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MLS SuperDraft: 5 players to watch ahead of Friday’s 1st two rounds

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Friday’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft is considered relatively shallow, but there are some big talents near the top.

FC Cincinnati has the first pick in the draft, and nine more after acquiring all of Philadelphia’s picks on Wednesday.

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The draft begins at 1 p.m. ET Friday from the USC Convention in Chicago. Here are a few names to monitor.

Dayne St. Clair, Maryland — A 6-foot-3 goalkeeper, the Canadian has played every minute of the past two seasons for the National Champions. St. Clair could one day be across the field from fellow former Terp and USMNT backstop Zack Steffen on international duty.

Andre Shinyashiki, Denver — There are some who judge the 5-foot-9 Brazilian upon the Summit League’s relatively low depth, but Shinyashiki’s outstanding 28-goal campaign included markers against Washington and SMU as well. He scored 51 goals with 15 assists on 285 (!!) shots in four seasons.

Tajon Buchanan, Syracuse — The sophomore improved his stats this season and is an exceptional athlete. The second-year Canadian has a long future in the game, and should go in the Top Ten.

Anderson Asiedu, UCLA — The diminutive midfielder from New Jersey was a star at Monmouth before surprisingly moving — transfer culture is bonkers these days — across the country and proving just as effective in a more challenging conference.

John Nelson, North Carolina — Left backs don’t grow on trees, and the Ohio-born Nelson has been a star for the Tar Heels across two seasons. At such a young age, Nelson could man the left side — maybe doing a reverse Zusi and moving into the midfield — for a team for a long time.

Stanford looks for 2nd straight title as College Cup begins

Lauren Collins/Winston-Salem Journal via AP
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HOUSTON (AP) Stanford got off to a rough start this year, but rebounded in a season where everyone wanted to take the Cardinal down to make it back to the College Cup.

After winning the first national championship in program history last season, No. 5 Stanford continues its title defense in the second semifinal on Friday night against No. 9 North Carolinas. In the first semifinal, No. 2 Wake Forest faces undefeated No. 6 Denver.

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Stanford had with three ties and a loss in its first six games before winning 13 of its next 16 games to win a third straight Pac-12 championship and return to the College Cup.

“I think it was kind of a wakeup call seeing how hard we were going to get played and I think we adapted to that as the season progressed,” said defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce, who was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year last month.

Stanford hopes to become the first team since Indiana in 2003-04 to win consecutive national championships. Coach Jeremy Gunn’s team is the first to return to the College Cup the season after winning the national championship since Wake Forest returned in 2008 after winning it all in 2007.

Stanford lost some key players from last season, including MLS Rookie of the Year and the reigning Hermann Trophy winner Jordan Morris. But it returns six starters from last season’s team. Five of those players were named to the All-Pac-12 first team last month, and one was on the second team.

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“We had some great players leave after last year and I think some people wanted to write us off this year,” Gunn said.

Stanford is led by Co-Pac-12 player of the year Foster Langsdorf. The junior forward has led the team’s attack this season, scoring 15 goals, including one in each of Stanford’s three tournament games. In their 10 Pac-12 games, Langsdorf scored 12 goals.

North Carolina comes to Houston for its first College Cup appearance since winning a national championship in 2011. The Tar Heels also reached the national semifinals in 2009-10.

Some things to know about the College Cup.

H-TOWN CONNECTION: The Tar Heels come to Houston with many connections to the area. Three Houston Dynamo players, defenders Jalil Anibaba and Sheanon Williams and goalkeeper Tyler Deric, played at North Carolina, while head coach Carlos Somoano is from nearby Seabrook, Texas. The Tar Heels leading scorer, Tucker Hume, said players from the Dynamo have reached out to them and that they’ll be at Friday’s game.

“My formative soccer years and experiences were done right here in Houston,” Somoano said. “So for me it’s very special to be back here.”

YOUTH MOVEMENT: After losing key players from last season, including three who were selected in the top 12 of the MLS SuperDraft, North Carolina has had to rely on its youth in 2016. The Tar Heels have 12 players who have appeared in all 20 games this season, six of whom are either freshmen or sophomores. Sophomore forward Nils Bruening leads the team in goals with eight, while redshirt sophomore goalkeeper James Pyle has allowed just 10 goals this season.

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“They’ve been a bit of a revelation for us,” Somoano said. “It’s just fascinating to see how they evolve through the year. They’re not the same players now than they were in August.”

