From Comcast SportsNetEL PASO, Texas (AP) -- Matt Barkley came to Southern California as a hot-shot recruit, seemingly destined to be the Trojans' next star quarterback. For the most part he delivered on that promise during a record-breaking four-year run as USC's starter.Barkley, though, won't get to give a grand finale.He won't play in the Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech on New Year's Eve because of a lingering injury to his right shoulder. Doctor's didn't clear him to play, coach Lane Kiffin said."It's a tough day," Barkley said. "As you heard from Coach Kiffin I won't be playing on the 31st. I've worked as hard as I could to get back for this game, but nature's not allowing it and the doctors aren't allowing it, which is the most important thing. They're looking out for my best interest, and I trust their judgment in how things have turned out.Kiffin said Max Wittek will start. The redshirt freshman will be making his second career start."I'm still here for the guys and still trying to help Max and even Cody (Kessler), if he needs to play -- to help those guys get ready and with the game plan. I'm trying to be here as much as I can for this team to finish strong."Barkley's throwing shoulder was injured during USC's second-to-last game against UCLA and he didn't play in the season-finale against Notre Dame. Wittek started the game and the Trojans lost to the Fighting Irish to fall to 7-5 on the season."I know he wanted to play," Kiffin said. "He wanted to finish on a good note. He's not been hurt very much in his four years here, but unfortunately when he has he's missed some really big games."Barkley was a celebrated prospect from southern California-- he went to the same high school as Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart -- who grew up dreaming of playing for USC. He won the starting job as a freshman in 2009, beat Ohio State on the road in second game of his career and appeared on the way to becoming a college football star to rival Leinart, Carson Palmer and Mark Sanchez.Barkley went on to rewrite the Pac-12 record book during a USC-record 47 starts over four seasons, becoming the conference leader in touchdown passes, yards passing, completions and total offense.But so much more was expected from him and the Trojans this season, when Barkley announced last January that he would return for his senior year.Coming off a 10-2 season, and out of a two-year stay in NCAA jail for rules violations, USC started this season ranked No. 1 and a consensus national title contender. Barkley was the Heisman Trophy favorite and an almost certain high first-round NFL draft pick.Neither he nor the Trojans could reach those high expectations.Barkley was not bad. He threw for 3,273 yards in 11 games and 36 touchdowns. But he also threw 15 interceptions, the most since his freshman season."I'm at peace. Yeah, absolutely," Barkley said. "I try to find peace in every situation. It's not what I thought would happen, it's not I don't think the most ideal situation. But at the same time, I do have peace and I know that whatever the case is right now, I can make it into a great case come April (in the NFL draft), which is what my goal is now."He will end his career having played in the postseason just once. He led USC to a victory against Boston College in the Emerald Bowl in 09 as a freshman.Barkley, the only three-time captain in USC history, owns 20 school records and 10 Pac-12 records. He is the Pac-12's leader in total offense (12,214), yards passing (12,327), completions (1,001), TD passes (116) and combined rushing and passing TDs (122). He's also the only player in league history to have 2,500 yards or more of total offense four times."I think that Matt has had a great career here at USC," Kiffin said.
Two recent trends with the Chicago Fire got flipped in Saturday's win at D.C. United, not even counting that it was the Fire's first road win of the season.
Nemanja Nikolic entered Saturday's game at D.C. United as arguably the hottest striker in Major League Soccer. He had plenty of scoring chances, most of them good ones, but couldn't convert after being very efficient in recent games.
Also, D.C. is a team struggling offensively and entered without its top playmaker in Luciano Acosta, out serving a red card suspension, so it relied on set pieces and long throws to create scoring opportunities. That's something the Fire have had troubles with this year, notably in the LA game a few weeks ago. However, the defense held strong to survive the onslaught of balls into the box.
Here's more on those two things, plus Bastian Schweinsteiger's near assist of the year.
