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U.S. Soccer stands ground in face of USWNT federal lawsuit against federation

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U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said the federation was blindsided when, on March 9, the U.S. Women’s National Team players filed a federal gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer itself.

In an open letter to fans, and likely, members of the USWNT, Cordeiro touted the financial investments U.S. Soccer has made in women’s soccer. This includes adding additional members to the USWNT technical staff, creating additional U.S. women’s youth national teams, and the creation of the SheBelievesCup. However, Cordeiro appears to have misunderstood, or refuses to understand, the underlying reasons behind the USWNT lawsuit. It’s related to the terms equal v. equatable.

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The USWNT players believe that U.S. Soccer is discriminating against their team on the basis of gender. For example, even though U.S. Soccer audits show that the USWNT earned more money in profit and revenue for the federation than their male counterparts over the past four years, the USWNT players are compensated well below the men’s team, per an article from Caitlin Murray on Yahoo!

In his open letter, Cordeiro stated that, “U.S. Soccer believes that all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay, and we strive to meet this core value at all times.” In theory, if this belief was enacted, the USWNT players would be earning much more than their male counterparts, which failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Even in its 2017 CBA with the USWNT, which both sides are reportedly not happy with, according to the New York Times, the USWNT players, which had earned more than the USMNT players in the past year, did not receive “equitable,” or fair compensation, in comparison to the USMNT.

Ultimately, it’s unclear whether the USWNT will succeed with their lawsuit. It’s reportedly a high bar to jump over to prove that U.S. Soccer intentionally discriminated against the USWNT due to their gender. But with all the smoke, allagations and proof that exists in the wildly different compensation structures, the USWNT does have an argument to make that they at the least deserve truly equal treatment with the USMNT, if not better.

Cordeiro closed his letter stating he’s had initial conversations with some veteran USWNT players (those players were not disclosed), and he’s looking forward to more discussions with the players to work out a deal. But if U.S. Soccer continues to fight over the equal v. equitable label, it’s unlikely there will be a lot of progress made.

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.

[FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT v. Panama]

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.