Tim Howard to Take Break from U.S. MNT
Tim Howard to Take Break from U.S. MNT avatar

Tim Howard released a statement today through the United States Soccer Federation, announcing that he will be taking a break from international soccer until September 2015.

Howard set the highest record of saves in a World Cup since records began. (Getty Images)

Howard set the highest record of saves in 2014 World Cup since records began. (Getty Images)

Clearly having learned from Landon Donovan’s ill-fated sabbatical, Howard made it clear that he has discussed this move with national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, saying, “I am grateful for the understanding of Jurgen Klinsmann who is affording me the opportunity to spend some much needed time with my kids and to have the opportunity to compete for a spot upon my return.”

Even at the height of his popularity in the wake of his epic 16 save effort against Belgium during the World Cup, the veteran keeper took pains not repeat Donovan’s perceived mistakes, and the netminder has apparently received Klinsmann’s blessing.

Jurgen Klinsmann . (Getty Images)

Jurgen Klinsmann was supportive of Howard’s decision. (Getty Images)

“I totally understand Tim’s situation,” Klinsmann said via U.S. Soccer. “He was very straight forward and honest in his approach, and I admire him for that. He has a wish to take a step back to take care of his family, and we came to the conclusion that it’s absolutely fine that he takes time off from international soccer until after next summer’s Gold Cup, and then we re-evaluate.”

Then Klinsmann delivered the expected caveat, “I told him as long as he is the same Tim Howard that we always see performing well, he will be welcome back with open arms and right back competing for a spot. He knows that he has to prove that he deserves to be back.”

Brad Guzan should benefit from this as it will give him an opportunity to prove himself. (Getty Images)

Brad Guzan should benefit from this as it will give him an opportunity to prove himself. (Getty Images)

Howard’s decision should give understudy, Aston Villa starter Brad Guzan his first real chance to unseat Howard, although Klinsmann said that third stringer Nick Rimando will also be given an opportunity. MLS keepers Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson could also work their way back into the picture.

Howard’s break differs from Donovan’s in that he will continue his duties as Everton’s number one. Donovan shut it down completely, staying away from the L.A. Galaxy, in addition to the national team.

Howard will also be busy with his television work for NBC Sports, covering the English Premier League. His two children, ages 8 and 7, live with his ex-wife in the U.S. and from his statement, Howard has made it clear that he intends to spend time with them.

And the Toffee’s starter was also clear that while he is stepping away for now, he has every intention of continuing with his U.S. MNT career.

Howard is realistic about  what effect the break will have on his starting position.(ISI Photos/John Todd)

Howard is realistic about what effect the break will have on his starting position.(ISI Photos/John Todd)

“I understand that I will have to earn my place with the team and in the lineup when I come back, and I look forward to doing that. Physically I feel as strong as ever, and right now my heart, mind, and body all feel good about continuing on with the national team for the next World Cup. It is difficult to predict the situation in four years but I know this decision is right for me today.”

The U.S. should manage well enough in Howard’s absence. In another break from the Donovan situation, Howard will not be missing any key competitions with the national team.

While Donovan was re-charging the U.S. were playing important CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, and although Klinsmann accepted Donovan back into the group, it is clear that the relationship between the two never recovered.

In contrast, Howard will be missing a handful of friendlies and next summer’s Gold Cup, which the Yanks won in 2013 with Real Salt Lake’s Rimando between the pipes.
Guzan can be expected to get the first shot at the number 1 jersey when the U.S. face the Czech Republic on September 3, in Prague. Friendlies are also set for October 10 in East Hartford, Connecticut, against Ecuador, October 14, opponent and venue to be determined, and on November 18, versus the Republic of Ireland, in Dublin, Ireland.

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U20′s Women’s World Cup – Germany and Nigeria Reach Final
U20′s Women’s World Cup – Germany and Nigeria Reach Final avatar

Semifinals of the 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in Canada came to a dramatic end yesterday, with Nigeria and Germany emerging from the ashes as the top two finalists of the tournament.

Nigeria were just too strong for Korea DPR and cruised past them.(Getty Images)

Nigeria were just too strong for Korea DPR and cruised past them.(Getty Images)

Nigeria cruised into the finals, crushing Korea DPR 6-2 at Moncton Stadium. Asisat Oshoala scored an astounding four goals- the highest amount ever scored in a semi final of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup.

Speed and efficiency have been the name of the game for the Falconets resulting in early goals, and this match was no different. Oshoala set Courtney Dike up nicely inside the far post, and Dike sent her shot whizzing past the Korean goalkeeper to put Nigerian up just two minutes in. Oshoala doubled the just lead 22 minutes later.

Korea's Song Kyong Hui in action (Getty Images)

Korea’s Song Kyong Hui in action (Getty Images)

Korea didn’t let that two-goal deficit stop their attack, and striker Ri Un Sim soon sliced the lead in half. In the 31st minute she capitalized on a long ball from midfield, outrunning defenders and finishing strong with an unstoppable shot to the top corner to finish the half 2-1.

Nigeria came back after the break with nothing but victory in their sights, and the goal scoring frenzy took off. Uchechi Sunday came in as a sub and announced her arrival with a goal scored within a minute of stepping onto the pitch. Oshoala followed soon after with a 20-yard beauty that pushed the lead out of reach 4-1.

Jon So Yun would score the final Korean goal for the match two minutes later, but Oshoala was an unstoppable force adding two more late goals to send Nigeria through to the final with an intimidating 6-2 finish.

“Now we are in the final and, whoever our opponents will be, we are not afraid of them,” said Nigeria head coach Peter Dedevbo in a press conference.

Meanwhile in Montreal, the French had their dreams dashed by the persevering Germans 2-1, ending a dominating U20 World Cup run for the Bleuettes.

France did everything but were unable to get the equalizer. (Getty Images)

France did everything but were unable to get the equalizer. (Getty Images)

The French played magnificently with 22 shots, 10 of which were on goal. And though Germany only had five, they were able to convert those shots to goals where the French failed to retain composure to see the job through.

While both sides clashed in one of the most anticipated matches of the tournament, it would be the Germans who would get on the board first. Theresa Panfil popped the ball over to Sara Dabritz in the box, and though her initial shot was deflected by goalkeeper Solene Durand, Bremer was there to knock the ball back in.

The Bleuettes went on the hunt for a goal after that, and pounded German defense with shots, finally breaking through in the final minute of the first half. Griedge Mbock Bathy jumped on a corner, chipping the ball high into the net to equalize.

The tension mounted in the second half as a tiebreaker was sought, but Germany dug deep and claimed the victory with only nine minutes remaining in the game. Lena Petermann was the star of the night, supplying the winner from close range to send France home.

Germany were disciplined and were rewarded with a spot in the final. (Getty Images)

Germany were disciplined and were rewarded with a spot in the final. (Getty Images)

“Since the beginning of the competition, we’ve been missing lots of opportunities and that was the story again today,” said French head coach Gilles Eyquem. “We suffered from a lack of efficiency. Germany didn’t steal this result. They have a great team and, while we have great technical qualities, they have a very strong attack.”

Nigeria and Germany will face off for the 2014 U20 Women’s World Cup crown on Sunday in Montreal.

 

 

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U.S. WNT Surge Past Swiss in Cary, NC
U.S. WNT Surge Past Swiss in Cary, NC avatar

The U.S. WNT collected another win tonight at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC, beating Switzerland 4-1 with goals from Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Abby Wambach.

The pace of the first half was fast and entertaining, with the U.S. delighting a sold out crowd with an early goal in the 2nd minute to shake things up.

