Games to Watch this Weekend
The battle in the EPL continues Sat with a 3rd vs 4th place battle with Leicester City hosting Liverpool at 7:30 am on NBCSN followed by 1st place Man City hosting Tottenham at 12:30 on NBC. Dortmund and US Mid Gio Reyna are desperate for wins to get back in the top 4 vs Hoffenhiem and new American loanee Chris Richards from Bayern Sat at 9:30 am on ESPN+. Not much on Valentines Sunday maybe 3rd place Wolfsburg with American Defender John Brooks hosting 5th Borussia MGladbach at noon on ESPN+. Of course Champions League Sweet 16 first legs are back and Barcelona vs PSG will take the feature spot at 3 pm on Tuesday on CBS Sports Network, while Liverpool will play US Mid Adams and RB Leipzig in Bucharest at 3 pm on CBSAA Tuesday. Wed gives us Porto hosting Juventus and American McKinney at 3 pm on CBSAA while Dortmund and Gio Reyna will travel to Sevilla at 3 pm for the CBS Sports Network game I think. Funny CBS bragging its going to show us the Champions League Final on CBS. Whoa – we have to pay to watch the BEST GD 16 teams in the World play in the Round of 16 or 8 or 4 – behind a horrific firewall Pay Channel CBSAA without even the ability to re-wind – but they are going to bless us with the final on CBS network TV. Thank you oh CBS Gods.
Oh Wed at 3 pm Everton will host EPL League leader Man City on NBCSN – weird timing. Of course the US Ladies will host the She Believe’s Cup with a Thurs 7 pm matchup vs Canada on FS1 – right after Brazil faces Argentina at 4 pm on FS1 from Orlando.
US Ladies – She Believes Cup Starts Thurs
The US will face Argentina first Thurs at 7 pm on FS1 live from Orlando. Good to see both Alex Morgan and Christen Press return to the squad and it makes the She Believe’s Cup must see TV as coach tries to 1 stay undefeated and 2 try to figure out which 18 players will be headed to the Olympics this summer. We hope!
Full She Believes Cup squad:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 4), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 65)
DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA; 2/0), Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG; 63/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 27/1), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 107/24), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit; 133/2), Margaret Purce (Sky Blue FC; 4/1), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 179/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 48/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 105/20), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC;88/20), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City, ENG; 48/13), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnaise, FRA; 2/1), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 18/3), Samantha Mewis (Manchester City, ENG; 70/21)
FORWARDS (6): Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 296/123), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 170/107), Christen Press (Manchester United, ENG; 139/58), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign; 170/54), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 1/0), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 31/10). (Tobin Heath out 12 wks)
Updated schedule: She Believes Cup
Thur Feb. 18 Brazil vs. Argentina 4 PM ET
Feb. 18 USA vs. Canada 7 PM ET FS1
Sun Feb. 21 USA vs. Brazil 3 PM ET FS1
Feb. 21 Argentina vs. Canada 6 PM ET
Wed Feb. 24 Canada vs. Brazil 4 PM ET
Feb. 24 USA vs. Argentina 7 PM ET FS1
Congrats to Bayern Munich for winning their 6th cup this year – by winning the FIFA World Club Cup 2-0 vs Mexican Side Tigres. This is the first time a North American team has advanced to the Finals of the World Club Cup – and speaks well of our own MLS Squad LAFC who lost in extra time after 2 legs to Tigres. Imagine a MLS team at the FIFA World Club Cup vs a Liverpool or Bayern or Juve? LAFC and Bob Bradley were just 1 lucky goal away from being there. Also huge congrats to Juve Legendary GK Gigi Buffon who just turned 43 last week – as he kept a clean sheet for Juventus vs league leader Inter on Wednesday to help his team with Renaldo and McKinney advance to the Italian Cup Final.
