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MLS, European vet Warshaw’s memoir is an exposed nerve

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It’s a well-worn literary cliche to praise a book for taking the reader “behind the scenes” of something normally cloaked in secrecy or treated like an exclusive club.

Yet what former professional soccer player Bobby Warshaw does in “When The Dream Became Reality” cuts to the very core of such usually overblown acclaim. Warshaw taps his typing fingers into his guts to push out every bit of a soccer and human journey, beautiful and ugly, that started in Pennsylvania and headed to California, Brazil, Dallas, Norway, Sweden, and Israel.

For those who’ve watched “Rise and Shine,” the documentary of Jay DeMerit’s post-graduate decision to go from the University of Illinois at Chicago to knocking on doors of professional clubs around England, consider that. Now skip the part about Premier League glory and cover the rest of the story in brutal self-analysis and uncommon truth-telling about the risings and failings of an athlete who believes deeply in his teams (often at the probable expense of his future).

[ MORE: Real Madrid 2-1 Man Utd | Mourinho reacts ]

To open up like that is a challenge around friends (or a psychiatrist). Warshaw does it for the world.

“The fact that it hasn’t ruined my life yet is a plus,” Warshaw told PST.

(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

It helps that Warshaw’s personality lends itself to honesty. Self-confidence gives way to self-deprecation at times, but the former U.S. U-17 midfielder’s growth from Stanford to FC Dallas to Europe and back is laced with vitriol, humor, and a willingness to meet the reader’s life head-on.

So for every entertaining story detailing a foul that led him to five lost teeth and the same number of root canals, or a knock-down drag-out fight with his MLS manager about loyalty and player selection, there’s a bared and raw player questioning whether he’s made the right move. And he goes after his own experience with a savage comb, telling stories about his competitive streak many would swerve to avoid like jagged glass in the middle of the road.

“The theme of the book is we all have taken risks in your life,” Warshaw said. “I’ve done it enough that I’m conditioned that if I’m not scared out of my mind, I’m not doing something right.”

And that’s not to say writing with such candor was easy. Warshaw admits that at least one of his editors, MLSSoccer.com’s Matt Doyle, was sent a draft not for word work but to make sure the book wouldn’t shove his career into a wood chipper.

“I was so scared the whole time,” he admits. “Sick to my stomach on a daily basis, minor panic attacks. I’m not a religious dude, I’m not very faithful, but I had this one general idea that I feel these things and I’m scared to death to put them out there but everyone else feels them too. Trust that these are universal feelings. We all feel them and we never talk about them enough and it might do some good for the world. I had that little seed of faith in the back of my mind.”

[ MORE: Is it Spurs at Wembley, or against Wembley? ]

Personally, from a reader’s standpoint, I can tell you I went from, “I’d like to read what about that guy on Twitter’s career” to “Wow, I’m glad I read about that guy on Twitter’s career and I tore through the thing.” It’s not necessarily just for the love of soccer, but for the connections on a personal level. In some ways “When The Dream Became Reality” feels like a study in the sociology of soccer, and the way American personalities function within it. Moreover, it carries lessons for those who are passionate in whatever chosen field.

Given his willingness to speak his mind, Warshaw will likely spend a good long time in the American soccer world should he want to continue in media, coaching, or something else. For a better taste of his personality, here are his thoughts as PST quizzed him on his journey and the state of American soccer.

PST: You’ve starred in college, been a first round MLS SuperDraft pick on a roster, barnstormed onto the consciousness of Sweden’s top clubs as a surprise forward, dealt with promotion and relegation battles, and then came back to American soccer’s second-tier. What are the things you learned about players who “make it” versus those that don’t?

Bobby Warshaw: “I’ll give you three different things. One: some people are just really freaking good. We like to think it takes some passion or some drive but some people don’t work hard and just…. Fabian Castillo, right? Not a great teammate, but he was just really freaking good at soccer, and really fast. Some people are just born with something.

“Two: there are some guys who just by sheer force, and I was one of them, they work hard enough to get good. It’s repetitions. If you pass me a ball 10,000 times, I’m going to get decent enough at trapping it. They just stay after it every single day. They had no business being a professional except they just worked harder.

