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USWNT loses high-performance coach Dawn Scott to England – Equalizer Soccer



Photo Copyright Lewis Gettier for The Equalizer

Dawn Scott is leaving the United States women’s national team after nearly a decade with the program. Scott, who led high-performance and sports science initiatives under U.S. head coaches Pia Sundhage and Jill Ellis, has accepted a similar role with England.

Multiple reports out of England first reported the news. A source familiar with the situation confirmed the news to The Equalizer.

Scott joined the U.S. program in 2010, when Sundhage was coach, and took on an increased role under Ellis. Scott’s role expanded from strength and fitness coach to high-performance coach. Over the past few years, Scott has taken on a larger role overseeing fitness and sports science in the National Women’s Soccer League, too, expanding her influence beyond the immediate U.S. player pool.

Now, Scott returns to the FA, where she worked in the past, to join England coach Phil Neville’s staff. Simon Austin, who first reported the news of Scott making the switch, described the role as “physical performance coach” for England.

Scott was initially expected to stay on with the U.S. after Vlatko Andonovski took over as head coach in late October. Scott was with the U.S. for their early-November matches against Sweden and Costa Rica.

“Dawn is, like, the secret to everything,” former U.S. captain Christie Pearce told me for a 2015 World Cup story about Scott, who was an integral part of the 2015 and 2019 World Cup titles, and the 2012 Olympic gold medal the U.S. won.

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Klopp: Liverpool can’t sign Zlatan because of his United past


Jurgen Klopp says Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s spell at Manchester United precludes Liverpool from making a move for the outspoken Swede.

The veteran striker, 38, announced earlier this week that he’s leaving the LA Galaxy after a prolific two-year spell in Major League Soccer. His announcement – made in classic Ibrahimovic fashion – has led to countless rumors over his future, with a handful of clubs thought to be suitors.

However, the Reds won’t be one of them, according to Klopp.

“If he hadn’t played for Manchester United, then we might have considered him,” Klopp told Swedish outlet Sportbladet, as translated by ESPN.

“But I’m not even sure he would have wanted to play here – we’re a pretty intense team,” the German bench boss joked.

“With that said, I couldn’t have had more respect for Zlatan. I love his whole career, love his efforts, love his confidence.

“While it may not always be right, it is entertaining anyway. He’s a fantastic character and I really hope he doesn’t stop playing football. The world would miss him too much.”

While a return to the Premier League seems unlikely for Ibrahimovic, a potential move back to Italy continues to gain traction.

AC Milan, Napoli, and Bologna have all been tipped as destinations, with the latter pair openly pining for the decorated star.



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USMNT gets back on track with emphatic win over Canada


The United States men’s national team got some revenge Friday.

Exactly one month after a harrowing defeat to Canada had many calling for the U.S. to tear things down and start from scratch, the Americans got back on track with an impressive 4-1 win over their northern neighbor on a rainy night in Orlando.

Newly crowned MLS champion Jordan Morris stole the show in the opening half, getting Gregg Berhalter’s side off to a perfect start after only two minutes. The Seattle attacker then took advantage of some slack Canadian defending to set up Gyasi Zardes‘ simple finish in the 23rd minute.

A towering header from Aaron Long 11 minutes later had the host nation cruising going into halftime despite being without both star attacker Christian Pulisic and midfield mainstay Michael Bradley.

Canada showed some fight in the second half, getting a lifeline through Steven Vitoria‘s tally. But after looking lethargic for most of the second stanza, the United States’ much-needed win was cemented when Zardes completed his brace in the waning minutes of the match.

“In my mind, the difference in performance was the U.S. were bloody clinical. … They hurt us when our full-backs were high,” Canada boss John Herdman said after the game, according to TSN’s Kristian Jack. “All credit to Gregg, who has silenced some critics here.”

The Canadians still sit atop their CONCACAF Nations League group on nine points, but the U.S. can leapfrog them and secure first place in the three-team section by beating winless Cuba on Tuesday.

