7/21/20 – Undefeated Indy 11 on ESPN2 Wed 6 pm, NWSL Semi’s Wed, Final Sunday CBS 12:30, Chelsea vs Liverpool Wed 3 pm, Liverpool Trophy presentation at 5 pm

Indy 11

So our Indy 11 remain undefeated to start with the best record in our history as we knocked off Sporting KC 2-1 in front of close to 5K in the stands at the Luke. Indy 11 will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Riverhounds on ESPN 2 – at 6 pm on Wednesday night!   Four match-ups with Louisville FC headline the schedule along with 4 games vs St. Louis –these 3 teams should battle it out to make the expanded playoffs.

NWSL

So the semi-finals are on TV Wednesday at 12 midnight Portland Thorns vs Houston Dash and Thursday at 10 am Sky Blue vs Chicago Red Stars on NBC Sportsnetwork with the Final Sunday on NBC (finally) the Semi’s are on streaming Wed 10 am and 10 pm.  The games have been good –the ones I watch on replay on CBS Sports Network – I wish all the games were here – but we do get the big game on Sunday at 12:30 pm on NBC the finals!!

Pulisic Continues to Shine in EPL

So hopefully they were holding Pulisic back for the huge league games this weekend as he didn’t even see the field in the Semi-Final 3-0 win over Man United this weekend.  I was ticked off to say the least as I settled into watch on Sunday (he was injured)– Chelsea face Liverpool on Wed at 3 pm on NBCSN – hopefully he’ll be on the field in this hugely critical game as they need a win and a tie in the last 2 games at least to secure a top 4 Champions League finish.  Of course Liverpool will be presented the EPL Title Trophy after the game at Anfield around 5 pm after the game.   hopefully it will be after a tie as Chelsea need the points.  Its a 3 way battle between Chelsea 63pts/Man United 62/Liecester City 62 pts. for the 3rd and 4th spots.

MLS Is Back

I have to admit the MLS is Back Tourney has been pretty darn good – some really high scoring games as teams battle to win their group and advance on to the playoffs that start this weekend.  Great to see games featured on weekday mornings 9 am on ESPN and evening games a lot of nights at 8 and 10 on ESPN and Fox Sports.  The games have been really exciting and hopefully will give MLS a little bump in the US national Sports Scope before other sports start up later this month.

Carmel High School Boys Soccer Tactical Camp

July 27 – 30 – River Road Soccer Complex. Camp offered for boys and girls ages 8 – 14. 9:00 – 11:00 am. $95

GAMES ON TV 

Tues,  July 21

9 am EPSN                                         Toronto vs NE Revs

12:30 pm  NBCSN                             Watford at Man City

2:45 pm NBCSN                                Aston Villa  vs Arsenal  

8 pm ESPN2                                      Atlanta vs Columbus  

10:30 pm ESPN2                               Montreal vs DC United  

Wed,  July 22

9 am ESPN                                         Real Salt Lake vs Sporting KC

1 pm  NBCSN                                    West Ham at Man Unted

3 pm NBCSN                                      Liverpool vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  

6 pm ESPN2                                       INDY 11 @ Pittsburgh

8 pm ESPN                                        Cincy vs NR Red Bulls

10:30 pm ESPN                                 Colorado vs Min United

Thurs,  July 23

9 am ESPN                                         Chicago vs Vancouver  

1 pm  NBCSN                                    West Ham at Man Unted

1:30 pm ESPN+                              Udineese vs Juventus  

8 pm FS1                                            LA vs Houston

10:30 pm ESPN2                             LAFC vs Portland  

Sat,  July 25

1:30 pm ESPN+                              Genoa vs Inter

8 pm ESPN2                                      MLS Playoff Orlando FC vs ?   

10:30 pm ESPN2                              Philly Union vs New England Revs  MLS Playoff

Sun  July 26  – EPL Final Day/NWSL Finals

11 am USA Network                Wolverhampton vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  (Top 4 on line)

11 am CNBC                                   Crystal Palace vs Tottenham

11 am  NBCSN??                         Leicester City vs Man United (Top 4 on line)

12:30 pm CBS                               NWSL Finals – from Utah

5 pm ESPN+/Desp                           INDY 11 @ St Louis

8 pm FS1                                            Toronto FC vs 3rd Group A  

11 pm FS1                                          ??  MLS Playoff  

Mon,  July 27

9 pm FS1                                            MLS Playoff

11 pm FS1                                          MLS Playoff  

Tues,  July 28

8 pm ESPN                                        MLS Playoff

10 pm ESPN                                      MLS Playoff  

Wed,  July 29

7 pm ESPN+myindytv        INDY 11 vs Hartford Lucas Oil

INDY 11 

Pittsburgh to face the Riverhounds on ESPN 2 – at 6 pm on Wednesday

https://www.uslchampionship.com/news_article/show/1114043

Indy 11 Wins Again

NWSL & MLS

NWSL Semi-Finals – Who’s Going to Win – ESPNFC

All Women’s Ownership Group with former US Players, Actresses & more lands LA NWSL Franchise –

Natie Portman led Group Wins LA Expansion Team
Beckham’s Inter Miami eliminated from MLS tournament

EPL & World

Renaldo hits 50 goals in Juve win. 1st to Score 50 in La Liga, EPL, Serie A

‘Ibrahimovic is a beast, a phenomenon’ – Donnarumma hails Milan striker and hints at San Siro stay

USA

Pulisic’s 1st season Stats compare to Mane or Sterling – eSPNFC
Farke: Pulisic will be ‘world-class’; Lampard praises USMNT star

WATCH: Pulisic cross finds Giroud to give Chelsea lead

Lampard – Pulisics Game at Another Level

Lampard Thrilled with Pulisic – but don’t compare him to Hazard yet – GOAL.com

Pulisic Scores and has 8/10 Score in Win for Chelsea

How American Coach – became a coaching Star in Europe – ESPNFC
American coach Marsch named Austrian Bundesliga Coach of the Year

U.S. great Reyna: Son Gio enjoying Dortmund

Dest: I want to play with Ronaldo, Messi
Weston McKennie entertains offers

Ranking the eight USWNT Women’s World Cup teams
Op-Ed: If the goal is equity, the U.S. women and men should team up to bargain with U.S. Soccer
  -Grant Wahl

 

Indy Eleven at Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

Wednesday, July 22, 2020 – 6:00 P.M. ET        Highmark Stadium | Pittsburgh, Pa.

Local/National TV: ESPN2

2020 USL CHAMPIONSHIP REGULAR SEASON RECORDS

Indy Eleven: 3W-0L-0D, 9 pts., 1st in Group E

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: 2W-0L-0D, 6 pts., 1st in Group F

It’s an early-season showdown deserving of a national audience – and that’s just what Indy Eleven and Pittsburgh Riverhounds will have, courtesy of ESPN2, when they meet Wednesday evening near the confluence of the Steel City’s famed three rivers.

The contest features two of the three highest scoring offenses in the 35-team USL Championship through four weeks of action, Pittsburgh’s nine goals placing second, followed by Indy with eight. Eleven forward Tyler Pasher paces the league with four goals, while Riverhounds SC attacker Kenardo Forbes paces the USLC in assists with four helpers of his own.

“Pivotal” might be too heightened a term this early in a season for a game featuring two teams sitting atop their respective groups with spotless records. However, their form out of the gates have Indy and Pittsburgh as the East’s teams to beat in 2020 (don’t take our word … USLChampionship.com’s Nicholas Murray have Indy #1 and PIT #3 in the latest Power Rankings), which makes their first of two meetings during the shortened 16-game campaign one likely to be circled for end-of-the-season reviews come October.

Of the 17 Championship squads with at least three games under their belts, Indy Eleven is the only one to start off with three victories. A win Wednesday would not only make Indiana’s Team the first in the USLC to reach double-digit points, but it would also end Pittsburgh’s 25-game home undefeated streak in regular season play – a figure Indy might be in awe of were it not for the fact it’s similar run does the Riverhounds two better at 27.

SERIES HISTORY

Indy Eleven will look to even its all-time regular season series with Riverhounds SC, its record currently standing at 1W-2L-2D (6 GF/9 GA) after meetings across the 2018 & ’19 USL Championship campaigns.

Pittsburgh also had the leg up in their Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup meeting last season, a Third Round affair the Riverhounds took via a 1-0 score at Highmark Stadium on May 29. Indy Eleven exacted a bit of revenge just three days later with a dramatic 2-1 win at Lucas Oil Stadium, while Pittsburgh took the return leg in regular season play via a 3-0 scoreline back in the Steel City in September.  Despite not being grouped together, the close proximity of the two growing rivals has them playing twice during the shortened 2020 season, with Indy Eleven set to host Riverhounds SC in the Circle City on August 15.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | DF PADDY BARRETT

We’ve noted the voracity of the Riverhounds attack, which means the Eleven back three – anchored by the Irish captain Paddy Barrett in the middle – will likely be under sustained pressure. Expect Barrett and the Indy defense to be up for the challenge, as the squad has conceded just once in the last 254 minutes of play after a two-goal hiccup in the first 16 minutes of the season opener at Memphis 901 FC. Pittsburgh will also have to account for Barrett in the opposite final third as well, as his deft finish in last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City II was preceded by eye-opening long-distance efforts in each of the last two outings.

PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC PLAYER TO WATCH | MF KENARDO FORBES

The 2019 USL Championship MVP finalist and All-League First Team performer was a thorn in the side of Indy last year, as he notched a late game-winner in their Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fixture in May and tallied twice in a 3-0 win late in the regular season. The veteran Jamaican playmaker is continuing his assault on opposing goals in 2020, already notching four assists – including a trio in last Saturday’s 6-0 drubbing of Philadelphia Union II. With five chances created and three successful crosses in just two matches, Forbes has entered the restart in midseason form and will once again need to be the focal point for Indiana’s Team all over the field.

Unlikely NWSL season will have an unlikely Challenge Cup champion

12:43 PM ETGraham HaysESPN.com

The Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, Portland Thorns FC and Sky Blue FC will breathe easier these days. Not because players are more accustomed to the altitude in the Salt Lake City area. Not because they will play all remaining games in the NWSL Challenge Cup on the Rio Tinto Stadium grass after five games on artificial turf. And not because the forecast offers any relief from the heat (it doesn’t).It’s mostly because that in proving themselves one of the best teams in the history of the sport, the North Carolina Courage suck the oxygen out of any room, or stadium, they occupy.But after Portland eliminated the top-seeded and previously unbeaten Courage in a quarterfinal, the NWSL will, for the first time since 2015, settle a championship without the team that won three championships and three NWSL Shields beginning in 2016, including its time in Western New York.A league now in the midst of the unlikeliest of seasons will have an unlikely champion.

That’s a good story especially in the cases of Houston and Sky Blue, franchises that began this year with no playoff appearances and 56 more losses than wins between them since Houston entered the league in 2014. It’s also an important story. A league in which bad franchises stay bad is a league that stagnates. A league in which they aspire to championships, even if only in a monthlong tournament necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, is a league that can thrive.

Houston has no playoff appearances in its history but has more often been mediocre than disastrous. Sky Blue, on the other hand, is only a couple of years removed from exploring the full depths of disaster. Amid a one-win season in 2018 came reports detailing inadequate facilities, poor housing and general dysfunction. The team at least adjacent to the biggest market in the league ranked last in attendance. Sky Blue had the second and sixth picks in the 2019 draft. Both players opted to sign instead in Europe, the only first-rounders to do so.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that people close to Alyse LaHue tried to talk her out of taking the job she now holds as the team’s general manager. Many people. But she did all the same, first on an interim basis early last season and then permanently last fall. Play improved throughout last season — not by miraculous degrees but steadily as a coaching carousel finally settled on Freya Coombe by the end of the campaign. With LaHue willing to listen to all complaints, at a full variety of volumes, from fans whose allegiance dated back to WPS a decade ago, the team’s image improved. A pair of games at Red Bull Arena late in the year drew big crowds — more than half as many in those games alone as the team drew the entire 2018 season.

Then came the offseason announcement that the team was finally trading its outdated and difficult-to-reach home at Rutgers for Red Bull Arena on a full-time basis. Suddenly, Sky Blue, which also traded for World Cup winner Mallory Pugh during the offseason, had a world-class facility far more easily accessible by public transportation.”It opens up for us a lot of new business opportunities as well,” LaHue said. “Really, Red Bull Arena was the next step for us in our growth as a professional club.”Except that is on hold after the sports world shut down before Sky Blue could make their full-time debut at Red Bull Arena.”You basically have a new job now,” LaHue recalled of the message to staff as the NWSL put its season on hold just as preseason training was commencing. “Whatever you did before, if you can figure out how to do it completely digital, that’s what you’re going to do now.”It says something about the shift from organizational dysfunction to, well, function that while there was plenty of outside debate about whether the NWSL could even survive a shutdown. Sky Blue spent more time on innovation than existential fretting. For starters, in addition to offering refunds to season-ticket holders who needed or wanted them, the team developed a digital season ticket service that offers fans regular online contact with players and staff. Those have continued through the tournament in Utah, connecting team and fans in a way likely to outlast the necessities of remote connectivity during a pandemic.But any turnaround is ultimately only as successful as what the players make it on the field.In a normal season and with a full roster that included additions Pugh, Midge Purce and McCall Zerboni, Sky Blue would have been a popular sleeper pick. LaHue even acknowledged the playoffs were the target. But with little in the way of a preseason to further adapt to Coombe’s system — and without franchise cornerstone Carli Lloyd and Pugh because of injuries — the NWSL Challenge Cup was, in the general manager’s words, aptly named.”I think you would have been able to see a much better-put-together picture that we are attempting to build right now,” forward Ifeoma Onumonu said of a longer season. “I think we’ve got a lot of good things going for us with the short amount of time we’ve had already.”And here they are in the semifinals, seven years after the team’s first and only playoff appearance.Sky Blue haven’t been a revelation in Utah, but it’s amazing how many breaks talented and well-run teams tend to catch. Start with some brilliant goalkeeping from Kailen Sheridan. Add steady veteran play from Gina Lewandowski, Nahomi Kawasumi, Estelle Johnson, Sarah Woldmoe and Zerboni, and suddenly surprises like Ghanaian midfielder Jennifer Cudjoe emerge from the positive environments in which they’re immersed.

“I’ve been blown away by what the technical staff and the players have pulled off,” LaHue said. “Obviously going into the semifinals of this tournament is just pure joy.”I don’t even have another word for it. It’s just pure joy.”North Carolina will be back, but it’s good to see what the rest of the league can do with a little room to breathe.So how do the semifinals set up?

Portland Thorns FC vs. Houston Dash (12:30 p.m. ET)

Portland is no stranger to semifinals, having reached at least that stage in six of the league’s first seven seasons. But even if its current No. 8 seed is a bit harsh for a team that lost just once in the preliminary round, and that in stoppage time, these aren’t the normal Thorns.

Tobin Heath opted out of the event. Adrianna Franch and Becky Sauerbrunn are out with injuries. Even Lindsey Horan had come off injured by the time Morgan Weaver scored the winner from a Rocky Rodriguez assist against North Carolina. Horan is listed as questionable for the semifinal with a left hip injury. But if she plays, Portland still has a special midfield with Angela Salem playing behind the developing chemistry of Horan and Rodriguez. Not to mention that it seems far more likely that Christine Sinclair still has a goal in her than that the Canadian legend will go without all month.

Houston scored five goals in its first two games, so in a tournament largely starved for it, there is clearly offensive potential. And yet the Dash have also gone more than 300 minutes since they last scored, the longest active streak among the semifinalists. So we’re not exactly working with convincing sample sizes either way.

There is so much to like about adding Shea Groom as a creative presence alongside Rachel Daly or watching Katie Naughton and Megan Oyster develop chemistry as center-backs in their first season together. But Houston has also ceded the edge in possession in every game and been less accurate in their passing than their opponents in the past four games. Playing on the counter and looking for the quick strike makes for a test of nerves in the team’s first semifinal.

Sky Blue FC vs. Chicago Red Stars (10 p.m. ET)

If the Red Stars win a title without scoring a goal, would we stop talking about Sam Kerr? It makes for an interesting thought experiment. At some point Kerr’s name will stop appearing (multiple times) in conversation about the team, but the Red Stars are still going to have to first prove they can score consistently without the former MVP. But with the team last among the eight participants with just 10 shots on goal, and the only goals scored by defender Casey Short and since-injured midfielder Morgan Brian, it’s a fair, if also repetitive, narrative.

It would have helped if the Red Stars had either Brian or Yuki Nagasato available for the semifinal. Both remain out with injuries after also missing the quarterfinal. Chicago has options, especially with Savannah McCaskill’s ability to play in a variety of attacking roles. But it’s worth noting that Chicago was the last team other than North Carolina to score multiple goals against Sky Blue, winning 3-0 in New Jersey last September against a defense that will probably look largely familiar Wednesday. Brian and Nagasato each scored a goal in that win. The other goal? Kerr, of course.

Natalie Portman part of L.A. ownership group for NWSL expansion team in 2022

Kevin BaxterLA Times•July 21, 2020

After a 12-year break women’s professional soccer is coming back to Southern California, with a star-studded ownership group led by actress Natalie Portman announcing Tuesday it has secured the rights to bring an NWSL team to the market for the 2022 season.“L.A. is a city that has a fanatical sports fan base. And obviously, we’ve shown that we have the ability to support multiple teams and multiple different leagues,” said media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman, another of the principle partners in one of the few majority-women ownership groups in professional sports.“By bringing together this unique group of people, we actually have this ability to engage and promote and not only support the best players, but also grow the league by putting a spotlight on it and hopefully igniting a fire here that will touch other places,” Uhrman said.Others in that 30-member group include World Cup and Olympic champions Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Rachel Buehler, Tisha Venturini-Hoch and Abby Wambach; actresses Eva Longoria, Uzo Aduba, Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain, venture capitalist Kara Nortman and Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian.“We wanted to make sure that we brought in incredible partners who were from the soccer world, who are leaders in sport, in tech and business and entertainment because that’s really so much what our city is about. Each of us has our special ability to bring to the team,” said Portman, who began work on the Angel City project after the U.S. victory in last summer’s World Cup.“It just seems like it was ideal to bring [women’s] soccer to L.A. because we have such passionate fans here, such robust youth soccer,” she added. “It’s just an incredible kind of culture shift if we can bring more attention and light and celebration of these incredible athletes.”The franchise, which is using Angel City as its tentative nickname, is in discussions with several potential venue partners and hopes to announce both a venue partner and a permanent name by the end of the year. The Galaxy confirmed they are in conversations with Uhrman. The MLS team shared an owner and a stadium with the Sol, the last first-division women’s team to play in Southern California, before that team disbanded after one season in 2010. Women’s Professional Soccer, the league the Sol played in, folded two years later.LAFC, Southern California’s other MLS team, also said it was supportive of the effort to bring an NWSL team to the area.Last October the nine-team NWSL, the first professional sports league in U.S. to resume play during the COVID-19 pandemic, awarded an expansion franchise to Louisville, Ky. That team will begin play next spring. Angel City will have nearly two years to prepare for its launch, scheduled to take place the year between the two biggest events in women’s soccer — the Olympic Games and the World Cup.“There’s many steps that need to be taken along the way, so I think it gives us a good runway,” Portman said. “And with [COVID-19], it seems reasonable too.”

Natalie Portman-Led Group Wins Women’s Soccer Expansion Team in Los Angeles

Emily Caron and Scott SoshnickVariety•July 21, 2020

Academy Award–winning actor Natalie Portman and a group of predominantly female founders were awarded the rights to bring a National Women’s Soccer League team to Los Angeles in 2022, Variety’s sister site Sportico reports.

Portman and tech venture capitalist Kara Nortman, media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman and venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian, who led the investment with his fund, Initialized Capital, are sidelining the traditional ownership model. Founding the NWSL’s 11th team through an expansive investor ownership group that includes a number of Hollywood, tech, venture, media and sports stars, the startup-like setup is itself as notable as the names behind it.Twelve former U.S. Women’s National Team players, including FIFA World Cup champions Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Lauren Cheney Holiday and Abby Wambach were also announced as part of the founding investor group, as are actors Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria, Uzo Aduba, America Ferrera and Lilly Singh, as well as author Glennon Doyle.A handful of other entrepreneurs, as well as executives from Netflix and Baby2Baby, round out the 32-member initial ownership group, which has also received local support. Well before the announcement, residents formed a grassroots local supporters group to help an L.A.-based NWSL team gain traction.“Normally in startups we think about finding product-market fit, and this is one of those [situations] where the market is very much asking for the product already. L.A. is ready,” Ohanian told Sportico. The Reddit co-founder also made a personal investment into the team on behalf of his wife, tennis star Serena Williams, and their daughter, Olympia — now likely the youngest owner in sports at two months shy of three years old.“I’m looking at this as a business decision. Yes, I believe there are a lot of good social reasons for this to be a successful enterprise, but this is first and foremost a capitalist one,” Ohanian added. “This is where esports was five years ago, except these teams are far more marketable; the athletes are far more popular and have already transcended the sport and culture. And while I am all for [what] this represents—a generation of athletes who should get paid what they’re worth, who should get treated fairly and equally—I also know this is tracking in the right direction. The free market is actually going to show that this has been undervalued for way too long by far too many people.”Without a team name or venue partner announced yet, the group — which established WFC LA, Inc. as a limited liability company in June with Uhrman listed as CEO and president — is calling itself “Angel City” as a nod to its future home. Angel City will join the Portland Thorns and OL Reign, located in Tacoma, Wash., as the league’s third West Coast team, and it will follow Racing Louisville FC, set to debut in 2021, as the NWSL’s next expansion franchise.“After spending time with the USWNT players, their union rep, and getting to know some of the owners of the NWSL and the league’s supporters, it became clear having a team in L.A. could not only elevate the league and players’ exposure, but also bring these incredibly talented women to the city of L.A. — my city,” Portman told Sportico. “We have the ability to engage, promote and support the best players in the world in the most popular sport in the world on a yearly basis, not just every four years.”

The expansion announcement comes on the heels of the USWNT’s 2019 FIFA World Cup win — where a record 1.12 billion viewers tuned into official broadcast coverage of the tournament — growth that continued with the NWSL’s own audience domestically and internationally. The league’s 2019 average attendance was up 21.8% over 2018 and 71.8% over its inaugural 2013 season. The ongoing Challenge Cup tournament in Utah drew a record-setting audience of 572,000 viewers for its opening match, marking a 201% increase over the NWSL’s previous high of 190,000.Los Angeles is already home to nine other professional sports teams, including two Major League Soccer teams, but has not had a professional women’s team since 2010, when the Los Angeles Sol of the now-defunct Women’s Professional Soccer League dissolved.“It’s clear that Los Angeles in particular is a huge soccer market. Every time the USWNT comes to play, they’re selling out Dignity Health Sports Park,” Urhman said of the home of the Galaxy, one of the city’s MLS teams, which seats 27,000 fans. “We felt like that was the recipe for success: having this incredible ownership group that believes in our mission and our purpose and having a fan base that already exists, that is really willing this to happen.”In addition to the rights to the newest NWSL expansion team, the group announced a community partnership with the LA84 Foundation. Now a formal supporter of the Play Equity Fund, which works to increase youth access to sport within underserved communities in Los Angeles, Angel City is focused on sport as a vehicle for social justice and gender equity as much as it is concerned with its on-field product.“Our story from the beginning was different — from starting with three founding women to building a movement before even having the money, stadium, rights or fans [to now] being able to grow our list of founding investors,” Portman said. “We believe in setting higher expectations on and off the field, for our team, players and fans. Success to us isn’t only on the field, but our impact in our community, payback to our players and entertainment of the world. We are not a legacy team but a team of activists, athletes and entrepreneurs who are used to challenging the status quo and reshaping expectations.”

Red Stars Win 4-3 on Penalties After 0-0 Draw With Reign Advance to Semi’s

ASSOCIATED PRESSJUL 19, 2020

HERRIMAN, Utah  — The Chicago Red Stars advanced to the semifinals of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup tournament, prevailing 4-3 on penalties after a scoreless draw with OL Reign on Saturday night.Lauren Barnes’ attempt for the Reign hit the post to seal it for Chicago, which will play Sky Blue on Wednesday night with a chance to play for the title.Three of the four quarterfinal matches went to penalties. Under tournament rules, tie games after regulation go straight to a shootout rather than to extra periods.Sky Blue advanced 4-3 on penalties after a scoreless draw with the Washington Spirit earlier Saturday. Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan secured the victory when she stopped Bayley Feist’s attempt.The eighth-seeded Portland Thorns, 1-0 winners over two-time defending champion North Carolina on Friday, will play the Dash in the first semifinal on Wednesday morning. The Dash also advanced on penalties after a scoreless draw Friday night against the Utah Royals.The Reign’s Jessica Fishlock got her first start since tearing her ACL in a game last July. She had one of the best attempts in the first half, but was thwarted by Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who was solid throughout the game.Naeher, who was in goal last summer for the U.S. team that won the World Cup, punched away a header from a wide open Sofia Huerta in the 59th minute. Later in the half, she tipped Kristen McNabb’s shot from some 30 yards out.Kealia Watt had a good chance for Chicago out in front of the goal in the 67th minute but it went just wide.Goalkeeping has been highlighted in the quarterfinals, with just one goal scored — by Portland’s Morgan Weaver — in the three other games.The Reign were playing without U.S. national team star Megan Rapinoe, who opted out of the tournament.Group results determined seeding for the eight teams in the Challenge Cup. The league’s ninth team, the Orlando Pride, withdrew before the tournament because of positive coronavirus tests.

 

ATP_Gen_350x250

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

 

 

7/17/20 – Indy 11 wins – home again Sat 7/18, NWSL Final Sunday CBS, FA Cup Semi’s Sat/Sun  

Indy 11

So our Indy 11 became one of the first US Sports back with fans – -as we knocked off St. Louis 2-0 in front of limited fans in the stands.   The 11 will host Sporting KC  in the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium with limited fans in attendance again this Saturday at 7 pm .(click here for tickets)   Four match-ups with Louisville FC headline the schedule along with 4 games vs St. Louis –these 3 teams should battle it out to make the expanded playoffs.

NWSL

So the semi-finals are Friday 10 pm and on Saturday at 8 and 10 pm on CBS allacess.  The games have been good –the ones I watch on replay on CBS Sports Network (I refuse to sign for another soccer firewall) – I wish all the games were here on TV – but we do get the big game next Sunday 12:30 pm on NBC the finals!!  NWSL standouts move on to quarterfinals.

Pulisic Continues to Shine in EPL

I can’t tell you how exciting it has been for me to watch a healthy Christian Pulisic back on the pitch for Chelsea and playing well.  This weekend we get FA Cup action on Sunday afternoon at 1 pm with Chelsea vs Man United in FA Cup Semi’s on ESPN+.  Pulisic scored a goal and had an assist this week for a Chelsea side battling for a top 4 slot in the EPL and Champions League play next season.  FA Cup Semi-Finals are Sat/Sun this weekend as Arsenal faces Man City on Sat at 2:45 pm on ESPN+, while the Spurs and Leicester Sun at 11 am before Chelsea Man U at 1 all on ESPN+.  Man sure would be cool if ESPN picked up the Chelsea vs Man U game on ESPN 1 or 2 – could do a huge audience for that with a Sunday 1 pm kickoff.  God forbid we have a big game featuring our best American player playing for a top 4 club like Chelsea battling mega team Man United?  Anyway off my soapbox!

Carmel High School Boys Soccer Tactical Camp

July 27 – 30 – River Road Soccer Complex. Camp offered for boys and girls ages 8 – 14. 9:00 – 11:00 am. $95

GAMES ON TV 

Sat,  July 11

12:30 pm  NBC                                    Norwich vs Burnley

2:45 pm ESPN+                                   Arsenal vs Man City  FA Cup

7 pm ESPN+ TV4                                INDY 11 Host Sporting KC 2

8 pm ESPN                                          Portland vs Houston  

10:30 pm ESPN                                   LA Galaxy vs LAFC  

Sun, July 12  

7:30  am NBCSN                                 Burnley vs Sheffield United

11 am bIN Sport/FuboTV                Alaves vs Barcelona

11 am NBCSN                                     Tottenham vs Leceister City FA Cup Semis

1 pm ESPN+                                        Man United vs Chelsea  FA Cup

3 pm beIJN Sport                                Leganes vs Real Madrid

3:$5 pm ESPN+                                   Roma vs Inter

8 pm FS1                                             Chicago vs San Jose  

10:30 pm FS1                                      Seattle vs Vancouver  

USA

Pulisic’s 1st season Stats compare to Mane or Sterling – eSPNFC
Farke: Pulisic will be ‘world-class’; Lampard praises USMNT star

WATCH: Pulisic cross finds Giroud to give Chelsea lead

Lampard – Pulisics Game at Another Level

Lampard Thrilled with Pulisic – but don’t compare him to Hazard yet – GOAL.com

Pulisic Scores and has 8/10 Score in Win for Chelsea

How American Coach – became a coaching Star in Europe – ESPNFC
American coach Marsch named Austrian Bundesliga Coach of the Year

U.S. great Reyna: Son Gio enjoying Dortmund

Dest: I want to play with Ronaldo, Messi
Weston McKennie entertains offers

Ranking the eight USWNT Women’s World Cup teams
Op-Ed: If the goal is equity, the U.S. women and men should team up to bargain with U.S. Soccer
  -Grant Wahl

EPL & World
Lampard admits it is ‘going to be tough’ as Chelsea push for Champions League

Manchester United vs Chelsea, FA Cup semi-final: What time is kick-off on Sunday, what TV channel is it on and what’s our prediction?

• Buffon, 42, signs one-year deal at Juve

NWSL & MLS

Armchair Analyst Breakdown on MLS Tourney – Matt Doyle

https://www.mlssoccer.com/mls-is-back-tournament/standings

NWSL standouts move on to quarterfinals– 4hGraham Hays

Thorns FC’s Lindsey Horan provides a glimpse inside NWSL bubble
Thorns FC goalkeeper Bella Bixby gives us some perspective on playing with no fans

Crystal Dunn and Brianna Pinto talk about being Black soccer players

‘Pulisic can’t be compared to Hazard – he carried Chelsea!’ – USMNT forward still learning, says Burley

Goal.comJul 9, 2020, 5:44 AM

Christian Pulisic may be enjoying a stunning run of form at Chelsea but he cannot be compared to Blues legend Eden Hazard because the Belgian “carried one of the biggest teams in the Premier League for a few seasons”, says Craig Burley.Inevitable links are being made between two star turns to have filled a left-sided attacking berth at Stamford Bridge.When the decision was reluctantly taken to offload Hazard to Real Madrid in the summer of 2019, suitable cover was required to fill sizeable boots in west London.Chelsea always hoped that Pulisic would be the man to step up, with the United States international having been lured away from Borussia Dortmund at just 21 years of age.Time is very much on the American’s side when it comes to following in Hazard’s footsteps, with a flurry of goals since the Premier League restart suggesting that he is ready to become a talisman.

Frank Lampard has, however, been reluctant to start comparing Pulisic and Hazard, with piling such pressure on a player who still has much to learn considered to be both premature and unnecessary.Burley is another of that mindset, with the former Chelsea midfielder eager to point out that there is a long way to go before a star of the present can claim to have emulated one of the recent past.He told ESPN FC of the Pulisic praise: “They should take their heads out of the sand.”Eden Hazard carried Chelsea for a long time, and got his move to Real Madrid.”He’s a multiple league winner, and a hugely talented Belgian international. In the end, he was coveted by arguably the biggest club in the world – Real Madrid.”It’s typical of the rationale – trying to compare people too early. Christian Pulisic is a huge talent, but he’s a young man.”There’s no guarantee that come next season with all the new players coming in that he’ll get all the game time he needs.”All he needs is two or three quiet games, and any manager worth his salt will have [Callum] Hudson-Odoi in, or he’ll have [Timo] Werner on the left, or Mason Mount.”I think we need to go slowly with Christian Pulisic, it’s a learning curve for him, he’s doing great at the moment, but you can’t compare him to a player who literally carried one of the biggest teams in the Premier League for a few seasons.”Hazard took in 352 appearances for Chelsea over the course of a seven-year stay, with 110 goals and 92 assists recorded while helping the Blues to two Premier League titles and a couple of Europa League crowns.Pulisic has nine goals and eight assists to his name this season, with it still possible for him to end his debut campaign in England with an FA Cup winners’ medal.

 

USMNT’s Sergino Dest: I want to play with Ronaldo, Messi

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Fox Sports’ Milan van Dongen breaks down the link between Bayern and Sergino Dest. (1:22)

  • ESPN

Ajax and U.S. men’s national team (USMNT) defender Sergino Dest has said he wants to be the most expensive full-back in the world and play with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Dest has been linked with a big-money move away from Ajax this summer with several top European clubs, including Bayern MunichBarcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, said to be interested in him.

“I want to be the most expensive full-back ever because when you reach that it shows that you are one of the best full-back of the world,” Dest told NOS Jeugdjournaal.”I want to go over €50 million. No defender went above €100m”I want to play with [Kylian] Mbappe, Ronaldo, Messi or Neymar. Time will tell if it will come true. But it is possible.”Bayern Munich are reportedly leading the charge to sign the 19-year-old but Dest has yet to commit to leaving Ajax.However, the young defender is a self-confessed Barcelona fan and many believe should the Catalonian club make an offer Dest would be swayed there over the Bundesliga giants.”There are a lot of rumours. No, it has not been decided that I go to Bayern Munich and I haven’t really said anything yet. There is interest from clubs but I don’t know if I leave Ajax,” he said.Dest, who was born in the Netherlands, pledged his allegiance to the USMNT at the end of 2019 after securing his first senior caps in September of that year.”I chose the U.S. because I’ve played there in the youth teams,” Dest said of his decision. “It is my choice, everybody can have his opinion but [this] is my decision. I am the one who is in trouble when it doesn’t work out.”

 

United States’ Weston McKennie open to Schalke exit – sources

Stephan UersfeldGermany correspondent

United States international Weston McKennie is open to leaving Bundesliga side Schalke 04, sources told ESPN.

McKennie, 21, was one of the few Schalke players to not see his stock drop following a run of 16 Bundesliga games without a win this season.No longer 100% happy at Schalke, the versatile McKennie — who is one of the club’s biggest assets — would be in favour of leaving if the Royal Blues wish to sell him and his new club proves a good fit, sources say.A report by German outlet Sport1 has already linked McKennie, who could command a fee between €20-€25 million, with Hertha Berlin and fellow Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg also a possible option.”A departure can not be ruled out,” Schalke sporting executive Jochen Schneider said on Wednesday. “I can’t say it 100% right now. It’s a fact that Weston prolonged his contract through to 2024 last year.”This season, McKennie has been asked to play in several different positions — central attacking midfielder, holding midfielder and centre-back.The change of positions has been a common theme throughout his first few years as a professional. In 91 competitive appearances since his May 2017 debut, McKennie has played in eight different spots on the pitch. A pressing force and strong in the air, McKennie’s build-up play, however, proved to be one of his weakness when dropping deep behind the central defence. He now fancies himself as a No. 8 on the pitch going forward.Schalke on Wednesday announced they must reduce costs amid financial difficulties which were worsened by two factors in recent months. The club missed out on European football for the third time in four years this campaign and they were also hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In March, the club announced they ran up almost €200m in debt and the pandemic left them battling to remaining existence in April.Current Hertha Berlin coach Bruno Labbadia was reportedly interested in signing McKennie when he was in charge of Wolfsburg. And Hertha this week received another €150m cash injection from investor Lars Windhorst, who wants to turn the mid-table side into a permanent participant in the Champions League. And the club have an opening in midfield after Marko Grujic returned to Liverpool following his two-year loan at Hertha.

How Jesse Marsch became the most successful American coach in Europe

Jul 9, 2020Tom HamiltonSenior Writer

The young Jesse Marsch never dreamed of coaching a team in the Champions League. It was an outlandish, unrealistic thought. But now that he is a little older, Google “FC Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch,” and it comes with various qualifiers. Depending on what you read, he’s the “first American to coach a team in the Champions League” or, perhaps, “the first American manager to win a European trophy,” as he just did in Austria: His Salzburg side clinched their seventh straight Austrian Bundesliga title on June 28, a title to add to the Austrian Cup they won May 20 with a 5-0 thumping of SC Austria Lustenau. (He was named the league’s Manager of the Year after the season ended last weekend.)

It’s like a boxer. You can imagine hearing the big, booming introduction over the stadium speakers. All the way from Wisconsin, your double-winning champion manager of Salzburg … Jesse Marsch!Tell the young Marsch this, and he would’ve laughed at you. An American coach in Europe? Never. “They don’t take us seriously,” he grew up thinking.Back then, his dreams stopped at one day being able to live in Europe and watch the Champions League at night, as was intended. That was enough. Now, as a highly regarded manager in Europe with Austrian champions FC Salzburg, Marsch remembers those teenage hopes. Aged 15, he was on tour with an American regional side at a youth tournament in the U.K., and they were taken to Anfield to watch Liverpool. After watching John Barnes and Peter Beardsley, he went down to the pitch, and scooped up some of the Anfield turf as a keepsake, just in case he never got the opportunity to go there again.Late one evening in October at Anfield, 31 years on, Marsch was trying to inspire a Salzburg comeback, with his club 3-1 down to Liverpool at half-time in their Champions League group stage match. There were cameras in the changing room for a documentary the club is working on. The clip, which went viral when shared on social media, had us all watching as Marsch addressed his players passionately in a goulash of German, English, expletives and footballing terminology.”You can’t get emotional all the time … but you can be real,” Marsch told ESPN, remembering that team talk. “That’s a big part of leadership is inspiration but also understanding solutions and how to drive communication home.” Salzburg went on to level the match 3-3 and eventually lost 4-3, earning praise for the manner in which they went down swinging. (One of Marsch’s players that night, Takumi Minamino, ended up joining Liverpool when the January transfer window opened.)Marsch, 46, is tired of talking about that glimpse now. After all, he’s far more than a flash in the pan. That two-minute video embodied everything Marsch is about: He’s compelling, he shows vulnerability of his interspersing language, he is packed with passion, and he has unwavering trust in the system to be fearless and attack. That’s the philosophy he lives by, and it has seen him guide Salzburg, whom he joined ahead of the 2019-20 season, to even more domestic success. Job done.He is accustomed to proving doubters wrong, feeling that there’s a “stigma” around American football coaches, but as a trailblazer, he’s changing that to the extent that no one does a double take when they hear about the former midfielder from Racine, Wisconsin, who won a pair of USMNT caps against Trinidad and Tobago and China, being linked with the best jobs in European football.

Marsch won the Austrian league and cup double in his first season coaching FC Salzburg. David Geieregger/SEPA.Media /Getty Images

After starting his managerial career at Montreal Impact and then, after a brief hiatus, as a college coach at Princeton, Marsch took charge of the New York Red Bulls in 2015. He was highly regarded and improved the franchise immeasurably. But halfway through the 2018 season, with New York in a title chase and with the best win ratio in the team’s history, he left to take a role as Ralf Rangnick’s assistant at Leipzig.Rangnick, an extremely highly regarded German coach, has had a huge influence on Marsch’s life. The current head of sport and development at Red Bull GmbH has been heavily linked with a role at AC Milan, but he started the trend of gegenpressing in German football. Other Rangnick disciples include Julian Nagelsmann at Leipzig, Adi Hütter at Frankfurt, Marsch’s predecessor, Marco Rose, who is now at Borussia Monchengladbach, and Oliver Glasner at Wolfsburg.

When Marsch first spoke to Rangnick, it was like a fire had been lit inside him.”In terms of my tactical philosophies, I’ve gathered so much from Ralf,” Marsch said. “When we first met when I was at New York, when he started talking about football ideas, concepts and details he has, it really sparked my imagination. I like to play fast football but I learned so much more from him on how to prepare your team on how you can achieve that tempo at every moment in the game.”After a season at Leipzig, Marsch was appointed Salzburg manager last summer. Although Salzburg are now split from the Red Bull footballing arm because of UEFA rules, Marsch has that Rangnick/Red Bull DNA synthesis running through his veins. They play, in Marsch’s words, “a very strong version of Red Bull football” — attacking, high press, gegenpressing, challenging the opponent every second — and while he’s an unapologetic champion for this style, it comes with self-awareness.

“I don’t want to come across like I have it all figured out, though … [or like] that offense is the only way to do it,” he said. “That’s [the] way I like to do it. It’s the way I’ve found can breed success.”This goes back to that half-time team talk at Anfield, as he reminded his players of the Salzburg way. But systems are all well and good; you still need to add meat to the bones.Although Marsch was attuned to Rangnick’s footballing philosophy, he sees the game as 25% tactical and 75% mental, with good communication essential. Former USMNT coach Bob Bradley has long been one of Marsch’s mentors, but as Marsch embarked on his own trip to Europe at Leipzig, he remembered how Bradley struggled for acceptance at Swansea City.”Bob inspired me. I think one of the big reasons I even thought about the possibility of moving to Europe was because Bob tried it. I have the utmost respect for him,” Marsch said. “But I watched the way the media treated him [at Swansea], and I felt in some ways, it’s easier to go to somewhere that speaks a different language because they’re almost more forgiving when you make mistakes.”I understand the stigma involved with being an American coach in England, right? Like, they don’t take [it] seriously. That’s OK. We have to earn the right. My approach has always been holistic: to try to adapt [to a new club] but also be myself and make sure the team is a representation of things I believe in.

“Speaking German is a big part of that. I tell them [the players] I don’t speak German with them because I think I’m good at it. … I make mistakes in every sentence. German’s a brutal language, too. It’s brutal. But I’ve gotten much better. It’s really helped me understand the people within the communities I’ve worked on in both Germany and Austria. I’ll say that it’s been really anstrengend — the word for difficult, time-consuming, stressful — but it’s also been incredibly rewarding.”Marsch is fascinated by character and motivation, as well as the role language plays in coaching. In his office, he has a folder filled with a number of phrases and examples of motivational techniques taken from history, sport and literature. He also showed his players the documentary “The Last Dance,” and though they were too young to remember Michael Jordan in his prime, he wanted them to learn from his relentless push for success.The folder came out when Marsch sat with his captain, Andy Ulmer. He has 17 major titles to his name. Where do you go after you win your eighth title on the bounce at Salzburg? Well, for Ulmer, Marsch developed a narrative around his captain that he wanted him to feel like Austria’s version of Muhammad Ali.”At [New York Red Bulls], I used to talk about Ali. He used to talk a lot in the media, and he later said he did that because he was trying to convince himself he was a champion,” Marsch said. “So I used Ali and Ulmer. I even asked him about [how] he keeps himself successful. He spoke about his preparation and drive, and we created terminology around Andy being the greatest Austrian player to ever play. It’s about trying to uncover little clues to understand how and why players play.”His own player-facing growth narrative is about stretching his limitations. “Going out of your comfort zone and being vulnerable: Those are the only ways to grow,” Marsch said. “It’s the only way to get better: making mistakes, learning from mistakes. If I’m going to talk about that, then I certainly have to be the best example of it.”

His method works. Tyler Adams, the USMNT and Leipzig midfielder, worked under Marsch at New York. He is the archetypal Marsch player: Adams can play almost anywhere on the field, understands the philosophy from all sides and has a thirst for learning. When asked by ESPN how influential Marsch had been for him, Adams was effusive.

“Unbelievably… developing me as a player is one thing, but as a person, a lot of the quality traits I hold and how I felt I could develop as quickly as I could, a lot of it is down to how I could mature under Jesse,” Adams said. “He had these leadership qualities, could pull people aside and communicate. I want to be the best leader I can be — a lot of that came from Jesse. It doesn’t matter who you are. He treats you the same.”For Marsch, life experiences have helped mould his coaching philosophy and range of influences. He looks back to the time when he left his first managerial post at Montreal Impact in 2012. Instead of immediately hopping into another job, he took his family travelling. He, his wife and their three children (then aged 5, 9 and 11) went to 32 countries in six months and stayed in hostels, motels and on floors, rather than hopping from hotel to hotel. He met different people and embraced local culture, and it ignited a curiosity inside him.”It was about understanding humanity … that’s football as well. If you don’t understand multiculturalism or what it’s like for people to grow up in parts of Africa or South America or wherever, then how can you effectively lead a group and understand how to make them better?”This spell formed part of his itch to see what lay beyond the familiar four walls of MLS, and his career has shown that, as he has gone from New York to Leipzig to Salzburg.But what doesn’t help your push for relentless success or your reputation for growing talent is when you lose your best players every year. It is an annual challenge for Salzburg.

FC Salzburg’s alumni roster reads like a list of footballing who’s-who. Premier League-winning Liverpool duo Sadio Mane (2012-14) and Naby Keita (2014-16) played there. Minamino, who played in that 4-3 defeat at Anfield, joined them at Liverpool in January. Then there’s Erling Haaland, the prolific Norwegian striker who is scoring for fun in the Bundesliga for Borussia DortmundKevin Kampl, Peter Gulasci and Dayot Upamecano all went from Salzburg to Leipzig, too. It’s a well-trodden path; though the clubs are officially separate, they have an unofficial sister club relationship where Leipzig are traditionally the bigger side and scoop up some of the Austrian team’s best players.

