Southampton FC

Southampton’s famed academy plans to help USA

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BALTIMORE – It wasn’t long ago that Southampton FC was playing in the third division of English football, still recovering from financial issues that saw the club enter administration.

Five years later and Saints were in Baltimore promoting a long-term partnership with Under Armour as the club looks ahead to another campaign in the Premier League, while also spreading their message of excellence in youth development overseas.

[ MORE: Saints’ kit launch at UA’s HQ ]

In each of the least seven seasons Southampton has finished in a higher league position than the previous year. Last season they recorded their highest-ever finish in the PL (sixth) and the remarkable growth continues with their first-ever appearance in the Europa League group stage assured for the upcoming season.

Mo Gimpel has seen the growth of the club first hand, starting his career as a physio for Saints’ youth teams nearly 20 years ago.

Now Southampton’s Director of Sports Medicine & Science Performance, Gimpel is working with a first-team that is preparing to play European football at St. Mary’s Stadium.

[ MORE: Southampton’s plan to grow in USA ]

Throughout the ups and downs, one thing has remained constant at Southampton: the commitment to their academy.

The Saints Academy has grown to be one of the best in the world, producing the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Bale and fellow academy graduate Adam Lallana embrace after a Champions League clash.

While in Baltimore, ProSoccerTalk spoke with Gimpel to see what makes Saints Academy so successful, and how the club’s growth into a global brand is helping their youth program grow as well.

When asked about the academy, the first thing Gimpel mentioned was their educational program. When competing to sign youth players with other clubs in the area, Gimpel believes Southampton’s commitment to education makes them a more attractive draw.

“If you’re failing in your education, and you’re not putting in your weight in education, and we’ve been promising your mom and dad, saying ‘Give us your boy and we’ll give him a good education and there’s a possibility he’ll become a professional footballer,’ if he’s not pulling his weight in education then he doesn’t train. It’s education first because we recognize that you need good people to then put in good work.”

“Even if you don’t make it as a football player, you’ll have a better education than you would get at home. We create gentlemen, not just football players.”

Players start coming into the academy as young as seven-years-old, with some players moving away from home at the age of 12.

As soon as those kids come to Southampton’s Staplewood Training Ground, they undergo an advanced series of benchmark testing to give the coaches an outlook on their potential.

“When any player comes in, from Under-9’s to the first-team, they get benchmarked. They do psychometric tests, they do physical tests. We do growth and maturation so we know this Under-14: how tall is he going to be? What’s his physiology? Is he a better midfield player or is he a better right back?

For a goalkeeper, how tall is he ultimately going to be? If he’s going to be shorter than 6-foot-3-inches, he’s probably not going to be a Premier League keeper. It throws up a moral dilemma, do we keep him or don’t we keep him? But maybe at 12-years-old, he can be a really good outfield player. So we do a whole range of benchmarks, the same with the first team.”

All of this information is filtered through a high-tech software Gimpel called “The Black Box.”

The Black Box is vital to Southampton’s success, collecting data from players at all levels for coaches to analyze.

“We have a program in the schools that every boy in our local region, in the Hampshire area, we know him. Pretty much every boy in England who plays at a fair level, we know. The Black Box pulls in information about everyone. With that knowledge, we have coaches out in the community feeding that into the Black Box system, and then we have a development program that pulls in all the best players to bring them into the club and join the academy.”

“We can compare if our Under-13 left-back is showing the same playing style as our first-team left-back. So it’s now taking talent ID to another level where it’s looking at the technical side as well.”

“We can look at a potential target and see how they play the game compared to how we want them to play the game. If we play a style of football where the left-back is bombing on, there’s no point in buying a left-back who doesn’t do that.”

Other top football clubs such as Juventus and Ajax have come to Staplewood to learn about the Black Box system, with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs and MLB’s Kansas City Royals also working with Southampton to use the technology in American sports as well.

Arsenal v Newcastle United - Premier League

With such great success, Gimpel credits the Black Box with potentially saving the careers of two “late bloomers,” Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale and Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

“At 15 or 16-years-old, the other guys were physically just knocking Gareth Bale all over the place. Technically he was a good player, that was never in doubt, but the question was, ‘Was he going to be tall enough and strong enough?’ So with our screening process, we said he’s probably going to be around 6-foot-1. There was a vote: do we sign him don’t we sign him? We’re going on this crazy equation, and we signed him, thankfully. 