FA Cup – Final 8
If you didn’t see the FA Cup Cup game on ESPN+ between Everton vs Tottenham on Wed you missed 1 hell of a game – 9 goals scored 7 in the first 90 minutes. Kane, James, Son all scoring huge goals to swing the momentum – it was just fantastic soccer. Premier League leaders Manchester City will take a trip to Everton and Manchester United travel to Leicester City in the FA Cup quarterfinals following the draw on Thursday. Everton, who beat Tottenham Hotspur 5-4 in a thrilling match on Wednesday, will host Pep Guardiola’s City, who set a top-flight record with a 15th straight victory in all competitions when they beat Championship Swansea City and US Forward Jordan Morris 3-1. Manchester United will take on fellow league title contenders Leicester. United, who last won the FA Cup in 2016, are bidding to win the trophy for the 13th time. Second tier Bournemouth and American will host fellow south coast club Southampton, who beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 on Thursday to make the last eight. Chelsea, who won 1-0 at Championship side Barnsley, will entertain the Premier League’s bottom club Sheffield United. The matches will be played on the weekend of March 20-21.
GAMES ON TV
(American’s in parenthesis)
Fri, Feb 12
2 pm NBCSN Man United (Press) vs Man City (Mewis, Levelle) Women’s EPL
Sat, Feb 13
7:30 am NBCSN Leicester City vs Liverpool
8 am beIN Sport Atletico vs Granada
9:30 am ESPN+ Dortmund (Reyna) vs Hoffenhiem (Richards)
12 ESPN+ Juventus (McKinney) vs Napoli
12:30 pm NBC Man City vs Tottenham
12:30 pm ESPN+ Schalke (Hoppe) vs Union Berlin
Sun, Feb 14
9 am ESPN2 Cagliari vs Atalanta Italy
9 am NBCSN West Brom vs Man United
10:!5 am beIN Sport Real Madrid vs Valencia
11:30 am NBCSN Arsenal vs Leeds United
12 noon ESPN+ Wolfsburg (Brooks) vs Borussia MGladbach
2:!5 Peacock Fulham (Robinson) vs Everton
2:45 pm ESPN+ Inter vs Lazio Italy
3 pm beIn Sport Real Bettis vs Barcelona (Dest)
Mon, Feb 15
1 pm NBCNS West Ham vs Sheffield United
3 pm NBCSN Chelsea (Pulisic) vs New Castle United
Tuesday, Feb. 16
RB Leipzig (Adams) vs. Liverpool, 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
Barcelona vs. PSG, 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access/CBS Sports Network)
Wednesday, Feb. 17
1 pm NBCSN Burnley vs Fulham (Robinson)
Porto vs. Juventus (McKinney), 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
Sevilla vs. Borussia Dortmund (Reyna), 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
3 pm NBCSN Everton vs Man City
Thurs Feb 18
1 pm CBSAA Real Sociadad vs Man United
4 pm Fox Sports 1 Brazil vs Argentina She Believes Cup
7 pm Fox Sports 1 USA Women vs Canada She Believes Cup
Sat, Feb 20
7:30 am NBCSN Southampton vs Chelsea (Pulisic)
10:15 am beIN Sport Atletico vs Levante
12:30 pm NBC Liverpool vs Everton
12:30 pm ESPN+ Schalke (Hoppe) vs Dortmund (Reyna)
Sun Feb 21
7 am NBCSN West Ham vs Tottenham
9 am ESPN+ AC Milan vs Inter 1 vs 2 Italy
9 am NBCSN Aston Villa vs Man City
3 pm Fox Sports 1 USA Women vs Brazil She Believes Cup
Tuesday, Feb. 23
Lazio vs. Bayern Munich, 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea (Pulisic), 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access/CBS Sports Network)
Wednesday, Feb. 24
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Manchester City, 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
Atalanta vs. Real Madrid, 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
Champions League Sweet 16 is Back
Round of 16
Tuesday, Feb. 16
- Leg 1: RB Leipzig (Adams) vs. Liverpool, 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
- Leg 1: Barcelona vs. PSG, 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access/CBS Sports Network)
Wednesday, Feb. 17
- Leg 1: Porto vs. Juventus (McKinney), 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
- Leg 1: Sevilla vs. Borussia Dortmund (Reyna), 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
Tuesday, Feb. 23
- Leg 1: Lazio vs. Bayern Munich, 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
- Leg 1: Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea (Pulisic), 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access/CBS Sports Network)
Wednesday, Feb. 24
- Leg 1: Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Manchester City, 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
- Leg 1: Atalanta vs. Real Madrid, 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)
USMNT, Northern Ireland announce March international friendly
USMNT, Barcelona defender Sergino Dest out injured
USMNT, Mexico battle for teenage star Munoz
MLS 2021 regular season to begin April 17!
