Alana Cook scores long-distance birthday goal, USWNT beats Ireland


ST. LOUIS — Alana Cook scored her first international goal on her 26th birthday and the United States beat Ireland 1-0 in an exhibition on Tuesday night as the teams prepare for the Women’s World Cup this summer.

It was the Americans’ first game without Mallory Swanson, who tore the patellar tendon in her left knee during Saturday’s game against Ireland in Austin, Texas.

Swanson was the top scorer for the U.S. this year with seven goals. She had scored in six straight games, tied for fourth-longest streak in team history.

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It appears unlikely that Swanson will be able to play in the World Cup. She returned home to Chicago after the injury and she announced on social media that she had surgery on Tuesday morning.

“This is hard,” she wrote on Instagram. “I’m in shock and don’t have much to say other than thank you to everyone for the messages. I feel the love and prayers, and holding them close to my heart.”

USWNT boss Andonovski on effects of Mallory Swanson injury

The United States shuffled its lineup for the match at City Park in Swanson’s absence. It was the final opportunity for U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski to look at players before announcing a 23-player World Cup roster, which is due in mid-July.

The coach said he’ll analyze the game in the coming days. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he would make a like-for-like swap for Swanson or whether he’d try a new tactic going forward.

“So with losing Mal, conceptually we may look slightly different, because you look at this team, it was going to built around Mal and (Sophia Smith) and their attacking power,” Andonovski said. “Now with Mal not being there, we’re going to have to make a decision. What are we going to go for? Like-for-like and try the same way, or is Mal going to be replaced by a group of players?”

Emily Fox, who scored in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Ireland, was available off the bench. Casey Murphy started in goal rather than Alyssa Naeher, and Rose Lavelle didn’t play because of an unspecified injury she picked up in Austin.

Andonovski started Alyssa Thompson, an 18-year-old forward who was drafted this season out of high school by Angel City of the National Women’s Soccer League. Thompson was brought in as a replacement for Swanson for Tuesday’s game.

“Once we lost Mal in the last in the last game, we knew that may be a long-term injury. We wanted to explore it every possible option before we make the final decision and one of those was Alyssa Thompson,” the coach said.

USWNT honors Becky Sauerbrunn; Alana Cook reacts to goal

Before the game, the U.S. honored Becky Sauerbrunn, who is from St. Louis, for her 200th appearance with the team. The defender reached the milestone last year, but the ceremony was set for Tuesday so she could celebrate with relatives and hometown fans.

Sauerbrunn, now at 216 appearances, nearly scored her first national team goal early in the match off a corner kick by Sophia Smith. Sauerbrunn was subbed out in the 28th minute because she has a game with her NWSL team, the Portland Thorns, on Friday.

Cook scored from distance in the 43rd minute. Irish goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan got her fingertips on the shot but couldn’t stop it. Cook is the third player in team history to score on her birthday, joining Mia Hamm (1998) and Alex Morgan (2019).

“I think when it came out to me I just wanted to put it back in play so it was going to be dangerous, and hopefully Lindsey (Horan) or someone would get a head on it,” Cook said. “Excited to get a first goal, excited to help the team.”

The United States announced it will play a send-off match against Wales on July 9 in San Jose, California, before departing for the World Cup, which opens on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand.

Alana Cook goal video: Birthday back scores from long distance

Ever Wonder why Brentford fans sing about being a ‘bus stop in Hounslow?’


Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: Check out our ‘Ever Wonder’ series in full ]

Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.

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This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.

Ever Wonder why Brentford fans sing about being a ‘bus stop in Hounslow?’

They are close to being everyone’s favorite second team in the Premier League and fans of Brentford chant ‘we’re just a bus stop in Hounslow!’ loud and proud.

But what does it mean? Why do they sing it? When did it start?

The main reason behind the chant is to wind up their local rivals in west London. But it has a greater meaning.

Flipping a chant from rivals on its head

How did it start?

Local rivals Queens Park Rangers fans mocked Brentford a few years back after a win and chanted ‘you’re just a bus stop in Hounslow!’

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Hounslow is a part of west London which you mostly pass through to get to Heathrow Airport in the western suburbs.

