US Soccer Players https://ussoccerplayers.com The official site of the USMNT Soccer Players with soccer news, schedule, statistics, players, interviews, and exclusive stories. 2018-07-16T02:45:55Z hourly 1 2000-01-01T12:00+00:00 MLS Week 20: DC United opens stadium with a win https://ussoccerplayers.com/2018/07/mls-week-20-dc-united-opens-stadium-with-a-win.html 2018-07-16T02:37:21Z DC United midfielder Wayne Rooney

We start the MLS Week 20 review with DC United playing at home for the first time this season. After two "home" games earlier this year at borrowed stadiums, DC United opened Audi Field in week 20 with a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. The game also marked the debut of designated player Wayne Rooney.

Yamil Asad scored the first goal at Audi Field, putting DC up in the 27th minute. Paul Arriola doubled the lead in the 69th with Zoltan Stieber assisting on both goals. Rooney subbed on in the 58th minute. Arriola scored again in the 80th minute with Rooney assisting. Vancouver's Alphonso Davies spoiled David Ousted's shutout attempt, scoring four minutes into stoppage time.

The weekend schedule started with the Red Bulls beating Sporting KC 3-2 at home. Bradley Wright-Phillips put New York up in the 4th minute with Johnny Russell equalizing in the 8th. Roger espinoza gave Sporting the lead in the 51st. Marc Rzatkowski equalized for New York in the 72nd, scoring their winner in the 79th.

"I think even if you took the goals out of the first half, we got stretched a bit and we were late to some plays," Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. "Obviously they are a good passing team, best in the league. Best at switching fields and if we are late to plays, it costs us a lot of running on a really hot and humid day. We had to address that at half time. But yeah, we had a lot of dirty running the first half."

NYCFC shutout Columbus 2-0 at Yankee Stadium. Jesus Medina opened the scoring in the 80th minute with Anton Tinnerholm's goal coming in the 90th. Columbus finished a man down with a red card to Eduardo Sosa three minutes into stoppage time. Sean Johnson kept the clean sheet with five saves.

Montreal shutout San Jose 2-0 at Stade Saputo. Saphir Taider scored in the 8th minute with Ignacio Piatti assisting. Piatti scored in the 74th.

"When you are not winning it is trying times, but I definitely have faith in this locker room and each player," San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski said. "I think the belief hasn't wavered, which I think is our best attribute right now. At times you could waver and lose faith, but I think all the guys are all in chime in believing, and it is just execution now."

The Galaxy won on the road, coming back twice to beat New England 3-2. New England went a man down in the 23rd minute with a red card to Cristian Penilla for violent conduct. Diego Fagundez put the Revs up in the 28th with Chris Pontius equalizing in the 38th. Luis Caicedo returned the Revs lead in the 45th. LA also saw red with Ashley Cole sent off for unsporting behavior in the 85th. Dave Romney equalized for LA two minutes into stoppage time and Pontius scored their winner a minute later. Romain Alessandrini assisted on both stoppage time goals.

Dallas beat Chicago 3-1 at home. Carlos Gruezo put Dallas up in the 27th with Kellyn Acosta scoring in the 74th. Chicago went down a man with a second yellow to Drew Conner in the 70th minute for unsporting behavior. Reto Ziegler converted a penalty in the 81st for Dallas's third goal. Chicago's Brandt Bronico scored in the 86th.

"A game to forget," Chicago coach Veljko Paunovic said. "We move forward. Our guys gave their best. That's it. No further thoughts on the game. It's always difficult when you lose and we always try to win the games no matter the squad rotations. Our guys always go out and try to win and today wasn't the day. We have to recover and prepare for the next game on Wednesday."

Minnesota beat Real Salt Lake 3-2 at home. Ibson put United up in the 51st with Darwin Quintero assisting. Quintero scored in the 62nd and assisted on Miguel Ibarra's goal in the 68th. Joao Plata scored for RSL in the 77th and 85th minutes.

“We’re going to look at the negatives, we’ll look at the positives and try to improve," RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "We thought we had a good game plan coming in and you’ve got to change the game. When you get those chances you’ve got to finish them.”

Orlando City beat Toronto 2-1 at home. Chris Schuler scored for Orlando in the 34th with Dom Dwyer doubling the lead in the 48th. Nick Hagglund pulled a goal back four minutes into stoppage time.

Colorado and Houston finished scoreless at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Both teams finished with three shots on goal.

"I thought we defended really well," Houston goalkeeper Joe Willis said. "I think as a team we knew that they were going to be a pretty direct team and that's how they attack, so defensively we wanted to track their runners and our midfielders and forwards wanted to put pressure on whoever had the ball and I think we did a pretty good job at that and limited their chances.”

On Sunday, Atlanta and Seattle drew 1-1 at Mercedes-Benz Arena. Nicolas Lodeiro put the Sounders up from the penalty spot in the 45th minute with Josef Martinez equalizing in the 48th. Seattle's Jordan McCrary saw a second yellow for unsporting behavior in the 63rd minute.

"They’re probably the first team in this league to consistently play in front of big crowds, so it was something that they were used to," Atlanta midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. "I think that they came in with intensity. In the first half, we matched it. At halftime, we made some really simple adjustments and scored very, very quickly. It seemed like we would be on the right path. They dug in a bit. We didn’t take our chances, and it ended that way."

Week 20 ended with LAFC and Portland drawing 0-0 at Banc of California Stadium. LAFC lost Lee Nguyen to a red card in the 84th minute for violent conduct.

