Wambach says she, teammates would have more goals on grass instead of turf

13 Comments

source:  VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Abby Wambach nearly played the role of savior for the United States national team (again) four minutes after checking into Friday’s match, a 0-0 draw with Sweden in Winnipeg.

Wambach lunged for a ball that Megan Rapinoe crossed into her path and the world’s all-time leading goal scorer redirected it down into the ground and back up toward goal. Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl tipped it over the bar, denying the United States’ best chance of the game.

“If it’s grass, I think it goes in,” Wambach said on Saturday, standing on a different turf field two time zones west in Vancouver.

Wambach says maintains that she plays differently on artificial turf, that she would throw her body around more on grass. It’s an argument she has publicly voiced for a year now in what ultimately ended as a futile fight against the inclusion of the plastic and rubber fields at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Women’s World Cup coverage ]

All six stadiums and all 18 training sites being used by host nation Canada are artificial turf surfaces.

Wambach led a group of players last year who took legal action against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association for making the women play on artificial turf, citing gender discrimination. This is the first men’s or women’s senior World Cup to ever be played on artificial turf.

Players dropped their legal claim in January, citing a lack of time to carry out any potential changes. “We filed too late,” Wambach said two weeks ago in New York.

[ KASSOUF: USWNT still looking for production out of forwards ]

But the opposition to the turf remains. Wambach recently called turf “a nightmare” and she maintains that in part as a fight against having to play on it herself but more so as a fight against future generations having to play on it. The 2019 Women’s World Cup in France will be held on natural grass.

“A lot of games are definitely played differently now that the games are on turf,” Wambach said Saturday. “I think that there are a lot more goals in this tournament if it weren’t for the turf, myself having probably been on the losing end of that battle a few times now.”

Wambach missed a pair of diving headers – typically trademark Wambach goals – in a 3-1 win over Australia last Monday.

Wambach says there is a hesitation about diving and sliding when she knows she could be facing turf burn or other injuries by doing so.

“In the previous game, I don’t lay out and commit to those headers and that’s why they glance off my head rather than me contacting them,” Wambach said of the Australia match.” For me, I definitely think that the U.S. has more goals if we’re playing on grass.”

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

The most legitimate claim from players opposing turf could be the issue that no two turf fields are the same, and viewers have seen noticeable differences particularly with the field at Vancouver’s BC Place playing different from the rest. But it also must be acknowledged that no two grass fields are the same, either.

“The reality is, we’re on turf,” Wambach said. “You have to play the ball more to feet, the ball rolls faster, it depends if it has just been watered, depends if the water has dried, depends on what turf we are actually playing on. So there are a lot of factors that go into it that to the average person watching the game, they may not realize that it does make a huge difference to how the game is played.”

At this stage, Wambach & Co. are resigned to the fact that they are on turf. And much like the United States’ slow-but-good-enough start to the World Cup (a win and a draw), sometimes you have to take what life deals you.

“It never goes the way you envision in life.” Wambach said. “That’s what makes great teams.

“Championship teams are able to deal with all things, in all moments, in all sorts of ways.”

Transfer news: Jota to Liverpool; Yedlin to Besiktas

Jota to Liverpool
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The transfer news just keeps on coming a Diogo Jota to Liverpool and DeAndre Yedlin to Besiktas are just a few of the deals developing.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Let’s start in the north west of England.

Jota to Liverpool close?

Diogo Jota to Liverpool is moving fast, with a report from Sky Sport in Italy stating that talks are ongoing between the clubs and Jota’s agent, Jorge Mendes, is ironing out the details. It is claimed that Portuguese international Jota is close to agreeing a four-year contract at Liverpool.

A separate report from The Athletic states that Liverpool will pay Wolves over $45 million for Jota, 23, who has been incredibly consistent over the last two seasons in the Premier League.

This could be the extra winger Liverpool were looking for as they’ve been linked with Ismaila Sarr and are clearly looking for extra options to try and ease the burden on Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

Why would Wolves let Jota leave? They have just signed Portuguese whizkid Fabio Silva and Nuno Espirito Santo did rotate Jota in and out of his lineup last season, as Raul Jimenez was the main man and the likes of Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence picked up regular minutes as the season progressed.

