Courtois

Premier League’s Top Five goalkeepers: Are two from the same club?

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When we last left our ‘best goalkeepers in the Premier League’ discussion, it was in a heap of controversy. After all, the best keeps in the league hadn’t all had their best seasons, and we were ranking the best seasons. Commenters were bitter. This author was fine, but wished everyone wasn’t so bitter. Life: It’s something.

Plenty has changed as we get sorted out for this season. Teams were relegated and promoted, players were transferred and a World Cup was played, all serving to mix up the pot for this one additional problem: Our esteemed PST editor dropped the list to five.

[ MORE: Can Arsenal challenge for the 2014/15 Premier League title? ]

Pick only five goalkeepers?!? Surely the Internet would crash!!

Alas, we’ve put together our list of the Top Five goalkeepers heading into the 2014/15 Premier League season. Here’s a bit of foreshadowing, our No. 1 could change with the stroke of a pen.

Gone:
David Marshall, Cardiff City
John Ruddy, Norwich City
David Stockdale, Fulham

Arrived:
David Ospina, Arsenal
Tom Heaton, Burnley
Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea
Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester City
Willy Caballero, Manchester City
Robert Green, QPR
Fraser Forster, Southampton

As you can see, there’s been an influx of big names, experience and talent into the Premier League. Forster is one of the better keepers in England and was a force at Celtic. Courtois is considered by many to be the best young goalkeeper in the world. It’s a possibility he may not start full-time at Chelsea despite the fact that he’s first choice over Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet when they both hit international duty at Belgium.

With the PL arrivals of Ospina, Courtois and Caballero, three of our Top 10 from last season will deal with stiffer competition. How will this affect our Top 5? It doesn’t. We’re just going off what we know.

Here’s how it all falls out:

source: Getty Images
Cech

5. Hugo Lloris, Tottenham — Our No. 9 performer from all of last season gets a boost into the Top Five overall after a very good World Cup campaign for France. With Spurs additions at the back, he should receive the help he needs to get a well-deserved boost in recognition

4. Asmir Begovic, Stoke City — Begovic drops two spots from an outstanding season where he may have punched out of his class a bit, and he did not experience the best World Cup. Still, Mark Hughes has made moves to strengthen the Potters defense, and this should keep Begovic in the discussion all season long.

3. Wojciech Szczesny, Arsenal — At just 24, the man may need to learn a bit about sideburns but he has little left to prove between the sticks. Szczesny may be pushed by Ospina this year, but that’s something the youngster can handle. He was fantastic in 2013/14 and should roll that into the future (as evidenced by some great stops against City in Sunday’s Community Shield).

2. Tim Howard, Everton — If Timmy was only English, he’d be celebrated by the naysayers abroad a whole lot more. The fact remains that the man kept plenty of clean sheets and backed up his club performance by being one of the outstanding keeps of the World Cup (and perhaps providing the tournament’s best performance, with apologies to Keylor Navas and Guilermo Ochoa).

1. Petr Cech, Chelsea — Our No. 1 keeper in the PL could change with a transfer move any day. At 32, the Czech Republic keeper remains strong even if his position at Stamford Bridge is a bit shaky. Courtois, 22, could be Chelsea’s keeper of the next 15 years, and his age and potential will be what forces Jose Mourinho’s hand, not anything Cech himself has done. Sorry, Thibaut… you’ve still got some proving to do inside the Premier League.

First five out: Courtois, Chelsea, Tim Krul (Newcastle), David De Gea (Manchester United), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Forster (Southampton)

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.