Mission accomplished: Abby Wambach gets her World Cup title

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Prior to the start of Sunday’s World Cup final, both the United States and Japan stayed in their pregame huddles long enough that center referee Kateryna Monzul had to blow her whistle several times to get them to take their positions.

From the highest points at BC Place in Vancouver, it was clear what was transpiring in the United States’ huddle. Abby Wambach, with her now distinctive golden hair, was giving her motivational speech. For the fourth time in the seven World Cup games, Wambach was not in the starting lineup, but it was clear she was bouncing up and down with enough energy for the 11 who were.

“Surreal,” Wambach said about the opening 16 minutes. “Four goals in (16) minutes. Literally I don’t even know how that happens especially in a World Cup final.”

[MORE: US beats Japan for third World Cup title  |  WATCH: Lloyd scores 16-minute hat trick]

Whether the team’s hair-on-fire start was due in part to Wambach’s latest rah-rah speech or not, to a woman everyone spoke about how much Wambach does for the team, it was that they wanted to win the World Cup in part for her that drove Wambach.

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

Ali Krieger, a longtime teammate of Wambach for both club and country, gave Wambach a hug before the game and told her that she hoped the team could win it on her behalf.

“I’m one of the older players with her in that group but I think the world of her and I’m so happy we could actually win for her,” Krieger said. “When she gets on the pitch, everything just seems to be okay. You look to her and you’re just so calm. You just think that we’re going to win and we’re going to keep it together. It’s something that not many leaders have. I think we’re very lucky.”

When Wambach came on the pitch Sunday, it was not the scene or situation anyone could have imagined. The United States were ahead 5-2 and about 15 minutes from winning the World Cup and completing Wambach’s personal inventor of soccer accomplishments. To that point, Carli Lloyd had been wearing the captain’s armband and she immediately handed it over to Wambach.

“She’s tried to do it a few times before and I immediately declined like, ‘No it’s no big deal,'” Wambach said. “But this time she kind of insisted. To be honest, I was just glad we were winning.”

[MORE: Lloyd wins Golden Ball as tournament’s best player]

Said Lloyd: “When Abby has come into a few games it’s a little crazy to switch the armband. But today I wanted to make sure that she put the armband on because she deserves it. She has been legendary to this team. I’m so thankful I can all her my friend, my teammate, and I’m just so proud that her last World Cup she could go out strong.”

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

Neither Lloyd nor Wambach are the actual captain. That role still rests on Christie Rampone. But like Wambach, Rampone found herself on the bench for most of the World Cup, a development that originated because of an injury. Lloyd, in her answer, made it clear that she has never been named captain. And Wambach, after the game, gave the armband over to Rampone (who also made a brief appearance in the match) to wear for the trophy presentation.

“She’s my captain,” Wambach said. “Always will be.”

In return, Rampone told Wambach to hang back so they could be the last two on the podium and then raise the World Cup trophy together. Rampone is the only player on the current team with more seniority than Wambach, but even she wanted to acknowledge the time and effort Wambach has put into with the team.

“Afterwards she handed it off to me and I was like, ‘You’re going to lift this trophy with me,’” Rampone said. “We’ve been through a lot together, on and off the field. It was pretty amazing to lift it with her. We’ve been captains together through this whole thing.”

So now that Wambach has finally had her hands on the World Cup trophy, how does she feel? Her answer, in the short term, maybe a bit disappointing.

“I literally don’t know how I feel. It’s a bizarre thing that’s going on right now.”

On Friday, Wambach reiterated what she has been saying for years. “I just want to be world champion.”

Mission accomplished.

Brighton cruises past Newcastle through Maupay brace

Newcastle - Brighton
Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images
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Newcastle – Brighton: Neal Maupay scored twice in the first seven minutes of Brighton and Hove Albion’s 3-0 win over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Sunday.

Aaron Connolly scored late to complete the score line and Yves Bissouma saw a late red card as the Seagulls deserved every bit of the win.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Newcastle drops to 1-1 on the season following its opening win over West Ham. The Magpies are off to Tottenham next, while Brighton hosts Manchester United.


