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Three things we learned from USWNT’s win over France

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The United States women’s national team knew the storylines ahead of this Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match against hosts France in Paris.

Would Jill Ellis react to an uninspiring performance from her Starting XI against Spain?

[ MORE: Match recap | Player ratings ]

How would Megan Rapinoe react after making national headlines regarding a potential post-championship White House boycott?

And could Crystal Dunn cope with the threats presented by the French attack?

It’s no surprise that all three things are our three things following a 2-1 defeat of France.

Bring on England.

Headline-drawing iconoclast Rapinoe delivers above the fold performance

Whether she’s just a genius at compartmentalization or she thrives off drama, Megan Rapinoe appreciates Friday’s stage like few others.

The winger who infamously said she wouldn’t be going to the White House if the Yanks won the tournament scored twice for the second-straight match, and remarkably has four goals in two matches despite (arguably) not being near her best.

Jill Ellis said this team breathes easy under duress because they are always under pressure, and Rapinoe got the job done faster than Twitter fingers could tatter out a, “Guess you won’t be invited to the White House,” she had the U.S. on the board with a spinning free kick through traffic.

But Rapinoe’s second goal of the day was the one to note, as she zipped onto Tobin Heath’s cross to the center of the box and clinically banged home a second goal.

You don’t have to love Rapinoe’s politics, but the USWNT’s iconoclast just keeps delivering despite being on the verge of her 34th birthday. That’ll come two days before the final.

Dunn doesn’t blink, just keeps working

There’s a challenge in describing the performance of USWNT left back Crystal Dunn, who was far from perfect on the day.

That’s because she was tactically targeted by France. Everyone knew it was coming, with French star Kadidiatou Diani giving her the proverbial business all match long.

“We knew the host country has so much to play for and they’re a top world class team,” Dunn said on Fox after the game. “It wasn’t pretty a lot of the time, but we just had to get the job done. If we are to hoist the trophy, no one’s gonna remember how we played, we’re just going to remember that we fought it out and we won.”

The fact that the perceived weak link rose up and put in a high quality shift will not be forgotten by her teammates or future opponents. Dunn was beaten several times, but recovered nearly every time and didn’t show any signs of fatigue.

That’s good, because England is going to come at her with a different kind of challenge. After Friday, it’s difficult to doubt Dunn.

Ellis’ mad scientist stuff proves successful

Ellis made two moves that really raised eyebrows, leaving Lindsey Horan out of the lineup at center midfield and keeping a scoring-but-underwhelming Megan Rapinoe at left wing when many expected the fresh legs of Christen Press to make an appearance.

The result is a win, so yeah it’s a success, but there’s a question of whether that was despite the plan.

Ellis made a decision to cede possession in the midfield and France couldn’t make much happen until the final half hour. Horan is an absolute machine in the center of the park, but Ellis opted for Lavelle’s lighter touch and counted on Ertz and Mewis to do a bit moreover the dirty work (which most teams can’t do because, well, they don’t have Julie Ertz).

“This team just showed so much grit and so much heart,” remarked Alex Morgan, another player to fight form the past few matches. “We weathered a couple storms during the match. We wound down the clock really well at the end.”

We mentioned Rapinoe delivering her two goals above, and she was very good early. That button was the right one to push for sure, though Ellis waited a bit too long in pulling the California native from the match.

Will we see the same 11 against Nikita Parris, Lucy Bronze, Ellen White, and England? That would be a risk, and it would take brass-coated guts for Ellis to keep Horan out of the lineup again.

First Leagues Cup will be an all-Liga MX affair

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Given Major League Soccer’s record against Liga MX sides when both teams are bringing their best players to the party, it’s no surprise that the former has been left out of the Leagues Cup Final.

Instead, Cruz Azul and Tigres UANL will meet on Sept. 18 for the first ever crown in the history of the competition pitting teams from Mexico, Canada, and the United States top flights.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

Choosing not to play Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jonathan Dos Santos, and Carlos Pavon amongst others, the LA Galaxy fell 2-1 to Cruz Azul in Carson, California, getting an Emil Cuello goal but allowing the below delightful winner from Orbelin Pineda just after halftime.