“The third part is having a coach who believed in you. You can make a World Best XI of guys who never saw the light of day just because they had a single coach. I think about this with Pulisic a lot. We think he’s great but there’s no chance that Christian Pulisic is the best 18-year-old to ever come out of this country. He’s just the only one who had a coach who played him at 18.”

(Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

PST: So as someone who played at one of the best schools in the country, repped the U-17 national team out of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and raved about the facilities at FC Dallas, what’s your take on player development here?

BW: “The first moral decision is what is our end game? Do we care about winning a World Cup that much that we’re willing to rob 2,000 kids a year of their high school life? Wouldn’t we all want to go back and live high school and college? And here we are taking these kids out of school and sticking them in random academies. For what? What’s our end game? To win a World Cup, which we’re probably not going to do anyway? We have a really important moral decision. Do we really want to get rid of college soccer? We’re making a huge sacrifice for something I’m not sure we will get or is worth it anyway.

“The flip side is probably the best thing that every happened to American soccer and that’s the mechanization of youth development. One thing America does really well is build machine-like enterprises. The second that Brazilians and Italians got off the streets and started playing in Academies means all of a sudden this is an industry we can compete in. Maybe everyone else having the same urge is what really helps us.”

PST: We love college soccer, but also because of the potential for atmosphere that might not come from playing a U-18 game for an academy. Do you really think the future for NCAA soccer is in jeopardy?

BW: “I’m gonna steal a line from Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn. College soccer should be the best reserve league in the world. Who’s got more money to put into something than Stanford, Maryland, Indiana, and UCLA? Why don’t we harness that and make it a real league and make it like USL, where it’s an academy for everyone 18-22?”

PST: You comment in the book about waking your sixth grade teammates up from a sleepover to have an early morning training session, so work ethic clearly wasn’t an issue for you. But what was it like when you went from Stanford student to “This is my profession” at FC Dallas?

BW: “I’m not sure I ever saw it as a profession. I knew logically that it was a profession and things happen that say it was clearly a business. For me personally it was never a profession which I think is why I always struggled so much with it. The people that accepted it was a business, I think fared much better and survived much longer. The second you get out of thinking this is living the dream, or having some wonderful passion, is what helps people survive a lot longer.

“I don’t think I made that many logical decisions about it. I’m probably going to dislike myself one way or the other, and I know I’ll dislike myself more the other way. I wish I could say I had some super logical way I thought about it, but you do what you think is right. It didn’t always work out that way, but I made the decision and went for it.”

PST: At what point did you think about those decisions making for a good book?

BW: “You read about my ex-girlfriend in the book. We’re sitting in DC last February at Politics and Prose, and I’m grabbing a book and Sarah’s there and I’m like, ‘This would be so cool to have a book.’ Then I came back from Israel and my dad made the comment, ‘Why don’t you take five months and travel the world and make this book?’ Fast forward to April, I’m in Harrisburg, practice is over at 1 o’clock, I opened my notebook in a coffee shop and I just started doing it. All of the sudden I had 10 chapters. Those were the 1, 2, 3 steps that really got the ball rolling.”

“I didn’t mean to write a real book. It was a collection of essays, the Israel story, the Brazil story, these funny things, and then the relationship chapter, the sexuality chapter, and a chapter on racism that got cut. Just basically these things I don’t feel professional players talk about honestly enough.

“Like I’m leaving professional soccer now and this is everything I have in my soul, here you go.

And then all of the sudden George Quraishi at Howler said I think we can do more, write a real story of journey and exploration and human growth and character. I said I didn’t think I have that in me but I’ll try. It grew, which was really scary because at first this book wasn’t me.”

PST: And putting it out yourself?

BW: “I didn’t think it was that big a deal. I was tired of working with managers, agents, and bosses. What can they do that I can’t? It would be nice to be in a Barnes and Noble but I didn’t write it to make money. I wrote it to tell a story. I always thought it would be cool to have a small business. Hopefully you got the theme from the book is that I’m a guy who says just go for it.”

Learn more about his book here.

Europa League: How to watch Tottenham-Maccabi Haifa, schedule, start time, odds

Tottenham - Maccabi Haifa
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Jose Mourinho’s insane September in three competitions continues with a Thursday’s Tottenham-Maccabi Haifa fixture in the Europa League, the final playoff match coming exactly three weeks before the first matchday of the group stahe.

The visitors head into North London on a five-match unbeaten run and if they manage a show-stopping upset it will likely star an American.

California native Josh Cohen, 28, has started all five of those matches between the sticks for Maccabi Haifa. The ex-USL and UC San Diego goalkeeper has been with the club since leaving the Sacramento Republic in 2019.

[ MORE: Europa League scoreboard ]

Ukraine-born Australian striker Nikita Rukavytsya is the key man for Maccabi Haifa’s attack, boasting seven goals and three assists in five appearances this season.

Spurs should have a pretty strong group despite their fixture weariness as Harry Kane, Lucas Moura, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, and Matt Doherty started on the bench for Tuesday’s League Cup fourth-round win over Chelsea.

 

 

In other action, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers certainly would’ve loved to have drawn any number of opponents rather than Turkish powers Galatasaray.

Rangers - Galatasaray
Rangers boss Gerrard (left) was teammates with Galatasaray striker Ryan Babel while at Liverpool  (Photo by Peter Byrne – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

While there’s been good humor online regarding Gerrard managing while former teammate Ryan Babel hits the pitch for Gala, the Turkish side arrives in Glasgow in a foul mood.

Here’s manager Faith Terim, who is upset that his side drew derby rivals Fenerbahce 0-0 at home.

“I will turn all my attention to Rangers now,” Terim said, via the Daily Record. “The Europa League is very important to us in many ways and of course, we will play our strongest team. At the moment, we are playing every three or four days and that can be a factor. But we just have to deal with it. It always hurts when you don’t win a derby game and we have a chance to put it right this week in Glasgow.”

Rangers are favorites in the match, which shows how far Gerrard has brought Scotland’s second-best side in points-per-game. Watch out for Babel, who’s scored six times in 25 matches for Gala after his 2018-19 star turn in Fulham’s relegation season.

Which brings us to Celtic, who is a point behind their eternal rivals but has a match-in-hand.

Neil Lennon’s men have disappointed in Europe this season and are heavy favorites going into Sarajevo, as they were when needed almost every minute to get past Riga 1-0 in Latvia last week after being bounced from the Champions League by Ferencvaros.

Elsewhere, AC Milan won’t have Zlatan Ibrahimovic when it visits Portugal’s Rio Ave.


How to watch Tottenham – Maccabi Haifa + Europa League playoff round streams, start times

When: Thursday
Online: Bleacher Report Live


Thursday’s Europa League playoff round ties

All times ET

Thursday
CFR Cluk v KuPS — 11:30 am ET
Malmo v Granada — 1 pm ET
Charleroi v Lech Poznan — 1 pm ET
Rosenborg v PSV Eindhoven — 1 pm ET
Dinamo Zagreb v Flora — 1 pm ET
Ararat-Armenia v Red Star Belgrade — 1 pm ET
Liberec v APOEL Nicosia — 1 pm ET
Hapo’el Beer-Sheva v Viktoria Plzen — 1:30 pm ET
Sarajevo v Celtic — 2pm ET
Standard Liege v Fehervar — 2pm ET
Dinamo Brest v Ludogorets Razgrad — 2pm ET
Copenhagen v Rijeka — 2pm ET
Legia Warsaw v Qarabag — 2pm ET
Dundalk v KI — 2:30 pm ET
Young Boys v Tirana — 2:30 pm ET
Basel v CSKA Sofia — 2:30 pm ET
AEK Athens v Wolfsburg — 2:45 pm ET
Rangers v Galatasaray — 2:45 pm ET
Rio Ave v AC Milan — 3 pm ET
Tottenham Hotspur v Maccabi Haifa — 3 pm ET
Sporting Lisbon v LASK — 3 pm ET


Select Europa League odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Sarajevo (+800) v Celtic (-358) | Draw (+400)
AEK Athens (+235) v Wolfsburg (-103) | Draw (+235)
Rangers (+108) v Galatasaray (+220) | Draw (+225)
Rio Ave (+300) v AC Milan (-125) | Draw (+240)
Tottenham Hotspur (-667) v Maccabi Haifa (+1200) | Draw (+550)
Sporting Lisbon (+115) v LASK (+215) | Draw (+215)

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.

