Despite devastating World Cup exit, England’s women inspired a nation

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Despite defeat to Japan, England’s women have inspired a nation this summer.

LONDON — On a small side street just off a bustling road in central London, I walked past a flower stand this morning.

“Did you see the England women’s team last night?” asks one bloke to another. Brief interjections regarding the success of England’s Lionesses have been frequent across this nation I call home over the past few weeks during the World Cup in Canada.

It’s inspiring. It’s uplifting. And, most of all, it reflects the power soccer has on society on these shores.

On Thursday morning people across England were waking up to learn that head coach Mark Sampson and his side were devastatingly knocked out of the World Cup by reigning champions Japan in the cruelest of fashions. Laura Bassett’s last-gasp own goal handed the Japanese victory as English soccer now has another heartbreaking moment to add to a long list of “what might have been?” World Cup campaigns.

[ MORE: Future is bright for Lionesses ]

However this felt different. There was a positive vibe despite the tears on the pitch at the end of the game, which reminded most England fans of Paul Gascoigne sobbing uncontrollably at Italia ’90. England’s women had never won a knockout game at a World Cup finals before this summer but they pushed the defending champs all the way in the final four and were arguably the better team for vast swathes of the match. Only a cruel slice of luck denied them a spot in the World Cup final against the USA.

source: Getty Images
Sampson consoles his players after the crushing defeat.

National newspapers held the printers until 2 a.m. local time on Thursday so they could splash England’s exploits all over the morning editions. The England women’s team was mentioned in parliament by Prime Minister David Cameron, plus a good luck message came from Prince William as well-wishers sprung up on TV and across social media to throw their support behind just the third English team in history to reach the semifinals of a World Cup.

[ MORE: Sampson praises Bassett after devastating own goal ]

Despite going out of the World Cup at the semifinal stage — just like the men’s side last did in 1990 in a similarly agonizing fashion following a penalty shootout defeat to Germany — what the 23 women on the English national team have achieved in Canada this summer cannot be underestimated.

Sure, it will take some time for England to become a nation who truly embraces women’s soccer like the United States, Canada or Germany does, but the achievements of the Lionesses reaching the final four against all the odds will have provided inspiration to millions of young girls across England.

“We came into this tournament as a huge underdog, with the weight of a nation on our back,” Sampson said in an emotional, awe-inspiring interview just after the full time whistle. “There were skeptics and critics who said we weren’t good enough to get this far and I’m just so proud of them [the players]. They’ve really inspired a nation back home and they deserve to go back home now as heroes. They’ve played their hearts out and given their all and we should all be very proud of them.”

Sampson was right. They have inspired a nation. As you can see below, fans gathered in bars in London to cheer on the team with the game in Edmonton kicking off at midnight local time, and despite England’s games kicking off late in the evening throughout the tournament, millions stayed up to watch and the BBC put the semifinal game vs. Japan on its marquee channel, BBC One.

Progress. Pride. Promotion. All three words epitomize what England’s unlikely run to the semifinals has been about.

But, due to many complex and deep-rooted reasons, there are big challenges ahead in the domestic game where most of England’s players ply their trade. The professional women’s league has had several incarnations in England but has never really taken off. In 2011 the FA’s NWL was set up and it now has 18 teams, but average crowds of just 719 for the 2014 season show how far women’s soccer still has to go to totally capture the minds of the English public. Compared those crowd figures to an average attendance of 4,137 for games in the NWSL in the U.S. and you start to understand why England’s successful run to the semifinals is a big deal and it can act as a catalyst for more interest in the women’s game in the nation which proudly calls itself the home of soccer.

[ MORE: Overwhelming support for Bassett ]

Women’s soccer is getting plenty of support from Premier League teams too as Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Sunderland, Everton, Aston Villa and Watford all have teams in the NWL. More giants of England soccer will need to support the women’s game going forward, and momentum from this World Cup success should not be allowed to drift away.