The Galaxy were in the midst of a nasty four-match fortnight, and opted for this match — a tournament semifinal against a league which has bossed its league — to rest their men. Not a choice we love, but a fair choice given the Galaxy’s mere 4-point advantage on 7th place in the West.

Tigres needed penalties to get past Club America in an absolutely bonkers semifinal.

The match was level at 2 after regulation, with two own goals, a penalty, and a 90th minute red card doled out to Tigres’ Roger Martinez.

The second Tigres own goal, which came before the club outlasted America 5-3 in penalties, came deep in stoppage.

USWNT lawsuit goes to trial May 5

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LOS ANGELES (AP) A judge has set a May 5 trial date for the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the women’s national team against U.S. Soccer.

District Judge R. Gary Klausner assigned the date at a hearing Monday in Los Angeles, which came less than a week after mediation between the two sides broke down.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

The players sued U.S. Soccer in March, alleging institutionalized gender discrimination that includes inequitable compensation when compared with their counterparts on the men’s national team.

The federation claims that compensation for each team is the result of separate collective bargaining agreements, and that the pay structures are different as a result.

The sides had agreed to mediate the dispute after this summer’s World Cup in France. The U.S. beat the Netherlands in July for its second straight title, and fourth overall.

The players and U.S. Soccer had requested a trial date after the Tokyo Olympics, which start July 25.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: Zappacosta off to Roma as Chelsea trusts youth

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Tuesday was a great day to be Reece James.

Not that it hasn’t been a good summer altogether with Frank Lampard in charge of Chelsea.

[ MORE: Predicting the USMNT September call-ups ]

Lampard sanctioned the loan of Zappacosta to AS Roma, which puts James firmly in line for first team reps at Stamford Bridge.

The 19-year-old James has earned his place after two seasons on loan at Wigan Athletic, and Cesar Azpilicueta will either need rest or time at center back at some point.

As for Zappacosta, he was a curiosity buy who was serviceable during his time at Stamford Bridge. At Roma, though, he’ll… also be second choice to club captain Alessandro Florenzi.

Lampard is definitely giving the Blues’ youth a chance to shine during this transfer ban, and this may well be the best opportunity of James’ career.

Predicting the USMNT September call-ups

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The United States men’s national team has just a pair of friendlies remaining before its next CONCACAF competition, the Nations’ League.

Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT will meet Uruguay and Mexico in September, and the looming CNL — you know Berhalter wants some sort of crown given the Gold Cup Final loss to El Tri — certainly hints at a strong XI even with players like Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Tyler Boyd (Besitkas) and Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf, on loan from Man City) settling into new digs.

[ MORE: Klopp “couldn’t afford” Coutinho ]

Before we dare to name a 23-man outfit for these matches, we should note that there’s no guarantee every big team will want to release their players in September. But this projection will act under the assumption that his best healthy men will accept invitations or that, at least, Berhalter will invite his best healthy men.

The MLS playoff push may actually force his hand in that Berhalter may respect teams in said playoff race due (though MLS does not have every team playing over the break).

We’ll assume for this exercise that DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle) and Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig) don’t miraculously come fit.

Now for the Big Berhalter Questions (BBQs):

  1. Since Gyasi Zardes has scored three goals and an assist in his last six MLS games and there’s no chance Berhalter ignores him, who will not get a look: Tim Weah (Lille), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas) or … wait, it’s gonna be Boyd.
  2. Wil Trapp has been poor in a USMNT jersey, but has three assists in his last six MLS matches so will he…. book his place, too.

Finally, I’m not going to say that this 23-man roster will be correct, but it will be fun.

Goalkeepers (3)

Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Sean Johnson (New York City FC)
Kasey Keller (Millwall)
Pick the guy who you think I should pick here and pretend you like it better than:
David Bingham (LA Galaxy)

Defenders (8)

John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Matt Miazga (Reading)
Aaron Long (West Ham New York Red Bulls)
Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
Tim Ream (Fulham)
Sergino Dest (Ajax)
Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas)

Midfielders (6)

Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
Julian Green (Greuther Fuerth)
Paxtom Pomykal (FC Dallas)
Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy)

Forwards (6)

Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)
Timothy Weah (Lille)
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)
Paul Arriola (DC United)
Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)