MLS players ratify seven-year collective bargaining agreement with league
Bayern Munich beats Tigres, wins second Club World Cup
RB Leipzig emerge as Bayern’s biggest Bundesliga rivals13hDerek Rae
‘Exceptional’ Ibrahimovic breaks 500-goal mark to keep AC Milan top
Morocco defeat Mali to become first back-to-back CHAN champions EPL
FA Cup QFs: Leicester-Man Utd; Everton-Man City
Premier League Power Rankings
Chelsea issue update on Christian Pulisic
Pogba to be sidelined for a ‘few weeks’, says Solskjaer
Premier League referee contacts police after death threats
Mike Dean receives death threats; Soucek red card overturned
Klopp scrambles for answers as Liverpool’s season unravels
Alisson gifts leader Man City win at fading champ Liverpool
Morris, Arriola’s delayed moves to Europe show there’s more than one path to USMNT stardom
Feb 9, 2021ESPN
These days, the career path for young American players seems straightforward: Get your butt to Europe as early and as quickly as possible, and then progress from there. It’s an approach that, in the past six months alone, has seen the likes of Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas to Roma), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union to Genk), Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia to FC Salzburg), and Daryl Dike (Orlando City to Barnsley), each make moves abroad before their 22nd birthdays.The recent exodus continues an ever-growing trend for American stars, with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Giovani Reyna having all previously crossed the Atlantic as youngsters.Jump to: A few minutes with Cannon | Stock watch: Brooks, Pulisic, Siebatcheu, De La Fuente
All of which makes the paths taken by Paul Arriola and Jordan Morris feel anachronistic by comparison. Both recently completed loan moves to English Championship high-flyers Swansea City — and could line up against Manchester City this Wednesday in the FA Cup (12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) — but did so at the relatively advanced age of 26. Not that it’s too late by any means.”My goal was always to grow as a player, and that continues to be my goal,” said Arriola. “How can I push myself? How can I take myself to the next level?”Granted, each career carries with it its own momentum. For some, the path is clear early on and resembles a beautifully paved road. Others can get stuck in blind alleys or turn down opportunities to move abroad, the path not taken haunting them at the end of their playing days. There is also a school of thought that starting out abroad and then returning to MLS is akin to forever turning one’s back on foreign opportunities. Yet that is what Arriola did, beginning his career with Liga MX side Club Tijuana, where he spent four years.
While Arriola made himself useful for Xolos, he never quite rose to the ranks of being indispensable. So when D.C. United came calling in 2017 with a $3 million transfer fee, he jumped at the chance, eschewing other opportunities overseas, and became a consistent presence for both the Black-and-Red and the United States men’s national team. All the while, the California native never closed the door on future opportunities abroad.”My thoughts were I can use MLS as a trampoline bounce, and then go further if I was successful,” he said. “I found some stability [with DCU], and I was able to establish myself. I continued to want that same type of career where you’re a constant impact player, you’re always involved in games.”As much as it’s become a cliche that there are myriad paths to a successful pro career, Morris seemed to violate even more tenets of how best to navigate that path. He turned down a homegrown deal with the Seattle Sounders when he was 18 in order to go the much-maligned college route and attend Stanford University. His reasoning was simple — with the likes of Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, and Eddie Johnson on the team’s books, playing time would be hard to come by. Going to a high-level program like Stanford would still test him.”Going [to Stanford], I felt that my path was just going to be: play however many years there, hopefully, try to win a national championship and then come back to the Sounders because European teams aren’t scouting college kids,” he said.A scrimmage against the U.S. men’s national team ahead of the 2014 World Cup changed everything. Morris impressed then-U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann so much that he was called up to the senior team later that year, becoming the first college player in 15 years to play for the USMNT. Then in 2015, in his first international start, the forward scored in a friendly against rivals Mexico. When Morris decided to turn professional in early 2016 following his junior year at Stanford, he trained with and received an offer from Bundesliga side Werder Bremen. Seattle was also trying to land the forward, but it was clear what most observers thought he should do: Head to Germany. Morris disagreed, joining the hometown Sounders instead.”Going over to Bremen, I definitely felt that pressure, that people thought that was the best option for me,” Morris said. “But I knew myself. And I knew what I felt was going to be best for my career and where I felt I would develop the best and I felt that was going to be Seattle.”That decision was panned in some circles: then-U.S. international Jermaine Jones said at the time that Morris took “the easy way.” But Morris felt that being near home would help him adapt to the professional game, and time has shown the move clearly paid off with a pair of MLS Cups to his name. When Morris tore his ACL in 2018, being close to family aided his recovery. And like Arriola, Morris never felt like he was completely giving up on a European move.”I felt confident that that option would be there,” he said. “But again, at the time, and even now, if I played my whole career in Seattle, I think I would have been really, really happy and fulfilled and felt that I developed really well as a player.”
