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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Nov. 10, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Team closed out an historic 2019 that saw the team win its fourth World Cup title with a 6-0 win vs. Costa Rica in front of 12,914 fans at TIAA Bank Field.

Lynn Williams had a pair of second half strikes while Carli Lloyd, Morgan Brian and Christen Press also scored. The final tally came via Costa Rica own goal.

The USA heads into 2020 on a winning note after compiling a 20-1-3 record this year, marking 12th time in 35 years of WNT play the team has won 20 or more games in a calendar year.

Like in many matches this year, the USA once again wasted no time taking control of the match. For the second straight game captain Carli Lloyd scored an early goal, this time in just the fourth minute. With 16 goals in 2019, Lloyd finishes the year as the WNT’s top scorer, marking the third time she has led the team in scoring during a calendar year. She tied as the leading scorer once.

Brian, who was playing in the city where she spent almost her entire youth soccer career, then doubled the USA’s advantage in the 10th minute and the USA cruised into the break sporting the 2-0 lead.

U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski, who handed debuts to defenders Midge Purce and Alana Cook when he included them in the USA’s starting XI, made a trio of subs at half time, bringing on goalkeeper Adriana Franch for Ashlyn Harris, Andi Sullivan for veteran defender Becky Sauerbrunn and Williams for Lloyd.

Within five minutes of the restart, Williams had made an impact by scoring the USA’s third and Press added a tally for a second consecutive game with a solo effort in 56th minute to put the U.S. up 4-0. Williams would add her second and the WNT’s fifth in the 68th and nearly had a hat trick but her attempt was cleared off the line by Costa Rica goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez.

Costa Rica was not without its opportunities throughout the game, twice hitting the cross bar and at times possessing the ball well, but ultimately Harris and Franch record just one save a piece while in net for the U.S.

The USA did not let up as the curtain began to come down on the match and their triumphant year, continuing to attack until the final whistle. The pressure paid off in the 86th minute when a Purce cross was deflected for an own goal by Costa Rica defender Stephanie Blanco to provide the final 6-0 margin of victory.

Next on the Schedule: The WNT’s first games of the team’s 2020 schedule will be at the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, which will begin on Jan. 28 with group play in Houston and Edinburgh, Texas before culminating with the semifinals and title game in Carson, California. The USA will hold its traditional training camp in January to begin the year and prepare for Olympic qualifying, which will send two teams to the 2020 Olympic Women’s Football tournament in Japan next summer.
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GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN:
USA – Carli Lloyd (Rose Lavelle), 4th minute: Rose Lavelle evaded a defender near midfield and from the center circle sent a sumptuous pass scything through the heart of the retreating Costa Rica defense that deflected into the stride of Lloyd who was making a run around the left flank. The USA’s leading scorer lifted a one-time shot over the charging goalkeeper into the upper right corner to give Lavelle’s amazing pass a worthy finish. USA 1, CRC 0 [WATCH]

USA – Morgan Brian (Rose Lavelle), 10th minute: Julie Ertz won the ball in midfield and pushed it forward to Lavelle, who danced past a few defenders before slipping the ball into the path of the overlapping Brian. She took one touch into the left side of the box before picking out the lower right corner with a textbook left-footed finish. USA 2, CRC 0 [WATCH]

USA – Lynn Williams (Tobin Heath), 50th minute: The USA countered Costa Rica with Heath collecting the ball in midfield and sending a perfectly weighted ball behind the visitors’ defense for Williams to run down. With a burst of pace, she zipped by one defender to reach the ball before cutting into the middle of the box, drawing out the goalkeeper and then snapping a low drive into the lower left corner. USA 3, CRC 0 [WATCH]

USA – Christen Press, 56th minute: Margaret Purce beat two defenders in the right side of the box and got to the end line to hit a low cross into the heart of the box that was cleared directly to a lurking Press. Having missed an a closer-range opportunity seconds earlier, Press left no doubt by faking to her right before cutting to her left past a defender and drilling a left-footed shot into left corner of the goal. USA 4, CRC 0 [WATCH]

USA – Lynn Williams (Jessica McDonald), 68th minute: Emily Sonnett lofted a cross from the left touchline toward the back right post when McDonald outjumped her defender to nod the ball down to the feel of Williams in the middle of the box. The speedy forward crushed a first-time shot into the underside of the crossbar and it bounced down into the right side of the goal. USA 5, CRC 0 [WATCH]

USA – Own Goal (Stephanie Blanco), 86th minute: As she had throughout the night from her right back position, Margaret Purce made an overlapping run, received the ball and beat a defender in the Costa Rica box. After driving to the end line, her cross attempt was deflected by Costa Rice defender Stephanie Blanco and arched high through the goal box before falling perfectly into the left side netting. USA 6, CRC 0 FINAL

ADDITIONAL NOTES:
With the win, the USWNT is now 15-0-0 all-time vs. Costa Rica, which the USA will play in the final match of Olympic qualifying group play on Feb. 3, 2020 in Houston.

