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Trophies and Winning Mentality

Introduction

Hello, everyone. We've talked endlessly about Man United's various players and how good they really are, but something which I've seen crop up on occasion is the idea of the 'winning mentality'. In other words, it's this idea that part of the reason that this club is struggling on the pitch at the moment is attributable to the fact that most of our players have little to no experience winning trophies and so lack the required drive, desire or experience to succeed in the same way that the likes of Liverpool and Man City have.
How do we measure 'winning mentality', though? I don't think it can truly be measured objectively, but medals and trophy cabinets might give us some indication. Thus, I'll be going through every player currently at the club (with a minimum cut-off of fifty career senior appearances) and looking at all the senior trophies they've won to see how true it is that our current problems stem partially from a lack of experience at winning things.

David de Gea

De Gea was bought from Atlético Madrid by Sir Alex on the 29th of June 2011 for £18.9 million (which was a British record for a goalkeeper at the time) and it's fair to say that he's been among our best players in recent years. You may already know that he's one of the very few players left at the club who has won a Premier League title, but what else has he won?
Not many people talk about this, but DDG had actually won stuff with Atlético prior to joining United, namely the Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup. Not the most impressive haul, but part of Fergie's magic was instilling a winning mentality into players who otherwise might not have possessed the same mental fortitude.
At United, De Gea was of course part of Ferguson's last title-winning squad. In addition, he has won an FA Cup under van Gaal, a League Cup under Mourinho, three Community Shields (one under Ferguson, one under Moyes and one under Mourinho) and he even got a winners' medal when Mourinho won the Europa League (I checked and he did actually play a few fixtures). All-in-all, not a bad trophy haul, but considering that he was the best goalkeeper in the world at one point, he'll be disappointed to have won just one league title and no Champions Leagues in his senior career. His lack of silverware with Spain will also be an issue for him.

Dean Henderson

Hendo came from the youth ranks but didn't sign a senior contract until August 2015. He has since gone on loan to Stockport County, Grimsby Town, Shrewsbury Town and Sheffield United. In that time, he hasn't won a single senior trophy; the closest he came was making the EFL Trophy final with Shrewsbury and coming second in the Championship with Sheffield United. He's no doubt a solid keeper, but if we're to return to the glory days, Ole (or whoever a future manager might be) is going to need to drill him to win titles.

Sergio Romero

The Argentinian international was signed on a free transfer (his most recent club being Sampdoria) by Louis van Gaal on the 27th of July 2015. Prior to joining United, he had already won the Eredivisie and the Johan Cruyff Shield (which is basically the Dutch Super Cup) with AZ Alkmaar, so he had experience winning league titles. He had also recently featured in the World Cup Final for Argentina, but failed to win.
Since joining United, he has won the FA Cup, the League Cup, the Community Shield and, most notably, the Europa League. He has failed to win anything with Argentina despite reaching two Copa América finals. Considering he's essentially a backup, his trophy cabinet isn't too shabby. Plus, he absolutely earned that Europa League title under José considering he played both in the semi-final and the final (take notes, Ole).

Lee Grant

Manchester United's GOAT goalkeeper has had quite the career. Signed from Stoke City on the 3rd of July 2018 for a reported fee of £1.5 million, it's fair to say that he's a bit of a veteran, having made his senior debut all the way back in 2002. In that time, he has won absolutely nothing. I mean, I guess there's no obligation for the third-choice goalie to have won anything, but still, it's a little odd.

Joel Pereira

A youth player, Joel Pereira has spent most of his time on loan. He has yet to win anything.

Victor Lindelof

Lindelof was signed from Benfica by Mourinho in June 2017 for a fee of €35 million, and his list of honours is bigger than you might expect (granted, not quite playing at the same level). His first trophy was the Swedish Division 1 title with Vasteras SK, before winning three Primeira Liga titles, two Taca de Portugal titles, one Taca de Liga and one Supertaca Candido de Oliveira with Benfica. In other words, prior to joining United, he had won four league titles, two cups, a league cup and a super cup. He has yet to win anything with Sweden, however, or with Manchester United for that matter.

Eric Bailly

Bailly was the first player to be signed by Mourinho on the 8th of June 2016 for £30 million; he had previously been at Villareal. Bailly is a rather unusual case in that he hadn't won any domestic trophies prior to joining United but he's also the first person on this list to have won international silverware, more specifically the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations with Cote d'Ivoire. At United, he has won the Community Shield, the League Cup and the Europa League, all under José Mourinho.

Phil Jones

Now we come to none other than Jonesta himself. When he was first signed by Fergie from Blackburn Rovers on the 13th of June 2011 for £16.5 million, he was genuinely seen as one of the hottest young talents at the time despite not having won anything. It's a shame that hasn't really lived up to his potential, but right now, we're focussed only on trophies, and I have to say that he hasn't done too badly for himself on that front.
He's one of the few players at this club who has won the Premier League, more specifically Ferguson's last title (which is still one more than Steven Gerrard). He has also won the Community Shield under both Ferguson and Moyes (not under Mourinho, however), the FA Cup under van Gaal and the Europa League under Mourinho. At international level, he of course hasn't won anything with England.

Harry Maguire

Maguire was infamously signed for £80 million (a world record fee for a defender) from Leicester City on the 5th of August 2019. The only silverware he's ever won, though, is a Championship play-off trophy with Hull City, which is somehow still more than some of our other players. Of course, he's also reached two semi-finals with England (the World Cup and the Nations League) but he's yet to bring football home. With his record in mind, it's easy to see why some fans are sceptical of Slabhead's captaincy.

Marcos Rojo

Like Cristiano, Rojo came from Sporting, having been signed for £16 million by Louis van Gaal on the 19th of August 2014. He has been much-maligned by United fans for a while now (I bet most of you forgot he was still at the club), but his trophy cabinet, compared to most of our players, is actually relatively impressive.
While at Estudiantes de La Plata (which is not one of the Argentinian 'Big Two' of River Plate and Boca Juniors), Rojo won the 2010 Apertura (which I think counts as a league title?) and the 2009 Copa Libertadores. That makes him the first player on this list to have won a continental title. At United, he has won the FA Cup, the League Cup, the Europa League and the Community Shield. I have to say, if the problem is players who lack a winning mentality then I'm not sure Rojo should be the first to go (though he's still deadwood IMO).

Axel Tuanzebe

Somehow, he actually makes the cut-off; I didn't realise how much he's actually played. Another youth player, most of Tuanzebe's appearances have come while on loan to Aston Villa, and he actually won the Championship play-off with them, so he already has a trophy in his cabinet. He also supposedly has a Europa League to his name, but I'm not sure how considering he hadn't made his debut yet, so I'll be cautious and exclude it.

Luke Shaw

Louis van Gaal signed Luke Shaw from Southampton on the 27th of June 2014 for a reported fee of £30 million (making him the most expensive teenager in world football at the time). What had he won at that point? Nothing. Still, he was considered a generational talent and he has since won a couple of stuff at Manchester United: the Community Shield and the Europa League, both under José. Yeah, his trophy cabinet is pretty barebones.
Interestingly enough, Chelsea were in for him at the same time United were, but backed out due to his wage demands. Perhaps Shaw would have won more trophies had he gone to Chelsea instead? More interesting is that José Mourinho was Chelsea manager at the time, so it's quite ironic that after refusing to sign Shaw, he'd end up managing him anyway.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah

I'm not sure what position TFM plays, but fullback seems most appropriate. Anyway, he came through our academy and didn't win anything on his various loan deals. However, he has won both the FA Cup and the Europa League at United, like most of our players, it seems.

Alex Telles

Signed from Porto for £15 million in this transfer window, I'm happy to say that he's actually won a lot of stuff in various leagues, which is hopefully a good sign.
Firstly, he has won the Copa FGF (a regional Brazilian cup competition) twice with Juventude. Secondly, he has won a league title with Galatasaray, as well as two Turkish Cups and a Turkish Super Cup. Finally, he has won two Primeira Liga titles, a Taca de Portugal and a Supertaca Candido de Oliveira with Porto. He has won trophies at every club which he's spent more than a season with, so hopefully, he'll help United to our first piece of silverware since the Europa League under José.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Signed from Crystal Palace for £50 million on the 29th of June 2019, he hasn't got the greatest pedigree, winning nothing. How much he's expected to win at the age of 22, I don't know, but certainly, there's still plenty of time. What's needed is for someone to instil that winning mentality into him like Sir Alex would have done with his young signings.

Diogo Dalot

Dalot was supposedly considered a huge talent before signing for us, but really, it seems to me as if he should be a winger rather than a fullback. Anyway, we signed him from Porto on the 6th of June 2018 for £19 million, but went out on loan this transfer window to A.C. Milan. Believe it or not, he's actually got a trophy to his name, and it's not some minor super cup either; he's actually won the Primeira Liga with Porto. Dude has won more trophies than Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Paul Pogba

Depending on who you ask, Pogba is a fantastic midfielder who is United's best player, a talented midfielder who has been too inconsistent or a waste of money who has cared only for himself (in José Mourinho's words, a 'virus'). This isn't too surprising considering we signed him for £89 million from Juventus on the 8th of August 2016, which was a world record for any player at the time; of course expectations were going to be high.
At Juventus, Pogba was a trophy-winning machine, having to his name four Serie A titles, two Coppa Italia titles and two Supercoppa Italiana titles. The lack of European success was his only weak spot in that regard. Since joining United, however, he's been restricted to a League Cup and a Europa League, which must feel like quite the stepdown (at least he's got a European trophy now, though probably not the one he wanted).
That's only counting club trophies, of course. His greatest achievement by far has to be his 2018 World Cup win for France; it's not as if he was a passenger either, being praised during the tournament for boosting France's midfield significantly. This, to me, shows that he can absolutely be motivated to win titles, but it doesn't seem to happening for him at United for whatever reason.

Juan Mata

The only David Moyes signing still at the club, Mata was signed from Chelsea in January 2014 for £37 million, which was a club record at the time. He had an illustrious career prior to joining United, and looking at his trophy cabinet, one could argue that he has effectively wasted his prime years at this club.
Even prior to joining Chelsea, he had won a Copa del Rey with Valencia and the 2010 World Cup with Spain. He then proceeded to win a Champions League, a Europa League and an FA Cup with Chelsea (as well as reaching the final of the FIFA Club World Cup), in addition to winning the 2012 European Championship with Spain. When United signed him at the age of 25, he had already won pretty much every major trophy barring a top-flight title and he hadn't even hit his prime, so the signing must have felt like an absolute steal.
Unfortunately, this is where Mata's success began to fade. At Manchester United, he has won a Europa League, an FA Cup, a League Cup and a Community Shield, but still no league title. At the age of 32, it seems unlikely that he'll win any more major trophies, which is a shame for a player who won so much at a tender age.

Jesse Lingard

Although he made several appearances as an unused sub under Fergie, Lingard didn't make his competitive debut for the club until the 2014-15 season under van Gaal (who loved to use youth players). How much has won, then? Not more than most other players, it should be said. None of his loan spells garnered him any trophies, but he has won the Europa League, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Community Shield for Man United.

Fred

When United signed the Brazilian midfielder for £47 million from Shakhtar Donetsk on the 5th of June 2018, there were no doubt a few eyebrows raised. However, he has actually won a boatload of trophies at club level despite his lack of international success.
While at Internacional, Fred won the Campeonato Gaúcho (the top division of the Rio Grande do Sul regional leagues) twice and then proceeded to win three Ukrainian Premier League titles, three Ukrainian Cups and four Ukrainian Super Cups at Shakhtar Donetsk. That's actually not a bad trophy haul at all.

Bruno Fernandes

Ah, the Portuguese Magnifico himself; when United fans talk about the 'winning mentality', Bruno is often the first player that is pointed to as an example of a player who possesses this mentality. The question is, though, has Bruno actually won anything?
As a matter of fact, he has, but no league titles, unfortunately. While at Sporting, he has won a Taca de Portugal and two Taca da Liga titles, so a cup and two league cups. His most prestigious trophy is arguably the 2018-19 Nations League with Portugal, though time will tell if the Nations League successfully establishes itself as a premier competition. That being said, based solely on his trophy haul, there is little to suggest that Bruno has what it takes to win a league title (of course, anyone can see from his performances and demeanour on the pitch that he hates losing).

Nemanja Matic

The best Nemanja since Vidic, Matic has won a lot of trophies over his career. When he was first signed from Chelsea by Man United on the 31st of July 2017 for £40 million, he had already won the incredibly prestigious Slovak Cup with Kosice, before winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup during his two stints at Chelsea as well as a Primeira Liga and a Taca de Liga with Benfica. At United, he has won...nothing. In fact, if you discount his season-long loan at Vitesse, this is so far the only club in which Matic hasn't won anything.

Donny van de Beek

For Ajax, DvdB won an Eredivisie title, a Dutch Cup and a Johan Cruyff Shield. He also reached a Nations League final with the Netherlands. Time will tell if he can add to his trophy cabinet at Manchester United.

Scott McTominay

McSauce came through the youth ranks, made his debut at the end of the 2016-17 season and has yet to win anything.

Andreas Pereira

Pereira made his senior debut in the 2015-16 season before being loaned to Granada, Valencia and now Lazio. He has yet to win anything at senior level.

Edinson Cavani

The signing of Cavani has divided opinion. Some feel that he'll be the next Bastian Schweinsteiger or Radamel Falcao, while others feel that he could be the next Zlatan Ibrahimovic. However, one thing that can't be denied is his massive trophy cabinet; whether a player who has achieved as much as he has is precisely what United needs is another matter.
The Uruguayan started his career by winning the Primera División with his boyhood club Danubio before winning a Coppa Italia with Napoli. However, it was at PSG where he really shone, winning six Ligue 1 titles, the Coupe de France four times, the Coupe de la Ligue five times and the Trophée des Champions four times. Yes, it's PSG and yes, he hasn't won any continental competitions, but he's still a proven winner. Add in the 2011 Copa América (which he won with Uruguay) and I don't think Man United have a more decorated player in their squad at the moment. The real question is whether Cavani is past it or whether he still possesses the class that he had in his prime.

Anthony Martial

On the 1st of September 2015, Manchester United famously threw £50 million down the drain to sign a 19-year-old Anthony Martial (who came from France) from AS Monaco. The English press declared that he had no chance; he went on to score 71 goals in 225 competitive games for United.
It should be said that Martial hadn't won anything when we signed him, but considering his age, that's forgivable. He has since won the FA Cup, the League Cup, the Community Shield and the Europa League, but still no Ballon d'Or. As for the French national team, Martial came close to winning Euro 2016 but he (and France) fell at the final hurdle, while he wasn't included in the squad for the 2018 World Cup.

Dr. Marcus Rashford MBE

The future Prime Minister and part-time Manchester United forward came through the academy ranks before making his debut under Louis van Gaal following an injury to Martial. Rashford during his time at Man United has won an FA Cup, a League Cup, a Community Shield, a Europa League, a Member of the Order of the British Empire and an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester.

Mason Greenwood

The best finisher at the club since Robin van Persie, Greenwood also came through the academy ranks. Given his young age and lack of experience, he of course hasn't won anything yet.

Daniel James

The Welsh winger was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first signing as manager, being bought from Swansea City on the 6th of June 2019 for £15 million. Given his previous club (Swansea) and his national team (Wales), it's no surprise that he's yet to win anything.

Odion Ighalo

Unlike the rest of the players here, Ighalo was loaned to us in January 2020 from Shanghai Greenland Shenhua. He may won just the one trophy, but when that trophy is none other than the coveted Chinese FA Cup, you can already tell that he's a natural born winner (Chinese FA Cup-winning centre-forward, you'll never sing that!). He also came second place in the Championship with Watford, but second place is first place for losers, so that doesn't really matter.