Brentford’s fans then flipped that chant on its head and embraced their status as a small industrial town which 1) has a bus stop and 2) is in the Borough of Hounslow. The song is factually correct but it is about so much more than that.

Punching above their weight

For decades Brentford have been one of London’s smallest professional teams but this season they have overtaken all of their rivals and this self-deprecating chant sums up the spirit of the rise.

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Multiple promotions, which culminated in a first-ever promotion to the Premier League in 2021, has been led by incredible recruitment by data-driven owner Matthew Benham (who also owns FC Midtjylland in Denmark).

And if you sprinkle in sublime community spirit and the charisma of manager Thomas Frank, they are now taking on the big boys at the very top of the Premier League.

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This bus stop in Hounslow is now being talked about all over the world.

USMNT squad confirmed for 2022 World Cup

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The USMNT are in Qatar as the 26 players named in Gregg Berhalter’s 2022 World Cup squad are confirmed.

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After missing the 2018 tournament in Russia and enduring an eight-year spell out in the international football wilderness, the Yanks are only 12 days from their opening game against Wales.

The likes of Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson headline the 26-man roster which is set to be the youngest team (on average) at the 2022 World Cup.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Of course, plenty of questions still remain unanswered…

Who will start at center back? Who will start up front? Will all of their stars be fully fit to face Wales, England and Iran in Group B?

Given recent results and performances, there is a lot of pressure on Berhalter and the USMNT need to get off to a flying start.

World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 10am, 11am, 2pm (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!

Confirmed USMNT squad for 2022 World Cup

Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson, Matt Turner

Defenders: Cameron Carter-Vickers, Sergiño Dest, Aaron Long, Shaq Moore, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, Joe Scally, DeAndre Yedlin, Walker Zimmerman

Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson, Kellyn Acosta, Tyler Adams, Luca de la Torre, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Cristian Roldan

Forwards: Jesus Ferreira, Jordan Morris, Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Josh Sargent, Tim Weah, Haji Wright

Who wasn’t picked, and what were the big dilemmas?

Goalkeepers: Zack Steffen

Defenders: Chris Richards (injury), John Brooks, Reggie Cannon, Mark McKenzie, Sam Vines (injury), Erik Palmer-Brown

Midfielders: None

Forwards: Ricardo Pepi, Jordan Pefok

The same areas which have been an issue for the last few years: center back and up front. Walker Zimmerman will start at center back but the spot alongside him is a huge question mark following the injury to Miles Robinson. Aaron Long has struggled, while Chris Richards and Cameron Carter-Vickers both had injuries last month so couldn’t get valuable reps alongside Zimmerman. Richards has since confirmed he won’t be fit for the World Cup. Veteran Tim Ream has been drafted in given his fine form for Fulham and right now, he seems the most likely to start alongside Zimmerman.

Up front there is a huge debate around Jordan Pefok. Most fans believe he should be called up but Berhalter didn’t call him up and Josh Sargent was preferred over Ricardo Pepi, while Haji Wright was preferred over Pefok in a big shock. Jesus Ferreira seems to have the No. 9 jersey for now but the USMNT has really lacked a clinical finisher since the heyday of Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Landon Donovan. It’s a big problem and perhaps one of the many talented attacking midfielders they have could play in a false nine?

Which players were on the bubble?

It was a big surprise that Zack Steffen was left out of the squad, as Matt Turner is now the undisputed No. 1 but Steffen was next man up. Instead, Sean Johnson and Ethan Horvath got the other goalkeeper spots on the roster. Steffen played for Berhalter at Columbus Crew and has been a key part of the USMNT over the last four years. But he isn’t going to Qatar.

Tim Ream is having a great season for Fulham and even though Berhalter said he wants something a bit different from a center back, he’s in. Erik Palmer-Brown was right on the bubble.

Luca de la Torre is injured but he’s almost back fit, so he made it ahead of Johnny Cardoso, Malik Tillman, while Cristian Roldan being included was a bit of a surprise.

Up top Jordan Pefok, Ricardo Pepi and Paul Arriola were the big losers here. Jordan Morris, Haji Wright and Josh Sargent got in ahead of them, but it was a flip of the coin in all of those situations. Arriola and Pepi delivered in key moments in qualifying but won’t be going to Qatar.

Could Tim Ream be the USMNT’s unlikely World Cup hero?