With her goal, Carli Lloyd now has 121 in her WNT career and finishes 2019 with 16 total, the most on the team. It is third most goals she has scored in a calendar year and the third time she has let the team outright scoring in a calendar year. She had 18 goals in 2015 and 17 in 2016 to lead the team.

Morgan Brian scored her second goal of 2019 and eighth of her career.

Lynn Williams scored her fifth and sixth career goals. They were her first tallies for the USA since she scored against Korea Republic on Oct. 22, 2017. Tonight marked her first multi-goal game for the USA.

Christen Press’ goal is her fifth of 2019 and 51st of her WNT career.

Today, two players will earn their first cap as starters: Margaret Purce and Alana Cook.

The last time this happened was Oct. 29, 2016 against Switzerland in Utah when five players earned their first caps: Casey Short, Andi Sullivan, Ashley Hatch and Abby Dahlkemper. Two of them started: Short and Sullivan.

The last time before that was 1/16/08 against Canada in China when Ali Krieger & Becky Sauerbrunn earned their first caps.

In making her debut in the starting XI for the USA, Purce became the first player to have played collegiately at Harvard to earn a WNT cap.

- U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT -

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Costa Rica

Date: Nov. 10, 2019

Competition: International Friendly

Venue: TIAA Bank Field; Jacksonville, Fla.

Attendance: 12,914

Kickoff: 8:08 p.m. ET

Weather: 60 degrees; clear

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F

USA 2 4 6

CRC 0 0 0

USA – Carli Lloyd (Rose Lavelle) 4th minute

USA – Morgan Brian (Rose Lavelle) 10

USA – Lynn Williams (Tobin Heath) 50

USA – Christen Press 56

USA – Lynn Williams (Jessica McDonald) 68

USA – Stephanie Blanco (Own Goal) 86

LINEUPS:

USA: 18-Ashlyn Harris (21-Adrianna Franch, 46); 30-Margaret Purce, 28-Alana Cook, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (25-Andi Sullivan, 46), 14-Emily Sonnett; 8-Julie Ertz, 16-Rose Lavelle, 6-Morgan Brian (20-Allie Long, 63); 17-Tobin Heath (2-Mallory Pugh, 63), 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.) (27-Lynn Williams, 46), 23-Christen Press (22-Jessica McDonald, 63)

Substitutes not used: 26-Casey Short

Head coach: Vlatko Andonovski

CRC: 1-Noelia Bermudez; 2-Gabriela Guillen, 6-Carol Sanchez, 15-Stephanie Blanco, 12-Lixy Rodriguez; 7-Melissa Herrera, 16-Katherine Alvarado, 10-Shirley Cruz (capt.), 14- Priscilla Chinchilla; 9-Gloriana Villalobos (17-Maria Paula Salas, 66), 11-Raquel Rodriguez (4-Mariana Benavides, 86)

Substitutes not used: 3-Maria Paula Elizondo, 5-Maria Jose Morales, 13-Dinnia Diaz, 18-Priscilla Tapia, 19-Valery Sandoval, 20-Viviana Chinchilla

Not eligible: 8-Daniela Cruz

Head coach: Amelia Valverde

Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 17 / 6
Shots on Goal: 7 / 2
Saves: 2 / 0
Corner Kicks: 12 / 1
Fouls: 5 / 7
Offside: 6 / 0

Misconduct Summary:

None

Officials:

Referee: Karen Abt (USA)

Assistant Referee 1: Brooke Mayo (USA)

Assistant Referee 2: Deleana Quan (USA)

4th Official: Katja Koroleva (USA)

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STANFORD — Junior Catarina Macario scored twice in the first half hour as the overall top-seeded Stanford women advanced to their third consecutive College Cup with a resounding 5-1 home victory Friday over previously unbeaten Brigham Young in the quarterfinals of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament.

Macario, the reigning college player of the year, scored off two assists from forward Madison Haley and another from freshman forward Sophia Smith. Kiki Pickett and Sam Tran also scored before halftime as the Cardinal (22-1-0) won its 17th consecutive game in front of 2,041 fans at Cagan Stadium.

Stanford, which reached its ninth College Cup in 12 years, will play Pac-12 rival UCLA on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium in the national semifinals.

“It took us a few minutes to settle in today, but I was thrilled with the result and am excited for this chance to play for a championship so close to home,” Stanford coach Paul Radcliffe said.

Chloe Castaneda and Mia Fishel each had two goals as second-seeded UCLA (18-4-1) upset defending national champion Florida State 4-0 to advance. A third Pac-12 team, Washington State, also reached the College Cup by stunning second-seeded South Carolina on the road when Mykiaa Minniss scored a golden goal 10 minutes into the first overtime.

The Cougars (16-6-1), who also knocked off top-seeded Virginia, reached their first College Cup in school history. They will face top-seed North Carolina (23-1-1) at 4 p.m. Friday. The national championship match is Sunday at Avaya Stadium at 5:30 p.m.