Three things we learned from Newcastle – Brighton

1. Going two behind Brighton a problem: Graham Potter’s Seagulls could be one of the season’s surprise packages, especially if teams hand them early two-goal leads. The club has an embarrassment of riches at center back and was able to loan Shane Duffy, a very good back in his own right, to Celtic because of Ben White, Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster, Joel Veltman, and Dan Burn. The first three played Sunday and were basically impenetrable

2. More promise from Maupay: Maupay scored 10 times last season, his first in the Premier League after the Frenchman buried 25 chances for Brentford in his last season in the Championship. He finished his penalty and slotted a second on Sunday, and his team looks set to produce plenty of chances for its forwards this year.

3. Turnabout fair play: The Magpies were, perhaps, surprisingly decisive winners at West Ham on opening day while Brighton did well enough and would’ve felt unlucky to fall by two to Chelsea on Monday. Perhaps the early lead was a massive help but Brighton looked better prepared for Newcastle and the Magpies’ lack of a real game-changer in the midfield proved its undoing.

Man of the Match

We might’ve given it to Bissouma for a complete performance but his wild boot to the face of Jamal Lewis was ugly though unintentional. Lamptey was great but left early. Maupay’s next in line, just ahead of an impressive Leandro Trossard.


Newcastle – Brighton recap

Jamaal Lascelles cleared early danger for Newcastle but that was a harbinger of what was to come as Allan Saint-Maximin chopped Tariq Lamptey down in the box to give Brighton a third-minute penalty.

Maupay dispatched a hard low penalty under a diving Karl Darlow to make it 1-0.

The Frenchman had it 2-0 moments later when VAR overruled the assistant referee when Lamptey led a charge down the right of Newcastle’s defense.

Yves Bissouma was lively in the first 22 minutes and blazed over the bar.

The hits kept coming for Newcastle as Saint-Maximin left the match in the 34th minute with an ankle ailment. The French wizard was replaced by Ryan Fraser.

Steven Alzate led a stoppage-time rush that nearly put it out of reach, Leandro Trossard’s ball making its way to Lamptey but the back’s shot smothered by Karl Darlow.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce lifted Andy Carroll for Miguel Almiron and the Magpies had more of the ball in the second half.

But Brighton twice challenged Darlow while the final ball kept eluding Newcastle.

The Magpies finally got their chance when Callum Wilson butchered a point-blank header off of Almiron’s fine cross.

Aaron Connolly broke through the back line and smashed the post but the AR’s flag was up. Trossard then clobbered the post on a shot that would’ve counted had it been on target.

Newcastle couldn’t make anything from a series of Ryan Fraser corners, Jeff Hendrick’s attempt to recreate a great goal at West Ham instead sailing well over the frame with 11 minutes to play.

Connolly had been knocking on the door and delivered the knockout blow with a terrific curler from inside the 18 in the 84th minute.

Bissouma was shown his red after VAR review of his reckless cleat to the face of Jamal Lewis with a few minutes to play, the Newcastle defender badly bloodied.

Chelsea – Liverpool: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Chelsea – Liverpool: This is always one of the biggest games of the Premier League season and on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30am ET, online via Peacock) at Stamford Bridge we can expect all-out attack between these two stacked heavyweights.

CHELSEA – LIVERPOOL STREAM LIVE

Frank Lampard and Chelsea have spent close to $300 million on new players this summer and may spend even more as they look to make the leap from a top four team to title contenders. As for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp, the reigning champions had a scare in their opening day win against Leeds but will know they will have plenty of chances to score against Chelsea.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Chelsea – Liverpool this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Chelsea – Liverpool (INJURY REPORT)

Chelsea will be without USMNT star Christian Pulisic as Lampard revealed he suffered a minor injury setback from his hamstring issue. This game has also come too early for new signings Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, and Thiago Silva to make their debuts as they work their way towards full fitness. Timo Werner is fit after suffering a small injury on his debut.

Frank Lampard issued the following injury update on Pulisic:  “Chilwell is not ready for the game, neither is Christian Pulisic. We hope they will work well during the week.” And had this to say after their win at Brighton on Monday: “Christian was training with us last week but he had a bit of discomfort a couple of days ago when he was trying to be in contention for today. It would have been a big ask for today and he has had to take a few steps back and we will have to see.”

Liverpool has Thiago Alcantara on the bench and Kostas Tsimikas available following a period of self-isolation after he tested positive for COVID-19. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be missing once again after he picked up a knee injury, while Xherdan Shaqiri is battling back from yet another injury. 