FAMILIAR FACES: Denver head coach Jamie Franks and Wake Forest’s Bobby Muuss have plenty of history. Muuss was an assistant coach for the Demon Deacons during Franks’ freshman season in Winston-Salem and was the coach at Denver from 2007-14, with Franks serving as his assistant for three seasons. When Muuss took over at Wake Forest before the 2015 season, Franks took his place at Denver.

“I love Wake Forest . but at the end of the day, these are my boys,” Franks said. “These are my kids, and Wake Forest is standing in our way.

WAKE EYES REDEMPTION: Last season, Wake Forest was the No. 1 team in the country with a 17-2-2 record before falling in the quarterfinals to the eventual national champions Stanford in overtime. This season, the Demon Deacons enter the College Cup with an 18-2-3 mark with a pair of shutouts in wins over Coastal Carolina and Virginia Tech.

DOMINANCE REWARDED: Since Franks took over as the Denver head coach, the Pioneers have lost just one game, a defeat to SMU that ended the 2015 season. The team feels its 35-1-6 record under Franks it has not received enough credit, mostly because the Pioneers play in the Summit League. This is Denver’s first appearance in the College Cup and the players are embracing their underdog role.

“It’s more a historical thing than an actual thing because no one in our locker room is surprised to be here, we expected to be here,” sophomore forward Andre Shinyashiki said.

VIDEO — College goals of the year: Fancy footwork from High Point to UMBC

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The college soccer season reaches its apex with this weekend’s College Cup games, so we thought we’d review what you may have missed along the way in 2014.

So before Virginia, UMBC, Providence and UCLA flesh out the men’s side this weekend, finding a match for Florida State which won the women’s side, let’s take a gander at some gorgeous goals.

[ MLS: Top breakout players of 2014 ]

First up, the men and ladies with the fancy feet:

UMBC’s Kay Banjo goes backheel

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Rhode Island’s Mike Casey with a diving header golden goal

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Buffalo: Russell Cicerone hits the brakes, curls one home

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UCLA women: Taylor Smith with a thrilling dribble

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High Point: Mamadee Nyepon bulls his way through the box

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George Mason: Timi Mulgrew

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North Carolina: Tyler Engel freezes the keeper on the goal line

Lori Chalupny and the U.S. national team: More details on the eternal impasse

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There’s a really good chance you don’t know who Lori Chalupny is. Most of you don’t follow women’s soccer. Those that do may have come to the sport recently. If you fall into either of those groups, her name won’t ring a bell.

But Lori Chalupny isn’t just another women’s soccer player toiling in professional anonymity. She shouldn’t be anonymous at all. At 29 years old, she’s appeared for her country 92 times, at one time wearing the armband for a spell with the United States. A midfielder, she’s scored eight times, won an Olympic gold medal, and was a national title-winner during her days at North Carolina. Called one of the top five players in the NWSL by her club coach, Chalupny is among the most well-respected players in her league, a stature that allowed her to finish third in this season’s Most Valuable Player voting.

Chalupny’s anonymity to all but hardcore women’s soccer fans is owed to her status with U.S. Soccer, a status Charles Boehm at Soccerwire.com labels a “purgatory.” Cleared by four different clubs to play professionally after concussion issues dogged her from 2006 to 2008, Chalupny has not appeared for the United States since 2009. And despite the U.S.’s lack of depth in central midfield — despite her status as one of the best players in a league almost all of her would-be teammates play in — she’s unlikely to make another appearance any time soon.

From Boehm’s story, Chalupny’s words on her status as well as the medical opinion of U.S. Soccer’s Dr. Ruben Echemendia:

“Nothing’s really changed at this point. I guess their neurologist that they use doesn’t – won’t – clear me to play …

According to Chalupny, Echemendia hasn’t even seen her firsthand to ascertain her current status.

“No, he’s never actually seen me,” she said. “I went and saw two of the top neurologists in the country, Dr. [Robert] Cantu and Dr. [Michael] Collins, the guys that Sydney Crosby [the National Hockey League star who has grappled with his own concussion problems] and the top-level athletes see, and they’ve all cleared me.

“It’s just a matter of this one neurologist, and he’s entitled to his opinion. But I guess until that changes, my status won’t change.”

source:
Lori Chalupny had make 92 international appearances for the United States by the time she was 25. She hasn’t appeared since despite continuing her career for the St. Louis Athletica (WPS), Atlanta Beat (WPS), AIK (Sweden), and the Chicago Red Stars (WPSL Elite/NWSL). He was an all-league midfielder this past season in the NWSL, finishing third in MVP voting.

That is incredible. Four teams and two specialists have signed off on Chalupny’s health. The men who worked with hockey’s most famous player think she’s good to go. Yet one man who has never physically examined Chalupny continues to keep her from playing for her national team?

