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October 28, 2019

US Soccer Names Vlatko Andonovski to Replace Ellis as USWNT Coach

Peter Nolan October 28, 2019

New York, NY – The worst kept secret in U.S. sports was revealed today when U.S.Soccer President Carlos Cordiero and United States Women’s Soccer General Manager Kate Markgraf officially unveiled 2019 NWSL Coach of the Year Vlatko Andonovski as the successor to Jill Ellis.

Markgraf, who left the broadcast booth to take on the responsibility of running the U.S. women’s program, including replacing Ellis, had this to say, “From the moment I came aboard, the main focus has been on hiring a new U.S. Women’s National Team coach.”

“We identified the qualities we thought were most important for this unique position, we talked to quite a few people in the women’s soccer community domestically and around the world, and in the end, Vlatko was the best fit with his experience with elite players, how he sees the game, how he coaches the game and manages players, and his overall personality and ability to take on a job of this magnitude.”

USWNT coaching selection process

High Press Soccer was curious about the process and who was in the room during the final interviews, so we asked. “It involved Earnie Stewart, the Sporting Director,” Markgraf began, “and Earnie had already gone through the process once, and was valuable support throughout the entire hiring search process. Cindy Parlow Cone, who was the technical expert and then Barry Paulos from coaching education, who has worked with many coaches both here and in Belgium.”

Markgraf described a process that involved, “looking and quizzing him (Andonovski) and quizzing the other candidate. Putting different scenarios in front of them to see how they can think on their feet in a stressful situation when they know they are going to be evaluated and also the quality behind their answers.”

Andonovski won a pair of NWSL Championships with now defunct FC Kansas City in 2014 and 2015. He has been named Coach of the Year twice, this season with Reign FC, and in 2013 with FCKC.

Andonovski had been widely tipped to win the position but he clearly understands the history behind his new job, noting, “All of the talented coaches and players that have come before have built a legendary tradition of excellence and I’m committed to working very hard to continue to move this program forward.”

NWSL success helped secure the job

Andonovski is the first coach to come to the USWNT job directly from the NWSL. The Yugoslavia born Macedonian-American was sure to give a tip of the cap to the league.

“The NWSL has been tremendous in my development,” Andonovski said. “They have done such a great job creating a platform, not just for players but for coaches to develop and improve their knowledge and understanding of the game.”

Andonovski emphasized the tight bond between the league and the national team, saying, “ I have already had numerous conversations with the coaches in the markets and we are all in agreement that we are going to collaborate as much as possible and ultimately we are all going to fight and struggle with the same goal.”

Andonovich explained, “obviously they have the first goal for them is to win games and to win championships in the league but we are all going to fight towards the ultimate goal, which is winning World Cups and Olympics.”

Andonovski does not have all that much time to build towards that Olympics in Tokyo next July and he will take his first steps towards that test very soon, with a pair of friendlies in Columbus, Ohio versus Sweden on November 7 and three days later in Jacksonville, Florida against Costa Rica.

About Vlatko Andonovski

Vlatko Andonovski is a 43 year-old originally from Yugoslavia.

He came to the US in 2000 to play for the Wichita Wings in the now defunct NPSL. He’s been a full-time manager since 2013, first with the Kansas City Comets (indoor) and then with the NWSL’s FC Kansas City. He won titles with FC Kansas City in 2014 and 2015. After that club folded, he took over Reign FC in Seattle in 2018.

Reign finished 2019 in fourth place in the NWSL with a 10-8-6 record. They were third last year with an 11-8-5 record.

With Andonovski has a USSF Pro License, he has no international coaching experience.

Liverpool vs Arsenal EFL Cup Round of 16 Preview (UPDATE)

Chops October 28, 2019

Who: Liverpool vs Arsenal
When: Wednesday, October 30th @ 12:30pm ET (all matches broadcast on ESPN+ in the US)
LineLiverpool +104 | Draw +255 | Arsenal +240

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Editor’s Note: Updated with some Liverpool roster news. 

