US Soccer Players https://ussoccerplayers.com The official site of the USMNT Soccer Players with soccer news, schedule, statistics, players, interviews, and exclusive stories. 2020-11-23T00:55:55Z hourly 1 2000-01-01T12:00+00:00 Johannsson and Diskerud score in Allsvenskan https://ussoccerplayers.com/2020/11/johannsson-and-diskerud-score-in-allsvenskan.html 2020-11-23T00:55:15Z hammarby logo

The roundup of USMNT players in Europe, Mexico, and Brazil starts in Sweden. Aron Johannsson's Hammarby drew 2-2 at home with Malmo in the Allsvenskan. An own-goal put Malmo up in the 13th minute with Johannsson equalizing in the 35th. Malmo went up again in the 45th with Alexander Kacaniklic equalizing in the 79th.

Mix Diskerud scored in Helsingborg's 2-1 loss at Elfsborg. Elfsborg converted a 62nd minute penalty, scoring again in the 65th. Diskerud pulled a goal back in the 69th.

Tyler Adams's RB Leipzig drew 1-1 at Eintracht in the Bundesliga. Ayman Barkok scored for Eintracht in the 43rd with Yussuf Poulsen equalizing in the 57th minute. John Brooks's Wolfsburg shutout Schalke 2-0 on the road. Wout Weghorst scored in the 3rd minute with Xaver Schlager doubling the lead in the 24th. Josh Sargent's Werder Bremen drew 1-1 at Bayern Munich. Maximilian Eggestein scored for Werder in the 45th with Bayern equalizing in the 62nd.

Gio Reyna subbed on in the 77th minute of Borussia Dortmund's 5-2 win at Hertha BSC. Falling behind in the 33rd minute, Erling Haaland equalized for Dortmund in the 47th, scoring again in the 49th and 62nd minutes. Raphael Guerreiro made it 4-1 Dortmund in the 70th. Hertha converted a 79th minute penalty with Haaland scored his fourth goal a few seconds later.

Julian Green scored in Furth's 3-1 home win over Jahn Regensburg in the 2.Bundesliga. Paul Jaeckel put Furth up in the 3rd with Jahn Regensburg equalizing from an own-goal in the 33rd. Paul Seguin scored for Firth in the 56th with Green doubling the lead in the 63rd. Green subbed out in the 80th minute.

Bobby Wood subbed on in the 68th minute of Hamburg's 3-1 home loss to Bochum. Trailing from a 35th minute penalty, Hamburg's Simon Terodde equailzed from the penalty spot in the 65th. Bochum scored in the 78th and 82nd minutes. Wood saw yellow in the 81st. Terrence Boyd's Hallescher drew 1-1 at home with FCK in the 3.Liga. Trailing from the 12th minute, Antonios Papadopoulos equalized for Hallescher in the 53rd.

Weston McKennie subbed on in the 69th minute of Juventus's 2-0 home win over Cagliari. Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the 38th and 42nd minutes. Andrija Novakovich subbed out in the 78th minute of Frosinone's 2-0 home loss to Cosenza in Serie B. Cosenza scored in the 47th and 70th minutes.

In La Liga, Sergino Dest subbed on in the 62nd minute of Barcelona's 1-0 loss at Atletico Madrid. The game's only goal came in first-half stoppage time. Yunus Musah's Valencia drew 2-2 at Alaves. Down goals from the 2nd minute and a 16th minute penalty, Manu Vallejo scored for Valencia in the 72nd. Hugo Guillamon equalized in the 77th minute.

Shaq Moore's Tenerife lost 1-0 at home to Logrones in the Segunda Division. The goal came in the 31st. Moore saw yellow in the 61st minute. Konrad de la Fuente subbed on at halftime for Barcelona B in their 2-0 loss at Hospitalet, who scored in the 65th and 81st minutes

Antonee Robinson's Fulham lost 3-2 at home to Chelsea in the Premier League. Everton fell behind in the opening minute, with Bobby Reid equalizing in the 15th. Everton added goals in the 29th and 35th. Ruben Loftus-Cheek pulled a goal back for Fulham in the 70th. Geoff Cameron's QPR drew 1-1 at home with Watford in the Championship. Down a goal from the 3rd minute, Ilias Chair equalized in the 77th. Duane Holmes subbed out in the 72nd minute of Derby County's 1-0 loss at Bristol City. Derby County fell behind in the 78th minute.

Lynden Gooch subbed out in stoppage time in Sunderland's 1-1 draw at Doncaster in League One. Grant Leadbitter put Sunderland up in the 43rd minute with Doncaster equalizing three minutes into stoppage time. Matthew Olosunde subbed out at halftime in Rotherham United's 1-0 loss at Swansea. Rotherham fell behind in the 28th minute.

Reggie Cannon Boavista won 1-0 at Vizela in the Taca de Portugal. Boavista needed extra time to advance with Yusupha Njie scoring in the 104th minute. Erik Palmer-Brown's Austria Wien drew 1-1 at home with St Polten in the Austrian Bundesliga. Down a goal from the 39th, Aleksandar Jukic equalized for Austria Vienna in the 84th minute. Austria Vienna went a man down with a red card to Alexander Grunwald in the 86th minute.

Timothy Weah subbed on in the 86th minute of Lille's 4-0 home win over Lorient in Ligue 1. Yusuf Yazici scored in the 29th and 51st minutes. Luiz Araujo made it 3-0 in the 57th with Jonathan David scoring in the 89th. Nicholas Gioacchini's Caen beat Le Havre 2-1 on the road in Ligue 2. Le Harve scored in the 45th minute. Yoann Court equalized for Caen in the 76th with Yacine Bammou equalizing from the penalty spot in the 85th minute.

