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Neymar
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Burning question: Best player you’ve ever seen live

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We’ve all had the chance to have Lionel Messi, Mohamed Salah, and others blow our minds on television screens, but there’s something special about seeing the magic in living color.

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So we’re wondering: Who’s the best player you’ve ever seen live? Hit up the comments section with your takes, and allow me to walk you through mine.

International: It’s August 10, 2010 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, and your United States men’s national team is taking the field for the first time since Ghana ended the World Cup dreams of Bob Bradley’s boys with a 2-1 defeat in Rustenberg.

The vibe at the AO tailgate is lively, friends from all over the country gathered in the Garden State to see the hosts welcome a Brazil side that blew a halftime lead against the Netherlands to bow out in the World Cup quarterfinals.

It’s fortunate that the AO seats that wound up in my hands were a few rows behind Tim Howard, because that was the end to see most of the first half.

Brazil left Kaka and Luis Fabiano at home, which begged what they might’ve done with those two pulling the strings. It’s not worth too much debate, because Mano Menezes’ Starting XI included Robinho, Ramires, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves, and Alexandre Pato and a kid making his international debut.

His name was Neymar, and any hopes of the youngster being humbled by the big crowd and his first cap were dashed immediately. While it wasn’t the virtuoso show we’d see so many times in Barcelona, PSG, and Brazil shirts moving forward, it was clear this kid had it.

The thumping header at the back post meant it took less than a half-hour for Neymar Jr. to show us his first of 61 senior goals and counting for Brazil. He was young, naive, unrefined… and electric.

Club: This one’s more difficult, if only because the majority of the senior action I’ve seen in person has been in Major League Soccer, with a few jaunts overseas. There’s always a ‘guy’ who stands out, though, per game, whether a young and gigantic Andy Carroll for Newcastle at Stoke in 2009, Niklas Dorsch running the midfield for Heidenheim in relegating Duisburg from the Bundesliga last Spring, or Frank Lampard and Kaka dueling in Orlando a few years earlier.

But the most dominant forces I’ve seen on a consistent basis have both had ties to Canada. On the MLS side, any chance to see Sebastian Giovinco for Toronto FC at BMO Field was a chance to catch a firefly, but in terms of sheer dominance I’m looking to the ladies.

Christine Sinclair was the best player on a loaded Western New York Flash roster when I was their play-by-play man during the 2011 WPS season. Now the all-time leading scorer amongst women, Sinclair punished teams that season and stood out despite a roster that included Marta, Alex Morgan, Caroline Seger, Ashlyn Harris, and McCall Zerboni amongst others.

Sinclair scored in regulation of a final against Philadelphia that went to penalty kicks, and converted her spot kick, too. If Zlatan is a lion, she’s part of the same pride. A force.

(Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

College/Amateur: Before my alma mater unceremoniously cut men’s soccer, the University at Buffalo played in the Mid American Conference and delivered all sorts of high drama. The highlight was usually the visit of Akron, a national champion who had been neck-and-neck with the Buffalo Bulls in the 2000s before putting a stranglehold on the rivalry. UB was the runner-up to Akron in 2015 and 2016 behind a brilliant team featuring now-USL player Russell Cicerone and a future New Zealand club captain in Fox Slotemaker. The 2016 season gives us our story.

The Zips had a freshman on the right side who was almost always in the right place, with mind-bending pace to help with the times he was caught astray. Jonathan Lewis had spent a season abroad with Bradford City before opting for school, and he was a one-and-done in Ohio after recording 12 assists, one in that game. I’ve seen some incredible college talents, but Lewis was the best by a good margin. He’s now earned six USMNT caps and 48 MLS appearances between NYCFC and Colorado at the age of 22.

Men In Blazers podcast: Arlo White talks Bob Bradley, Lynn Williams discusses NWSL title

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Rog and Davo are joined by Arlo White to preview Bob Bradley’s Swansea City debut at Arsenal and this weekend’s big Premier League storylines.

Plus, NWSL MVP Lynn Williams talks the Western New York Flash’s championship season and her first USWNT call up.

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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Western NY Flash beat Spirit on penalties for the NWSL title

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HOUSTON (AP) Sabrina D’Angelo made three saves in the penalty shootout and the Western New York Flash won the National Women’s Soccer League championship 3-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw with the Washington Spirit on Sunday.

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Crystal Dunn gave the Spirit the lead in the 92nd minute, but Golden Boot winner Lynn Williams scored for the Flash in extra time of the overtime period to send the match to penalties.

Dunn first scored in the 10th minute, before Samantha Mewis evened it with a goal for the Flash in the 14th. Both players are also part of the U.S national team and are on the roster for a pair of friendlies later this month against Switzerland.

[ MORE: Fastest players in PL? ]

D’Angelo, who was on the Canadian national team that won the bronze medal at this summer’s Olympic Games, pumped her fists and screamed after stopping Diana Matheson’s attempt for the win at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium.

Ellis names 20-player USWNT roster for Olympic qualifying

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New chapter, new characters; It’s an over-simplified description of the United States women’s national team make-up for Olympic qualifying, but it feels apt.

Gone are Abby Wambach, Christie Rampone and Lauren Holiday; Sydney Leroux will sit this one out while she handles maternity for the first time.

[ VIDEO: USMNT duo Zardes, Parker talk youth-heavy camp ]

In? Seventeen-year-old Mallory Pugh, Portland defender Emily Sonnett, Boston Breakers striker Stephanie McCaffrey and Western New York Flash duo Jaelene Hinkle (right) and Samantha Mewis (left) as young stars on the squad.

Qualifying runs from Feb. 10-21 in Texas.

U.S. Women’s National Team Olympic Qualifying Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3)
: Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (7):
Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (5):
Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash)
FORWARDS (5):
Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Stephanie McCaffrey (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)

NWSL mega deal sends Sydney Leroux Dwyer to WNY for rights to Abby Wambach

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The Western New York Flash are reaping the rewards of Abby Wambach’s refusal to play ball.

The National Women’s Soccer League side was hamstrung by Wambach’s desire to stay in the Pacific Northwest ahead of this summer’s World Cup, and her decision not to play club soccer at all this summer.

[ MORE: How will US line up vs. Switzerland? ]

But now they’ve made a mega deal based around Wambach’s rights going to Seattle in return for USWNT star forward Sydney Leroux Dwyer (That’s what she calls herself on Twitter since marrying Sporting KC man Dom Dwyer).

Seattle also gets midfielder Amber Brooks and a first round pick in 2016, while the Flash land defender Amanda Frisbie.

WNY lands a budding superstar that will put butts in the seats at Sahlen Stadium in Rochester. From their web site:

“As everyone knows, Sydney Leroux is a top goalscorer who has had both a fantastic club and international career so far,” said Flash general manager and head coach Aaran Lines. “I’m excited about the opportunity that she presents for us and the offensive threat that she adds to our attack.”

Wambach could change her mind on a season away from the league, as her rights are now much closer to wife Sarah Huffman, who lives in Portland since retiring from the Thorns last season.

From Equalizer Soccer:

“Abby is a fantastic player who has proven over the years she is one of the best forwards in the world,” Harvey said. “We understand and support her decision to focus on the World Cup this season. The contribution she is capable of making is obvious, so we will welcome her to our club at whatever point she is ready to rejoin the league.”

It’s risk-reward for both clubs, but WNY’s glut of first-round picks this year set the table for the future and made Brooks and the ’16 first expendable, especially when they could land a draw like Leroux Dwyer.