What does new “no heading” rule mean for soccer’s future in USA?

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It is time to take a step back and try to understand exactly what this week’s substantial ruling from U.S. Soccer means for the future of the sport in the USA.

On Monday it was announced that following 15 months of litigation new initiatives designed to help reduce the number of concussions suffered by youth soccer players will be put in place by the U.S. Soccer Federation.

[ MORE: Headers banned for U.S. youths

In a press release from U.S. Soccer they emphasize that new rules are “recommendations” but that they “strongly urge” children 10 and under should be banned from heading the ball during any official practice session or game and that players ages 11 to 13 should only be able to head the ball for a limited amount of time during practice sessions.

This ruling has brought about a huge response from the soccer community in the U.S. and players, coaches and fans everywhere in the world with many opinions about what this actually means and how this will be enforced. Protecting kids under the age of 13 from concussions and serious head injuries such as subconcussive impacts, either from directly heading the ball or making aerial challenges which lead to collisions, is the obvious reason for the rules changes but many other factors are coming into play here as several legitimate questions have popped up.

Here’s a few right off the bat…

  • Would a no heading rule mean a new generation of U.S. players will grow up spending more time using their feet and therefore be more technical on the ball but less competent in the air?
  • How much time does the ball spend in the air for kids under the age of 10 anyway?
  • Is this approach too drastic?
  • How will this be officiated? Free kicks given against a kid does challenge for a header?
  • Could this lead to more high challenges with the foot?
  • Will this slow down the development of players in the USA compared to other nations in the world?

And so on, and so forth. We could spend all day weighing up the pros and cons of these changes but the fact of the matter is, when we start seeing these new rules widely enforced across a country which encompasses over 320 million people and several thousands of miles, then we will have a better idea of the impact it will have. More detailed guidelines will be released by U.S. Soccer in the next 30 days. The New York Times reports that 50,000 high-school soccer players in the USA suffered concussions in 2010, more than in wrestling, baseball, basketball and softball combined. The age limit on this is also interesting as a leading specialist in this field, Roberto Cantu, notes that kids are more susceptible to traumatic brain injury than adults. Studies are all pointing towards that fact.

[ EXCLUSIVE: Cameron backs Klinsmann, issues rallying call to USMNT ]

Many say that the plaintiffs, in this case a group of parents from California, have got what they wanted from this and if it saves at least one kid from having a serious head injury which could lead to health issues then it’s worth it. Others will say that parents know the risks when signing up their kid to play soccer and the fact that it is a contact sport means collisions either with your head or the rest of your body is inevitable. “Are they going to outlaw tackling next just in case somebody breaks their leg?” said somebody when I asked for their opinion.

This ruling has caused huge debate in the soccer community.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverageMLS ]  

As most of you are probably aware, I’m primarily based in England covering the Premier League for NBC Sports. Over here, the ruling from U.S. Soccer has made the news but less than 48 hours after these sweeping changes to youth soccer in America were announced, the English FA released the following statement saying no such changes would be made to youth soccer in England but that they do take concussions issues seriously.

“The FA will shortly announce new guidelines – formed by an independent expert panel – which look at how to identify, manage and treat suspected head injuries and to manage a player’s safe return to play at all levels of football. However, they do not relate to how football should be played – something which is governed by the laws of the game, set out by FIFA as the world’s governing body.”

So, there’s another part of this conundrum. This rule only applies to U.S. soccer’s youth member organizations, so what about other league’s and non-affiliated teams for kids in the country? This is where it all gets a bit hazy.

“These are recommendations for youth members because some of the youth members joining in the initiative do not have direct authority at the local level to require the adaption of the rules,” said U.S. Soccer in a statement. “Although these are only recommendations, they are based on the advice of the U.S. Soccer medical committee, and therefore U.S. Soccer strongly urges that they be followed. U.S. Soccer has implemented these rules as requirements for players that are part of U.S. Soccer’s Youth National Teams and the Development Academy. It should be noted that Youth National Teams will continue to be bound by the substitution rules of the events in which they participate.”

In official youth games across the nation, you’d expect the vast majority will be registered with the state or local authority where they are playing or the U.S. Soccer Federation. If they are, they must ban all under 11s from heading a ball and kids aged 11-13 will be severely limited to heading the ball. That means that every single American player will not legitimately be able to head a soccer ball in a game played before they turn 14 years old.

