USMNT U-20s defeat El Salvador, 2-0, qualify for 2015 U-20 World Cup

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The U-20 U.S. national team defeated El Salvador, 2-0, in the two sides’ win-and-you’re-in CONCACAF U-20 Championship playoff on Saturday to book their place in the 2015 U-20 World Cup (May 30 to June 20) in New Zealand.

Following a rough start to the group stage — a draw with Guatemala and defeat at the hands of Panama — Tab Ramos’s side rebounded with an 8-0 thrashing of Aruba, a 2-0 victory over the host Jamaicans and a 1-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in the group stage finale. A second-placed Group A finish set up the Yanks’ date with third-placed Group B finishers El Salvador.

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San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Tommy Thompson saw Saturday’s first goalscoring chance fall his way as the 19-year-old raced in behind the Salvadoran backline, latched onto a through ball but pulled his first-time shot just wide. Thompson’s one-on-one chance would set the tone for the rest of the first half, though, as the Americans controlled the run of play and continuously threatened to score the game’s opening goal.

Columbus Crew midfielder Romain Gall found himself bearing down, one-on-one with the goalkeeper inside the first 15 minutes as well, but fell victim to the extremely shoddy Montego Bay playing surface as the ball took an unfortunate bobble mere moments before Gall was to fire on goal. Instead, his attempt ended up a weak shot which was easily saved.

6-foot-5 Molde (Norway) forward Ben Spencer followed up a shot off the crossbar and headed the rebound into an empty net to put the Yanks ahead in the 37th minute. 53 minutes from U-20 World Cup qualification.

[ RELATED: Klinsmann names 23-man roster for Chile, Panama friendlies ]

Gall nearly doubled the Americans’ lead five minutes later when his left-footed shot/cross flashed across the face of goal, but the ‘keeper watched it roll harmlessly wide as Spencer and a whole host of other U.S. players’ outstretched attempts fell inches short.

Disaster struck for the USMNT U-20s just six minutes into the second half. El Salvador were awarded a penalty for what appeared to be a handball by Thompson. U.S. ‘keeper Zack Steffen came to the rescue, though, saving the ensuing penalty kick at full-stretch to his right.

New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga came inches from putting the Americans two goals ahead with the 6-foot-3 center back towered over his marker to get on the end of Fulham midfielder Emerson Hyndman’s free kick service. Miazga’s effort was only pushed onto the crossbar and over by the fingertips of the Salvadoran ‘keeper.

[ MORE: Robbie Rogers unsure where he stands with Klinsmann after coming out | JK ready to talk ]

Persistence paid off for the Yanks, though, as the combination of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Junior Flores and Club Tijuana forward Paul Arriola fashioned a pair of close-range chances in the 67th minute, with the latter’s rebounded effort being turned past the ‘keeper and into the back of the net. Flores’s dynamic run down the right side of the 18-yard-box opened up space to cut the ball back, where LA Galaxy forward Bradford Jameison IV’s shot caromed to Arriola, who cut inside and scuffed his left-footed effort, but was the beneficiary of some good fortune. 23 minutes from qualification.

El Salvador went a man down after Andres Flores looked to kick out at a U.S. player with 10 minutes to of regular time to be played. From there, the Yanks were able to see the game out, preserving their shutout and sealing their place in this summer’s tournament.

The USMNT U-20 defense, which struggled a bit in the opening game of the tournament, finished the CONCACAF U-20 Championship riding a streak of over 360 minutes (four full games) of having not conceded a goal.

Italy women’s team awarded for ’emancipating’ female game

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ROME (AP) The Italy women’s national soccer team was awarded the Foreign Press Association’s Invictus award Monday for promoting and “emancipating” the female game in the country with its run to the World Cup quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Head coach Milena Bertolini and forward Barbara Bonansea were given the award during a ceremony at the Rome-based association.

With soccer dominated by men in Italy and few opportunities for girls, Bertolini recounted how she had to dress up as a boy to play as a kid.

“Now things are changing, thanks to the Italian federation’s school programs,” Bertolini said.

Bertolini and Bonansea lamented that female players are still not considered professionals and therefore are not permitted to earn more than $33,500 per year by Italian law.