Americans in Europe
Could either player have developed quicker if they had pounced on overseas opportunities earlier in their careers? It’s impossible to say. One or both might have seen their stock skyrocket, but plenty of American careers have dried up in Europe as well. They certainly head to Europe now as more established, mature players.Timing was a factor as well in terms of making a move now. Morris said he had been feeling the itch in recent years to test himself overseas. With MLS not scheduled to start until April 3, Arriola spoke of not wanting to wait a few months for his next competitive match, especially as he continues to return to full strength following an ACL injury of his own. With a busy international calendar ahead, testing themselves and staying sharp will be paramount. And now they’ll have each other to lean on as well, on a club in the thick of the Premier League promotion race.”Paul and I are really close, [and have been] for a while now with the national team,” said Morris. “He’s one of my good friends, so it’s pretty surreal actually, that we ended up in the in the same spot.”Especially given the paths they took.— Jeff Carlisle
A few minutes with … Reggie Cannon
USMNT right-back Reggie Cannon joined Portuguese outfit Boavista in September after three-plus seasons in MLS with FC Dallas.The 20-year-old recently caught up with ESPN’s Tom Hamilton to discuss his decision to move to Europe, life in Portugal and what it is like at Boavista so far.
Stock watch: Assessing the ups and downs of Americans abroad
John Brooks, Wolfsburg — On the rise: Brooks has quietly been one of the top-performing Americans in Europe this season, commanding a Wolfsburg defence that has conceded just 19 goals in 19 Bundesliga games, the second-best mark in Germany’s top flight. In fact, Wolfsburg have not conceded a goal in five consecutive games over all competitions, with Brooks playing every minute during that span. The 28-year-old was reportedly available for transfer last summer, sources tell ESPN, but it would seem Wolfsburg are quite happy that they have held onto the American.According to one German journalist, Brooks has formed an “ideal partnership” with newcomer Maxence Lacroix due to Brooks’ experience and Lacroix’s speed. If Brooks’ can replicate his recent club form with the national team, it would be a huge boon for the USMNT, as inconsistency has defined his international career so far.
Christian Pulisic, Chelsea – Trending down Trending down: Thomas Tuchel confirmed after Chelsea’s win over Sheffield United on Sunday that Pulisic was omitted from the squad because of “family issues,” but the 22-year-old’s involvement under the new Blues boss has been limited to 84 minutes in four games.
Sources tell ESPN’s James Olley that the United States international’s diminished game time could be explained by a couple of reasons: the club’s medical staff are concerned that the United States international is at risk of suffering another hamstring injury, and Tuchel is keen to evaluate the squad at his disposal, already having a good understanding of what Pulisic offers after their time together at Borussia Dortmund.
Jordan Siebatcheu, Young Boys (on loan from Rennes) — On the rise: If Siebatcheu is an unfamiliar name to you, it’s perhaps because he has never played for the United States at any level. The Washington D.C.-born forward, who on loan at Swiss giants Young Boys from Ligue 1’s Rennes, bagged a hat-trick last week to take his tally for the season to seven goals in 17 games for the Swiss Super League leaders. While things didn’t work out for him initially at Rennes, sources tell ESPN that the French club remains quite positive about his future, expecting him to return and fight for a starting place next season.
