Bolton Wanderers v Aston Villa - Premier League

Americans with big weekends from the Yanks Abroad brigade

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With home matches against Fulham and Sunderland ahead for relegation-threatened Aston Villa, Paul Lambert’s young men from Villa Park may have seen Saturday’s match at Stoke City as one where “bonus” points could be earned.

Sure enough, they are standing on deck beneath the “Mission Accomplished” banner this morning. That’s spectacular news for U.S. international Brad Guzan (pictured at right), whose team crept a little closer to surviving this season of agonizing growing pains.

Unfortunately, it came at the expense of Stoke City, which includes its own pair of U.S. internationals. Guzan started in Villa goal, as always, in the team’s 3-1 win at the Britannia.

Geoff Cameron was at his usual spot for Stoke, at right back. Brek Shea did not make the 18-man game-day roster.

Clint Dempsey received mixed reviews as he nominally replaced (the virtually irreplaceable) Gareth Bale in Spurs’ lineup for a 2-2 draw with Everton at White Hart Lane. Dempsey started on the right side of Andre Villas-Boas’ 4-1-4-1 tactical arrangement. As for Tottenham individual player ratings, this one had more favorable things to say about Dempsey’s afternoon than this one from a lifelong Spurs fans who called Dempsey “largely ineffective.”

Tim Howard was in Everton goal that one, of course.

Jermaine Johnson’s double may have been the talker for Sheffield Wednesday in a huge 3-2 win over Blackburn that helps vent some relegation pressure from the team that recovering American midfielder Stuart Holden currently calls home. Of course, all most of us care about is that Holden got 59 minutes in his team’s 3-2 victory at the infamous Hillsborough ground. He remains on loan for Wednesday until April 24.

Finally, encouraging news from Germany, where two U.S. outside backs put in full 90-minute shifts for their teams. Steve Cherundolo went the distance in Hannover’s scoreless draw with Stuttgart. And Timothy Chandler played all 90 for Nurnberg in a 2-1 victory over Mainz.

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

Men In Blazers
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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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