Soccer’s new secret weapon for head-impact safety? The X2 Patch may be it


Just a piece of white tape placed discreetly behind the ear.

While there’s plenty of work still to be done, this inconspicuous new gadget has the chance to change the landscape of soccer safety as we know it.

The first hint the X2 patch would have an impact was when it was used on rugby players in England. Soccer would be smart to pay heed to the results.

The 2014 World Cup illustrated the serious problem currently facing the sport. Just ask Alvaro Pereira…well, don’t ask him, because he probably wouldn’t admit it. Pereira was rendered blatantly unconscious on the pitch in Brazil by Raheem Sterling’s knee, but managed to override the physio, allowing Pereira continue. The examples continued through the subsequent Premier League season, with Hugo Lloris and Romelu Lukaku making headlines following their inability to remember significant events after serious blows to the noggin.

But players have been getting rocked in the head as long as the game has been around. We see the worst blows on highlight recaps, but there are thousands of impacts nobody sees.

Only now are we beginning to understand just how impactful those headshots are to the future of players.

This brings us to Allianz Park in London, England. Jan. 3, 2015. What the heck is that white piece of tape behind the Saracens players’ ears?

“The crucial question is: ‘What are the medium to long-term effects of repeated concussion on a professional rugby player?’” That’s what Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths wants to know. “Blows to the head are sort of a reality of the game, but there’s too many questions and not enough answers. We have various protocols to determine when a player should leave the field after being struck on the head, and [to determine] when he’s fit to play again after being concussed. But we are not satisfied that any of those protocols are based on real medical evidence.”

source: Getty Images
Saracens player Richard Wigglesworth wearing the white X2 Patch behind his ear.

So he set off to find out on his own.

“We did a lot of research, this program has been eight months in research, and we came down to two companies, one in Australia and one in Seattle, X2 Biosystems.”

X2 Biosystems was founded in 2007, and is solely dedicated to developing products that are designed to solving the growing public concern for head injuries across all sports. This piece of white tape is their baby.

About the size of a silver dollar, the X2 Patch jams an assortment of bite-size technology such as a tiny gyroscope, accelerometers, and other miniaturized bits of equipment into a central hub, which stores or transmits the data to a nearby computer. The key component is a Microelectromechanical System, or a MEMS for short. They feature the same general parts that are essential to air bag deployment or car assembly line robots – the most important feature being the impact sensor.

This all began as sensors in football helmets and mouth guards. Anywhere someone could stick a sensor close to the skull, they did it. But while mouth guards were impossible to ensure constant, steady contact with the upper jaw and helmet sensors were placed in a unit meant to absorb impact, the readings were scattered and inaccurate. In came X2.

“Ideally, you’d peel back a piece of skin behind your ear and permanently mount our sensor on the bone and be done with it,” joked X2 CEO John Ralston. “But we’re kind of constrained to put it on the skin.”

Ralston also discussed challenges confronting a patch behind the ear, some of which is obvious. Skin movement can throw off readings. Sweat and high-speed movement can cause it to fall off. But according to Griffiths, that hasn’t been a significant problem. “Our players are very happy to wear the patches, and once they put them on they forget they’re there. We’ve already had players go straight into the showers with them still on because they forgot they were there.”

Taking it another step, what if a patch could give an instantaneous impact readout that could tell medical teams on the sidelines whether a player needed to come off? It would solve the problem of lengthy sideline diagnosis, and would relieve coaches faced with the dilemma of playing a man down or burning one of his substitutes

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Because of human variation, one player might be able to sustain a heavier blow without receiving a concussion, while another player might be more susceptible for a variety of reasons. Because of this, Ralston immediately shot down any possibility of the patch diagnosing a concussion, at least at this time.

“X2’s piece of the puzzle is simply providing tools to get more data about what happened,” Ralston said. “We still hand it over to the M.D.’s and the clinicians to make diagnosis, that’s not part of what we do today. It may be in the future, but [the patch] is still proving to be a phenomenally powerful tool for assessing head impact.”

