Top 10 most memorable moments of the 2014 World Cup

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10. Luis Suarez bite

Why not start here? It can only go up from this embarrassing moment. He tried to deny it, but ultimately the video doesn’t lie. Luis Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini, earning him a 4-month ban from all competition.

It was memorable only in the sense that it rocked the soccer world (along with the internet), as it’s inconceivable he would do this a third time in his career, after the first two caused such a splash.

Suarez has since transferred to Barcelona, but will not be eligible to play until around November. The ban is full and total, meaning he cannot even be unvelied at the Camp Nou to Barcelona fans. Nonetheless, the Catalans decided to make him around the fourth-most expensive transfer in history.

9. The death of Spain

I said it could only go up from the Suarez bite, right? Well, it’s a slow climb.  Spain was a serious contender to win the entire World Cup…or so we thought. Instead, they bowed out of the World Cup almost immediately, with a pair of losses to open their campaign enough to send them packing.

The capitulation marked a moment of transition for Spain, a team that was not only the defending World Cup champion but also had put together a string of impressive title runs across multiple recent competitions.  For such a decorated coach as Vicente del Bosque and players like Xavi, Iker Casillas, and Andres Iniesta, it was a humbling moment compared to other career highs.

The team should be fine moving forward, and this will be just a bump in the road, but it still shocked the world to see such big names fail so miserably. Especially Casillas. Yikes.

source: AP8. Chile…and their fans

Chilean fans were praised for their passion during matches, and their team was praised for positive performances.  They took down Spain, battled the Netherlands, and stretched Brazil to penalty kicks. Players like Alexis Sanchez and Gary Medel were standouts in the tournament and earned widespread praise for their electricity on the pitch.

Their fans were also memorable for something else…toppling over a barrier and storming the Maracana press room in an attempt to gain access without tickets.  The stampede stunned much of the media and gave us quite a laugh, but Chile’s performance on the field was just as memorable.

7. Louis van Gaal subs in Tim Krul for penalty shootout and he comes up big

Call it genius, call it lucky, or call it stupidity that came through, but Louis van Gaal produced a memorable moment when he switched goalkeepers just before the Netherlands penalty shootout against Costa Rica.

Then, after watching the Costa Ricans look so clinical in their penalty shootout the previous round, Krul made two beastly saves and made his manager look really, really good.  The Netherlands had one more amazingly memorable moment in their semifinal run, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

source: AP6. Speaking of Costa Rica, they were pretty awesome

May I present to you the jewels of CONCACAF, Costa Rica! Wait, what? Yep, Costa Rica not only made it out of a group with three previous World Cup champions, they won it. With room to spare.

The Costa Ricans, led by the stellar Bryan Ruiz (Wait…WHAT?!), took down both Italy and Uruguay before playing to a draw with England in a mostly meaningless game.  They then passed by the Greeks on penalties and took the Netherlands that far as well to complete an entertaining World Cup that gave CONCACAF a bit more clout.

5. Miroslav Klose breaks the all-time World Cup scoring record

It was slightly (ok, heavily) overshadowed by the drubbing that Brazil took in the match, but it’s hard to forget that Miroslav Klose passed Ronaldo as the all-time leading goalscorer in the World Cup.

The 36-year-old has had a stellar international career, scoring 71 goals for Die Mannschaft, but one of the biggest came with the game already at 1-0 against Brazil, the 16th in his World Cup career.  Germany eventually won 7-1, shoving Klose’s goal to the back shelf, but it didn’t diminish what he’d done.  Oh, and he went on to win the World Cup, so that’s pretty cool too.

4. Mario Götze wins Germany the World Cup in extra time

Yea, if you remember, Germany won the World Cup some time ago. And it’s hard to imagine a moment bigger than winning the World Cup on a goal in extra time. That’s what Mario Götze did in the 113th minute of a 0-0 game.  It was an absolutely brilliant goal, with a wondrous setup from Andre Schurrle and an even better finish from the 22-year-old that saw him chest down the ball coming hard at him and blast a precise and powerful volley past Sergio Romero.

The goal will no doubt write the young star into German history, and there’s not much more to be said for this one. His goal won the freakin World Cup. That’s about as good as it gets.

3. Germany annihilates Brazil 7-1

source: APA game that reverberated around not only the soccer world but an entire nation, Brazil had hoped to win the World Cup on their home soil, but they were sent packing with a disastrous performance that crushed the entire country.

Germany, with four goals in a 27-minute span and five in the first half, torched the hosts and threw the country into sudden soccer turmoil. The effects of the match could be seen in the third-place game, when Brazil had absolutely nothing to give their fans against a dangerous Netherlands team who made it look all too easy.

For a team who hadn’t lost a competitive home match in a really, really long time, this was a disaster of epic proportions. For a team that would go on to win the World Cup, it would give us a taste of how dangerous Germany really is.

2. Robin van Persie’s spearhead diving header

A moment that jumpstarted the World Cup, it remains one of the most memorable. It cemented the 2014 World Cup (especially the group stage) as one of the most unpredictable in history, and alerted the world what it was in for.