Maycee Bell scored on a header in the 69th minute as the Tar Heels held off No. 2 USC 3-2 to stop an all-West Coast Final Four. North Carolina reached the College Cup for the third time in four years. It has won an NCAA record 21 titles and is appearing in its record 29th College Cup.

Stanford will appear in its 10th College Cup after a year with one of the country’s most potent offenses.

BYU started fast against the Cardinal, which has outscored tournament opponents 26-1 in four games. The Cougars (21-1-1) almost scored in the second minute but Cardinal defenders blocked a strong shot. BYU kept pressing until Stanford began to hold the ball and mount attacks.

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“We knew we needed to settle it down,” defender Sam Hiatt said. “Everyone started to take an extra touch and maybe put a little extra focus to keep possession.”
The Cardinal broke through in the 17th minute when Haley played a ball to Macario in the penalty area. The midfielder scored easily with a shot into the top corner. About 13 minutes later, she scored her 32nd goal of the season — her ninth of the tournament.

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The 23 players who will represent the U.S. women’s national team at the 2019 World Cup were announced on Thursday, with the usual names like Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe on the squad. As it goes with every squad selection, there are some perceived snubs who maybe should have made the team over others.

Two of the biggest surprises on the team are midfielder Morgan Brian who has suffered through injuries and defender Ali Krieger, who is 34 years old. As a result, the general consensus of the two players who maybe deserved to be ahead of them are defender Casey Short and midfielder McCall Zerboni. Here’s what to know:

The case for Short
The U.S. needs some depth at left back, and the 28-year-old is a more than viable option. She’s been in great form with the Chicago Red Stars and showed that form at the SheBelieves Cup and the CONCACAF Women’s Championship. She has pace, she hustles, and she’s someone who will do the dirty work for her team. She’s also proven she can help in attack with four goals in 47 games for her club.

She’s been consistent with the U.S. over the last few years and there isn’t really any depth behind Crystal Dunn on the left flank. Certainly, her absence is the most questionable decision.

The case for Zerboni
At 32, she’s a late bloomer but somebody who has really impressed. She was called up for the first time in 2017, two months shy of her 31st birthday, making her the oldest player to earn a first cap for the USWNT. McCall is a high-quality midfielder who is calm on the ball, doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and has a ton of experience. The one downside was a broken elbow against Chile in September which saw her miss the CONCACAF Women’s Championship. Had she been able to continue to impress there on a more difficult stage than friendlies, who knows what would have happen.

With coach Jill Ellis, it certainly makes sense to trust her after the last World Cup. But if Brian doesn’t bring enough to this team in the middle, if there is an obvious hole behind Dunn, and if the U.S. doesn’t win, hard questions will be asked.

You can watch the 2019 World Cup on fuboTV (Try for free).

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The cheeky fire-starters at Eight by Eight magazine knew exactly what they were doing when they waited six whole months until the business end of the Women’s World Cup to publish the interview with Megan Rapinoe they had recorded in January. At least as much as the impish American midfielder knew what she was provoking when asked whether the US women’s national soccer team she captains intended to visit Donald Trump if they managed the exceedingly rare feat of repeating as world champions.

“I’m not going to the fucking White House,” Rapinoe flatly stated. “No fucking way will we be invited to the White House.”

Megan Rapinoe calls for more investment in US women’s game

The release of the Rapinoe interview during the last week of June was a journalistic depth charge timed for maximum impact. The USA women, who had only just outrun an early-tournament controversy where they had become perhaps the first team in World Cup history to come under criticism for scoring too many goals (yes, really), were one day removed from seeing off Spain to set up a blockbuster quarter-final with the hosts, France, when the teaser clip dropped and went viral.

Trump, an instinctive counter-puncher who never met a spotlight he didn’t try to hijack, fired back the next day with a warning to Rapinoe to not “disrespect” her country: “Women’s soccer player, @meganrapino, just stated that she is ‘not going to the F … ing White House if we win’. Other than the NBA … teams love coming to the White House. I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!”

Nothing about the presidential riposte came as a surprise, least of all the lie that he likes soccer or that he initially addressed it to the wrong Megan Rapinoe. Ever since he seized on Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police violence as a wellspring of easy political points, Trump has regularly co-opted sport as not merely a proxy battle in the culture wars but a primary theatre. Suddenly Rapinoe and co were no longer solely up against the growing cluster of European powers that have closed the competitive gap over the past decade, but what seemed like the entire American right.

She has compelled the country to engage in conversations once considered forbidden in the public square
Rapinoe was openly backed by her teammates as the back-and-forth with Trump came to overshadow the team’s looming showdown with a hotly tipped France side eager to knock the Americans off their perch. Alex Morgan also made it known she wouldn’t go to the White House, while Ali Krieger threw her support behind Rapinoe, saying Trump was angered by women he “cannot control or grope” and decrying what she described as the administration’s “fight against LGBTQ+ citizens, immigrants & our most vulnerable”.

But Rapinoe, a lesbian with a taste for the fight whose unapologetic political views have made her a lightning rod for conservatives, was always the primary target, with more skin in the game than anyone else. Not that she would have it any other way.