Sydney Leroux got an assist on Rapinoe's goal. ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Sydney Leroux got an assist on Rapinoe’s goal. ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Rapinoe carried the ball down the midfield and crossed to Sydney Leroux on the left, drawing the opposition away from her. Leroux deftly passed back to Rapinoe and the creative midfielder rocked her window of opportunity, drilling low from the top of the box and into the net.

The Swiss back line would keep a keen eye on Rapinoe after that upset, as she proved to be a handful throughout the half. When the whistle sounded, the U.S. headed into the break with an impressive eight shots on goal- a vast margin to Switzerland’s single shot.

Lloyd made no mistake with her pk and put the U.S. up 2-0 (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Lloyd made no mistake with her pk and put the U.S. up 2-0 (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

It didn’t take long for the Americans to net another goal after a handball was called on the Swiss in the 56th minute. Lloyd stepped up to take the fateful shot and she sent a low zinger into the left corner to bag her 51st career goal.

The Swiss found a bit of redemption off a penalty kick in the 72nd minute when a handball was called on Rapinoe. All eyes turned to Hope Solo, as the pk turned into a test for her quest to break the all time shut out record. Unfortunately, this match wouldn’t be the one, and Crnogorcevic fired the ball low to put Switzerland on the board.

Press would surge forward with a beautiful goal just four minutes later. She volleyed a right-footed shot from 25 yards out, the ball nailing the crossbar before dropping straight into the net to give the U.S. a comfortable 3-1 lead.

Wambach added to her goal tally (ISI Photos/Abby Wambach)

Wambach added to her goal tally and has now scored an amazing 186 goals for the U.S.(ISI Photos/Abby Wambach)

The Swiss began to tire, making mistakes with some desperate defending. A foul was called on them in the box once more, and the penalty was put away by no other than Abby Wambach in the 86th. She sent the ball low into the right corner to end the game with a 4-1 victory for the U.S and tallied her 168th career goal.

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        1 3 4
SUI                          0 1 1

USA – Megan Rapinoe (Sydney Leroux)    3rd minute
USA – Carli Lloyd (penalty)                         56
SUI – Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic (penalty)    71
USA – Christen Press (unassisted)              77
USA – Abby Wambach (penalty)                 87

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger (25-Meghan Klingenberg, 46), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (16-Julie Johnston, 46), 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 19-Crystal Dunn; 10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Lauren Holiday (6-Allie Long, 85), 15-Megan Rapinoe (7-Morgan Brian, 78); 2-Sydney Leroux (20-Abby Wambach, 46), 13-Alex Morgan (9-Heather O’Reilly, 66), 23-Christen Press
Substitutions Not Used: 18-Alyssa Naeher
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

SUI: 1-Gaëlle Thalmann (12-Stenia Michel, 46); 5-Noëlle Maritz, 14-Rahel Kiwic (8-Sandy Maendly, 82), 15-Caroline Abbé (capt.); 7-Martina Moser (22-Vanessa Bernauerk, 68), 9-Lia Wälti, 16-Fabienne Humm (2-Nicole Remund, 68), 18-Vanessa Bürki (6-Selina Kuster, 56); 10-Ramona Bachmann, 11-Lara Dickenmann, 13-Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic (19-Eseosa Aigbogun, 74)
Substitutions Not Used: 23-Fabienne Bangerter
Head coach: Martina Voss-Tecklenburg

Stats Summary: USA / SUI
Shots: 16 / 7
Shots on Goal: 15 / 1
Saves: 0 / 10
Corner Kicks: 8 / 3
Fouls: 8 / 11
Offside: 3 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
SUI – Rahel Kiwic (caution)           19th minute
SUI – Lia Wälti (caution)               45+1
SUI – Caroline Abbé (caution)      58
USA – Carli Lloyd (caution)          85

 

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MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

1) The Stanky Leg is Back!

Charlie Davies returns to New England, looking to get his game back (Getty Images)

Charlie Davies returns scored his first goal since 2011 at DC. (Getty Images)

In other words Charlie Davies is scoring goals again, thus reviving his distinctive celebratory “Stanky Leg” dance. It was all the rage back in 2009 before a horrific car crash that killed a young woman and left Davies with numerous and serious injuries.

Those injuries ended Davies’s 2010 World Cup hopes, while robbing the U.S. MNT of the burgeoning strike pairing of Davies and Jozy Altidore.

They also robbed Davies of what was shaping up to be a hugely promising career. Davies played on with his French club Sochaux, then had some success at DC United. He tried Europe again with Danish team Randers, before he returned to the U.S. with the New England Revolution.

When Davies scored last week in a 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls it was his first goal since 2011 at DC. On Saturday Davies scored again in the Revs 1-1 home draw with Portland.

It has been a long way back for Davies, and while his career will always have an air of “what if” to it, it is nice to see the Stanky Leg back in action.

2) Dillon Serna’s Olympian Goal

Dillon Serna is the latest MLS Homegrown Player to grab the spotlight in what is shaping up as a very good year for the league’s talent acquisition program.

Dillon Serna (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Dillon Serna scored an amazing goal.(ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Serna is a skillful midfielder who hopes to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. His 30 plus yard half volley against DC United wasn’t enough to give the struggling Rapids the win, Colorado fell 4-2 to DC United, but it should win MLS Goal of the Week for the 20 year old.

3)The Homegrown Player Rule

Harrison Shipp was outstanding for Notre Dame and has carried this forward in the MLS.. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Harrison Shipp was outstanding for Notre Dame and has carried this forward in the MLS.. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

The rule is meant to inspire MLS clubs to develop, and keep their own players. Players can still play in college, as Serna did for one year at Akron, and the clubs retain the players rights.

How is it working out? Pretty good in 2014. This summer DeAndre Yedlin became the first Homegrown Player to play in the World Cup.

L.A. striker Gyasi Zardes has had a breakthrough season for the Galaxy, Harrison Shipp has been excellent for Chicago, Bill Hamid (DC United) is reminding people why he has been so highly touted, Will Trapp (Columbus) is making his own Olympic case, and Uruguay born, New England raised Diego Fagundez (NE) recently debuted for the Uruguay U20’s.

Now Serna has is making his mark.

4) CONCACAF Champions League Time

We’ll go with CCL from here on out, but either way the region’s club championship is back. Success in the poor man’s UEFA Champions League has eluded MLS teams, particularly vexing as the league attempts to live up to Commissioner Don Garber’s pledge to make the league one of the top 10 in the world.

Seattle . (Getty Images)

Seattle made it to last year’s semis.. (Getty Images)

Fixture congestion hurts MLS clubs that, thanks to the league’s strict salary cap, don’t enjoy the depth of their Mexican counterparts. So MLS teams try to slip through the early rounds of the competition with a combination bench players and youth squad members, all the while chasing MLS playoff berths.

Last year the L.A. Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders made it as far as the semis before falling. In 2011 Real Salt Lake went all the way to the championship match before coming up short.

Repping MLS this time around are MLS Cup Champions Sporting Kansas City, MLS Supporters Shield winners (best record in 2013 season), New York Red Bulls, US Open Cup winner DC United, and Western Conference Champions Portland Timbers.

5) Landon Donovan’s Farewell Tour

Landon Donovan and the L.A. Galaxy played at Columbus on Saturday in their first match since Donovan announced his retirement following the MLS All Star Game.

The Crew, coached by Donovan’s former teammate Greg Berhalter, chose to send Donovan off with a very nice ceremony, and then went out and hammered L.A. 4-1.

