How’s it going, Mane Landers? The work week is coming to a close and we can start getting ready for the weekend. I’m heading to Tallahassee for a Bob-Dylan-themed birthday party that involves dressing up as a character from his songs. It’s a bit bizarre, but should be a fun time. Before we dive into today’s links, let’s wish a happy birthday to Orlando City goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar!
Analyzing the Netherlands Before World Cup Match
The Netherlands and the U.S. both failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but now find themselves pitted against each other tomorrow at 10 a.m. in the 2022 World Cup Round of 16. Both nations enter this match undefeated after the group stage. The USMNT will have to find a way past a formidable Dutch defense led by Liverpool center back Virgil van Dijk. Goalkeeper Andries Noppert and his back line have plenty of height and strength in the air, so the U.S. may have a hard time creating chances from set pieces. However, the defense has shown to be vulnerable to pressure at times this World Cup and the U.S. has a young and energetic midfield that can quickly capitalize on turnovers. FC Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong commands the midfield for the Dutch and is versatile enough to solve problems all over the pitch. The Netherlands’ offense has been stagnant at times, but Cody Gakpo and Memphis Depay have enough individual talent to make the most out of long balls and score.
Jill Ellis Elected to the Hall of Fame
Former United States Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis was elected to the National Hall of Fame as a member of the 2023 class. Ellis coached the USWNT for seven years, only losing seven of the team’s 132 games at the helm. She’s also the only coach to win the Women’s World Cup twice, helping the USWNT win in 2015 and then defend its title in 2019. After stepping down as USWNT head coach, Ellis was later named president of San Diego Wave FC. In its inaugural season this past year, the Wave finished third in the NWSL’s standings and broke both the regular season and playoff attendance records. She will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on May 6 alongside Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, and Lauren Cheney Holiday.
Germany and Belgium Ousted From the World Cup
The drama continued in the World Cup’s group stage Thursday as Japan and Spain escaped a wild Group E to reach the next round. Japan trailed Spain at halftime, but came out swinging in the second half with a pair of quick goals to take a 2-1 lead. Meanwhile, Costa Rica came back against Germany and led 2-1. For a brief time, Spain and Germany were both set to be eliminated. But Germany battled back, scoring three unanswered goals to sink Costa Rica and win 4-2. Despite the win, Germany needed Spain to equalize in order to advance, but Japan held on for a 2-1 win to top the group and the Germans were eliminated.
In Group F, Morocco scored twice within the first 23 minutes against Canada and held on for a 2-1 victory. Morocco ended up topping the group after a scoreless draw between Belgium and Croatia. Belgium needed to win, but its star players came up short and Croatia put together a nice defensive performance to advance. Roberto Martinez left his role as Belgium’s head coach after the result. Croatia will take on Japan in the next round on Monday, and Morocco will face Spain on Tuesday.
Merritt Paulson Intends to Sell the Portland Thorns
Merritt Paulson, the owner of the Portland Thorns and Portland Timbers, announced that he intends to sell the Thorns. This decision comes after the release of the Yates Report that detailed systemic abuse across the NWSL, including Portland not disclosing why former Thorns head coach Paul Riley was fired for cause in 2015. In the time since Riley’s firing, allegations of sexual harassment and coercion were made against him. Paulson will maintain ownership of the Timbers, but spoke on the need for new ownership for the Thorns.
“To fully realize that potential, I believe it is in best interest of the Thorns to have a new owner so that the club can operate at the league level with a fresh voice to be a driving force for the NWSL. This has been a difficult decision for me, but I believe this is the best way to position the Thorns for continued success during this next chapter of the NWSL and the sport.”
Chicago Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler has also reportedly started taking steps to sell the team. Like the Thorns, the Red Stars are dealing with the fallout of the Yates Report and Whisler was removed as chairman by the club’s board of directors. This report comes on the same day the club announced a trio of free agents, including former Orlando Pride forward Rachel Hill, opted not to return to the club.
- Former Pride player Kristen Edmonds signed a two-year contract with NJ/NY Gotham FC.
- American midfielder Yunus Musah was noted as one of the top young players in the World Cup so far.
- Ghana and Uruguay square off today at 10 a.m. for a spot in the Round of 16 and Ghana wants revenge for Luis Suarez’s handball that cost the Black Stars back in 2010.
- Soccer legend Pelé was reportedly diagnosed with bronchopneumonia following tests while in the hospital.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and rest of your weekend.