One factor that will hurt women’s soccer in England is that Team GB will not enter an Olympic team for Rio 2016 despite England qualifying through their World Cup performance. Due to disputes between the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish FA’s about linking up to field one team for Great Britain, no team will be entered in 2016. But you can’t help but think success in the Olympics would help grow the women’s game further in the UK as a whole. Putting those politics aside, the Lionesses now have a platform to build from by setting new records in Canada this summer. With the English FA investing millions in the women’s game and attendances of over 45,000 at Wembley Stadium for a friendly vs. Germany in 2014, the signs of progress are clear for all to see.

source: Getty Images
Laura Bassett of England is comforted by her teammates.

“I know the team are bitterly disappointed,” said HRH Prince William, who is also the honorary president of the English FA, on Thursday. “But I hope more than that they will be proud of what they have achieved. They’ve inspired thousands of girls and boys around the country and entered history as one of England’s great teams.”

Now, soccer fans in England need to embrace the women’s game like they’ve never done before as young female players of the future will look back at late night’s spent watching the likes of Jill Scott, Steph Houghton and Fara Williams playing in the summer of 2015 as the moment they awoke to the power soccer bestows.

England’s players did more than just reach the semifinal of the World Cup. They inspired a nation.

“I really hope that tomorrow morning at 6 o’clock in the morning before school, thousands of young girls who have never kicked a football before, will pick up a football and say, ‘Mom, I want to be Laura Bassett today,’” added Sampson.

On the evidence of the past few weeks, plenty of young girls will have done just that this morning across England. Sampson and his side can be proud of their achievements. Just like the whole of England is.

Premier League top scorers: Who is leading 2022 Golden Boot race?

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For those tempted to write off Erling Haaland’s historically-hot start to life as a Premier League striker, we get it: There’s something rather dull about not wondering the identity of the 2022 Golden Boot winner, but just the number of his final tally.

Haaland’s Premier League-leading 11 goals from seven games has him five goals clear of the next two players: Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic.

That’s 1.57 goals per game from Haaland, a pace that would bag him just under 60 goals over the course of a 38-game Premier League season.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ] 

And even though Haaland is currently overperforming his expected goals total of 8.35, that translates to more than 43 goals scored in a single season. (For a breakdown of how Haaland’s doing what he does, check this video):

Haaland is extremely unlikely to hit even 50 goals given the schedule congestion to come for Man City, but the Premier League record could very well be under assault

Mohamed Salah holds the 38-game season record with his 32 goals scored for Liverpool during the 2017-18 season, while Newcastle’s Andy Cole and Blackburn’s Alan Shearer bagged 34 during 42-game seasons in the 20th century’s final decade.

Other records that Haaland could legitimately tie or topple:

  • 30 goals in a first Premier League season (Kevin Phillips, Sunderland, 1999-2000)
  • Goals in 24 different Premier League matches (Salah, Liverpool, 2017-18)
  • Most goals in a Premier League match (Five tied with five)
  • 11-straight Premier League games with a goal (Jamie Vardy, Leicester, 2014-15)

Read on to see the latest Premier League goal totals for the 2022-23 season, as Haaland looks to claim a Golden Boot in his first PL season.

Premier League 2022-23 Golden Boot race

  1. Erling Haaland, Man City — 11
  2. Harry Kane, Tottenham — 6
  3. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham — 6
  4. Ivan Toney, Brentford — 5
  5. Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace — 4
  6. Rodrigo, Leeds — 4
  7. Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal — 4
  8. Alexis Mac Allister — Brighton — 4
  9. Nine tied with 3

The Breakdown: Analysis, tactical focus on how Erling Haaland is ripping it up

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Throughout the Premier League season The Breakdown provides analysis, tactical focus and a deeper dive on some of the top plays from some of the best players on the planet.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

We are back for Season 3 of the Breakdown and Joe Prince-Wright will be joining you to discuss some of the things which stood out (or may not have, initially) in the Premier League.

Click play on the video above to watch the latest episode of the Breakdown, while below is the full archive of The Breakdown.

And feel free to send in your comments and questions to JPW via his Twitter feed (click below) if you want him to select any plays which caught your eye and he will then give them the Breakdown treatment.