Donovan .(ISI Photos)

Donovan will get the send off he deserves. .(ISI Photos) 

Donovan’s final international goal came at Crew Stadium last September in yet another Columbus edition of U.S. Dos a Cero vs. Mexico. That game secured a World Cup spot for the U.S., a World Cup that Donovan did not get to play in.

But the Crew sent Donovan into the sunset in style with a video tribute etc. Fans in Colorado, Montreal, San Jose and Seattle will have an opportunity to say their goodbyes as L.A. winds up its regular season road schedule. Donovan won two MLS Cup titles with the original San Jose Earthquakes, so the California boy should get a nice send off there, but Columbus has set a high bar.

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NWSL Round Up Week 19: Four Teams Look on to Semifinals
NWSL Round Up Week 19: Four Teams Look on to Semifinals avatar

NWSL semifinals are this weekend with the final game of the season pitting Sky Blue FC against Houston Dash tomorrow in Piscataway, NJ. This year has ushered in an onslaught of drastic changes from last year’s results, with Seattle Reign FC comfortably staying at No. 1 from the get go while the other eight teams fluctuated through the ranks with stunning wins, surprising defeats and plenty of dramatic upsets.

Portland's Nikki Marshal suffered a season ending injury against Seattle .(ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Portland’s Nikki Marshal suffered a season ending injury against Seattle .(ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

The final games from last week were packed with action as the playoffs loom, but four teams emerge from the mad scramble of the regular season. On Saturday, FC Kansas City will take on Portland Thorns FC at Verizon Wireless Field in Kansas City while Seattle Reign FC will play Washington Spirit at Moda Pitch Memorial Stadium in Seattle.

Last Wednesday Chicago Red Stars defeated Boston Breakers 2-0 and then drew 3-3 with WNY Flash at home on Saturday. In their regular season finale, the win against Boston kept them in the running for the playoffs, but they needed a win against the Flash for the guarantee, and a draw just wasn’t enough.

Despite the less than favorable finish, the Red Stars came from behind to tie the Flash. Christen Press put Chicago up first with a penalty kick in the 17th minute, but the Flash would surge ahead with three consecutive goals from Adriana Martin, Carli Lloyd and Samantha Kerr.

It looked like a loss was imminent, but Press scored a brace and Julie Johnston added the final penalty kick goal in stoppage time to surprise the Flash and deny a win. Gallant as their performance was, the Red Stars are finished for the season.

Christen Press has shown her quality since returning to the NWSL from Sweden.(ISI Photos/Howard Smith)

Christen Press has shown her quality since returning to the NWSL from Sweden.(ISI Photos/Howard Smith)

“We’re all pretty disappointed,” Red Stars Head Coach Rory Dames told NWSL. “We made some uncharacteristic mistakes in the first half. I thought the response in the second half was good and we fought our way back.”

Western New York Flash and Sky Blue FC are in the same boat as the Red Stars, their playoff dreams dashed despite perseverance on the field last week.

Sky Blue FC surged ahead to beat the Flash 3-2 on Wednesday in Roshester, with Nadia Nadim scoring a brace to clinch the win after Kelley O’Hara scored in the 24th minute. The Flash kept the game suspenseful with Adriana Martin opening scoring with a 23rd minute goal and Sonia Bermudez equalizing 2-2 in the 79th. Nadim’s 89th minute thriller sealed the deal.

Sky Blue finished the season in style on Saturday in Boyds, MD, beating Washington Spirit 1-0 with a winning goal from Mexican international Monica Ocampo. A double win couldn’t get them a coveted semi spot though after the Red Stars tied with WNY Flash Saturday night.

Maya Hayes in action for Sky Blue FC. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

Maya Hayes in action for Sky Blue FC. (ISI Photos/Andrew Katsampes)

“We have a very strong resilience amongst this group,” head coach Jim Gabarra told NWSL. “There are many times during a season where a team can give up and quit. These players have never even thought about giving up. They have quietly continued to work hard and fight until the end. I am very proud of that. There have been many times where things have gone badly or we have not played as well as we know we can, but at no point did these players stop working. Resilience is the proper word.”

Boston Breakers and Houston Dash also will not see the playoffs, rounding out league standings with Dash in last place and Boston just above them. The two played to a 1-0 finish at Harvard Stadium on Sunday, with Boston snatching the victory.

U.S. allocation Kristie Mewis scored in the 77th minute to give Boston the edge. The Dash now set their sight on a make up match against Sky Blue FC on Wednesday. The game will decide whether or not they get the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2015 NWSL College Draft.

Japanese forward Nahomi Kawasumi has shone for Seattle..(ISI Photos/Tony Quiinn)

Japanese forward Nahomi Kawasumi has shone for Seattle..(ISI Photos/Tony Quiinn)

The Portland Thorns and Seattle Reign FC played their final match on Sunday as well, with Alex Morgan scoring the lone goal that would take the win for the Thorns 1-0 in Portland.

The victory was huge for the Thorns, pushing them past Washington Spirit in standings to secure the third seed in the playoffs for a second consecutive season. The 2013 NWSL defending champs are slated to play second seed FC Kansas City on Aug. 23.

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FIFA U20 WWC: France and Germany to Face Off in Semifinals
FIFA U20 WWC: France and Germany to Face Off in Semifinals avatar

The weekend brought quarterfinals of the 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in Canada to a dramatic close, with four of the top eight teams earning coveted spots in the semifinals this week while four packed their bags.

Germany Shuts Out Host Canada

Following a heart wrenching quarterfinal opener on Saturday in Toronto resulting in the defending champ USA losing to Korea DPR in penalty kicks, hosts Canada was also ousted by Germany 2-0 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

Pauline Bremer (#9) was once again on the scoresheet for Germany. (Getty Images)

Pauline Bremer (#9) was once again on the scoresheet for Germany. (Getty Images)

It was a good run for the courageous Canadians, but goals from Pauline Bremer and Rebecca Knaak would secure Germany’s continued in the tournament, seeding them against France in the semifinal on Wednesday in Montreal.

Germany has been a powerful force from day one, and immediately took control of the game with pressing attacks and clean-cut technical execution. Lena Petermann set up Bremer nicely in the 24th minute to give them the lead before the break. Skillful defensive measures kept Germany in a superior position and Knaak’s late 82nd stunner would seal the deal.

Canada did make things difficult for the tough German squad though, threatening them with nine shots, three on goal.

“It was a very even game and we had to fight hard to make it the last four,” said Germany head coach Maren Meinert in a press conference. “Both sides were very dangerous.”

Asisat Oshoala and Uchechi Send Nigeria to the Semis

On Sunday, a pair of braces led to Nigeria vanquishing New Zealand 4-1 in Moncton, pitting them against Korea DPR in the World Cup semifinals.

Nigeria were just too strong for New Zealand.(Getty Images)

Nigeria were just too strong for New Zealand.(Getty Images)

Rainy conditions made things a bit more challenging for the teams, but Nigeria was able to take control of the game right from the start and keep it till the end. Oshoala scored an impressive goal 31 seconds in and would double the lead just 11 minutes later. Uchechi added two more goals in the 84th and 90th minutes for a solid finish, but New Zealand nipped back to make their mark in their first U20 Women’s World Cup quarterfinal appearance in team history,

Despite failing to overtake the Nigerian back line throughout regulation, in the 89th minute Emma Rolston was able to thwart a shut out, beating out a defender and shooting past the Nigerian goalkeeper to net a late consolation goal.

France Outshoots Korea Republic in Penalties

Two Korean nations played to penalty kicks in the quarterfinals, but only one would secure a spot in the semis. On Sunday France and Korea Republic played to a 0-0 draw through regulation, with France outshooting the Koreans 4-3 in pks in Montreal.

