the trophy.

 

5. D.C. United

Next playoff match: 6 p.m. ET Oct. 19 at Toronto

Why they will win MLS Cup: On his way out the door, Wayne Rooney will deliver his best soccer since arriving in the nation’s capital and replicate countryman David Beckham’s feat of leaving MLS as a champion.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Ben Olsen’s reluctance to start Luciano Acosta and the resurfacing of late summer defensive woes rear their heads in the postseason.

 

6. New York Red Bulls

Next playoff match: 3 p.m. ET Oct. 20 at Philadelphia

Why they will win MLS Cup: With postseason expectations lower than in previous seasons, the Red Bulls ride a pressure-free playoffs all the way to the promised land.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A defense that gave up a lot of goals to the league’s top teams can’t maintain a high enough level through four matches.

 

7. New England Revolution

Next playoff match: 1 p.m. ET Oct. 19 at Atlanta

Why they will win MLS Cup: Led by five-time MLS Cup-winning coach Bruce Arena, the Revs ride the playmaking of Carles Gil and the scoring boots of Gustavo Bou to a stunning title run.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A team that still struggles to put together a consistent 90 minutes will see its postseason end fairly quickly.

‘Pulisic needs to get nasty at Chelsea’ – Klinsmann convinced USMNT star can thrive in England

Goal.com Mon, Sep 30 9:28 AM EDT

Christian Pulisic needs to get nasty at Chelsea, says Jurgen Klinsmann, with the United States international more than capable of proving his worth in the Premier League.Those at Stamford Bridge are still waiting on that potential to be unlocked, with a marquee arrival in west London yet to deliver on a consistent basis.That has led to Pulisic slipping down the pecking order under Frank Lampard, with the 21-year-old back on the bench for a 2-0 win over Brighton on Saturday.Questions are being asked of whether a promising talent who burst onto the scene at Borussia Dortmund is capable of handling the demands of life in English football.Klinsmann, who has worked with Pulisic in the USA set-up before, remains convinced that the talented playmaker can come good.The former Tottenham striker has, however, offered some words of advice, telling ESPN: “You never know it’s the right fit unless you do it.”Christian did well to say: ‘I’m going to throw myself in another cold water, go over to London and throw myself in the Premier League, and I have to fight through the system there’. So that’s what he’s in.”He’s a very special player, he’s tremendously talented, but this is a big step, because Borussia Dortmund was also basically the club where he got formed into a professional player.”He came out of the youth system there, he moved himself up, he had all the support within the club and now going to London – also to one of the biggest clubs in the world – you’ve got to bring your elbows out.”Klinsmann added, with Pulisic having taken to airing his frustration over a lack of playing time for Chelsea: “He will go through a phase now where more and more he needs to bring his elbows out to fight himself through the system there.

“Can he do it? Yes, absolutely he can do it, but you need to be patient, too, sometimes you forget he’s a very young player.”You’re basically in a daily competition. Maybe in Dortmund he knew: ‘I established myself already within the club to be a very special player. I get my minutes in, I get my games in, I’m a starter most of the time’.”You don’t have that automatic assurance at Chelsea. At Chelsea it goes from game to game, week to week. You’re basically in training and you have to tell the coach: ‘I’m in, I’m going to start this game’. So it’s a little bit more cold, it’s a bit more nasty.”What I mean with the elbows is that you have to become nasty in order to make yourself a starter.”Pulisic initially impressed upon his arrival at Chelsea, but has not started a Premier League game since August 31 and has seen only 90 minutes of game time in the Carabao Cup during September.

Breaking down Pulisic’s competition at Chelsea

Kyle Bonn,NBC Sports Mon, Sep 30 12:01 PM EDT

 

Christian Pulisic has gone three Premier League games without seeing the field. An unused substitute again at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea topped Brighton 2-0 on Saturday, the 21-year-old told NBC Sports that his lack of playing time is “very frustrating” and that “it is tough for me right now.”Frank Lampard is under no obligation to play the American despite his hefty $73 million price tag on the move from Borussia Dortmund over the winter. With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the performances of his competition at Chelsea and determine whether the Blues boss is making the right decision in keeping Pulisic on the bench.There seems to be at least four other attacking players above Pulisic in the depth chart: Experienced international wingers Willian and Pedro, and youngsters Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi. Here’s a closer look at each player’s season so far.

Mason Mount

The 20-year-old England youth international has exploded onto the scene this campaign, forced into the rotation due to Chelsea’s transfer ban. He has taken his chance marvelously, proving a massive threat to opposition defenses on the ball. The sample size is still small, but Mount is currently rated as WhoScored’s 14th best player so far this season with an impressive 7.45 rating. He has delivered three goals thus far, and has produced over two key passes per game and just under two successful dribbles per game.Lampard has begun to deploy Mount more centrally, pairing him in midfield with Ross Barkley and allowing him to venture forward. He created three chances against Brighton last time out and won the penalty that saw Jorginho put Chelsea in front just after halftime. There is no doubt that in his current form, Mount should be starting every match for Chelsea at this point, and Pulisic can have no qualms about sitting behind the fellow youngster.

Pedro

Since arriving from Barcelona in 2015, Pedro has been a versatile player that has seen significant time under a host of different Chelsea managers who have all noticed his value. Playing as a true winger, a central creative force, or a wing-back in various formations, Pedro has been able to contribute in a number of ways.This season, Pedro has been of decent quality. He started slow against Brighton last time out but ended up with a solid overall performance, testing the goalkeeper a few different times and creating opportunities for his teammates. Still, that was his first league appearances since August and he was withdrawn for Hudson-Odoi after an hour. Lampard doesn’t seem to fully trust the Spaniard. His appearance in the lineup against Brighton instead of Pulisic was probably the most surprising given his lack of playing time thus far, but he proved a valuable asset.

Willian

While a hamstring problem carried over from summer international duty limited him early in the season, the 31-year-old Brazilian has seen significant playing time over the last month. Racking up three straight 90-minute showings in a row in league play, Willian is a trusted servant for Frank Lampard early on. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat difficult to determine why.Aside from the demolition of Wolves in which he was brilliant, the performances have been quite spotty for Willian thus far. While his passing accuracy is 80 percent this season, a closer look shows a host of square passes well outside the box that inflate that total. Against Brighton, Willian added little creativity, especially in the first half when Chelsea as a whole struggled to produce much of anything. Still, he came away with the game’s second goal, a tight-angled strike out of basically nothing that was deflected in and punished poor one-on-one marking and even worse goalkeeping.Another key part of Willian’s game is his defensive contributions which often can neuter his overall attacking threat. He came away from the Brighton with four completed tackles on the right flank, an impressive total for a winger. A look at his performance in the loss to Liverpool shows he was pinned back by his defensive duties for much of the game, and when he did get forward he was unable to produce much, completing just two of his six attempted passes in the penalty area and failing to come away from the match with an official chance created. Willian is a good squad player, but he hasn’t exactly dazzled in the early going. His fans will say he’s never been a dazzling player, and that’s a fair retort.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Just having returned from an Achilles injury, the 18-year-old is clearly a fabulous talent. With the Blues having rejected Bayern Munich’s advances. There’s a feeling of obligation to play Hudson-Odoi now that Bayern has been rebuffed to confirm the club’s commitment to his future. Still, there’s a reason he sees the field. In 30 minutes against Brighton, he picked up an assist and proved valuable defensively, completing two tackles in two attempts and completing 21 of 24 passes. It wasn’t an inspiring passing chart, but Chelsea was playing with a lead the entire time.Plenty remains to be seen here how he gets on after returning from injury, but as a huge talent that has already broken into the England senior squad, there’s little reason to think he won’t see a lot of the field.

The verdict:

This is a difficult one to analyze as aside from Mason Mount, there are plenty of question marks remaining among those in front of Pulisic on the depth chart. Willian and Pedro are older, experienced players who don’t light up the field but managers love them for their dedication to the team effort and game plan, while Hudson-Odoi has plenty to prove on his way back from injury but figures to be given the chance to do so.Given the unknowns, there’s no reason to think Pulisic can’t work his way back up the ranks. Chelsea is clearly committed to youth this season, and there is plenty of incentive to develop Pulisic into a regular contributor given his promise, his age, and the club’s financial commitment. Eventually, it’s logical to think Willian and Pedro will be phased out in favor of the younger attacking players.Let’s also remember, Christian Pulisic isn’t the only good player struggling for time at Chelsea. Jorginho has proven an improved asset at Stamford Bridge, while Kante has also struggled with injury, the improved play of Jorginho has enabled Lampard to be careful with the French midfielder, confirming Kante missed the Brighton squad with a hamstring problem that left Chelsea to be cautious. Had Jorginho not been playing so well, Kante may have been risked.While it’s natural to panic over Pulisic’s small workload early on – and certainly frustrating for the player given his phasing out at Dortmund at the hands of Jadon Sancho – it’s not time to push the big red button. Lampard has clearly told Pulisic to improve his training, and nobody but the team knowns what goes on there. All we can judge is what happens on the field, and until someone at Chelsea struggles greatly and deserves to be replaced, it’s tough to see a way back in for Pulisic in the short-term.

Which version of Indy Eleven will show up for playoffs?

Kevin Johnston, Special for IndyStarPublished 1:28 p.m. ET Oct. 6, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS – A Sept. 14 home win against Bethlehem Steel FC had the Indy Eleven feeling on top of the world. With 56 points at the time, the Eleven had sewn up a spot in the USL Championship playoffs and were every bit a contender for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, tied with New York Red Bulls II atop the standings.But it’s hard to put a finger on this 2019 Indy Eleven group. Four games later, they were still sitting on 56 points.Consecutive road losses to Birmingham, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Ottawa quickly quieted Indy’s top-seed aspirations and, in fact, even left the team with work to do to secure a home playoff match. To confound matters, an Indy player was sent off with a red card in three of the four losses.Saturday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indy finally halted its four-game skid while extending another streak in the process. The team moved its home unbeaten run to 24 matches by taking out Memphis 901 FC 3-0 before 13,134 supporters. More importantly, Indy — now in second place and three points back of first-place Pittsburgh — is back in the mix to secure at least one home playoff fixture, if not more.“We needed it,” Eleven goalkeeper Jordan Farr confessed. “Like, it was a need tonight, to get three points. The clean sheet is an added bonus, but right now the boys needed a win and we were just champing at the bit to get home. Being here, in front of this crowd, probably the most we’ve had since the opening night, is just perfect. We honestly, literally, right now can’t do it without the (supporter’s group Brickyard Battalion). This was much needed and refreshing for all the boys.”Aerial services proved Memphis’ undoing, especially early. Despite the relative lack of height in Indy’s starting attack, Memphis defenders were consistently out-timed and out-jumped on dangerous crosses into their own box. Indy’s first and second tallies came from winning balls in the air.Indy’s first tally came on an in-swinging corner kick by Kenney Walker. Dane Kelly flicked the ball on with his head at the near post, allowing Cristian Novoa to head it home at the back post, his first goal with the club. The second came on an Ayoze cross and Karl Ouimette header from the run of play.“I thought our delivery on our set plays was very good and our movement was good on those,” Eleven coach Martin Rennie explained. “In addition to that, I think we had a number of other chances… We had good movement, good balls in. I think we are still trying to find that right mix, but tonight we found it well.”Indy’s third strike came from a familiar source in leading-scorer Tyler Pasher. He settled a pinpoint long ball from Paddy Barrett and cut right toward the end line as Memphis defender Liam Doyle overplayed his dangerous left foot, then nutmegged goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell with a right-footed shot from a difficult angle.Farr drew the start in net for Indy after regular starting goalkeeper Evan Newton picked up an injury late in Indy’s previous match. Farr produced a nice diving stop on a hard-hit volley among his three saves.“I feel very confident (when Farr plays),” Rennie said. “We have two great goalkeepers and they’ve done an excellent job all season long. I think that Jordan has been focused and ready for his chances, and I thought tonight he did everything that he was asked to, and he made it look fairly comfortable.” The Eleven will host the Swope Park Rangers on Oct. 16 in their final home game of the regular season. Before that, they’ll travel to face Tampa Bay next Saturday. Two more matches, then it’s onto the playoffs.After all the strange ebbs and flows of the 2019 season, the million-dollar question remains: Which version of the Indy Eleven will show up for the playoffs — the team that just lost four straight on the road while earning three red cards, or the team that hasn’t been beaten at home in over a calendar year?“It got us out of a big ol’ rut,” Farr said of the Memphis win. “A four-game losing streak, you never like it. I mean, you never like to have that.”

MATCH PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN CONTINUES FIGHT FOR TOP OF THE TABLE AT TAMPA BAY ROWDIES

By IndyEleven.com, 10/10/19, 7:45PM EDT

 

Boys In Blue Head to St. Petersburg for Final Regular Season Away Contest

Indy Eleven at Tampa Bay Rowdies 
Saturday, October 12, 2019 – 7:30 P.M. ET
Al Lang Stadium  |  St. Petersburg, Fla.    

 

FOLLOW LIVE:

Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23

Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click for a free 7-day trial)

Radio (Spanish): N/A

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

 

SETTING THE TABLE:

Indy Eleven: 18W-9L-5D, 59 pts., 2nd in Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay Rowdies: 16W-7L-9D, 57 pts., 5th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings

FIRST 2019 MEETING:

Indy Eleven 0 : 0 Tampa Bay Rowdies | Wednesday, May 1

The first meeting between age-old rivals ended in a stalemate in Week 9 of the USL Championship season. The Boys in Blue put on a sturdy defense display and kept the Rowdies from registering a single shot on goal after an early red card forced defender Paddy Barrett from the match. Indy secured a point from the shutout and kept the club’s home undefeated streak alive.

#INDvTBR:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats

LAST TIME OUT:

Indy Eleven  3 : 0  Memphis 901 FC  |  Saturday, October 5

Indiana’s Team extended its home undefeated streak to 24 games after a 3-0 win against Memphis 901 FC. Indy forward Cristian Novoa netted his first goal since joining the team in August in the 13th minute, with midfielder Dane Kelly recording his fourth assist in the process. Two additional goals from defender Karl Ouimette and midfielder Tyler Pasher helped Indy leapfrog to second place in the Eastern Conference.

