Monchengladbach beats BVB; Fabian Johnson “feeling really good playing on the wing”

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Both USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann and Borussia Monchengladbach boss Lucien Favre have caught some grief for playing Fabian Johnson at left wing, but at least one of the two is reaping the rewards of the switch.

Johnson made his bones as a right back with Hoffenheim before transferring to Gladbach this summer, but both club and country have put the 27-year-old on the other side of the pitch in an advanced role.

His club now boasts a 10W-4D-0L record in all competitions when he starts after topping Borussia Dortmund 3-1 on Saturday. Gladbach is in the Bundesliga’s third place, and closing in on a UEFA Champions League berth.

[ RELATED: Yedlin makes Premier League debut ]

Earlier this week, the Bundesliga site featured an interview with the USMNT player. Johnson was asked about his position on the pitch, as well as his relationship with Jurgen Klinsmann (amongst other things).

Johnson has been very good on the wing, and impressed for the States in its recent loss to Denmark and draw against Switzerland. And he’s grown to enjoy his new position. Success will do that.

From Bundesliga.com on positioning:

bundesliga.com: It was said back then that you’d prefer to play at right-back, which Favre wasn’t aware of. You’re still being deployed on the left wing though. What do you make of it?

Johnson: I’m feeling good playing on the wing. I’ve had a lot of games in this position and got used to it. The more you play in the position the more familiar you become with it. It’s become a much easier job for me.

bundesliga.com: What is your favourite position on the pitch though?

Johnson: I’m actually feeling really good playing on the wing by now.

Johnson again featured in Gladbach’s win on Saturday, going 77 minutes and departing after the match’s final goal. Oscar Wendt, Raffael and Havard Nordtveit scored for the victors, while Ilkay Gundogan netted in the 77th for BVB.

And on the USMNT:

bundesliga.com: You were an Under-21 European Champion with Germany. What made you choose the USA?

Johnson: I relished the challenge. Jürgen Klinsmann phoned me to invite me for a training camp back then. The team, the coaching stuff – I liked them all very much. We’ve played in some great games since, I was at the World Cup. I wouldn’t have liked to have missed out on those things.

bundesliga.com: Does the international side have the potential to go any further?

Johnson: Most definitely. We’ve performed well against some of the top sides in the world. Those experiences, especially competing with the best players, help you improve.

bundesliga.com: Are you getting feedback from Jürgen Klinsmann on a regular basis?

Johnson: Yeah, sure. We talk a lot when we’re together with the national team, also he calls me when we don’t get to meet for a longer period. Just like [technical advisor] Berti Vogts, he backed me when I decided to join Gladbach. He too was disappointed when I got little playing time in the first half of the season. But we knew it wouldn’t be an easy move. If things continue the way they are then we’re both happy.

Court date for USWNT’s law suit versus U.S. Soccer delayed

USWNT equal pay
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A court case that has dragged U.S. Soccer’s administration through the mud and led to a change of leadership may drag into the summer.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A judge in California has delayed the May 5 trial of gender discrimination against the USSF until June 16 due in part to the coronavirus pandemic. A pretrial conference was also moved to June 1.

The federation is being sued by members of the two-time reigning World Cup champion USWNT under the Equal Pay Act.

The women are requesting more than $66 million in damages.

The extra month gives both parties more time to reach a settlement which could keep this ugly case away from trial. Given the uncertainty in our world, it could of course be delayed again.

The USSF has a new CEO in Will Wilson, who can make a major statement of change by stopping the trial from reaching court.

Handicapping the Final Four of Premier League March Madness

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Our Premier League March Madness results have been as topsy-turvy as the 2019/20 on-field campaign before coronavirus halted it last month.

Yes, the runaway No. 1 seed is alive, but the second, third, fourth, and fifth seeds have been expelled from the tournament within the first two rounds.

Voting in the semifinal round begins Thursday.