"I thought some of our ideas were good, LAFC coach Bob Bradley said. "I saw that sharpness that maybe makes a play when things are really tight. Overall, I thought we did a lot of good things, they’re a team that’s dangerous in transition, and we did a solid job of handling that. Now we turn it around and we play them again under different circumstances on Wednesday obviously, in the Open Cup."

Photo by Brad Smith - ISIPhotos.com

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Jesse Marsch, Tyler Adams, and American soccer’s situation https://ussoccerplayers.com/2018/07/jesse-marsch-tyler-adams-american-soccer-situation.html 2018-07-13T20:00:36Z Former Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch

By Charles Boehm – WASHINGTON, DC (Jul 13, 2018) US Soccer Players - This week brought a news item that might once have dominated the American soccer conversation for days at a time. Jesse Marsch leaving the New York Red Bulls to take up a new challenge as an assistant to Ralf Rangnick at RB Leipzig, RBNY’s Bundesliga sibling club.

US coaches working abroad at high levels in the professional game are a relatively rare sight. Bob Bradley has been the most visible torchbearer, journeying overseas after parting company with the USMNT’s top job in 2011 and not returning until LAFC asked him to oversee their inception last year.

Gregg Berhalter and Tim Hankinson are among those with notable stints abroad. Ex-USMNTers Thomas Dooley and Steve Cherundolo have done substantial work in the trade, from Germany to the Philippines. Less-prominent names like Brian Clarhaut, Joe Enochs, and Mike Keeney are carving out careers far from home, too. However, in general, American coaches have roamed dramatically less than their player counterparts. This country has been a net importer in that trade, for a range of reasons.

So Marsch’s move is intriguing. Even more so because it’s one he seems to have been eyeing for some time. He's willing to move sideways or even take a step down in order to make it happen. The former USMNT midfielder spent significant time learning German, visiting other Red Bull-operated clubs, and earning UEFA coaching badges over the past few years. He even left his assistants in charge of the Red Bulls in the leadup to one of their crosstown rivalry matches against NYCFC last year so he could attend a round of classes in Poland.

Notably, Marsch has accepted a less prestigious job title in order to start his European adventure. Some segment of the RBNY fanbase, like any club’s, will always rue their team’s coach leaving in midseason, especially one in which the Red Bulls look like real title contenders. Beyond that, though, some facets of March’s move do seem to have ruffled a few feathers Stateside.

“Coaches like Bob Bradley have gone to Europe. That was an inspiration for all American coaches,” Marsch told German outlet rblive.de. “I started to think about other possibilities. So I took my next step and obviously it was very valuable to get to know the people here. Even though in some people's heads it’s an assistant and not a head coach, it was about personal development.”

Marsch’s move seems to have accelerated the chatter about USMNT midfield talent Tyler Adams moving across the Atlantic in like fashion. MLSsoccer.com’s Sam Stejskal reported this week that the RBNY Homegrown will join Leipzig in the near future, probably either via a winter transfer or a summer move paired with a loan back to New York to finish the MLS season.

Again, some will fret about such developments. Are Leipzig and their Red Bull global owners taking advantage of their RBNY relationship to remove a top player from MLS. Or are they just making an inevitable and welcome European move happen more efficiently? Is it “a step down” for an MLS head coach to become an assistant in the Bundesliga? More broadly, should we keep our best at home, or send them out into the world as emissaries?

Perspectives will vary. It appears to stoke an old argument over a certain element of the US soccer mentality that’s hard to pin down, yet quite influential. Just what is our place in the global soccer hierarchy?

Most would agree that humility is key when considering our modest achievements compared to the world’s elite. For decades the US has been widely perceived to be falling well short of maximizing its talent and resources. We’ve made big strides over the past three decades, only to see progress slow at loftier altitudes. For the foreseeable future, we can use all the imported expertise we can get, right?

Then again, American soccer’s longtime status as a “frontier” of the game both in need of and vulnerable to often patronizing foreign guidance risks marginalizing the sport’s rich history and unique context here. Leaders here have often attempted to import personalities or cut-and-paste blueprints from elsewhere in the hopes of making up ground, with highly mixed results.

The concept of America's place in the world game might jibe with the usual layout of the FIFA World Rankings. For many Yanks, however, that idea is an affront to cherished ideas like upward mobility and personal improvement. This cloudy state of affairs has pretty clearly spawned an inferiority complex which continues to bedevil us.

“Our approach and our behavior to the sport here – to coaching, to everything, is just wrong," USMNT great Claudio Reyna told reporters after the World Cup qualifying heartbreak last fall. “We’re far too arrogant. We’re far too obnoxious. We are egotistical having never won anything or done anything, and that’s not the case around the world. We have coaches who think they’re better than they are. Across the board, we just think we do things better than we really do. I mean in every way. Whether it’s broadcasting, or media, coaching, we’re just not as far along as we tell ourselves we are.

Reyna’s words were a sobering slap in the face to some. One of the best players in American soccer history, he spent ample time overseas and worked at several iconic European clubs. His current position as NYCFC’s sporting director requires him to have a foot on both sides of the Atlantic, liaising with its mothership at Manchester City while still navigating the quirks of MLS and our domestic landscape. I say all this to suggest that his viewpoint may be worth more consideration than most.

We speculate a great deal about the gap between US-reared players and their overseas counterparts. Many who work inside the game will make the case that the divide is actually larger and more costly in the coaching department. The fact that cases like Bradley’s are so rare, and that his path was so winding and grueling, is noteworthy here. Marsch seems to innately understand this state of affairs. It’s encouraging that he’s eager to try anyway.