France went through on penalties and will now meet Germany in an all European affair. (Getty Images)

France went through on penalties and will now meet Germany in an all European affair. (Getty Images)

France has been a dominant force all month, but the European champs had to dig deep against the reigning Asian champs to advance. Both sides equally determined and hungry for success battled back and forth matching attack for attack until the final whistle.

While France controlled most of the possession, outshooting 18-2, the Koreans had a few dangerous strikes of their own, at one point forcing French goalkeeper Solene Durand to make a spectacular double save in the second half. But ultimately, penalty kicks would be the deciding factor.

Now, the French must focus on a tough semi match up against Germany where two of the tournament’s best will clash in Montreal.

“ We know the German team, they know us and they know we can beat them,” said French head coach Gilles Eyquem. “I think they might be a little bit scared of this France team. The players have been waiting since the beginning of the tournament for this match and they will be ready.”

 

 

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Heartbreak as U.S. U20 WNT Fall to Korea DPR
Heartbreak as U.S. U20 WNT Fall to Korea DPR avatar

The 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup run comes to end for the U.S. U20 WNT, losing to Korea DPR 3-1 in penalty kicks tonight in Toronto, Canada, following a 1-1 draw in regulation.

The entire U.S. team worked tirelessly from start to finish, fighting through two overtime periods to penalty kicks, refusing to back down to their opponents and digging deep in the midst of an intense physical and mental competition.

Doniak (9) got on the scoresheet for the U.S.(Getty Images)

Doniak (9) got on the scoresheet for the U.S.(Getty Images)

The first half got off to a sluggish start for Korea as they gave up possession to the U.S. and left gaps in defense. Their mistakes would usher in an early U.S. goal in the 5th minute of play.

Mallory Pugh rushed down the right side, beating a defender before crossing to forward Makenzy Doniak in the box. She took a shot but it deflected off of a defender. Luckily, the ball fell to her again and she made no mistake, powering it into the net from close range to put the U.S. up 1-0.

After that goal, Korea woke up and began to improve drastically in their attack. They pressed the U.S. defense hard, taking control of the game. They managed a handful of shots on goal but the U.S. back line was able to ward off the attack, holding on to the lead going into the break.

The U.S. squandered opportunities and failed to capitalize on their superior speed and strength. (Getty Images)

The U.S. squandered opportunities and failed to capitalize on their superior speed and strength. (Getty Images)

With a semifinal spot on the line, both teams charged head on into the second half, the Koreans attacking soundly and the U.S. being forced to keep the defensive momentum up. Despite Korea keeping possession, neither side was able to create many chances, but the Koreans inched closer and closer to a goal.

Then, in the 53rd minute, a handball was called in front of the U.S. goal when Rose Lavelle tried to clear to Christina Gibbons. Flanked by the opposition, a mad scramble in the box ensued, resulting in the unfortunate call. Defender Jon So Yun took the fateful shot and buried it in the low right corner to equalize 1-1.

The deadlock would hold through regulation as two determined nations fought head on with the coveted semifinal spot shining ahead. But, no one would score through the first overtime, or through the second.

Korea DPR celebrate their victory in the pk shootout. (Getty Images)

Korea DPR celebrate their victory in the pk shootout. (Getty Images)

It came down to penalty kicks to decide the winner, and though the U.S. fought to the end with heart and soul, the dice would not roll in their favor, and Korea DPR outscored them 3-1.

Match: U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team vs. Korea DPR
Date: Aug. 16, 2014
Competition: 2014 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup – Quarterfinal
Venue: National Soccer Stadium; Toronto, Canada
Kickoff: 5 p.m. ET
Attendance: 7,854
Weather: 71 degrees – cloudy, light rain

Scoring Summary: 1      2    OT 1 OT 2 PK  F
USA                        1      0      0      0      1      1 (1)
PRK                        0      1      0      0      3      1 (3)

USA – Makenzy Doniak                6th minute
PRK – Jon So Yon (penalty kick)  54

Penalty Summary:
PRK: Jon So Yon (goal), Choe Yun Gyong (saved), Ri Kyong Hyang (goal), Rim Se Ok (goal)
USA: Savannah Jordan (saved), Lindsey Horan (saved), Rose Lavelle (saved), Stephanie Amack (goal)

Lineups:
USA: 1-Katelyn Rowland; 16-Stephanie Amack, 3-Cari Roccaro (capt.), 20-Katie Naughton, 2-Christina Gibbons; 5-Rose Lavelle, 17-Andi Sullivan, 10-Lindsey Horan; 9-Makenzy Doniak (7-Savannah Jordan, 105), 15-Margaret Purce (8-Summer Green, 75), 12-Mallory Pugh (6-Taylor Racioppi, 83)
Subs Not Used: 4-Brittany Basinger, 11-Rachel Hill, 13-Carlyn Baldwin, 14-Nickolette Driesse, 18-Jane Campbell, 19-Kaleigh Riehl, 21-Rose Chandler
Head Coach: Michelle French

PRK: 1-Kim Chol Ok; 2-Song Kyong Hui, 3-Choe Sol Gyong (capt.), 16-Ri Un Yong, 12-Jon So Yon; 7-Choe Yun Gyong, 9-Ri Hyang Sim, 17-Choe Un Hwa, 13-Kim Mi Gyong (8-Rim Se Ok, 86); 10-Ri Un Sim (20-Kim So Hyang, 96), 15-Jo Ryon Hwa (19-Ri Kyong Hyang, 70)
Subs Not Used: 4-Choe Yong Mi, 5-Kang Ok Gum, 6-Kim Hyang Mi, 11-Kim Phyong Hwa, 14-Ri Kum Suk, 18-Rim Yong Hwa, 21-Jang Yong Sim
Head Coach: Hwang Yong Bong

Stats Summary: USA / PRK
Shots: 11 / 14
Shots on Goal: 5 / 7
Saves: 6 / 3
Corner Kicks: 0 / 2
Fouls: 13 / 12
Offside: 3 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Stephanie Amack (caution)  53rd minute
PRK – Ri Un Yong                         82
PRK – Jon So Yon                         90+2
PRK – Choe Sol Gyong                 105+2

 

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U.S. U20 WNT Face Korea DPR in WWC Quarterfinal
U.S. U20 WNT Face Korea DPR in WWC Quarterfinal avatar

The U.S. U20 WNT are gearing up for a tough quarterfinal of the 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in Toronto, Canada today, taking on Group A winner Korea DPR at BMO Stadium.

After a rocky start to the tournament with a 2-0 loss to Germany, the U.S. has slowly gained throughout, finishing second in Group B with a 1-0 win over Brazil and a 3-0 win over China PR.

Following a dominating performance against China in Moncton, the U.S. ladies look confident as ever, focusing on the little things and improving upon defensive measures and build up.

Lindsey Horan has definitely been the target player for the U.S. (Getty Images)

Lindsey Horan has definitely been the target player for the U.S. (Getty Images)

Forward Lindsey Horan leads the team with three goals, a vital force in helping the team advance. Rose Lavelle scored her first U20 goal against China, while Mallory Pugh, Makenzy Doniak and Summer Green have creatively been able to outsmart the opposition and set up successful plays despite unrelenting back lines.

Defensively, goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland has had a spectacular performance, intimidating opposition with multiple saves that have earned two clean sheets, including the first U.S. win against Brazil, where their opponents outshot them 14-13 with eight shots on goal. She has played every minute of all games thus far, never faltering behind her line.

Although the team’s confidence continues to grow and the beginning tournament jitters have subsided, this isn’t group play anymore, and despite making it out of a tough group alive, no loss can be afforded now if the U.S. wants to clinch a semifinal spot.

They will have to get by Korea DPR first, and that alone, besides the knock out factor, will be no easy feat. The Koreans won Group A on goal differential, scooping two victories 2-1 against Finland and 3-0 over Ghana before falling to Canada 1-0. They have been a strong U20 World Cup contender in the past, only missing the mark in 2002 and 2004 but winning the title in 2006. They made it to the final again in 2008, but were dethroned by the USA.

Korea's Song Kyong Hui in action (Getty Images)

Korea’s Song Kyong Hui in action (Getty Images)

The U.S. will have to watch out for Kim So Hyang, Choe Yun Gyong and Ri Un Sim strong competitors from start to finish who have shone in this year’s tournament. Ri Un Sum, Korea’s top scorer, was left out of the final match against Canada due to minor injury, but will surely be back with a vengeance following the stunning loss that concluded group play.


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EPL Kicks Off
EPL Kicks Off avatar

After almost four months of abstinence, EPL fans everywhere can finally relax and binge on some soccer, as the EPL kicks-off again this weekend with a feast of games.

Alexis Sanchez is the season's biggest signing thus far. (Getty Images)

Alexis Sanchez is the season’s biggest signing thus far. (Getty Images)

Some old faces and teeth have left the EPL during the summer, but new ones have also arrived and should help to make the upcoming season one of the most exciting and exhilarating yet. So without further ado let us at GotSoccer take you through some of the news, previews and predictions for Week 1 of the EPL

NEWS

Pulis leave Crystal Palace

Tony Pulis has left Crystal Palace by mutual consent less than 48-hours before the start of the new season.

The departure was revealed late on Thursday after as a meeting between Tony Pulis and club chairman Steve Paris failed to resolve tension between the pair, which is believed to have begun during the summer.

Tony Pulis(Getty Images)

Tony Pulis’ resignation came as a shock to many.(Getty Images)

The former Stoke boss was named manager of the year last season after steering Crystal Palace from the foot of the table in November to a mid-table finish in May. However, his relationship with the Club is believed to have soured during the off-season with Pulis wanting to assume greater control of all soccer matters, especially transfers, after missing out on a few targets.

On Friday, Palace issued a statement, saying: “The club would like to thank Tony for his efforts with the club last season and wish him all the best for the future.”

Assistant manager Keith Millen will be in charge against Arsenal on Saturday.

Aston Villa sign Colombia International Carlos Sanchez

Aston Villa have signed Colombia defensive midfielder Carlos Sanchez from Elche on a four-year deal.

The midfielder who starred for Colombia at the World Cup in Brazil this summer joins the midlands club for an undisclosed fee.

Aston Villa revealed new signing Carlos Sanchez. (Getty Images)

Aston Villa revealed new signing Carlos Sanchez. (Getty Images)

Sanchez started his European career in France with Valenciennes, where he spent six seasons before joining Spanish side Elche last season. Talking about the transfer, Sanchez said: “I’m delighted to be here. It was always my aim to play in this country and in this league.”

Villa boss Paul Lambert described the deal as “a great coup”, adding: “He’ll be an excellent player for the club.”

“Carlos is a very experienced professional who played a prominent role in a Colombian team which captured everyone’s imagination at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil,” Lambert added.

“He does the simple things really well and he’s excellent at spotting the danger, dealing with it and keeping it simple.

“We’ve beaten other teams to bring him here to Villa.”

Predictions 

Week 1 Predictions
SATURDAY
Man Utd v Swansea 4-1
Leicester v Everton 1-2
QPR v Hull 2-2
Stoke v Aston Villa 2-1
West Brom v Sunderland 1-1
West Ham v Tottenham 1-1
Arsenal v Crystal Palace 3-0
SUNDAY
Liverpool v Southampton 2-0
Newcastle v Man City 0-2
MONDAY
Burnley v Chelsea 0-1

A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth ONE point. Getting the exact score correct earns THREE points.

Previews

SATURDAY

Manchester United v Swansea

Swansea City have been Manchester United’s opponents on some milestone occasions over the two seasons—first they were Sir Alex Ferguson’s final opponents at Old Trafford two seasons back. While last Season David Moyes got off to a great start with a 4-1 win over the Swans in South Wales before things went sour for United later on in the season.

Van Gaal will be hoping to get Man Utd back on track. (Getty Images)

Van Gaal will be hoping to get Man Utd back on track. (Getty Images)

And now Swansea face United once again as they usher in the era of Van Gaal.

Saturday’s game will be Van Gaal’s first competitive game as United coach, but he has already guided his side to a stellar preseason, with United winning all of their friendly matches. But competitive soccer is an altogether different ball game and after 90-minutes we should all have a better understanding of how United are progressing under the Dutchman.

Meanwhile, this season could be a tough one for Swansea with the club having lost nine first-team players during the summer and only making four signings. The key to their season could rest on whether they manage to hold on to striker Wilfred Bony, who is reportedly being targeted by several clubs in the EPL.

Manchester United will be without summer signing Luke Shaw, who has a hamstring injury that could keep him out for a month.

Meanwhile, Johnny Evans is also struggling with an injury and could join Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick on the sidelines.

Swansea will be without Leon Britton, Marvin Emnes and Jay Fulton for their trip to Old Trafford, but Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge should return after missing the Swans last friendly.

No team in soccer is more synonymous with the 4-4-2 formation than Manchester United, however, Van Gaal plans to adopt the 3-5-2 system he employed at the World Cup with Holland and it will be interesting to see how the system fairs in the EPL.

Despite a terrific preseason, Van Gaal says it will take time for his ideas to be implemented and that fans should not expect too much too soon. Nevertheless, I expect the Red Devils to win Saturday’s match fairly comfortably. Manchester United have never lost a home league game to Swansea and I don’t expect that to change tomorrow.

Prediction: 4-1

Arsenal v Crystal Palace

Expectations are high for the Gunners this season, especially after they comfortably saw off Man City in the Community Shield with a 3-0 victory.

The signing of Alexis Sanchez adds a different dynamic to their attack, and when Theo Walcott returns from injury, the Gunners will have two players with pace that can get in behind defenses.

Ozil and his German World Cup winners will be missing from Arsenal's team this weekend.(Getty Images)

Ozil and his German World Cup winners will be missing from Arsenal’s team this weekend.(Getty Images)

Crystal Palace did immensely well last season to move from the bottom of the table in November to eleventh by the end of the season. Tony Pulis came in and made the Eagles a side no team enjoyed playing against. However, with Pulis departing I suspect Palace may once again descend and struggle in the EPL.

Arsenal should welcome back defender Laurent Koscielny who has been out with an Achilles injury, while Abou Diaby could also return to the squad after a long lay-off.

However, World Cup winners Lukas Podolski, Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker will be rested for the visit of the Eagles.

Palace assistant manager Keith Millen will assume charge of team affairs after the departure of Pulis and has a whole squad to choose from.

Arsenal has lost only once to Palace in the EPL, which came almost a decade ago with a 2-1 loss at Highbury. The Gunners have won their last three games against the Eagles and with Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis having departed I don’t see the Eagles putting up much resistance.

Prediction: 3-0

SUNDAY

Liverpool v Southampton

Liverpool begins life without Luis Suarez on Sunday after having sold the Uruguayan to Barcelona during the summer for $125.2m. However, the Reds have strengthened their squad during the off-season signing a number of players, including three from Southampton.