The X2 Patch is visible behind the ears of Virginia Tech women’s soccer players in a game against Duke in September, 2014 (Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics,

He’s not the only one that says instant diagnosis is either far away or impossible. “You’re never going to get to the point where it’s an absolute diagnosis,“ said Dr. Stefan Duma, department head of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

“I could measure 80 G’s [of impact force] on one player who could have a concussion, and I could measure 120 G’s on another player who’s fine.” Dr. Duma is known for purchasing every significant piece of technology developed in athletic head impact sensing and testing it on his own, as a third party. He has done extensive testing with the X2 patch.

“All [the X2 patch] does is give the physician a little more information. There’s so much variability, all it does is serve as an extra piece of information. Because we’re all different, it will never be an absolute diagnosis tool. It’s not like a biomarker.”

As part of his research Dr. Duma has applied the X2 Patch across every in the Virginia Tech athletic program, most extensively on the women’s soccer team this past fall season, alongside extensive video recordings to pair the digital readouts with what actually happened on the field. His findings for the current product are somewhat disappointing. While the complete conclusions on the X2 Patch won’t be published for a few more months, he was able to give a synopsis of what he found. As exciting as the prospect of the technology is, it’s clearly not yet suitable for full consumption just yet.

“I’m not discrediting it because they’re trying to solve a difficult problem, but it’s not ready,” said Dr. Cantu. “We were initially extremely excited about [the patch]. The problem here is there’s not a single peer review journal paper that shows the validation data. Our paper will be the first, and it will not be positive, so we will likely not be using the X2 Patch anymore.”

According to Dr. Cantu, the patch, in its current state, is wildly over-recording the number of impacts, almost to a 10-to-1 scale. “There’s two levels of accuracy. The first is does it accurately predict when a hit happened. These things are too light that their algorithm is not doing that correctly, it’s not telling you when the right hits happened, as much as one out of 10.”

“There’s not a solution for telling you how many hits actually happened that are real hits. So in a general sense, our girls when they practice or play a game, one practice or game will have about one head impact. But if you’re measuring 10 or 20 [in each] over the course of a season, it looks like the girls had a thousand head impacts.”

So obviously there’s much work to be done But according to Ralston, it’s not the obvious head impacts that are the only dangerous moments for athletes, it can be little motions that build up over time.

“One thing that four years of data has shown is it’s not just direct impacts to your head [that are dangerous],” says Ralston. “It’s any indirect impact that makes your head move suddenly. So heading a ball or simply taking a fall, or having someone bump into you shoulder-to-shoulder can set your head in motion, and at some point you stop moving but your brain continues to bounce around inside your skull.”

So while there seems to be some discrepancy on what should be measured and what shouldn’t, one thing is clear: with some refinement and upgrades, the X2 Patch could eventually be a revolutionary piece of technology that not only collects a heavy amount of data for further research into the dangers of head impacts in soccer, but also can potentially be a tool that aids on-field medical staffs to make quick diagnoses in a manner which impacts the sport itself less and therefore convinces managers and players to take the issue much more seriously than at the present time. And it’s just one part to the puzzle. Dr. Duma says he’s tested around 20 different products all designed to accomplish the same thing, and while none have stood out as quite ready, they all have positive outlooks.

X2 Biosystems has received plenty of play in American sports and around the world. Their logging software is being utilized by both the National Football League and Major League Soccer, with both leagues to provide every team with the software for next season. The software allows teams to make quicker on-field decisions as well as log problems for players for simple recall later, and allows medical staffs to create plans of recovery for anyone that has an issue.

X2 also had a mouth guard used in a wide-ranging study done by a New Zealand rugby league, and the findings were just published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine a few months ago.

X2 has begun testing on multiple products, including a headband and mouthguard plus the behind-the-ear patch, and they are using the technology to study the impact of heading a soccer ball on the brain. (Photo credit: X2 Biosystems)

But the patch is only beginning to see use on the market, and Saracens were willing to take the first step. That step is a massive one. Saracens is undertaking a huge research project – with no guarantee of any significant results – simply for the betterment of its players who ply their trade in the inherently dangerous environment of professional rugby.

