US women shift to Vancouver with eyes on getting production from forwards

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Saturday was about travel, rest and recovery for the United States women after a scoreless draw with Sweden on Friday in their second match in group play at the 2015 World Cup.

Only 12 players trained at under a blue sky and coastal breezes at the University of British Columbia on Saturday afternoon following a morning flight to Vancouver. A game of handball to loosen the legs got the session started for Friday’s reserves. None of the 11 starters from Friday trained on Saturday, which forward Amy Rodriguez described simply as a “fun” one, evidenced by the shouts and laughs heard on the field for the 60-plus minutes.

The United States women left Winnipeg with 4 points from two matches, defeating Australia 3-1 despite being outplayed and drawing Sweden 0-0. But the U.S. left a fair amount to be desired in terms of their play.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s WWC coverage ]

A victory over Nigeria on Tuesday will guarantee the United States first place in the group. For forward Abby Wambach, that’s the only option.

“We have to go out No. 1 in our group,” she said Saturday after training.

Defensively, the United States has been sound, giving up one goal and nullifying Swedish striker Lotta Schelin on Friday. Goalkeeper Hope Solo did her part on Monday in the opening minutes against a game Australia team, thwarting away a pair of goal-bound shots in the opening 15 minutes to keep the Matildas off the board early.

[ RELATED: Kassouf: USWNT’s defense the difference thus far at WWC ]

Scoring, however, remains an issue for the Americans. No player has scored while playing in a forward position through 180 minutes at this World Cup (Christen Press scored from a midfield role on Monday), a problem exacerbated on Friday by the fact that all five forwards on the roster played against Sweden. Wambach’s lunging header in the 72nd minute was the most dangerous chance to speak of for the U.S. on Friday, and Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl tipped the ball over the bar.

“I think a lot of things are happening right now that our coaching staff is trying to figure out, that we’re trying to figure out,” Wambach said of the attack.

U.S. coach Jill Ellis said after Friday’s match that Friday’s forwards – Press and Sydney Leroux – weren’t “efficient” enough. “We could have been better and more productive from the two them,” Ellis said.

The U.S. should have opportunities against Nigeria on Tuesday at BC Place. Nigeria looked dangerous even if defensively shaky against Sweden in a 3-3 draw on Monday, but the well dried up on Friday against Australia in a 2-0 loss. Asisat Oshoala looked pedestrian, and while Ngozi Okobi, Francisca Ordega and Desire Oparanozie had passing chances, Nigeria lacked much bite again.

Wambach and the U.S. should be able to pounce on Nigeria’s tired legs. Nigeria coach Edwin Okon didn’t make a substitution in the team’s first match and the tired legs showed against Australia. Those legs could be fully burnt out come Tuesday, especially if Nigeria continues to train twice per day as it did in Winnipeg.

Wambach’s role could fluctuate from game to game, a strategy Ellis has been open about for some time. Coming off the bench – as she did on Friday – gives world all-time goal-scorer Wambach a different perspective on matches.

“You analyze the game as opposed to getting transfixed inside of it,” she said. “You get to see where things are breaking down when you do get on. You hope that your skill your talent will help your team redeem whatever kind of issues we have been having.”

With $2.7 billion reserves, FIFA has ‘duty’ to aid virus-hit soccer

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FIFA says it has a “duty” to use its vast financial reserves to assist a football industry ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic wiping out games and creating unexpected economic hardship in the world’s biggest sport.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The spread of COVID-19 has impacted the wealthiest clubs, with Barcelona and Juventus players taking wage cuts; those in smaller countries, with Slovakian champion Zilina entering bankruptcy; and national football federations, with Uruguay furloughing hundreds of staff.

Having amassed reserves it last reported at $2.745 billion, FIFA has the resources to give much-needed financial help to the game at many levels. Now the organization has provided more details around the need agreed two weeks ago by FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his vice presidents to explore a “support fund” for the sport.

“FIFA is in a strong financial situation and it’s our duty to do the utmost to help them in their hour of need,” world football’s governing body said in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after making a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football.”

FIFA is exploring the mechanism to provide the financial lifeline to the football industry with the six regional confederations and member associations to ensure there is an announcement “in the near future.”

“The football community around the world is experiencing, to a greater or lesser extent, serious financial problems on account of the coronavirus outbreak,” FIFA said. “This threatens to disrupt and impair the ability of FIFA’s member associations and other football organizations such as leagues and clubs to develop, finance and run football activities at all levels of the game, including professional, non-professional, youth and grassroots.

“It is foreseen that in many parts of the world a considerable number of persons involved in football including both men and women players will be left in extremely difficult economic conditions.”

FIFA already operates a “Forward” development program to redistribute its wealth to member associations. In the 2015-18 cycle, investment dedicated to the scheme was $1.079 billion, of which $832 million had been approved and committed to member associations, confederations or regions, according to the last published financial results.

