SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: Liverpool fans display a banner prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on March 1, 2014 in Southampton, England.

Southampton 0-3 Liverpool: Reds slip into second (video)

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After beating Southampton 3-0, will Liverpool fans dare to dream of a title? After all, the win lifts them into second place, even on points with Arsenal and just four points behind table-toppers Chelsea. Reality might sink in upon realizing that Manchester City, two points back, have two games in hand, but for now, it must be nice to be a Red.

It came as quite a surprise – and certainly a disappointment for the majority of fans assembled at St. Mary’s – when the first half finished 1-0, the only goal coming from Luis Suárez. It was Southampton that looked the better side for the majority of the first 45, yet somehow, it was Liverpool that went into the break holding the lead.

The goal seemed to come out of nowhere. Suárez and Danny Sturridge exchanged passes after a throw-in, but nothing that seemed too threatening. Then José Fonte’s attempt to clear the ball resulted in his delivering it straight to Suárez, who of course took advantage. The Uruguayan made no mistake, placing his shot neatly into the corner of the net, past a diving Artur Boruc.

Southampton pushed their way back into the match, with Rickie Lambert placing a difficult shot over the top of the bar in the 25th minute. Five minutes later, Lambert chested down for Adam Lallana, whose low shot collided with the post.

Then it was Lambert and Lallana combining once more, with some help from Luke Shaw, to set up Jay Rodriguez, who put his shot just high. Rodriguez very nearly had an equalizer just before the break, getting on the end of Shaw’s cross to force a one-handed save from Simon Mignolet.

But Brendan Rodgers knew that the one goal lead wouldn’t be enough and so, in the 57th minute, replaced Philippe Coutinho with Raheem Sterling. It took just 80 seconds for the substitute to make an impact. Steven Gerrard sent the ball up from the back, perfectly placed for Suárez to run onto. Dejan Lovren went the wrong way, allowing the Uruguayan to pull back and provide Sterling the opportunity to score Liverpool’s second.

As if that wasn’t enough for poor Southampton – who’d certainly put on a good show in the first half, at least – Gerrard had to add to the humiliation by putting in a penalty with the final play of the game. Fonte, who really was not having a very good game, foolishly brought down Suárez inside the area. The Liverpool captain coolly converted with a shot into the top corner.

Southampton: Boruc, Chambers, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Cork (Wanyama 77), Schneiderlin, Davis (Ramírez 46), Lallana, Rodriguez, Lambert (Gallagher 76)

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Flanagan, Agger, Skrtel, Gerrard, Allen, Henderson, Coutinho (Sterling 57), Sturridge (Aspas 85), Suárez

Goals: Suárez 16′, Sterling 58, Gerrard 90+5′

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

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.