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World Cup preview: USWNT v. Thailand

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  • USWNT ready to kick off eighth World Cup campaign
  • USWNT has won six straight and has just one loss in 12 months
  • Thailand competing in second World Cup

It’s been a long wait, but the U.S. Women’s National Team is finally ready to take the field at the 2019 World Cup.

Head coach Jill Ellis has spent the past three years tinkering with the lineup and testing out new tactics, and its quite likely that Tuesday’s USWNT lineup will look quite similar to how it’s been recently, but quite different from 2016, when the USWNT was shocked by Sweden, losing on penalty kicks in the 2016 Summer Olympics quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Women’s World Cup news ]

Just five players who started that day are likely to start on Tuesday at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims, France, which is located about 90 miles northeast of Paris. Julie Ertz is a lock in central midfield, along with Becky Sauerbrunn at centerback and Kelley O’Hara at right back. Alex Morgan, she of more than 50 international goals and fully healthy again, along with the tricky, dribbling wizard that is Tobin Heath.

But this USWNT has taken real strides since the defeat by Sweden. Megan Rapinoe has cemented her place as a left winger, cutting inside and allowing Crystal Dunn, the last player cut from the 2015 World Cup squad, to maraud forward down the left. Rose Lavelle has broken into the team and along with Lindsey Horan, form a delightful one-two punch in box to box midfielders that are also creative and can find Heath and Rapinoe open to stretch the opponent’s backline.

If there’s anywhere that’s a question mark for this USWNT, it’s at goalkeeper, where Alyssa Naeher has patiently waited her turn, finally getting her chance after Hope Solo was effectively banished from the national team and forced into an early retirement.

Against Thailand, it will be a great opener for the U.S. to get the early nerves and jitters out of the way before going on to record what should be a comprehensive victory. There’s no guarantees at World Cups, but against a nation ranked more than 30 places lower, it should be a comfortable win for the U.S. in the end.

Plus, with Thailand and Chile as the build-up before facing Sweden, it will give the USWNT a great chance to get into their groove before facing some of the best competition this tournament has to offer.


What they’re saying

USWNT coach Jill Ellis: “‘Excitement’ is the best word to describe where I am and where the players are. The anticipation is growing. The players are ready, excited and hungry. We feel prepared. It’s been a long process, the preparation has been excellent and we’re ready to focus on tomorrow’s match.”

Thailand coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian on facing the USWNT to open the World Cup: “To face the number one team in the world at the opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup is a massive opportunity for us to test and assess ourselves.”


Prediction

Thailand has done very well to qualify for the World Cup, but this isn’t just any opponent. It’s the team with the best attack in all of women’s soccer. The USWNT’s forward trio of Morgan, Rapinoe and Heath should be enough on its own to break down the Thailand backline, and there will certainly be chances to score off corners as well. It should end up as a comfortable victory. USWNT 3-0 Thailand

Haiti stuns Costa Rica to claim Group B at Gold Cup

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Poetic justice, put it in a Song.

Haiti’s Djimy Alexis made up for his early own goal by scoring a deserved winner as Haiti won Group B of the Gold Cup with an upset of Costa Rica on Monday.

[ ROUNDUPS: AFCON | Copa America ]

Los Ticos got everything they could handle from the upstart Gombey Warriors, who are now 3-0 on the tournament, and the World Cup mainstays tossed aside their early lead to meet Mexico in the quarterfinals.

Haiti will challenge Canada in the quarters, guaranteeing the semifinals an intriguing participant.

An early own goal had Costa Rica in control, but Duckens Nason’ 16th international goal was a part of a hard charge from the Haitians in the second half.

The other match saw Bermuda earn a 2-0 win over Nicaragua via goals from Lejuan Simmons and QPR’s Nakhi Wells. That gives the Gombey Warriors a 1-2 record while dropping Nicaragua to 0-3.

Bermuda was ranked 174th by FIFA to Nicaragua’s 129, but that will certainly change next month.

AFCON wrap: Diaby’s sensational rip highlights trio of matches

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The Africa Cup of Nations said hello to six more competitors on Monday, with a thrilling goal amongst the eight tallied across the competitions in Egypt.

[ MORE: Copa America roundup ]


Mali 4-1 Mauritania

Two different men named Adama Traore — neither of them the Wolves winger — joined Moussa Marega on the score sheet but it’s difficult to describe the class and small margins that defined the tournament’s goal of the day.

Sporting Lisbon’s Abdoulay Diaby somehow got this shot off through two defenders and into the upper reaches of the goal to open the scoring in the three-goal win for Mali, which is having some summer when you take into account the U-20 World Cup.

Ivory Coast 1-0 South Africa

There were only 13 total attempts in the game, and Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodija scored the lone goal of a tournament opening win for Les Elephants.

Tunisia 1-1 Angola

A draw was probably fair, as Youssef Msakni’s first half penalty was met by Djalma Campos’ late goal to split the spoils in Group E.

Copa America roundup: Uruguay tops Chile; Full knockout bracket

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Ecuador and Japan drew to allow Paraguay to sew up the final knockout round spot, sending Miguel Almiron and Co. into a match-up with Brazil.

[ MORE: Johannsson to MLS? ]

And Uruguay rode Edinson Cavani’s goal into the other side of the bracket, moving ahead of Chile in a tight match.

Ecuador 1-1 Japan

There was a lot to like in a match with 30-plus shots and the ultimate prize of a match-up with Brazil on Thursday in Porto Alegre.

Shoya Nakajima put the Asian side ahead a quarter-hour into the match, but Angel Mena provided an equalizer before halftime to put both sides in danger of failure to reach the knockout rounds.

Chile 0-1 Uruguay

Cavani scored for the second time this tournament as Uruguay claimed first place in Group A and a knockout round meeting with Peru.

Cavani’s deftly flicked header of a Jonathan Rodriguez pass pushed Uruguay above Chile, which had won both of its group matches and now meets Colombia on Friday.

Knockout round schedule

June 27
Brazil v. Paraguay

June 28
Venezuela v. Argentina
Colombia v. Chile

June 29
Uruguay v. Peru

July 2
Brazil/Paraguay v. Venezuela/Argentina
Colombia/Chile v. Uruguay/Peru

July 6
Third place playoff

July 7
Final

Norwich City adds Switzerland international Drmic on free transfer

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Norwich City has added a new star striker to a unit which produced 93 goals in the Championship last season.

Josip Drmic will join Swiss national teammate Timm Klose with the Canaries for the next three seasons, hoping to bring his Bundesliga and international experience to a Premier League safety campaign.

[ MORE: Johannsson to MLS? ]

Drmic turns 27 next month, and scored two goals in five appearances for Borussia Monchengladbach last season. He has 31 goals and seven assists in 107 Bundesliga appearances between Gladbach, Hamburger SV, Bayer Leverkusen, and Nurnberg.

Coach Daniel Farke got 30 goals from target forward Teemu Pukki, who plays a similar role to Drmic and has plenty of top flight experience with Celtic and Schalke amongst others.

Drmic can also operate on the wing, usually left over right, and has featured in both the 2014 and 2018 World Cup. From Canaries.co.uk:

“I’m going to do everything and give 100% on the pitch. I will be ready to give everything for the club. My job is scoring but I also want to help my team and help us be successful.

“When I first came to Norwich, the first thing I noticed was how kind everybody was. It’s given me a lot of positive energy and I’m excited to see what happens.”

Between Pukki and Drmic, Norwich can have faith that its well-prepared to have an answer up top.