[ RESULTS: March Madness Round of 16 ]

Before we go any further, if you’re unfamiliar: To make sure you’re not missing out on either March Madness or the business end of the PL season, we’ve gone ahead and merged the two competitions. The March Madness Final Four and Championship game were due to take place this weekend in Atlanta but now you will be voting on Tottenham v. Arsenal instead of Duke v. Kansas.

Teams are seeded from 1-16 based on their current spot in the table, with Aston Villa winning the relegation playoffs on Monday to remain in the Premier League.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Before we handicap the semifinal matches, let’s take a look at where the field sits after your Wednesday voting.

No. 1 Liverpool v. No. 12 Everton
No. 6 Wolves v. No. 7 Sheffield United

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Look, all bets are off for the derby. The Everton faithful has shown up in a big way during voting, dispatching Manchester United and Chelsea.

That’s big time stuff, though Liverpool ended the dreams of our presumptive sleeping giant favorite Arsenal after beating West Ham in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Reds are going to have to not just been upstart Everton but overcome the legions of rival supporters who would happily click the Toffees’ box rather than see Liverpool gain the crown.

The other side of the bracket sees No. 7 Sheffield United looking to continue its surprising run in both the PL season and our voting.

The Blades knocked off Man City, potentially aided by the same phenomenon Everton hopes to see on Thursday.

Now they meet Wolves, who may be riding a crest of North American momentum in the form of affinity for El Tri hero Raul Jimenez.

Our prediction: Everton and Wolves in the Final.

RESULTS: Premier League March Madness Elite Eight

Premier League March Madness
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Everton continued its upset path toward in our Premier League March Madness voting, showing its sensational support and setting up a fantastic eMerseyside Derby in the Final Four.

Thousands of votes were cast Wednesday, and the Toffees upset isn’t even the top underdog story.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Chris Wilder’s Blades of Sheffield United won a back-and-forth affair with No. 2 seed Manchester City to move into the semifinals.

That’s where they’ll meet No. 6 seed Wolves, who powered past Leicester City as if it wasn’t a challenge.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final – Aston Villa prevailed, Norwich, Bournemouth, Watford relegated
TuesdaySweet 16 results in full
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

IFAB: New handball rule can be adopted when games resume

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The International Football Association Board (IFAB) issued a letter from secretary Lukas Brud on Wednesday, outlining several changes to the game.

The “tee shirt line” handball rule may be coming to club football quicker than expected due to the coronavirus suspension of the 2019/20 season.

IFAB will allow leagues the choice to use the new handball rule when matches resume this season, also making changes to VAR protocol and vowing to review the offside rule.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The new handball rule states that the shoulder goes to the end of the shirt sleeve or the bottom of the armpit (though obviously not in the case of a long-sleeve jersey).

For the purposes of determining handball offences, the ‘arm’ stops at the bottom of the armpit

So… get ready for baggy, longer jersey sleeves, or the increased recruitment of players with the longest armpits.

Kidding aside, the handball rule desperately needed clarification and we’ll see if this gives enough to fans and players alike.

Referees will now be “expected” to go to the screen on the field when a call is subjective, forcing the official to either uphold or overrule his initial call.

This same post says IFAB will now allow accidental handballs in the run-up to a goal in certain situations.

“Accidental handball by an attacking player should only be penalized if it ‘immediately’ results in a goal or an obvious opportunity for the player and/or their team to score a goal (i.e. following the handball, the ball travels only a short distance and/or there are very few passes).”

Well, that needs some clarification.

Back to the timing issue for the new handball rule, it seems logical that leagues would want to introduce new laws with a new season but stand-by for the decision of your favorite league.

As for the offside rule, “The members agreed that the fundamental philosophy of offside is underpinned by a desire to encourage attacking football and the scoring of goals. It was further agreed, therefore, that Law 11 – Offside should be analyzed and reviewed with a view to potentially proposing changes reflecting this philosophy.”

It’s a lot to unpack, and we’ll surely here from proponents and opponents of the changes soon. As always, implementation will make the biggest difference in how these changes are received.