“I think all of us as players, as people, as coaches, you’re trying to find ways as you move along to get better at what you do,” Marsch told Pro Soccer USA earlier this year. “The more that we get exposed to, and the more our eyes are open, to high-level football thinking and leadership and tactics, it can only lead to better things I think for football in our country.”

Americans, we are often told, don’t sit well with being second-best in any department. We prefer to be doers rather than observers. The sobering experiences of the past year should provide a prime opportunity for deeper reflection on what that should really mean.


Charles Boehm is a Washington, DC-based writer and the editor of The Soccer Wire. Contact him at:cboehm@thesoccerwire.com. Follow him on Twitter at:http://twitter.com/cboehm.

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Nothing set midway through the MLS season https://ussoccerplayers.com/2018/07/nothing-set-midway-through-the-mls-season.html 2018-07-13T15:30:46Z LAFC coach Bob Bradley

By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON DC (Jul 13, 2018) US Soccer Players - Cresting the hill that is the halfway point of the MLS season doesn’t generally reveal much. There’s still so much left to play for, and the secondary transfer window has only just opened. Even as clubs scramble to reinforce their squads during the signing period, they also must navigate crucial games in the heat of the summer. By the time August rolls around, the league could look very different.

What is nominally a new beginning, if only because the human brain likes to split things like long soccer seasons into more manageable chunks, gets underway on Saturday with a slate of fascinating matchups. Four of them stand out.

New York Red Bulls vs Sporting Kansas City

The Red Bulls threw Chris Armas directly into the fire last week. Quickly promoted to take over for Jesse Marsch, Armas the club for the first time against NYCFC at Yankee Stadium. New York fell 1-0 to their cross-river rivals. Given the timing, that's a result that can only somewhat end up on the new boss’s ledger.

Armas’s first chance for redemption and an inaugural win as Red Bulls head coach comes Saturday evening when Sporting Kansas City visits Red Bull Arena. If there was ever a good time to play Sporting, it might be now. Peter Vermes’s side has slipped a bit in recent weeks and arrives in New Jersey with a three-game winless run.

Sporting dropped two points at home last week when TFC rallied to score a 2-2 draw at Children’s Mercy Park. The uncharacteristic defensive lapse came in part because of a turnover by 19-year old Wan Kuzain, a Sporting homegrown product with immense potential who is still learning how to play at the top level.

Another 19-year old will be in the spotlight at Red Bull Arena on Saturday. Reports of a move to Europe for Tyler Adams bubbled up again this week. Armas stated after training on Thursday that he expects Adams to remain with New York until the end of the season.

Injuries are a concern for Sporting, who recently lost Khiry Shelton for two to three months after knee surgery. Felipe Gutierrez remains out, as does Jimmy Medranda. Per Vermes, Opara is healthy and could return to the lineup.

DC United v. Vancouver Whitecaps

A game pitting the last-place team in the Eastern Conference against the sixth-place team in the West wouldn’t normally rate as "major", but there’s something special about this one. Saturday night’s clash will the first-ever game played at United’s brand new home, Audi Field. A twenty-two year wait for a stadium to call their own will finally come to an end when the whistle blows to start the match between DC United and the Whitecaps. The result matters, but not nearly as much as on any other day.

Whether the stadium opening represents a new era of success for United is the question, but Ben Olsen and company will be eyeing a win. Wayne Rooney make his Black-and-Red debut should help. Rooney spent the week training with DC and presumably adjusting to the sticky Washington heat ahead of the first game after the transfer window officially opened.

Of course, the Whitecaps want to play spoilers. Carl Robinson’s team sits just above the red line in the Western Conference and could use the points towards playoff qualification. Vancouver grabbed three points at home last week against Chicago in a game that saw Kei Kamara score twice and teenage phenom Alphonso Davies impress again.

Atlanta United vs Seattle Sounders

The Sounders arrive in Atlanta carrying what, for them at least, is a bit of momentum. It will be a significant challenge to maintain that momentum in front of 45,000 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday.

Seattle’s most recent outing was a goalless draw in New England, where the Sounders managed just one shot on target. Scoring has been the biggest problem for Brian Schmetzer’s team in 2018. It's a major reason why the club signed Peruvian striker Raul Ruidiaz from Morelia of Mexico ahead of the summer transfer window.

Now that the window is open, Ruidiaz is eligible to play for the Sounders provided he receives his work visa in time. Fitness is an issue, something Schmetzer addressed in comments this week. Dropping Ruidiaz immediately into the starting lineup without so much as a training session seems an unlikely step, no matter how desperate the team is for goals.

Atlanta’s confidence is high after a 2-0 win in Philadelphia and its place atop the combined standings. United has adjusted to life without Darlington Nagbe and Greg Garza, flexing its depth to remain the best team in the league. That said, their lead over NYCFC is just three points.

United’s own summer signing, defensive midfielder Eric Remidi, has not yet arrived in Atlanta and won’t play a role in the game. There’s really not much more to say about Tata Martino’s team, other than that the expectation will be a win over the Sounders on Sunday.

LAFC v Portland

If Atlanta is the league’s best team, LAFC might be it’s second-best. On recent form, Bob Bradley’s team has a strong argument that they belong with United as the MLS elite. Last week’s 4-1 romp over Orlando City at Banc of California Stadium wasn’t the club’s most impressive win to date because of the level of the competition, but it doesn’t hurt the argument.