The former France Under-21 international remains eligible for the United States and, in an interview with American Soccer Now last year, hinted he would be open to representing the Stars and Stripes. Given the USMNT’s uncertainty at striker, don’t be surprised if the in-form Siebatcheu receives a call-up from Gregg Berhalter soon.
Konrad de la Fuente, Barcelona — Holding steady: After surprisingly cracking Barca’s first-team out of preseason at the tender age of 19, De la Fuente has faded into the background a bit in recent months. The winger has managed just 26 minutes for Barca so far this campaign and thus has been turning out for Barca B recently to get playing time.With Ronald Koeman adamant that youngsters need to play and gain experience, sources tell ESPN that if Barca can keep players fit, the plan now is for him to train with the first team in the week, join up with the B team on Friday or Saturday and then play for them at the weekends. Breaking into a star-studded Barca team was always going to be a tall task for the youngster, and next season Barca will have to decide whether it is best for his development to stay around the first-team again or go out on loan and get minutes.
Scouting report: Bryan Reynolds
Bryan Reynolds has just 31 MLS appearances to his name and has yet to represent the United States above the Under-18 level, yet two of Italy’s biggest clubs, Juventus and AS Roma, were desperate to sign him during the winter transfer window. Why? Potential.
Roma ultimately won the tug-of-war for the 19-year-old right-back, the latest bright talent –Weston McKennie, Chris Richards, Reggie Cannon, etc. — to emerge from FC Dallas’ fruitful development pipeline. What they are getting is a player with huge upside, as Reynolds possesses great size (6’3″) and speed, and is an excellent crosser of the ball. Reynolds’ time as a winger earlier in his career also seems to have really benefitted him from an attacking perspective, particularly as a dribbler and in terms of his directness. This past season he picked up three assists for Dallas but with the number of chances he created (16 in 19 games), that figure could have easily been higher.Where Reynolds will need to continue to develop is as a defender. While far from a liability this past season, the youngster was inconsistent at times defensively, and he definitely has room to improve when it comes to tracking runners and not getting caught too far forward. This seems to be a common thread with most young full-backs, and given Reynolds’ recent position switch, this could simply be dismissed as inexperience at the position.Reynolds is not a player who will jump into Roma’s starting XI overnight but he does possess tremendous attacking potential as a full-back long-term, and that is what top clubs are shelling out the big bucks for these days.
Orlando Pride star Alex Morgan energized by return to USWNT
By JULIA POEORLANDO SENTINEL |FEB 11, 2021 AT 8:24 PM As Alex Morgan pushes to return to top form with the U.S. women’s national team, the star striker says she’s looking to Orlando Pride teammate Sydney Leroux for guidance and support balancing life as an elite athlete and a mother.Leroux and Morgan have played together and against one another for more than a decade — in the Pac-12, the NWSL and with the national team. But due to pregnancies and injuries, they have rarely shared the pitch in Orlando.This season will be different as the two forwards chase comebacks delayed by the pandemic.Morgan said she believes they can help each other achieve their goals.“I’m really happy to have Syd on the team just to be able to help guide me,” said Morgan, who is still early in her return from giving birth to her daughter, Charlie. “She has been here quite a few years with kids, and this is kind of really my first go-around into a full season. … I feel like having Syd on my team, having another mom to be able to lean on in certain times is really important for me.”https://www.instagram.com/p/CLIsO6yF6Zo/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=13&wp=658&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.orlandosentinel.com&rp=%2Fsports%2Forlando-pride-soccer%2Fos-sp-orlando-pride-alex-morgan-orlando-pride-20210212-2gzi5cqj5zdpdgtwcrh33j7s2u-story.html#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A3694.81999999698%7D The pair trained together for several weeks before preseason began. During early sessions, Morgan noted their immediate chemistry on and off the field.Morgan and Leroux offer each other an important link as stylistically unique strikers. Off the field, Morgan said they can talk about anything now — sleep schedules, favorite snacks, their favorite new pajamas for the kids.Leroux offers advice and support to Morgan, who joins a small group of mothers in the NWSL.“I think I’m being a mom of two and a woman, I think we can do it all,” Leroux said. “I hope that I prove that to girls and women and moms every single day.”Morgan said this support has become essential as she prepares for the 2021 NWSL season, which will be her first full season back since pregnancy after a short loan stint in Tottenham.
