Tag Archives: France

Break’s Over: MLS is Back! Gold Cup Knockouts, and WWC Recap



Greetings, soccer fans! And welcome to The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. Thanks for joining us as we get back to Major League Soccer coverage, review the Gold Cup knockout rounds, and recap the Women’s World Cup semi-finals. We also thank you for helping us in our mission of growing the sport, and thanks to Luke Murray for sending us these links on how to start up soccer in your neighborhood:

Please share your tips and advice for Luke and all those getting their kids involved in the world’s game!

Turning to soccer talk, Nick and Mike highlight a few MLS games, now that the league is back from international break. Tune in for analysis of

  • Red Bulls New York vs. Chicago Fire
  • Toronto FC’s games vs. DC United and Atlanta United
  • New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union
  • And a shout out to the Colorado Rapids for their upset over league leader LAFC!

Next, our hosts turn to the Gold Cup. While the USMNT has survived and advanced against Panama and Curacao, they need to find their game – especially their offense – for their semi-final match-up against Jamaica. The hosts predict Mexico to defeat the US in the final, but the games leading up to that will definitely be exciting.

Finally, Nick and Mike take a quick look back at the USWNT’s run to the Women’s World Cup Final, where they will most likely meet the Netherlands (though don’t count Sweden out for an upset). The US Women have defeated Thailand, Chile, and Sweden in the group stages, then advanced through the knockout rounds past Spain, France, and England. They’ve got a target on their back, have taken the best shot of every team they’ve faced, and have risen to the challenge. USA! USA! USA!


Gold Cup Victories, WWC Near Miss, and USOC-MLS Roundup



Welcome back, soccer fans, to your source for all things American soccer. In this episode our hosts break down the Gold Cup group stages and what to expect from the knockout rounds. Mike is still confident in his pick of Mexico over the United States in the final, while Nick believes this is Costa Rica’s year. With Haiti upsetting Costa Rica, Canada could be the dark horse team to make the finals. The USMNT will still need to get past Canada and Jamaica, but their path looks promising after convincing wins over Guyana and Trinidad & tobago.

Meanwhile, the USWNT defeated Spain in less than convincing fashion. But for two Megan Rapinoe penalty kicks, the #1 ranked team and tournament favorites nearly missed their worst ever finish in the Women’s World Cup. Mike believes this will act as motivation for the team to roll to victories in their upcoming matches. Still the favorite, the US will face tough tests in France, Norway, Germany, or whichever team they may meet in the final.

Back on US soil, the US Open Cup delivered additional Cupsets! with New Mexico defeating Colorado and Saint Louis defeating FC Cincinnati. LAFC, Portland, and Atlanta are still the favorites, but Mike believes NYCFC will surprise everyone and take the trophy. Meanwhile in MLS action, the Chicago Fire once again underwhelm in a 1-1 draw to Real Salt Lake, the Galaxy beat up on a floundering FCC, and Sporting KC somehow come out on top in the Battle of the Bad against Columbus. Someone has to win, right?

Enjoy all the soccer action, and be sure to follow us on twitter @SOPSoccer and leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Going International: Women’s World Cup-France 2019, US Open Cup (Cupsets!), and Gold Cup



There’s soccer around the world, and we’ve got your American perspective.

The Women’s World Cup is taking place in France, and favorite United States continues to dominate. After a convincing 3-0 victory over Chile, the USWNT have locked up a spot in the knock-out round. They’ll have their work cut out for them with possible opponents of Spain, France, Norway, and Australia … and that’s even before the finals! Still the favorite, this is the US Women’s tournament to lose. Also, Marta (Brazil) sets the all-time World Cup goal-scoring record, with her 17th career WC goal.

Meanwhile in the US Open Cup … CUPSETS! Mike’s new favorite word (though annoying when overused, and the MLS is sure trying to overuse it) is appropriate to describe the victories of New Mexico United over Colorado Rapids and Saint Louis FC over Chicago Fire. And the Cupsets could continue with Saint Louis facing FC Cincinnati. Nick and Mike still think this is LAFC’s tournament to lose, but they’ll have to get through Portland and the Galaxy to do it. Meanwhile, Atlanta has found their rhythm, despite going down early to Chattanooga, and the Five Stripes are the favorite on the other side of the bracket.

