Soccer: Chelsea vs. Manchester City

Manchester-City-v-Chelsea-Premier-LeagueThe Barclays Premier League gives way to the 5th round of the FA Cup this weekend in England with the Chelsea versus Manchester City game

Chelsea heads into this game looking to return to winning ways after they were beaten 2-1 by Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 clash on Tuesday night. They may be down, but it would be wrong to rule them out after picking up a crucial away goal in that game. Manchester City have to play in the Champions League early next week, and there’s still the matter of trying to run down Leicester City in the Premier League while getting back into at least the Top 3 in the process. It would be easy for the players to take their foot off the gas pedal here in this one against Chelsea which has been a mess all season long. The matchup between Chelsea and Manchester City will take place on Sunday, February 21, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. ET at Stamford Bridge. The game will be broadcast on FOX Sports 2.

Manchester City is looking to return to winning ways after their disappointing 2-1 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League last weekend. The Citizens suffered their second home defeat in an important match, and they aren’t playing to their potential at the moment making them look vulnerable. There isn’t a heck of a lot left for Chelsea to play for this year, but it can still work its way into European competition next year by winning the FA Cup. This is going to be a full Chelsea side with nothing left to play for but this. Though it would be easy to hit the self-destruct button here at home, we can’t imagine the Blues doing so in front of their hometown fans.

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Soccer: Manchester City vs. Tottenham

tottenham-manchester-city-harry-kane-nicolas-otamendiManchester City F.C. vs. Tottenham Hotspur F.C. – Premier League

Manchester City was beaten last Saturday by Leicester City by a score of 3-1. The Citizens is left reeling, and it has a match with Tottenham, which is another top flight team coming to Manchester on Sunday. The Totterham Hotspur has won six straight matches to leap into second place in the Premier League. The Spurs have been buoyed by a successful campaign in the FA Cup, and that parlayed with success in the Europa League have them thinking about the possibility of it being a banner year at White Hart Lane. The matchup between Manchester City and Tottenham is set up for Sunday, February 14, 2016, at 11:15 a.m. ET at Ethiad Stadium. The game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network.

The match at Manchester City on Sunday should give a strong indication of Spurs’s title credentials.  Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino claims Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane is at the same level as Sergio Aguero. Kane scored twice in Tuesday’s win at Norwich to take his tally to 15 goals in the Premier League this season. Aguero has long been regarded as one of the world’s best strikers. When Aguero put Spurs to the sword last season, Kane could not even get into the team. Now Kane is one of the most-feared forwards in English football.

Manchester City lost to Leicester City over the weekend and have dropped 12 possible points in nine EPL matches since just before Christmas. The Premier League is truly so wide open this year. Manchester City could lose this one once again. Leicester City exploited the lack of speed at the back, and Harry Kane could end up doing the same thing. The Tottenham Spurs scored four in a span of just 35 minutes against Manchester City back in September at White Hart Lane, and could end up doing something similar here as well.

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USWNT defeats Japan, 5-2, wins World Cup


Carli Lloyd leads USWNT to Shock Japan With Four Goals In Sixteen Minutes, Win World Cup

In a remarkable contest, the U.S. defeated Japan, 5-2, to win its first World Cup since 1999. It was sweet revenge for the USWNT, which lost Japan in the 2011 final on penalty kicks, and Abby Wambach was able to cap her career with the one major title that had eluded her.

Carli Lloyd notched a hat trick just 16 minutes into the game, and her final goal, an eye-popping strike from midfield, actually gave the U.S. a 4-0 lead. Japan fought back and made the score 4-2 shortly into the second half,.  Tobin Heath iced things with a goal in the 54th minute.

In one of the most dominating cup final performances you will ever see, the United States came out and absolutely annihilated Japan in the Women’s World Cup final.  This is their record third World Cup title, and no one can say that they don’t deserve it after a performance like that.

The USWNT pressed relentlessly from the first whistle, scoring on their first two shots of the match, with Carli Lloyd coming up big in the third and sixth minutes. It was a stunning start and one that no one saw coming headed into this match. Most pundits felt that the U.S. would win, but that it would be a more tightly fought, much like when these two played in the 2011 final and Japan came out the victors on penalties.

That wasn’t going to be the case this year. The U.S. women were nowhere near done with those two goals. Lauren Holiday scored the United States’ third goal in the 14th minute, and just two minutes later Lloyd finished her hat trick with a stunning strike from 54 yards out. The utter and complete dominance of Japan was jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring, and before even 20 minutes had gone by the defending World Cup champions were left wondering what they could possibly do to get back into the match.

The USWNT decided that a mere two-goal lead wouldn’t do, and just two minutes later, Tobin Heath knocked in an incredible fifth goal for the U.S. by working the ball in off a set piece. Any hope Japan had of mounting a serious comeback all but died with that goal, though Japan kept on fighting and had several more dangerous attacks down the stretch of the second half.

In the end, Japan’s fight came up short despite their admirable quality. By the time USWNT legend Abby Wambach came on for a victory shift in the 78th minuted of her final World Cup, the match was all but over.

This was one of the most dominant performances you will ever see in this sport, and the fact that it came in a World Cup final makes it all the more impressive. The United States now have a third Women’s World Cup title — more than any other country in the history of the tournament — and became the highest-scoring team in the tournament’s history along the way, with 112 goals across all seven editions of the competition.