The rest is history. The purple-haired talisman, who turned 34 during the tournament, bounced back from a somewhat ponderous showing in group play to score pivotal goals in three of her side’s final four matches, earning the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer and the Golden Ball as the best overall player, while helping the US become the third country to defend successfully a World Cup, men’s or women’s, since the second world war.

Even after the USA returned home after defeating the Netherlands for their record fourth world title, Rapinoe’s right-wing critics redoubled in volume and numbers – no doubt irked by the pictures beamed around the globe of fronting a ticker-tape parade in lower Manhattan with the World Cup trophy in one hand and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame in the other.

Megan Rapinoe
FacebookTwitterPinterest Drinking it in: Megan Rapinoe downs champagne on the USA’s victory parade in New York.

The Fox News anchor Howard Kurtz accused Rapinoe of using her platform “to mar or spoil or tar what could have been this great unifying victory”, while the conservative pundit Ben Shapiro said the midfielder was getting lucrative contracts only because she’s an “outspoken lesbian” who just happens to be good at soccer.

Piers Morgan, who had previously hit out at Rapinoe’s statuesque pose after the second of her two goals to beat France, called her unbearable, while the Fox News host Jesse Watters decried her “unpatriotic” behaviour, saying it undermined the team’s campaign for equal pay. Sebastian Gorka, a former White House aide, invoked Rapinoe (“this woman who dyes her hair, who thinks she’s a big warrior”) to allege the US team were out “to destroy everything that is wholesome in our country and in our Judeo-Christian civilisation”.

Everything about Rapinoe – the flamboyant hairstyle, the victory pose that launched a thousand memes, the unrepentant egotism – makes them angry. She was the first white athlete to take a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner in solidarity with Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement in 2016, and drew criticism for standing with her hands at her sides during the World Cup while representing the US on a global stage. She has consistently spoken up for LGBT rights and has also been one of the faces of a gender-discrimination complaint filed by a group of US women’s players alleging they are paid less than their male counterparts. Not since Kaepernick has a single athlete made them so uncomfortable.

But not unlike the exiled former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, she has compelled the country to engage in conversations once considered forbidden in public square – turning the afterglow of her team’s championship on vital matters of LGBTQ rights as well as racial and gender equality.

And no, she never made it to the White House.

“I don’t think anyone on the team has any interest in lending the platform that we’ve worked so hard to build and the things that we fight for and the way that we live our life,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper during the team’s extended victory lap. “I don’t think that we want that to be co-opted or corrupted by this administration.”

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When asked whether she had a message for Trump, she took a breath, broke the fourth wall and spoke: “Your message is excluding people. You’re excluding me, you’re excluding people that look like me, you’re excluding people of colour, you’re excluding Americans that maybe support you.”

She went on: “I think that we need to have a reckoning with the message that you have and what you’re saying about ‘Make America great again’. I think that you’re harking back to an era that was not great for everyone. It might have been great for a few people. Maybe America is great for a few people right now. But it’s not great for enough Americans.”

Win before you talk? No problem. And by taking the fight to enemies foreign and domestic, our purple-haired champion and voice of the disenfranchised ensured the Summer of Rapinoe will be long remembered.

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CHICAGO (Nov. 27, 2019) – U.S. Soccer has announced the nominees for the 2019 Young Male, Young Female and Player of the Year with a Disability awards. Voting for the candidates begins Nov. 27 and closes on Dec. 6 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The winner will be announced during the second week of December.

The Young Male Player of the Year field showcases a number of rising stars who have played for the U.S. Men’s National Team and the Youth National Teams this year. Defender Sergiño Dest shined for the USA at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland and parlayed a sterling early season with Ajax into repeated senior MNT call-ups that will continue to come after he became cap-tied to the U.S. in November’s Concacaf Champions League match vs. Canada. Midfielder Paxton Pomykal saw his star rise as he helped lead the charge for the U.S. in Poland and turned consistent MLS performances into his first senior Men’s National Team appearance. Center back Chris Richards made a big move to Bayern Munich and showcased why Germany’s biggest club signed him as he earned a spot on the U-20 World Cup’s 10 players to watch list. Gianluca Busio had a breakout year for club and country as the most experienced professional player to ever suit up for a U-17 USMNT that qualified for a record 17th U-17 World Cup, while teammate Gio Reyna was the U-17s’ top scorer and secured a move to German powerhouse club Borussia Dortmund. Ricardo Pepi also contributed to the U-17 USMNT’s success while making his mark in the pro ranks with USL League One outfit North Texas SC, as his goals helped fire the side to the league title game.