May signing Adama Diomande is on a torrid goal-scoring pace. The Norwegian striker, who played for Bradley at Stabaek in his native country, has nine goals in his first seven MLS games.

The Timbers might take issue if left out of a conversation about the league’s best team. Portland is on a run of 11 games unbeaten that stretches all the way back to April 14. The combination of Diego Valeri and Samuel Armenteros is paying large dividends on the attacking end of the field. The defense has established itself as a competent enough unit.

When the two teams face off in LA on Sunday, LAFC will have to contend with Valeri and Armenteros on one end, while the Timbers defense tries to slow down Diomande. Carlos Vela figures to be back in the starting lineup for the home side, after playing a substitute role on his return from the World Cup last week.

LAFC can conceivably pull into first place with a win and an FC Dallas loss or draw.


Jason Davis is the founder of MatchFitUSA.com and the host of The United States of Soccer on SiriusXM. Contact him: matchfitusa@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter:http://twitter.com/davisjsn.

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Saying so long to the 2018 World Cup https://ussoccerplayers.com/2018/07/saying-so-long-to-the-2018-world-cup.html 2018-07-13T14:30:49Z fifa-world-cup-trophy

Friday's soccer news starts with the obvious. The World Cup concludes on Sunday (11am ET - Fox) with France vs Croatia and FIFA's president Gianni Infantino already letting us know that this is the best World Cup ever. Wait, what?

"Since a couple of years I was saying that this will be the best World Cup ever," FIFA said. "Today I can say it even more, with more conviction... It is the best World Cup ever. For this, I would, first of all, like to thank everyone, which was involved in the participation, the organisation of the World Cup.

Infantino got even more effusive about the hosts, but we'll leave it at that. His contention that the first World Cup under his leadership is the best in the history of the tournament isn't exactly a shocker, even if it probably won't hold up to a lot of scrutiny. FIFA managed a tournament where most of the favorites were long gone too early and half of the knockout stage was noticeably weaker than the other. It's no Italia 90 in terms of forcing FIFA to reconsider how the game is played and change a significant rule, but it's also not the bright light pointing the game forward. And that's fine.

Maybe Will Smith did a better job in setting a tone for this or any World Cup. Speaking at a press conference for the performers at the final, he said, "This is the biggest sporting event in the world. When I was asked to be a part of it, I didn’t even have to think about it. The World Cup is a magical, global energy. I love being a part of it."

Also in the soccer news, there's going to be a new manager at Chelsea with the club parting ways with Antonio Conte. Chelsea Football Club and Antonio Conte have parted company," the club's official statement reads. "During Antonio’s time at the club, we won our sixth league title and eighth FA Cup. In the title winning season, the club set a then-record 30 wins in a 38-game Premier League season, as well as a club-record 13 consecutive league victories. We wish Antonio every success in his future career."

Reports have Chelsea ready to announce former Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri as their new manager. According to those reports, Sarri is still technically employed by Napoli, but they've already hired Carlos Ancelotti as coach. Sarri didn't start his professional coaching career until he was 40, working exclusively in Italy since taking his first coaching job in 2005. The Guardian's Paolo Bandini tells Sarri's story.

SI.com's Jonathan Wilson previews the World Cup final with a look at Croatia. BBC Sport's Julien Laurens previews France with a familiar feeling.

Inside World Football's Samindra Kunti has Infantino suggesting that there's still the possibility that the World Cup will expand for 2022. The NY Times' Andrew Keh goes to Qatar to report on the 2022 preparations.

World Soccer's Sam Tremlett asks what's next for Real Madrid.

WTOP's Noah Frank explains DC United's issues with their supporters groups over ticketing at Audi Stadium. MLSsoccer.com's Sam Stejskal on LAFC getting the most out of Adama Diomonde. SBI Soccer's Ryan Tomlich looks at the issues with the Colorado Rapids.

All links are provided as a courtesy. US Soccer Players nor its authors are responsible for the content of third-party links or sites. For comments, questions, and concerns please contact us at editor@usnstpa.com

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Wins for NYCFC and Philadelphia https://ussoccerplayers.com/2018/07/wins-for-nycfc-and-philadelphia.html 2018-07-12T14:30:53Z Toyota Park

The soccer news starts with MLS action. NYCFC shutout Montreal 3-0 at Yankee Stadium. Jesus Medina put NYCFC up in the 60th minute and assisted on Ronald Matarrita's goal in the 65th. Matarrita assisted on Jonathan Lewis's goal in the 76th. Sean Johnson didn't need to make a save for the clean sheet with NYCFC outshooting Montreal 23 to 3 and putting 7 on goal to Montreal's 0.

In the other MLS game, Philadelphia beat Chicago 4-3 at Toyota Park. Haris MEdunjanin scored for the Union in the 31st with Nemanja Nikolic equalizing from the penalty spot in the 39th. Cory Burke scored for Philadelphia three minutes into first-half stoppage time. Aleksandar Katai leveled the score in the 69th, with Burke returning the Union lead in the 73rd. Bastian Schweinsteiger got a late equalizer for the Fire four minutes into stoppage time, but David Accam scored Philadelphia's winner a minute later.

"We conceded very soft goals, I think in the first-half specially," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. "We conceded too many opportunities. It was our weakness during the whole year. We could change in some moments for some time but we don't have the consistency to improve and I think that's the bottom line. I think we're not capable of when we make one step forward, at least staying there, we go two steps back and today's game shows that perfectly."

Staying in Chicago, the Fire announced a new minority investor/operator with Morningstar's Joe Mansueto taking a 49% stake in the club. Andrew Hauptman remains the Fire's majority investor/operator and chairman.

