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USMNT 3-0 Bolivia: U.S. kids pummel visiting CONMEBOL side

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The average age of the United States starting eleven on Monday night was under 23 years old. It showed at times, but ultimately it did not matter.

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Walker Zimmerman, Josh Sargent, and Tim Weah all grabbed their first international goals – including debut strikes for the latter two – as the United States clobbered a hapless Bolivia side 3-0. The visitors, also playing a number of young prospects, offered as little competition and opposition as comprehensively possible, with the U.S. pummeling their leaky high line.

The United States looked the more dangerous side in the opening 10 minutes, attacking down the left with a host of brilliant touches to spring white jerseys sprinting down the touchline unmarked. The best early chance came in the 10th minute as Rubio Rubin cut a sparkling through ball from the midline to spring Tim Weah completely unmarked one-on-one with Guillermo Viscarra, but the Bolivian goalkeeper stood strong to make the save and deny the US the opening goal.

The hosts were vicious in the final attacking half, pushing forward to challenge the Bolivian back line on the ball. In the 15th minute, Weston McKennie whiffed on a good shooting chance at the top of the box, and the ensuing cross was blocked hoping to give the U.S. a second chance on net.

[ MORE: 3 Things We Learned from 3-0 win over Bolivia ]

Weah went down appearing to need a substitute, but he came back on and was involved again down the attacking end almost immediately, playing a one-two with Josh Sargent that resulted in a shot for the latter, but it was blocked out of play. The U.S. attack often featured slick one-touch passing at the top of the box, although occasionally there were a few too many passes which allowed the defense to step in and break things up.

On 33 minutes, Weah and Sargent connected together again, but Sargent’s shot was blocked just wide. The pair appeared to be on the same page, able to predict each other’s movements on a number of occasions. The opening goal was coming, and finally it was delivered, albeit by an unlikely source in defender Walker Zimmerman. Off a 38th minute corner, Walker Zimmerman rose higher than his defender Ronald Raldes and powered a strong header into the top-right corner. The goal is the LAFC defender’s first international strike in his third international cap.

McKennie had a half-chance near the penalty spot just two ticks before halftime, but his effort was blocked as he looked to get it through traffic.

[ MORE: Player ratings from 3-0 win over Bolivia ]

After the break, the U.S. continued to hold the bunk of the dangerous possession, but the second goal came from a bad mistake at the back with Bolivia on the ball. With Bolivia making a change between the sticks at halftime, substitute Carlos Lampe made an ill-advised pass attempting to lift the ball over Sargent. The 18-year-old striker used his flexibility to pick the ball out of the air, and finished through the legs of a charging Lampe once he settled in the box. Sargent’s goal makes him the second-youngest debutant goalscorer in U.S. Soccer history, behind just Juan Agudelo in 2011.

The floodgates opened up just before the hour mark as Weah grabbed his own debut goal. Antonee Robinson delivered a cross to the doorstep from the left, and Weah snuck in between the central defenders completely unmarked to poke home their third goal and making it look easy.

As the game wound down, Dave Sarachan handed appearances to Benfica prospect Keaton Parks, Stuttgart winger Julian Green, Reading striker Andrija Novakovich, Stoke City’s Lynden Gooch, Manchester United prospect Matt Olosunde.

These players will wish they were warming up for a World Cup in under a month, but considering the hand they’ve been dealt, so far the future looks quite bright.

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.

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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

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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.