Defending set pieces
Without Acosta, D.C. found itself relying even more on free kicks, crosses and long throws to get the ball in the box. After recent struggles defending set pieces, this could have been a problem on paper for the Fire.
D.C. completed just three of 16 crosses and only one of those three led to a shot. Of D.C.'s three corner kicks, none first went to a D.C. player.
There were five more long throws, four from the left by Taylor Kemp and one from the right by Chris Korb. D.C. won flick headers on a pair of those, but nothing came from those chances. The best chance was when a ball fell to Patrick Mullins in the box following a deflection. He slid for an open shot in the box, but shot over the bar.
Overall, the Fire did well to handle the barrage of balls flung into the box from distance.
Nikolic's missed scoring opportunities
Nikolic still has the league lead in goals, even after not scoring in this one. His 10 goals are more than D.C. and the Fire's previous opponent, Colorado, have scored as teams.
He had seven shots, more than twice the amount of any other player on the field, and put four on target. No other player had more than one shot on target. Despite these numbers, Nikolic did not score.
Matt Polster gave him a good chance in the 29th minute. Nikolic's first-touch shot from 10 yards out was blocked. He hit it well, but it was a good block.
David Accam crossed to Nikolic on the back post just before halftime. Nikolic put the header on target, but didn't get enough on it to get it past goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
In the final 10 minutes things really picked up for Nikolic. He tried to round Hamid in the 81st minute, but couldn't get around the big man and then his shot from a tight angle was saved. Three minutes later Hamid made his best save with a diving stop to deny a streaking Nikolic, who was coming in from the right side.
Hamid gets credit for these stops, but Nikolic's best chance came in added time after Schweinsteiger set him up on a platter.
Schweinsteiger robbed of assist of the year
The biggest of Nikolic’s blown chances was Schweinsteiger’s elusive dribbling at the end line in added time. If Nikolic finished the open shot, it would have been one of the best assists you’d see in any league around the world this season. Instead the viral clips of the play were either truncated before Nikolic’s shoots over the bar or included the somewhat comedic finish to a highlight-reel play.
Bastian got 'em real bad. pic.twitter.com/vyZHL9Jv2X— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 20, 2017
Schweinsteiger got a bit of the last laugh after suffering four fouls, no player was fouled more during the match, against a physical team.
This play got the most attention from Schweinsteiger's game and it could have really blown up had Nikolic finished it off. Don't forget that Schweinsteiger nearly gave D.C. a goal by turning the ball over with a lateral pass right to Lloyd Sam at the edge of the penalty box a few minutes after the Fire took the lead. That certainly would have flipped the prevailing view of Schweinsteiger's performance as well.
CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we’ll unveil the @CSNPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.
School: St. Joseph
Head coach: Rich Petroski
Assistant Coaches: Tewan Brown, Chris Bridgett, Rich Sible, Alex Puente, Adam Polak, Pierre Walters, Chris Ricca, Lavar Steptor,
How they fared in 2016: 7-3 (2-0 Chicago Catholic League Red).
2017 Regular Season Schedule:
Aug. 26 –@ Elmwood Park
Sept. 2 – @ South Beloit
Sept. 8 – vs Catalys Maria
Sept. 15 - vs Chicago Hope
Sept. 22 - @ St. Ignatius
Sept. 29 – @ DePaul
Oct. 6 - vs Brother Rice
Oct. 13 - vs Leo
Oct. 20 - @ Aurora Christian
Biggest storyline: Can the Chargers make a return visit to the IHSA state playoff in 20o17?
Names to watch this season: Senior WR/S Zach Ford Senior OL/DL Shamar Bishop-McDade
Biggest holes to fill: The Chargers welcome back just three starters on offense from a season ago.
EDGY's Early Take: The Chargers and then first year head coach Rich Petroski led the program to it's first state playoff appearance in school history in 2016. While St. Joe's will need to reload in some key spots, they have a chance to make another run at a state playoff spot again in 2017.