Newcastle – Burnley: How to watch, stream link, start time, odds, prediction

Newcastle - Burnley
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Newcastle – Burnley: Two injury-hit sides on two-match winless runs try to get their seasons pointed in a better direction when Newcastle United hosts Burnley at St. James’ Park on Saturday (Watch live at 3 pm ET online via Peacock Premium).

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Burnley has lost 1-0 to Southampton and 4-2 to Leicester City so far this season, while Newcastle beat West Ham before losing to Brighton and drawing Tottenham.

Sean Dyche will hope his undermanned and well-drilled side can get a big win against Steve Bruce’s Newcastle, who have either looked remarkably good or bad this season. Newcastle – Burnley is the final match on Saturday’s Premier League docket.


Team news for Newcastle – Burnley (INJURY REPORT)

Newcastle’s DeAndre Yedlin and Emil Krafth have picked up minor injuries and are questionable for Saturday, while Martin Dubravka, Matt Ritchie, and Matty Longstaff remain out.

Burnley got Ashley Barnes and James Tarkowski back in midweek League Cup action but saw another injury as Matthew Lowton is being assessed and could join a list with Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Robbie Brady, Jack Cork, Ben Mee, and Jay Rodriguez.


What they’re saying

Steve Bruce on laboring to beat Newport County in the League Cup: “I agree, fully, that we didn’t play well enough. All of a sudden, now, it’s questioning tactics. I just find the whole thing disappointing. I understand we didn’t play well. You know, we don’t go out there and not want to play well. Unfortunately, we haven’t, and for large parts of the game we didn’t tonight, but we stuck at it, and, towards the end, the last 35-40 minutes I thought we, and rightly so, dominated possession, and just had to take one of the chances we created.”

Sean Dyche on transfer and injury problems at Burnley: “When you’ve had seven key injuries, that’s a lot in any club’s world, but it certainly is in ours. The way the club works financially I can only carry so many players. If we try and carry competitive players in every position, quite obviously you’re looking at 20 outfield players. … I certainly don’t want to be bringing in players for the sake of it, if we can get one or two that’s bound to be helpful, just that competitive element for the squad. Whether we can or not is yet to be seen.”


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

The host Magpies have slightly better odds for a win at +145, while a draw (+215) and Burnley win (+205) are nearly identical.

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


Newcastle – Burnley prediction

Burnley took four of six points from the Magpies last season as Chris Wood scored the lone goal in 180 minutes of football. Injuries to both sides indicate we might see the Clarets and Magpies make amends for the 2019-20 paucity of goals. Newcastle 2-1 at home.


How to watch Newcastle – Burnley stream and start time

Kickoff: 3 pm ET Saturday
Online: Peacock Premium

League Cup: How to watch, start times, odds, predictions

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The League Cup’s fourth round features two interesting tactical duels in that the tournament gives us rematches of a pair of Premier League matches from the weekend, right down to the locations.

Brighton will hope Manchester United’s Wednesday trip to the Amex Stadium isn’t as lucky as the Red Devils’ 3-2 triumph over the Seagulls, while Arsenal heads back to Anfield on Thursday with designs on a measure of revenge for Monday’s 3-1 loss in league play.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

While Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United are built a bit deeper — easy, Red Devils fans — due to squad necessity for European competition, Graham Potter’s Seagulls don’t have it as simple as chopping and changing (though Brighton has looked plenty good with its depth so far in this tournament.

How will the tactician plot his overthrow of United? And will Mikel Arteta do anything different with Arsenal to help thwart the high line Liverpool used to limit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Monday (if the Gabonese star even plays)?

[ MORE: JPW’s 3 things from Liverpool-Arsenal ]

Elsewhere, Jose Mourinho saw Spurs on beat Chelsea on penalties on Tuesday.