The Young Female Player of the Year nominees represent a group of talented players who have all seen time with U.S. Youth Women’s National Teams this year. Goalkeeper Casey Murphy returned from beginning her pro career in Europe to mind the nets for Reign FC, helping the side to a fourth-place NWSL finish and semifinal playoff appearance – a body of work that earned her a call-up to the WNT’s December ID camp. U-17 WNT forward Trinity Byars ran rampant through the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, scoring 31 goals in 18 games to help Solar Soccer Club win the U-16/17 National Championship while also shining at the international level. Defender Naomi Girma entered her second cycle with the U-20 WNT and led Stanford as a sophomore captain, while U-20 teammate Brianna Pinto has helped UNC to a 22-1-1 record; both have earned a call-up to the WNT’s December Identification camp. Rounding out the field is forward Allyson Sentnor. The Massachusetts native was recently named Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKid of the Year and is the U-17 WNT’s leading scorer this year, despite playing up an age group.

This year’s Player of the Year with a Disability field features Steve Everett, a player, coach and organizer for Power Soccer, who is working hard to expand access and investment in the sport. Holly Hunter of the U.S. Deaf Women’s National Team is a strong defender for U.S. Soccer Development Academy club Legends FC who has been called into a pair of U.S. Youth National Team camps, while U.S. Para 7-a-Side striker Nick Mayhugh is on the ballot again for his second straight year of superlative play for the USPNT, which achieved two historic tournament finishes this year thanks to Mayhugh’s goals and leadership. Michael Schmid completes the list of nominees after a superb year for the U.S. Deaf Men’s National Team, winning the Golden Boot while helping the USA win a gold medal at the 2019 Pan-American Games in Chile.

Young Female, Male & Player with a Disability Bios

Past Player of the Year Award Winners

Votes for U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards are collected from National Team coaches, senior National Team players who have earned a cap in 2019, members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, the U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, select media members as well as former players and administrators. Nominees were selected by coaches of the respective National Teams.

Players cannot win the Young Male or Young Female Player of the Year award more than once.

The award for Young Player of the Year was first presented in 1998 with Josh Wolff and Cindy Parlow winning for the Young Male and Young Female category, respectively. The Player of the Year with a Disability award was first given in 2012 with Felicia Schroeder earning the honor.

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NASHVILLE — Saturday was lining up to be a near-perfect day for Adrianna Franch.

Her fiancé was in town to watch her play with the United States women’s national team in the SheBelieves Cup in Nashville. And Franch would get to wear the last name of her childhood idol, Briana Scurry, on the back of her kit because of a promotion the team was doing. Each player wore the name of a woman that inspired them.

“I watched the ’99 World Cup. I was 9,” Franch said. “I thought about this hard and who I looked up to as a kid, and it was her. That’s who I wanted to be.”

While Franch knew her fiancé would be in the stands and that she’d get to wear that special jersey, she didn’t know – until just a few days before – she’d also get her first national team cap in the Music City.

She became just the eighth goalkeeper to start for the team since 2001, joining an elite group that includes Scurry.

“It’s a beautiful experience to get the first cap and represent her name,” Franch said.

Unfortunately, Saturday in Nashville didn’t have a perfect ending. Like Andre 3000 once said, “You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather.”

The U.S. drew 2-2 with England, and after the match, the attitude among U.S. players marching through the tunnel at Nissan Stadium seemed like a sour one. It was a draw that felt much more like a loss.

“It’s not the result that we wanted, but we’ll learn from it and move forward,” Franch said.

Still, the day was an important step for Franch. Aside from a costly mistake that resulted in a goal, she played well and kept a talented England team at bay for most of the day. As the 2019 World Cup in France looms, Franch showed that she can be relied on.

U.S. head coach Jill Ellis was committed to giving Alyssa Naeher the start in goal in all three SheBelieves Cup games, but the 30-year-old from Penn State suffered a shoulder injury during a draw against Japan in the tournament opener in Chester, Pa., Feb. 27.

Suddenly, Ellis had a choice to make. In Nashville, she could either go with veteran Ashlyn Harris, a proven commodity who was a backup to Hope Solo on the 2015 World Cup team, or Franch, who had never been capped.

It was time. Ellis wanted to see what she had in the 28-year-old Franch.

“It’s getting an opportunity, whether your hand is forced or not, but it’s an answer that we wanted and needed. And we wanted (Franch) to have a cap,” Ellis said. “I thought AD had been really good in training. And I’ve seen Ashlyn, so it was giving AD an opportunity.”

On short notice, Franch impressed. The 5-foot-9 Kansas native mostly played well and looked comfortable, but made an error in the 36th minute. Mallory Pugh played a pass backward to the defense, but a pair of U.S. defenders let the ball roll to Franch and she picked it up. A referee whistled and awarded England with an indirect free kick.

“I was on the sideline and I was watching it, so I feel like maybe that could’ve gone either way,” U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn said. “You could say that it wasn’t a direct backpass to the goalkeeper. It was kind of an in-betweener. It’s unfortunate.”

England’s captain, Steph Houghton, curved the ball through a crack in the defense and into the net. Franch stretched out for an admirable attempt at a save, but it was a shot that few goalkeepers on the planet could’ve halted.

After the match, Franch acknowledged her blunder, but wanted to move on quickly. She said she didn’t call off the two defenders who let the ball roll through, but she wasn’t about to use that as an excuse, either.

“It was just a little mishap and we’ll learn from it,” Franch said. “We keep learning from our mistakes and strengths.”

