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Preview: USWNT opens 2016 Olympics with New Zealand

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As the United States women’s team opens its quest for a fifth Olympic gold medal when they take on New Zealand Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. ET.

The team is fresh off a World Cup victory, and while the personnel is very similar to the squad that lifted the trophy, this team is still somehow very, very different. Arguably stronger.

World Cup hero Carli Lloyd was a question mark a few weeks ago, but is now fully healthy. Alex Morgan is leading the front line along with Christen Press. And Hope Solo remains in goal.

[ Watch every Olympics game ]

However, there are some new additions, and some exciting ones at that. Young Mallory Pugh, just 18 years old, looks like a star in the making, and will be joining Morgan and Press up front looking to dazzle in Rio. Although not technically new to the national team fold, midfielder Allie Long joins from the Portland Thorns and is looking at a starting spot if Morgan Brian’s hamstrings continue to cause her problems.

Gone are Abby Wambach, Lauren Holiday and Shannon Boxx who all retired, opening places for younger newcomers. Also not present are Christie Rampone and Heather O’Reilly, with neither officially retired but having still succumbed to Father Time.

It will be head coach Jill Ellis’s job to meld the old with the new, and with a solid warmup series in the books, Ellis hopes the opener against New Zealand will provide a launching pad for the gold medal favorites.

Veteran striker Amber Hearn is the target up front, with 45 goals for her country, the most ever. She will be especially hungry after being held goalless at the most recent World Cup. Also featuring for New Zealand will be Hannah Wilkinson, a former Tennessee Volunteer who already has a whopping 73 caps for the national team at just 24 years old. Both those attackers scored in a 4-1 win over South Africa in their final tuneup at the end of July (their official website made sure to point out the US only beat South Africa 1-0 most recently), and an upset against the United States would be the perfect statement to start a tournament.

The United States will have to be ready, and have to be together. It’s no surprise at all if Jill Ellis already has both boxes checked.

FOLLOW LIVE, Gold Cup: USMNT closes out group v. Panama

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It’s a fully-changed starting XI for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it closes out the group stage against Panama at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Omar Gonzalez and Matt Miazga start together in the backline, Jozy Altidore returns to the starting lineup up top, and Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis feature on the wings alongside Altidore. Ten of the 11 players now ply their trade in MLS, including the Gonzalez, who recently moved to Toronto FC.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT takes on Panama in Kansas City]

Hit the link above to follow along for the next two hours, and check back on PST for a full recap and in-depth analysis after the final whistle.

Must-See Goal: Wayne Rooney v. Orlando City

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I’m going to go out on a limb and say it. Wayne Rooney just scored the most amazing goal in Audi Field’s young history.

In the 10th minute of D.C. United’s match against Orlando City SC on Wednesday evening, Rooney noticed Orlando’s Brian Rowe straying way off his line. And so, with an audacious but accurate attempt, Rooney let fly from 65 yards and SCORED. Just check this goal out below.


Rooney took advantage of a crazy bounce and with his literal first touch, unleashed a thunderbolt that Rowe couldn’t catch up to. It automatically becomes one of the top contenders for the MLS Goal of the Year, and should make it on every top ten countdown this evening and tomorrow.

Benfica: Atletico Madrid make $143 million bid for Felix

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The legend of Joao Felix appears to have reached full market value potential.

The 19-year-old Portuguese striker is coming off a breakout year for Benfica, and now the Portuguese giants have received an impressive $143 million offer from Atletico Madrid for Felix. The club confirmed the offer in a statement on its website, stating it was analyzing the deal. Felix has a $136.5 million release clause in his contract, but it appears the additional $7 million is in processing costs.

[READ: Kroos wants to retire at Real Madrid]

Felix was outstanding at Benfica last year, scoring 15 goals with seven assists in 26 league games and three goals and one assist in five Europa League game. Felix has already made his international debut for Portugal.

If confirmed, Felix would become the fifth-most expensive transfer in world history, and the second-most expensive transfer for a teenager behind Kylian Mbappe.

AFCON: Nigeria 1st team through to round of 16 at African Cup, joined by host Egypt

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CAIRO (AP) Former champion Nigeria became the first team to reach the last 16 at the African Cup of Nations after defender Kenneth Omeruo‘s second-half goal delivered a 1-0 win over Guinea on Wednesday.

The Nigerians were unimpressive in the first half in Alexandria but lifted their game in the second. Alex Iwobi‘s rasping shot was pushed away by Guinea goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone and Ahmed Musa almost set up Odion Ighalo on a counterattack.

The former Chelsea defender Omeruo did what the forwards had not been able to do when he beat Kone with a glancing header at the near post off Moses Simon’s corner in the 73rd minute.

Nigeria, which won the title in 2013, has two wins from two games in Group B. It beat Burundi 1-0 in its first match and now needs a draw from its last fixture against Madagascar to finish top and stay in Alexandria for the last 16.

There was more good news for Nigeria when Samuel Kalu came on as a substitute near the end. The midfield player collapsed at a training session the day before the first game, suffering from dehydration, and was hospitalized.

Coach Gernot Rohr rested captain John Obi Mikel against Guinea.

Elsewhere, Egypt also confirmed a place in the knockout stages with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ahmad Elmohamady and Mohamed Salah each scored in the first half to lead the Pharoahs to victory, the hosts second-straight win in the competition.

In the other match of the day, Uganda tied Zimbabwe, 1-1.