#INDvMEM:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats

Loudoun United FC 2 : 0 Tampa Bay Rowdies  |  Friday, October 4

Tampa Bay Rowdies road record dropped to 8W-4L-4D after a 2-0 loss to 14th-place Loudoun United FC. Two second-half goals from Loudoun’s Alioune Ndour and Gordon Wild were enough to hand the Rowdies their seventh loss in 2019, keeping the race for a top four finish in the Eastern Conference tight heading into the last final two games of the regular season.

#LDNvTBR:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats

#TBRVIND STORYLINES

  • Indy Eleven and Tampa Bay Rowdies are long-time rivals, dating back to both teams’ North American Soccer League (NASL) days. The two teams’ inaugural match-up was on April 19, 2014, and ended in a 1-1 draw.
  • Indy’s all-time record against the Rowdies sits at 3W-2L-7D, with a goal differential of +2 (16GF/14GA). The only year the two sides didn’t meet was 2017.
  • The first meeting between the two clubs in the 2019 USL Championship took place on May 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium and ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
  • If the Boys in Blue win on Saturday, Indiana’s Team could regain a share of first place in the Eastern Conference with a Pittsburgh loss at Saint Louis FC and either a loss or tie by Nashville SC at home against North Carolina FC.
  • Saturday night’s match-up will feature the second-best defense in the USL Championship in Indy Eleven (27 goals allowed) and the third best in Tampa Bay (30 GA). The clean sheet race remains close as well, as the Boys in Blue have recorded 13 shutouts (3rd in East; T-4th across the league) and Rowdies 11 of their own (6th in East; 9th across the league).
  • Forward Cristian Novoa scored his first goal since joining Indy Eleven last weekend against Memphis 901 FC, netting the game’s opening goal in the 13th minute.
  • Tampa Bay Rowdies forward Sebastian Guenzatti is no stranger to facing Indiana’s Team. Guenzatti spent 2013-16 with New York Cosmos alongside Indy Eleven’s Ayoze. Guenzatti leads the Rowdies’ scoring charge with 17 goals to his name, setting a new modern era single-season goals record for the club. Additionally, his 17 goals puts him second in the Eastern Conference goals chart (behind only Nashville forward Daniel Rios’ 18) and third in the USL Championship.
  • Indy Eleven Assistant Coach Juan Guerra is no stranger to the Florida-based team. Guerra spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Rowdies, tallying three goals and one assist in 45 appearances during the club’s NASL era.
  • Indy Eleven’s Neveal Hackshaw was named to the Trinidad & Tobago Men’s National Team roster ahead of Thursday night’s 2019 CONCACAF Nations League fixture against Honduras at Hasely Crawford Stadium Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.  At the time of writing, the 24-year-old was available as a substitute on the bench. Hackshaw made his 11th full international appearance for Trinidad & Tobago back on June 23, when he went the full 90 minutes against the United States in CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage action at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | DF KARL OUIMETTE

Karl Ouimette’s performance against Memphis 901 FC at home last Saturday was enough to secure a bench spot on USL Championship’s Team of the Week. The defender contributed on both ends of the pitch, putting up stellar defensive numbers and scoring the second goal of Saturday’s contest, his second of the season.The Canadian was a wall in the back third, racking up the most clearances and tackles of the game with five and four, respectively, and helped lead Indy to its 13th clean sheet on the season. Ouimette brings peace of mind to teammates when in the backline according to captain Matt Watson, who has played in front of the 27-year-old for the majority of the season.

TAMPA BAY ROWDIES PLAYER TO WATCH | FW SEBASTIAN GUENZATTI

Indy’s defense will need to be at its best come Saturday night, when Rowdies forward Sebastian Guenzatti comes to town. The 28-year-old is in the thick of a breakout season, currently leading the scoring charge for the Floridian team with a franchise record-breaking 17 goals. Guenzatti, the Eastern Conference’s second highest goal scorer, sits just four goals off the top spot in the league-wide Golden Boot race, raising the stakes for the striker ahead of the final two matches of the regular season.

Guenzatti registered four of Rowdies’ 14 shots against Indy at Lucas Oil Stadium on May 1, but like the rest of his teammates, was unable to test Eleven ‘keeper Evan Newton with an on-target attempt.The pressure to create in front of net by Guenzatti has the potential to increase on Saturday night with the possibility of the Rowdies being without midfielder Dominic Oduro and runner-up goal scorer Juan Tejada. Oduro was subbed off 25 minutes into Tampa’s previous game against Loudoun. The 22-year-old Tejada, who has scored 10 goals in 2019, was subbed off at halftime two matches ago against Louisville City FC and has not clocked in any playing time since. Guenzatti will need to find form after struggling to put a single shot on frame against Loudoun United FC, as he faces the second-best defense in the East in Indy.

Indy Eleven will close out its regular season slate over the next two matches, starting with a huge top-five fixture this Saturday at the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  The action begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be live locally on MyINDY-TV 23 and online via ESPN+.

After this Saturday’s crucial top-five clash at Tampa Bay, Indy Eleven will close out its sixth and most successful regular season in club history this Wednesday, Oct. 16, against Swope Park Rangers, at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff for Fan Appreciation Night, presented by Community Health Network Foundation, is set for 7:00 p.m. (live on ESPN+ and MyINDY-TV 23). Tickets remain available for as little as $15 by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

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9/27/19  Playoff Bound Indy 11 on Road Sat/Wed, Champs League Thrills returns Tues/Wed, MLS Closes in on Playoffs, Madrid Derby Sat 3 pm

Man its great to have Champions League back!!  Matchday 1 of the Group Stage is complete and man were there some surprises.  Liverpool losing 2-0 in Napoli, Real Madrid being destroyed at PSG 3-0 and Chelsea (with American Christian Pulisic on the bench) losing 1-0 to Valencia after missing a PK late. The world’s top keeper Ter Stegan saved a penalty and had some great saves at Dortmund as Messi finally returned to the field in a 0-0 tie for Barcelona.  Great games – though tough to watch with just a few games on TNT and the others on BR Live and FuboTV.   The 2nd leg kicks off this week Tues/Wed as Tottenham hosts Bayern Munich at 3 pm after Real Madrid hosts Club Brugge.  While Wed gives us Barcelona vs Inter on TNT and the American connections Chelsea and Pulisic (if he plays) and American coach of Salzburg travels to Cup Holder’s Liverpool – both at 3 pm on B/R Live.

Tues, Oct 1

1 pm TNT Real Madrid vs Club Brugge

3 pm          Juventus vs Bayer Leverkusen

3 pm TNT Tottenham vs Bayern Munich                   

3 pm          Galatasaray vs PSG

3 pm          Man City vs Dinamo Zagreb

Wed, Oct 2

1 pm TNT Praha vs Borussian Dortmund

3 pm TNT Barcelona cs Inter

3 pm           RB Leipzig vs Lyonnaise

3 pm          Lille vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

3 pm          Liverpool vs Salzburg (US Coach)

USA

The US Men recovered a little from the embarrassing 3-0 loss to Mexico with a solid 1-1 draw with Uraguay.  Hard to say – but new coach Berhalter has a plan and he appears to be sticking to it.  Not sure we have the player quality to play out of the back and possess all game –but he seems heck bent on doing it.  I do think the US has perhaps its strongest set of U23s  – really U20’s since the Donovan/Beasley/Bocanegra group. I love that our coach wants to possess the ball and take it to teams rather than absorb pressure and counter attack.  Its going to take some time and but I like the idea of expecting to play better teams hoping to dominate or at least be even on possession.  We just need to solidify things on the back line and get a healthy Adams in at the 6 Role in front of that line and we’ll see where we go.  Its going to take time however – and there will be some growing pains along the way.  The US Ladies will be in Chicago on Oct 6th at 1 pm at Soldier Field as part of their Victory tour vs Korea – tickets are less than $35 and available here.  Oh and great to see Megan Rapino win Women’s FIFA Player of the Year and Jill Ellis Coach of the Year!!

Indy 11

Indy Eleven move to a 17W-7L-5D (56 pts.) record on the season, engaged in a three-way tie on points for first place with New York Red Bulls II and Tampa Bay Rowdies, with Nashville SC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC trailing by one.   Indy Eleven continues its four-game road trip this Saturday at Highmark Stadium, squaring up against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at 7:00 p.m. ET.   Indiana’s Team travels north of the border four days later to take on Ottawa Fury FC for another 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff. Both matches will be streamed live via ESPN+.Indy returns to Lucas Oil Stadium on October 5 for Fall Fest against Memphis 901 FC. Kickoff for the contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

MLS

So 3 more teams clinched Playoff Spots last week and there are just 4 slots left with 1 in the East and 3 in the West.  Zlattan Ibrahimovich and the LA Galaxy secured their slot last week while LAFC claimed the Supporters Shield finally as the team with the most overall points in MLS.  Sorry to see Josef Martinez go down for Atlanta United – his 15 game goal scoring streak came to an end when we was carted off last week – hopefully Atlanta’s best player and last season’s MVP can return for the playoffs.  The Playoffs started earlier this year – with the new single game elimination first round games at the team with the best record starting in just 3 weeks – Oct 19th.   This Sunday teams battling for playoff position on Fox Sports 1 at 5 pm with NYRB hosting DC United and 7:30 pm Minn United looking for the #2 spot behind opponent LAFC.

World

A bit early in the season but the Madrid Derby kicks off Sat at 3 pm on beIN Sport – as Atletico Madrid will host Real Madrid and ESPNFC says Atletico might have the edge.  In Germany Top of the table RB Leipzig might return American Tyler Adams from injury on Sat as they host American Weston Mckennie and Schalke at 9:30 am on Fox Sports 2 followed by Josh Sergent and Werder Breman traveling to Dortmund at 12:30 on FS2.  The EPL gives us Chelsea vs Brighton at 10 am on NBCSN followed Everton hosting Man City at 12:30 pm on NBC Saturday and Leicester City hosting New Castle United Sunday at 11:30 am on NBCSN.

LOCAL

Good Luck to our Carmel FC teams playing in the Tourney at Grand Park this weekend!  A reminder GK Coach Jordan Farr will be at both Carmel FC GK trainings the next 2 Weeks – Monday night at Badger 5-7 pm and Thurs nights 5:30 pm till 7:30 pm.   

 The CHS Boys have not lost a game in their last 9 and now stand at  8-3-2 overall as they enter the last week of play on the road at Guerin tonight 5 pm, Harrison High Tues before Sectionals at Zionsville.

CarmelFC-CHSGirls

The #2 Ranked Carmel High School Girls squad hosted #1 Noblesville on Monday night and the top 2 ranked teams in the state played to a 1-1 tie as a packed house – including a ton of Carmel FC players who showed up.  Sure was great seeing so many former Carmel FC players starring for the Carmel High Varsity and JV teams !  The CHS Girls play at Zionsville at 1 pm Sat before returning home for Senior Night vs Westfield Monday at 5 pm JV / 7 pm Varsity at Murray Stadium vs Westfield.

GAMES ON TV

Sat, Sept 28

7:30 am NBCSN                                Sheffield United vs Liverpool

9 am ESPN+                                       Juventus vs SPAL

9:30 am Fox sports2                       RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Schalke  (McKinney)

10 am NCBSN                                    Chelsea vs Brighton

12:30 pm NBC                                  Everton vs Manchester City

12:30 pm FS2                                   Dortmund vs Werder Bremen (Josh Sargent)

3 pm beIN Sport                Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid (MADRID DERBY)  

Sun, Sept 29

9:30 am FS 1                                     Dusseldorf (Steffan) vs Freiburg

11:30 am NBCSN                             Leicester City vs New Castle United

5 pm Fox Sport 1                             NY Red Bulls vs DC United

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1                       Minn United vs LAFC  

Tues, Oct 1

1 pm TNT                     Real Madrid vs Club Brugge

3 pm TNT                     Juventus vs Bayer Leverkusen

3 pm                              Tottenham vs Bayern Munich                   

3 pm                              Galatasaray vs PSG

3 pm                              Man City vs Dinamo Zagreb

Wed, Oct 2

1 pm                              Genk vs Napoli

3 pm TNT                     Barcelona cs Inter

3 pm                               RB Leipzig vs Lyonnaise

3 pm                              Lille vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

3 pm                              Liverpool vs Salzburg (US Coach)

7 pm ESPN+           Indy 11 vs Ottawa

Fri, Oct 4

2:30 pm F2 Dusseldorf (Steffan /Morales) vs Hertha

Sat, Oct 5

10 am NBCSN             Liverpool vs Leicester City

Sun, Oct 6

9 am NBCSN               Southampton vs Chelsea

11:30 am NBCSN       New Castle United vs Man United

 

EPL & World

Is Pulisic’s Lack of Playing Time Cause for Alarm?  – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Pulisic Struggling for Time at Chelsea – ESPNFC

Top Premier League storylines: Week 6

Premier League player Power Rankings

Pulisic Relegated to Bench as Chelsea’s Young Stars Pound Wolverhampton

Atletico’s spending gives them an edge over ‘new’ Real

– Messi beats Van Dijk, Ronaldo to FIFA The Best

– Toe Poke: What you mised from FIFA The Best awards

GK

Great Saves by US Keeper Zach Steffan for Dusseldorf

Dutch Keeper Van Sari is Women’s GK of Year – WC Save

Great Save  of Zlattan shot

Nice to See Navas Starting Again now for PSG

De Gea vs Kasper Schmiechel Great Saves

Hugo Lloris Great Saves for Spurs

GK

Great Saves by US Keeper Zach Steffan for Dusseldorf

Nice to See Navas Starting Again now for PSG

De Gea vs Kasper Schmiechel Great Saves

Hugo Lloris Great Saves for Spurs

Champions League

Marsch becomes first U.S. manager in Champions League history

Champions League: Jesse Marsch’s RB Salzburg runs wild in 6-2 rout

UCL AT HALF: Marsch’s Salzburg rolling; Champions holding firm; Chelsea’s Mount hurt

Americans in Champions League: Marsch’s RB Salzburg runs wild, Pulisic stays on bench

Five things we learned from the Champions League
Napoli scores on late penalty, rare Van Dijk error in 2-0 win

PSG Routs Real Madrid; Tottenham, Juventus Throw Away Leads in UCL

Di Maria scores 2 as PSG beats Madrid in Champions League

Barkley sails late penalty, Chelsea falls

Christian Pulisic was an unused sub for Chelsea, who out-attempted Valencia 22-8 on the day.

