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United States names roster for next month’s U-20 World Cup

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In just over two weeks, the U.S. national team will be back in action; at least, one version of it. Today, head coach Michelle Franch named the 21-woman team that will try to defend the U.S.’s title at this year’s U-20 World Cup in Canada.

Among those that will be part of that defense is PSG forward Lindsey Horan and Notre Dame defender Cari Roccaro, who was part of the team that defeated Germany in the final two years ago.

The final will be replayed on the opening day of the 2014 tournament, with the U.S. and Germany kicking off Group B play on Aug. 5 in Edmonton. Three days later, French’s side faces a Brazil team that went undefeated through South America’s qualifying tournament. After relocating to Montréal, the U.S. will finish its group stage on Aug. 12 against China, a team that beat out Japan for Asia’s final spot.

Particularly compared to the tournament’s other groups, the U.S.’s seems particularly tough, with each of the four teams having made at least two previous semifinals. (This year’s will be the seventh U-20 World Cup.) Though the U.S. and Germany are favorites to move on, the second place finisher could face a strong Canadian team in the quarterfinals. If there’s a loser on Aug. 5, that team will face a much tougher, much more tension-filled rout to Aug. 24’s final.

Horan, who scored 14 times for PSG last season, will be one of the team’s key components, as will defender Roccaro, who played every minutes of the knockout stage two years ago. Wisconsin’s Rose Lavelle, MVP at January’s CONCACAF Championship, and co-captain Andi Sullivan will lead an otherwise inexperienced midfield, while goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland can leverage experience garnered during a national title run with UCLA.

French, from U.S. Soccer:

“We have a good mixture of leadership, talent and great technical ability on all three lines,” said French. “We have a lot of tactical understanding and creativity based on the way they read the game, and I see a lot of grit and bite in the way we defend. The combination of these factors gives us a very well-rounded team.”

“Because we have players that have previously played in the U-20 World Cup, and we have Lindsey Horan who is playing professionally, and we have players who had a great amount of time with the U-17s, in a lot different areas we have players that lead,” said French. “That’s not just vocally, but in how they conduct themselves on and off the field. As a staff, to know that we can rely on a number of different people to lead, is a great benefit to this team.”

Here’s the full squad:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Stanford; Kennesaw, Ga.), Rosemary Chandler (Penn State; Atlanta, Ga.), Katelyn Rowland (UCLA; Vacaville, Calif.)

DEFENDERS (6): Stephanie Amack (Stanford; Pleasanton, Calif.), Brittany Basinger (Penn State; Purcellville, Va.), Christina Gibbons (Duke; Raleigh, N.C.), Katie Naughton (Notre Dame; Elk Grove Village, Ill.), Kaleigh Riehl (BRYC; Fairfax Station, Va.), Cari Roccaro (Notre Dame; East Islip, N.Y.)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Carlyn Baldwin (Tennessee; Oakton, Va.), Nickolette Driesse (Florida State: Wayne, N.J.), Rose Lavelle (Wisconsin; Cincinnati, Ohio), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Taylor Racioppi (PDA; Ocean Township, N.J.), Andi Sullivan (Bethesda SC; Lorton, Va.)
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ORWARDS (6): Makenzy Doniak (Virginia; Chino Hills, Calif.), Summer Green (North Carolina; Milford, Mich.), Lindsey Horan (PSG; Golden, Colo.), Savannah Jordan (Florida; Fayetteville, Ga.), McKenzie Meehan (Boston College; Scituate, R.I.), Margaret Purce (Harvard; Silver Spring, Md.)

The full draw:

Group A: Canada, Ghana, Finland, North Korea
Group B: Germany, United States, China, Brazil
Group C: England, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria*
Group D: New Zealand, Paraguay, France, Costa Rica
* – may not play due to FIFA’s suspension of all Nigerian international teams

More on the U.S.’s team, though I’d recommend turning the volume down before pressing play on this one:

Premier League AT HALF: Arsenal fights back, Hull City on top

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal (L) and Francis Coquelin of Arsenal (R) celebrate after Theo Walcott of Arsenal (not pictured) scored Arsenals first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
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Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City

Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.

Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth

The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.

But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.

Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace

Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a

Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland

Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.

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Koeman: “Nervous” Everton has a problem after another loss

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Ronald Koeman manager of Everton arrives prior to the Premier League match between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road on December 10, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images
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One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.

Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.

The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.

Here’s Koeman:

“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”

A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?

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VIDEO: Hendrick scores incredible volley from distance

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Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.

Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.

[ STREAM: Every PL game online ] 

A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.

Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.

Click play on the video above to watch it.

Messi’s latest goal dares you to count the touches (video)

PAMPLONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 10:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and FC Barcelona at Sadar stadium on December 10, 2016 in Pamplona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
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There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.

So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.

[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]

On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.

That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.

Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.

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