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) 

Rapids hire Patel as director; Highest ranking female exec in MLS

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The Colorado Rapids have hired Ena Patel as their new director of player personnel. She becomes Major League Soccer highest ranking female executive, according to the Denver Post.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s MLS coverage ]

According to the Rapids, she’ll report to club GM Padraig Smith and “oversee player contracts, salary budget, regulatory compliance, and soccer operations protocols.”

The move comes about a month-and-a-half after Sporting KC hired Megan Cameron as an assistant director of player personnel, the first woman hired to an MLS team’s technical staff.

Patel’s resume is outlandishly strong, though this is her first foray into the sports world. Here are some words from Smith, from ColoradoRapids.com:

“Ena’s hiring is the final piece of the puzzle for us on the front office side,” Smith, the Rapids executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement released by the club. “Bringing in a sharp, legal mind who can oversee our contractual processes and complex league mechanisms is a really important part of ensuring that we’re fielding the best possible team. We can’t wait for her to get started.”

Guardiola happy to reach final, knows Man City to be judged by hardware

Nick Potts/PA via AP
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Bristol City made its interesting late with a pair of goals, but Manchester City’s League Cup destiny was never in jeopardy in a 3-2 second leg win at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

[ RECAP: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

That sent the club into the Feb. 25 final with a 5-3 aggregate win, and it’s very difficult not to leap to the story line that is Pep Guardiola‘s chance at a first significant title in his reign at Man City.

The closest City came to hardware last season was being bounced by Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal. This time, City is the favorite to win at least three of its four entered competitions: the Premier League, the League Cup, and the FA Cup.

But to hear Pep say it, for now the club is just happy to have earned one final berth. From the BBC:

“We are so happy to be there, to reach this final. We played an amazing game until 2-0 and then we lost control, these type of games never end until the end. This is a lesson for next weekend in Cardiff in the FA Cup and especially for the Champions League.

“It’s not for me, it’s for Manchester City, a club who are trying to reach another level. … I know that we will be judged by trophies we win but we are so happy. Nobody can take away what we have done, but Chelsea or Arsenal are strong teams.”

Guardiola was serious about not overlooking the Robins, as he rolled out a very similar lineup to the full-strength bunch that beat Newcastle United 3-1 at the weekend. That may have cost City late, but it had already built a 4-1 aggregate lead with two superior away goals.

Yes, Guardiola is a man who measures himself by the way his club plays but also by winning in that attractive fashion. Expect a determined club to stride into Wembley late next month.

Chelsea and Arsenal square off Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium for the right to match up with Man City, who won the tournament in 2014 and 2016. Even year dominance?

Man City into League Cup final (video)

Nick Potts/PA via AP
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  • City outshoots Bristol 28-5
  • Sane, Aguero put MCFC up 2-0
  • Pack, Kent pulls two back for Bristol
  • De Bruyne answers in stoppage
  • City wins 5-3 on aggregate

A pair of late goals put a scare into Man City, but the Premier League leaders scored just before and right after halftime to insure its first leg lead en route to a 3-2 win over Bristol City at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

City wins 5-3 on aggregate in the League Cup semifinal, with Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, and Kevin De Bruyne scoring in the second leg.

Pep Guardiola moves to within 90 minutes of his first significant title as Man City boss, and will face either Chelsea or Arsenal on Feb. 25 at Wembley Stadium.

Marlon Pack and Aden Flint scored for Bristol City.

[ MORE: Full stats, box score ]

Sane scored in the 43rd minute and Sergio Aguero struck less than four minutes after the teams returned from the halftime break.

An errant John Stones clearance helped Bristol to the scoreboard in the 64th minute, with Pack scoring the goal.

Flint then nodded home in stoppage time to give the Robins hope for a miracle win, but new contract hero De Bruyne scored within a minute to burn those hopes to the ground.

Bristol would be in the Football League Championship playoffs if the season ended now, sitting in fifth place.

Midfielder Lassana Diarra joins PSG on short-term deal

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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain has made its first signing of the winter transfer window by hiring midfielder Lassana Diarra on a short-term deal until June 2019.

The 32-year-old holding midfielder will once again try to revive his career in the French league after a successful stint at PSG’s bitter rival, Marseille, that ended last year.

The much-traveled Diarra, who was born in Paris, then played for a few months with United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Diarra, a former Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid player, won English and Spanish league titles in 2006 and 2012. He has 34 caps for France and featured at the European Championship in 2008.

His strong performances with Marseille earned him a recall from France, but he eventually pulled out of Didier Deschamps’ squad for Euro 2016 because of a left knee injury.

“I am very happy to have signed for my hometown club,” Diarra said. “Paris Saint-Germain represents a lot to me and, with the international dimension the club has taken in recent seasons, it is every player’s dream to play here. I am lucky enough to make this dream come true.”

Diarra joined on a free transfer and his signing won’t affect PSG’s bank accounts, which are under UEFA’s scrutiny.

PSG is under pressure to sell players to balance the books after splashing out 402 million euros ($473 million) on forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last year. That led to Qatari-owned PSG being placed under investigation by UEFA for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play rules.