Howard

US Man of the Match vs Scotland

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It was a sloppy match, one where nobody really stuck out in any way, good or bad.

It was hard to take a lot out of it, except that Scotland have much improved since being wrecked by the United States last May, and that our patchwork squad of reserves isn’t exactly used to playing together.

There weren’t many promising moments, and there were a few nervy moments at the back.  Otherwise, nothing disastrous and nothing excellent.

A snoozer, for lack of a better description.

Thus, deciding a Man of the Match is tall task.  However, this opens up a number of opportunities, including giving substitutes some consideration.  Here are some options:

Sacha Kljestan

In the middle of the US attack for the first 45 minutes, Kljestan was also the center of their creativity.  He found space and spread out the opportunities to his teammates.

However, Kljestan was a bit wild on the ball.  His first touches were awful, and it often let him down and caused a turnover of possession.

Tim Howard

He didn’t have to do much, but made one outstanding save and showed good communication and understanding with his back four.

Robert Snodgrass, who has shown free-kick prowess already this season with Norwich, blasted in a stunner that bent over the wall and screamed towards the top-right corner.  Howard was there and read it all the way for a spectacular save.

He also avoided collisions with his defenders when coming out to collect a corner, cross, or long ball, something that has proven to be a problem with goalkeepers at clubs and countries this season.

Jermaine Jones

Jones faded in the second half, but his possession play before the break was pretty good.  He didn’t shy away from the higher-risk, higher-reward pass which was nice to see.

He was accurate as well, showing a high level of focus, something which is occasionally his weakness.

Brek Shea/Aron Johannsson

The two substitutes on the list, the pair connected incredibly well and played with pace and creativity down the left-hand side.

Johannsson got a feed from Shea that he should have buried, but missed just inches right.  He also had a chance before that which nutmeged a defender but was saved well by David Marshall and somehow Jozy Altidore’s rebound attempt(s) weren’t able to be directed goalbound.

It’s a good performance from the two, and with so many others underwhelming on the day it could buy one or both a start against Austria.  It would be nice to see what the two can do with a full 90 to work with, or even 60.

Our pick:

I should probably say “my pick” because I guarantee if you poll our writers you may get five different answers, and I’m sure there are players not discussed here who some believe could have earned the award. Michael Bradley played solid and played some nice long balls early, and Alejandro Bedoya was creative in the first quarter of the match, just to name a few.

I will take the easy route and award it to Tim Howard for his outstanding save.  Everyone else on the list you could say “yea but…” and although Howard didn’t have too much to do, he came through every time.  Well done to the fill-in captain!

Morgan, USWNT cruise past Costa Rica 5-0 behind early flurry of goals

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The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.

Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.

The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.

With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.

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.