With apologies to Chelsea vs Manchester United, the real marquee match-up of this week’s EFL Cup (also known as the Carabao Cup or as we call it in the HPS offices, the Caribou Coffee Cup) is Liverpool vs Arsenal.

Getting two matches pitting Big 6 teams against each other in the Round of 16 is a blow for the EFL Cup. The competition is already getting lost in the shuffle to other trophies, and two of the top English clubs will be eliminated this week. Also painful is that Manchester City somehow managed to get an easier draw yet again, as they host a Southampton squad that just got hammered 9-0 by Leicester. However, Manchester City really, really try to win this competition, so they’ll 100% be around until the end.

Anyway…

So much of this match-up is dependent upon who each squad puts on the team sheet. Based on reports in the past 48 hours, Liverpool will be going super young. Let’s try to figure it out. Here’s a preview.

Liverpool vs Arsenal EFL Cup Match Preview

If this match was at Emirates Stadium, I’d just do a quick blurb that Arsenal would probably win and be done with it. The reality is the EFL Cup means more to Arsenal this season than it does to Liverpool. It’s the truth. Liverpool are laser focused on the Premier League and Champions League. Bowing out of the EFL competition wouldn’t make Jurgen Klopp lose any sleep. However, winning an EFL Cup gives Unai Emery some job security and momentum.

Anfield though.

Liverpool have won 14 straight at home going back to February 27 of this year. The last time Liverpool did not win at home was to Bayern Munich in the Champions League Round of 16 (that one ended in a draw). Would Klopp truly punt a match in any competition at Anfield?

With that out of the way, expect Arsenal to field something closer to their regular squad on Wednesday. Alexandre Lacazette is almost assuredly going to start. Same probably for Dani Ceballos and promising youngster Kieran Tierney. It won’t be Arsenal’s best XI, but it’ll be strong.

I’d expect Klopp to roll out a similar starting XI in this as he did at MK Dons. This is a great opportunity for Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to build on their performances vs Genk last week.  Divock Origi will find his name on the team sheet. Curtis Jones was strong at MK Dons and earned more first team time. Harvey Elliott is back from suspension and will at a minimum be on the roster. Adam Lallana will find himself filling in for Fabinho at the #6. Adrian should get the start between the sticks, but it appears as if 20 year-old Caoimhin Kelleher will get the nod.

The backline will be interesting. Klopp is reportedly content rolling out the teenagers in this one. While Ki-Jana Hoever will not, as he’s with the Netherlands U17s, Neco Williams likely will. So will Sepp van den Berg. Don’t be surprised to see James Milner on the backline to provide some steady veteran presence though.

Originally, we thought it wouldn’t be surprising if one of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, or Roberto Firmino started. While they may be on the bench and available for a call up in the second half if the game is close, it’s not trending that way. Back in September 2018 in the League Cup, the Reds hosted Chelsea at Anfield. Sadio Mane got the start and both Firmino and Salah came on in the second half to try and secure a win (Chelsea ultimately prevailed 2-1). At first, it seemed like that’s the kind of template Klopp would follow here. Not so much any more.

Prediction

Well, oddsmakers had Liverpool listed as -122 to win. With the reports of a very young squad for the match, the line has now moved to Liverpool +104. Arsenal has improved from +280 to +240.

We may update this again to see what Arsenal rolls out. However, all signs point to Liverpool punting this competition. Arsenal likely wins.

Where to bet Carabao Cup in the US

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook.

Sergiño Dest Chooses to Play for the USMNT

Tyler Everett October 28, 2019

Sergiño Dest has committed to play for the USMNT.

Didn’t see that one coming!

No, seriously, see for yourself:

Why did Dest choose the US?

Let’s start with the question of whether 18-year-old Dest made this decision because he truly believes in Gregg Berhalter, or because he doesn’t like his chances at breaking into the Dutch line-up, which is considerably stronger than what the U.S. is working with. The answer, considering the state of the USMNT, has to be “who cares??” The teenage dual national was choosing between the U.S. and the Netherlands, where he was born. It’s somewhat very surprising that anyone would want to tie their future to the group that was last seen getting embarrassed by Canada, but we’ll take it!