Matt Miazga's Anderlecht lost 2-1 at Beerschot. Down from goals in the 29th and 50th minutes, Lukas Nmecha scored for Anderlecht in the 87th. In the Eredivisie, Luca De La Torre's Heracles lost 5-0 to Ajax falling behind in the 6th minute and trailing 3-0 at halftime. A league down, Richie Ledezma's Yong PSV drew 3-3 at MVV. Down three goals from the 57th minute, Kristofer Kristinsson pulled a goal back in the 66th. Yorbe Vertessen scored in the 82nd with Kristinsson equalizing in the 83rd.

Eric Lichaj was credited with an own-goal in Fatih Karagumruk's 1-1 home draw with Sivasspor in Turkey's Super Lig. Falling behind in the 44th minute, Fatih Karagumruk's Erik Sabo equalized in the 86th. Johnny Cardoso subbed on in the 59th minute for Internacional in their 2-1 home loss to Fluminense. Mauricio put Internacional up in the 15th minute. Fluminense equalized in the 57th and went ahead for good in the 81st.

Did Not Play: Timmy Chandler (Eintracht 1 - RB Leipzig 1), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf 1 - Sandhausen 0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea 2 - Newcastle 0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United 0 - Chelsea 2), Tim Ream (Fulham 2 - Everton 3), Zack Steffen (Manchester City 0 - Spurs 2), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Bournemouth 4 - Reading 2), Romain Gall (Stabaek 0 - Molde 3), Jonathan Amon (Nordsjaelland 1 - Aalborg 1), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge 1 - Kortrijk 0), Ulysses Llanez (Heerenveen 1 - Waalwijk 1), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas 3 - Basaksehir 2), Luis Gil (Viktoria Zizkov 3 - Lisen 1)

Logo courtesy of Hammarby

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The play-in round and the underdog scenario https://ussoccerplayers.com/2020/11/the-play-in-round-and-the-underdog-scenario.html 2020-11-20T19:00:36Z new england lineup

By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (Nov 20, 2020) US Soccer Players - It would be fair to say that it has been a while since a true underdog has lifted the MLS Cup trophy. Last year's champions, the Seattle Sounders, are the model MLS franchise with two MLS Cup titles in the last four seasons. In 2018, an ascendant Atlanta United used its flashy and expensive South American talent and famous coach to win a title in just its second year. The year before that, Toronto FC leveraged its spending power to put together one of the greatest seasons in MLS history.

It's a little difficult to contextualize because of the ever-changing MLS Cup playoff format, but if we're trying to find the last underdog side to win a title, we might have to start with the 2016 Sounders. Despite their baseline of success, the Sounders finished fourth that season and didn't enter the postseason as favorites to win it all.

Let's be honest, though. Even in a year when they finish fourth, the Sounders are never anyone's idea of an underdog. Underdogs, real ones, lurk near the bottom of the playoff qualifiers. They sometimes carry negative goal differentials from the regular season. They don't usually have one of the league's highest payrolls and they lose more games than they win. An underdog doesn't have to be all of those things, but it must be at least some of them.

By that measure, the last true underdog to win an MLS Cup trophy was the Colorado Rapids in 2010. The Rapids finished seventh in the West that season. Though the club led by current Nashville head coach Gary Smith boasted a strong goal differential (+12) and a winning record (12-8-10), they lacked star power.

Even in the early years of the Designated Player rule, Colorado stood out for its sheer lack of big names. In an era when the playoffs were only three rounds, the Rapids navigated their way past Columbus, San Jose, and FC Dallas to win the title. Unfancied before the postseason began, they earned their championship.

There's no debate about the four teams kicking off the 2020 MLS Cup playoffs on Friday night in the "play-in round" of the Eastern Conference tournament. Every one is an underdog. Two are expansion teams playing each other, the ultimate underdog scenario.

In the spirit of the underdog and with the faint hope that a true long shot can win the MLS Cup title, here's how each of the four teams playing on Friday might wind its way to a championship in 2020. First, a caveat: These are playoff games happening in bizarre conditions. Inter Miami is missing players due to positive coronavirus tests and the league has yet to announce what that means for Friday's game. Inter Miami in theory is no longer Inter in practice.

Why can Inter Miami win an MLS Cup? The easy answer became clear when news broke on Thursday that some of their players contracted the coronavirus on international duty. By Friday morning, that list included key playmaker Gonzalo Higuain. He's the type of talent that can carry a team on his back with a modicum of help from other quarters. Mexican attacker Rodolfo Pizarro returned from international duty in time to make the game, a significant boost for Inter. The club also boasts several veteran MLS stars who have been through the rigors of the postseason before. One of them is former Atlanta defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, now also out after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Should Inter have no choice but to go ahead with the squad they have, the key could be goalkeeper Luis Robles. He is the type of shot stopper who can frustrate the Nashville attack. If Inter can get the odd goal and pull off what now looks like a sizeable upset, it means another underdog scenario. A win against Nashville would mean a match against the Union in Chester in the next round. While Miami would be significant underdogs against the Supporters Shield winners, a bit of luck and the hot hand could be enough to help the new club spring the upset.

Let's not forget that Miami has a World Cup winner in its midfield. Every team that faces Miami will have its hands full dealing with Blaise Matuidi.

