Update: Amy Rodriguez out of national team camp, due in August

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Amid yesterday’s news that Amy Rodriguez would be unavailable for the Seattle Reign came a lot of speculation about her immediate national team future. Despite news of her pregnancy, Rodriguez he may be able to play in the current national team camp, we thought. March’s Algarve Cup could still be in play.

Wrong on all accounts. Today U.S. Soccer confirmed Rodriguez has been replaced in national team camp by Chicago Red Stars number one draft pick Zakiya Bywaters. According to the federation’s release, Rodriguez and husband Adam are expecting an August arrival.

Before Rodriguez’s pregnancy was announced, Bywaters had tweeted the news of her surprise call-up. Once it was confirmed Rodriguez would not join the Reign this season, many speculated Bywaters’ invite was tied to a potential Rodriguez withdrawal. Per U.S. Soccer’s release, the Pac-12 Player of the Year was recalled to replace the departing Rodriguez.

Now all the virtues of being available for Tom Sermanni’s first camp get flipped. Coming off a year and a half that saw her role in the national team diminish, the ongoing camp was particularly important one for Rodriguez. Now the 25-year-old misses her chance to impress her new coach and potentially win back some of player time he’s lost. During the next eight-plus months on the sideline, Rodriguez stands to lose ground to players like Tyreso’s Christen Press.

With her recall, Bywaters also enters the picture, with her invite to the Jacksonville camp culminating a banner month for the 21-year-old. The Las Vegas-native was the surprise first pick in this month’s inaugural NWSL draft.

But with the news of Rodriguez’s pregnancy barely 24 hours old, it’s still mentioning: There are big, life-defining issues, and then there’s soccer. Rodriguez will probably lose some ground in the national team over the next nine-or-so months, but she’ll also be starting a family, something which transcends her place in a soccer team. Soon these types of admonitions won’t be necessary, but still in a time which should be happy for family and friends, it’s worth repeating: The USWNT camp is actually a secondary concern.

Report: Man City, Guardiola to discuss new contract this summer

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Manchester City does not want to let Pep Guardiola start the third year with the club without signing on for longer term.

Guardiola enters the third and final year of his deal in August, and the BBC reports that Man City plans to negotiate a new deal with the Catalan wizard this summer.

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This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given City’s outstanding sophomore season under Guardiola.

Unbeaten City has an 11-point lead on the Premier League table after 18 weeks, with one draw and a PL record 16-straight wins. They have 56 goals scored, conceding just 12.

They’ve won five of six UEFA Champions League matches, only losing a match their opposition needed and they did not, 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. City faces Basel next, and visits Leicester City in the League Cup quarterfinals Wednesday.

Lanzini charged by FA for fooling ref with dive

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Manuel Lanzini dove to earn a penalty in West Ham’s 3-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday at the bet365 Stadium, and he may pay for it.

Lanzini, who also posted an assist in an influential performance, drew the penalty converted by Mark Noble when he hit the deck under minimal contact from Erik Pieters.

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He could miss two matches for “successful deception of a match official,” the same penalty given to Everton’s Oumar Niasse for a similar offense.

West Ham pulled out of the drop zone with the win, but has three bottom-half battles coming up over the festive fixtures: Saturday versus Newcastle, Dec. 26 at Bournemouth, and Jan. 2 versus West Brom.

Griezmann backtracks over ‘insensitive’ blackface tweet

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MADRID (AP) Soccer star Antoine Griezmann has apologized for any offense caused after posting an image of himself on social media in blackface as part of an NBA party costume on Sunday.

Griezmann, who is white, was also wearing a wig and holding a basketball in the photo which had “NBA 69 ALLSTARS” on the jersey.

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The photo on his official Twitter account was accompanied by the message “80’s Party” followed by basketball and laughing emojis.

One response called the photo a “bad idea” with others urging the France forward to delete the tweet.

Griezmann at first reacted to the criticism by tweeting: “Calm down friends, I’m a fan of the Harlem Globetrotters and of this great era… It’s a tribute.”

He later tweeted an apology to those he had offended.

“I recognize that’s it’s insensitive on my part. If I offended some people I’m sorry,” he wrote.

The 26-year-old Griezmann plays for Spanish team Atletico Madrid but has been linked to a move to Barcelona.

Alex Morgan named CONCACAF Female POY, Navas wins Male POY

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CONCACAF awarded some of its finest players and coaches on Sunday night, and two familiar faces took home the evening’s most notable awards.

[ MORE: Making sense of table in Man City’s world ]

U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica and Real Madrid each earned Female and Male Player of the Year honors, after boasting tremendous 2017 seasons.

Morgan who primarily plays for Orlando in the NWSL, was also a member of Lyon, who went on to win the Women’s Champions League this past season.

Navas, on the other hand, played a key role in Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League run, as well as Los Blancos’ La Liga title.

For Morgan, the award is her third since CONCACAF began handing out its annual awards in 2013. Meanwhile, Navas has now won Male Player of the Year on two occasions.