Southampton are in transition after losing a number of keys players and their coach Mauricio Pochettino, who moved to Tottenham. The Saints have installed Dutch legend Ronald Koeman as the man to takeover from Pochettino and it will be interesting to see how Southampton fair under the Dutchman.

Liverpool's Rickie Lambert will face his old club Southampton . (Getty Images)

Liverpool’s Rickie Lambert will face his old club Southampton . (Getty Images)

Liverpool could hand former Southampton players Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert their Liverpool debuts against their former club, but former Saints star Adam Lallana is injured, while one of the clubs other new signing, Lazar Markovic, is also ruled out.

Meanwhile, the Reds face defensive issues with Jon Flanagan and Daniel Agger sidelined with knee problems.

New Southampton boss Ronald Koeman is set to hand a start to former Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

While a host of the Saints’ other new arrivals may also make their debuts, including Shane Long, Dusan Tadic, Ryan Bertrand and Saphir Taider.

Southampton have won their last two visits to Anfield, but I think they will take a while to adapt to the style and ideas of new coach Ronald Koeman and therefore I expect Liverpool to win this one.

Prediction: 2-0

Newcastle United v Man City

Newcastle’s campaign last season was a tale of two halves, with the Magpies terrific during the first-half of the season and abysmal during the second-half. However, their poor finish to the season was in large part due to injuries and having strengthened over the summer, the Magpies could well be better equipped to mount a challenge for a European spot this season.

Manchester City have strengthened their defense this summer bringing in French defender Elliquin Mangala from Porto and Argentinian keeper Willy Caballero from Malaga.

Yaya Toure and Co looked a tad off the pace against Arsenal in the Charity Shield.(Getty Images)

Yaya Toure and Co looked a tad off the pace against Arsenal in the Charity Shield.(Getty Images)

However, City looked far from defensively sound during their Community Shield game against Arsenal and could have lost by more than the eventual 3-0 scoreline.

Newcastle could hand debuts to Daryl Janmaat, Remy Cabella, Emmanuel Riviere and Jack Colback. But Siem de Jong, Cheick Tiote and Yoan Gouffran could all miss out with slight knocks.

Manchester City has a tremendous record against Newcastle and are unbeaten against the Magpies in their last 15 EPL games (16 in all competitions). Newcastle are usually tough cookies to beat on their home-turf, but the Magpies have not fared well on the last few opening days to the season—Newcastle have failed to score in their opening game in three of their four seasons since returning to the top flight (W1, D1, L2)—and I expect City to see them off without trouble.

Prediction: 0-2

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Three-sy Peasy for France but England Bow Out
Three-sy Peasy for France but England Bow Out avatar

The final round of games in Group C and D took place on Wednesday to bring the curtain down on the group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The matches were full of many moments of magic and resulted in France, New Zealand, Nigeria and Korea Republic joining Korea DPR, Canada, Germany and the USA in the quarters.

GROUP C

Korea Republic 2-1 Mexico

Korea Republic edged past Mexico 2-1 to set up a quarterfinal clash with France. Goals either side of half-time by Lee Geummin and Lee Sodam were enough to see the Asian side move from the foot of the table into second spot in Group C and ensure them safe passage to the next round.

Korea were victorious over Mexico. (Getty Images)

Korea stole second spot above England to earn them a place in the Quarters. (Getty Images)

The first-half was a fairly poor affair with both teams struggling to retain possession and finding it difficult to create any clear-cut opportunities. Indeed, when Korea Republic finally did craft an opportunity just three minutes from time, Lee Geummin did terribly, slicing a shot from just eight-yards out after Mexico’s Mariel Guttierez had miss kicked her clearance. However, the Ulsan College star did not take long to make amends, scoring just seconds later when she took a chip over the top neatly on her chest before flicking a delicate finish past the onrushing Cecelia Santiago.

Mexico pushed hard after the restart, but found it hard to create chances and their task was made doubly difficult in the 65th minute when Clarissa Robles was penalized for a foul on Lee Geummin, allowing the forward to place a penalty low into the bottom left corner past Cecelia Santiago.

Mexico ended up bottom of their group with 1 point.(Getty Images)

Mexico go out and put on a good showing at the tournament.(Getty Images)

But Mexico was never going to go down without a fight and got a goal back in the 76th minute, when a poor touch on the edge of the box by a Mexican player set up Tanya Samarzich, who looped a delightful shot into the top right hand corner.

The goal set-up a grandstand finish with Mexico throwing caution to the wind in search of an equalizer. However, Korea Republic managed to survive the storm and now face France in Montreal in the quarters.

Nigeria 2-1 England

Nigeria battled back from a goal down against England to top Group C and progress to the quarterfinals. A first half strike from Loveth Ayila and a second-half penalty from Asisat Oshoala were enough to cancel out an early strike from England’s Nikita Parris.

The Three Lions got off to a terrific start when a ludicrous piece of defending by Nigeria’s Sarah Nnodim allowed England’s Hannah Blundell to play striker Nikita Parris clean through on goal. The Nigeria No.6 was standing a full 10-yards behind her defense allowing Parris to be on-side and finish past the onrushing Ibijoke Sangonuga.

Nigeria topped Group C with 7 points. (Getty Images)

Nigeria topped Group C with 7 points. (Getty Images)

But the Falconets responded and got back on level terms just minutes before half-time with Loveth Ayila getting the goal. The forward, who received the ball on the right and 35-yards out, dragged the ball back and knocked it inside before unleashing an a thunderbolt into the top corner, with goalkeeper Lizzie Durack helpless to stop it arriving at its final destination despite getting a hand to the ball.

Both teams went for the jugular in the second-half exchanging blow for blow, but in the end the game was a tale of two penalties. England had the first when Nikata Parris raced onto a through ball and clashed with Nigerian keeper Ibijoke Sangonuga. Replays showed the keeper claimed the ball before the clash, but the ref still awarded the spot kick and England’s Bethany Mead stepped out to take the responsibility, but she hit her effort high and over the goal.

Within minutes Nigeria had a penalty of their own, when Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala caught England midfielder Abby-Leigh Stringer dallying in possession on the edge of the box. The forward raced towards goal, but was bundled over by some last-ditch defending by Gabrielle George. Oshoala then picked herself up before coolly slotting the penalty away with a composed side footed finish into the bottom right corner.

England went ahead but could not hold on and are now out of the tournament. (Getty Images)

England went ahead but could not hold on and are now out of the tournament. (Getty Images)

England had a good chance to get back on level terms late on, but Parris hit her free header straight at the Nigerian number one allowing the Falconets to progress to their fifth consecutive quarterfinals, where they will face New Zealand.

GROUP D

France 3-0 Paraguay

France made it three wins from three with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Paraguay. Two first-half goals from winger Fautine Robert and a second-half goal by forward Mylaine Tarrieu were enough to see the Europeans past their South American opponents.

Paraguay started the game knowing they needed to avoid defeat against an opponent who had scored nine goals in their two prior games to stand a chance of qualifying, but they got off to the worst start conceding twice in the opening ten-minutes.

The first goals arrived fortuitously, when a cross from the right bounced up on the turf and hit Paraguay defender Rosalia Godoy on the arm causing the ref to point to the twelve-yard spot. Winger Fautine Robert stepped up to take the kick and made no mistake drilling her effort low and hard past keeper Cristina Recalde.