For Nashville, the chances of a championship rest with its defense. Walker Zimmerman won the Defender of the Year award this week, deserved recognition as part of the expansion team's overall defensive prowess. The first-year club heads into the postseason with a home game against the last playoff qualifier with the confidence that they can slow Miami and advance.

"Defense wins championships" is a tired adage, but that doesn't make it untrue. Nashville's defense gives them a chance. So does the presence of a man who has been through the playoffs and won an MLS Cup on the strength of defending first, Gary Smith. Nashville's boss just so happens to be the man that lead that 2010 Colorado Rapids team to an unexpected championship. Who's to say he can't do it again?

The matchup of the 8th and 9thth-place teams in the East pits the New England Revolution against the Montreal Impact. Getting past that match won't be easy for either side since the two have played each other four times in 2020. "Familiar" doesn't begin to describe it.

The case for a championship run for the Impact is the tougher one to make. Montreal's season has been uneven, at best. The high profile departure of Saphir Taider changed the complexion of the club in the middle of the campaign. Thierry Henry's constant tinkering makes it hard to know what to expect from the Impact in any given game. The club announced that midfielder Victor Wanyama won't be available against the Revolution due to delays returning from international duty.

What does that leave? The talent of Bojan up top and the leadership of Henry, most notably. There's also the possibility that the Impact's counterattack keeps them alive. The Impact has wins in 2020 over two of the top seeds, Toronto and Columbus. That shows that this team is more than capable of springing the upsets necessary to get to the title game.

The Revolution has Bruce Arena, full stop. He's employing dangerous attackers in Gustavo Bou and the newly healthy Carles Gil, along with a solid midfield and better-than-average defense.

Is Arena capable of leading his team to a surprise championship? A record five MLS Cup titles says he is. The Revolution has one of the league's top goalkeepers in Matt Turner and three healthy DPs with Bou, Gil, and Adam Buksa. There's an edge to the Revs and enough firepower in reserve to think that the playoffs could be their time to shine.

2020, like every other playoff year, has favorites and underdogs. Unlike recent seasons, however, there's more reason to believe an underdog could make a run to a championship. It wouldn't be the strangest thing to happen.


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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The USMNT’s two sides of the ocean https://ussoccerplayers.com/2020/11/the-usmnt-two-sides-of-the-ocean.html 2020-11-20T16:30:50Z usmnt squad training in austria

By Charles Boehm – WASHINGTON, DC (Nov 20, 2020) US Soccer Players - Reggie Cannon hasn't been in Europe for very long. The FC Dallas product arrived at Boavista just two months before the USMNT gathered in Wales at the start of the November international window.

Cannon's already found his feet as a regular starter there, finding it dramatically different from his MLS experience. The fullback kept it real when the topic was broached in a media availability in the lead-up to the 6-2 thrashing of Panama in Austria, where he went the full 90 minutes and notched an assist.

"The competition I face in the Portuguese league is some of the hardest competition I've faced since God knows when. And that's no slight to MLS, the level is just so much higher," Cannon said. "I know it's outside of the top five leagues, but playing in that league has challenged me so much, and it's exactly what I wanted from this move. It's forcing me to be better, to become a better player, to find new ways to adapt, to raise my game. And that's ultimately what I want as a footballer, to become the best I can be."

The context wasn't just the general matter of his career. It was also the environment of a young USMNT player pool suddenly brimming with confidence and ambition. At age 22, Cannon is already older than many and feeling a sense of urgency. Moving up is not a desire so much as an unspoken mandate, perhaps, even if many obstacles to such moves still persist.

"The European lifestyle is so much different," Cannon added. "All these young players playing for some of the biggest clubs in the world, it's got an inner sense of competition now. You're fighting for bigger things. You're not just fighting for a spot, you're fighting for the guy next to you and against the guy next to you. There's a lot of inner-circle battles going on right now. And that's ultimately what is making this team great in the process."

Developed at an MLS academy, Cannon emphasized that he wasn't trying to diminish the domestic league so much as underline how dramatic a change he had experienced upon crossing the Atlantic. In the past, such honesty might have sparked controversy, dredging up the perennial debate about playing at home vs. heading overseas that once put Don Garber and Jurgen Klinsmann at odds. The hope is that Gregg Berhalter's pragmatism and track record can help navigate the issue more smoothly this time around.

Berhalter split his own playing career between MLS and Europe and has coached in both environments too. He has worked to cultivate positive relationships on both sides, calling up players from both home and abroad. He maintains that he wants each of his players to make the best choices for their individual circumstances. Despite some second-guessing of the eminently logical decision to focus on European-based call-ups in November, so far he seems to have found a balance.

"I honestly believe that there is no one right answer. And when you want the player to do is, you want him to be challenged at the level that he's at," said Berhalter when announcing this month's roster. "And that's your determination of when you can move levels. So for example, Tyler Adams, when you watched him in his last year at Red Bull [New York], he was outgrowing Red Bull, right? He started dominating games. You can see this guy needs another challenge. And then he gets his other challenge. And that happened when he was 18 years old. Every person, there's a different time for doing that."

Berhalter also pushed back, if gently, against the idea that a bigger, faster overseas exodus needs to happen. He cautioned that "there's a lot of guys that go there [Europe] and you never hear of them again," while repeatedly stating that he considers the number of UEFA Champions League participants a key barometer of any national team's talent pool.

The looming reality is that the enormous disruptions wreaked by COVID-19 mean the USMNT will have to rely on MLS every bit as much as its foreign legion for the foreseeable future.