The Washington Post's Thomas Boswell looks at the meaning of Audi Stadium for DC area soccer. American Soccer Now's Brian Sciaretta interviews FC Cincinnati technical director Luke Sassano. The NY Times' Charles V Bagli updates the stadium situation for NYCFC.

USA Today's Martin Rogers on England's World Cup exit. Reuters' Simon Evans looks at England's World Cup run as a step in a process. ESPN's Raphael Honigstein looks at the opportunities for England players in the Premier League. The Guardian's Barney Ronay on England's youth movement. The LA Times' Kevin Baxter stresses what playing in foreign leagues has done for Belgium's players.

FourFourTwo's Adam Digby traces the timeline for Cristiano Ronaldo's move from Real Madrid to Juventus.

All links are provided as a courtesy. US Soccer Players nor its authors are responsible for the content of third-party links or sites. For comments, questions, and concerns please contact us at editor@usnstpa.com

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Big wins for the Galaxy and LAFC point to something more https://ussoccerplayers.com/2018/07/big-wins-la-galaxy-lafc-point-to-something-more-mls-western-conference.html 2018-07-11T20:00:39Z Sigi Schmid LA Galaxy bench

By Luis Bueno – RIVERSIDE, CA (Jul 11, 2018) US Soccer Players - The World Cup offered MLS teams a bit of downtime. A couple of weekends without league matches meant teams could focus on sorting out their issues, helping new players get acclimated to their teams, and work on getting ready for the summer and a push toward the playoffs.

For the LA Galaxy and LAFC, the break also meant sending some players to the other side of the planet to compete in the world’s greatest sporting spectacle. Now that the World Cup is nearing its culmination, the World Cup break long gone and players rejoining the LA teams, the squads have come out of the break alive. For the LA teams, the future is looking quite bright.

Based on recent results, the World Cup break could have been the best thing to happen for the LA Galaxy while the break has only reaffirmed and helped reinvigorate LAFC. Both teams are now heading in the right direction, poised for a legitimate playoff run, and perhaps more.

At around the same time some 10 miles apart last weekend, the Galaxy and LAFC were each in the process of steamrolling an Eastern Conference foe. The Galaxy routed Columbus by 4-0, spoiling Gyasi Zardes’ return to StubHub Center, while LAFC ran up the score on visiting Orlando City SC, winning by a 4-1 margin.

Each game was the first with returning World Cup players for both sides. The players’ absences may have helped the teams get better. Now that they have returned, the teams may be better off because of it.

Much to the dismay of some LA Galaxy fans, the Dos Santos brothers returned earlier than expected from their World Cup participation. Brazil did the LA Galaxy (and LAFC) a favor by knocking Mexico out with a 2-0 win over El Tri on July 2. While Giovani and Jonathan Dos Santos did not play on the field at the same time in Russia, the two started the Galaxy’s match against the Crew on Saturday. Jonathan did a superb job in the defensive midfield for 90 minutes. Giovani meanwhile did not stand out as much in his 82 minutes.

The Galaxy’s win was its first since June 9, but the Galaxy has not lost a league match since a 3-2 loss to FC Dallas on May 30. In the club’s modest five-game unbeaten run, the Galaxy has opened the scoring in all of them. Only a poor defense has kept the Galaxy from taking more points and climbing to a higher spot in the Western Conference table.

While the Galaxy still has an uninspiring defense record, it is not the worst in the Western Conference. The Galaxy has allowed 28 goals in 18 games, but now the club has a +3 goal differential, an improvement after having carried a negative mark for most of the season. Five Western Conference teams have allowed more goals than the Galaxy’s 28.

Perhaps Jonathan Dos Santos is the key to helping the club continue to improve. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s arrival gave the Galaxy star power and a player who can score in any game under any circumstances. Scoring goals alone will not win the club championships.

Under Bruce Arena, the Galaxy was a tough-as-nails defensive side. For many of those years, it was defensive midfielder Juninho who helped break apart opponents’ attacks from the middle of the field. If Dos Santos can replicate that and give the Galaxy a strong defensive presence in the midfield, the Galaxy might be very dangerous.

With the summer transfer window now officially open, rumors have the Galaxy in the market for talent. If the Galaxy can bring in a player to solidify the defense, whether it is another defensive-minded midfielder or some experience along the defensive line, the club should continue to gain stockpile points. That makes the idea of a chase for a sixth MLS Cup seem somewhat plausible.

For LAFC meanwhile, Mexico’s loss to Brazil meant getting Carlos Vela back. The club also welcomed back Costa Rica’s Marcos Urena from World Cup duty. Injury has kept Egypt’s Omar Gaber out of the lineup. Without the attacking players, LAFC still had to keep pace and keep playing. The biggest beneficiary to that was Adama Diomande. The club’s prized Norwegian import, Diomande made his debut on May 26 and played eight minutes off the bench in a 1-1 draw against DC United that day. That match was Vela’s last before leaving for the World Cup.

In LAFC’s first game without Vela, Diomande played 35 minutes off the bench and scored his first goal, the only tally in a 2-1 loss to FC Dallas on June 2. In the next four games without Vela, Diomande played 344 minutes and scored six goals, including the club’s first-ever hat trick. LAFC coach Bob Bradley eased Vela back into the lineup upon his return and gave Vela less than a half hour of playing time. Vela and Diamonde only played about 20 minutes on the field together, but that did not take away Diomande’s effectiveness. Diomande scored twice in the rout of Orlando City.

