No Sweat

For the many fans of first year team Atlanta United the news that came down today was quite upsetting. Star striker Josef Martinez will miss the next 4-6 weeks through an injured left quad sustained on international duty for Venezuela. Now for most teams this would be quite worrisome, but for Atlanta United this should not be nearly as big an issue. Now you might think, “Alex, how does losing the golden boot leader for the next month or so not qualify as a major issue?” The following are a few reasons why this will not be as major as it could be.

The first reason this injury is not as crucial as it would appear is the presence of Kenwyne Jones. While he brings a different style of attacking play to the field, the Trinidad and Tobago international has proven to be a goal scorer throughout his career. With Martinez preferring the ball be played into space for him to run onto it will be a bit of an adjustment for the rest of the Atlanta United attacking group to play with Jones who is more of a target forward who is good in the air. While this could be an issue, I doubt it will be as Jones was in camp and thought to be the number 1 option until Martinez was brought in. This means there should already be some familiarity with his play style within the group.

Another reason Atlanta United fans should not worry is the addition of 22 year old striker Bryan Rochez. He was acquired off waivers from Orlando City FC before the international break and has spent the break in training with the majority of the squad. If called upon, the Honduran should be able to provide a solid presence up from having scored 31 goals in his first 73 senior club appearances. This nose for goal could present Atlanta United with another option in the absence of Josef Martinez.

Another reason that fans should not be afraid of Josef Martinez missing time through injury is the quality of young players on the roster. Brandon Vazquez and Andrew Carleton could be given an opportunity to prove themselves in games if their performance in training sessions is deemed up to par by coach Tata Martino. We are seeing it in Germany right now where 18 year old Christian Pulisic is getting an opportunity to play at Borussia Dortmund despite his age. When it comes to young players we as Americans tend to be afraid of ruining a young player like what happened with Freddy Adu, but at some point we have to look at the younger generation and see if they are good enough to compete for games with established players. Maybe this is the time for both of these young American youth products to prove themselves to this team.

No matter what option Tata Martino decides to go with the decision will be boosted by the play of Yamil Asad, Miguel Almiron and Tito Villalba. With those three continuing to play at the same level there could be no striker on the field and the ball could still find its way into the back of opponents net.

Kicking Off A New Era

March 5th, 2017 will be a day that is remembered in Atlanta for years to come. At just past 7:40 pm Atlanta United made history by taking the opening kick of their Inaugural MLS season. This may have been the start of the game, but the party had been going on for the majority of the afternoon already. All over Georgia Tech’s campus there were people tailgating, in Atlantic Station at the team store there was a line that required almost a 45 minute wait just to get into the store! All this buzz that this team was causing the city on this, the first match-day, was incredible, but it had nothing on the feeling inside Bobby Dodd Stadium when the players came out of the locker rooms.

Walking to the stadium was insane. So many people in Atlanta for the same purpose and watching the Falcons, Alabama Football, or protesting was not the purpose of this gathering. The main road was filled with so many people you could hardly walk down it and once inside Bobby Dodd it became even more cramped. Despite all this the excitement that was in the air was enough to make it seem all worth it.

I arrived at my seat with nearly 70 minutes until first kick even

My view when I first arrived at my seat!

began and there were already people chanting! The stadium was

already beginning to fill up at that point, and by the time the players came onto the field for warmups the atmosphere was already electric! I did not sit with anyone that I knew and it was still a blast. I got to meet a fellow Chelsea fan and there were kits from a wide variety of European, South American, Mexican and International teams. It was obvious that the majority of the crowd knew what they were watching!

When the first kick finally happened the atmosphere was bonkers! The team looked a bit shaky for the first 20 or so minutes, but they eventually settled in and were able to get good ball movement

particularly on the right side of the pitch. That would be the key side on Atlanta United’s first ever goal as Tyrone Mears was able to whip a cross in from the right and Yamil Asad was there at the back post to poke it through Luis Robles’ legs! You want to talk about jubilation? Having over 55,000 people going absolutely crazy is an incredible feeling! Throughout the rest of the half there were many ‘A-T-L’ chants and even more patches where the boo birds were out in full force directed at referee Mark Geiger.

