Sydney Leroux, USWNT, Mexico v United States

Sydney Leroux scores four as US women rout Mexico 7-0 on a night of firsts

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Sydney Leroux will steal the headlines from the U.S. women’s national team’s 7-0 win over Mexico. Four goals in the first half will do that. But it was a night of firsts for the U.S. that proved equally important for the long-term.

While Mexico started the match with a couple of encouraging forays forward, Abby Wambach’s 11th minute goal — increasing her world record to 161 — sunk the spirits of El Tri and Leroux stomped those into the ground with four consecutive goals before the break.

But in head coach Tom Sermanni’s starting lineup was National Women’s Soccer League rookie of the year Erika Tymrak, earning her first cap with the senior team. Leigh Ann Robinson, one of Tymrak’s five FC Kansas City teammates on the 18-player roster at RFK Stadium, also made her U.S. debut at age 27. And 20-year-old Morgan Brian stepped onto the field in front of dozens of family members, friends and University of Virginia teammates and scored two minutes later to complete the rout of a tired, unorganized, but young Mexico team.

The result is largely unimportant. What we learned from these five players still searching for more playing time or only just arriving on the U.S. scene is most interesting.

Sydney Leroux – Four goals speak for themselves, but this isn’t Leroux’s first pummeling of a team. Leroux scored five goals in a 13-0 demolishing of Guatemala during Olympic qualifying in January 2012, but much like Tuesday night’s game, the statistic must be weighed against the opponent. The Boston Breakers striker has scored against better opponents, including her birth country, Canada, but still seeks more playing time behind a pretty set Abby Wambach-Alex Morgan forward pairing. Morgan sat out Tuesday as part of left ACL recovery, while Christen Press, the other forward pushing for more playing time, stayed with her Swedish club, like most of the rest of European-based U.S. players.

Erika Tymrak – The rookie of the year is also the story of the year (or at least co-story of the year) from NWSL for going from relatively unknown rookie and second round draft pick in January to a U.S. call-up in September. There were some obvious nerves from Tyrmak in the first half but she was clearly comfortable combining with Kansas City teammates Kristie Mewis and Lauren Holiday. Tymrak settled in after halftime and took on defenders. All in all, it was a good debut for the crafty 22-year-old midfielder.

Leigh Ann Robinson – The right back hardly had much to deal with coming in off the bench in the second half but said before the game she would be happy with whatever came of her two days with the United States. Robinson was the best left back in the NWSL this season before a lineup change pushed her to the right side, where she was the best right back. She should get another shot to prove her stuff in upcoming fall friendlies.

Morgan Brian – A goal in her second senior cap, two minutes after checking into the game, in front of a whole crew of Brian supporters? Yea, Morgan Brian had a good night. At 20 years old, Brian is already cool and calm on the ball. Abby Wambach raved about Brian in June when the Virginia midfielder was in camp, and it’s very clear why. She’s good under pressure like a player well beyond her years.

Crystal Dunn – Not to be forgotten is the performance put in by right back Crystal Dunn, another top college prospect to have caught Sermanni’s eye. The 2012 MAC Hermann Trophy winner made things look easy on Tuesday (which, relative to some of the better competition of past games, they were) and displayed yet again that she is the fastest outside back option the U.S. has. She’s a senior at UNC and almost sure to be a part of the 2015 World Cup team.

Highlights:

Transfer rumor roundup: Man City after two backs; Zelalem to Holland?

NAPLES, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 17: Napolis player Faouzi Ghoulam vies with Bologna FC player Simone Verdi during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Bologna FC at Stadio San Paolo on September 17, 2016 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)
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Here are your transfer rumor headlines on a day when Gerard Deulofeu moves to AC Milan and Lazar Markovic heads to Hull City on loan.

[ MORE: Three players leave USMNT camp ]

Two Premier Leaguers could be heading down to help the Championship leaders. Newcastle United is said to be close to bringing Andros Townsend back from Crystal Palace after just a half-season, while Swansea City’s Mo Barrow is also on Rafa Benitez‘s radar.

An Arsenal blog says USMNT prospect Gedion Zelalem may have found his loan destination. The 19-year-old could be leaving the Emirates Stadium for a loan stint at VVV Venlo, with the Dutch side sitting first in the second tier and in a promotion push.

The Manchester Evening News brings reports of two backs on the radar of Manchester City. Rai Sport is the source for Man City’s interest in Napoli left back Faouzi Ghoulam, who has six assists in 21 appearances for Partenopei between Serie A and the UEFA Champions League. Pep Guardiola may also want to be reunited with Juan Bernat, though that story comes from the wild swings of The Daily Mirror.

Sunderland is going to lose one of its two brightest lights in a dark, dismal season. The Black Cats have taken a lot of calls on Jermain Defoe, but it’s Patrick Van Aanholt who is on the move to rejoin Sam Allardyce at Crystal Palace. The Dutch standout is said to be purchased for $15 million, and would be the equivalent of a transfer six-pointer in the Premier League’s relegation race.

Report: West Ham turns down another Payet bid

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 14:  The Dimitri Payet of West Ham United sign is seen outside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between West Ham United and Crystal Palace at London Stadium on January 14, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
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West Ham United has rejected a third bid for wantaway midfielder Dimitri Payet, according to Sky Sports.