The Breakdown – 2022-23 Premier League season

Matchweek 1

Matchweek 2

Matchweek 3

Matchweek 4

USWNT vs England, Spain: Rosters for high-profile friendlies, TV, stream

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USWNT head coach Vlatko Andovoski has announced his roster for one of the most-anticipated friendlies of all-time — and that’s no exaggeration — as the United States women’s national team takes on EURO champions England in one of two Europe-based friendlies next month.

The Yanks will also play Spain in a match well-worth watching, but the England match is going to be a clash of titans as the now-powerful Lionesses put their 14-match winning streak on the line against USA’s back-to-back World Cup champions.

“These are big tests for our team in front of crowds cheering against us and after long travel, but our players absolutely love games like these,” said Andonovski in a U.S. Soccer press release. “The group we are bringing to Europe includes players who have a lot of experience against top European teams and some that don’t, so these games are even more critical for our growth as our team. Our whole squad needs to get a clear picture of what these games are like as we continue to prepare for the World Cup.”

[ MORE: Watch Premier League live | Peacock Premium details ]

The Oct. 7 match against England at Wembley Stadium is set to shatter the attendance record for a USWNT friendly and U.S. Soccer says it will be second to only the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final in terms of in-person attendance for a USWNT match.

Those are big mile markers in soccer history, but these matches are really big — as big as friendlies get — in terms of telling where the USWNT’s status as the No. 1 team in the world is under threat.

The Women’s Super League has made huge strides alongside its national team in England and the National Women’s Soccer League will be watching this with real excitement and anxiety; All but two members of the USWNT call-up list play in the NWSL. All but four of the England team play in the WSL and only one plies their trade in the NWSL (Ebony Salmon of the Houston Dash).

And these teams very well could meet up this summer, as the friendlies are the final USWNT matches prior to the Oct. 22 Women’s World Cup draw in New Zealand.


How to watch USWNT vs England

Kick off: 3pm ET, Oct. 7
TV Channel: FOX
Online: Stream via FoxSports.com

How to watch USWNT vs Spain

Kick off: 2:30pm ET, Oct. 11
TV Channel: ESPN2
Online: Stream via ESPN.com


USWNT vs England rosters

USWNT: Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Alana Cook (OL Reign), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)

England WNT: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Sandy MacIver (Manchester City), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Lucy Parker (West Ham), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jessica Park (Everton), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Alessia Russo (Manchester United), Ebony Salmon (Houston Dash)

West Ham vs Wolves: How to watch live, stream link, TV, team news

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West Ham vs Wolves: Two sides straddling either side of the relegation zone will be desperate for a victory (or even just a goal) when they meet at London Stadium on Saturday (watch live, 12:30 pm ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com). 

STREAM LIVE WEST HAM vs WOLVES

It’s been a mostly miserable start to the 2022-23 Premier League season for both the Hammers and Wolves. West Ham have just one win on the season (1W-1D-5L) as David Moyes and Co., sit 18th heading into matchweek 8. Wolves also have just one win (1W-3D-3L) while scoring the same number of goals as West Ham (3) in seven games. Misery loves company.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of West Ham vs Wolves

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch West Ham vs Wolves live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 12:30 pm ET, Saturday
TV channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

For both sides, the goal-scoring woes are a result of not only a failure to convert scoring chances, but also their inability to create them. West Ham and Wolves both rank in the bottom five of the Premier League in expected goals with identical paltry 0.9 xG averages (per 90 minutes). No other side in the Premier League is anywhere close to underperforming their expected numbers by more than 50 percent.

Goals have come much more easily for West Ham in the Europa Conference League, where they have scored three goals in all four games thus far — six in two games against Danish side Viborg, and three apiece against Romanian runners-up FCSB and another Danish side in Silkeborg.

Wolves made the effort to be a better attacking side this season, as they spent $18 million on Sasa Kalajdzic, but the Austrian international striker tore his ACL on his debut for the club. Raul Jimenez, meanwhile, has played just 211 minutes in three Premier League appearances (none since Aug. 31) and has just one goal, in the League Cup. The Mexican international is now in a race against time to be healthy and fit for the 2022 World Cup eight weeks from now.


West Ham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Nayef Aguerd (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Benjamin Johnson (hamstring)

Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Raul Jimenez (groin), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Nathan Collins (suspension), Chiquinho (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Diego Costa (undisclosed)

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