“This data is just one area we’re looking at,” said Griffiths. “We’re also shortly going to start taking blood tests and looking at biomarkers, so there are several areas of the research of which the X2 Biosystems product is just one.”

“We hope to have some answers – or some preliminary answers – later in the summer, but we don’t know. There’s no guarantee, we’re setting off to find some answers, whether those be sooner or later, we simply don’t know.”

What exactly are the questions to which Saracens is searching so vehemently for the answers? That would require another full writeup altogether. But Griffiths was adamant that the end result is the important part, not the question itself.

“We don’t want to be visiting our players in 20- to 25-years’ time and find them suffering from some kind of neurological disease or from dementia and think back and say ‘well, back in 2015 we sort of thought something was going on, but we didn’t really know.’”

It’s time soccer teams began to care about the well-being of players as much as this rugby club. And while it’s not perfect, the X2 Patch isn’t just a cool gadget you look at, think “wow that’s cool” and move on with your life. It’s a potentially game-changing piece of technology that hopefully, with more time, effort, and development can provide players and coaches with a never-before-seen avenue to channel their in-game thought processes not just on winning a match, but staying safe in the process. That’s the real challenge.

Premier League transfer news live, today! Latest updates on the summer window


We are all set for a very summer transfer window, as the latest transfer news keeps flooding in and plenty of big names are expected to be on the move.

[ VIDEO: Premier League analysis ]

The 2023 summer transfer window opens on June 14, 2023 for Premier League clubs and it will close at 6pm ET on September 1, 2023.

From superstars like Declan Rice, Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham in-demand, to speculation around the future of Lionel Messi and plenty of money set to be spent by the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, this will be a fun summer.

[ TRANSFER NEWS: Arsenal | Liverpool | Chelsea | Tottenham | Man City | Man United

Below we roundup the latest transfer news, done deals, reports and rumors and give our analysis on what’s going on as Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Nicholas Mendola (NM) and Andy Edwards (AE) will guide you through a hectic last few weeks of the window.

Transfer news live today! Latest from the summer window, so far…

June 3 – In-demand $40M back name checks Liverpool

Wolfsburg defender Micky van de Ven has had a dream to play at Anfield since attending a game there as a youngster. An excellent ball progressor, Van de Ven is viewed as a $40 million target and reports have said Jurgen Klopp is an admirer. So it’s a mutual appreciation society.

“I once went to the Liverpool stadium with my dad,” he told AZ WAZ. “That was over Christmas on Boxing Day. Liverpool vs Arsenal. That was madness. Then when ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ comes [on] – that’s a goose bump moment, that was very cool. It’s a dream to play there.”

The 6-foot-4 Van de ven turned 22 in April and has served as the captain of the Dutch U-21 national team. He moved from Volendam to Wolfsburg in the summer of 2021 and became a full-time starter in his second season, occasionally swinging to left back. (NM)

June 2 – Man United in ‘detailed talks’ for young forwards

According to The Athletic, Manchester United have been in ‘detailed talks’ over the signing of Randal Kolo Muani and Rasmus Hojlund. The young forward duo are both being chased by the Red Devils as Erik ten Hag wants to add one of them and a more experienced striker. Per the report, John Murtaugh has spoken to both Eintracht Frankfurt and Atalanta multiple times about Kolo Muani and Hojlund respectively and United are hoping to move on with chasing summer targets despite uncertainty surrounding their ownership status as the Glazer Family continue to explore the option of a full or partial sale of the Premier League giants. Kolo Muani and Hojlund both fit the mould for the type of player Erik ten Hag wants and if United can land one of them and somehow pull off an unlikely move for Harry Kane (unlikely due to Daniel Levy’s unwillingness to do business) then it will be a heck of a summer for the Red Devils. (JPW)