Jota has scored 44 goals in 116 appearances for Wolves as he joined them initially on loan from Atletico Madrid when they were in the Championship and was a key part of them getting promoted to the Premier League and then qualifying for the Europa League and sealing back-to-back seventh place finishes.

This signing, off the back of signing Thiago Alcantara, would be another big boost for Liverpool and could mean the likes of Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri or Takumi Minamino may be looking at loan moves away from Anfield this season.

USMNT right back Yedlin to leave Newcastle?

DeAndre Yedlin, 27, is said to be close to joining Turkish giants Besiktas on a free transfer.

Yedlin has one year left on his current contract at Newcastle United but became a squad player last season under Steve Bruce. It appears that will be the case once again this season and the USMNT defender is apparently heading to Turkey where he will link up with fellow U.S. international Tyler Boyd.

This would be a good move for Yedlin, who are currently in Europa League qualifying. The speedy right back has always been a threat out wide but his defending has sometimes been a little suspect, especially at the Premier League level.

A fresh start in Turkey would be interesting and with as host of MLS clubs said to be interested in the former Seattle Sounders star, maybe he will head home in a few years’ time?

Premier League odds, Prince-Wright’s picks: Week 2

Leave a comment

EPL betting odds for the Premier League Week 2 have been released but we know the bookies don’t always get it right and there is plenty of cash to be made up there.

Here are the latest Prince-Wright’s Premier League score predictions as the Premier League 2020-21 season is here and the EPL betting odds all over the place with new signings galore, some teams having more of a preseason than others and injuries already having an impact early in the season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

The Premier League score predictions below encompass the 10 games during Week 2 of the new season, as Manchester City and Manchester United both begin their season after being given an extended break over the summer following their European exploits.

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun with these Premier League games.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Listen carefully, because this is very specific.

While you can download the NBC Sports Predictor app (below) and play the Premier League Pick ‘Em game yourself to predict the scores and win the prizes.

DOWNLOAD NBC SPORTS PREDICTOR

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the long shots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.

Check out our Premier League score predictions below, plus the betting odds provided by our partner, PointsBet.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.


PREMIER LEAGUE PREDICTIONS

BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Manchester United 3-1 Crystal Palace – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Arsenal 4-0 West Ham – (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Everton 2-0 West Brom – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM


DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Newcastle 2-1 Brighton – (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Leicester 2-1 Burnley – (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham – (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Wolves 2-3 Man City – (Monday, 3 p.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM


“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Leeds United 2-2 Fulham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Chelsea 3-3 Liverpool – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM

Aston Villa 2-1 Sheffield United – (Monday, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock) – [STREAM


ODDS – full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet

Saturday, September 19: (-195) Everton v. West Brom (+540), Tie: +320
Saturday, September 19: (-160) Leeds v. Fulham (+450), Tie: +290
Saturday, September 19: (-325) Man United v. Crystal Palace (+850), Tie: +440
Saturday, September 19: (-195) Arsenal v. West Ham (+500), Tie: +340
Sunday, September 20: (+215) Southampton v. Tottenham (+130), Tie: +235
Sunday, September 20: (+160) Newcastle v. Brighton (+185), Tie: +210
Sunday, September 20: (+220) Chelsea v. Liverpool (+110), Tie: +270
Sunday, September 20: (-165) Leicester v. Burnley (+460), Tie: +290
Monday, September 21: (+170) Aston Villa v. Sheffield United (+170), Tie: +215
Monday, September 21: (+520) Wolves v. Man City (-195), Tie: +325

Thiago to Liverpool confirmed: How big of a deal is this?

Thiago to Liverpool
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Thiago to Liverpool has finally been confirmed as the worst kept secret in the transfer world has reached its end game with a transfer deal which could rise to $36 million reached.

What does Thiago Alcantara signing for Liverpool actually mean though?

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

First up, Liverpool have themselves a ‘baller with a capital B who was influential in Bayern winning the treble and sealing the UEFA Champions League trophy in the 2019-20 season.

Thiago, 29, has been instrumental at Bayern Munich and is the deep-lying playmaker Liverpool didn’t have. Speaking about his arrival at Anfield, his excitement is clear and so is one other thing: he’s a born winner.