Losing that number of brilliant players might seem careless, but it’s inevitable for a club such as Salzburg. Although they’re dominant in their own division, the money generated from the Austrian Bundesliga and stature of the competition isn’t in the same league as that of the German Bundesliga, Premier League, Serie A or La Liga. To survive and thrive, both domestically and on the balance sheet, Salzburg have to develop from within.The thing Marsch has always enjoyed most is coaching younger, promising players, and that marries with Salzburg’s philosophy.”We have a clear identity. It’s about the academy and finding those young, 15- or 16-year-olds and helping them understand the way we play. It’s a specific style, and they then grow as they adjust to the speed and the intensity.”Salzburg suffered a midseason slump when they lost Haaland and Minamino, going on a five-game winless run. But they found a way to readjust, and since the Bundesliga restarted amid the coronavirus pandemic, they have won seven and drawn two in the league, securing the title with two games to spare.”You have to be excited for those players when they get opportunities and move on, even though it means sometimes, in the short-term period, you suffer,” Marsch said. “But we used it [Haaland and Minamino leaving] to get better, to get stronger and to develop more, and by doing that, I think we set ourselves up for the success we have now. The goal here is always to try to find the right next young players to invest in our project and help them take their next steps.”Supporters don’t like it when they leave, but at the same time, we’ve had a great run in the Champions League, won eight titles in a row, so the success of the club’s not suffering. It’s thriving. The challenge here is making sure we aren’t not champions.”Not long after we talked, one of the club’s latest prospects, 24-year-old South Korean forward Hwang Hee-Chan, was being linked with a move to RB Leipzig. Salzburg are also braced for interest in others, such as young Hungarian midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai (AC Milan and Arsenal were said to be leading the race for his signature) and the Zambian duo of striker Patson Daka and midfielder Enock Mwepu, both of whom have been linked with moves to the Premier League.”I had this feeling with Haaland that we had the real chance to do something special with him. I have that with Dominik and the other guys. They’re not finished products, but they have the building blocks, and you can start to picture their development path, what they can look like in a month, six months, in one year or two years. It’s clear there are plenty of suitors for them.”On one level, you can always make an argument it’s better for them to [have] a little bit more time in a safe environment, but on another level, if the right opportunity comes, the last thing you want to do is deprive them of going somewhere that could be life-changing. We’ll see how things progress.”It comes back to that old maxim of controlling the controllables, and for Marsch, success is judged not only by silverware but also by whether he gets to the stage in managing his team where he has made himself redundant.”That’s a core principle of my philosophy,” Marsch told ESPN. It is anchored on players and staff taking ownership of their respective roles, leaving him to serve as the conductor. “I tell them what we’re doing in training, I set up the fields, and then before the game, I give them the tactical plan.”But then I want to be able to sit on the bench and just watch them play.”Marsch has come a long way from those days in Wisconsin daydreaming of watching the Champions League. He’s now coaching Europe’s best talent and against football’s brightest minds. He’s aware that other budding American managers will look to him as the example, and he might have the answers as to how they can succeed as pioneers in European football, but he’s wary of rushing.”People may now perceive me a little differently, and maybe the things I say matter a little more than they used to, but I like to think I’m the same when it comes to what I believe in,” Marsch said. “I’ve grown as a person and as a coach, but at the core, I’m still the same person, you know, as I was growing up in Wisconsin, just trying to do the best job I can do.”Sometimes when I talk to young coaches, and they ask me, you know, what’s the key to being a good manager, and for me, it’s don’t become a coach because you think you love the game and you want to tactically try to implement a plan. Be a coach if you want to be a leader. The football part is sort of the side effect or the first step. But then all the other things what matter are how you talk to and challenge a group, how you communicate with each other, how you treat each other, how you believe in each other, what kind of relationships you have. Those are the things that really, I think, define what a team is.”Marsch is happy at Salzburg and hopes for a long stay, but he is aware of his name being bounced around when other vacancies arise. He has been linked with Borussia Dortmund this season, with the Bundesliga giants still looking for a way to overhaul Bayern Munich, but gives these rumours short shrift.”I believe my secret to life is focusing on the moment,” he said.When asked if this is standard managerial speak, he added: “Look, it’s not B.S. I love being the manager of this club. It’s amazing — the people, the country, everything. I realise I won’t be here forever — good or bad! But the more I can focus on the moment, the better.”This season has brought the Austrian double, and the expectation will be to repeat next season and upset Europe’s established order in next year’s Champions League. (Salzburg will begin in the Champions Path of the playoff round, with a two-legged fixture between them and the group stage.) Marsch can’t wait to get going, seeing what young talent comes through the ranks and who will emerge from Haaland and Minamino’s shadow.One day, when he has finished his European adventure, he’ll return home to Wisconsin. There, alongside his medals, will lie a small part of Anfield’s turf. “I remember I put it in my pocket and have that in a plastic bag back home,” he said. “At the core, I’m still a football fan, you know? I’m living the dream.”Marsch’s journey into Europe and his success have now enabled others to stretch the limits of their hopes and expectations.

NWSL Challenge Cup standouts move on to quarterfinals

9:22 AM ETGraham HaysESPN.com

  • FacebookThe NWSL Challenge Cup offers the best women’s soccer being played anywhere in the world at the moment. And the competition, played behind closed doors in the Salt Lake City area as the coronavirus pandemicmade it impossible to play the eighth season as scheduled, is about to get even better as it moves to the knockout rounds.Granted, the preliminary round admittedly lacked drama. All eight teams were assured of quarterfinal progress and the games didn’t even do a particularly good job of settling seeding — the round concluding with a four-way tie for fourth place. All we really know as the quarterfinals begin Friday in the bubble at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah, is that after winning all four of its games and allowing one goal, two-time defending champion North Carolina Courage remains the heavy favorite. We knew that going in.

But that same parity among the teams chasing North Carolina means there are no unappealing quarterfinals. And with four games to warm up, the quality of play should be compelling.To set up the games ahead of this weekend, let’s look at one player from each team — some familiar and some new — who used the preliminary round to make a favorable impression.

No. 1 North Carolina (4-0-0) vs. No. 8 Portland (0-1-3), Friday, 12:30 ET

Addisyn Merrick, North Carolina: The champions looked the part during a preliminary round. Coach Paul Riley leaned heavily on his most trusted names. With Merritt Mathias still coming back from a torn ACL and Heather O’Reilly retired, there was no familiar name available at right back. Enter Merrick, a fourth-round pick who Riley, the famously diehard Liverpool fan, is hoping will be his version of Andy Robertson or Trent Alexander-Arnold. The former Big 12 Defender of the Year has license to push forward just like Liverpool’s outside backs whose development from raw prospects into global stars was widely acclaimed as instrumental in making that team champions of England and Europe in a modern game that prizes fullbacks able to contribute offensively. While more passes and crosses still come from Jaelene Daniels on the left side, Merrick hasn’t been shy in either regard through her first three starts for a team that is constantly attacking.

Bella Bixby, Portland: The keeper made her first career start in the opener against mighty North Carolina. She lost perhaps the best security blanket in the world when a hip injury sidelined Becky Sauerbrunn after that game. She hasn’t had Tobin Heath to help score some goals at the other end (or injured No. 1 overall pick Sophia Smith, for that matter). But for all of that, Bixby and the Thorns allowed just three goals in the preliminary round. The goalkeeper who sat and watched the past two seasons was more about solid saves than flustered moments. She’s tied for third in the tournament with 11 saves, but her presence is as impressive as the numbers. No one is dislodging Adrianna Franch when the No. 1 keeper is healthy, but whether an insurance policy in Portland or perhaps an opening with expansion Louisville, Bixby is earning her place.

No. 2 Washington Spirit (2-1-1) vs. No. 7 Sky Blue FC (1-2-1), Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET

Ashley Sanchez, Washington: The last time someone from UCLA was the fourth overall pick in the NWSL draft, it worked out pretty well for Sam Mewis and the franchise that is now the North Carolina Courage. For that matter, the fourth pick worked out for Washington a year ago when it turned into Samantha Staab. But after watching Sanchez dazzle for the Bruins, it was still surprising to see her last even that long in this year’s draft. It is even more surprising after her first four pro appearances. Sure, she’s not a finished product. Some of the attempted moves didn’t come off. There aren’t a lot of numbers to point to through an initial 277-minute sample — she has one assist among Washington’s four goals (memorable as it was) and modest 58 percent passing accuracy — but the confidence to take risks, skill and creativity that made her a star at UCLA and earned her looks from the senior national team weren’t dulled a bit by the jump to the pros.

Sabrina Flores, Sky Blue: Without Carli Lloyd and Mallory Pugh because of injury, Sky Blue began the tournament as a case study in what was missing. But it would be difficult to single out a player who better illustrates the opportunity afforded than Flores. A short-term fill-in for Sky Blue last summer and her season with Sevilla in Spain then cut short by the coronavirus, Flores signed again with Sky Blue barely a week before the start of the tournament. She started the opener, played 273 minutes for the second stingiest defense in the preliminary round and earned player of the match honors against the Courage by putting a second-half shot just over the crossbar and helping keep all of North Carolina’s attacking options in check in a game in which Sky Blue finished with 58 percent of possession. They were the only team to have an edge on Courage in the round. That’s a dramatically different story than would have been written about the outside back without any kind of season this summer.

No. 3 OL Reign (1-1-2) vs. No. 6 Chicago Red Stars (1-2-1), Saturday, 10 p.m. ET

OL Reign defender Alana Cook, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, is making her case for USWNT consideration. Rob Gray/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Alana Cook, OL Reign: Put in a bad spot when Utah’s Amy Rodriguez punished a too-casual pass toward Cook around midfield, the OL Reign defender chased down one of the league’s all-time best finishers, timed her tackle perfectly and defused the problem early in her team’s eventual 1-0 win in the preliminary round in Herriman on July 8. And while it isn’t as if too many people doubted Cook’s ability to make such plays, it was still nice to see it unfold on this side of the Atlantic. A former Stanford standout who is making her NWSL debut on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, Cook only started two of Reign’s first four games. She’s far from alone in putting in quality minutes on a back line that has allowed just two goals, but every chance she gets in front of U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski, in attendance in Utah, should help her future.

Casey Short, Chicago: She scored the goal in the first-stage finale that kept Chicago from facing top-seeded North Carolina in a quarterfinal, which almost by definition makes it the most valuable goal of the preliminary round. But between that well-executed header late in the finale against Utah and the emotional scenes of Short in tears during the national anthem prior to the team’s opener, Short was a joy to watch. She’s almost always a joy to watch because of her ability to lock down her side of the field defensively while destabilizing an opposing defense with her own runs forward. It was no coincidence that when she struggled early in the opener after the emotional scenes beforehand, the Red Stars struggled right along with her. And in a tournament that was missing most of the defenders from the U.S. entry in Olympic qualifying earlier this year either through injury or virus-related withdrawal, Short keeps making a case to be a part of 2021.

No. 4 Houston Dash (1-2-1) vs. No. 5 Utah Royals (1-2-1), Friday, 10 p.m. ET

Royals FC defender Elizabeth Ball played every minute in Utah’s first three games and came on as an injury replacement in the first half of their regular-season finale. Rob Gray/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Elizabeth Ball, Utah: The defender logged the most minutes of anyone who didn’t start all four games in the preliminary round, playing every minute in Utah’s first three games and coming on as an injury replacement in the first half of the finale. The less heralded side of the offseason swap that sent Sauerbrunn to Portland, Ball was likely going to play a lot no matter what form this season took. So maybe she isn’t the quintessential Challenge Cup revelation. Still, in not only replacing Sauerbrunn (as best anyone can possibly do that) but adapting to first-year coach Craig Harrington’s three-back system, she has proved a rousing success.

Shea Groom, Houston: There might not have been a more entertaining player in the preliminary round, certainly through her team’s first two games. The midfielder scored a long-range wallop against Utah, then added an audacious assist and soaring header in a win against OL Reign. She pressured goalkeepers and jawed with Shirley Cruz. She was fun. Acquired from OL Reign, along with Megan Oyster, Groom meshed well with Rachel Daly, Kristie Mewis and a Dash team that finally earned a top-four finish. All right, it was only over four games and only thanks to the tiebreaker that sorted out the four teams with four points. But success starts somewhere.

 

 

7/3/20,  MLS Starts July 8 on ESPN, Indy 11 restart 7/11 with Fans @ Home Sat 7 pm

Indy 11 Back with Home Games Sat July 11 & 18 with Fans !!

Thank goodness we have a big stadium right?  Indy 11 will be back with limited fans in the stands starting July 11 vs St Louis at 7 pm on Saturday night on ESPN+ and maybe other channels.  Fans can visit indyeleven.com/safety-plan for details of the plan.  The 11 will host 10 of their 15 games in the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium with fans in attendance.  Four match-ups with Louisville FC headline the schedule along with 4 games vs St. Louis –these 3 teams should battle it out to make the expanded playoffs.

 MLS Returns with robust schedule on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox and Fox Sports – July 8

MLS is still on track to return with some solid ESPN coverage when its season kicksoff July 8th from Orlando.  Morning 9:30 am games will be on ESPN, with late night evening and weekend games split between Fox, Fox Sports 1 and ESPN.  Hopefully this will help MLS get a better foothold in the US Sport pecking order if they do this right.  And hopefully the recent rash of positive tests won’t derail this thing.

NWSL

So the women’s league has started back up and unfortunately all anyone is talking about is kneeling during the national anthem.  I agree with MLS as there are no fans in the stands why do the national anthem at all –that way the controversy stays away.  The games have been pretty good – the largest ever crowd to see a NWSL game tuned in Sat on CBS with over ½ million watching – much better than Andy Griffin reruns – but not the kind of #s I was hoping for.  Seriously we can’t get 1 million people nationwide to tune if the start of the NWSL on CBS when nothing else is on?   Maybe there are not enough soccer fans of the women’s game to support a league?   Sad ? Anyway I have seen a few replay games on CBS Sports Network?  Sure would love to see more on CBS – but honestly if parents of girls who play soccer aren’t going to tune in – then you can scrap that far-fetched idea of having your daughter play in the pros someday.  Its honestly up to the soccer moms of this world ? Tune in and support the league – or let women’s pro sports die in the background.  Its up to us.

Pulisic Continues to Shine in EPL

I can’t tell you how exciting it has been for me to watch a healthy Christian Pulisic back on the pitch for Chelsea and playing well.  Man I almost feel like the days when I would scramble to watch Fulham games to see how Dempsey would score that game.  Pulisic has been electric at times and darn near the best player for a Chelsea side battling for a top 4 slot in the EPL and Champions League play next season.  He makes things happen – is always looking for a sneaky shot – and managed to draw both fouls that lead to goals in the last game.  If he keeps playing like this and can stay healthy – he can hopefully top the 10 goal mark – he has 7 along with 5 assists and 3 draws of PKs.

Stewart’ Bremen must Win to Stay in Bundesliga 

Josh Stewart’s Werder Bremen has one last chance to stay afloat in the top flight of German football when they play the last leg of the relegation playoff with Heidenheim Tues at 2:30 pm on FS2.  They tied the first round 0-0 in a game Stewart didn’t come into the last 10 minutes.  He almost scored on his only shot – hopefully he’ll be back to the starting line-up where he has been for this little 4 game unbeaten streak for Bremen.

INDvSTL-0711-1600x900

GAMES ON TV                              

Sat,  July 4

7:30 am NBCSN                                 Norwich vs Brighton

10 am NBCSN                                     Man United vs Bournemouth

11:!5 am ESPN+                                  Juve vs Torino                                    

12:30 pm NBCSN                              Wolverhampton vs Arsenal 

2 pm ESPN2                         Levekusen vs Bayern Munich                 

Sun, July 5  

7:30  am NBCSN                                Burnley vs Sheffield United

8 am bIN Sport/FuboTV                   Athletic Club vs Real Madrid

9:15 am NBCSN                               Newcastle United (Yedlin) vs West Ham

11:30 am NBCSN                                Liverpool vs Aston Villa

2 pm NBC                                          Southhampton vs Man City

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Athletico Madrid 

Mon,  July 6

3:15 pm NBCSN                                Tottenham vs Everton

2:30 pm Fox Sport 2                         Heidenheim 0 vs Werder Breman  0 (Stewart) Relegation Playoff++

Tues,  July 7

1 pm NBCSN                                    Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (Pulisic) 

3 pm NBCSN                                     Arsenal vs Leicester City 

Wed, July 8                                    MLS Returns

1 pm NBCSN                                    Man city vs New Castle United (Yedlin)

3 pm NSNBC                                    Brighton vs Liverpool

8 pm ESPN                                         Orlando City vs Inter Miami

10:30 pm ESPN                                 Nashville SC vs Chicago Fire

 Thurs, July 9                                     MLS Returns

9 am ESPN                                       NYCFC vs Philly Union

1 pm NBCSN                                    Bournmouth vs Tottenham 

3 pm NSNBC                                    Aston Villa vs Man U 

8 pm ESPN                                        Montreal vs New England 

Fri, July 10                                         MLS Returns

8 pm ESPN                                        Toronto FC vs DC United

10:30 pm ESPN                                 Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes 

Sat July 11                                        

8 pm FOX                                        Atlanta United vs NY Red Bulls

7 pm ESPN+ TV4                            INDY 11 Host St. Louis 

10:30 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN             Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC,

Sunday, July 12
5 p.m. ET (ESPN2 / ESPN Dep)     Louisville City FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC,

Monday, July 13
7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)                          Energy FC vs. FC Tulsa)
10 p.m. ET (ESPN Deportes)         Sacramento Republic FC vs. Tacoma Defiance,

 INDY 11 2020 Revised Schedule- all games on ESPN+ plus other possible channels 

DAY   DATE OPPONENT TIME (ET)/Result TV/Online
Saturday   March 7 at Memphis 901 FC 4-2 W  
Saturday   July 11 Saint Louis FC 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Saturday   July 18 Sporting Kansas City II 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   July 22 at Pitts Riverhounds 7:00 pm ESPN2/ESPN+
Sunday   July 26 at Saint Louis FC TBA TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   July 29 Hartford Athletic 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Saturday   August 1 Sporting KCity II 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Saturday   August 8 at Louisville City FC TBA TBA/ESPN+
Saturday   August 15 Pittsburgh Riverhounds 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   August 26 at Louisville City FC TBA TBA/ESPN+
Saturday   September 5 Louisville City FC 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   September 9 Sporting K City II 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   September 16 Louisville City FC 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   September 23 Saint Louis FC 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   September 30 Sporting K City II 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Saturday   October 3 at Saint Louis FC TBA TBA/ESPN+

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS

MLS Cup Schedule

Wednesday, July 8
Orlando City SC vs. Inter Miami CF, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Nashville SC vs. Chicago Fire FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Thursday, July 9
New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Montreal Impact vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m. ET, TUDN
FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, TUDN

Friday, July 10
Toronto FC vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Seattle Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

INDY 11 Returns Sat July 11 7 pm vs St. Louis with fans

July 11 vs St Louis at 7 pm on Saturday night

The 11 will host 10 of their 15 games

indyeleven.com/safety-plan

Indy 11 Reveals Group

Click here for Group E team-by-team analysis on USLChampionship.com

Louisville Opens New Stadium on ESPN2 Sun July 12

Return to Play Groups in USL

USL Unviels 2020 Season Format

USL to allow 5 sub rule

Indy 11 Racing Indiana Jersey Released

USA

Tim Howard 6 Yr Anniversary of Most Saves ever in World Cup was this week

Pulisic shines again, but Chelsea fall to derby rivals West Ham

Lampard: Pulisic can reach Sterling, Salah, Mane level

American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo helps Stuttgart win promotion to Bundesliga

US coach Jesse Marsch’s Salzburg secures domestic double in Austria

Marsch leads Salzburg to league title (and the double)

MLS –returns July 8

MLS Is Back Preview –

Sources: 4 more FC Dallas members test positive

Inside the MLS bubble: What players, teams can expect in Orlando

Ex-MLS boss Marsch leads club to Austrian title

MLS Tourney Schedule Revealed

Groups Announced for MLS Tourney – LA Teams in Same Group

MLS Tourney Details on Groups Stages

Power Rankings: The favorites ahead of eMLS Cup

 WORLD

Barcelona Falling Apart Down the Stretch
Buffon and Chiellini extend Juve deals until 2021

Brilliant Benzema helps Madrid go 2 points clear of Barca

Bremen snatch play-off survival chance, champions Bayern rout Wolfsburg

Predicting the Premier Leagues Finish for Champions League and Europa Spots – Mark Odgen ESPNFC

NWSL 

Lavelle, Hatch score and Spirit down Red Stars 2-1

Dunn: Kneeling is about what you truly believe

Crystal Dunn: The uncomfortable things can have the biggest impact

NWSL: Players can be on field or in locker room during anthem

ELEVEN TO RESTART SEASON JULY 11 VS. SAINT LOUIS

By Indy Eleven Communications, 07/02/20, 11:00AM EDT

Indy Eleven to Restart 2020 Season at Home Next Saturday, July 11

First of Four Meetings with Saint Louis FC Set for 7:00 p.m. Kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium, Presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers;

Group E Clash Part of USL Championship’s Nine-game “Reopening” Slate from July 11-13

TAMPA/INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, July 2, 2020) – The USL Championship announced today the opening weekend of games that will kick off the league’s resumption of the 2020 season – a nine-game slate that includes Indy Eleven’s return to Lucas Oil Stadium next Saturday, July 11, against Saint Louis FC, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.The first of four 2020 regular season meetings between the Group E foes is set for a 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff that can be seen live on ESPN+.Indy Eleven has coordinated with Lucas Oil Stadium, the Capital Improvement Board (CIB), and numerous public health organizations to create a comprehensive Health and Safety Plan that will allow a limited number of fans to enjoy games in a safe and responsible fashion next Saturday and throughout the 2020 season. Fans can visit indyeleven.com/safety-plan for details of the plan.“Every member of the Indy Eleven organization is excited to get back to action and working tirelessly to ensure games at Lucas Oil Stadium starting next weekend go above and beyond when it comes to providing a safe environment,” said Indy Eleven Chief Executive Officer Greg Stremlaw. “Indianapolis is world-renowned for our ability to host sporting events, and we look forward to helping our city establish the benchmark for how to host games safely and responsibly in home markets during these challenging times.”As Indy Eleven continues to prepare for the restart of its now 16-game regular season, the club will announce additional details regarding scheduling, ticketing, broadcasts and more – all with strict alignment with all local and state public health guidelines in mind – as they are finalized in the coming days.Five of the USL Championship’s opening nine games between July 11-13 will be aired live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, with the remaining games available on ESPN+. The complete schedule for the remainder of the 2020 USL Championship season will be released soon.For more updates on the 2020 season as they are made available, please continue to visit indyeleven.com and uslchampionship.com.

USL Championship 2020 Opening Weekend

Saturday, July 11
Real Monarchs SLC vs. San Diego Loyal SC, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN Deportes)
Indy Eleven vs. Saint Louis FC, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Atlanta United 2, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC vs. New Mexico United, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
El Paso Locomotive FC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC, 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Phoenix Rising FC vs. LA Galaxy II, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN Deportes)

Sunday, July 12
Louisville City FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, 5 p.m. ET (ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes)

Monday, July 13
OKC Energy FC vs. FC Tulsa, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Sacramento Republic FC vs. Tacoma Defiance, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN Deportes)

INDY ELEVEN 2020 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE SET

By Indy Eleven Communications, 07/02/20, 4:15PM EDT

Indiana’s Team to Host Ten of 15 Remaining USL Championship Games at Lucas Oil Stadium

TAMPA/INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, July 2, 2020) – The United Soccer League announced today the revised schedule for the 2020 USL Championship season. The league’s 35 clubs are set to play 263 games over 13 weeks to decide which 16 teams will advance to the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs, which will open in the second weekend of October.

Courtesy of the unbalanced schedule option unique to the 2020 season, Indy Eleven will host ten of its remaining 15 games at Lucas Oil Stadium, starting with next Saturday’s home opener against Saint Louis FC (7:00 p.m., live on ESPN+).

“This is the day we’ve been waiting for and working towards for more than three months,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “To have the schedule in hand is a wonderful payoff for the patience of our players and fans alike, and to have two additional home games is really the cherry on top. All that’s left now is to get to the games, and I know the squad is ready to deliver starting next weekend against Saint Louis.”Indy Eleven will implement a comprehensive Health and Safety Plan that will allow a limited number of fans to enjoy games in a safe and responsible fashion next Saturday and throughout the 2020 season. Fans can visit indyeleven.com/safety-plan for details of the plan.“Indy Eleven would like to thank Lucas Oil Stadium, the Capital Improvement Board, the City of Indianapolis, and the Marion County Health Authority – just to name a few organizations – for their pivotal help in formulating a health and safety plan that will allow our fans to enjoy games during the 2020 season,” said Greg Stremlaw, Indy Eleven Chief Operating Officer. “Our combined efforts have resulted in a thorough plan that should serve as a best practice for venues across the country and keep spectators, players, coaches and staff safe for every moment of their gameday experience.”As Indy Eleven continues to march towards next Saturday’s “re-opener,” the club will announce additional details regarding ticketing, broadcasts and more as they are finalized in the coming days.As announced last week, Indy Eleven’s schedule across the three months of regular season play will include four games against Group E foes Saint Louis FC, Louisville FC, and Sporting Kansas City II – the latter of which will come to Lucas Oil Stadium for all four 2020 matchups.The squad’s remaining non-group games will consist of meetings with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC both home (August 15) and away (July 22, live on ESPN2), and a home contest against Hartford Athletic (July 29). Indy Eleven’s 4-2 season opening win at Memphis 901 FC back on March 7 stands as the fourth out-of-group result in the Eleven’s 16-game regular season calendar.Indy Eleven’s heated rivalry with Louisville City FC could reach new peaks in 2020, as the border combatants will face off four times in a five-week span, starting with Indy’s first trip to the new Lynn Family Stadium on August 8. The Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest (LIPAFC) participants meet once again in Kentucky on August 26 before coming to the right side of the Ohio River for pivotal late-season showdowns at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sept. 5 & 16. Those two LIPAFC games are part of a rare five-game homestand spanning the month of September, leading into the season finale on October 3 at Saint Louis FC.Every game of the 2020 USL Championship season will air on the ESPN family of networks, with broadcasts on ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ bringing all the excitement of the first league in the United States to return to play in home markets directly to homes across the United States.

MLS is Back groups

Group A (Eastern Conference)
1. Orlando City SC
2. Inter Miami CF
3. New York City FC
4. Philadelphia Union
5. Chicago Fire FC
6. Nashville SC

Group B (Western Conference)
1. Seattle Sounders FC
2. FC Dallas
3. Vancouver Whitecaps
4. San Jose Earthquakes

Group C (Eastern Conference)
1. Toronto FC
2. New England Revolution
3. Montreal Impact
4. D.C. United

Group D (Western Conference)
1. Real Salt Lake
2. Sporting Kansas City
3. Colorado Rapids
4. Minnesota United FC

Group E (Eastern Conference)
1. Atlanta United FC
2. FC Cincinnati
3. New York Red Bulls
4. Columbus Crew SC

Group F (Western Conference)
1. LAFC
2. LA Galaxy
3. Houston Dynamo
4. Portland Timbers

MLS is Back schedule and tune-in info

Wednesday, July 8
Orlando City SC vs. Inter Miami CF, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Nashville SC vs. Chicago Fire FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Thursday, July 9
New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Montreal Impact vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m. ET, TUDN
FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, TUDN

Friday, July 10
Toronto FC vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Seattle Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Saturday, July 11
Atlanta United FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. ET, Fox/TUDN
FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC, 10:30 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Sunday, July 12
Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United FC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Monday, July 13
LAFC vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN
LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers, 10:30 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Tuesday, July 14
Inter Miami CF vs. Chicago Fire FC, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Philadelphia Union vs. Nashville SC, 8 p.m. ET, TUDN
Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, TUDN

Wednesday, July 15
Seattle Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC, 8 p.m. ET, TUDN
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m. ET, TUDN

Thursday, July 16
Atlanta United FC vs. FC Cincinnati, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
D.C. United vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN
Columbus Crew SC vs. New York Red Bulls, 10:30 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Friday, July 17
Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Real Salt Lake vs. Minnesota United FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Saturday, July 18
Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes
LAFC vs. LA Galaxy, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Sunday, July 19
New York City FC v. Chicago Fire FC, 8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN
Philadelphia Union vs. Inter Miami CF, 10:30 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Monday, July 20
Orlando City SC vs. Nashville SC, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
FC Dallas vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 8 p.m. ET, TUDN
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, TUDN

Tuesday, July 21
Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Atlanta United FC vs. Columbus Crew SC, 8 p.m. ET, TUDN
Montreal Impact vs. D.C. United, 10:30 p.m. ET, TUDN

Wednesday, July 22
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
FC Cincinnati vs. New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Thursday, July 23
LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN
LAFC vs. Portland Timbers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes

Saturday, July 25
TBD round of 16 match, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes
TBD round of 16 match, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes

Sunday, July 26
TBD round of 16 match, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1
TBD round of 16 match, 11 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Monday, July 27
TBD round of 16 match, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1
TBD round of 16 match, 11 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Tuesday, July 28
TBD round of 16 match, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
TBD round of 16 match, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Thursday, July 30
TBD quarterfinal, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Friday, July 31
TBD quarterfinal, 8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Saturday, Aug. 1
TBD quarterfinal, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes
TBD quarterfinal, 10:30 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Wednesday, Aug. 5
TBD semifinal, 8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Thursday, Aug. 6
TBD semifinal, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes

Tuesday, Aug. 11
TBD final, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

INDY ELEVEN 2020 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE SET

By Indy Eleven Communications07/02/20, 4:15PM EDT

Indiana’s Team to Host Ten of 15 Remaining USL Championship Games at Lucas Oil Stadium

TAMPA/INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, June 26, 2020) – The USL Championship announced on Friday the four groups made up of 17 Eastern Conference clubs that will battle for a place in the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs when the league returns to play on Saturday, July 11.

Group E: Indy Eleven, Louisville City FC, Saint Louis FC, Sporting Kansas City II
Group F: Hartford Athletic, Loudoun United FC, New York Red Bulls II, Philadelphia Union II, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Group G: Birmingham Legion FC, Charlotte Independence, Memphis 901 FC, North Carolina FC
Group H: Atlanta United 2, Charleston Battery, Miami FC, Tampa Bay Rowdies

“The squad is obviously buzzing to get back to playing games, and the focus on regional rivalries in this revamped regular season only heightens that anticipation,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “The high level of competition is certainly one we look forward to tackling as we build on the victory we achieved in the first game of our season.”

As detailed in the Championship’s announcement of the updated season structure, each team in Group E, Group G and Group H will play its fellow group members four times during the regular season. Meanwhile, each team in Group F will play its fellow group members three times.

Clubs in Groups E-H will play their remaining regular season games against other Eastern Conference teams outside of their respective group, with geographic proximity a key priority in scheduling. With Indy Eleven’s 4-2 win at Memphis 901 FC back on March 7 counting on the regular season ledger, Indy Eleven will play three “out-of-group” matches.

As Indy Eleven continues to prepare for the restart of its now 16-game regular season, the club will announce details regarding scheduling, ticketing, broadcasts and more – all with strict alignment with all local and state public health guidelines in mind – as they are finalized in the coming days. For more updates on the 2020 season as they are made available, please continue to visit indyeleven.com and uslchampionship.com.

USLChampionship.com Preview – Group E

The Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest (aka LIPAFC) and Kings’ Cup come to the fore with Louisville City FC set to take on its two biggest rivals in Indy Eleven and Saint Louis FC in what should be a fierce fight for the two playoff places. But don’t overlook Sporting Kansas City II, which has a strong collection of young talent that could make things interesting as it looks to make its fourth trip to the postseason in five years after missing out last campaign.

 

Championship Return to Play Preview – Group E

By NICHOLAS MURRAY – nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 06/26/20, 12:05PM EDT

PLAYOFF BATTLE BETWEEN INDY, LOUISVILLE AND SAINT LOUIS COULD GO DOWN TO THE WIRE

The group assignments for Groups E through H ahead of the USL Championship’s resumption of the 2020 season are being made on Friday, giving us a chance to take a first look at each of the teams as they get ready to return to action.

First today, we look at Group E, which features last year’s Eastern Conference Finalists – and noted rivals – Indy Eleven and Louisville City FC, a Saint Louis FC side that will be aiming to break through after a resounding opening performance, and a Sporting Kansas City II side that has the talent to cause the others problems.

Indy Eleven

Record: 1-0-0, 3pts | W @MEM 2-4 [3/7]

Head Coach: Martin Rennie

2019 Season: 19-9-6, 63pts; Eliminated Eastern Conference Final

OVERVIEW

The Eleven overcame an early scare to pick up victory on the road in Memphis back in March, and once again it was Tyler Pasher that shone the brightest in a 4-2 victory. The squad still looks deep front to back, which is going to be crucial against two sides that look to be built the same way in LouCity and STLFC, but Indy’s defensive strength should make it difficult to break down. If that’s the case, then a trip to the postseason beckons.

Player to Watch

Tyler Pasher
Pasher has been outstanding in his newly-found attacking role since the start of 2019, with Indy’s counterattacking ability a perfect fit for his speed of foot and speed of thought. That was on display in Memphis, and makes him one of the trickier players to defend in space in the Championship.

 

Louisville City FC

Record: 1-0-0, 3pts | W @NC 0-1 [3/7]

Head Coach: John Hackworth

2019 Season: 17-8-9, 60pts; Defeated in USL Championship Final

OVERVIEW

LouCity picked up a good road win to open things up against North Carolina FC as Cameron Lancaster fit right back into the lineup where he’d become the Championship’s single-season goalscoring record-holder in 2018. The notable thing about Louisville over their run of three consecutive trips to the USL Championship Final, though, has been the side’s ability to close a season strongly. Over the past three years, LouCity has gone 22W-9L-11D between the dates of July 11 and October 4, and if it achieves something similar here – say a record of 8-3-5 – that’s probably going to leave everyone else fighting for second place.

Player to Watch

Cameron Lancaster
There’s no-one that’s produced the strike rate that Lancaster has over the past three seasons in terms of goals-per-minute, and even with an abbreviated season the English forward has a great chance to reach 50 regular-season Championship goals by the end of the year – he resumes on 42 after his tally against North Carolina. If Lancaster is on form, the strength in depth behind him should allow Louisville to make another run at becoming the first team with three league titles to its name.

 

Saint Louis FC

Record: 1-0-0, 3pts | W vMIA 4-1 [3/7]

Head Coach: Steve Trittschuh

2019 Season: 11-14-9, 42pts

OVERVIEW

Saint Louis’ victory in its season-opener against Miami FC might have been the most eye-opening result of the weekend, with the hosts looking sharp from the off before pulling away for the victory. If that was a good early litmus test, though, the battles to come against Indy Eleven and Louisville City FC are going to put STLFC up against arguably the best the East has to offer. If Head Coach Steve Trittschuh’s side earns a place in the top two, and a second trip to the playoffs in club history, it’s really going to have earned it.

Player to Watch

Russell Cicerone
You might recall we put Cicerone in the collection of Forwards to Watch back in March. Two goals in STLFC’s opening game against Miami was a great start, but the defenses that Indy and LouCity bring are going to likely prove tougher to break down. If Cicerone can weave more magic over the next three months, though, Saint Louis’ chances are going to go up exponentially. .

 

Sporting Kansas City II

Record: 0-1-0, 0pts | L vCLT 1-2 [3/8]

Head Coach: Paulo Nagamura

2019 Season: 12-13-9, 45pts

OVERVIEW

There were silver linings to Sporting Kansas City II’s opening game of the season against the Charlotte Independence, especially in watching how the side controlled the tempo of the game and outshot its opponents 20-9, with 10 shots on goal. But, a loss is still a loss, and as talented as SKC II’s youngsters are they won’t be able to get away with many mistakes against three strong opponents in this group. If the resumption of play sees the side make a slow start, it’s going to be hard to find a way back into the mix.

Player to Watch

Wilson Harris
Harris was the highest-scoring teenager in America in 2019 across all professional levels, with his outstanding run of 10 goals in the club’s final 11 games showing the ability he brings every time he steps on the field. Given the opposition, it’s going to be difficult to produce something similar over the next three months, but if he can it would be a serious boost to SKC II’s chances of upsetting the odds, and also provide a launching pad for Harris’ own trajectory.

ATP_Gen_350x250

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

6/26/20,  Liverpool Wins EPL, Aus/NZ to Host 2023 WWC, NWSL Kicks off Sat 12:30 CBS, Pulisic Scores for Chelsea again,  Indy 11 restart 7/11, MLS 7/8

Wow – what to start with this week?  Well of course Liverpool clinching the EPL Title earlier than anyone is the first order of business.  Chelsea’s win over Man City where US Star Christian Pulisic started, scored and was perhaps the best player on the field, led to Liverpool clinching the title.  Huge for Liverpool as this championship club has finally returned to glory under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp.  He promised and has now delivered both last season’s Champions League title and this year’s EPL title – their first in 30 years.  My buddy and fellow Carmel FC coach Bill “Anfield” Spencer is why I became a Liverpool fan and boy is he happy today!!  Congrats to all you Liverpool fans – You’ll Never Walk Alone!  Ok I can’t go further without mentioning Christian Pulisic and his return to grace at Chelsea after injuries plague his last couple of months of play.  The refreshed Pulisic is back to looking like his old self making darting runs down the left wing and delivering some fantastic passing and now scoring along the way.  I am hopeful Pulisic will find his place and help keep Chelsea in the hunt for Champions League play next year as they now have a 5 point cushion over Man U for 4th.

NWSL Starts Sat 12:30 CBS/2023 WC to Australia/NZ

On the Women’s side of the game – the NWSL becomes the first US Sport back this Saturday as North Carolina faces the Portland Pride at 12:30 pm on CBS.  Not to soapbox – but US Women’s soccer fans – if you want to see the ladies games on broadcast TV – now is the time to watch and be vocal. Post on social media that you are watching – CBS has only agreed to show the first game of the tourney and the final on CBS.  The others are on CBS online and CBS SportsNetwork which many folks don’t have.  But maybe if millions tune in to watch on Saturday – maybe CBS will include at least more weekend games in the future.  Speaking of future – huge congrats to Australia/New Zealand for winning the rights to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.  Not sure what time the US games will be on – as they are like 12 hours in front of us – but we’ll see what happens.

Indy 11 Return July 11, MLS July 8

Great news that the Indy 11 and USL will return on July 11 with a 16 game regular season followed by a single elimination playoff.  This World Cup style return should be fun for players and fans alike.  More details coming.  MLS is still on track to return with some solid ESPN coverage when its season kicks off July 8th from Orlando.  Morning 9:30 am games will be on ESPN, with late night evening games split between Fox Sports 1 and ESPN.  Hopefully this will help MLS get a better foothold in the US Sport pecking order if they do this right.

US – 10th Anniversary of Goal – Goal – GO USA

This past Monday was the 10th anniversary of Landon Donovan’s last second goal (92nd minute) vs Algeria in what some think is the greatest moment in US Soccer history from 2010’s World Cup advancing as group winners.  Lots of Stories below.

Here’s the call from Ian Durke for that Goal

But this call by the Legendary Andres Cantor in Spanish Really Brings it to Life

Reaction from Across the US

GAMES ON TV 

Fri  June 26

3:45 pm ESPN+                                   Juventus vs Lecce 

Sat,  June 27 

7:30 am NBCSN                                  Aston Villa v. Wolves, 7:30 a.m. NBCSN

9:30 am Fox Sport1                            Dortmund (Reyna) vs Hoffenhiem

9:30 am FS2                                        Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich

12:30 pm ESPN+                                 FA Cup Norwich City vs Man United

12:30 pm CBS                                 North Carolina vs Portland Thorns NWSL                 

Sun, June 28

5 pm CBSSN                                        Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL

Sun, June 28 

8  am ESPN                                         Sheffield United vs Arsenal. FA Cup

11 am ESPN or +                                 Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Leicester City FA Cup  

11 am ESPN+                                      Milan vs Roma

1:30 pm ESPN+                                   FA Cup New Castle vs Man City

Monday, June 29:                            Crystal Palace v. Burnley, 3 p.m. NBCSN

Tues,  June 30

NBCSN

3:15 pm NBCSN                                  Brighton v. Man United, 3:15 p.m.

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Athletico Madrid

Wednesday, July 1:                         Arsenal v. Norwich, 1 p.m. NBCSN
Wednesday, July 1:                         West Ham v. Chelsea, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN

Thursday, July 2:                              Sheffield United v. Tottenham, 1 p.m. 

Thursday, July 2:                              Man City v. Liverpool, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN, 

Wed, July 8                                         MLS Returns

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC | June 27 | 12:30 pm CBS

OL Reign vs Sky Blue FC | July 1 10 am | CBS Sports Network,

NC Courage vs Houston Dash| July 2 10 am  | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

C Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS

WOMEN’S SOCCER TAKES CENTER STAGE

NWSL Challenge Cup’s biggest storylines as U.S. team sports return

NWSL Challenge Cup provides good look at future of USWNT -5hBill Connelly

How USWNT Roster is Taking Shape for 2023 World Cup – ESPNFC

Australia and New Zealand chosen to host 2023 women’s World Cup
A tournament of firsts: 2023 women’s World Cup will break new ground

How Australia and N.Z. won the right to host Women’s World Cup  21hJoey Lynch

LIVERPOOL WINS EPL, Pulisic Scores Again
Klopp delivers on Liverpool promise

Liverpool win Premier League

Liverpool’s Robertson praises ‘father figure’ Klopp

Liverpool’s overwhelmed Klopp leaves interview in tears of joy

Liverpool players past and present celebrate on social media

Dalglish hails ‘fantastic’ Klopp as Liverpool end 30-year title wait

Coronavirus: the final twist in Liverpool’s Premier League title tale

Earliest Premier League champion: Is Liverpool fastest to clinch?

Lampard on Pulisic: He has so much talent
Pulisic Watch: How USMNT star performed v. Man City

Watch Christian Pulisic goal that gave Liverpool Premier League title

Pulisic shines as Chelsea solidify their hold on fourth

Pulisic scores 7/10 in return for Chelsea

Inside the EPL Bubble of Calling Games in a Ghosttown – Ian Darke ESPNFC

USA

ESPN Remembers – USA Greatest World Cup Moment Ever in last Second Win vs Algeria

The Day Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey Lifted a Nation World Cup 2010- June 23

Here’s the call from Ian Durke for that Goal

But this call by the Legendary Andres Cantor in Spanish Really Brings it to Life

Reaction from Across the US

Yedlin Reconsidering Future with USMNT

Comparing US English Call to Spanish Call

WORLD
Bremen (Stewart), Hamburg both fighting for final chance of Bundesliga football next season

Gio Reyna Dubbed the American Dream after his deft assist to Haaland for Dortmund

Reyna’s Assist

US Players Overseas Last Week Wrap –

MLS –returns July 8

MLS Tourney Schedule Revealed

Groups Announced for MLS Tourney – LA Teams in Same Group

MLS Tourney Details on Groups Stages

Power Rankings: The favorites ahead of eMLS Cup

Indy 11- Returns July 11

USL Unviels 2020 Season Format

USL to allow 5 sub rule

Club Statement on Black Lives Matter

USL Set to Resume Season July 11

Indy 11 Special to Support Healthcare Workers

Indy 11 Racing Indiana Jersey Released

NWSL Challenge Cup’s biggest storylines as U.S. team sports return

10:00 AM ETGraham HaysESPN.com

This was supposed to be the summer in which the National Women’s Soccer League built on the global success of last year’s World Cup. A chance to show off how eight years had nurtured a league that mass audiences could and hopefully would soon appreciate on its own merits.

But what might have been the next step for women’s soccer in this country is now more like a first step for sports in general in the United States, as the NWSL becomes the first league in a team sport to return to competition amidst the very much ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 NWSL season has, in all likelihood, morphed into the NWSL Challenge Cup, the monthlong tournament that will play out in the Salt Lake City area.

This is not a perfect arrangement. It wasn’t perfect before Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe opted out of the event over concerns about the pandemic, as all players had the right to do without penalty. It wasn’t perfect even before Orlando Pride withdrew en masse, the team unable to travel to Utah after 10 positive COVID-19 tests among players and staff.

But even without some stars on the field and without fans in the stands, this won’t be a summer without soccer. So after months of talk about how sports might return, let’s spend at least a little time looking at some of the stories that will shape this unique eighth season.

How does the Challenge Cup work?

It is probably worth starting with a quick refresher on exactly what we’re talking about. It helps that the format wasn’t all that complicated even before Orlando withdrew from the event.

There are now eight teams involved in the tournament, and every team is guaranteed to play at least five games. There aren’t specific groups in the preliminary phase, which begins June 27 and concludes July 13, but it works on the same basic premise as the group stage of any major tournament. With Orlando absent, all eight teams will advance to the knockout rounds. So the opening phase is now only about seeding and getting time on the field after the long layoff.

The league initially considered placing higher stakes on this phase of the tournament, with only four teams advancing and knockout play beginning with the semifinals, but settled on this as the wiser choice for players and teams coming out of three months of limited activity.

Teams may carry as many as 28 players. All players will be allowed to dress for games.

There will be no extra time played in any games in the tournament. Knockout games still tied at the end of 90 minutes will go directly to penalty kicks. As is the norm across the soccer world at the moment, teams will be able to make five substitutions during games (which can be made in no more than three stoppages). Yellow cards will be erased after the quarterfinals, but any player who picks up two yellow cards in the preceding games will be suspended for a game.

The quarterfinals will be played July 17 and 18, with the semifinals on July 22 and the final on July 26. The semifinals and final will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium, home of the Utah Royals and Real Salt Lake.

What hasn’t changed in the NWSL?

As you might have noticed, the world looks quite a bit different than it did three or four months ago, let alone when NWSL teams last took the field in real games in October.

One smidgen of familiarity amidst all of that change, at least when it comes to women’s soccer in this country, is that everyone is still chasing the North Carolina Courage.

Well past the plucky upstart that North Carolina coach Paul Riley still occasionally — and endearingly — tries to claim as an identity, the Courage are back-to-back NWSL champions and three-time reigning Shield winners as the regular-season champions. And at least on paper, they enter the Challenge Cup as strong as they were a season ago, when their goal difference was better than that of the other three playoff teams combined and they routed Chicago 4-0 in the final.

Midfield mainstay McCall Zerboni moved on to Sky Blue and Heather O’Reilly eased gracefully into retirement. But the Courage added Hailie Mace, the uberversatile No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft. The U.S. national team contingent of Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Jessica McDonald, Samantha Mewis and Lynn Williams are all on the Challenge Cup roster, along with Brazilian rising star Debinha, who was in the top 10 in goals and assists a season ago.

Rather than any sign of the standard slipping, the challenge remains finding a team to rise to it as the Courage seek to add to their collection of trophies.

Why is the Pacific Northwest still the center of attention?

Even as the Courage set the standard and Salt Lake City becomes the geographic hub for a summer, the Pacific Northwest remains central to the league’s identity.

The region has always been the league’s heartland, from the crowds, star power and wins in Portland to the success of Laura Harvey’s Reign in the early years and Vlatko Andonovski’s stopover en route to the U.S. women’s national team. The Pacific Northwest always matters.

Even without Heath and Rapinoe in the weeks ahead, it still does.

Reign FC is now OL Reign, the name a reflection of a potentially paradigm-shifting business model that saw French giant Olympique Lyonnais take a majority ownership stake. Previously among the models of independent ownership under Bill Predmore, who remains CEO, OL Reign is now a test case for the kind of European investment that has long been rumored from clubs like Barcelona and Manchester City. These days, that will also make it a test case for the effects of the coronavirus economy on such investment in women’s soccer.

Without Rapinoe, new coach Farid Benstiti must prove able to debut as smoothly as Andonovski did following Harvey. But befitting the new international ownership, bringing in new signings or loanees Alana Cook (PSG), Shirley Cruz (PSG), Adrienne Jordan (Birmingham City) and Yuka Momiki (NTV Beleza) makes for an intriguing start.

The offseason changes in Portland have nothing to do with the boardroom and everything to do with a restructuring on the field. The Thorns didn’t just tinker around the edges. They went for the renovation, trading U.S. national team defender Emily Sonnett among other moves in an effort to stock up on a youth movement led by No. 1 overall pick Sophia Smith. And with the demise of U.S. Soccer’s short-lived development academy program and college athletic departments facing coronavirus-related budget chasms, Smith isn’t just a talented young goal scorer. After leaving Stanford following just two seasons, she represents at least a toe in the water of an entirely different model of player development increasingly steered by NWSL clubs.

