Alex Morgan enters exclusive 20/20 club

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Even when she has a quiet night, Alex Morgan still makes news. She didn’t score — she didn’t even start — but in 45 minutes of play, Alex Morgan made history. Again.

With her second half assist on Sydney Leroux’s goal, the 23-year-old became the second player in U.S. women’s soccer history to post 20 goals and 20 assists in a single season.

From the near the top of the area in the 71st minute, Morgan found Leroux in the left of the box. When her teammate went back across goal to beat keeper Zhang Yue, Morgan joined U.S. Soccer legend Mia Hamm as the only members of the new 20-20 club.

In 1998, Hamm posted exactly 20 goals and 20 assists in the year before the States’ famous 1999 World Cup triumph. Morgan has long ago passed 20 goals, now adding her milestone assist to the 28 tallies she’s accumulated throughout the calendar year.

The U.S. Women’s National Team star started on the bench during the team’s 2-0 Saturday victory over China, a match that opened the three-game series that will wrap up the team’s Fan Celebration Tour. With fellow attacker Amy Rodriguez set for her 100th international appearance, Morgan’s spot in the starting lineup was given to the player she’s supplanted in the normal starting XI.

MORE: Amy Rodriguez talks about hitting the 100-mark

She still found a way to make an impact, and with two matches left on the tour, Morgan could be looking at creating a club of her own. Averaging near a goal per game this season, Morgan may hit the 30-goal mark, starting a 30-20 club that may prove lonely.

With the competition level in women’s international soccer improving, it’s difficult to see numbers like these being racked up on a team like the United States (a team that plays a high level of competition). And the numbers came in a year when there were no club requirements to draw Morgan away from a season’s worth of national team games. Hopefully that won’t be true in the future.

It makes Morgan’s achievement all the more remarkable. As with any record, the stars have aligned, leaving a year’s worth of open nets and teammates for her to pick out.

Two years ago, she was a super sub — a recent Cal grad that was having trouble breaking to Pia Sundhage’s set XI. Now she’s coming off one of the best seasons in U.S. Soccer history.

Nothing to separate Portland and 10-man LAFC

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There was entertainment value in Los Angeles FC’s potential playoff preview with the Portland Timbers on Sunday in the City of Angels, but all that arrived was a scoreless draw.

[ MORE: Atlanta 1-1 Seattle ]

Both Giovani Savarese’s Timbers and Bob Bradley‘s nickname-free expansion club remain in the West’s Top Four. PLAFC remains unbeaten at home during their maiden voyage through Major League Soccer.

Adama Diomande came close for the hosts, who finished with 10-men when Lee Nguyen went studs-up on Sebastian Blanco‘s thigh for a pretty easy red card (though it took some time for Silviu Petrescu to produce the red).

VIDEO: France stars projected onto Arc de Triomphe

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If France’s players had any doubt about the level of import their World Cup title had back home, it was erased when their photos were projected onto one of the most celebrated monuments in the world.

The photos of Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, and company made their way onto the Arc de Triomphe on Sunday, hours after France defeated Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup Final.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The Arc de Triomphe honors those who died in the French Revolution and early 19th century wars, and sits above France’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

How humbling must it be for those players to grace such a heavy monument (both in weight and substance).

Dalic: In one day, Croatia went from lucky to unlucky

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Ante Cacic’s Croatia was on pace to miss out on the World Cup.

Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia rallied the troops to second place in their qualifying group, a playoff defeat of Greece, and a run to the World Cup Final.

Pretty decent stuff.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

And surely the 51-year-old will reflect on that, probably even this evening, but he’s more focused on a letdown after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to highly-favored France.

Key to the match was a penalty awarded to France when a partially-obscured Mario Mandzukic handled a ball inside the 18, leading to Antoine Griezmann’s pivotal goal.

The PK was awarded via VAR, and France went up 2-1 en route to a three-goal lead. From the AFP:

“I never comment on referees but in a World Cup final you do not give such a penalty,” said Dalic.

“It in no way diminishes France’s win. We were a bit unlucky. Maybe in the first six games we were favored by luck and today we weren’t.

“I have to congratulate my players. Maybe today we played our best game at these championships. Against such a strong side as France you must not make mistakes. We are a bit sad but we must also be proud of what we’ve done.”

Croatia had two-thirds of the ball and doubled France’s shot attempts, and Dalic isn’t the least bit controversial in wondering whether the match is much different if that penalty goes unawarded by referee Nestor Pitana.

Atlanta comes back to draw 10-man Seattle (video)

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A scrappy if not downright venomous affair between the lowly Seattle Sounders and high-flying Atlanta United ended in a 1-1 draw in Georgia on Sunday.

The Sounders went ahead through a Nicolas Lodeiro penalty kick, awarded via VAR a la this morning’s World Cup Final, but Atlanta leveled the score with a highlight which show every bit of the game story.

[ MORE: FIFA awards Golden Ball, Golden Glove ]

Just check Josef Martinez’s barking at Stefan Frei, who made an uncharacteristic error on the play, after his 19th goal of the season (Nice cross, Julian Gressel).

Martinez needs nine more goals to break the MLS single season record, and he has 13 games to score them.

Jordan McCrary was sent off for Seattle in the 63rd minute for a second yellow, but Seattle navigated the final half hour or so to scoop up an unlikely point.

Atlanta still sits first with its earned point but opens the door for New York City FC to reach the top of the table when it plays its match-in-hand, while Seattle is now 11 points back of the West’s final playoff spot.