Morgan’s comeback always ran through Orlando. The striker said she never planned to remain in England with Tottenham long-term. At most, she considered staying for the remainder of the FA WSL season, then returning to the Pride for the NWSL regular season.But Morgan wanted a smoother transition into the regular season and the chance to be closer to family before the NWSL season began.Charliehas now become a common sight at the Pride’s training facility and the Americans’ hotel. Morgan said her presence only sharpens her desire to perform on the pitch.“Now also having Charlie, I feel like I’m making the most of it when I go to training,” Morgan said. “I don’t want to give 90%. I want to make sure I give 100% every time I go to training, because that’s pulling me away from Charlie.”
https://www.instagram.com/p/CLFIlSuhPRS/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=13&wp=658&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.orlandosentinel.com&rp=%2Fsports%2Forlando-pride-soccer%2Fos-sp-orlando-pride-alex-morgan-orlando-pride-20210212-2gzi5cqj5zdpdgtwcrh33j7s2u-story.html#%7B%22ci%22%3A1%2C%22os%22%3A4954.024999999092%7D Morgan’s return plan was delayed in January when she tested positive for COVID-19.
Charlie and Morgan’s husband, Servando Carrasco, got sick after flying from England to Los Angeles, where they shared photos celebrating the Christmas holiday with a group of family members.Morgan said the sickness was challenging for all three.
“I actually had a lot of symptoms from COVID,” Morgan said. “I was fairly sick.”Morgan said her family took two weeks to sleep and rest before she could begin to attempt training again. It took at least three weeks, she said, to return to feeling like herself.“It took a lot of patience as well on my end,” Morgan said.After fighting through COVID-19 symptoms, Morgan said she’s no longer feeling lingering effects from the virus. She’s now training at full speed with the national team as the U.S. prepares to host the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando later this month.Although the pandemic delayed Morgan’s return to the club and international stage, she said the extended recovery time was something of a “silver lining” throughout the last year.The striker said she’s refreshed and believes she’s at a similar point physically and mentally as her teammates.When asked how close she felt to a return of her tea-sipping goal celebration, Morgan said she nearly felt back to that caliber of play.“I’m kind of waiting for the tea to cool down right now to take a sip, you know,” Morgan said. “Not quite there, but it’s coming soon enough.”For Morgan, all of this preparation is happening with an understanding that her ultimate goal — the Tokyo Olympics — might not happen.The pandemic forced the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and reports of a potential cancellation have swirled during the past month.Morgan said the Americans are continuing to train with the expectation of competing this summer, but adaptability has become key as she approaches the new year.“You have to prepare like it’s gonna happen, knowing that it could could be shut down with a moment’s notice,” Morgan said. “We’ve seen that in leagues all over the world and that’s just part of the world that we’re living in right now. It’s definitely a different mindset, because I never would have imagined that you would just be told that you’re not playing a game the next day and be like, ‘Okay.’ But that’s literally the mindset you have to take now.”
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Julia Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Black History Month: Couldn’t keep USWNT mid Shannon in a Boxx
Shannon Boxx was a unique player for the United States Women’s National Team. She was a player that played the right style at the right position at the right time, and is known as one of the great players in U.S. Soccer history. But, it was a diagnosis late in her career that made her career even more unique.Boxx grew up in Torrance, California with her white single mother. Her father was black, but there wasn’t much interaction with him. One thing that Shannon latched onto early was soccer, and her talent was very evident even in her youth. She dominated youth soccer in California, leading her local team in Torrance to 4 state championships and 2 USYSA Final Fours. She was a Parade All American in 1995 for high school soccer, and she also excelled at volleyball, softball, and basketball during her high school days.
Boxx earned a scholarship to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and as a freshman, she helped the team to its first national championship. She played for 4 years in South Bend, and was All-Big East 3 years in a row. She has the most appearances in Notre Dame history with 101 matches. It was at Notre Dame that Boxx began to discover more of her African American heritage.“For me, I really learned about my other half. I took African American studies. I majored in it. I think that was one of the best things I could have ever done. My mom couldn’t teach me those things. So I went and taught myself and learned those things when I was at Notre Dame.”