The second ball Franch allowed in the net came in the 52nd minute. After the U.S. was dispossessed in its own half, a few one-touch passes threw the Stars and Stripes’ defense into a frenzy and Nikita Parris slipped through unmarked on the right side. She sliced a ball by Franch, beating her with a low shot to the far post.

“We did a lot of good things out there, but it’s not good enough,” Franch said. “It’s not the result we wanted.”

Franch tallied two saves on the day and the U.S. equalized. Despite her error, Ellis and Franch’s teammates were impressed, especially considering the circumstances.

“Other than the one error of picking up the ball — which again, is a valuable freaking lesson — I thought she had good presence in there and in the kicking game,” Ellis said. “For her first game, I thought she was solid.”

Added Tierna Davidson: “I think she played really well. She was really calm with her feet, very composed under the pressure the forwards were giving her, and that’s a lot that we ask of our keepers, to be able to possess off the back. That’s very important for us.”

Sauerbrunn chimed in too, saying, “For her first cap, this is a tough game to come into and I thought she handled it really well. (Picking up the back pass is) something you’re going to learn from and probably never do again.”

It’s been a long journey for Franch to get her first cap with the U.S. national team. She started getting invited to U.S. camps at the U-20 level in 2010 when she was playing college ball at Oklahoma State, where she was twice a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, twice an All-American and a four-time All-Big 12 selection.

Franch became the first goalkeeper taken in the National Women’s Soccer League draft when the Western New York Flash selected her with the sixth overall pick in 2013. Franch tallied six saves in her debut and was seen as a rising star in the sport, but a knee injury forced her to miss the 2014 season. After a year off, and then a season where she played for a club in Norway, Franch returned to the NWSL with the Portland Thorns in 2016. Since then, she’s helped the Thorns win the NWSL Shield in 2016, the championship in 2017 and she’s twice been named the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year.

2019 could be a big year for Franch’s soccer career. She has her first national team cap and soon, she’ll report to camp with the Thorns to try and help them reach the NWSL final again, which they lost last year to the North Carolina Courage.

And she has a real shot in making Ellis’ roster for the World Cup. Three goalkeepers will go and Franch is slotted in third place on the depth chart.

Should something like Naeher’s shoulder injury occur in France, Ellis now knows she can rely on Franch to be ready to play at a high level with little notice.

“The goalkeeper position is hard. At the end of the day, all three of us . . . That’s what we work for every day,” Franch said. “You try to have the same preparation because, I mean, a goalkeeper can get injured in a warmup or anything like that. You have to be prepared.”

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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Each year the Chicago Red Stars return to the NWSL playoffs, the questions about winning in the playoffs and getting past the semifinal barrier became more prominent.

Each year, the players and coach Rory Dames would be asked about how they could reach the final. After four straight defeats, they had to face the reality that until they won a semifinal, the questions would remain.

The Red Stars were finally able to answer those questions in a definitive way Sunday with a 1-0 win against the Portland Thorns. The memories of four straight semifinal losses may still linger for some, but now it’s about the next step.

“It’s nice to be able to finally get there,” Dames said. “We’ve been close, but I’d be lying if I said that we’ve accomplished all that we want to do this year.”

Dames has been the coach all five years, but most of the roster has turned over. Only four active Red Stars were on the first playoff team in 2015: Vanessa DiBernardo, Danielle Colaprico, Julie Ertz and Arin Wright. Wright was unavailable due to illness, while the other three started Sunday.

For DiBernardo, the win was more about excitement than relief. She noted how things were different late in the season. The Red Stars entered the playoffs on a five-match winning streak.

“We’ve finished out this season on a high and I think in the past it’s always kind of not been like that so this year’s a little bit different,” DiBernardo said. “We just tell ourselves that every year is different. It’s a different team. It’s a different year. The playoffs in the past are so different. It’s exciting to just get over the hump.”

So what was different about this team that allowed them to get over that hump?

“I don’t think there’s anything specific,” DiBernardo said. “We’ve had this core group for so long and we’ve been able to grow together and play well together. Being able to keep that chemistry is huge. We’ve had four other semifinals so we’re used to the pressure, we know what to expect and I think that’s big.”

Sam Kerr, the lone goal scorer Sunday, is in her second year with the Red Stars. For her, the sting of a playoff defeat is concentrated on last year. Kerr recalled last year’s 2-0 loss to the North Carolina Courage.

The Red Stars will face the Courage again, but this time it will be in the final.

“I think honestly last year, the loss in the semifinal, we feel like we kind of let ourselves down,” Kerr said. “We had worked so hard. Everyone just came back with a different mentality that this is going to be our year. We’ve stuck together. People have come in and out all year. It’s just been about the team. We’ve got a lot of big personalities in our team, but no big egos. I think that’s really unique in this team and, like I said, we totally deserved to be there and I’m so happy to be a part of it.”