With the Netherlands down 1-0 to Spain on just the second day of the event, Robin van Persie flew through the air gracefully and deposited the ball into the back of the net past Iker Casillas. The goal signaled the demise of Spain in the tournament (see earlier) and would announce the Netherlands as a force. Also, it was just a really awesome goal.

1. James Rodriguez is amazing

The world fell in love with James Rodriguez in the 2014 World Cup, and for good reason. He ended up winning the Golden Boot, and because every moment was just as fun as the last, and for that, we’re just going to lump them all into one.

The Colombian international scored six goals, including at least one in every single match he played in the tournament. He braved the host country and massive bugs, and passed every test he faced.

He gave us a ridiculous volley against Uruguay, insane footwork against Japan, and tears after losing to Brazil, all which made us fall that much more in love with him.  With a move to Real Madrid likely in his future, Rodriguez won the hearts of the world.

Other moments we can’t forget: Tim Howard’s record 16 saves, Miguel Herrera’s sideline antics, German national team’s pants ridiculousness during training.

Tammy Abraham denies switching national teams

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Fans of the England National Team may still have a chance to see Tammy Abraham don the Three Lions crest one day.

Abraham refuted reports from earlier Thursday that he was in the process of switching his national team to Nigeria from England. The 19-year-old Swansea City forward on-loan from Chelsea has played as high as the England Under-21 Men’s National Team but because of his Nigerian father, he’s eligible for the African nation.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Abraham confirmed that he had met with Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick after Swansea’s last game, but denied that he was looking to play for the Super Eagles.

“I have informed The FA that I remain available for selection for England,” Abraham said, via the BBC. “Contrary to reports in the media I would like to clarify that I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance. I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday given he is a friend of my father. However, any suggestion that I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark.”

Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Pinnick said the process was underway for Abraham to switch his international allegiance.

Abraham’s apparently decision to remain with the England set-up is good news for his club Swansea City, who will get to keep him closer to Wales on a regular basis, but Abraham may be missing a chance to play senior national team soccer at a young age.

Paulinho has silenced his critics at Barcelona

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MADRID (AP) Brazil midfielder Paulinho wasn’t greeted with the warmest of welcomes when he arrived in Barcelona.

Fans made it clear they were not too thrilled to see the club spend 40 million euros ($48 million) on a defensive midfielder who was playing in the Chinese league.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

They were expecting a blockbuster signing after Neymar’s departure and ended up getting a player they knew very little about.

Paulinho didn’t have any links to the club’s youth academy and his style apparently didn’t suit the team’s traditional ball-possession game.

A video of Paulinho struggling to juggle the ball during his presentation at Camp Nou Stadium didn’t help, going viral and igniting even more criticism against the player and the club.

But things have changed quickly in favor of the low-key, hard-working Brazilian.

After five Spanish league games, Paulinho has done enough to mollify the critics.

He has two goals, including a late winner against Getafe last weekend, and showed some of the prowess that led him to success in Brazil and made him an indisputable starter for his national team.

He thrived after coming off the bench in his first four matches, and eventually earned a start on Tuesday against Eibar.

“I’m happy with how things have gone for me,” Paulinho said. “I’m glad that I’m playing well, it helps me get adapted to the club. I’m playing alongside some great players and they have all been supporting me a lot.”

The 29-year-old Paulinho has added versatility to the midfield. He is solid as a defensive midfielder but also excels with attacking runs that often surprise defenders.

That’s how he scored the decisive goal in the 2-1 win against Getafe, making a run between defenders and entering the area to fire a firm shot into the far corner. His second goal was a header in a 6-1 rout of Eibar.

“He will end up being a cheap signing,” Brazil teammate and former Barcelona player Dani Alves said.

Paulinho has a lot more presence in the area than some of the team’s other midfielders, including Ivan Rakitic and even Andres Iniesta.

It was this that made Paulinho a key player in the Corinthians team that won Club World Cup in 2012. His success with the Brazilian club prompted a move in 2013 to Tottenham, where he disappointed in his two seasons before moving to Guangzhou Evergrande.

Paulinho, who signed a four-year contract with Barcelona, said he had regained his confidence while playing in China. And his good performances with Brazil also helped.

“He gives us a lot of versatility. He can help us in many different ways,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Barcelona’s next game is on Saturday at Girona. The Catalan club has won its first five Spanish league games and has a two-point lead over second-place Sevilla.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

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Sargent, Carleton headline U.S. Under-17 World Cup squad

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Josh Sargent has decided his professional future lies in Germany. But first, he’ll be going next month to India with 20 other teammates.

Sargent headlines head coach John Hackworth’s 21-man U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team squad for the 2017 U-17 World Cup in India. The World Cup takes place from October 6-28.

Joining Sargent are Atlanta United prospects Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin and Justin Garces as well as New York City FC Homegrown signing James Sands, who recently made his first team debut.

The squad also features a handful of players based abroad, including Philadelphia, Penn. native Carlos Joaquim Dos Santos of Benfica, Ajax’s Sergino Dest and New York native Timothy Weah, who currently plays with Paris Saint-Germain.