 

By halftime it seemed almost inevitable that Atlanta United was going to score again. The entire stadium felt like it was coming, and when Miguel Almiron got in on the break everyone readied for another celebration. It was not to be though as Almiron tried to chip the keeper instead of sliding it by him, although it would have been immensely more helpful if Josef Martinez had been onside as they could have used the 2 v 1 against Robles. Still the crowd was behind this team, our team.

When a shot slipped through Alec Kann’s hands and out for a corner there was an anxious feeling in the air as we were struggling to clear the ball giving up plenty of scoring chances. After Red Bulls tied it up the stadium again erupted A-T-L, A-T-L letting our boys know we were still behind them. The crowd stayed behind our team despite another goal finding its way into Kann’s net before all was said and done.

This game showed what I think many people knew for a while before, soccer belongs in Atlanta! We have an owner that wants to bring championships to the city and is willing to bring in world class players and managers to do so! We have a fan base that is young and will be around for a while. To have 55,272 people show up to the first match is incredible, but if you look at attendance numbers from the rest of the world only three games had more fans in attendance than the Atlanta United game! Those games featured Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, and Manchester United. The second highest attended game in the MLS was the Orlando City-NYCFC game which drew a shade over 25,500 spectators to see Orlando City’s new stadium.

Here’s to the beginning of a great season! Our team is fast and skilled and proved yesterday that they can compete with the best our conference has to offer. We Are Atlanta United!

 

Revised Premier League Predictions

A few match weeks have commenced since the end of the January transfer window and there are quite a few surprises on the table right now. This season has taken a few unexpected turns for quite a few teams. Starting from the bottom of the table I will run through my prediction on the final table for the 2016-17 season. Parenthesis are around current place on table.


Relegation

20. Sunderland (20)

Poor side with another horrid transfer window. Before the season I thought highly enough of David Moyes to be able to pull out another season of Premier League football. Unfortunately he spent the winter window bringing in even mre of his former players, many of which haven’t been starters since they last played under him. Due to the lack of quality players I believe they will be going down and may not be coming back up for a while.

19. Leicester City (17)

What a difference a year makes. They only lost one of their key players from last season’s title run, however N’Golo Kante’s presence is missed greatly. On top of that they also have to deal with at least two more fixtures in the Champions League which will put even more strain on the players in the coming weeks. With a center back partnership that are showing their age and no cover in front of them this will be a costly and historic relegation for sure. Only the Manchester City has been relegated the year after winning the top flight title and that happened way back in 1937 when they finished 21st in a 22 team league.

18. Hull City (18)

This is a team that is much better suited for the quality of play found in the Championship. Even with some solid signings during January they will still be going back to the second tier. Still a better finish than I had anticipated before the season had begun.


Safe

17. Crystal Palace (19)

Can Sam Allardyce pull this side together in time to save the season? He certainly has the talent at his disposal as well as the experience with successful relegation battles. I think his experience will see the South London club maintain their top flight status for another season.

16. Swansea City (15)

What Paul Clement has been able to do since coming on as manager has been nothing short of incredible. While the Welsh club were unable to significantly upgrade their defense during January, they now have a manager who has the tam playing with some confidence which can go a long way staving off relegation for another year.

15. Middlesbrough (16)

Aitor Karanka has his side sliding down the table, however with the quality of players he has at his disposal he should be able to right the ship before the end of the season.


Mid-Table

14. Watford (13)

Watford have spent the season as a fairly quiet mid-table club. They should see this continue the rest of the way and earn their third consecutive top flight season.

13. Bournemouth (14)

There have been periods this season and there have been poor periods, but that is the life of a mid-table team. Still Eddie Howe has a team that can still be successful even without the help of star striker Callum Wilson who will again miss the rest of the season after injuring his knee.

12. Burnley (12)

Sean Dyche is doing a masterful job of proving that defensive football can not only win games, but be overall successful in the Premier League. Burnley stuck by their manager after they were relegated two seasons ago and he responded by bringing them back up in the first time. This year’s team has been strengthened during January and they look poised to be on a top half hunt for next season.