Yet even without Heath and after dispatching Australian rising star Ellie Carpenter to Lyon in recent transfer, the Thorns hardly tore things down to build from scratch. Christine Sinclair is on board for the tournament, and Portland also brought Becky Sauerbrunn home in a move that erases a weak spot. Win now and win later. That has always been Portland’s NWSL remit.

What is holding back the challengers?

Utah Royals appeared on the verge of showing off the league’s new system of allocation money when it was reported in April that the team was close to signing Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsan and France’s Sarah Bouhaddi away from European giant Lyon.But as Utah now welcomes the rest of the NWSL to its home turf for the Cup, that megadeal appears to have been scuttled or at least put on long-term hold. The imports certainly won’t be around this summer. And even worse for the immediate future, Utah won’t just be missing Sauerbrunn, traded to Portland, but also Press, who cited COVID-19 concerns in opting out.Those personnel issues further underscore why North Carolina will be so difficult to dislodge. Every potential challenger has its own pressing issues. Some of those are pandemic-related — such as Press and Rapinoe electing not to participate in the Challenge Cup.Some are injury related. With a fresh start for Mallory Pugh and a remarkable rebuilding job under general manager Alyse LaHue, Sky Blue looked fast-tracked for playoff contention — no small feat for a franchise so recently a dysfunctional mess. New additions Midge Purce and McCall Zerboni still make this an interesting team in the Challenge Cup. But without Carli Lloyd and Pugh due to injuries, the revival may continue at a more measured pace.

Other issues come from the natural ebb and flow of any league even in normal times. The closest challenger a season ago and still a model of management stability, Chicago nonetheless must replace two-time reigning MVP Sam Kerr, who signed with Chelsea. If offseason addition Kealia Ohai is a significant part of that answer, the rest of the roster remains loaded.But that is still a big “if” when it comes to replacing someone like Kerr.Washington still has Rose Lavelle, Andi Sullivan and first-round pick Ashley Sanchez among its many youthful assets. But the very act of trading Pugh — envisioned as a franchise centerpiece when signed out of high school — is proof of how difficult it is for a team to move from potential to the playoffs, let alone championships.Like Sky Blue, and like Orlando before its withdrawal, Houston hopes to accelerate a rebuilding plan. And a knockout tournament may be more conducive to highlighting potential — all it takes to make an impression is one good day rather than season-long consistency.If the question is who can topple North Carolina, it’s not a promising sign that most of the challengers have more questions of their own than answers.

How could the Challenge Cup reshape 2021?

Instead of mere months to prepare for his first major tournament as coach of the U.S. women’s national team, Andonovski now has another year in which to get ready.

That is good news for someone whose almost obsessive commitment to preparation and scouting helped make him such a success in the NWSL and earn his current position.

That’s all the more true now that Andonovski will actually have at least a month of soccer to evaluate. Whether or not the Olympic audition process is wide open, there is at least a chance for players to make their case for 2021.

Granted, all the same constrictions of an 18-player roster remain. Andonovski already had enough depth chart congestion to ensure some World Cup winners would miss the Olympics. And now instead of an arguably long-shot candidacy a couple of months after giving birth to her first child, Alex Morgan will presumably be something close to a roster lock. That is one less spot.

But for emerging players like defender Mace, the former No. 2 overall pick who now joins North Carolina after beginning her professional career abroad, or Washington defender Tegan McGrady, it’s one more year of development. Perhaps even two-time reigning Hermann Trophy winner Catarina Macario, who gets another year to sort out her citizenship status and will be a professional by next summer, has time to get in on the discussion through a college season, whatever shape that takes, or national team camps later in the year.

The Challenge Cup is also an opportunity for veterans like Chicago’s Morgan Brian and OL Reign’s Allie Long to show Andonovski they have more tournaments to play. Both were part of the World Cup winners last summer but did not participate in Olympic qualifying earlier this year. And it’s a chance for Chicago’s Casey Short, Washington’s Sullivan and North Carolina’s Williams — all part of qualifying after missing the World Cup — to further enhance their cases.

How will the league handle the coronavirus during the tournament?

In his role as part of the league’s medical task force, Dr. Daryl Osbahr said when the NWSL announced the Challenge Cup that positive tests for COVID-19 were inevitable. And indeed, the league announced the first such test last week, without naming the player. Osbahr also said he hoped the protocols in place could forestall an entire team needing to shut down.

That obviously didn’t happen in Orlando, a reminder of how challenging it is to play team sports amidst a pandemic.

The league has been transparent about its health protocols for the tournament. Any positive test, asymptomatic or otherwise, triggers a sequence that includes quarantining the player in question and conducting contact tracing and testing for the rest of the team.

Players who test positive but remain asymptomatic can return to the training facility for light training and team meetings after 10 days and full training after 14 days.

Players who test positive and also show symptoms will receive local medical evaluation and hospitalization as necessary. They are prohibited from any exercise for 14 days and can resume light exercise only after seven days without symptoms and after an array of tests, including an electrocardiogram and echocardiogram.

Individuals who are deemed to have high-risk contact with anyone who tests positive will also be quarantined and players will be prohibited from returning to practice for 14 days.

Whether or not any plan is sufficient for current circumstances is difficult to predict. Numerous European soccer leagues have restarted in recent weeks without widespread problems, including the women’s league in Germany where Wolfsburg just wrapped up a title. But in this country, even putting aside the Pride for a moment, entities from professional baseball teams to colleges have paused workouts or shuttered facilities in response to positive tests.

And as in Orlando, geography might not help. According to data from The New York Times, Salt Lake and neighboring Utah counties are among those areas in the state experiencing an increase in cases over the past two weeks. The cities of Herriman and Sandy, where all games will be played, are in the southern portion of Salt Lake County just north of Utah County.

Pulisic, Willian help Chelsea expose Man City weakness to seal Liverpool’s Premier League title

6:46 PM ETJames OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FC

The inevitable is delayed no longer: Jurgen Klopp’s side may not be able to celebrate the club’s first title in 30 years with their supporters but they can enjoy a tour as champions with more dates than some theatre runs in London’s West End.Liverpool’s margin of victory with seven games to spare is a testament to their unrivalled mixture of class and consistency. It is also evidence of City’s defensive fallibility and the yawning chasm the chasing pack must make up to create more of a contest next season.The most encouraging thing for Chelsea is that, while this performance merely reinforced where City have fallen short, the home side produced evidence that they could bridge the gap and mount a sustained title challenge. Injured at the start of 2020, Pulisic watched during the league’s three-month lockdown as Chelsea quietly went about bolstering their attacking power. The American international arrived last summer as the heir to Eden Hazard‘s throne, a £58 million ($64m) lifeline for a club unable to sign players due to a transfer ban, yet a year later has watched as the club strengthens in the positions he wants to make his own.

Pulisic might have been alarmed further by being left out of the starting line-up at Aston Villa upon the resumption of play, but an equalising goal there preceded a place in the XI against City and he was not about to waste the opportunity.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard targeted the acquisitions of Hakim Ziyech from Ajax and RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner after bemoaning Chelsea’s wastefulness in front of goal. It is why the club continue to monitor Bayer Leverkusen‘s Kai Havertz, whose signing — if completed — would further alter the forward line.The onus is therefore on those in situ to respond and Pulisic did just that on Thursday, capitalising on an error to give Chelsea the lead after 36 minutes. When Benjamin Mendy passed the ball into space rather than to Ilkay Gundogan, Pulisic took the chance to run at goal.There was plenty to do from inside the centre circle in his own half, but a change of pace enabled him to breeze past Mendy and burst clear. Maintaining that unrelenting speed, Pulisic then curled a right-foot shot from the edge of penalty area, beyond Ederson and into the corner. The whole run comprised six touches. Composed, clinical, confident. Everything Lampard wants from his attacking players.”I wanted to protect [Pulisic] a bit against Villa, see if he could make an impact,” Lampard said. “I always planned to start him against City because I know what he can bring in these sort of games and he brought it. He did really well. He needs to keep working. He’s a young player but with so much talent, he can get better and better.”The opening goal came at a time when the hosts were just starting to find ways around the City press. Lampard shouted his orders from the touchline, coaching his players through practically every moment of those intense phases after Pep Guardiola’s side initially appeared likely to pass Chelsea into submission on a hot evening in London.The second half followed a similar pattern. City began strongly in search of an equaliser, albeit blunted by the lack of a potent centre-forward in Sergio Aguero‘s absence. Guardiola opted for Bernardo Silva as a false nin but abandoned the plan 10 minutes after the break, introducing Gabriel Jesus and  It was Kevin De Bruyne, however, who hauled City level with a 55th-minute free kick of such irresistible power and placement that Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga could only fall to his knees in response after the ball flew past him.

Knowing they need a win to delay Liverpool’s party, City continued to live dangerously at the back. Pulisic almost scored a second after rounding Ederson and steering a shot goalward, but Kyle Walker somehow scrambled it off the line.

Chelsea’s substitutes, amassed in the bottom tier of the East Stand next to the dugout, cried for video technology to intervene, but referee’s Stuart Attwell’s watch did not buzz. With 12 minutes to go, though, VAR intervened in decisive fashion.Willian burst clear down the right and found substitute Tammy Abraham, whose shot was saved by Ederson. As Pulisic and then Abraham tried to force the ball over the line, Fernandinho shovelled the ball away with his left arm.Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and a host of other guests every day as football plots a path through the coronavirus crisis. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).Attwell missed it, but Craig Pawson at Stockley Park did not. In a week that saw Lampard hail Willian’s professionalism and impact on younger players, the Brazilian international stepped up to slot home the winning penalty that consigned City to their fate and left Chelsea savouring a vital win in pursuit of Champions League football.Willian has won five major honours with Chelsea but news he had extended his contract until the end of the season got a mixed reaction, even more so the possibility of signing a new deal to stay beyond that. Six years on from writing the epitaph to Liverpool’s title challenge with a goal in Chelsea’s win at Anfield, though, the winger landed the decisive blow in the Anfield club’s maiden Premier League success.”I’m delighted with Willian this season,” Lampard said. “The players look up to him. He’s a senior professional within the group but he has quality, he has work ethic and it was a continuation of his form for big parts of the season.”Chelsea are addressing their flaws, though whether that improvement can extend to titles challenges remains to be seen. City, albeit starting from a higher level, have to do the same.

Full match schedule and TV info unveiled for MLS is Back Tournament

June 24, 20203:00PM EDTMLSsoccer staff  Mark your calendars: MLS revealed the schedule and TV info for all 54 matches of the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando.

The tournament kicks off on Wednesday, July 8 with a Group A doubleheader: Orlando City SC face Florida foes Inter Miami CF (8 pm ET), followed by Chicago Fire FC taking on Nashville SC (10:30 pm ET). Both matches will air on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and TSN in Canada.

TV broadcasts

ESPN will oversee all game production for MLS broadcast partners throughout the tournament, delivering produced feeds of all matches, including unique and experimental technology. Each broadcast partner will use their own on-air talent and graphics packages.

  • USA: All 54 matches will be televised nationally on ESPN, ESPN2, FOX, FS1, and TUDN. All ESPN/2 matches will also be streamed live on the ESPN App. FOX/FS1 matches and TUDN matches will be streamed on the FOX Sports App and TUDN App, respectively. In addition, the 10 matches that are broadcast on TUDN exclusively in the US will be streamed in English on the @TUDN Twitter handle.
  • Canada:TSN will carry every match, including streaming on the TSN App. TVA Sports will provide French-language coverage of all three Montreal Impact group matches along with select additional matches, including streaming on TVA Sports App.
  • World:The tournament will also air around the world via the league’s international broadcast partners.

Breakfast with MLS

A total of seven matches will take place at 9 am ET, all of which will air be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN Deportes in the U.S. and on TSN in Canada. The first morning match will be played on July 9 when New York City FC face the Philadelphia Union.

Rivalry Matches

Here are the dates and TV info for the marquee rivalry matches during the Group Stage presented by Heineken:

  • July 8: Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF (ESPN, TSN @ 8ET)
  • July 11: Atlanta United vs. NY Red Bulls (FOX, TUDN, TSN @ 8ET)
  • July 11: FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC (FS1, TUDN, TSN @ 10:30ET)
  • July 12: Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids (ESPN, TSN @ 10:30ET)
  • July 15: Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC (TUDN & Twitter, TSN, TVAS @ 8ET)
  • July 18: LAFC vs. LA Galaxy (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, TSN @ 10:30ET)
  • July 20: Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (TUDN & Twitter, TSN @ 10:30ET)

Format

The group stage will take place over 16 consecutive days with each group match counting toward the 2020 regular season standings. All clubs will have at least four full days between matches.

The Knockout Round presented by Audi will take place as follows:

  • Round of 16:Four straight days of doubleheaders (July 25-July 28)
  • Quarterfinals:Doubleheaders on July 30 & August 1
  • Semifinals:August 5 & August 6
  • Final: August 11 (8 pm ET)

June 23, 2010: The day Landon Donovan lifted a nation

10 years later, the moment still carries the day.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jun 23, 2020, 8:16am PDT

June 23, 2010. It’s a day that will live forever for fans of the United States Men’s National Team. Everyone knows where they were for the final group stage match for the USMNT in the 2010 World Cup: their first ever match against Algeria, with a spot in the Round of 16 very much in doubt.Sitting on 2 points after draws against England and Slovenia, the USMNT needed a win. England and Slovenia were playing each other at the same time, and while a England draw or loss would help in the event of a draw, any loss would see the USMNT leave South Africa much earlier than they wanted.So, on an abnormal Wednesday morning just a couple days into summer, we all called in sick to work or took an early lunch break. For me, I said I had a doctor’s appointment and that they had to run a bunch of tests. For those who weren’t lucky enough to be in Pretoria that day, we gathered in front of television sets and big screens in bars, restaurants, homes, parks, and plazas. We were dressed in red, white, and blue. We were hoping for the opportunity to advance out of the group that British media declared “E.A.S.Y.” when it was set at the World Cup draw. We would have to wait over 90 minutes from the start of the whistle for that hope to turn into reality.

Rewatching the game last night, for the first time in several years, brought me back to that day. I was at Molly Malone’s in Washington, DC, crammed into the second floor of the bar with the American Outlaws DC Chapter, which I helped start. My boss thought some doctor was checking my vitals and my blood pressure. I didn’t need a doctor to know my blood pressure was through the roof, just like the rest of the bar. We didn’t know what was coming at that point in time, and watching the match again last night brought me right back to the ups and downs of emotions we all felt during that match.How many times did we yell in frustration or clap our hands in anger when we came thisclose to scoring seemingly dozens of times? Whose hearts dropped into their toes when Algeria hit the crossbar in the first few minutes of the match? Did you become as apoplectic as I did when Clint Dempsey scored in the 21st minute, only for it to be wrongly called offside?

How many sitters did we miss during that match? 5? 10? 1234123423? Somehow, those numbers seemed small as the frustration built every time a ball went from 2 yards in front of the net into the stands. The hope faded little by little. We returned our minds to that Dempsey goal that was wrongly called back, thinking back to Maurice Edu’s goal that was wrongly called back against Slovenia, and we realized that the United States were about to be sent out of the World Cup because two referees jobbed us.

We knew that Jermaine Defoe had scored in the 23rd minute against Slovenia, so the chips were really against us. Only a win would suffice. We couldn’t rely on a goal from Slovenia, and we knew we couldn’t rely on the referees. We had to score a goal, free and clear, no take backs. Only, that goal never came. We entered the 89th minute and frustration turned to anger, at Bob Bradley and the guys for not getting it done.

We enter stoppage time, and 4 minutes are announced on the clock. We get another wave of hope. “LET’S GO BOYS!” “COME ON, COME ON!” “WE NEED THIS!” We enter the 91st minute and Algeria is pressing with the ball, and a small cross gets sent into the box and a short header by Algeria is handled by goalkeeper Tim Howard.

He immediately throws it forward to a sprinting Landon Donovan down the right side of the field. The crowd starts buzzing. The bars, homes, plazas all start buzzing as they see Landon Donovan sprinting down the right flank. They see the USMNT have numbers as Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey run up alongside him. Donovan passes the ball to Altidore, who dribbles towards the endline. “SEND IT IN!” Altidore sends the low cross towards the front of the goal, Dempsey tries to nutmeg Algerian goalkeeper Raïs M’Bolhi, but it bounces off him and pops out a few yards. A second seemed like a lifetime for all of us as we held our breath. “Not again,” we thought.

And then out of the right corner of our eye, everyone sees Landon Donovan…

He DID it. Landon Donovan scores. We listen to the call from Ian Darke and you try to hold back the tears. Here’s the call from Ian Durke for that Goal

If you watch the reaction of Andres Cantor, any tears you were holding back were set free: But this call by the Legendary Andres Cantor in Spanish Really Brings it to Life

Bedlam. Elation. Jubilation. Exhilaration. Ecstasy. We all react to the new shot heard ‘round the world. Some are with hundreds or thousands of our new best friends, some are at home by themselves. But, the bedlam, the elation, the ecstasy speaks all languages:

We all remember where we were. We remember who we were with. We remember the hugs, the kisses, the high fives, the beer thrown in the air. We remember how every player celebrated: Landon Donovan running with arms outstretched, sliding into the corner with his team jumping on top of him, taking the corner flag with them. Jozy Altidore jumping on top of the dogpile, followed by Jay DeMerit doing a full somersault on top of that. Tim Howard just patting the ground in front of his goal like he was replacing a divot, his emotions racing. Bob Bradley just running down the sideline, arms in the air triumphant, his staff emotional, fans in the stands jumping up and down, in disbelief of what they had just seen.

How could anyone process what that meant? At that moment, we had that euphoria and then realized we had 2 minutes or so left in stoppage time. Forget our hearts being in our throats, every single second was our hearts in our hands while we were squeezing it tighter and tighter. Finally, after what seemed like a decade, the final whistle sounds. We pause to look at that score: USA 1-0 Algeria. We look at the other match score: Slovenia 0-1 England. We were through. Not only that, we had won the group. An incredible wave of emotion. We were soaked in beer, sweat, tears, and maybe a few bruises from our celebrations.10 years ago today…we saw our moment. Landon Donovan provided a goal that lifted a nation. We all could fly that day. It’s the greatest moment in USMNT history, and that moment is forever etched in the history books:  Donovan 90+1’.

Donovan’s World Cup goal against Algeria 2010: The oral history of the most famous moment in USMNT history

Landon Donovan, USMNT midfielder 2000-2014: I’m thinking in my head like, “I just gotta cheat up the field as much as I can.”

It’s almost like [Tim Howard] had been surveying the field before he got the ball. In case he did get the ball, get his hands on the ball, he was ready. And so when he grabbed it, I knew there was a lot of space in front of me. So I took off in that moment, and he threw it perfectly.

At that moment, my thought was just make the right decision, because I’ve been in situations like that thousands of times in practice or in games. So I wanted to get the ball out in front of me, so we’re putting pressure on them quickly. And then when Jozy [Altidore] peeled out to the right, Edson [Buddle] peeled out to the left and Clint [Dempsey] was running centrally, and instinct kind of takes over at that point. Get it out to Jozy and I knew he was gonna put it in a good spot from there, and then it was crash the goal and put them under pressure.

There are not many forwards in the history of our country who would have run that hard to get across the goalie and put himself in position like Clint did. In the moment, I don’t think there’s any chance that the ball is going to end up anywhere other than in the back of the net, because once [Altidore] rolls it in front, I’m thinking through Clint or Edson or an own goal, somehow that ball’s gonna end up in the goal or at least close to the goal.

I was directly behind Clint, but I actually can’t even see the ball. And so their interaction happened and then [the ball] rolled out. I didn’t even know. I wasn’t thinking about timing my run, my momentum was carrying me into the box and then that’s where the ball ended up.

In the 91st minute of the United States’ World Cup group-stage finale against Algeria on June 23, 2010, in Pretoria, South Africa, Donovan pounced on that ball, scoring the goal that would send the Americans into the round of 16 after their 1-0 win and set off a cultural phenomenon, putting the U.S. men’s national team into the collective consciousness of the country like never before.   Ten years later, ESPN spoke to Donovan, his teammates, members of the media, fans, and those whose soccer careers were in part shaped by that moment. This is the story of that night in Pretoria, South Africa, the most historic moment in USMNT history.

Editor’s note: The text has been edited for length and clarity. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, Noah Davis, Jason Davis, Arch Bell and Austin Lindberg contributed to this report.

Jump to: The ghost foul | The buildup | The game | The worry | The goal | The reaction | The celebration | The aftermath

The ghost foul

The U.S., arguably, should not have been in the position it found itself in against Algeria.

A welcome 1-1 draw against England in its opener positioned the Americans well to advance from the group. The Three Lions were widely expected to top Group C, and a point on the board, with encounters against Slovenia and Algeria to come, put Bob Bradley & Co. on course to reach the knockout rounds.

But a controversial 2-2 draw against Slovenia dampened that enthusiasm. A phantom foul called on Maurice Edu while he volleyed home a Donovan free kick cost the U.S. two points, and instead of heading into the group finale on top of the table and needing only a draw vs. Algeria to reach the round of 16, it now had to win.

Maurice Edu, USMNT midfielder 2007-2014: I’m still at a loss of words about how to describe what the hell went wrong during that play. I know I’m not fouling him because I’m ahead of him and now he’s trying to catch me. So I literally go through the box uncontested and Landon couldn’t have played a better ball, it hits me in stride, left foot, boom, goal. I’m not top 10 on SportsCenter, I’m No. 1! In the moment, I went back to being a kid, kicking a ball around the house, the commentary, “Mo gets the ball, it’s the last minute of the World Cup, he shoots, he scores!” So this was my moment, this was that moment.I hear the whistle blow and I’m like, “What the hell?” Everyone is up in arms, protesting, going crazy, Clint, Landon. They were arguing with the referee, who had no answer for us then, had no answer for us after the game and to this day he probably has no answer. If that goal counts, that’s probably the greatest comeback in U.S. soccer history.I look at it and think, “F—, that sucked, that was my moment, that was my goal, that was my place in history.” But you know what, it led to an incredible moment in the Algeria game and now you’ve seen what it’s made for.

Donovan: I saw it go in, but I didn’t know what happened. So at that moment, you just have to assume that something happened because I didn’t know any different. The only thing is the reaction of our players, looking around like, “Who are you calling that on?” Nobody can figure out who they are calling. And so I think it’s myself and Michael [Bradley], we go to the ref and I don’t think he only spoke French, but we were just trying to figure out like, “Can you just tell us what the call was and who you’re calling it on?” and he didn’t want anything to do with it. Maybe it was a language thing. It seemed like he made up his mind before the play that he was going to call a foul. I have known referees to do that if they feel that they got a previous call wrong. It just seemed like he had made up his mind. And you know, it wasn’t until later watching the replay that I realized that there was no foul, and actually if you’re going to call a foul, it should have been against a Slovenian player on a few of our guys.

Tim Howard, USMNT goalkeeper 2002-2017: The infamous shirt tug where everyone is like they’re in a WWE wrestling match. I don’t know what the referee saw. To be in with a shout of winning that game, and to show the perseverance and battle back said a lot about our team.

Bob Ley, ESPN 1979-2019: I was at that match, and I go back and I still look for that foul that took away [Edu’s] goal in much the same way that I look for how much Michael Ballack was offside in 2002. I still give him s—. “Ah Bob, you’re such an a–hole.”

Jonathan Bornstein, USMNT defender 2007-2011: We thought we got robbed. But, you know, very quickly, you’ve got to move on. It’s out of our hands now. Let’s focus on what we can control, and that was the next game. And so I think that’s kind of something Bob always instilled in us, that kind of, control what you can control and let go and don’t ponder on what happened in the past.

 

Alexi Lalas, ESPN 2009-2014: What people sometimes fail to realize is, we only had two points going into that third game. There was a real good chance we could have lost that game to Slovenia. But obviously, Michael scored, and we actually could have won it. But you had already seen a comeback-kid type of mentality that they had. But now you’re right back where we started in that you lose the game and we bomb out in the group stage. So from a drama and entertainment perspective, we were psyched to get this type of game and now we just needed them to perform.

Julie Foudy, ESPN 2006-present: I was at our ESPN studios in Johannesburg. You have hundreds of people in this room thinking, “Geez, we could be going home here.” And you obviously want the team to be successful, but you’re also thinking how much work has gone into a production like this and all the people that are over there, and you definitely want Team USA still in it, right? So, I think that’s always the interesting juxtaposition of, you are clearly so invested because it’s Team USA, but you’re also invested because you want the sport to grow and you realize, without USA in it, it’s a much different sell.

The buildup

So the U.S. headed to Pretoria for its game against Algeria, needing a win to ensure its progression to the knockout rounds. The result of Slovenia vs. England, kicking off simultaneously in Port Elizabeth, would have a huge bearing on how the group would shake out, but the Americans controlled their destiny: win and they’re in.

Donovan: All you can ask for, for a team like ours, is going into the third game with a chance to advance, right? Like, when you go into the tournament, that’s your thought process. If you’re one of the top five or six teams in the world, you want to be qualified by the third game. But for us, we wanted to go into the third game with a chance to get through and we felt like we were playing the weakest opponent in our group, and they needed like some crazy results to happen. I think they didn’t really have a chance to advance so there was excitement, optimism, but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. So I think we felt good heading into that game.

Howard: We had played in big games. We beat Spain at the Confederations Cup, best team in the world. We were up on Brazil in the final 2-0. OK, it didn’t go our way, but we had played in big games as a team. And so I think when it comes to World Cup, particularly if you’re with a U.S. team, all bets are off. So if you can put yourself in a position to go into that third game where your destiny is in your hands, that’s all the U.S. team could have asked for. Even if we had gotten a better result in the Slovenia game, we couldn’t just lose. It was all to play for and we felt confident we could do it.

Steve Cherundolo, USMNT defender 1999-2012: We still felt confident that we could make it out of the group, but I think we also felt the pressure was added on because people were expecting us to make it out of the group, and we felt the same. So we felt good, we felt confident, but we also knew that Algeria had some weapons as well and they were a good team. All the pressure was on us. We were no longer the underdogs, which is what normally we were.

DaMarcus Beasley, USMNT midfielder/defender 2001-2017: I know that everyone was more relaxed than what I thought the team would be. I wasn’t starting, so you kind of look around the locker room, see people’s mannerisms and their faces, and that’s one thing I do remember, is that the team didn’t seem rattled. Knowing that we needed to win, I think the team was confident in how we were playing throughout the tournament.

Bornstein: I remember the overall attitude of the team being very positive. We had previously played against teams like England, who we took a point from, we thought going into the Algeria game was a definite opportunity for us to prove something to the world.

The game

The game began with Algeria coming out motivated, striking the crossbar in the early exchanges. But the U.S. recovered.

Dempsey had a goal controversially ruled out for offside, then hit the woodwork. Altidore missed a chance with the net gaping.

Herculez Gomez, USMNT forward 2007-2013: It was crazy because at first it was Algeria. One in hits the crossbar, we get saved. But then I was out supplying a lot of pressure. I had a shot at like 30 yards out that caught the keeper by surprise. I had another shot that I hit straight into the keeper that I should have done way better with. I had a cross shot that ended up on Clint’s foot that he scores and it’s a legitimate goal, that’s called offside. So I thought we were knocking.

Lalas: I was more impressed with Algeria than I was the other two teams in the group, to be quite honest with you. They were sons of b—-es. And I say that in a good way, they were badasses. I wasn’t prepared for how badass they were.

The worry

The missed chances begin to add up. As the count of wasted opportunities rises, the clock continues ticking away. Time is running out to get three points from the game, and with it, a place in the round of 16.

Jozy Altidore, USMNT forward 2007-present: I’ll never forget, there was a play where I think I’m in, and I go down the side and I cross the ball, and they sail it clear. Clint comes and opens his hips up to go far post, rings the post and it comes back, and I thought for sure he scores the rebound, and he put it over. It was a tough bounce, to be fair. It’s not an easy finish. At that point, I was thinking to myself, “Wow, is it going to happen? We may not get through.”

Beasley: It was, “Are we going to sneak one in like we usually do? Are we not? Is this going to be a game where we almost had it and we didn’t? And we lost it?” And we started thinking about, “Oh man, the game before, we should’ve won that game.” So you start thinking about what could’ve happened to not be in the situation that you’re in. If we would’ve scored that one goal [vs. Slovenia], we wouldn’t even be in this situation right now.

Gomez: I thought it was there for the taking. But as the game progressed, then this feeling of, “Oh man, this could be our last game” started settling in. And it’s a World Cup game, so everything’s magnified. Everybody’s on edge. It almost feels like these moments are bigger than they really are, because at the end, it’s just a game, right? Maybe nine out of 10 times you play that at a neutral site and we blow Algeria out, maybe. But in this game, it was close. They were in it. It could have been anybody’s game, any moment could’ve changed it. And it came down to the very end of the show.

Ian Darke, ESPN 2010-present: Did you honestly have a feeling that [the U.S.] were going to get that goal? Not really, not deep in your heart. And you’re thinking, “Well, this is quite a damp ending for the World Cup campaign,” because as the group stood going into the 91st minute, they were going out of the World Cup having played reasonably well and they could have gone out without losing a match.

Ley: [ESPN analyst Steve McManaman] and I were both mesmerized, and so I got up from behind the desk, and I am just walking around like my wife is in labor — in the old days, you’re not in the birthing room. I have never been so nervous in my life.

Donovan: There was this real professional understanding that in the last 10 or 15 minutes, the attacking players had to cheat and we had to roll the dice. Like, if we gave up a goal and lost 1-0 vs. tying 0-0, it didn’t matter, we’re out either way. So we had to take chances. And I think people don’t realize how stressful that is for a backline and Michael and Tim to deal with basically 5-on-5 at the back and 5-on-5 at the other end for 10 minutes or so. And they just held down the fort and allowed us to kind of get wave after wave and keep trying to break them down and find the goal to win it.

Altidore: When you’re down, you just have this sense of going until you reach the goal. Especially when you need a goal. That’s kind of where we were at. We were still just trying to get after it. We wouldn’t stop. We had time. We just kept going, we just tried to be relentless in our approach of trying to create that one more chance to win the game. Because I think up until that last seize of the ball, we believed. And I think that played a huge part.

The goal

And then it happened.

In the first minute of stoppage time, the U.S. conceded a golden opportunity, as Adlene Guedioura delivered a cross to the back post where two Algerian attackers were unmarked. Rafik Saifi got his head on the ball, but he could only direct it straight into Tim Howard’s hands.

The goalkeeper immediately pushed forward and threw the ball into the path of a sprinting Donovan, who was already at midfield. Donovan continued his run, playing the ball to Altidore wide right, who squared a cross for Dempsey, whose shot was courageously saved by Rais M’Bolhi. But, thankfully for the U.S., Donovan followed the play and buried the rebound.

Bornstein: I think you can take it back to their chance right before Tim catches the ball. It could have been a very dangerous opportunity. I mean, they get a cross in and the guy’s alone in the box and he gets a free header off. Luckily, it goes straight to Tim’s hands. I think all of us on the bench, you know, when you’re looking at them inside of our box and you’re thinking “No, no, no, just get it out, get it out.” Tim catches it and everyone kind of stands up because he immediately throws it just like a bomb, like a quarterback to a wide receiver. And leads him perfectly running full speed, [Donovan] takes a great touch forward. And we’re already inside their half within 30 milliseconds. I think everyone at that point, at least for me, we’re all like, “This is it.”

Howard: There had been a series of getting the ball, rolling it out, throw it out, getting us on the front foot and attacking. So that was kind of the mode I was in for much of that second half. And then Landon, as he does, it just seemed like that was a connection that I made 1,000 times. He opens up wide, he wants the ball, he gets on his horse and then me being able to find him in an open lane, it just kind of seemed second nature. So he was just flying and I felt in that perpetual motion stage. [Dempsey] was getting ready to get moving, everybody seemed to be flowing toward the goal.

Darke: I remember, and I’ve obviously seen it a few times since then, Howard having the ball and I remember I sort of injected an extra urgency into my voice at that point, thinking, “This is now or never, it’s got to all come from this.” And I remember Howard throwing a great throw almost at the halfway mark on the right to Donovan and suddenly the move was on. Suddenly that Algeria defense seemed to just maybe look a little bit disheveled and disorganized, maybe for the first time. And you just have a feeling something could happen here. And then it looked like the frustration was going to continue because Dempsey’s shot got blocked, and you thought, “Ah, that’s it.” But there was that moment, you saw it was dropping to Landon Donovan, and that he had a magnificent chance. The rest is history, as they say. Banged it in the net, and then the mass celebration by the corner flag and my somewhat hysterical commentary. I had no idea what I’d said at the time, but eventually I did get the impression that people quite liked it, which is always good for a commentator.

Altidore: Landon would always tell me, “When I get it, just take off running.” So I just took off when I saw him taking off, we all took off when we saw the opportunity. It was a good throw by Timmy. They caught us. We’re cheating a little bit to try to stay in a good spot, to stay forward, you don’t want to break down. And it just worked out to be the perfect counter, the perfect play where we caught them. And then, actually, when I look back at it, Landon’s on for me to give it back to him. If I disguise it well enough, I can cross it back to him and he can also tap it in. And it’s crazy, but I was not paying attention to that. I just saw Clint arriving, and I saw he was open, and there was a window. And when Clint missed that, I was thinking, “No, another big chance!” And then Landon was there at the doorstep, following the play, staying with it, and then the rest is history, as they say.

Foudy: And the thing about Landon’s goal too, which is so iconic to Landon, is one, he starts it with that counter. And then you see he shows himself to Jozy, so he kind of holds, but he doesn’t stay there. A player without that ability to see what’s being done, I’d have been like, “OK, he didn’t use me, I’m good.” He gets in a position where he knows he’s going to get some type of deflection. And, in the 91st minute, to sprint — which he did, pretty much three quarters of the length of that field — and then to carry that run through so he’s in a position to make it look easy, that was everything of what Landon was about. And people miss that, they just see him at that end position. There’s so many people who wouldn’t have gotten to that position. I’d have still been at the mid-strut, “Yeah, I’m good.”

Howard: Credit to both Landon and Clint. They’re always smelling it, they’re always on the front foot. Landon doesn’t just play the ball and stop, and think, “This is going to be in the back of the net.” He continues his run.

Altidore: Landon was doing his Landon thing, man. Popping up in the right place at the right time.

Edu: When I look back at that play, it’s commitment from a group of players who said, “This isn’t it for us.” When it happens, it’s like, “Cool, last-minute goal,” but when you watch it back, there were so many plays along the way, so many steps on the way when it could have gone wrong. Maybe Landon takes the play off, maybe Tim doesn’t see Landon, maybe Clint doesn’t make the run in the box, maybe Jozy doesn’t go wide to get the cross. There are so many steps along the way when it could have gone wrong, but it didn’t because it was a group of committed players.

The reaction

After 91 minutes of nerves, of pressure building with each passing moment, Donovan’s goal triggered a release of emotion throughout the team. He found himself at the bottom of a dog pile in the corner flag consisting of most every player on the field and a good number of substitutes as well.

A handful of the team were so exhausted from the match that they couldn’t muster the energy to sprint to the attacking third and join in on celebrations, instead embracing one another at the center of midfield.

Donovan: I’ve been under a dog pile and it gives me serious anxiety, like real anxiety. I went to the corner, I saw Stu running down to meet me from the bench, and I’m like, with my momentum, there’s no way I wasn’t gonna slide because I was running so fast. But if you watch closely, right at the end, there is a minute where I’m like, “Oh f—,” because I realize what’s coming. I get like serious anxiety being there. Within about three seconds, and I don’t know if anyone heard it because everyone was yelling, I’m like, “Guys, get up! Get up! Get up! Please get up!” I’m just trying to get them off me because I didn’t want to hyperventilate.

Cherundolo: As soon as I saw the back of the net move, I looked over to the assistant referee. The flags did not go up, the goal is definitely counted. I looked for Tim and Jay and [Carlos Bocanegra] because it was too far to get up to Landon and at that point we were dead tired. I looked to anybody close to me who I could grab and hug. Because then we knew, “All right, this is it. This is our day. We did it.”

Darke: I don’t think that you can plan for that, and maybe you shouldn’t, either. Maybe I had a few words that I was going to say if the USA had gone out, you might prep that. But really something as dramatic, like a 10 on the Richter scale, an explosive moment like that, where one minute you’re out of the World Cup and the next millisecond, you’re top of the group, nobody can plan for that. So whatever came out, came out. It was instinctive and I’m a great believer that the best lines of commentary are exactly like that and happened in that way. I don’t know what made me say, “Go, go, USA!” I’m not American, as you well know. It’s just something that came out I thought that captured the mood.

Ley: I vividly remember it was like an out-of-body experience, like almost vibrating with excitement when the goal went in. It was like, “Oh, my God.” It’s like, “This is big. Don’t overstate it, don’t step on it.” I guess we didn’t screw it up. It was well received. As Ian has said so many times, he didn’t know where the “Go, go, USA!” came from. That’s a ringtone for some people still 10 years later. Ian doesn’t quite beat out my favorite John Lennon guitar licks.

John Harkes, ESPN 2006-2011: When it went in, I think I lost my headset and I couldn’t even communicate, so I couldn’t call anything. When I put it back on to speak, I just remember it cutting it out again so people couldn’t hear me making the commentary, and Ian had to speak again because my thing had gone out. We jumped on each other and it was all the camera guys around us. It was an amazing moment.

Andres Cantor, Futbol De Primera Radio: When I do the goal call before Bora [Milutinovic] and Marcelo [Balboa] speak, I was losing air. I never felt like I was going to faint, but I felt lightheaded because of all the euphoria and yelling and energy. And when I say, “Donovan the best player in U.S. history,” it doesn’t come off clean, it’s not what I wanted to say and I couldn’t find the words. At that moment I was on the verge of being breathless so I had to be quiet and recover.

Chris Kyak, fan at a watch party: At least half of us in there in that bar that day dropped to our knees [after Dempsey’s shot was saved] and weren’t even looking at the TV — I don’t even think I remember seeing the goal live. I remember seeing it in replay nonstop, minutes later. The people in [the bar] were probably on a pile-on. Beers were flying everywhere. I believe that was one of the first times the bar utilized plastic cups, knowing that something may have happened that day, whether it was good or bad.

Benny Feilhaber, USMNT 2007-2017: I think my favorite thing about that is how I had zero involvement in the entire build-up of that play and how much it meant to me. I think that’s a great representation of our team because there was no selfishness with that team, we wanted one thing and everyone wanted the same thing and it didn’t matter who was able to get the glory and you saw it in that moment.

Altidore: It’s like the things you say in your backyard when you’re playing around. Last minute of the game, for all the marbles! And to have that play come off and be able to have it and look back on it for the rest of our lives, it’s amazing. It’s a beautiful moment.

The celebration

The celebrations following that game became legend unto their own. Former President Bill Clinton was at the match, making his way to the dressing room to join in the festivities. Former NFL star Reggie Bush was there, too.

Upon their return to the hotel, U.S. Soccer had arranged for players’ families to be there waiting, and organized a reception complete with singing and dancing, including the hotel staff.

Howard: President Clinton was in there with the Secret Service and at one point we were drinking beers and everybody’s excited and guys are taking their boots off. Carlos [Bocanegra] asked for everyone’s attention and asked President Clinton to come to the center, and he waxed poetically about what Bill Clinton meant to us and to be a part of our group and to Carlos personally, and he asked him if he’d have a beer with us. And [Clinton] looked over his shoulder, took off his jacket, rolled his sleeves up, popped open a beer. It was a pretty cool moment because not many people can say that they have that opportunity.

Beasley: It was chaos as soon as we got in [the dressing room]. We were jumping and yelling and cheering. Everybody was happy. We celebrated. And, obviously, when Clinton came in the locker room, it was great for him to meet everybody and congratulate everybody, so that was really cool. But yeah, we celebrated a little bit, because it wasn’t so much us celebrating because we went through, it was how we did it. The 90th minute, basically the last play of the game, we had a do-or-die situation for us to go through to the next round, and we did that. So, I’m sure if we would’ve won the game say 4-0, it would’ve been different.

Gomez: I know that we’re a very patriotic country any time it’s the U.S. vs. the rest of the world. The country gets behind it. But it’s one thing to be there, it’s another thing to get together at a conference room in a hotel and have the president of the United States call you on speaker phone. He’s talking to you, he’s naming Timmy by name, he’s naming Landon, he’s congratulating us. That’s a surreal thing. It’s surreal when Bill Clinton, an ex-president of the United States, comes into the locker room and he’s sharing a Budweiser with you. When Reggie Bush, probably at one of the heights of his career, is in the locker room and he shakes your hand and he tells you how much a fan he is, it’s just surreal moments.

David Ridenhour, fan at the game: It was just minutes of pandemonium after [the goal], and then as soon as they blew the final whistle, we stayed in the stadium for probably 20 or 25 minutes and watched the players go around the field. As we were leaving, there was a group of probably 1,000 U.S. fans that were still inside the stadium gates, and for 15 or 20 minutes we just sang and danced and partied.

Donovan: Maybe we did [overcelebrate] a little bit. It’s not like we were getting hammered that night. But it’s so difficult to advance out of your group at a World Cup, and when you put in so much time and effort, it’s hard not to celebrate. It really is. Life is short. You can’t blame people for wanting to celebrate in that moment and appreciate it because once that moment is over, it’s gone forever. I don’t blame guys, especially you’ve got people like the former president in there, you have to appreciate and enjoy the moment.

The aftermath

The celebrations crossed the Atlantic at a rapid pace. The stoppage-time win over Algeria became a “Where were you when …” moment in this country’s sporting history.

That was compounded by the rise of social media, and the emergence of videos from watch parties across the U.S. They were featured in ad campaigns, they were picked up by morning shows and on the tongues of late-night hosts.

Walker Zimmerman, USMNT defender 2017-present: I think I was at a soccer tournament and at a restaurant or bar in between games with my mom just watching the game. It was an out-of-body experience while watching that final sequence go down. Everyone is holding their breath, ball goes in and you erupt and you say, “I don’t know any of these people around me, but I’m enjoying it.”

Donovan: We went back to the hotel, we went to bed. In the morning when I went to breakfast, [press officer Michael] Kammarman actually said, “Hey, dude, you got to see this” and he showed me that same video, and it was like, “Holy s—.” It was really powerful for those of us who have been in this game for a long time and never seen people care about soccer like that. And I think quickly after that, it started to sink in because it was like interview here, interview there, this person’s calling me, that person’s calling me. People had jumped on the bandwagon really fast.

Michael Kammarman, USMNT press officer 2001-present: At a World Cup, it’s always hard when you’re inside the team bubble to have a real sense of what the response is like back in the United States. We already had a large contingent of U.S. media in South Africa, and certainly there were a ton of media requests for Landon after the game, but what really hit home were the videos showing the reactions of fans around the country. Those took on a life of their own, and it was one of the first times that had really happened in sports. Landon came into the Studio 90 office and watched that awesome compilation video, and that was a real eye-opener for us on how big this was back home; you could see in that game and the week that followed that the focus of people in the United States was on the U.S. men’s national team in a way it probably had never been before.

Bornstein: I was roommates with Benny Feilhaber and we had learned about [the videos] just because people were telling us, “Oh my God, did you guys see the reaction?” So we watched them, like, immediately afterward. I remember watching them almost right after, then again and again and again. It was so motivating, to be honest, to see how the American people, all the fans reacted inside bars, inside homes, wherever they were. It was like everyone was in the same moment at the same time. It’s something that I’ll be able to share with my kids and hopefully grandkids for years to come.

Foudy: We’re in Johannesburg, so we have no idea what’s happening back in America, but it gave you a sense of the magnitude of that moment, and what it meant to soccer in our culture, which is something we’ve always had to convince people is a part of our culture. As a soccer player, they always say, “No, it’s not us. People aren’t passionate about it, it’s not in our blood like it is in other countries.” And that moment, I was like maybe it is! Look at us!

Lalas: It’s a wonderful piece of Americana and a piece of our soccer history.

Zimmerman: Gregg [Berhalter]’s first camp in January two years ago, we were doing a roommate questionnaire where at the end of a meal you had to stand up and share the answers to questions about your roommate, and one of the questions was, “What was your most memorable U.S. soccer moment?” It seemed like half of the team alluded to this goal as the most exciting and pivotal moment that they had witnessed in U.S. soccer history.

Lalas: That’s the defining moment for a player who’s had plenty of them. That’s the one that people will remember. And when I say people, I mean people that aren’t even involved in soccer.

Inside the Premier League bubble: A surreal ghost town where you have to bring your own sandwiches

11:23 AM ETIan DarkeESPN.com writer

So what is it like inside the bubble in the Premier League’s new biosecure world? My first experience of it, at Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Arsenal on Saturday, felt like being airlifted onto the set of a sci-fi movie.To get anywhere near the smart Amex Stadium in the first place you needed to have filled in a fair bit of paperwork to indicate you had no symptoms of the coronavirus, had not recently arrived from abroad and were not in a vulnerable category. On arrival, I was instructed to stay in the car and wear a mask (the club had provided one in their blue club colours, complete with a Seagulls logo). Then you had to wind down the window for a temperature check. I was declared healthy and allowed to park.Normally on a match day you would be among thousands of fans as you arrived, and swap banter with fellow commentators and media people while having a cup of coffee or tea and a bite to eat in the media room. But apart from Brighton club staff in those blue masks, there was almost nobody around the deserted stadium perimeter and that media room was closed, like all the food outlets. You had to bring your own sandwiches and refreshment. It felt like a sad and surreal ghost town.

The stadiums are divided into zones, with the players and officials and essential medical staff kept apart from everyone else in the red zone. All these people are tested for coronavirus twice a week, with anyone found to be positive ordered to self-isolate. First in the Bundesliga and now the Premier League, that has ensured a safe environment for the leagues to restart.All media are in the amber zone and are not allowed anywhere near the pitch or tunnel areas. My microphone and headphones were wrapped in a sanitised bag for use exclusively by me. All the other wires and equipment had been scrubbed clean.Behind the masks, there was a chance for a socially distanced chat about possible lineups with fellow commentators Jonathan Pearce, of the BBC, and Jim Proudfoot, who was working on the broadcast of the game sent out by the Premier League to the whole world. Normally we would put the finishing touches to our match preparation in the media room, and go down to the tunnel area where there may be the chance of picking up a vital morsel of information about players and tactics. Now that is impossible. I had to go straight to the outdoor commentary position, so just as well it was a warm sunny day on the south coast of England.When Arsenal arrived, I was able to phone a contact in that red zone who informed me that Gunners manager Mikel Arteta was likely to make a few changes; Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe among those expected to play, and Rob Holding was sure to get a rare outing in defenceThe conversation turned to the tricky travel logistics for away teams in this strange new world. The Premier League have advised clubs to make their journeys on match days to avoid the risk of transmission during overnight stays in hotels. Arsenal had taken some flak for flying up for Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester City as late as 5 p.m. for an 8 p.m. kick-off. They were accused of cutting it fine, and harming the players’ preparation.