If we want to give the question a little more careful analysis, we can start by judging his expression and what he says in the video above to announce the decision. He doesn’t appear overjoyed, and talks about how tough it was to choose between the two. Is that because both were great options, or because he felt like he was settling? The pessimist/realist in me would go with the latter, but I think the appropriate reaction is to be excited about this.

Regardless of why Dest made this choice, this is extremely welcome news. At the risk of overstating the impact of a teenager’s decision, his commitment to Berhalter’s team makes today the best day for U.S. Soccer since … who knows? It’s been a while since there was anything to really be excited about, unless you count Christian Pulisic’s hat trick over the weekend.

But when Dest’s club team, Ajax (a squad you should be watching, if you’re not already), tweeted at 11:19 a.m. Eastern that he would be playing for the U.S., it was cause for celebration.

Who is Sergiño Dest?

Fortunately, Dest is not the only young American playing in a good European domestic league and or the Champions League. But he’s on a short list. And the fact he’s starting for a squad as good as Ajax at his age means his future is as bright as any U.S. prospect.

It’s not as if he’s in and out of the Ajax line-up, either. He has played 90 minutes in all three of his club’s Champions League group stage games. He’s been somewhat anonymous over those 270 minutes — which is a good thing for a defender — but earned solid WhoScored ratings of 7.45 vs. Lille on September 17, 6.73 vs. Valencia on October 2 and 6.23 vs. Chelsea on October 23. He also has three assists in his last two Eredivisie matches. So seriously, go watch Ajax, and keep an eye on the right back in the No. 28 shirt.

Though he plays right back for Ajax, he lined up on the left for the U.S. in both his appearances with the senior team. Regardless of where he ends up spending more of his time, he’s a massive boost for the U.S. program.

Now let’s see if he can spark his team to a win over Canada on November 15 in Orlando when the U.S. plays a rematch of that nightmare (check out that night’s High Press Pod for more on how awful that performance was), which he sat out while deliberating over his international future.

Embarrassment of riches?

OK, “embarrassment of riches” is an overstatement regarding the USMNT talent pool. But Berhalter’s defenders include Dest, DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle) and John Brooks (Wolfsburg). In the midfield, he has Pulisic, Weston McKennie (Schalke) and Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig). And we haven’t even mentioned Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf) or promising young forwards Timothy Weah (Lille) and Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen).

While that core probably won’t scare Germany or France, it’s more than enough for the red, white and blue to be winning comfortably against everyone in CONCACAF besides Mexico. And with Dest in the mix, another effort or two like what we saw vs. Canada should cause USSF to realize the players aren’t the problem, not that they were before Dest joined the fold today.

Chelsea vs Manchester United EFL Cup Round 4 Preview

Avatar October 28, 2019

Who: Chelsea vs Manchester United
When: Wednesday, October 30th @ 1:05pm ET
LineChelsea -106 | Draw +240 | Manchester United +290

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So the EFL Cup (ie Carabao Cup) is back later this week! Yay! (said no one ever). Well the silver lining is that there are some big games in store. With apologies to Liverpool vs Arsenal, the biggest of the bunch is Chelsea hosting Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

United were somewhat lucky to pick up a dominant 4-0 thrashing of the Blues in their opening Premier League match. Frank Lampard must be hell-bent on revenge. As this is the EFL Cup and not something of prime importance, it’s inevitable that both teams will be making changes to give their best players some rest before the next set of league fixtures.

That being said, Lampard won’t be holding back and will throttle his side forward to get one over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. OGS’ side have finally reformed their away form with two wins on the road. They’ll be looking to maintain their momentum by ending Chelsea’s winning streak. This should be an entertaining bout.

Chelsea Likely XI

Kepa, James, Guehi, Tomori, Emerson, Kovacic, Jorginho, Gilmour, Hudson-Odoi, Willian, Batshuayi

Chelsea are plagued with a host of injuries, with N’Golo Kante, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Ross Barkley & Ruben Loftus-Cheek all out of contention. Lampard will surely rotate his side, with many young prodigies being in contention to start.

Manchester United Likely XI

Romero, Wan-Bissaka, Jones, Maguire, Rojo, Williams, Garner, McTominay, Mata, Rashford, Greenwood.