Jadon Sancho

Bought on deadline day for £120 million, Sancho has won the DFL-Supercup with Borussia Dortmund.
...screw Ed Woodward. At least we have Facundo Pellistri, eh?

Conclusion

This whole thing is turning into a bit of a mess, so let's standardise it with some numerical values. Note that these are just arbitrary numbers that I've assigned for comparison purposes, so don't take them as gospel.

World Cup, confederation cup (e.g. Euros), Champions League, Copa Libertadores = 20 points
Top-flight title in 'Big Five' leagues = 16 points
Europa League, national cup competition in 'Big Five' leagues = 10 points
UEFA Nations League = 6 points
Other top-flight title = 5 points
Other national cup competition = 3 points
Other cup (e.g. league cups, super cups) = 1 point

With this system, here are all the current Man United players (min. 50 senior appearances) ranked by trophy haul.

Cavani: 180
Pogba: 117
Mata: 112
Matic: 52
De Gea: 51
Rojo: 47
Jones: 38
Fred: 33
Bailly: 32
Lindelof: 28
Romero: 28
Telles: 27
Lingard: 22
Martial: 22
Rashford: 22
Fosu-Mensah: 20
Fernandes: 11
Shaw: 11
Van de Beek: 9
Dalot: 5
Ighalo: 3
Maguire: 1
Tuanzebe: 1
Grant: 0
Greenwood: 0
Henderson: 0
James: 0
McTominay: 0
Pereira (both of them): 0
Wan-Bissaka: 0

Obviously, trophies aren't everything (I am not seriously suggesting that Phil Jones has a stronger mentality than Bruno Fernandes) but this might be interesting. For reference, here's the list for all of Man United's players who played in at least five league games in the 2012-13 season (our last league title) up to and including the beginning of that season (so trophies won after the start of the 2012-13 season, including the league title, aren't counted).

Ryan Giggs: 291\*
Paul Scholes: 244*
Rio Ferdinand: 113*+
Anderson: 111*
Nemanja Vidic: 108*
Michael Carrick: 98*+
Patrice Evra: 97*
Wayne Rooney: 95*
Nani: 83*
Shinji Kagawa: 62
Jonny Evans: 44*^
Chicharito: 42
Rafael: 41*
Antonio Valencia: 23
Robin van Persie: 21
Chris Smalling: 18
David de Gea: 12
Danny Welbeck: 9*
Anders Lindegaard: 4
Tom Cleverley: 2
Ashley Young: 2
Phil Jones: 1

*Player won the Club World Cup, which I've assigned 6 points
+Player won the Intertoto Cup, which I've assigned 3 points
^Player won the second division of a 'Big Five' league, which I've assigned 3 points

OK, firstly, jeez, calm down, Giggsy. Secondly, LOL at Anderson being ahead of Vidic, Carrick, Ferdinand, Evra and Rooney. Thirdly, that 2012-13 squad contained 10 players who had a score greater than 52 at the time (and of course, several of them saw a jump after the title win). The current squad has 3. Obviously, it's much easier when you've been winning titles left, right and centre for the past twenty years, but make no mistake: Fergie drilled his teams to win at all costs.
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What a USL D1 league might look like

