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Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores twice, David Beckham starts as PSG bounce Marseille

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David Beckham made his first start fo Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, but as is usually the case when PSG plays, the day belongs to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With both goals against Marseille, ‘Ibra’ led the Parisians to victory in the latest Classique, seeing rival Olympique Marseille out of the French Cup.

Ibrahimovic is now up to 26 goals in his 32 all-competition matches since moving to PSG this summer. He’s also added nine assists, with the Parisians still alive in all four of their competitions.

But as much as Ibra stole the day, Beckham’s first starting assignment will likely get receive much of the critical focus, with the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy star assuming the regista’s role in midfield beside Blaise Matuidi. WIth the ranging French international doing much of the leg work, Beckham was left to do what he does best, distribute. In that role, he performed admirably. With a player like Matuidi beside him, there’s no reason Beckham can’t continue to have this kind of effect on big matches.

And today’s match was a relatively big one. PSG changed much of their team from this weekend’s Ligue 1 Classique, but Marseille still represents a high level of opposition. Against them, Beckham led the game in Opta’s “key passes.” Among the non-goalkeepers, only Marseille’s Joey Barton completed more long passes.

PSG head coach cast him in the role normally given to 20-year-old Italian Marco Verratti, and after seeing Beckham play 100 minutes in the role (between PSG’s last two games), it’s not exactly clear Verratti’s the better option. In fairness, it’s too early to tell, but the fact that Beckham can even be in this conversation at 37-year-old is beguiling.

Will you please start aging as fast as the rest of us?

Here are highlights of today’s game. You won’t get much Beckham, but particularly on the first goal, you’ll get enough Zlatan.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2565w32AHtY]

 

VIDEO: Alex Morgan scores goal against Costa Rica in 12 seconds

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The United States got off to a historically roaring start in Olympic qualifying. Taking on Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas to begin Group A play, Alex Morgan opened the scoring in just 12 seconds, taking just six passes to complete the masterpiece.

According to the USWNT twitter account, the goal is the fastest in U.S. Soccer history.

According to CONCACAF, the goal is also the quickest in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, breaking Abby Wambach’s of 35 seconds in a 14-0 domination of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The United States scored three goals in the first 15 minutes against Costa Rica tonight. They will take on Mexico and Puerto Rico across the next five days.

Watch Live: USWNT vs Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 23:  (L-R) Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States is congratulated by teammate Alex Morgan #13 after a goal against Ireland at Qualcomm Stadium on January 23, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
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The United States women are set to begin Group A play in Olympic qualification, taking on 36th ranked Costa Rica at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The game takes place after a 17-day camp at the national training camp in Carson, California.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Other teams in the group include Mexico and Puerto Rico. The Mexicans dominated Puerto Rico 6-0 in the first game.

LINEUP

United States: Solo; Krieger, Johnston, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg; Brian, Horan, Dunn, Lloyd, Heath; Morgan.

Columbus, NYCFC release new kits to mixed results

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New York City FC
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Two Major League Soccer clubs have put their kits out there for the 2016 season. They’ve received a mediocre welcome at best.

Columbus was the first, and their kit makes a bold statement moving away from the traditional yellow and black that so often adorns their regular shirts. Instead, the kit incorporates the Columbus flag onto it. The release has seen quite a negative reaction on social media.

The kit was unveiled at the Columbus City Hall on Wednesday, featuring the traditional adidas stripes, although instead of the usual placement on the shoulders, the stripes come down the side of the torso. Recently, adidas has the tendency to copy general jersey patterns across its multiple properties, so look for this design with other clubs in the near future.

The negative reaction to the Columbus release isn’t terribly surprising considering fans often enjoy sticking to tradition, and backlash is common when clubs deviate from the norm. As an additional hurdle, the color contrast between red and yellow is somewhat stark, lending to the difficult reception. Add in the bright pastel blue shorts and…yikes.

While the club didn’t describe how they will utilize this kit during the season, it’s likely to be the primary (at least for now) as the club release says the kit portfolio also includes last year’s black kit, which is traditionally the away kit.

NYCFC’s release of their secondary kit was more positive, receiving a mixed response on social media.

As you can see, adidas again copied their general outline with the stripes down the side of the torso. However, the German clothing manufacturer did much better with the general design of these kits than the Columbus ones. I will give a bit of personal opinion here: I absolutely love these kits. The ripple effect accentuates the crest with a near-3D effect, and the colors mesh perfectly which serves to assuage the eye from being overwhelmed by a busy design. If there’s any criticism, it’s that without an outline, the Etihad logo tends to get in the way a bit, but that’s nitpicking. Well done NYCFC. Columbus…I’ll leave that one to you all.

Men In Blazers podcast: Romelu Lukaku Pod Special

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Rog and Davo break down Leicester City’s 3 – 1 win at Manchester City, marvel at Spurs going second in the table, and talk about the headlines surrounding the mid-table clash between Chelsea and United.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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