Pochettino needs all of his squad to fight ahead of hectic schedule

Ter Stegen saves penalty as Barcelona draws 0-0 at Dortmund

Ter Stegen covering defence that jeopardises Barca’s European hopes

 USA

Megan Rapino Win’s Best Player of Year from Fifa

Yedlin nears return, hoping for October USMNT call-up
The USMNT heading into the end of Berhalter’s first year

Where does USMNT stand after Mexico, Uruguay friendlies?

Berhalter believes USMNT on the right path

Three things from USMNT 1-1 Uruguay

Work in Progress USMNT Earns Draw vs Uruguay

Sacchi: Guardiola, Klopp and Pochettino are innovators of the Premier League’s ‘golden age’

‘Who wouldn’t want to coach the best team in the world?’ – Andonovski confirms interest in USWNT coaching job

USWNT to close out 2019 with matches against Sweden and Costa Rica

The Gender Equal Pay Argument is Flawed – Yahoosoccer

 

MLS

Doyle: What I’m watching in the final two weeks

Golden Boot update: It’s down to a two-horse race

LAFC Secure Supporters Shield with Win over Houston

LAFC win 2019 Supporters’ Shield, lift first major trophy

LA Galaxy and Zlattan secure Playoff Spot with Win over RSL

Wiebe: Five MVP candidates in any other season…

Josef Martinez extends record scoring streak to 15

Could MLS and Liga MX Merge?

Zlattan Breaks LA Goal Record with 3 Goals in Rout

MLS Power Rankings: LAFC, NYCFC remain on top as playoffs near

Indy 11

Indy 11 Clinch Playoffs with 2-1 home Win

Indy 11 lose close 1-2 to Atlanta United 2

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

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

Is Christian Pulisic’s lack of playing time at Chelsea cause for alarm?

Sep 25, 2019   Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

When Christian Pulisic‘s $73 million move to Chelsea was announced in January, there were equal parts excitement and trepidation.The anticipation came from having the American heading to one of the world’s biggest clubs for a fee more than three times the previous record for a U.S. international. If Pulisic could break through with the Blues, there was a chance that he could live up to the predictions — or hopes — that he would become the first transcendent American star.But the enthusiasm was tempered by concern over how much he would actually play, especially coming off a season with Borussia Dortmund in which his time decreased due to a combination of injury and the emergence of Jadon Sancho. When Maurizio Sarri — Chelsea’s manager when Pulisic’s transfer was agreed upon — returned to his native Italy and Frank Lampard came in to replace him, the American’s position looked even more vulnerable.Just six weeks into the season, Pulisic has shown flashes of ability, like when he set up Olivier Giroud‘s goal against Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup, but has found minutes harder to come by recently. When he has featured, he struggled to make much of an impact, often opting to play it safe.

“OK” is the word that keeps coming up from those assessing the American’s performances. That hasn’t been enough to keep Pulisic in Chelsea’s starting lineup, even as he returned from international duty early. In fact, heading into Wednesday’s Carabao Cup match against Grimsby Town (ESPN+, 2:45 p.m. ET), he has been an unused substitute three games in a row.

The lack of minutes has, in some cases, been circumstantial. During last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Liverpool, Lampard was forced to burn two substitutes in the first half when defenders Emerson Palmieri and Andreas Christensen were injured.But other signs are more disheartening. When Mason Mount was injured early in Chelsea’s 1-0 Champions League defeat to Valencia, Pedro was summoned, not Pulisic. The return of Willian, hurt at the start the season, has also made minutes tougher to come by. With Callum Hudson-Odoi also on the mend, the competition is set to get more intense.

“It’s so early,” said former U.S. international Landon Donovan, who enjoyed two loan spells in England with Everton. “You don’t want to get carried away, but the signs don’t look great so far for Pulisic, especially when you have Pedro, Ross Barkley and Michy Batshuayi also not starting in [the Liverpool] match. You would think he’s moving down the pecking order.”Pulisic was already operating at a deficit, given that Mount spent all of last season on loan at Derby County, where Lampard was manager. While Mount has endured uneven moments of his own, he has scored three goals. Pulisic, by contrast, has yet to find the back of the net. Others like Pedro and Willian are more proven, even as they are getting on in years (32 and 31, respectively).

“The number that they bought Pulisic for helps, but the shake-up in management doesn’t because there’s no tie,” said former Leicester, Tottenham and Fulham goalkeeper Kasey Keller. “Lampard isn’t tied to Pulisic. He’s not saying that this is the guy I wanted and give him the benefit of the doubt. He had nothing to do with signing Pulisic.”So how does the 21-year-old earn Lampard’s faith? There’s really only one way, and that is through his performances during training and in games.”There’s very little politics that goes into playing time over there,” said Brad Friedel, who spent the bulk of his career in the Premier League with the likes of Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham. “It’s a very straightforward scenario where the best play. It doesn’t matter what your last name is. It doesn’t matter generally how much they paid for you, although if you get into the stratospheric wages that can put a little bit of pressure on.”It will be turning up for training, working hard, being better than the other players in your position, and the most important thing: scoring and assisting and winning games. If you’re not involved in the scoring and winning and assisting and all that, you will not play over there, especially at a club like Chelsea, because they’re going to be under pressure to win.”In some respects, the fact that Pulisic is having difficulty breaking through is not surprising. The Premier League, and Chelsea in particular, has witnessed supremely talented players struggle during their initial foray in England. Neither Kevin De Bruyne nor Mohamed Salah managed to make the grade at Stamford Bridge, only to return to England and flourish at Manchester City and Liverpool, respectively. It speaks to how difficult the adjustment can be, even if you’re moving from a quality league like the Bundesliga.”The Bundesliga, the quality is really high, but the EPL is just crazy physical, beyond what people can imagine,” Donovan said. “There’s definitely an adjustment period for any player going there. It’s not easy.”There’s consensus that Pulisic will get additional opportunities, starting with Wednesday’s Carabao Cup match. Lampard has said as much, while the fact that Chelsea is operating under a transfer ban until the summer gives the manager few options but to persist with what’s at hand. The key for Pulisic is to seize his chance and leave Lampard with no choice but to play him. That will be an ongoing process, one that will be monitored closely stateside, given that World Cup qualifying starts next June.It’s not time to hit the panic button, but by the middle of the season, if it’s not changed, then he needs to consider what his options are because leading into [World Cup] qualifying and hopefully the World Cup, he needs to be playing games,” Donovan said.The flip side is that if Pulisic does break through, he’ll emerge a stronger, more refined player. Moreover, time is on his side, given the size of his transfer fee and the fact that he signed a five-year contract.”I think it’s great for players when it happens, though it’s probably not nice for them at the time,” Friedel said. “But it really makes players grind out to earn their place and learn how to play in a new league. It should in the end be really good for him if he takes it the right way.”U.S. fans will be hoping that is the case.

Sept 27-29 viewing guide and open thread

By jcksnftsn  Sep 27, 2019, 9:00am PDT

a number of USMNT regulars in action as well as a few fringe players available to keep track of in nationally-broadcast games. Additionally, Tyler Adams and DeAndre Yedlin are reportedly closer to returning, potentially increasing the viewing opportunities. Here’s what we’ll be watching this weekend:

Saturday

RB Leipzig v Schalke 04 – 9:30a on FS2

Tyler Adams has reportedly returned to full training with RB Leipzig and thus is nearing return to game action, though it’s unknown if he will be available for this weekend’s top five matchup with Weston McKennie and Schalke. Currently, RB Leipzig sit in first place in the Bundesliga and are coming off a 3-0 win over Werder Bremen. The team has the third most goals in the league and their stingy defense has allowed just three goals through five matches.

Schalke who sit in 5th place in the Bundesliga, have won three straight games. Weston McKennie was back in a starting role for Schalke last weekend in their 2-1 win over Mainz 05. The young man was once again playing a bit all over the place and it will be interesting to see if the team looks for a consistent role for him moving forward or if “a bit all over the place” role is his consistent role.

Other Notes:

  • Christian Pulisic started midweek for Chelsea in their 7-1 Carabao Cup win over fourth-tier Grimsby Town. While Pulisic picked up an assist, he didn’t do much to distinguish himself either positively or negatively which means he’s likely back to the bench on Saturday when Chelsea face Brighton & Hove Albion at 10a on NBCSN.
  • Josh Sargent received his second start of the season last weekend in the teams 0-3 loss to RB Leipzig. Werder Bremen are in 10th place with two wins and three losses thus far, and this weekend they will be facing third place Borussia Dortmund at 12:30p on FS2.
  • Ventura Alvarado and Necaxa are coming off a 2-1 win and looking to keep pace at the top of the table. Currently the team is in second place, three points behind Santos Laguna (though with a point in hand). They take on Juarez this weekend at 8p on ESPN Deportes.

Sunday

Fortuna Düsseldorf v Freiburg – 9:30a on FS1

Zack Steffen continues to get lots of work behind a league-worst Fortuna Düsseldorf defense that has given up 89 shots through five games. The team is currently in 13th place with four points and based on their current form, it’s going to take a phenomenal season from Steffen for the club to avoid relegation. The team is coming off a 2-1 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach and is looking for their first win since the opening weekend of the season. This weekend, Düsseldorf will be facing fourth place Freiburg, who are coming off a 1-1 draw with Augsburg and have just one loss on the season.

Other Notes:

  • DeAndre Yedlin is available for selection but was left out of the 18 last weekend, so it seems unlikely he’ll be right back in the starting lineup this weekend when Newcastle faces Leicester City at 11:30a on NBCSN.

Five things we learned from the Champions League

Jed CourtAFPSep 18, 2019, 5:19 PM

Paris (AFP) – Champions League holders Liverpool suffered defeat at Napoli this week, while Paris Saint-Germain laid down a marker by brushing aside Real Madrid and Juventus were held by Atletico Madrid.ere, AFP Sport takes a look at five things we learned from the opening round of group-stage matches:

PSG can cope without ‘MSN’

Paris Saint-Germain faced their first real test without the suspended Neymar and the injured duo of Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani at the Parc des Princes against Real Madrid.But Thomas Tuchel’s men showed they can cope without their star front three, as Angel Di Maria’s double and Thomas Meunier’s late strike secured a 3-0 victory over the record 13-time winners.The French champions were not short on firepower, with close-season signings Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia both providing a threat going forward.With Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe all to return, hopes will be higher than ever in the French capital this season that PSG can reach a maiden Champions League final.

Liverpool not unbeatable

Holders Liverpool came unstuck for the second straight season at Napoli as a combination of poor finishing and sloppy defending cost Jurgen Klopp’s men in a 2-0 loss at the Stadio San Paolo.The famed front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were all guilty of wasting chances on Tuesday, while UEFA men’s player of the year Virgil van Dijk made an uncharacteristic error to gift Fernando Llorente Napoli’s late second.It was a first defeat for Liverpool, on a club-record 14-match winning streak in the Premier League, since their 3-0 loss in last season’s semi-final, first leg at Barcelona.”It should hurt because there were opportunities for us,” said Klopp, whose team lost 1-0 in Naples last year before going on to lift the trophy.

Tottenham’s soft underbelly

Last season’s runners-up Tottenham let a two-goal lead slip for the second time this season in a 2-2 draw at Olympiakos.Mauricio Pochettino criticised his team’s desire after a tame performance which was only enough for a point thanks to Harry Kane and Lucas Moura scoring in four first-half minutes.”It’s not about tactics, it’s not about quality players, it’s about the quality of preparing yourself to be ready to fight,” bemoaned Pochettino, who also saw his team draw after leading 2-0 against rivals Arsenal earlier this month.Spurs have won just three of their last 12 matches in all competitions.

Salzburg hoping to be ‘new Ajax’

Austrian champions Salzburg laid down a marker in their first group-stage game since 1994 as teenage sensation Erling Braut Haaland scored a hat-trick in a 6-2 demolition of Genk.The 19-year-old striker, who has scored 17 goals in nine matches this term, thinks his team can emulate Ajax, whose young side knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus in a surprise run to the semi-finals last season.”Everything is possible. We all saw Ajax last year, it would be nice to be the new Ajax,” the Norwegian told uefa.com.

Atalanta’s attacking style exposed

Italian debutants Atalanta claimed third place in Serie A and a spot in the Champions League last season after a thrilling campaign that saw them finish as the leading goalscorers in the Italian top flight.But their hopes of transferring that form to European club football’s top competition suffered an early blow with a 4-0 thrashing at Dinamo Zagreb.It was only a second win in 25 Champions League group-stage matches for the Croatian champions, and leaves Atalanta with plenty to do to get out of a group which also includes tournament favourites Manchester City.

Messi beats Van Dijk, Ronaldo to FIFA The Best

 

Sep 23, 2019

ESPNLionel Messi beat Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo to win FIFA’s The Best award, which is given to the top men’s player, on Monday.

The award was handed to the Barcelona and Argentina captain at a ceremony in Milan.Messi, 32, led Barcelona to a fourth La Liga title in the past five seasons, scoring 36 goals and providing 15 assists in 35 league matches last campaign. He posted 51 goals and 22 assists in all competitions.Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric won the award last year — as well as the Ballon d’Or, which is awarded by France Football — breaking up a decade-long duel between Messi and Ronaldo for the prize.However, this is Messi’s first The Best award, having gone without a top personal honour since 2015.Ronaldo and Messi had won every main individual honour since Kaka’s triumph in 2007. They each won the last two FIFA World Player of the Year awards — Ronaldo in 2008 and Messi in 2009 — as well as the Ballons d’Or in those years.From 2010, the two awards merged and became the FIFA Ballon d’Or with Messi claiming four in a row. In 2013 and 2014, the Ballon d’Or returned to Ronaldo before Messi won a fifth in 2015.