TL;DR: Man with too much time on his hands goes deep down the rabbit hole on a concept this sub already didn’t seem that enthusiastic about. If you really want to skip ahead, CTRL+F “verdict” and it’ll get you there.
Two days ago, u/MrPhillyj2wns made a post asking whether USL should launch a D1 league in order to compete in Concacaf. From the top voted replies, it appears this made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
But I’ve been at home for eight weeks and I am terribly, terribly bored.
So, I present to you this overview of what the USL pyramid might look like if Jake Edwards got a head of steam and attempted to establish a USSF-sanctioned first division. This is by no means an endorsement of such a proposal or even a suggestion that USL SHOULD do such a thing. It is merely an examination of whether they COULD.
Welcome to the Thunderdome USL Premiership
First, there are some base-level assumptions we must make in this exercise, because it makes me feel more scientific and not like a guy who wrote this on Sunday while watching the Belarusian Premier League (Go BATE Borisov!).
  1. All D1 teams must comply with known USSF requirements for D1 leagues (more on that later).
  2. MLS, not liking this move, will immediately remove all directly-owned affiliate clubs from the USL structure (this does not include hybrid ownerships, like San Antonio FC – NYCFC). This removes all MLS2 teams but will not affect Colorado Springs, Reno, RGVFC and San Antonio.
  3. The USL will attempt to maintain both the USL Championship and USL League One, with an eventual mind toward creating the pro/rel paradise that is promised in Relegations 3:16.
  4. All of my research regarding facility size and ownership net worth is correct – this is probably the biggest leap of faith we have to make, since googling “NAME net worth” and “CITY richest people” doesn’t seem guaranteed to return accurate results.
  5. The most a club can increase its available seating capacity to meet D1 requirements in a current stadium is no more than 1,500 seats (10% of the required 15,000). If they need to add more, they’ll need a new facility.
  6. Let’s pretend that people are VERY willing to sell. It’s commonly acknowledged that the USL is a more financially feasible route to owning a soccer club than in MLS (c.f. MLS-Charlotte’s reported $325 million expansion fee) and the USSF has some very strict requirements for D1 sanctioning. It becomes pretty apparent when googling a lot of team’s owners that this requirement isn’t met, so let’s assume everyone that can’t sells to people who meet the requirements.
(Known) USSF D1 league requirements:
- League must have 12 teams to apply and 14 teams by year three
- Majority owner must have a net worth of $40 million, and the ownership group must have a total net worth of $70 million. The value of an owned stadium is not considered when calculating this value.
- Must have teams located in the Eastern, Central and Pacific time zones
- 75% of league’s teams must be based in markets with at a metro population of at least 1 million people.
- All league stadiums must have a capacity of at least 15,000
The ideal club candidate for the USL Premiership will meet the population and capacity requirements in its current ground, which will have a grass playing surface. Of the USL Championship’s 27 independent/hybrid affiliate clubs, I did not find one club that meets all these criteria as they currently stand.
Regarding turf fields, the USSF does not have a formal policy regarding the ideal playing surface but it is generally acknowledged that grass is superior to turf. 6 of 26 MLS stadiums utilize turf, or roughly 23% of stadiums. We’ll hold a similar restriction for our top flight, so 2-3 of our top flight clubs can have turf fields. Seem fair?
Capacity is going to be the biggest issue, since the disparity between current requirements for the second-tier (5,000) and the first tier (15,000) is a pretty massive gap. Nice club you have there, triple your capacity and you’re onto something. As a result, I have taken the liberty of relocating certain (read: nearly all) clubs to new grounds, trying my utmost to keep those clubs in their current markets and –importantly--, ensure they play on grass surfaces.
So, let’s do a case-by-case evaluation and see if we can put together 12-14 teams that meet the potential requirements, because what else do you have to do?
For each club’s breakdown, anything that represents a chance from what is currently true will be underlined.
Candidate: Birmingham Legion FC
Location (Metro population): Birmingham, Ala. (1,151,801)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Legion Field (FieldTurf, 71,594)
Potential owner: Stephens Family (reported net worth $4 billion)
Notes: Birmingham has a pretty strong candidacy. Having ditched the 5,000-seater BBVA Field for Legion Field, which sits 2.4 miles away, they’ve tapped into the city’s soccer history. Legion Field hosted portions of both the men’s and women’s tournaments at the 1996 Olympics, including a 3-1 U.S. loss to Argentina that saw 83,183 pack the house. The Harbert family seemed like strong ownership contenders, but since the death of matriarch Marguerite Harbert in 2015, it’s unclear where the wealth in the family is concentrated, so the Stephens seem like a better candidate. The only real knock that I can think of is that we really want to avoid having clubs play on turf, so I’d say they’re on the bubble of our platonic ideal USL Prem.
Candidate: Charleston Battery
Location (Metro population): Charleston, S.C. (713,000)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Johnson Hagood Stadium (Grass, ~14,700)
Potential owner: Anita Zucker (reported net worth $3 billion)
Notes: Charleston’s candidacy isn’t looking great. Already disadvantaged due to its undersized metro population, a move across the Cooper River to Johnson Hagood Stadium is cutting it close in terms of capacity. The stadium, home to The Citadel’s football team, used to seat 21,000, before 9,300 seats on the eastern grandstand were torn down in 2017 to deal with lead paint that had been used in their construction. Renovation plans include adding 3,000 seats back in, which could hit 15,000 if they bumped it to 3,300, but throw in a required sale by HCFC, LLC (led by content-creation platform founder Rob Salvatore) to chemical magnate Anita Zucker, and you’ll see there’s a lot of ifs and ands in this proposal.
Candidate: Charlotte Independence
Location (Metro population): Charlotte, N.C. (2,569, 213)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Jerry Richardson Stadium (Turf, 15,314)
Potential owner: James Goodnight (reported net worth $9.1 billion)
Notes: Charlotte ticks a lot of the boxes. A move from the Sportsplex at Matthews to UNC-Charlotte’s Jerry Richardson stadium meets capacity requirements, but puts them on to the dreaded turf. Regrettably, nearby American Legion Memorial Stadium only seats 10,500, despite a grass playing surface. With a sizeable metro population (sixth-largest in the USL Championship) and a possible owner in software billionaire James Goodnight, you’ve got some options here. The biggest problem likely lies in direct competition for market share against a much better-funded MLS Charlotte side due to join the league in 2021.
Candidate: Hartford Athletic
Location (Metro population): Hartford, Conn. (1,214,295)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Pratt & Whitney Stadium (Grass, 38,066)
Potential owner: Ray Dalio (reported net worth $18.4 billion)
Notes: Okay, I cheated a bit here, having to relocate Hartford to Pratt & Whitney Stadium, which is technically in East Hartford, Conn. I don’t know enough about the area to know if there’s some kind of massive beef between the two cities, but the club has history there, having played seven games in 2019 while Dillon Stadium underwent renovations. If the group of local businessmen that currently own the club manage to attract Dalio to the table, we’re on to something.
Candidate: Indy Eleven
Location (Metro population): Indianapolis, Ind. (2,048,703)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Lucas Oil Stadium (Turf, 62,421)
Potential owner: Jim Irsay (reported net worth of $3 billion)
Notes: Indy Eleven are a club that are SO CLOSE to being an ideal candidate – if it weren’t for Lucas Oil Stadium’s turf playing surface. Still, there’s a lot to like in this bid. I’m not going to lie, I have no idea what current owner and founder Ersal Ozdemir is worth, but it seems like there might be cause for concern. A sale to Irsay, who also owns the NFL Indianapolis (nee Baltimore) Colts, seems likely to keep the franchise there, rather than make a half-mile move to 14,230 capacity Victory Field where the AAA Indianapolis Indians play and expand from there.
Candidate: Louisville City FC
Location (Metro population): Louisville, Ky. (1,297,310)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Lynn Family Stadium (Grass, 14,000, possibly expandable to 20,000)
Potential owner: Wayne Hughes (reported net worth $2.8 billion)
Notes: I’m stretching things a bit here. Lynn Family stadium is currently listed as having 11,700 capacity that’s expandable to 14,000, but they’ve said that the ground could hold as many as 20,000 with additional construction, which might be enough to grant them a temporary waiver from USSF. If the stadium is a no-go, then there’s always Cardinal Stadium, home to the University of Louisville’s football team, which seats 65,000 but is turf. Either way, it seems like a sale to someone like Public Storage founder Wayne Hughes will be necessary to ensure the club has enough capital.
Candidate: Memphis 901 FC
Location (Metro population): Memphis, Tenn. (1,348,260)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Liberty Bowl Stadium (Turf, 58,325)
Potential owner: Fred Smith (reported net worth $3 billion)
Notes: Unfortunately for Memphis, AutoZone Park’s 10,000 seats won’t cut it at the D1 level. With its urban location, it would likely prove tough to renovate, as well. Liberty Bowl Stadium more than meets the need, but will involve the use of the dreaded turf. As far as an owner goes, FedEx founder Fred Smith seems like a good local option.
Candidate: Miami FC, “The”
Location (Metro population): Miami, Fla. (6,158,824)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Riccardo Silva Stadium (FieldTurf, 20,000)
Potential owner: Riccardo Silva (reported net worth $1 billion)
Notes: Well, well, well, Silva might get his wish for top-flight soccer, after all. He’s got the money, he’s got the metro, and his ground has the capacity. There is the nagging issue of the turf, though. Hard Rock Stadium might present a solution, including a capacity of 64,767 and a grass playing surface. It is worth noting, however, that this is the first profile where I didn’t have to find a new potential owner for a club.
Candidate: North Carolina FC
Location (Metro population): Durham, N.C. (1,214,516 in The Triangle)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Carter-Finley Stadium (Grass/Turf, 57,583)
Potential owner: Steve Malik (precise net worth unknown) / Dennis Gillings (reported net worth of $1.7 billion)
Notes: We have our first “relocation” in North Carolina FC, who were forced to trade Cary’s 10,000-seat WakeMed Soccer Park for Carter-Finley Stadium in Durham, home of the NC State Wolfpack and 57,583 of their closest friends. The move is a whopping 3.1 miles, thanks to the close-knit hub that exists between Cary, Durham and Raleigh. Carter-Finley might be my favorite of the stadium moves in this exercise. The field is grass, but the sidelines are artificial turf. Weird, right? Either way, it was good enough for Juventus to play a friendly against Chivas de Guadalajara there in 2011. Maybe the move would be pushed for by new owner and medical magnate Dennis Gillings, whose British roots might inspire him to get involved in the Beautiful Game. Straight up, though, I couldn’t find a net worth for current owner Steve Malik, though he did sell his company MedFusion for $91 million in 2010, then bought it back for an undisclosed amount and sold it again for $43 million last November. I don’t know if Malik has the juice to meet D1 requirements, but I suspect he’s close.
Candidate: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Location (Metro population): Pittsburgh, Penn. (2,362,453)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Heinz Field (Grass, 64,450)
Potential owner: Henry Hillman (reported net worth $2.5 billion)
Notes: I don’t know a ton about the Riverhounds, but this move in particular feels like depriving a pretty blue-collar club from its roots. Highmark Stadium is a no-go from a seating perspective, but the Steelers’ home stadium at Heinz Field would more than meet the requirements and have a grass surface that was large enough to be sanctioned for a FIFA friendly between the U.S. WNT and Costa Rica in 2015. As for an owner, Tuffy Shallenberger (first ballot owner name HOF) doesn’t seem to fit the USSF bill, but legendary Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Hillman might. I’m sure you’re asking, why not the Rooney Family, if they’ll play at Heinz Field? I’ll tell you: I honestly can’t seem to pin down a value for the family. The Steelers are valued at a little over a billion and rumors persist that Dan Rooney is worth $500 million, but I’m not sure. I guess the Rooneys would work too, but it’s a definite departure from an owner in Shallenberger who was described by one journalist as a guy who “wears boots, jeans, a sweater and a trucker hat.”
Candidate: Saint Louis FC
Location (Metro population): St. Louis, Mo. (2,807,338)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Busch Stadium (Grass, 45,494)
Potential owner: William DeWitt Jr. (reported net worth $4 billion)
Notes: Saint Louis has some weirdness in making the jump to D1. Current CEO Jim Kavanaugh is an owner of the MLS side that will begin play in 2022. The club’s current ground at West Community Stadium isn’t big enough, but perhaps a timely sale to Cardinals owner William DeWitt Jr. could see the club playing games at Busch Stadium, which has a well established history of hosting other sports like hockey, college football and soccer (most recently a U.S. WNT friendly against New Zealand in 2019). The competition with another MLS franchise wouldn’t be ideal, like Charlotte, but with a big enough population and cross marketing from the Cardinals, maybe there’s a winner here. Wacko idea: If Busch doesn’t pan out, send them to The Dome. Sure, it’s a 60k turf closed-in stadium, but we can go for that retro NASL feel and pay homage to our nation’s soccer history.
Candidate: Tampa Bay Rowdies
Location (Metro population): Tampa, Fla. (3,068,511)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Raymond James Stadium (Grass, 65,518)
Potential owner: Edward DeBartolo Jr. (reported net worth $3 billion)
Notes: This one makes me sad. Despite having never been there, I see Al Lang Stadium as an iconic part of the Rowdies experience. Current owner Bill Edwards proposed an expansion to 18,000 seats in 2016, but the move seems to have stalled out. Frustrated with the city’s lack of action, Edwards sells to one-time San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., who uses his old NFL connections to secure a cushy lease at the home of the Buccaneers in Ray Jay, the site of a 3-1 thrashing of Antigua and Barbuda during the United States’ 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
Breather. Hey, we finished the Eastern Conference teams. Why are you still reading this? Why am I still writing it? Time is a meaningless construct in 2020 my friends, we are adrift in the void, fueled only by brief flashes of what once was and what may yet still be.
Candidate: Austin Bold FC
Location (Metro population): Austin, Texas (2,168,316)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Darrel K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium (FieldTurf, 95,594)
Potential owner: Michael Dell (reported net worth of $32.3 billion)
Notes: Anthony Precourt’s Austin FC has some unexpected competition and it comes in the form of tech magnate Michael Dell. Dell, were he to buy the club, would be one of the richest owners on our list and could flash his cash in the new first division. Would he have enough to convince Darrel K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium (I’m not kidding, that’s its actual name) to go back to a grass surface, like it did from ’96-’08? That’s between Dell and nearly 100,000 UT football fans, but everything can be had for the right price.
Candidate: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Location (Metro population): Colorado Springs, Colo. (738,939)
Time zone: Mountain
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Falcon Stadium (FieldTurf, 46,692)
Potential owner: Charles Ergen (reported net worth $10.8 billion)
Notes: Welcome to Colorado Springs. We have hurdles. For the first time in 12 candidates, we’re back below the desired 1 million metro population mark. Colorado Springs actually plans to build a $35 million, 8,000 seat venue downtown that will be perfect for soccer, but in our timeline that’s 7,000 seats short. Enter Falcon Stadium, home of the Air Force Academy Falcons football team. Seems perfect except for the turf, right? Well, the tricky thing is that Falcon Stadium is technically on an active military base and is (I believe) government property. Challenges to getting in and out of the ground aside, the military tends to have a pretty grim view of government property being used by for-profit enterprises. Maybe Charles Ergen, founder and chairman of Dish Network, would be able to grease the right wheels, but you can go ahead and throw this into the “doubtful” category. It’s a shame, too. 6,035 feet of elevation is one hell of a home-field advantage.
Candidate: El Paso Locomotive FC
Location: El Paso, Texas
Time zone: Mountain
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Sun Bowl (FieldTurf, 51,500)
Potential owner: Paul Foster (reported net worth $1.7 billion)
Notes: God bless Texas. When compiling this list, I found so many of the theoretical stadium replacements were nearly serviceable by high school football fields. That’s insane, right? Anyway, Locomotive don’t have to settle for one of those, they’ve got the Sun Bowl, which had its capacity reduced in 2001 to a paltry 51,500 (from 52,000) specifically to accommodate soccer. Sure, it’s a turf surface, but what does new owner Paul Foster (who is only the 1,477th wealthiest man in the world, per Forbes) care, he’s got a team in a top league. Side note: Did you know that the Sun Bowl college football game is officially, through sponsorship, the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl? Why is it not the Frosted Flakes Sun Bowl? Why is the cereal mascot the promotional name of the football game? What are you doing, Kellogg’s?
Candidate: Las Vegas Lights FC
Location: Las Vegas, Nev. (2,227,053)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Allegiant Stadium (Grass, 61,000)
Potential owner: Sheldon Adelson (reported net worth $37.7 billion)
Notes: Sin City. You had to know that the club that once signed Freddy Adu because “why not” was going to go all out in our flashy hypothetical proposal. Thanks to my narrative control of this whole thing, they have. Adelson is the second-richest owner in the league and has decided to do everything first class. That includes using the new Raiders stadium in nearby unincorporated Paradise, Nevada, and spending boatloads on high profile transfers. Zlatan is coming back to the U.S., confirmed.
Candidate: New Mexico United
Location: Albuquerque, N.M.
Time zone: Mountain
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Isotopes Park – officially Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park (Grass, 13,500 – 15,000 with expansion)
Potential owner: Maloof Family (reported net worth $1 billion)
Notes: New Mexico from its inception went deep on the community vibe, and I’ve tried to replicate that in this bid. The home field of Rio Grande Cr---I’m not typing out the whole thing—Isotopes Park falls just within the expansion rules we set to make it to 15,000 (weird, right?) and they’ve found a great local ownership group in the Lebanese-American Maloof (formerly Maalouf) family from Las Vegas. The only thing to worry about would be the metro population, but overall, this could be one of the gems of USL Prem.
Candidate: Oklahoma City Energy FC
Location: Oklahoma City, Okla. (1,396,445)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (Grass, 13,066)
Potential owner: Harold Hamm (reported net worth $14.2 billion)
Notes: There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow and it says it’s time to change stadiums and owners to make it to D1. A sale to oil magnate Harold Hamm would give the club the finances it needs, but Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (home of the OKC Dodgers) actually falls outside of the boundary of what would meet capacity if 1,500 seats were added. Could the club pull off a move to Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma – home of the Oklahoma Sooners? Maybe, but at 20 miles, this would be a reach.
Candidate: Orange County SC
Location: Irvine, Calif. (3,176, 000 in Orange County)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Angels Stadium of Anaheim (Grass, 43,250)
Potential owner: Arte Moreno (reported net worth $3.3 billion)
Notes: You’ll never convince me that Rangers didn’t choose to partner with Orange County based primarily on its name. Either way, a sale to MLB Angels owner Arte Moreno produces a fruitful partnership, with the owner choosing to play his newest club out of the existing Angels stadium in OC. Another baseball conversion, sure, but with a metro population of over 3 million and the closest thing this hypothetical league has to an LA market, who’s complaining?
Candidate: Phoenix Rising FC
Location: Phoenix, Ariz. (4,857,962)
Time zone: Arizona
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): State Farm Stadium (Grass, 63,400)
Potential owner: Ernest Garcia II (reported net worth $5.7 billion)
Notes: We’re keeping it local with new owner and used car guru Ernest Garcia II. His dad owned a liquor store and he dropped out of college, which is making me feel amazing about my life choices right now. Casino Arizona Field is great, but State Farm Stadium is a grass surface that hosted the 2019 Gold Cup semifinal, so it’s a clear winner. Throw in Phoenix’s massive metro population and this one looks like a lock.
Candidate: Reno 1868 FC
Location: Reno, Nev. (425,417)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Mackay Stadium (FieldTurf, 30,000)
Potential owner: Nancy Walton Laurie (reported net worth $7.1 billion)
Notes: The Biggest Little City on Earth has some serious barriers to overcome, thanks to its low metro population. A sale to Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie and 1.6 mile-move to Mackay Stadium to split space with the University of Nevada, Reno makes this bid competitive, but the turf surface is another knock against it.
Candidate: Rio Grande Valley FC
Location: Edinburg, Texas (900,304)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): McAllen Memorial Stadium (FieldTurf, 13,500 – 15,000 with expansion)
Potential owner: Alice Louise Walton (reported net worth $45 billion)
Notes: Yes, I have a second straight Walmart heiress on the list. She was the first thing that popped up when I googled “McAllen Texas richest people.” The family rivalry has spurred Walton to buy a club as well, moving them 10 miles to McAllen Memorial Stadium which, as I alluded to earlier, is a straight up high school football stadium with a full color scoreboard. Toss in an additional 1,500 seats and you’ve met the minimum, despite the turf playing surface.
Candidate: San Antonio FC
Location: San Antonio, Texas (2,550,960)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Alamodome (FieldTurf, 64,000)
Potential owner: Red McCombs (reported net worth $1.6 billion)
Notes: I wanted to keep SAFC in the Spurs family, since the franchise is valued at $1.8 billion. That said, I didn’t let the Rooneys own the Riverhounds based on the Steelers’ value and it felt wrong to change the rules, so bring on Clear Channel co-founder Red McCombs. Toyota Field isn’t viable in the first division, but for the Alamodome, which was built in 1993 in hopes of attracting an NFL franchise (and never did), San Antonio can finally claim having *a* national football league team in its town (contingent on your definition of football). Now if only we could do something about that turf…
Candidate: San Diego Loyal SC
Location: San Diego, Calif. (3,317,749)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): SDCCU Stadium (formerly Qualcomm) (Grass, 70,561)
Potential owner: Phil Mickelson (reported net worth $91 million)
Notes: Yes, golf’s Phil Mickelson. The existing ownership group didn’t seem to have the wherewithal to meet requirements, and Phil seemed to slot right in. As an athlete himself, he might be interesting in the new challenges of a top flight soccer team. Toss in a move to the former home of the chargers and you might have a basis for tremendous community support.
Candidate: FC Tulsa
Location: Tulsa, Okla. (991,561)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium (FieldTurf, 30,000)
Potential owner: George Kaiser ($10 billion)
Notes: I’m a fan of FC Tulsa’s rebrand, but if they want to make the first division, more changes are necessary. A sale to Tulsa native and one of the 100 richest men in the world George Kaiser means that funding is guaranteed. A move to Chapman Stadium would provide the necessary seats, despite the turf field. While the undersize population might be an issue at first glance, it’s hard to imagine U.S. Soccer not granting a waiver over a less than a 10k miss from the mark.
And that’s it! You made it. Those are all of the independent/hybrid affiliates in the USL Championship, which means that it’s time for our…
VERDICT: As an expert who has studied this issue for almost an entire day now, I am prepared to pronounce which USL Championships could be most ‘ready” for a jump to the USL Prem. A reminder that of the 27 clubs surveyed, 0 of them met our ideal criteria (proper ownership $, metro population, 15,000+ stadium with grass field).
Two of them, however, met almost all of those criteria: Indy Eleven and Miami FC. Those two clubs may use up two of our three available turf fields right from the outset, but the other factors they hit (particularly Silva’s ownership of Miami) makes them difficult, if not impossible to ignore for the top flight.
But who fill in the rest of the slots? Meet the entire 14-team USL Premier League:
Hartford Athletic
Indy Eleven
Louisville City FC
Miami FC
North Carolina FC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Tampa Bay Rowdies
Saint Louis FC
San Antonio FC
New Mexico United
Phoenix Rising FC
Las Vegas Lights FC
Orange County SC
San Diego Loyal SC
Now, I shall provide my expert rationale for each club’s inclusion/exclusion, which can be roughly broken down into four categories.
Firm “yes”
Hartford Athletic: It’s a good market size with a solid stadium. With a decent investor and good community support, you’ve got potential here.
Indy Eleven: The turf at Lucas Oil Stadium is no reason to turn down a 62,421 venue and a metro population of over 2 million.
Louisville City FC: Why doesn’t the 2017 & 2018 USL Cup champion deserve a crack at the top flight? They have the market size, and with a bit of expansion have the stadium at their own SSS. LCFC, you’re in.
Miami FC, “The”: Our other blue-chip recruit on the basis of ownership value, market size and stadium capacity. Yes, that field is turf, but how could you snub Silva’s chance to claim victory as the first division 1 club soccer team to play in Miami?
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: Pittsburgh sacrificed a lot to be here (according to my arbitrary calculations). Their market size and the potential boon of soccer at Heinz Field is an important inclusion to the league.
Saint Louis FC: Willie hears your “Busch League” jokes, Willie don’t care. A huge market size, combined with the absence of an NFL franchise creates opportunity. Competition with the MLS side, sure, but St. Louis has serious soccer history and we’re willing to bet it can support two clubs.
Tampa Bay Rowdies: With a huge population and a massive stadium waiting nearby, Tampa Bay seems like too good of an opportunity to pass up for the USL Prem.
Las Vegas Lights FC: Ostentatious, massive and well-financed, Las Vegas Lights FC is everything that the USL Premier League would need to assert that it didn’t intend to play second fiddle to MLS. Players will need to be kept on a short leash, but this is a hard market to pass up on.
Phoenix Rising FC: Huge population, big grass field available nearby and a solid history of success in recent years. No brainer.
San Diego Loyal SC: New club? Yes, massive population in a market that recently lost an absolutely huge sports presence? Also yes. This could be the USL Prem’s Seattle.
Cautious “yes”
New Mexico United: You have to take a chance on New Mexico United. The club set the league on fire with its social media presence and its weight in the community when it entered the league last season. The market may be slightly under USSF’s desired 1 million, but fervent support (and the ability to continue to use Isotopes Park) shouldn’t be discounted.
North Carolina FC: Carter-Finley’s mixed grass/turf surface is a barrier, to be sure, but the 57,000+ seats it offers (and being enough to offset other fully-turf offerings) is enough to put it in the black.
Orange County SC: It’s a top-tier club playing in a MLB stadium. I know it seems unlikely that USSF would approve something like that, but believe me when I say “it could happen.” Orange County is a massive market and California likely needs two clubs in the top flight.
San Antonio FC: Our third and only voluntary inclusion to the turf fields in the first division, we’re counting on San Antonio’s size and massive potential stadium to see it through.
Cautious “no”
Birmingham Legion FC: The town has solid soccer history and a huge potential venue, but the turf playing surface puts it on the outside looking in.
Memphis 901 FC: Like Birmingham, not much to dislike here outside of the turf playing surface at the larger playing venue.
Austin Bold FC: See the other two above.
FC Tulsa: Everything’s just a little bit off with this one. Market’s slightly too small, stadium has turf. Just not enough to put it over the top.
Firm “no”
Charleston Battery: Small metro and a small potential new stadium? It’s tough to say yes to the risk.
Charlotte Independence: A small new stadium and the possibility of having to compete with an organization that just paid over $300 million to join MLS means it’s best for this club to remain in the USL Championship.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC: When a club’s best chance to meet a capacity requirement is to host games at a venue controlled by the military, that doesn’t speak well to a club’s chances.
El Paso Locomotive FC: An undersized market and a turf field that meets capacity requirements is the death knell for this one.
Oklahoma City Energy FC: Having to expand a baseball field to meet requirements is a bad start. Having to potentially play 20 miles away from your main market is even worse.
Reno 1868 FC: Population nearly a half-million short of the federation’s requirements AND a turf field at the hypothetical new stadium makes impossible to say yes to this bid.
Rio Grande Valley FC: All the seat expansions in the world can’t hide the fact that McAllen Memorial Stadium is a high school stadium through and through.
Here’s who’s left in the 11-team Championship:
Birmingham Legion FC
Charleston Battery
Charlotte Independence
Memphis 901 FC
Austin Bold FC
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
El Paso Locomotive FC
Oklahoma City Energy FC
Reno 1868 FC
Rio Grande Valley FC
FC Tulsa
With MLS folding the six affiliates it has in USL League One, the league is a little bit thin (especially considering USSF’s requirements for 8 teams for lower level leagues), but seems definitely able to expand up to the necessary numbers with Edwards’ allusions to five new additions this year:
Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
Forward Madison FC
Greenville Triumph SC
Union Omaha
Richmond Kickers
South Georgia Tormenta
FC Tucson
Format of Assorted Leagues – This (like everything in this post) is pure conjecture on my part, but here are my thoughts on how these leagues might function in a first year while waiting for additional expansion.
USL Premier – We’ll steal from the 12-team Scottish Premiership. Each club plays the other 11 clubs 3 times, with either one or two home matches against each side. When each club has played 33 matches, the top six and bottom six separate, with every club playing an additional five matches (against each other team in its group). The top club wins the league. The bottom club is automatically relegated. The second-bottom club will enter a two-legged playoff against someone (see below) from the championship playoffs.
USL Championship -- 11 clubs is a challenge to schedule for. How about every club plays everyone else three times (either one or two home matches against each side)? Top four clubs make the playoffs, which are decided by two-legged playoffs. The winner automatically goes up. I need feedback on the second part – is it better to have the runner-up from the playoffs face the second-bottom club from the Premiership, or should the winner of the third-place match-up get the chance to face them to keep drama going in both playoff series? As for relegation, we can clearly only send down the last place club while the third division is so small.
USL League One – While the league is so small, it doesn’t seem reasonable to have the clubs play as many matches as the higher divisions. Each club could play the other six clubs four times – twice at home and twice away – for a very equitable 24-match regular season, which would help restrict costs and still provide a chance to determine a clear winner. Whoever finishes top of the table goes up.
And there you have it, a hypothetical look at how the USL could build a D1 league right now. All it would take is a new stadium for almost the entire league and new owners for all but one of the 27 clubs, who wouldn’t feel that their property would be massively devalued if they got relegated.
Well that’s our show. I’m curious to see what you think of all of this, especially anything that you think I may have overlooked (I’m sure there’s plenty). Anyway, I hope you’re all staying safe and well.
submitted by Soccervox to USLPRO [link] [comments]