June 2 – Gvardiol wanted by Manchester City

According to a report from The Times, Josko Gvardiol is at the top of Pep Guardiola’s wish-list this summer. The Croatian defender, 21, is thought to be valued at $108 million by RB Leipzig and although the German giants don’t want to sell, it is believed Gvardiol is keen on a move to City. The report says that City plan on moving on at least one of their center backs and all of John Stones, Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji and Nathan Ake seem certain to stay with Aymeric Laporte perhaps the most likely to move on. Gvardiol has long been linked with a Premier League move and his power in the air as well as his pace and ability on the ball is a perfect fit for the Premier League and City. Josko Gvardiol also got a good look at City this season as Leipzig were hammered by Erling Haaland and Co. in the UEFA Champions League. We’ve seen this season how Guardiola’s side dominated the final months of the season not only due to their incredible goalscoring exploits but largely thanks to a solid defensive unit. Having mobile center backs who can slot in at full back and step into midfield is key to the way they play. Gvardiol can do that. (JPW)

June 1 – Manchester United move to front of queue for Mason Mount

A report from ESPN says that Manchester United have moved to the front of the queue when it comes to signing Mason Mount this summer. Mount, 24, has just one year left on his contract at Chelsea and is expected to move on this summer. Mount has been linked with moves to United and Liverpool but the report says that Mount is keen on heading to United although the Red Devils have some reservations over the $75 million transfer fee Chelsea are asking for. Per the report, clubs are waiting for later in the summer to try and buy Mount as they known Chelsea will have to move players on due to the enormous squad Mauricio Pochettino has inherited and will have to trim. Does Mount to United make sense? It does. He can slot in anywhere in Erik ten Hag’s midfield and is the perfect kind of player to add depth to their squad and be a great 12th man or step in when key midfielders are injured or need a rest. His time at Chelsea is clearly coming to an end and even though Mount has struggled this season at Chelsea, his quality is proven in the Premier League in recent years and on the international stage with England. (JPW)

May 31 – Liverpool eye Bundesliga midfielder

Bild says that the Reds are turning to the Bundesliga to address their midfield. Jurgen Klopp will turn to Borussia Monchengladbach’s Kouadio “Manu” Kone this summer, as Liverpool has reportedly told the player that it will be approaching Gladbach. Kone, 22, has been linked with several big clubs including a late March report regarding Manchester United interest. A ball progressor who reads the game very well, Kone is said to carry a price tag of more than $40 million. (NM)

May 30 – Chelsea all-in on Ugarte

Chelsea are in talks to sign Manuel Ugarte, according to Fabrizio Romano. The Uruguayan and Sporting Lisbon holding midfielder is admired by new Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino. Romano says PSG are in the race for Ugarte too. Ugarte, 22, is exactly the kind of player Pochettino loves as he will dig in, win the ball and get it to others to create. Alongside Enzo Fernandez, Ugarte will add extra defensive stability to Chelsea’s midfield and improve the balance of their squad. Our partners in the UK at Sky Sports says that Ugarte has a $65 million release clause in his contract. (JPW)

May 30 – Declan Rice linked with Bayern Munich

Our partners at Sky Germany say that Bayern Munich are very interested in signing Declan Rice from West Ham. Bayern, who won their 11-straight Bundesliga title on the final day of the season, have made Rice, 24, their top target as Thomas Tuchel is a huge fan of the England international.

Here is more from Sky Germany reporter Uli Kohler: “Tuchel had a phone call with Rice. I don’t know what they were talking about – maybe money, maybe about what he can expect here [in Munich]. Bayern is keen on him. They need a strong defensive midfielder but everybody knows there are a lot of other clubs interested in him. Bayern could afford it. They would like to keep it below €100m [£86.4m]. They have to look at their accounts very closely but I think they can afford it.”

Rice has long been linked with a move to Arsenal or Manchester United but it is believed that West Ham’s asking price for their captain and central midfielder (who is out of contract next summer) is putting up Premier League clubs. Bayern appear to be ready to pay close to the $120 million West Ham want for Rice. Is he worth it? He is. There is perhaps no better two-way central midfielder under the age of 25 in Europe and Rice’s ceiling is extremely high. (JPW)

May 25 – Harry Kane, Declan Rice, Mason Mount are summer targets for Man United

A report from our partners in the UK at Sky Sports says that Manchester United are trying to sign a trio of England internationals: Harry Kane, Mason Mount and Declan Rice.

