UPDATE (July 1, 7:20 a.m.): Tuesday night, the U.S. women’s national team beat Germany 2-0, making this article’s headline even more prescient than usual. Below, Benjamin Morris looks at how America’s unique youth soccer culture has helped ensure the dominance of the USWNT. Even though the United States is a bit insecure about its place in the world’s most popular sport, the U.S. women’s national soccer team has been dominant on the world stage for nearly a quarter-century. Tonight it will face off in the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup against Germany, with nothing less than the title of “greatest of all time” at stake. Each team has two World Cup championships, and they’ve been the two top-ranked teams in the world since FIFA’s rankings began in 2003. The winner will take the lead in World Cup finals appearances and will have the inside track to finish atop 2015’s rankings.So how did we get here? Basically, it boils down to two things: 1) Women’s soccer has been on a great run for the past 30-plus years in the U.S., to the point where it’s poised to become our most popular women’s sport, and 2) the rest of the world has been relatively apathetic and/or hostile to the women’s game.U.S. women’s soccer truly seemed to arrive in the public’s attention after the 1999 World Cup. If you’re old enough to have experienced the excitement and drama of it, there’s no way you could ever forget:This success didn’t come from nowhere. Since almost immediately after the implementation of Title IX (which became law in 1972, with compliance required by 1978) U.S. women’s soccer has grown like crazy. Probably the cleanest and easiest venue to see how this has played out is at the high school level; the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has high school athletics participation data going back to the ’70s:In the late ’70s, the number of high school women playing soccer was in the low five figures. By the time America won the World Cup in 1991, there were more than 120,000. By the time it won in 1999, there were more than 250,000. Now it is approaching 20 percent of all high school female athletes — about 375,000 — and has surpassed baseball/softball as the third-most-played team sport.Soccer has grown both by taking women from other sports and by capturing a disproportionate share of “new” female athletes as more young women began to play sports. Note that the percentage decline for basketball — by far the most mature women’s sport in the country — looks steep, but the change in total number of players is fairly small (there were more women playing high school basketball in 2013-14 than in 1976-77.) Soccer, though, has still been adding numbers to its ranks rapidly, despite a bit of a slowdown in its growth shortly after 1999:Soccer looks like it has a good chance of taking the top spot in the next 10-20 years. Yes, volleyball has been on a nice run of late, and looks likely to pass basketball as the most-played sport as early as this year. But volleyball is down from its peak (see chart above), and the upper limit for soccer is still unknown.For as much as the rest of the world loves soccer, it has been much slower to embrace the women’s game than the U.S. In England, women playing soccer was effectively banned (at least at venues that hosted men’s teams) from 1921 to 1971, and in Germany it was banned from 1955 to 1970. At around the time Title IX was heating up in the United States, women’s international soccer basically didn’t exist. According to FIFA, there were only three national teams and two international matches played in 1971.And while the women’s game is still growing worldwide, it has a long way to go. The latest comprehensive statistics from FIFA come from its “Big Count” in 2006. In it, women made up about 11 percent of registered soccer players worldwide, and just 13 percent of youths. While the Big Count hasn’t been updated, more recent studies haven’t suggested any major shifts, and FIFA still uses a figure of 12 percent in its literature.What’s worse, even those numbers are being skewed — by the United States. In that same report, the U.S. had more than 1.5 million registered female youth players — more than half of the world’s total. Take all U.S. youth out of the equation, and just 8 percent of the young soccer players in the rest of the world were female in 2006.Also, in the U.S., women’s soccer has more parity the higher up the ladder you go. Of all FIFA-registered youth in the U.S., 40 percent are female. In high schools, young women make up 47 percent of all soccer players. In the NCAA, 53 percent of soccer players are female, including 61 percent of those in Division I.Given that we pretty much started out on a similar playing field and have devoted more interest to women playing soccer in this country, I’m actually led to wonder why it is that we’re not even more dominant.For example, Germany has probably the most robust network of young women playing soccer outside of the U.S. Per capita its network is about the same as America’s: The U.S. has about five times as many registered youth women’s players as Germany (based on the data in the FIFA country-by-country factbook), fitting well with a population difference of about 5x for 15-24-year-old females (judging by here and here).If all else were equal, the U.S. should be smoking Germany: Both countries have similar youth participation rates, and we have five times more youths to draw on.This isn’t the type of sports mystery that can be easily solved, but the best answer is probably something along the lines of “they take soccer more seriously.” And there are some pretty good hints of that in FIFA’s data: For example, 94 percent of all the FIFA-registered players in the U.S. are youths, compared with only 31 percent in Germany. In raw numbers, that means we have a little more than 100,000 relatively serious adult female players compared with Germany’s 650,000 plus. While I generally think youth or high school participation is a great proxy for potential talent pools, in this case I think the adult participation disparity tells you quite a bit about each country’s soccer culture. We may have the numbers advantage, but we don’t treat soccer as a national passion project.At least not yet. Give us a couple more wins in Canada and we’ll see.CLARIFICATION (July 1, 10:30 a.m.): The “rise of soccer” chart has been labeled to reflect that hockey includes both ice and field variants.