/r/horseracing Cheltenham Festival guide and discussion 2015

As of writing this there is less than two weeks until the greatest horseracing festival on Earth. With 4 days and 35 races of the highest quality, the sub would be inundated unless we keep things central so use this thread for absolutely anything Cheltenham - news, previews, tips and, most importantly, debate!
For those who are unfamiliar, The Cheltenham Festival in held every March at Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire. The National Hunt season is mostly run with it in mind, as top trainers all desire even a single win at the jewel in the crown of jumps racing. The various graded races throughout the year are usually used as pointers towards graded races at the festival, for example a winner of the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January will probably be high up in the market for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at the Festival. It consists of 4 days - Champion Day (Tue), Ladies Day (Wed), St Patricks Thursday and Gold Cup Day (Fri) and this year is held between the 10th and 14th of March
The Races
Each of the four days is centred around a Championship race:
The Champion Hurdle, The Queen Mother Champion Chase, The World Hurdle and The Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase are 2m races - the shortest distances in NH racing and are held on the Cheltenham Old Course as are all races on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The World Hurdle and Gold Cup are held over stayers distances of 3 miles and 3 miles 2 and a half furlongs respectively. They are raced on the New Course on Thursday and Friday.
Other races include Grade 1 novice chases and hurdles, big prize pot handicaps as well as handicaps for amateur riders, conditional jockeys and hunter chasers as well as a mares hurdle race and two races for juvenile hurdlers (4 year old horses).
The Stars
Perhaps one of the greatest appeals of National Hunt racing is the opportunity for horses to become household names due to the lengths of their careers. Unlike on the flat where stallions are carted off to stud after 2 or 3 years, most NH horses are geldings and usually aren't begun to be raced until they develop into their strongest frames between 5 and 8.
Festival heroes include Istabraq who is a three time winner of the Champion Hurdle. More recently, Hurricane Fly who is trained by Irish top trainer Willie Mullins won the 2011 and 2013 renewals of the race.
Just as we were blessed to watch the mighty Frankel in our lifetimes, there will surely be or have been very few who are better chasers than Sprinter Sacre at the height of his career. The Nicky Henderson Horse was undefeated over fences before having to pull up due to a heart condition last Christmas. He was defeated upon reappearance in the Clarence House Chase, though arguably was not hard pushed. Whether that is a good or bad sign will become clear as the festival unfolds. American followers of NH racing were cheering home Flagship Uberalles during his racing career, and with silks like those they must have been ecstatic when he made up for his loss when favourite in the 2000 QMCC by winning the 2002 renewal.
No horse have ever been bred to win a World Hurdle is a saying in the NH world. Most horses that win were bred with the Gold Cup in mind but didn't take to chasing for whatever reason. Though a winner of the 2m4f novices chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2008, Big Buck's was reverted to hurdles after unseating his rider in the Hennessey Gold Cup in the next season. This was rather fortuitous as it turned out as staying hurdlers go, he was an absolute machine. Until an injury setback in 2013, he was undefeated in 18 runs, including 4 World Hurdles, 4 Liverpool Hurdles, 4 Long Distance Hurdles and 3 Long Walk Hurdles - all of which are Grade 1s. After missing most of the 2013 season due to injury, the 11 year old returned after a 400+ day absence for the 2014 Cleeve Hurdle during Festival Trials day where he lost his unbeaten record. There was no fairytale finish when competing in the 2014 World Hurdle, though he was retired a legend of the staying hurdle sphere to rapturous applause from the crowd.
The Gold Cup has been won by many beloved horses over the years - Arkle, Desert Orchid, Dawn Run. More recently Best Mate entered the hearts when winning his third successive Gold Cup. The image of his trainer Henrietta Knight embracing husband and former champion jockey Terry Biddlecombe at the post lives long in the memory - especially given the passing of Mr Biddlecombe last year.
Kauto Star is also a mutiple Gold Cup winner who retired in 2012. He had a famous rivalry with stablemate Denman who won the 2008 Gold Cup and whose career was blighted by a heart issue.
Another festival legend is Quevega who is on a massive unbeaten run herself. She won the Mares Hurdle at the festival an impressive 5 times in a row as well as the World Series Hurdle at Punchestown in the same years. Last year she picked up her sixth win in the Mares Hurdle but could not retain her World Series Hurdle crown and was retired to stud.
Ones to Watch
Even at the grand old age of 11, Hurricane Fly is having another crack at the Champion Hurdle in order to emulate Istabraq in winning it three times. This years competition will be one of the more competitive affairs. Favourites in the betting include new kid on the block Faugheen who as a novice won races from 2 miles to 3 over al sorts of ground. his versatility makes him the most exciting hurdling prospect in training although questions are in place over the quality of his victories this campaign. The New One returns flying the flag for Britain having arguably been unlucky in running last year. There is no doubt over his quality and he has a devestating turn of foot. Last year's winner Jezki returns having been beaten convincingly by Hurricane Fly three times this season. There can be no doubt he'll be primed for this race though some spectators question his record with Tony McCoy on board. This race is certain to be a fantastic showcase of hurdling and with any luck will be a fantastic spectacle.
With Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy returning from injury with question marks the Champion Chase appears to be a 4 horse race. The grade 1 preps for this race - the Tingle Creek and the Clarence House Chases have been won in most impressive fashion by speedy chaser Dodging Bullets.. Of the Irish horses, Willie Mullins trains Supreme Novices 2013 winner Champagne Fever who was narrowly edged out by Western Warhorse in last year's Arkle (2m novice grade 1 chase). An outside chance after victory in The Game Spirit chase is Mr Mole whom has been subject to an outstanding training performance by Paul Nicholls to get him to grade race standard. In the World Hurdle, a very open and unfortunately underwhelming contest looks to be on offer. With Big Bucks retired, More of That edged out Annie Power in a thriller finish last year. More Of That could be out injured and Annie Power may take the penalty kick of the Mares Hurdle. In the same colours as Big Bucks representing the Stewart Family, Saphir De Rheu is favourite after reverting from chasing to staying hurdling and winning the Cleeve hurdle (deja vu?!). The ever popular Zarkandar is also trained by Nicholls and was edged out by Reve de Sivola in the Long Walk hurdle before Christmas. Champion Hurdler (2012) Rock On Ruby will be trying his hand at 3 miles having shown potential to stay the trip when winning the Relkeel Hurdle - the same race More Of That landed before going on to victory here last year.

Finally, the Gold Cup looks to be King George VI Chase 2013 and 14 winner Silviniaco Conti's to lose. His opposition will come from last year's 20/1 winner Lord Windermere, Hennessey Gold Cup winner Many Clouds and Lexus Chase winner Road To Riches. Carlingford Lough landed the Irish Hennessey the day after AP McCoy announced his retirement, and what better send off for the soon to be 20 times champion jockey than to land the most prestigious prize in National Hunt racing.

TL;DR Have fun over those 4 days. Best of luck with your bets.
submitted by RichDavi to horseracing [link] [comments]

/r/horseracing Official Cheltenham Festival Thread

As of writing this there is just under 17 days until the greatest horseracing festival on Earth. With 4 days and 35 races of the highest quality, the sub would be inundated unless we keep things central so use this thread for absolutely anything Cheltenham - news, previews, tips and - most importantly - debate!
For those who are unfamiliar, The Cheltenham Festival in held every March at Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire. The National Hunt season is mostly run with it in mind, as top trainers all desire even a single win at the jewel in the crown of jumps racing. The various graded races throughout are usually used as pointers towards graded races at the festival, for example a winner of the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January will probably be high up in the market for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at the Festival. It consists of 4 days - Champion Day (Tue), Ladies Day (Wed), St Patricks Thursday and Gold Cup Day (Fri) and this year is held between the 11th and 15th of March
The Races
Each of the four days is centred around a Championship race:
The Champion Hurdle, The Queen Mother Champion Chase, The World Hurdle and The Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase are 2m races - the shortest distances in NH racing and are held on the Cheltenham Old Course as are all races on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The World Hurdle and Gold Cup are held over stayers distances of 3 miles and 3 miles 2 and a half furlongs respectively. They are raced on the New Course on Thursday and Friday.
Other races include Grade 1 novice chases and hurdles, big prize pot handicaps as well as handicaps for amateur riders, conditional jockeys and hunter chasers as well as a mares hurdle race and two races for juvenile hurdlers (4 year old horses).
The Stars
Perhaps one of the greatest appeals of National Hunt racing is the opportunity for horses to become household names due to the lengths of their careers. Unlike on the flat where stallions are carted off to stud after 2 or 3 years, most NH horses are geldings and usually aren't begun to be raced until they develop into their strongest frames between 5 and 9.
Festival heroes include Istabraq who is a three time winner of the Champion Hurdle. More recently, Hurricane Fly who is trained by Irish top trainer Willie Mullins won the 2011 and 2013 renewals of the race.
Just as we were blessed to watch the mighty Frankel in our lifetimes, there will surely be or have been very few who are better chasers than Sprinter Sacre. The Nicky Henderson Horse was undefeated over fences before having to pull up due to a heart condition this Christmas. Race fans will have their fingers crossed that he returns to full health in order to defend his title in the Champion Chase this year. American followers of NH racing were cheering home Flagship Uberalles during his racing career, and with silks like those they must have been ecstatic when he made up for his loss when favourite in the 2000 QMCC by winning the 2002 renewal.
No horse have ever been bred to win a World Hurdle is a saying in the NH world. Most horses that win were bred with the Gold Cup in mind but didn't take to chasing for whatever reason. Though a winner of the 2m4f novices chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2008, Big Buck's was reverted to hurdles after unseating his rider in the Hennessey Gold Cup in the next season. This was rather fortuitous as it turned out as staying hurdlers go, he is an absolute machine. Until very recently he was undefeated in 18 runs, including 4 World Hurdles, 4 Liverpool Hurdles, 4 Long Distance Hurdles and 3 Long Walk Hurdles - all of which are Grade 1s. After missing most of the 2013 season due to injury, the 11 year old returned after a 400+ day absence for the 2014 Cleeve Hurdle during Festival Trials day where he lost his unbeaten record. This year promises to be a more competitive renewal than usual due to the apparent fragility of Big Buck's, though fingers crossed he can make it 5 wins.
The Gold Cup has been won by many beloved horses over the years - Arkle, Desert Orchid, Dawn Run. More recently Best Mate entered the hearts when winning his third successive Gold Cup. The image of his trainer Henrietta Knight embracing husband and former champion jockey Terry Biddlecombe at the post lives long in the memory - especially given the passing of Mr Biddlecombe at the beginning of this year.
Kauto Star is also a mutiple Gold Cup winner who retired in 2012. He had a famous rivalry with stablemate Denman who won the 2008 Gold Cup and whose career was blighted by a heart issue.
Another festival legend is Quevega who is on a massive unbeaten run herself. She has won the Mares Hurdle at the festival an impressive 5 times in a row as well as the World Series Hurdle at Punchestown in the same years.
Ones to Watch
This year, Hurricane Fly is having a crack at his third Champion Hurdle in order to emulate Istabraq. However it is certain that this year will be one of the most competitive renewals of the race. He faces International Hurdle winner The New One, Fighting Fifth Hurdle and Christmas Hurdle winner My Tent or Yours, Triumph Hurdle 2013 winner Our Conor, Hatton's Grace Hurdle winner Jezki and potentially Red Mills Trial Hurdle winner Un De Sceaux and unbeaten supermare Annie Power. This race is certain to be a fantastic showcase of hurdling and with any luck will be a fantastic spectacle.
With Sprinter Sacre out of most of the year and still not a certainty to run, the Champion Chase is certainly more open. The grade 1 preps for this race - the Tingle Creek, The Desert Orchid and the Clarence House Chases have been won in most impressive fashion by another speedy chaser Sire De Grugy. Even if Sprinter Sacre takes his chance he will have a difficult opponent to over come in SdG. Of the Irish horses, Willie Mullins trains Arvika Ligeonniere who won the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown in early February. The winner of the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet this year at Leopardstown and 2013 Jewson Novices Chase at the festival Benefficient could also line up.
In the World Hurdle, Big Buck's will return but faces a tough task in order to win this race a fifth time. He faces 2013 festival winner At Fishers Cross who was one of the two who just beat him home in January but has jumped inconsistently this season. Annie Power could be the prime Irish threat if she races here rather than the Champion Hurdle. Another JP McManus (The striped green and gold silks) horse More of That represents an unexposed and very progressive threat in the line up. Other runners include 2013 Neptune runner up Rule The World who could end up being the only Irish threat if Annie Power doesn't line up. Reve de Silvola was disappointing in January having won the Long Walk in December but is usually a huge threat on soft ground.
Finally, the Gold Cup looks to be a match race between last years winner Bobs Worth who bounced back to illustrious form last time out in the Lexus Chase. His main rival is King George VI Chase winner Silviniaco Conti who fell in last years Gold Cup before giving his running. Though Gigginstown Studs main staying chaser Sir Des Champs is sidelined with injury, Last Instalment won the Irish Hennessey and will aim to cause an upset to the top two. Cue Card looked to have proved he could stay 3 miles when winning the Betfair Chase in November but seemed to run out of steam when 1 fence from home in the King George and looking very likely to win. He will have a task to stay the extra quarter mile as well as bettering Bobs Worth and Silviniaco Conti.
TL;DR Have fun over those 4 days. Best of luck with your bets. Comments below will be dedicated to each of the four days.
EDIT: Sorry the images on some won't load with RES - had to tinyURL to get within the character count
submitted by RichDavi to horseracing [link] [comments]