Three lower league remain and will be playing their fourth League Cup matches of the month compared to the PL’s three outings. Those who win this week will have a lot longer to wait for the quarterfinals, which won’t be held until December.


League Cup fourth round results, kickoff times, and odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Tottenham 1-1 (5-4 pens) Chelsea
Burnley 0-3 Manchester City 
Brighton 0-3 Manchester United
Everton 4-1 West Ham United
Newport County 1-1 (4-5 pens) Newcastle United
Brentford (+135) v Fulham (+185) | Draw (+225)— 12:30 pm ET Thursday
Aston Villa (-150) v Stoke City (+360) | Draw (+275)— 2 pm ET Thursday
Liverpool (-105) v Arsenal (+230) | Draw (+270)— 2:45 pm ET Thursday

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


League Cup fourth round predictions

Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Chelsea
Newport County 1-3 Newcastle United
Burnley 0-3 Manchester City
Brighton 2-1 Manchester United
Everton 2-2 (EFC wins in penalties) West Ham United
Brentford 1-1 (Brentford wins in penalties) Fulham
Aston Villa 2-0 Stoke City
Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal


How to watch League Cup fourth round streams and start time

Kickoff: Tuesday through Thursday
Online: Select games on ESPN+
Updates: Follow League Cup scores via NBCSports.com

Champions League groups drawn for Premier League sides, USMNT stars

Champions League draw
Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
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The UEFA Champions League draw was held Thursday, with Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United learning their foes for the group stage.

[ MORE: Champions League playoff round recaps ]

Manchester United found itself drawn into a brutal Group H led by Paris Saint-Germain and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have plenty to prove in matching wits and talents.

Juventus and Barcelona were drawn together, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will duel again under the eyes of new managers Andrea Pirlo and Ronald Koeman.

Real Madrid has a tricky Group C with Marseille, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Inter Milan.


Premier League teams

PL champions Liverpool dodged the Pot 2 challenge but will meet sides who want to entertain in a younger Ajax and Italian wizards Atalanta. Midtjylland completes the group.

Pep Guardiola’s quest to finally reach a UCL final with Man City was greeted by Porto out of Pot 1 as well as Olympiakos and Marseille.

Manchester United’s path has big roadblocks in Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzip, two top teams with top managers. It was a group of death before being completed by Demba Ba’s Istanbul Basaksehir.

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard will match wits Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui and also square off with group stage debutants Krasnodar and French side Stade Rennes.

Americans Abroad

As for American connections, Christian Pulisic is with Chelsea and Zack Steffen at Man City but there are plenty more USMNT connections in play.

Red Bull Salzburg coach Jesse Marsch has his hands full with Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid in addition to Lokomotiv Moscow.

Marsch’s former New York Red Bulls charge Tyler Adams is with RB Leipzig, who drew PSG, Manchester United, and Istanbul Basaksehir

Giovanni Reyna and Borussia Dortmund avoided a tough Pot 1 pull by getting Zenit Saint-Petersburg but took Lazio out of Pot 3. The final team in Group F is Club Brugge, currently the home of American goalkeeper Ethan Horvath.

Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie sees his seeded team lead Group G against the newest member of Barcelona in fellow USMNT star Sergino Dest. Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros are also in the group.

NYCFC youngster Joe Scally will join Borussia Monchengladbach after the MLS season. The Foals will meet

Weston McKennie Juventus
TURIN, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 20: Weston Mckennie  (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images)

2020-21 UEFA Champions League group stage

Group A

Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid
Red Bull Salzburg
Lokomotiv Moscow

Group B

Real Madrid
Shakhtar Donetsk
Inter Milan
Borussia Monchengladbach

Group C

Porto
Manchester City
Olympiakos
Marseille

Group D

Liverpool
Ajax
Atalanta
Midtjylland

Group E

Sevilla
Chelsea
Krasnodar
Stade Rennes

Group F

Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Borussia Dortmund
Lazio
Club Brugge

Group G

Juventus
Barcelona
Dynamo Kiev
Ferencvaros

Group H

Paris Saint-Germain
Manchester United
RB Leipzig
Istanbul Basaksehir