Women’s World Cup — what we learned on Day 10

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There’s more than one way to skin a cat, we’re told, which is really disgusting and should get you thrown in jail, actually. (The origins of that gruesome cliche are interesting as well.)

Thailand and Ivory Coast attacked essentially being outclassed in completely different manners, and neither is necessarily wrong. Although, it would have been hard to argue that after last week’s first matches where Germany scored 10 times against the disheveled Ivorians and possibly could have doubled that with a little luck.

But Ivory Coast had taken the YOLO approach, throwing a legitimate 4-3-3 out there and not worrying about the repercussions of not giving much cover against the top-ranked team in the world. There were some benefits, even though they weren’t readily apparent in the match in question, the most important being that Ivory Coast actually looked dangerous on a few attacks and not just with one attacker who might get loose in a 1-v-3 situation. Thailand wasn’t about to be that brave, and they were able to frustrate Norway for long stretches. Their one outlet – Kanjara Sung-Ngeon – proved to be excellent in the thankless role, although organized, disciplined Thailand (whose average height is only 5-feet-4-inches) still fell 4-0.

[MORE: Complete coverage of 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup]

If the real test was when the two teams clashed, obviously Thailand’s method prevailed, the discipline took advantage of a couple of Ivory Coast mistakes (and the lack of an offside flag) to score three times and hold on for a 3-2 win.

But with one more chance to prove itself, Ivory Coast did not change who they were Monday against Norway, potentially setting themselves up for another lopsided result on its way out of Canada. However, as people squinted at their televisions (and in Moncton), hoping not to see another dismantling (possibly some masochists did), a funny thing happened. Ivory Coast and the dangerous Josee Nahi had the game’s first chance, and had a few others after that as well.

In the end, the Ivorians still have plenty of work to do on defensive organization and possibly goalkeeping, but they gave Norway (albeit a changed side) fits before falling 3-1. Ivory Coast had 46 percent possession and the shots ended up even at 16-16. And they left with possibly the goal of the tournament when Ange N’Guessan unleashed a 35-yard missile in the 71st minute, a goal they surely deserved on the balance of play.

Thailand certainly deserves plenty of credit Monday as well, as goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing and that discipline held Germany to just one first-half goal before falling 4-0. As I said before, their way of going about things was not incorrect, either. But with a little bit of coaching and experience, Ivory Coast, like Cameroon and Nigeria could be a factor in the international game in the not-so-distant future.

-Ray Curren

What else did we learn Monday in Groups A and B?

New Zealand falls short again: New Zealand have now played in four World Cups, including the last three, and have a combined match record of 0-9-3 (7 goals scored, 29 against.) Obviously they have yet to advance out of the group stage. But this is the one they will look at as one that got away. Sure they were hard done by a gaffe of epic proportions by the referee that altered the course of Monday’s 2-2 draw with China, but there was also Amber Hearn cracking her penalty off the crossbar in what turned out to be a scoreless draw against Canada. And there was Erin Nayler making her only mistake of the tournament and having it cost her team a pivotal goal against China. Hearn, the program’s marquee player, will be 34 at the next World Cup. Ali Riley and Emma Kete will also be across 30 and Abby Erceg and Ria Percival will be 29. That is not too old to make a run, but the window for the current crop is at the very least on its way down.

– Dan Lauletta

[KASSOUF: United States expects Nigeria to ‘fight for their lives’]

It’s tough to change gears on the fly sometimes:
Neither Germany nor Norway played well Monday, especially in their respective first halves. The coaches, despite changing several players each, will not make excuses for their teams, and they shouldn’t. However, even past all the new faces, it can sometimes be hard to play when: a) the opponent has proven that they are weaker than you, and b) the game is not essential. Yes, the group was at stake, but the goal difference was too much for Norway to realistically overcome, and really, second is almost as good as first going forward the way the bracket shapes up. The bottom line is I wouldn’t judge either team too much on this performance.