132+ Teams in 132+ Days: SMU Mustangs

Southern Methodist University American Athletic Conference
Nickname: Mustangs Logo: Always running to the right! Year Founded: 1911 (school), 1915 (team) Location: University Park, Dallas, Texas Total Attendance: 10,928 (6,221 undergrad) Mascot: Peruna Live Mascot: Peruna IX Cheerleaders: Pic 1 / Pic 2 / Pic 3 / Pic 4 / Pic 5 Stadium: Gerald J. Ford Stadium Stadium Location: On Campus, 5800 Ownby Dr Conference Champions: Southwest Conference (11) - 1923, '26, '31, '35, '40, '47, '48, '66, '81, '82, '84 Bowl Games: 15 games (7-7-1) National Titles: 1 title (1935)
Rivals
  • TCU (Battle for the Iron Skillet): Separated by 40 miles and sharing the same metroplex, SMU and TCU will meet for the 92nd time this season with the Horned Frogs holding a 45-40-7 edge in the rivalry. The matchup has been extremely one sided one way or the other for some time, with SMU winning 15 straight games from 1972-1986 followed by TCU winning 17 of the past 23 games. The past two games have been close, with SMU winning 40-33 in overtime in 2011 and TCU handing SMU a 24-16 loss last year in monsoon-like conditions. Bonus pranks for your entertainment: TCU field desecration (1999), SMU stadium vandalism (2011).
  • Rice (Battle for the Mayor's Cup): With SMU leaving Conference USA this season, it will be the first time since the 1920's (excluding those two years in the 80's that I'm sure I'll touch on later) that these two teams won't face each other and the first time since 1918 that they won't be in the same conference. SMU leads the all-time series 48-41-1 throughout 90 meetings, although Rice holds a 9-6 edge since the Mayor's Cup was introduced in 1998. The Owls are in possession of trophy after a 36-14 beating of the Mustangs last season.
  • Navy (Gansz Trophy): While they have only met 16 times in their history (Navy holds a 9-7 edge), this travelling trophy was created to honor Frank Gansz, who played center and linebacker for the Midshipmen before a long and illustrious coaching career. He was serving as SMU's special teams coach when he passed way from complications following knee surgery in 2009. The Mustangs have not faired well in these games lately - some low-lights include setting our field on fire with pre-game fireworks (2002) before getting destroyed 38-7 and a 34-7 loss in 2008 in which Navy didn't even bother attempting a pass.
  • Houston: Wouldn't call this game a true rivalry, but these two teams seem tied at the hip for the immediate future with both joining the American Athletic Conference this season. SMU has not done well against Houston lately, but had a resounding 72-42 victory in 2012 after 6 straight losses. Most SMU fans are still bitter from a 1989 contest in which Houston ran up the score in a 95-21 victory against a team of freshmen, but those same freshmen would have their revenge 4 years later by knocking off the Cougars 41-16.
2012 Season
Record: 7-6 (5-3) Coach: June Jones (31-34 in 5 seasons) Key Players:
  • Garrett Gilbert (JR QB): 268/506 (53.0%), 2932 yds, 15 td, 15 int. Big things were expected out of Gilbert going into the 2013 season but he seemed to struggle throughout the season. Hard to say how much of it was on him, a revamped offensive line or the inconsistency of the receivers. Towards the second half of the season he started to scramble more which was very successful. The team will rely on him even more going into his senior season.
  • Zach Line (SR RB): 277 att, 1278 yds, 13 td. After missing the final 3 games of 2011 with an injury, Line picked up right where he left off, picking up major chunks of yards in passing formations. By the end of the season he had tied Eric Dickerson's school record of 47 career rushing touchdowns and was named Conference USA offensive player of the year. With his graduation, this will be the biggest question mark for the Mustangs going into next season.
  • Margus Hunt (SR DE): 31 tkl (11.5 tfl), 8 sck, 1 int, 2 ffbl. Perhaps the most interesting player to ever suit up for the Mustangs, Hunt was an athletic marvel - at 6'8" 227 lbs, he recently did 38 reps at the combine and ran a 4.60 forty yard dash. He made a name for himself early on blocking field goals and extra points, finishing with 17. He absolutely destroyed Fresno State in his last game, with 3 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a safety.
  • Taylor Reed (SR LB): 97 tkl (14.5 tfl), 6.5 sck, 3 int, 1 ffbl, 1 frec, 2 td.
  • Ja'Gared Davis (SR LB): 77 tkl (11 tfl), 4.0 sck, 2 int, 3 ffbl, 1 frec, 1 td. Both of these guys have been impact players since they were freshman and it's going to be a little different to see next year's defense with them missing. Reed led the team in tackles for the past 3 seasons and was named to the 2nd team CUSA defense while Davis was named to the 1st team CUSA defense.
Biggest Plays:
  • Furious Tulsa rally stopped just short: Tulsa came to Dallas with a perfect 7-0 conference record and was headed to the CUSA Championship game. SMU was 5-6 and needed a win for bowl eligiblity. The Mustangs stormed out of the gate, jumping all over Tulsa to the tune of a 35-6 late 3rd quarter lead. Tulsa reeled off 3 straight touchdowns and got the ball back with 46 seconds left, but a last second desperation heave was stopped just a half yard short and SMU escaped with a 35-27 victory.
  • Garrett Gilbert darts up the middle for 74 yards, touchdown: From the same Tulsa game, Gilbert showed off his legs on this play. Normally in the Run and Shoot, you would ask your quarterback to sit back and pick the defense apart with his arm, but if they aren't going to bother putting any players in the middle of the field, you might as well take advantage.
  • Margus Hunt says 'Aloha' to Derek Carr, Fresno State: Back in 2009, SMU went into the Hawaii Bowl as a heavy underdog to Colin Kaepernick and the Nevada Wolfpack. After a 45-10 dismantling, you would think people would learn not to bet against June Jones in Hawaii, but SMU found themselves in the same situation last season against Fresno State. Margus Hunt made sure the Mustangs' dominance on the Big Island continued, toying with the Bulldogs' offensive line in a 43-10 romp.
2013 Season
2013 Schedule
Opponent Date
vs Texas Tech Red Raiders 8/30/2013
vs Montana State Bobcats 9/7/2013
at Texas A&M Aggies 9/21/2013
at TCU Horned Frogs 9/28/2013
vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights 10/5/2013
at Memphis Tigers 10/19/2013
vs Temple Owls 10/26/2013
at Cincinnati Bearcats 11/9/2013
vs Connecticut Huskies 11/16/2013
at USF Bulls 11/23/2013
at Houston Cougars 11/29/2013
vs UCF Knights 12/7/2013
The out of conference schedule is a bit daunting with two Big XII teams and one SEC team, and this is after Montana State was added in favor of Baylor. The conference schedule is a bit more forgiving, as the one team SMU will not play in 2013, Louisville, is considered to be among the favorites to win the conference. SMU has a brief history with Temple and UConn but has never faced Rutgers, Temple, Cincinnati or USF.
2013 Roster
The Greats
Greatest Games:
  • 1935 vs TCU: SMU (10-0-0) and TCU (11-0-0) matched up in 1935 with the Southwest Conference title and a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line. The Mustangs jumped out to a 14-0 lead but TCU came back and tied the score at 14 going into the 4th quarter. With 8 minutes left in the game, SMU lined up for a punt on 4th and 4 on the TCU 37 but instead heaved a ball towards the end zone which was caught by Bobby Wilson. SMU would win the game 20-14, and the trip to the Rose Bowl netted the school $85,000 which they used to pay off the mortgage on Ownby Stadium.
  • 1949 vs Oregon (Cotton Bowl): SMU won their first Cotton Bowl behind legends Doak Walker and Kyle Rote, beating PCC Champion Oregon and Norm Van Brocklin by a score of 21-13. Walker had a 79 yard punt in this game while Rote added a 84 yarder. The two teams combined for almost 500 yards rushing and 250 yards passing in an offensive showdown.
  • 1980 at Texas: The Texas Longhorns came into this game a heavy favorite but SMU would turn the tables on them in the debut of the Pony Express. Lance McIlhenny would get his first start as a freshman and did not disappoint, leading the Mustangs to a 20-6 victory. The win propelled the Mustangs to an 8-3 record and a trip to the Holiday Bowl, and set off a dominating 5 year stretch in which SMU went 49-9-1.
  • 1983 vs Pittsburgh (Cotton Bowl): SMU was coming off back to back SWC titles and facing a loaded Pittsburgh team led by Dan Marino. Pittsburgh was leading 3-0 in the 4th quarter when SMU marched down the field, finishing off the drive with a keeper by QB Lance McIhenny for the only touchdown of the game. SMU would finish the season ranked #2 in the AP Poll (just behind Penn State), finishing with a record of 11-0-1.
  • 2009 vs Nevada (Hawaii Bowl): 20 seasons after the end of the Death Penalty and 25 seasons after their last bowl appearance, the Mustangs found themselves in Hawaii taking on the Nevada Wolfpack. SMU entered the game as an 11 point underdog and was picked by nearly everyone outside of Dallas to lose the game, but QB Kyle Padron blistered the Nevada secondary for 460 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 45-10 rout. It made for an awesome Christmas.
Greatest Plays: - 1935 vs TCU (The $85,000 Pass): See Greatest Games. - 1982 vs Texas Tech (Miracle on Fourth Avenue): SMU entered the game ranked #2 in the nation with a perfect 9-0 record but needed a "Miracle" to escape Lubbock with a win. Trailing by 3 with 4 minutes to play, the Red Raiders drove down the field and kicked a field goal with 17 seconds to go to tie the score at 27. The ensuing squid kick was fumbled by SMU before it was picked up by Blane Smith, who threw a lateral across the field to Bobby Leach. Leach raced up the sideline for a 91 yard touchdown return, clinching a share of the SWC title (they would win it outright the following week with a tie against Arkansas). - 1983 vs Pittsburgh (McIlhenny Touchdown): See Greatest Games. - 1989 vs Connecticut (Miracle on Mockingbird): 1989 saw the return of football to the SMU campus and their first win came at the expense of the Huskies. Trailing 23-7 at halftime, the Mustangs started to comeback and found themselves trailing by just 6 with less than two minutes to go. With mere seconds to go, QB Mike Romo scrambled to his left before finding Michael Bowen in the end zone as time expired. SMU won the game 31-30.
Greatest Players:
  • Doak Walker (1945, 1947-1949): The greatest football player in SMU history, Doak Walker was a three-time All American, winner of the 1947 Maxwell Award and the 1948 Heisman Trophy. He was an all-purpose player for the Mustangs, playing running back, defensive back and place kicker. His popularity was so great that SMU began playing its home games in the Cotton Bowl in 1948 and the stadium had to be expanded from a capacity of 45,000 to 75,000, making it known as "The House That Doak Built". The Doak Walker Award bears his name, given annually to the best running back in college football, and he has a statue on campus. He went on to have an outstanding NFL career, winning two NFL championships with the Detroit Lions.
  • Kyle Rote (1948-1950): Another outstanding running back, Kyle Rote was an All-American in 1950 and finished second in the Heisman voting. His most notable game was against a juggernaut Notre Dame team in 1949 - with Doak Walker out with an injury, Rote ran for 115 yards and passed for 146 in a close 27-20 loss to the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame would later honor him as an "Honorary Member" of their championship team. He went on the play 11 years in the NFL with the New York Giants.
  • Don Meredith (1957-1959): A two-time All American, Meredith was one of the best players to ever play under center for SMU. He led the SWC in passing completion in each of his 3 seasons as the starting quarterback, and was later named one of the 10 most exciting players in SWC history. He went on the play for the Dallas Cowboys for 9 years and was a 3-time Pro Bowl selection. He worked as a color commentator for Monday Night Football in his post-football career as well as an actor.
  • Jerry LeVias (1966-1968): Three time All-SWC and an All American as a senior, LeVias is best known as the first African-American scholarship player in Southwest Conference history. Blessed with blazing speed, he led SMU to their first SWC title since the days of Doak Walker in 1966 and finished his career with a win over Oklahoma in the 1968 Bluebonnet Bowl. LeVias faced many hurdles throughout his career, and struggles during the desegregation of college football were later highlighed in a documentary. He would play 6 years professionally.
  • Eric Dickerson (1979-1982): One of the best running backs in Southwest Conference history, Dickerson made a name for himself in the 1980's as part of the "Pony Express", a nickname given to SMU's dominating rushing attack. Dickerson and the Mustangs would dominate other teams with their rushing attack. He finished his college career with 4,450 yards and 48 touchdowns and was a two-time All American. He spent 11 years in the NFL, most notably with the Los Angeles Rams. His record of 2,105 rushing yards in a single season still stands after a certain OU running back fell just short this last season.
Greatest Coaches:
  • Matty Bell (1935-1941, 1945-1949): Led the Mustangs to a a 79-40-8 record, 3 Southwest Conference titles and the 1935 National Championship. Also served as SMU's Athletic director from 1950-1964.
  • Hayden Fry (1962-1972): While he is more known for his career at Iowa, Fry was instrumental in integrating the SWC with the recruitment of Jerry Levias. Under Fry, SMU won the 1966 Southwest Conference title.
  • Ron Meyer (1976-1981): Took SMU to heights it had never seen before, leading SMU to the 1981 SWC title with a 10-1-0 record. He would go on to coach in the NFL for serveral seasons for the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts.
  • Bobby Collins (1982-1986): Continued on Meyer's success, as SMU finished #2 in the nation in in 1982. Won the 1982 and 1984 SWC titles and compiled a 43-14-1 record in his 5 seasons before the Death Penalty and the suspension of the SMU football program.
  • Forrest Gregg (1989-1990): A standout SMU football player in the 1950's and a legendary player for the Green Bay Packers, Gregg was asked to do what had never been done before - rebuild a football program from scratch. Undermanned and outsized, Gregg and the post-death penalty Mustangs have a special place in the hearts of my fans.
Traditions
  • SMU's tailgating scene is known as The Boulevard, which started when football returned to campus in 2000. Free beer, music, food and people-watching makes for a good time. The only problem with it is convincing fans to leave and head towards the football game before kickoff. It's modeled The Grove at Ole Miss.
  • SMU's mascot Peruna will run across the field after touchdowns and at the end of each quarter.
  • The Mustang Band will regularly change uniforms before and during football games. They are known as "The Best-Dressed Band in the Land" and have more than 30 uniform combinations to choose from for each game. They are to bands what the Oregon Ducks are to football. The band specializes in jazz music.
  • Each season a player is selected to wear the #23 jersey in honor of Jerry LeVias (currently LB Stephon Sanders).
  • The SMU hand signal is "Pony Ears", which is made by slightly curling the index and middle fingers. If you curl too far it looks like TCU's and no one wants that.
Campus and Surrounding Area
City Population: 1,223,229 City Skyline: Downtown Dallas Iconic Campus Building: Dallas Hall, the first building on SMU's campus and featured in the SMU logo; named in gratitude of the support by Dallas leader and local citizens in the founding of the university. Designed after the Rotunda at the University of Viriginia and once housed the entire university, a bank and a barbershop. Local Dining:
  • Snuffer's: Great burgers and the cheddar fries are pure awesome. I would advise against playing intramural soccer directly after eating here, however - I found out the hard way.
  • Campisi's Egyptian Restaurant: Italian restaurant located across the expressway from SMU with a few other locations throughout Dallas. The pizza is good.
  • Eatzi's: European-market style with a bunch of prepared foods. Last time I went there for dinner I ended up buying food for about 4 meals.
Random Trivia
  • The team was originally nicknamed "The Parsons" due to a large number of theological students on the team. They were given the name "Mustangs" by Dorothy Amann, secretary of the president of the university, when she was watching the team practice and exclaimed "Why, out there, on the football field, it looks just like a bunch of wild Mustangs!"
  • Legend has it that the Ford Motor Company named the Ford Mustang after SMU, after Lee Iacocca saw SMU play at Michigan in 1963. "Today," Iacocca said, "after watching the SMU Mustangs play with such flair, we reached a decision. We will call our new car the Mustang. Because it will be light, like your team. It will be quick, like your team. And it will be sporty, like your team." Coach Hayden Fry bough the first Ford Mustang ever made for $1.
  • SMU colors are Harvard Crimson and Yale Blue. I'll let you figure that one out.
  • "The Hilltop" is SMU's nickname, as the campus was built on a hill.
  • SMU's mascot, Peruna, has an interesting history. In 1935 he traveled to New York City as SMU was taking on Fordham. After taking a cab to the stadium, Peruna I met Fordham's mascot on the field and kicked and killed the ram. A week later Peruna I died when he wandered off onto Mockingbird lane and was killed by a speeding car. The name Peruna derives from a popular "cure-all" tonic. (There are also rumors that Peruna tried to mount Texas Tech's horse and knocked Bevo to the ground with a kick.)
  • A Texas A&M cadet once tried to stab a SMU cheerleader.
  • "Mustang Mania" was a promotion program in the late 1970's which saw Dallas overrun with SMU stickers, advertisements, music, shirts and more. It resulted in an surge in popularity and attendance for the football program.
  • Of course SMU is the only program to be ever leveled with the Death Penalty. The "30 for 30" film Pony Excess, directed by Thaddeus D. Mattula, goes into the rise, fall and rebirth of the SMU football program.
What is and What is to Come
In the beginning, there was football, and it was good. And then the 1980's came, and in a whirlwind of cash, drugs and horrible fashion choices, the football went away. For twenty years SMU football struggled to break free of the Death Penalty, and it was an ugly 20 years. The dissolution of the Southwesten Conference, watching your rival excel like never before, suffering a winless season ... the list goes on. And then 2009 came and SMU went bowling and cast aside the demons that had plagued them for so long.
Heading into 2012, it seemed like SMU was ready to build again on the 3 straight bowl appearances and challenge for a conference championship. With former standout recruit Garrett Gilbert taking over under center and Zach Line entering his senior season, it looked like the Run and Shoot would finally take off like it did for June Jones in Hawaii for all those years. And with several quality players on defensive, SMU looked to be in as good of shape as it had been in years (although an injury in the secondary prior to the season loomed large).
(One odd tibit of the 2012 offseason was June Jones seemingly taking the head coaching position at Arizona State, only to have their students and alumni revolt which such passion that his offer was rescinded not two hours after he agreed to it. This came on the same day that SMU announced it was joining the Big East, which made for a busy afternoon on the message boards.)
SMU would finish the 2012 season 6-6 (5-3) record. There were a lot of games that were out of hand one way or the other - 9 of the games were decided by an average of 31.6 points. The 3 games that were close: the TCU game, which was played in a monsoon and saw both teams struggle to move the ball; the Tulane game, which saw SMU fall on a last second touchdown to a team that was riding a 15 game losing streak; and the Tulsa game. The Tulsa game was the biggest win of the year, given Tulsa being undefeated in conference play and SMU actually needing the win for bowl eligiblity. SMU actually led the game by 29 points before Tulsa put the fear of God into everyone at Ford Stadium, as noted above. The season was capped off with another blow out, of course - SMU demolished Fresno state 43-10 in the Hawaii Bowl.
And now SMU heads into 2013 with another daunting out of conference schedule (Texas A&M and TCU return, and Baylor is swapped out for Texas Tech) along with a new set of conference mates to play against - some new faces, some old. SMU fans would love for the program to take the next step but it certainly won't be easy without marked improvement on both sides of the ball. The level of frustration with the Run and Shoot is high right now as it hasn't produced the offense that Mustang fans envisioned when Jones was hired. As of now, another 6-7 wins is probably the expectation - anything more would be a success, while anything less would have SMU fans calling for changes.
Overtime
  • PonyFans.com is a fan site I have helped run for the past decade. I obviously have a lot of free time on my hands.
  • CountingPosts.com is another place for a more lighthearted discussion of SMU athletics.
  • TCU is terrible, Pony Up, I'm out.
SMU Mustangs Official Website Wikipedia: SMU Football Subreddit: /smu Contributors: rglass4
Please upvote this thread even if you are not interested in the team so that users who are interested will see it For more information on the 132 Teams in 132 Days Project, click here.
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/r/horseracing Cheltenham Megathread