“Manchester United will try to sign Harry Kane, Declan Rice and Mason Mount this summer. Their No. 1 target is Kane. He is the player Erik ten Hag wants most. It is unlikely they will sign all three players and everything depends on what happens with the takeover. Kane, Rice and Mount are exactly the kind of characters Ten Hag wants in his dressing room.”

It is clear Kane will be the top target for United as Erik ten Hag has spoken about signing a new striker and that is their main transfer need. It is tough to see Tottenham selling Kane to a direct top four rival in Manchester United for anything less than $130 million, even with Kane’s contract winding down. That said, do you take that money this summer and use it to rebuild? Or let him go for free in the summer of 2024?

Next up, Declan Rice will surely be their next main target, as all three of these players have just one year left on their contract. Rice, 24, is just the type of player United need alongside Casemiro in central midfield and the England international has become one of the best two-way central midfielders in Europe under the age of 25. Rice’s close friend is Mason Mount and the latter clearly doesn’t want to sign a new contract at Chelsea, so he could be the cheaper option of the three. All of this hinges on Manchester United’s takeover but if, as expected, they qualify for the Champions League, then signing two of these three players would be a huge upgrade on their current options and gives them quality, depth and experience in midfield and attack. First choice would be Kane and Rice but Kane and Mount would still be pretty decent. (JPW)

Barcelona wins Women’s Champions League with stunning comeback

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Midfielder Patricia Guijarro ignited a stunning second-half comeback as Barcelona overturned a 2-0 deficit to beat Wolfsburg 3-2 and win its second Women’s Champions League title on Saturday.

“We didn’t make it easy for ourselves,” Barcelona and England defender Lucy Bronze said in a pitchside interview after securing her fourth Champions League crown. She won it three years in a row with Lyon.

[ MORE: Man City beats Manchester United in FA Cup Final ]

Fridolina Rolfö capped the fightback by calmly firing the winner into the far corner of the net after a mix-up in the Wolfsburg defense in the 70th minute.

Guijarro is one of 15 Spanish players, including Bonmati and four other Barcelona teammates, who renounced playing for Spain last year, citing differences with their coach. They have not played since and their participation in this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is in serious doubt.

Wolfsburg led 2-0 at the break thanks to goals from Ewa Pajor and Alexandra Popp.

But Barcelona kept believing it could win.

“We were never worried about scoring three goals,” Bronze added.

Barcelona earned its second league crown – the first was in 2021 – from its fourth final since 2019 in front of 33,147 fans at PSV Stadium, a record crowd for a women’s game in the Netherlands.

Guijarro’s double in the 48th and 50th minutes swiftly overturned a first half in which Wolfsburg’s pressing play and clinical counterattacking earned two goals.

First, the Barcelona midfielder slammed the ball into the roof of the net in the 48th. Aitana Bonmatí then made room for herself on the right before crossing for Guijarro to head past Merle Frohms for the equalizer. Guijarro was named player of the match.

It was a remarkable turnaround for coach Jonatan Giráldez’s Barcelona Wolfsburg took the lead inside three minutes when tournament top scorer Ewa Pajor robbed Bronze of the ball close to the Barcelona penalty area and fired a powerful shot that goalkeeper Sandra Paños touched but could not stop from flying in. The goal improved Pajor’s tally in the competition to nine.

It was a rocky start for Bronze, who returned to the Barcelona lineup for the first time since she was injured in the semifinal first leg against Chelsea and underwent knee surgery.

[ MORE: Pep Guardiola reaction – Okay to talk treble now ]

Irene Paredes clasped her hands to her face when she squandered a great chance to equalize 10 minutes later, heading wide at the far post a corner from the right by María Pilar León.