But think about it. What are clubs supposed to do? Travel early and be left kicking their heels for hours in a faraway town? They cannot follow their normal routine of a sleep and prematch meal at a local hotel without breaking the guidelines. For this game, I learned that Arsenal had eaten at their training ground north of London in late morning and then made the 90-minute trip in two coaches to maintain social distancing on board. It is hardly ideal, but the away teams are facing a dilemma.And so to the game itself. The piped-in crowd noise may not be to everyone’s taste, but, for this commentator, at least it helps create a more authentic feel and buzz. Otherwise, no matter how good the game, it can feel like a reserve match with the players’ shouts echoing around a cavernous arena. TV broadcasters are giving viewers a choice, and most are opting to watch with the sound effects on.The clubs have done a fantastic job in dressing up the stadiums with attractive, colourful canvas covers for the empty seats, and Brighton have cardboard cutouts of 1,500 fans and famous ex-players sitting in their East Stand. They are doing their very best to make it feel like home, and managers are staging a lot of training sessions at the ground to get the players accustomed to the new environment.I think they need to tweak the drinks break idea. They are only necessary on a very hot day. It was farcical to see it in the pouring rain in Friday evening when Tottenham hosted Manchester United. The new five-substitute rule, meanwhile, is a nightmare for commentators. By the last 10 minutes, half the outfield players have changed. It is almost like a different game. I understand the increased risk of muscle injury after such limited preparation, but five subs makes it feel like a friendly.Clearly some teams are more rusty than refreshed. The restart is proving traumatic for Arsenal, with two defeats and a stack of injuries already. Brighton led the fight against staging matches at neutral grounds and it paid off with a dramatic late 2-1 win over the Gunners on home turf.Sad that their fans were not there to see it. As commentators we are privileged to be there to tell the story for those denied entry. It is good to have football back. And as weird as our “new normal” is inside the stadium bubble, it beats calling Bundesliga games off TV pictures from your office at home!

ATP_Gen_350x250

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

6/19/20  EPL Returns Huge Game today, MLS Tourney July 8, Carmel FC Tryouts Mon afternoon 6/22

So the EPL  is back which of course means that bad calls not overturned by VAR is back.  Yes in the first game back – Aston Villa gave up a goal to Sheffield United (well the GK fell into the goal with the ball) but evidently Goal Line Technology didn’t work (the ref pointing to his watch to say no).  However anyone who could see the replay VAR – it was painfully obvious it was a goal. Hell the keeper knew – he looked up and just threw the ball out and thanked his lucky stars.  I have no problem with it being missed on the field – it was a bang bang play with his own player pushing him into the goal – but the replay was obvious.   If VAR isn’t going to fix this – a 1-0 win turning into a 0-0 tie – costing Sheffield 2 pts in the table moving them down from 6th to 7th possibly.  Just Ridiculous.  Somehow VAR works just fine in almost all countries in the world – except in the EPL?  The “  “ biggest league in the world somehow can’t figure out how to use friggin replay.  Come-on guys get a clue.  Technology – ah dah.  Awesome news that the Champions League is returning with an elite 8 single game elimination tourney in Lisbon, Portugal in August.   The NWSL becomes the first pro team sport in the US to return to play on June 27th and I am thrilled that the opening game will be on Saturday at 12:30 I think on CBS.  However the rest of the entire tourney being limited to CBS online –($6 a month) really ticks me off.  With NO American Sports on TV – why not play more games on CBS – or at least CBS SportsNetwork – which has literally NO live sports programming now?  Why not show the games on that network and online for those who do have CBSSN.  And why not put a game or two on CBS on the weekends – maybe if Saturday’s TV Audience shows up for the 27th 12:30 game CBS might change their minds.

Turning to the field – my favorite GK Gigi Buffon at the ripe young age of 42 – was his normal legendary self in the Copa Italian Final as Juventus was playing Napoli.  Buffon made a spectacular save at the end of the first half and again in extra time down the stretch as he made back to back saves – to keep the goose-egg on the board for Juve.  However in the shootout Juve’s first 2 shooters blew it and Juve and Buffon lost 4-2 on PKs.  A heartbreaking end for what might have been the legend’s last shot at an Italian Cup.

This Weekend Top Games

Tottenham will host Man United in a huge game with Champions League implications today at 3:15 pm as the Spurs welcome leading scorer Harry Kane back from injury.  The only other sort of big EPL game of the weekend has Everton hosting league leading Liverpool in the Mersyside Derby Sunday at 2 pm on NBC.  Great to finally see NBC getting a decent game for a change!! Of course we’ll see if Christian Pulisic gets time off the bench for Chelsea when they travel to Aston Villa with American youngster Indiana Vassilev on Sunday at 11:15 am on NBCSN.  Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig travel to Dortmund and hopefully a well Gio Reyna on Sat at 9:30 am.   Congrats are due to German Champions Bayern Munich who won their 8th straight title.   Of course La Liga, and the Serie A have a full weekend and next week of games on tap.   Full TV Schedule online

Carmel FC Tryouts

Tryouts for kids from U8 -U18 are Monday, June 22.  Carmel FC is a community-based club who has put tons of kids on the local high school teams at Carmel High, Guerin, University and more.  Click here for more info about CFC TryoutsTo register for tryouts/evaluations use the following link:  GotSoccer Registration
Date: June 22, 2020 for all Players
Location: Badger Fields

Times are by Birth year (These are tentative and subject to change)
Birth Years 2011 to 2014 at 5:00pm to 6:00pm 
Birth Years 2010 to 2008 at 6:15pm to 7:30pm
Birth Years 2007 to 2002 at 7:45pm to 9:00pm

To register for tryouts/evaluations use the following link:  GotSoccer Registration

Can’t make June 22nd?  Email Juergen Sommer to schedule a time on one of the following dates for supplemental tryouts.
– Tuesday June 23rd
– Monday June 29th
– Monday July 6th

WORLD

Champions League Moves Finals to Portugal for Elite 8 Single Elimination Rounds
Champions League knockout tournament in Lisbon confirmed

Europa League Return Set as World Cup style Final
Bundesliga: Takeaways from Week 31

Werner Coming to Chelsea from RB Leipzig – ESPNFC

Premier League return: the issues to resolve
Premier League restarts with goal-line howler as players take knee

Tottenham v Man United preview: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

Premier League returns with social issues high on the agenda

Premier League return: Previews of all 20 teams

Statement on Aston Villa v Sheffield United VAR, Goal Decision System error

USA

Bruce Arena Weighs in on Anthem Playing and Qualification for US Team
2020 Golden Boy award shortlist announced
– 2 US Players on List

Eric Leiija to leaves Hull City during Break

Eric Wynalda Fired as Las Vegas Lights Coach

Biggest Threats to USWNT Throne – ESPNFC

MLS
Kevin Durant joins ownership group of MLS’ Philadelphia Union

Groups Announced for MLS Tourney – LA Teams in Same Group

MLS Tourney Details on Groups Stages

Indy 11

Club Statement on Black Lives Matter

USL Set to Resume Season July 11

Indy 11 Special to Support Healthcare Workers

Indy 11 Racing Indiana Jersey Released

Raising Their Voyce: Zack Steffen, Legion FC’s Crognale Team on New Initiative

Louisville FC Training Facility Plans Released

From the Pitch –Birmingham’s Asst Coach Talks BLM

GoalKeeping

Legendary Gigi Buffon

Great Saves Last Week

Best Keeper Saves Last Year’s Champions League

Spectacular Saves from Champions League Past

Evolution of the GK Position

Christine Endler Chile/PSG Great Saves 2020

Workouts You Can Do at Home 1

Workouts at Home 3

GAMES ON TV 

Fri,  June 19 

1 pm NBCSN                                     Norwich vs Southampton  

1:30 pm beIN  Sport                         Granada vs Villareal

3:15 pm NBCSN                                Tottenham vs Man United

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Sevilla vs Barcelona

Sat,  June 20 

7:30 am NBCSN                                 Watford vs Leicester City

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Bayern Munich vs Frieburg

9:30 am FS2                                        RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Dortmund (Reyna)

10 am NBCSN                                    Brighton Hove Albion vs Aresnal

12:30 pm NBC                                    Wet Han vs Wolverhampton

Sun,  June 21

9 am NBCSN                                    New Castle (Yedllin) vs Sheffeld United 

11:15 am NBCSN                            Aston Villa vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

2 pm NBC                                         Everton vs Liverpool 

4 pm beIN Sport                               Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid

Mon,  June 22

3 pm NBCSN                                     Man City vs Burnley 

1:30 pm EPSN+                                  Leccee vs Milan 

3:45 pm EPSN+                                  Bologna vs Juventus

Tues,  June 23

1 pm NBCSN                                     Liecester City vs Brighton

3:15 pm NBCSN                                Tottenham vs West Ham

6 pm beIN Sport                              Barcelona vs Athletic Club

Wed ,  June 24

1 pm NBCSN                                     Man United vs Sheffield United 

3 pm NBCSN                                     Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

Thurs ,  June 25

1 pm NBCSN                                     Southampton vs Aresnal

3:15 pm NBCSN                               Chelsea vs Man City 

Fri  June 26

3:45 pm ESPN+                                  Juventus vs Lecce 

Sat,  June 27 

7:30 am NBCSN                                 Aston Villa v. Wolves, 7:30 a.m. NBCSN

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Dortmund (Reyna) vs Hoffenhiem

9:30 am FS2                                        Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich

12:30 pm ESPN+                                FA Cup Norwich City vs Man United

12:30 pm CBS                                      North Carolina vs Portland Thorns NWSL      

Sun, June 28

5 pm CBSSN                                         Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL

Sunday, June 28:                       Watford v. Southampton, 11:30 a.m. NBCSN
Monday, June 29:                            Crystal Palace v. Burnley, 3 p.m. NBCSN
Tuesday, June 30:                            Brighton v. Man United, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN
Wednesday, July 1:                         Arsenal v. Norwich, 1 p.m. NBCSN
Wednesday, July 1:                         West Ham v. Chelsea, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN
Thursday, July 2:                    Sheffield United v. Tottenham, 1 p.m. NBCSN
Thursday, July 2:                    Man City v. Liverpool, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN, *

Wed, July 8                                                            MLS Returns

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC | June 27 | 12:30 pm CBS

OL Reign vs Sky Blue FC | July 1 10 am | CBS Sports Network,

NC Courage vs Houston Dash| July 2 10 am  | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

C Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS

Champions League knockout tournament in Lisbon confirmed

Joe Prince-Wright,NBC Sports•June 17, 2020

The dates and details have been confirmed for a UEFA Champions League straight-knockout tournament held in Lisbon, Portugal in August to conclude the 2019-20 competition.UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin announced the news Wednesday, as the tournament will take place from August 12-23. The Champions League was halted on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic.The quarterfinals and semifinals will be one-off games instead of the usual two-legged format, while the remaining last 16 games will be played on August 7-8 either at home stadiums or either Porto or Guimares in Portugal if that is not possible.

Below are the Champions League dates, schedule and venue details for how the tournament will work, as UEFA also said they will make a decision in early July about whether or not fans will be allowed to attend. Ceferin said the coronavirus pandemic in Europe is ‘changing rapidly’ and UEFA will adjust accordingly in the coming weeks.The UEFA Champions League 2020-21 tournament will continue as planned, with the 2021 final now in Istanbul (the original 2020 final host), with Saint Petersburg the hosts for the 2022 final, Munich 2023 and Wembley 2024.All games will kick off at 3 p.m. ET for the remainder of the Champions League this season.

UEFA Champions League tournament schedule

August 7-8: Round of 16 second legs

Bayern Munich v. Chelsea (3-0)
Juventus v. Lyon (0-1)
Man City v. Real Madrid (2-1)
Napoli v. Barcelona (1-1)

August 12-15: Quarterfinals

Teams already qualified: Atalanta, Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig

August 18-19: Semifinals

August 23: Final

Venues to be used

Estadio da Luz, Benfica
Estadio Jose Alvade, Sporting Lisbon
Estadio do Dragao, Porto
Estadio D. Afonso Henriques, Guimares

Champions League set to resume in August as Lisbon plays host to remainder of tournament

Goal.com•June 17, 2020

UEFA has announced that the Champions League quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will be held in Lisbon between August 12-23.The competition is set to resume following an extended break due to the coronavirus pandemic with four of the eight Round of 16 second-leg ties still left to be played.The remaining second-leg matches will be played on August 7-8, with a decision still to be made on whether they will take place at the home team’s stadiums or in Portugal.Paris Saint-Germain, Atalanta, Atletico Madrid and RB Leipzig have already solidified their place in the quarter-final round, which will take place between August 12-15 at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica and the Estadio Jose Alvalade.The semi-final round will be held on August 18-19 with the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica hosting the finale on August 23.With the condensed schedule, all remaining rounds will be played as single-leg ties with extra time and penalty kicks to decide winners.Istanbul, which was originally selected host this year’s final, will now host in 2021 with St. Petersburg hosting in 2022, Munich in 2023 and London in 2024 as host cities have seen their duties pushed back by one year.The Europa League, meanwhile, will be played as a straight knock-out tournament in  Germany, with Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen serving as hosts.In addition to the continuation of club competitions, UEFA confirmed that the 12 original host cities for Euro 2020 have been confirmed as venues for the rescheduled tournament in 2021.“I am delighted that we are able to resume almost all of our competitions. I am confident that we will not have to endure the fans’ absence for long and that they will be allowed into stadiums sooner rather than later,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.“UEFA took a bold decision when it decided to postpone EURO 2020.  But in doing so, we created the space which has allowed domestic club competitions across the continent to resume, where possible, and play to a conclusion.  While the game has suffered huge difficulties as a result of the pandemic, those blows would have landed much harder if we had not shown leadership in those early days.“The football community has worked together and shown tremendous unity during this unprecedented crisis. I would like to thank FIFA, our sister confederations, national associations, clubs, leagues, players and the relevant authorities for their continuous support and commitment and I am convinced that we come out of this crisis stronger and with closer links than ever before.

Bayern’s eighth straight Bundesliga title is both incredible and a problem

When it comes to underscoring Bayern Munich‘s dominance over German football, you can pick your poison. There’s the fact that the Bundesliga was formed in 1963 and the Bavarians have won it more times (29) than every other German team combined. There’s the fact that the Meisterschale they won Tuesday night is their eighth consecutive league title, and they won their previous seven by an average of 14.6 points. There’s the fact that since the Bundesliga moved to three points for a win 25 years ago, Bayern have recorded seven of the eight highest points totals in history in each of the past seven seasons. (Assuming they win one of their final two games, they’ll make it eight of nine.)

But perhaps the most remarkable fact is that they’ve dominated (again) despite so many things not going according to plan. For the second time in three years, they fired their manager in midseason, replacing him with an experienced assistant who hadn’t actually been a No. 1 since 2005.

They suffered injuries in key roles: their record signing, Lucas Hernandez, made only nine league starts, and their second-most expensive signing, Corentin Tolisso, only seven. Niklas Sule, who was supposed to partner Hernandez, suffered a season-ending injury in October. Philippe Coutinho — who is costing them close to $30 million a year in wages and loan fees and was supposed to play a critical role — turned out to be a bust, lasting 90 minutes in a league game only twice since early October. And, until last month, their goalkeeper and captain, Manuel Neuer, was in contract limbo, refusing to extend his deal after they locked down his long-term replacement, Alexander Nubel.

And they still won the title with games to spare.And before we hear the old cliche about the paucity of the competition, consider that RB Leipzig are Champions League quarterfinalists and Borussia Dortmund, who finished just two points back last season, invested heavily in the summer adding Julian BrandtThorgan Hazard and Mats Hummels, and doubling down in January with the arrival of Emre Can and Erling Haaland.There are two ways to read this and, yes, both can be true.

The first is that Bayern’s title is a prodigious feat because of the adversity the club had to overcome. Hindsight is 20/20 and we take things for granted, but think of the number of times we’ve heard about the importance of managerial stability, about avoiding injuries, about getting the big decisions right, about spending money wisely. Well, Bayern overcame all that, going on a prodigious tear that saw them take 52 of a possible 54 points since December. Credit manager Hansi Flick, credit the players, credit the strength and determination and winning culture of the club … whatever you like. But please credit them, because winning when so much goes wrong — whether it’s your fault (Niko Kovac, Coutinho) or whether you’re just unlucky (Sule, Tolisso, Hernandez) — is something special.But the other thing worth noting is that this is not normal. And, in fact, it hasn’t been normal in the history of football until very, very recently.

European football isn’t like U.S. pro sports. There’s no pretense or expectation of a level playing field; there is an acceptance that some teams are bigger and better resourced and, therefore, will win more. And winning more creates a virtuous cycle in which they earn more money and buy better players and continue winning. Yet if a team goes through as much adversity — both external and self-inflicted — as Bayern went through this season, you reasonably expect a closer finish.Not anymore — and it’s obviously not just a Bundesliga issue. Paris Saint-Germain have won seven of the past eight titles in France, while in ItalyJuventus are competing for their ninth in a row. Barcelona or Real Madrid have won La Liga in 14 of the past 15 seasons. Even in the Premier League, where the size of the TV deal means there are more wealthy clubs, only twice in the past five seasons has a “Big Six” team finished outside the top six.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve heard all this before. A combination of factors — from globalization to the boom in commercial rights, from the growth of broadcast revenue to the Bosman rule — have led to unprecedented polarization. And this has led to the scratching of heads and a search for fixes from salary caps and luxury taxes to super leagues. Heck, you can read my own modest proposal here.A lot of this is based on two assumptions that come from opposite sides of the spectrum. One is that this is somehow morally and ethically unfair and damages the spirit of competition, which is at the heart of the concept of sport. The other is that there’s a commercial imperative to make leagues exciting and hard fought, and that some semblance of parity is good for business: After all, a league where the same guys win year after year gets boring.Both arguments have their merits, but both ignore the reality. At the risk of sounding cynical, the moral/ethical/sporting argument has little traction. The big clubs have a stranglehold on institutions at every level. From UEFA to the Premier League right down to Greece and Scotland, the big clubs dominate with the argument that they bring in most of the money so they ought to get the lion’s share of the revenue. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, of course, but nobody is going to point that out. Especially not now, as leagues are increasingly independent of federations.As for the “bad for business” argument, the problem is simple: It hasn’t been. Germany is a perfect example. Bundesliga revenue has nearly doubled since 2012, when the current period of Bavarian hegemony began. Attendance has remained constant. Empty seats are a rare sight … obviously, before the pandemic.

Fans care about their teams and are willing to pay to see them. And while it necessarily doesn’t mean they’re happy with the lack of social mobility, it’s not enough to keep them away.There’s another wrinkle here, one that strikes deep at the differences between U.S. sports and European football — particularly the Bundesliga where, with a few exceptions, there is no single owner looking for a return on his investment. Sure, maybe the league could be more profitable with a different revenue-sharing model that gave more teams a chance to win. But when instead of an owner chasing profits, there are merely club boards whose sole goal is to reinvest everything in the club, there’s less of an urgency to milk the cow. Breaking even is more than enough.Obviously this isn’t the case everywhere and there are owners who pay themselves dividends out of club profits (the Glazer family at Manchester United are the obvious example). Elsewhere, there are others who extract money from the club in less transparent (and sometimes less salubrious) ways. But generally, the imperative is the same: Owners make their money, if they make it, when they sell the club, through capital appreciation. And their immediate return — a bit like the people who invest in thoroughbreds or America’s Cup teams — is through fame, networking and a seat at the table with other billionaire owners and private-equity guys.The reality is that two of the main drivers for a more level playing field — fans and owners — simply aren’t as strong in European football in general, but in the Bundesliga in particular. So we might as well get used to the idea of Bayern firing their manager, seeing three starters miss most of the season, spending lavishly on a superstar who turns out to be a dud and still winning the league by double digits.

USWNT’s biggest threats to the Women’s World Cup throne

On a match-for-match basis, France might have been the best team in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Jun 11, 2020  Bill Connelly  ESPN Staff Writer

In 14 combined Women’s World Cups and Olympic women’s soccer tournaments, the United States has failed to make at least the semifinals only once, losing in the quarterfinals to Sweden in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Its record is impeccable, and considering the Americans have won the past two World Cup finals by a combined 7-2, it’s safe to say they aren’t preparing to relinquish their best-in-the-world crown anytime soon.With each passing year, however, women’s soccer grows more tactically advanced. Based on how teams have played recently, and how their rosters are taking shape for 2023, let’s take a look at the 10 teams most capable of knocking the USWNT from its throne three years from now.

1. France

FIFA ranking: Third

2019 World Cup: Quarterfinals

On a match-for-match basis, France might have been the best team in the 2019 World Cup. In four matches against teams that made at least the knockout rounds, the French women averaged an expected goal (XG) differential of plus-1.62, far better than any other team in the past three tournaments. They dominated possession and were easily the most disruptive squad, averaging 13.4 possessions started in the attacking third against knockout-round teams. Opponents averaged only 5.3. If “field position” were a soccer term (and it should be), France would be a field-position master.Going by the box score, the French also probably should have beaten the U.S. in the quarterfinals. Megan Rapinoe’s early goal meant the U.S. was happy to let France possess the ball (60% of the time, with 347 completed passes compared to the 188 for the U.S.), and it could have easily backfired. France finished the 2-1 loss with double the shot attempts (20-10) and a 1.8-1.1 XG advantage. Sure, the French were at home, but at worst they were the USWNT’s equals.While a few key players might be in danger of aging out of the player pool — midfielder Gaétane Thiney (currently 34) and goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi (33) — and longtime midfielder Élise Bussaglia has already retired, France has a young and dangerous core: forwards Valérie Gauvin (24) and Kadidiatou Diani (25), attacking midfielders Delphine Cascarino (23) and Grace Geyoro (22), etc. Plus, they have the best club team in the world to call on for reinforcements. Of the 27 players to have seen action for France in the past two years, eight play for four-time defending Champions League winner Lyon.

2. England

FIFA ranking: Sixth

2019 World Cup: Fourth place

Speaking of expected goals, the tally from the United States’ 2-1 victory over England in the World Cup semifinals was England 1.8, U.S. 0.8. The U.S. went up in the 31st minute, then held on for dear life for an hour straight. Ellen White saw a goal overturned by VAR in the 69th minute, Alyssa Naeher saved a Steph Houghton penalty in the 84th minute, and the outcome was uncertain all the way to the final whistle.It was England’s second consecutive heartbreaking loss in a World Cup semifinal — it fell to Japan in 2015 via an own goal in stoppage time — but it was also a reminder of how close England is. Over the past two years, 75% of its national team minutes have gone to players who will be between the ages of 28 and 35 in 2023. While Manchester City stars White (31), Houghton (32) and Jill Scott (33) are the veterans, they should still have something to offer, and the reinforcements — Lyon’s Nikita Parris, Arsenal’s Beth Mead, Chelsea’s aptly named Bethany England — will be entering their prime.Increased investment in the Women’s Super League in England can only help. Seventeen English players have logged at least 700 minutes for the national team in the past two years, and while three play for Lyon (Parris and fullbacks Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood), 12 play in the Super League, including six from Manchester City and three from newly crowned champion Chelsea. As this league improves, so will the competition level for national team candidates.

3. Germany

FIFA ranking: Second

2019 World Cup: Quarterfinals

Easily the second-most successful country in the history of women’s soccer, Germany is, like its men’s team, really good at hanging around. In 14 total World Cups and Olympic tournaments, the German women have reached at least the semifinals nine times. It was jarring to see them knocked out by Sweden in the quarterfinals last year.They, too, could take a peaking team to the next World Cup. Of the 12 players who have logged at least 500 minutes for the national team in the past two years, 11 will be between the ages of 28 and 33 in 2023. That’s pretty much exactly where you want to be, even if it means there might be some heavy roster churn after ’23.While they’ve got key contributors playing for Lyon (midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan) and Paris Saint-Germain (midfielder Sara Däbritz), they are also able to call on two very good club teams for depth: 37 players have logged time for the national team in the past two years, 11 play for Bayern Munich and eight play for a Wolfsburg team that is currently running rampant through both the Frauen-Bundesliga and Champions League (four wins and a 22-0 scoring margin in the first two knockout rounds). Forward Alexandra Popp, midfielder Svenja Huth and defender Sara Doorsoun-Khajeh are all Wolves and all in their prime.

4. Netherlands

FIFA ranking: Fourth

2019 World Cup: Runner-up

The Netherlands have overachieved its statistics of late, but it’s hard to ignore the simple fact that the Dutch won the 2017 Euros and reached the 2019 World Cup finals. Sure, they didn’t have to face France, England or Germany last summer, but the record is still awfully impressive for a rising team that didn’t even qualify for its first World Cup until 2015.Also impressive: Vivianne Miedema. The Arsenal forward has already scored 69 goals for her country and 203 goals in her club career, and she’s 23. Arsenal teammate Daniëlle van de Donk has been a mainstay for club and country and is still only 28, and they have excellent 27-year-old wingers in Lyon’s Shanice van de Sanden and Barcelona’s Lieke Martens.So if the Dutch have big wins and big stars, how are they not higher than fourth? For starters, their XG margin while winning the 2017 Euros was only plus-0.27 per match, seventh best in the tournament. Against knockout-round teams in the World Cup last year, it was minus-0.01. That’s not much margin for error. They also don’t appear to have the depth of the teams above them here, leaning on a smaller player pool for most of their minutes.Still, with Miedema the Dutch will contend.

5. Canada

FIFA ranking: Eighth (tie)

2019 World Cup: Round of 16

Canada has easily the strangest player pool among contenders. Over the past two years, only one player currently aged between 26 and 30 (defender Shelina Zadorsky) has logged serious minutes. Quite a few mainstays, such as forward and captain Christine Sinclair, might age out of the player pool soon. But the roster is littered with players who have both carved out national team niches and signed with big clubs: Manchester City’s Janine Beckie (25), Lyon’s Kadeisha Buchanan (24), PSG’s Ashley Lawrence (24) and Jordyn Huitema (19), OL Reign’s Rebecca Quinn (24), etc. Talent shouldn’t be an issue.No one dominated the ball like Canada at the 2019 World Cup — against teams that made the knockout rounds, the Canadians averaged 61% possession and took 6 more shots per match. Against Sweden in the round of 16, they had 59% possession, completed 132 more passes and attempted three more shots, but four of them were blocked and only one was on goal. Sweden didn’t manage much more than that but scored the lone goal. It was a missed opportunity.

6. Australia

FIFA ranking: Seventh

2019 World Cup: Round of 16

No contender has given more minutes recently to younger players than Australia. Of the 12 players to log at least 500 minutes in the past two years, eight are 26 or younger. That includes best-player-in-the-world candidate Sam Kerr (26) and fullback Ellie Carpenter, who has led the Matildas in minutes over these past two years despite just recently turning 20.Maybe this means Australia won’t be ready for true title contention until 2027, when this group is in peak age range and younger, and high-upside players such as Montpellier’s Mary Fowler (17) are further developed. But depth appears decent, and Kerr — the ESPYS winner for the best international player in 2018 and 2019 — makes the Matildas dangerous at all times, even if she’s been battling injuries since joining Chelsea this past fall. A large majority of their minutes go to players in the National Women’s Soccer League, but only a couple play for the same team. That makes familiarity and continuity tricky, but the upside is high.

7. Sweden

FIFA ranking: Fifth

2019 World Cup: Third place

Like Germany, Sweden always hangs around. The Swedes reached four World Cup semifinals and have only once failed to advance out of group play. They perhaps overachieved their stats last year in reaching the finals — they had a minus-0.3 XG differential per match — but they took only great shots (79% of them were in the box, easily the most in the tournament), blocked shots and crosses and scrapped like a veteran team should.They might be a little too veteran. Of the nine players who have logged at least 800 minutes for Sweden in the past two years, six will be at least 33 in 2023. There are interesting young players in the pipeline — Wolfsburg attacking midfielders Madelen Janogy (24) and Fridolina Rolfö (26) and Chelsea fullback Jonna Andersson (27). But while Sweden’s got talent and a track record, it might find itself between generations in 2023.

8. Japan

FIFA ranking: 11th

2019 World Cup: Round of 16

Japan has a strong women’s league to call on — the Nadeshiko League employs 10 of the team’s top 11 recent minutes-earners (eight play for either Nippon TV Beleza or INAC Kobe Leonessa). And like Canada and Australia, the Japanese women have already begun to get a look at their future: 18 players have logged at least 370 national team minutes in the past two years, and 12 are 24 or younger.

As far as known quantities, though, the lineup is a bit of a mess. Forwards Yuika Sugasawa and Mana Iwabuchi have been productive, but a large cast of midfield candidates hasn’t. Among players who are in the prime age range, only Lyon center back Saki Kumagai is a truly known entity. Having lots of young options is great, but some of them have to become key contributors — and quickly.

9. Norway

FIFA ranking: 12th

2019 World Cup: Quarterfinals

One of the sport’s early powers, Norway’s women have, of late, been most notable for who doesn’t play for them. For the past three years, they have been without Lyon striker and 2018 Ballon d’Or Féminin winner Ada Hegerberg. Only 24, she has already scored 220 goals in 182 appearances for the best club in women’s soccer. She would immediately make Norway a top-eight team at worst. (At least she would once she’s recovered from her current ACL injury.) She quit the national team in 2017 in protest of poor support of the women’s squad, so her future with the squad is uncertain.

What-ifs aside, Norway still has dynamite midfielders in Chelsea’s Guro Reiten (25) and Wolfsburg’s Ingrid Engen (22). Strikers Caroline Graham Hansen, Isabell Herlovsen and Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland are decent Hederberg stand-ins. It beat Australia to reach the World Cup quarterfinals last year, and the core roster should enjoy solid continuity in 2023.

10. Spain

FIFA ranking: 13th

2019 World Cup: Round of 16 (best finish)

In terms of raw talent, Brazil should probably hold a spot on this list. But it is still alarmingly reliant on 42-year-old Formiga and 34-year-old Marta, and an iffy home league means it has players in basically every league in the world. It’s hard to get home for international matches, and the Brazilians have played 49 players in the past two years. Even with former USWNT manager Pia Sundhage in charge, it’s going to be awfully hard to build a strong, familiar squad.

Instead, Spain gets the final spot. It had the second-best possession rate in the most recent World Cup (61%), attempting 177 more passes and creating 7.3 more chances per match than opponents. The Spanish women gave the U.S. fits in the round of 16, too, before falling via a late Rapinoe penalty.

Finishing was an issue. Against teams that made the knockout rounds, they averaged just 1.1 XG per match and actually scored 0.3 per match. Midfielders Virginia Torrecilla and Alexia Putellas will assure that the possession game remains strong, and 21-year-old Athletic Bilbao winger Lucía García has massive potential, but Spain needs a little more bite to move further up this list.

BACK TO WORK for Indy 11

By Spencer Sharpe, 06/17/20, 10:30AM EDT

Indiana’s Team Returns to Training at Grand Park Sports Complex

Indy Eleven took the field on March 7, kicking off the 2020 season with a match away to Memphis. It was a resounding 4-2 victory and laid down a strong benchmark for what was to come.  In the three months since, they have not taken the field again.As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country, sports became one of the many institutions put on standby as the nation tried to flatten the curve.In the interim, both the staff and players of Indy Eleven found themselves in limbo, awaiting a return to training and a chance to be back on the playing field.

“Obviously having that preseason, get one game under our belt and then suddenly have this big break was a bit weird,” Eleven captain Matt Watson said. “That’s something I’ve never experienced before in my career.”New signing Nick Moon shares that sentiment. As a younger professional, he got his first taste of action with Indy in that season opener, appearing off the bench and tallying two assists on his debut. Unlike many others on the squad and as a newcomer to Indianapolis, Moon does not have the commitments they do. As such, his lifestyle has become quite different.“[I] basically just have training, games, traveling, all that stuff is what I spend most my time, or my energy doing,” Moon said. “It’s such a weird time.”In recent weeks, that training portion has become more prevalent, as Indiana’s Team has returned to its home at Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield. Adhering to a strict set of safety protocols might seem like the most obvious change, but another difference to get used to has been having to train for a team sport as individuals – just one of several steps to check off in anticipation of when the season restarts.“The league set up a lot of different points that we have to align with,” Head Coach Martin Rennie said. “Since we’ve been back in practice it’s been really good to see the players.”Even though the players are back to soccer activities, training is not quite what the squad is used to. Split into groups of 10, based on roommates and those that live close to each other, the players are doing what they can to stay fit and focused on the resumption of the USL Championship season, with a provisional start date currently set for July 11.Simple, non-contact drills have replaced the typical five-a-side and 11v11 scrimmages the players would normally be engaged in. More shooting practice, more passing and more technical work is getting done in this time.“The shooting’s been fun though,” Watson said smiling. “I’ve had a lot of fun [shooting].”Rennie says that even though it is small groups, it is better than the individualized workout regiments the players were doing previously at their respective homes. Watson says that he prefers it to having to work-out by himself. “It’s good to get back out there, see the boys more,” Watson said.Rennie recently spoke to Soccer Saturday host Greg Rakestraw, expressing his happiness about the return to training.“It’s a really positive step forward,” Rennie said. “It’s fun to be a bit more involved in the training. We’re definitely moving in the right direction.”Though the players have been apart, Rennie believes the squad has done well to stay motivated during this time. Now back in practice, that motivation is being used to get back in the swing of things.“We have to make the most of the situation that we have,” Rennie said.Before the shutdown, the squad took the necessary steps to keep fit and so the transition has not been as rough as it could have been.“Obviously, we did a lot of work in preseason on the tactics and the team shape and so it shouldn’t take us too long to refresh everybody’s memory. Everybody is itching to get started,” Coach Rennie told the radio show.Come mid-July, Indiana’s Team will be prepared to continue their challenge for the USL Championship Cup.

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6/12/20 EPL Returns Wed, MLS Tourney July 8, Italian Cup Fri/Sat 2:45 pm, La Liga/Bundesliga weekend games

We welcome back English, Italian and Spanish Soccer this weekend and next week.  Italian Cup action starts today- Semi’s with Juventus and Renaldo hosting Milan on ESPN+ at 2:45 pm Friday and Napoli facing Inter at 2:45 on Saturday – the finals are Wed at 2:45 .  La Liga (Spain) returned Wed and features Barcelona 4 pm on Sat and Real Madrid at 4 pm on Sun both on beIN Sport.    Wed we get the EPL back with Man City facing Arsenal at 2:30 pm on NBCSN along with some decent games next weekend.

MLS Returns July 8

MLS has announced their return with an MLS is Back World Cup Style Tournament starting July 8 in Orlando Disney World Area.  Round of 16 games July 25-28, will be followed by Quarter Finals July 30,  Semi-Finals Aug 5/6, and the Final Aug 11 on ABC.   It looks like most of the games will be televised many on ESPN networks and the remainder on ESPN+, the Winner will qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League 2021 and MLS will return with regular season after that.  Nice to see the draws holding local rivalries in place.  We’ll get El Traffico LAFC vs LA Galaxy, A Cascadia Cup Clash between Seattle and Vancouver, The Canadian Classic Toronto FC vs Montreal, The Rocky Mountain Cup of Colorado vs Sporting KC and the newly minted Hell is Real Derby between Columbus and Cincinatti.  Great to see all the Rivalries on hand – hopefully MLS will use this to help bolster the sport – as the only major league men’s sport playing in Early July.  Of course NWSL- the ladies return June 27th on CBS Sports Network at 3 pm with their World Cup Style Tourney from Salt Lake City Utah.  Full Tourney breakout below.

This Weekend US Players in Germany

Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig travel to Hoffenhiem at 2:30 on FS2 Friday, while Sat gives us Dortmund and Gio Ryna still getting tons of playing time traveling to Dusseldorf 930 am on FS1 – where Morales came off the bench for 30 min last week and US Starting Keeper Zack Steffen is getting closer returning.  Timmy Chandler continues to start for Frankfurt and he’ll feature vs Hertha Berlin on Sat at 9:30 on FS2.  Sunday gives us Schalke and Weston McKinney vs Leverkusen at noon on FS2.  McKinney should return to start after sitting last game for yellow card accumulation.

Carmel FC has returned to Training !

Tryouts Confirmed for June 22

Anyone looking to workout 1 on 1 with Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr – can email him direct at farrjordn13@gmail.com   Not sure when CFC GK Training might return with new Corona Virus guidelines.

GAMES ON TV 

Fri,  June 12  

2:30 pm Fox Sport2                            Hoffenheim vs RB Leipzig (Adams)  

3:45 pm ESPN +                                  Serie A (Italy) Cup – Juventus vs AC Milan

4 pm beIN  Sport                                Valencia vs Levante

Sat, June 13

9:30 am FS1                                        Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Dusseldorf

12:30 pm FS2                                      Bayern Munich vs Mgladbach  

2:45 pm ESPN +                                  Napoli vs Inter Milan Copa Italia –

4 pm beIN  Sport                                Mallorca vs Barcelona

Sun, June 14 

8 am beIN Sport                                 Athetic Club vs Atletico Madrid

9:30 am Fox Sport1                            Manz vs Ausburg

12 noon Fox Sport 2                            Bayer Leverkusn vs Schalke (Mckinney)

1:30 pm beI N Sport                           Real Madrid vs Eibar

Tue  June 16  

12:30 pm Fox Sport2                          Mgladbach vs Wolfburg

2:30 pmFS2                                         Bremen (Stewart) vs Bayern Munich

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Leganes

Wed, June 17                                      EPL Returns

Wed,  June 17  

12:30 pm Fox Sport2                          Frankfurt (Chandler) vs schalke (McKinney)

1 pm NBCSN                                       Aston Villa vs Sheffield United

2:30 pm NBCSN                                  Man City vs Arsenal

2:45 pm ESPN+                                   COPA ITALIA FINAL 

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Osasuna vs Atletico Madrid

2:30 pm FS2                                        Dortmund vs Mainz

Thurs,  June 18

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Real Madrid vs Valencia

Fri,  June 19 

1 pm NBCSN                                       Norwich vs Southampton  

1:30 pm beIN  Sport                           Granada vs Villareal

3:15 pm NBCSN                                  Tottenham vs Man United

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Sevilla vs Barcelona

Sat,  June 20 

7:30 am NBCSN                                  Watford vs Leicester City

9:30 am Fox Sport1                            Bayern Munich vs Frieburg

9:30 am FS2                                        RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Dortmund (Reyna)

10 am NBCSN                                     Brighton Hove Albion vs Aresnal

12:30 pm NBC                                     Wet Han vs Wolverhampton

Sun,  June 21

9 am NBCSN                                       New Castle (Yedllin) vs Sheffeld United 

9:30 am Fox Sport1                            Bayern Munich vs Frieburg

9:30 am FS2                                        RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Dortmund (Reyna)

11:15 am NBCSN                                Aston Villa vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

2 pm NBC                                           Everton vs Liverpool 

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid

Mon,  June 22

3 pm NBCSN                                       Man City vs Burnley 

1:30 pm EPSN+                                   Leccee vs Milan 

3:45 pm EPSN+                                   Bologna vs Juventus

Tues,  June 23

1 pm NBCSN                                       Liecester City vs Brighton

3:15 pm NBCSN                                  Tottenham vs West Ham

6 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Athletic Club

Wed ,  June 24

1 pm NBCSN                                       Man United vs Sheffield United 

3 pm NBCSN                                       Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

Thurs ,  June 25

1 pm NBCSN                                       Southampton vs Aresnal

3:15 pm NBCSN                                  Chelsea vs Man City 

Fri  June 26

3:45 pm ESPN+                                   Juventus vs Lecce 

Wed, July 8                                         MLS Returns

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC | June 27 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Houston Dash | July 1 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Orlando Pride | July 5 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

C Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

 WORLD

 When will Europe’s top leagues start and finish: all you need to know

US Players Weekend Viewing Guide

Home advantage a thing of the past in empty stadiums 8hTom Hamilton

Serie A is back: Everything you need to know  27mGabriele Marcotti

EPL Teams with Toughest Road

USA

U.S. Soccer repeals ban on kneeling during anthem

Beasley: You get taught certain things as a Black kid in America

Is Pulisic’s spot at Chelsea in Danger as New Players Arrive?  ESPNFC

How the USWNT became a dominant force 3dBill Connelly   

U.S. international Johnson to leave Gladbach

MLS

Groups Announced for MLS Tourney – LA Teams in Same Group

MLS Is Back with Tourney – all we know – ESPN

MLS Tourney Details on Groups Stages

MLS Provides Details on Olrando Tourney in July

MLS won the CBA talks, but lockout threat left players angry 8hJeff Carlisle

Wiebe: What MLS is Back means in our changed world

Chris Duvall: “We’ve still got a long way to go”

MLS Hopes to be Back with Fans in Stands in August? – ESPNFC

Q&A: How the NWSL plans to restart on June 27

Indy 11

Club Statement on Black Lives Matter

USL Set to Resume Season July 11

Indy 11 Special to Support Healthcare Workers

Indy 11 Racing Indiana Jersey Released

Is Pulisic under threat at Chelsea as Werner and Ziyech prepare to arrive at Stamford Bridge?

5:00 AM ETJames OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FC

Christian Pulisic recently claimed that “nobody even noticed me” on his first day with the Chelsea squad. As the Blues’ summer transfer strategy begins to take shape, he could be forgiven for wondering if that is still the case.The coronavirus pandemic has created uncertainty in the financial planning of many clubs, but Chelsea are so far taking a purposeful and proactive approach to their decision-making.

Timo Werner‘s imminent acquisition was a smart piece of opportunism after Liverpool hesitated in meeting the RB Leipzig forward’s release clause. The subsequently swift agreement on a five-year contract worth up to £200,000-a-week is a further sign of their resolute will to challenge for the Premier League title.Werner will join Hakim Ziyech, a £38 million signing from Ajax, but Chelsea are not done there. They are actively pursuing another attacking player with Kai Havertz now the most likely candidate, as senior figures at Stamford Bridge act in the belief Borussia Dortmund‘s Jadon Sancho is destined for Manchester United. A loan move for Barcelona‘s Philippe Coutinho remains possible, but Havertz is seven years younger and available for a similar permanent fee — around £75m — a fact that has also not gone unnoticed by United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.


– Ogden: Chelsea, United make moves to challenge Liverpool, City

There is no guarantee Chelsea will be able to sign another attacking target, but the mere fact they are pursuing several targets highlights Frank Lampard’s dissatisfaction with his current options — a situation that could make Pulisic feel like the forgotten man all over again.Lampard has repeated one clear message in video sessions with the first-team squad at Cobham: move the ball quickly. The 41-year-old has rotated formations between 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-2-1 during his maiden season in charge of Chelsea but, no matter how they line up, Lampard views speed in transition as vital to success. It is a key reason why Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi were preferred in attack while Olivier Giroud was made to wait an eternity for his chance; both players are more mobile, able to stretch defences by running in behind and opening up more space for wingers coming in off the flank.Lampard has long wanted an upgrade in his preferred mould: a quick, incisive forward whose sharp movement will create almost as many opportunities for his teammates as it will for himself. He also needed a proven track record in front of goal. Werner and Lyon‘s Moussa Dembele fit the profile, the former proving an easier deal to conclude.And so, with Ziyech’s arrival already confirmed, suddenly two of the three attacking positions in Lampard’s preferred 4-3-3 shape appear occupied. Indeed, Werner could even play off the left with Abraham through the middle. Pulisic already faces a fight to prove himself part of Lampard’s first-choice lineup even without Havertz, Sancho or Coutinho joining the club. Such competition for places is inevitable at a top club targeting silverware, but the impending overhaul completes a turbulent first season in England for Pulisic.Last summer, the winger decided to cut short his postseason holiday to just one week — despite representing the United States in the Gold Cup — in an effort to ingratiate himself to Lampard. First contact with his new teammates — when boarding the bus in Japan for a preseason training session — came through bleary, jet-lagged eyes. Pulisic may have felt that “nobody even noticed me” in that underwhelming welcome, but players quickly warmed to a softly spoken yet fiercely determined American with obvious talent in abundance.It is worth remembering that Pulisic signed for a manager he never actually played for. Maurizio Sarri was sacked in June and sources have told ESPN there was only the briefest of conversations between the Italian and his new £58m acquisition upon his arrival in London. Pulisic was unveiled prior to the Europa League final, at a point when Sarri already knew he would be leaving the club and therefore never manage the U.S. international at Stamford Bridge.Pulisic had to deal with both the uncertainty of a new, as yet unidentified, manager and the immediate task of replacing the colossal presence of Eden Hazard, who was set for Real Madrid after seven years in west London. Settling into the English capital was easier than arriving at Dortmund at just 16. There was no language barrier to overcome, but with a price tag exacerbated by Chelsea’s inability to make any further signings because of their FIFA transfer ban, expectations have been high from the outset.

He threw himself into preseason training, but concerns over fatigue and his robustness for the intensity of Premier League action led to a slow start. After a promising full debut in the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Liverpool, Pulisic featured in just three of the club’s opening nine league games and none between Aug. 31 and Oct. 26. Burnley were the victims of his pent-up frustration on a cold evening at Turf Moor when he announced himself in English football with a superb hat trick.”I felt I’d done okay up to that point but I hadn’t really shown everything that I could do, so going into that game, I did have a chip on my shoulder,” Pulisic later recalled.Lampard could not hide his delight after Chelsea’s 4-2 win. “He’s going to be a big, big player for us,” said the Chelsea head coach. “He showed a lot of that today and now let’s see him go.”The Burnley outing marked the first of 12 successive starts across three different competitions as Pulisic hit a rich vein of individual form. However, Chelsea lost five times during that run as Lampard began to lament a cyclical problem: profligacy in front of goal. It wasn’t a failing laid solely at Pulisic’s door, but Lampard bemoaned the wastefulness of his attacking players with such regularity that by February he described himself as a “broken record” on the subject.This is the root of Lampard’s desire to reinvent Chelsea’s attack. With Willian and Pedro almost certain to leave when their contracts expire at the end of the season, Lampard has seen an opportunity for a changing of the guard. Werner is 24, Ziyech turned 27 in March. Abraham is 22, Mason Mount — who has played on the left wing and as a No. 10 — is 21, while Callum Hudson-Odoi is just 19. Aged 21, Pulisic can be at the forefront of this new era, but his prominence within it is in greater doubt than first appeared.Much will depend on Lampard’s preferred system in future. Lampard has opted for 4-3-3 in 15 of Chelsea’s 29 Premier League games this season. The pursuit of Havertz hints at a greater use of a No. 10 and a 4-2-3-1 shape in future. Pulisic can play there or off the flank.”I do really like playing on the left wing and also in that 10 spot essentially behind the forward,” he said. “I’d say those are my two favourite positions.”Yet rather than building a team around Pulisic in the same way Chelsea did for the player he replaced — Hazard — Lampard is keen for greater versatility and interchangeability of positions to make his team far less predictable than those irritating home defeats suggested. Werner’s ability to play off the left is a useful characteristic in that regard, also allowing Lampard to accommodate both him and Abraham should he so choose.An intriguing subplot in the coming weeks — and potentially months — is Abraham’s ongoing contract talks. He has two years left on his remaining deal, but having enjoyed a breakthrough season as Chelsea’s No. 9, he will understandably seek reassurances over his future role following the signing of Werner, who was convinced to join Chelsea partly on the basis he would be a first-team regular.Pulisic has no such contractual concerns to leverage any unhappiness. Instead, he simply has to deliver on his undeniable potential by becoming the “big, big player” Lampard previously forecast.

