Alex Morgan out, Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe in for tonight’s game in Nashville

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After suffering an ankle injury Saturday night in Jacksonville, Alex Morgan will miss tonight’s U.S. Women’s National Team game in Nashville, the second of a two-match series against visiting Scotland. The U.S.’s goal-scoring star was left out of head coach Tom Sermanni’s 18-woman team announced by U.S. Soccer last night.

Morgan’s left ankle was injured just before halftime of Saturday’s 3-1 win in a tackle with Scottish midfielder Jo Love. The 23-year-old immediately went down, was carried from the field by two members of U.S. Soccer’s training staff, and was replaced by Sydney Leroux.

According to U.S. Soccer, Morgan was able to train on Monday and Tuesday but is being withheld from the team for precautionary reasons.

Morgan’s absence will be balanced by the return of three regular starters, with three other camp invitees set to see their first game action under the new U.S. coach.

Hope Solo, who missed the match in Jacksonville with a slight calf strain, returns to the team. The team’s first choice goalkeeper likely starts ahead of Saturday’s No. 1, Jill Loyden. Nicole Barnhart, who played the second half of on Saturday, misses today’s 18.

Rachel Buehler and Megan Rapinoe missed Saturday’s game after being late arrivals to the Jacksonville camp. Rapinoe is returning from her duties with European champions Olympique Lyonnais while Buehler missed the start of camp for personal reasons. Both players, regular starters under Pia Sundhage, make Sermanni’s Nashville squad.

Defenders Crystal Dunn and Whitney Engen along with midfielder Lori Lindsey failed to make Saturday’s team but have been handed spots for tonight’s match at LP Field. Becky Sauerbrunn and Julie Johnston give up their from Saturday’s squad.

Along with Christen Press, who is off to an unsustainably great start to her national team career, Dunn and Engen will be players to watch.

Dunn, who helped lead North Carolina to last year’s national championship, is the reigning MAC Herman trophy winner. Only 20 years old, the defender has a chance to move into the picture ahead of Canada 2015. Tonight, she should see her first senior national team cap.

Engen, a North Carolina alum, was on the cusp of breaking through with Sundhage’s teams but always got caught in the numbers game. After impressing in WPS, she’s moved to England to help raise the profile of Liverpool FC’s women’s team. A central defender who can also play on the left, the 25-year-old Engen is closer to be regular contributor now.

Here’s tonight’s full roster, courtesy of U.S. Soccer:

GOALKEEPERS (2): 21-Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC), 1-Hope Solo (Seattle Reign)
DEFENDERS (6): 19-Rachel Buehler (Portland Thorns FC), 27-Crystal Dunn (UNC), 28-Whitney Engen (Liverpool FC), 11-Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), 3-Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), 12-Lauren Cheney (FC Kansas City), 17-Tobin Heath (Paris Saint-German), 16-Lori Lindsey (Washington Spirit), 10-Carli Lloyd (Western NY Flash), 9-Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), 15-Megan Rapinoe (Olympique Lyonnais)
FORWARDS (3): 14-Sydney Leroux (Boston Breakers), 22-Christen Press (Tyresö FF), 20-Abby Wambach (Western NY Flash) 

Everton agree deal to buy land for new stadium

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Everton have moved a step closer to a new home on Liverpool’s waterfront.

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The Guardian is reporting that the Premier League have “agreed a deal to purchase land at Bramley Moore dock” which is where a new stadium is proposed for the Toffees.

Per the report, a deal has been agreed in principle with the landowners Peel Holdings and now Everton, led by new billionaire majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, will try to kick their new stadium project on. It is widely expected that the club will announce more details later on Thursday, with Liverpool City Council set to be heavily involved in the huge regeneration project.

Moshiri now has to acquire funding for the stadium and also get planning permissions from the council but things appear to be moving in the right direction.

Back in November 2016, Moshiri said having a stadium which “rewards the fans” was his “key aim” at Everton.

Everton’s search to find a new home after 125 years at Goodison Park has been exhaustive and frustrating. They’ve had three separate sites turned down since 2000 but with Moshiri’s arrival last February there is renewed optimism that building a new luxurious home in Liverpool’s docks is possible.