“Gareth was a late developer, so understanding growth of kids is absolutely fundamental. I would throw it out there that we are definitely leading the Premier League, I would suggest we are probably some of the world leaders, in the growth and maturation of young athletes.”

“At 16-years-old, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was playing a year down because he couldn’t cope with the 16’s, but we knew he was a late developer. We knew just give him time, let him grow, and he will fly. He hit his growth phase at 17, and in six months he went from being on the bench for the 17’s to playing in the first-team, and Arsenal snatched him up for 12-million pounds.” 

“So what we are doing now, we are going around the country and looking for all the late developing players who are cut from Premier League teams. And we say, ‘Listen, come join us.’ They are the gold dust.”

All of the preliminary testing and Black Box data collected for youth players is also used the first-team, part of an approach that Gimpel helped create at the Academy through his time with the club. Despite the high turnover between players and managers in the Premier League, Saints do not alter their academy’s structure, keeping a consistent approach throughout the program.

“The biggest thing I’ve done is a bottom-up approach. All the great processes in the academy you put into the first-team, and when a new manger comes in, he does not change that process. A lot of clubs the new manager comes in, he changes so much, and then he’s gone in a years time. There’s no continuity.”

Every six weeks, each Southampton player comes in for a meeting with coaches to review their progress and set goals for improvement. These meetings are held for every player in Saints’ system, from a local 13-year-old to club captain Jose Fonte.

By handling the youth players similar to Premier League professionals, Saints hope to produce a first-team made up of 50-percent of academy graduates with the duo pictured below — James Ward-Prowse, left, and Matt Targett — the latest to come off the conveyor-belt.

Southampton v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League

Southampton led the Premier League last season in minutes played by academy products, a testament to the success of the program.

Now a top-level side competing for a spot in the Champions League, Saints are hoping to spread their academy’s values and principals outside of England.

“Our goal internationally is to be the preferred choice, the number-one brand for coaching education and player development. And to that end, we are teaming up with Under Armour looking to go into clubs in the U.S. and say ‘We will help your club develop coaches and develop your processes to make your players better,’ and the U.S. federation is very pleased about these things.”

“The biggest U.S. problem is that parents and kids want to win every Saturday, and if they’re not winning, they just move to another club. That does not breed development. Kids have to learn how to lose, they have to learn about dealing with tough times. It’s not always about winning, it’s about development.” 

Aston Villa – Sheffield United: How to watch, start time, prediction, odds

Aston Villa - Sheffield United
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Aston Villa – Sheffield United: Dean Smith’s new-look Aston Villa begins its Premier League campaign at home to Sheffield United at Villa Park on Monday (Watch live at 1 pm ET, online via Peacock).

Villa has added Bertrand Traore, Emiliano Martinez, Matty Cash, and Ollie Watkins this summer and have been linked to more talent. Of course, it’s just as critical that the club signed Jack Grealish to a new contract.


Blades lost to Wolves to start the Premier League season before falling to Burnley in penalties at midweek in League Cup action.

Getting points against Villa and Leeds the next two fixtures would be a boon to a club that then sees Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, and Chelsea in four of five league outings.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Aston Villa – Sheffield United this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.

Team news: Aston Villa – Sheffield United (INJURY REPORT)

Tom Heaton, Wesley, and Bjorn Engels remain out for Villa, while Blades are going to be without Lys Mousset for some time following a foot operation.

What they’re saying

Bertrand Traore on returning to the Premier League with Villa: “I’m very happy to join Aston Villa. I’m happy to be here. I played with JT at Chelsea, I spoke to him. I spoke to the manager, spoke with the sporting director as well and some players I used to play with. I spoke to Nakamba, I talked to him a little bit about the club. Many things made me take the decision to come here. I’m happy.”

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder on competition for places: “You’ve already seen a step up in training and instruction. You have to keep raising the bar and quality of your group. I think there are any shoo-ins to our team. Everybody’s got an opportunity and we talked about that the other night against Burnley. Take the opportunity and don’t waste it. I believe they didn’t.”

Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

This one’s as close as it gets, as hosts Villa are +165 to win and the visiting Blades are barely off that at +175. Even a draw nets +220. Anything could happen.

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

Aston Villa – Sheffield United prediction

There are a lot of new pieces with big expectations for Villa, who overcame a slow start to beat Burton Albion well in the League Cup at midweek. Blades haven’t looked right for a few matches now stretching into preseason. It’s tempting to call this one for Villa, 1-0, but 0-0 or 1-1 shouldn’t surprise anyone.

