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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.

Watch Live: West Ham United v. Liverpool

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After weeks of having a game in hand on Premier League title chasers Manchester City and Leicester City, the full extent of Liverpool’s lead will be revealed when the Reds visit West Ham United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Once the full-time whistle blows at the London Stadium, all 20 PL sides will have played 24 games. Ahead of kickoff, Jurgen Klopp‘s side leads second-place Man City by a whopping 16 points.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

West Ham, meanwhile, sit 17th in the table and are only clear of the relegation zone by way of goal differential. That’s something that could very easily change between now and 5 p.m. ET.

LIVE, League Cup semifinal: Man City v. Man United

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It’s time for leg two of the Manchester derby in the semifinals of the EFL Cup (Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET) at the Etihad Stadium.

[ LIVE: Man City v. Man United ]

Manchester City lead 3-1 following their first-leg dismantling of Manchester United at Old Trafford. In theory, it’s a mere formality to reach the final at Wembley, where they would take on Aston Villa following their late dramatics on Tuesday.

Click on the link above to follow the action live, while we will have you covered here at Pro Soccer Talk with all of the reaction and analysis.

LINEUPS

Transfer rumor roundup: Richarlison to Barca for $110m? Spurs’ striker search

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Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.


A roundup of all of the major transfer rumors, most notably those involving Premier League clubs, on Wednesday…

[ MORE: Spurs complete Bergwijn transfer from PSV ]

Barcelona have reportedly had a $110-million bid for Richarlison rejected by Everton. That’s a mind-blowing number for a club like Everton to receive, but the Toffees apparently didn’t have to think long before saying “thanks, but no thanks.” Luis Suarez is expected to miss four months due to a knee injury, leaving the Blaugrana somewhat for a replacement. Everton, however, have no desire to lose a key member of their squad with little to no time to sign a replacement.


After adding winger Steven Bergwijn on Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur are heavily linked with a number of strikers as options to replace the injured Harry Kane. AC Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek is the most frequently linked (and most expensive) player coming out of the rumor mill, while Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud has come up as an emergency option (he is reportedly open to the idea). However, Jose Mourinho has reportedly been told he has just $13 million to acquire a new forward after spending a combined $108 million on Bergwijn and Gedson Fernandes.


Elsewhere in Tottenham rumors, full back Kyle Walker-Peters is expected to complete a loan move (without an option to buy) to Southampton in the very near future. The 22-year-old has been on the fringe of the first-team squad for what feels like five years now, but has never quite broken through. This could be Spurs putting into the shop window a player who they don’t believe is in their long-term plans in order to drive up his price tag come this summer.


Sheffield United look set to make a big push for a top-six finish, as the Blades are linked with moves for a pair of highly rated young players: Richairo Zivkovic, from Chinese side Changchun Yatai, and Sander Berge, from Genk. Zivkovic was one of the most highly touted youngsters in Europe before moving to China on a big-money deal; Berge has been linked with some of the biggest clubs across Europe in recent years, all the while the 21-year-old has become a fixture for the Belgian side.

Man United confirm agreement for Bruno Fernandes

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Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.


Bruno Fernandes is on the brink of becoming a Manchester United player after the club announced on Wednesday that an agreement has been reached with Portuguese side Sporting CP.

[ MORE: Spurs complete Bergwijn transfer from PSV ]

From the club’s website, which is currently unreachable at the time of posting:

“Manchester United are delighted to announce it has reached agreement with Sporting Clube de Portugal for the transfer of Bruno Fernandes.

“The deal is subject to a medical and the agreement of personal terms. A further announcement will be made in due course.”

The dollar figure most commonly reported is $61 million (potentially reaching $88 million after add-ons). Fernandes, 25, is reportedly in the process of visiting the Sporting offices to terminate his current contract and record a goodbye video for fans before boarding a flight to Manchester.

Fernandes came close to joining Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, but an agreement could never be reached between the involved parties and they ended up signing Giovani Lo Celso from Real Betis instead.