As of writing this there is less than 24 hours until the greatest horseracing festival on Earth. With 4 days and 36 races of the highest quality, the sub would be inundated unless we keep things central so use this thread for absolutely anything Cheltenham - news, previews, tips and, most importantly, debate!
For those who are unfamiliar, The Cheltenham Festival in held every March at Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire. The National Hunt season is mostly run with it in mind, as top trainers all desire even a single win at the jewel in the crown of jumps racing. The various graded races throughout the year are usually used as pointers towards graded races at the festival, for example a winner of the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January will probably be high up in the market for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at the Festival. It consists of 4 days - Champion Day (Tue), Ladies Day (Wed), St Patricks Thursday and Gold Cup Day (Fri) and this year is held between the 10th and 14th of March
The Races
Each of the four days is centred around a Championship race:
The Champion Hurdle, The Queen Mother Champion Chase, The World Hurdle and The Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase are 2m races - the shortest distances in NH racing and are held on the Cheltenham Old Course as are all races on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The World Hurdle and Gold Cup are held over stayers distances of 3 miles and 3 miles 2 and a half furlongs respectively. They are raced on the New Course on Thursday and Friday.
Other races include Grade 1 novice chases and hurdles, big prize pot handicaps as well as handicaps for amateur riders, conditional jockeys and hunter chasers as well as a mares hurdle race and two races for juvenile hurdlers (4 year old horses).
The Stars
Perhaps one of the greatest appeals of National Hunt racing is the opportunity for horses to become household names due to the lengths of their careers. Unlike on the flat where stallions are carted off to stud after 2 or 3 years, most NH horses are geldings and usually aren't begun to be raced until they develop into their strongest frames between 5 and 8.
Festival heroes include Istabraq who is a three time winner of the Champion Hurdle. More recently, Hurricane Fly who is trained by Irish top trainer Willie Mullins won the 2011 and 2013 renewals of the race.
Just as we were blessed to watch the mighty Frankel in our lifetimes, there will surely be or have been very few who are better chasers than Sprinter Sacre at the height of his career. The Nicky Henderson Horse was undefeated over fences before having to pull up due to a heart condition last Christmas. He was defeated upon reappearance in the Clarence House Chase, though arguably was not hard pushed. Whether that is a good or bad sign will become clear as the festival unfolds. American followers of NH racing were cheering home Flagship Uberalles during his racing career, and with silks like those they must have been ecstatic when he made up for his loss when favourite in the 2000 QMCC by winning the 2002 renewal.
No horse have ever been bred to win a World Hurdle is a saying in the NH world. Most horses that win were bred with the Gold Cup in mind but didn't take to chasing for whatever reason. Though a winner of the 2m4f novices chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2008, Big Buck's was reverted to hurdles after unseating his rider in the Hennessey Gold Cup in the next season. This was rather fortuitous as it turned out as staying hurdlers go, he was an absolute machine. Until an injury setback in 2013, he was undefeated in 18 runs, including 4 World Hurdles, 4 Liverpool Hurdles, 4 Long Distance Hurdles and 3 Long Walk Hurdles - all of which are Grade 1s. After missing most of the 2013 season due to injury, the 11 year old returned after a 400+ day absence for the 2014 Cleeve Hurdle during Festival Trials day where he lost his unbeaten record. There was no fairytale finish when competing in the 2014 World Hurdle, though he was retired a legend of the staying hurdle sphere to rapturous applause from the crowd.
The Gold Cup has been won by many beloved horses over the years - Arkle, Desert Orchid, Dawn Run. More recently Best Mate entered the hearts when winning his third successive Gold Cup. The image of his trainer Henrietta Knight embracing husband and former champion jockey Terry Biddlecombe at the post lives long in the memory.
Kauto Star is also a mutiple Gold Cup winner who retired in 2012. He had a famous rivalry with stablemate Denman who won the 2008 Gold Cup and whose career was blighted by a heart issue.
Another festival legend is Quevega who is on a massive unbeaten run herself. She won the Mares Hurdle at the festival an impressive 5 times in a row as well as the World Series Hurdle at Punchestown in the same years. Last year she picked up her sixth win in the Mares Hurdle but could not retain her World Series Hurdle crown and was retired to stud.
This year I've been so pressed for time I have left this until the last minute and haven't written a summary of some of the big battles and drama leading up to the festival. Apologies for those looking for backstory. Hopefully in the individual text posts I'll have time to say a few words
TL;DR Have fun over those 4 days. Best of luck with your bets.
submitted by RichDavi to horseracing [link] [comments]

U.S. Open Cup Round 3 Previews: Chattanooga FC vs Harrisburg City Islanders, New York Cosmos vs Jersey Express, Carolina RailHawks vs Charlotte Independence

On Wednesday, June 1, the third round of the U.S. Open Cup gets underway. This is the final round before MLS teams enter the competition, and the last chance for underdogs to prove their case. In the days leading up to matchday, I'll set out to do previews of each game to get you up to date. (If I can handle that many!)
Don't forget to enter the USOC Pick'em contest!

7:30 EST - Chattanooga FC vs Harrisburg City Islanders

Chattanooga FC (NPSL)

Club History
Chattanooga FC have made a splash in the American soccer scene since its formation in 2009. A steadily growing fanbase and success on the pitch have gained Tennessee's fourth-biggest city a deserved notoriety. On the field, Chattanooga have won the NPSL Southeast Division each of the last four years, and five times in total. On four occasions it has lost in the NPSL championship game, but that hasn't deterred fans, over 18,000 of whom packed Finley Stadium for the 2015 final. Chattanooga FC and Detroit City are expected to challenge for the highest attendances this year outside of a professional soccer league.
U.S. Open Cup History
Chattanooga FC are 4-4 all-time in the U.S. Open Cup. In 2014, they made history, becoming the first NPSL team to defeat a pro side after a 3-1 win over the USL Pro's Wilmington Hammerheads. In 2015, they beat Wilmington again. If they can repeat the feat this time around, they'll earn a club first - a match against MLS opposition.
Current Team
Chattanooga have started the new NPSL season how they left off the old one, with two straight wins out of the gate. Luke Winter, who led the team in scoring in league play in 2015, returns to score a few more in 2016. Against Reading United in the second round, Chatty often created chances from crosses, or worked the ball forward through hold-up play from a target striker.

Harrisburg City Islanders (USL)

Club History
Harrisburg's professional soccer team came into formation in 2003. The city itself is small (around 50,000 population) and generally post-industrial. Yet the fighting spirit of Harrisburg itself is reflected by the players who represent it. In 2007, the City Islanders won the USL Second Division championship, defeating the Richmond Kickers on penalty kicks. Since then, they've appeared in the USL Pro playoff final (2011, 2014), but have yet to repeat their incredible feat.
This is a guess, but I'm willing to bet Harrisburg is the smallest city in the U.S. with a professional soccer team.
U.S. Open Cup History
The Harrisburg City Islanders are 17-9 all-time in the U.S. Open Cup. They established a reputation as giant killers early on, defeating D.C. United in their first appearance (2007). In fact, Harrisburg has downed MLS opposition on five occasions, the last one coming in 2012 during a run to the quarterfinals. Last year, Harrisburg beat Reading United 3-0 before falling to the Rochester Rhinos at home. This year, a Bobby Warshaw goal sparked a 2-0 win over West Chester United.
Current Team
With top scorer Jason Plumhoff plucked away by FC Edmonton, Harrisburg have a tall task ahead of them if they want to avoid missing out on the playoffs for a second consecutive year. At the moment, Harrisburg sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, which (somehow) would actually qualify them for the playoffs. Jamaican Paul Wilson is on top of things so far, having scored four goals and provided three assists. Also looking to play important roles are former Philadelphia Union forward Aaron Wheeler and current Howler podcast star Bobby Warshaw.

The Matchup

Chattanooga FC are on the rise, and will have to feel as if they're in with a shout against one of USL's less marquee teams. Tickets are $7, and I'm sure the team will be trying to sell as many as possible to get the upset. Harrisburg, meanwhile, will have every motivation to advance: the winner plays at Philadelphia Union, the team which dumped the City Islanders as an affiliate in 2016.

7:30 EST - New York Cosmos vs Jersey Express

New York Cosmos (NASL)

Club History
The New York Cosmos brand is one of the greatest in all of world soccer, and its teams in the original NASL were arguably better than any American sides that have come before or since. Centered around players like Giorgio Chinaglia, Carlos Alberto, Franz Beckenbauer, and of course, the legendary Pelé, New York won five Soccer Bowls and became a global phenomenon. Since the club folded, there have been many attempts to revive it. This one is the first to get a real team on the field. The modern iteration of the Cosmos kicked off in the NASL Fall Season of 2013, won the championship the same year, and won it again in 2015 with Real Madrid legend Raúl at the helm.
U.S. Open Cup History
The New York Cosmos are 4-2 all-time in the U.S. Open Cup. The original Cosmos didn't compete in the Open Cup, so this is where the current iteration has a chance to leave its mark. They've already made waves by beating cross-town rivals New York Red Bulls as well as New York City FC in consecutive years. Still, that's not enough. Snubbed by MLS, the Cosmos want their revenge by going all the way.
Current Team
After a rather paltry start, New York has picked up the pace yet again in the NASL. Since losing twice in a row in stoppage time, the Cosmos have won four on the trot and can claim first place in the NASL heading into this weekend. Veteran Venezuelan midfielder Juan Arango has been the main man, and it is absolutely crucial he is healthy and ready to go for the Open Cup, especially with Niko Kranjčar out injured for the remainder of the Spring Season. And with Michael Lahoud sold to Miami FC, Danny Szetela and Adam Moffat must step up to protect the back line.

Jersey Express (PDL)

Club History
Jersey Express have played in the PDL since 2008, though their greatest successes have come over the past few years. Founded in 2007 as the Newark Ironbound Express, the team rebranded in 2011 and have been on the rise since. In 2014, Jersey were crowned Eastern Conference champions and made the national semi-finals. In 2015, they reached the Eastern Conference final.
U.S. Open Cup History
Jersey Express are 2-2 all-time in the U.S. Open Cup. Like the Cosmos, they've only competed for the past two years. In the first, they fell at the first hurdle. But in 2015, they made a bit of a run, defeating Greek-American Atlas in Round 1 and New York Red Bulls II in Round 2. In Round 3, though the Cosmos posed too much of a challenge in a 3-0 defeat. This year, they're in the same spot, having beaten Clarkstown SC Eagles 2-1 and New York Pancyprian Freedoms 1-0, respectively.
Current Team
Jersey are off to a good start in the new PDL season, having beaten Ocean City 4-2 with four set piece goals. Led by center back Sylvain N’Guessan, the 2015 team MVP, as well as midfielder Chris Karcz, the club's all-time leading scorer, they'll try to navigate a tricky Mid Atlantic Division that includes fellow Open Cup competitors Reading United AC and New York Red Bulls U-23s.