After Notre Dame, she played a couple seasons with the Boston enegades of the W-League and with 1. FC Saarbrücken in the Frauen-Bundesliga, but almost retired because of her unhappiness. She then came home to play in the new Women’s United Soccer Association, getting drafted in the first round by the San Diego Spirit. She played every match in her first year in 2001, but her minutes diminished over the course of 2002. She was traded to the New York Power, and in 2003 her career took off. She was named to the All-WUSA team in 2003. Tony DiCicco, the coach of the 1999 World Cup-winning United States Women’s National Team, had served as commissioner of the WUSA. He called Boxx “the best [defensive midfielder] in our league…physical, strong, technical…I was never that big of a Shannon Boxx fan. The league proved me wrong.’’Boxx also played for the Los Angeles Sol, Saint Louis Athletica, FC Gold Pride, and magicJack of Women’s Professional Soccer before finishing her career with the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League in 2015. It was when her break came with the Power in 2003 that she finally broke through to the USWNT.Boxx had been a member of the United States U-21 player pool, but in August 2003, Shannon Boxx received her first USWNT call-up by then national team coach April Heinrichs. She became the oldest player to debut for the USWNT and the first uncapped player to ever make a Women’s World Cup roster for the team. She scored her first goal in a warmup match against Costa Rica, following up with another goal in the last warmup match against Mexico and again in the USWNT’s World Cup opener against Sweden. Boxx was the first American woman to score 3 goals in her first 3 matches with the national team.She was a major contributor for the team during the 2003 World Cup, starting 5 matches and scoring against Canada in the 3rd place match. She used that to vault into serving as the regular starter for the national team. She started 31 of 32 matches in 2004, including every match at the 2004 Olympics, helping the team secure a gold medal. She was 7th in FIFA World Player of the Year voting. In 2005, she only improved from there, playing well enough for the USWNT to finish 3rd in World Player of the Year voting, behind Birgit Prinz and Marta.Boxx was injured for almost all of 2006, but was able to return in 2007 in time to be named to the World Cup roster. She featured in every match except for the 3rd place match, which she sat out due to suspension after receiving 2 yellow cards in the semifinal against Brazil.It was in 2007, at the age of 30, that Shannon Boxx was diagnosed with lupus. She had been experiencing extreme fatigue and joint pain and excessive muscle soreness after training session. Lupus, an autoimmune disease, produces antibodies that destroy healthy tissue in the body because the immune system can’t tell the difference between healthy tissue and viruses.Boxx was diagnosed with lupus in 2007 when she was 30 years old. At the time she was playing for the U.S. National Team and had begun feeling extremely fatigued; regular training sessions left her with joint pain and muscle soreness. Still, Shannon was not to be deterred. She was an integral part of the 2008 Olympic team that secured its second straight gold medal in Beijing, China.Shannon continued to play, not revealing her lupus diagnosis publicly. It didn’t stop her from dominating on the field. She continued as a regular star for the USWNT in the 2011 World Cup, playing all but one match as the Americans lost to Japan on penalties in the final. She didn’t let lupus deter her from still being a regular contributor for the team. She was named to the 2012 Olympic roster, and the team went to England to win its 3rd straight gold medal. After that Olympics, Shannon Boxx revealed to the world that she had lupus, and that she had been managing it while still being able to play the game she loved at its highest level.Despite winning 3 Olympic gold medals, there was one goal that eluded her: a World Cup trophy. Boxx continued to play, and she earned a spot on the 2015 Women’s World Cup squad for the United States. She continued to feature where needed for the USWNT, as they won the title. Shannon Boxx, having turned 38 during the tournament, lifted her first World Cup trophy. She announced her retirement soon after the end of the tournament in Canada, playing her last match with the national team against Brazil in October 2015.Shannon’s last name may have been Boxx, but she couldn’t be kept in one. Not by lupus, injury, or people doubting her. She persevered through a national team career that spanned 12 years and 195 caps. Her unique style of play, combining grace with physicality and strength, was made even more distinctive by the fact she continued to play that way with a debilitating disease doing its absolute best to hold her back. She defeated that doubt, that injury, that fatigue, that soreness, and will forever live as one of the USWNT’s most decorated legends.