After the Panama game, Berhalter confirmed that he and Olympic coach Jason Kreis will effectively have to build three separate rosters for 2021's action, with limited overlap between them and likely a number of dependable reinforcements above and beyond. It's worth emphasizing that the two years between now and World Cup 2022 could be the busiest 24 months in program history.

The Concacaf Nations League semifinals and final are in June. The Gold Cup starts almost immediately after. World Cup qualifying will kick off in September. Then sprinkle in Olympic qualifying and hopefully a summer trip to Tokyo for the event itself.

"I think it's an either/or, it's not both, for Nations League or Gold Cup," said Berhalter in regards to call-ups for that period. "I really don't think that it's reasonable to expect a player to play a whole-year season in Europe, play Nations League, take two weeks off, play the Gold Cup for another 30 days. I just don't see that happening. I don't think the clubs are going to accept it. There's going to be a lot of give and take."

This underlines what a false debate "Europe vs. MLS" really is, especially right now. Each side of the player pool will be called upon, because each will offer specific benefits at certain moments.

November's games gave us a bright display of the rich vein of young talent in Europe, many of them competing at big clubs. It was both fun and practical to focus on them here, to give them a stage while also limiting overall travel at a time when a frightening number of international players around the globe are contracting the coronavirus on international duty.

Meanwhile, MLS is still home to plenty of important USMNT contributors. Its teams are generally, if not universally, more open to granting releases to players when they're not explicitly required to by FIFA rules. The logistics of travel across the Concacaf region and beyond will make it faster and more feasible to jet to some matches from the US or Canada than from the other side of the ocean. The pandemic's persistence means that we're likely to see limitations and complications on such movement for the foreseeable future.

We won't know specifically what the multiple rosters of 2021 will look like for some time to come. Even the best-laid plans will probably encounter a need for some scrambling in real time. The job of Berhalter and Kreis is to build platforms that can set up every call-up for success at any given moment. So far, so good.


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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MLS faces a play-in problem https://ussoccerplayers.com/2020/11/mls-faces-a-play-in-problem.html 2020-11-20T15:30:07Z Inter Miami logo

Friday's soccer news starts with reports that Inter Miami is without its star players for tonight's play-in game at Nashville. The Miami Herald's Michelle Kaufman updated earlier stories that five Inter players tested positive for the coronavirus, reporting that Federico Higuain, Gonzalo Higuain, and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez are part of that group. That leaves Inter Miami and MLS facing a playoff game missing its best player and down a defender who has contributed at both ends of the field this season. It also raises what's now a familiar issue for Major League Soccer itself.

MLS has made it clear that the team that can't play due to coronavirus positives is the one who forfeits if it proves impossible to reschedule the game. What isn't clear is whether or not the league will allow Miami to play with its current healthy squad. The league has yet to clarify its position, but regardless this won't be a first choice version of Inter Miami in a season-defining game. It's also not likely that a postponement will mean enough time to get its full squad back on the field.

Not that Nashville needed any more pressure, but they're now in a scenario where the team they prepared to play is weaker. If they can't take full advantage of that situation, it recasts their own debut season.

In this strange year for MLS, the expansion playoff derby now turns into something else entirely. We could feign surprise that this is happening, but the reality of the current situation is a lack of expectations.

LAFC is now down a fourth player for the same reason. The LA Times' Kevin Baxter reports that Brian Rodriguez joins Diego Rossi, Jose Cifuentes, and defender Diego Palacios in testing positive while with their national teams. With none of them able to return to the United States, it seems unlikely that a postponement of Tuesday's game at Seattle would help LAFC.

That makes this more than just a problem for tonight's Eastern Conference play-in round. It's an issue for both conferences and a competitive imbalance the league has no choice but to address. Without the room on the schedule for another Colorado scenario of postponements, MLS once again has to push forward one way or another.

Also in the soccer news, newly minted USMNT player Sebastian Soto subbed out in the 80th minute of Telstar's 2-0 win over Dordrecht in the Eerste Divisie. Glynor Plet scored in the 59th and 61st minutes with Jasper Schendelaar making two saves in the shutout. Telstar is in 8th-place in a noticeably unbalanced table.

Borussia Dortmund announced a contract extension for USMNT midfielder Gio Reyna through the 2024-25 season. "BVB are a big club that can challenge for titles and are in all the important competitions. Young players in particular have the chance to develop here," Reyna said in a club statement. "I have already learned a lot in Dortmund and I want to learn a lot more in future. I look forward to being with BVB in the long term."

The Athletic's Sam Stjeskal with how the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC handled temporarily relocating to the United States. The Denver Post's Jake Shapiro explains how the Rapids figured out set pieces. The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta on Seattle's CenturyLink Field becoming Lumen Field. BBC Sport looks at the table and asks a pertinent question about Premier League hegemony.

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 Inter Miami

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The situation in the Eastern Conference https://ussoccerplayers.com/2020/11/the-situation-in-the-eastern-conference-play-in-round.html 2020-11-19T16:30:17Z montreal impact players

By J Hutcherson (Nov 19, 2020) US Soccer Players - Coming up with a problem where the only answer was a convoluted solution, Major League Soccer kicks off its Eastern Conference play-in round on Friday. After realigning the conferences to restart the season, MLS felt it had no choice but to reset playoff expectations in the now-14 team Eastern Conference. Instead of advancing the top eight finishers like they did in the West, MLS extended the Eastern playoff field to ten teams with the final four places entering a play-in round.