DaMarcus Beasley: You get taught certain things as a Black kid in America

June 10, 20201:09PM EDTJonathan SigalContributor

US men’s national team all-time great DaMarcus Beasley recently joined former teammate Jimmy Conrad for an interview on the latter’s Twitch channel, where they shared an honest conversation about race in America.Specifically, Beasley described the conversations his father had with his sons about how to act. His father grew up in Savannah, Georgia and experienced racial tensions first-hand.“We had those conversations and you had to act a certain way,” Beasley said. “He would say, ‘Make sure you don’t have anyone in your car that you don’t know, make sure you don’t wear your hat backwards if you wear a hat, make sure your hair is always cut, make sure you look presentable whenever you’re around people and outside doing whatever.’ Those things you get taught as a kid, growing up black in this country.”Before retiring as a Houston Dynamo defender last year, Beasley enjoyed a 20-year professional career that started with the Chicago Fire in 2000 and spanned more than 500 games for club and country, with stops at PSV Eindhoven, Manchester City, Glasgow Rangers, Hannover 96 and Liga MX side Puebla. He encountered players of all race and backgrounds, but diversity was difficult to find during his Fort Wayne, Indiana upbringing.“I only had three Black teammates through that whole process, throughout my whole soccer career in Fort Wayne,” Beasley said. “So, I didn’t really see color back then.”Eventually, Beasley went off to U.S. Soccer’s residency program in Bradenton, Florida. At that juncture, it was inspiring to see other Black players at the same level: “It was great to see and finally be with someone that looked like you and knew how hard it took to get there and to be able to joke a certain way, to get the jokes we’re kinda used to it.”For more from Beasley on race in America, his distinguished career and more, check out the entire interview here.

USMNT weekend viewing guide: things are getting interesting

There are some tight races to avoid relegation and qualify for European competition.

By jcksnftsn  Jun 12, 2020, 8:00am PDT

We remain focused on the Bundesliga this weekend, where four matchdays remain and positions are starting to be finalized, relegation is looming ever more threateningly, and the pressure of every match is clear. There will be five Bundesliga matches of USMNT significance broadcast nationally in the United States, along with two additional games on Fox’s more exclusive packages with significant European or relegation implications.

Friday

Hoffenheim v RB Leipzig – 1:30p on FS2

Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig have a three point advantage in securing a Champions League birth over Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach who are tied with 56 points. Leipzig could have pulled five points clear in the race for the European competition, but playing with ten men for half the match after Dayot Upamecano was sent off, the team gave up a goal at the death against last place SC Paderborn last weekend. Tyler Adams started the match in a central midfield role and played the full 90, but was moved to right back as the team shifted things around following the loss of their central defender. The team’s pattern since the return to break has seen Adams start every other match while coming on for 30+ minutes when he begins on the bench.

This weekend, the team will face Hoffenheim, who are currently in seventh place, within two points of Wolfsburg for Europa League qualification. Hoffenheim have picked up eight points over the past four weeks thanks to a soft schedule that has seen them face three of the bottom four and 12th place FC Köln.

Saturday

Fortuna Düsseldorf v Borussia Dortmund – 9:30a on FS1

Fortuna Düsseldorf and Alfredo Morales seemingly have more to play for on Saturday given their tenuous position in the relegation battle. Currently, Düsseldorf sit in 16th place, which is the relegation playoff spot. The team is 3 points behind Mainz 05 for guaranteed safety and 3 points ahead of Werder Bremen for guaranteed relegation to the second division. Morales came off the bench last weekend and played 24 minutes in the team’s 2-2 draw with Hoffenheim, who played nearly the entire match down a man. Zack Steffen is reportedly close to a return for Düsseldorf, but it remains to be seen if the team (perhaps with some “advice” from parent club Manchester City) will bring him back down the stretch or let him ride out the season to avoid any potential aggravation.

Düsseldorf’s opponent this weekend is second place Borussia Dortmund, who currently sit 7 points behind Bayern Munich for first place and 7 points ahead of ‘Gladbach and Leverkusen for 5th place. While not mathematically eliminated from either direction, such a move would be shocking and their fate could be determined this weekend. Giovanni Reyna continues to look for that first start, and it would be a bit surprising if he doesn’t see one down the stretch. Still, he continues to see regular minutes which, in and of itself, is a significant accomplishment for a 17-year-old at one of the top clubs in Germany.

Hertha Berlin v Eintracht Frankfurt – 9:30a on FS2

Timothy Chandler started and went 90 minutes for Eintracht Frankfurt in their midweek loss to Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the dfb Pokal. Chandler came off the bench last weekend in the teams 0-2 loss to Mainz. The team has little to play for down the stretch, being 10 points from European qualification and 10 points above relegation. Chandler has seen a consistent role with the club in the second half of the season, though lately the starting opportunities have been more difficult to come by.

Eintracht faces Hertha Berlin this weekend, who are 3 points ahead of them and sit at 9th in the table. Seven points back of Wolfsburg, Hertha also seem unlikely to make a move for the Euro spots, but the club had been on a very impressive stretch picking up 10 points in the first 4 games since resuming play before losing 1-0 to Borussia Dortmund last weekend.

Looking through the paywall:

  • John Brooks and Wolfsburg look to solidify their Europa League position when they face a SC Freiburg team that is just four points behind them at 9:30a on Fox Soccer Plus.
  • Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen face Paderborn at 9:30a on Fox Soccer Match Pass in a match that is absolutely critical if they are to avoid relegation.

Sunday

Schalke 04 v Bayer Leverkusen – Noon on FS2

Weston McKennie missed Schalke’s 1-1 draw with Union Berlin last weekend due to yellow card accumulation. While a 1-1 draw with the 14th placed team might not seem significant, it did snap a four game losing streak for Schalke. It was just the team’s 5th point in their last 12 matches, and they are looking for their first win since January. The lack of results has seen Schalke drop from a European contender to 10th place. This won’t get any easier this weekend as they face fifth place Bayer Leverkusen, who are looking to crack the top four and a Champions League berth.Let us know what you’re watching this weekend as the Bundesliga rolls on.

MLS is Back Tournament draw sees LAFC, LA Galaxy picked together

4:21 PM ET  ESPN

Major League Soccer held its draw for the MLS is Back Tournament as the league prepares to return to action at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 8 in Kissimmee, Florida.The Eastern Conference portion of the draw saw Canadian rivals Toronto FC and Montreal Impact drawn against one another in Group C and 2018 MLS Cup champions Atlanta United paired with the Columbus Crew, FC Cincinnati and the New York Red Bulls.On the Western Conference side of the draw, defending MLS Cup winners Seattle Sounders were the seeded team in Group B and were paired with Cascadia rivals Vancouver. In Group F, LAFC was picked alongside the LA GalaxyHouston Dynamo and Portland Timbers.The tournament will consist of a group stage with each team playing three matches, followed by a knockout stage. The final will be played Aug. 11. The teams were drawn into six groups, with the top two teams in each group, plus the four best third-place finishers, qualifying for the round of 16.

MLS IS BACK TOURNAMENT: KEY DATES

June 24: Teams begin arriving in Florida
July 8: Group stage begins
July 25-28: Round-of-16
July 30- Aug. 1: Quarterfinals
Aug. 5-6: Semifinals
Aug. 11: MLS is Back Tournament Final

GROUP A (Eastern Conference)
1. Orlando City SC*
2. Inter Miami CF
3. New York City FC
4. Philadelphia Union
5. Chicago Fire
6. Nashville SC

GROUP B (Western Conference)
1. Seattle Sounders*
2. FC Dallas
3. Vancouver Whitecaps
4. San Jose Earthquakes

GROUP C (Eastern Conference)
1. Toronto FC*
2. New England Revolution
3. Montreal Impact
4. D.C. United

GROUP D (Western Conference)
1. Real Salt Lake*
2. Sporting Kansas City
3. Colorado Rapids
4. Minnesota United

GROUP E (Eastern Conference)
1. Atlanta United*
2. FC Cincinnati
3. New York Red Bulls
4. Columbus Crew SC

GROUP F (Western Conference)
1. LAFC*
2. LA Galaxy
3. Houston Dynamo
4. Portland Timbers

* denotes seeded team in each group

All of the group stage matches will count in the regular-season standings, with the winner of the tournament earning a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League, regardless of whether it is a U.S. or Canadian club. The first match pits MLS’ Florida teams Orlando City and Inter Miami in Group A against one another, with a total of 54 matches played over the course of the tournament.Teams will begin to head to Orlando starting on June 24, though arrival dates will vary because most teams will prefer to train in their home facilities. Teams must arrive no later than seven days before their first match.In addition to matches that count in the regular-season standings and the Champions League berth, players will have the opportunity to earn additional bonuses as part of a $1.1 million prize pool.”We are pleased to team up with Disney to relaunch the 2020 MLS season and get back to playing soccer,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said on Wednesday. “The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches and staff as we return to play.”MLS has been shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic since March 12, when the regular season was just two matches old.

MLS is Back Tournament: What we know about player testing, groups, schedule

5:10 PM ET  Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Major League Soccer’s plan for getting back on the field is now official, almost three months after the 2020 season shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The return will come in the form of a World Cup style competition to be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World. The competition, called the MLS is Back Tournament, will begin with a group stage followed by knockout rounds.

Plans for this competition have been in the works for almost the entirety of the shutdown, and they didn’t come to fruition until some tense negotiations with the MLS Players Association over a new collective bargaining agreement had been concluded. All told, the players gave up over $100 million in economic concessions.

With the plans now in place, here’s what you need to know — and the things we still don’t know — about MLS’s return.

– MLS is Back Tournament: Full draw includes LAFC vs. LA Galaxy
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)

What will the tournament look like?

The league’s 26 teams were divided into six groups. There was one six-team group in the Eastern Conference — thanks to Nashville moving from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference — along with two four-team groups. The Western Conference consists of three four-team groups.

As the host city, Orlando was seeded in Group A, with Atlanta United, Toronto FC, LAFC, the Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake comprising the remaining seeded teams. The games will begin on July 8, with each team playing three matches. (Fans in the United States will be able to watch games live on ESPN networks.) The top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout stages, with the final being played on Aug. 11. (Full game schedule is TBC.)

What are some of the highlights from the draw?

Several top rivalries were drawn together in the group stages on Thursday, with LAFC and LA Galaxy ending up the highlight of Group F alongside Portland Timbers and the Houston Dynamo.

Defending MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders were drawn against their rivals in the Pacific Northwest, the Vancouver Whitecaps, in Group B while the team they defeated in the 2019 final, Toronto FC, were drawn in Group C against fellow Canadians Montreal Impact as well as D.C. United and the New England Revolution.

The two Florida teams, Inter Miami CF and Orlando City SC, were also drawn together in Group A alongside Philadelphia Union, New York City FC, Chicago Fire and Nashville SC in the tournament’s only six-team group.

The kickoff times are weird. Why is that?

At first glance, the schedule certainly seems bizarre. The games will be held at 9 a.m. ET, 8 p.m. ET, and 10:30 p.m. ET (2 p.m. GMT, 1 a.m. GMT and 3 a.m. GMT). The reasoning is simple: it will avoid playing games in the midday blast furnace — average high temperatures are 92 degrees, with an average low of 78 degrees — that is high summer in Florida.

How many people will be inside the bubble? And can they leave?

All told, there will be 1,200-1,500 inside the bubble, which will (mostly) consist of the Swan and Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee. These include players, coaches and support staff, as well as league personnel. The players and staff from hometown club Orlando City will also be inside the bubble. Leaving the hotel for anything other than team- and/or league-approved events is prohibited for as long as that player’s team is in the tournament.Teams will head down to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World starting on June 24, but each club has some flexibility in terms of arrival time. Those teams operating in locales with loosening stay-at-home orders will opt to stay in their home markets as long as possible, helping to limit time spent away from families. That means it may be July before some teams arrive in Orlando.It’s expected that six to eight teams, usually those subject to more stringent local restrictions, will opt to get to Orlando closer to June 24.What if a player goes stir-crazy and leaves? In a subsequent interview with ESPN, Garber conceded that “the bubble is not airtight.” But in terms of the steps to be taken if a player decides to go out on the town, the protocol on that is still being crafted.In a bid to prevent players from breaking the bubble, Garber said, “There will be a significant amount of player-engaged activities that our group is now working with Disney on.”That said, discipline will be required. “We’re going to need our collective commitment to ensure that we’re not leaving that environment in any way because that’s only going to threaten the health of themselves and everybody around them,” Garber told ESPN.

 

What about on the field during game days?

Game days will see personnel divided into three tiers based on the level of testing they’ve undergone. The top tier includes players, coaches, club officials, referees and medical staff. Pool photographers, broadcasters, league staff, VAR staff, communications staff and the stretcher crew will fit into Tier 2. Tier 3 will be comprised of media, non-rights holder TV crews, photographers and a club’s digital staff.Tier 3 personnel will not be subject to testing for COVID-19. The league is considering having a limited number of media inside the bubble, which would require them to undergo testing. All told, 183 people will be on or close to the field for matches, with the number increasing to 189 for the opener and final. (More on testing further down.)

Have the players signed off? How do they feel about it?

The players have agreed to go, but there are definitely mixed emotions. On the one hand, players are eager to get back on the field; on the other, they don’t want to be away from home for six weeks to do it. The bitterness from the CBA negotiations — in which the league threatened to lock out the players — remains. Safety is an issue as well.”Players are going to show up. I think players are going to compete, and, we’ll do that part of it,” said Minnesota United midfielder Ethan Finlay. “But there’s a lot of ownership that these teams are gonna have to take because, frankly, we’re taking a bit of a safety risk, not just on the health and safety side but with fatigue. Injury risk is going to go up probably dramatically.”Guys understand that and know that, but they’re also willing to do it because of the circumstances that we’re in.”

Does every player have to go?

Exceptions will be made, but on a very limited basis. Players with an underlying medical condition that might make them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 must get permission from the team medical staff to go to Orlando. A player might also be excused if their partner is pregnant, a situation that applies to both the LA Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and LAFC’s Carlos Vela, the reigning league MVP.

A recent report in the L.A. Times indicated that Hernandez would take part in the tournament. Vela’s status is still to be determined.

How often will there be testing?

All individuals deemed “essential members” of a team’s delegation will be tested both prior and after traveling to Orlando. Prior to travel, these tests include two Polymerase Chain Reaction (“PCR”) tests 24 hours apart. Players will also undergo a baseline serology (antibody) test as part of a physical exam that also includes a temperature check and the completion of a screening questionnaire.Players, coaches and support staff will be tested every other day for two weeks after arriving in Florida. Those individuals, as well as referees, will then be tested regularly, including prior to each matchday.

What other steps is MLS taking to prevent players and staff from contracting COVID-19?

In conjunction with leading health experts, MLS has created guidelines and best practices to help reduce risk and prevent spread of the coronavirus. These include wearing face coverings, social distancing, general hygiene (avoid touching face, wash hands frequently, avoid sharing food, bottles, towels or equipment, etc.), as well as disinfecting surfaces. These guidelines will be extended for matches.Players, coaches and officials are asked to exercise care when spitting or clearing their nose during games, and those sitting on the bench are required to wear masks and practice social distancing to the maximum extent possible. Players involved in the game are asked not to exchange jerseys or kiss the ball.The Walt Disney World Resort and the Swan and Dolphin Hotel will be providing enhanced cleaning of all venues and enforcing appropriate capacity management and other social distancing guidelines.

Is everyone at the complex getting tested?

The definition of “essential personnel” doesn’t include everyone. Individuals working at the hotels and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will undergo self-temperature screenings and a standardized screening questionnaire, but they will not be tested. A positive response to the daily questionnaire or a temperature check above 100.3 degrees must be reported, and the individual in question will be isolated immediately and PCR testing will be performed.The lack of testing would seem to create a vulnerability in the “bubble” that MLS has created, but Garber said he isn’t worried.”Those staff/people will not be coming in close contact with our players,” Garber said. “And if they were going to be in close contact, we would manage it through a different protocol. So we’re all going to be living in a world where we’re not going to be able to test every person that comes in contact with each other or comes in contact with us as we go on with our lives.”

What happens if someone tests positive?

Prior to traveling to Orlando, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will not travel and will be isolated and overseen by club medical staff. Contact tracing will also be triggered to identify close contacts. Individuals whose test reveals they had a previous COVID-19 infection may travel to Orlando if they are no longer symptomatic.If an individual tests positive while in Orlando, an isolation protocol will be implemented for the player along with contact tracing.In terms of what would happen if there were multiple positive tests, Garber said there is no specific protocol in terms of the tipping point that would cause the tournament to be suspended or canceled.”It’s why we’re so focused on regular testing and ensure that we do what we need to do to keep our players safe,” said Garber.

Given that the NBA will be in that location part of the time, what level of collaboration was there between the two leagues and Disney?

In the wake of the pandemic, sources tell ESPN that MLS has been in close contact with other sports leagues, collaborating on such issues as human resources, legal issues and security. That includes the NBA. Garber and NBA commissioner Adam Silver have a collegial relationship that sees them meeting every few months. That level of contact has increased given the upheaval the sports world has undergone.But in terms of the Orlando tournament, Garber told ESPN.com that there has “not been a lot of contact” between MLS and the NBA. Rather, the conversations have been with Disney executives in a bid to make sure the tournament runs smoothly.”We’ve been negotiating and dealing with Disney and our hotels to determine what our needs are operationally,” Garber told ESPN.com. “I haven’t had those conversations, but our staff has with Disney to ensure that we are able to both be accommodated in a very large resort and that both leagues’ needs are being met.”

Will these games count toward the regular-season standings?

Yes and no. The group stage games will count in the standings in the standard sense — three points for a win, one point for a tie — while the knockout stage games won’t count at all.So what’s to stop teams from putting all of their efforts into the group stage and none thereafter? A purse of $1.1 million should do the trick, though we don’t yet know the breakdown of how this money will be allocated. The winner of the tournament will also secure a spot in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League.

What about the regular-season sch=dule after this is over?

MLS is hoping that by the time the tournament ends on Aug. 11, restrictions around the country will have loosened up enough that games can be held in a team’s home stadium. Those games are likely to happen without fans, though Garber offered hope that if the situation improves enough, fans might be able to attend games before the season is done.”Whether or not we’ll have any markets with fans is also uncertain, but we’re also hearing about different guidelines that have been established state by state where there’s even a possibility that some fans might be able to attend games,” Garber said.The hope is that the league will get an extra 18 games in after Orlando, which would make for a 23-game regular season. That’s about two-thirds of a normal league schedule. One scenario has MLS Cup being played in mid-December, but the situation remains fluid.

Assessing the USWNT one year after it won the 2019 Women’s World Cup

Jun 4, 2020Bill ConnellyESPN Staff Writer

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the United States’ victory in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup — its second straight and fourth overall — it is a good time to look back at how this team has come to top the sport and where its largest vulnerabilities lie moving forward.

Let’s study as well and celebrate a decade of dominance. To do this, I’ll be calling on data from the past three World Cups plus other tournaments and recent friendlies at which Opta data was collected.

Looking back

After allowing a 117th-minute goal to Homare Sawa and losing in a penalty shootout in the 2011 World Cup final, the U.S. ruled the rest of the decade. In two Olympics (plus qualification) and two World Cups (plus qualification), the USWNT won 37 matches, drew just twice and lost only once, in a 2016 Olympic quarterfinal shootout versus Sweden. It scored 170 goals in these matches (4.3 per match), allowed 15 goals (0.4 per match) and won the two World Cup finals by a combined 7-2. And since the SheBelieves Cup began in 2016, pitting four of the world’s best teams in a round-robin competition, the U.S. has more titles (three) than losses (two).

It is fair to say the U.S. dominates women’s soccer to a degree unmatched by any team in men’s soccer. How does that domination take shape on the stat sheet? In what areas of the game has this team asserted its superiority?

Shot quality

In the 2019 Women’s World Cup, seven of 24 teams averaged at least 14 shot attempts per match. Six of them — Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, Spain and Sweden — averaged 16.2 shots and 1.5 goals per match. The seventh, the U.S., averaged 18.4 shots and 3.7 goals. The average goals-to-shots conversion rate in the tournament was 11.1%; the USWNT’s was 20.2%. While the U.S. averaged 2.95 expected goals (XG) per match, it averaged 3.71 actual goals, a difference of +0.76, the highest in any of the past three World Cups.That is probably unsustainably high. For one thing, this sample includes the team’s 13-0 pasting of an overwhelmed Thailand. For another, while the difference between goals and XG is certainly part skill, it’s also part randomness. Outliers will regress toward the mean. That said, it was also part of a trend. The U.S. enjoyed a +0.26 difference between goals and XG in 2015, too, and has been around +0.44 for other recent tournaments and friendlies.To the extent that skill is at play instead of randomness, it comes down to shot quality. In 2011, 34% of the USWNT’s shots were on target. In 2015 and 2019, it was 44%. In 2011, 60% of its shots were taken inside the box; in 2015, it was 72% and in 2019, 74%.

USWNT Goals-To-Shots Conversion Rates, Last Two Years

PLAYER SHOTS PCT. OF SHOTS IN BOX GOALS CONVERSION RATE
Carli Lloyd 90 87% 19 21%
Alex Morgan 80 84% 15 19%
Megan Rapinoe 54 48% 12 22%
Tobin Heath 37 68% 10 27%
Christen Press 59 75% 8 14%
Lindsey Horan 50 74% 7 14%
Mallory Pugh 27 82% 7 26%

The combination of brilliant crossing and strong positioning from forwards such as Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Mallory Pugh, with incredible long-distance accuracy from wingers like Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath, has given the U.S. the most consistent and deadly striking ability in the world.Two other areas of play deserve mention here: crosses and set pieces.Crosses can end up as a Hail Mary option when an attack hasn’t produced anything better, but in the right hands — say Rapinoe’s, Heath’s or Christen Press’ — they can be a direct route to success. The U.S. has slowed its use of crosses through the years — from 25.4 per 90 minutes in the 2011 World Cup to 18.4 last year — and simultaneously increased their effectiveness, from a 28% completion rate in 2011 to 34% in 2019. (The average completion rate at the 2019 World Cup was 25%.)Over the past two years in a U.S. shirt, Rapinoe, Heath and Press have combined for a completion rate of 35% on crosses, with Crystal Dunn not far behind at 29%. In fewer attempts, Pugh (36%), Tierna Davidson (47%) and Lindsey Horan (46%) have also been deadly. Obviously it helps to have players the caliber of Lloyd and Morgan on the end of these passes, but the quality of service has been impeccable.

It’s the same story with set pieces. Each of the past three World Cups produced an average of about 0.3 goals per match from set pieces; the U.S. improved its average from 0.3 in 2011 to 0.6 in 2015 to 0.9 in 2019. And it’s the same cast of characters involved: Rapinoe, Heath and Press serve up the chances when a pass is required, and Horan (six goals from set pieces), Lloyd (five) and Morgan (three) finish them off.

Ball control

When you’ve got a team as talented and athletic as the U.S., a lot of management comes down to keeping the players motivated and getting them ready to scrap.

USWNT Hustle Board

CATEGORY (PER 90 MIN.) 2011 WWC 2015 WWC 2019 WWC
Ball recoveries margin +4.2 +4.9 +14.3
Possessions won in attacking third (A3) 12.5 4.7 10.3
Possessions won in middle third (M3) 38.6 29.0 37.1
Poss. won in M3/A3 margin +8.6 +6.4 +21.4
Pct. of opponents’ shots blocked 26% 26% 31%

The current player pool is the scrappiest yet. Lavelle, Ertz, Dunn and Horan have all averaged between 7.1 and 7.3 ball recoveries per 90 minutes over the past two years (in a smaller sample of appearances, Morgan Brian has averaged 8.2), and the U.S. absolutely dominated loose balls at the most recent World Cup. Its plus-14.3 margin for ball recoveries per match was easily the best in France (second-best: France at +9.8).The U.S. also created a lot of opportunities to collect loose balls. Despite teams rapidly improving in terms of possession play and ball control between 2011 and 2019, the U.S. won nearly as many balls in the attacking third last year as it had eight years earlier. And over the past two years, Heath, Rapinoe, Pugh, Sonnett and Brian have all averaged between 5.1 and 5.7 possessions won per 90 minutes in the attacking third.The pressure often begins the moment you earn possession and never ceases. While 44% of U.S. possessions reached the attacking third in both 2015 and 2019, for opponents it was 33% in 2015 and 25% in 2019.

Goalkeeping

In a small sample, a team’s save percentage can portend upcoming improvement or regression. If it’s particularly high, it’s going to fall (and vice versa), no matter your talent level.That makes it pretty difficult to judge U.S. goalkeepers. Not only is the World Cup a small set of games to begin with, but American goalkeepers have rarely been challenged. Thanks to both defensive pressure and blocked shots, they faced the second-fewest shots on goal per match in 2019 and fourth fewest in 2015. Still, they’ve aced the tests they’ve been given. Alyssa Naeher recorded an 80% save percentage in the 2019 World Cup, while Hope Solo hit 75% in 2015 and 77% in 2011. The overall average was in the mid-to-high 60s in each tournament.Looking at a larger sample of U.S. matches (tournaments and friendlies) from 2017 to 2020, the team’s average save percentage was 74%. Even accounting for small samples and potential regression to the mean, it’s safe to assume that U.S. goalkeeping has been, at worst, consistently above average.Since this is an individual position and is therefore reliant on singular talents over depth of athleticism, it will be interesting to see whether the pattern continues moving forward. Over the past three years, only three keepers have seen action in U.S. matches: 32-year-old Naeher, Ashlyn Harris (34) and Adrianna Franch (29). Maybe Naeher remains atop the depth chart through the next World Cup cycle, but if or when players like the Washington Spirit’s/Sydney FC’s Aubrey Bledsoe (28), the Houston Dash’s Lindsey Harris (26) and Jane Campbell (25), OL Reign’s Casey Murphy (24) or the Chicago Red Stars’ Emily Boyd (23) become options, they’ll have a high bar to clear.

Vulnerabilities

As good as the USWNT has been, we probably shouldn’t pretend it is invulnerable. As dominant as the U.S. appeared for much of the 2019 World Cup, it was still tied with Spain in the 75th minute in the round of 16 before being granted a semi-controversial penalty kick. The USWNT was still outplayed by France for much of its high-profile quarterfinal match. And both England in the semifinals and France outdid the Americans from an XG perspective.In other words, the U.S. still needed good fortune. Every team does. But the competition was awfully tight at the top, and it will probably get only tighter moving forward.

Possession Rates At The 2019 Women’s World Cup

COUNTRY POSSESSION RATE POSSESSION VS. TEAMS THAT MADE KNOCKOUT ROUNDS
Canada 62.7% 60.7%
Spain 60.9% 57.5%
England 59.7% 57.4%
France 58.6% 56.6%
Australia 60.6% 56.6%
Germany 56.7% 56.0%
Netherlands 57.0% 54.8%
Norway 50.5% 52.0%
United States 56.9% 50.8%

The main reason? Ball control. Obviously the possession game isn’t the only way to win in soccer — holding on to the ball doesn’t mean much if you don’t get anything out of it — but there’s a reason why every rich club in men’s soccer is trying to play it.In the World Cup last summer, six teams possessed the ball a higher percentage of the time than the U.S. Looking only at games against teams that advanced to the knockout rounds (so, filtering out matches against teams like Thailand), the U.S. was ninth in possession. It was 12th in pass attempts per 90 minutes against this pool of teams. Its number of solo possessions increased compared to 2015, and its average passes per possession decreased.While the defense remained excellent against all comers, the U.S. attack mostly vanished against the best teams in the tournament. France averaged 2.3 XG per match against knockout-round teams, but the U.S. averaged only 1.9. Its aerial and duel win percentages sank — a sign that the Americans’ physical dominance was wavering in some ways — and the USWNT struggled to control games against other strong teams.Mind you, the USWNT was still elite in the finishing department, still excellent at set pieces (like Rapinoe’s strike that put the U.S. up on France), still brilliant at defending and goalkeeping (recall Naeher’s late penalty save or Becky Sauerbrunn’s goal-line clearance against England), still better than its opponents in terms of ball recoveries and still, by far, the most talented and athletic team.While now-retired coach Jill Ellis was known far more for her elite player-management skills than her tactical brilliance, there are plenty of signs that certain nations, especially in Europe, are catching up. As the game continues its rapid advance, as investment continues to grow in other countries, as the player pool continues to grow more talented worldwide, and as the coaching also continues to develop, the tactical bar for winning big will likely continue to rise. We’ll see what Ellis’ successor, Vlatko Andonovski, has in store in that regard.

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6/6/20,  MLS Avoids lockout-returns in July, Indy 11 back July 11, La Liga back Wed, German games

Huge news that the USL and Indy 11 have set a provisional return date to resume the 2020 season of July 11.    Exact details on format and schedules is expected to come out in the coming weeks.  But great to hear our soccer team is back to training and preparing to resume the season!

The MLS also is back after the owners threatened a lock-out if the players didn’t agree to new terms.  Nuts – but calmer heads prevailed and the MLS and the player association agreed on a new deal to get the season underway in July in Orlando.  Full tournament details have not been announced but great to see MLS returning hopefully with some evening ESPN games on the docket! (who am I kidding – they will put them on ESPN+ – but a guy can hope right) 😊.  The initial TV schedule has been released for the NWSL return in late June (see in the OBC) – good to see the games on CBS Sports Network at least – many cable networks have that station – though you may have to search for it.

Carmel FC has returned to Training !

Tryouts Confirmed for June 22

Anyone looking to workout 1 on 1 with Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr – can email him direct at farrjordn13@gmail.com   Not sure when CFC GK Training might return with new Corona Virus guidelines.

Event: Indiana Soccer All-Star eCup Series & State Tourney
Date: June 11th – July 9th, 2020
Registration Link: https://gyo.gg/lg/indiana-soccer-all-star-series-summer-2020/
Registration Closing Date: June 18th, 2020 at 7:00 pm Eastern.
If you are having trouble please email Shawn at: shawn@harenadata.net or Gus at gus@soccerindiana.org  For more information please visit: https://www.soccerindiana.org/soccer-ecup/

GAMES ON TV 

Sat, June 6  

9:30 am Fox Sport2                          RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Paderborn

9:30 am FS1                                        Beyer Leverkusen vs Bayer Munich

12:30 pm FS2                                      Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Hertha

Sun, June 7  

7:30 am Fox Sport1                         Werder Bremen (Sargent) vs Wolfsburg (John Brooks)

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                           Union Berlin vs Schalke (Mckinney)

12:30 pm FS 1                                    Ausberg vs Koln

Thurs,  June 11 

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Sevilla vs Real Betis (LA LIGA RETURN)

Fri,  June 12  

9:30 am Fox Sport2                            Hoffenheim vs RB Leipzig (Adams) 

Wed, June 17                                      EPL Returns

Sat, June 20                                        Serie A (Italy) Returns

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC | June 27 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Houston Dash | July 1 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Orlando Pride | July 5 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

C Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

World
La Liga state of play, schedule for remainder of 2019-20 season

Serie A fixtures set for remainder of 2019-20 season

EPL Schedule Release

Top European Leagues Return soon
Germany won’t punish players for George Floyd protests

Bundesliga: Takeaways from Week 29

EPL

Why EPLs Return Project is Set Up for Failure – Ryan Bailey Yahoo Sports
Behind the numbers: Reported Chelsea signing Werner

Liverpool Might Clinch Title at Home
Chelsea season restart preview

Season restart preview: Arsenal

Newcastle fans angered by lack of refunds

USA

US  Soccer Players Lend chime in on Enough is Enough Video
USMNT’s Steffen, Adams express solidarity with Floyd

DeAndre Yedlin echoes grandpa’s heartbreak over George Floyd’s death

McKennie: I have to stand up for what I believe in

USWNT’s Rapinoe won’t compete in NWSL tournament

MLS

MLS, players reach CBA deal, avoid lockout

Why MLS Summer Tourney May Not be a Good Idea
MLS players union ratifies agreement clearing way for return in early July

MLS boss: Virus to cost us $1bn in revenue

– Davis: Beckham, Miami still waiting for home game
Barcelona star Antoine Griezmann has MLS on his soccer bucket list

USL CHAMPIONSHIP ANNOUNCES RESUMPTION OF 2020 SEASON

By Indy Eleven Communications, 06/04/20, 3:30PM EDT  Following Board of Governors Vote, USLC Set for Provisional Return Date of July 11

In conjunction with the United Soccer League, Indy Eleven is pleased to announce that the USL Championship Board of Governors voted on Thursday in favor of returning to play for the 2020 season, with a provisional start date set for July 11.

While additional information on competition format, scheduling, broadcast and other important details will be made available in the coming weeks, it’s important to note that the league’s return to play will be conducted in strict alignment with all local and state public health guidelines. USL HQ also remains in regular dialogue with the USL Players Association on all matters concerning player health and wellness protocols and looks forward to continuing those discussions.“The Indy Eleven organization is energized by today’s news that our promising 2020 USL Championship season will continue,” stated Greg Stremlaw, Indy Eleven President & CEO. “We want to thank the United Soccer Leagues, USL Championship Board of Governors and numerous other organizations and advisory boards for the collaboration and consultation that resulted in this important decision.“As exciting as today’s positive news is, it is merely a starting point, and we look forward to our continued contribution to the discourse that will determine the structure of the 2020 season,” continued Stremlaw. “Everyone at Indy Eleven looks forward to providing best-in-class examples of how USL Championship clubs can work with local health and government agencies to ensure our return to games is done in a safe and responsible fashion for our players, staff and fans.”To Indy Eleven and USL supporters across the country, we are grateful for your support throughout this process and look forward to being back in action with you all soon.

MLS lockout avoided as players, league ratify bargaining agreement to 2025

Jun 3, 2020  Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

The MLS Players Association approved a proposal from MLS related to economics in 2020, as well as a modified collective bargaining agreement, the union announced on Wednesday.The approval of the proposal avoids a lockout that had been threatened by MLS and enables the league to soften the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The league has been shut down since March 12.”MLS Players today ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, which will run through the 2025 season,” the MLSPA said in a statement. “Today’s vote also finalizes a plan to resume the 2020 season and provides playrs with certainty for the months ahead. It allows our members to move forward and continue to compete in the game they love.”

The approval now opens the door for the league to return to the field next month with a tournament to be held at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. (ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Co.) The teams are expected to arrive in Orlando, Florida, in three weeks. “We recognize that we are all moving forward — as players, as fans, as societies, as a world — into a future that looks much different than the one we envisioned a few months ago,” the MLSPA added. “There are problems we face collectively that are both more urgent, and more important, than competing on the field.”We are grieving, we are fed up, we expect change, and we expect action. This change won’t come on the field, but it will come partly through the force and determination of all who seek justice and equality. We hope our return to the field will allow fans a momentary release and a semblance of normalcy.”We are committed as a group to doing all that we can — both as leaders in our sport as well as leaders in our communities — to help carry our countries, our communities, our league, and our sport forward.”A union source told ESPN that the total amount of economic concessions is over $100 million. It includes an across-the-board salary cut of 7.5% that isn’t retroactive and is set to kick in for the May 31 payroll period. Players will have the option to delay the salary cut until after the Orlando tournament, but the total amount of the cut will be the same. Performance and individual bonuses will be capped at $5 million for this season.Both sides had agreed to a framework on a new CBA in February following the expiration of the previous deal, but it wasn’t ratified by either side, providing MLS with an opening to renegotiate some of its terms. The alterations to the CBA involve the introduction of a force majeure clause in which either side can back out of the deal in the case of a catastrophic event like a pandemic.MLS had been trying to have the clause tied to specific attendance numbers in case a second wave of COVID-19 struck North America later this year, but the players succeeded in pushing back against that form of the clause. The approved version allows either side to back out of the deal with 30 days’ notice if the CBA becomes economically unfeasible. A revenue sharing plan tied to a new broadcast rights deal set to begin in 2023 has also been modified. The original terms would have resulted in 25% of the broadcast rights fee that was $100 million above 2022 levels being funneled into each team’s salary budget. The two sides agreed to reduce the percentage in 2023 to 12.5%. The percentage would return to 25% in 2024.The salary bumps spelled out in the CBA will now be delayed by a year so that 2020’s terms will cotinue into 2021, while 2021’s original terms will be moved to 2022, and so on until the end of the deal. The length of the CBA has now been extended by one year, until Jan. 31, 2026.

Why the MLS summer tournament plan may not be a good idea

Caitlin Murray,Yahoo Sports•June 3, 2020

As sports leagues in the United States race to see which one can schedule a return date first, Major League Soccer has an opportunity. With competitors like the NBA and NHL looking at still-unconfirmed returns in July, swift action could leave MLS as the only major North American men’s sport with live games on television.MLS and the MLS Players Association announced Wednesday they had reached an agreement to restart games soon, reportedly as early as June 24. The agreed-upon plan would see MLS host a knockout tournament in Orlando, Florida, while players are sequestered at Disney World resorts and regularly tested for COVID-19.This format raises questions about logistics and safety that the league is apparently addressing. But there’s another question to ask: Is it worth it for MLS to host this tournament at all?

Why MLS’s chief selling point won’t be on display

It’s easy to see why MLS wants this. While the league has played second-fiddle to the ones considered the major sports in America, this plan could offer prime-time TV slots and eyeballs MLS would otherwise never have access to. If the TV ratings for a documentary about Michael Jordan and a golf exhibition featuring non-golfers like Tom Brady are any indication, Americans are starved for sports content. Just imagine. Bored fans who have never watched soccer outside of World Cups and Olympics will tune in to MLS for the first time. Mainstream sports talk radio hosts and columnists, desperate for something new to talk about, will latch onto MLS.The NBA isn’t looking at a return until July 31, and the NHL may not resume until August. MLB was looking at June 30, but negotiations between the league and players have gone poorly so far. “Unlike the other leagues where their fan bases are deeply mature and have been around for generations, our absence from the sports scene made it really crucial for us to get back,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said Wednesday.His implication was that no one will forget those other leagues exist, but MLS risks losing relevance as long as it doesn’t play games. If MLS can hog the spotlight for itself, no matter how briefly, it would be a much bigger boost to the relatively young soccer league than its well-established competitors. Perhaps Garber is right. But there’s a flipside here. MLS’s most compelling aspects won’t be on display – not at what Alejandro Bedoya called a “luxurious prison” – and newcomers will be sampling a degraded product.Unlike the NFL, NBA and MLB, MLS can’t claim it’s the best league in the world at its given sport. If someone wants to watch the best soccer, they will tune into the English Premier League or a handful of other leagues around Europe. What MLS has going for it is a robust supporters culture unlike anything traditional American sports offer.The fans, perhaps more than the players, are MLS’s unique selling proposition. The Timbers Army may deride the league for using footage of their stunningly elaborate tifo displays and smoke-filled chants, but it’s easy to see why these images are favored. They’re captivating and create an intoxicating, electrifying atmosphere in which it’s easy to be swept up. Mercedes-Benz Stadium never looks like a more fun place to be than when Atlanta United and its supporters are in the house. (Sorry, Falcons.But those fans aren’t going to be in Orlando. Whether the venues are quiet enough to hear a pin drop or the “home” teams get to pick their own playlists to serve as the soundtrack, any American who thought soccer lacked excitement is not going to be swayed by an awkward makeshift quarantine tournament“We’ll have more cameras on this broadcast than would be on a typical ESPN, Fox or Univision game,” Garber said. “There’ll be more access to audio and views in these broadcasts that would be in a typical game, and we’ll be able to utilize some technology to be able to deliver value to our teams that we’re experimenting with in these broadcasts.”If MLS and its broadcast partners get creative enough, technical enhancements may help. But there is no replacement for real-life fans and genuine passion – and casual watchers tuning in to MLS for the first time won’t get to see any of that.

Does MLS risk alienating fans who already love soccer?

The bigger worry for MLS may not be traditional American sports fans. The biggest risk may be with soccer fans, the ones who wake up early on weekends to watch the Premier League in droves but don’t attend MLS games in their own backyard.These are the fans – often derided as “eurosnobs” – who love soccer but won’t give MLS the time of day because they deem it a far inferior product. They aren’t entirely wrong. MLS isn’t close to the EPL but those fans aren’t exactly right, either. The “retirement league” jokes no longer apply as MLS’s stars get younger and more exciting, and MLS’s quality has grown massively in the past five years. MLS, under normal circumstances, can feature some worthwhile soccer in front of packed crowds.Yet the Orlando tournament figures to be MLS’s worst version of itself. The players will be coming off a much longer and more stagnant layoff than usual, and their “preseason” will be shorter too. Getting players game fit will be a challenge, and the threat of injuries is always present.To put it bluntly, the product on the field might not be very good, and first impressions matter. No one is going to watch subpar EPL games and decide that EPL isn’t good. No one will watch the NBA without fans and decide it’s boring. In Garber’s own words, fans are “deeply mature” in their view of those leagues.If a fan tunes in to MLS for the first time, what are they going to get? And if it’s not good enough, what is the likelihood that was MLS’s only shot and that fan will never give it another try? It’s a risk.That’s not to say there isn’t potentially a huge upside for MLS. Garber said Wednesday that MLS will take a billion-dollar revenue hit due to the pandemic. That’s a lot of money for any league, and MLS needs to do anything it can to claw back those losses.There’s also the potential to build partnerships at a time when everyone is looking for a way to weather this pandemic together.MLS’s proposed plan reportedly includes doubleheaders with morning games as well as evening games, and MLS could find itself being broadcast in untapped and sports-starved markets in Asia and Europe. Stateside, meanwhile, MLS’s current broadcast deal ends in 2022, and by working with ESPN and its parent company Disney to launch this tournament when ESPN needs content, that could build equity for the next round of broadcast negotiations.But the downsides are plentiful, too.

An MLS summer tournament without some big stars?

Reports indicate some star players can opt out of MLS’s tournament if they have legitimate concerns around COVID-19, such as a significant other who is pregnant.Both LAFC’s Carlos Vela and the L.A. Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez fall into that category, and it’s a good bet neither will be there. Vela was the league’s MVP and top scorer last year.MLS players are required to play in the tournament in Orlando, Garber said, but he added there will be exceptions for special circumstances without outlining them. Depending on what those exceptions are, other star players may also not be in Orlando. MLS can’t make a compelling case when its best players aren’t there. This also brings up another group of soccer fans MLS should strive to court during its quarantine competition, but may not be equipped to: Spanish-speakers.Liga MX games, not to mention El Clásicos between Barcelona and Real Madrid, routinely dominate soccer TV ratings in the United States, while the top-rated MLS games get fractions of the audience.The country’s most sizable soccer audience speaks Spanish and cares more about teams in Mexico and Spain. MLS has historically struggled to reach these fans, which is why the league continuously looks for ways to partner with Liga MX.Players like Vela and Chicharito are important for that outreach. But those players may not be in Orlando, and others might not be, either.Regardless, it appears MLS isn’t letting what it lacks hold this plan back. There may be no fans, missing stars and so-so soccer. But MLS does have a live sports product it can put on TV. In the age of COVID-19, that may be all MLS needs. Whether it’s the right decision for the long term or tarnishes an MLS brand that is still struggling to solidify its identity, time will tell.

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.

2020 NWSL Challenge Cup details have been announced

CBS All Access will host all the matches of the preliminary round (and more) which will feature the North Carolina Courage

By Kudzi Musarurwa@kudzim88  Jun 5, 2020, 8:05am EDT

The 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup is almost upon us and the National Women’s Soccer League revealed the preliminary round schedule for the tournament, which will begin in late June and end in late July. The NWSL will also be the first professional league in the United States of America that will return to play since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.The North Carolina Courage are set to kick off the preliminary round on June 27 against Portland Thorns FC, a team they have faced twice in the NWSL Championship. The team will then play the Houston Dash on July 1, the Orlando Pride on July 5 and then end the round against Utah Royals FC on July 12.The Courage will look to once again dominate proceedings and can send out a signal to the rest of the league with an opening day win against the Thorns. The match should not be expected to be the highest of quality due to the lack of play all the players have had this year but the rivalry between the two teams means that players will be looking to play hard throughout the 90 minutes. The Courage then have a game against a Houston Dash side that will be an unknown quantity at this stage. The team has seen a lot of reshuffling and players trades so how the Dash will look to set up will not be known until they play their first match. The Pride are a team the NC Courage have had no trouble playing against in the past and that does not look like it could change at this tournament. While the Courage have remained a strong and deep team, Orlando have not shown that they are a better outfit than they were last season. This could be a big score win for the Courage. However, the last match the Courage play is against the Royals who have given North Carolina problems in the past. Utah have seemingly found a way to slow down the Courage attack but with the departure of Becky Sauerbrunn, the Courage may have an easier time of it this year against the Royals.All the matches are set to be played at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah and should be available live on CBS All Access (in the United States and Canada) and the league’s Twitch channel (for international viewers). Matches are also set to be re-aired on the CBS Sports Network as well. The times for the preliminary round have not been announced yet but will be expected to be released over the coming weeks. The quarter finals will then play out over July 17 and July 18, the semi finals on July 22 and the final slated for July 26.

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC | June 27 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Houston Dash | July 1 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Orlando Pride | July 5 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

C Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

5/30/2020  Germany – American’s score 2 in week 2, EPL Returns June 17, NWSL Back with tourney June 27

This week the NWSL – US Women’s soccer league confirmed it will be the first US Pro League to return to play as they will host a playoff type of tourney with all the games being played in Salt Lake City in late June thru mid July.  Games will be on the CBS Sports Ap streaming and the occasional game on CBS Sports Network and the finals on CBS.  This same approach is being considered by MLS in and around the Disney complex in Orlando but still no confirmation yet.  Of course huge news that the EPL is returning June 17 to resume their season in full and Serie A is back June 20th.  Oh happy late Bday to my favorite US Defender Carlos Bocenegra. 

Crowd Noise or No Crowd Noise –that is the question

As the German Bundesliga kicked off week 2 with games on the weekend and mid-week – things were just a little different.  The Sunday and weekday games featured artificial crowd noise added in over the broadcast.  Honestly I thought it was ok – and certainly the roar of the crowd to pull your eyes towards the TV on a goalscoring opportunity was a welcome return to normal.  I have seen those who say they love it and some who hated it.  What are your Thoughts?    Also what about the complete loss of home field advantage for German teams with no fans in the stands – the home team is just 5 Wins, 12 Losses and 10 draws since the return.  Even the 13K card board cutouts of fans at MGladbach didn’t help as they lost at home.   Yes fans YOU DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE !!

