A week worth noting from Abby Wambach

3 Comments

It’s fitting that Abby Wambach’s week started in Canada.

With all the attention on the star U.S. striker centered around #ChasingMia — Wambach’s 155 goals are three off the all-time international mark held by Mia Hamm, a record that will inevitably fall in the coming weeks or months — the bigger picture for the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year has been overshadowed: the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Wambach will turn 35 years old four days before the tournament kicks off, on June 6, 2015. While she’s been part of two of the last three U.S. Olympic gold medals, she’s yet to win a World Cup, one of those poster board, wakes up to it every morning for motivation sort of facts that drives one of the most genuinely competitive players in the sport.

Alex Morgan has emerged as the young star striker of the U.S., already 10th all-time on the U.S. goal scoring charts (44 goals) a month ahead of her 24th birthday. Morgan mania leads the conversation that the U.S. needs to be — and will be — younger come Canada 2015. The emergence of Christen Press and Sydney Leroux adds to the connotation that the Americans will have a young, speedy front line two years from now.

But to write off Wambach from anything — particularly the biggest prize in the game — is to not know her at all.

This week, like so many others, she proved why.

Wambach played three full matches in seven days this week, showing a durability that didn’t come without pain in 2011 when Achilles tendonitis gave her fits. Seven days. Three games. Two hundred seventy minutes. Two goals and three assists. That was Abby Wambach’s week with the U.S. and the Western New York Flash.

Twice Wambach played provider in the United States’ 3-0 win over Canada. She scored a classic ‘Abby will just out-jump you’ header on Wednesday that helped the Flash tie the Boston Breakers and Wambach capped off the week with a goal and an assist in the Flash’s 3-0 rout of co-league leaders Sky Blue FC on Saturday.

(MORE: Five takeaways from the U.S. women’s 3-0 win over Canada)

Oh, and she hit the crossbar twice in those two NWSL games.

Wambach’s scoring ability and determination have never been in question and they never will be in question. She’s one of the greatest — statistically soon to be the best — goal scorer ever. What has hung over the idea of her still being one of the United States’ go-to forwards in 2015 is her health and durability; she’s admitted that her body needs to hold up and it’s part of why she’s led a movement to have the 2015 World Cup played on grass instead of turf, as is currently scheduled.

The week of June 2-8 won’t show up in Abby Wambach’s career highlight film. It won’t be something talked about in 2015 and it may not even be noted much beyond this article. But it goes a long way in showing that Wambach is healthy and ready to make this stretch-run of her legendary career one that includes another World Cup. The frequency of games, the regional travel — this past week mimicked a World Cup.

It’s too early to call anyone a definite starter for 2015; U.S. coach Tom Sermanni will try plenty of experiments and make a good number of changes along the way. But if you think Wambach won’t be a significant part of the mix, think again.

Rio prosecutors launch probe into soccer final violence

Twitter/@brfootball
Leave a comment

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro launched an investigation Thursday into the fan violence surrounding the Copa Sudamericana final between local club Flamengo and Argentine team Independiente.

[ SOURCE: LAFC close to signing third DP, Geraldes of Sporting CP ]

Clashes broke out on the night before Wednesday’s match at Maracana Stadium, and continued throughout the day. There was vandalism inside the stadium during the match and violence afterward, with more than 50 Flamengo supporters being detained over the two days.

The Rio prosecutor’s office said in a statement it would be questioning officials at Brazil’s football confederation, South American soccer’s ruling body, CONMEBOL, and local police about the incidents.

The statement added that “a profound investigation of the facts is needed so we can identify and punish the criminals that disguised as fans to spread chaos, fear and disorder in society.”

Major Silvio Luiz, head of policing for the final, criticized Flamengo’s handling of ticket sales.

Flamengo drew the second-leg match 1-1, and lost the final 3-2 on aggregate. The Copa is the second most prestigious club competition in South American soccer.

Ligue 1 set to use VAR starting in 2018/19 season

Twitter/@GGFN_
Leave a comment

With video replay technology becoming more and more prevalent in soccer across the globe, another major European league has revealed it too will join those ranks.