Friday’s comprehensive result, which saw the USMNT secure its place in the 2021 Gold Cup, gave Berhalter his 10th win as U.S. manager in just his 17th match in charge.

Despite much hand-wringing over his tactical approach during his tumultuous tenure, Berhalter is the second-fastest U.S. bench boss to reach double-digit wins; Bob Bradley hit the mark in 2007 after just 11 games.





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Toronto FC’s Altidore, Gonzalez overcome injuries for MLS Cup


Toronto FC striker Jozy Altidore has been named to the bench for Sunday’s MLS Cup final against the Seattle Sounders after suffering a quad strain in the club’s regular-season finale.

There’s more good news for the visitors. Omar Gonzalez will make his first appearance of the playoffs following his inclusion in Greg Vanney’s starting XI. The U.S. international center-back was dealing with a hamstring worry.

Seattle will also welcome the return of a familiar face. After a scant two-minute substitute appearance in the Western Conference final against Los Angeles FC, Roman Torres was selected to replace Xavier Arreaga in the starting XI. Torres famously scored the winning penalty when the two sides met in the 2016 showpiece in Toronto.





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USWNT rout Costa Rica, 6-0, in final match of 2019 – Equalizer Soccer


Rose and Morgan


Photo copyright by Hannah di Lorenzo/The Equalizer.

The U.S. women’s national team had a busy 2019. Not only did they win their second-straight FIFA Women’s World Cup title, and fourth overall, but the team also embarked on a Victory Tour and hosted another SheBelieves Cup.

On top of that, the players also partook in another National Women’s Soccer League season. The NWSL season wrapped up at the end of October, but the U.S.’ calendar year finished off Sunday against Costa Rica, a Concacaf rival. The U.S. put up six goals against the Costa Ricans. It was a potentially a preview of what’s to come in February, as the two teams were put in the same group for Olympic qualifying.

If anything, Costa Rica will want the opposite of what went down in Jacksonville.

Carli Lloyd kicked off the scoring early in the fourth minute. Her goal came after a two-goal performance against Sweden on Thursday in Columbus. Meanwhile, a few minutes later, the Costa Ricans couldn’t stop Morgan Brian. Both goals were assisted by Rose Lavelle, this past summer’s bronze ball winner.

The score remained at 2-0 heading into halftime, with Costa Rica keeping the United States scoreless in the last 30-plus minutes. However, Lynn Williams made an immediate impact when entering the match after halftime. Williams scored one of her two goals against Costa Rica. Christen Press also tapped in a goal after taking a miss just seconds earlier. Finally, for the United States, an own goal from Stephanie Blanco in the 86th minute. At first, the goal looked to be from Midge Purce, who made her debut.

Also making her debut was Alana Cook, from Paris Saint-Germain. Cook is not cap-tied with the United States, and has also been courted and called into camp for England. Cook helped the defense keep a clean sheet in her debut.

Goal Summary

  • United States (Carli Lloyd, 4′)
  • United States (Morgan Brian, 10′)
  • United States (Lynn Williams, 50′)
  • United States (Christen Press, 56′)
  • United States (Lynn Williams, 68′)
  • United States (Stephanie Blanco, OG, 86′)

Caution Summary

The Goals







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Seattle powers past Toronto FC to win 2nd MLS Cup title


For the second time in four years, the Seattle Sounders have beaten Toronto FC in the MLS Cup final.

A fortuitous deflected goal from Kelvin Leerdam, substitute Victor Rodriguez‘s stellar strike, and a late Raul Ruidiaz tally guided the Sounders to a 3-1 victory in the rubber match on Sunday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

Jozy Altidore returned from a quad injury to head home a consolation goal for the visitors in injury time.

With the largely muddied match approaching the hour mark, Toronto continued to dominate possession and looked most likely of the two sides to score.

Then, in the 57th minute, Leerdam fired a speculative effort destined to sail wide of the far post that Justin Morrow unknowingly directed on goal and beyond Quentin Westberg.