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CHICAGO (Dec. 4, 2019) – Florida State midfielder and U.S. Youth National Teams veteran Jaelin Howell has replaced University of North Carolina defender Emily Fox on the U.S. Women’s National Team Identification Camp roster. The 24-player training camp will take place from Dec. 9-14 in Bradenton, Florida.

Fox, who has three USWNT caps, suffered a knee injury in UNC’s NCAA quarterfinal playoff victory against USC on Nov. 29.

Howell has trained with the USWNT once previously, back in 2017 when she was 17. She played for the USA at both the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan and the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France.

She started all 23 games she played for the Seminoles this season and scored five goals with four assists from her defensive midfield position, helping FSU into the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals. During the 2018 season, she played in 26 matches as a freshman with 24 starts in helping the Seminoles win the NCAA Championship.

U.S. WNT ROSTER – DECEMBER TRAINING CAMP (CLUB/SCHOOL; WNT CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 3/0), Casey Murphy (Reign FC; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Maycee Bell (UNC; 0/0), Malia Berkely (Florida State; 0/0), Imani Dorsey (Sky Blue FC; 0/0), Naomi Girma (Stanford; 0/0), Sarah Gorden (Chicago Red Stars; 0/0), Hailie Mace (Rosengård FC, SWE; 3/0), Kiara Pickett (Stanford; 0/0), Margaret Purce (Portland Thorns FC; 1/0)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars; 2/0), Vanessa DiBernardo (Chicago Red Stars; 0/0), Jordan DiBiasi (Washington Spirit; 0/0), Jaelin Howell (Florida State; 0/0); Sarah Killion (Sky Blue FC; 0/0), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 15/1), Brianna Pinto (UNC; 0/0), Ashley Sanchez (UCLA; 0/0)

FORWARDS (6): Bethany Balcer (Reign FC; 0/0), Madison Haley (Stanford; 0/0), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 2/0), Paige Monaghan (Sky Blue FC; 0;0), Sophia Smith (Stanford; 0/0), Ally Watt (Texas A&M; 0/0)

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A native San Diegan with a wealth of experience playing in Major League Soccer is the first player that USL Championship expansion side San Diego Loyal SC has signed.

The club announced Wednesday that it had agreed to a contract with fullback Sal Zizzo for the 2020 season. No terms of the deal were disclosed.

Zizzo, 32, had actually announced his retirement from professional soccer in May, but told the San Diego Union Tribune that it was “worth returning to the game” when Loyal SC head coach Landon Donovan called him.

“Playing professionally in my hometown is something I’ve always dreamed of doing,” Zizzo said in a statement from the club.

Zizzo added on Twitter that he is “extremely excited to be a part of” Loyal SC, and he “can’t wait to get started.”

Born and raised in San Diego, Zizzo played his college soccer at UCLA and turned pro to sign a contract with Bundesliga side Hannover 96. Zizzo appeared in nine Bundesliga games during his time there, and also played in 45 games and scored eight goals with fourth-tier Hannover 96 II.

After four seasons in Germany, Zizzo came to MLS in 2010, signing with Chivas USA. He’d go on to play for the Portland Timbers, Sporting Kansas City, the New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United FC. Known for his electric play along the wing and ability to hip in crosses, Zizzo notched 17 assists over his 168 games played in MLS and also scored four goals. Zizzo typically slotted in at right back, but has also played left back and further up the pitch as a winger.

Zizzo appeared in six MLS playoff matches – all with the Red Bulls – and helped the club capture the Supporters’ Shield in 2015. He was on the Atlanta United squad that won the MLS Cup in 2018, too.

Internationally, Zizzo was capped just once by the senior U.S. national team, but also starred for the U.S. U-20 side in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. He started all five games in the competition, helping the U.S. reach the quarterfinals.

Loyal SC will begin play in the USL Championship on 2020 at Torero Stadium on the campus of the University of San Diego. In addition to Donovan, the club’s technical staff also includes former USWNT player Shannon MacMillan as an advisor, former Sacramento Republic FC coach Paul Buckle as an advisor, and Carrie Taylor – who is the first woman to be an assistant coach in this era of the USL Championship.

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With a school-record of 30 goals this year, the Brazil-born, California-bred Macario is being compared to Mia Hamm and Marta, two of history’s greatest players.

“She will score goals that will never be forgotten,” said Chris Lemay, her former San Diego club coach who now leads Utah Valley University.

“She’s got everything,” Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe added. “She’s got great technical ability. She’s got great athleticism. She’s got great speed, strength and power.”

But it is what Macario, 20, does not have yet that could determine whether she plays for the United States. Her quest to represent America in international competition depends on first securing U.S. citizenship and then getting approval from FIFA, the organization that oversees soccer.

If the stars align just right, Macario could be eligible to play for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics next summer.

“It’s definitely the country I want to play for,” she said, adding, “if they would like to have me.”

Otherwise, she would play for Brazil or just sit out the next three years until FIFA’s country-to-country rules allow her to play for the U.S. team even without citizenship.

