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USWNT tops World Cup group with 2-0 win over Sweden

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Jill Ellis said the United States wouldn’t duck France in the knockout stages, and they echoed that sentiment on the field, downing Sweden 2-0 and emphatically winning Group F. The win means they will earn a Round of 16 matchup with Spain, and would likely meet the hosts in the quarterfinals if both teams hold strong in their first knockout game.

The meeting between the two teams was the sixth in Women’s World Cup play, including a fifth straight, both records. While Sweden had its moments, the game was controlled by the favorites and was never really in doubt. The second goal came in controversial fashion, but it had been coming as the U.S. came out firing and scored early in both halves.

It took no time for the United States to get on the board just three minutes in as Megan Rapinoe mishit a corner and sent in a worm burner that somehow squirted through the Swedish defense and fell to Lindsay Horan on the doorstep who was free on a late charge to tap in the opening goal.

After the opener, the U.S. continued to dominate attacking possession, and Crystal Dunn had a pair of half-chances, putting both over the bar. Alex Morgan then got on the end of a Sam Mewis ball and looked for an audacious chip but just missed the far post.

Sweden built into the game by the 20th minute and had a golden opportunity as Kosovare Asllani found space down the right half of the box but her shot was weak and right at Alyssa Naeher. Towards the end of the first half Naeher was tested again, diving to punch away a Sweden cross from the right. Otherwise, the first half was all the United States, looking to break Sweden down to put the game away.

After the break, Jill Ellis made a change to bring on Carli Lloyd for Alex Morgan, the latter of whom appeared slightly dinged up and was brought off as a precaution. The appearance for Lloyd is her 277th cap for the United States, passing Mia Hamm for third all-time with the country.

The U.S. came out of the break as strong as they started the game, and Tobin Heath put the United States 2-0 up from a very tight angle. The goal was reviewed by VAR after replay appeared to show Carli Lloyd offside on the play as she looked to receive the cross which eventually rebounded to Heath, but the referee allowed the goal to stand despite Lloyd’s influence on the play. Also controversially, the goal was later changed by FIFA to an own-goal by Sweden defender Jonna Anderson who was defending Heath on the play.

The goal woke up Sweden who tested Nahaer on two separate occasions before the hour mark, but the U.S. goalkeeper held firm. A free-kick from the left edge of the U.S. box on 70 minutes came close to the near post but no Sweden attacker could get a head to the delivery.

Lloyd had a chance to extend both the lead and her goal streak with a chance in the 90th minute but on a breakaway ball from Mewis she fired her wide-open chance straight at Hedvig Lindahl who stayed strong to make the save. With the win, the United States wins the group with a perfect 3-0 record and a stunning +18 goal differential. They move on to the knockout stage to play Spain in the Round of 16, with a potential meeting with France looming in the quarterfinals.

West Ham amongst two to have Gomez bids accepted

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West Ham United’s commitment to taking the next step is pretty clear, and the Irons may have finally found their big, young European striker.

Maxi Gomez, 22, has scored 32 times with 10 assists in two seasons at Celta Vigo, and has his choices down to Valencia and West Ham.

Both clubs have seen $36.5 million accepted by Celta Vigo, and now it’s down to the player to choose between testing the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.

Should West Ham add Gomez, it will be the second $30 million-plus buy of the summer and add to last summer’s record-breaking purchase of Felipe Anderson. Pablo Fornals joined the Irons earlier this week.

He scored against both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid last season, and both Barca and Real Madrid the previous season. Gomez made the Uruguayan squad for the 2018 World Cup, making two appearances off the bench, and has scored twice in 12 caps.

West Ham has a decent striker in Marko Arnautovic, but the 30-year-old has been mercurial at best in his commitment to the club. Andy Carroll is leaving the club this summer.

The club has also placed a $15 million bid for another La Liga player, 24-year-old midfielder Joan Jordan of Eibar.

A more box-to-box player with attacking and wing experience, Jordan scored four times with four assists last season. He was linked with Arsenal during the season.

West Ham sign Spanish midfielder on reported $30M fee

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West Ham United have given Manuel Pellegrini another weapon in attack, snaring Pablo Fornals from Villarreal for a reported $30 million.

That fee is only trumped in West Ham history by last season’s purchase of Felipe Anderson from Lazio. That moved turned out pretty well, to the tune of 10 goals and five assists.

[ MORE: U.S. falls in FIFA rankings ]

Fornals is twice-capped by Spain and 23 years old. He posted five goals and six assists from attacking midfield last season, two years after he moved from Malaga. His first season saw him tie for La Liga’s lead in assists with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi with 12.

West Ham had serious problems in the midfield last year, though most were injury-related with Manuel Lanzini and Jack Wilshere among the men missing plenty of minutes.

And Sky Sports has quotes from director of football Mario Husillos, who knows Fornals well:

“I personally have followed his career since he was a youth player with me at Malaga, and I know we have signed an incredible professional and an incredible character.