11. Stoke City (9)

A solid team under Mark Hughes will just miss out on a top ten finish even with the goal-scoring efforts of Peter Crouch. The team will compete, but this team is not one that appears able to win enough points to stay in the top 10.

10. West Ham (10)

With their early season struggles behind them they appear poised to finish inside the top 10. The sale of disgruntled midfielder Dimitri Payet will only assist with the congealing of the dressing room for the battle that will be the rest of the season for Wes Ham.

9. Southampton (11)

Good club that will miss the influence of center back  Virgil Van Dijk who will miss the rest of the season through injury. Still a solid team, however the points gap between them and West Brom may be too much to overcome in the last 13 games of the season.


Upper Half

8. West Bromwich Albion (8)

On of the biggest positive surprises of the season has been the play of West Brom. At the start of the season I thought that Tony Pulis’ side were to be relegated, however they are over-achieving this season and could realistically finish a place higher if Everton falters even a little.

7. Everton (7)

Top 10 is almost guaranteed for the toffees as they continue to impress under Ronald Koeman. There is not much more room for improvement despite the scoring heroics of Romelu Lukaku the depth at midfield of trusted players is just not there. Added the fact that Everton currently have a seven point gap between them and sixth place Manchester United and it seems seventh is the highest they can climb this year.


European Qualifiers

6. Liverpool (4)

January has seen them go from top title contenders to  a side that should be hopeful to see the Europa League next season without a playoff match. With their title challenge all but over, Liverpool’s sights should be set on securing a top 4 finish so they can use the allure of Champions league football to bring in a top striker and center back.

5. Manchester United (6)

After finally finding form for top players like Henrikh Mkhitaryan Jose Mourinho’s side just miss out on Champions League yet again as too many questions remain about defensive quality and consistency among the attackers.

4. Arsenal (3)

This position should feel familiar for Gunnars fans. In what almost seems to be his swan song, Arsene Wenger seems to be guiding his team to the Champions League, but too far from the title race for the fans liking.

3. Tottenham (2)

The attacking quality is there, but if they have an off night like they did against Liverpool the defense has to step up. With injuries to Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld that seem to pop up at the worst times it seems their title race is all but run. Qualifying for Champions League again will be a good consolation with sights on performing better than this year.

2. Manchester City (5)

The addition of young Gabriel Jesus, a summer signing from Brazilian side Palmieras who finished the Brazilian season with the club, has gone a long way with his goals being instrumental in securing points for a side that is currently fifth. They play their 25th game Monday and a win would see them jump up to second. The way they have played recently the Citizens could easily maintain this position the rest of the way.


Champions

1. Chelsea (1)
The turning point of the season would be the 3-0 defeat away to Arsenal. After which the club has gone on a tear that has seen them climb from mid-table to having a 10 point cushion, with Manchester City still to play it could go to 8. The incredible play of N’Golo Kante in the midfield has gone a long way to bringing the title back to London.

Atlanta is United!

It’s finally here! The opening game of the Atlanta United FC preseason schedule. Taking on 4th division side Chattanooga FC away gives the AUFC players a chance to play on turf for the first time which is important as that is the surface they will play on in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium when it opens in July.

First ever Atlanta United starting 11The fans did not have to wait very long to see the first goal in Atlanta United history! Six minutes in Hector ‘Tito’ Villalba finished off a fast break after striker Kenwyne Jones successfully defended a corner from CFC.

After the first half of play there were a few things that were plain to see. The first is that Chris McCann is going to have a key role in the heart of the Atlanta United midfield this season. The Irishman was the key facilitator to playing the ball from the back line up to the attacking players as well as being a solid force when possession is given up. The other thing that is good to see is the play of young winger Yamil Asad. The young Argentine was able to score the second goal of the half by curling the ball into the upper right corner from outside the box at the end of an impressive passage of play by Atlanta United.

Throughout the first half Chris McCann has played an instrumental role in Atlanta United’s 2-0 halftime lead to be the player of the half for the first half.