Finally, Gold Cup 2019 is underway. Favorites Mexico and Costa Rica started with convincing wins vs. Cuba and Nicaragua, and Canada impressed vs. Martinique. Panama topped Trinidad and Tobago, and the USMNT defeated debutante Guyana. Mike is picking Mexico over the USA in the final, while Nick thinks that Costa Rica is destined to win.

Stay tuned every week to the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast for all your tournament recaps. Join the conversation on twitter @SOPSoccer or in the comments below, subscribe to the podcast in the links in the banner, and please share the word of our show!


USA! USA! USA! – National Team Recaps, US Open Cup Features, and MLS Roundup



Hello soccer fans! Welcome back to The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. And our show starts with American soccer at it’s highest levels. The USYNT was knocked out of the U-20 World Cup in Poland after a tough game vs. South American champion Ecuador. While they didn’t advance further, Tab Ramos’ team once again proved the United States is developing talent on an international level. The USMNT also had a disappointing week, with losses to Jamaica and Venezuela in international friendlies. These Gold Cup tune-up games are certainly disappointments, but Berhalter wasn’t playing his “A” team, and his tactics needs time to implement. That being said, Nick and Mike have picked against the US in the tournament, choosing Costa Rica and Mexico, respectively.

The bright spot for US Soccer has always been the USWNT, and they did not disappoint in their Women’s World Cup opener vs. Thailand. A thorough 13-0 drubbing of the Asian squad set a record for largest margin of victory and most goals in a WWC game. Alex Morgan also tied the WWC single game scoring record by netting 5 goals in a superb performance. This team has reminded the world that they are the favorites.

Meanwhile at home, the US Open Cup saw Major League Soccer teams enter the tournament. The Chicago Fire embarrassed themselves against St. Louis FC, losing the game 2-1 and losing their cool. Other MLS sides fared much better with Columbus, New England, LAFC, and Houston advancing. Chattanooga and Atlanta were postponed due to bad field conditions, and San Jose vs. Sacramento is ongoing as of time of posting.

Finally in MLS action, we saw the Union assert their dominance over the Eastern Conference with a thrilling come-back win over RBNY. The other games went as expected and all the results are up at www.mlssoccer.com. Thanks for listening, and be sure to comment below and follow us @SOPSoccer.

 


Waiting for Wow – World Cup Day 4



I’m still waiting for goals, and I’m still waiting for any team to show that they deserve to win this tournament. Today’s results were Costa Rica falling 0-1 to Serbia, Mexico defeating Germany 1-0, and Brazil drawing Switzerland 1-1.

Four goals. That’s it. Yes, I’m focusing on goals, but that’s what it takes to win. Today’s teams aren’t Iceland, trying to advance on points. These are tournament favorites who can’t find the back of the net. Combine this with a terrible effort from France, and Spain seemed to be the only country that showed they came ready to play. My favorite game so far was Peru’s 0-1 loss to Denmark. Peru played upbeat and exciting, they wanted to win. Am I being critical implying that other nations don’t want to win? Damn right, I am.

Strategically, teams need to win their first game. It gives them control in their group, pressures other teams to push for points, and allows their coaches to manage games as they see fit. They can rest players in the final group game, and start planning for the knock-out rounds. Statistically, teams that win their first game advance to the next round over somewhere in the range of 84%. Psychologically, winning your first game instills confidence in your players and your system, and it puts fear in your opponents. So it makes no sense for a team to not play their hardest and try to win their opening match.

So why the lackluster performances by these top teams? I honestly don’t know. There could be many reasons, like overconfidence, entitlement, indifference, or plain laziness. (The story ‘Casey at Bat’ comes to mind.) There are conspiracy theorists saying the refs are manipulating matchups for more favorable/appealing knock-out round games. Finally, there’s a legitimate concern that the club game has overtaken international competition as players’ and fans’ primary measure of success. Also, that there’s not enough time for national teams to practice together because of club commitments. I don’t believe the club arguments, at least not yet. When measuring all-time great status, players of today are compared to those who’ve won World Cups and national team glory. (Maradona/Messi, Neymar/Ronaldo/Pele, are two that immediately come to mind.) Neymar himself spoke about these comparisons in an interview aired before today’s Brazil game. These are also professional players while dedicated their lives to the sport, grew up together, and have been in their national federation systems for years. So why Brazil can’t beat Switzerland (or Argentina beat Iceland, or France dominate Australia) is just beyond me.