The future of soccer in the U.S. will be shaped by this ruling. Make no mistake about it.

USMNT vs Colombia live: How to watch, stream link, start time

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Anthony Hudson takes the reins for his second friendly in charge of the USMNT, two days after the U.S. Soccer Federation confirmed that he’ll be the interim coach through a hiring process that could take through the end of the summer.

Hudson’s first game was a 2-1 loss to Serbia on Wednesday, as Julian Gressel cued up a Brandon Vazquez goal but a mistake at the back and a brilliant free kick helped the Serbians to victory.

[ MORE: Follow FA Cup scores, updates ]

San Jose star Cade Cowell impressed with his electric pace and engine, while Chelsea goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina was put in some tricky spots over his time. Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long split time at center back, next to LA Galaxy youngster Jalen neal.

Colombia’s first game of 2023 is just its fifth since the conclusion of World Cup qualifying in 2022.

Los Cafeteros, like the USMNT, will not have a ton of usual suspects, but Frank Fabra will be joined by Cucho Hernandez, now with Columbus Crew, as well as five other MLS players.


How to watch USMNT vs Colombia live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 7:30pm ET, Saturday (January 28)
Stadium: Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, Calif.
TV channels in English: TNT
TV channels en Español: Universo
Streaming en Español: Peacock


USMNT vs Colombia Preview

The Yanks fell 2-1 to Serbia in a match about as scattered as you’d expect for a largely out-of-season, MLS-based side and a Serbia team with droves of uncapped players.

Saturday’s opponents will be of similar ilk, as no player besides veteran Frank Fabra of Boca Juniors boasts more than three caps.

[ MORE: Grades for USMNT players at 2022 World Cup ]

With recent USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter currently under investigation by the U.S. Soccer Federation after he admitted kicking his now wife in 1991 when they were in college together, assistant coach Anthony Hudson will lead the USMNT. Hudson has been leading practice during the January camp and will take charge until the USMNT tabs a new coach by the end of summer.

Five players who went to the 2022 World Cup with the USMNT are on this roster (Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman, Kellyn Acosta, Sean Johnson and Jesus Ferreira).


USMNT quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 13
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 11
Coach: Anthony Hudson (temporary)

Colombia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 17
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
Coach: Nestor Lorenzo


USMNT vs Serbia video highlights, Brandon Vazquez goal video

Premier League table, 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League is back with a bang and the start to 2023 has delivered plenty of fun.


Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest though Newcastle is not going away and Manchester United has surged into contention.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Uneven Tottenham are hanging in the top four battle, while Liverpool is struggling to stay in the Champions League scrap. Chelsea has some work to do while surprising Fulham and Brighton are hanging around on the periphery with fine campaigns.


Who are the candidates for relegation?

Everton, Bournemouth, and Southampton currently occupy the relegation places.

But Leicester, West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Wolves, and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom three after a topsy-turvy start.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – January 23

Premier League schedule
https://scoreboard.nbcsports.com/soccer/season/93741/standings


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FA Cup fourth round schedule, how to watch live, predictions

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The FA Cup always delivers shocks and plenty of Premier League clubs have tricky tasks facing them in the fourth round.

After Aston Villa, Newcastle, Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth were all knocked out by lower league opponents in round three, plus Everton, Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Brentford knocked out by fellow Premier League sides, there are only 11 top-flight teams left in the last 32.

[ LIVE: Follow FA Cup scores, updates ]

The fourth-round draw’s already been conducted and Arsenal will tangle with Manchester City in a tantalizing tie, while Brighton against Liverpool has the makings of a classic and Manchester United will be on upset alert against Reading and so too will West Ham as they face a tough trip to third-tier Derby County.

Read on for FA Cup stream info, fixtures, and predictions.


FA Cup live scores, schedule, dates, how to watch

Dates: Fourth round (January 27-30)
Times: Below
Online: Live updates via NBCSports.com
How to watch: ESPN+


FA Cup fourth round schedule

All games 10am ET unless otherwise stated

Friday
Man City vs Arsenal – 3pm ET

Saturday
Accrington Stanley vs Leeds United – 7:30am ET
Walsall vs Leicester City – 7:30am ET
Fulham vs Sunderland
Bristol City vs West Brom
Sheffield Wednesday vs Fleetwood Town
Blackburn Rovers vs Birmingham City
Luton Town vs Grimsby Town
Ipswich Town vs Burnley
Southampton vs Blackpool
Preston North End vs Tottenham Hotspur – 1pm ET
Manchester United vs Reading – 3pm ET

Sunday
Brighton vs Liverpool – 8:30am ET
Stoke City vs Stevenage – 9am ET
Wrexham vs Sheffield United – 11:30am ET

Monday
Derby County vs West Ham – 2:45pm ET


FA Cup fourth round predictions – By Joe Prince-Wright

Friday
Man City 2-1 Arsenal

Saturday
Accrington Stanley 1-3 Leeds United
Walsall 1-2 Leicester City
Fulham 1-2 Sunderland
Bristol City 1-2 West Brom
Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Fleetwood Town
Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Birmingham City
Luton Town 3-1 Grimsby Town
Ipswich Town 1-3 Burnley
Southampton 2-0 Blackpool
Preston North End 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester United 2-1 Reading

Sunday
Brighton 2-2 Liverpool
Stoke City 2-1 Stevenage
Wrexham 1-2 Sheffield United

Monday
Derby County 1-1 West Ham


FA Cup third round replays

Tuesday 

Swansea City 1-2 (AET) Bristol City
Forest Green Rovers 1-2 Birmingham City (original tie postponed due to waterlogged pitch)
Wigan 1-2 Luton
Wolves 0-1 Liverpool
West Brom 4-0 Chesterfield

Wednesday

Leeds United 5-2 Cardiff City

Tuesday, January 24

Accrington Stanley vs Boreham Wood


FA Cup third round results

Friday

Manchester United 3-1 Everton

Saturday

Preston North End 3-1 Huddersfield Town
Reading 2-0 Watford
Tottenham 1-0 Portsmouth
Gillingham 0-1 Leicester City
Forest Green Rovers vs Birmingham City — PPD
Crystal Palace 1-2 Southampton
Hull City 0-2 Fulham
Middlesbrough 1-5 Brighton
Fleetwood Town 2-1 QPR
Ipswich Town 4-1 Rotherham
Bournemouth 2-4 Burnley
Blackpool 4-1 Nottingham Forest
Chesterfield 3-3 West Brom
Millwall 0-2 Sheffield United
Boreham Wood 1-1 Accrington Stanley
Shrewsbury Town 1-2 Sunderland
Brentford 0-1 West Ham
Coventry City 3-4 Wrexham
Luton Town 1-1 Wigan
Grimsby Town 1-0 Burton Albion
Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Newcastle
Liverpool 2-2 Wolves

Sunday

Bristol City 1-1 Swansea City
Derby County 3-0 Barnsley
Cardiff City 2-2 Leeds
Stockport 1-2 Walsall
Hartlepool 0-3 Stoke City
Norwich 0-1 Blackpool
Aston Villa 1-2 Stevenage
Man City 4-0 Chelsea

Monday

Oxford United 0-3 Arsenal


Manchester United vs Reading: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester United looks to stay in the mix for a pair of domestic cups when it hosts old pal Paul Ince and Reading in the fourth round of the 2022 FA Cup on Saturday.

United scored a solid win at midweek to move within 90 minutes of the League Cup Final and of course also harbors hopes of winning the Europa League and, perhaps less so, the Premier League.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ] 

Reading sits 14th in the Championship, five points off the playoff places and fairly clear of the relegation mess.


Manchester United vs Reading, FA Cup fourth round: How to watch live, stream link

Kick off: 3pm ET, Saturday
TV Channel: ESPN+
Online: Updates via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & in-form players to watch 

Tom Ince, Paul’s son, is leading the club both in goals and assists, and sits among the leaders in pretty much everything else from tackles to completed dribbles.  Yakou Meite has also been a busy piece of what Reading has done well.

United’s stars are well-known, as Marcus Rashford continues to thrive at forward. Wout Weghorst picked up his first Man Utd goal at midweek and could be in line for more playing time while Anthony Martial recovers from injury.


Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

Manchester United won’t have Anthony Martial, Axel Tuanzebe, Diogo Dalot, Donny van de Beek, and Jadon Sancho, while Luke Shaw is a question mark with an illness.

Reading team news, injuries, lineup options

Paul Ince’s bid to upset United will not include Naby Sarr, Sam Hutchinson, and old foe Andy Carroll.