“I think it’s an amazing feeling. I was waiting for this moment for a long time and I am very, very happy to be here,” Thiago said. “When the years are passing, you are trying to win as much as you can – and when you win, you want to win more. I think this club describes what I am as well; I want to achieve all of the goals, win as many trophies as possible. It also [has] this kind of family [feeling] that I need because we [like to] have a very close relationship with the club and I think I will feel this, I will have this feeling, with this club as well.”

Thiago is exactly the type of signing Liverpool needed to make to back up their hopes of being back-to-back Premier League champions. That sound you can hear is Pep Guardiola’s heart breaking, as the current Manchester City boss brought Thiago from Barcelona to Bayern Munich in 2013 and knows how key of a cog he can be in this well-oiled Liverpool machine.

The Spanish international is exactly the type of player the reigning Premier League champions needed to reach the next level. He gives them that Plan B they haven’t previously had. If Thiago had played for Liverpool against Atletico Madrid in the 2019-20 season, they would not have lost that game. He would have slowed things down, picked passes to rip apart Atleti’s watertight midfield and defense.

His skills are special and will complement the hard-working players Liverpool primarily have in their midfield. Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum were a formidable trio but the latter may now leave for Barcelona and both Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have struggled with injuries. Thiago gives this Liverpool midfield a new dimension and his arrival likely means Fabinho and Henderson will line up alongside him in a three-man central midfield.

He will have to settle in, though, and playing in England and for Klopp’s Liverpool is very different to what he was used to at Bayern Munich. That said, he oozes class and will be given the license to dictate the tempo of Liverpool’s play and sit in alongside Fabinho and spray passes and snap into tackles. In many ways, just like at Bayern, his role will be to allow the full backs to attack. His presence will allow Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold to bomb on just as Alphonso Davies and Joshua Kimmich did at Bayern.

Simply put, he allows Liverpool to play a different way in comparison to their full-throttle, high-press style which isn’t always possible when teams sit back and defend deep. Now they have Thiago, Liverpool can do it all. If you sit back, Thiago can thread a ball through the eye of a needle to open up defenses. If you push up, one ball over the top will see Salah and Mane set free.

The son of a former World Cup winner with Brazil (Mazinho) who was born in Italy to Brazilian parents and made his name in Spain, Thiago Alcantara is a high quality player, professional and human. This signing is a big statement by Liverpool and for many, including myself, it means they are now the favorites to win the Premier League title this season ahead of Manchester City.

That is how big of a deal it is.

Transfer news: Sarr to Liverpool, Man United

Ismaila Sarr to Liverpool
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The latest transfer news sees Ismaila Sarr to Liverpool and Ismaila Sarr to Manchester United among the main reports.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

So, the two bitter rivals are set to battle for Watford and Senegal winger Ismaila Sarr. Let’s roll!

Ismaila Sarr to Liverpool or Manchester United?

According to a report from the Daily Mail, Liverpool are willing to pay $46 million for Sarr. However, a report from The Independent states that Sarr is an alternative option if Manchester United can’t sign Jadon Sancho.

Would Ismaila Sarr to Liverpool or Ismaila Sarr to Manchester United make more sense?

Starting with Liverpool, they obviously have their star three forwards in Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. After that, Sarr is an upgrade on their current back-up options of Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri, plus youngsters Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott.

Sarr is also close friends with his countryman and Liverpool star Mane, and the 22-year-old showed enough promise in his debut Premier League season (five goals, four assists in 22 PL starts) to suggest he can make the step up to playing for a top six team.

He only arrived at recently relegated Watford last summer from Rennes and is a target for plenty of the big boys. Sarr has end product to his game and scored twice in Watford’s shock 3-0 win against Liverpool.

As for Sarr to Manchester United, it is stated that “intermediaries are understood to have made initial enquiries” as they line up deals if they don’t sign top target Sancho this summer.

It is clear Sarr is to good to be playing in the second tier in England this season and after he adapted to life in the Premier League the Senegalese winger was always a threat.

Let’s see who wins this battle as Sarr would significantly upgrade the secondary options for both Liverpool and Manchester United.