The USMNT came into Friday night’s qualifier under huge pressure, both because of previous bad results, and also with the knowledge that a loss could potentially knock them out of contention for qualifying for the World Cup. The U.S. responded in emphatic fashion, winning 4-0 and putting themselves firmly on course for Russia. Christian Pulisic and Jozy Altidore were the stars of the show, Pulisic with a goal and an assist inside the first 20 minutes, and Altidore with an assist and two goals in the first half, including a penalty kick goal right before halftime that basically sealed the game. The U.S. has a simple task before Tuesday’s last qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago, win and they are in the World Cup. A draw complicates things more, and depending on other results could see the U.S. go to the 4th-place playoff. Friday’s result definitely helped right the ship, and should give the players loads of confidence headed into Tuesday’s game.
The U.S. game ended 4-0, and after the first two goals inside 20 minutes, the U.S. were pretty well in control. Two teams qualified over the weekend in much more dramatic fashion, as Egypt and Costa Rica scored injury time goals to seal their qualification to the World Cup, Egypt in a 2-1 win over the Congo, and Costa Rica in a 1-1 draw against Honduras. Check out the Costa Rican call of the goal that sends them to the World Cup.
The Portland Thorns hosted a playoff game last year in the NWSL playoffs but they lost at home. They were determined to overcome that, and this year they did, beating the Orlando Pride 4-1 and securing a spot in the NWSL Final next weekend in Orlando. 4-1 is a harsh score on the Pride, after falling down 2-0 early they scored to cut the lead to 2-1, and then controlled play for the first part of the second half. They were unable to equalize though, and as happens so often, if you cant take your chances on one end you usually give up a goal on the other, and the Thorns added two more to secure the victory. On Sunday, in the other semifinal North Carolina Courage beat Chicago Red Stars 1-0 on a late goal, and they will take on the Portland Thorns the NWSL final.
Andrea Pirlo announced that this season with NYCFC will be his last, retiring at the age of 38. While clearly past his prime at NYCFC, Pirlo has been a legend for AC Milan, Juventus, and the Italian National team, winning six Serie A titles, two Champions league titles, and the 2006 World Cup with Italy. Pirlo is a legend in World football of his time, for his ability, his technique, his grace, and just the aura of coolness that surrounds him. I for one will miss Pirlo’s presence, and hope that he stays involved in football in some way going forward.
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