Leerdam’s opener appeared to reinvigorate the Sounders. Suddenly blessed by an attacking impetus, Brian Schmetzer brought on Rodriguez in the 61st minute, and the Spaniard’s introduction paid immediate dividends.

Rodriguez doubled the advantage 15 minutes after coming on when Nicolas Lodeiro‘s slick one-touch pass afforded his teammate the space to fire a thumping right-footed effort from just outside the area beyond a lunging Westberg.

Ruidiaz added insult to injury for 2017 MLS champs Toronto when the pint-sized Peruvian striker beat Chris Mavinga to a deep ball over the top before bagging his fourth goal in four matches.

The Sounders are now one of six MLS sides to win the league’s showpiece on two or more occasions.



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Three takeaways from USWNT’s 6-0 win over Costa Rica – Equalizer Soccer



Photo Copyright Hannah di Lorenzo for The Equalizer

The United States women’s national team closed out its World Cup-winning year with a 6-0 victory over Costa Rica on Sunday in Jacksonville, Florida.

It’s a year which went about as well as it possibly could for the U.S., and on Sunday, it ended with Vlatko Andonovski at the helm and a pair of international debuts. These are the talking points from the final U.S. women’s match of 2019.

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3 questions from Seattle’s MLS Cup triumph over Toronto FC


The Seattle Sounders hoisted the MLS Cup for the second time in their history on Sunday following a 3-1 defeat of rivals Toronto FC.

A heavily deflected effort from Kelvin Leerdam, a sumptuous strike from Victor Rodriguez, and a late Raul Ruidiaz breakaway goal put the home side out of sight before Jozy Altidore‘s consolation in the dying moments.

Though the result was conclusive, there are some lingering questions relating to the match and the futures of both clubs going into the next campaign.

Did Seattle deserve to win?

Omar Vega / Getty Images Sport / Getty

When Leerdam’s 57th-minute shot pinged past Quentin Westberg via a generous bounce off Justin Morrow‘s left leg – an own goal in every league in the world except MLS, it seems – it was against the run of play. Toronto FC were in the ascendency until that point and, despite Seattle’s subsequent outburst, the end-of-match statistics indicate the visitors dictated proceedings throughout.

Statistic Seattle Sounders Toronto FC
Possession 35% 65%
Passing accuracy 71% 84%
Shots 14 14
Shots on target 6 5

But maybe TFC were sucked into the Sounders’ gameplan.

Brian Schmetzer’s players ceded control of the midfield while they focused on forging a low block that hushed their opponents. Alejandro Pozuelo desperately cropped up in deeper positions than would be expected of a false nine as he tried to influence the game, and Tsubasa Endoh and Nicolas Benezet were largely ineffectual before their respective withdrawals in the 62nd and 68th minutes.

Seattle was always dangerous on counterattack, too. Jordan Morris spearheaded a few upfield forays with powerful runs into the Reds’ territory. As the resolute hosts tried to see out the result at 2-0, a lurking Ruidiaz corralled a long punt and shrugged off Chris Mavinga before confidently putting the result beyond doubt.

This was no smash-and-grab win for Seattle. Schmetzer and his staff masterminded this triumph.

What was TFC’s identity?

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Days after February’s 4-0 CONCACAF Champions League loss to Panamanian minnows Club Atletico Independiente de la Chorrera, Greg Vanney seemed confused.

Toronto FC’s head coach had repeatedly cited Manchester City as an influence on his team’s approach during preseason, but he then namechecked another club that appeared the antithesis of the English champions.

“The way a team like Atletico Madrid defends – their commitment to defending, their commitment to getting numbers between the ball and the goal, and then how they step out – is something that we’ve also looked at,” Vanney told theScore at the time. “(It’s) something that we need to take on.”

Although a large part of Toronto FC’s postseason run was a credit to Vanney’s in-game management, there was still little indication he’d settled on a distinct team identity by the time the final arrived.