The start of the second half sees Atlanta United make wholesale changes with only 33′ substitutions Josef Martinez and Carlos Carmona being the only holdovers from the first half. Included in these changes is the kit that Atlanta United has been wearing as they come out in their white tops and red bottoms after wearing their primary kits for the first half.

Draft picks Miles Robinson and Julian Gressel were among the halftime subs along with 16 year old homegrown midfield talent Andrew Carleton and young Tottenham defender Anton Walkes.

Carmona comes off for Harrison Heath in the 64′ minute after a fairly quiet half an hour for the Chilean international who was  signed less than a week ago.

The 68′ goal by Josef Martinez off a quick corner seemed to have caught CFC unaware as Andrew Carlton played the ball short to Julian Gressel who whipped a ball into the 6 yard box where Martinez was completely unmarked. Lead up to this goal was a long period of possession by Atlanta United.

Andrew Carleton gets his first Atlanta United goal in the 74′ off a rebound! Well deserved goal for the youngster as he has been playing very well on the right side of the midfield for the opening part of this half.

Post goal sees Josef Martinez taken off for 18 year old US Youth International Brandon Vasquez and Chris Goslin coming on for halftime sub Kevin Kratz.

While not playing in the middle of the field as McCann did during the first half,  young Andrew Carleton has been the main facilitator for Atlanta United in the second half. He spent the entire second half causing a considerable amount of stress for the CFC left back. He has definitely had a half worthy of being the player of the second half for Atlanta United.

An incredible 12,494 packed into Fort Finlay Stadium in Chattanooga, Tennessee to watch Atlanta United collect a 4-0 win in their first preseason match of 2017! A good showing by the club as they try to find their legs for the first match of the MLS season that is coming up in less than a month!

 

Charging Towards a New Era

The Los Angeles Chargers. Nearly a week after the Spanos family announced they would be taking their team to Los Angeles the name still does not seem quite right. Maybe that has something to do with the new logo that seems to appear every other day. While the fans of San Diego will be rightly upset that their Chargers are now gone, there is one big place they must look at when placing the blame on this relocation, themselves. They Chargers tried for years to get the city to assist in renovating or replacing the outdated Qualcomm Stadium, but to no avail. After many threats of relocation it has finally happened, and I believe the franchise could really benefit from the move.

The first reason relocation is going to benefit this organization is their selection of stadium. The Chargers will be playing at the Stubhub Center in Carson, California which is currently home to MLS club LA Galaxy. This stadium will be the smallest in the NFL with only about 30,000 seats, but this will be great for the atmosphere at games. This is because it is a true soccer facility which places the fans very close to the field and will make the stadium feel as if there are 80,000 people inside. Another advantage to fewer seats is that it creates more of a demand for the tickets which means they can charge more for them. The Stubhub Center is also a much newer facility which means it will keep fans happier at games even if the team is a train-wreck.

The next reason the move will be beneficial for the franchise is the location of Stubhub Center. Carson is in the suburbs of Los Angeles which will make travel to games easier than it would be to go see the Los Angeles Rams, still not used to this name despite it being almost a year, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum which is inside the city. This makes even Thursday night games a better drive as you will not have to waste as much time to drive into the city for a game.

The final reason the move can be a successful one for the team is it presents the chance to rebrand the team. Now that the team is in a new city, it would seem like they could use a new name. For the last 57 years the Chargers name has been attributed to the San Diego area so one would think that to set themselves apart the franchise would select a new name and new colors. Part of a rebranding should include the on field product and that starts with the coach. Shortly after announcing their move, the Chargers also announced the hiring of Anthony Lynn to fil the vacancy at head coach. He is lucky in the sense that he has a franchise quarterback to build around, however Philip Rivers is aging and has shown that he can struggle at the end of seasons. This may lead to the drafting of a new quarterback in the near future. While it may not be an immediate replacement, a few years from now they will be happy they developed a young player instead of waiting until Rivers retires before bringing in a replacement.

While the transition will be difficult on fans to start with, the Chargers relocation to Los Angeles was the correct decision and ultimately will lead to greater success for the franchise.

