With excitement already building ahead of Manchester City’s potential title decider against Liverpool on Sunday, (Watch live on NBCSN, 8:37 and online via Live Extra) City have been given a huge lift.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed that top scorer Sergio Aguero is back in his squad, as the Argentine striker has been out for over a month with a hamstring injury.
The last time Aguero played for the Citizens was in their 2-1 defeat away to FC Barcelona in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League in March, and the man who scored the last-gasp goal to win the Premier League title in 2011-12 is now back and ready for the final seven games of the season.
Aguero has scored 26 times in 28 appearances this campaign and even though City boast a plethora of impressive attacking talents, they’ve missed their fox in the box. The 25-year-old striker missed Man City’s 2-1 win over Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium back in December — a similar upper-leg injury also keep him out for a month at the end of 2013 — so the Reds’ defenders will have to pay special attention to the razor-sharp attacker this time out. Aguero is trying to make up for lost time.
Speaking about the return of his countryman, City’s Argentine right back Pablo Zabaleta believes having Aguero 100 percent fit will give the team a massive boost heading into a season-defining stretch. Zabaleta also stated that Aguero’s return is similar to having Carlos Tevez back in the team when City last won the PL in 2012, but pointed out that other players have filled in admirably in Aguero’s absence.
“Have we missed Sergio? Yes, of course we have,” Zabaleta said. “You always you want the best players in the team and be fit for every game. But we know we also have important players like Dzeko, Yaya is having a great season, Silva, Nasri – we have a lot of talent up front. That is why, even without Sergio, we keep scoring goals. He is fit and he has been training well with the team this week, but he was not 100% to play against Southampton, so that is why the manager decided to leave him out – and let him be fully ready for Liverpool.”
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.
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.
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.
Alex Morgan's goal is believed to be the fastest goal scored in U.S. history. #13in13seconds. #USAvCRC, 1-0, 7'
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.