In 2016, FIFA introduced The Best award, which ran alongside the Ballon d’Or and Ronaldo won both that year and retained them in 2017 before Modric’s clean sweep in 2018.Messi’s win is somewhat of a surprise with Van Dijk, a centre-back who transformed Liverpool’s defence on the way to the Champions League crown, having won the European best player award.In the final voting, Messi finished with 46 points, while Van Dijk (38 points) and Ronaldo (36) finished second and third respectively. The rest of the top 10 was rounded out by Liverpool forwards Mohamed Salah (26) and Sadio Mane (23), Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe (17), former Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong (16), ex-Chelsea forward Eden Hazard (16), ex-Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt (9), and Tottenham striker Harry Kane (5).Additionally, Debrecen forward Daniel Zsori won the Puskas Award for his overhead kick against Ferencvaros during a Hungarian league match.Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp took home coach of the year, while Reds goalkeeper Alisson was named best keeper.United States head coach Jill Ellis and midfielder Megan Rapinoe collected women’s coach and player of the year, respectively, for the USWNT’s World Cup triumph this summer, while Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal was voted women’s goalkeeper of the year after helping her country to the final of the competition.Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa was given the fair play award.

Lampard praises Chelsea youngsters. What now for Pulisic?

Joe Prince-Wright,NBC Sports Sat, Sep 14 1:55 PM EDT

Chelsea’s young English core stood tall in the 5-2 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, as Tammy Abraham scored a hat trick and both Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount scored goals.All 10 of Chelsea’s Premier League goals have been scored by Englishman, and USMNT star Christian Pulisic was dropped from the starting lineup and was an unused sub as Frank Lampard watched Chelsea’s best performance of the season after switching to a 3-4-3 formation.Speaking to the BBC’s Match of the Day after the game, Lampard had high praise for Chelsea’s young stars.“Delighted for them all but particularly for Fikayo Tomori. He has worked so hard from where he started to now it’s superb. Also Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount – we are trying to give chances to the youngsters and they are scoring, taking their chances and showing us why we should keep putting them in the team,” Lampard said. “They deserve it, they have the quality but they also have a love for the club because they have come through the ranks. It’s not just the youngsters though – players like Willian are having fantastic performances that are just as key.”The fact that Lampard is not only praising Chelsea’s other young stars but also the man who came in to take Pulisic’s place, Willian, is hardly good news for the Pennsylvanian winger.Yes, he will get plenty of minutes due to Chelsea being in the League Cup, UEFA Champions League and FA Cup this season, but the fact Chelsea performed so well in a 3-4-3 formation doesn’t bode too well for Pulisic going forward.He can play in one of the wide forward positions tucking in, but Lampard is likely to want a player who is a little more powerful and adept at the defensive side of the game in those wide positions.After being handed valuable minutes early in the season, Pulisic has already struggled to provide Emerson and/or Cesar Apzilicueta with defensive cover so far this season. His safe passes and failure to take games by the scruff of the neck have really restricted his impact for Chelsea in the Premier League.He is still just 20 years old, but Pulisic has to start delivering when he gets minutes for Chelsea. The Premier League is a ruthless environment and right now Willian, Mount, PedroCallum Hudson-Odoi and probably even Ross Barkley are ahead of Pulisic in the pecking order.That might be harsh, but that’s the reality of being in the PL and at Chelsea.

LAFC beat Dynamo to lift MLS Supporters’ Shield

1:06 AM ETReuters

Carlos Vela scored his 30th goal of the season, and Diego Rossi connected on the go-ahead score in the 70th minute as LAFC clinched the 2019 MLS Supporters’ Shield with a 3-1 victory Wednesday over the visiting Houston Dynamo.LAFC midfielder Eduard Atuesta put the game away with a goal off a direct free kick in the 82nd minute when he curled a shot from just outside the corner of the penalty area into the right side of goal. LAFC (20-4-8, 68 points) finally clinched the best record in the league, in just its second season, by ending a five-match winless streak. The team did have four ties during that stretch but had not won since Aug. 21 against San Jose.Vela became just the second player in MLS history to score 30 goals in a season as he moved one away from the record set by Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez last season. Vela became the first player in league history with 30 goals and 15 assists in the same season.LAFC seemed doomed to another tie, which would have left them just short of clinching the Supporters’ Shield. But Rossi scored an opportunistic goal late in the second half off a diving header.Dynamo defender Maynor Figueroa tried to clear a ball out of the Houston penalty area, but the ball hit off the crossbar and came back onto the field. Rossi went with a diving header off a high bounce and beat Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis for his 16th of the season.Vela scored a goal in his seventh consecutive game when he converted on a penalty kick in the 23rd minute for a 1-0 lead. Lee Nguyen earned the attempt when he was fouled in the penalty area by Houston’s Kiki Struna.The Dynamo (11-17-4, 37 points) tied the score 1-1 in the 28th minute on an LAFC own goal. Struna directed a loose ball in the LAFC penalty area toward goal. The ball was cleared off the line by LAFC’s Mohamed El-Munir, but it rebounded off goalkeeper Tyler Miller and into the net.

With two games to play in the regular season, LAFC are now three points behind the New York Red Bulls’ MLS record of 71 points in a season set last year.

Armchair Analyst: What I’m watching for over the final two MLS weekends

September 26, 201912:23PM EDT Matthew DoyleSenior Writer

 

OK, here we are: The very end. The final 180 minutes of the year for all 24 teams.As always, there’s a lot on the line this time of year as teams try to elbow their way into the playoffs, or into home field advantage. Let’s think about that, and what might come next – in the playoffs themselves. One eye on the present, one eye on the future, and off we go…

Are LAFC still the favorites?

A month ago LAFC weren’t just the presumptive Supporters’ Shield winners, nor even the presumptive runaway Supporters’ Shield winners. They were the runaway best team in MLS history, seemingly on an inexorable journey toward records for points, points per game, goals, goal differential and winning margin. They played soccer as beautiful as it was irresistible.  And then 60 minutes into last month’s El Trafico, Carlos Vela pulled up lame. They still might break all those records above, and they did officially clinch the Shield on Wednesday night. But it’s still probably fair to say that things haven’t quite been the same, for one reason or another, since last month against the Galaxy.  The good news is that Vela is back, but there are two other issues now. One is that smart teams have adjusted to how LAFC play and are harder/better/faster/stronger at exploiting space when the Black-and-Gold’s fullbacks overlap:

That’s fixable. Coach A has a certain style of play, and Coach B makes an adjustment, and it’s back to Coach A to figure things out. Bob Bradley’s been playing this game for damn near 40 years, and I’m sure he’s got something up his sleeve.The second problem is a bigger one. Adama Diomande “voluntarily entered into MLS’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (“SABH”) Program” according to LAFC comms last week, and there’s no known timetable for his return. Obviously Diomande getting well is the only real priority here, but from an on-field perspective… after LAFC traded Christian Ramirez, they didn’t go out and get another center forward. Dio’s it.So now they’re playing a busted-up 4-3-3 wherein their fullbacks can’t get as high as early in the play as they used to, and Vela is no longer playing the position where he was having the best season in MLS history (right wing), and is instead playing as a false 9, and there’s no actual remedy for this on the roster as it’s constructed right now.Over the past month LAFC have trended from “might not smash the record” to “might not set the record” to “might not even be the favorites.” They’re a very different team than they were at the start of August.Worth noting, though: Toronto FC and Atlanta United both kind of went into the tank down the stretch each of the last two seasons (it cost Atlanta the Shield), so maybe LAFC are just trodding a well-worn path.

Can Atlanta United cope without Josef?

No. And I felt that way before NYCFC murked ’em on Wednesday night.Josef is the second-best player in the league, and is arguably the most important player in the league. Bobby Warshaw came up with his “break in case of emergency” plans for how Atlanta could maybe go about replacing their MVP, and I respect the effort he put into that as well as the fact that the Five Stripes still have a ton of talent on that roster.But I don’t think there’s any real way for them to replace Josef Martinez. He is not just their GOAT-level goalscorer, he is an inimitable tactical piece with his off the ball movement, and – most importantly – their emotional and spiritual leader. When their season was fading in mid-July, it was Josef who put them on his back. Now he’s gone.I think Wednesday night in the Bronx is a sample of what’s to come until he comes back healthy… this year or next.

Are NYCFC just a regular really good team, or something beyond that?

First, read Bobby’s column breaking down the Pigeons’ smashing of Atlanta, which is instructive in terms of both what they do and who they are. This is the key point:

NYCFC use their positional play to set up the field in a way that suits them. Before you know it, Moralez and Mitrita and Heber and Valentin Castellanos and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi are flying at you and you’re cooked like the chewy stew at grandmas. Nobody wants that.And if you over-compensate to compress the middle of the field, they switch to a 3-4-2-1 and release their wingbacks to attack the space down the flanks. Instead of piercing through the middle, they get the ball wide and crash the box.NYCFC have weapons and they use them. They also have one of the best defenses in the league, have been one of the best teams in the league both at home and on the road, and they’re going to have home field advantage in the East. They are 17-4-5 since mid-April, which is not just “good” that’s “they’re a steamroller.” They’ve done it with and without a whole cadre of key players. They are easily – easily! – the favorites in their conference.That said, they’ve been thoroughly outplayed by TFC twice this season and historically don’t have a great record against the East teams that have dominated the past few years (TFC, RBNY and Atlanta). Nor have they ever done anything of note in the playoffs.If the Reds in particular advance out of that 4/5 game and are NYCFC’s first opponents, it’ll be a very nervous team in light blue taking the field.

Yeah but who’s second in the East?

Atlanta have, by almost any measure, an easier final two games (at Montreal, home vs. New England), but Philly (at Columbus, home vs. NYCFC) are not missing their best player. Even though I’d want no part of NYCFC at home on Decision Day presented by AT&T, I still think I’d rather be the Union. Philly have a one-point lead and a “we don’t give a damn” toughness/swagger that’s so much fun right now.Look at this staredown!!!!That is just lovely. And to be perfectly clear: Philly need that No. 2 seed more than Atlanta do for the culture and for the proof of concept, while I think Atlanta need it a lot more for reasons that are about to be made clear.”Yeah, getting second in the East matters because then you get to host the game against the third seeded team in the Conference Semifinals,” but that’s only true if you both get there. And you’ve got a much, much better chance of getting there from the second seed than from the third seed, because the third seed likely has to play Toronto, RBNY or D.C. United. Do you want to face one of them in a one-off, even at home?The second seed, meanwhile, will face…

Oh man, that East seventh seed is rough

New England got a miracle result Wednesday night with a goal in the 87th and then another seven minutes into stoppage. They had no business being in that game, but came away with a point thanks to a late Timbers meltdown en route to a 2-2 draw. It was a great moment for the Revs, and they justifiably celebrated like they’d won.But they sure haven’t been doing any actual winning lately. New England have just one W in their past nine games, and have NYCFC and Atlanta rounding out their schedule. They have been poor by almost every metric. The same goes for the Fire (home vs. Toronto, at Orlando) and Orlando (at Cincy, home vs. Chicago) either of whom can pass New England if the results break right.Any of those three teams is massively preferable to matching up against any of the three teams that could occupy the sixth spot.The second seed in the East is the biggest prize on the table right now. Both Philly and Atlanta desperately need to snag it.

And the final two spots in the West?

Also not great! Portland blew a 2-0 home lead to draw and San Jose blew a 1-0 home lead to lose just last night. The Quakes have lost four straight, the Timbers are 2-4-2 in their last eight – all at home – and the third member of this dance, FC Dallas, are winless in three. Right now it’s the Timbers in sixth (45 points + the first tiebreaker, which is wins), Dallas in seventh, and San Jose in eighth (44 points).All three teams control their own destiny. Dallas control it a little bit differently, though:

Jacob’s math is correct.Anyone who claims to know how this one is going to shake out is a big fat liar. Any of these teams can beat pretty much anyone, and have proven it. Any of these teams can lose to pretty much everyone, and have proven it.I have a sneaking suspicion, though, it’s going to come down to that final weekend when the Quakes pay Portland a visit at Providence Park. I imagine that game will have the intensity of a steel-cage death match.

What is the West hierarchy beyond LAFC?

Wait, are we back to accepting that LAFC are the absolute favorites? We are, for the sake of this argument? OK then…

In general, I have three rules of thumb in the playoffs:

  • If you have multiple match-winners in attack, you can really mess teams up (LA Galaxy)
  • If you have proven, veteran winners up the spine, you can 1-0 your way through the bracket (Minnesota)
  • If you’ve been there before and don’t get rattled, you’re probably in good shape (Seattle)

That’s the order I’ve got those teams in right now. The Galaxy are still a mess defensively, but I’d be utterly terrified of lining up across from Zlatan and Cristian Pavon. I think that’s a scarier proposition for any playoff team than lining up against Ike Opara and Ozzie Alonso, which is more “unpleasant” than “scary” because you know they’re totally content to just bunker in and wait you out, then annihilate you on the break or set pieces.

Of course, they really do need to play better than they did on Wednesday. Sporting missed about five tap-ins

Seattle are 3-4-3 in their past 10 games, and I’m not sure they even deserve to be in this conversation. They’re not scaring anybody and I really, really question whether they have the team or the ethos to wait you out and wear you down. But they’re Seattle, and Nico Lodeiro‘s still Nico Lodeiro so here they are.But yeah, back to LA for a second: Zlatan has 12 goals in his last eight games, and wow, wouldn’t you know it! That coincides almost perfectly with Pavon’s arrival!Turns out adding an in-his-prime Argentine international attacker to your team is a good way to boost attacking production (the Galaxy are crossing less and soccering more). They have scored 23 goals in Pavon’s nine appearances, and a lot of those have come against good teams.