On an overcast afternoon at Huntington Park, the Columbus Clippers were able to win their second-straight game over the Syracuse Chiefs on Sunday, 6-3.Following a 13-2 win on Saturday night, the Columbus offense came out firing on all cylinders early in Sunday’s contest.After Columbus starting pitcher Yohan Pino made quick work of the Chiefs’ top order, the Clippers’ offense picked up where it left off Saturday night plating two quick runs in the first inning and three more in the second.Despite a Michael Brantley groundout to start the bottom of the first, RBI singles from Shelley Duncan and Brian Buscher resulted in an early 2-0 Clippers lead.In the top of the second, Pino struggled to find the command he started the game with, but a strong throw to home plate from left fielder Brantley after a Chief’s double curbed the Chiefs’ offensive push at one run.In the home half of the second, the Chiefs’ Collin Balester once again had trouble finding the strike zone and after two walks, Jason Donald made him pay with a two out, two RBI triples that pushed the Clippers lead to 4-1.“We took advantage of the guy falling behind in counts,” Donald said. “Once he started falling behind in counts he gave us some good pitches and we started driving them.”Catcher Carlos Santana got in on the second inning fun as well, doubling off the wall in right center to score Donald before Duncan’s fly out to left ended the offensive surge at 5-1.Pino responded to the offensive help received from his teammates, shaking off his second-inning struggles and settling in on the mound.Over six innings of work, Pino held the chiefs to three runs on seven hits to push his undefeated record this season to 4-0.“He did a good job of not backing down and going after hitters,” Donald said. “He did a great job today just pounding the zone and continuing to throw strikes.”After adding an insurance run on a Jose Constanza RBI blooper to centerfield in the sixth, Pino was pulled in favor of reliever Frank Hermann, who continued Columbus’ strong performance from the mound.Pitching two innings of no-hit baseball in the seventh and eighth, Hermann gave way to closer Jess Todd in the ninth, who sealed the victory for the Clippers with his second save of the year.Clippers Manager Mike Sarbaugh said overall he was pleased with his team’s performance.“We scored some runs to separate ourselves for the lead and we were able to hold it,” Sarbaugh said. “The bullpen, especially Frank Hermann, threw the ball well today.”The Clippers will return to Huntington Park on Monday with a chance to lock up the series win in the third game of their four-game stand with the Chiefs.“I think our goal going in is always to try and win a series, but we just have to take it one game at a time,” Sarbaugh said. “Each day is a new day and we just have to go out and play hard and hope good things happen.”With Sunday’s win Columbus now sits three games ahead of the Toledo Mud Hens for the International League’s Western Division at 16-9.
Neymar has revealed that he feels at “80 per cent” after scoring for Brazil on his comeback from his three-month spell on the sidelinesThe Paris Saint-Germain forward has been struggling with the foot injury since a game against local rivals Marseille on February 25.After doing his rehabilitation in Brazil, Neymar returned to PSG for their final matches of the season but was unable to recover sufficiently to take part and gain some much needed minutes on the pitch.However, the 26-year-old made a promising return from injury with Neymar scoring a superb goal for Brazil that involved him beating a trio of defenders before finding the back of the net.But the Brazilian was remaining cautious after Brazil’s 2-0 win against Croatia on Sunday.“It’s been three months since the injury,” said Neymar, as stated on AS.Opinion: Neymar will earn respect back from the PSG fans Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 14, 2019 After completing his incredible return to Parc des Princes, we predict that Neymar will earn the respect back from PSG supporters.The situation between Neymar…“To be back to do what I love the most, which is to play football, and even score a goal… I’m very happy.“But I still have some fear, a certain fear, but little by little, with each training session, I’m letting myself go.“Let’s see what the week’s training will be like. Little by little I’m getting better. I’m happy for today.“I still feel a little uncomfortable, but it’s normal because I’ve stayed a long time without stepping on the pitch.“I’m 80 per cent.”Sunday’s goal at Anfield was Neymar’s 54th strike for Brazil in his 83 appearances at international level.
Diogo Dalot has completed his medical at Manchester United ahead of his proposed move from Porto, according to Sky Sports.A move clearly showing how close the club are to sealing a transfer for Porto right-back after a whirlwind transfer pursuit.The 19-year-old, who plays as a right or left-back couldn’t make the final weeks of Porto’s title-winning season as a result of a knee injury but is said to have become fit for the start of pre-season training on July 15. Since United have been made aware of Dalot’s medical reports, the player will undergo a typical examination when the time comes in no time.Maguire says United need to build on today’s win George Patchias – September 14, 2019 Harry Maguire wants his United teammates to build on the victory over Leicester City.During the summer, Harry Maguire was referred to as the ultimate…Manchester United, for now, are the only club in the UK to have a medical suite fitted out with MRI and CT scanners such that everything beginning from the final negotiations to medical itself will be done at Carrington when the player and his entourage arrive.Dalot first appeared with the first team in competitive games in 2017, starting in a 6–0 away win over Lusitano G.C. for the season’s Taça de Portugal. He also first played in the Primeira Liga on last February, coming on as a 75th-minute substitute in a 5–0 home routing of Rio Ave FC.
Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren aimed a subtle dig at Real Madrid counterpart Sergio Ramos by claiming that he’s not even that greatThe Croatia international gave his views on the current best defenders in the game and made a big claim on Ramos, while praising Liverpool teammate Virgil Van Dijk.“Virgil I would say (is among the best),” Lovren told Copa90’s FIFA and Chill series.“We had a great season last season, me and him, we reached the final of the Champions League.”The 29-year-old, who grabbed headlines over the World Cup for comments on his own abilities, also rates Real’s Raphael Varane and Paris Saint-Germain captain Thiago Silva.“I like Varane, he deserves a lot of credit, he doesn’t get it as much as Ramos gets. I don’t agree with that.“Definitely Varane is better, this season and previous seasons. He won the Champions League and the World Cup. He should be the best defender in the world and they chose Ramos.“I always consider Thiago Silva. He is really a good experienced player, he isn’t that tall but can jump quite high. He is strong.”Crouch: Liverpool could beat Man United to Jadon Sancho Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Peter Crouch wouldn’t be surprised to see Jadon Sancho end up at Liverpool one day instead of his long-term pursuers Manchester United.On Ramos, Lovren said: “If you look, Ramos has many more mistakes than me.“But he plays for Real Madrid, when you do a mistake you win 5-1 or 5-2, nobody cares about the mistake.“I’m quite unlucky in that when I make a mistake it’s 1-0 and the game is finished!“But without mistakes, you cannot be where you are. Everyone is a human being, sometimes people have a bad week at home, nobody cares about that.“Every player is their biggest critic. When I make a mistake, I don’t talk to my wife for a week, for a year, I don’t know, I don’t care!“You want to punch somebody but you have to stay calm inside and be professional.”
Tottenham forward Lucas Moura was delighted to score a goal and help his team qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League after their 1-1 draw at Barcelona.Spurs looked to be heading straight to the Europa League after Dembele scored in the 7th minute to give Barcelona the lead, but Lucas Moura equalized in the 85th minute to keep Tottenham’s Champions League dreams alive.“It was a very important goal and I’m so happy to score here in the Nou Camp in the Champions League and help my team-mates to qualify,” Moura told the club’s website.“It was an amazing moment. The last time here was really sad for me (referencing PSG’s 6-1 defeat) and this is really different.Mourinho: “Lionel Messi made me a better coach” Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Jose Mourinho believes the experience of going up against Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at Real Madrid made him a greater coach.“In the second half, we did very well. We had many chances to score. We could win. It was a deserved result.“After the game, we didn’t know what the Inter result was and didn’t know if I could celebrate!“I waited with my team-mates to see and when they said to me it was 1-1 and I saw the fans happy, I knew we’d qualified. It was a very happy night for me, an amazing moment.”
Napoli legend Ottavio Bianchi has urged his former side to get rid of the “victim mentality” if they want to make exploits in the modern game.Bianchi who won the Scudetto with Napoli believes It’s the only area where they haven’t grown exponentially ahead of tonight’s game with Milan.“In some ways, the only area where Napoli haven’t grown exponentially over the years is in their victim mentality. That’s just an extra chance given to the opposition. He disclosed to Football Italia.“In my days, Napoli would fight to avoid relegation one year and finish mid-table the other. At that time, you knew you were representing a great city, but now you are representing a big club too.“Now the club has been at the top for years, a side with a precise identity and Carlo Ancelotti can now ‘make the most’ of Maurizio Sarri’s work, adding his own ideas to build on the existing project.Do not miss out on the Serie A action tonight!⚽️📢AC Milan takes on Napoli by 7:30 pm.Serie A Betting: Match-day 3 Stuart Heath – September 14, 2019 Considering there is a number of perfect starts so early in the Serie A season, as well as a few surprisingly not-so perfect ones….Searching for high odds?🤔Bet on our https://t.co/OUHKpAWnGj Special Pick👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/ZTABnFL8Bb— BLACKBET.NG (@BlackbetNG) January 26, 2019“Ancelotti has done really well to not completely tear it down and start again. He is getting the best out of his players with squad rotation, not going overboard. They say the best Coach is the one that does the least damage.”Nonetheless, Juventus are still streaking out in front on their way to a potential eighth consecutive Scudetto.“Juve are putting together results that can never be repeated, but it’s also because all their challengers have fallen at more or less the same time. If Inter, Milan and Roma return to playing at a certain level, it’ll be easier also for Napoli to challenge Juve.”