Wolfsburg doubled its lead when veteran forward Alexandra Popp ran into space between two defenders and headed a cross from the left by Pajor past Paños from close range in the 37th. Popp equaled Ada Hegerberg’s record of scoring in four finals.

Wolfsburg goalkeeper Merle Frohms made sure her team went into the break without conceding by racing off her line in stoppage time to smother an effort by Salma Paralluelo.

But she couldn’t stop Barcelona’s onslaught after the break.

With Barcelona leading and the minutes ticking down, Giráldez brought on two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who has recently recovered from an ACL injury. Barcelona’s vocal fans in Eindhoven roared as Putellas replaced Bonmatí.

It was Putellas who accepted the trophy from England coach Sarina Wiegman after Wolfsburg players formed a guard of honor for their opponents as they walked up to collect their medals.

Manchester City vs Inter Milan: How to watch Champions League Final, odds, predictions


Manchester City is on the chase for a historic treble and standing in the way is Inter Milan, one of Europe’s precious few clubs to claim such an honor.

[ LIVE: Manchester City vs Inter Milan ]

The Premier League winners three times running have an FA Cup under their belt after beating Manchester United on June 3 and the final jewel in their treble crown awaits with a win in Istanbul on June 10.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Pep Guardiola could lead a second club to a treble after he did it with Barcelona in 2008-09, and they would give heated rivals United domestic company on the treble stage right down the road.

Guardiola says it’s now okay to talk about the treble. We agree, and we’ve laid out why the achievement is so special after the jump.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Manchester City vs Inter Milan.

How to watch Manchester City vs Inter Milan live, stream link and start time

Dates: 3pm ET June 10, 2023
Online: Live updates via
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+

What Premier League clubs have won the treble?

Manchester United won the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League in 1998-99.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils are the lone Premier League club to win it.

That’s it. For now.

How many times has the treble been won?

Nine times in history has a team won its domestic league, top domestic cup, and the European Cup.

Bayern Munich and Barcelona have each done it twice, with Bayern doing it in 2012-13 and 2019-20 and Barca pulling it off in 2008-09 and 2014-15.

Celtic was the first to win a treble, doing it in 1966-67, while Ajax was the next in 1971-72.

PSV Eindhoven then won it in 1987-88 before Man United made it happen 11 years later. Inter Milan is the only Italian team to pull it off, winning in 2009-10.


Champions League Final odds (Betting odds provided by our partner, BetMGM )

BetMGM is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on BetMGM for the first time after clicking our links. 

Man City (-250) vs Inter Milan (+625) | Draw over 120 mins (+380)

Over 2.5 goals (-160). Under 2.5 goals (+110)

Champions League Final predictions

Joe Prince-Wright: Man City 2-1 Inter Milan
Andy Edwards: Man City 3-1 Inter Milan
Nick Mendola: Man City 2-0 Inter Milan

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options


Inter Milan team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Joaquin Correa. OUT: Dalbert.

Pep Guardiola after FA Cup win: Man City ‘can now talk about the treble’


Pep Guardiola is giving Manchester City’s players a couple of days to celebrate their FA Cup Final, but now they can admit there’s something even bigger than the Champions League final at play.

“We can now talk about the treble,” Guardiola acknowledged after Man City topped Manchester derby rivals Man United on Saturday at Wembley Stadium. “It is one game away.”

[ MORE: Man City vs Inter Milan preview ]

Nine times in history has a team won its domestic league, top domestic cup, and the European Cup, and only once has it happened for an English team: The 1998-99 Manchester United team.

“What a privilege we are one game away.  I said to the players you have to put the pressure on yourself to be recognized as something good you have to win Europe.”

Guardiola said Erik ten Hag’s set-up surprised City, as a narrow formation forced the Citizens to find different routes to goal.

And he was asked about his post-game tears of joy, spotting by cameras on the pitch.

“It was so important for us today,” Guardiola said. “The FA Cup is so nice. I’m a Barcelona fan but I will love this club for the rest of my life. I know today we gave our fans a good gift to enjoy against our neighbors.”