Take a look at FIFA’s ridiculously good 2015 World Cup poster

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Based on the initial reaction to today’s newly-unveiled 2015 FIFA World Cup poster, you’d think all was forgiven between the public and soccer’s world governing body. Or, at least, you’d think women’s soccer become a thing in some minds for the first time ever. While that’s certainly not the case, for a brief moment in Rio de Janeiro, FIFA seemed like an organization capable of some legitimate joy and hope, if not outright respect for the women’s game.

Such is the power of well-executed art, and with the unveiling of the poster for next year’s women’s finals in Canada, FIFA’s has executed its vision well. They’re also created some early buzz for an event that’s now 11 months away. Attempting to capture Canadian multiculturalism while alluding to the nation’s vast, diverse geography, the tournament’s organizing committee has delivered an inspirational portrait of strength, pride, and beauty:

 

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From today’s unveiling, at the Maracana in Rio:

“We couldn’t be happier with the official poster,” said [National Organising Committee Chairman Victor] Montagliani. “It’s such a dynamic piece of art that truly captures the spirit and beauty of the women’s game and Canada’s cultural mosaic. We can’t wait to bring it home to Canada and share it with all Canadians.”

FIFA Marketing Director Thierry Weil said: “The poster forms a key part of the visual identity of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 and perfectly captures the extraordinary diversity of the host nation. I’m sure this will help to generate even more excitement as we move towards the tournament.”

If there’s one issue the immediately comes to mind, it’s quantity, not quality. For Brazil 2014, each host city eventually had its own poster. For Canada 2015, there’s still time.

At 24 teams for the first time in tournament history, the 2015 World Cup promises to be the biggest women’s event in FIFA history. Come the quarterfinals, it could also prove the most competitive. Though the United States and Germany will again be favored come June 6, 2015, Japan will be the reigning world champions, while a series of emerging (or, in some cases, resurgent) challengers should make the top of next year’s tournament the most competitive in World Cup history.

Somehow, all of that is captured in this poster; then again, any superlative we want to bestow on the event would fit with such a strong, positive image. For casual fans of the women’s game, it’s reason to start the countdown. And for devotees, it’s reason to think FIFA may be looking at the opportunity through a new, inspired lens.

USMNT, Schalke MF McKennie injures leg in loss to Bayern

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GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie was injured in the Bundesliga game against Bayern Munich and had to be helped leaving the pitch on Saturday.

The 20-year-old American received an unintentional kick in the leg from James Rodriguez as he won possession from the Colombian star. While the free kick was awarded, McKennie was unable to continue and he was replaced by Nabil Bentaleb in the 54th minute.

Bayern was leading 1-0 at the time.

McKennie, who has six appearances for the United States, missed Schalke’s defeat to Borussia Moenchengladbach last weekend after returning from international duty with a bruised knee from the Americans’ 1-0 win over Mexico in a friendly.

McKennie has made 26 league appearances for Schalke.

The 2 Robbies: Mourinho criticizes his players’ attitude

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle get stuck into an eventful Saturday in the Premier League. They ask who is responsible for the questionable attitude of Jose Mourinho’s men (00:30), comment on Mauricio Pochettino and his methods at Spurs (14:00), recap comfortable wins for Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola (19:00), and wrap up by reviewing the four new managerial appointees and who is top of the class (28:00).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

NWSL: NC Courage complete regular-season, playoff double

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Jess McDonald scored two goals and the North Carolina Courage won the National Women’s Soccer League championship with a 3-0 victory over the Portland Thorns on Saturday.

The victory was a bit of revenge for the Courage, who lost 1-0 to the Thorns in last year’s title match.

The Courage (17-1-6) won the league’s Supporters’ Shield for best record and never dropped a game on the road. The team also set NWSL records this season for the most wins, points and goals.

The match was played before a sellout crowd of 21,144 at Portland’s Providence Park. That was a record for the final of a women’s pro league championship in the United States.

Brazilian Debinha scored on a header in the 13th minute, and McDonald followed with her own in the 40th. Shortly thereafter, Portland goalkeeper Adrianna Franch appeared to teak her ankle, but she returned for the second half.

Portland came out energized in the second half, but Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland denied a Tobin Heath blast in the 55th minute.

McDonald struck again with a header in the 64th minute that Franch got a hand on but couldn’t stop.

McDonald, a 30-year-old vet who has played for five teams in six years, led the league with eight assists in the regular season. She has three goals in the postseason.

“It feels absolutely amazing. This is what we worked so hard for,” McDonald said. “Every single minute, every single day that we put work into – it counted today,” McDonald said.

FOLLOW LIVE: ATL chasing Shield; NYCFC desperate to end 5-game skid

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Atlanta United could take another massive step toward the 2018 Supporters’ Shield with a home win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday, despite New York Red Bulls’ victory over Toronto FC in the day’s earlier game.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: 6 games in MLS, beginning at 7 p.m. ET ]

The Five Stripes entered the day with a four-point lead on the Red Bulls (it has since been reduced to one) with five games left to play (four for RBNY). RSL, on the other hand, are riding a four-game unbeaten run and have lost just twice in the last 12 times out. That run has seen them rise from near the bottom of the Western Conference to fifth place, five points clear of the playoff cut line.

In the Eastern Conference, the story of the last month has been New York City FC’s slide: five games without a win, and just one win in their last eight games. Domenec Torrent enjoyed a strong start after taking over for Patrick Vieira, but everything has turned sour in the last six weeks. From Shield contenders, to just another member of the chasing pack. Their opponents, Montreal Impact, are currently clutching the East’s sixth and final playoff place, thought D.C. United have cut the gap to just four points with a game in hand.

Today’s MLS results

Los Angeles FC 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes
New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC — underway

Tonight’s full MLS schedule

Atlanta United vs. Real Salt Lake — 7 p.m. ET
Montreal Impact vs. New York City FC — 7:30 p.m. ET
Columbus Crew SC vs. Colorado Rapids — 7:30 p.m. ET
New England Revolution vs. Chicago Fire — 7:30 p.m. ET
Orlando City SC vs. Houston Dynamo — 7:30 p.m. ET
Minnesota United vs. Portland Timbers — 8 p.m. ET

Sunday’s MLS schedule

Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City — 1 p.m. ET
LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders — 7 p.m. ET
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. FC Dallas — 7 p.m. ET