Tag Archives: World Cup

Soccer Memories, MLS is Back Group Previews, and American Soccer Headlines



Hey, soccer fans! It’s July and the temperature is almost as hot as our takes. In tonight’s episode of The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast, tune in for our takes on:

Soccer Memories

  • From a listener question, our hosts share their favorite soccer memories – from Gold Cups to World Cups and all the MLS games in between.
  • Coincidentally, both Nick and Mike have a great memory of Dwayne DeRosario

MLS is Back Tournament Group Previews

  • Nick and Mike predict Toronto FC to take the group, but who comes in 2nd? New England is on the up, but look out for dark horse DC United
  • Group D is a toss up! Nick likes Sporting KC to finally fulfill their potential, while Mike is buying into what MNUFC is selling. Don’t count our resurgent Colorado or an RSL club that can outplay expectations.

American Soccer Headlines

  • Is Christian Pulisic injury prone? Or is it growing pains? He’s only 21, folks.
  • Do you like “Fighting” Matt Miazga?
  • Where will Cannon and Busio end up?

Tune in for all this and more in tonight’s episode of The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast!

Be sure to subscribe on YouTube to join the next live broadcast and get in on the conversation.

 

 


Bundesliga is Back, Headlines, Soccertown USA



The Bundesliga is back and so is The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. We bring you the latest coverage of the Americans in the German league, including recaps of

  • Weston McKennie, the best of a bad Schalke.
  • Tyler Adams, he didn’t screw up!
  • John Brooks, one horrendous play amid a great game.
  • Josh Sargent, yes, he actually did get subbed in.

We also cover headlines from around the American soccer landscape, including DaMarcus Beasley starting a USL club in his hometown of Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Check out the following articles to keep up to date:

In the 2H of the show, we review the documentary Soccertown USA, chronicling the rise of USMNT legends Tab Ramos, John Harkes, and Tony Meola. Check out the Soccertown USA documentary, support Soccertown Media, and learn about the development of modern American soccer!

We also discuss the new elite player development platform forming across the county. Comprised of MLS and elite clubs, this 95 member organization is still growing, and intends to cast a wide net to identify and develop the next generations of start players and coaches. Mike’s a little skeptical on its quick formation at the demise of the US Development Academy, but Nick doesn’t care so long it works!

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Americans Abroad, Re-Opening MLS



Hey, soccer fans! With Bundesliga play resuming this weekend, we’re talking Americans abroad and those players who are overseas that could make an impact on the USMNT. In the 2nd half, Nick and Mike talk about Major League Soccer’s plans to re-open after the Covid-19 hiatus, and what it means for teams and the league. Stay tuned for all this and more with The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast.

Quick USMNT Takes

-Mike thinks the USMNT will rely on Pulisic, Adams, and McKennie for the foreseeable future

-Nick thinks it’s time to move on from Tyler Boyd as a potential US striker

-The hosts talks depth at defense and midfield: Who else but Cannon and Dest start at outside back?

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Lawsuits, Bribes, and a Brief Expansion History



Hey, soccer fans! We’re back with another quarantine special. In tonight’s episode, our hosts touch on three major topics in the landscape of American soccer:

  • The USWNT lawsuit vs. USSF: US Soccer has a new law firm. Is this an admission of past failings, a stall tactic, or a strategic move? Hear Nick and Mike’s thoughts on the basis of the suit, the legal developments, and the implications on the future of the federation.
  • Bribery prosecutions in New York: US attorneys levied bribery charges against Concacaf, Conmebol, and Fox television executives for their role in awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and giving Fox the tv rights without open bidding.
  • MLS Expansion Review: The hosts review the history of expansion in the MLS and look to the future of which cities could host the next Major League Soccer franchise.

Tune in for all this and more in tonight’s episode!

Stay up to date with everything Sons of a Pitch and American soccer by clicking below:


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!


U-20 World Cup, Zack Steffen, and MLS League Roundup



USA! USA! USA!

Hello soccer fans! The USYNT/U-20 team has advanced to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Poland. This is a record-tying, third straight trip to the round of eight for the U-20s. After finishing 2nd in their group (Loss to Ukraine, Wins over Qatar, Nigeria), the US stunned France 3-2. Their next opponent is South American champion Ecuador. Despite the great run, the favorites in the tournament still are on the opposite side of the bracket, with Italy and Colombia. We’ll see how far the US can go. Their next match is June 8.