With Manchester City expanding the Etihad Stadium in recent seasons, Liverpool drastically improving Anfield, West Ham moving into the London Stadium, Chelsea closing in on securing a deal for a $600 million revamp of Stamford Bridge, plus Tottenham Hotspur moving into a new 61,000 home for the 2018-19 season, the rest of the Premier League is kicking on in terms of stadium expansion.

Moshiri has lofty heights for Everton and with Ronald Koeman as manager and plenty of funds promised to improve their exciting squad, the final major hurdle to overcome is the construction of a new home.

VOTE: Select Premier League Goal of the Month – March

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The 2 Robbies have selected their contenders for the Premier League Goal of the Month for March.

[ VOTE: Select your GOTM here ]

Now it’s your job to select the winner by clicking on the link above.

Watch the contenders in the video above and then vote for your favorite.

Enjoy.

At 0-2, Americans understand stakes in World Cup qualifying

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Michael Bradley sees no reason to keep harping on that 4-0 loss at Costa Rica four months ago.

Yes, it’s still fresh in the Americans’ minds, a night every mistake snowballed into another.

“There is zero point in continuing to look back on that at the moment,” Bradley said. “We are where we are. Now it’s about on Friday night beginning this process of moving ourselves back up the table and stepping on the field from the first minute and playing a really aggressive way that ultimately leaves no doubt as to who’s stepping off the field, win or lose.”

Bruce Arena’s U.S. squad gets a fresh start in World Cup qualifying Friday against Honduras, and the pressure is on following the home country’s first 0-2 start in the North and Central American and Caribbean region’s final round.

“We understand the position we’re in,” Bradley said. “There’s no need for anybody on the outside to put any more pressure on us than we’ve already put on ourselves, because we didn’t start the hex in the right way. We put ourselves behind the eight ball. We’re honest and real enough with ourselves to understand that. Friday night is the beginning of our chance to put things right and get ourselves back in a good position. … We need guys to step on the field and understand the moment, not be fazed by it, go for it in a fearless way and have a big group of guys play really well.”

Forward Jordan Morris’ status for Friday appears in question after he missed a third straight day of practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury sustained Sunday with the Seattle Sounders. Morris rehabbed in the gym, the U.S. Soccer Federation said.

“Have you followed our team at all the last month? You think that’s going to be something that’s going to bother me?” Arena said at the start of the week when asked about health concerns. “We’re fine. We’re going to have 11 good players on the field on Friday.”

For those who do play, Bradley said it is paramount everybody brings his best game. Same goes for the Americans’ next match in Panama on Tuesday.

While the man in charge has changed – Arena replaced the fired Jurgen Klinsmann in November for a second stint as U.S. coach – and more Major League Soccer players were called upon this time than in November, Bradley insists the approach remains simple: Find a way to win.

“We stepped on the field in Costa Rica wanting to win. That desire to win is obviously still there, so in terms of the basic idea of stepping on the field and trying to play well and go for it in the right way and come away with a positive result, that part’s still the same obviously,” the longtime captain said. “There’s no two ways about it, we let ourselves down in Costa Rica. We didn’t play well enough. Mistakes turned into bigger mistakes, which turned into bigger mistakes, and so it all comes together in a way that you can lose a game in a bad way.”

And, there are many faces who have been on the big stage – Bradley, included.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard started the past two World Cups. Howard, four-time World Cup participant defender DaMarcus Beasley and Clint Dempsey played for Arena leading into the coach’s last World Cup qualifying, in 2005. Jozy Altidore brings experience up front.

“It’s a huge game for us,” Howard said. “It’s helpful that we have guys who have been through the hex before, who understand what that takes and the pressures that are on us. Yeah, it’s a big game.”

Bradley isn’t getting fancy when it comes to what the U.S. group must do.

“Winning. Three points,” Bradley said. “That’s it.”

“For us the reality is simple: We let ourselves down in the first two games,” he said. “It means that our margin for error is very, very small, but nothing’s changed in that we still feel good about the team that we have, the group that we are. I think that Bruce has come in and done an excellent job in terms of re-establishing certain things, getting at a few things. The mentality, the spirit in training and around the group both in January and now this week has been excellent, so we’re getting a little excited about the chance to step on the field in a big-time qualifier.”

Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

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As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.