France have looked unstoppable thus far and are definitely one of the favorites.(Getty Images)

France have looked unstoppable thus far and are definitely one of the favorites.(Getty Images)

Minutes later France were two goals up with Robert once again the scorer. Once again the goal was a gift with Paraguay keeper Cristina Recalde fumbling a tame header from Griedge Mbock Bathy, with Robert on hand to dispatch her second of the game.

Despite fielding a changed side from their previous two games, France still dominated and continued to make chances, with a third goal always looking likely to come. And the inevitable finally came to be 13 minutes from time when substitute Mylaine Tarrieu raced into the ride hand side of the box and finished at the near post past the poorly positioned Cristina Recalde.

The win means France are the only side left in the competition with a 100% record and they now face Korea Republic in the quarters for a place in the semis.

Costa Rica 0-3 New Zealand

New Zealand made history beating Costa Rica 3-0 to progress to the quarterfinals of the U-20 Women’s World Cup for the first time.

The two sides had never met before, with Costa Rica looking to go out on a high after losing their opening two games and New Zealand hoping to win to secure qualification to the next round.

The Kiwis made their intentions known early, dominating and attacking Costa Rica from the first whistle, as they went in search of a goal. And it did not take too long for the pressure to tell with Costa Rica conceding midway through the half.

Katie Bowen drilled in a free-kick from the halfway line that was glanced on by Steph Skilton on the six-yard line, leaving Costa Rica keeper Noelia Bermudez no chance.

The Ferns continued to push forward and threaten the Ticas’ goal, but the second goal did not come until the 69th minute, when Lee pounced onto a hashed clearance from Benavides and dribbled past the onrushing Bermudez before finishing into an empty net.

New Zealand celebrated like they had won the tournament. (Getty Images)

New Zealand celebrated like they had won the tournament. (Getty Images)

Despite being two goals down and outclassed for most of the game, Costa Rica did come back into the game and almost had a goal when Montero found space in the box to get her head onto a corner. But Montero’s effort was well saved by keeper Alfred, who also stopped an effort from Melissa Herrera late on.

With the final whistle close to blowing, New Zealand rubbed salt into the wounds by scoring in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Tayla O’Brien was the scorer getting her head on to a corner after Bermudez raced out and failed to punch the ball clear.

The win means New Zealand advance from the group stage for the first time in their history and will now face Nigeria in the quarters for a place in the semis.

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Seattle Face Philadelphia in Open Cup Final
Seattle Face Philadelphia in Open Cup Final avatar

The Seattle Sounders will be looking to see their name engraved on the Dewar Challenge Trophy for the fourth time when they face first time finalists Philadelphia Union on September 16 at the Union’s PPL Park, to decide the winners of the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Philadelphia booked passage to their first ever decider with a nail biting penalty shootout win over FC Dallas, thanks in large part to goalkeeper Zach MacMath’s two pk saves.

Seattle took a different route back to the final, walloping Chicago 6-0, despite resting many of their regulars.

MacMath was the star for his team. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

MacMath was the star for his team. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

This victory had to be extra sweet for Philly keeper MacMath, the 23 year old who has recently been benched for newcomer Rais Mbolhi, Algeria’s World Cup keeper. Mbolhi impressed in Brazil when he led Algeria to extra time, before going out against eventual World Cup Champions, Germany.

MacMath had already seen his first choice status called into question in February when the Union used its first choice in the MLS SuperDraft on big time goalkeeping prospect Andre Blake.

Philadelphia had gone ahead in Frisco, Texas in the 47th minute on a goal from Amobi Okugu, only to allow the home side to equalize in the 81st minute through Fabian Castillo.

MacMath had played well up to that point, but he gambled and lost when ventured far from his goal, missing the ball and leaving Castillo with an empty netter to tie the game.

In the end MacMath had the final say, now he attempts to cap a disappointing season personally, by leading the Union to its first ever title.

For Seattle this return to the final will feel like old home week. From 2009 through 2011 Seattle took home the Dewar Challenge Trophy, before falling to Sporting KC, in Missouri on pk’s in 2012.

Yedlin has shone thus far this season for club and country. (Getty Images)

Yedlin has shone thus far this season for club and country. (Getty Images)

Seattle are back in the final on the strength of their deep and talented bench, and some regulars, including Tottenham new-boy DeAndre Yedlin, just returned from his European adventure.

Yedlin missed the Sounders match versus Houston while he finalized his transfer to Spurs, an unusual deal that will apparently keep the speedy fullback with Seattle until next summer.

Yedlin was his usual dynamo on the wing against Chicago, picking up a late assist on Kenny Cooper’s first goal, but this night belonged to some Seattle’s supporting cast.

Kenny Cooper in action for Seattle. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Kenny Cooper in action for Seattle. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

Of the Sounders scorers only Obafemi Martins can be called a regular starter, and Martins cooled his heels on the sidelines for the game’s first 74 minutes, before scoring Seattle’s fourth goal just five minutes after checking in.

No, the big stars for Seattle in this US Open Cup semifinal victory were Andy Rose, who scored twice in his first game after a long injury layoff and Kenny Cooper, who also had a brace, bringing his Open Cup career tally to 13.

Those 13 goals put Cooper second in the Cup’s modern era, behind only Sebastien Le Toux’s 14, setting up an intriguing subplot for the final.

An interesting note from Seattle’s dominant win over Chicago for those who love their statistics. The Fire had 57% of the possession and completed 79% of its passes, while Seattle completed just 43%. The stat that mattered? Seattle, 6 goals – Chicago, 0.

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U.S. Roster Revealed for Match Against Switzerland
U.S. Roster Revealed for Match Against Switzerland avatar

The U.S. WNT have a lot on their plate in the upcoming months as they prepare to get down to business for the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, including an Aug. 20 match against Switzerland in Cary, NC and Sept. 13 and 18 matches against Mexico in Utah and New York.

Head coach Jill Ellis has called up 19 players to take on the Swiss at Wakemed Soccer Park, a match that has been sold out since July 25. This marks the first time the two will clash at this level, a rare occurrence that promises to be thrilling and full of action.

Hope Solo (L) and Ashlyn Harris were the two keepers selected for this game. (Getty Images(

Hope Solo (L) and Ashlyn Harris were the two keepers selected for this game. (Getty Images(

The game comes in the midst of NWSL playoffs as well, with 18 of the 19 players taking part in the season. Ten of those will be getting ready for playoffs the following weekend. Midfielder Morgan Brian is the only non-professional player called up for the match.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, who has been dealing with a recent assault case, will be focusing on breaking the USA’s all-time shutout record. She is tied at the top with Briana Scurry at 71 shutouts each.

Switzerland has already qualified for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. They have had a stellar season, winning European Group 3 with one match left. This is the first time the senior team has qualified for a Women’s World Cup.

The U.S. will then face Mexico in September with a two game set, the first Sept. 13 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah and then Sept. 18. At Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, NY.

These will be the final games before the October qualifiers held in Kansas City, KS, Chicago, IL, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, PA.

Aug. 20 Switzerland- U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (6): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Houston Dash), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian (Virginia), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (WNY Flash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (5): Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (WNY Flash)

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U20 Women’s World Cup – Germany and Hosts March On
U20 Women’s World Cup – Germany and Hosts March On avatar

The third and final games for teams in Group A and B of the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup took place on Tuesday with Korea DPR finishing first and Canada second to both progress from Group A, while in Group B Germany finished winners and the U.S. finished runners-up to progress to the quarters.

Horan led the U.S. to victory and a match up with Korea DPR.. (Getty Images)

Horan led the U.S. to  a 3-0 victory and a match up with Korea DPR.(Getty Images)

Most of the matches went the way of the formbook with favorites mostly coming out on top, however there were a few scares and hiccups for teams on their way to victory.