As we move to the senior team, it’s been announced that GK Zack Steffen will be loaned to Bundesliga team Fortuna Dusseldorf. A loan was expected, and Steffen is sure to get minutes with a Dusseldorf side that finished 10th in the league. This is a great loan for Steffen who will be exposed to a new and faster style of play.

Finally, Nick and Mike round up all the games from around Major League Soccer. Notably, Atlanta United continues their ascent in the Eastern Conference while LAFC maintain dominance out West. Here are our trending teams:

Teams on the Rise

  • Atlanta United: They figured out how to play deBoer’s style and are thriving. The Five Stripes are now sitting 3rd in the East with games in hand.
  • San Jose Earthquakes: Almeyda keeps riding the hot hand …er, foot … and Chris Wondolowski has 7 goals in 3 games. The Quakes are 1 point below the playoff line, but have a game in hand.
  • Colorado Rapids: Despite the 2nd worst record in the league, worst in the West, the Rapids have 3 wins, 1 draw in their last four.

Teams on the Fall

  • Columbus Crew: 1-3-1 in their last 5, Higuain tears and ACL, Steffen played his last game – management is blowing this up with loans and trades. Time for manager Caleb Porter to institute his culture and style.
  • Minnesota United: Giving up 6 goals in their last 2 games, the Loons need to shore up the defense quickly as games vs. hot Colorado and desperate SKC are looming.

Teams who can’t get up

  • Sporting Kansas City and FC Cincinnati: Let’s be honest. Watching these two teams has been rough.

Thanks for listening, and be sure to join the conversation on twitter @SOPSoccer, on facebook, or in the comments below. See you next week!

 


Ep. 22 – MLS Week 20 Recap: Trends, Officiating, and the Portland Timbers



The new show format continues! More content, more discussion, more analysis … and more mispronouncing of player names.

The hosts recap the results from Week 20 of Major League Soccer, where Columbus and Kansas City keep losing, the Red Bulls beat another good team, and D.C. United unveil their new stadium and new hit signing, Wayne Rooney. RSL Coach Petke goes on another rant, but the hosts think he’s justified and makes some good points about the referees in the league.

Speaking of officiating…
Nick and Mike also attempt to solve the officiating crisis, offer some advice to PRO Referees, and break down their interpretation of “what is a hand ball?” Nick explains why the Portland Timbers are a legitimate contender for the MLS Cup – they just signed another young Argentine! He also gets worried about Atlanta United after their recent slide (.500 over last 5 games), but Mike reassures him that the Five Stripes are still the favorite to win the Eastern Conference and the MLS Cup (and maybe even the Supporters’ Shield).

 

Mike, such a good co-host, calming things down, keeping Nick grounded.


Parity in the World Cup?



Recently, I had a cousin ask if there was a power shift in world soccer this year, noting that many World Cup results were out of the norm. Her observations are not wrong:

DRAWS and UPSETS
-Argentina (5th in FIFA Rankings) 1-1 Iceland (22nd)
-Mexico (15th) 1-0 Germany (1st)
-Brazil (2nd) 1-1 Switzerland (6th)
-Japan (61st) 2-1 Colombia (16th) (1st Asian nation ever to defeat a South American team at World Cup Finals.)
-Croatia (20th) 3-0 Argentina (5th).

CLOSE VICTORIES:
-France (7th) 2-1 Australia (36th)
-Tunisia (21st) 1-2 England (12th)
-Uruguay (14th) 1-0 Saudi Arabia (67th)
-Iran (37th) 0-1 Spain (10th)
-France (7th) 0-1 Peru (11th)
-Germany (1st) 2-1 Sweden (24th)

Her first thought, and a reasonable one, is that there is a growing parity in world soccer, as lower tier teams keep getting better. To use an American example, we are no longer surprised to see a mid-major Gonzaga, Wichita St., Butler, etc. in the Final Four. In fact, it’s a point of discussion to pick the one mid-major that will advance that far. However, I think these odd World Cup results are the result of a few different factors.

PREPARATION
The groups for World Cup Russia were drawn on December 1, 2017. The first game was played June 14, 2018. That gave teams six months to prepare for their first match. Theoretically, teams were still fine-tuning rosters, confirming travel arrangements, and handling other routine business, and they also were preparing for the other two group stage games. However, statistics show that teams that win their first match advance at an outrageously high percentage compared to teams that lose. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that teams spent most of the time preparing for the first game.
Iceland and Switzerland had the perfect game plans to neutralize Messi, Neymar, and the rest of those nations’ offensive talent. Mexico talked about how meticulous they prepared for Germany, and the benefit to controlling their group with the early win.