The Matchup

In a rematch of last year's Round 3 victory for New York, Jersey will hope to keep the game a little closer this time around. They could benefit from a rotated Cosmos squad if last year is any precedent: players like Jimmy Mulligan and Haji Wright saw their some of their only minutes of the season in 2015 against Jersey. Another interesting dynamic at play comes via the fact that the match will be held at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. Johns University. Although the Cosmos are technically at home, Queens certainly isn't Long Island, and the players will have to adjust to new surroundings. The winner takes home a visit to NYCFC in Round 4.

7:30 EST - Carolina RailHawks vs Charlotte Independence

Carolina RailHawks (NASL)

Club History
History: Founded in 2006, Carolina was one of the breakaway members from the USL First Division that formed the NASL. The team's name is mean to represent both the rail lines that run directly across from the field and the hawks that are indigenous to the area. The RailHawks play their home games at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. In 2015, the RailHawks' owners, Traffic Sports, were indicted in a FIFA corruption scandal, leading to the sale of the club to local tech entrepreneur Stephen Malik. The RailHawks' best finish came in 2010, in the temporary USSF Division 2 Professional League, where they reached the championship game.
U.S. Open Cup History
The Carolina RailHawks are 16-8 all-time in the U.S. Open Cup. Of all the NASL teams, Carolina are perhaps the best-established giant-killers. That notoriety began in 2007 during a run to the semi-finals. It continued in 2012, 2013, and 2014; each year Carolina knocked out an L.A. Galaxy side that was dominant in MLS at the time.
Current Team
After opening up the season with four straight wins, Carolina are trying to salvage their Spring Season, which has slid into a horrible decline. Going into Saturday's games, the RailHawks are in fifth place, and need to snap a four-match winless streak to get back into the mix. If they are to have any chance of doing that, the burden will be on the shoulders of star midfielder Ty Shipalane, who produces highlight reel goals (including this weak-footed curler from a few weeks back). Austin da Luz and Nazmi Albadawi also provide a heavy creative presence in midfield.

Charlotte Independence (USL)

Club History
Charlotte Independence were founded in 2014, and played their first season last year. The Independence have made overtures to MLS, but thus far have seen unsteady attendances and uneven play on the field. In 2015, Charlotte finished seventh in the Eastern Conference and failed to make the playoffs.
U.S. Open Cup History
Charlotte Independence are 3-1 all-time in the U.S. Open Cup. Despite a rough inaugural USL season, Charlotte was more successful than any other league compatriot in the USOC. After knocking out the RailHawks away from home, an incredible Jorge Herrera goal proved to be the difference in a 1-0 win over the New England Revolution.
Current Team
Charlotte are enjoying a fine opening to the USL season, and are currently placed fifth in the Eastern Conference. Going into Saturday's game, they've gone six straight without a loss. Much of that prowess is due to the talents of a former RailHawk, Enzo Martinez, who has three goals and three Team of the Week appearances to his name. Other contributors include midfielder Yann Ekra, who had found earlier success in Harrisburg, and Caleb Calvert, the forward on loan from Colorado Rapids.

The Matchup

It's a tasty Tar Heel derby for the second year in a row in North Carolina. The RailHawks will come in looking for revenge, but will be without center back James Marcelin, who was called into Haiti's Copa America squad. The Independence, meanwhile, look to repeat the feat, but will have to do so without Calvert, who has been recalled by the Rapids. WakeMed Soccer Park has been a fortress for Carolina in the past, and on Wednesday evening it will turn into a battleground. The winner of this game will host the New England Revolution in Round 4.
Previous Previews:
Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs Richmond Kickers
Rochester Rhinos vs Lansdowne Bhoys
Jacksonville Armada vs Charleston Battery
Visit /usopencup for more USOC news and discussion.
submitted by TheMonsieur to MLS [link] [comments]

Sri Lanka's limited overs record over the last 12 years and the Windies' two unlikely triumphs

Every Sri Lankan who watched last Sunday's final would have been thinking that their team must be paying for sins of a past life. In their head, they must have reasoned that losing 4 on the trot was far too many and surely would not occur. Alas, but to the great delight of this jovial set of calypso islanders, Sri Lanka's dream was not realised.
Since their 1996 World Cup victory, Sri Lanka have acquired a reputation as a lively, exciting and combative limited overs side, capable of competing on an even keel with the very best. In the last 12 years, they have qualified for 17 finals and 2 semifinals. The appearances are as follows:
1) Asia Cup 2000 Final (vs. Pakistan) Host: BAN
2) Singer Triangular 2000 Winner (vs South Africa) Host: SRI
3) ARY Gold Cup 2001 Winner (vs. Pakistan) Host: UAE
4) Morocco Cup 2002 Winner (vs. South Africa) Host: MOROCCO
5) Champions Trophy 2002 Shared Winner(vs India) Host: SRI
6) World Cup 2003 Semi (vs. Australia) Host: SA
7) Asia Cup 2004 Winner (vs. India) Host: SRI
8) Paktel Cup 2004 Winner (vs. Pakistan) Host: PAK
9) Indian Oil Cup 2005 Winner (vs. India) Host: SRI
10)VB Series 2006 Final (vs. Australia) Host: AUS
11)World Cup 2007 Final (vs. Australia) Host: WI
12)Asia Cup 2008 Winner (vs. India) Host: PAK
13)T20 World Cup 2009 Final (vs. Pakistan) Host: ENG
14)Idea Cup 2010 Winner (vs. India) Host: BAN
15)T20 World Cup 2010 Semi (vs. England) Host: WI
16)Asia Cup 2010 Final (vs. India) Host: SRI
17)World Cup 2011 Final (vs. India) Host: IND/SRI/BAN
18)CB Series 2012 Final (vs. Australia) Host: AUS
19)T20 World Cup 2012 Final (vs. AUS/WI) Host: SRI
Winners: 8 Runners-up: 9 Semi-Finalist: 2
What can be deduced is that a lot of these tournaments have been held in Asia where Sri Lanka of course thrive and where tournament organisers would hope that Sri Lankan fans would turn up in their numbers. However, exceptional performances in challenging conditions like in South Africa in 2003, England in 2009 and Australia in 2012 must not be ignored.
The failure to clear the last hurdle has created an almost psychological block for most Sri Lankan fans. However, the consistency in reaching 4 finals in 4 years must be applauded and Sri Lankan fans will come to appreciate it once the heartache soothes with time.
Windies' two unlikely triumphs
At exactly the halfway stage of the West Indian innings, you would not have found too many punters lining up at the betting shops and backing the men in maroon. 32-2, 10 overs read the score card. Mathews, Kulesekera and Mendis were asphyxiating an explosive lineup and were controlling the game. The ensuing fireworks from Samuels & co, then, wrestled the game back. It was a comeback that didn't look likely but even at the innings break, Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews opined that the Windies' were 20 runs short. He wasn't fooling anyone, for even Mahela's face etched worry.
The momentum was swinging the way of the Caribbean and the dismissal of Dilshan stifled Sri Lanka's run chase. The West Indies playing in a cauldron of cacophonous, raucous Sri Lankan supporters silenced them at regular intervals. The dark horse had ran the race of her life and left the men in blue to assume bridesmaid duties once more. It was a fine feat and one that reminded me of another great West Indies escape act.
The 2004 Champions Trophy final too, was played between the host nation and the West Indies. After having restricted England to a modest 217 (courtesy of a Trescothick masterclass 104), the Windies themselves were reduced to 147-8. They were staring down the abyss but somehow stitched together an unlikely 71 run partnership between Courtney Browne (34) and Ian Bradshaw (35). (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz-4rcb8ko8) The miracle was complete with 7 balls to spare. The old adage 'stealing victory from the jaws of defeat' couldn't be more appropriate and though the manner of victory wasn't as similar as in 2004, one can sense that the situations have parallels. On both occasions, the Windies' had to play against the host nation and had to outmatch a very worthy opponent.
Thoughts?
submitted by ehloelle to Cricket [link] [comments]

Daily Transfer News Thread - 07/19/2018

Auto-Refreshing Transfer News Thread from Sky Sports
Auto-refreshing reddit comments link
21:56

THAT'S ALL FOR TONIGHT

So tonight ended with the big news of Alisson’s world record move to Liverpool. What will tomorrow bring in the wonderful world of transfers?
Join us again at 7am to find out! Until then, enjoy the rest of your evening!
21:54

LIVERPOOL SIGN ALISSON FOR RECORD FEE

Alisson Becker has officially joined Liverpool from Roma in a deal that makes him the world's most expensive goalkeeper.
Sky Sports News understands that Liverpool have paid £67m for the 25-year-old, who has signed a "long-term" contract at Anfield.
It surpasses the £34.7m Manchester City paid in 2017 to sign Ederson, Alisson's understudy for Brazil.
FULL STORY
21:52

TRANSFER WINDOW STATE OF PLAY

https://twitter.com/SkySportsPL/status/1020022961246531584
21:44

WATCH: TRANSFER CENTRE

The Transfer Centre rounds up of all the latest summer transfer stories from Sky Sports News.
21:33

ALISSON JOINS LIVERPOOL

https://twitter.com/LFC/status/1020058243450703872
21:28

KLOPP PRAISES ALISSON

There’s even more from Jurgen Klopp, who praised Alisson’s all-round quality…
“The full package is just good,” Klopp added. “How we all do, he needs to adapt to the English Premier League, that’s how it is. The league is different, the refs are different, the goalkeeper life is different in the Premier League.
“But that’s not important now because again, we got him here because of his existing strengths, which is in all goalkeeper departments the highest level. But of course he still has to adapt and age-wise he can improve, the best years are coming in the goalkeeper life, so it’s all good.”
21:27

MORE FROM KLOPP...

Speaking to Liverpoolfc.com, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said of the deal to sign Alisson...
“At one point in the last few weeks it came up, the opportunity to sign one of the world’s best goalkeepers - then it’s not a long thought, to be honest, it’s only that you need to have a little talk with the owners! They were quite excited, so we did it. I think it’s something we have to do. He has nothing to do with the price, we have nothing to do with the price, it’s the market, that’s how it is and we will not think a lot about it.
“It shows the value of goalkeepers, of course, in this moment. It will happen a lot in the next few weeks I guess and that’s it, so we are really happy to have him here now. His English is surprisingly good and he is a real personality. He has meanwhile a lot of experience in the last few years, in Europe and in Rome, he’s played there on an outstandingly high level and he did the same at the World Cup. It was for Brazil not too lucky, that’s how it is, but then he played a really good World Cup. So it’s just a good moment.”
21:23

ALISSON: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW...

Liverpool have signed Alisson from Roma for £67m, but what has persuaded Jurgen Klopp to make the Brazilian the world's most expensive 'keeper?
READ HERE
21:17

KLOPP: ALISSON IS WORLD CLASS

21:09

WATCH: ALISSON'S 17/18 STATS

We take a look at Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker's stats from his 2017/18 season with Serie A side Roma.
21:08

ALISSON REACTION

Here's what Alisson, who has signed a long-term contract at Anfield, has said about his move to Liverpool...
"I'm really happy, it's a dream come true to wear such a prestigious shirt for a club of this size that is used to always winning," he told Liverpoolfc.com.
"In terms of my life and my career, it's a huge step for me being part of this club and this family. You can be certain that I'll give my all."
21:04

LIVERPOOL SIGN ALISSON

https://twitter.com/LFC/status/1020051150123433985
21:01

ALISSON TO LIVERPOOL... DONE!

https://twitter.com/LFC/status/1020050514795524098
21:01

BREAKING NEWS

Liverpool have completed the signing of goalkeeper Alisson of a world record £67m.
20:53

ALISSON LATEST...

Roma have bid farewell to gaolkeeper Alisson ahead of his £67m move to Liverpool.
Alisson has returned to Italy after undergoing a medical in Liverpool on Thursday.
The 25-year-old left John Lennon Airport on a private plane headed for Rome on Thursday evening. Sky in Italy say Alisson has already agreed a five-year deal.
He will become the world's most expensive goalkeeper after Liverpool's offer surpassed the £34.7m Manchester City paid for Ederson in 2017.
The Serie A club tweeted: "Thank you Alisson and good luck in your new adventure."
20:40

ROMA BID FAREWELL TO ALISSON

https://twitter.com/BenRansomSky/status/1020045332263129088
20:37

CONFIRMATION CLOSE...

Liverpool's deal to sign Alisson from Roma appears to be moving closer.
The Serie A club have just sent a tweet out thanking the Brazilian goalkeeper and wishing him good luck for his new adventure.
https://twitter.com/OfficialASRoma/status/1020043274625724417
20:23

DOCHERTY MAY LEAVE RANGERS ON LOAN

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard is set to send Greg Docherty out on loan after warning the midfielder he might struggle for regular action at Ibrox this season.
According to the Press Association, the 21-year-old met with Gerrard on Thursday morning to discuss his plans for the forthcoming campaign.
While the former Hamilton player was reassured he remains part of Gerrard's long-term vision for the side, the ex-Liverpool and England skipper did confess to Docherty that he has slipped down his midfield pecking order. And it was suggested to the Scotland Under-21 international that he could benefit by finding a club where he will be given more game time than he is currently guaranteed at Ibrox.
However, Gerrard has made it clear to Docherty that he is under no pressure to move but if he does, he wants to remain in regular contact with him to check up on his progress.
20:15

KIRKLAND: BIG PRESSURE ON ALISSON

Former Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland hopes Alisson is the last piece of the jigsaw that will see Jurgen Klopp's side emerge as genuine title contenders this coming season.
Sky sources understand the Roma goalkeeper is expected to return to Italy on Thursday night after undergoing a medical with his prospective new employers ahead of a £67m move to Anfield.
Alisson will become the most expensive goalkeeper in history if he completes the switch to Liverpool, and Kirkland has warned he will be very much under the microscope if he becomes the club's new No 1.
"He [Alisson] is calm, he's got great distribution from the back and he's got a good record at Roma," Kirkland told Sky Sports News. "He was very reliable [at Roma] which you need in this Premier League but it is going to be tough for him. There will be big pressure on him when he comes to Liverpool but there is one thing for sure the fans will give him all the support he needs.
"We'll see [if he proves to be one of the signings of the summer]. I've been a Liverpool fan all my life since I was eight years old, so hopefully he will be the last piece of the jigsaw."
19:57

BEST SIGNINGS SO FAR?

https://twitter.com/SkySportsPL/status/1020024250021838848
19:54

TRANSFER HEADLINES

19:47

NEW SIGNINGS ON FOR LIVERPOOL...

Staying with Liverpool, new signings Fabinho and Naby Keita are coming on for the second-half of their pre-season friendly against Blackburn at Ewood Park.
It's currently 0-0 and you can follow the second-half action HERE!
19:37

WATCH: ALISSON FLIES BACK TO ROME

Exclusive pictures of soon to be Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson leaving John Lennon Airport after having his medical...
19:35

KIRKLAND: PRESSURE ON ALISSON

Former Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland insists it will be all eyes on Alisson if he completes a move from Roma to Liverpool.
19:24

ALISSON SPOTTED

https://twitter.com/SkySportsNews/status/1020026072283385862
19:23

ALISSON LATEST...

