San Jose Earthquakes v AIK - Portland Timbers Tournament

As we witnessing a Chris Wondolowski breakout?

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While injuries and suspensions played their part in San Jose’s soft launch of a Supporters Shield defense, Chris Wondolowski’s own struggles have undoubtedly contributed.

When we say “struggles,” that’s relative, of course. One man’s struggles are another man’s golden goose of a season, after all.

But if we’re honest, he wasn’t producing numbers that looked shiny and Wondo-like. After eight games, the league’s reigning Golden Boot holder had three goals and no assists. The Earthquakes were plodding along similarly, just treading water.

Last three matches have seen something quite different.

Wondolowski had a goal two weeks ago on a composed finish in a 2-2 draw at Chivas USA.   A week later “Wonder Wondo” had two assists as the ‘Quakes rallied from two down in a 2-2 draw against Montreal.

Then, last night, Wondolowski’s role was enormous in a 2-1 win over Toronto FC in Northern California. The first highlight in the package (at bottom) shows everything you need to see about the California native. Watch the sublime touch that not only rescues a potentially wayward ball along San Jose’s left touchline, but Wondolowski’s perfect touch puts the ball in an ideal spot for a subsequent, useful switching pass.

Then, a few seconds later, he pops up on the back post to arrange the game’s first big chance.

Later, another wonderful touch arranges a goal for fellow striker Adam Jahn. And that’s before Wondoloskwi supplies the game winner in San Jose’s first victory since March 23.

Yes, March 23.

Wondolowski, with five goals and three assists, is right back where he’s been so often over the last few years, up among the league’s scoring leaders. He has five goals and three assists, further validating that big salary increase for 2013 by leading the Quakes in scoring and sharing top spot in assists.

From last night’s match at Buck Shaw Stadium:

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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

NYCFC
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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