– Curren

China will be a tough out: If not for how good China were in the 1990s, the current iteration would be viewed as a future world power. Instead they are left to chase the Sun Wen teams that never quite got over the hump in a World Cup or Olympics. This team probably won’t either, but their first knockout match is going to be against Cameroon or Switzerland, and the winner of that likely gets the United States. The Chinese lack the breadth of attacking personalities to make a deep run, but whoever knocks them out is going to have to work at it.


Norway will likely need Ada Hegerberg to be ‘on’ to win: She won’t turn 20 until after the World Cup, but Hegerberg is clearly Norway’s best attacking option and her strength will be needed against whomever Norway draws going forward. But they’ll probably need her to finish, or at least set someone else up to do it. There is always the possibility that Norway could score on a set piece, and they wouldn’t necessarily need Hegerberg for that (see Mjelde, Maren), however if they’re scoring in the run of play, it will probably involve Hegerberg.

– Curren

Netherlands waiting, planning: There were high hopes for the Netherlands ahead of their first World Cup, and even though they won their opening match and grabbed a late equalizer against Canada to almost certainly go through, there must be an air of disappointment around the team. Their attacking components were not enough of a factor during group play and both the goals they surrendered were the products of horrible defensive miscues. Japan or Germany await in the Round of 16. That could be good insentive to throw caution to the wind and see if Vivianne Miedema, Lieke Martins, and Manon Melis can help spring an upset.

– Lauletta
The weak group may actually hurt Germany: They obviously struggled in the second half against Norway, and really weren’t tested any other time. So does Silvia Neid really know what she has? Dzsenifer Marozsan came in battling an injury (yet curiously started Monday) and has not looked great in either of her two matches. Nadine Angerer had a couple of solid saves against Norway, but who knows about her and the back line? If they get in trouble against a team like Sweden in the second round, how confident will they be to find their way out? Or are we nitpicking and moving toward the panic button for no reason?

– Curren

Man City vs Man United: How to watch live, stream link, team news


Manchester City vs Manchester United: Erling Haaland is set for his Manchester derby debut when the two-time defending champions host the rapidly improving Red Devils at Etihad Stadium on Sunday (watch live, 9 am ET on Peacock Premium). 


Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm with an absurd 11 goals scored in his first seven games after (ostensibly) choosing Man City over Man United before leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Six weeks ago, Manchester United had not a single point from their first two games, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of tiny Brentford, but Erik ten Hag has since switched tactical course en route to four straight wins, including a 3-1 victory over PL leaders Arsenal last time out, to set up this hugely intriguing showdown on Sunday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Man City vs Man United

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

How to watch Manchester City vs Manchester United live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium

Key storylines & star players

Despite a pair of disappointing draws (Newcastle and Aston Villa), it’s been an unbeaten start to the 2022-23 season for Man City, who still lead the PL in possession (66.4 percent per game) while also becoming an unstoppable offensive force from last season (14 goals in their first seven games) to this season (23). That’s not to say it’s been easy as Manchester City go through a tactical shift of their own to better appeal to the big Norwegian’s poaching abilities. Though they have been forced to grind out results a few times already this season, it’s highlighted a newfound spontaneity for a side that’s been as regimented as any in the world. Will that freedom be what ultimately lands Pep Guardiola his first Champions League trophy since 2011, and perhaps a third straight PL title (and a fifth in six years) to boot?

As for Manchester United, the Ten Hag era has been a wild roller-coaster ride already, short as it’s been. The back-to-back defeats were one thing, but the abject performances were the real cause for discontent. While picking up the four straight victories, the Dutchman has also settled on a midfield setup with Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen operating in (effectively) a double pivot with Bruno Fernandes the most advanced of the three. It has brought defensive stability, of course, but more importantly the change has revealed a deadly counter-attacking side. Each of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes have scored twice during the winning run, with new boy Antony also getting in on the fun on his debut. With space in behind (and the proper service from deep), Ten Hag might just have his first winning formula (albeit quite unlike him).