[ SOURCE: LAFC set to sign third DP with Sporting CP’s Geraldes ]

Ligue 1 has announced that the French top flight will begin to utilize video replay and have a video assistant referee (VAR) starting in the 2018/19 season.

Major League Soccer and the German Bundesliga are just two of the major global leagues to implement the system thus far. In MLS, the technology can be used in four instances; when goals are scored, during penalty situations, when a straight red card is given and during cases of mistaken identity.

French outlet L’Equipe wrote on Thursday that Ligue 1 would also follow a similar structure in what decisions VAR officials will be reviewable.

Spain has also announced that it will introduce VAR in 2018, ahead of the next La Liga season.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 17

Twitter/@ManCity
Leave a comment

The title is looking more and more like it’s heading to Manchester, so will Tottenham be able to slow the Premier League leaders on Saturday?

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

 

Here are the four biggest storylines ahead of this weekend’s action.

Can anyone stop the Cityzens?

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Nobody has found a way to halt Pep Guardiola‘s side yet this season in PL play, so why would that change this weekend? City remain unbeaten through 17 matches, and while Spurs enter the weekend unbeaten in its last four, Mauricio Pochettino and Co. have their work cut out. The City attack, which has scored 52 goals this season, has shown no signs slowing down during the first four-and-a-half months of play, giving Tottenham a big test defensively. Harry Kane and his 12 goals will surely have a say in the get together, but Spurs has been lacking thus far in another go-to finisher.

Will the Toffees keep rolling under Big Sam?

Everton vs. Swansea City — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

It’s been quite the turnaround recently at Goodison Park, and Everton has the chance to extend its unbeaten streak to six games on Monday. Sam Allardyce has brought life to the Toffees as of late, with Everton scoring 11 goals over the last five matches.

Foxes aim to climb higher, while Palace shoots for safety

Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Foxes have found their footing this season, and dare I say there are some glimpses of the team that won the title two years ago? Since Leicester’s 2-0 defeat to Man City, the Foxes have looked the part of a top-tier PL side, winning four of five matches, including victories over Tottenham and Burnley. Meanwhile, Palace has made the relegation battle a very intriguing one, as Roy Hodgson and Co. sit just a point inside the bottom three. Amazingly, Palace is unbeaten in seven of its last eight matches, but the club remains in 18th place.

Clarets aim for third consecutive victory

Brighton vs. Burnley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Sports Gold (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Clarets don’t boast a bonafide goalscorer, but Burnley looks like a well-oiled machine as Sean Dyche‘s side sits on the edge of the top four. Although the side likely won’t be pulling off a Leicester-sided feat in 2017/18, what the Clarets are accomplishing is quite amazing given the squad currently in place. Brighton has gone through its share of struggles recently, going winless in its last six matches, and scoring just three goals in that span. They’ll likely have a hard time breaking past Burnley’s tough backline.

NYCFC busy on Thursday with Abdul-Salaam, Stuver additions

Twitter/@MLSCentral_
Leave a comment

New York City FC is moving on from the club’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection, but they’ll be acquiring a solid defensive piece as the team continues to rebuild at the back.

[ SOURCE: LAFC finalizing deal to make Sporting CP’s Geraldes third DP ]

On Thursday, NYCFC announced a trade sending former 2015 first-round pick Khiry Shelton to Sporting KC in exchange for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Shelton, who spent three seasons with NYCFC, struggled to find playing time under manager Patrick Vieira, particularly once the organization drafted England youth international Jack Harrison in 2016.

Vieira and Co. will be getting back a player also selected in the 2015 SuperDraft in Abdul-Salaam.

With the departures of Ethan White, RJ Allen and Andraz Struna this offseason, the move certainly makes sense for NYCFC, who were severely lacking at the right back position heading into this week.

NYCFC signed Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm on Wednesday to help improve the backline.

The Eastern Conference side also added goalkeeper Brad Stuver from the Columbus Crew on Thursday, with the 26-year-old presumably serving as the backup to Sean Johnson in 2018.