2019 World Cup

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Ballon d’Or winner refuses pleas to join World Cup squad

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Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg is sticking to her principles despite the urging of her country.

The Norwegian star, 23, will not be joining her national team for this summer’s World Cup in an ongoing protest of the treatment of women’s soccer players in her country.

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Norwegian manager Martin Sjogren says the federation tried to find a fix for the player, but Hegerberg was unmoved from the position which has kept her away from NT duty since 2017.

Norwegian football has signed an equal pay agreement since Hegerberg left the team. Here’s Sjogren From the BBC:

“As a coach, you need to focus on the players who want to be a part of the team and Ada doesn’t. We respect that and we have been working hard with the other players and they have been doing a great job.”

Hegerberg made her international debut at 16, and has 38 goals in 66 caps. The Lyon star has a robust 246 goals in 244 club appearances, including a 54-goal season in 2015-16.

Is there a chance for a late change of heart? Norway is in a group with Nigeria, South Korea, and hosts France.

NWSL’s 7th season opens, looks for bump in World Cup year

McCall Zerboni NWSL
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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The NWSL opens its seventh season this weekend with some lingering questions about its health, but also the encouraging possibility of a “bump” from the World Cup.

The National Women’s Soccer League has already outlasted any of the other previous pro women’s leagues in the United States. With support from the U.S. Soccer Federation, the NWSL has fared better than the earlier attempts.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns going into Year 7 – many of which were there in the sixth season, too. Possible expansion, the stability of some individual clubs, a need for sponsorships and the lack of a TV deal are among the issues faced by the league that hasn’t had a commissioner since Jeff Plush stepped down in March 2017.

Still, the NWSL could get greater exposure starting in June when the World Cup opens in France. NWSL rosters are filled with national team players from around the globe. Teams will have to navigate player absences during the tournament but could win fans for the latter half of the season – much like after the last World Cup in 2015, which the U.S. won.

Portland Thorns defender Meghan Klingenberg said she believes the league is still headed in the right direction. But continued success will depend on both investment and the will to see it through.

“The most important thing is investment across the league, in human resources; whether that’s coaching or whether that’s just staff that’s helping out, whether that’s in better fields, whether that’s in better housing, whether that’s in whatever. Making the league better, in the league front office but also the clubs’ front offices, I want that,” she said. “And if we can get that, year after year after year then I think we’ll be in a good place.”

The defending champion North Carolina Courage will open the season Saturday night at home against the Chicago Red Stars, one of four games set for this weekend. The Courage defeated the Thorns 3-0 in the title game in front of a crowd of 21,144 in Portland last fall.

The victory capped a fantastic season for the Courage, who went 18-1-6 overall, won the league’s Supporters’ Shield for best record and never dropped a game on the road.

HOW TO WATCH: The NWSL and A+E Networks terminated their broadcast agreement in February, leaving the league with no TV partner. Last season, a `Game of the Week’ aired on the Lifetime channel. A+E also surrendered its stake in the league, but Lifetime remains a jersey sponsor.

At least for now, the league’s games will be streamed live exclusively on the Yahoo Sports app, or on the Yahoo website.

EXPANSION: The league currently stands at nine teams. Since the Boston Breakers folded just before the start of last season, there have been persistent rumors about whether the team will be revived by a new ownership group. Spanish club Barcelona had expressed interest in fielding an NWSL team, although there has been no movement on that front. Major League Soccer’s LAFC could also jump into the fray, with co-owner Mia Hamm suggesting as recently as last week that it is a priority.

Despite all the chatter, NWSL President Amanda Duffy previously indicated the league likely won’t make any expansion announcements until after this season.

WHAT’S GOING ON WITH SKY BLUE? The troubles that plagued New Jersey’s team, Sky Blue, were well documented last year after former player Sam Kerr, now with Chicago, hinted at issues. But improvements have been made.

In February, Sky Blue announced that Tammy Murphy, the wife of part-owner Gov. Phil Murphy, would take a more active role in running the team. And indeed, improvements have been made, with better housing and staff additions. The team will train this season at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, New Jersey, and have access to the school’s wellness facilities in addition to practice fields.

Tony Novo, who served as team president and general manager, resigned and Alyse LaHue was named interim GM. Novo had been criticized by the Cloud 9 supporters’ group.

SCHEDULE: The league will take a short break during the group stage of the World Cup in France. But a chunk of the league’s players will be away with their national teams for extended periods this season. The NWSL allowed teams to expand rosters to 22 players, in addition to four supplemental players who won’t count against the salary cap.

Teams play a 24-game schedule that wraps up Oct. 12. The championship game is scheduled for Oct. 26.

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

Men in Blazers podcast: Chelsea stops Man City, Atlanta wins MLS Cup

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Rog and Davo recap one of the shock results of the season in Chelsea’s defeat of Manchester City. Plus, Liverpool go top, Atlanta United win MLS Cup and the USWNT know their World Cup opponents.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Groups for 2019 Women’s World Cup confirmed

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The group stage for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France have been confirmed, with the U.S. women’s national team placed in a favorable group.

Thailand, Chile and Sweden are the opponents for Jill Ellis’ USWNT in Group F. The U.S. will open up against Thailand in Reims on June 11, then play Chile in Paris on June 16 before facing Sweden on June 20 in Le Havre.

The U.S. are the defending World Cup champs after their success at the 2015 tournament in Canada.

Hosts France have been drawn alongside South Korea, Norway and Nigeria in Group A, with the opening game of the tournament against Korea in Paris on June 7.

England will face old foes Scotland (competing in their first-ever World Cup), Argentina and Japan in Group D, while Canada face Cameroon, New Zealand and the Netherlands in Group E. Marta and Brazil face Australia, Italy and Jamaica in Group C, while German clash with Spain, China and South Africa in Group B.

Below is the full group stage draw from Paris, with the tournament taking place this summer from June 7 until July 7.


USWNT rolls out 10-match schedule pre-World Cup

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Jill Ellis should have the United States women’s national team well-drilled in its bid to reclaim the World Cup, announcing its warm-up schedule two days before Saturday’s WWC draw in France.

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Beginning next month, the USWNT will play 10 matches across two continents as Ellis attempts to become the first manager to lead the Americans to consecutive World Cup wins.

Only two of those matches are outside the U.S., with the USWNT visiting France and Spain on Jan. 19 and 22, respectively.

The Yanks will then get experience defending a trophy when they host the SheBelievesCup between Feb. 27-March 5, playing Japan in Chester, Penn., England in Nashville, and Brazil in Tampa.

April friendlies follow against Australia in Colorado (April 4) and Belgium at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium, before the 3-match Send-Off Series sees the USWNT host South Africa in Santa Clara, a TBD opponent in St. Louis, and Mexico at Red Bull Arena between May 12-26.

The USWNT is set to defend the World Cup for the first time since 2003 this summer in France when it bids to become the first team to win four Women’s World Cup tournaments (It is already the first to win three).

They’ve placed at every WWC, finishing first three times, second once, and third on three occasions.