Nani

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Guardiola credits Gundogan for ‘outstanding’ match in Ukraine

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Manchester City bounced back from its weekend loss to Norwich City by dominating Shakhtar Donestk, collecting a 3-0 win in Ukraine to start life in this UEFA Champions League season.

Ilkay Gundogan, a scapegoat for some in the weekend’s loss to Norwich City, came back to form, too, chipping in a goal and an assist in the win.

[ RECAP: Shakhtar Donetsk 0-3 Man City ]

City manager Pep Guardiola was asked whether the German midfielder flies under the radar.

“He gets the credit from all of us, not just myself,” Guardiola said, via The Manchester Evening News. “He’s an exceptional player. Also he knows how good he has to play, as there are many others in that position.”

Guardiola also credited Gundogan for his work last season. Just like Fernandinho is playing out-of-position now, Gundogan was filling in for the Brazilian last season.

“People are starting to look at what he’s done. Without him last season when Fernanindho was out we couldn’t have won the Premier League in the way we did. He can play in two or three different positions and against Shakhtar he made an outstanding performance.”

As for Fernandinho, the Brazilian said that he’s been training at center back plenty this season, even before injuries to John Stones and Aymeric Laporte.

Fernandinho said “everyone should be ready” for any role under Guardiola.

He was good enough on the day, partnering with Nicolas Otamendi in a move that has many making comparisons to what Guardiola did with midfielder Javier Mascherano at Barcelona.

That’s one of the things for which Guardiola, perhaps, has not received enough credit. Center midfielders Fabian Delph or Oleksandr Zinchenko have been serviceable left backs in two of the best seasons in Premier League history (The latter did get some minutes in the middle when Benjamin Mendy subbed in on Wednesday). And Gundogan is playing a more defensive role than usual, while Fernandinho is a center back.

If that works out, and City claims a UCL crown or PL three-peat, how could you not call this man the clear-cut best of the modern era?

Rossi salvages point for Vela-less LAFC in Orlando (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less):  With serious possibilities of losing back-to-back games without the league’s best player in Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi stepped up for LAFC. The Uruguayan’s goal in the 78th minute – his 15th of the season – earned the Supporters’ Shield favorites a point in their visit to Exploria Stadium on Saturday night. Despite dealing with injuries and international absences, Rossi’s impact was a quick reminder of the type of firepower that Michael Bradley possesses. Orlando City, playing inspired in front of their home crowd with hopes of making playoffs intact, also tested their all-around depth through the legs of what seemed like vintage Luis Nani. LAFC, however, didn’t fold in front of the Portuguese, proving to be the better team when defending and in moving the ball forward. Four points out of playoffs and with four games to play, Orlando’s playoffs hopes hang by a thread, while LAFC remain on track to lift silverware sooner rather than later.

Three moments that mattered

13′ — Vintage Nani levels the game  — We’ve seen this before from the 32-year-old.

20′ —  Michel finishes a lovely sequence — A beautiful goal.

78′ — Rossi earns LAFC a point — There are reasons why European teams are closely monitoring the Uruguayan.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Luis Nani

Goalscorers: Perez (12′), Nani (13′), Michel (20′), Rossi (78′)

Women’s World Cup will expand to 32 team in 2023

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The Women’s World Cup is ready to expand, in a move which certainly benefit the confederation which landed seven of the eight quarterfinalists at this summer’s tournament.

The 2023 tournament will include 32 teams, and the short-term results will be more growth of the game worldwide as well as a few more blowouts in the group stage.

[ MORE: Lampard praises Pulisic ]

The tournament expansion also means the end of poor third-place teams getting spots in the knockout rounds.

According to FIFA, “The expansion reaches far beyond the eight additional participating teams; It means that, from now on, dozens more member associations will organie their women’s football program knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying. The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the most powerful trigger for the professionalization of the women’s game, but it comes but once every four years and is only the top of a much greater pyramid.”

The big winners here are Europe and CONCACAF teams not named USA and Canada.

USOC wrap: Saint Louis, New Mexico knock out MLS sides (video)

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USL sides delivered the drama on Wednesday night and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup got five more quarterfinalists to join Atlanta United and Minnesota United.

Still to come Thursday, LAFC and San Jose will decide the eighth slot and a date with Portland Timbers.

[ MORE: VAR will not review GKs on PKs in PL ]


DC United 1-2 New York City FC

Wayne Rooney‘s 32nd minute goal gave the hosts a lead which would only last six minutes, as Alexandru Mitrita and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi made it 2-1 before halftime on the way to an away win at Audi Field.

Portland Timbers 4-0 LA Galaxy

Three goals in nine first half minutes helped spring Portland to an easy win over disinterested LA. Guillermo Barros Schelotto didn’t bring the majority of his first choice stars to Oregon, and the Timbers routed their Western Conference opposition to the tune of a 19-7 edge in shots.

Saint Louis FC 1-0 FC Cincinnati

They won’t be forgetting this any time soon; Saint Louis got a stoppage time goal from Sam Fink against their old USL rivals to book a place in the USOC quarterfinals.

Orlando City 2-1 New England Revolution

What began with stars on the bench and a 0-0 score line through 90 minutes really escalated quickly in extra time. Benji Michel and Tesho Akindele gave Orlando a 2-0 lead through 15 minutes of extra time, but Carles Gil set up Justin Rennecks early in the second frame to up the drama. Ultimately, Nani‘s men had enough despite New England’s 22 shots.

FC Dallas 1-2 New Mexico United

FC Dallas took the lead through U-20 World Cup star Brandon Servania, but Kevaughn Frater scored again, and ex-Colorado Rapids draft pick Sam Hamilton added the match winner.

Ellis squashes notion of USWNT ducking France in knockouts

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In a move that shocked nobody, United States head coach Jill Ellis confirmed that her squad will not be easing off the gas to avoid France in the knockout stages of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

The two powerhouse teams are expected to meet in the quarterfinals, should all prior results go as expected. For Ellis, if there are any slips before that meeting with the host nation to veer off that collision course, it certainly won’t be intentional.

“I struggle to tell my team not to tackle in training the day before,” Ellis joked during Saturday’s pre-match media conference, explaining if she can’t get her team to take it easy in practice, there’s no way she could get them to go half speed during a game. “I think at this point it’s making sure your focus is on yourself and your performance and you put yourself in the best position to advance in this tournament. For us, it’s making sure that we play as well as we possibly can and win the game.”

The United States has Chile next on its radar, a team that fell 2-0 to Sweden in its first match of the group stage and has not won a single game since a 5-0 beating of Peru in the first round of the 2018 Copa America Feminina over a calendar year ago. It’s possible the United States rotates the squad in that game, but it will not be to throw the game. Instead, Ellis may look to ease the burden on her more delicate legs.

“We want to make this a long tournament,” Ellis said. “To do that, we certainly know it’s going to take a lot of physical effort and output from every single one of those players.”

For Ellis, she needs her players in the right place mentally, and there’s no room for shenanigans at that level.
“My job right now is to obviously prepare them for games, but it’s also to keep them in a good space,” she said. “That’s everything from how we are in training, to the things that we do, to meetings, to just making sure they have time with their families. Everything kind of has to come together in terms of making sure that the mindset is right. It’s about healthy players., and a very good mindset is a big part of teams who win championships.”

After Chile, the U.S. will clash with Sweden in a game that is expected to decide the top spot in Group F. The winner of Group F is expected to meet the winner of Group A – the host nation France’s group – in the quarterfinals in Paris on June 28.