What they’re saying

Frank Lampard on the brewing rivalry, sideline clashes with Jurgen Klopp: “How much do you want to make of it? If you’re pushing to be successful… we had it when I was a player. In the Champions League we drew each other a lot. In modern terms it’s slightly different because Liverpool are on top of the league and we’re trying to improve. Both squads, clubs and coaches are very driven to win. It’s what the Premier League is all about. The nature of the world we live in is there’s a lot of airtime for you to fill with rivalries. They can be scrutinised in every way. I have huge respect for him, what he’s done at Liverpool was incredible. There’s nothing in it for me. The competitive nature of the 90 minutes can boil over but the respect for Klopp I have will never change.”

Klopp on Mohamed Salah’s hat trick on the opening day against Leeds: “Of all the good performances Mo had for us obviously, this was for sure one of the better ones. So he should be proud of that because it’s very special to have these kind of numbers. ‘Long may it continue,’ I like to think in these moments, and this time I say it as well.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Chelsea (+215) are the underdogs but Liverpool’s odds are longer (+115) than many would expect. Chelsea have done well against Liverpool in recent seasons and seem to match up with them well, and the draw (+270) would be the smart bet in this one. Both teams would take that early in the season and move on.

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


Prediction

I’m going for a goalfest here and I think both teams will have plenty of chances and it’s all about who is more clinical. Liverpool will try to shore things up at the back but I think Chelsea know how to get behind them and Werner, if he’s fit, will cause problems. I’m going for 3-3. This will be a classic.


How to watch Chelsea – Liverpool stream and start time

Kickoff: 11:30 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Mourinho comments after leaving Dele Alli out amidst PSG links

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Tottenham Hotspur scored five times in Sunday’s win over Southampton, but Jose Mourinho’s comments after leaving Dele Alli out of the team will have elicited plenty of buzz.

So will rumors that Paris Saint-Germain is among the clubs seeking the English attacker’s signature.

[ RECAP: Southampton 2-5 Spurs ]

Saying “I want a balanced squad” and that he has too many forwards to dress right now — yes, even before Gareth Bale suits up — Mourinho explained his thoughts on the forward.

From Football.London:

“I’m not responsible for the market. I’m not able to answer your question on that. I can only say I left eight players behind training. They are a big group and Dele was among this group. The same way a squad is a puzzle and in the same way so is the bench. I cannot have three wingers and a number 10 and then no defender. Dele stayed out but probably Tuesday he will play.”

Journalist Fabrizio Romano reported that Spurs have been trying to offload Dele over the past few days and that Real Madrid did not want to take him on loan as part of the Gareth Bale deal.

The 24-year-old was hooked at halftime of Tottenham’s season-opening loss to Everton and has cooled off considerably since an early rejuvenation under Mourinho last season.

Dele has 62 goals and 55 assists in 223 appearances for Spurs, but just 16 and 14 in his last 77 dating back to the start of the 2018-19 season.

The knock on Dele has been that he’s a poor trainer, something the player laughed off when Mourinho pointed it out with a smirk during a meeting caught by cameras during the club’s “All Or Nothing” series.

Dele has three goals and six assists in 37 England caps and would still fetch a decent transfer fee, though he hasn’t appeared for the Three Lions since 2019.

Is it time to sell? Spurs run the risk that Dele’s value may never quite rebound anywhere near its heights and could dip quite a bit lower if he stays out of favor in North London. And Bale’s salary isn’t going to pay itself.

USMNT forward Gooch crafts long solo goal for Sunderland (video)

Lynden Gooch goal video
Photo by Leila Coker/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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Former Premier League mainstay Sunderland is still toiling away in League One, but American forward Lynden Gooch enjoyed the competition on Saturday.

The Californian, 24, is a Black Cats lifer having joined the club at age 17 in 2012. He’s stuck with the club despite two relegations after his 11-appearance Premier League run in 2016-17.

[ MORE: Reyna gets first Bundesliga goal ]

Gooch came off the bench with Sunderland up 1-0 and delivering the second goal of the game within four minutes of his entrance.

There was some comical defending on the play, though we’d like to say the American bewitched Oxford United with his 20th senior goal for Sunderland to go with 17 assists in 126 outings.

Sunderland drew Bristol Rovers in its league opener and sit fifth on the table.

Gooch has made four substitute appearances for the USMNT but none since 2018.