TFC experimented with 10 separate formations during the regular season, according to Whoscored. When the “TAM wingers” – Benezet and Erickson Gallardo – arrived in July to allow Vanney to comfortably deploy a Manchester City-esque 4-3-3, it wasn’t a comfortable fit for Pozuelo. And eventually, it included the hard-working yet limited Tsubasa Endoh rather than Gallardo.

TFC struggled for consistency in both approach and lineup until the playoffs; perhaps it was fitting they were undone by a side with the stellar organization and familiarity of Schmetzer’s ranks.

Will there be changes to Schmetzer’s iconic core?

Omar Vega / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The departure of Osvaldo Alonso before this campaign felt like the end of an era, but the continuity in the Sounders’ lineup remains strong.

Five members of Seattle’s starting XI – Stefan Frei, Roman Torres, Joevin Jones, Cristian Roldan, and Nicolas Lodeiro – were starting their third MLS Cup final. Two of the team’s three goalscorers were included from the first whistle for the 2017 MLS Cup final defeat on TFC’s home turf.

And why would Schmetzer be in a rush to change anything? Frei was assured between the sticks; Torres – perhaps surprisingly given the nod over Xavier Arreaga – bludgeoned a game-high 15 clearances; Jones’ versatility enabled the halftime tweak that put Seattle in control; Roldan put in an all-action midfield display; Lodeiro, the Uruguayan playmaker, posted more key passes than anybody else (five).

Torres, 33, is the likeliest to depart in the offseason, but don’t be surprised if Schmetzer begins the 2020 campaign with many of the players that have defined his miraculous tenure thus far.



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The Andonovski Era – Equalizer Soccer



Photo Copyright Hannah di Lorenzo for The Equalizer

With their 3-2 victory over Sweden on Thursday, the U.S. women’s national team opened up a new chapter in their history, under the guidance of new coach (and old friend) Vlatko Andonovski. This week, Chelsey Bush and John Halloran sat down to talk results, tactics, and that ever elusive roster bubble going into 2020. They also answered your questions!

Listen to this pod on:  Apple  |  Spotify  |  Google Podcasts  |  Stitcher  |  Anchor  |  PodBean  |  Pocket Casts  |  Breaker  |  Overcast  |  RadioPublic

Episode highlights

Carli Lloyd makes her statement — again

Special thanks to our podcast sponsor, FBref.com, where you can find comprehensive NWSL and women’s soccer statistics. Each episode, we bring you the FBRef.com Stat of the Week. Sign up for the Stathead Newsletter to get curated stats, recaps, how-tos and more from the Sports-Reference network in your inbox.

Don’t miss a moment—sign up at stathead.com today!

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What’s next for Zlatan: Examining 7 potential landing spots


Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s spell with the Los Angeles Galaxy came to an end Wednesday. As tributes extolling his stellar two-year tenure emerged, so too did speculation about his next stop.

Guessing where the towering Swede will next ply his trade is a bit like a blind heave of a dart at a map: shrouded in mystery and somewhat tedious, exactly as he’d want it.

In the last month, the 38-year-old teased a La Liga return with a cryptic social media post easily confused for a Marbella timeshare sales pitch; tugged at Neapolitan heartstrings in tempting Napoli bigwig Aurelio De Laurentiis; and became the subject of countless transfer rumors.

What is certain is that Ibrahimovic will want to start, and he’s still got some gas left in the tank for a team that’s short on scoring and depth in attack. Another thing that’s certain is his inability to offer much more, so nix reports of a move to Atletico Madrid to play under the stringent Diego Simeone – that’s not happening.

With that in mind, here’s a look at seven potential landing spots for Ibrahimovic, listed from least likely to most plausible.

China

Before making the MLS switch, Ibrahimovic was enticed by a $100-million bid from an unnamed Chinese club. Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski has since confirmed as much, though two years since the offer, talk of a move to the CSL has died down.