With Diomande and fellow recent arrival Lee Nguyen getting more playing time, LAFC will only continue to grow stronger and more confident on the attack. LAFC has scored 41 goals, most in the west and second in MLS, one off of Atlanta United. Like Atlanta, LAFC seems to have a loaded arsenal and figure to use that to make a run at not only the conference title but at the Supporters’ Shield as well.

The summer is long, though, and both the Galaxy and LAFC face plenty of challenges. The Galaxy travel to New England on the weekend, a tough task having to travel across the country, while LAFC welcome a Portland Timbers side that has not lost in its last 11 league matches. The way things are going for both LA clubs, though, those should be challenges the teams can meet and overcome on their way to more league success.


Luis Bueno is a veteran soccer writer. Follow him on twitter @BuenoSoccer.

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The Red Bulls and NYCFC hope for continuity https://ussoccerplayers.com/2018/07/the-red-bulls-and-nycfc-hope-for-continuity.html 2018-07-11T18:00:27Z NYCFC goal celebration

By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON DC (Jul 6, 2018) US Soccer Players - It’s not often that a new era begins for soccer clubs in the middle of a season, though it happens more often in MLS than in most leagues around the world. The schedule played in the United States and Canada means that summer can bring big changes, even with teams already good, bad, or in-between.

Usually, MLS-style big changes, the kind that can herald a new era, involve the signing of a famous player. DC United is undergoing just that sort of transformation with the arrival of Wayne Rooney. United spent the last decade on the sidelines when it came to spending significant sums on Designated Player. The choice to invest so much in the English star represents a shift in philosophy that will remake the club on the fly.

In Harrison, New Jersey, there’s a new era dawning in the middle of the season, for a very different reason. The Red Bulls aren’t in the market for a marquee Designated Player. Any summer signings are likely to be of a much less flashy variety than Rooney.

What’s changed in Harrison is the man in charge of the team on the field. Jesse Marsch is gone, off to Germany. The American coach is chasing an opportunity afforded him by the connections between the MLS Red Bulls and Bundesliga side RB Leipzig. Marsch will serve as an assistant under Ralf Rangnick for the 2018-19 season before current Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann takes over next summer.

There’s plenty to unpack in Marsch’s decision to leave MLS at the halfway point of a season that has championship potential for the Red Bulls. Though Marsch’s ambitions were no secret, it’s jarring to see him leave New York for Leipzig with the club in position to challenge for a top playoff seed and a shot at the MLS Cup. The Red Bulls’ championship-less history adds an extra layer of sting to the departure.

Even as MLS grows in esteem, moments like this serve as a sobering reminder of its place in the wide soccer world. Patrick Vieira parlayed a stint at NYCFC into a job with Ligue 1 side Nice, but that had as much to do with Vieira’s reputation as a player and standing in the French soccer community as it did with his success in America.

Marsch leaving at any point before the season’s climax would hurt for Red Bull fans, but move coming mere days ahead of the Hudson River Derby ramps up the pain even that much more. Even with a short history, the intensity of the local rivalry is enough to make it matter more than most games. Marsch left on the eve of one of the biggest games on the schedule.

The Red Bulls lost that game under the man tasked with ushering in an unexpected new era. Chris Armas moved from assistant under Marsch to the hot seat as head coach, a promotion that makes sense as a matter of ensuring continuity. Armas is his own man, but it’s expected that he’ll most keep things business-as-usual in Harrison. There’s no good reason to mess with the personnel or lineup with the Red Bulls near the top of the standings in the Eastern Conference.

Vieira left NYCFC with his team in a similar position, moving NYCFC into their own new era. Now both New York teams are navigating coaching transitions while hoping to avoid a significant drop in quality of play. That’s no easy task during the hottest part of the MLS calendar when even elite teams melt in the heat of July and August. Injuries and travel don’t make it easy on top of the weather.

Who’s best equipped to slide cleanly from one era to another while maintaining full stride? It’s possible both could manage the trick, though only one can achieve the ultimate goal of lifting the MLS Cup trophy.

Armas has familiarity with the league and his team working in his favor. The only learning curve the former Chicago Fire and USMNT player faces is one of final authority. The conventional wisdom is that while assistant coaches get to be friends with players, head coaches much maintain an aura of power that precludes those same sorts of relationships. Armas moves from a position that allowed him to put an arm around the shoulder of a player dropped due to lack of form to the one making that decision.

Marsch made his name in New York on the back of ruthless decisions. His desire to trade beloved midfielder Dax McCarty sparked a power struggle that ended with then-general manager Ali Curtis leaving the team. Marsch followed up in 2018 by trading away Sacha Kljestan, one of the league’s best creators. While Armas is unlikely to have the same sort of pull as Marsch, at least initially, he will have to take the reins for the on-field product with confidence.

In the Bronx, the early returns for new NYCFC head coach Domenec Torrent are encouraging. Torrent must adjust to life in MLS, and quickly, for NYCFC to hold their spot in the top third of the conference standings. Torrent’s history as top assistant to Pep Guardiola speaks to his knowledge of the game. He’ll need to be a quick study on the strengths and weaknesses of the NYCFC roster, the effect of playing on the limited field at home in Yankee Stadium, and the impact of external factors like weather, travel, and so on have on an MLS campaign.

Torrent prevailed over Armas in the first meeting between the two newly installed coaches, though it’s probably unfair to judge Armas considering how abrupt the departure of Marsch was. A weekend home date against Sporting Kansas City will be a significant test, and a better judge, for the Red Bulls' new boss.

