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FUEL Soccer Talk: U-23 team springs into action; Queen City opener; Who cares about FA Cup?

U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team opens Thorns Spring invite March 24

For the third year in a row, the U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team will take part in the Thorns Spring Invitational running from March 24-30 in Portland, Oregon. The U.S. will take on three NWSL teams during their pre-season preparation with all the games taking place at the University of Portland’s Merlo Field.

This is the fourth year of the pre-season tournament, and this year’s field features the U-23 WNT, the Chicago Red Stars, Portland Thorns FC and Reign FC. The competition will take place over three matchdays, with an early game that has free admission and a later match featuring the Thorns that will be a ticketed event.

The USA opens up against Reign FC on Sunday, March 24 at 11:30 a.m. PT, while Portland will face Chicago at 5 p.m. PT. The second matchday on Wednesday, March 27, features Chicago vs. Reign FC at 1:30 p.m. PT and the USA taking on Portland at 7:30 p.m. PT. The U.S. finishes against the Red Stars on Saturday, March 30 at 1:30 p.m. PT and Portland wraps things up with rival Reign FC at 7:30 p.m. PT.

Tickets for the matches featuring the Thorns are general admission. Individual tickets go on sale to the public on Tuesday, March 19 at 10 a.m. PT online at www.thornsfc.com.

What are the more intriguing match-ups in the Thorns Spring Invitational?

FC Cincinnati celebrates first home game ever with 3-0 win

Soccer fans in the Queen City were rewarded for their years of patience with an opening match they soon won’t forget. FC Cincinnati scored an impressive 3-0 win over the Portland Timbers in the franchise’s first ever home match before a capacity crowd of 32,500 at Nippert Stadium. FC Cincinnati, which has earned points in back-to-back weeks against 2018 MLS Cup finalists, aren’t playing like an expansion team.

Kendall Waston found the opener in the 15th minute that send the home crowd into a frenzy. Midfielder Allan Cruz made it 2-0 in the 61st minute and left back Mathieu Deplagne pushed the lead to 3-0 in the 63rd minute.

MLS MAN OF THE MATCH: While Kendall Waston’s header will go down in the record books, the impact of Cincy midfielder Allan Cruz can’t be understated. The Herediano product was buzzing around all afternoon and bagged his first-ever MLS goal. Not bad from the 23-year-old. Not bad at all.

Can FC Cincinnati keep this up for an entire season?

Does the FA Cup still matter to the bigger clubs?

Midway through Manchester City’s FA Cup game with Swansea – with Swansea ahead 2-0 _ a panicked City fan (me) called my friend looking for some support. While he’s a Manchester United supporter, he offered up this: “City is more concerned about the league and Champions League – they probably want to get out of the FA Cup as soon as possible and save their bullets.” Turns out he might as well have been talking about his team.

City manager Pep Guardiola showed that he at least still cares about the FA Cup – if he didn’t he wouldn’t have inserted Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling into the game. The City players – and manager – were pretty jacked up after rallying to knock off underdog Swansea in an intense battle on Saturday.

Manchester United certainly wanted to beat the Wolves in its FA Cup match on Saturday. They pulled off exciting wins over Arsenal and Chelsea to get there and played their A lineup. But they were flat and didn’t seem to have the same intensity of earlier matches, and the Wolves, who have been playing well, pounced and bounced United.

Is it more important to finish top four in the Premier League than win the FA Cup? Of course it is. Is it more important to go deep into the Champions League than win the FA Cup? Of course it is. Is the FA Cup still a great watch that players, coaches and fans are still very passionate about? Of course it is.

Where does the FA Cup rank in the quadruple?

LET’S TALK: OK, now you’ve read what’s on my mind…what are your thoughts on the above or any other “football” happenings?

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