The preseason transfer window in China opens in January. With an average salary ranked sixth among football’s top leagues, money could be enough to lure Ibrahimovic. So could the marketing possibilities for a player who’s willing to shill any product imaginable.

Inter Miami

Jean Catuffe / Getty Images Sport / Getty

David Beckham’s Inter Miami kick off their inaugural MLS campaign in March against the Galaxy, providing the perfect platform for Ibrahimovic to alienate his latest group of supporters. Several big-name players have been linked with Miami, so why not Ibrahimovic?

Well, because his “I came, I saw, I conquered,” assertion all but cemented his departure from MLS. Also, the expansion franchise has been linked with Edinson Cavani, who’s six years younger than his former PSG mate and a far better addition for Becks and Co. Cue the flimsy reports of Cavani to L.A. instead.

Napoli

“With me, San Paolo would always be full, and (Carlo Ancelotti) is a great manager. But the final decision would depend on several things,” Ibrahimovic offered in October. Salivating, Napoli president De Laurentiis confirmed that a potential deal “has been spoken about for a few months.”

Unlike some suitors on this list, though, Napoli doesn’t really need Ibrahimovic. Between Arkadiusz Milik and Fernando Llorente, Ancelotti already has two beanpole forwards best suited to a central role – and despite fears that Dries Mertens will leave on a free transfer in the summer, an attack that also includes Hirving Lozano and Lorenzo Insigne is a bit crowded.

Manchester United

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP / Getty

“I could play easy in the Premier League, so if United needs me, I’m here,” Ibrahimovic said in August. It didn’t sound like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was interested: “If he was 28, not 38 … it would be a big difference,” the gaffer demurred.

That said, Manchester United aren’t blessed with options after failing to replace Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez. Marcus Rashford has started all 12 league affairs, headlining a shallow talent pool up top that also features oft-injured Anthony Martial and 18-year-old Mason Greenwood.

Fiorentina

Only one side in Serie A’s top half has scored fewer times than Fiorentina. With Federico Chiesa manning a central spot despite traditionally thriving in wide roles, an upgrade at striker could boost the club’s European ambitions. Fiorentina’s flirtatious “Watching baseball” tweet is an obvious nod to Ibrahimovic’s parting message.

While Vincenzo Montella’s charges await the progression of teenage Serbian striker Dusan Vlahovic, a short-term move for Ibrahimovic could work wonders. It remains to be seen if billionaire Rocco Commisso’s fresh reign at the club will bankroll such an acquisition, or if he’ll continue the penny-pinching, mismanaging ways of the Della Valle family.

AC Milan

GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP / Getty

Goal-starved AC Milan have naturally been linked with Ibrahimovic, but unlike other potential Serie A suitors, they’ve been tight-lipped on the matter. Ibrahimovic is no stranger to the club, having bagged 56 goals in 85 matches in all competitions over two seasons to go with the Scudetto in 2011.

The Rossoneri sit 14th in Italy’s top flight, just four points adrift of the drop, and only five clubs in Serie A have scored fewer goals than their 11 in 12 matches. Once hailed as a star striker of the future, Krzysztof Piatek’s stock has plummeted rapidly. Amid Financial Fair Play penalties, Milan might need to be crafty if Ibrahimovic fancies making more than his €1.5-million-a-year wage in MLS.

Bologna

Sinisa Mihajlovic managed Ibrahimovic at Inter from 2006-08, and the Swede credited the current Bologna boss with improving his free-kicks. “(He) wants to join us because of his rapport with Sinisa. We’ll do everything to make this madness happen,” Bologna sporting director Walter Sabatini said.

Corriere dello Sport claims Mihajlovic told Ibrahimovic to “come and have fun while entertaining all of Italy,” and Bologna chairman Joey Saputo (who also owns the Montreal Impact) reportedly tabled a year-and-a-half, €8-million deal. Considering 37-year-old rat-tail aficionado Rodrigo Palacio has started eight matches at forward, the Rossoblu could do worse than adding Ibrahimovic.





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