How to watch Aston Villa – Sheffield United stream and start time

Kickoff: 1 pm ET Monday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Wolves – Man City: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

Wolves - Man City
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Wolves – Man City: Pep Guardiola and Manchester City hope to find their feet quickly as they kickstart their Premier League campaign with a visit to Wolves at the Molineux Stadium (Watch live at 3:15 pm ET Monday, online via Peacock).

Wolves are coming for a third-straight win in all competitions after beating Sheffield United last weekend in their Premier League opener before beating Stoke City at midweek in the League Cup.


City is ready for its first competitive match since losing 3-1 to Lyon in the UCL quarterfinal.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Wolves – Man City this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.

Team news: Wolves – Man City (INJURY REPORT)

Sergio Aguero is out for a while still, as Guardiola revealed that the Argentine is not back training yet after a summer knee injury cost him the final stage of the Champions League. Aymeric Laporte is not yet ready after a positive COVID-19 test, but Riyad Mahrez is back and ready to play. Bernardo Silva has not been seen at training after being injured on Portugal duty.

For Wolves, Jonny Otto remains out with a knee injury. The club signed Ki-Jana Hoever from Liverpool after selling Diogo Jota to the Anfield set this week.

What they’re saying

Nuno Espirito Santo on Diogo Jota being sold to Liverpool: “Jota is a player who has been with us for three seasons with such high performances.We’re not a stepping stone. Players that join us really want to play and progress with us, not looking for the next move. That is definitely not our idea, definitely not.”

Guardiola is ready for the new season: “The feeling is good as always. I see the team as always in an incredible mood. It’s a joy to work with them. We have good expectations to play good football and get the results this club deserves.”

Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Even playing a first competitive match in ages against a Wolves team which has played twice in the last week, Man City pulls -200 odds to win. Wolves are +525 to win and +340 to draw.

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

Wolves – Man City prediction

This should be a treat but perhaps absence is making us see more cracks in City’s foundation than exist in reality. City won its last five PL matches of last season by a combined 21-1 score line. Wolves are very good and have done well versus City but we’ll project 2-1 for the visitors.

How to watch Wolves – Man City stream and start time

Kickoff: 3:15 pm ET Monday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund, Hertha, Hoffenheim win

Bundesliga results
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Day two of the Bundesliga season saw very little drop-off from Friday’s opening day, when champions Bayern Munich hung eight goals on Schalke.

Five of six games saw a winner score three or more goals on Saturday, with a 1-1 draw the lone “low-scoring” affair in Germany.

[ MORE: Bundesliga season preview ]

The day was headlined by two impressive and dominant showings, one headlined by a 17-year-old American.

Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

The season’s first match-up of top-four contenders saw USMNT teenager Giovanni Reyna score the game’s first goal and draw the penalty that Erling Haaland converted to give BVB breathing room at home.

Reyna’s goal was assisted by English teen Jude Bellingham, and fellow UK export Jado Sancho set up Haaland’s second of the day in the 77th minute as Dortmund took advantage of their chances on a day Gladbach started with Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea on the bench.

Reyna started at attacking midfield underneath Haaland and Sancho. He finished with 100 percent passing over 78 minutes, drawing three fouls, registering a key pass, and winning an atypical 3-of-9 duels.

Here’s Reyna, from

“It was a very good start to the season,” Reyna said. “We have a lot of young players, it’s really enjoyable. We all have so much energy, but we need to keep working, we need to improve even more. We were so happy to see that some of our fans could be there again. That’s very important for us as players.”

Here’s the one goal that didn’t feature Reyna.

Werder Bremen 1-4 Hertha Berlin

Those of us who went out on a limb and said Hertha Berlin could be a surprise team in 2020-21 were validated for a day by the visitors to the Weserstadion.

Dodi Lukebakio and Matheus Cunha both scored, Vladimir Darida had two assists, and Peter Pekarik joined Jhon Cordoba on the score sheet for the away side.

Hertha produced five big chances and conceded little to Bremen, who scored via Davie Selke in the 69th minute.

USMNT forward Josh Sargent played further back from the front line in an advanced midfield or wing role. He had a key pass, two tackles, an interception, and a clearance. He won only four of 10 duels and completed half of his passes on a 33-touch day.

Koln 2-3 Hoffeheim

Leicester City knew what it was doing when it signed Andrej Kramaric in 2015, but the spoils have all been seen in the Bundesliga.

Kramaric gave Hoffenheim 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 leads on Saturday in Cologne, overcoming home equalizers from Sebastian Andersson and Dominic Drexler.

