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USWNT’s Rapinoe wins 2019 Women’s Ballon d’Or

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Megan Rapinoe topped off an iconic calendar year with France Football’s biggest prize, the Women’s Ballon d’Or award.

Rapinoe scored six goals to go with three assists as she led the U.S. Women’s National Team to another FIFA Women’s World Cup title. She scored the decisive goals against France in the quarterfinals and the Netherlands in the final, but it was her place as the heart and soul of the USWNT that led her and the national team to win. The 34-year-old absorbed all the pressure on her and her team and still produced on both sides of the ball.

Rapinoe had nine goals and seven assists across the calendar year for the USWNT. In addition to winning the World Cup, she won the Golden Ball and the FIFA award for the best women’s soccer player of the year. She’s also in the running and is now surely the front runner for the 2019 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year.

England right back Lucy Bronze and Rapinoe’s USWNT teammate Alex Morgan finished in second and third place, respectively.

Ellis announces USWNT roster for 2019 World Cup

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Jill Ellis has selected the 23 women who will bid to defend the United States women’s national team’s champion status at this summer’s World Cup in France.

The USWNT begins its tournament on June 11, and is in a group with Chile, Thailand, and Sweden.

Eleven players will make their World Cup debut, with several recent call-ups not on the roster barring injury. McCall Zerboni, Andi Sullivan, and Casey short were all left off the squad.

That means room for Allie Long, Morgan Brian, and Ali Krieger.

Here’s the full lineup

GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch* (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris** (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher** (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper* (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson* (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn* (NC Courage), Ali Krieger*** (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara*** (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn*** (Utah Royals FC), Emily Sonnett* (Portland Thorns FC)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian** (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz** (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan* (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle* (Washington Spirit), Allie Long* (Reign FC), Samantha Mewis* (NC Courage)

FORWARDS (7): Tobin Heath*** (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd**** (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald* (NC Courage), Alex Morgan*** (Orlando Pride), Christen Press** (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh* (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe*** (Reign FC)

* First Women’s World Cup
** Second Women’s World Cup
*** Third Women’s World Cup
**** Fourth Women’s World Cup

FA to consider bidding for 2030 World Cup

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Could the World Cup be returning to England? We’ll have to wait and see.

FA chairman Greg Clarke confirmed that the organization would look into the feasibility of hosting the 2030 World Cup. It would be the first World Cup back in England since the Three Lions won it on home soil in 1966. It would also be following the co-hosted Canada-Mexico-United States World Cup in 2026, as well as be the second World Cup with – at least – 48 teams in the tournament.

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“This work will take place during the new season and no decision will be made until 2019,” Clarke said.

England previously suffered an embarrassment when the nation spent around $27.5 million on its bid for the 2018 World Cup, which of course went to Russia. However, England, being one of the few nations in the world with ready-made infrastructure and plenty of stadiums to host 80 matches, could have a leg up against other opponents, especially if England partners with the FA of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (and perhaps even the Republic of Ireland FA. The Northern Ireland FA has already pledged its support.

Another factor working in England’s favor is that usually, though not always, every other World Cup takes place in Europe. Argentina, Uruguay, and perhaps Chile are all considering a joint-bid for the 2030 World Cup for the centenary of the tournament to return to where it began (in Uruguay), but if voters overlook that, England could have a good chance.

In less than two years, England will also get the chance to host a major tournament as seven games from Euro 2020, including the final, will take place in the British Isle.

If there is no funny business and England enters the race, it would automatically be considered one of the favorites to host the tournament. Perhaps this time around, rather than in 2010, England can cross the finish line in first place.

Reports: World Cup coaches Tite, Gareca to stay with Brazil, Peru

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Both the Brazilian and Peruvian FAs appear to have made important decisions ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

According to reports out of both Brazil and Peru, World Cup coaches Tite and Ricardo Gareca are going receive new contracts after guiding their respective national teams through CONMEBOL’s qualifying gauntlet to the 2018 World Cup. For Tite, he’s reached a verbal agreement with the CBF to return and now just the final details remain, while Gareca is traveling back to Peru and is willing to listen to Peru’s new contract offer.

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Should both coaches sign the new contracts, it’s a great sign for the future of their squads. The Argentine Gareca has been a revelation in Peru, getting his team to play more organized defensively, especially on the road in qualifying, and helping end a 36-year World Cup drought for the soccer-mad nation. Tite meanwhile took over a team that through the first six rounds of qualification was on the outside looking in at a World Cup spot and proceeded to win nine straight qualification games with basically the same squad that Dunga had. Brazil became the first nation to qualify for the World Cup in Russia.

Of course, the story was different at the World Cup. In a crucial group stage opener, Peru missed a penalty kick and couldn’t shake Denmark, losing, 1-0 before falling to eventual champion France in the second match, earning the Peruvians an earlier-than-expected exit. A 2-0 win over Australia was some consolation before heading home.

After great results in qualifying, Brazil looked a different team at the World Cup, whether due to Neymar’s injury heading into the tournament or other reasons. The Selecao struggled in a 1-1 draw with Switzerland and needed second half stoppage time goals to beat Costa Rica. A comfortable win over Serbia put Brazil at the top of the group, but until Neymar’s second half goal against Mexico, El Tri looked threatening.

The signs were there as Brazil was ran off the park by Belgium in a brilliant first half for the Red Devils, one that Brazil could never fully come back from.

Both FAs are hoping that in four years time, both teams will be even better prepared for the World Cup in Qatar.

Salah returns to Egypt starting lineup

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A familiar name returned to the starting lineup for Egypt on Tuesday afternoon.

Egypt named star Mohamed Salah in its starting XI, after resting Salah in Egypt’s 1-0 defeat to Uguruay on June 15. Salah has been recovering from an injured shoulder that he suffered during the UEFA Champions League final in late May.

Salah makes his World Cup debut now against the host nation, Russia, at 2:00 p.m.

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