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Founder, The Sports Court
The pain, the heartbreak, and the embarrassment that the US Men's Soccer Team felt after failing to beat (in fact, tie) Trinidad and Tobago on October 10, 2017, is now history.
Instead of constantly looking back, as many USMNT fans have the past five years, it has come a time that the USMNT has something to look forward to. The golden generation, headlined by 23-year-old Christian Pulisic, has gotten the program back on track.
After winning the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup in the summer, both in finals against arch-nemesis Mexico, the US did something much bigger, even though they didn’t get a trophy at the final whistle.
The USMNT qualified for the World Cup.
The USMNT made America proud to support the team again.
The 2022 World Cup, which will take place in Qatar through November and December, will be a time for the USMNT fans to rejoice, celebrate, and show off their American pride.
However, the USMNT still has a lot of work to do until then. The USMNT, led by Gregg Berhalter (proud TSC interviewee), need to find their ideal XI and solidify the much-questioned number 9 spot.
As for the World Cup itself, the US will have a chip on their shoulder as they play England, Iran, and either Ukraine, Wales, or Scotland. All tough opponents who will pose a huge challenge for the USMNT, especially England.
England, notorious for making fun of American soccer fans, can’t wait to play the US. And in order to win, the US needs to have the mindset of that they can’t wait to play England. They can’t wait to prove them wrong, and most importantly, prove themselves right. The squad has 332 million Americans, who will support the team loud and proud, backing them come time for the World Cup.
It's time for the golden generation to put the gloomy days of 2017 in the past and finally shine like the gold that they are.
Pulisic, Mckennie, Dest, and the whole crew need to show up and show out come World Cup time.
The USMNT are underestimated and laughed at by their international foes, and it’s time the US shows how far it’s come and finally proves their mark on the international soccer scene.
(THIS ARTICLE WILL BE EDITED FURTHER TOMORROW, SORRY IT'S A SCHOOL NIGHT GUYS GOT TO DO SOME HOMEWORK BUT I NEEDED TO GET THIS OUT THERE SO I CAN POST ON IG AS WELL)
Founder, The Sports Court
It feels just like yesterday when NYCFC beat the Portland Timbers on penalty kicks and hoisted their first-ever MLS Cup, only six years into their existence.
Now, only two months later, the MLS season is rapidly approaching, with the first games being scheduled for February 26, only 5 days from now. Many things have transpired over this past offseason, from the likes of Charlotte FC joining the league to Kellyn Acosta joining LAFC, here are three important storylines you should look out for this MLS season.
1) Inter Miami’s Bounceback Year
After a very disappointing start to their time in MLS, Inter Miami has cleaned house following the Blaise Matuidi scandal and at the end of the day, it’s for the better as Inter Miami was in need of a facelift.
The main move was the addition of Deandre Yedlin, who at 28 years old, had 7 years of European experience most notably with Newcastle and Galatassary and 71 caps for the USMNT.
Meanwhile, the transfer out of Nico Fagal, who Miami sold for just under 3 million, opened up a vital international spot for their roster.
On the darker side for Miami, the Matuidi scandal made them sell Lewis Morgan, one of their most productive players on the attack.
Inter Miami’s success will be largely dependent upon the production of starman upfront, Gonzalo Higuain, who after a season in the MLS will now be able to settle in and finally find his footing. Many European stars have a difficult time transferring to MLS due to the large travel and climate, and many need a season to 100% settle into the league.
Higuain had a very successful year last season, scoring 12 goals and adding 9 assists, and now that he’s settled, it will be very scary to see what he’s able to produce.
Expansion teams in MLS don’t have the best track record, and Inter Miami will be sure to get off to a blazing hot start in 2022 now that they are 3 seasons in. This season will be huge for Beckham and co as they want to attract more European stars to the club.
A name to keep an eye on this year is 2005 born Felipe Valencia who is the youngest goalscorer in USL history, breaking a record set by Alphonso Davies, having scored 3 goals for Miami’s USL team Fort Lauderdale CF in 18 games. Valencia could get significant minutes this season and finally break into the first team.
2) Chicago to light the league on fire
The Chicago Fire has had some interesting big-name signings in the past such as former Bayern Munich legend Bastian Schweinsteiger.
This offseason, Chicago Fire outdid themselves yet again, this time opting for a younger, more explosive player, in Xherdan Shaqiri.
Shaqiri, often called Big Shaq, stands only 5 feet 7 inches tall but makes up for it with his electrifying pace and huge calves. Big Shaq was instrumental to Jurgen Klopp’s UCL winning side before making his way to France where he played for Lyon.
Shaqiri was a popular player at this past summer's Euros, scoring 3 goals including a goal in the quarters against Spain. Shaqiri comes up at big moments and was by all means, still a very good and talented player at the highest level.