US Players better in German Week 2 

So the American’s definitely played better in the 2 matchdays this past week as Weston McKinney scored in a 2-1 loss for Schalke (man they are struggling with no wins in 11 games now), Timmy Chandler scored the tying goal for Frankfurt in a late sub role and Tyler Adams for Red Bull went the full 90 minutes for the first time this calendar year – unfortunately it was at right back not the 6 – but still a decent show by him.  Also Josh Sargent started for Werder Bremman, played 73 minutes and showed decent hold up play but no shots on goal, and John Brooks after being smoked by Dortmund on Sat, returned with a solid effort in a 4-1 win over Leverkusen.  Of course the big game was Dortmund and Gio Reyna vs Bayern Munich as the youngster came on in the 72nd minute down 1-0.  Bayern hung on to effectively clinch the lead with a now 7 point lead.  Dortmund who did not have the home fans to help them to victory fall back just 2 up on RB Leipzig for 2nd.  (See stories in the OBC)

They will get chances again this weekend as many of the games on TV feature teams with American’s at least on the roster.  Games start with doubles at 9:30 am on Sat on FS1 & FS2, with US forward Josh Sargent traveling to face Schalke and Weston McKinney at 9:30 on FS1, while John Brooks and Wolfsburg hosts Timmy Chandler and Frankfurt on FS2.  Sunday we get Dortmund and Gio Reyna traveling to Paderbourn at 12:30 pm on FS1.  Adams plays with Leipzig at 2:30 on FS2 Mon, while Sargent laces them up for Werder Bremen on Wed at 2:30 on FS2.

NWSL announces plan to start season on June 27 with month-long tourney
Premier League will reportedly restart on June 17 after three-month shutdown

Serie A Returns June 20th

Artificial Crowd Noise at games – Yes or No – S&S 

Carmel FC has returned to Training !

Tryouts Confirmed for June 22

Anyone looking to workout 1 on 1 with Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr – can email him direct at farrjordn13@gmail.com   Not sure when CFC GK Training might return with new Corona Virus guidelines.  

GAMES ON TV 

Fri, May 29  

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Frieburg vs Bayer Leverkusen

Sat, May 30  

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Schalke (Mckinney) vs Werder Bremen (Sargent)

9:30 am Fox Sport2                          Wolfsburg (John Brooks) vs Frankfurt (Timmy Chandler)

12:30 FS1                                           Bayer Munich vs Fortuna Dusseldorf (Morales)

Sun, May 24  

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                         Borrusia Mgladbach vs Union Berlin

12 pm FS1                                          Paderbuorn vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

Mon, June 1  

12:30 pm FS 1                                   Koln vs RB Leipzig (Adams) 

Wed, June 3  

12:30 pm Fox Sport2                       Werder Bremen (Sargent) vs Frankfort (Chandler)

Wed, June 17                         EPL Returns

Sat, June 20                            Serie A (Italy) Returns 

USA

USMNT’s Weston McKennie scores Bundesliga goal, ending long drought

USMNT’s Adams goes full 90 for first time since February

Yanks in Germany – How did they Do?  S&S

GERMANY

Weston McKennie Scores in 2-1 loss for Schalke

EPL and World

Earle: PL’s June return critical in many ways – Video

With the Premier League expected to now resume on June 17, Robbie Earle explains why it’s so important for the league to resume action this season.

Serie A Returns June 20th 

The coronavirus pandemic is undoing progress made by women’s soccer in Europe

Neville says he intends to leave England women’s national team for a club job

Serie A Returns June 20th

Champions League: Suspended indefinitely
• La Liga: Set for June 11 start
• Premier League: Set for June 17 start
• Serie A: Set for June 20 start
• Bundesliga: Restarted on May 16
• Ligue 1: PSG declared champions
• MLS: June tournament proposed
• Euro 2020: Postponed until 2021
• Copa America: Postponed until 2021
* NWSL – June 27 – month long Tourney from Utah

How the NWSL plans to become the first U.S. team sport to return to action

11:24 AM ET  Graham Hays  ESPN.com

Summer tournaments provided women’s soccer with its most indelible images, from Brandi Chastain in the Rose Bowl in 1999 to Megan Rapinoe in Lyon two decades later. Now the National Women’s Soccer League hopes a tournament without an array of international anthems can capture the imagination of fans eager for live sports amid a pandemic.Its eighth regular season on hold for more than a month because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league announced this week that it will host the NWSL Challenge Cup in the Salt Lake City area beginning on June 27. The monthlong tournament will feature all nine teams and, as things currently stand, mark the return of professional team sports in the United States. “There are some times when you see America and Americans fall in love with a sport,” NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said. “It just felt like, with everything that has happened, professional women’s soccer was going to have a year this year to pay that off. I think the tournament format that we came up with was a very innovative solution that gives, in a compressed amount of time, Americans a really exciting single-elimination knockout tournament.”That’s an optimistic vision for a league that has survived far longer than its predecessors but still struggled at times to transform interest in the U.S. women’s national team into a consistent nationwide audience for a professional venture featuring many of those stars.How will the NWSL try to pull it off and what is still unknown? Here’s what you need to know.

How did we arrive at the NWSL Challenge Cup?

NWSL teams were in the early days of preseason when the sports world shut down in March in response to the pandemic. The league canceled its preseason schedule and issued a training moratorium on March 12, the same day the NCAA canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Soon after, the league extended the training moratorium into the first week of April, postponing the scheduled April 18 start of the regular season.The league subsequently announced that players could begin individual workouts at team facilities on May 6, subject to state and local health mandates — leaving players in markets such as Chicago, New York-New Jersey and Seattle-Tacoma initially unable to begin such sessions. For teams in areas where it was permitted, the second phase of a return began this week with small group training of up to eight players. The NWSL also announced that full team training could begin May 30, where allowed, providing five days of small group training had been completed.But instead of trying to play out a delayed version of its regular season, necessitating extensive travel and the use of nine facilities in nine states — some in very different phases of a reopening process than others — the league settled on the tournament plan announced Wednesday.According to Baird, the league received four bids to host the event but quickly focused on Utah. Baird cited the state’s overall record responding to the pandemic and the resources Utah Royals FC owner Dell Loy Hansen brought to the table — including Rio Tinto Stadium and Zions Bank Stadium, a training complex with multiple practice fields and plans for accommodations.Hansen told the Salt Lake Tribune that he also paid $700,000 to help subsidize the cost of the tournament. In a conference call with media, Hansen said there was a chance the event could pay for itself.

What is the tournament format?

All nine teams will participate in an opening group phase. The exact structure and draw is still to be determined, but each team will play four games in the opening phase. Only the lowest-ranked team will be eliminated, with eight teams advancing to the knockout rounds.OL Reign CEO Bill Predmore said there was extensive debate among owners about whether to move directly from the group phase to semifinals, eliminating five teams, or adopt the existing format with a quarterfinal round. Part of the thinking in opting for the quarterfinals, Predmore said, was allowing teams more leeway for lineup rotation in the group games as players regain match fitness. In other words, they won’t call the group games preseason, but they aren’t far off.The league will release more details on rules and format in the days ahead, but Predmore said teams will have five substitutions per game, as has been standard in Germany’s Bundesliga since it became the first major soccer league to return to competition earlier this month. He also said it was all but certain that teams will be able to have an active roster of 20 players.

Is this the only NWSL soccer that will be played this year?

It seems likely. Baird wouldn’t commit to that reality Wednesday, but it’s difficult to envision many scenarios in which a modified regular season could begin in August or September and still conclude with any sort of postseason. The regular season was originally scheduled to wrap up on Oct. 18, with semifinals on Nov. 8 and the final on Nov. 14 at a site yet to be announced”I think like many businesses and many leagues around the United States, they’re planning for what they can do now,” Baird said. “And we’re always going to be aware and attentive for what happens in the future. What I can assure you is that between us, the NWSLPA, our owners, anything that we do in the fall will be guided by the care and safety of our players and, of course, what happens with state and local public health guidance.”Predmore said OL Reign season-ticket holders were informed Wednesday of the option to roll over those tickets for 2021 or receive a full refund, indicating there are no plans to revive the schedule that was released in February. But he also said several teams have discussed continuing training beyond the summer tournament and further play isn’t out of the question — whether in the form of friendlies or even a second tournament-type event.”Nothing that was announced today would preclude any of those outcomes,” Predmore said. “I don’t think there’s any certainty on any of those right now. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Will there be any fans?

Very likely not, although Baird somewhat surprisingly also didn’t rule it out entirely Wednesday.”We need to develop a financial proposition that allows us to put on an incredible tournament,” Baird said of the thought process. “We’ve been able to do that with the help of Dell Loy and our sponsors that allowed our owners to unanimously vote in support of paying our players through the rest of the year. And the way we did it is we didn’t want to be dependent on ticket revenue to do that. … So right now we are not planning for any spectators.”What the states allow and what they don’t allow is the guidance we’re going to follow. And what the CDC allows and what they don’t allow is the guidance that we’re going to follow above all. Right now, we’re not looking at spectators at this point in time.”As of now, only the opening game and final will be televised on a linear network, with all other games available on CBS’ streaming platform and re-airing on its cable sports channel. The league and CBS agreed to a broadcast deal earlier this year.

Will the USWNT players participate?

There are still a lot of questions about what the Challenge Cup will look like, but this is likely to be the question that receives the most attention. A year after they won the World Cup (the Challenge Cup opener in Utah is a day before the one-year anniversary of the thrilling U.S. quarterfinal win against host France in Paris), the status of U.S. players is uncertain.One source with knowledge of the discussions confirmed to ESPN multiple reports that U.S. players are not of a collective mind about the NWSL tournament. And the national team’s union issued a statement Wednesday saying the decision would be an individual one for each player. A source with connections to U.S. Soccer confirmed that the players would continue to receive their full NWSL salaries, which are paid by the federation for allocated players, regardless of their participation in the Challenge Cup.The risk of injury posed by playing a monthlong tournament on predominantly artificial turf is no greater for national team players than non-national team players stuck without access to full training in recent months, but the prospect of the rescheduled 2021 Olympics does arguably raise the stakes for players reluctant to risk any injury that could jeopardize their 2021 status.That, in addition to understandable concerns about returning to play amid a pandemic in the here and now.Teams have until June 21 to submit final rosters for the tournament.Among early signalers, North Carolina Courage and U.S. midfielder Sam Mewis left little doubt as to her intentions.”I think we are just excited for the opportunity to play,” Mewis said of the Courage. “I know myself and my teammates just want to showcase what we can do and compete again. I think that’s what we’ve all been missing the most is that sense of competition and wanting to be the best.”

What about the rest of the players?

Baird confirmed what Yael Averbuch, co-executive director of the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association, told The Athletic on Wednesday. Non-allocated players will receive their full salaries and benefits regardless of whether or not they take part in the Challenge Cup.That agreement was essential in getting the NWSLPA to give the plan its full support.”As the plans for the tournament unfolded, it was our priority as the NWSLPA to protect our players,” Averbuch and co-executive director Brooke Elby said in a statement. “And we feel that NWSL shares those values.”

A defender who is along the league’s all-time appearance leaders, OL Reign’s Lauren Barnes said she felt no pressure to play from either her team or the league.”I’m obviously really excited that we are going to be able to play soccer,” Barnes said. “Given the circumstances of the world right now, obviously it’s going to look different than a normal season, so you can’t really compare it to a normal season. … I think with Reign, they’ve provided and been super transparent and honest with [the medical protocols]. I think pretty much our whole team is on board, and we’re ready to go and excited.”Baird also said she spoke with players in the league who have children and is committed to finding a way to allow those children and a caregiver to be part of the traveling parties in Utah.On the other end of the spectrum, for players who might wish to participate but aren’t in the United States at the moment, Baird said that a recent order from the Department of Homeland Security designating athletes as essential personnel applied to the NWSL. That would allow international players to enter the country despite travel restrictions — OL Reign, for instance, has struggled to get defender Celia Jimenez Delgado back from Spain.The change could notably also affect German captain Dzsenifer Marozsan. The Salt Lake Tribune reported this spring that Marozsan was set to leave European club superpower Lyon for the Utah Royals, along with French national team goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi.

What will the setup look like in Utah?

Predmore said OL Reign would use charter flights on planes owned by Hansen and that he anticipated multiple teams using that option. But what about once everyone gets to Utah?Expect to hear a lot about village life. Setting up a self-contained environment — the village, as everyone involved keeps calling it — appears central to the league’s plans for hosting around 250 players and accompanying coaches and training staff.Teams will stay in hotels or apartments in the area. Hansen said the league will take over one local hotel that he has equity ownership in for the duration of the tournament. Each team in the hotel will have its own floor, with minimal contact with outside parties (such as housekeeping staff). Other teams will set up in apartments connected to the Real Salt Lake training academy and another in a complex across the street from one of the stadiums.Baird joked about having plenty of toothpaste through a sponsorship with Procter & Gamble (a Bundesliga manager was barred from coaching his team’s first game back when he broke quarantine to obtain toothpaste). But she stopped short of saying players and staff would be definitively restricted to the area created for them or spelling out possible sanctions.”We have thought of all the incidences where a player might need some support that is external to the environment,” Baird said. “So each team is going to have resources available to them to go get supplies. … We want the environment not to feel like a restriction, we want it to feel like a welcoming village where they can focus on what they’re there to do without worrying about other things.”Hansen equated the assistance to team-specific “concierges” and said he had “opened the checkbook” for any needs.”We don’t see this as a restrictive environment,” Hansen said. “We think of it as a very, very energized environment when the players are there, not just hiding out from COVID.”

What about testing?

The league released its medial protocols in conjunction with the tournament announcement.Players will undergo PCR testing for COVID-19 before leaving for Utah and within 24 to 48 hours of games once there. The protocol says that facilities should close immediately if any player or staff member tests positive and contact tracing should commence for anyone present in the facility within 48 hours of the positive test. In Utah, that would cover the entire team.If a game took place within 48 hours before the positive test, the opposing team would also need to conduct contact tracing for its players and staff.The plans then spell out contact tracing protocol for low- and high-risk exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. High-risk contacts, assuming no symptoms develop, would still not be allowed to return to training for 14 days from the date of exposure.”Just as in every other city in the country, with or without soccer, we know for certain that people will test positive for CVID,” said Dr. Daryl Osbahr, a member of the league’s medical task force. “So we knew that we would have to have strategies to build upon that.”Hansen said the tests are sourced from ARUP Laboratories and come from out of state.”We have taken not one test away that would be available to Utahans,” Hansen said.

NWSL to return on June 27 with month-long tournament

Hays  ESPN.com

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) will return on June 27 with a 25-game tournament near Salt Lake City, the league announced on Wednesday.The start of the NWSL’s eighth season has been on hold since the coronavirus pandemic effectively shut down professional sports in the United States in March. As it stands, the NWSL would be the first U.S. league in a team sport to resume play since that shutdown.

“The United States Women’s National Team Players Association’s (USWNTPA) top priority is player health and safety — both physical and mental,” a USWNTPA statement read.

“The USWNTPA will continue to work with the USSF, the NWSL, and the NWSLPA to minimize the risk of injury and exposure to COVID-19 for those Players participating in the tournament.”The new tournament, which the league is calling the NWSL Challenge Cup, will involve all nine of the league’s teams. Each team will play four games in a preliminary round, with the top eight finishers advancing to a knockout round. The final will be played on July 26.Games will be played at Zions Bank tadium in Herriman, Utah, and Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Rio Tinto Stadium is home to the NWSL’s Utah Royals, as well as the MLS’ Real Salt Lake.

Fans will not be allowed at any of the games.”As our country begins to safely reopen and adjust to our collective new reality, and with the enthusiastic support of our players, owners, as well as our new and current commercial partners, the NWSL is thrilled to bring professional soccer back to the United States,” NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement.The NWSL did not clarify whether the tournament would take the place of the 2020 season or serve as prelude to a modified regular season.Among other questions unanswered is the participation of members of the United States women’s national team. One source close to the national team players confirmed to ESPN multiple reports that there is a lack of unanimity among the players about participating.Possible concerns, especially with the rescheduled Olympics in 2021, include playing a large number of games in a relatively short time after having little access to training for most of the past three months. Some of the games also would be on artificial turf.

“U.S. Soccer is supportive of the NWSL’s decision to bring professional women’s soccer back to the field,” the federation said in a statement. “Throughout the collaborative planning process, U.S. Soccer has worked closely with the NWSL and the USWNT Players Association to focus on the health and safety of the players, both regarding COVID-19 and the physical aspects of the players returning to a preseason and tournament competition, and ensure that each player would have the option of participating in the event.”

U.S. Soccer pays the NWSL salaries of national team players. A source connected with U.S. Soccer told ESPN on Wednesday that those players continue to be paid during the pandemic stoppage and nothing would change on that front, regardless of participation in the NWSL Challenge Cup.The union representing the United States women’s national team did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ESPN.The NWSL said Utah Royals and Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen would provide an “NWSL Village” for all teams and be responsible for housing and training needs, although it provided no specifics on procedures such as whether players and staff would be restricted solely to those spaces during the monthlong event.The NWSL said Baird and Hansen met with Utah Governor Gary Herbert and other state and local officials while planning the tournament.“Utah is home to strong health care systems and dedicated medical professionals — and public health and safety are always a top priority for our communities,” Herbert said in a statement. “Because of those factors, I believe our state will be a great location for the National Women’s Soccer League to host its competition in 2020.”Testing protocols state that players will undergo testing for coronavirus before traveling to Utah and within 24-48 hours of games.The protocols also lay out plans for quarantining of anyone who tests positive and contact tracing. Those deemed to have high-risk exposure to anyone who tests positive would be prohibited from training for 14 days. Interactions in the high-risk category include shared equipment or direct physical contact with the individual, contact of more than 10 minutes within 6 feet — including meeting rooms, weight rooms and locker rooms, and living in the same housing unit.

Those deemed to have low-risk contact with anyone who tests positive would also be quarantined but could return to training if they test negative, show no symptoms and their temperature remains normal.Germany’s Bundesliga became the first major professional league in a team sport to return to competition on May 16. The Frauen-Bundesliga, the top women’s professional league in Germany, will also resume its regular schedule this weekend without fans.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams plays first full 90 since February in RB Leipzig draw | Bundesliga Roundup

May 27, 20203:12PM EDTIan QuillenContributor

The Wednesday slate of German Bundesliga games began with Tyler Adams playing his first full 90 in more than three months — and at right back, no less — for the first time since February 9 in 10-man RB Leipzig’s 2-2 home draw with Hertha Berlin.The former New York Red Bulls star Homegrown Player was a late addition to the starting lineup after Kevin Kampl suffered an injury in warmups. Notably, he patrolled the same right defensive position that US national team manager Gregg Berhalter has appeared to favor for the 21-year-old.The match was level when Leipzig’s Marcel Halstenberg was sent off in the 63rd minute. Patrick Schick put Leipzig ahead five minutes later, but Hertha leveled on Krzystof Piatek’s 82nd-minute penalty, dropping Leipzig into third for the moment in the table, two points behind Dortmund and nine back of leaders Bayern Munich.Adams’ US teammate Weston McKennie was in the lineup for Schalke 04 in later action against Fortuna Dusseldorf, which had fellow American Alfredo Morales on the subs’ bench. American No. 1 goalkeeper and former Crew SC man Zack Steffen remained out injured for Dusseldorf.

Yanks in Germany: Chandler’s late equalizer

Chandler & McKennie get on the score sheet during a busy midweek Bundesliga schedule

By Cody Bradley@ThatCodyTho  May 28, 2020, 7:15am PDT

Weston McKennie – Central Midfielder, Schalke 04

Schalke eventually fell 2-1 at Fortuna Düsseldorf, but McKennie got the scoring started in the 53rd minute with a very nice header. He had the fewest touches, 36, of any outfield player. Watch the goal again below and read more about it HERE.

FotMob: 7.4 | WhoScored: 7.3
59% passing | 1/2 shots on target | 3/8 duels | 0/2 dribbles | 1 clearance | 6 interceptions

Timmy Chandler – Defender, Eintracht Frankfurt

The 30-year-old came off the bench in the 81st minute with his team down a goal and it would only take him three minutes to tie the match at 3-3 and take points from Frieburg. Chandler has five goals and an assist in 17 appearances this season. He had enough time to score but not enough time for FotMob to gather enough info for a rating. WATCH THE GOAL

WhoScored: 7
11 touches | 1/1 shot on target | 7/7 passing | 1/2 crosses | 1 throw in

John Brooks – Central Defender, Wolfsburg

It was a fantastic day for Brooks and Wolfsburg on Tuesday as they got a big 4-1 at Bayer Leverkusen, who are just above them on the Bundesliga table. He was subbed out in the 82nd minute and Leverkusen finally got on the board three minutes later.

FotMob: 7.6 | WhoScored: 7.7
77% passing | 4/6 long balls | 5/8 duels | 1 clearance | 1/1 tackle | 3 interceptions

Tyler Adams – Defensive Midfielder, RB Leipzig

Leipzig settled for a 2-2 draw against Hertha Berlin with Adams playing all 90 minutes. They really could have used some actual home-field advantage because they missed a chance to go level on points with Dortmund for 2nd place. Adams had five tackles, the most in the match.

FotMob: 6.7 | WhoScored: 6.7
93% passing | 1 chance created | 1/5 crosses | 6/11 duels | 1 clearance | 5/5 tackles

Josh Sargent – Striker, Werder Bremen

He got the start and played the first 74 minutes as Bremen drew 0-0 with Gladbach. They will be quite happy with the point that keeps them within striking distance of safety.

FotMob: 5.5 | WhoScored: 6.2
61% passing | 0/1 shot on target | 5/14 duels | dispossessed twice | 1 interception

Gio Reyna – Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund

The youngster entered the match in the 72nd minute as Dortmund searched for the equalizer in Der Klassiker against Bayern Munich, but the match ended 1-0. Great to see the kid get on the field in such a big matchup. I’m sure he’ll never forget the roar of the Yellow Wall that day.

FotMob: 5.6 | WhoScored: 6
15 touches | 13/13 passes | 1/3 duels | 0/1 dribble

Alfredo Morales – Midfielder, Fortuna Düsseldorf

As disappointing as the loss was for Schalke, it was equally big for Düsseldorf who are fighting relegation. Morales subbed in for the last nine minutes to help secure the win.

Timothy Tillman – Midfielder, Greuther Fürth

21-year-old Tillman got the start and played the first half of a 2-0 loss to Osnabrück. He was subbed out for fellow yank, Julian Green.

FotMob: 6 | WhoScored: 6.2
82% passing | 1/2 shots on target | 4/9 duels | 1/1 dribble | 2/2 tackles | dispossessed once

Julian Green – Midfielder, Greuther Fürth

He replaced Tillman at halftime but wasn’t able to contribute much more than getting fouled five times, the most of any player. He also got a yellow card for a bad foul.

FotMob: 6.6 | WhoScored: 6.7
92% passing | 1/3 shots on target | 2 corner kicks | 8/10 duels | 1/2 tackles

The coronavirus pandemic is undoing progress made by women’s soccer in Europe

Leander SchaerlaeckensYahoo Sports•May 27, 2020

Women’s professional soccer in Europe, and some of the strides it had made, has now been victimized by the coronavirus pandemic.All 20 Premier League clubs voted on Wednesday to return to full-contact training, reaching another benchmark to get the popular soccer circuit back to competitive games and finish the coronavirus-ravaged 2019-20 season. The teams had been back to practicing in small groups, socially distanced, for a week. And a resumption of the campaign now seems likely in the near future.On Monday, however, it was announced that the Women’s Super League, the highest tier of the women’s game in the United Kingdom, would not be returning this season. “Following overwhelming feedback from the clubs, the decision to bring an end to the 2019-20 season was made in the best interest of the women’s game,” the Football Association said in a statement. “Supporting the welfare of the clubs and players will continue to be our primary concern throughout this process, which also involved a robust and thorough examination of the logistical, operational and financial challenges that the game currently faces.”

Let’s talk about those “logistical, operational and financial challenges.” The first two are no different from the men’s circuit. Those challenges are less daunting than on the women’s side, in fact, since there are fewer teams and the size of the squads and support staff is smaller. As for the financial piece, the reason the WSL was forced to conclude it didn’t have the resources to finish out the season under the necessary precautionary conditions is because the FA had told it two months earlier that it wouldn’t be providing financial support.Manchester City was leading the WSL table but won’t get a chance to finish the season. (Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)Morhat’s more, out of the 12 WSL teams, nine are the female counterparts of Premier League sides. The other three are tied to second-tier Championship teams. There is money there. Plenty of it. The FA has money. The clubs have money. They’re just choosing not to spend it on the women’s league.

In Spain, La Liga returned to practice last week and is cleared to resume league play as of June 8, with a likely kickoff on June 11. Yet the Primera División, the top women’s circuit, has already been shuttered for the rest of the season, even though there were nine rounds left to play – two fewer than on the men’s side. FC Barcelona Femení was announced as the champion by the Spanish federation. It had a nine-point lead, but there remained 27 points left to be played for.In Italy, Serie A, which was the first league to shut down due to COVID-19 in early March, is slated to return to action on either June 13 or June 20, depending on the conditions. But it looked for a long while like the Serie A Femminile, its female counterpart, would be shutting down because the pandemic-related cost of resuming was several hundred thousand dollars per team. There was an outcry, and the government eventually stepped in. The issue was that the women’s league isn’t technically professional, even though 10 of 12 teams are attached to well-established professional men’s clubs – including the powerhouses Juventus, Milan, Inter, Fiorentina and Roma. The season now looks like it will be saved and some teams have returned to training, but it was a close call.In the four major European pro soccer nations, only Germany will resume its women’s league without significant incident. But it’s worth noting that when the Frauen-Bundesliga kicks off this Friday, it will have done so a full two weeks later than the men’s league.It feels like the pandemic is undoing some of the recent progress in the women’s game. Men’s leagues are resuming largely because it is too costly – both financially and culturally – not to. But why isn’t that true for the women?For decades, the domestic women’s games in those four nations lagged embarrassingly far behind the men’s leagues. While Germany fielded a world power national team and was ahead of Italy, Spain and England in shoring up its domestic women’s league, it still had nothing like the institutional support the men enjoyed. Things were worse elsewhere.Finally, after three impactful and globally popular Women’s World Cups this decade, that was beginning to change. Momentum was building. The leagues gained popularity. A game between Athletic Club and Atletico Madrid in Spain drew more than 48,000 spectators in January 2019. Two months later, a Barcelona-Atletico game pulled in almost 61,000. Last year’s Manchester derby attracted 31,000 people and Chelsea-Tottenham got 24,000. Juventus once attracted 39,000 to watch it play Fiorentina. Those were outliers, certainly, but they weren’t all driven by post-World Cup bumps, either. The audience and interest was and is demonstrable. But for some reason, the willingness on the part of the domestic soccer federations or teams doesn’t match it. There is no good reason to play men’s professional soccer but not women’s, yet in three of Europe’s four biggest pro soccer nations, that will be the case for the rest of this season.Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports soccer columnist and a sports communication lecturer at Marist College. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.

 

5/21/2020   Soccer with no Fans – hum – Germany Wk2, NWSL Might be 1st US Pro League back in late June?  

It sounds like the NWSL – US Women’s soccer league might be the first US Pro League to return to play as they plan a playoff type of approach with all the games being played in Salt Lake City in late June.  This same approach is being considered by MLS in and around the Disney complex in Orlando.  We’ll see what happens – again I think if the TV networks will show the games on prime channels – this could be a good opportunity for US Soccer.  Unfortunately the 25th Anniversary of MLS and the resurgence of the NWSL both with new broadcast deals and plenty of planned exposure for this season has been blown to heck.  We’ll see how it turns out.   Interesting stories on the new MLS led Development Academy replacing the old DA – see stories under MLS below.

Live Soccer Returns

Interesting return of Live Soccer over the weekend as the German Bundesliga kicked off with no fans in the stands.  I have to say watching the games with no crowd noise was really weird.  What was even weirder to me was it seemed like the Announcers were not at the game.  Later with this story from ian Durke, I realize that indeed the announcers were not at the games.  Evidently in Germany on the broadcasts – they piped in crowd noise, singing and some goal celebrations on the broadcasts which made it a little better.  I was also extremely disappointed in Fox Sports 1 for having absolutely no pregame/half-time or post game shows at all.  I understand studios are not back up and operational but if NASCAR can do what they did on Fox – can’t soccer at least try to do something.  It just shows again that whoever is in charge at Fox has given up on soccer.  (Despite this – the Bundesliga did record ratings over the weekend on at least 3 of the televised games in the US.)  I wonder what would have happened if the games were on Fox rather than FS1.  Oh well.  The Bundelisga will not be on broadcast TV next year as ESPN+ has taken the rights. (Which means we will never again see a German or Italian game on broadcast TV) If ESPN at least put the good games of each league on the broadcast channels I would get it.  But they certainly haven’t done so –with only the very occasional game on so far.  So once again you pay to stream or you don’t watch overseas soccer.  I feel like we are back in the 90s again.  First it was Champions League barely on TNT moving next year to CBS Streaming with a single game on CBS Sports Network (woopie), then it was Italy and now Germany only on Streaming.  We are going backwards folks.  I guess thanks Fox for covering Champions League so very well in the past – and now Thanks for nothing!

US Players struggle in German Return 

So I should have known when Dortmund’s Gio Reyna got injured during warm-ups and he missed his first ever start – that things for the American players would be iffy this past weekend.  McKinney for Schalke was just ok as Dortmund put 4 up on the blues, Brooks gave up an own goal for Wolfsburg-but his team did win 2-1 at least, Adams played ok for RB Leipzig at Right back – but they tied losing ground in the title race, and most other American’s did not play or certainly didn’t start.  They will get chances again this weekend as most of the games on TV feature teams with American’s at least on the roster.  Games start with doubles at 9:30 am on Sat on FS1 & FS2, with US Defender John Brooks hosting Dortmund and maybe Gio Reyna.  The 12:30 game on FS1 is Bayern Munich hosting Frankfort and Timmy Chandler.  Sunday we get Adams and RB Leipzig traveling to Mainz at9:30 am on FS1.  We do get midweek games on Tues/Wed this week with the huge game between league leaders Bayern Munich and Dortmund on Tues on FS1 at 12:30 pm.  Not sure why this can’t be played on a weekend but oh well.

German Soccer Returns From COVID-19 Lockdown, Scores Record High Ratings For Fox

The return of Bundesliga soccer from COVID-19 lockdown (in an empty arena) hit a record high with its Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke matchup with a .33, marking the best metered market rating ever for a Bundesliga telecast on FS1.In the match, Dortmund beat Schalke, 4-0. On Sunday, Fox Sports released the following in the top five available markets: Cincinnati .91, Philadelphia .75, Washington DC .71, Kansas City .67 and Tampa .64.In the second matchup, Borussia Moenchengladbach defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 and the game earned .21, the second best metered for a Bundesliga game on FS1. The top five available markets were as follows: Kansas City .67, Cincinnati .47,  Washington DC .46, Tampa .45 and  Portland .41.

Carmel FC

Tryouts Confirmed for June 22

 

NWSL to Return with Tourney in late June?  Washington Post

MLS Mini World Cup Format to Start in Orlando? – EsPNFC

NWSL and coronavirus: Will pandemic crash women’s soccer …M

GAMES ON TV 

Sat, May 23  

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Wolfsburg (John Brooks) vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

9:30 am Fox Sport2                          Borrusia Mgladbach (Johnson) vs Bayer Leverkusen 

12:30 FS1                                           Bayer Munich vs Frankfurt (Timmy Chandler)

Sun, May 24  

7:30 am Fox Sport 1                         Schalke (Mckinney) vs Ausburg

9:30 am FS 1, FuboTV, Fox desp     Mainz vs RB Leipzig (Tyler Adams)

12:30 pm FS1                                    Koln vs Fortuna Dusseldorf (Morales)                        

Tues, May 26  

12:30 pm FS 1                                   Bayern Munich vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

2:30 pm FS 2, TUDN, FuboTV          Bayer Leverkusen vs Wolfsburg (John Brooks)

Wed, May 27  

12:30 pm Fox Sport2                       RB Leipzig (Tyler Adams) vs Hertha

2:30 FS2                                             Fortuna Dusseldorf (Morales) vs Schalke (Mckinney)

Fri, May 29  

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Frieburg vs Bayer Leverkusen

Sat, May 30  

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Schalke (Mckinney) vs Werder Bremman (Sargent)

9:30 am Fox Sport2                          Wolfsburg (John Brooks) vs Frankfurt (Timmy Chandler)

12:30 FS1                                           Bayer Munich vs Fortuna Dusseldorf (Morales)

Sun, May 24  

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                         Borrusia Mgladbach (Johnson) vs Union Berlin

12 pm FS1                                          Paderbuorn vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

GERMAN SOCCER RETURNS FIRST
Teenage USMNT star Reyna injured in Dortmund warm up

Rough Day for US Players as Bundesliga Returns – Doug McIntyre Yahoo Sports 

How MLS, USMNT exports fared as the Bundesliga returned

Challenges of Calling German Games from Home – Announcers Issues – Ian Durke ESPN

Quite Stands – odd Celebrations Mark return of Soccer in Germany ESPNFC
German league without fans like “old man’s football”, says Mueller

Haaland stars in Dortmund romp as Bundesliga makes ‘very strange’ return

Leipzig title hopes hit by Freiburg draw on Bundesliga restart

Sky Germany attracts record audience for Bundesliga restart

Neuer set for three more years at Bayern Munich 

Liga MX cancels 2020 Clausura due to coronavirus pandemic Goal.com

USA

Berhalter: I’m open to altering philosophy to get results
Christian Pulisic gets an ‘incomplete’ in first English Premier League season with Chelsea

US youth int’l signs new contract with Aston Villa

USMNT teen Dest named Ajax young player of the year

Dest’s agent denies Barca move is a done deal
US youngster Reyna’s 1st Bundesliga start foiled by injury

How rejection paved Carli Lloyd’s road to stardom

MLS 

MLS, USMNT legend Beasley making plans to become a team owner

MLS, US Youth Soccer announce groundbreaking partnership

For MLS’s new youth league, cooperation a critical component – MLS.com Charles Boehm

What’s Possible Down South in MLS – Charles Boehm MLS

Carlos Vela the multi-sport athlete? He’s ready, NBA

Are the Sounders a dynasty? Roldan, Morris weigh in

Bingham: El Trafico is the best rivalry in MLS

New renderings of Crew downtown stadium


Celtic declared Scottish champions as season canceled

Celtic declared Scottish champions and clinch ninth-straight league title as Hearts relegated 
‘Concrete plan’ for European season to finish in August, says UEFA president

USMNT: Stars set for pivotal Bundesliga weekend

Joe Prince-Wright NBC Sports
Week 27 of the 2019-20 Bundesliga season has plenty of intriguing clashes and USMNT fans will know there are plenty of young American players to keep an eye on too.

Bundesliga games will of course be played in empty stadiums, which is the plan for the rest of the season and beyond, and USMNT stars will feature in plenty of them.From Giovanni Reyna to Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie to John Brooks, plenty of USMNT stars are going to play pivotal roles as their teams battle for the Bundesliga title, European qualification and against relegation.

BTW, if you’re new to Germany’s top-flight, here’s a guide to help you pick a club to support.

Below is a look at what lies ahead this weekend for the USMNT stars, as you can check out the full schedulestandings and find out how to watch the action, while we will have you covered right here on ProSoccerTalk.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig – Started as a right wing-back for RB Leipzig and did okay, but was hauled off in the second half as Leipzig pushed for an equalizer and then a winner as they slipped up and drew against Freiburg. Adams’ best position is in central midfield but Leipzig are stacked in that area. Next up they face Mainz who are battling against being sucked into the relegation battle. Leipzig need a win to keep their title bid alive.

Matchweek 27: @ Mainz, Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET

Gio Reyna, Borussia Dortmund – He was supposed to make his first Bundesliga start the big 4-0 derby win against Schalke in the restart but the 17-year-old phenom was injured in the warm up. Reyna is highly-rated by Dortmund and Lucien Favre has admitted he could feature this weekend.

Matchweek 27: @ Wolfsburg, Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET

Weston McKennie, Schalke – Worked hard in the humbling at the hands of Dortmund but not his best outing with the ball. McKennie and Schalke host struggling Augsburg and this is a big chance for them to gain some momentum and keep their push for a Europa League spot on track.

Matchweek 27: v. Augsburg, Sunday, 7:30 a.m. ET

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – Had a very solid outing against Augsburg as his distribution was lauded. A poor defensive header led to Augsburg’s equalizer but Wolfsburg got a late winner to climb to sixth as they push for Europa League qualification. Brooks will come up against Erling Haaland and this will be a big ask for the German-American center back.

Matchweek 27: v. Dortmund, Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen – Jumped off the bench in the second half as Bremen were hammered at home by Bayer Leverkusen. There’s no shame in that because Bayer are superb. Bremen create a lot of chances and if Sargent is on the pitch, you’d fancy him to score.

Matchweek 27: @ Freiburg, Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET

Timothy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt – It doesn’t get much tougher than this for Frankfurt. Chandler came off the bench late on in their defeat at home against Monchengladbach and given their defensive display last week, he should start probably at right back this weekend.

Matchweek 27: @ Bayern Munich, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET

Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf – Came off the bench in the second half of their draw against Paderborn at home, as they hit the woodwork multiple times but couldn’t break through. Morales and Fortuna need wins to get out of the relegation playoff spot.

Matchweek 27: @ Cologne, Sunday, 12 p.m. ET

Fabian Johnson, Zack Steffen: Did not feature in Week 26. Fortuna’s Steffen is recovering for a knee injury. Johnson was not in Monchengladbach’s squad.

Rough day for USMNT players as the Bundesliga resumes

Doug McIntyreYahoo Sports•May 16, 2020

The Bundesliga’s return to action on Saturday was celebrated by sports fans who have been cooped up for last two-plus months because of the coronavirus pandemic.But for some German-based members of the United States men’s national team, the day was mostly one to forget. Here’s a look at how the nine of the 10 Americans on Bundesliga rosters — Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen face Bayer Leverkusen on Monday — fared as play resumed.

M Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund

Saturday’s Revierderby against local rival Schalke was supposed to mark the first Bundesliga start for Reyna, the 17-year-old son of two-time U.S. World Cup captain Claudio Reyna and former U.S. women’s national team winger Danielle Egan.Instead, the prodigy picked up an undisclosed injury during warmups and was replaced in manager Lucien Favre’s lineup by Thorgan Hazard, who scored in Dortmund’s 4-0 win before he too limped off the field in the second half.It’s too early to know how long Reyna might be sidelined. What’s clear is this wasn’t the way Reyna wanted (re)opening day to go. The news seemed to set the tone for the rest of the day.  An injury sustained in warmups prevented 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder Giovanni Reyna from making his first Bundesliga start.

M Weston McKennie, Schalke

The hard-running Texan made his seventeenth start of the season on Saturday, sliding into his preferred defensive role in central midfield. However, despite his best efforts, McKennie could do little to prevent Dortmund’s high-octane attack from repeatedly carving through the heart of Schalke’s defense.Although he was in the vicinity for all four BVB goals, it’s hard to pin any of them on McKennie. Maybe he could’ve closed down Erling Haaland a little bit more quickly before the Norwegian teenage sensation set up Raphael Guerreiro for the game’s final tally. Let’s be real, though: at that late stage, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome either way.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig

The 20-year-old might have been the bight spot by default. After missing much of the last year with lingering groin and toe issues, Adams made just his sixth league start of the season, going 68 minutes at right wing back and producing two near-misses offensively in a 1-1 tie with Freiburg.

D John Brooks, Wolfsburg

Things were going just fine for Wolfsburg, up 1-0 coming out of the dressing room at halftime at Augsburg. That changed shortly after the intermission, when the rangy center back Brooks jumped high to clear a corner kick and inadvertently directed the ball straight at his own goalkeeper, Koen Casteels, instead.Casteels did enough to parry the deflection off the underside of the crossbar, but Augsburg defender Tin Jedvaj reacted quickly enough to nod the bouncing ball home and erase Wolfsburg’s lead. Brooks wasn’t charged with an own goal, but it was his mistake nonetheless.Fortunately for Brooks, second-half sub Daniel Ginczek bailed out the visitors with a 90th-minute game-winner.

M/F Ulysses Llanez, Wolfsburg

The 19-year-old attacker was promoted to Wolfsburg’s first team a month ago, not long after his star turn for the USMNT in a February friendly win over Costa Rica.That move prompted speculation that Llanez could make his senior debut on Saturday. In the lead-up to the game, though, coach Oliver Glasner indicated that the youngster isn’t quite ready for primetime. “We’re doing the lad no favors if we immediately throw him into cold water,” Glasner said.Llanez’s next chance will come when Wolfsburg hosts Dortmund on May 23.

M Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf

Morales had been a starter for most of the season before losing his place in mid-February, just two games before the Bundesliga began its hiatus. The recently-turned 30-year-old — he celebrated his birthday May 12 — resumed that reserve role on Saturday, playing the final 22 minutes of Fortuna’s scoreless draw with fellow relegation candidate Paderborn.

G Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf

After injuring his knee in training late last month, it was no surprise that Steffen, 25 years old and the USA’s No. 1 goalkeeper, wasn’t between the sticks (or even on the bench) for Saturday’s clash.

M Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt

Despite starting nine of Frankfurt’s last 10 games before the COVID-19 suspension, Chandler had to settle for a supporting role in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Borussia Monchengladbacch.  While the hosts did score their only goal after Chandler entered the match, he failed to make any real impact during his 18 minutes on the field.

D/M Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach

The 32-year-old 2014 World Cup standout has been limited to just three starts for Gladbach this season, in part because of injury. That was the case again on Saturday, with Johnson unavailable because of an undisclosed muscle problem.

Sources: MLS Orlando tournament taking shape with four groups

Jeff Carlisle S. soccer correspondent ESPNFC

The Athletic was the first to report the new details, with sources confirming that the situation remains fluid and that many details haven’t been finalized. Both the league and the MLS Players Association (MLSPA) would also need to agree on the tournament’s details in order for it to be played. At one point, the plan for the league’s teams was to head to Walt Disney World’s Wide World of Sports some time during the first week in June, with the teams using much of that month to get back in game shape. (ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Co.) Games would then commence about a month later.But sources told ESPN that with just 10 days remaining until a possible travel day for players and staff, there is a sense that it might be mid-June before all of the teams could arrive in Orlando. Once in Florida, the teams would be tested regularly and be quarantined.

Sources confirmed The Athletic’s report that there would be three groups of six teams and a last group of eight, giving teams a minimum of five games each. The top two teams in each group which would advance to the knockout round. Supporters Shield holders LAFC, reigning MLS Cup champions the Seattle Sounders FC, last year’s U.S. Open Cup winners Atlanta United FC, and hometown team Orlando City SC would hold the top seeds in each group. Toronto FC would also be a seeded team in the eight-team group. Nashville SC would take up residence in the Eastern Conference, accounting for the unbalanced groups. Group stage games would count in the league standings, but the knockout games wouldn’t.In terms of the league’s plans for after the tournament, one possibility is to schedule 18 regular season games with only intra-conference matchups, with nine teams from each conference qualifying for the playoffs. Similar to the mini-tournament, Nashville would be in the Eastern Conference.But the Orlando portion of the plan is meeting with resistance from the players, who are balking at being separated from families for upwards of 10 weeks while also existing in quarantine conditions, all while hotel staff will be able to come and go as the wish, creating a vulnerability within the MLS “bubble.” At minimum, there are plenty of questions that will have to be answered before the players agree to head to Orlando.”I would start off by saying that I think every one of us agree that we want to get back to playing,” Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya told ESPN’s Taylor Twellman. “I want to get back out there, being competitive, [playing] games. The staff wants to be out there, fans want to be watching games, but I will say that this all feels a little bit rushed.”Bedoya later added, “I think the players are taking all the risks by going down [to Orlando], being isolated, it’s a strong term to say, but it’s like being in a luxurious prison.”ESPN has previously reported that MLSPA has sent a counterproposal to the league regarding player salaries for the 2020 season, with the union confirming that the amount of economic relief would exceed $100 million.

Utah Royals to host summer NWSL tournament as league makes plans for return to play

By Alex Vejar

All nine National Women’s Soccer League teams will play a tournament this summer in Real Salt Lake venues, the Salt Lake Tribune has confirmed.

The tournament, first reported by The Washington Post, could be officially announced before the end of the week. The NWSL would be one of the first professional sports league to announce a return to play after COVID-19 shut practically everything down in mid-March.The tournament will go from June 29 to around July 22 and be played at Rio Tinto Stadium and Zions Bank Stadium in Sandy and Herriman, respectively. Rio Tinto is home to RSL and the Utah Royals FC, while Zions Bank Stadium is where the Real Monarchs play their home games.The plan is for the first three games to occur at Zions Bank Stadium, while the semifinal and final rounds of the tournament will be at Rio Tinto, per a source with knowledge of the plan. The source requested anonymity to discuss details not yet announced.Testing for COVID-19 will be “regular,” but the exactly frequency is yet to be determined. Players and staff won’t be quarantined, but will have restrictions on what they do off the field.Teams will stay in the dormitories near RSL’s training facility and at some hotels. Training sessions will be held mainly at the Herriman facility, with some at America First Field, where the Royals practice.The OL Reign, Sky Blue FC and Chicago Red Stars are slated to arrive in In Utah on Monday or Tuesday of next week.Whether spectators will be allowed is still to be determined. The hope is a small, possibly previously selected group of fans can attend to start, with numbers growing as restrictions in the state continue to lift. Most of Utah is currently under “yellow” risk level, but certain cities, like Salt Lake, are still in “orange.”Games will be broadcast on one of the many CBS platforms per the new deal between the network and the NWSL.

Internet issues and doorbell distractions: The challenge of calling ‘ghost games’ from home

May 20, 2020   Ian DarkeESPN.com writer

When the Bundesliga resumed last weekend, it was not just players, coaches and officials dealing with “the new normal” brought about by the coronavirus. Commentators also faced doing their job with the prospect of new problems; barking dogs and noisy toddlers might not realise someone is trying to do live coverage of Bayern Munich in the next room.Men and women behind the microphone, as well as producers and various technical staff, are having to work from home because of restricted access to the sanitised stadiums of the Bundesliga as well as TV studios. And so, live from my office in southern England, I described the scenes for BT Sport viewers as Hoffenheim lost 3-0 at home to Hertha Berlin. In the days leading up to the game, it felt as if enough electrical equipment to build the International Space Station was delivered to my home. With the help of a masked engineer operating at a safe distance, it was lashed together, but please do not ask me how it works.This technical wizardry left my office looking rather like the flight deck of a 747 preparing for takeoff. Armed with a set of instructions about which buttons to push and when, I was linked to the studios of BT Sport in East London as well as to producer Jayne Dinnin, who was also working from home and wearing her fluffy carpet slippers.I should say that, even pre-pandemic, it was not totally uncommon for commentators to broadcast games using TV pictures — we call it working “off tube” in the trade — but usually that takes place in a soundproof booth. Calling a game from home, though? That was a new one on me. I doubted it could even be done, but thanks to some very clever technicians, pictures from a stadium more than 500 miles away were beamed into my house.There was one snag: No matter how sophisticated the kit you are using might be, there is dependence on the strength of a broadband signal. Any weakness can lead to the picture freezing at a vital moment, which happened to me in the second half from Hoffenheim.Robert Skov was about to take a corner for the home team when the picture froze and the next thing I saw was Hertha goalkeeper Rune Jarstein with the ball in his hands. What happened in those missing 20 seconds will remain one of life’s mysteries.