Americans at home: Yanks who need to bounce back in 2021
Now that we’re going to have an MLS season, let’s talk about soccer
Since we’re going to have a 2021 MLS season, it’s time to focus yet again on the game on the pitch. With some high stakes games coming up for the USMNT this year, Gregg Berhalter will be narrowing down the roster ahead of the 2022 World Cup. There have been some big moves in recent months with players going from MLS abroad, however some players have dropped off the mark and will need a strong year to stay in the national team conversation. Let’s take a look at who can step up in the domestic league.
Paxton Pomykal – The Dallas midfielder jumped into the national picture of up and coming MLS players following a stellar 2019. That year he started 20 games across the midfield for FCD and logged 1876 minutes. 2020 was cut sadly short as Pomykal required season ending surgery. He certainly has “the look” of a solid midfielder and at 21 has a while to go before his talent is truly known, but a step forward this year will improve his prospects for playing with the USMNT at either the senior or U23 level.
Jesus Ferreira – His eye popping play in the friendly after January camp against Trinidad & Tobago was certainly a good sign. At 20, he has plenty of time to grow as a goal scorer, but he took a step back last year. An 8 goal/6 assist line in 2453 minutes in 2019 was followed by a lackluster 1 goal/1 assist line with 979 minutes last season. Dallas shuffled him across the field though and if he can find a consistent position it may help along his development. Still, he has obvious talent and if he can start to produce in 2021 he may be headed to Tokyo, Qatar, and beyond.
Mason Toye – The attacker looked like he was breaking through with Minnesota United in 2019. That year he had six goals and three assists in 820 minutes across nine starts and 17 appearances overall. 2020 was less productive. Last year Toye had just one goal in six starts for the Loons who traded to Montreal mid-season. In Canada, or wherever Montreal had to play home games, he did not score and played just 152 minutes. He has a huge opportunity this season as Thierry Henry looks to build a re-branded team. Toye might be fairly fringe when it comes to chances of being on the national team, but if he can prove he deserves to start to Henry, that will speak volumes about his future.
Jonathan Klinsmann – 2020 was something of a rollercoaster year for the son of legendary manager Jurgen Klinsmann. After testing himself at the highest level with Hertha Berlin, Klinsmann joined St. Gallen in Switzerland. He did not break through with the team and subsequently transferred to the LA Galaxy. The keeper didn’t exactly impress with the club and started four games with a clean sheet and 11 goals allowed. That’s not a good number of goals allowed in four games. MLS has been a proving ground for American keepers and a way for them to move abroad, see Zack Steffen for example. However, Klinsmann will first have to win the starting job as LA looks to bounce back after a poor 2020 campaign.
Miles Robinson – Joining Ferreira among players who stood out against Trinidad & Tobago, Robinson will look to somewhat bounce back in 2021. After seeming to breakout with Atlanta United in 2019, the defender seemed a bit off last year. That said, Atlanta spent most of the year struggling for any kind of identity or consistency under interim manager Stephen Glass. Robinson’s best strength has always been his one v. one defending, but he’ll need to add a few more clubs to his bag if he wants to be in the conversation for starting at centerback in Qatar. New manager Gabriel Heinze was a world class defender in his playing days and should help Robinson make a jump in his career and show what he can do in what should be a more competitive season for Atlanta in 2021.
Jozy Altidore – Finally, there’s Jozy Altidore. The third all-time leading scorer for the USMNT might not be the first choice starter going into the World Cup in 2022, but he still has something to offer the team in terms of leadership and coming off of the bench. That said, he needs to prove on the field that he belongs and will deserve a roster spot. Altidore has struggled with injuries throughout his time in MLS having never started more than 25 games or appeared in over 27 since coming back to the league in 2015. In his most recent relatively successful year, Altidore scored 11 goals with 7 assists in 18 starts for Toronto in 2019. A full off season with an extra month tacked on will give him extra time to be healthy for 2021, but he’ll need to stay on the field and keep his numbers up for Chris Armas’ team to stay in the USMNT picture.
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