China v United States

Celebration cruise continues for U.S. Women with win over China

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Two things came back to the forefront in the U.S. Women’s National Team’s 2-0, Saturday victory over China: the team’s level of competition and their tendency to start slow in these home “series”.

Those qualities were missing from the team’s performance last Wendnesday against Ireland, the U.S. beating Ireland 5-0 in the first of a two-game set. Last Saturday in Glendale, the U.S. followed that performance with a 2-0 victory at Phoenix Stadium.

Yesterday, it took a half for the States to warm up, but with Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath coming off the bench, the U.S. found their stride in the second half. Both registered assists on goals from Carli Lloyd and Sydney Leroux, the 2-0 final giving the team a comfortable win.

MORE: Assist puts Morgan in elite group

The final score was closer than expected against a team that’s failed to have a part in the last two major competitions, but playing their 30th game of the season, it’s understandable that the team’s exhibiting a lack of urgency. The Fan Celebration Tour’s in its eighth of ten matches, and although a crowd of 17,321 at Ford Field took in the show, the match still had an exhibition’s air to it.

China, though they have slid in recent years, is still a pronounced upgrade from Ireland. The Irish are ranked 34th in the world and are a step away from being competitive to qualify for major tournaments. Although the Chinese have did not qualify for the last World Cup (or this summer Olympics), that’s as much a testament to Asia’s depth as China’s quality.

Beyond the step up in competition, the match was noteworthy for two reasons. Amy Rodriguez, taking Morgan’s place in the starting lineup, got her 100th career cap, becoming the 28th player in national team history to reach the mark. She wore the armband before coming off for Heath in the 48th minute.

MORE: Rodriguez talks about her milestone night

This was also the first match of new coach Tom Sermanni’s three-match evaluation period. He’ll formerly inherit the team next month, and if there’s anything to loosely interpret from how the team used their fullbacks (starting Amy LePeilbet and Kelley O’Hara, bringing on Heather Mitts and Becky Sauerbrunn), the evaluations may start at the back.

Next up, the U.S. and China hit BBVA Compass Stadium Wednesday night for a game that’s expected to draw a crowd. With one game in Florida to follow, the U.S. is finally approaching the end of their long season.

Post-match reactions:

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.

Men In Blazers podcast: Romelu Lukaku Pod Special

Men In Blazers
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Rog and Davo break down Leicester City’s 3 – 1 win at Manchester City, marvel at Spurs going second in the table, and talk about the headlines surrounding the mid-table clash between Chelsea and United.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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