D.C., Toronto and RBNY coming alive…

I mean, maybe. I think it’s kind of hard to say a team that just lost to Montreal is “coming alive,” but certainly in the regular season the Reds have been legit. Same goes for D.C. (they’ve won three straight, all by shutout) and RBNY (back-to-back 2-0 wins that might’ve saved a job or two).With D.C. it comes down to Wayne Rooney looking free and unencumbered by whatever it was that was holding him back earlier this season, combined with a new-look, press-everywhere-out-of-a-mid-block midfield that is just miserable to play through. With their defense, and Rooney’s work – he’s one of the superstars in this league who actually defends – suddenly the backline hasn’t been engaged in pure rearguard actions (though they showed a few weeks back in Portland they can still do that if called upon).And then when they do win the ball, Wayne goes and does whatever he wants while everyone else just runs. There’s not a lot of set patterns of positional play, it’s “see space, take space, trust Wayne.” It’s a good plan.TFC, as I mentioned above, have been legit in the regular season with a 6-1-5 record since late June. Truth be told it should be 9-1-2, but a howler from Quentin Westberg at New England, a missed penalty at Yankee Stadium and a late, ridiculous challenge from Chris Mavinga vs. LAFC turned a trio of wins into draws. The Reds have actually been at least six points better than their already good second-half-of-the-season record indicates.But while I think Westberg’s biff was a one-off, Mavinga showed again on Wednesday night that he’ll still make those kinds of plays and cost his team points. As for finishing penalties… if I were a betting man, I’d see how much I could get for hitting “Toronto FC will miss a penalty in the postseason.” And if it goes to a shootout I would be shocked if they advanced. I bet they would be, too.The Red Bulls have been less convincing despite their back-to-back excellent results, and just based on pure talent they don’t have match-winners like Rooney, Jozy Altidore or Alejandro Pozuelo. For what it’s worth, here are a few arguments in RBNY’s favor:They’re 5-4-2 against Eastern Conference playoff teams, with just one loss in their last five.They’ve dropped a ton of points from winning positions this year, mostly through lack of intensity.”Lack of intensity” should cure itself down the stretch.It is easier to press for 90 when the weather cools down a bit.After last year’s lesson, I bet Chris Armas will have his team pressing no matter the situation.We’ll see what happens this weekend against D.C. My money is on United, but I think if I was an Atlanta fan I’d be rooting like hell for the Red Bulls because the last thing I’d want to see is a fired-up RBNY team coming into that 3/6 game looking for blood. And they absolutely would be.

So that means RSL are the sleeper team everybody’s forgotten about?

One of the under-the-radar stories of the past month is that the Claret-and-Cobalt just haven’t been good enough. They played well in Portland, and lost 1-0. They went to Minnesota and were pretty good, but the Loons were plain better in a 3-1 win. They were smart to rest their regulars and got a well-earned point in New England this past weekend, but having a fresh group of starters did nothing for them on Wednesday in a 2-1 home loss to the Galaxy. LA didn’t out-play them; they out-talented them. he margin for a team like RSL is slim, and in order to expand that margin they needed home field for at least a game. A month ago, they had it in their grasp.Now they need to win both their remaining games (which they should), and for Seattle or LA to entirely fall on their faces. It all seems unlikely.So yes, that means RSL are still under the radar and are indeed the sleeper team everybody’s forgotten about. The silver lining is that’s exactly how they entered last year’s playoffs before beating LAFC and giving Sporting a real scare, and… well, it’s the 10-year anniversary of this:”The underdog has won.” It seems implausible to suggest they could do so again, but that’s what we all thought the first time. Maybe history’s ready to repeat itself.

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN FALLS 2-1 AT ATLANTA UNITED FC 2

By IndyEleven.com, 09/25/19, 11:45PM EDT   Boys In Blue Fall After Netting First-Half Equalizer, Remain Tied for First Place in Eastern Conference

Despite a hard-fought effort, Indy Eleven falls on the road 2-1 to Atlanta United FC 2. Indiana’s Team drew level in the 36th minute when defender Paddy Barrett recorded his first goal of the season, but a second-half goal by Atlanta’s Andrew Carleton proved to be the game-winner for the home side.“I think it was a very open game. We’re disappointed to give away a goal on a set play because we really hadn’t given up too many chances, so that was something we have to improve on,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “It’s not something we really have made too many mistakes on this season, but that was one we needed to improve on.”Indy Eleven move to a 17W-7L-5D (56 pts.) record on the season, engaged in a three-way tie on points for first place with New York Red Bulls II and Tampa Bay Rowdies, with Nashville SC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC trailing by one.The first chance of the game came just seven minutes in when Indy Eleven midfielder Tyler Pasher followed a pacey run with a square pass across the face of Atlanta’s goal. The grounded pass skid just inches out of reach of Indy forwards Gabriel Rodrigues and Eugene Starikov to tap the ball in, the opportunity ending wide of the far post. Two minutes later, Starikov nearly headed home a free kick swung in by Indy defender Ayoze, but his effort landed comfortably in Atlanta ‘keeper Brendan Moore’s arms.The home side began to ask questions in the 14th minute, Atlanta’s George Bello ripped down Indy’s right flank after gaining possession in the midfield as Eleven defender Karl Ouimette gave chase. Indy goaltender Evan Newton did enough to take away the near post as Bello shot far and struck the iron, keeping the scores level.Atlanta would strike first, though. After absorbing the 10 minutes of pressure from Indy that followed, a corner played in the 24th minute by Atlanta’s Mikey Ambrose connected with defender George Campbell at the penalty spot. Campbell headed the ball down and forced Newton to go to ground to make the save, but the attempt forced through the goalkeeper’s glove and into the net.The lead was short-lived as Barrett drew level 12 minutes later. Starikov came up big with another headed effort on frame off a direct free kick from Ayoze. The nod was pushed wide by Moore for a save but fell short enough for Barrett to grab the tap-in equalizer on an open net.Indiana’s Team nearly took the lead into the half after striking the post in the 44th minute. Eleven midfielder Matt Watson flicked a square pass back to Ayoze at the top of the 18-yard box. Ayoze’s one-time effort looked on target before first deflecting off the foot of Starikov, followed by redirecting away off the post as the sides went into the locker rooms level at one.The Boys in Blue began the second half similar to the first, immediately applying pressure and creating a chance in the 46th minute. A long ball from Ayoze located defender Neveal Hackshaw unmarked at the back post. The Trinidadian made solid contact with a header, but the effort flew straight into Moore’s arms as the game remained level.Atlanta surged back into the lead in the 61st minute, forward Luiz Fernando played a short pass to Carleton at the top of Indy’s penalty area. Fancy footwork saw Carleton weave through the 18-yard box before slotting home into the bottom left corner, his fourth goal in as many games.Newton stood strong to keep the game at 2-1 in the 74th minute after a ball to the right side of Indy’s box freed up Fernando for a shot on goal. Luckily for Newton, the shot was directed to the covered near post, making for an easy save. Newton came to the rescue again eight minutes later as Jack Metcalf carried the ball into the Indy box before playing a square pass to Fernando. The forward took a quick touch before taking a shot, a wide attempt that Newton would push away to safety.Indy’s final chance of the evening came in the first minute of stoppage time, Ayoze played in a cross from the left flank into a packed Atlanta box. Despite the excellent service, the ball ended up on the roof of the net as the last opportunity of the night went begging and the final score read 2-1 in favor of the home team.“We feel disappointed today because we feel like we missed a couple of chances in the last few weeks to put ourselves clearly out in front of everybody, but at the same time, we knew that this phase of the season would be quite a challenge,” Rennie said. “We have a lot of games in a short space of time, so we need to keep perspective on things. I think that most teams would like to be in the position we are in at the moment, but we now need to capitalize on it.” Indy Eleven continues its four-game road trip this Saturday at Highmark Stadium, squaring up against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at 7:00 p.m. ET. Indiana’s Team travels north of the border four days later to take on Ottawa Fury FC for another 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff. Both matches will be streamed live via ESPN+.
Indy returns to Lucas Oil Stadium on October 5 for Fall Fest against Memphis 901 FC. Kickoff for the contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

USL Championship Regular Season – #ATLvINDbb     Indy Eleven  1 : 2  Atlanta United 2

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 – 7:30 p.m. ETFifth Third Bank Stadium – Kennesaw, Ga.Attendance: 1,026

2019 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (17W-7L-5D, 56 pts., 2nd in Eastern Conference)

Atlanta United 2 (8W-16L-6D, 30 pts., 14th in Eastern Conference)

Scoring Summary:
ATL – George Campbell (Mikey Ambrose) 24’

IND – Paddy Barrett (unassisted) 36’

ATL – Andrew Carleton (Luiz Fernando) 61’

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN CLINCHES PLAYOFF BERTH WITH 2-1 WIN OVER BETHLEHEM STEEL FC

By IndyEleven.com, 09/14/19, 11:30PM EDT

Forwards Ilija Ilic and Dane Kelly score in second half to push Boys in Blue back to top of Eastern Conference standings, home unbeaten streak to 23 games

Goals from Indy Eleven forwards Dane Kelly and Ilija Ilic secured the club’s 23rd undefeated match in a row at Lucas Oil Stadium and a spot in the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs in a 2-1 win over Bethlehem Steel FC.

With the win – the sixth in Indy’s last eight games – Indiana’s Team again shares the top of the Eastern Conference table with New York Red Bulls II, tied on points (56) and overall league wins (17). While New York technically holds the goal differential tiebreaker, Indy Eleven still has one game in hand on the Empire State squadThe 80th minute game-winner by Kelly was his third for the Boys in Blue in less than a month, and all have come at home after the 80th minute of play. The goal allowed is the first on home turf since Charlotte Independence snuck one past ‘keeper Evan Newton on August 25, and just the fifth all season for the USL Championship’s top defense.“The character to come back was excellent. Obviously there are a bunch of really good players on this team. Most teams have that, but there is a connection between the players,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “They fight for each other and care about each other. They have a good culture in the locker room. It’s a unique group of players and that’s what I think makes the difference on a night when players are tired.”The Boys in Blue nearly opened the scoring seven minutes into the game via leading goal scorer and midfielder Tyler Pasher. After defender Ayoze played a lofted ball into the box that freed Pasher on the right, the Canadian took a touch into space and placed a shot that nearly forced through the legs of Bethlehem goalkeeper Matt Freese.Indiana’s Team continued to press and nearly broke the deadlock 10 minutes later. Forward Cristian Novoa, receiving his second consecutive start, played a back-heel pass to Ilic inside the left side of Bethlehem’s penalty area. The Serbian took a touch onto his right foot and attempted a curling shot that ultimately struck the crossbar and edged over the goal.Ilic nearly found his place on the scoreboard again in the 23rd minute of play. Multiple give-and-goes between Pasher and Ayoze eventually led to a cross from the Canadian that connected with the head of Ilic at the back post. Ilic’s header bounced off the ground and nearly crossed the line, if not for a goalline clearance from Freese, who continued to have an impressive first half of play.Bethlehem Steel created their best chance of the first half in the 25th minute after forcing Indy defender Neveal Hackshaw into a turnover near the center line, Bethlehem forward Michee Ngalina stealing the ball before bursting down the right flank. After making an impressive run into the Indy box, Ngalina unleashed a driven shot in a one-on-one attempt with Indy ‘keeper Evan Newton. The 31-year-old goaltender denied the first effort before a quick second came his way, which he again denied for a quick double-save.Indy continued to dominate possession and generate chances the rest of the half, but remained unable to convert as the sides entered the locker rooms even at nil-nil.Ilic finally broke the deadlock eleven minutes after the start of the second half, scoring the goal he looked certain to get in the first half. Indiana’s Team earned a corner after an extremely impressive point-blank reaction save from Freese, the ensuing set piece finding midfielder Macauley King, who played a lofted pass into the box that connected with Ilic. The Serbian displayed remarkable control taking the ball down in the six-yard box with a head-high touch before smashing home a first-time shot for his second goal the of season.“I’ll tell you something – the strikers win you the game, but defenders win you the championships,” said Ilic, who was quick to credit the other side of the ball after the match. “So if you have a good defense throughout the season, that’s how you get to the top. I would say that this year the defenders are actually much better than the strikers for us. We have the best defense across the league and I’m really happy for the guys. They just keep providing clean sheets.”Bethlehem nearly answered in the 59th minute through a corner kick. Steel FC defender Nathan Harriel nearly nodded a corner over Indy’s goal line, but the crossbar came to Newton’s rescue, deflecting the ball back into play. Harriel returned fire as the redirected ball fell back to his feet,  but a goalline clearance by defender Paddy Barrett kept Indy’s sheet clean for the time being. Despite Indy’s best efforts to retain the lead, Steel FC equalized from a short corner in the 76th minute. The ball would be pushed off to Bethlehem’s Ngalina, who played in a cross to the back post that found teammate Ben Ofeimu lurking in Indy’s six-yard box. The center back caught Indy’s Newton off his line and tapped into an open goal, bringing the scores even at 1-1.Bethlehem’s equalizer wouldn’t last long, as four minutes after scoring Indy would surge back into the lead. A long ball by Indy midfielder Drew Conner found Pasher at the top of Bethlehem’s 18-yard box, and Pasher played a square pass with his head just prior to being fouled by Freese, who rushed off his line to attempt to clear. Kelly played on and took full advantage of Bethlehem’s open net with a half-volleyed strike to regain the lead at 2-1.Hungry for more, Kelly nearly doubled the lead twice in the final 10 minutes, but Indy would eventually settle to possess quite comfortably through the end of regulation and six minutes of stoppage time – and then some – to secure yet another home win and a second consecutive berth in the USL Championship’s postseason.“We made the playoffs tonight with five weeks to go. That’s a huge achievement. Every club looks to make the playoffs and we’ve done that,” Rennie said. “We have much higher aspirations than that. We want to be at the top and give ourselves the best chance to win when the playoffs come. But that’s quite a while away. We’ve still got a lot to play for, but we’ve got playoffs to look forward to in the future. Finish first would be our goal.” Indiana’s Team will hit the road its next match, as the Boys in Blue travel to Alabama to take on Birmingham Legion FC next Friday, September 20. The first match in a three-game, nine-day road trip kicks off at BBVA Field at 8:00 p.m.

USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvBSTIndy Eleven  2 : 1  Bethlehem Steel FC

Saturday, September 14, 2019 – 7:00 p.m. ETLucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.   Attendance: 12,103

2019 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (17W-5L-5D, 56 pts., 2nd in Eastern Conference)

Bethlehem Steel FC (7W-14L-6D, 27 pts., 13th in Eastern Conference)

9/10/19 US Men vs Uruguay Tues 8 pm FS1, Indy 11 Wed/Sat 7 pm games at the Luke, European Leagues back this weekend

So I watched the game a 2nd time before writing down my thoughts.  Let’s start with the good – listen the US men out-possessed Mexico 53-47.  Yes you didn’t read that wrong – the US had more possession of the ball than Mexico.  Mexico – THAT has never happened before -heck we are normally like 35-65 – versus Mexico.  Heck 70 minutes into this match – it was 0-1 on 1 incredible play by Mexico.   And this was without Altidore and Bradley, still two of our best players (thanks MLS – for not recognizing the International Break Again– IDIOTS!)

So you can see what Berhalter is trying to do.  He’s trying to possess not just kick and run and play defense with 10 behind the ball. Listen Mexico is better than us right now – better players, better manager – but I truly think our U23s are better than Mexico’s And if our kids can keep getting better – and play and start in Europe – we have a chance to catch up.   While I like the possession – I am not sure we are good enough to play out of the back ALL of the time.  I am not sure Steffen can do it honestly – if he’s going play this way – he may need to find a keeper that is better with his feet.  Steffen is really good and is probably our best keeper right now – but his footskills are just average – and I am not sure he can play this style.  Especially without dmids that will protect him rather than leaving him out to dry.

Interesting overall game – again we were in the game until the 70th minute – but unlike the Gold Cup – I didn’t feel the US had ANY chance to actually win this game.  We had maybe 2 shots on goal – 1 off a corner – (Morales post ball) – in the Gold Cup I thought we outplayed them completely in the first half before finally getting outplayed and losing a close one in a game when we outshot them overall. This time – Mexico had more shots, more chances, more corners and even though we had more possession – we really didn’t threaten the goal very often.  (Of course Zardes stinking up the forward position is nowhere close to what Altidore can do – and did vs Mexico in the Gold Cup.  How our coach didn’t start Josh Sargent tonight is mindblowing !!  Zardes is a Joke at the international level and has to be the 4th or 5th best forward option for us – why ???

I have given Fox Sports credit for coverage in the past – especially after the Women’s World Cup – but they screwed this one up big time.  After the US took an butwhipping at the hands of our hated rival Mexico – someone needed to explain what the heck happened post-game.  So what does Fox do?  Flip 30 seconds after we lose to stupid Baseball WhipAround.  Seriously?  Listen Fox I know you lost Millions when the US didn’t make the World Cup  -but if you are going to cover the US team – you have to have a postgame show?   Hell on FS 2 or Fox Soccer or something?  This was inexcusable and made the 3-0 loss to our hated rivals even worse.  Either cover the sport or Don’t Fox – Don’t HALF-A__ it though.

Tuesday night we’ll see if the US can bounce back vs a very good Uraguay team.  Hate to see Pulisic and McKinney and Steffan heading back to Europe before this game but I also understand its important to keep them starting at their club teams – especially in a friendly.  Still the chance to play this kind of competition doesn’t come along all the time for the US and I hate to see us not take advantage to have our best players playing.  We’ll see how we do Tuesday night at 8 pm on Fox Sports 1 again.  Hopefully we’ll show a little more fight tonight!

Indy 11 Host Games Wed/Sat this Week @ 7 pm

Indy Eleven fell to Charleston Battery on Sunday evening 0-1, the team’s first loss since July 27 on the road to Nashville SC. Battery midfielder Romario Piggott notched the only goal of the match in the 42nd minute off a strong counter attack with a low shot just out of Indy ‘keeper Evan Newton’s diving reach. The fixture is also the first time the Boys in Blue have been shut out since losing to Nashville, having scored at least once in each of the last five matches. Despite finishing the game with 71% possession and 17 shots, the Boys in Blue couldn’t muster the equalizer. Next Games are Wed, Sept 11 vs Ottawa at 7 pm at Lucas Oil followed by Hispanic Heritage night next Sat, Sept 14.   Kickoff for that contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

MLS

I am purposely not writing about MLS this week in protest of them playing games during the international break.

TV Games

Not a lot of good games on this weekend – maybe RB Leipzig vs Mayern Munich on Sat at 12:30 on FS1. A couple of good games in MLS –

3:30 pm FS1                                           Portland Timbers vs DC United

6 pm ESPN                                               Seattle Sounders vs NY Red Bulls

Of course Champions League Group Stage Games start next week – no idea what channel they might be on TNT for 1 Game per day?

Tues

3 pm        Dortmund vs Barcelona

3 pm        Benefica vs RB Leipzig

3 pm        Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Valencia

3 pm        Napoli vs Liverpool

Wed

1 pm        Olympicos Piraeus vs Tottenham

3 pm        Atletico Madrid vs Juventus

3 pm        PSG vs Real Madrid

3 pm        Shakhtar vs Man City

Shane’s Player Ratings for US Game vs Mexico

Coach Gregg B – Manager – 4 – hard to find much to like on this night.  His subs were late, his player choices questionable and his system for this game – I don’t know – but it didn’t work.  Oh and his rotating Captain – once again the guy who he makes captain Played Horrible – Zack Steffan was the captain and played possibly his worse game in a US Jersey.  Same for Trapp and Pulisic and McKinney in other games.  Still missing Adams and was hindered without Altidore and Bradley.

GK Zack Steffen, 4 – Steffen’s worse game in a US Jersey – too bad it happened on a night when his hero Tim Howard was presented his Framed Jersey for his many years of service and 3 World Cups.  Steffen was horrific with his feet making multiple miss-touches and bad passes.  He was responsible for the 2nd goal and could have done much better on the 3rd goal as well.  Will be interesting to see hopefully Gonzalez on Tues vs Uruguay.

DF Reggie Cannon, 6 — Held things up well enough on the right – Cannon did well not to stand out. Should have probably been marking Chicarito on the 1st goal but was pulled to the front post player when Zimmerman didn’t back off properly and got stuck in no-mans’ land.

DF Walker Zimmerman, 5 – Ok – had his moments – but also did not cover anyone on the first goal as the backside central defender – he got caught in no man’s land 3 feet in front of the front post – HORRIFIC position for a Center Back – would have like to have seen Brooks in there.  Zimmerman can’t hang at this level.

DF Aaron Long, 6 — Is cementing himself as a key member of this squad.  Made some solid plays to keep it close.  Might have done better on the 3rd goal.

 DF Sergino Dest, 5 – Just ok – so he’s 18 years old – and for a kid he played ok – Handled many of his defensive duties well but he was OUTRIGHT EMBARRASSED by a Corona nutmeg for Mexico’s opening goal.  Did push forward well and seemed ot have some chemistry with Pulisic – other than their shared giving up the first goal.

MF Christian Pulisic, 7 – The Chelsea star has his moments and was the best player on the field for the US – made some really good runs but did not find that final pass for his teammates and barely got a shot on goal.  Oh and he has to take the penalty kick – just has too.  He’s the best player on thethis team – its time for him to step up and act like it.  He’s no Landon Donovan (yet) – but it’s a bit early for him to achieve that level of play in this game just yet.

MF Weston McKennie, 5 – I like his toughness and he has some moments – but he also delivered a HORRIBLE ball back to Steffan and it was HIS FAULT the US gave up the 2nd goal.  Listen he’s ok – but I don’t think he turned and headed up field more than twice all game – someone in the midfield besides Pulisic has to turn and relieve pressure – that’s something McKennie has not figured out how to do yet.

MF Wil Trapp, 3 – Ok this guy is horrible and should not be playing for the US NATIONAL TEAM PERIOD!!!  He can’t carry Bradley’s jockstrap much less take his spot on the field.  THIS IS Berralter’s folly – not sure if he has pictures on the coach or what  – but this guy has got to go.

MF Alfredo Morales, 6 — Chaotic but brought the kind of energy the US Needs in the middle – could probably player a disrupting role as a dual #6  -he did not back down to the typically dirty Mexican team.

FW Gyasi Zardes, 1  — ok this is beyond a joke now – this guy shouldn’t start for his MLS team much less the National Team.  He has no business on this squad.  I know Josie was unavailable – but my gosh – there have to be 10 other guys better than Zardes for the forward slot.  Seriously – Gregg playing his BOYS from Columbus has to STOP!!!  He touched the ball maybe 1 time in the offensive half the entire time he was in the game.  Sargent came in the game and in 10 minutes on the field did more than Zardes has done in 3 games up top.  Zardes can simply not play at this level !!

.FW Tyler Boyd, 4 – Really disappointing show from him – after the great start against the minnows in the Gold Cup I am not sure he can hang at this level – it was just 1 game but we need a lot more from him.  I am not sure “(not growing up in America – that he truly understands what this game means – he certainly didn’t play like it) his sub DID!

Substitutes

DF Miles Robinson, 5 (on for Zimmerman, 58 minutes) — The Atlanta United FC product got a well-deserved debut but man he showed he is NOT READY for this level of play!!   Not sure the center backs are anywhere close to average and Miles didn’t prove to be an improvement.  We gave up 2 goals in his 20 minutes on the pitch.

FW Jordan Morris, 7 (on for Boyd, 58 minutes) – I thought Morris was one of our best players on the night – made run after run after coming on for Boyd and won the penalty that should have given us a goal.   Gave the kind of effort required vs a Mexico – had best start Tues!

FW Josh Sargent, 5 (on for Zardes, 67 minutes) – Interesting start – horrific that our coach did not start him tonight and didn’t bring him on until 20 minutes were left.  His impact was felt immediately upon coming on the field and he had a couple of chances.  Surprised he took the PK – he didn’t take it that well –  too bad.

GAMES ON TV

Tues, Sept 10

2:45 pm ESPN2                                    England vs Kosovo(Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     France vs Andorra (Euro Qualifiying)

8 pm FS1                                               USA vs Uruguay

9:30 pm Fox Desportes                  Hondurus vs Chile

10 pm Univision, FUBOTV             Argentina vs Mexico

Weds, Sept 11

7 pm MyindyTV                              Indy 11 vs Ottawa

7 pm ESPNNews                                  Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL

Fri, Sept 13

2:30 pm    FS2                                        Dusseldorf (Steffan /Morales) vs Wolfsburg

Sat, Sept 14

7 am beIN Sport                                  Real Madrid vs Levante

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Liverpool vs New Castle United

9 am ESPN+                                             Fiorentina vs Juventus

9:30 am FS1                                            Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen

10 am NCBSN                                         Tottenham vs Crystal Palace

12:30 pm NBC                                       Norwich City vs Manchester City

12:30 pm FS2                                        RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich

3 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Valencia

Sun, Sept 15

9 am NBCSN                                            Bournmouth vs Everton

9 am ESPN+                                             Fiorentina vs Juventus

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Watford vs Arsenal

12:30 pm FS1                                        Paderborn vs Schalke (McKinney)

3:30 pm FS1                                           Portland Timbers vs DC United

6 pm ESPN                                               Seattle Sounders vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm Fox Sports 2                           LA Galaxy vs Sporting KC

Tues, Sept 17

3 pm        Dortmund vs Barcelona

3 pm        Benefica vs RB Leipzig

3 pm        Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Valencia

3 pm        Napoli vs Liverpool

Wed, Sept 18

1 pm        Olympicos Piraeus vs Tottenham

3 pm        Atletico Madrid vs Juventus

3 pm        PSG vs Real Madrid

3 pm        Shakhtar vs Man City

USA

GB Needs a Better Gameplan or Different Players – SB Nation
Why the USMNT’s supposed ‘progress’ vs. Mexico was extremely flawed

Preview: USMNT v. Uruguay

Gregg Berhalter insists USMNT is progressing, but ugly Mexico loss ramps up scrutiny

Pulisic criticised over USMNT ‘fear’ comment and told to be a leader
Sargent’s Resilience Emblematic of USMNT’s Growing Pains, Process

WORLD

So far, so great for American coach Marsch with Red Bull Salzburg

Salzburg is 6-0 to start the league campaign, and has scored 27 goals while conceding just four.