LONDON — Fresh off putting in another superb display for Fulham, veteran Tim Ream beamed as he stood outside Craven Cottage with the USMNT center back off to the World Cup.

Against the odds, he’s going to the biggest tournament on the planet to represent the USA.

[ MORE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch live, scores, hub ]

Ream, 35, was a surprise inclusion in Gregg Berhalter’s World Cup roster given he hadn’t been called up for over a year and the USMNT head coach seemed to prefer a different type of central defender.

But he’s been so good in the Premier League for Fulham this season he just couldn’t be ignored and with the USMNT having big problems at center back (and center forward) heading into this World Cup, could Ream become an unlikely hero for the U.S. in Qatar?

In attack you know the likes of Christian Pulisic, Brenden Aaronson and Gio Reyna are going to deliver but defensively the USMNT has big problems, especially with Miles Robinson and Chris Richards missing out through injury.

Ream is in the form of his life, has incredible experience and will be a calming influence on this young U.S. side. For most USMNT fans, he has to start at the World Cup.

Modest as always, ProSoccerTalk caught up with a delighted Tim Ream just before a taxi whisked him and Fulham teammate Antonee Robinson off to the airport and then on to Qatar.

Why Tim Ream should start for the USA

What are his expectations for the World Cup?

“I’d love to obviously get on the pitch,” Tim Ream said. “Expectations as a team, I think you go into any tournament wanting to win. That’s what we want to do and any way I can contribute and help the team win I’m looking forward to it.”

Ream is playing down the role he could play in Qatar and with Walker Zimmerman’s spot as the right-sided center back locked in, the spot next to him is up for grabs. Ream should have that starting spot at left center back ahead of Aaron Long and Cameron Carter-Vickers.

“Have you watched any Fulham games lately? Then you know why we want him in,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said when asked about Ream’s inclusion. “He’s a top performer for his team. It is really hard to ignore stuff like that… To me all the pieces are aligned to bring him back into the squad and to me there is a difference between qualifying in CONCACAF and playing in the World Cup. Tim, based on the level he’s playing at, he’s ready to play in a World Cup. For sure.”

As the numbers below show from Fulham’s clash with Manchester United (Ream also almost scored a header but David de Gea denied him), he’s having a superb season for Fulham, has been aggressive with his defending and one thing he has always been good at is playing out of the back. That is key for the way Gregg Berhalter wants to play and he doesn’t want his center backs to push high up the pitch and his full backs can cover for any pace that Zimmerman and Ream lack.

Ream has shown his calmness on the ball during his entire career but especially this season as he turned Anthony Martial inside out in his own box and started an attack with a purposeful pass forward against United on Sunday.

That is exactly the kind of the thing this possession-based USMNT side needs.

What is behind his fine form this season?

Ream has guided Fulham to ninth in the table (starting all 15 games and playing all but two minutes of the season so far) and has captained them for most of their brilliant return to the Premier League.

Fulham’s fans adore him and chant ‘Reammmmmmm’ every time he heads clear, makes a wonderful pass or turns a striker inside out with his trademark composure.

What has been going so right for Ream this season?

“I think it’s a lot of things. First of all, finally just playing with a freedom,” Ream explained. “Not worrying about what could happen, what will happen. Just going out there and enjoying the game, enjoying being here and just being on the pitch and playing with a freedom and an enjoyment.”

The St. Louis native is certainly playing with freedom on the ball, aggression to win it back and has looked in total control. His connection with USMNT left back Robinson on the left side of Fulham’s defense has also been key to their excellent start and that partnership should be reunited for the Stars and Stripes in Qatar.

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Leadership role boosts his case further

This is the second-youngest team the USMNT has ever taken to the World Cup and Tim Ream is the oldest player on the roster at the age of 35.

He laughed when reminded of that fact but also said he’s willing to do whatever it takes on and off the pitch from his decade-long experience in England playing against many of the players the USMNT will face in group stage games against Wales and England.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who’ve played in some big games, going there I will take on a leadership role if that is what’s asked,” Ream said. “You just help guys out in any way you can. Whether that is physically, video sessions, just leading the guys and being in their ear if I need to be in their ear and helping to motivate guys to make sure we are on the right track.”

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An inspirational story for every American soccer player

From playing in college at Saint Louis to being drafted in MLS with the New York Red Bulls, then getting the big move to Bolton only for them to be relegated and then heading to Fulham and being a mainstay as they bounced up and down to the Premier League over the last seven years, Ream has worked so hard to get this opportunity to go to the World Cup.

“It is a dream come true, something as boys we dream of. So to make it on the last try, the last hurdle, I am excited,” Tim Ream smiled.

Asked if his story was an inspiration to every American soccer player out there, Ream reflected on the winding road to get to the promised land.

“It is one of those where you just keep plugging away,” Ream smiled. “Just keep going. You never know, twists and turns, up and downs, life and football is a rollercoaster. But if you just keep going there’s nobody to stop you but yourself.”

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FIFA to use new high-tech for offside calls at World Cup


GENEVA — FIFA will introduce new technology to improve offside calls at the World Cup in Qatar this year, using a limb-tracking camera system.

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FIFA said Friday it is ready to launch semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) that uses multiple cameras to track player movements plus a sensor in the ball – and will quickly show 3D images on stadium screens at the tournament to help fans understand the referee’s call.

It’s the third World Cup in a row that sees FIFA introduce new technology to help referees.

[ MORE: Full schedule for 2022 World Cup ]

Goal-line technology was ready for the 2014 tournament in Brazil after a notorious refereeing error in 2010. In 2018, video review to help referees judge game-changing incidents was rolled out in Russia.

How will it work?

The new offside system promises faster and more accurate decisions than are currently made with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, even though the 2018 World Cup avoided major mistakes on offside calls.

Controversy has since flared in European leagues, especially where VAR officials draw on-screen lines over players for marginal calls. They have been mocked as “armpit offsides” because of the tiny margins.

“Although these tools are quite accurate, this accuracy may be improved,” said Pierluigi Collina, who leads FIFA’s refereeing program and worked the 2002 World Cup final in the pre-technology era.

Each stadium in Qatar will have 12 cameras beneath the roof synchronized to track 29 data points on each player’s body 50 times per second. Data is processed with artificial intelligence to create a 3D offside line that is alerted to the team of VAR officials.

A sensor in the match ball tracks its acceleration and gives a more precise “kick point” — when the decisive pass is played – to align with the offside line data, FIFA innovation director Johannes Holzmuller said in an online briefing.

What is behind this?

Ensuring soccer’s biggest event is a showcase for technological progress – and avoids obvious errors that live on in World Cup lore – has been a long-time FIFA goal.

The shot by England’s Frank Lampard that crossed the Germany goal-line in 2010 but was not given as a goal almost immediately ended then-president Sepp Blatter’s opposition to giving referees technological aids.

Later that same day in South Africa, a clearly incorrect offside call let Carlos Tevez score Argentina’s first goal in a 3-1 win over Mexico in the round of 16.

In 2014, Bosnia-Herzegovina failed to advance from the group in its first World Cup after Edin Dzeko’s early goal against Nigeria was wrongly judged offside. Nigeria went on to win 1-0.

How long will these calls take?

FIFA’s push to get the new offside technology ready for the World Cup was slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Live in-game trials were run at the Arab Cup in Qatar last December and FIFA’s Club World Cup played in February in the United Arab Emirates.

Within seconds of a possible offside, a specialist member of the VAR team can manually check the data-created line for attackers and defenders and the kick point of the pass, Holzmuller said.

It falls to the senior VAR official to alert the match referee of the right decision by their audio link. That should take from 20 to 25 seconds compared to an average of 70 seconds currently for a complex offside call.

“Sometimes the length of checks of reviews is definitely too long,” Collina said, acknowledging delays disrupt the flow of games. “For (VAR officials) time flies, but for the rest – for coaches, for players, for spectators – it’s completely different.”

The same 3D animations of offside calls that VARs will use should then be available to broadcasters and shown on stadium screens, likely during the next stop in play.

Collina is enthusiastic about the technology, less so about the often-used description of “robot referees.”

“I understand that sometimes this is very good for headlines but this is not the case,” said the Italian official, defending the key human element of decision-making in soccer.

Collina also agreed that improved technology will not end soccer’s love of controversy and debating key incidents.

“There will be still room for discussion,” he said.