Somehow, someway, Chicago Fire managed to sign Shaqiri for a reported $7.5 million, a club-record fee. His contract runs until 2024 and he was signed as a Designated Player. This signing was huge not just to the club, but to the league, as more European stars are coming to MLS at a younger and younger age.
Chicago also spent a combined $12.15 million on the signings of Kacper Pryzbelko, a talented talisman who netted 35 goals in 83 appearances for the Philadelphia Union and was a very popular face amongst the Philly fans as well as right-winger Jairo Torres from Atlas and on a signing they made back in August, which is recent enough to include it, in rock-solid holding mid-Federico Navvaro who has already made 12 MLS appearances for the Fire.
The Fire has a whole new look both on and off the field, with a new badge and many new talented stars coming to the Windy City. Chicago is a city of winners, and the Fire are destined to add their name to the legacy of Chicago sports.
3) Now or never for Toronto FC
Speaking of European stars the ripped the Euros apart, Lorenzo Insigne was a vital piece to the Italian National Team and at only 30 years old, he’s jumped the pond and found his way not to America, but to Toronto, as he’s signed for Toronto FC in a deal that put the whole league on notice.
Insigne has spent the last 11 years at Napoli, making a total of 325 appearances for them. Insigne also scored two goals for Italy en route to their Euro 2020 triumph that saw them beat England in the final.
Insigne, only 5 foot 4, will hope to replicate the play of an old Toronto FC star, Sebastian Giovinco, who was unarguably the best player in MLS during his tenure with Tornot despite being 5 foot 3.
Meanwhile, new coach Bob Bradley is a winner, and with the squad, he has now, including two stars and potential MVP winners in Insigne and Pozuelo, there is no reason as to why Toronto shouldn’t make a run at it this year, despite finishing second to last in the eastern conference last season.
Founder, The Sports Court
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football program is in good hands with Marcus Freeman as head coach.
Freeman, a former linebacker at Ohio State who spent a year in the NFL bouncing around practice squads, helped build the Cincinnati defense as their DC.
That Cincinnati defense made the CFB Playoffs this year while Freeman was in South Bend.
Since Freeman was appointed DC on (date), he has commanded respect from players and other members of the coaching staff.
When Brian Kelly announced he was leaving the program, players were left shocked. The captains took matters into their own hands and made sure that Notre Dame’s AD, Jack Swarbrick, knew that they wanted Marcus Freeman as their next HC.
Swarbrick listened and appointed Freeman as head coach. Freeman, who has helped Notre Dame build two incoming top 5 recruiting classes, was welcomed by a standing ovation to the team when he walked in their locker room as HC for the first time.
Mike Elston, the Defensive Line coach at Notre Dame, talked about this moment, stating, “I was actually somewhere recruiting (laughing). I wasn't even in the locker room. But seeing the video doesn't shock me. He's the same guy every day. The players appreciate that. It was very heart-warming. And he's a great guy, and the players love him, and it showed up on that video.”
The trust that the players put in Freeman to help him get promoted to head coach has paid off, the players are in better shape and having more fun than ever.
Since being appointed head coach, the players have found practices more upbeat.
When asked about the biggest change Freeman has implemented on the Notre Dame program, star tight end Michael Mayer said, “I think number one, it's been the practices. The practices have been more upbeat, more up-tempo, a little bit more against our own defense. For me, I think it's been great. It's got me better in shape. I think the team can agree. It's a little bit more competitive, a little bit more energy on the field, and I think that's something that's been great for this team, and I think it will show this weekend.”
Meanwhile, Freeman himself has learned a lot about himself in his short head coaching tenure so far.
“You come from Cincinnati where we had a lot of success, and you feel like you really had a good spring. You really had a good fall. As you go into the first game versus Florida State, after that game, you're like, "Oh, crap, we're not as good as I thought,” stated Freeman at the Head Coaches press conference. Freeman went on to say, “after week 6, your best player, Kyle Hamilton, goes down. So you have to say, Okay, now how do we fit this scheme around who's the next guy in? This group has just trusted us and this coaching staff. The coaching staff has done a tremendous job in terms of just figuring out what's the best way to teach these guys. What's the best thing that fits these guys? We've worked as a team. The defensive staff has been a team all year. Taking other people's ideas is something that we've done. And just the ability to try and get to this final product that we have, it's been a growing experience.”
Freeman continually emphasized the importance of learning from one another and continuing the momentum.
Freeman and the Fighting Irish will face Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl on New Years Day at 11 AM Mountain Time. This will be the first game of the Marcus Freeman era and all Notre Dame fans are rooting for a strong start to an era that has high expectations.
A writer who loves to learn and share.
All Editorials written by Chris Dailey