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE, Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

Follow @AndyEdMLS

WATCH: Lionel Messi spins gorgeous free kick goal past Nice’s Schmeichel


Lionel Messi got the better of Kasper Schmeichel with an outstanding free kick as Paris Saint-Germain outlasted Nice 2-1 on Saturday at the Parc des Princes.

The world’s greatest scorer was fouled to set up a free kick just inside the arc. Nice, of course, got into a wall and former Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel arranged it to his liking.

As he does so many times, however, Messi spun a free kick just over the wall. The ball, which came so close to taking a slight turn off a leaping wall member (actually, did it?), tumbled down and right into the side netting to give PSG a 1-0 lead before the match was a half-hour old.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi scores relentless Groningen goal ]

Gaetan Laborde tied the match before halftime, and Nice’s revamped roster looked set to hold tight for a point (The club’s signed familiar Premier League names Schmeichel, Ross Barkley, Aaron Ramsey, and Mario Lemina).

Even that wouldn’t be enough, though, as Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to replace young Hugo Ekitike to finish a Nordi Mukiele assist for a 2-1 win.

PSG has eight wins and a draw this season, good for a two-point lead on second-place Marseille. Messi has five goals and a joint-league-best seven assists, tied with Neymar. Mbappe and Neymar are tied for the league goals lead with eight.

Lionel Messi free kick goal video

USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi defies xG with relentless goal (video)


USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi’s goal while trying to will Groningen back into an eventual 4-1 loss to AZ Alkmaar on Saturday will not be one of the expected variety.

The 19-year-old striker, on loan from Augsburg, ran onto an audacious long pass from 20-year-old defender Neraysho Kasanwirjo but had plenty of work to do with AZ leading 2-0.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez scores audacious overhead goal ]

Pepi sees one defender fall in a race to the ball, then bodies up AZ’s Sam Beukema a little outside the six-yard box.

Hand-to-hand combat sees both players hit the turf, and Pepi probably could won a penalty.

But the World Cup hopeful spins while on the pitch and snaps a shot past charging AZ goalkeeper Hobie Verhulst to make it 2-1.

Video after the jump.

Ricardo Pepi

Ricardo Pepi goal video: Fantastic start to Groningen loan

Pepi now has a goal or an assist in his first three Eredivisie outings, not unlike his fantastic start to life in a USMNT shirt.

His goal contributions have taken a dive since his first two USMNT matches — World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Jamaica — and he only has one assist from the following 10 outings in a U.S. shirt.

Still, Pepi is clearly one of Gregg Berhalter’s favorite options for the upcoming World Cup, and his performances will be measured against Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok, FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira, and others.

In a tournament where every moment matters, his work for this scrappy finish will be well-noted by the USMNT staff.

Josef Martinez scores vicious overhead kick in Atlanta United loss (video)


If this is the last goal of Josef Martinez’s (likely) final season with Atlanta United, it will be very appropriate.

So for Martinez, even in a losing effort, to go airborne for an overhead kick that is a simply sensational feat of athleticism and power, well, it just feels right.

The 29-year-old Venezuelan forward joined the Five Stripes in 2017 in what seemed a massive capture for the club at the time and now seems downright gargantuan, but he’s fallen out with current manager Gonzalo Pineda and was even suspended for a match last month.

[ MORE: West Ham beats Wolves | Klopp reacts to latest setback ]

Martinez has nine goals and four assists in an injury-abbreviated 25-game season, giving him 111 goals in 156 appearances for ATL UTD. The former Torino and Young Boys striker is still being capped for Venezuela and would leave with an MLS Cup, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and Campeones Cup as well as a boatload of individual honors.

Atlanta lost 2-1 to New England on Saturday and returns home for their season finale next weekend versus New York City FC. The Five Stripes won’t make the playoffs unless at least two teams decide not to field teams, so if the NYCFC game doesn’t go well, let’s pretend this one was his final appearance for the club.