“To represent Spain as a full international at the age of 20, and then to have made over 150 appearances in La Liga by the age of 23, is a sign of great quality and character. He joins us a young player still with many years ahead of him, yet with strong experience and already proven at the very highest level.”

If he recaptures his magic from a season ago, the move could well take the Irons attack into the next level.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Cancelo to Man City, Arsenal after Sampdoria pair, and more

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After a second successive season without the regular services of Benjamin Mendy, Manchester City has reportedly found a new fullback to increase the club’s depth in that position.

According to reports out of Italy, Manchester City is set to make a $56 million offer to Juventus for Portuguese defender Joao Cancelo. Cancelo has spent the last two seasons in Italy, first playing with Inter Milan and this past season with Juventus, and he’s also broken into the Portugal National Team as a regular, marauding right back.

[READ: Report: Chelsea, Real Madrid agree to Hazard transfer]

He’s certainly known for his attacking prowess down the wings, and even though he’s a right back, he could play left back in a pinch if needed. This past season he recorded eight assists in 34 games for Juventus, and he’ll have plenty of targets to aim for if he joins Man City.

Here are some more transfer rumors from around the Premier League:


Arsenal target Sampdoria’s Anderson, Praet

Arsenal’s offseason is underway, and the club is now taking a bigger step to addressing its many needs on the field.

Per reports out of Sampdoria, Arsenal is looking to make a double signing from Sampdoria FC to sign Joachim Andersen and Dennis Praet. The report states that Arsenal has made an offer of around $47 for the pair, but the club won’t accept anything less than $10 million more than that amount.

If confirmed, it would be Arsenal and Unai Emery‘s second-straight year with a signing from Sampdoria, after bringing Lucas Torreira in last July.

Praet started 33 games last season in Serie A for Sampdoria, helping form a strong midfield unit that helped lead Samp to ninth place in the table, while Andersen was a rock in central defense. Both would certainly add depth and be able to step into the starting lineup for Arsenal should they join.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Post-season

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Why make power rankings when a season is complete, each team having played each other twice to give a complete representation of their quality?

Because now that we know who’s won the league, made the Top Four, and been relegated, there’s a sea of changes amongst the teams in between.

[ MORE: Jovic to Real Madrid ]

Plus, we’ll take into account the quality of finish, big obstacles, and how the clubs are positioned for 2019/20.


20. Fulham — Given the spend, and the names, there’s no question their season was the biggest failure of any team in the Premier League.
Last week: 17
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

19. Huddersfield Town — In some ways, it’s amazing the Terriers lasted two seasons.
Last week: 19
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

18. Cardiff City — I’m tempted to put them outside the Bottom Three for the effort, but relegated is relegated.
Last week: 20
Season high: 13
Season low: 20


17. Brighton and Hove Albion — Just may enter next season as the joint-favorite to go down.
Last week: 18
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

16. Burnley — Is Sean Dyche a scarier Tony Pulis?
Last week: 16
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

15. Southampton — What will Ralph Hasenhuttl buy this offseason?
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

14. Bournemouth — Has Eddie Howe reached the peak of what he can do at the Vitality Stadium? Terrific seasons for Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson.
Last week: 14
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

13. Newcastle United — Will Rafa stay, and will Ashley spend? Both probably matter equally.
Last week: 13
Season high: 11
Season low: 19

12. Crystal Palace — What happens post-Zaha?
Last week: 10
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

11. Watford — Petered out, but could still get silverware.
Last week: 12
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

10. West Ham United — Give Pellegrini another offseason — and the continued services of Felipe Anderson — and the Irons may challenge for at least a cup.
Last week: 11
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

9. Manchester United — What does it say that the players didn’t vote Paul Pogba as club Player of the Year? Plenty.
Last week: 8
Season high: 3
Season low: 14

8. Leicester City — Full credit to Brendan Rodgers for finishing strong despite a gamut of fixtures. You’d probably want their roster of Manchester United’s right now, to be honest.
Last week: 8
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

7. Arsenal — The focus has been on Europa League for weeks. What would losing the final and missing out on the Champions League mean to Unai Emery‘s recruiting efforts?
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

6. Wolves — Tasked with finishing strong to give themselves the best shot at the Europa League, Wolves won three before losing to Liverpool. A consistency they sought all year arrived late.
Last week: 5
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

5. Everton — Without European football and with another year together, will be the sexy pick to climb into the Top Six.
Last week: 7
Season high: 5
Season low: 15


4. Chelsea — Third on the table, fourth on our charts; What looms once Hazard leaves Stamford Bridge?
Last week: 3
Season high: 1
Season low: 7

3. Tottenham Hotspur — Navigating the stadium delays and dealing with plenty of injuries, Spurs impressed again.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

2. Liverpool — An outstanding season, amazing really, but the latest without a title in the Premier League era.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

1. Manchester City — You come at the king, you best not miss. Even by 11 millimeters. Now will UEFA hit its target?
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 3