For Nashville, New England, Montreal, and Inter Miami, that means an extra game playing out on Friday night to reduce those ten playoff clubs to eight. It's already a very good question for what that extra game means to the clubs that will end their seasons on Friday. Waiting through the international break for one more game may seem silly in retrospect, especially if 7th-place Nashville and 8th-place New England go through.

Given what we've seen so far in MLS this season, that's far from an obvious conclusion. Upsets in the playoffs seem likely and with them revisions of what counts for success this season.

For both expansion teams, this is more than either of them could've possibly planned for their debuts. It's worth the reminder that switching from total points to points per game wasn't necessary in the East. All 14 clubs played 23 games, with points per game not doing anything interesting to the standings. 6th through 8th-place all finished with 32 points and 1.39 points per game. Major League Soccer's institutional stubbornness in sticking with international standards means total wins beats goal difference for the first tiebreaker. The New York Red Bulls took 6th-place and avoided the play-in round that way even though they had the lowest goal differential of those three teams.

Montreal is six points behind in 9th-place on 26 points, with Inter finishing the season in 10th with 24 points. That was one better than 11th-place Chicago. 23 games is 11 short of what MLS intended, effecting the sample size in a league where winning and losing streaks are common. That's the long way round to get to what we can politely call "playoff uncertainty."

Friday night's double elimination won't do much to clear up that picture. If the underdogs advance, it's a clear upset but not necessarily a clear concern for the top two. 1st-place Philadelphia and 2nd-place Toronto should like their chances regardless of who advances. They're already set with the Eastern Conference Semifinals the clear distinction between success and disappointment in 2020. Both should expect to meet in the finals, but advancing out of the first round should be enough. This is still a strange attempt at getting in the regular season. We simply don't know what really counts for good.

That's something that should resonate up and down the playoff brackets. Teams looking to validate what they put together for 2020 may not find it even if they end up in the final. There's too many questions, bigger issues, and that trend for good teams to bow out in the playoffs.

Add to that the very real risk the pandemic continues to pose, and this may be enough of a set of circumstances for teams to opt against yet another panic rebuild. That doesn't take the pressure off of the playoffs, but it might reset expectations for the clubs still playing.

We've already seen teams decide that this version of the MLS season is regular enough to "part ways" with coaches. That's a tired MLS euphemism, but it does lead to the bigger point. Parting ways with a coach means parting ways with a system as well. That normally requires changes to the squad in the short and long-term, alongside a new coach that will be more than happy to decide when that team becomes their own.

Suppose the two expansion teams advance from the play-in round. Nashville should do that regardless based on form and a strong defense. Inter Miami would be an upset, knocking out an up-and-down Montreal. Considering that New England has Bruce Arena in charge and the Impact convinced Thierry Henry to return to MLS, does anybody see either of those organizations using a play-in round exit as reason enough to make a change?

Extend that into the first round proper, and there aren't any obvious candidates for clubs that would count not advancing as the kind of failure that leads to immediate change. Philadelphia and Orlando City are both having breakout seasons. Toronto and Columbus have no reason to decide that one and done in the 2020 playoffs are more than enough justification to bring in a new coach. Neither does NYCFC under first-year coach Ronny Deila. The Red Bulls finished the season under an interim coach after already making that decision in September. New hire Gerhard Struber's first MLS game in charge will be in the playoffs.

Whether or not that removes some pressure isn't a given. MLS clubs don't necessarily work on what would pass for logic in theory. Emotion is certainly involved. A lopsided exit could force club leadership to decide that there has to be a better way forward. That's what a one and done playoff system could expose, even for clubs that seemingly have it together. It's the risk vs reward at the end of this bizarre season.


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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Guardiola’s contract asks a super club question https://ussoccerplayers.com/2020/11/guardiolas-contract-asks-a-super-club-question.html 2020-11-19T15:30:35Z manchester city logo

Thursday's soccer news starts with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola now under contract with the club through the 2022-23 season. Rumors linked Guardiola with a return to Barcelona, perhaps playing off the idea that he isn't known for spending significant time at any club he's coached.

"Having that kind of support is the best thing any manager can have," Guardiola said in a press statement. "I have everything I could possibly want to do my job well and I am humbled by the confidence the Owner, Chairman, Ferran and Txiki have shown in me to continue for two more years after this season. The challenge for us is to continue improving and evolving, and I am very excited and about helping Manchester City do that."

While it's easy to point to managers not seeing out their contract one way or the other, Guardiola commiting to City raises an interesting scenario. How much weight does an elite team put on results during the pandemic?

Barcelona deemed their 2019-20 Champions League exit such a problem that the quick answer was a new coach. Eventually, that also required a new president and board of directors. Juventus also decided their Champions League finish meant a coaching change after losing to Lyon on away goals in the round of 16

Manchester City exited the Champions League in the quarterfinals with an unlikely 3-1 loss to that same Lyon squad. Bayern Munich knocked Lyon out in semifinals 3-0 after beating Barcelona 8-2 in the quarterfinals. It's worth the mention that Bayern beating Chelsea 7-1 in the round of 16 didn't overly threaten Frank Lampard's job.

As has been clear for several seasons now, there are only so many coaches a super club can trust with their brand. Those clubs will take risks with former players, but coaches rising through the ranks and ending up at the elite level are a small and well-compensated group. They also normally end up taking jobs at multiple elite clubs, carrying with them a proven set of tactical ideas. Those normally require a substantial payroll to work as intended.

