Colombia’s claims of trash-talking leave United States women perplexed

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EDMONTON, Alberta – There is trash-talking and then there is…well, mysterious trash-talking.

Nobody seems to know what Colombian players are referencing ahead of Monday’s round-of-16 match against the United States at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

“I know they’ve made comments like they’ve been disrespected, but that’s not from us,” U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe said. “We definitely respect them as an opponent. We’ve seen what they’ve done in this tournament. I don’t think it’s any fluke that they beat France.”

Rapinoe’s mildly surprised reaction comes days after Colombia forward Lady Andrade guaranteed a victory over the United States. Andrade said that U.S. players “belittle” the Colombians. Colombia hasn’t played the United States since the 2012 Olympics, a match the U.S. won 3-0. The U.S. beat Colombia 3-0 in the group stage of the 2011 World Cup in the only other meeting between the teams.

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Rapinoe echoed what U.S. forward Alex Morgan said on Saturday, that the Americans haven’t said anything.

It appears from the outside that the Colombians have set up the ultimate straw-man argument, rallying around a false truth. U.S. players did say in days past that they were happy to avoid cross-country travel to Moncton, and coach Jill Ellis said after beating Nigeria last week that she was “ecstatic” to win the group. But that was before Colombia, who played its final group game a day later, was even set as the United States’ next opponent.

On Sunday, star midfielder Yoreli Rincon vaguely referenced trash-talking by the Americans. She did at one point reference words exchanged at the 2012 London Olympics.

“They defeated us 3-0 however they said all sort of things because one of their players unfortunately got smacked,” Rincon said. “But that happens in many matches. It always happens, there is a foul and a player is awarded a card following that episode. And because of something that happened three years ago, they’ve said things that have not been taken by us in the best way.”

Asked to detail what was said by the Americans, Rincon declined.

“No I don’t think that is relevant,” she said. “I’ve not been reading the news much. They’ve said that it is a very easy game for them, that they are happy because they’ve played Colombia.”

Colombia coach Fabian Taborda said there are “no small enemies” on the field, but was highly complementary of the second-ranked Americans.

“I feel that having the best team in the world as our opponent is a source of honor, pride and it is certainly something that very much motivates us to play a great game,” he said.

Rincon said the Americans “are clearly tall and athletic, but they don’t have the heart that we Colombians have.” Wambach, like the rest of her teammates, refused to get involved in any actual exchanging of words. The Americans plan to talk by pointing to the scoreboard on Monday.

“We’re never going to talk smack,” U.S. defender Meghan Klingenberg said. “The only smack that we are ever going to talk is when we are on the field, and that is just with our play.”

On Monday, the Americans hope that play will carry them into the quarterfinals, where they would face China.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic says goodbye to the LA Galaxy

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has bid adieu to Major League Soccer, thanking the LA Galaxy for “making me feel alive again.”

The Swedish superstar averaged nearly a goal per game with the Galaxy, and was rumored to be in line for another two years at the club.

[ MORE: Columbus acquires Nagbe ]

Perhaps those reports, and maybe AC Milan’s struggles to score goals, have made more suitors come forward. Time will tell.

The Galaxy said the decision was a “mutual parting of ways” and thanked the player for his work both on and off the pitch.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“We would like to thank Zlatan for his contributions to the LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein. “Since his arrival in 2018, Zlatan has positively influenced the sport of soccer in Los Angeles. We are grateful for his work ethic and passion. We thank Zlatan for his professionalism and immeasurable impact on the Los Angeles community and the soccer community in North America as a whole.”

Zlatan’s full thoughts, below, were a bit more Zlatanny.

Klein will have his hands full in replacing Ibrahimovic, who scored 52 times in 53 matches, but the Galaxy have always managed to bring in big names.

Getting a star playmaker is even more important as El Trafico rivals LAFC have rewritten the MLS record book and snared plenty of attention in California and across the league.

Columbus acquires Nagbe from Atlanta for $1M in allocation

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Darlington Nagbe is headed for a reunion with old boss Caleb Porter.

Columbus has sent over $1 million in allocation money to Atlanta United in order to claim the influential midfielder.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

Porter coached Nagbe at the University of Akron and the Portland Timbers, and has 25 USMNT caps but has turned down Gregg Berhalter’s requests for service.

Nagbe made 46 appearances across all competitions for the Five Stripes this season, scoring twice with five assists. He has 313 matches played between Portland and Atlanta.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Darlington Nagbe is a proven winner and the type of player who can be a difference-maker in our team,” Crew SC president and GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “In addition to his skill set, we believe that Darlington is someone whose character and values fit well within our organization. As we stated heading into this offseason, we continue to look both domestically and internationally for players that will make our team better, and we believe Darlington is an important part of those efforts.”

It’s a bold statement from Columbus, who had a reputation for getting the most of its talent under Berhalter but faded under Porter after a hot start. The Crew began 2019 with a 4-1-1 record but lost 13 of its next 15 matches.

Of course, being MLS, the Crew then only lost 2 of their final 13 matches. Shoulder shrug emoji.

NYCFC teen agrees move to Borussia Monchengladbach

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New York City FC’s impressive academy has earned one of the bigger transfer market payoffs in MLS Homegrown history, and will join the current Bundesliga leaders after next season.

Joe Scally, 16, is headed to Borussia Monchengladbach on a $2 million transfer with a sell-on clause, and will spend the 2020 MLS season with his boyhood club. Scally has played in the Open Cup, but has not debuted in an MLS match.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

The $2 million figure is on the edge of Top 30 for departing MLS players, according to Transfermarkt, just behind Cyle Larin’s move from Orlando City to Besiktas.

Scally appeared 11 times for the U.S. U-17 national team, going 90 minutes in all three matches and assisting on the lone American goal at the World Cup in Brazil.

From Borussia.de:

“Joe Scally is a top American talent who we have been following for a long time. We see a lot of potential in Joe and we are looking forward to him joining up with us in January 2021. Until then, we will work together with New York City FC to prepare him for his move to Germany,” said Borussia’s sporting director, Max Eberl.

Not sure just how long they could’ve been following a 16-year-old, but we digress.

Scally will join U-17 teammates Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) and Maximilian Dietz (Freiburg) on the books at a Bundesliga club. Recent U-17 call-ups Pablo Soares (Gladbach) and Noah Jones (RB Leipzig) are also with clubs in Germany’s top flight.

Last month, NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna told me that Scally was the perfect example of a young player trusting a club’s preference of changing his position.

“The perfect example is Joe Scally on the U-17 World Cup team. He came to us from a club in Long Island as an athletic box-to-box midfielder. He was very strong, but we saw him as an outside back. The lesson that we now we share that with our players, don’t get upset if you move to a position, but Joe Scally understood, never complained, he played wherever he was told to do, and now he’s a right back now, 16 years old going to the World Cup after being in our academy for two and a half years.”

Looks like it’s worked out.

Spanish court to decide fate of Spanish league game in USA

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish court will decide whether the Spanish league will be allowed to play the Villarreal-Atletico Madrid game in the United States next month.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule

A court hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Madrid to hear arguments from the league and the Spanish soccer federation, which is against taking the regular-season match abroad.

The league has called for an injunction to force the federation to give its approval. It accuses the local soccer body of unfair competition.

The league also needs the approval of UEFA and American soccer bodies to be able to play the match, which is scheduled for Dec. 6 in Miami.

The commercial court hearing the case is expected to issue a ruling within the next few days.

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