Marseille upped the ante to $28 million when it comes to the French midfielder, who has said he wants to go back to the club for “family reasons“.

[ MORE: Three players leave USMNT camp ]

Payet was given a $1.2 million loyalty bonus from West Ham earlier this season, but has continually tempted the rumor mill. He’s also winked at Arsenal.

He has 15 goals in parts of two seasons with the Irons, the same figure he boasted in two full years with Marseille. Payet has also played Lille, Saint-Etienne, Nantes, and AS Excelsior.

It’s been a rocky month for Payet, who could be doomed to purgatory at West Ham. Will any Premier League suitors come calling at the Irons’ $38 million asking price.

Serbia, Jamaican rosters weakened for USMNT friendlies

U.S. men's national soccer team coach Bruce Arena walks across the field during practice Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Carson, Calif. Coach Arena opens camp with the team in the same training complex where he spent the past eight years running the LA Galaxy. Arena returned to the U.S. team in November to salvage its run for World Cup qualification. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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The United States will not be at full strength for upcoming friendlies against Serbia and Jamaica, but who will take on the USMNT’s batch of MLS stars?

Both Оrlovi and the Reggae Boyz have announced their rosters for matches. The U.S. faces Serbia on Sunday in San Diego before hosting Jamaica in Chattanooga on Feb. 4.

[ MORE: Three players leave USMNT camp ]

If Arena was looking for a winning start, he couldn’t have asked for much more (or less). In terms of UEFA coefficient, Serbia has the 27th ranked professional league in Europe. Jamaica is bringing a second-choice team as well.

Serbia

Thanks to the non-traditional window, Slavoljub Muslin does not have many players who’ve helped his cause in 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Only eight of Serbia’s players in San Diego will have been previously capped, and only two — Ognjen Cancarevic (27) and Enver Alivodic (32) — are over 25.

Goalkeepers: Filip Manojlović (Crvena zvezda) Ognjen Čančarević (Radnik, Surdulica)

Defenders: Nikola Maraš (Rad), Lazar Jovanović (Borac, Čačak), Vladimir Kovačević (Vojvodina), Nemanja Ćalasan (Spartak), Marko Klisura (Bačka), Nikola Ćirković (Voždovac), Nemanja Miletić (Partizan)

Midfielders: Marko Jevtović (Partizan), Stefan Panić (Metalac), Jovan Đokić (Javor), Marko Gobeljić (Napredak), Aleksandar Paločević (Vojvodina), Enver Alivodić (Novi Pazar), Srđan Plavšić (Crvena zvezda).

Strikers: Marko Mrkić (Radnički, Niš), Saša Jovanović (Mladost, Lučani).


Jamaica

Jamaica’s unit is even less of a threat, traditionally speaking, as even MLS players like Andre Blake, Oniel Fisher, and Shaun Francis were not called up by coach Theodore Whitmore.

Jacomeno Barrett (Montego Bay United), Shaven Paul (Portmore United), Nicholas Campbell (Marverly United), Dicoy Williams (Arnett Gardens FC), Ladale Ritchie (Montego Bay United), Damano Solomon (Portmore United), Rosario Harriott (Harbour View FC), Romaine Brackenridge (Tivoli Gardens), Kareem Manning (Portmore United), Jamie Robinson (UWI), Ewan Grandison (Portmore United), Andrew Vanzie (Humble Lion), Dwayne Ambusley (Montego Bay United), Tevin Shaw (Tivoli Gardens), Owayne Gordon (Montego Bay United), Rohan Richards (Jamalco FC), Allan Ottey (Montego Bay United), Shamar Nicholson (Boys Town FC), Rodave Murray (Waterhouse), Javon East (Portmore United), Jamiel Hardware (Boys Town FC), Dino Williams (Montego Bay United).

AFCON wrap: Tunisia joins Senegal in knockout rounds (video)

Tunisia's Wahbi Khazri smiles during a press conference in Libreville, Gabon, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, ahead of their African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match against Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
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Half of the field is set for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations knockout rounds, as Group B completed his final day of group play on Monday in Gabon.

[ FIFA: World Cup draw date at Kremlin ]

Senegal will move onto play Cameroon on Saturday, while Tunisia will take on Burkina Faso.

Senegal 2-2 Algeria

Leicester City’s Islam Slimani scored twice, but it wasn’t enough to get Algeria into the knockout rounds of AFCON.

Papakouly Diop and Moussa Sow answered Slimani’s goals, and Senegal enforced its hold on the group it had already clinched after two matches.

Algeria needed a win and help, and looked to get it when Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani carried over their chemistry from the Foxes of England to the Fennecs of Algeria.

Zimbabwe 2-4 Tunisia

Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri scored of the fourth of Tunisia’s first half goals as the Eagles of Carthage emphatically clinched their knockout round spot. Tunisia lost in the quarterfinals in 2015.

Lille’s Naïm Sliti was also among the goal scorers for Tunisia, with Youssef Msakni (Lekhwiya) and Taha Yassine Khenissi (Esperance de Tunis) also netting markers.

Tendai Ndoro (Orlando Pirates) and Knowledge Musona (Oostende) scored for Zimbabwe.