Manchester City's Champions League struggles are well known, compounded by Liverpool beating Spurs in the 2018-19 final and not helped at all last season. That's as much the challenge as keeping pace at or near the top of the Premier League. Still, these are not normal times, and clubs need to weigh their decisions carefully. Barcelona is in 8th-place in La Liga. Juventus is 5th in Serie A. Manchester City is 10th in the Premier League, something that apparently isn't adding significant pressure onto Guardiola's long-term project at the club.

Also in the soccer news, in a statement LAFC, "confirmed that defender Diego Palacios, midfielder Jose Cifuentes, and forward Diego Rossi have tested positive for COVID-19 while with the Ecuador and Uruguay National Teams during the most recent November FIFA international window. Upon receipt of the positive results, the players entered self-isolation in their respective countries and will remain isolated and follow their local restrictions and protocol prior to returning to Los Angeles. Additionally, forward Brian Rodríguez, who has been with the Uruguayan National Team, continues to test negative at this time. His return to Los Angeles as well as his status for LAFC's playoff match against Seattle Sounders FC on Nov. 24 is still to be determined."

The Washington Post's Steven Goff updates DC United's coaching search. The Athletic's Paul Tenorio reports that the Fire won't be keeping their new logo.

ESPN's Mark Ogden talks to third-choice Manchester City goalkeeper Scott Carson about his role in helping second-choice keeper Zack Steffen. SI.com's Jonathan Wilson argues that Germanty has little choice but to move on from the Joachim Low era. The Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson repeats the call for more research into dementia and former professional soccer players. Inside World Football's Samindra Kunti explains the La Liga salary cap.

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 Manchester City

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What we learned from the USMNT in November https://ussoccerplayers.com/2020/11/what-we-learned-from-the-usmnt-in-november.html 2020-11-18T16:30:56Z musha and reyna during the usmnt draw with wales

By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (Nov 18, 2020) US Soccer Players - Every international friendly, no matter the timing or teams, is inevitably about what we learn. Games with no stakes beyond a bit of pride for the sides involved are rarely that informative. A lot of time is spent in the aftermath trying to put what we saw in context for games that count.

For the USMNT during the November window, it may be easier. Simply put, games against a weak Wales eleven and a poor Panamanian side that traveled from Central America to Austria in the middle of a pandemic aren't the best tests of where things stand with the USMNT. There was no fire to forge a group that averaged just short of 22 years of age. If there was a competitive match tomorrow, with points towards World Cup qualification on the line, it would be very difficult to know what to expect.

Still, with the pandemic raging and the United States in the midst of a generational shift, even friendlies carry added importance. A World Cup qualifying cycle meant to have started already ended up joining the list of events delayed by the global health crisis. So did multiple international windows.

The gap between national team camps because of the pandemic cuts both ways. On the one hand, it prevented the USMNT from gathering at full strength and improving through training together. On the other, it created more time for a handful of exceedingly young players to establish themselves with their clubs.

Monday's 6-2 romp was only the beginning of the process for this generation. USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter doesn't have much on-field time to get his first-choice lineup ready to play the games that count. There's plenty of calendar time between now and June, but only the March full release window.

That's all the more reason to focus on the positives with the results against Wales and Panama, regardless of how disjointed things looked at times. To a man, the message coming out of the USMNT camp was that the few training sessions the team had together made playing cohesive soccer more difficult.

Let's throw in a healthy dose of moving parts involving positional questions and ample substitutions. That makes this international window more about quantity than quality. Getting players on the field was the only sure thing for Berhalter and his staff. That meant together for those expected to feature heavily in important games next year, or at all for a new wave of rising youngsters who might help fill the gaps in a number of 2021 USMNT versions.

Then there was Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder Gio Reyna. His debut had to wait for a game, lasting long enough for English media to float theories that he could end up playing for England. Reyna entered the window as a 17-year-old prodigy starting for a Champions League club and exited it an 18-year-old presumed starter for the USMNT. Reyna showed against Panama why it will be difficult for Berhalter to pick a lineup without him in it when he's healthy and available.

It wasn't just Reyna's goal, the first of his USMNT career from a free kick in the 18th minute against Panama. It was his vision, creativity, and despite his age, ability to hold up to the rigors of the international game. Panama utilized the type of physical tactics that the Americans can always expect against CONCACAF opponents, especially those that are overmatched in terms of talent and pedigree. What the Canaleros lacked in ability, they often made up for by harassing the Americans.

If there was a bigger takeaway than the simple act of playing together for the young Americans, it might be that. Faced with an opponent who scored early and kicked them around for a large chunk of the game, the US responded with two different flurries of goals. The first gave the Americans the lead heading into halftime. The second not only restored a two-goal lead after Panama pulled within a goal, but it also ended any dreams they had of springing the upset.

Because Josh Sargent was unable to leave Bremen due to quarantine requirements upon his proposed return, the striker position was more open than expected over the two games. Against Wales, Berhalter opted to play midfielder Sebastian Lletget in the center forward role, a strange choice that caused head-scratching in the fan base. The zero goals the Americans scored in Swansea provided plenty of reason to think that one of the two natural center forwards on the roster, Nicolas Gioacchini or Sebastian Soto, would get a chance to prove himself.

The best-of-both-worlds result from Monday was goals for each of them. Gioacchini, the 20-year-old son of Jamaican and Italian parents playing his club soccer in France's second division, scored twice in the first-half. Sure, the first was an opportunistic putback from a shot by Ulysses Llanez and the second a headed finish two yards from goal, but in both cases, Gioacchini did what a forward is supposed to do. Find the right spot and put the ball in the net.