OGS was rocked with the news that Paul Pogba won’t be back before December. Luke Shaw remains on the sidelines, as does Diogo Dalot, Axel Tuanzebe, Nemanja Matic & Eric Bailly. Expect some of the academy lads & substitutes against Norwich City to start.

Chelsea vs Manchester United Match Preview

United have regained their momentum on the road after a frisky start to the season, with the Norwich win definitely giving them a boost in confidence with many trips lined up ahead. While the EFL Cup isn’t a priority, OGS wouldn’t mind lifting the trophy in March.

Marcus Rashford & Anthony Martial are working their magic by linking beautifully. However, OGS probably won’t risk Martial with his injury-prone manner. Mason Greenwood should get a crack at further establishing his role, as the cunning goal-scorer can introduce himself in style by putting goals past a young Chelsea backline.

Young James Garner &  Brandon Williams should get opportunities to shine, especially after the latter gained high praises for his impressive work at Partizan Belgrade. OGS could also go with a 5-man defence to counter Chelsea’s attacking intensity and deny a humiliation.

But United would be more than happy to let the hosts dictate proceedings & hit them on the counter-attack with Rashford & Daniel James’ electric pace. The Welsh winger’s putting in marvelous crosses from the right. He’ll threaten once again with his buzzing attitude.

Chelsea, however, are on an unstoppable roll themselves. After shocking Ajax by ending their undefeated streak this season, Christian Pulisic’s brilliance further showed in the 4-2 win over Burnley at the weekend.

While Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham & Mason Mount could all be rested after grueling fixtures, Lampard’s side still has enough firepower to burn any side. With the fans behind them, it’ll be perfect opportunities for the likes of Michy Batshuayi, Reece James, Emerson & Billy Gilmour to amplify their reputations.

The Blues are playing with a swagger thanks to the fast-paced, swift-passing style Lampard’s brought on board. While their defensive vulnerabilities remain a cause for concern, Chelsea ends up scoring many to make up for their defenders’ inexperience.

They’ll try to hit the Red Devils with full force as the players haven’t forgotten the embarrassment at Old Trafford. United might be defensively strong, but need to weather the storm to stop the unrelenting attacking force that Chelsea churns out on them to try and get into the next round of the EFL Cup, which could be a nice trophy addition for Lampard.

Prediction

I think this should be a 1-1 draw at normal time. Chelsea will win it in penalties to knock United out, moving into the next round.

Where to bet Carabao Cup in the US

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook.

North Carolina Courage Smash Chicago Red Stars 4-0 to Repeat as Champs, Cap Off Year of Growth for NWSL

Chops October 28, 2019

The North Carolina Courage struck early and often, smashing the Chicago Red Stars 4-0 to repeat as NWSL champions.

Brazilian international Debinha scored in the fourth minute. She was followed by USWNT stars Jessica McDonald (26′), Crystal Dunn (45+5′), and Sam Mewis (61′).

The big difference between the squads was quality of shots. Possessions was essentially even (51-49% for Courage), and completed passes were even at 401 a piece. For Courage, of their 20 shots, 11 were on target. Chicago only managed to get 2 of their 13 on target.

Big year for NWSL

This was a watershed year for NWSL.

Bouncing off the popularity of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, attendance surged. ESPN took note, striking a broadcast deal with the league. Some cities experienced more fans at games than their MLS counterparts. In general, attendance was up across the board.

What’s next for NWSL and Women’s Soccer?

Well first, the USWNT is naming their new coach tomorrow. It’ll be Reign FC (Seattle) head coach Vlatko Andonovski.

For the league though, expect the following:

  • Expansion tied to MLS cities (like Atlanta, which would crush it)
  • A strengthened and expanded broadcast deal
  • Attendance to grow though not at the same spike seen from the summer of 2019

The league is in good shape. It takes a long time to build a sports league. It’s a brick-by-brick process. It feels like NWSL has learned from the mistakes of past leagues. MLS is a good model to follow. There’s a template here for success. NWSL is on the right path.

 

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