Torrent’s MLS record stands at two wins and a loss through three games. He’s working without injured strikers David Villa and Jo Inge Berget. NYCFC will next host red-hot Montreal in a Wednesday night match at Yankee Stadium.

Continuity was the name of the game for both New York clubs when unforeseen changes came in their most important coaching position. Despite that commonality, slightly different paths with replacements mean a difference in strengths and weaknesses between the two.

Two new eras underway in midseason and not of their own choosing will make for a fascinating next few months in New York and New Jersey. Can two strong teams with championship potential stay that way?


Jason Davis is the founder of MatchFitUSA.com and the host of The United States of Soccer on SiriusXM. Contact him: matchfitusa@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter:http://twitter.com/davisjsn.

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Photo by Robin Alam - ISIPhotos.com

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Juventus remembers to be a super club https://ussoccerplayers.com/2018/07/juventus-remembers-to-be-a-super-club.html 2018-07-11T14:30:32Z juventus-new-logo

The soccer news starts with something that seemed reserved for clubs outside of Serie A. That is until Italian champions Juventus went all in and set a new incoming transfer record in Italy. It cost them over $131m dollars to get Cristiano Ronaldo, and with it they sent a clear message. In an era of Premier League money and Spanish dominance in Europe, Juventus decided to play.

It's not often that the key player on a Champions League winning team decides to call time on a club, but this isn't a regular offseason for Real Madrid. They've already lost their coach, Zinedine Zidane, and with him at least some of the momentum that produced their Champions League three-peat. Zidane's decision convinced pundits that Real Madrid was a club in transition. Ronaldo and Gareth Bale both suggesting their time with the club might be over helped fuel that narrative. Still, Ronaldo actually leaving and for Juventus? That's a surprise even at the jaded heights of super club soccer.

That's also the biggest takeaway here. Juventus, the club most vocal about the future of the game in Europe and the need for some form of a breakaway, made a super club move. That's no longer the expectation for Italian teams. Until yesterday's announcement that Ronaldo was really leaving Real Madrid, the only incoming transfer in the top-ten was Juventus buying Gonzalo Higuain from fellow Italian club Napoli. Juventus appears on the other side of the ledger at #6 when they sold Paul Pogba back to Manchester United that same summer.

Since we're still in the era of PSG setting the transfer market, they've got the top two spots. It might be awhile before any team beats what they paid Barcelona for Neymar, last summer's surprise super club shakeup. PSG paid over $170m to make Kylian Mbappe's loan move from Monaco permanent, setting the high mark this summer as well. They also got Juventus's legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon on a free transfer, the kind of move that was understandable until Ronaldo chose Juve.

In their goodbye for now statement on the club's official site, Real Madrid did what they do best. They kept it classy, ending with a reminder for their all-time leading scorer and key to their latest era of dominance. "Cristiano Ronaldo will forever be one of Real Madrid's biggest icons and will represent a unique figure for future generations. Real Madrid will always be his home."

What happens to Real Madrid this season was supposed to be the beginning of the post-Zidane era. Now, it's firmly the post-Ronaldo era. For Juventus, it's doubling down on their own expectations. They've won Serie A seven seasons in a row. That's not the problem. It's the Champions League final losses to Barcelona in 2014-15 and Real Madrid in 2016-17. Juventus joins everybody else trying to break the Spanish lock on the Champions League since 2013-14. That takes acting like a super club and spending accordingly.

ESPN's Mark Ogden on Ronaldo leaving for Juventus. The Guardian's Sid Lowe with what Ronaldo meant to Real Madrid. AP reports on the ownership situation at AC Milan. BBC Sport has the scenario that would make Maurizio Sarri the manager of Chelsea.

SI.com's Brian Straus compares this France team to the 1998 World Cup winners. MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle and Bobby Warshaw preview the MLS transfer window.

All links are provided as a courtesy. US Soccer Players nor its authors are responsible for the content of third-party links or sites. For comments, questions, and concerns please contact us at editor@usnstpa.com

Logo courtesy of Juventus

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The Champions League changes all over again https://ussoccerplayers.com/2018/07/the-champions-league-changes-all-over-again.html 2018-07-10T18:00:31Z The UEFA Champions League logo.

By J Hutcherson (Jul 10, 2018) US Soccer Players - The champions of Scotland began their 2018-19 season on Tuesday, with Celtic on the road in Armenia in the Champions League qualifiers. Yes, the same day two UEFA national teams meet in the World Cup semifinals in a European country, Europe's governing body needed to get on with their club competition. That the initial stage involves the winners of the Scottish Premier League is down to bigger leagues wanting more group stage places for their clubs and the UEFA coefficient. That doesn't mean it makes sense.

It's easier to make the argument against Celtic and the reconstituted version of Rangers as two of the biggest clubs in British soccer. They're giants sharing a city and a lengthy history now dominated by Celtic. Whatever your feelings about the current version of Rangers, they're playing in the same shirt and stadium as the club that joined Celtic in piling up titles. That includes Europe, with both making the final of the old UEFA Cup a decade ago.

Rangers fall after their insolvency ceded the space at the top of the table to Celtic. They took full advantage, turning a duopoly on titles into a monopoly. They've won every season since 2011-12 and back-to-back Scottish Cups. That's earned them 47th-place in the UEFA club rankings, with the rest of the Scottish Premier League between 236 and 270. As a country, Scotland had dropped to 23rd and out of the automatic places for the Champions League and the Europa League. Only the winner of the Scottish Premier League gets into the Champions League, and it's in the first qualifying round.