Gioacchini, like Reyna, fits seamlessly into a group of young players that look more like the breadth of American soccer than their predecessors. The USMNT has always been a multicultural affair, especially when the raft of dual-nationals that have represented America are included, but the group that just broke camp is by far the most striking example of that in program history.

Despite varied backgrounds, eligibility they carry to play for other nations, and the different soccer they play in their club sides, Berhalter's group provided plenty of reason to be excited about the USMNT future.

Reyna's arrival, forward goals, good fullback play from Sergino Dest, Antonee Robinson, and Reggie Cannon aside. None of it is more exciting than the way the US's three-man midfield played over the two matches. It's wasn't a full 180 minutes together. However, between the draw against Wales and thrashing of Panama, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, and the intriguing Musah covered ground, broke up passing lanes, recovered the ball, and advanced up the field with the sort of dynamic, pulsating ferocity that is a hallmark of the modern game.

We might even allow ourselves the fancy the Musah enjoyed playing with McKennie and Adams so much that he'll soon make his international decision and lock up his spot in the USMNT setup for the next decade. The 17-year-old's social media feeds do nothing to suggest otherwise.

Whatever happens going forward, the USMNT has never had this much potential. It could have gone slightly better against Wales and Pamana in this strange COVID-19 international window. Digging too deep into the performances considering the circumstances would be to miss the point. What did we learn? It's time to get excited.


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 John Dorton - ISIPhotos.com

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The November window highlights club vs country https://ussoccerplayers.com/2020/11/the-november-window-highlights-club-vs-country.html 2020-11-18T15:30:03Z mls balls avaya stadium

Wednesday's soccer news starts with the November 2020 version of club vs country. FIFA altered the release rules for clubs, but that option to keep players out of international duty only applied in specific circumstances. Games that count was the biggest decider, with UEFA scheduling Euro qualifiers and Nations League games, Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, and South America playing World Cup qualifiers. That left MLS clubs able to say no to Concacaf clubs, but not much else.

The issues in play are plan. Potential quarantines and a heightened risk of infection due to moving to and from other parts of the world.

ESPN's Jeff Carlisle reports that some MLS clubs would be using charter flights to bring back their players and potentially avoid lengthy quarantines. The MLS playoffs begin on Friday, with some clubs pushing to get their full squads together in time.

That grew more complicated for LAFC, with coronavirus spreading through Uruguay's national team. Local outlets reporting that Rossi has tested positive for the virus. Until official confirmation and a timeline of what that means for his healthy return to the LAFC lineup, there's no point in speculation other than the obvious. LAFC is likely once again without its best player.

For any MLS team that sent players on international duty during this window, that's the dread inducing scenario. How LAFC navigates it on and off the field can't take focus off of the next game on the schedule. That's at Seattle on Tuesday, a game that could be further impacted by the ability to get other national team players back in the lineup in time.

This is far from an MLS problem, though the playoffs exacerbate this particular situation. The Independent's Miguel Delaney picks up on club vs country in England where the issue is the number of games and player fatigue. Premier League champions Liverpool also are facing that worst case scenario, with Mohamed Salah testing positive while on international duty with Egypt. During the last window, it was Cristiano Ronaldo with Portugual. UEFA itself has had to cancel Nations League games due to positive tests and border controls.

With FIFA announcing that the Club World Cup would happen in February, it's compounding a basic issue. Logistics and overuse of players need to be the primary concern, not something to work around. Instead, there's a feeling that what we're really seeing is the same problems the game faced this time last year. It's that push for importance for whatever a governing body decides needs to happen. That includes the silliness of attempting a regular club and cup schedule alongside pushing ahead with packing international windows with games that require significant travel. There's no winners here, especially if you're team common sense.

MLSsoccer's Charles Boehm talks to Houston personnel about the Dynamo rebrand. DW looks at the situation with Germany's national team under Joachim Low following that 6-0 loss to Spain.

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 by Maciek Gudrymowicz - ISIPhotos.com

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USMNT finishes off November with a comfortable win https://ussoccerplayers.com/2020/11/usmnt-finishes-off-november-with-a-comfortable-win.html 2020-11-17T15:30:38Z nicolas gioacchini goal celebration

Tuesday's soccer news starts with the USMNT attack finding itself with plenty of opportunities against an overmatched Panama in a 6-2 win in Austria. It's worth the reminder that Panama led early in the first-half, but the USMNT eventually established the kind of rhythm that ended up with Nicholas Gioacchini and Sebastian Soto both scoring twice.

Soto's goals came late, with the USMNT scoring three times after the 80th minute. That stage of the game becomes more about Panama breaking down, shifting the focus to what happened when the game was 3-1 between Gioacchini scoring his second in the 26th minute and Jose Fajardo pulling Panama within one goal in the 79th. What we saw over that stretch was similar to what the USMNT did against Wales. They kept control, establishing a flow in the attack while not letting Panama see much of an opportunity to get back into the game.

Panama in Austria may not be representative of what the USMNT will see this summer at the Gold Cup. Then again, the odd situation of a Concacaf friendly in middle Europe speaks to the strange times during the pandemic. Doing the work counts regardless of the situation, and that should be the big takeaway from the November friendlies.

The year-long gap between international windows for the USMNT created a situation where gradually bringing young players into the system turned into rethinking the system. That's where USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter deserves credit for playing to circumstances. This version of the USMNT is noticeably looser, even when playing with a withdrawn forward against Wales. Switch that to a target forward or a traditional strike partnership against a team with less tactical nuance, and the chances open up.