My colleague Paul Dempsey had an even better story as he commentated on Borussia Dortmund‘s 4-0 win against Schalke from his living room. During the first half, a delivery man from the local supermarket kept banging on his front door. How was he to know — or care — that Erling Haaland was about to open the scoring?How else did this experience compare with a commentator’s usual routine?For a start, there is no travel involved, which is not the worst thing if you are avoiding traffic jams, delayed trains and endless checks at airports. And sitting at home also means there is warmth and plenty of available refreshments, which is not always the case when you are stuck on a lofty, cold gantry at Everton or Watford. That is where the good news ends, though.

Covering a match in an empty stadium with no atmosphere — Geisterspiele, as Germans call these “ghost games” — is the biggest difference. However good the entertainment might be, the event feels like a reserve game. German viewers have the option of watching with added sound effects and that is worth a try to pump up the feel of it all.Then there are the small things that can prove vital in this job, but are denied by not being at a ground. For example, there is no chance for a bit of banter and swapping information with colleagues in the media room over a cup of tea and a bite to eat.Nor can we go to that privileged spot inside the tunnel where you might get the chance to check a snippet of vital late team news; think of the Ronaldo drama when he was out of — then back in — the Brazil team before the 1998 World Cup final. You might also get to learn a team’s tactical formation, though Jose Mourinho told me once: “You will work it out for yourself.”Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and a host of other guests every day as football plots a path through the coronavirus crisis. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).Remembering that 90% of a commentator’s job is identifying the players, another vital tool lost in lockdown is the chance to watch players warm up. At the ground, you can look through binoculars to check on anyone who might be unfamiliar.Hand on heart, I had not seen a lot of Hoffenheim and Hertha this season. It meant that, despite watching a few tapes ahead of their meeting, calling the game with those occasional picture freezes was one of my toughest assignments. I think we got away with it, though, and responses from viewers were kind. They understand there might be glitches in these troubled times, but most were glad just to have some proper football to watch.ut home-produced commentaries? They will never catch on, even if the commentator can be mowing the lawn five minutes after the game.I will do it all again on Sunday when title-chasing RB Leipzig play Mainz. Wish me luck.

For MLS’s new youth league, cooperation a critical component | Charles Boehm

May 14, 20201:32PM EDT

Charles BoehmNational Writer

If you read Wednesday’s announcement of founding members and other details of MLS’s new elite player development platform carefully, a distinct theme emerges.Need a hint? Consider this word cloud from the release: Collaboration. Collaborative. Co-create. Conversations. Collaborate. Alongside. Inclusive.With a centralized professional league like MLS standing up this new national competition as the successor to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, a project of the U.S. Soccer Federation, it might sound counter-intuitive that members will have more input and a greater voice. But that’s exactly what the non-MLS clubs involved are saying loud and clear.Did I say “non-MLS”? Scratch that – the preferred term is “elite academies,” another example of the consciously inclusive mindset at work.“We all felt that this is a step forward, for the simple reason that the USSDA was run by the federation. This is run by professional clubs, like in the rest of the world,” said Roberto Lopez, academy director at respected Florida youth club Clearwater Chargers and a former U.S. Soccer staff member, in a conference call with media on Wednesday.“Most important, we strongly feel that we’re partners. Every meeting we have with MLS, they emphasize the need for us to bring to the table our needs. They want our experience at our level, they want to know how to go about doing things. It’s very, very inclusive and we have a seat at the table. And that’s why I feel that this is a major, historical step forward.”Fueled by the coronavirus outbreak and a range of other factors, the collapse of the Development Academy unfolded along a startlingly short timeline last month, moving from hot rumor to official announcement in under a week’s time. That left many member clubs in the dark and unsure of the future, a particularly uncomfortable situation in the midst of a global viral pandemic that’s severely destabilized both the professional and youth landscapes.So openness and stability were paramount concerns as MLS went about conceiving its new youth platform, explained Fred Lipka, the league’s Technical Director of Youth Development. That means many of the DA’s existing standards and principles will carry over, at least in the first season or two, while consultation continues on longer-term improvement and evolution.“We had to find an environment that was going to be equal to or greater than what was the Development Academy. And I think if you look out in the landscape, there really wasn’t a current league or platform that met our requirements,” said Jeffrey Saunders, sporting director at historic New York club Metropolitan Oval, an affiliate of NYCFC that’s groomed Justin Haak and a long list of other future professional players over the years.“We worked in conjunction with the MLS leadership over the last four or five weeks to craft what a league could look like and what would be the best design to meet the goals of MLS and non-MLS clubs, as well as youth players as well as elite clubs. … in a way, we’ve created a bespoke professional player pathway that will facilitate quality and quantity of professional player development.”

Perhaps inevitably given it was a federation undertaking, the DA took on a top-down character over most of its 13 years of existence. That said, it’s widely agreed to have moved the North American game forward and leaves a positive legacy for its successors to build upon.“I personally felt that it gave us the standards that we needed at the time to allow us to compete on a higher level with international teams, to develop our players,” said Lopez. “Simple things like a requirement of coaching licenses, 10-month seasons, training four times a week, not playing more than one game a day – I think that took us to another level. And I think, in my opinion, within a very short time the results were evident. And now, with this new platform coming up, I think this is going to take us a step further on what the USSDA had done.”A perceived rift between professional and youth member clubs reportedly complicated the running of the DA in its final years. But the tenor has changed dramatically among those involved in the working groups that laid the groundwork for MLS’s new project. It’s believed clearer communication and a collaborative mentality can break down barriers and misunderstandings of the past.“There was a lack of trust with elite academies,” Mickey Kydes, technical director at Connecticut club Beachside Soccer and an MLS player in the league’s 1996 inaugural season, told MLSsoccer.com. “There was a lack of trust and the first thing we said to [MLS] was, if we don’t collaborate and we don’t have a voice at the table, we can’t go forward with this.“But I can tell you right now, it’s pretty impressive. I’ve never been part of anything like this where we’re actually sharing ideas and giving feedback back and forth and working together. It’s not like they’ve come in and said ‘we need this, this and this, and you have to do this, this and this.’ It’s really different. It’s really discussions and conversations that are on a different level that I’ve never experienced in my 45 years in this country.”As Sporting Kansas City manager and sporting director Peter Vermes pointed out, no one has invested more time and money into youth development in recent years than MLS and its clubs, and the league taking a more active leadership role may serve to clarify the big-picture goals of domestic player production.“It’s been made very clear by MLS leadership that they wanted to take a fresh approach to not just the structure of a youth platform, but also the execution of it and the philosophy or ethos of it,” said Saunders. “Both elite academies like Metropolitan Oval and MLS understand that without collaboration, we can’t achieve our mutual goals.“It’s the old adage: We’re looking for one plus one equals three. Together, we’re far more powerful, and can have a much greater effect on youth development in this country than we would separately.”

Total of 95 clubs join forces as part of MLS’s elite player development platform

May 13, 20202:24PM EDT

MLSsoccer staff

It’s a new era for soccer development in North America.A total of 65 elite academy clubs which formerly participated in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy will join MLS’s existing club academies as part of a new elite player development platform that is set to transform youth player development in the United States and Canada.The 95 clubs become founding members of the new platform which will include more than 8,000 players throughout the U.S. and Canada and will consist of elite year-round competition, as well as player identification initiatives, coaching education opportunities, and additional programming to create the premier player development environment.The platform will operate with a groundbreaking governance structure that promotes collaboration, innovation and input across all areas of the soccer landscape. Within the structure, technical working groups will provide recommendations on the platform’s strategic objectives and standards, outline competition guidelines and formats, as well as introduce platform programming. By unifying the elite player development landscape and creating a collaborative structure, the new platform will accelerate and enhance player development in North America.Applications for additional clubs to join will be available in the coming weeks. More information about the competition structure as well as the platform’s official brand will be announced at a later date.With a focus on maximizing each player’s potential, the new development platform will not only provide high-level, year-round competition for players, but will provide important programming, education and innovation in the key areas of player development:

  • Player Identification
  • Coaching
  • Environment
  • Personal Growth
  • Community Outreach

“There is strong positive momentum and excitement among MLS club academies and elite academy clubs to co-create a platform that will deliver an unparalleled experience for the nation’s top players and clubs,” said Fred Lipka, VP and Technical Director of MLS Player Development. “The development of professional and elite players requires a comprehensive and integrated approach, beyond just the competition format, and we are having daily conversations with academy clubs across the country who are committed to building that environment with us.”Since launching the MLS club academy initiative in 2007, Major League Soccer has demonstrated unprecedented commitment to the development of top level professional players in the United States and Canada, including an investment of more than $70 million last season alone. This investment has produced more than 250 homegrown players that have become professional and national team players, including recent standout players such as Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas, Solar Soccer Club), James Sands (New York City FC academy, New York Soccer Club) and Matt Real (Philadelphia Union, FC Delco).The elite academy clubs that are Founding Members of the new platform have also been leaders in the development of players for college, MLS and the national teams. Combined, MLS Academies and the elite academies joining the platform have produced more than 90 percent of the U.S. Youth National Team players in the last year, making the new platform the top destination for the best young players in North America.With the launch of this new platform, MLS and the elite academy clubs will not only continue to develop world class players but will create a world class soccer development culture that supports and inspires elite players throughout the countries.“The Sockers FC Chicago organization is excited about this great opportunity to collaborate with MLS, in the development of this new competition platform,” said David Richardson, Sockers FC Chicago Technical Director. “In our soccer communities we feel that our work as leaders of Elite Academies alongside the leaders of MLS Academies will help to shape a world-class soccer culture in our country. This will be a benefit to all that play, coach, referee, and support our game from the grassroots to the professional level.”“Major League Soccer’s inclusive approach to the greater soccer market is the most exciting aspect of this movement,” said Ryan Miller, Portland Timbers Academy Director. “This new competition will continue to provide a platform for the top player development clubs in the country to get the most meaningful games. Elite player development requires the highest level of competition and this platform will provide that.”

Will the Pandemic Crash the National Women’s Soccer League?

With interest at a peak following the World Cup, the NWSL seemed poised to finally make a leap—until COVID-19 stopped the 2020 season before it could begin.

STEPHANIE APSTEINMAY 15, 2020

Emily Menges likes to move. Before games, the Portland Thorns FC defender generally strolls around town, stopping at a farmers’ market (“So Portland,” she says. “I know.”) before heading to Providence Park to warm up. So on Saturday, April 18, which should have been the Thorns’ National Women’s Soccer League season opener—broadcast on CBS All-Access—she awoke with a pit in her stomach. The game had long been canceled. So had the farmers’ market.Menges just hopes this break, caused by the pandemic, doesn’t become permanent. “I do worry,” she says. “Every player knows how precarious this league is. It is scary to think about.”She is right to be concerned. Since its 2013 launch, the NWSL has faced a central paradox: Despite featuring beloved World Cup heroes, the league has failed to attract widespread notice. This season, though, it finally seemed poised for a breakthrough: Stars like Megan RapinoeAlex MorganCarli Lloyd and Rose Lavelle have reached new heights of celebrity—and the media was catching up. On March 11, the NWSL announced a landmark deal with CBS that, for the first time, would air games on network TV. Just a few hours later, though, Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA shut down. The NWSL followed, wiping away not only Menges’s season opener in Portland, but that day’s CBS headliner, between Lavelle’s Washington Spirit and Rapinoe’s OL Reign.While all U.S. professional sports leagues face challenges—the pandemic has already shuttered the XFL—few run on quite the same shoestring as the NWSL. The league does not divulge revenue, but its minimum salary this year is $20,000. In the WNBA, it’s $57,000. In the NFL, it’s $510,000. For players, the travel is commercial and the perks nonexistent: Some teams work out not in state-of-the-art complexes, but local gyms.U.S. Soccer, the national governing body, helps keep the NWSL afloat by paying club salary and benefits for the 23 players on the national team—$1.4 million last year—and providing other management services, which included $843,000 of administrative expenses last year, according to an internal audit. Some people in women’s soccer have expressed concern over the status of that arrangement. In April, amid laying off and furloughing dozens of employees, U.S. Soccer applied and was approved for government relief via a Payroll Protection Program loan. This week, however, U.S. Soccer decided to return the loan. Asked whether its subsidy of the league could be imperiled, a spokesman for U.S. Soccer said, “Nothing has changed in terms of our financial support.”Amanda Duffy, the former NWSL president who is now executive vice president of the Orlando Pride, points out that the league is well-suited to survive, since it’s used to budgeting as if it can afford no extravagance. “The NWSL was going to be entering its eighth season of operating but is still very much in its infancy,” she says. “We haven’t moved out of that stage of making every single decision related to keeping the league in business.” Still, the league had moved forward with plans to grow its profile, in part by attracting more international stars with lucrative opportunities. The introduction of an allocation money system–akin to the one implemented in MLS, where an extra allotment of money can be used to spend beyond the salary cap on players whose salaries can exceed the league maximum–promised to lure some big names. One of them, France’s dynamic Kadidiatou Diani, was potentially headed from Paris Saint-Germain to Portland. But the pandemic and the logistical and medical concerns it has carried changed everything. Diani, 25, wound up re-signing with PSG through 2023 earlier this month.”Just didn’t make sense given all the variables of these times. Respect the decision and will see what happens in the future….” Thorns FC owner Merritt Paulson, who also cited Diani’s personal and family aspects, wrote on Twitter.The timing of all of this could scarcely be worse: Many Americans seem to care deeply about women’s soccer only when the U.S. women’s national team is playing in the World Cup or Olympics. Those are offset such that every four years, there is a World Cup one summer and an Olympics the next. Those 12 intervening months represent the best chance for professional women’s soccer to break through the public consciousness.People within the NWSL expected this to be the best stretch yet: Last July, the U.S. national team had defended its title at the World Cup in France with an average live audience of 82.18 million people for the final. NBC said it expected 200 million Americans to watch the Olympics. And last year’s NWSL attendance was up 21.8% per game over 2018, to an average of 7,337 fans. Seven of the nine teams drew franchise-record crowds.U.S. national team veteran Becky Sauerbrunn, traded from Utah to Portland in the off-season, was supposed to open 2020 with her new team on CBS All-Access as part of a new NWSL media deal.Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated However, they now face a foreseeable future without fans. Epidemiologists agree that it will likely be unsafe to gather large crowds until a coronavirus vaccine arrives—potentially more than a year from now. In the meantime, people familiar with the NWSL’s plans say clubs are split on whether the league can afford to stage contests in empty stadiums. Some teams, such as the Thorns and Utah Royals FC, which draw well, rely on gate revenue; others, such as the Houston Dash, were not expecting much in the way of ticket sales anyway. They might be able to forge an agreement if a sponsor is willing to eat some of the cost.The alternative might be worse: a season without games at all. And here is another place the NWSL faces a disadvantage. Even if the 2020 season is canceled entirely, Yankees fans are not going to forget that they are Yankees fans. Sky Blue FC fans might need some reminding.

“You’re going to lose the margins,” says Julie Foudy, the two-time World Cup winner and two-time Olympic gold medalist who now calls soccer for ESPN. “You’ve got to continue to keep [fans] emotionally engaged, to give them a reason they’re going to spend their limited resources [on the NWSL] when the games do open up.” Until then, the NWSL is trying to navigate a path forward. When President Donald Trump held a conference call with league commissioners in April, he notably left off NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird, but people familiar with the league’s plans say that the NWSL hopes to be among the first leagues to return to action. (Baird, through a representative, declined to be interviewed for this story.) Players have been asked by teams to return to their areas by May 16—a date that, as of press time, had not been changed—and have begun planning socially distanced workouts at their facilities: one player at a time, each with her own ball and cones, wiping down everything she touches afterward. Eventually they hope to progress to small-group training with coaches directing from the stands.“I think the league is going to do every single thing they possibly can do to stay open and have some kind of a season,” says Menges. And, she points out, the NWSL is not alone in its dashed plans. The coronavirus has also pushed back the Olympics. Maybe women’s soccer can sustain some of its momentum after all.

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5/15/2020 Pro Soccer Returns Germany Kicks off Sat on Fox, EPL looking at June Start, MLS in June maybe ? No word on Indy 11 or USL

It has certainly been an interesting 2 months without soccer – sorry but with no games to preview and being swamped at work – I gave the Ole Ballcoach a break.  Good to be back though !  Of course lots has happened from the cancelation of seasons – see the French and Dutch leagues, to postponements (everyone else) things have been interesting.  Here in the US MLS, the NWSL and USL have all gone on hold like all sports in the country.  Interesting to see MLS might return with some sort of tourney set up in mid June from Disney perhaps – possibly making them the first pro league to return to play.  While I do want them to do this safely – I do think if MLS could get a 1 or 2 week headstart on everyone else – it could do the league good being the only games on TV could certainly help – although not having fans in the stands might not properly display the pageantry and beauty of MLS soccer – especially in places like Seattle, Portland, LA, and Atlanta.  I for one am hopeful our Indy 11 can return in some form – good to see they plan to play games out at the Luke somehow.  Interest US news as the USWNT is appealing the their unequal pay ruling and both Alex Morgan and Hope Solo had kids this month.  (See full US update below)

German Soccer Returns  

Ok soccer fans so Soccer/futbol is back, at least partially, with the return of the German Bundesliga this weekend.  Of course Germany has the most US players on rosters of any other overseas league so now is a good time to pick your favorite German team based on which ones have American’s of course 😊.   Long time US favorite Dortmund – currently 2nd in the table – is probably the one team that many US Soccer fans may recognize (other than the powerhouse NY Yankees of German soccer Bayern Munich).   Dortmund of course had US Starlet midfielderChristian Pulisic make his debut a few seasons back as a 16 year-old star in the making.  Now Gio Reyna has taken that slot and at just a little younger age has made his way into games off the bench in the midfield as well.  Contributing the assist on a goal that helped Dortmund win a Champions League game a couple months back.  Dortmund will host Schalke in their derby this Saturday at 9:30 am on Fox Sport 1 and they face US mid Aaron McKinney.  Set up 2 TVs as RB Leipzig and US Tyler Adams who sit 3rd in the table will be on hosting Freiburg on Fox Sports 2 and TUDN.  Sunday gives us German teams with no American’s playing – Koln vs Mainz at 9:30 am on FS1, and Union Berlin- the little team that could vs Bayern Munich at 12:30 on FS1.  Monday we get Werder Bremen and hopefully American forward Josh Stewart at least as a sub vs Bayern Leverkusen on FS2 and Fox Desportes at 2:30 pm.

Interesting Things During our Downtime

Here’s Arlo White in this great Global Isolation Sensation from Early April,  Arlo White calling a header training at home.  Here’s Arlo’s Call as Leicester City became the biggest underdawg Champion back on May 2, 2016

GAMES ON TV 

Sat, May 16   (Americans in Parathensis)

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Schalke (Aaron Mckinney)

9:30 am FS 2, TUDN, FuboTV          RB Leipzig (Tyler Adams) vs Freiburg

12:30 p.m. ET: FS1                           Frankfurt (Timmy Chandler) vs Borrusia M’gladbach (Johnson) 

Sun, May 17   

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                         Koln vs Mainz 05

12:30 pm FS1                                    Union Berlin vs Bayern Munich

Sun, May 17   

2:30 pm FS 2, Fox Desp                   Werder Bremen (Josh Stewart) vs Bayern Leverkusen

Sat, May 23   

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Wolfsburg (John Brooks) vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

12:30 FS1                                           Bayer Munich vs Frankfurt (Timmy Chandler)

Sun, May 24   

7:30 am Fox Sport 1                         Schalke (Aaron Mckinney) vs Ausburg

9:30 am FS 1, FuboTV, Fox desp     Mainz vs RB Leipzig (Tyler Adams)

12:30 pm FS1                                    Koln vs Fortuna Dusseldorf

Mon, May 25   

2:30 pm FS 2                                     Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Bayern Munich

2:30 pm FS 2, TUDN, FuboTV          RB Leipzig (Tyler Adams) vs Hertha

 

Saturday, May 16

9:30 a.m.: Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke 04 (FS1, Fox Deportes); RB Leipzig vs Freiburg (FS2, TUDN); Augsburg vs. VfL Wolfsburg (Fox Soccer Plus); Fortuna Düsseldorf vs. Paderborn; TSG Hoffenheim vs. Hertha Berlin (Fox Deportes tape-delayed at 11:30 a.m.)

12:30 p.m.: Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (FS1, TUDN)

Sunday, May 17

9:30 a.m.: Köln vs. Mainz (FS1, Fox Deportes)

Noon: Union Berlin vs. Bayern Munich (FS1, UniMás, TUDN)

Monday, May 18

2:30 p.m.: Werder Bremen vs. Bayer Leverkusen (FS2, Fox Deportes)

 MLS + Indy 11

Indy 11 plan to play in Lucas Oil – with or without fans – Indy Star

MLS Could Return Sooner than other US Sports with Orlando Based Tourney in June – LA Times

MLS proposing all 26 teams come to Orlando to resume season this summer

MLS, NWSL resisting short-term benefits of making soccer first American sport to restart

Indy 11 Cam Lindley and Carleton at same Career Stage

ELEVEN & THE SHOP INDY LAUNCH T-SHIRT BENEFITING COMMUNITY HEALTH NETWORK CAREGIVERS

German Bundelisga First to Return to Live Play

How to Watch Bundesliga  Return, American players to watch and what you need to know – Jonathan Tannewald Philly Inquirer

Bundesliga’s return is exciting, but it also stands upon the edge of a knife Leander Schaerlaeckens

Which American’s to Root For at German Bundelisga Starts Up – s&S

US Players in Promotion/Relegation Battles at German Clubs -SS

Bundesliga Games This Weekend

German Bundesliga returns: Bayern’s title fight, must-see matches and players to watch ESPNFC

Lewandowski urges Haaland to stay in Bundesliga amid Real Madrid rumours

The Bundesliga is back, so can Dortmund catch Bayern?

USA

Chelsea chance too good for Pulisic to turn down as USMNT star  Goal.com

Morris is managing his diabetes in the face of coronavirus pandemic

USMNT’s road to World Cup: The players who should join Berhalter’s core

US Youngster Uly Llanez is the bright spot 2020 needs

ESPN Top Soccer Moments – ESPNFC

·       
Alex Morgan gives birth to baby girl, aims to become fifth mom to make U.S. Olympic soccer team

·        Alex Morgan has Baby Girl – SI

·        Hope Solo Gives Birth to Twins

US women’s national team files appeal after legal setback

USWNT file motion to appeal in equal pay fight

Key Issues in the US Womens Team vs US Soccer Case – SI

Times For US Ladies to Get the Respect and Equal Pay they Deserve – SocTakes
World Cup winner Ellis perfect for England – ‘and pay her same as Southgate’

CORONAVIRUS CRISIS IN FOOTBALL

From Empty Stadiums to Red Cards for Spitting – New Rules in the Game
Rule change allows five substitutions per team; VAR can be stopped

Five substitutions are now allowed to be made by each team during a game, as IFAB ratifies temporary rule change to help with coronavirus pandemic impact.

Soccer-Inter director says Serie A risks not finishing due to coronavirus
A letter from Quarantine – Rather Touching

Simeone anticipated tough spell but happy Atletico stayed patient
Van Basten: Those who think Ronaldo’s better than Messi know nothing about football

GK Training Sessions during Quarantine

Goalkeepers:  3 Tips for Young Goalkeepers

GKs –  GK At-home activities

Bundesliga Table

TEAM GP W D L GD P
Bayern Munich 25 17 4 4 +47 55
Borussia Dortmund 25 15 6 4 +35 51
RB Leipzig 25 14 8 3 +36 50
Borussia Monchengladbach 25 15 4 6 +19 49
Bayer Leverkusen 25 14 5 6 +15 47
Schalke 04 25 9 10 6 -3 37
VfL Wolfsburg 25 9 9 7 +4 36
SC Freiburg 25 10 6 9 -1 36
TSG Hoffenheim 25 10 5 10 -8 35
FC Cologne 25 10 2 13 -6 32
FC Union Berlin 25 9 3 13 -9 30
Eintracht Frankfurt 24 8 4 12 -3 28
Hertha Berlin 25 7 7 11 -16 28
FC Augsburg 25 7 6 12 -16 27
Mainz 25 8 2 15 -19 26
Fortuna Düsseldorf 25 5 7 13 -23 22
Werder Bremen 24 4 6 14 -28 18
SC Paderborn 07 25 4 4 17 -24 16

With or without fans, Indy Eleven still plan for season at Lucas Oil Stadium

David Woods  -Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS – Despite the pandemic, the Indy Eleven plan to keep their training base at Grand Park and home games at Lucas Oil Stadium. But when the United Soccer League season begins, there is no certainty fans will be allowed into the 67,000-seat football stadium.Greg Stremlaw, president and CEO of Indy Eleven, declined an IndyStar interview request but agreed to reply to submitted questions. One question was about financial ramifications of playing without fans.“While our preference is always to have our full fan base in attendance, as mentioned, different formats and scenarios are being modeled out, all of which we will be prepared to facilitate for our matches,” Stremlaw said in a statement.Last year the USL and ESPN agreed to a three-year deal paying the league about $1 million a year. But USL clubs rely more on attendance than those in Major League Soccer. According to The Athletic, top USL clubs can make more than $200,000 per game across 17 home matches, representing their largest revenue source.Stremlaw said there are no plans to move games to IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium, where the Eleven played from their inaugural 2014 season through 2017.USL clubs were allowed to resume non-contact training in small groups this week. Such groups are limited to up to four players, with no more than one athletic trainer and one coach allowed on each field during a session.Protocols and clearances for full training are not available yet, Stremlaw said. According to the governor’s reopening policies, Grand Park will be available May 24. The 400-acre sports park is in Westfield.USL is still aiming for a complete season.“While a complete season remains the preferred outcome of any return to play scenario, a variety of alternative competitive formats are also being explored as the USL and Indy Eleven continue to prioritize the health and wellness of everyone involved,” Stremlaw said.Contact IndyStar reporter David Woods at david.woods@indystar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.

USMNT weekend viewing guide: It’s good to be back

At least we hope it is. By jcksnftsn  May 15, 2020, 9:02am PDT

Welcome back! After an extended layoff due to obvious reasons, the Bundesliga is back this weekend with games Saturday through Monday, including a number of games that could feature United States internationals in action. After a full two month layoff, it’s difficult at best to get a good handle on how all the players stand with their clubs, but the good news is that everyone playing in Germany should be healthy and ready to participate.

Saturday

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke 04 – 9:30a on FS1 (as always, all times listed are Eastern – do the math)

The Revierderby could once again feature Americans on each side, as Weston McKennie and Schalke take on Giovanni Reyna’s Borussia Dortmund. McKennie’s Schalke side were struggling prior to the break, going winless in their past seven matches. They currently sit in 6th place, one point ahead of Wolfsburg and Freiburg for the Europa League qualifying spot. McKennie has been a regular starter for Schalke when healthy, and he is in line for a full slate Saturday as well.

It’s a rivalry match, but it’s one without momentum, so certainly expect the unexpected. Still, Schalke will have their work cut out for them as they face a second place Dortmund side. Giovanni Reyna was consistently had seen minutes in every match since joining the senior side and that seems likely to continue, particularly now that teams will have five subs at their disposal and a compressed calendar that could lead to the young man’s first start before too long.

RB Leipzig v Freiburg – 9:30a on FS2

Get your second screen ready as well Saturday morning as Tyler Adams and third place RB Leipzig will be facing SC Freiburg, kicking off at the same time. Adams had been having a bit of trouble working himself back into the team after a long layoff, so it’s possible the two month break has actually helped him. Third place Leipzig currently sit five points behind first place Bayern Munich and just three points ahead of fifth place Bayer Leverkusen and a slip down the stretch of this resumed season would see them miss out on the Champions League.

Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Mönchengladbach – 12:30p on FS1

Back in March, we might have made some sort of wisecrack about Timothy Chandler and Fabian Johnson. But at this point, we’re so happy to have any soccer back, we’ll take anything and everything we can get our grubby little hands on. It’s quite possible that neither player will appear, but we better watch every second just to make sure. Fabian Johnson and ‘Gladbach are currently in fourth place, two points ahead of Leverkusen, while Timothy Chandler and Frankfurt have just 28 points (though one fewer match played) which has them all the way down in 12th place, just six points clear of the relegation scrum.

Sunday

Feel free to catch both of the Bundesliga games on Sunday, but neither one features USMNT representation so we’ll be moving right along to…

Monday

Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen – 2:30p on FS2

Josh Sargent’s usage by Werder Bremen was a bit all over the place prior to the unplanned break, but he did manage to pick up a goal in the team’s last game, a 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin. Bremen is going to need more from Sargent, and more positive results down the stretch if they’re to avoid relegation. Currently the team has just 18 points through 24 games and sit four points behind Zach Steffen’s Fortuna Düsseldorf for the relegation playoff spot, which would give them a bit of hope. In order to truly reach safety, they would have to catch Mainz 05, who currently have an eight point advantage.

So what are you watching this weekend, other than everything? Let us know in the comments below and welcome back everyone.

Which Americans can you watch in the Bundesliga?

A guide for the new, and a refresher for the veterans.By Donald Wine II@blazindw  May 8, 2020, 6:02am PDT

The Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 season will resume from May 16th. In both leagues, the season will continue with the 26th matchday. The other matchdays will follow in the order originally scheduled.Because the leagues are coming back at a time where most major sports are still sidelined, there is renewed interest in the league among diehard soccer fans, and new fans are beginning to research the league to find a team to latch onto for the next couple of months.As many diehard fans know, the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga have several American players that call it home, including quite a few of the young core of the United States Men’s National Team. Whether you’re looking for a team to call your own or you’re just excited to see live soccer once again, checking out the matches involving teams with American players is always a great idea.So, which American play in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga? Here’s the running tally of players that are on a German first team or youth team:

Bundesliga

Borussia Dortmund – Gio Reyna

RB Leipzig – Tyler Adams

Bayern Munich – Chris Richards (youth team)

Schalke – Weston McKennie, Nick Taitague (youth team)

Werder Bremen – Josh Sargent

Wolfsburg – John Brooks, Ulysses Llanez, Michael Edwards (youth team)

Fortuna Düsseldorf – Zack Steffen, Alfredo Morales

Borussia Mönchengladbach – Fabian Johnson

Eintracht Frankfurt – Timothy Chandler

Union Berlin – Malick Sanogo (youth team)

1.FC Köln – Brady Scott

Hoffenheim – Royal-Dominique Fennell (reserve team)

  1. Bundesliga

Hamburg – Bobby Wood

Greuther Fürth – Julian Green, Timothy Tillman

Jahn Regensburg – Jann-Christopher George

St. Pauli – Kevin Lankford

Osnabrück – Marc Heider

Hannover – Sebastian Soto

At least 18 teams in Germany have at least 1 American player that you can root for when the leagues resume Saturday. You have a week to figure it out. Which teams (and players) will you keep your eye on when the leagues resume? Hit the comments and let us know which teams have drawn your interest!

Inside Giovanni Reyna’s life at Dortmund: Son of Captain America on wild goals, hanging with Haaland and shrinking his laundry

10:43 AM ETTom HamiltonSenior Writer

Giovanni Reyna has a pile of match jerseys neatly stacked in one of the unpacked cardboard boxes in his new apartment, located roughly 15 minutes from Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park home in Germany.”There have been a lot of firsts for me,” he says. He has the Borussia Dortmund jersey from the first time he was included in a matchday squad, then another from his debut. There’s a shirt to mark his first goal and another from his first Champions League game.”There have been cool little milestones I’ve hit so far.” He swapped another jersey for Kylian Mbappe’s shirt when Dortmund took on PSG in the Champions League round of 16. “That was pretty amazing.”

All of these events took place in the past four months, but it’s no fluke. He arrived at Dortmund as a young, promising American forward in July 2019. It came with echoes of the past. His dad, Claudio Reyna, won 112 caps for the U.S. and played in the Bundesliga from 1994-99. Dortmund had just bid farewell to their beloved American Christian Pulisic. Their narratives are intertwined, but Gio is forging his own path.

Pulisic scored his first Dortmund goal at 17 years and 212 days old. Gio was 17 years and 83 days when he opened his account for Dortmund. It was no ordinary goal. Having made three appearances for Dortmund in the Bundesliga from the bench, he was thrown into their DFB Cup game against Werder Bremen on Feb. 4 as a 66th minute substitution for Dan-Axel Zagadou. Twelve minutes later he received a pass from Julian Brandt 20 yards from goal, took the ball through two Werder defenders, cut inside the third, opened his body and curled it into the top right-hand corner. It was outrageous.

“Gio Reyna is officially here” announced Borussia’s Twitter account. But there was no chance of the young American getting carried away. “My first thoughts were, ‘We have to get the ball’ and go score another as we were 3-2 down. The goal was great, and people say to me, I may not score a goal like that in the rest of my career … but it was just instinct.”The last few months have been a lot for a 17-year-old to process. “I’m learning a lot,” Gio told ESPN via Zoom.After all, being away from home and his family, living through a unique time with the coronavirus pandemic changing our routines and rituals, trying to improve as a young player at one of Europe’s most demanding clubs in one of soccer’s most challenging leagues: Gio is taking things in stride.”There have been some difficult times, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But all I need to do is keep my head looking forward, eyes on the future and hopefully I can do some more pretty cool stuff.”At the time of Reyna’s Bundesliga debut on Jan. 18, the noise around Dortmund concerned another new arrival. Erling Haaland, a highly sought after striker, had signed for Dortmund that January from Red Bull Salzburg, scoring nine goals in eight games to open his Bundesliga career, and the two became close friends.ogether with Jadon Sancho, they’re arguably the most exciting trio of attackers on the same team in world soccer. The partnership has already paid dividends against PSG where Reyna teed up Haaland for the winner in their first-leg victory in the Champions League last 16.”I look up to him because he’s done so many things in a young career, and he’s a great guy,” Gio says of Haaland. “He’s encouraged me, as he sees something in me.” Gio talks of how in training, if they’re playing 11 vs 11, or five-a-side, if he sees Haaland with the ball in the box, he starts to head back for the restart as he will inevitably score.aaland has become Gio’s chauffeur as the U.S. midfielder is too young to drive. He smiles a lot as he talks about Haaland, and then about Sancho — this triumvirate of promising young attacking players, with Gio the youngest of the group.Sancho, now 20, broke through into Dortmund’s first team almost immediately after arriving from Manchester City in 2017.”I think the biggest thing for any young player is to be confident. … I’m here because I belong,” Gio says of the advice Sancho gave him. “Those guys told me mistakes happen, even Messi and Ronaldo make mistakes. You make it, then put it behind you and move on. Jadon knows how I felt. He’s been there for me and I could always go to him with stuff if I needed help off the field.”Claudio Reyna, now sporting director at Austin FC — which will join Major League Soccer as an expansion club in 2021 — was at an MLS meeting at a ranch 90 minutes outside of Kansas City, Missouri, when Gio came off the bench against Werder Bremen. He remembers watching his son’s goal on his phone.”I kind of picked up more in the second half to start watching when there was an opportunity he could come on. It was obviously a great moment … it was great,” Claudio told ESPN.Claudio and his wife, Danielle, had planned to travel to watch Gio in the second leg of Dortmund’s Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain back in March. But they cancelled their trip as the match was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.The cooking lessons Gio had been hoping would be conducted in person are now done via WhatsApp with his mom. “I haven’t yet got a speciality,” Gio says. “I mean my eggs are pretty decent, but I’m sure everybody’s eggs are decent.”His mom has also tried to talk him through the complexities of a washing machine in German — the first few attempts spat out shrunken hoodies and T-shirts. “She tells me what soaps to use, how to do the dishes and stuff,” Gio says. “… It’s a process right now moving into my own apartment for the first time, but I’m learning a lot. It’s cool.” He catches up with his younger brother and sister, Joah-Mikel and Carolina, over Fortnite and FaceTime.”It’s been challenging for sure for both of us because, you know, not being able to be around him and he’s still young,” Claudio says. He laughs as he hears about Gio shrinking his hoodies. And then, as he talks through Gio’s goal, there are memories of the nerves he feels whenever he watches his son play.

Claudio won 112 caps for the USMNT and enjoyed a 13-year career with Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Rangers, Sunderland, Manchester City and New York Red Bulls. But those nerves …

“It’s the worst by far now, it’s not even close to when I played,” Claudio says. “In management you have the nerves, absolutely … but as a dad … man! That’s a whole other … it’s crazy. I’ve talked to other parents of kids who are professional footballers and we’ve asked them, I said ‘Is this how it always is?’ They said, ‘Yeah … no, actually it gets worse.'”It’s exciting to feel that excitement and tension again, but it’s bad … it’s tough!”Football runs in the family — Danielle (she was Danielle Egan then) played six times for the U.S. women’s national team. While Gio says he feels it was predestined that he was always going to be a professional footballer — “it’s in my genes”, he says — it was more chance than design, from Claudio’s perspective.”We never set out to make that happen, but you know, he loved kicking a ball from the moment he could walk around the house,” Claudio says. “From the beginning, something I remember is when he was younger, he would sit there at 3, 4, 5 years old and watch football matches live and kind of understand the movement of players and where they’re going. He was trying to figure it all out.”I remember when he was younger and he played he would cry, he would scream, he would yell if he lost … he loved competing.”Gio talks football with Claudio every day, his dad offering him feedback in an understated, interpretative way. “He knows how it works,” Gio says. “Football is such a big part of his life; I don’t think he really has ever left it. I love talking about it and he finds a way to tell me [feedback] in Dad mode, but also in a football mode where he understands what it takes. It’s all very relaxed but putting no pressure on at the same time.”Claudio’s advice to Gio revolves around pacing himself. Though Gio is versatile as a player, Claudio reckons he will end up being a box-to-box attacking midfielder. “He can interpret that area well in space, but you know …” Here comes the fatherly qualification: “I do think that area on the defensive side, tactically with experience, from watching some of his teammates he will continue to improve. But his strengths are being able to create, finding teammates and being able to roam in different areas.”If Claudio is good cop, then mom, Danielle, has played bad cop in the past. “She’s more about effort,” Gio says. “If I had a bad training and she saw me slacking off … I definitely would get an earful in the car ride home. But she’s very focused on my sleeping and eating habits and the way I take care of myself. I’ve certainly learned from her, and so thankful to have her.”Claudio hears this account of Danielle offering the tough love. “I’m glad you’re bringing this up,” he says as he laughs. “She was harder on him than me! But mom knows best with all this stuff and he’s certainly taken a lot of her attributes as well.””He’s on his way,” Claudio continues. “I’m proud of that because he eats well and takes care of his body. Some players struggle with that, but he has good habits and is in a good place with a good foundation.”That family unit means the world to Gio. “We are very close,” he says. “They’ve done a lot for me to help me reach where I am now. I try to stay as close as possible.” Tattooed on his right arm is “Love Jack,” in memory of his late older brother who died from complications of cancer in July 2012.When it’s breakfast in the Reyna household in the U.S. Gio is propped on the end of the family table via FaceTime. It’s their way of negotiating the six-hour time difference.When he’s in and around the club, he loves hearing stories from the club’s staff about when they played against his dad. “A few of my coaches like [15-year Dortmund veteran] Sebastian Kehl played against my dad and said he was a great player. It’s kind of all hitting me now that he was obviously a very seasoned pro and did a lot throughout his career.” But there was no fatherly influence behind Gio’s similar start to his career.”The decision to go to Dortmund was Gio’s,” Claudio says. “But I just told him the good thing about the Bundesliga are the habits you learn in the locker room, it’s very disciplined and it’s physically demanding. It’s a great league in itself.”This is his path; this is what he wanted to do. He wanted this life challenge and he’s on his way. He’s so happy, he’s learning, and we’re excited for him. We just want him to be happy and he is there.”

The Reyna family planned to be in Eindhoven in March for what looked to be Gio’s USMNT debut against the Netherlands. Despite being qualified to play for EnglandPortugal and Argentina, he was always going to declare for the U.S. In his own polite way, he said no thanks to other overtures and is now an active member of the USMNT’s WhatsApp group.”I want to play for the national team and kind of also carry on my dad’s legacy there, so that’s really cool,” Gio says.Claudio laughs at that talk of legacy in a here-we-go-again way.”I just want to be in the background, just be his dad at any of those games and be his father throughout this journey,” Claudio says. “We just crack jokes now about how I used to play. He doesn’t feel any pressure, which is great. There’s no … he’s trying to live up to Dad or do anything like that or achieve more. He’s well on his way, way further than I was at the same age.”Everyone has their own path. It’s been obviously so much fun as a dad seeing him grow and develop and become the player he is up and until now, because he’s got a long way to go. For all of us in the family, we’re rooting him on, and we just wish we could see him soon.”

Pulisic: Nobody at Chelsea noticed me when I joined

5:07 AM ETESPN

Christian Pulisic has said “nobody even noticed me” at the start of his career at Chelsea and that he has had to earn the respect of the dressing room during his first season in English football.

The United States international made his move to Chelsea official last summer, after they agreed a £57.6 million deal with Borussia Dortmund in January 2019 before loaning him back for the rest of the 2018-19 campaign.

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Pulisic’s first season in the Premier League has been disrupted by injury, with six goals in 23 appearances before the coronavirus pandemic halted sport across the world.He told the 13&ME podcast of his experiences at Chelsea: “It was all pretty crazy what happened. I had to fly straight from my summer break right after the Gold Cup. I had one week off and I didn’t really get a summer.”The team had already started preseason in Japan so I flew straight there and I had to literally fly by myself and then meet the team who had flown from London.”I had to go straight to the hotel and the next thing on the schedule was to go straight to training. I was tired, nervous and didn’t know what to think but: ‘I’m at Chelsea and this is insane.'”I got on the bus, they had just arrived as well. Everyone is half asleep, I go and sit on the bus and nobody even noticed me. Nobody said anything. There were maybe one or two guys who said: ‘Hey, hello’ and I was like: ‘What’s going on here?'”Those first couple of days of training I was nervous. You know how it’s like when you move to a new team.”The 21-year-old, who features in ESPN’s list of the best players aged 21 or under, said he needed to win over his new teammates following his move from the Bundesliga.”They’re nice guys off the field but to earn that respect you have to show on the field you have that ability, that’s just how it is,” he added.”I had to go in on day three when I had a really good training, scored some goals, had some nice plays and assists and then I felt the guys coming and talking to me and getting their respect.”It’s interesting how it works but they’ve been great guys and I’ve enjoyed it.”

Chelsea chance too good for Pulisic to turn down as USMNT star picks favourite position

Goal.comMay 14, 2020, 4:11 AM

Christian Pulisic admits the opportunity to link up with Chelsea in 2019 was too good to turn down, with the United States international having always wanted to test himself in the Premier League.The 21-year-old saw a transfer door open after proving his worth at Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.

Having broken through in Germany under Jurgen Klopp, impressive progress has been made for club and country over recent years.Chelsea were happy to buy into that potential, with a £58 million ($71m) deal put in place.Pulisic would likely have found plenty of other options to consider had he delayed the decision to leave Dortmund, but he jumped at the chance to head for Stamford Bridge.Discussing his career path with BT Sport, the USMNT star said: “I always wanted to play in Europe.“Going to Dortmund was definitely a perfect first step for me. It was awesome, and I learned so much. I grew up there – I went over there when I was 15.“Now, to be here and come to the Premier League when I was 20, I think it all worked out very well so I’m really happy with the path.“I was confident and felt like I had a good couple of years in the Bundesliga, and obviously with the opportunity to come to a club like Chelsea – it was just something I couldn’t turn down.“I just felt like the timing was perfect and I’m really happy that I made that choice.”Pulisic endured a slow start to his time with Chelsea, but he now feels fully adjusted to the demands of life in English football.He added on the challenges that he has faced:  “The intensity, especially the schedule when you get to that winter period where you are playing games all the time.“Every couple of days it’s about recovery it’s about tough games where you’re fighting for everything. It’s something I wasn’t 100% used to.”After finding his feet, Pulisic has recorded six goals and as many assists across his debut season in west London.That is a decent return, with the youngster hoping that Frank Lampard will continue to give hum regular game time in one of his favoured positions.“I do really like playing on the left wing and also in that 10 spot centrally behind the forward,” said Pulisic.“I’d say those are my two favourite positions.”

Which Americans are in Bundesliga promotion and relegation battles?

Some are pushing to move up, while others are fighting to avoid the drop.

By Brendan Joseph  May 15, 2020, 6:00am PDT Stars and Stripes

The German Bundesliga is set to return to action following a long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the first and second divisions plan to complete their 34-match seasons over the next six weeks, with a very ambitious schedule that includes regular testing and quarantines. While most eyes will be on the stars and super clubs at the top of the table, there is plenty of drama and excitement to be found elsewhere. With fewer than ten matches remaining, six American players and one manager find themselves in tightly contested promotion and relegation battles in Germany’s top two divisions.

Josh Sargent — Werder Bremen

Things are not looking good for the Northern German club, which is currently in 17th place and eight points away from safety. After finishing in eighth place last season, Werder has managed a dismal four wins, including one in the last 11 matches. Josh Sargent has three goals and two assists in 18 appearances, but his output will have to increase for his club to avoid the drop. Should Werder be relegated, it’s probably not the end of the world for the young American. The 20-year-old striker would likely receive several transfer offers or a substantial increase in playing time in the second division.

Key matches: at SC Paderborn (June 13th), at Mainz 05 (June 20th)

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales — Fortuna Düsseldorf

Currently in 16th place, Düsseldorf is in a dangerous position, but all is not completely lost. If the season were to end today, the club would head to the relegation playoffs against the third-highest finisher in the 2. Bundesliga. It will be tough sledding, as four of their nine remaining matches are against Schalke 04Bayern MunichBorussia Dortmund, and RB Leipzig. They’ll also likely be without their top choice goalkeeper. Zack Steffen, having only recently recuperated from a knee injury, “sustained another injury during training” two weeks ago. Alfredo Morales has been a regular presence in the starting lineup, which propelled him back into the national team picture.

Key matches: vs. SC Paderborn (May 16th), at FC Augsburg (June 20th)

Bobby Wood — Hamburger SV

In 2018, Hamburg experienced its first ever relegation. Two years later, the club could jump back into the top flight and is currently one point out of an automatic promotion spot. The remaining schedule is difficult, but the upcoming six-point matches against the second, fourth, and sixth place clubs present the opportunity to rise up the table and build some distance. Bobby Wood is decidedly and, most likely permanently, out of favor at the Volksparkstadion. He’s made a mere six appearances this season and none since November. The 27-year-old striker was connected to MLS clubs FC Cincinnati and D.C. United, but neither move was completed. Despite not playing for Hamburg, he has consistently been on the match day roster. Due to fixture congestion brought on by the rush to finish the season, it is possible Wood plays a role in the promotion hunt.