The 29-year-old Kramaric now has five goals in two outings this season to give him 75 goals and 30 assists in 152 appearances for Hoffenheim.

He’s good.


Bayern Munich 8-0 Schalke — Friday
Union Berlin 1-3 Augsburg
Stuttgart 2-3 Freiburg
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Arminia Bielefeld
RB Leipzig v. Mainz — 9:30 am ET Sunday
Wolfsburg v Bayer Leverkusen — Noon ET Sunday


Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 1 1 0 0 8 0 8 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Hertha BSC 1 1 0 0 4 1 3 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Borussia Dortmund 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Augsburg 1 1 0 0 3 1 2 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Freiburg 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Hoffenheim 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Arminia Bielefeld 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
 Eintracht Frankfurt 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
 Bayer Leverkusen 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 Mainz 05 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 RB Leipzig 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 Wolfsburg 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 1. FC Köln 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 Stuttgart 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 Union Berlin 1 0 0 1 1 3 -2 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 Werder Bremen 1 0 0 1 1 4 -3 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 Mönchengladbach 1 0 0 1 0 3 -3 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 Schalke 04 1 0 0 1 0 8 -8 0-0-0 0-0-1 0

Special Ceballos keys Arsenal win over West Ham

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Arsenal – West Ham: It takes special moments to beat dedicated, packed-in back lines, and Arsenal found a pair in a 2-1 win over improved West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette scored goals off classy team goals, as Dani Ceballos drove the Gunners to a 2-0 start and sent West Ham to 0-2.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA

Up next for the Gunners: a trip to Liverpool.

West Ham will host Wolves next, buoyed perhaps by the improvement shown from a Week 1 loss to Newcastle.

3 things we learned from Arsenal – West Ham

1. Arteta’s magic touch springs winner: Lacazette got the start and scored but Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was not afraid to take off the goal scorer and replace him with… a goal scorer. Nketiah ran into the heart of the box to be available for Dani Ceballos’ cutback of Bukayo Saka’s through ball and the Gunners fought through the congested 5-4-1 for a 2-1 win.

2. Steely lineup (kinda) works for Moyes: A week after leaving Sebastien Haller, Felipe Anderson, and Andriy Yarmolenko on the bench against Newcastle — and seeing Haller look strong in the League Cup — David Moyes again opted for a bit more steel and a lot more defending. Moyes’ men were set to counter in a 5-4-1 and they really limited Arsenal’s attack. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was kept from the danger areas apart from his assist, and it took a real touch of class in possession and movement for the Gunners to find their winner.

That said, Arsenal was a bit open at the back and was forced into playing Sead Kolasinac when Kieran Tierney pulled up with an injury before the game. Might Anderson and Yarmolenko have been able to produce a second goal?

Arsenal - West Ham
West Ham United’s Michail Antonio (right) and Arsenal’s Gabriel Magalhaes (Photo by Will Oliver/PA Images via Getty Images)

3. Super Ceballos: His assist came from a great run and the appropriate final ball to Nketiah, but the Real Madrid loanee was exactly what Arteta needed on a day the Gunners were treated much like Man City was when the manager helped Pep Guardiola and Co. find its way through a packed-in group of defenders.

For his stat line, see “Man of the Match” below.

Man of the Match

Ceballos had 119 touches and completed 90-of-98 passes. He won 8-of-12 duels and collected three tackles, three interceptions, three clearances, and two blocked shots. A complete performance.

Arsenal – West Ham recap

Angelo Ogbonna had the first chance of the game but Declan Rice’s headed flick didn’t have enough power for the defender to head past Bernd Leno.

The Gunners soon asserted themselves on the game and Aubameyang put it on a tee for Lacazetteto head home and provide a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute.

West Ham tied it when Antonio got in front of Rob Holding to tap Ryan Fredericks cross home after great work from Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Arthur Masuaku’s dangerous cross looked set to give West Ham a shock lead early in the second but Antonio couldn’t meet it cleanly and Leno cleaned up the mess.

Arsenal sprung a counter to earn a corner but a foul foiled the Gunners.

Willian was lively but was taken off in the 65th minute for Nicolas Pepe, a nice change for a manager to have in his locker.

Antonio popped a header off the bar in the 67th with West Ham in search of all three points.

Eddie Nketiah replaced Lacazette in the 77th.

The Irons were focused on stifling Arsenal and stayed well-drilled as the game reached its final 10 minutes.