By CAITLIN MURRAY
Ever since March of last year, if anyone mentioned the Algarve Cup and the U.S. Women’s National Team together, it was probably wasn’t much to do with the tournament itself. It was probably about the trajectory the team has taken since then: a coach fired, the first drop in FIFA rankings in six years and swirling doubts about whether the dominant U.S. team can live up to its high expectations.
As the Americans return to the site of a historically bad performance that set off alarm bells in 2014, all eyes will be on whether the USWNT can look like a team ready to compete in a Women’s World Cup, which is less than 100 days away.
The USWNT looked sorely out of sync at the last Algarve Cup and some in the USWNT circle blamed then-coach Tom Sermanni’s constant lineup changes. But replacement Jill Ellis has taken a different approach since taking the helm, and now, with the World Cup around the corner, a core group will lead the Americans through the Algarve Cup.
“We’re pretty close to a starting lineup,” Ellis told SBI from Portugal. “But I’ve said from day one that we need to have players that are comfortable starting so we have depth heading into a World Cup, where it takes seven games to win it. The Algarve Cup is a physically taxing tournament with four games in eight days, so there will be some slightly different lineups. But we’re really focusing on the partnership piece between the positions on the field.”
By RYAN TOLMICH
Incumbent FIFA president Sepp Blatter has already secured the support of one of the world’s major confederations.
Reuters reported Wednesday that the South American confederation (CONMEBOL) will support Sepp Blatter’s re-election as FIFA president in May. Blatter flew in to Paraguay on Tuesday and recently had lunch with Paraguayan president Horacio Cartes as well as several members of CONMEBOL’s member nations.
CONMEBOL is currently holding the confederation’s congress, which will see its president, Paraguayan Juan Angel Napout, handed another four-year term.
South America has historically been a friendly region for Blatter, and the confederation is expected to back proposals for a winter World Cup. Blatter is currently running against Michael van Praag of the Netherlands, former Portugal star Luis Figo and FIFA Vice President Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.
Here are some more news and notes to kick off your Wednesday morning: Continue reading
By ALAN CONDON
No deal is done yet, but MLS officials and the MLS Players Union remained locked in negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement late into Tuesday evening in Washington.
MLS and the MLSPU are holding labor negotiations in an effort to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement after the previous agreement expired on January 31. Players say that without a new one, they will refuse to take the field when the new season commences.
According to a report by ESPN, the current offer on the table from MLS would allow players who are 28 years and older, and have played in MLS at least a total of eight years, with the opportunity to choose which MLS team they play for once they are out of contract.
A source close to the current negotiations told ESPN that while players would be able to change teams if they meet the aforementioned requirements, they would only be able to secure a nominal salary increase. A stipulation that would keep MLS teams from bidding against each other for the services of specific players, which was a key concern of MLS owners.
Photo by Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports
By AARON CRANFORD
Cameron Porter only signed a professional contract in February, but his name will forever be known in Montreal Impact folklore with his last-minute, game-tying goal against Pachuca.
The Impact advanced to the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals over Pachuca on the away-goals rule with an aggregate score of 3-3. Montreal are just the third MLS team to advance over a Mexican club in two legs of CCL play.
For a majority of the match, the 21-year-old forward, selected in the third round of the 2015 MLS Draft, was highly unlikely to see playing time, but being down a goal, Klopas sent the rookie on with five minutes remaining plus stoppage time.
Cringeworthy defense from Laurent Ciman allowed Pachuca to take the lead from the penalty spot in the 80th minute, silencing the crowd of more than 30,000 in the Olympic Stadium. But one spectacular run from a rookie and one perfect pass from Calum Mallace saw the MLS advance. Continue reading
By AARON CRANFORD
The end of the English Premier League season is fast approaching, and Aston Villa took a huge step forward to avoid relegation after Christian Benteke netted an injury-time penalty to give them the 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.
Villa manager Tim Sherwood claimed his first win in charge of the home side while they stopped their two-game losing streak in the process.
Gabriel Agbonlahor gave Villa the lead in the 23rd minute with a header, but West Brom midfielder Saido Berahino scored a header of his own, his 12th goal of the year, in the 66th minute to deflate the jovial mood in Villa Park. However, in extra time, Ben Foster took down Matthew Lowton in the penalty area to set up Benteke’s game-winning penalty.
These two will meet again this Saturday.
Check out more of Tuesday’s action and news below: Continue reading