2017 NFL Wildcard Predictions

As the 2017 NFL season comes to a close, we are left with twelve teams to fight for the right to call themselves Super Bowl Champions. While we already know that the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, and Atlanta Falcons will be playing during the second round, the battle is for the right to play against them. This weekend features the four matchups that will make up the Wildcard round.

Oakland Raiders v. Houston Texans:

This matchup features two teams with no true starting quarterback. Raiders MVP candidate Derek Carr left their Christmas Eve game with a broken leg and has been ruled out for this game. In his place steps Connor Cook, a rookie out of Michigan State with no career starts. He steps into the lineup against the top defense in the league, so if there ever was a time to impress the rest of the NFL it would be now. For the Texans, they have to go with their $70 million quarterback Brock Osweiler in this game as third year player Tom Savage is likely to be unavailable due to a concussion suffered in week 17. Osweiler, in his first year with the team, has been a substantial disappointment this season and many Texan fans will be worried with him under center. Even with the deficiencies at the most important position, I believe that the Texans defense will step it up and win the game.

Texans 13 – Raiders 9

Detroit Lions v. Seattle Seahawks:

Unlike the first matchup of wildcard weekend, the two teams featured in this game both have their franchise QBs and they are healthy to play. The way one of these teams  will win is by their defense outplaying the other. If this was a few years ago this thought would be laughable as the Seahawks would have had the upper hand, but this season their defense has looked quite vulnerable at times. The Lions pass defense has been a blessing for opposing offenses in recent weeks and unless some of their top corners can return from injury they have no chance of winning this game.

Seahawks 18 – Lions 17

Pittsburgh Steelers v. Miami Dolphins:

This game is a rematch of the week six meeting between these two teams. The Steelers defense has not looked good this season, and this culminated in week 17 when they nearly allowed the Cleveland Browns to come back and win. The big storyline in week six was their inability to stop the rushing attack generated by Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi, and it will likely be the same as the Steelers are coming off a game where they let Browns running back Isaiah Crowell rush for 150 yards. Despite Ryan Tannehill being unlikely to play in this game, and even with the Steelers offensive unit fully healthy, there is not much of a chance for the Steelers to win this game.

Dolphins 38 – Steelers 31

New York Giants v. Green Bay Packers:

The last two times these teams met at Lambeau in the playoffs, the Giants won and went on to become Super Bowl Champions. This year the Packers come in as one of the hottest teams in the league behind the resurgence of the Aaron Rodgers- Jordy Nelson tandem. However this year it will not be enough as that defense on Green Bay is still leakier than a rusty faucet. The Giants spent some money this offseason to work on their defense and it has helped dramatically. This coupled with the ability of Eli Manning to turn up his play in big games leads me to believe the New York Giants will be able to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive for another week.

Giants 27- Packers 17

Running to the Exit

This past week has seen three major college football announcements coming from big name running backs. Two were from running backs who realize that their money making future is fleeting, while the other featured a running back who is too naïve to realize the best thing to do. Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey deciding to end their college careers and Nick Chubb decided he would return to school next season.

One major reason would be to arrive to the NFL Combine and their individual Pro-Days healthy. Fournette should have stopped in the early part of the season when he injured his left ankle. After sitting out for a couple weeks, he returned to play the rest of the season at about 80% of his normal strength. For him to play in the Citrus Bowl would be to jeopardize his future ability to provide for himself. McCaffrey ending his career before Stanford plays in the Sun Bowl follows suit by attempting to prevent an injury that could end his career.

In times as recent as last year’s Bowl season potential top picks have suffered injuries that put their career at risk. Potential top 10 pick Jaylon Smith, linebacker out of Notre Dame suffered nerve damage in his knee. Not only did this injury cause his career to be put in jeopardy, but it eventually led to him falling out of the first round and caused him to lose out on tens of millions of dollars and a potential year in his rookie contract.

One former running back who did not fare so well after sustaining injuries in college is former South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore. He was one of the best runner in the country before his first knee injury. Instead of forgoing the rest of his college career and making money with his talents, he returned to college and sustained a second horrific knee injury. After this he was a late round pick the San Francisco 49ers and spent most of his professional career as a practice squad player or reserve running back. A far cry from the level he could have been without the extra injury picked up in college.

