Abby Wambach

Veterans still have future roles for USWNT

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Saturday’s 1-1 draw in Chicago between Germany and the United States took 45 minutes to open up, but the second half finally looked like the world-class match-up it was supposed to be. That second half energy should continue in Tuesday’s rematch in Hartford (live on NBC Sports Network at 7:30 p.m. ET) now that these teams have become reacquainted.

On paper, Saturday’s result was a good one for the world’s two top-ranked teams, but as Richard Farley pointed out on Saturday, the U.S. will walk away from this pair of friendlies with mixed feelings, regardless.

Interim coach Jill Ellis will not be the next permanent U.S. coach. Whoever is the next U.S. coach (there seem to be some front-runners, but the process has been pretty tight-lipped) will have to develop talent that will be relied upon at the 2015 Women’s World Cup – the next time the U.S. women really have to care about a result.

(MORE: Favorites emerging to replace Pia Sundhage as next U.S. coach)

But for all this talk about overhauling the group (runners-up in the 2011 World Cup and gold medalists at the 2012 Olympics, mind you) with new faces, top veteran players don’t seem to be going anywhere. Part of that is because some ‘veterans’ of the team still have plenty in the tank (like 27-year-old Heather O’Reilly and 30-year-old Carli Lloyd).

Whether or not specific players will continue to feature in the team depends so greatly on the coach that at this stage it’s wildly speculative to suggest that any would get pushed out. Here are how things look for the four oldest players from the 2012 Olympic roster:

Christie Rampone (37-year-old defender) – The team’s most senior player. Rampone has 270 caps and has not shown a sign of losing a step. She is the rock of the back line and the team’s most consistent defender. It might seem crazy to think that the U.S. captain could still be a mainstay in the line-up at the 2015 World Cup when she would be 40 years old, but Rampone is known for impressive feats, like when she led Sky Blue FC to a Women’s Professional Soccer championship in 2009 as player-coach…while pregnant. She said she plans to play at least through 2013.

Abby Wambach (32-year-old forward) – Much like Rampone, expect Wambach to play until she absolutely can no longer walk. I’ve heard an unusual amount of cynicism from fans about Wambach, which is ridiculous. Sure, young forwards Sydney Leroux and Christen Press need minutes, but their time will come. Wambach (22 goals) and Alex Morgan (24 goals) have combined for the second-most prolific calendar year of goal scoring in U.S. history. Their 46 combined tallies are nine short of the 1991 duo of Michelle Akers (39 goals) and Carin Jennings (16 goals). Tell me again – Why shouldn’t Wambach be a go-to player?

Shannon Boxx (35-year-old midfielder) – Whether or not Boxx continues to play seems to remain up in the air, but it will add to her already impressive resume as an elite midfielder who has battled lupus, chronic autoimmune disease, since 2007. Keeping her place in the team will be extra challenging for Boxx due to the large crop of young central midfielders waiting in the wings and most U.S. coaching candidates sounding eager to develop new midfield talent. A very long list of central midfielders are anxious for a look and need regular training time.

Heather Mitts (34-year-old defender) – London was going to be the end of the road for Mitts, which she made clear leading into the 2012 Olympics. However, it seems she may have had a change of heart  she recently tweeted that she is unsure of what to do next. The outside back position has been a work in progress for the last two years. It’s a position where a new coach will likely use the next three years to develop young players for 2015.

Carlos Vela scored a celestial goal. We are blessed to have seen it

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Carlos Vela is making all other spectacular individual MLS seasons look run of the mill.

I mean, look at the gumption on this guy.

[ VIDEO: Rooney sent off, Kamara scores golazo ]

The Cancun-born playmaker left the San Jose Earthquakes back line on the beach with a soft shoe routine to give LAFC its third goal in a 4-0 win on Thursday

Vela, 30, now has 25 goals and 11 assists in 25 league matches for LAFC this season. He added two goals and an assist in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play.

But this one, yeah, this one takes the cake.

First, there’s Vela’s non-chalant dummy before picking up the pass.

Then, there’s Florian Jungwirth’s body language during and after his being cooked with a nutmeg. That’s an entire mood.