For years, the USMNT under more than one coach would go up against weaker opponents with two traditional defensive midfielders and a back four. What that created was an unnecessary imbalance, as if the risk of giving up a goal was greater than the chance of scoring them. This version of the USMNT doesn't need that kind of hedge, especially when it disrupts their flow. It's easy to trust players when they're doing similar jobs with elite European clubs. Still, breaking away from safety is difficult at international level.

It's still a long way to games that count, but that may be the biggest takeaway from this restart window. We already knew that this version of the USMNT would be different with younnger European-based players. What we saw over these two friendlies is how different.

SI.com's Avi Creditor looks at how the USMNT came back against Panama. American Soccer Now's Brian Sciaretta puts the focus on what Gioacchini brings to the national team. The Atheltic's Paul Tenorio on the positive takeaways from the USMNT win.

Also in the soccer news, FIFA is pushing ahead with the 2020 Club World Cup, moving it to February, 2021 in Qatar. Concacaf's Champions League bubble next month in Orlando will now advance the winner to the Club World Cup. It's certainly worth asking why additional games at league, confederation, or international level are necessary, but it's not surprising that FIFA made the decision to go ahead.

"The introduction of strict return-to-play protocols has facilitated a successful resumption of continental club championships the last of which is now scheduled to conclude by the end of January 2021," FIFA's statement read. "As a result, the FIFA Club World Cup 2020 will now be held from 1 to 11 February 2021, taking place in Qatar as per the original host appointment by the FIFA Council in June 2019."

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 by John Dorton - ISIPhotos.com

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USMNT 6 – Panama 2 https://ussoccerplayers.com/2020/11/usmnt-6-panama-2.html 2020-11-16T21:36:02Z usmnt lineup against panama on november 16 2020

The USMNT's newest generation showed that they can come back in a 6-2 win over Panama in Austria. Trailing from an 8th minute Jose Fajardo goal, Gio Reyna converted a free kick in the 19th minute. Nicholas Gioacchini scored his first goal for the senior squad in the 22nd, doubling the lead in the 26th. The USMNT has a chance to extend its lead from the penalty spot in the 65th minute, but Gioacchini's attempt was saved. Fajardo pulled a goal back in the 79th. Sebastian Soto scored in the 83rd, making the most of his debut after subbing on in the 77th. Richie Ledezma also won his first cap for the USMNT. Sebastian Lletget subbed on with Soto and scored in the 87th minute. Soto scored again in stoppage time.

-- MORE TO FOLLOW --

Match: US Men’s National Team vs. Panama
Date: November 16, 2020
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Stadion Wiener Neustadt; Wiener Neustadt, Austria
Attendance: No attendance
Kickoff: 8:45pm local / 2:45 pm ET
Weather: 50 degrees; cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 3 3 6
PAN 1 1 2

PAN – Jose Fajardo (Alejandro Yearwood) 8th minute
USA – Giovanni Reyna 18
USA – Nicholas Gioacchini 22
USA – Nicholas Gioacchini (Matt Miazga) 26
PAN – Jose Fajardo 79
USA – Sebastian Soto (Richy Ledezma) 83
USA – Sebastian Lletget (Reggie Cannon) 87
USA – Sebastian Soto (Richy Ledezma) 90+1

Lineups:
USA: 1-Zack Steffen; 20-Reggie Cannon, 3-Matt Miazga (15-Chris Richards, 80), 13-Tim Ream (capt.), 2-Sergiño Dest; 4-Tyler Adams (16-Johnny Cardoso, 62), 18-Yunus Musah (17-Sebastian Lletget, 76), 8-Weston McKennie; 7-Giovanni Reyna (12-Richy Ledezma, 68), 9-Nicholas Gioacchini (19-Sebastian Soto, 77), 21-Uly Llanez (23-Tim Weah, 62)
Subs not used: 22-Ethan Horvath, 24-Chituru Odunze, 5-Antonee Robinson, 6-John Brooks, 11-Konrad de la Fuente, 14-Owen Otasowie
Head coach: Gregg Berhalter

PAN: 1-Orlando Mosquera; 23-Michael Murillo, 4-Fidel Escobar, 13-Oscar Linton, 15-Alejandro Yearwood (14-Andres Andrade, 55); 16-Jorman Aguilar (21-Omar Browne, 75), 11-Armando Cooper (capt.) (5-Abdiel Ayarza, 75), 8-Adalberto Carrasquilla (6-Victor Griffith, 55), 7-Eduardo Guerrero (9-Gabriel Torres, 45); 17-Jose Fajardo, 24-Juan David Tejada (19-Cesar Yanis, 45)
Subs not used: 22-Marcos Allen, 2-Francisco Palacios, 3-Harold Cummings, 10-Edgar Barcenas
Head coach: Thomas Christiansen

Stats Summary: USA / PAN
Shots: 15 / 8
Shots on Goal: 8 / 3
Saves: 2 / 1
Corner Kicks: 6 / 3
Fouls: 20 / 18
Offside: 1 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
PAN – Fidel Escobar (caution) 41st minute
PAN – Michael Murrillo (caution) 42
USA - Weston McKennie (caution) 50
USA - Nicholas Gioacchini (caution) 51
PAN – Victor Griffith (caution) 70
PAN – Gabriel Torres (caution) 73

Officials:
Referee: Harald Lechner (AUT)
Assistant Referee 1: Andreas Heidenreich (AUT)
Assistant Referee 2: Maximilian Kolbithsc (AUT)
4th Official: Julian Weinberger (AUT)

Photo by John Dorton - ISIPhotos.com

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