So mighty Celtic is playing Alashkert, the winners of the Armenian Premier League. Celtic leads the list in terms of familiar names in the first qualifying round, but they're not the only recognizable club starting early. They're not even the only former European champion. Red Star Belgrade is also in the first round. Norweigan champions Rosenborg and Swedish champions Malmo are also playing games that count in July.

It wasn't that long ago where there was real talk about an Atlantic League, joining Scotland, the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, and Belgium into one league to try to combat what they all saw coming. Belgium still puts their champion into the group stage. The Eredivisie winner enters in the playoff round only because Real Madrid already had a spot in next season's group stage when they won the 2017-18 title. Otherwise, the league of Ajax, Feyenoord, and PSV would see their champion starting in the second qualifying round. This is the new normal for the clubs outside of Europe's major leagues, and it's going to be extremely difficult to change that.

For the big leagues and their clubs, that's the point. When those very important stakeholders were pushing their case for more spots in the group stage, rumors spread that the Champions League might end up only for members of the top leagues. That didn't happen, but there's a clear feeling that it might end up that way. The hurdles for the teams from weaker leagues is significant.

Last season, Turkey's Besiktas, Portugal's Porto, Switzerland's Basel, and Ukraine's Shakhtar Donestk made it out of the group stage. All four failed to advance, giving us a knockout round of La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Premier League clubs. The season before, only the Portuguese league disrupted the big leagues taking the knockout round spots. Benfica and Porto both exited in the round of 16, with Ligue 1 joining their fellow big league clubs in the quarterfinals.

This season it's more difficult for the outsiders. UEFA's format change comes into play, with the top four leagues putting four teams each into the group stage. That means four less teams from the qualifying rounds, and four less opportunities from the 50 other leagues putting teams into the Champions League. Four big leagues. 50 others making up the numbers.

What we're seeing may not be a super league by default. There's not enough guaranteed games for that, something representatives of the big clubs have already mentioned. What there also won't be as many of is games against clubs not in the major European leagues. Instead, it's the higher stakes version of what we'll see later this month when the International Champions Cup starts up in the United States. The biggest teams in Europe playing each other.

UEFA seems to think this is what the people want. It's certainly what their biggest leagues and clubs want. How this plays out will set the tone for the next stage of European club soccer. Dancing around a super league is part of the game there. With that in mind, the latest version of the Champions League is hardly a surprise.


J Hutcherson started covering soccer in 1999 and has worked as the general manager of the US National Soccer Team Players Association since 2002. Contact him at jhutcherson@usnstpa.com.

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Logo courtesy of UEFA

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DC United moves forward https://ussoccerplayers.com/2018/07/dc-united-moves-forward.html 2018-07-10T14:30:55Z The scoreboard at Audi Field.

DC United held their ribbon-cutting event to officially let everybody know that Audi Field is ready for its first MLS game. United's nice new home opens on Saturday when they host Vancouver, and with it the club sets new expectations. Those start immediately, with DC United needing to turn their back-loaded home schedule into points.

Once again, the unbalanced schedule creates a slight opening for the team with the worst record in the Eastern Conference. DC might have only won twice this season, but they've also only played 14 games. The teams between them and the final playoff spot have played 18 or 19. If DC can quickly turn Audi Field into a fortress, things change for them this season.

No doubt that this could all end in tears and recriminations this season. DC is now opening a new stadium and debuting new designated player Wayne Rooney. That combo either improves things or raises more questions for a struggling team.

"There is a way for them to fit together," DC coach Ben Olsen told MLSsoccer.com's Ian Quillen. "There’s also a way for them not to fit together," With the games starting to roll in more frequently, there’s going to be plenty of opportunity for everyone to get minutes. Darren's (Mattocks) had a very good season, and he’s posed a lot of threats to other teams. His speed, his playmaking ability right now is very high. So that’s one option. The other option is those guys sharing some minutes at the No. 9 within the same structure we’re in. Wayne’s pretty versatile. He’s more versatile than Darren."

It was Mattocks getting the equalizer and the point in United's last game, a 2-2 draw at the LA Galaxy last Wednesday. It was the capper on a ridiculous schedule. DC played twice at home, using the Maryland SoccerPlex and Navy Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. So in real terms, they've spent the entirety of 2018 on the road to one extent or the other.

“We have travelled more than anyone in the league and it’s been a long four months," Olsen said following the draw in LA. "The guys have done a good job dealing with it. It’s not only been the away games, but the bye weeks as well. Because the season is back heavy with a lot of games, the rhythm of the season has been a little fractured which has posed problems. We’ve gotten on with it and we’ve been able to grab some points here and there in some tough buildings against some difficult teams. Now the job is pretty simple, we have to start getting three points. We have a nice new building to break in and hopefully we can reward our fans with some wins down the stretch to push us into the playoffs."

Washington City Paper's Pablo Maurer reports from Audi Field. FC Yahoo's Doug McIntyre talks to MLS commissioner Don Garber about the 2026 World Cup boost.

SI.com's Grant Wahl looks at the importance of set pieces at the World Cup. The NY Times' David Gendelman explains why soccer players and fans put their hands on their heads when the ball doesn't find the back of the net. World Soccer's Tim Vickery on this World Cup for the CONMEBOL teams.

All links are provided as a courtesy. US Soccer Players nor its authors are responsible for the content of third-party links or sites. For comments, questions, and concerns please contact us at editor@usnstpa.com

Photo courtesy of DC United

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