One player who should follow in the footsteps of Fournette and McCaffrey is University of Georgia running back Nick Chubb. After seeing his production drop this season due to a serious knee injury in 2015, Chubb should leave his senior season on the table and enter the NFL Draft. He risks wasting his talent in college the way that Lattimore did by staying too long.

Running backs have a certain amount of rushes that their body can take, which is why it is absolutely insane for them to stay in college any longer than they have to. There is a window of three to four years for most running backs to make their money in the NFL. In the end, you can always go back to college but you can not reclaim a career lost to injuries.

The Eagle Will Soar

ru-football

The rain seemed like it meant a little more as the clock wound down on Reinhardt University’s crushing 42-24 defeat to the St. Francis Cougars, heads hung low. However after a year like the one we had they should be raised in pride! For a fourth year program to make it to the Semi-Finals of the NAIA national tournament takes a special group of guys!

The early parts of the game were a tightly contested affair, with only a few touchdowns having been scored. After that a few costly mistakes, namely penalties, gave the Cougars the late 1st half lead of 21-7. After a pass interference call on the final play of the half, Reinhardt kicked a field goal from the 6 yard line on their untimed down to end the half 21-10. There was still plenty of hope amongst the supporters that the game could be turned around.

When the teams came out in the second half, Reinhardt drove down the field after receiving the kick. However the drive stalled out at the four yard line and the Eagles turned the ball over on downs. The next play was a killer as the Cougars broke off a 96  yard touchdown run to turn what was nearly a 21-17 game into a 28-10. After that it seemed as if the life had been sucked out of the RU sidelines.

The Eagles kept fighting, but to no avail as the Cougars of St. Francis just seemed to have more in the tank as the score got more and more out of hand.

One great testament to the leaders on this team is the fact that even though the game appeared to be out of reach by the time the rain started falling midway through the 4th quarter, the Eagles never stopped trying to win the game!

I have never been more proud to be a Reinhardt Eagle! It is very difficult to win 13 straight games, but now the work begins again! Good luck to the 16 seniors as they end their college careers. It is a shame it did not end in glory, but not everything does. All that matters is that you keep putting your best foot forward!

I know I speak from all of us here at  Reinhardt when I say congratulations on the fantastic 2016 season! Go Eagles!

Sacking Time

klinsmann

In 2011, Jürgen Klinsmann was announced as the newest head coach of the USMNT. This move was met with great optimism as Klinsmann had previously coached at world power Germany. He brought along promises to bring the United States to the next level.

Well it has now been five years and I think we can all see how that has turned out. The Americans now sit dead last in the World Cup qualifying Hexagonal after losses to both Mexico and Costa Rica. My big question is: When did losing to Costa Rica become the next level? While Los Ticos are an improving side, they are still a team that we should be able to beat, or at least lose a close game with. They certainly should not be 4-0 better than us.

During Jürgen Klinsmann’s time in charge of the USMNT there has only been 1 success, a Gold Cup win in 2013. Since then the state of the National Team has gone downhill quickly.

A round of 16 appearance in the 2014 World Cup easily overshadowed the fact that the team should have lost almost every game they played in. While they did take Belgium to extra time in that round of 16, it was most due to the superhuman effort put forth from Goalkeeper Tim Howard who managed to save 16 shots. At this point Klinsmann could still get the benefit of the doubt as it was the first major tournament disappointment that he had led the Americans into.

A summer later the US attempted to defend their Gold Cup title as the host nation. Throughout the earlier rounds the Americans did not seem like a team that wanted to be playing. The loss in the semi-finals to Jamaica should not have happened, however it still put Klinsmann’s side in the 3rd place game which would have qualified them for the Confederations Cup in 2017. They blew this chance by losing to Panama in penalties. This was the point where Klinsmann would have been fired by any other country that has a well established soccer program, like the USA is trying to pretend they have.

