Australian Socceroos Training Session

The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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(Nos. 11-19 in the weekly countdown are here.)

10. Vancouver Whitecaps – Was it really that broken at BC Place? Because they sure are doing a lot of “fixing.” The offensive makeover is complete (We think!) with this week’s arrival of Scottish striker Kenny Miller. In the back, holding a lead late against San Jose was massive for the ‘Caps, who had lost a late lead just days earlier in similar circumstances against the Galaxy.

9. Seattle Sounders – When does a 4-2 loss ring the bell of improvement? When the same game last year (an exhibition against Manchester United) devolved into a humiliating 7-0 loss. That was Seattle’s only action last week; they travel to Colorado this weekend. Six of a possible 15 points recently isn’t horrible, but it’s no recipe for playoff soccer, either.  Oh, and Alvaro Fernandez’s status remains in question. So, a lot going on there.

8. Chicago Fire – A match at league-leading San Jose is not what any team wants when holding tenuously onto the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth. Last week’s loss in muggy New York didn’t help either. New midfielder Alex needs to get his playmaker feet beneath him, and fast.

7. D.C. United – We expect erratic defense out of D.C. United; the Black and Red still need personnel upgrades throughout the rear guard. But what happened to the offense, which is suddenly looks like it has punched itself out? This week’s friendly vs. newly moneyed PSG does look rather intriguing, punchless offense or not.

6. Sporting Kansas City – Funny thing about this team: They always look as if they should be scoring more. And teams just hate to play Kansas City, because they are going to be kicked and pressured and what-have-you. So why aren’t more results going their way? With just one win in their last five games, they take a substantial fall in the ratings this week.

5. Houston Dynamo – The winning streak stands at three and the unbeaten run at six games. Oscar Boniek Garcia is influencing matches and the switch to a 4-3-3 seems to working splendidly. It’s all taking some of the pain from losing Geoff Cameron, whose long-awaited move to Stoke City seems finally close to fruition. (No, seriously this time – it’s going to happen. Pretty sure, anyway.)

4. Los Angeles Galaxy – They’ve taken 10 of 12 possible points lately, with a draw in Vancouver the only nick in the foursome. Robbie Keane is scoring, and the club’s other DPs are in a good way, too. Keeping them around, on the other hand, is proving problematic. Landon Donovan will miss this week’s trip to Dallas due to yellow card accumulation. And David Beckham is … well, he’s Beckham, which means he’s popped over to London again and probably won’t be up for the match in Dallas, either.

3. New York Red Bulls – Are you kidding me? All this, and Tim Cahill (pictured above), too? News dropped like a ton of Aussie bricks on Monday that the longtime Everton man and Australian international would soon arrive, crazy tats and all, into Red Bull Arena. So New York would seem to have it all now, an EPL-worthy attack, abundant choices of quality in midfield and defense and a goalkeeper who seems wise beyond his years.

2. Real Salt Lake – What a stroke of luck as RSL braces for an important Western Conference match. Vancouver is one spot behind the men from Utah, who sit second in the West. They meet on Friday at Rio Tinto, and now it seems highly unlikely that Jay DeMerit, the rock of Vancouver’s defense, can start. This is truly a chance Jason Kreis’ RSL side simply cannot miss.

1. San Jose Earthquakes – Chris Wondolowski scores in league games, he scores in All-Star games, he’s chasing a long-standing mark and just might get there – what a success story this man is. Of course, he would probably require a multi-goal game here and there over the season’s back half; next chance for one comes Saturday at Buck Shaw, where the Quakes host Chicago. Meanwhile, lots of praise was falling from All-Star coach Ben Olsen on young wingbacks Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow.

Morgan, USWNT cruise past Costa Rica 5-0 behind early flurry of goals

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The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.

Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.

The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.

With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.

VIDEO: Alex Morgan scores goal against Costa Rica in 12 seconds

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The United States got off to a historically roaring start in Olympic qualifying. Taking on Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas to begin Group A play, Alex Morgan opened the scoring in just 12 seconds, taking just six passes to complete the masterpiece.

According to the USWNT twitter account, the goal is the fastest in U.S. Soccer history.

According to CONCACAF, the goal is also the quickest in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, breaking Abby Wambach’s of 35 seconds in a 14-0 domination of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The United States scored three goals in the first 15 minutes against Costa Rica tonight. They will take on Mexico and Puerto Rico across the next five days.

Watch Live: USWNT vs Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 23:  (L-R) Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States is congratulated by teammate Alex Morgan #13 after a goal against Ireland at Qualcomm Stadium on January 23, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
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The United States women are set to begin Group A play in Olympic qualification, taking on 36th ranked Costa Rica at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The game takes place after a 17-day camp at the national training camp in Carson, California.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Other teams in the group include Mexico and Puerto Rico. The Mexicans dominated Puerto Rico 6-0 in the first game.

LINEUP

United States: Solo; Krieger, Johnston, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg; Brian, Horan, Dunn, Lloyd, Heath; Morgan.

Columbus, NYCFC release new kits to mixed results

NYCFC
New York City FC
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Two Major League Soccer clubs have put their kits out there for the 2016 season. They’ve received a mediocre welcome at best.

Columbus was the first, and their kit makes a bold statement moving away from the traditional yellow and black that so often adorns their regular shirts. Instead, the kit incorporates the Columbus flag onto it. The release has seen quite a negative reaction on social media.

The kit was unveiled at the Columbus City Hall on Wednesday, featuring the traditional adidas stripes, although instead of the usual placement on the shoulders, the stripes come down the side of the torso. Recently, adidas has the tendency to copy general jersey patterns across its multiple properties, so look for this design with other clubs in the near future.

The negative reaction to the Columbus release isn’t terribly surprising considering fans often enjoy sticking to tradition, and backlash is common when clubs deviate from the norm. As an additional hurdle, the color contrast between red and yellow is somewhat stark, lending to the difficult reception. Add in the bright pastel blue shorts and…yikes.

While the club didn’t describe how they will utilize this kit during the season, it’s likely to be the primary (at least for now) as the club release says the kit portfolio also includes last year’s black kit, which is traditionally the away kit.

NYCFC’s release of their secondary kit was more positive, receiving a mixed response on social media.

As you can see, adidas again copied their general outline with the stripes down the side of the torso. However, the German clothing manufacturer did much better with the general design of these kits than the Columbus ones. I will give a bit of personal opinion here: I absolutely love these kits. The ripple effect accentuates the crest with a near-3D effect, and the colors mesh perfectly which serves to assuage the eye from being overwhelmed by a busy design. If there’s any criticism, it’s that without an outline, the Etihad logo tends to get in the way a bit, but that’s nitpicking. Well done NYCFC. Columbus…I’ll leave that one to you all.