Kane treble fires England in Bulgaria rout

Pickford pleased to take Everton form to international fold after solid England display

Harry Kane sets sights on next England goalscoring landmark before future target of Wayne Rooney’s record

Ramos equals Casillas’ Spain appearances record

Ramos equals Casillas’ Spain appearances, closes in on men’s world record

Indy 11

Indy 11 lose 1-0 on the road

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

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

Gregg Berhalter insists USMNT is progressing, but ugly Mexico loss ramps up scrutiny

Doug McIntyreYahoo SportsSep 7, 2019, 5:34 PM,

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When Gregg Berhalter was hired to coach the United States men’s national team last December, more than a year after the USMNT failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in over three decades, one of the biggest questions was if the possession-based playing style he preferred was compatible with the players he had at his disposal.Those questions came roaring back to the fore following Friday night’s embarrassing 3-0 loss to blood enemy Mexico, for good reason. The U.S. had no answer for El Tri’s high press, which forced the Americans into error after error. And had Mexico been a bit more ruthless, the score line could’ve been even worse.“As you can see,” attacking standout Christian Pulisic said afterward, “we still have a lot to work on.”Yet in his testy postgame press conference, Berhalter insisted that he was actually happier with Friday’s performance than he was two months ago, when the Americans lost the Gold Cup final to this same Mexican team on a late Jonathan dos Santos goal.“I see where the narrative is going now, it’s ‘Why are we playing the way we’re playing?’” Berhalter said. “The second is, ‘We don’t have the players to do it.’ That’s what all of you guys are thinking. And to me, it’s about developing players. We’re making progress. That’s not going to be your narrative right now, and I understand that. But internally, we believe we’re making progress.”Long-suffering fans of the national team could be forgiven for not seeing it that way. For the progress Berhalter was referring to wasn’t about the actual execution of his plan, but rather that his players didn’t abandon it, even after it became painfully clear, in this match at least, it wasn’t working., it’s admirable that Berhalter wants to stick to his principles. It’s also fair to wonder if it’s the right thing to do. For a program that is desperately trying to restore its reputation as a hard-to-beat team that consistently punches above its weight, getting routed at home by its biggest rival isn’t a sign that things are improving.Berhalter’s system is complicated enough that players are studying it while with their club teams. “You have to,” said midfielder Sebastian Lletget, who along with Pulisic was one of the Americans’ few bright spots against El Tri. When the team actually gets together, there are only a few days of training to make sure everybody is on the same page. It’s not easy.“It’s the hardest thing in the world,” Pulisic said after Friday’s defeat. “You have short periods to train, and it’s hard to teach a real system and be very specific with it.”The cold reality is, it seems to be impacting the Americans’ confidence against Mexico.“We still play with fear against them,” Pulisic said. “That is what I can’t really live with. So that needs to change.”It didn’t help that starters such as Tyler Adams, Jozy Altidore, John Brooks, Michael Bradley and DeAndre Yedlin were unavailable because of injuries or club commitments. And Mexico’s roster for this match was arguably stronger than the one that beat the U.S. in the Gold Cup.El Tri’s all-time scoring leader Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was back after missing the regional championship, and sure enough an unmarked Chicharito ended up nodding home the eventual game-winner just 21 minutes into the contest. But dos Santos, Marco Fabian and other veterans didn’t even dress for the match, and it was hard to shake the feeling afterward that the U.S. basically beat themselves.“We could’ve played to our forward a little bit more, play a little bit more direct, change it up a little bit. Obviously the scoreline is what it is, but we played the way we wanted to play,” said U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen, whose mixup with midfielder Alfredo Morales led to the back-breaking second goal in the 78th minute. “When I get the all, I gotta have at leat two options. It’s all based off movements and the way the [other] team is pressing. And yeah, at times it’s a little sketchy.”“It’s a tough system and we’re playing very tough teams right now,” said defender Aaron Long. “It’s easy to just kick long in these games and play direct and maybe get a better result or get more chances, but if we want to be a team that plays out of the back — and that’s what we want to do — then these are the best games to try it.”This was only a friendly, of course. No points were on the line. But the U.S. program is still not in a position where it can afford to shrug off a lopsided defeat to of all foes Mexico.Several U.S. players talked this week about how they want to improve the perception of American soccer. It’s clearly a responsibility they’ve discussed and take seriously. But the public will judge this team first and foremost on results.“I’m not going to say ‘Listen guys, there’s going to be growing pains and you should expect losses,’ because they shouldn’t,” Long said when asked what message the performance sent to already-cynical USMNT supporters.Something will have to change if the U.S. is to get a better outcome against FIFA No. 5 Uruguay on Tuesday in St. Louis.“There needs to be a lot more movement and a lot more creativity within the team and just confidence when we go out and play against good opponents,” said Pulisic, who will miss the match against Uruguay as he and five of his teammates return early to their clubs.“We have to go out there and play like we’re good enough to be out there and be confident and play without thinking twice about it. That’s how it needs to be. And that’s just not where we’re at right now.”

Player Ratings: USMNT struggle to make grade in friendly loss to Mexico

September 7, 20191:40AM EDT Greg SeltzerContributor

The US national team lost control of matters early on Friday night, suffering an irksome 3-0 friendly defeat to border war nemesis Mexico in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The hosts raced out of the blocks terrifically thanks to about 20 minutes of gutsy ball movement, but a Javier Hernandez goal ended the fun and completely changed the tenor of the match.The Nats had their positive spells of play here and there, but never fully recovered and missed the chance to gain quick revenge for their Gold Cup final loss to Tata Martino’s swarming crew.

Zack Steffen (3) — There’s no reason to fault the netminder on Mexico’s opener or capper, but his distribution was rather spotty even before he gifted their back-breaking second with a horrid pass up the middle. Steffen is a fine ‘keeper, but damaging decisions with the ball at his feet have become a concerning trend now.

Reggie Cannon (4.5) — The FC Dallas youngster picked some good moments to get forward, but was ineffective when the delivery moment of truth came. Though Cannon also had his moments defensively, a few dangerous crosses did emanate from his corner.

Walker Zimmerman (5) — While he committed no major errors at the back, one would expect the LAFC defender to come up with more stops, especially when the opponent spends a large portion of the game swarming the US end. More distressingly, there were simply too many risky, errant passes coming off his boot.

Aaron Long (3) — It was an off night from the Red Bulls center back, to say the least. On the first Mexico tally, Long wandered into no man’s land, forcing near post cover from Zimmerman that left tons of goalmouth space for Chicharito to exploit. He was also ineffectual when the team needed an intervention on El Tri’s third and uncharacteristically whiffed on a couple of clearances. Finally, no one needs him rushing out to commit a yellow card foul on a player facing the crowd next to the sideline near midfield.

Sergino Dest (5) — Like the team as a whole, the debutant was pretty terrific during the first 20 minutes. Dest showed no fear in handling business up and down the flank, and even drew a decent save from long range. After getting ruthlessly nutmegged on the opening goal play, he faded a good deal. Still, it was a fairly encouraging first US outing.

Wil Trapp (3) — When he’s not pinging diagonal leads to speeding wingers, the Columbus skipper struggles. Trapp did not do that in this game, which only makes his defensive frailties stand out all the more. His biggest demerit comes for neglecting to pick up the Hernandez run on Mexico’s first. It was a big no-no.

Alfredo Morales (4.5) — Back in the team after a long absence, Morales certainly came to play. He was stuck in all night, and definitely had some solid episodes. The problem is, he’s a lot better as a disrupter around or across the midfield stripe than he is in his own end. With that being the case, the limitations in his passing game tend to stick out like a sore thumb.

Weston McKennie (4) — Stop me if you’ve heard this before: we need more consistent activity on and near the ball from the Schalke talent. McKennie made zero defensive stops in the middle of the field and did not drive play forward as much as he usually does.

Tyler Boyd (5) — It’s hard to ding the Besiktas winger too much because he went long stretches without seeing the ball. Even so, Boyd was much more of a possession facilitator/track-back helper than an attacking headache for the opponent in this one. Just because the volume of touches drop, there’s no need for his aggression to do the same.

Christian Pulisic (4.5) — The Chelsea ace had a threatening look about him early, and contributed some strong pressure valve work throughout the contest. That said, he was oddly hesitant in the final third over the last hour. The bigger problem, though, was repeated instances of checking out defensively on Mexico advances down his side, such as on the first goal.

Gyasi Zardes (5.5) — Some may gripe over the Columbus striker’s performance, but there’s not a whole lot he can do when the team doesn’t get him any touches within, say, javelin-throwing distance of the goal. They weren’t even trying to use him for hold-up play. To his credit, Zardes did work his tail off defensively.

Coach Gregg Berhalter (3) — I could air a few objections about construction of the lineup (and the selection, for that matter), but let’s instead focus on in-game decisions. The match started well enough, but there was never a real tactical reaction from the boss after Mexico pushed their pressure line deep into the US end and grabbed the opening goal. Yes, it was a friendly and the players need to drill things. But Berhalter needs to drill things, too, like game management and putting your charges in an ideal position to succeed.

Subs:
Miles Robinson (6) — I’m not going to fault the debutant defender for his step into traffic on Mexico’s jailbreak for the third goal, as some might. From my view, there was nothing overly constructive or calamitous in Robinson’s half-hour-and-change on the field.

Jordan Morris (6.5) — The Seattle speedster looked lively and more full of intent than his right wing predecessor, and his expert body shaping to a lead pass earned the penalty.

Daniel Lovitz (5.5) — The Montreal left back got away with failing to track a back post runner. Other than that, there was nothing especially noteworthy about his 22 minutes of action.

Josh Sargent (5) — The sub striker pitched in with a few nice link touches, but he has to do better than a weak penalty try to the direction the ‘keeper is already cheating.

Sebastian Lletget (6.5) — Not everything he tried worked, but the LA Galaxy man provided nearly as many true moments of impact as all three starting midfielders combined. Lletget’s excellent entry pass led to the spot kick.

Jackson Yueill (-) — Stoppage time cameos generally don’t merit grades, but the San Jose midfielder did manage one positive attacking half pass completion per minute played.

 

U.S. ratings vs. Mexico: Pulisic 7/10, plenty of subpar performances in heavy loss

Sep 6, 2019  James TylerSenior Editor, ESPN FC

The U.S. always hates losing to Mexico, but even the most ardent of supporters could find little fault with Friday night’s 3-0 defeat at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez opened the scoring with a sharp, predatory effort following Jesus “Tecatito” Corona‘s cheeky nutmeg of U.S. debutant Sergino Dest to set up room for a well-weighted cross. The U.S. struggled to get back into the game, but well and truly folded after the second-half substitutes began coming on. Zack Steffen‘s careless giveaway led to Erick Gutierrez‘s fine, low strike for 2-0, but late on, the the hosts chasing, substitute Uriel Antunafinished yet another counterattack to put the result beyond doubt.There is little time for reflection as the U.S. travel to St. Louis next, where the Americans will face Uruguay on Tuesday, yet they need to seize what moments they have in order to assess what went wrong against Mexico and Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who remains perfect since taking over as El Tri manager.

 

Positives

Forget the result: It was a narrow defeat, but some players who figure to be vital in the 2022 World Cup cycle got valuable experience against the kind of team the U.S. must match up with in order to reach that fabled next level. Mixing Dest, an under-20 standout, in with the senior side was a nice boost, and it was good to see the continued rapport between Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman at the back. After all, a strong center-back partnership can make a big difference in tournament play.

Beyond that, there was a subtle uptick to the Americans’ style of play; it felt like they’d received their homework prematch and set about applying the new principles at every opportunity. Whether playing out from the back — very much the hip trend for top clubs in Europe — or applying clever pressure on Mexico in certain areas of the field, it’s clear Gregg Berhalter is trying to do something new and different with this squad.

Negatives

It’s always nice to see new things, but the panicked nature of many U.S. possessions when the ball was at Steffen’s feet or those of a nearby defender showed there’s a way to go. Also, the midfield was constantly bypassed with ease by Mexico from start to finish; the Mexico players were consistently quicker to intercept wayward passes or seize upon heavy touches.

Still, it feels harsh to call these things a negative, because they at least show a willingness to evolve. And that enhancement will be most welcome in the future if the U.S. can strike the right balance.

Manager rating out of 10

6 — It feels as though Berhalter is moving at a glacial pace with implementing changes, but there is something to his U.S. team that looks a little different even if the end product is just as uneven was it was under his predecessors. Like a good coach should, he won’t dwell too much on a handful of individual errors no matter how glaring, given that it’s to be expected in a new system and with a new group of players.

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

GK Zack Steffen, 4 — Struggled at times with his distribution, looking for risky passes out from the back at times when a more simple approach would have been smart. Failed to recover to deny Hernandez with the opening goal, and then his continued efforts to play it out from the back resulted in a woeful pass from which Gutierrez scored. Needs to be better about knowing when to be adventurous and when to play it safe, else his swashbuckling attempts to reinvent the goalkeeper position will do much more harm than good.

DF Reggie Cannon, 6 — Held things up well enough on his flank. The best defenders are rarely seen because they just do their jobs. Cannon did well not to stand out.

DF Walker Zimmerman, 6 — Fine defensive play. Managed to keep his cool in the 25 minutes of the first half following the opening goal when it seemed like Mexico could score four or five.

DF Aaron Long, 6 — Typically steady but lost Hernandez for the opener. Is cementing himself as a key member of this squad.

DF Sergino Dest, 5 — A genuine mixed bag. There’s obvious potential here given his ascent at powerhouse Ajax, but there are also a lot of obvious edges to his game that will require refining over time. Showed genuine positivity and purpose on either side of the ball, which is a plus. Yet he lacked positional awareness at times with regard to off-the-ball runs. Handled many of his defensive duties well but he was humbled by a Corona nutmeg for Mexico’s opening goal.

MF Christian Pulisic, 7 — Another extremely busy performance from the Chelsea star and undisputed leader of this side. Hurled himself into more than one 50-50 challenge, fought for every ball and showed little restraint when it came to trying to unsettle Mexico on the ball or forcing his opponents to think quickly in transition. Yet he can’t do it all alone.

MF Weston McKennie, 6 — Always plays on the front foot, something that the U.S. sorely needs in midfield against tough opponents. Had a couple of positive, promising moments with the ball at his feet. Unafraid to shoot but rarely caused trouble from 25-30 yards out.

MF Wil Trapp, 5 — It feels like he’s constantly in over his head. I can’t put my finger on why that might be. Lost the ball a lot and in dangerous positions, something you can’t do as that defensive midfield “pivot” upon whom much of the transition play falls.

MF Alfredo Morales, 6 — Chaotic but brought the kind of energy that can benefit the U.S. in midfield. Battled hard, disrupted Mexico on more than one occasion and also provided a bit of bite. A real character that this team needs. Seeing him get under the skin of more than one El Tri player brought a smile to my eye.

FW Gyasi Zardes, 3 — It’s time to try some other options up front. There are certainly alternatives to the long-serving Crew striker, who touched the ball just six times in a woeful first half. (Only one of those touches could be judged to be inside the Mexico half, too.) So much of a striker’s performance is down to the team play around him, but even then, Zardes failed to find himself in threatening positions or in situations where he could receive the ball and make something happen.

FW Tyler Boyd, 4 — It seems like an eternity ago that USMNT fans were freaking out over the New Zealand-born striker’s FIFA switch to represent the Stars and Stripes. And yet, his brace in the Gold Cup against Guyana might have been misleading. Barely involved in the final third, went searching for the ball a number of times to little avail and failed to link play with his passes, something you can’t go without if you’re playing with two up front. There has to be cohesion but so far, Boyd looks a bit lacking.