OVERCONFIDENCE
I think the top teams were all guilty of overconfidence after seeing their groups. Who out there wouldn’t have expected Argentina to advance? Or Spain and Portugal to escape their group? Even Germany and Brazil are not 100% safe.
In my mind, there is no other reason why the top teams aren’t scoring more, or at least dominating close victories. The overconfidence is evident when you see players attempting individual feats of brilliance rather than making the simple, safe pass. Overconfidence is evident when a team “flips the switch” and finally seems to come alive in the 70th or so minute. It’s in the goalies who look at their defenders with wonder when a ball goes in their net It’s in the faces of players who pass the ball to Neymar, Messi, Suarez and Cavani, or Pogba and Griezmann and wait for them do something amazing.
(Yes, this may seem counter-intuitive to the above point, but just remember that the top nation’s had six months’ preparation time, too.)

X-FACTORS
There are always unforeseen variables that can affect any team.Some teams may succumb to travel weariness. Red card suspension and yellow card accumulation can affect others. Injuries are always possible. Own goals have been in an abundance so far. Specifically, Argentina is mentally shaken, and several members of Sweden even got food poisoning! Is there some x-factor out there for the other tournament favorites yet to be reported?

There has definitely been a trend of odd results this World Cup. And the mid-major soccer nations are undoubtedly getting better. However, we’re only through half of the second round of group stage games. I fully expect the favorites coming into the World Cup to re-assert themselves and advance to the knock-out rounds. (Well, maybe not Argentina.)


A Little Less Conversation … – World Cup Days 4 & 5



…a little more action!

This Elvis lyric seems appropriate considering Belgium’s 3-0 victory over debutante Panama, and England’s late victory over almost-spoiler Tunisia on Day 4. Day 5 picked up where the previous day left off, with Japan’s historic victory over Colombia (1st time an Asian country defeated one from South America in a World Cup), Senegal upsetting Poland, and Russia continuing to roll with a 3-1 victory over Egypt. My last post asked for more action and more “Wow”, and I got it. (Maybe I should play the lottery?)

My biggest take-away was how much Belgium looked like a title contender. They played so patiently, absorbing the pressure from an energized and excited Panama squad, then picked out their opportunities and picked apart Panama’s defense. De Bruyne looked so in control, and his connection with Lukaku can’t be understated. Belgium has so much to offer, even without usual captain Kompany. Mertens had a beautiful goal, and he must be accounted for by every defense. They were a dark-horse favorite to win the World Cup, but they certainly moved closer to “favorite” status with this dominating performance.

England, another talented squad, underwhelmed. Yes, they won in dramatic fashion, but they can’t afford to miss so many opportunities against the better opponents to come. All it took was one stupid Kyle Walker elbow to give Tunisia a penalty, and the game was seriously in question. I appreciated the excitement of Kane’s goals. My eyes are always drawn to him when he plays. His movements are so smooth, he strikes with precision, and is always in the right place at the right time. However, Panama lost track of him on two occasions, and it cost them points. Also, as an Everton fan, it was great seeing Jordan Pickford start in goal for England. I hope he continues to play throughout the tournament. He could be the England #1 for a long time, and I’d love to see him bring that experience and confidence back to the Toffees and the Premier League.

Here come the Russians!
While maybe not the red scare of the ’60s, this Russian squad has scored 8 goals in two games, conceded once, and have shown to be a dominant offense in this tournament. Granted, they have played Saudi Arabia and Egypt (FIFA ranked 67th and 45th, respectively), but that doesn’t take away from what they’re doing offensively and how they control the middle-third of the field. They’ll be advancing to the knock out rounds against a team from Group B, most likely Portugal or Spain.
Meanwhile, fan-favorite Egypt looks all but eliminated in what will be remembered by fans as the “what could have been” World Cup. (Also, my podcast co-host Mike ran a FIFA 2018 World Cup simulation that had Egypt in the finals. So who knows what could’ve been had they had a full, healthy roster.)

 

The second round of group stage games are in full force, and a lot of story lines are developing. What are you most excited about? How are your predictions looking? Let us know in the comments below.