PST’s Top Three Most Intriguing people in U.S. soccer 2012 – No. 1 Alex Morgan

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It’s so easy to forget how young Alex Morgan is. And equally easy to forget how far this goal-scoring wonder has come in such a remarkably short time.

She was barely a starter to begin the season – and yet look at her now:

She is the new Mia Hamm, the complete bundle, an All-American-type blessed with oodles of skill, humble beneath the bright lights, comfortable in her own skin, willing to be the spokesperson and appreciative that so many pony-tailed Saturday morning superstars are falling over at the very prospect of standing near her.

Clearly, Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Christie Rampone, Carli Loyd and others had their say in the remarkable year just completed by a U.S. women’s team that went a full year at pedal-to-the-metal high rev.

But Morgan pitched in significantly too as the team lost just once in 32 matches (a 28-3-1 record) while claiming Olympic gold in the London Games. The Californian was U.S. Soccer’s Female Player of the Year … well, never mind that, really, because she was pretty much everyone’s U.S. player of the year.

Morgan’s statistical contributions to the calendar year: 28 goals and 21 assists. Truly, the numbers become stunning as they keep tumbling forth:

Her 28 goals were third-best ever in a U.S. Soccer calendar year, behind only Abby Wambach (31 in 2004) and Michelle Akers (39 in 1991).

She was the youngest to join the 20-goal club.

Morgan’s 21 assists tied her for the second-most in a calendar year, just one off Hamm’s mark from 2004.

“Looking back, it’s amazing to look at the stats,” Morgan told Foxsports.com. “I don’t know that I dreamt of making those numbers.”

But it wasn’t just the statistics, it was the big moments. Who could forget how she helped save the drive for Olympic gold with that late goal in Manchester?

Oh, sorry … I got carried away in the wash of numbers and accolades. I forgot to mention the main point here: She’s only 23.

What a career this talented young woman has ahead of her.

Others in the Top Three – No. 2: Landon Donovan

Others in the Top Three – No. 3: Jurgen Klinsmann

WATCH LIVE: Bournemouth vs. Liverpool

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Liverpool looks to pile misery on Bournemouth while increasing its Top Four stock with a visit to the Vitality Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Reds can climb back into the Top Four with a win, and will do so with Sadio Mane, Danny Ings, and Dominic Solanke amongst their bench players.

Bournemouth starts Jermain Defoe, Joshua King, and Jordon Ibe amongst its attackers.

LINEUPS

Bournemouth: Begovic; Daniels, Ake, Francis, Smith, Pugh, Surman, King, L. Cook, Ibe, Defoe. Subs: Boruc, S. Cook, Gosling, Arter, Fraser, Stanislas, Afobe.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Gomez, Lovren, Klavan, Robertson, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coutinho, Salah, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Milner, Mane, Lallana, Ings, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold.

AT HALF: Lukaku, Lingard have Man Utd up at West Brom (video)

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Romelu Lukaku didn’t celebrate much more than a fist pump following his match-opening goal against former teammates West Bromwich Albion.

[ MORE: Watch via NBCSports.com).

No one said anything about celebrating teammates’ goals, though.

Lukaku scored to give the Red Devils a 1-0 lead, then watched as Jesse Lingard‘s deflected lash left Ben Foster high and dry as United cruised into the break up two goals.

It’s 10th PL goal of the season for Lukaku, who has 15 in all competitions. For Lingard, it’s four and seven.

Here’s Lingard’s marker:

Celtic’s record unbeaten run ends at 69 matches

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Celtic’s unbeaten domestic run has ended at 69 matches, and it ended with a thud.

Tynecastle Park was the scene for a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Hearts, a defeat started by a 16-year-old’s first Scottish Premiership goal.

[ REPORT: Luiz done at Chelsea? ]

Harry Cochrane’s his name, and his 26th minute goal gave Hearts the lead, and it was 2-0 by halftime through Kyle Lafferty, the ex-Burnley and Norwich player.

David Milinkovic scored three minutes after halftime, as the wake-up call didn’t arrive at the break, and added a penalty kick late in the match.

Celtic has a two-point lead on second-place Aberdeen with a match-in-hand. Rangers sit five-points back.

Sixty-nine games! Remarkable in any league. Here’s what Rodgers had to say:

“But I also want to congratulate my players. To have gone through 69 games and this to be their first defeat; of course it’s a sore one when you are beaten like that but they can hold their heads up. They have been absolutely amazing over those 18 months.”

WATCH LIVE: West Brom vs. Manchester United

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The Hawthorns is the scene as Manchester United attempts to pull back into sole possession of second place on the Premier League table with a visit to West Bromwich Albion (Watch live at 9:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Baggies have several regular starters on the bench, with Chris Brunt, Gareth Barry, and Gareth McAuley (Allllll the Gareths!) getting a rest.

United will hand starts to Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata, with Anthony Martial on the bench with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

LINEUPS

West Bromwich Albion: Foster; Nyom, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs, Krychowiak, Yacob, Livermore, Burke, McClean, Rondon. Subs: Myhill, Robson-Kanu, Brunt, Barry, Rodriguez, McAuley, Field.

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young, Herrera, Matic, Mata, Lingard, Rashford, Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Lindelof, Rojo, Shaw, McTominay, Ibrahimovic, Martial.