Substitutes

DF Miles Robinson, 5 (on for Zimmerman, 58 minutes) — The Atlanta United FC product got a well-deserved debut and grappled well enough. Fortunate with one dangerous giveaway close to the U.S. net in his first five minutes of action, but his inexperience showed with Mexico’s late goals. Still, when his team is chasing the game as the U.S. needed to, few defenders would fare better when outnumbered.

FW Jordan Morris, 5 (on for Boyd, 58 minutes) — Hustle and bustle. Worked hard to get in the position to win a late penalty.

FW Josh Sargent, 5 (on for Zardes, 67 minutes) — Not the best game state in which to show his skills, but he battled gamely all the same. Wasted a late penalty with a weak effort that could have added some shine to a streaky evening for the U.S. men.

DF Daniel Lovitz, 5 (on for Dest, 67 minutes) — Existed.

MF Sebastian Lletget, NR (on for Trapp, 77 minutes) — Was on the field.

MF Jackson Yueill, NR (on for Morales, 90 minutes) — Came on as a late injury cameo.

 

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN HOSTS EASTERN CONFERENCE FOE OTTAWA FURY FC IN MID-WEEK CLASH

By IndyEleven.com, 09/09/19, 8:30PM EDT

Boys In Blue Return Home to Host Canadian Club for First Time in 2019

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 – 7:00 P.M. ET              Lucas Oil Stadium  |  Indianapolis, Ind.    

FOLLOW LIVE:

Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23    Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click for a free 7-day trial)

Radio (Spanish): Exitos Radio 1590 AM     In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Honda

SETTING THE TABLE:

Indy Eleven: 15W-5L-5D, 50 pts., 4th in Eastern Conference

Ottawa Fury FC: 10W-7L-9D, 39 pts., 8th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings

LAST TIME OUT:

Charleston Battery  1 : 0  Indy Eleven  | Sunday, September 8

Indy Eleven fell to Charleston Battery on Sunday evening 0-1, the team’s first loss since July 27 on the road to Nashville SC. Battery midfielder Romario Piggott notched the only goal of the match in the 42nd minute off a strong counter attack with a low shot just out of Indy ‘keeper Evan Newton’s diving reach. The fixture is also the first time the Boys in Blue have been shut out since losing to Nashville, having scored at least once in each of the last five matches. Despite finishing the game with 71% possession and 17 shots, the Boys in Blue couldn’t muster the equalizer.

Atlanta United FC 2 3 : 2 Ottawa Fury FC  | Saturday, September 7

Ottawa Fury FC’s third loss in a row came at the feet of Atlanta United FC 2 in the Peach State last Saturday. ATL forwards Andrew Carleton and Patrick Okonkwo gained the high ground with strikes in the 17th second and 26th minute, respectively. Ottawa nullified the host’s lead with a penalty from Wal Fall in the 39th minute and closed the gap in the 70th minute with a goal from Hadji Barry, only to concede the game-winner to ATL’s Carleton two minutes later. The trio of goals allowed brings Fury FC concession count to eight goals in its last three matches, converting just two through the winless streak.

#INDVOTT STORYLINES

  • While Indy Eleven enters Wednesday in fourth place on the crowded Eastern Conference table with 50 points, a win would move the Boys in Blue level with first-place New York Red Bulls II and leapfrog past both the Tampa Bay Rowdies (52 pts.) and Nashville SC (51 pts.).
  • Wednesday reunites Indy Eleven and Ottawa Fury FC, which were “Class of 2014” mates when they entered the North American Soccer League together six seasons ago.
  • The Canadian club has long been a thorn in the side of Indiana’s Team over the last six seasons. Indy owns a 2W-6L-3D all-time regular season record against Fury FC.
  • Ottawa is the only Eastern Conference foe the Boys in Blue have yet to face in 2019. The two sides will wrap up their season series on Wednesday, October 2 at TD Place Stadium.
  • Indy Eleven dropped the season series against Ottawa in its first USL Championship campaign in 2018, losing 0-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium on July 4 and settled for a scoreless away draw on August 18.
  • Last year’s Independence Day loss to Ottawa was the last time Indy fell at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy is currently on a 21-game undefeated run at home, tying the club’s previous record set between the 2015-17 seasons.
  • The Eleven’s current home run is now tied with Rochester Rhinos for the fourth longest home undefeated streak in USL Championship history. Ahead of Indy on the list is Richmond Kickers, 2012-14 (30 games); Charleston Battery, 2014-16 (28); and Orlando City SC, 2011-13 (25).
  • It’ll be a reunion of sorts Wednesday evening for four of the Boys in Blue. Indy’s Tyler Gibson and Karl Ouimette once shared the pitch with Ottawa’s Nana Attakora and Maxim Tissot during their single-season stint with San Francisco Deltas (NASL) in 2017. Additionally, Indy’s Dane Kelly and Tyler Pasher appeared on the same roster as Fury’s Kevin Oliveira during the trio’s 2016 season with Swope Park Rangers.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | MF MATT WATSON

When facing a tough stretch of games in a short span, it always helps to have an experienced veteran who can positively impact his teammates both on and off the field. For Indiana’s Team, that veteran is captain and midfielder Matt Watson. The 34-year-old has made 23 appearances, six of which have been starts, in 25 games for the Boys in Blue.With age comes experience, as Watson has played 387 games in his 13-year professional career. After starting the majority of games in his first season with Indy Eleven, the captain now plays a super sub role with the ability to play almost any position in Head Coach Martin Rennie’s system. The Englishman lurked in the center of the pitch for the majority of 2018, but has added play along the outside of Indy’s midfield and backline to his repertoire this season. Despite the rotation, Watson remains effective in all roles, having completed 80% of his passes, won 70% of his tackles and has contributed a goal through the 2019 campaign (so far).

OTTAWA FURY FC PLAYER TO WATCH | FW CARL HAWORTH

Watson might not be the only veteran present on Wednesday night. Ottawa Fury FC forward Carl Haworth will most likely feature in the Canadian Club’s starting XI come kickoff. Haworth, now in his 10th year of professional play, is no stranger to facing the Boys in Blue, something he’s been doing since both team’s inaugural NASL seasons in 2014. The 30-year-old has racked up 153 appearances for Ottawa and scored 24 goals.Eight of those 24 career goals have come in the 2019 USL Championship season, a statistic that lands Haworth as the team’s joint leading goal scorer. Much like Indy’s Watson, the forward has the ability to play multiple roles when called upon, showing his versatility on the pitch. Pending Ottawa’s game plan, Haworth may field as a forward in an attempt to break down a seemingly impenetrable Indy home defense or as an outside back in an effort to contain Boys in Blue midfielder Tyler Pasher.

MATCH-UP TO MARK | INDY WING PLAY VS. OTTAWA BACK THIRD

Playing on the road doesn’t appear to favor Ottawa Fury FC. The side holds a 3W-5L-5D record on the road, a distant cry from its 7W-2L-4D home record. Moreover, the Fury is currently on a three-game losing streak, with the last two defeats coming away from home and the team continuing its away stint in Indianapolis this Wednesday evening.The last loss came against Atlanta United FC 2 in a match where attacks down the flanks plagued the Canadian side and all three goals allowed came from wing play. The first acted as a quick breakaway down the left flank in the 17th second, the fastest goal scored in ATL UTD 2 history. The second goal came from an early cross into the six-yard box off the right flank in the 26th minute to trail 2-0. Lastly, the final concession came in as a cross from the right flank that caught Ottawa goalkeeper Callum Irving off his line and edged Atlanta into the lead once more to secure three points.Indy has thrived on wing play in 2019. With a pair of arguably the league’s best wingers in Tyler Pasher and Ayoze, the Ottawa back third will need to be aware of their positioning and ready for balls played into the box. In the last two home matches against New York Red Bulls II and Charlotte Independence, the Boys in Blue played in a total of 26 crosses. Forward Dane Kelly’s header that toppled first-place NYRBII last Wednesday was the result of a ball played in early from the flank. Not only will Ottawa need to be prepared for crosses, but also pacey runs from the flanks into the box by Pasher and shots from distance courtesy of Ayoze.Indiana’s Team will return to Lucas Oil Stadium for its first of two matches this week, starting with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Night on Wednesday, Sept. 11, against Ottawa Fury FC, followed by its annual Hispanic Heritage Night, presented by Financial Center First Credit Union, against Bethlehem Steel FC – which will be preceded by La Plaza’s annual Fiesta Celebration on Georgia Street throughout the afternoon. Kickoff for both contests is set for 7:00 p.m., and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

RECAP | DESPITE DOMINANT EFFORT, INDY ELEVEN FALLS 1-0 AT CHARLESTON

By IndyEleven.com, 09/08/19, 9:45PM EDT

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Boys in Blue Control Run of Play but Fall Short in Game Postponed by Hurricane Dorian

Indy Eleven saw its five-game undefeated streak snapped on the road tonight via a 1-0 defeat at the Charleston Battery. Despite holding distinct advantages in possession, (71%-29%), shots (17-8) and shots on goal (6-1) on the evening and playing with a man advantage for much of the second half, Indiana’s Team could not capitalize in attack, suffering just its second shutout loss in 25 outings this season.Tonight’s match was delayed one day from its scheduled Saturday kickoff due to Hurricane Dorian’s pass through the Carolinas late in the week. The result kept Indy Eleven (15W-5L-5D, 50 pts.) in fourth place in the crowded Eastern Conference standings. However, the Boys in Blue still sit within a win of and hold at least two games in hand on all three teams in front of them – New York Red Bulls II (53 pts.), Tampa Bay Rowdies (52 pts.), and Nashville SC (51 pts.).

Click here for full 2019 USL Championship standings

“It’s a disappointing loss for us. We dominated most of the game and we hardly gave up any chances and we ended up losing 1-nil,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “The big thing is that we feel as though we should’ve taken more out of the game than that. We had quite a lot of chances and hardly gave any up. It’s not what you would expect from a game where you have that much of the ball and that much territory of the game.”The Battery began the proceedings with a trio of set pieces in the opening 10 minutes, but none of those opportunities, nor forward Jarad van Schaik’s 20-yard blast from the run of play, were put on frame. Indy’s attack flipped a switch in the 15th minute, when forward Dane Kelly was put in alone by Macauley King’s through ball, only to see Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky come up with a 1-v-1 save. Kelly recovered the rebound and cycled a cross to the far post that was headed on by debutant midfielder Nico Perea, whose shot was also stopped by Kuzminsky at his right post.Kelly was unfortunate to not take advantage of a miscue between Charleston defender Taylor Mueller and Kuzminsky in the 32nd minute, the two Battery backliners’ collision at the top of the area leaving the net wide open. However, Kelly took the chance early with another defender bearing down, the resulting shot dribbling just inches wide of the right post. Rather than sulk, the play seemed to spark the Jamaican striker, who ripped a more conventional shot from the same spot barely wide just two minutes later.Indiana’s Team felt hard done to give up the lead in the last five minutes of the half. In the 41st minute, forward Eugene Starikov had a case for a penalty kick when Kuzminsky slid in and made contact on the Eleven striker as the two converged on Kenney Walker’s ball played into the area from midfield. However, the referee instead gave Indy a corner kick, a short play that broke down and turned into an 80-yard breakaway for Charleston midfielder Romario Piggott, who finished low and left past Eleven netminder Evan Newton. The Battery’s lone shot on goal of the match would indeed be enough to send the home side into the locker rooms up 1-0, although Eleven defender Ayoze’s free kick from 25 yards at the death of the half certainly put that into question after missing just wide.It was another Ayoze ball, this time off a corner kick, that nearly led to an Indy equalizer three minutes into the second half, but defender Karl Ouimette’s crashing header inside the six was sent high. Straight after that play it was the Battery nearly scoring on the other end, but Eleven midfielder Tyler Gibson’s intervention at the right post was enough to keep Piggott from poking home for his second. In the 53rd minute it was Indy midfielder Matthew Watson making his presence known after entering late in the first half for an injured Walker, his 25-yard blast dragged just wide left, and a minute following it was another Ayoze service setting up Kelly, whose header, like Ouimette’s, was sent over the crossbar.Ayoze made more things happen in the 57th minute, when the Spaniard entered a 50-50 challenge against the Battery’s Kyle Nelson that drew a second yellow card against the Charleston rookie midfielder for a high boot, giving the visitors a man advantage for the last half-hour plus change.While Indy Eleven predictably began to boss the possession after the red card, the next truly dangerous chance would fall against to Piggott in the 70th minute, his shot from 20 yards out bouncing just wide of Newton’s left post. Starikov was twice frustrated by Kuzminsky on headers 90 seconds apart, first in the 76th minute when the Charleston ‘keeper tipped the Ukrainian’s attempt wide off the post, followed by an open shot from eight yards that went right to Kuzminsky on his line.Repeated crosses into the danger zone by Indy Eleven would go wanting over the last quarter-hour plus six minutes of added time, the increasing frustration boiling over in the 94th minute when a scrum inside the six yard box on yet another service saw the teams trade shoves and a yellow card issued to substitute striker Gabriel. That would be the last gasp for the visitors, who were shutout for just the second time in their last 15 matches dating back to early June.“We were pretty much on top anyways, but what the red card did was really made them sit back and bunker in. When a team does that, we’ve got to be a little quicker and creative in our play. That would be the one thing I think we need to take from tonight,” Rennie explained. “Also, making sure that when we’re being that dominant, that we’re decisive around the box, more creative in our movement and more confident in taking people on. When we do that, more chances will come.”Indiana’s Team will return to Lucas Oil Stadium with a pair of games this week, starting with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Night on Wednesday, Sept. 11, against Ottawa Fury FC, followed by its annual Hispanic Heritage Night, presented by Financial Center First Credit Union, against Bethlehem Steel FC – which will be preceded by La Plaza’s annual Fiesta Celebration on Georgia Street throughout the afternoon. Kickoff for both contests is set for 7:00 p.m., and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

Charleston Battery  1 : 0  Indy Eleven 

Sunday, September 8, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. ET   MUSC Health Stadium – Charleston, S.C.  Attendance: 1,359

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