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ProSoccerTalk daily soccer re-set

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Soccer Birthdays:

Cameroon’s Geremi, Mexico’s Israel Castro, and Argentina’s Martín Demichelis all have claims on December 20, but today we take a moment to talk about our favorite air rifle-toting left back: Chelsea’s Ashley Cole. In addition to being a world class defender who has a ridiculous seven FA Cup winners medals, Cole has given us an amazing transfer saga (his move from Arsenal), one of the higher profile celebrity relationships (Cheryl Tweedy), and an affinity for attacking interns. Legendary stuff here. Let’s wish him a happy 31st.

Big Important Stories of the Day:

UEFA’s going to commandeer your attention mid-day when they make the draw for this year’s Champions and Europa League knockout stages. For the big show, 16 teams will be drawn against each other – first place group finishers against second, no matches between teams from the same federation or group stage packet. For Europa, same rules apply except there are 32 teams, and the celebrity presenters are far less attractive.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day: Walker Zimmerman

*Ahead on the blog today:

It’s a Noah Davis day, so in addition to jumping in on the UEFA-y stuff, our Designated Player will be unloading the week’s worth of thoughts he’s stored up during his time away from the blog. That said, it’s always nice trick for us partners in crime to put out a list of re-set topics and see if our mates can hit them. So how about …

  • best MLS home openers for 2013,
  • Aron Johansson, and …
  • the best and worst things about Krasnodar?

What you should watch on TV today:

Spain’s back in action, so if you have access to it, check out the Real Sociedad-Sevilla match that kicks off at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Else, I strongly recommend going out and catching Silver Linings Playbook. I know it may look like a “pass” from the outside, but it was the best movie I’ve seen all year. Im probably watching it again right now.

Background noise while blogging today:

Speaking of movies, I went and saw The Hobbit on Friday (skip it and thank me later), but it did inspire me to re-watch The Fellowship of the Ring. Has a movie ever had as spectacular a prologue as Peter Jackson’s first Lord of the Rings offering? The answer is no, reader. The answer is no.

We’ll leave you with this:

It’s a beagle puppy playing with a baby goat. Your Thursday is going to be amazing:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oci6WDk2KjI]

*Always subject to change; you know how it is

USC wins NCAA women’s soccer national championship

Southern California's Morgan Andrews celebrates after scoring a goal against West Virginia during the first half in the NCAA Women's College Cup soccer final, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016 in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
AP Photo/Tony Avelar
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Katie Johnson broke a tie in the 75th minute and Southern California won the NCAA women’s soccer title Sunday, beating top-ranked West Virginia 3-1 at Avaya Stadium on Sunday.

The second-seeded Trojans (19-4-2) also won the College Cup in 2007.

The Mountaineers (23-2-2) lost for the first time since a 1-0 setback to Georgetown on Sept. 18. West Virginia had a 17-game unbeaten streak snapped, and allowed three goals for the first all season.

Johnson, who also had the winning goal in USC’s 1-0 semifinal victory over Georgetown on Friday, was wide open in front of the net when Leah Pruitt took a pass up the left sideline, beat defender Easther Mayi Kith, and delivered a perfect cross. Johnson simply rolled the ball into the goal to the right of goalkeeper Rylee Foster.

Johnson scored again off an assist from Nicole Molen in the 87th minute.

The Trojans got on the board just 1:22 into play after Julia Bingham directed a corner kick to the top of the penalty box, where Savannah Levin headed the ball forward to Morgan Andrews, whose header from 5 yards eluded Foster.

West Virginia’s Ashley Lawrence, a member of the 2016 Canadian Olympic team, tied it in the 66th minute when she ripped a shot from the top left corner of the penalty box just inside the near post.

After USC took the 2-1 lead, the Mountaineers nearly drew even in the 81st minute on a shot by Heather Kaleiohi that was stopped on a diving save by goalkeeper Sammy Prudhomme.

The Mountaineers outshot USC 21-8 and held a 9-1 edge in corner kicks.

The Trojans joined North Carolina (21 titles), Notre Dame (3) and Portland (3) as the only multiple winners of the College Cup.

USC won its 126th national team title on the same day its men’s water polo team lost 10-8 to Cal in the NCAA final just 45 miles away in Berkeley.

West Virginia, in its first College Cup final, was hoping to claim its first NCAA title in any sport besides its co-ed rifle team, which has won 18 national titles.

VIDEO: 70-yard volley from Chile is nearly impossible to believe

Alejandro Camargo, Universidad de Concepcion
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His name is Alejandro Camargo, and he scored what might just go down as the best goal of 2016 on Sunday: an impossibly perfect volley from well beyond the halfway line.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

Miguel Pinto is the opposing goalkeeper whose long-range clearance, which covered about 50 yards during the final seconds of Universidad de Concepcion’s clash with O’Higgins in the Chilean first division, was taken off the fly, first-time, by the Argentine midfielder to seal a 3-1 victory for the home side.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

“The coach told us Pinto was always playing in advance of his goal, so I closed my eyes and hit it,” Camargo said after the game.

“Hit it and hope” has never looked so good.

Roma fans stay away from derby to protest new security barriers

A view of a huge section of empty seats as Roma fans desert derby in protest over security barriers, during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma, at the Rome Olympic stadium Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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ROME (AP) Roma’s most ardent supporters stayed away from the derby match against Lazio in protest at barriers introduced at the start of last season in their area.

Normally filled with supporters waving huge banners, lighting flares and singing, half of the “curva sud” — southern end — of the Stadio Olimpico was left empty for Sunday’s match.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

Three of Roma’s locally born standouts held a meeting with the “ultra” fans during the week. Captain Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi asked the supporters to return, and the club itself has also tried to resolve the matter.

But the appeals had no effect.

In contrast, Lazio fans filled the northern end of the stadium as usual.

The plexiglass barriers were put in place by city officials for security reasons.

VIDEO: “Behind The Badge: Watford FC” — Episode 2

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In Episode 2 of Behind the Badge: Watford FC, watch the players’ recovery after a win against Leicester, a look at the club’s one-of-a-kind internship program and a flashback to a memorable moment in Watford’s history.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

To watch past episodes of Behind The Badge, including last season’s edition featuring a look inside Crystal Palace, head over to the full archive by clicking here.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Above video
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN