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USA 0-4 Argentina: No. 1 team in the world dominates, moving to Copa America final

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It was a humbling experience for the United States in Houston.

Against a far superior opponent, the Copa America run finally came to an end, with Argentina advancing to the finals with a dominant 4-0 win. Lionel Messi ran the US ragged, while the hosts had one shot all night – none on goal.

[ MORE: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | Copa America 2016 ]

From start to finish, Argentina was by far the better team. It all came crashing down for the United States just four minutes into the game. Lionel Messi chipped the US defense, and Ezequiel Lavezzi was all alone behind the back line to head home easily past Brad Guzan.

Down early, the US pushed higher up but still struggled to hold meaningful possession on the ball thanks to the Argentina high press. Messi had an opportunity in the 15th minute when he snatched a wayward Michael Bradley pass and carved through five players, but his shot was saved by Guzan.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from USA 0-4 ARG | Player ratings ]

Argentina continued to get chances, with Gonzalo Higuain through on goal thanks to a quick restart on a free-kick at the top of the box, but a solid last-ditch tackle allowed Guzan to scoop up the ball.

With the top ranked team in the world pushing hard, the best player in the world put his seal of approval on the game. With Chris Wondolowski earning himself a yellow card for a foul at the top of the box, Messi stepped up and buried the free-kick into the top right corner, a pinpoint strike directly into the bullseye.

The US had its best chance on 42 minutes but it still didn’t come close. A cross from Gyasi Zardes flew into the box but just over the head of Chris Wondolowski.

[ VIDEO: Bullseye Lionel Messi free-kick puts Argentina up 2-0 ]

Into the second half, Jurgen Klinsmann brought on young Christian Pulisic, but things continued to get ugly. Gonzalo Higuain snuck behind John Brooks and the US back line, and although Guzan saved the first attempt, the rebound fell back to Higuain and he finished for a 3-0 lead.

There was a scary moment just past the hour mark when Lavezzi fell over the signage on the edge, and appeared to seriously injure his arm, but he walked off under his own power. He was replaced by Erik Lamela. Higuain got a second, on a feed from Messi, leaving the Napoli striker to poke home from close range.

Messi and company saw the final 30 minutes out with ease, holding possession and hardly seeing their goal threatened. With the win, Argentina moves onto the final against the winner of the other semifinal between Colombia and Chile. The U.S. still has one more game to play, with the 3rd place game still to come against the loser of the other semifinal.

Court date for USWNT’s law suit versus U.S. Soccer delayed

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A court case that has dragged U.S. Soccer’s administration through the mud and led to a change of leadership may drag into the summer.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A judge in California has delayed the May 5 trial of gender discrimination against the USSF until June 16 due in part to the coronavirus pandemic. A pretrial conference was also moved to June 1.

The federation is being sued by members of the two-time reigning World Cup champion USWNT under the Equal Pay Act.

The women are requesting more than $66 million in damages.

The extra month gives both parties more time to reach a settlement which could keep this ugly case away from trial. Given the uncertainty in our world, it could of course be delayed again.

The USSF has a new CEO in Will Wilson, who can make a major statement of change by stopping the trial from reaching court.

Handicapping the Final Four of Premier League March Madness

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Our Premier League March Madness results have been as topsy-turvy as the 2019/20 on-field campaign before coronavirus halted it last month.

Yes, the runaway No. 1 seed is alive, but the second, third, fourth, and fifth seeds have been expelled from the tournament within the first two rounds.

Voting in the semifinal round begins Thursday.

[ RESULTS: March Madness Round of 16 ]

Before we go any further, if you’re unfamiliar: To make sure you’re not missing out on either March Madness or the business end of the PL season, we’ve gone ahead and merged the two competitions. The March Madness Final Four and Championship game were due to take place this weekend in Atlanta but now you will be voting on Tottenham v. Arsenal instead of Duke v. Kansas.

Teams are seeded from 1-16 based on their current spot in the table, with Aston Villa winning the relegation playoffs on Monday to remain in the Premier League.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Before we handicap the semifinal matches, let’s take a look at where the field sits after your Wednesday voting.

No. 1 Liverpool v. No. 12 Everton
No. 6 Wolves v. No. 7 Sheffield United

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Look, all bets are off for the derby. The Everton faithful has shown up in a big way during voting, dispatching Manchester United and Chelsea.

That’s big time stuff, though Liverpool ended the dreams of our presumptive sleeping giant favorite Arsenal after beating West Ham in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Reds are going to have to not just been upstart Everton but overcome the legions of rival supporters who would happily click the Toffees’ box rather than see Liverpool gain the crown.

The other side of the bracket sees No. 7 Sheffield United looking to continue its surprising run in both the PL season and our voting.

The Blades knocked off Man City, potentially aided by the same phenomenon Everton hopes to see on Thursday.

Now they meet Wolves, who may be riding a crest of North American momentum in the form of affinity for El Tri hero Raul Jimenez.

Our prediction: Everton and Wolves in the Final.

RESULTS: Premier League March Madness Elite Eight

Premier League March Madness
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Everton continued its upset path toward in our Premier League March Madness voting, showing its sensational support and setting up a fantastic eMerseyside Derby in the Final Four.

Thousands of votes were cast Wednesday, and the Toffees upset isn’t even the top underdog story.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Chris Wilder’s Blades of Sheffield United won a back-and-forth affair with No. 2 seed Manchester City to move into the semifinals.

That’s where they’ll meet No. 6 seed Wolves, who powered past Leicester City as if it wasn’t a challenge.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final – Aston Villa prevailed, Norwich, Bournemouth, Watford relegated
TuesdaySweet 16 results in full
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

IFAB: New handball rule can be adopted when games resume

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The International Football Association Board (IFAB) issued a letter from secretary Lukas Brud on Wednesday, outlining several changes to the game.

The “tee shirt line” handball rule may be coming to club football quicker than expected due to the coronavirus suspension of the 2019/20 season.

IFAB will allow leagues the choice to use the new handball rule when matches resume this season, also making changes to VAR protocol and vowing to review the offside rule.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The new handball rule states that the shoulder goes to the end of the shirt sleeve or the bottom of the armpit (though obviously not in the case of a long-sleeve jersey).

For the purposes of determining handball offences, the ‘arm’ stops at the bottom of the armpit

So… get ready for baggy, longer jersey sleeves, or the increased recruitment of players with the longest armpits.

Kidding aside, the handball rule desperately needed clarification and we’ll see if this gives enough to fans and players alike.

Referees will now be “expected” to go to the screen on the field when a call is subjective, forcing the official to either uphold or overrule his initial call.

This same post says IFAB will now allow accidental handballs in the run-up to a goal in certain situations.

“Accidental handball by an attacking player should only be penalized if it ‘immediately’ results in a goal or an obvious opportunity for the player and/or their team to score a goal (i.e. following the handball, the ball travels only a short distance and/or there are very few passes).”

Well, that needs some clarification.

Back to the timing issue for the new handball rule, it seems logical that leagues would want to introduce new laws with a new season but stand-by for the decision of your favorite league.

As for the offside rule, “The members agreed that the fundamental philosophy of offside is underpinned by a desire to encourage attacking football and the scoring of goals. It was further agreed, therefore, that Law 11 – Offside should be analyzed and reviewed with a view to potentially proposing changes reflecting this philosophy.”

It’s a lot to unpack, and we’ll surely here from proponents and opponents of the changes soon. As always, implementation will make the biggest difference in how these changes are received.