“It’s not about the money, it’s a question of rights,” said Bonansea, who also plays for Italian champion Juventus.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

While Italy’s men’s team is a four-time World Cup champion, the women had not played in a World Cup for two decades and entered as a prohibitive underdog during its opening match against Australia in France in June. But the Azzurre came back from a goal down for a 2-1 win courtesy of Bonansea’s two scores , with her second coming in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

“That goal shaped our World Cup, both in terms of results and in terms of promoting women’s soccer in Italy,” Bertolini said. “The strong emotions on the field were transmitted to everyone who was watching. I still get goosebumps now just thinking about that goal.”

The Azzurre went on to win their group then beat China in the first knockout round before losing to eventual finalist the Netherlands.

In a country of 60 million people, a total of more than 20 million spectators watched Italy’s five matches on RAI state TV, setting audience records for women’s soccer game after game.

The Invictus award is dedicated to “promoting the positive effects of sports in terms of integration and emancipation by the vulnerable sections of society.”

UCL preview: Spurs desperate for a win; Man City host Atalanta

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By the end of the week, we’ll be at the halfway point of the UEFA Champions League group stage, and while some Premier League clubs (Manchester City and Liverpool) are currently in rather strong positions, a couple others (Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea) have some serious work to do to rescue their respective campaigns.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Tottenham’s start to the group stage has gone about as poorly as it could have done, considering the positions in which they’ve found themselves early in games. Going from 2-0 up to a 2-2 draw away to Olympiacos was bad enough, but going from 1-0 up to a 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich was the real demoralizer.

Now, last year’s UCL runners-up find themselves third in the group with just one point. However, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is set for a back-to-back home-and-away with (presumed) doormat Red Star Belgrade, beginning Tuesday when the Serbian side visits the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Spurs will continue to be without goalkeeper Hugo Lloris following his dislocated elbow, while midfielders Christian Eriksen and Giovani Lo Celso are back in full training and expected to be available for selection. Tanguay Ndombele was only involved as a second-half sub during Spurs’ draw with last-place Watford over the weekend, so he is likely to return to the starting lineup.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

Man City, meanwhile, are coming off a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace and feeling a renewed sense of PL title contention after Liverpool dropped their first points of the season. While a domestic three-peat is undoubtedly high on the list of priorities for Pep Guardiola‘s side, it’s probably safe to assume that breaking though in the UCL is the main objective for 2019-20. Since Guardiola took over at the Etihad Stadium, City have reached the quarterfinals twice and the round of 16 once. Under the direction of Manuel Pellegrini, City reached the semifinals the season before Guardiola’s arrival.

Outside of long-term knees injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane, City have a clean bill of health.

Tuesday’s full UEFA Champions League schedule

Atletico Madrid v. Bayer Leverkusen — 12:55 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Dinamo Zagreb — 12:55 p.m. ET

Tottenham Hotspur v. Red Star Belgrade — 3 p.m. ET
Manchester City v. Atalanta — 3 p.m. ET
Galatasaray v. Real Madrid — 3 p.m. ET
Juventus v. Lokomotive Moscow — 3 p.m. ET
Brugge v. Paris Saint-Germain — 3 p.m. ET
Olympiacos v. Bayern Munich

The 2 Robbies podcast: Man United 1-1 Liverpool; Struggles in North London

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe review the key results from Matchweek 9 in the Premier League focusing on Manchester United and Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford (0:50). The chaps also discuss Manchester City’s win at Crystal Palace (16:50), Arsenal’s defeat at Sheffield United (23:25), Tottenham’s draw at home to Watford (35:25) and debate who currently is the 3rd best team in the Premier League (42:05). Finally, the guys name their under-appreciated performances of the weekend (50:50).

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

FA Cup qualifier to be replayed after team walks off for racist abuse

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LONDON (AP) The FA Cup qualifying match between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town that was abandoned following racist abuse will be replayed next week.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

The Football Association said Monday that the match will be replayed from the start on Oct. 29 at Haringey’s home ground.

Saturday’s game saw the players walk off in the 64th minute, shortly after Yeovil had gone 1-0 up via a penalty. Haringey officials said after the game that its Cameroonian goalkeeper Valery Pajetat and defender Coby Rowe had both been targeted by racial abuse by visiting fans.

London police said they had arrested two men, age 23 and 26, on Monday on suspicion of racially aggravated common assault in connection with the incident.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

The FA said: “Following the incident in the original tie and the two arrests already made, the FA’s investigation is ongoing. We are continuing to work with the relevant authorities on our investigation into the matter.”

The winner of the game will advance to the first round of the FA Cup.