If that’s the case, that’s inexplicable. Why is Echemendia’s opinion held up above the other specialists? Why isn’t there an avenue to appeal? A way to seek a second opinion or be evaluated by a panel who can augment Echemendia’s opinion?

Perhaps there were second opinions. U.S. Soccer alludes to specialists (plural) when discussing Chalupny’s situation. Still the broad question remains: Why is a player’s career being held up by a process that leaves so many unanswered questions?

This is a health issue, so we’re not going to hear much from U.S. Soccer on this. To them, the player’s privacy must be observed, an unfortunate pickle since the player is under no such limitation.

Here’s all U.S. Soccer had to say to Boehm:

“She has not been cleared to play for the National Team … As for the league [NWSL], it is a separate entity from U.S. Soccer. A few years ago when Chalupny was being considered for the National Team she was not medically cleared to play by U.S. Soccer after broad consultation with U.S. Soccer medical consultants.

“Our stance has not changed.”

Neither has ours. Through our season-long NWSL coverage, many discussions of Chalupny were laced with regret that she wasn’t being considered for her national team. Boehm’s reporting provides some more details, but the tensions remain.

On one side, we have one of the U.S.’s best midfielders, somebody who would compete for a starting spot on almost any team in the world. On the other side, you have an organization not at liberty to discuss a medical evaluation that flies in the face of a clean bill of health, with the player now going four years without reoccurrence.

It’s one of the saddest, most confusing stories on the U.S. Soccer landscape, leaving her final words on the situation enough to prompt a tear:

“I don’t know,” said Chalupny when asked if she saw any potential for resolution in the near future …

“But I would love to play on the team again. It’s such an honor. But it’s out of my hands, I guess.”

Lineup prediction for tonight’s United States-Scotland game in Nashville

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source:  The one surprise on Wednesday was Christen Press, who scored two goals in her international debut while starting out of position on at right midfield. Rightfully overshadowed by that selection was a Tom Sermanni XI that went pretty much by Pia Sundhage’s book. If those tenants hold for tonight’s rematch in Nashville, the U.S.’s Starting XI will be very easy to predict.

But remember the caveats. We don’t know much about Tom Sermanni. We don’t know how he’s approaching these games. If he’s trying to get a good look at everybody, there may be more changes.

Just like this weekend’s prediction, I’m taking a conservative tact. The regulars who didn’t start on Saturday? I’ve slid them into the team. Otherwise, the starting XI stays the same.

GOALKEEPERS: Hope Solo is back. She’ll almost certainly start in goal, with Saturday’s No. 1 Jill Loyden moving to the bench. As we discussed this weekend, Sermanni’s selections in goal have given us a good indication of the U.S.’s keeper depth chart. Solo’s number one, Loyden has passed Nicole Barnhart as the backup, with Ashlyn Harris fourth.

DEFENDERS: Rachel Buehler missed the beginning of camp for personal reasons and was withheld from Saturday’s game in Jacksonville. She’ll likely resume her first team spot partnering captain Christie Rampone. Out wide Kelley O’Hara and Ali Krieger, coming off strong outings in Florida, should be back in Sermanni’s starting XI. Liverpool center back Whitney Engen and North Carolina’s MAC Herman-winner Crystal Dunn will be options on the bench.

MIDFIELDERS: Like Beuhler, Megan Rapinoe was a late arrival to camp and missed Saturday’s game. Returning from duty with Lyon, the first choice attacker should be back in the starting lineup. Tobin Heath should return on the left, but we may see a change in the middle. Lauren Cheney was an odd-woman-out on Saturday, Sermanni may use Wednesday as an opportunity to get her in the team. Though my guess is she’ll come in for Shannon Boxx and partner Carli Lloyd, Cheney could start at any of the midfield or forward positions. We could see any of Lloyd, Heath, or Boxx slide to the bench.

Heather O’Reilly and Lori Lindsey were also named to the team. O’Reilly should see time on the right at some point in the second half, while Lindsey’s normal position is central midfield. She’ll come in for Lloyd, if Sermanni starts this XI.

Christen Press is also an option here, but with Rapinoe back, she’s more likely to see time at her natural position: forward.

FORWARDS: Abby Wambach is chasing Mia Hamm’s all-time goals record. She’s also in line to get her 200th cap. With U.S. Soccer touting both marks, expect the States’ focal point to be in Sermanni’s XI. With Alex Morgan out, Syndey Leroux or Lauren Cheney should get the start in front of Wambach. If Cheney gets the nod in midfield, Leroux’s the default choice up top.