I wish I could point to one thing, say “Fix it!”, and then be treated to nothing but extraordinary soccer for the next two weeks. I know this won’t happen, and I worry for the future of the World Cup without stellar play by the world soccer powers and enjoyable play by the rest, especially in light of an expanded field in 2026. Meanwhile, I’ll keep watching and waiting to see something that truly makes me say “Wow.”

 

*Spain and Ronaldo’s individual performance being the only exception.


Davids vs. Goliaths – World Cup 2018 Day 3



France vs. Australia (2-1)
Where were all the goals?
France, a tournament favorite, loaded with talent (Pogba, Giroud, Mbappe, Griezmann), could only muster one goal from the run of play against an Australia team that needed a playoff to qualify for World Cup 2018. The referee exerted more offensive prowess, awarding a penalty for each team in the second half. They were both converted by Antoine Griezmann (58′) and Mile Jedinak (62′), respectively.
I did not enjoy watching this game. France looked disjointed, waiting for anyone else to make a play. I expected more, and I think they expected more from themselves. Meanwhile, the Australians seemed to be more worried about not letting France score than do anything to help their own cause. They played an ugly game of soccer, intent on disrupting France with fouls, rather than trying to actually maintain their own possession. If it worked, maybe I’d feel differently, and maybe the rest of the soccer viewing world would, too. However, they executed their terrible game plan and still lost. A late Pogba goal (81′), one that barely cleared the goal line, gives France the three points. France should have won, but anyone who laid money on les Bleus might want to start hedging their bets.

Argentina vs. Iceland (1-1)
Again, where were all the goals?
This is the World Cup. I expect more from the best, and Messi and Argentina disappointed fans all over the world in the most lop-sided statistical game I have ever seen. Iceland, to their credit, played a beautiful defensive game, at times with all 11 men behind the ball. They kept formation, rotated when needed, and played smart, compact soccer. Argentina, for all its flair, couldn’t break them down (despite some nifty play by Angel Di Maria, from whom I’d still like to see more). Also worth mentioning, the biggest name on the Iceland roster (at least before the game), Gylfi Sigurdsson, was practically non-existent. Yes, the free-kick specialist had a hard time making an impact when a team plays as defensively as Iceland. But the best players will find the game and make an impact, and he underwhelmed.
The biggest moment, though, came in the 64th minute. The official awarded a clear penalty to Argentina, and Messi steps up to the spot. Everyone in the world thought it was game over, except for Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson. He guessed right, Messi didn’t place it well, and the man looking for international redemption comes up short again. Meanwhile, Iceland comes away with a point, comes away with confidence, and comes away with the respect of the world. VIKING CLAP!

Today’s later matches feature Peru vs. Denmark and Nigeria vs. Croatia. Not the David and Goliath matchups so far, but maybe they’ll produce some more goals. I wonder if Croatia and Nigeria play a more attacking style, knowing that mighty Argentina currently has 1 point with a 0 goal differential. Enjoy Day 3 of the tournament!


Ep 17 – USMNT vs. Ireland, France Recap



The USMNT finished their pre-World Cup friendlies against a solid UEFA opponent in Ireland and a World Cup favorite in France. Oddly, they lose to Ireland 2-1 and draw France 1-1 The hosts break down the goals and the line-ups, and discuss the future of the USMNT players and coaches. Wil Trapp captained the team amid speculation of a move from Columbus to Europe. Bill Hamid and Zack Steffen started in goal, and the hosts discuss how Steffen and Alex Bono are the keepers of the future.

Also, the United Bid of Canada, USA, and Mexico won the right to host World Cup 2026. The news came the morning after our recording, and we at Sons of a Pitch are very excited to watch the greatest players in the world in our backyard (albeit in 8yrs or so).

What are your thoughts on the USMNT roster and coaching candidates? Are you done seeing Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood, like Nick? Do you want a European style coach, like Mike? Let us know in the comments below.