Then there was the Copa America tournament, also hosted by the United States. After having an easier path to the semi-finals, the Americans faced off with Lionel Messi and Argentina. When Klinsmann was hired it was so that we could compete with teams of this caliber, well we didn’t. Right from the get go it was obvious that Argentina had the advantage, however they also outhustled n American side that was once known for their scrappy ability to stay in games. By the time the official graciously blew the final whistle it was 4-0 to Argentina. Again, with his body of work Klinsmann would have been fired at many other countries as he had not, yet again, been able to make a final of a major tournament.

One big reason that the team is not successful in these big tournaments is the lack of consistency in formation. This leads to issues in remembering assignments which can lead to goals. Some of the formations that have been played by Klinsmann’s squad include the 4-4-2, the 4-3-3 and the recently added 3-5-2. Out of all these formations the system has the player for one of them, the 4-3-3. However it is the one that Klinsmann has done whatever he can not to play. His latest craze is the 3-5-2, which involves three good defenders who have familiarity with one another to play in unison. Without Geoff Cameron in the lineup there is only one other top level defender, John Anthony Brooks, on the roster. This hasn’t worked out well and has led to some ugly goals. One would think that after five years on the job Klinsmann would have figured out a formation by now.

With World Cup Qualifying taking place during tis international break, it was the perfect chance to seize control of the Hex with a home win against Mexico. This did not occur as the team came out in a disorganized 3-5-2 formation. The switch to a back 4 helped stabilize the team, however it did not come until after Mexico had scored the opening goal of the match. They found the equalizer in the second half, but it was not enough. In the 89th minute Mexico found the winner off a corner kick when Rafa Marquez was left open at the near post and guided the ball through Brad Guzan and into the goal. A loss that again could have gotten other coaches fired in serious soccer nations.

The losses continue to pile up as the Americans traveled to Costa Rica to play their second game in the Hex. Right from the opening kick the team looked overmatched and again unorganized in the back three formation. Then came the four Costa Rican goals. Really, a 4-0 defeat to Costa Rica. Jürgen Klinsmann should not have left the stadium with  job after that embarrassing display from his team. It doesn’t matter how much he accepts the blame, it is obvious that things are not gong to change.

At this point it is a decent time to look for a new coach for the national team as they have until March to figure out who to call up for the next round of matches in the Hex. If the team does qualify then it still gives a new manager a year and a half to figure out what players are worth taking to Russia. After the recent results it should be, but isn’t, painfully obvious that Jürgen Klinsmann is no longer the right person to lead the USMNT into the future.

A Tribe Like No Other

There are many words that can be used to describe the 2016 Cleveland Indians, but the best way to describe them would be resilient. Without a doubt this team, on paper, did not look like a playoff contender at the beginning of the season. Somehow they started winning games. No Michael Brantley, no hitting from catcher, a rookie center fielder. Somehow they managed to find ways to defy the odds.

Once September hit it was a forgone conclusion that the Indians would win their division. Then Danny Salazar leaves a game with a forearm strain. A few games later Carlos Carrasco leaves his start less than an inning in after being hit in the hand by a pitch. All of a sudden the Indians are facing the playoffs without their 2nd and 3rd starting pitchers.

Then they end up with the Boston Red Sox in round 1. The best hitting team during the regular season. Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin led the Tribe to a sweep and the right to take on the Toronto Blue Jays for the pennant.

The Indians dispose of Toronto in 5 games and many wonder just how this team has come this far. Their incredible resiliency allowed them to face adversity and keep on pushing all the way to the World Series.

Both the Indians and the Cubs knew going in that after game 3 the Cleveland pitchers would be operating on short rest. This meant a longer series seemed to favor the Cubs. Cleveland jumped out to a 3-1 lead needing one win in three games, two being at home, to win their first title since 1948.

In the end it was not meant to be. The Indians and Cubs took us on an emotional roller coaster throughout game 7 before the Chicago Cubs were able to wipe away their over a century of sorrows with championship shirt.

For Cleveland fans, such as myself, this loss joins the losses to the Braves in 1995, the Marlins in 1997 to form a terrible trio of memories in the World Series as the organization looks for their first title since 1948.

There is hope for next season, as Brantley and Carrasco will be back from injury, as well as the core of the team. With these experiences the Indians will be able to put themselves in this position again next season. Hopefully with a different result.