So congratulations, United States women’s national team. You’ve made history in so many ways with this match. These celebrations are so well earned and so well deserved. You are the World Cup champions once more.

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USWNT Showing Their Potential, Beat Germany 2-0


Congratulations to the USWNT, who outplayed the world’s No. 1-ranked team during Women’s World Cup

The United States advanced to the World Cup final on Tuesday with its most impressive performance in recent memory, notching a 2-0 victory over a top-ranked German team that had steamrolled its way to the semifinals.

It took six games, but against Germany, the number one ranked team in the world, the USWNT finally showed how well they can play. They got a very big break from a blown call for their first goal, but the Americans played better throughout the match and deserved their victory.

From the beginning, Germany pressed the USWNT defenders very high up on the pitch, and created a couple of turnovers that led to decent goal scoring chances. But mostly the Americans dealt with the pressure just fine, and its bigger effect was creating a somewhat ragged, open game from end to end. As the half wore on, the USWNT seized control.

The Americans, who looked discordant in the early parts of the tournament, seem to be peaking at the perfect time. They looked harmonious and controlled play against the favored Germans for large stretches of the match at Olympic Stadium.

Carli Lloyd, who had scored in the team’s two previous wins, put her stamp on yet another night, scoring on a penalty kick in the 69th minute and providing the game-killing assist on Kelley O’Hara’s goal 15 minutes later.

The United States will find out its opponent on Wednesday, when Japan plays England in Edmonton.

The United States’ starting lineup contained a few surprises when it was revealed an hour before the game. Coach Jill Ellis, for the first time in this tournament, diverted from the straightforward 4-4-2 formation that she had preferred. She used Alex Morgan as her sole, true forward, and shifted Lloyd up from midfield into more of a withdrawn forward role.

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USWNT wins 2-0 over Colombia


The USWNT have a World Cup quarterfinal date with China after they won over Colombia

The USWNT have failed to impress and for the fourth consecutive game, they’ve avoided defeat. While their fans will continue hoping to see more attacking ideas from the USWNT, their 2-0 win over Colombia in the Round of 16 was certainly deserved.

The United States advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Colombia on Monday night in Edmonton. It was a third win in four matches for the Americans, but once again the team will have major concerns about its midfield and attacking play.

In addition, progress came at a high cost. Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday both drew their second yellow cards of the tournament and will be suspended in the quarterfinals, where the U.S. will play China on Friday in Ottawa.

That’s seriously bad news for the U.S. Rapinoe, a wide midfielder, has been the team’s best, most creative attacking player throughout the tournament.
Attacking as a team is something the U.S. simply has not done in this tournament. That was true again Monday night. By now, the pattern is so well worn that the major points could have been predicted before Monday’s game.

Build-up play looked disjointed. The midfield failed to fully connect. The flow of play between lines lacked cohesion. Too often the U.S. relied on long balls lumped up top rather than passing patiently and probing for weaknesses.

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Women’s World Cup – U.S. Women’s Soccer ties Sweden 0-0

women's world cup

The U.S. Women’s Soccer on Friday, tied Sweden 0-0 in a poor game during Women’s World Cup.

Neither team looked dangerous during Friday’s women’s world cup.  A lot of the issues that the USWNT had in their opening game and warm-up friendlies persisted in this match. But this performance wasn’t all bad, and U.S. fans shouldn’t get down on their chances to win the Women’s World Cup quite yet.

Two games into the World Cup, the USWNT have already played two of the toughest opponents they’ll see in the tournament. It’s unlikely that the Americans run into better teams than Sweden or Australia in their first two knockout stage games, and if they put in repeat performances over their next three matches, they’ll get to the semifinal. It would be disappointing to see the U.S. limp their way to the final four, then bow out when they came up against France or Germany, but that currently looks like a near-worst-case scenario.

There are still a lot of issues that the U.S. needs to work out before they get to that stage, but one might have been solved against Sweden. Becky Sauerbrunn was the only member of the American defense who looked great against Australia, but the entire back four played well against Sweden. The Swedes could have done a bit more to put the USWNT defense under pressure, but the back four’s performance, as a unit, had just as much to do with Sweden’s lack of chances. Julie Johnston, in particular, was significantly improved from the first game and was probably the woman of the match for the United States.

Reunions often come bundled with emotion, enough to fill a whole stadium sometimes. They can bring joy. They can bring wistfulness. Occasionally they can even turn out to be anticlimactic, which was the principal takeaway at Winnipeg Stadium Friday night, where the U.S. women’s soccer team faced its old coach on the biggest stage of their sport.

After a tepid start that had the feeling of two boxers pawing at each other in the center of the ring for a half hour, there was at last a frenzied finish, before things ended with a 0-0 tie in a Group D qualification game in the Women’s World Cup.

At 5 feet 2 inches, left back Meghan Klingenberg is the smallest player on the American women’s national team, but she made probably the probably biggest play on Friday night to preserve a 0-0 tie with Sweden in the World Cup.

In the 77th minute, a looping shot from about 10 yards out by Caroline Seger of Sweden appeared that it would elude goalkeeper Hope Solo and provide the decisive goal in a taut, frantic match.

But Klingenberg stood on the goal line at the right post, jumped and headed the ball off the underside of the crossbar. The ball bounced downward, but did not cross the line, and the Americans remained atop their group with a win and a draw after two matches.