Key matches: at Greuther Fürth (May 17th), at VfB Stuttgart (May 28th), at FC Heidenheim (June 21st)

Julian Green — SpVgg Greuther Fürth

Promotion to the top flight may be a little out of reach for Greuther Fürth, as they currently sit eight points behind Hamburg. Julian Green has enjoyed a strong run of form since joining the Cloverleaves in 2017. This season, he was struck by the injury bug, dealing with a ruptured knee ligament and an ankle issue. With four goals in 13 appearances, Green was on track for a career season. His contract is up in June, but it might be in the 24-year-old’s best interests to stick around at a club at which he can thrive and lead back to the Bundesliga for the first time since 2013.

Key matches: vs. Hamburg (May 17th), vs. FC Heidenheim (June 16th)

Marc Heider — VfL Osnabrück

Osnabrück earned promotion last season after winning the 3. Liga. This year, the Lilac-Whites’ position in the 2. Bundesliga should be safe, but a four-point gap could evaporate very quickly. Captain Marc Heider has five assists in 23 appearances. The 33-year-old midfielder was born in Sacramento, California and played for Werder Bremen II and Holstein Kiel. He was a starter during the first half of the season, but dropped into a substitute role following the winter break.

Key matches: vs. VfL Bochum (June 14th), at Dynamo Dresden (June 28th)

Pellegrino Matarazzo — VfB Stuttgart

Die Roten made a managerial change in December, firing Tim Walter and hiring American Pellegrino Matarazzo. He’s led them into second place and an automatic promotion spot. The 42-year-old New Jersey native played ten years in the lower divisions of Germany before coaching in the FC Nurnberg and Hoffenheim systems. He described himself to American Soccer Now as a coach with “a very pragmatic approach to the game” who believes that his teams “need to have a sense of variability… based on clear principles regarding creation of space… and changing speed.” Matarazzo, who has a degree in mathematics from Columbia University, has primarily utilized a 3-4-2-1 formation during his eight matches in charge. With five of the nine remaining fixtures against the league’s worst teams, Stuttgart should coast to promotion.

Key matches: vs. Hamburg (May 28th), vs. SV Darmstadt (June 28th)

German Bundesliga returns: Bayern’s title fight, must-see matches and players to watch

may 14, 2020Bill ConnellyESPN Staff Writer

After a two-month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bundesliga will become the first major European soccer league to return to action, resuming the 2019-20 season this Saturday. There’s still a lot of anxiety and uncertainty with the proceedings — not every player loves the idea, and second-division team Dynamo Dresden had to enter a two-week quarantine last weekend following a couple of positive tests — but thus far, the first division’s tentative schedule for completing its final nine matchdays remains a go for launch.

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While the eyes of the sports world will be monitoring whether the league’s safeguards and safety measures are effective, the most open and enjoyable big soccer league in Europe is now basically the only soccer show in town. Here’s everything you need to know about the league’s 2019-20 season, what’s at stake, and who you absolutely need to watch between now and the end of June.

Jump to: What makes Bundesliga fun | Breaking down title race | Teams ready to resume | Must-see matches | Americans in Bundesliga | Young stars you need to know

People always talk about how fun this league is. What do they mean? How is it different?

First thing’s first: If this is your first dip into the Bundesliga pool, you’re not going to get an entirely adequate impression. The league is generally considered one of the more fan-friendly in the world, eschewing at least a couple of layers of corporate influence, keeping ticket prices down as much as possible and crafting a reputation for great crowds. You aren’t going to get any sense of that because fans won’t be allowed to attend.

While it’s always a big match when Bayern Munich travels to Borussia Dortmund, it won’t be quite the same with an empty Yellow Wall. And while it will still be a big deal when Union Berlin, a first-division team for the first time, hosts Bayern this weekend, it is deeply unfortunate that Union fans won’t be there to see it. Still, the amount of television revenue on the line — and the potentially crippling financial impact cancellation of the season might create — ensured that games would be played one way or another if at all possible.

So far, it’s possible, and the unique conditions will at least create some enjoyably odd circumstances: Borussia Mönchengladbach is placing cardboard cutouts of fans in seats, for instance. And with high-fives and any excess contact between players banned, there’s a chance for some creative — and hopefully choreographed — goal celebrations. (If someone from Bayern scores a goal and somehow doesn’t attempt to dance like forward Robert Lewandowski in his TikTok videos, I will be extremely disappointed.)

It will be different, but it will also still be the Bundesliga, and as far as what makes this league’s play so enjoyable, allow me to refer you to a league styles piece I wrote in December.

What remains at stake in the title race?

The top four teams in the league qualify for the 2020-21 Champions League, while fifth and sixth head to the Europa League. And the top five teams are still close enough that a really good team is going to end up out of the Champions League running.

When the coronavirus stopped play in March, the Bundesliga table was a little bit more cluttered at the top than usual. Things had begun to sort themselves out: After falling behind early for the second straight year, 29-time champions (and winners of seven straight titles) Bayern Munich (55 points) had eased ahead of both Borussia Dortmund (51) and RB Leipzig (50) at the top. But Bayern still has to play not only Dortmund, but also fourth-place Borussia Mönchengladbach (49) and fifth-place Bayer Leverkusen (47). Put simply: We’re one upset result from a dogfight.

Gladbach led the league for much of the fall, but Leverkusen were hot on the trail before stoppage. The race to avoid fifth place should be heated: FiveThirtyEight’s club ratings trust the top three to secure bids and deem the fourth-place battle a toss-up between Gladbach and Leverkusen.

Which teams are ready to resume?

Bayern Munich: Finally they catch a break, right? Before the stoppage, it appeared as if forward and league-leading scorer Robert Lewandowski was going to miss an early-April trip to Dortmund, the match probably most vital to maintaining a true league title race, with a groin injury. But it appears he should be ready to roll when action resumes. (Dortmund’s Marco Reus could also have returned from injury by then.) The same goes for winger Ivan Perisic, who was playing brilliant ball before suffering an ankle injury in early February. Bayern continued to roll without them, of course, but manager Hansi Flick now has quite the choice of lineup options.

aria-label=”Kevin Baxter” style=’box-sizing: border-box;touch-action: manipulation; color:inherit’ class=” imageLoaded lazyloaded” data-image-container=.inline-photo v:shapes=”_x0000_i1026″>Bayern have won seven straight Bundesliga titles and appear on course for No. 8 if they can keep their cool. Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images

RB Leipzig: Julian Nagelsmann’s side were the story of the Hinrunde (the first half of the season), leading a crowded field into winter break and reaching the knockout rounds of the Champions League. (And yet, they’re arguably the least-liked team in Germany.) Their form didn’t hit a major wall or anything — they lost only once in eight league games after the break, allowed only six goals in the process and torched Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League round of 16 — but they were leaking points. They suffered four draws in those eight matches, and their offense had scored a pedestrian 14 goals (seventh in the league in that span). For a team that has never been in this kind of high-pressure situation before, the rest probably did them some good.

Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and a host of other guests every day as football plots a path through the coronavirus crisis. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).

Schalke 04: Once near the top of the table, Schalke was heading quickly in the wrong direction in March. They had won just once in their past eight matches, scoring a league-low four goals. Forwards Michael Gregoritsch and Benito Raman had lost their finishing touch, combining for 6.3 Expected Goals (xG) but only two actual goals on 35 shots. Regression to the mean should lift them up a bit, though a little bit of extra rest would be ideal, especially if it means getting defenders Salif Sane and/or Benjamin Stambouli back. They both went down in November, and the defense was more scattershot as well.

FC Augsburg: Augsburg has been the league’s moodiest team this year. The Fuggerstädter began the season by losing to fourth-division SC Verl in the German Cup and pulling just seven points from their first 10 league matches. They allowed at least three goals in five of those 10. They suddenly outscored opponents 15-4 in a six-match unbeaten stretch … then won only once between Dec. 21 and the stoppage. From relegation-threatened to contender-for-Europe and back. They are in 14th place, five points out of the relegation playoff; we’ll see if the pause turned their mood back around.

What are the biggest remaining matches?

There are 34 matchdays in the Bundesliga schedule, and we’ve got nine remaining — the league is adamant on getting them all finished before June 30. With that in mind, here’s the biggest match from each round.

– Find all Bundesliga scores and fixtures here

Matchday 26 (May 16-18): Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke 04
This is one of the biggest rivalries in Germany and the biggest this weekend by far. Borussia can’t afford to drop many, if any, more points in the title race, and with a loss, Schalke will likely drop out of sixth place, aka the final Europa slot.

CORONAVIRUS CRISIS IN FOOTBALL

Matchday 27: Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayer Leverkusen
The race for the final Champions League position is nearly a dead heat between these two, and obviously the odds shift significantly if one of these teams secures three points against the other. The aesthetics of this match are pretty lovely, too: Gladbach might be the most creative passing team in the league, especially on the attacking end, while Leverkusen, led by 20-year-old future/present star Kai Havertz, have been a goal-scoring machine since winter break.

Schoenfeld: Havertz is destined for big things beyond Germany

Matchday 28: Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich
This has been the biggest battle in the Bundesliga for a while now: These clubs have taken 10 straight league titles and 22 of the past 26. And as mentioned above, both teams could be awfully close to full strength. If you watch only one league match the rest of the year, this is the one you need to catch. (But seriously, watch as many as possible. Satisfaction is guaranteed.)

Matchday 29: 1. FC Köln vs. RB Leipzig
With Bayern and BVB both playing relegation teams (Düsseldorf and Paderborn, respectively), the biggest matchup is either this or Freiburg vs. Leverkusen. I chose this one because it offers an opportunity to both catch a delightfully volatile Köln squad and take a sustained look at RBL. For each team’s remaining goals — Köln to Europa, RB Leipzig winning the title — taking three points here is a must.

Matchdays 30 and 31: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Bayern Munich; Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
On Nov. 30, two Leon Bailey goals gave Leverkusen an upset win over Bayern in Munich; a week later, Gladbach held onto first place with a stoppage-time goal from Ramy Bensebaini and a spirited 2-1 win over Bayern. Bayern hasn’t lost a single game in any competition since that day. If either team takes more points off of the league leader, that would provide a huge Champions League lifeline. But Bayern revenge attempts are often pretty cruel and relentless.

Matchday 32: RB Leipzig vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf
With all three primary title contenders playing relegation-threatened opponents, take this time to get to know RBL. Leipzig has a real “corporation bought its soul” issue, and German fans have rebelled against both the club and their success with relish. But Nagelsmann’s team is also intense and fun, loaded with players who could fetch a hefty sum on the transfer market in coming years: forward Timo Werner, attacking midfielders Christopher Nkunku and Marcel Sabitzer, defenders Dayot Upamecano and Lukas Klostermann, and so on.

play.

Matchday 33: RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Dortmund
The stakes could have changed pretty drastically by this point, but the odds are decent that this is either a title-elimination match or a battle to secure second place in the league. Either way, the first battle between these two teams was a raucous 3-3 draw. This could be similarly fun whatever the stakes.

Matchday 34: Wolfsburg vs. Bayern Munich
The title will likely have been decided by now (with Bayern the likely champion, of course), but if it’s not, this is a “who blinks first” final set of matches. The three title favorites all face tricky opponents (Bayern vs. Wolfsburg, Dortmund vs. Hoffenheim, Leipzig vs. Augsburg), and the odds are decent that one of them will drop a couple of points.

Aren’t there a lot of Americans in this league?

Indeed! Some of the USMNT’s most exciting young players — and a few steely old veterans — are, when healthy, Bundesliga stalwarts.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig (21)
Adams has dealt with a series of groin/adductor issues over the past couple of years, but the former New York Red Bulls star was quickly slotted into RBL’s rotation once healthy. He’s versatile and perfect for Germany: a defensive midfielder capable of creating danger in attack.

Weston McKennie, Schalke 04 (21)
McKennie is an aggressive and integral part of the Schalke attack. He’s not the best finisher in the world (you could say that about a lot of Americans), but he pushes the ball up the pitch offensively and pressures well on defense.

Zack Steffen, Fortuna Düsseldorf (25)
The first-choice keeper for both the USMNT and Düsseldorf, Steffen’s 2019-20 campaign was wrecked by injury. He suffered a patella injury in mid-January, and while the stoppage could have helped him get back on the pitch, he instead strained his MCL in late April and could miss the rest of the season.

Ale Moreno likens Borussia Dortmund and USMNT’s Gio Reyna’s style of play to his father, Claudio.

Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund (17)
The son of USMNT great Claudio, Reyna debuted for BVB early in 2020 and immediately fit in. Like Nkunku, he’s dangerous from both the wings and more central areas and scored a gorgeous goal against Werder Bremen in the DFB Pokal. The US boasts a lot of fun attacking midfielders, but Reyna could quickly move up the priority list.

Hamilton: Inside U.S. phenom Reyna’s life at Dortmund

John Brooks, Wolfsburg (27)
Another USMNT mainstay with a lengthy injury history, Brooks missed time in September but has still logged 16 starts for the team in bright green. And if you haven’t seen him play in a while, breaking news: He’s still tall. He still wins most aerials and plays standard, sturdy central D.

Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Düsseldorf (29)
A Bundesliga veteran who has also played for Hertha Berlin and Ingolstadt 04, Morales has put in over 1,400 minutes for Fortuna this season, scoring once and logging two assists. He remains one of the better ball-pressure guys in the USMNT player pool.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt (30)
Chandler’s USMNT days are probably done, but he worked his way back into the Frankfurt rotation after missing all but 17 minutes of the 2018-19 campaign to a knee injury. And in 14 matches, he has scored four goals and logged one assist for the enigmatic Eagles.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach (32)
The longtime fullback was capped 57 times for the U.S. in the 2010s but dealt with roughly 57 back injuries as well. He played in 18 matches for Gladbach in 2018-19 but has seen action only six times this season.

Ulysses Llanez, Wolfsburg (19)
Llanez scored in his first USMNT appearance but hasn’t logged any minutes for the senior team — at least not yet. He put in 11 goals in 15 matches with the under-19 team, though. This is more of a “file away for next season” name.

Chris Richards, Bayern Munich (20)
Another name to file away for later. The 6-foot-2 center back moved up from Bayern’s U-19 team and put in nearly 2,000 minutes for Bayern II this season. He might need to get loaned out to see Bundesliga time soon, but it’s quite possible that’s exactly what happens.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (20)
Already a feature player for the USMNT, Sargent has made 22 cup and league appearances for Bremen, scoring three times and dishing three assists. He had two goals in 10 appearances last season as well.

If this is a fun, young league, who are the fun, young players I should get to know?

Obviously the top teams feature some established names that you might recognize — Lewandowski, Reus, Bayern’s Thomas Müller, etc. — and if you followed the Champions League this year, then you likely became very familiar with 24-year-old stars like RBL’s Werner and Bayern’s Serge Gnabry. (Tottenham Hotspur definitely remembers Gnabry, anyway.)

This league gives young players more of a run than any major league.play

Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich
In barely three years, 19-year-old Davies went from Vancouver Whitecaps prospect to a starter for a Champions League favorite. He’s quite possibly the fastest player in Europe’s big five leagues, but even more impressively, he’s a sponge. His knowledge and his game have developed at a nuclear rate, and he could soon be one of the best left-backs or left wingers in the world … if he’s not already. Barring injury, he will almost certainly end up the best Canadian player of all time … if he’s not already.

Denis Zakaria, Borussia Mönchengladbach
Already a stalwart on the Swiss national team, Zakaria, 23, is one of the biggest pests in the league: He’s one of four players to have combined 170+ ball recoveries with a duel success rate of 57% or higher. (The other three: Upamecano and two established stars, Bayern’s Thiago and Dortmund’s Mats Hummels.) He challenges you constantly and usually wins.

Christopher Nkunku, RB Leipzig
Somehow acquired for just $14.3 million from PSG last summer, Nkunku is a standout creator — from the center or the wings — in a league full of them. His 65 chances created lead the Bundesliga, and his 4.03 chances per 90 minutes are second in all of the Big Five leagues, behind only Marseille‘s Dimitri Payet (4.04). Kevin “damn” De Bruyne is only at 4.01. Nkunku, still only 22, is astounding.

Kai Havertz, Bayer Leverkusen
Havertz is a unicorn: He’s a great, agile attacking midfielder — only he and Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho have combined 20+ goals with 200+ ball recoveries over the past two seasons — but at 6-foot-2 and 183 pounds, the 20-year-old playmaker is also bigger than a lot of defenders. He’s a matchup nightmare, and it’s probably no surprise that transfer rumors have linked him to Bayern and basically every big Premier League club over the past 12 months.

 Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund, and Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund

From Lewandowski (Bayern) to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) to Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona) and many others, BVB has earned a reputation as basically the finishing school for future stars. Lewandowski led them to a Champions League final before departing for Bayern. They deploy a young roster, flash significant upside, finish second or third in the league, sell players for a hefty profit, bring in some new youngsters and do it all over again, year after year. This guarantees financial health, but it also creates a nonstop set of what-ifs. They haven’t advanced past the Champions League quarterfinals since 2013, and there’s always a feeling of “if they could have just kept [insert young star(s) here] for one more year …”

We’re about to enter one of the stranger transfer windows in recent memory. Because of the money lost during the coronavirus stoppage, no one can tell how many clubs will be in position to buy megastar talent this offseason (whenever the season is officially “off”). And it’s easy to secretly hope that, despite nonstop transfer rumors regarding both January acquisition Haaland and, especially, Sancho, BVB keeps the band together for one full season, just to see what this group can do.

Sancho, 20, has already succeeded at an unfathomable level. I mentioned that he and Havertz are the only league players with 20+ goals and 200+ ball recoveries in two years; Well, Sancho also has 20+ assists. He, Leo Messi and PSG’s Angel Di Maria are the only to hit 20 and 20 in that span. This year alone, Sancho is leading the league with 29 combined assists and goals (Lewandowski and Werner both have 28). He is a good defender, a great scorer and an elite passer. And he’s 20. Whenever he does leave, be it this summer or next, he will likely command an incomprehensible transfer fee.

The 6-foot-4, Thor-esque (sans the beard) Haaland, meanwhile, went from hipster favorite to world-renowned in a heartbeat. That’s what happens when you not only score a first-half hat trick in your first Champions League appearance and become the first teenager to score in your first five Champions League matches — he had eight goals in total for Red Bull Salzburg during the UCL group stage — but also then join BVB and score 12 goals in your first 11 appearances in black and yellow. In just two years, the 19-year-old has gone from playing in the Norwegian Eliteserien to becoming the Next Karim Benzema at worst. He’s a world-class poacher and finisher, and he’s got one of the best passing teams in the world feeding him the ball.

 

How to watch the Bundesliga return, American players to know, the best and worst teams, and whom to root for

by Jonathan TannenwaldUpdated: May 15, 2020- 8:08 AM

This weekend, Germany’s Bundesliga becomes the first major soccer league in Europe to return to action after stopping because of the coronavirus pandemic.Here’s a viewer’s guide to the players to know about, how to watch the games, and picking a favorite team.

If you’re new to this

Let’s get the simple stuff out of the way first. The Bundesliga has long been one of the world’s best soccer leagues. There are star-studded powerhouses like Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, and many other teams sign top players from everywhere. There’s also the vast domestic talent pool that has fueled Germany’s four men’s World Cups and three European championships. Few countries anywhere are better at the sport.

The Bundesliga is also one of the world’s most entertaining soccer leagues, routinely leading Europe in average goals per game. Before the season was stopped on March 13, the Bundesliga was averaging 3.20 goals per game — not only topping the continent for the third straight year, but also beating its own average from the last two campaigns.

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Along with entertainment on the field, there’s a great tradition of entertainment off the field. The Bundesliga has some of Europe’s top attendances, including the highest per-game average among the continent’s leagues in the last two full seasons. And fans don’t just show up, they brings flags and scarves and unveil giant displays of banners that sometimes cover entire stands. Dortmund’s “Yellow Wall,” a 25,000-capacity end of their stadium, is the most famous example.

Unfortunately, you won’t see any of that right now, or for a while. All games will be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.

Dortmund’s “Yellow Wall,” a 25,000-capacity end of their stadium.

How can you watch games?

Fox and Univision have U.S. broadcast rights. Games generally air on FS1 and FS2 in English, and on TUDN, UniMás and Fox Deportes in Spanish. The TV schedule for this weekend is at the bottom of this article. (Hopefully you’ll read the rest of it first.)

» READ MORE: Betting on the Bundesliga has local sportsbooks’ attention

Why can the Bundesliga play when other leagues aren’t?

Germany’s government has been a world leader in moving on lockdowns and widespread testing for COVID-19. As such, the country has been able to move back toward normal life faster than others. The Bundesliga’s testing needs would take up just 0.4% of the nation’s capacity.

But it’s still a gamble. When tests were run on the 36 teams across Germany’s top two leagues, there were 10 positive cases. Two players from second-division team Dynamo Dresden tested positive, sending the entire team into quarantine and postponing their first game back.

Public opinion on playing games is far from unanimous — in fact, recent polling by German news organizations found nearly a 50-50 split.“Everyone has to be clear: we’re playing on probation,” Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert said when the green light was given to resume. “I expect everyone to live up to this responsibility.”Seifert has spoken with U.S. sports leagues about how Germany has handled the pandemic.“That we’re allowed to play again boils down to German politics for managing this crisis, and the health system in Germany,” he said. “If I were to name the number of tests that I was asked about in teleconferences with other professional leagues, with American professional leagues, with clubs from the NFL, the NHL, Major League Baseball and others, and I tell them how many tests are possible in Germany, they generally check, or there’s silence, because it’s just unimaginable in the situation over there.”

Which teams should you know about?

Bayern are Germany’s Yankees. They make the most money, sign the biggest players, and have won the most trophies by a mile: 29 league titles (including the last seven straight) and five European Cups. They’re in first place this season, too.Current stars include prolific Polish forward Robert Lewandowski, who’s one goal away from his fifth straight 40-goal season; 19-year-old Canadian left back phenom Alphonso Davies; and veteran German forward Thomas Müller.

Dortmund are the country’s No. 2 club, and No. 1 in many hearts. In addition to their colorful fan base, they excel at turning young players into stars and selling them for huge profits.The most famous to Americans, of course, is Hershey native Christian Pulisic. He made his pro debut there as a teenager, and last year was sold to English club Chelsea for $73 million. Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ($70 million) and Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé ($137.5 million) are also alumni.

The current team has a new crop of stars, led by Norwegian sensation Erling Braut Håland and American Giovanni ReynaHåland, age 19, has 12 goals in 11 games since joining the team in January — including a hat trick in his Bundesliga debut. Reyna, the son of U.S. legend Claudio Reyna, is already a regular at 17.

RB Leipzig are another big team, and they’re entertaining. But they aren’t very popular, because they’re bankrolled by the Red Bull corporate conglomerate. (The same company owns MLS’ New York Red Bulls and Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg).

Bayern (55 points), Dortmund (51), Leipzig (50), Borussia Mönchengladbach (49) and Bayer Leverkusen (47) are all in the title race.

Schalke 04 are Dortmund’s big rivals, 20 miles across the Ruhr Valley in Gelsenkirchen. The Revierderby is one of German soccer’s biggest games — and the latest edition is Saturday at Dortmund. Schalke have a long history of signing Americans, from Thomas Dooley in the 1990s to Jermaine Jones in the 2000s to Weston McKennie today.

Mönchengladbach made headlines when more than 16,000 fans signed up to buy cardboard cutouts of themselves to put in the closed stands. On the field, forward Marcus Thuram is the son of French World Cup legend Lilian Thuram.

Borussia Mönchengladbach has been filling the empty stands of their stadium with cardboard cutouts of fans.

American players

The Bundesliga has long been a top destination for American players, and right now is a golden era. Not only are there lots of big time U.S. national team players in Germany these days, they’re almost all getting regular playing time. Here are some names to know.

Zack Steffen: Goalkeeper, Fortuna Düsseldorf, age 23, Coatesville, Pa. (Unfortunately, he’s out injured.)

» READ MORE: Zack Steffen enjoying Germany’s Fortuna Düsseldorf, latest chapter of soccer career

Ulysses Llanez: Forward, VfL Wolfsburg, 19, Lynwood, Calif.

Josh Sargent: Forward, Werder Bremen, 20, O’Fallon, Mo.

Tyler Adams: Midfielder, RB Leipzig, 21, Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

Fabian Johnson: Midfielder, Borussia Mönchengladbach, 32, Munich, Germany (One of many Americans born in the country to U.S. servicemen.)

Weston McKennie: Midfielder, Schalke 04, 21, Little Elm, Texas

Alfredo Morales: Midfielder, Fortuna Düsseldorf, 30, Berlin, Germany

Giovanni Reyna: Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund, 17, Sunderland, England (He was born when Claudio played for Sunderland.)

John Brooks: Defender, VfL Wolfsburg, 27, Berlin, Germany

Timothy Chandler: Defender, Eintracht Frankfurt, 30, Frankfurt, Germany

Which team should you root for?

Here are a few suggestions.

If you like teams that win all the time: Of course you’d pick Bayern.

If you’re a Union fan: Sporting director Ernst Tanner used to be in charge of TSG Hoffenheim, where he developed current RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann. Former Union assistant coach Dick Schreuder is currently on Hoffenhem’s staff. Tanner also has ties to the Red Bull organization, and brought their high-pressing playbook to Chester.

If you’re looking for Philadelphia ties: Frankfurt is Philly’s sister city, so Eintracht Frankfurt fits the bill. Or Fortuna Düsseldorf because of Steffen. Or Hoffenheim, and not just because of Tanner. Bucks County native Zach Pfeffer, the Union’s first homegrown player, went on loan there in 2013. (And their sponsor, SAP, has a headquarters in Newtown Square.)

If you’re a hipster: Dortmund have been cool for so long that they’re almost establishment now. If you really want to buck the trend, go for Union Berlin. This is their first ever season in the top flight.

If you’re a win-at-all-costs type: Leipzig.

If you only watch English soccer: National team winger Jadon Sancho plays for Dortmund. Bayern has ex-Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho (though he’s injured) and ex-Arsenal regular Serge Gnabry.

If you enjoy suffering: The teams currently in the relegation places are DüsseldorfWerder Bremen and Paderborn. But really, pick Hertha Berlin. The biggest team in Germany’s biggest city hasn’t won the Bundesliga since 1931 and has never won the German Cup. They haven’t even made the final since 1993.

If you want the real answer: A lot of American fans will tell you Dortmund, and they’re right. There’s no team in Germany — or anywhere — quite like them. If you used to watch when Pulisic played there, it’s time to tune back in. Reyna is a rising star with must-see creative talent.

Soccer newsletter: MLS could be back sooner than most other sports

By KEVIN BAXTERSTAFF WRITER MAY 12, 2020  Hello, and welcome to another edition of the L.A. Times soccer newsletter. I’m Kevin Baxter, The Times’ soccer writer, and we start today with MLS where, in the last six days, 11 of the 26 teams saw players return to their training centers for individual workouts under strict social-distancing rules.What are they training for? Well the Washington Post’s Steve Goff, sourcing multiple people familiar with the plan, reported late Monday that the league has proposed bringing all of its teams to Orlando, Fla., to resume the season early this summer at the Disney sports complex and other locations in the area.The players, coaches and support staff for the teams, numbering more than 1,000, would be quarantined at a resort near Disney World for an undetermined amount of time. Disney owns ESPN and ABC, MLS rightsholders who would broadcast the games played behind closed doors.

The plan apparently has come together rapidly because the league was also considering another proposal that would see teams go to as many as three sites – Dallas and Kansas City, Kan., in addition to Orlando – to stage competitive games in late June or early July. That plan has not been totally abandoned.All three states were among the first to reopen after brief coronavirus lockouts with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis going so far as to declare sports as essential business, clearing the way for Jacksonville to play host to a televised UFC card in an empty arena last weekend. A formal announcement of the new plan could be made before the end of the month, which would probably make MLS the first major professional sports league in North America to resume games since the COVID-19 pandemic suspended competition in early March.Under the proposal players and staff members would be tested regularly, the Post reported, but several other hurdles remain including approval from the players. And Galaxy defender Daniel Steres appeared to speaking for many when he said he’s not sure the idea of a team-wide — much less a league-wide — quarantine can work.“You have to go to a single location and wherever that may be, there can’t be more spread of the virus there,” he said. “Then you have to put us in a hotel that’s got to be essentially locked down. You can’t have any touch with the outside world. That’s nearly impossible.”Many players are also likely to balk at the prospect of being separated from their families for an extended period. However the league may have a substantial card to play to win their approval. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, who has been closely following the financial ramifications of COVID-19, reported Monday that the league has made a formal proposal to the union that calls for 20% pay cuts across the board, in addition to other financial reductions that could run into the tens of millions of dollars.MLS executives, including commissioner Don Garber, agreed to 25% pay cuts of their own last month. Might Garber retract the request for player salary reductions if the union signs off on the Orlando plan?In an interview with Nashville SC’s website last week – one the league has been sharing widely – Garber said he was “more optimistic about what a return-to-play plan would look like. A month ago, we were very pessimistic.”Eventually MLS would like to see teams return to their home markets to play in front of their fans; the league’s two largest sources of revenue are sponsorships and ticket sales so a season without fans would be a severe blow to the bottom line. The slow reopening of training facilities may be something of a test balloon to see how feasible that might be as well.MLS has teams in 17 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces and each jurisdiction has its own guidelines regarding the novel coronavirus. So while staging games in Florida, home to two MLS teams, might go forward without a problem, more than half the 26 teams play in states still observing COVID-19 restrictions.In California, home to three MLS teams, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he could not promise the state would be able to hold Major League Baseball games, even behind closed doors, by July. That was optimistic compared to the opinion of Dr. Jeff Smith, executive officer for Santa Clara County, where the San Jose Earthquakes play.“Sorry to say, I don’t expect that we’ll have any sports games until at least Thanksgiving,” he said last month. “And we’ll be lucky to have them by Thanksgiving.”Pushing forward is a gamble for MLS, whose teams suspended play March 12 after just two of 34 games. But if Garber can make it work and make MLS the first league to restart play, it’s a gamble that could pay off handsomely. The league would gain long term in terms of attention and prestige while in the short term it would gain in terms TV ratings and sponsorship dollars while the rest of the U.S. sports landscape remains vacant.

A question of timing

A hint at just how fast the Orlando plan came together can probably be found in the league’s rush to reopen team training facilities for individual workouts last week.MLS put a moratorium on team practice sessions on March 13 – a ban it has extended five times.But then, before the last ban expired, it announced clubs could reopen training complexes last Wednesday for voluntary, closely supervised workouts. Four teams — Atlanta United, Inter Miami, Orlando City and Sporting Kansas City — had players on the field that first day. Five others, including LAFC, began a day later.Four more teams, including the Galaxy and Colorado Rapids, were scheduled to have players work out Monday but both teams failed to receive clearance from local health officials. A Galaxy spokesman said the team will try again on Wednesday. LAFC also hopes to resume individual workouts at its Performance Center later this week after being asked by the county to temporarily postpone them.To open their training centers, teams must follow a detailed protocol that includes standardized screening and temperature checks; staggered arrivals and departures for players and staff to assure safe-distancing in the parking lot; and the use of personal protective equipment, including facemasks, on the way to and from the field.Only four players can train at a time and they must stay in their own clearly-marked quadrant on an outdoor field. Teammates are not allowed to interact with one another while training and players are banned from using locker rooms, weight rooms and most other indoor facilities.Teams must also adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines, but the sessions are a clear first step toward the resumpton the small-group training sessions that would be needed to prepare teams for the resumption of games in June or July – in Orlando or wherever.

Daniel Guzman, the head performance coach for LAFC, estimated teams would probably need a three- to four-week training camp. The sessions teams have held in the last week consisted mainly of agility drills, some running and limiting ball-handling. But for both the players and staff, just getting inside the training facility and seeing one another in person for the first time in two months was a sign of progress.“It’s obviously a great feeling,” LAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye said, who has been biking to keep fit. “Just that team aura again felt good. It’s a lot of fitness-based things now. You can’t really pass. We just did a lot of running to get that base back together.”Added coach Bob Bradley: “Everybody’s being smart about it but yes, just in a general way, I prefer to have some interaction. I’ll find out how they’re doing, ask how their families are. See them have a chance to get on the field and run around, all those things are positive.“The return to play in all sports, that’s different. So all of use are adapting. We all understand the importance of following the guidelines for each phase.”

Coronvavirus roundup

The English Premier League moved a big step closer to resuming when the government on Monday gave the go-ahead to a June 1 restart behind closed doors, providing certain criteria including no new spikes in COVID-19 cases have been met.

It is up to the league how and when the season would resume, with one option calling for the use of neutral sites.

The EPL, which suspended its season March 13, is the second of Europe’s five major soccer leagues to be given government approval to return. Germany’s Bundesliga and the second-tier Bundesliga 2 are scheduled to resume their seasons in empty stadiums this weekend while Spain’s La Liga has set a tentative restart date of June 12, although Spain’s health minister said recently no final decision has been made and it may be later in the summer before games resume.

Teams in Italy’s Serie A have been cleared to resume training May 18 but the league has no date to begin play. The rest of the soccer season in France, meanwhile, was canceled by the government two weeks ago, days after the Dutch Eredivisie canceled its season.

The EPL has 92 games left on its schedule and Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that restoring some sports “could provide a much-needed boost to national morale.” Yet clubs remain divided over the use of neutral sites and the possibility of abandoning the season was discussed on a league conference call Monday night.

The U.K.’s COVID-19 death toll topped 32,000 on Monday, trailing only the United States. Only the U.S. and Spain have had more cases.EPL teams have already returned to their respective training grounds while observing government-mandated social-distancing guidelines. Once-beaten Liverpool (27-1-1) leads second-place Manchester City (18-7-3) by 25 points atop the table, meaning it needs just six points in nine games to clinch its first-ever EPL title.

Let’s make a deal

As expected, lawyers representing the two-time reigning World Cup champion women’s national team have filed an appeal of a ruling they lost in their gender discrimination suit against U.S. Soccer.That may be a bad idea.Earlier this month district court Judge R. Gary Klausner rejected the players’ arguments that they were paid less than the men’s national team for performing the same work, pointing to a collective-bargaining agreement the team negotiated with the federation that guarantees the women a base salary of $100,000 a year, plus another $72,500 for playing in the National Women’s Soccer League, the domestic league U.S. Soccer subsidizes.The federation pays players on the men’s national team only game-day bonuses that max out at $17,625. That’s nearly double what the women can earn for playing one UWSNT game but the women’s bonuses are paid in addition to the salary and benefits they get from their CBA.

“The argument that women gave up a right to equal pay by accepting the best collective-bargaining agreement possible in response to the federation’s refusal to put equal pay on the table is not a legitimate reason for continuing to discriminate against them,” Molly Levinson, spokeswoman for the USWNT, said in a statement announcing an immediate appeal to the Ninth Circuit court of appeals.Lawyers for the players requested a June 8 hearing on the matter and also asked for a postponement in the main trial, scheduled to begin June 16 in Los Angeles. The trial has already been delayed once by the COVID-19 pandemic.Yet despite the flurry of legal activity, momentum seems to be building toward a settlement that will fall far short of the $66 million in damages and back pay the women were seeking. And as we discussed here last week, that may be the best remedy given that the appeals process could take as long as two years with no guarantee of success. (And it would almost certainly end with the federation and many other sports organizations, including the NWSL, dealing with dire financial circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic.)

“I think that we’ve been very transparent about our openness to a settlement,” world player of the year Megan Rapinoe said last week on “CBS This Morning.” “Ultimately what we want to get to is something that’s fair and equal. And if that comes in the form of a settlement, we are definitely open to that.“I don’t think anybody is dying to go into litigation or go to trial or go through a lawsuit. This has been a very arduous process as players. We’re always open to that.”Federation president Cindy Parlow Cone understands and sympathizes with the arguments the current national team is making in court. But her time in office may be limited; a special election to fill the remainder of former president Carlos Cordeiro’s term will be held in February and Cone does not seem eager to run.That leaves the USWNT with less than nine months to negotiate an agreement with a favorable president or roll the dice and bet on the longshot chance that they win their appeal.If the USWNT is serious about wanting lasting change and not just more money for the players on the current roster, the opportunity to make a deal is there. But with the clock ticking down to February’s election, it may not be there for long.

Soccer mom

Speaking of the U.S. women’s national team, Alex Morgan, long the face of that team, and her husband, former Galaxy midfielder Servando Carrasco, welcomed their first child last week.

Daughter Charlie Elena Carrasco was born May 7 at 11:30 a.m.

Morgan, who was working out deep into her pregnancy, was expected to give birth in April and had hoped to be back on the field in time for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, where the soccer competition was scheduled to begin in late July. With the Olympics now delayed a year by the COVID-19 outbreak Morgan, 30, has an additional 12 months to prepare.

Here’s one place Morgan’s daughter won’t be able to play

The abrupt closure of the Galaxy’s five-team elite girls’ academy last month has caused substantial ripples in a local development community already bruised by U.S. Soccer’s April 15 decision to end support of a nationwide development academy program that had been home to several dozen girls’ programs, including the one run by the Galaxy.

Yet in the period between U.S. Soccer’s decision and the shuttering of the Galaxy’s groundbreaking program – the first girls academy fully funded by an MLS team – two weeks later, players and parents say the team kept them in the dark. So while girls on other DA-affiliated teams quickly moved to ones belonging to the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), the Galaxy players stayed put. And when the Galaxy academy also closed its doors, many of its 80-plus players were left stranded.

Most members of the academy coaching staff were also let go. Kevin Hartman, the two-time MLS Cup champion goalkeeper who was director of the 3½-year-old academy, will remain with the Galaxy as part of the soccer operations department.

The father of one player affected took issue with the team’s statement that it made an immediate effort to help girls find place with other clubs.

“This is simply not true,” said the father, who did not want his named to be used. “The LAG team failed to communicate with the girls for three weeks [following] the announcement by U.S. Soccer. This left players scrambling to find spots on teams throughout Southern California.”

Other players, who had put themselves in position to be recruited by top colleges, suddenly found themselves having to wait to try out for a new team or being forced to drop a level or more in play, potentially hurting their college opportunities.

“The staff treated my daughter very well overall and created a great training environment,” the father added. “She had a good coach and really liked the staff.”

Donovan’s World Cup heroics, Leicester’s long-shot title, Man United’s UCL miracle: The best moment I have seen

Apr 2, 2020   ESPN

Over the years, our writers have been present for some of the game’s greatest occasions. In the latest installment of a multi-part series, they tell the story of the best moments they have seen in person, which include Landon Donovan‘s late World Cup winner, Leicester winning the unlikeliest of titles and Man United turning around the 1999 Champions League final.

Jeff Carlisle’s pick: Donovan sparks World Cup delirium

The match: United States 1-0 Algeria (2010)
The place: Pretoria

When the draw for the 2010 World Cup was made, followers of the U.S. men’s national team let out a sigh of relief; their group, featuring England, Slovenia and Algeria, was easier — relatively speaking — than anyone dared to expect.

At which point the goal was laid out in stark terms for Bob Bradley and his side. Advance to the knockout round, and the tournament would be hailed as a success. Fail, and questions would be asked about the direction of the program.

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Heading into the final day of group stage matches, and after draws with England and Slovenia, the U.S. was in control of its fate. A win against Algeria in Pretoria would be enough to advance. Anything less, however, and the Americans would exit the tournament.

The U.S. created better chances against Algeria and thought it had a first-half goal from Clint Dempsey, only for it to be ruled out by a questionable offside call. Dempsey hit the post 12 minutes into the second half, before Edson Buddle had a point-blank header saved by Algerian keeper Rais M’Bolhi.

And so it was that, as the match went into stoppage time, stories of monumental failure were being written in the press tribune, with recriminations at the ready. If the U.S. could not advance from this group, how could it expect to do so in the future? Moreover, it seemed unlikely that Bradley would survive a first-round exit.

Landon Donovan scored one of the most memorable goals in U.S. men’s team history against Algeria. AP Photo/Michael Sohn

Then everything changed in an instant. Goalkeeper Tim Howard released Landon Donovan with a pinpoint, long throw into space. Donovan played in Jozy Altidore down the right wing. Altidore’s centering feed found Dempsey inside the penalty area. Dempsey’s close-range shot was denied by M’Bolhi. But the goalkeeper could not hold the ball …

Donovan reacted quickest and slotted home the rebound. As the entire U.S. squad raced to mob their No. 10 in the corner of Loftus Versfeld, ESPN’s Ian Darke uttered the now-immortal line “Go, go, USA!” in the commentary box and a nation erupted in a mix of joy and relief. In the press tribune, one colleague was so overcome that he hugged me and — gently — hit me in the gut.

The goal not only turned obits into plaudits, but also amounted to redemption for the U.S. — and Donovan especially — after a disappointing 2006 World Cup. The ensuing years brought plenty more criticism and accusations of underachievement, but that one, never-to-be-forgotten moment turned his career trajectory again.

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Mark Ogden’s pick: Leicester win the league

The match: Leicester 3-1 Everton (2016)
The place: Leicester, England

This is not one moment, but being there to witness Leicester City’s Premier League title triumph was as good as it gets. From December onward, it was clear that something remarkable — and unthinkable — was going to happen. The biggest clubs usually win, but it was all so unexpected with Leicester — rated 5000-1 at the start of the season — and everyone at the club approached it with so much joy and excitement. The abiding memory is manager Claudio Ranieri laughing and smiling his way to the title.

Leicester’s title win was arguably the biggest shock in Premier League history. AP Images

Tom Marshall’s pick: Mexico upset Germany

The match: Germany 0-1 Mexico (2018)
The place: Moscow

Not every nation or club can, has or will win a major trophy, but that does not mean the emotions provoked by this sport are any less volatile or real. When the final whistle blew against Germany after a 1-0 group stage win at the 2018 World Cup, tears of joy were shed by Mexico fans inside the Estadio Luzhniki as they celebrated Hirving Lozano’s winner. Personally, after four years covering the team, El Tri had recorded its best-ever win and one that, at the time, felt like a game-changer. Alas, they were unable to go beyond the round of 16… again.

Tim Vickery’s pick: Koeman wins Barcelona’s first European Cup

The match: Sampdoria 0-1 Barcelona (1992)
The place: London

I had gone to Wembley for the European Cup final in a Barcelona scarf, hoping they could win the big trophy for the first time, while London had turned into the Mediterranean, thanks to a glorious late-May heat wave. The game was terrific, full of ebbs and flows with two fine sides battling for supremacy, and there could have been plenty of goals, but it was still 0-0 in the second period of extra time. I really did not want penalties; I wanted a winner for either side, but preferably Barca. Cue Koeman’s magnificent free kick!

Nick Miller’s pick: Forest make a father and son happy

The match: Derby County 1-2 Nottingham Forest (2015)
The place: Derby, England

Of the games I have attended as a fan over 31 years, only a handful have been without my dad. He had a heart attack five months before this match in January 2015 but was well enough to attend and we suffered together as Forest, our team, were terrible for most of it, only for academy graduate Ben Osborn to score a 92nd-minute winner. Given the circumstances, it was the perfect moment and we should have agreed never to go to another game: not much was going to top that.

Tom Williams’ pick: Robson-Kanu extends Wales’ fairy-tale run

The match: Wales 3-1 Belgium (2016)
The place: Lille, France

I have been fortunate to witness some incredible moments — Champions League finals, a World Cup final and Leicester winning the Premier League — but from a personal perspective, Robson-Kanu’s goal against Belgium in the Euro 2016 quarterfinals meant the most. The Cruyff turn, the pinpoint finish, the roar of the Welsh fans. I never thought I would see Wales qualify for a major tournament, let alone reach the semifinals.

Rob Dawson’s pick: Solskjaer caps Man United’s Champions League final comeback

The match: Man United 2-1 Bayern Munich (1999)
The place: Barcelona, Spain

Seconds after Teddy Sheringham had equalised, United won a corner and the roar from the crowd just before David Beckham’s delivery gave you goosebumps. When the ball hit the roof of the net off the foot of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, to see a stadium the size of Camp Nou erupt is something no one there will ever forget. A truly incredible moment in the last seconds to become the first — and only — English club to win a treble.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s injury-time winner in 1999 completed the greatest Champions League turnaround in history. Photo by Matthew Ashton – EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Graham Hunter’s pick: Casillas denies Robben

The match: Netherlands 0-1 Spain (2010)
The place: Johannesburg, South Africa

I traveled with Spain throughout the 2010 World Cup, stayed in their hotels, watched them work, interviewed them and shared sleepless plane journeys. During the final, I was pitchside — yards from La Roja’s bench — hoping fervently they would win as Netherlands attempted to kick them off the pitch. All of a sudden, with the score 0-0, Arjen Robben went through on goal and I felt like my heart would stop. Iker Casillas’ save, off his outstretched little toe while diving the wrong way, still seems like a miracle and was a critical moment as Spain went on to lift their first and only World Cup trophy.

Gab Marcotti’s pick: Italy beat hosts Germany

The match: Germany 0-2 Italy (2006)
The place: Dortmund, Germany

Beating the Germans in Germany at the enormous — and raucous — Westfalenstadion for a spot in the World Cup final … football fandom does not get any better. Andrea Pirlo’s reverse pass for Fabio Grosso is what everyone remembers about a game in which the Italians scored twice late in extra time, but my favourite memory is Germany keeper Jens Lehmann losing his temper after Alessandro Del Piero’s goal. Priceless.

Colin Udoh: Nigeria finally overcome Cameroon

The match: Cameroon 1-2 Nigeria (2004)
The place: Monastir, Tunisia

Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and a host of other guests every day as football plots a path through the coronavirus crisis. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).

The long Nigeria-Cameroon rivalry is full of painful memories for the Super Eagles, so when the countries were pitched against each other in the 2004 African Cup of Nations quarterfinal, many fans had already given up. In fact, media in Tunisia were already packing their bags to leave the next day! Sure enough, Samuel Eto’o opened the scoring for Cameroon and it looked as though Nigeria’s woes were set to continue, until a goal from Jay-Jay Okocha turned things around and John Utaka delivered the win. Breathtaking.

Tor-Kristian Karlsen: Placente helps Leverkusen stun Man United

The match: Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Man United (2002)
The place: Leverkusen, Germany

There were three minutes left of the Champions League semifinal second leg and the aggregate score was 3-3 when Leverkusen’s Diego Placente cleared Diego Forlan’s goal-bound shot off the line. I was working for the German club and sitting next to a stoic Sven-Goran Eriksson during the game. Rather unprofessionally, I kept jumping up and down throughout the nerve-wracking encounter as Leverkusen, who never led throughout the tie, went through on away goals.

Julien Laurens: Mbappe delivers World Cup for France

The match: France 4-2 Croatia (2018)
The place: Moscow

It is one thing to experience watching your country lift the World Cup as a fan, but to cover the team throughout a tournament and be present as they are crowned champions is very special. There were doubts on the road to Moscow — France won by one goal only once before the final — but Didier Deschamps’ men turned up when it counted and Kylian Mbappe‘s coming-of-age display saw him score against Croatia to seal glory. It was a fantastic adventure.

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