Liverpool target Allison has arrived at John Lennon Airport after spending 24 hours on Merseyside to finalise his £67m move from Roma.
Some early reports suggest that he has completed his medical but that is yet to be confirmed.
19:17

WOLVES SIGN PAULO ALVES

Wolves have completed the signing of Paulo Alves on a two-year deal, after his contract at Liverpool came to an end.
https://twitter.com/Wolves/status/1020023771409809408
19:16

WATCH: 'ROONEY LEAVING DISAPPOINTING'

Derek McInnes says Aberdeen have to deal with Adam Rooney leaving for Salford and focus on bringing new players in.
19:05

'MALCOM WANTS ITALY MOVE, ROMA KEEN'

The agent of Bordeaux winger Malcom says his client wants to move to Italy, and that Roma are "very interested".
The 21-year-old has attracted the interest of a number of clubs in the Premier League in recent months.
But his agent Fernando Garcia told Italian radio station Tele Radio Stereo: "The player would like to come to Italy and Roma are very interested. In the next few hours, I will have a word with Monchi (Roma's director of football)."
As well as Roma, Inter Milan are also keen on signing Malcom, according to Sky in Italy.
18:34

TOON INTERESTED IN REYES

https://twitter.com/SkySports_Keith/status/1020012206145130496
18:26

MCINNES LEFT TO RUE ROONEY DEPARTURE

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes has been left to rue the departure of Adam Rooney to English non-league side Salford.
The striker made the surprise move to the fifth tier of English football after signing a three-year deal to end a successful spell in Scotland and the deal has been a tough one to swallow for Dons boss McInnes.
"I think there will be a surprise maybe about where he's ended up," he admitted. "It's clear that Salford are a very ambitious club and they're in a hurry to get through the leagues. The first conversation I had with them about Adam was on the first day of pre-season. They were given no encouragement but they have certainly showed an ambition to get Adam, and it is a challenge for us to retain our players a lot of the time.
"We have lost players to League One, which I think a club like Aberdeen shouldn't do. I see the levels, and I understand the Championship and Premier League in England and what other teams can provide, but there is no criticism."
18:02

BREAKING NEWS

Sky sources understand West Ham and Newcastle are interested in Mexico international Diego Reyes.
We understand Fenerbahce have made an offer for the player.
Reyes is a free agent after his contract at Porto expired in the summer.
17:41

ALISSON TO LIVERPOOL...

https://twitter.com/SkySportsPL/status/1019991272344424448
17:18

WATCH: TRANSFER CENTRE

The Transfer Centre rounds up of all the latest summer transfer stories from Sky Sports News.
17:05

EGAN DELIGHTED

https://twitter.com/JohnEgan92/status/1019990766171709440
16:58

WATCH: GOLOVIN STATS 2017/18

Take a look at Chelsea target Aleksandr Golovin's key statistics from the midfielder's 2017/18 season with CSKA Moscow.
16:48

BREAKING NEWS

Sheffield United have completed the club record signing of Brentford defender John Egan for an undisclosed fee.
The 25-year-old has signed a four-year deal at Bramall Lane.
16:40

JOZEFZOON TO JOIN DERBY

Florian Jozefzoon has decided to join Derby County and reject a move to Leeds United, according to Sky sources.
The winger has already completed a medical with the Derbyshire club ahead of joining on a four-year deal.
Sky Sports News reported earlier on Thursday that Leeds had matched the Rams’ £2.75m bid – both of which were accepted by Brentford.
Derby had an initial £1.5m bid knocked back by the Bees earlier in the window.
16:29

REGIONAL PAPER TALK

https://twitter.com/SkySportsPL/status/1019949643659137024
16:10

WATCH: BEST SIGNINGS SO FAR

Sky Sports Fantasy Football rank the Premier League’s best summer additions.
16:03

REID JOINS STEVENAGE

Striker Alex Reid has left Fleetwood to join League Two side Stevenage.
15:50

JONES TO ROTHERHAM?

Sky sources understand Rotherham are in talks to sign defender Billy Jones.
Jones is a free agent after leaving Sunderland earlier this summer.
15:49

LOAN DEAL

https://twitter.com/OfficialBWFC/status/1019968539766263809
15:25

FORRESTER JOINS TRACTOR SAZI

Harry Forrester has signed a two-year deal with Iranian side Tractor Sazi, who are managed by John Toshack.
Forrester left Rangers by mutual consent yesterday after two-and-a-half seasons with the Scottish Premiership club.
15:15

DONE DEAL

https://twitter.com/shrewsweb/status/1019952541394665472
15:13

DONE DEAL

Bradford City midfielder Romain Vincelot has joined Crawley Town on a two-year deal.
https://twitter.com/officialbantams/status/1019956208478932992
15:09

TWO DEADLINE DAYS IN AUGUST?

The summer transfer window is well underway but when does it close? With Premier League and EFL clubs agreeing to move Deadline Day forward, here's all you need to know...
In a move designed to end disruption and allow clubs to focus on their football, Premier League clubs agreed to close the summer transfer window before the start of the 2018-19 season.
EFL clubs followed the Premier League's example by bringing their transfer deadline forward but with foreign leagues' deadlines expected to be on August 31, we are in line for two transfer deadlines this summer.
So what does this all mean? Here's all you need to know…
14:58

ALISSON LATEST…

Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson is in Liverpool to complete a medical ahead of his £67m move from Roma.
It is the final hurdle in the transfer, according to Sky in Italy, with Alisson having travelled to England on a private jet on Wednesday evening after already agreeing a five-year deal.
He will become the world's most expensive goalkeeper after Liverpool's offer surpassed the £34.7m Manchester City paid for Ederson in 2017.
FULL STORY
14:45

ADAM HITS OUT AT 'BIG PLAYER' SHAQIRI

New Liverpool signing Xherdan Shaqiri "never turned up" for Stoke in important moments, according to former team-mate Charlie Adam.
Shaqiri, currently on holiday after representing Switzerland at the World Cup in Russia, declared his ambition to win titles after joining Liverpool earlier this month for £13.5m, saying he wanted to play on "the biggest stage in football".
The 27-year-old was part of the Stoke squad which Adam said had been "getting away with murder" before their relegation to the Sky Bet Championship in May. Shaqiri announced his desire to leave Stoke shortly after their Premier League exit was confirmed, but Adam identified the Swiss midfielder as one of the 'so-called big players' his criticism had been aimed at.
"Was he one of them? Oh, definitely," Adam, who played for Liverpool between 2011 and 2012, told TalkSPORT. "When the chips are down you look at your big players, you want your big players to bring magic in one moment in the season, and at times we felt like the so-called big players in the squad never turned up for us and never performed. Yeah, everybody else could help, but for all the plaudits to so-called bigger players we getting from certain members of the management staff last season - they weren't producing."
14:36

SANCHEZ ISSUE RESOLVED

Manchester United have confirmed Alexis Sanchez’s personal administrative issue, understood to be related to obtaining a visa, has been resolved.
He will now travel to the United States and could feature for United against San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday.
14:30

PEROTTI: ALISSON IS A ‘BIG LOSS’

Roma winger Diego Perotti says the departure of Liverpool-bound goalkeeper Alisson will be a "big loss".
Alisson is set to undergo a medical with Liverpool ahead of a £67m deal that will make him the most expensive goalkeeper in the world.
The Brazilian conceded 28 goals in 37 Serie A appearances last season and was a key figure as Roma reached the Champions League semi-finals, where they lost to Liverpool.
"He was a really important goalkeeper for us and his saves rescued a lot of points and games last season, but that is football," Perotti told Sky in Italy. "Admittedly, Alisson is a big loss for us, because he's a great guy, was a strong part of the locker room dynamic and we're sorry to see him go, but life is like that."
14:15

SIGNINGS OF THE SUMMER

With the new Premier League season almost upon us, we pick out the best signings of the summer so far...
READ HERE
14:02

TAU SET FOR BRIGHTON

Brighton are closing in on the signing of Percy Tau with the Mamelodi Sundowns winger expected in the UK to discuss personal terms and undergo a medical in the coming days.
Should the deal go through it’s understood the South African international will be loaned to a European side to help with the work permit application.
We understand Brighton also remain in the market for a centre-back and retain an interest in Reading’s Liam Moore.
The Seagulls have seen previous bids rejected by the Championship club.
13:47

DOYLE JOINS HEARTS

Goalkeeper Colin Doyle has signed a two-year deal with Hearts.
The 33-year-old joins as a free agent following the expiration of his contract with Bradford and is Hearts' 13th summer signing.
13:39

TAYLOR GETS DEAL

Oldham Athletic have signed defender Andy Taylor on a one-year deal.
The 32-year-old has featured as a trialist in pre-season for the League Two club.
13:16

WATCH: TRANSFER CENTRE

Want to get up to speed with everything that's going on today?
Hit play for all the latest updates from the Transfer Centre on Sky Sports News...
13:00

NO FUTURE FOR BOUFAL?

Sofiane Boufal is reportedly searching for a move away from Southampton to find regular football next season.
The Daily Echo say the 24-year-old is not wanted by Saints manager Mark Hughes after an alleged bust-up.
Apparently a loan spell might be more likely unless Saints can recoup the £16m they paid for him in 2016.
12:28

MONCHI: ALISSON DONE SOON

Roma sporting director Monchi has been talking about Alisson's impending move to Liverpool...
"We haven’t closed anything, the deal will be closed when everything is ready,” he said.
"The lad is in Liverpool, it’s true, and it’s true that we’re in very advanced negotiations, but it’s not done. If everything goes normally it will be closed soon.
"I’ve explained it many times, the work of a sporting director isn’t just buying players, to plan, but also to understand what’s best for the club. The financial side also has to be considered.
"A very big, out of the market offer arrived. We evaluated the pros and cons and made the choice to speak to Liverpool."
12:04

WATCH: BEST SIGNINGS SO FAR?

Sky Sports Fantasy Football rank the Premier League’s best summer additions so far...
11:32

'THIAGO WANTS BARCA RETURN'

Thiago Alcantara wants to return to Barcelona, according to AS.
The reported Manchester United transfer target has spent five trophy-laden years with Bayern Munich, but the 27-year-old has reportedly asked the Bundesliga club to grant his wish of returning to Barca.
Bayern are thought to be open to selling the Spain international.
11:18

BREAKING NEWS

Leicester have agreed a £10m fee with Liverpool for goalkeeper Danny Ward.
We understand Ward is being brought in to provide competition for Kasper Schmeichel, not to replace him.
Ward is expected to take a medical and discuss personal terms in the coming days.
11:12

NWAKALI OFF TO PORTO

Porto confirmed it last night and now Arsenal have announced that Kelechi Nwakali will spend next season on loan with the Portuguese side.
The 20-year-old joined the Gunners in 2016 but has been sent out on several loan spells.
11:01

'I ENJOY IT TOO MUCH'

Defender Mark Hughes has signed a new improved one-year deal with Accrington Stanley.
"I had a couple of enquiries over the summer but I wasn’t interested, I can’t envisage being anywhere else other than Accrington for the rest of my career, I enjoy it too much," the 31-year-old told the club website.
10:51

WATCH: TRANSFER CENTRE

There's plenty going on today, so here's a wrap with all the latest from the Transfer Centre on Sky Sports News, including updates on Alisson, Golovin and Mawson...
10:35

LUNCHTIME WHISPERS

Here are latest rumours from our friends at Football Whispers...
https://storify.com/services/proxy/2/WCGit6ZEBCSaTj8Dn3DzzA/https/d2kmm3vx031a1h.cloudfront.net/HNiUw2gFRNKzXCpLWD0R_2018-07-19-11-13-07-sky-top-10-graphic.png
10:14

SAINTS SIGN UP TRIO

Sean Brennan, Enzo Robise and Kameron Ledwidge have all signed their first professional contracts at Southampton.
The trio, all 17, have put pen to paper on three-year deals.
10:01

BRADFORD SIGN SCANNELL

Huddersfield winger Sean Scannell has joined Bradford for an undisclosed fee.
Scannell has spent the past six seasons with the Terriers and has penned a two-year deal.
https://twitter.com/officialbantams/status/1019887069571768327
09:56

ROONEY JOINS SALFORD

Aberdeen striker Adam Rooney has joined Salford City on a three-year contract.
Rooney had been with the Dons since January 2014 and scored 88 goals in all competitions.
09:31

CLARETS GO COLD ON CLUCAS

More Burnley as news as we understand their attempts to sign Sam Clucas from Swansea look to have come to an end.
Sources say the Clarets won’t be signing the midfielder “at the current stage”.
Sean Dyche is a long-term admirer of the player, having tried to sign him last year.
09:18

BURNLEY TARGET MAWSON

Burnley are interested in Swansea defender Alfie Mawson.
Talks continue between the clubs but they are apart in their valuation.
West Ham have been in discussions with Swansea too.
09:10

JOZEFZOON DECISION TIME

Leeds have matched Derby’s bid for Brentford winger Florian Jozefzoon, Sky Sports News understands.
The fee is £2.75m plus add-ons.
Jozefzoon will now decide who he prefers to join, with one source suggesting he would rather join Leeds.
Brentford have already signed a replacement in Said Benrahma from Nice.
08:58

THIRD TIME LUCKY?

Newcastle have reportedly made two contract offers to manager Rafa Benitez this summer, but neither has been accepted.
The Newcastle Chronicle say Benitez has turned down a five-year deal and a one-year extension.
He apparently wants "solid pledges on recruitment and wants to make changes to the Academy and Under-23 set-up".
It is also reported that Benitez has told the club he can see himself staying for 10 years if the conditions are right, but "an acceptable blueprint is yet to come his way".
08:36

BLADES CLOSE ON EGAN

We understand Brentford have accepted a £4m offer from Sheffield United for centre-back John Egan.
08:11

LOAN FOR TARASHAJ

Everton's Shani Tarashaj has joined Grasshoppers on a season-long loan.
The 23-year-old joined Everton from the Swiss club in January 2016.
He missed the majority of last season after undergoing knee surgery and is yet to make a first-team appearance for the Blues.
07:58

PAPER TALK

Plenty of transfer stories in the national papers today...
https://twitter.com/SkySportsPL/status/1019840760965935104
07:34

UNITED TO RAID BAYERN?

Manchester United are reportedly considering moves for Bayern Munich duo Robert Lewandowski and Thiago Alcantara.
The Independent say Bayern are open to selling the pair and United have the money to pull off the deals.
However, Thiago is said to be waiting for a potential return to Barca while there's interest from Chelsea and Real Madrid in Lewandowski.
Also, where would Lewandowski fit at United?
07:17

ALISSON LATEST

Following on from the post below, where would Alisson rank on the best signings of the summer?
The Roma goalkeeper is set to join Liverpool in a £67m deal after travelling to England on a private jet last night.
He will undergo a medical with the Reds in the next few days and will reportedly sign a five-year deal as he become the most expensive goalkeeper in history.
We will keep you updated on this transfer as and when we get more news.
06:56

SIGNING OF THE SUMMER?

Keita, Torreira and Mahrez all make the cut so far...
https://twitter.com/SkySportsPL/status/1019830186051821568
06:35

NO CONCERNS FOR KLOPP

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp insists his players will welcome the help from new signings rather than fear competition for places.
Midfield trio Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri have arrived during the transfer window and the Reds are set to sign Roma goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
"Maybe it is the first year we don't sell a key player. There was always a lot of change, but in both directions," said Klopp.
"Now it is more in one direction. Big teams, successful teams, if you don't buy it, you have to build it. That means stay together, bring additions in and make the next step.
"They know we need the quality and they know that if we win something here then we will win it with 25 players."
06:14

SHAW: IT'S TIME

Luke Shaw is determined to prove his worth to Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho this season.
The 23-year-old, who has made just 22 Premier League appearances over the past two seasons, has one year left on his contract and appears to be down the pecking order at United.
But speaking on United's pre-season tour of the USA, he said: "There are opportunities for all the players, not just me. I look at it like that. The next five games are about fitness.
"I want to prove to the manager that I can be in his team. When everyone comes back, I still want to be the first name on the team-sheet. It's time for me to show him I can be in the team."
06:01

GOOD MORNING

Hello again. Time for transfers...
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