Next, Vela dribbles around the keeper and allows a slide tackler so glide past him before finishing with aplomb, the magic touch his going near post as if to say, “Can I beat this guy a second time, or do I have to use the easier route?”

Diego Rossi also had a goal and an assist, while Mark-Anthony Kaye continued his strong season with an assist to ex-Fiorentina prospect Joshua Perez. It’s a first MLS goal for the California-born Perez, now 21.

WATCH: Rooney sees red for forearm shiver, Kamara scores golazo

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Midweek MLS provided plenty to talk about on Wednesday, with two red cards and a golazo in one match alone.

The two main talking points from the New York Red Bulls’ 2-1 win over DC United weren’t really part of what led the victors to three points.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

How? Well, one of the world’s marquee names earned a red card via VAR and a returning star scores an absolute stunner, that’s how.

Here’s Ola Kamara’s debut marker for the Black-and-Red, adding to a record which included 49 goals in 97 matches between Columbus and the LA Galaxy before moving to the Chinese Super League for a wildly disappointing time with Shenzhen FC.

All of that is forgotten.

As for the Rooney incident, the Red Bulls already led 1-0 when DC’s star striker went forearm shiver on Cristian Casseres Jr.

It’s the second red of the season for Rooney, who is set for Derby County in January.

Amro Tarek was later sent off for the Red Bulls, who moved ahead of DC in the standings. Kaku and Daniel Royer had RBNY’s goals.

Newcastle takeover could be back on if in holiday relegation battle

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How much do Newcastle United supporters dislike their owner Mike Ashley right now?

Enough that this report is likely to condemn many to hoping their favorite club in the world is in the Bottom 3 come Christmas.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas speculates that Ashley will lower his asking price for the club if it is in a relegation fight come December — something that looks certain after the Steve Bruce-led Magpies got bossed around by promoted Norwich City.

Nothing But Newcastle transcribed Douglas’ chatter from his podcast, in which he says,

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we hear more in December because there are still people sniffing around that football club and if the team are in the bottom three, there’ll be people thinking they can get a bargain out of Mike Ashley again. … He will probably more open to listening to lower offers in January and December which is what happened last December. He was basically saying ‘take it off my hands, you now have to take the risk’'”

This is notable for two reasons. First: the social experiment of wondering how many fans could see themselves rooting for their team to take a major and perilous back step just to see the back of a man they perceive is at the root of their failures (and that perception is widespread in this case).

But second, we can see if this rumor comes true because it’s difficult to imagine Newcastle as comfortably mid table by Christmas.

Fan protests and anger are nothing new, but here’s an effort to show how wobbly Ashley’s reputation is on Tyneside: Fans have taken to selling a black and white striped shirt with player name and number but no sponsor just so they can have a Newcastle jersey that doesn’t put money into Ashley’s pockets. And this is after he broke the club’s transfer record twice in one year.

If we’ve learned anything from the past few seasons, though, it’s that boycotts and anger will spur Ashley into insisting that he’s willing to sell and just conveniently enough it will be before the January transfer window. He “won’t be able to buy any players” with the takeover in play, and talks will hit a wall come late January, when they’ll loan a couple young players from Top Six sides.

Yes he spent significant money on Joelinton, Allen Saint-Maximin, and others this summer, but one decent window doesn’t make a culture. Count us amongst the skeptical, for now.

Messi back in training, could be fit for Betis

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi was back in full training again on Wednesday and may be fit to face Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Messi had been training separately from the squad since injuring his right calf in the preseason.

He missed the team’s 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the league opener on Friday.

Barcelona has not said how long it expects Messi to be sidelined.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

Coach Ernesto Valverde is also dealing with injuries to forwards Luiz Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.

Dembele is certain to miss Sunday’s match at the Camp Nou because of a left thigh injury that should keep him out for about five weeks.

Suarez also isn’t likely to play this weekend because of a muscle injury sustained before halftime of Friday’s game in Bilbao.

Two-time defending champion Barcelona hadn’t loss a league opener in 10 seasons.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports