Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo playing in Major League Soccer seems unrealistic, right? Well, it may not be such a crazy thought after all.
Ronaldo reportedly told Orlando City captain Nani that he will “probably” end up playing in MLS before he retires, according to ESPN.
“A couple of years ago, he told me that he will probably end up in America,” Nani told ESPN. “It’s not 100 percent, but probably. There is a chance.”
Nani has been teammates with Ronaldo at both the club and international level, having shared the flanks while playing for Premier League side Manchester United and international side Portugal. So, it’s fair to say that the two know each other very well.
If Ronaldo decides to play in MLS, it’ll likely be towards the end of his career. The forward would be following in the footsteps of players like David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thierry Henry and David Villa in winding down his career in America. At age 35, that time may be coming very soon.
D.C. United have announced that following the conclusion of the 2019 MLS season, star forward Wayne Rooney will be departing the club to continue his career in England in order to be closer to family. It was announced today that, with the consent of D.C. United, Rooney completed negotiations to become a player-coach for Derby County in the English Championship in 2020. “I remain fully focused on giving my all for the team for the rest of this season and repaying the support shown by the Black-and-Red faithful by hopefully delivering an MLS Cup to Audi Field,” Wayne Rooney, said. “My time in Major League Soccer is something I will always be proud of. The supporters in the Screaming Eagles, Barra Brava and District Ultras have made my time in America so enjoyable. While the decision to move home was a tough one, family is everything to us and we make this change to be closer to the ones we love back in England. The opportunity to go back home and start the next step of my career in coaching was the factor that made my mind up. I would like to thank everyone at D.C. United for the incredible support my family and I have received over my two seasons at the club.” “After speaking to Wayne and understanding his difficult situation of being so far away from his family, we have accepted that this is the best decision for all parties,” Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, D.C. United Co-Chairmen, said. “Our main focus now is the 2019 MLS Season and ensuring we make a push towards the playoffs with the ultimate goal of bringing an MLS Cup back to the District. Wayne is an exceptional leader and one of the most iconic players to play the game so we look forward to his continued contributions to the team this season.” Terms of the deal with Derby County are undisclosed. Rooney will become a club ambassador for D.C. United. Rooney and D.C. United are currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference Standings, just six points out of the top spot, and will face the LA Galaxy at home on August 11 (7:30 PM ET, FS1/FOX Deportes).
Media and fans: “The United States vs. France is the real Final of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.” England: “Nah, football’s coming home.” Off the right foot of American icon and “President ” Megan Rapinoe, the U.S. got through its toughest test, tournament hosts France, with relative ease considering a third goal was controversially removed from the scoreboard. The Three Lionesses will want to show they’re more than a mere stepping stone standing in the way of the Americans’ union with destiny.
Sweden scoring two goals in a single game while facing actual competition was a bet worth avoiding following the Round of 16. The fact the Blue and Yellow achieved such a feat against Germany, the tournament’s best team at the start of the quarterfinals, is downright astonishing, but that victory came with what could be a massive loss. That surprising match outcome only bolsters an opinion held by American optimists back on June 1:
This World Cup is the United States’ to lose.
Australia got jobbed
Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA
There’s a sad irony in Norway surrendering three goals to England on June 27 considering a trio of decisions aided The Grasshoppers past Australia in the Round of 16. No disrespect meant to the side missing protesting Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg, but Norway was nearly run off the pitch before halftime of its quarterfinal showdown with England, and neutrals were left wishing Sam Kerr and the Matildas were, instead, serving as the opposition. England likely would’ve toppled Australia and maybe scored four or five facing that lackluster back line. Unless you’re a Norway supporter, you’re lying to yourself if you believe the right team advanced to the Round of Eight to lose to the Three Lionesses.
Best in the world?
Martin Richard/Presse Sports via USA TODAY Sports
“Lucy Bronze is the best player in the world, without a shadow of a doubt,” England boss Phil Neville said in the post-match interview following his side’s victory over Norway, as noted by the BBC. Neville isn’t alone in sharing that opinion. The 27-year-old, two-time PFA Women’s Player of the Year winner produced a masterclass performance in the quarterfinals, delivering one of the tournament’s top hammer-strikes and ensuring she will receive an opportunity to shut down Megan Rapinoe on the biggest stage of them all. Bronze vs. Rapinoe could be worth the price of admission on its own.
Photo by PA Images/Sipa USA
One’s immediate reaction to the Netherlands pitching a shutout in its 2-0 win over Italy on Saturday may be to point out the Azzurre aren’t necessarily known for their attacking flair and also that oppressive heat which caused multiple stoppages for hydration breaks limited both sides. That’s fair, but Holland’s first clean sheet of the World Cup came against a side that put two past Australia, scored five times against Jamaica and turned a knockout game vs. China into a makeshift exhibition for the final half-hour of that contest. Italy had no answer for forward Lineth Beerensteyn once she came on 11 minutes after the break. She won multiple free kicks and reminded the remaining three teams she may be the best substitute option left in the tournament.
Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA
Perhaps we’re all being harsh on the Dutch in criticizing the fact they’ve hardly played like European champions since June 11. Each of the remaining three nations have, however, enjoyed standout games. The United States beat Thailand 13-0 and bested France at the Parc des Princes. England made light work of Norway. The Swedes are the new upset darlings of the tournament. Italy hardly troubled the Oranje, but a Holland attack advertised as one of the world’s elite continues to underwhelm. A pair of set piece goals against Italy doesn’t inspire too much confidence. Then again, if it’s true Holland’s best is to come, that team is probably winning this World Cup.
It took a while for the talent pool in women’s soccer to grow around the world. That means that early Women’s World Cups didn’t have a ton of upsets. However, that also means that the upsets that took place really packed a punch. There have been only a lucky seven Women’s World Cups, but here are an unlucky 13 of the greatest upsets in the history of the tournament.
2011: Nigeria beats Canada
Nigeria has arguably the best track record of any women’s team in Africa. However, the continent has lagged behind others in the development of the sport. Back in 2011, Nigeria wasn’t quite as lauded and had been dropped in a tough group with Germany, France and Canada. It was expected Nigeria would go winless, but instead the team stole a 1-0 win over Canada.
1995: Brazil beats Sweden
Back in 1995, Marta hadn’t helped carry Brazil to relevance. Additionally, Sweden was the host nation. The tournament got off to a terrible start for the Swedes though, as they lost 1-0 in the opening game against the Brazilians. It was Sweden’s only loss in regulation in the tournament.
2003: Canada beats China
China was an early Women’s World Cup powerhouse. You may remember this was the team America beat in the famed 1999 Finals — the match made famous by Brandi Chastain. The Chinese also did well in 2003, making it to the quarterfinals, where they faced off with Canada. Canada scored an early goal, China never solved its defense, and Canada scored the 1-0 upset.
2015: Australia beats Brazil
Brazil cruised through the group stage, winning all three games. Australia, meanwhile, had gone 1-1-1 in a group with the U.S. and Sweden. Then the script flipped when these two teams met in the knockout round. Australia’s Kyah Pam Simon scored a goal in the 80th minute, and once again Marta was kept from World Cup glory.
1995: China beats Sweden
So yeah, about Sweden’s hosting of the 1995 Women’s World Cup. That Brazil upset was rough, but it seemed like it had righted the ship. In truth China was a better team than Brazil, but the impact of this upset gets it pushed up the list a bit. These two teams went into penalties, which China won 4-3. The fact Sweden needed a last-minute goal to even get to extra time made the loss that much more deflating.
1999: Ghana ties Australia
This was Ghana’s first Women’s World Cup, and it didn’t go great. Ghana was beat by China, 7-0, in its second game. However, the first game of the group stage went a bit better. The African nation was able to earn a 1-1 tie with Australia, which had a disappointing tournament.
There’s no question the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will bring a talented field as 24 nations are set to compete for one title.
But with 552 players making the trip to France, it begs the question – who are the players to watch when the tournament gets underway Friday?
Let’s take a look at 10 players who are sure to make an impact:
Christine Sinclair – Canada, forward
After spending more than 19 years on Canada’s national team, Sinclair brings an enormous amount of experience to this year’s World Cup. She’s Canada’s all-time leading scorer and she sits second on the women’s all-time scoring list with 181. She trails only American Abby Wambach (184), but that could change after France. Her impressive resume doesn’t stop there, though, as she is third all-time with 281 caps and she’s the only non-U.S. player with more than 225, according to Opta.
The forward has helped Canada fight for a spot on the world stage in each of the last four World Cups. This year’s tournament may be the 35-year-old Sinclair’s last chance to win the most coveted trophy in the sport.
14-time Canadian Female Player of the Year (2000, 2004-14, 2016, 2018)
Two-time Olympic bronze medalist (London 2012, Rio 2016)
Golden Boot FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (2004)
Golden Ball FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (2002)
FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup All-Star Team (2002)
Alex Morgan – United States, forward
Morgan’s unique combination of athleticism, anticipation and technical ability has elevated her to the top of the game. Since joining the USWNT in 2010, she has scored 101 international goals (the sixth-most in U.S. history) in 163 caps. When she scored her 100th career USWNT goal earlier this year, she became the third-youngest player and fourth-fastest player to reach that feat.
Morgan played a major role in helping the U.S. make it to the World Cup in 2011 – where she was the youngest player on the national team – and then she led her nation to a championship in 2015. It’s hard to believe Morgan’s just 29 years old with all that she’s already accomplished. She’ll certainly be one to keep a close eye on in France as she continues to build her international resume.
FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (2015), Runner-up (2011)
FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Champion (2008)
Four Nations Tournament Champion (2011)
SheBelieves Cup (2016, 2018)
CONCACAF Women’s Champion (2014, 2018)
Marta – Brazil, forward
Marta Vieira da Silva has established herself as one of the greatest players the tournament has ever seen. She holds the record for most goals scored at Women’s World Cup tournaments with 15, sitting just ahead of Germany’s Birgit Prinz and the USA’s Abby Wambach, who both have 14. Marta has earned 110 international goals to make her Brazil’s leading scorer and she’s tied for seventh on the all-time scoring list. With high soccer intelligence, strength and speed, Marta is expected to carry Brazil through the 2019 tournament.
Five-time winner of FIFA World Player of the Year (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
Four-time Runner-up of FIFA World Player of the Year (2005, 2011, 2012, 2014)
Copa Libertadores de Futbol Femenino Golden Ball (2009)
U-20 World Cup Golden Ball (2004)
Megan Rapinoe – United States, forward
Veteran Rapinoe is another key player the Americans will rely on to be a strong playmaker. After joining the U.S. national team in 2006, she quickly became known for her crafty style of play on the international level. She has been a consistent scorer with 44 goals in 153 caps, and she’s known for coming up with big assists as she ranks fifth in USWNT history with 57.
One of her most memorable plays came when she delivered a 45-yard cross to Abby Wambach in the 122nd minute of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinals in Brazil. Wambach then scored off a header, which eventually led to a win for the Americans.
Other notable accomplishments:
FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (2015), Runner-up (2011)
Olympic gold medalist (London 2012)
Four Nations Tournament Champion (2011)
SheBelieves Cup Champion (2018)
CONCACAF Women’s Champion (2014, 2018)
Sam Kerr – Australia, forward
Kerr has emerged as Australia’s first marquee player and she’s only going to bring more attention to the sport in her nation. She was only 15 years old when she made her international debut in a match against Italy in February 2009. From there, she continued to flourish, scoring 31 goals in 77 appearances. While playing in the National Women’s Soccer League – where she currently represents the Chicago Red Stars – Kerr has been the league’s leading scorer in each of the last two seasons.
Kerr, 25, may be young, but she will be powerful in France.
The women of the United States soccer team are looking to repeat as World Cup champions. If they pull off the double, becoming the second women’s team to do so after Germany did it in 2003 and 2007, some of these ladies will become household names — well, several of them already are. Let’s meet the 2019 U.S. women’s World Cup team in order of jersey number.
1. Alyssa Naeher
At the last World Cup, Hope Solo was the star in net. No longer on the team, somebody had to step into her cleats, and that job has fallen to Naeher. The Penn State alum and former NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year, Naeher has been the No. 1 goalie for the U.S. since Solo left the squad, and she’s been up to the task so far.
2. Mallory Pugh
Meet the next star of U.S. women’s soccer. Pugh is only 21, but the striker already has 16 goals for the national team in 53 caps. Granted, they’ve almost all come in friendlies, but she got in three games during the 2016 Olympics. She’s not ready to be the top striker yet, but don’t be surprised if she makes an impact.
3. Sam Mewis
Mewis, a midfielder, and her sister, Kristie, played together in the 2008 U-17 World Cup, the first sisters to do that for the United States. Alas, Kristie isn’t on this year’s World Cup team, but Sam is. This will be her first major tournament, unless you are a Tournament of Nations fan. She’s won two titles with her NWSL team. Will she taste World Cup victory as well?
4. Becky Sauerbrunn
Sauerbrunn is one of the old heads of this team. The 34-year-old has 158 caps, and this will be her third Women’s World Cup. She started every game at the 2015 World Cup, but will she be able to handle that kind of workload at this point? Her former teammate Christie Pearce played in the finals of 2015 at 40. Sauerbrunn is basically a spring chicken in comparison.
5. Kelly O’Hara
O’Hara and Sauerbrunn are teammates with the Utah Royals as well as with the national team. The 30-year-old is versatile, playing at wing and midfielder for the United States and forward and defense for her club squad. O’Hara has scored only two goals for the U.S., but one of them came in the semifinals of the 2015 Women’s World Cup against Germany.
6. Morgan Brian
Brian was a beast in college, winning the Hermann Trophy, college soccer’s equivalent of the Heisman, in 2013 and 2014. That led to her being the top pick in the 2015 NWSL Draft. The midfielder dealt with a head injury in 2018, but she’s healthy now and should be primed to contribute at this year’s World Cup.
7. Abby Dahlkemper
Dahlkemper hasn’t had a chance to compete in a World Cup or Olympics yet, as she didn’t get her first cap until October of 2016. However, she’s only 26, so there’s plenty of time for her. The year 2018 was big for her, as she appeared in a few tournaments with the U.S. and also made the Best XI of the NWSL and was the league’s Defender of the Year in 2017. She’s the kind of player who could help ease the strain for the veterans on the team’s defense.
8. Julie Ertz
Ertz is about to make things tough for attacking players on opposing teams. Since being moved into a defensive midfielder role, her tenacity has made things miserable for opponents. Her play has also earned her the honor of being named the U.S. Women’s Soccer Player of the Year. If her last name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s married to Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sir Kenny Dalglish will take charge of Liverpool FC Legends when they face The Republic of Ireland’s XI at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Friday April 12.
The Reds icon will take to the helm for a very special legends game in aid of ‘SupportSeán’, the Seán Cox appeal.
King Kenny’s glittering career with Celtic and the Reds spanned more than 20 years and included a host of major honours. During his time as a player, he helped LFC win three European Cups in seven years, before he then went on to successfully manage the club and Blackburn Rovers.
As Liverpool boss, he secured three league titles, including a league and Cup double in 1986 – the first person to ever achieve this feat as a player/manager.
The special encounter will see a host of greats face off to raise money to fund vital rehabilitation care for Seán, the Reds fan who suffered life-changing injuries from an unprovoked attack before the Champions League tie with AS Roma at Anfield last year.
Dalglish will manage former LFC stars including Sander Westerveld, Jerzy Dudek, Glen Johnson, Patrik Berger, Steve McManaman, Vladimir Smicer, Salif Diao, Robbie Fowler, Ian Rush and Djibril Cisse.
It further demonstrates the club’s commitment to support the appeal wherever possible. For the Premier League fixture against Cardiff City, volunteers came together with Spirit of Shankly to stage a bucket collection at Anfield which was then match-funded by the LFC Foundation.
On taking the reins, Sir Kenny said: “Liverpool Football Club has a fantastic philosophy and outlook on life that if there is one of our own that’s struggling, we try our best to help them. The lads want to support by putting on a game – its what they know best.
“It’s important that we come together and do ourselves and Seán justice. It’s a difficult time for his family and we want to help in the best way we know how.
“It will be a great occasion and the team will be looking to put on a good performance. I’m really looking forward to being back in the dugout amongst the team. I’d like to thank the club, the players, the staff and all those involved who are supporting this game.”
“We would like to encourage as many people as possible to show their support for this fantastic cause.”
Lionel Messi has been named in the Argentina squad for the first time since the 2018 World Cup.
The Barcelona forward, 31, has missed six international friendlies following defeat by eventual winners France in the last 16 in Russia in June.
He is part of a 31-man squad for friendlies against Venezuela and Morocco this month.
Paris St-Germain midfielder Angel di Maria, 31, has also been recalled for the first time since the World Cup.
There are four Premier League players in manager Lionel Scaloni’s squad – Manchester City centre-back Nicolas Otamendi, Tottenham defender Juan Foyth, Watford midfielder Roberto Pereyra and West Ham playmaker Manuel Lanzini.
However, Spurs winger Erik Lamela and goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga have both been dropped.
Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi has also been left out, having not played since 9 February because of an ongoing dispute with the Serie A club.
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Chelsea’s Gonzalo Higuain also remain absent, having last played for Argentina at the 2018 World Cup.
Argentina captain Messi, his country’s record scorer with 65 goals in 128 games, initially retired from international duty after Copa America final defeat by Chile in June 2016 before reversing his decision less that two months later.
One of the best World Cups in history comes to an end Sunday in Moscow, as France and Croatia face off at the Luzhniki Stadium with the world championship on the line.
This is the third time France has reached the World Cup final, winning it all in 1998 and losing to Italy in the 2006 championship game. Croatia’s national team didn’t officially join FIFA until 1992 – with players previously competing for Yugoslavia – and is here in the final for the first time.
USA TODAY Sports’ soccer staff gives their picks for the World Cup final and who will win the Golden Ball – awarded to the tournament’s best player:
Prediction: France 3, Croatia 0
There isn’t much to choose between these teams except for the fact they are at the polar opposite ends of the “effort expended” spectrum. Croatia has played what amounts to an entire additional game thanks to three bouts of extra time. France has the movement to exploit those tired legs.
Golden Ball winner: Luka Modric, Croatia
Prediction: France 2, Croatia 1 (after extra time)
Croatia once again pushes an opponent into extra time, but this time succumbs to the uber-talented French, who crush the dreams of another “golden generation.”
Group norms involve yelling and cheering. Note that this doesn’t always lead to bad behavior – witness the Japan and Senegal fans clearing up their litter after their recent match.
Football fever is once again sweeping the globe. People’s behavior during the World Cup is very interesting for us psychologists, as we can see many examples of the theories we use in action. Here are five questions you might ask during the tournament – and how psychology would answer them:
1. Why do people suddenly “get into” football during the World Cup, when usually they’re not interested?
This change in attitudes has to do with a change in our social identity. Social identities are aspects of our personality that relate in some way to our social surroundings, for example, our nationality, the organization we work for, or a club we are members of. People are usually nicer towards people that share their social identity (the “ingroup”), and tend to be meaner to those that don’t (the “outgroup”) even if they know nothing else about those people. This happens even if you split people up based on really trivial things such as which artist they prefer.
2. Why do people cheer and yell during a match in a way they never normally would?
The presence of others around you can lead to “deindividuation”. This is where you blend into a crowd and become anonymous, something particularly likely to happen if everyone is wearing the same football strip.
Deindividuation means you are more likely to act in a way appropriate to the norms of the group rather than your own norms. In a football crowd, those norms involve yelling and cheering. Note that this doesn’t always lead to bad behavior – witness the Japan and Senegal fans clearing up their litter after their recent match.