For now, Macario worries about leading overall No. 1-seeded Stanford to the College Cup, Dec. 6-8 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. The Cardinal (21-1-0) must get past undefeated Brigham Young in the quarterfinals Friday to reach its ninth College Cup in 12 years. Stanford won soccer’s version of the Final Four in 2011 and again in 2017, Macario’s freshman season.

This year, Macario, the reigning college player of the year, has obliterated the school record book. With the potential for three more games, she already has broken season records for points (83), goals (30) and assists (23). Macario passed World Cup stars Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press, who played at Stanford a decade ago, in all three categories and is expected to graduate in 2021 as the all-time career leader, as well.

As an attacking midfielder, she has scored seven goals in three NCAA tournament games this year, including a four-goal, five-assist performance in the opener against Prairie View A&M.

“She can finish from pretty much anywhere,” said Jessie Fleming, a UCLA defensive midfielder who played every minute for Canada in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Lemay, a former Cal assistant when U.S. star Alex Morgan played in Berkeley, likes to say that Macario “is on the path to becoming the greatest women’s soccer player to play the game.”

The question is whether that will happen in a Brazilian or American uniform.

Macario got a green card at age 15 under the category “alien of extraordinary ability,” she said. She is eligible to apply for citizenship in December, but citizenship alone does not make Macario immediately eligible to play for the United States. FIFA tightened its transfer rules 15 years ago to stop federations from recruiting players with no ties to the country. Naturalized players have to show they came to a country to better their lives beyond playing soccer.

However, Macario could wait until she turns 23 and then play for the United States because, under FIFA rules, players who have lived continuously in the country for at least five years after the age of 18 are eligible, even if they are not citizens. The timeline would make Macario eligible to play in the 2023 World Cup. But waiting until age 23 would make it difficult to crack the U.S. national team roster, which is filled with many world-class players.

So far, Macario has participated in U.S., under-23 national training camps without appearing in international matches.

Playing for the United States is one of her goals because “California is where she learned to play soccer and where she feels at home,” her father, Jose Macario, wrote in an email from Brazil. “Though she was born in Brazil, her values are American. I like to say, a parent is not who birthed you but rather who gave you love and support, and the U.S. gave her all the conditions to help her through her development as both a player and person.”

A spokeswoman for the Brazilian soccer federation said Friday in an email that officials in Brazil would not stand in the way if Macario decides to play for the United States.

— — —

Playing soccer was Macario’s passion from the start.

“I had one doll growing up,” she said. “Someone gave it to me expecting me to like dolls. But I liked balls.”

Macario started playing soccer at age 4, joining her older brother, Estevao, on the field. They would play on the beach, in the streets or on courts for a five-on-five game called futsal.

Jose Macario said he quickly realized that his daughter had a gift. Unlike many Brazilian parents of girls, the Macarios encouraged their daughter’s interest in the “beautiful game,” the father said.

When she was 7, the Macarios moved from the Brazilian coast to the capital in Brasilia, where her mother, Ana Maria, is a surgeon. For the next five years, Catarina Macario played on boys’ teams. But girls are prohibited from participating with boys’ club teams after age 12.

“It is such a male sport in Brazil they really don’t care about girls,” she said. “The U.S., it’s just a hub for supporting women.”

At about the same time, Jose and Ana Maria considered options to improve their children’s lives, especially when it came to education. They decided Jose would get a student visa and take the children to the United States as his dependents. Ana Maria stayed behind to work.

The father searched the internet to find the top youth soccer clubs in the United States because his daughter wanted to continue playing.

After considering Dallas, they settled in San Diego. Jose Macario sent the San Diego Surf FC an email inquiring about the possibilities of his daughter playing there.

Lemay, her former coach in San Diego, said he used to receive inquiries from around the world like the one Macario sent. Most of the players were not as good as advertised, he said.

“I didn’t expect her to step into what was arguably the best U.S. 14 club team in the country and blow my mind away,” he said.

Club teammate Bianca Caetano-Ferrara remembered the moment she saw her friend on the field, the day the Macarios arrived in San Diego from the airport. The striker watched the newcomer in a shooting drill.

“Cat took a touch and had a ‘banger’ shot,” Caetano-Ferrara said of Macario taking a pass and kicking the ball into the back of the net. “That was a good day.”

Caetano-Ferrara, who also plays for Stanford, and her Brazilian-born mother, Eliane, had a big role in helping the Macarios settle in San Diego. At the time, only her teenage brother Estevao, now a film studies major at USC, spoke English. The Caetano-Ferraras acted as translators as Jose Macario searched for schools and a place to live.

Bianca Caetano-Ferrara, who has had three knee surgeries in the past two years, has played for Brazil’s youth national team. Down the road, the U.S.-born forward might be playing for Brazil against Brazilian-born Macario, representing America.

For now, they love playing together at Stanford. It was Caetano-Ferrera who got the assist when Macario broke the school record for goals scored in a single season.

Asked to describe one of her spellbinding goals, Macario said, “Half the times, whoa, what just happened?”

Caetano-Ferrara interrupted her.

“I feel like you just know,” she said of those magical shots.

Someday, the rest of the soccer world is likely to know, too.