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

Premier League TV schedule: April 4-5

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We have 16 hours of Premier League programming coming your way this weekend and here is your TV schedule for April 4-5

This Saturday and Sunday we will have eight hours of programming coming your way each morning from 6 a.m. ET to 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN on your TV.

With the current 2019-20 Premier League season suspended until April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have a lot of programming treats planned for you in the coming weeks and will keep up fully updated with a TV schedule posted every single week.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ]

Remember, during the season you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today, Sky Sports News, NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Below is your full Premier League TV schedule and stream links for Saturday and Sunday as we have classic matches, Goal of the Season, Behind the Badge, a focus on Liverpool v. Man City and much more coming up.


FULL TV SCHEDULE FOR NBCSN

Saturday, April 4
6-6:30 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Matt Le Tissier [STREAM]
6:30-7 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – John Barnes [STREAM]
7-7:30 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Sol Campbell [STREAM]
7:30-8 a.m. ET: Soccerbox – Ryan Giggs [STREAM]
8-9 a.m. ET: PL Goals of the Season: 2001-02 [STREAM]
9-10 a.m. ET: PL Goals of the Season: 2002-03 [STREAM]
10-10:30 a.m. ET: Classic Match: Liverpool v. Tottenham, Feb. 2015 [STREAM]
10:30-11 a.m. ET: Classic Match: Chelsea v. Man United, Feb. 2012 [STREAM]
11-11:30 a.m. ET: Classic Match: Tottenham v. Chelsea, Jan.  2015 [STREAM]
11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET: Classic Match: Man United v. Arsenal, Aug., 2011 [STREAM]
12-12:30 p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 1 [STREAM]
12:30-  p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 2 [STREAM]
1-1:30 p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 3 [STREAM]
1:30-2 p.m. ET. ET: Behind the Badge – Watford, Episode 4 [STREAM]

Sunday, April 5
6-7 a.m. ET: PL season in review 1998-99 [STREAM]
7-8 a.m. ET: PL season in review 1999-00 [STREAM]
8-10 a.m. ET: Match of the Week, Man City v. QPR, May 2012 [STREAM]
10 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET: Match of the Week, Everton v. Liverpool, Nov. 2013 [STREAM]
12 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET: Match of the Week, Chelsea v. Arsenal, Oct. 2014 [STREAM]

VIDEO: Top 25 moments in Premier League history

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It’s time to take a trip down memory lane and countdown the top 25 moments in Premier League history.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

There have been so many memorable goals, incidents, performances and players throughout the league’s history and back in 2017 we celebrated its 25th anniversary by counting down our top 25 moments.

From Wayne Rooney’s bicycle kick, the arrival of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, Leicester’s title win and Man City’s dramatic last-gasp success, there are so many wild moments packed into this video.

In truth, it was so tough to narrow down the best moments in PL history to just 25 moments.

Click play on the video above to replay some of the greatest moments in history.

Daniel Levy calls for all players, clubs to cut wages

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Tottenham chairman has called for Premier League players and staff to take wage cuts to help clubs cope with the suspension during the coronavirus pandemic.

Levy revealed he is among 550 non-playing staff at Tottenham who have taken pay cuts as he pointed to the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich as their players and officials had taken wage cuts in order to make sure every individual at the club was paid and costs did not spiral out of control during the suspension of leagues.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Levy confirmed that the “club’s operations have effectively ceased” and “has an annual cost base running into hundreds of millions of pounds” before adding that clubs and players should do their part as clubs, leagues and players’ unions meet on Wednesday in England to work out a way forward.

“We hope the current discussions between the Premier League, PFA and LMA will result in players and coaches doing their bit for the football eco system,” Levy said.

Levy in particular will be scrutinized as he was the highest-paid Premier League executive, paid $3.7 million in 2018 and $8.7 million in 2019 after a hefty bonus for Tottenham completing their move to a new stadium.

Tottenham’s chairman also explained exactly what Spurs are doing to help them deal with the new financial reality all soccer clubs are facing, as the UK government is paying 80 percent of wages of staff who have been furloughed (basically told they still have a job but aren’t needed right now) by their employers.

“We have seen some of the biggest clubs in the world such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus take steps to reduce their costs. Yesterday, having already taken steps to reduce costs, we ourselves made the difficult decision – in order to protect jobs – to reduce the remuneration of all 550 non-playing directors and employees for April and May by 20 per cent utilising, where appropriate, the Government’s furlough scheme. We shall continue to review this position,” Levy added.

Soccer will of course have to adjust to its new reality and the longer the suspension goes on, tougher decisions will have to be made about players and staff taking significant pay cuts to help keep costs down with no matchday revenue coming in. Tottenham’s stadium is being used to help prepare food for vulnerable people in the local and it has been offered to the NHS to be used any way it can help.

Plenty of clubs across the Premier League have vowed to pay temporary staff used on matchdays but many are making use of government help with wages and many are doing plenty for their local communities too. These are unprecedented times and players and clubs are stepping up to make sure the most vulnerable are looked after.