Group A

Korea DPR 0-1 Canada

Hosts Canada sprung a surprise beating the highly favored Korea DPR in their final group game thanks to a solitary second-half goal by Janine Beckie to advance to the quarters.

Korea's slip up will be good news for the USA. (Getty Images)

Korea’s slip up will be good news for the USA. (Getty Images)

Korea DPR came into the game as favorites having comfortably won their first two games of the tournament, and they didn’t take long to find their rhythm dominating proceedings from the outset and almost scoring when Choe Un-Hwa hit delicate chip from the corner of the box that just sailed over the crossbar.

Canada's Beckie got the game winner to lead her team to a match up against Germany. (Getty Images)

Canada’s Beckie got the game winner to lead her team to a match up against Germany. (Getty Images)

However, not for the first time in the tournament Canada emerged from the break an inspired team and began taking the game to their tricky opponents. Ad their hard work and endeavor paid off in the 65th minute when forward Janine Beckie popped up to score the only goal of the game.

The Texas Tech player evaded her markers and snuck into the back post to tap in the simplest of goals after some fine work from Prince who burst past her marker in the box running to the byline before drilling a low cross.

Korea DPR pushed forward in search of an equalizer in the final stages of the game, but the 2006 Champions never troubled the Canadian backline and the host now progress to the quarters where they will face Germany.

Ghana 2-1 Finland

Ghana came from a goal down to win their final game 2-1 over Finland, but the result was not enough to see them through to the quarters.

There was anguish for ‘Black Stars’ after the game, who were eliminated from the competition despite winning and finishing level on points with both Korea DPR and Canada. Ghana initially celebrated at the final whistle thinking they had qualified as they had beaten hosts Canada in the competition, but in the FIFA U-20 WWC goal difference and not results between teams settle teams drawn on points and thus Ghana were eliminated as they had the poorest goal difference of the three teams.

Ghana lost out on a spot in the quarters on goal difference. (Getty Images)

Ghana lost out on a spot in the quarters on goal difference. (Getty Images)

The game began in a carnival atmosphere as the small, but lively contingent of Ghana fans made their presence felt cheering on their team in song and dance. And their support seemed to inspire their country on with Ghana dominating and coming closest to scoring in the first-half.

However, it was Finland that opened proceedings scoring just five-minutes after the interval. A neat piece of play by Ria Oling led to the ball finding its way to Juliette Kemppi on the edge of the box, with the forward toe-poking her finish in to the bottom left hand corner of the goal.

Ghana now desperate went all guns blazing in search of an equalizer and they were rewarded 20-minutes from time when Sherifatu Samaila showed electric pace bursting away from her marking and drilling an unstoppable low shot past the finish keeper.

Finnish keeper Krista Moisio then kept her side in the game with a superb pointblank stop from Veronica Appiah, but the Black Stars were not going to be denied and got the winner their performance deserved four minutes from time when left-back Rebecca Asante dribbled down the line and into the box before cutting the ball back to the edge of box, which Edem Avotor side-footed into the bottom right-hand corner.

However, the goal wasn’t enough to see Ghana through and they now fly home along with Finland who finished the tournament bottom of Group A with zero-points.

Group B

Brazil 1-5 Germany

Germany survived a scare coming from a goal behind to defeat Brazil with a emphatic 5-1 win. A Sara Daebritz hat-trick and Pauline Bremer Brace were enough to see the 2012 runners-up wipe out the lead given to Brazil by Carol.

Brazil came in to the game knowing only a win by two or more goals would do to see them through to the quarters and they set about their task with great enthusiasm. However, despite their hard work and tenacity Brazil’s goal actually came from a slice of good fortune, when Manjou Wilde cleared a Camila cross straight onto the head of Carol leaving German keeper Frohm no chance.

Germany were just too strong for Brazil. (Getty Images)

Germany were just too strong for Brazil. (Getty Images)

Germany almost responded immediately when the ref awarded Germany a penalty for a barge by Camila on Bremer, though the contact looked to have taken place just outside the area. But justice was served, as Bremer hit the post from the 12-yard spot allowing Brazil to go in one goal up at the break.

However, Germany were never going to give this game up with out a fight and produced a second-half master class to blow away their South America opponents.

First Sara Daebritz ghosting in front of a defender on the edge of the box, controlling a cross from the right on the edge of the box on her chest before prodding past the onrushing keeper to put Germany back on level terms after only five minutes of the second half.

Fourteen minutes later, Germany took the lead when Bremer received the ball 40-yards out from goal before driving at goal and dribbling past a defender and the keeper to finish into an empty net.

Twelve minutes from time Germany extended the lead with Daebritz racing onto a pass from Bremer before evading a challenge from a defender and side stepping the keeper to finish into an open goal. The goal all but killed the game, though Germany still had the appetite for more goals.

Their final two goals came in stoppage time, with Daebritz getting her hat-trick with a bullet shot from the edge of the box, while Bremer got her second ghosting in behind the Brazil defense and rounding the keeper to round-off a great day of soccer for the 2012 runners-up who now face hosts Canada in the Quarters.

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U.S. Cruise to Quarterfinals in FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup
U.S. Cruise to Quarterfinals in FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup avatar

The U.S. U20 WNT cruised their way to quarterfinals of the 2014 U20 Women’s World Cup today at Moncton Stadium in New Brunswick, shutting out China PR 3-0.

Lindsey Horan was the main threat once again for the U.S. (Getty Images)

Lindsey Horan was the main threat once again for the U.S. (Getty Images)

Forward Lindsey Horan leads the U.S. in goals scored so far in the tournament, notching a brace in the first half with a third from midfielder Rose Lavelle in the second to secure the win.

Beautiful weather and cloudless skies flanked Moncton Stadium as the first half got underway. The U.S. immediately kept possession and started to create chances, the first couple from Mallory Pugh, back with a vengeance after missing the majority of the prior match against Brazil due to injury.

The U.S. speed caused China some trouble. (Getty Images)

The U.S. speed caused China some trouble. (Getty Images)

China took a bit to get going, looking slower than they did against Germany. The U.S. continued to push, and it was evident a goal was near.

Horan broke the deadlock in the 19th minute. Forward Makenzy Doniak crossed to Horan from the right and the PSG forward threaded her way through opposition before powering a 10-yard shot. The ball hit the crossbar and found its way into the net to put the U.S. up 1-0.

It would only be a matter of time before Horan would net a brace. Just as China began to get their rhythm down, a corner was rewarded to the U.S. Lavelle executed, the ball landing promptly at Horan’s waiting feet. She quickly drilled it home, finishing in the bottom right corner to set the score at 2-0 before half time.

The Horan domination continued into the second half, assisting on the third U.S. goal just three minutes in. She dribbled the ball down the right side with defenders unable to catch her. At the last second she cut a sharp cross to Lavelle in the box. The play was perfectly set, and Lavelle shot low to the bottom left corner to give the U.S. a comfortable 3-0 lead.

The U.S. (Getty Images)

The young American team is growing with every game. (Getty Images)

The U.S. kept up the brilliant performance till the end of regulation, denying China from scoring and snatching the final Group B victory. Next, they head to Toronto, where they will take on Korea DPR on Aug.16.

GROUP B
TEAMS MP W D L GF GA +/- Pts
GERMANY
3 2 1 0 12 6 6 7
USA
3 2 0 1 4 2 2 6
CHINA PR
3 0 2 1 6 9 -3 2
BRAZIL
3 0 1 2 2 7 -5 1
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