The U.S. was drawn in Group A with host India, Colombia and Ghana. The U.S. U-17s begin the tournament in the opening game on October 6 against India, before facing Ghana on October 9 and Colombia on October 12.

In the press release, U.S. Soccer said that all U.S. U-17 games will be broadcast live on FS2 and UNIVERSO.

Here’s a look at the U.S. U-17 World Cup squad.

GOALKEEPERS (3): Alex Budnik (Sockers FC; Arlington Heights, Ill.), Carlos Joaquim Dos Santos (S.L. Benfica; Philadelphia, Penn.), Justin Garces (Atlanta United FC; Miami, Fla.)

DEFENDERS (6): Sergiño Dest (Ajax; Almere-stad, Netherlands), Christopher Gloster (New York Red Bulls; Montclair, N.J.), Jaylin Lindsey (Sporting Kansas City; Charlotte, N.C.), James Sands (New York City FC; Rye, N.Y.), Tyler Shaver (New York City FC; Greenwich, Conn.), Akil Watts (Portland Timbers, Fort Wayne, Ind.)

MIDFIELDERS (6): George Acosta (North Carolina FC; Hollywood, Fla.), Taylor Booth (Real Salt Lake; Eden, Utah), Christopher Durkin (D.C. United; Glen Allen, Va.), Blaine Ferri (Solar Soccer Club; Southlake, Texas), Chris Goslin (Atlanta United FC; Locust Grove, Ga.), Indiana Vassilev (Unattached; Savannah, Ga.)

FORWARDS (6): Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC; Brampton Ont.), Andrew Carleton (Atlanta United FC; Powder Springs, Ga.), Jacobo Reyes (C.F. Monterrey; Houston, Texas), Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas; Little Elm, Texas), Joshua Sargent (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; O’Fallon, Mo.), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain F.C., Rosedale, N.Y.)

MLS at Week 29: NYCFC looks to clinch vs. Houston, Atlanta hosts Impact

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Five weeks remain in the MLS regular season, and the playoff picture in both conferences are still quite murky despite time running out ahead of the postseason.

[ MORE: Sporting KC claims its fourth U.S. Open Cup title ]

While the playoff situation in the Western Conference likely won’t be settled until the final week or two, another team in the East can lock up a spot in the postseason this weekend with a victory.

New York City FC vs. Houston Dynamo

New York City FC has struggled a bit as of late with injuries and are also winless in their last two matches, but Patrick Vieira’s side has the opportunity to clinch its place in the East playoffs and potentially draw one step closer to locking up the second seed.

Vieira’s boys have scored just two goals in their last three outings (1-1-1 in that span), but the good news for NYCFC is that David Villa is expected to return to the starting XI on Saturday. MLS’ leading goalscorer has racked up an impressive 19 goals this season, and the Spaniard looks on pace to capture another MLS MVP award in 2017.

They’ll face the Dynamo in a “home” match in Hartford, Connecticut after the game was moved from Yankee Stadium due to a stadium conflict with the Yankees. The fixture still bodes well though for NYCFC, as the Dynamo boast one of the worst road records in MLS this season, at 1-9-5.


Atlanta United vs. Montreal Impact

Tata Martino’s side continues to benefit from playing at their new venue, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and Atlanta will have the opportunity to put on another show on Sunday against the Impact.

Atlanta has leapt all the way up to fourth in the Eastern Conference and could potentially go third this weekend with a victory. Over the team’s last four matches, Atlanta has scored an astounding 17 goals, putting the rest of MLS on watch over the club’s potent attack.

For the Impact, they are in desperate need of a victory after picking up three points against Toronto on Wednesday. Mauro Biello’s side is on the outside looking in with five matches remaining, and the Impact are still three points behind the New York Red Bulls for the final playoff spot in the East.


Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders

Even if the Claret and Cobalt don’t qualify for the playoffs, Mike Petke has done a really special coaching job this season in Salt Lake City. RSL holds the final playoff spot out West for the time being, and it’s no coincidence that they’ve risen in the table given their form.

Since July 4, RSL is unbeaten in nine of its 11 matches, including six victories during that span. Unfortunately for Petke and Co., they have to play the Sounders this weekend — who haven’t lost June 17 at NYCFC.

The Sounders have drawn four in a row, but their unbeaten streak has extended to an MLS-best 13 matches as of late, putting them within a point of the Western Conference lead.


Here’s a look at the full rundown of the weekend’s action around MLS.

Saturday

New York City FC vs. Houston Dynamo — 3 p.m. ET
New England Revolution vs. Toronto FC — 5 p.m. ET
D.C. United vs. San Jose Earthquakes — 7 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire — 7 p.m. ET
Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls — 7:30 p.m. ET
Minnesota United vs. FC Dallas — 8 p.m. ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders — 9:30 p.m. ET
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Colorado Rapids — 10 p.m. ET

Sunday

Sporting KC vs. LA Galaxy — 2 p.m. ET
Atlanta United vs. Montreal Impact — 5 p.m. ET
Portland Timbers vs. Orlando City — 8 p.m. ET