Fuel Soccer Talk: U.S. roster set for France; Concacaf U-17 championship preview; MLS all-stars find their opponent

Big news from the women’s side of the pitch 

Heading to France: U.S. Women’s World Cup roster announced

The U.S. women’s national team announced its roster for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France on Thursday. All 23 players on the roster are from the NWSL, from eight of the league’s nine teams. The roster will become official when it is submitted to FIFA on May 24, U.S. Soccer said, the deadline for all teams to submit their final rosters for the tournament.

“Selecting a World Cup team is a long process, and I want to thank the players – the ones that made the final team and the ones that didn’t – for all of their hard work over the past two and a half years,” U.S. women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis said in the team’s announcement. “They all pushed each other in every training session and every game and challenged the coaches to make some tough decisions. These 23 players have been through adversity and success, and it’s a group that has the talent, confidence, experience and desire to help us win the World Cup.”

2019 United States FIFA Women’s World Cup Roster by Position (Club)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch* (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris** (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher** (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper* (North Carolina Courage), Tierna Davidson* (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn* (North Carolina Courage), Ali Krieger*** (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara*** (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn*** (Utah Royals FC), Emily Sonnett* (Portland Thorns FC)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian** (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz** (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan* (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle* (Washington Spirit), Allie Long* (Reign FC), Samantha Mewis* (North Carolina Courage)

FORWARDS (7): Tobin Heath*** (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd**** (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald* (North Carolina Courage), Alex Morgan*** (Orlando Pride), Christen Press** (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh* (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe*** (Reign FC)

What other players deserved a ticket to France? 

PREVIEW: USA at 2019 Concacaf U-17 championship

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team opens the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship on Thursday, May 2 against Canada (6 p.m. ET; Concacaf Facebook, UDN). The match represents the USA’s first step towards a historic 17th qualification for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup, to be held this fall in Brazil. Group F play continues for the U.S. on Saturday, May 4 against Barbados (6 p.m. ET; Concacaf Facebook, UDN) and finishes on Monday, May 6 as the U.S. takes on Guatemala (6 p.m. ET; Concacaf Facebook, UDN). All of the tournament’s matches will take place at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

WATCH U-17 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING ON FACEBOOK AND UDN: All tournament matches will be streamed on Concacaf Facebook and A select number of matches, including all three of the USA’s group stage matches, will be broadcast on Univision Deportes Network.

TOURNAMENT FORMAT: This year marks the 19th Concacaf championship at this age level. Started in 1983 to qualify teams for the FIFA U-16 World Championship, the regional competition sends four teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean to the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil.

The top three teams from each group qualify to the Round of 16. Four teams — Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico — advanced directly to the Round of 16 from a pre-tournament qualifying phase. The four tournament semifinalists earn berths to the U-17 World Cup.

In the group stage, the USA was drawn against Canada, Barbados and Guatemala. The top 16 teams in the Concacaf U-17 ranking were drawn into the main group stage, while the bottom 19 teams duked it in a pre-qualifying tournament for four Round of 16 berths.

RUN-UP TO FLORDIA: After a busy year of programming in 2018, the Concacaf Championship represents the U-17s’ third event of 2019. Last year, the team went 9-4-4 as it faced off against 11 different nations. The U-17 MNT’s last international competition came at the 2018 Nike International Friendlies last December. There, the USA went undefeated in three tightly contested games against Portugal, Turkey and Brazil.

Players born on or after Jan. 1, 2002 are eligible for the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship, and head coach Raphael Wicky called in 16 players born in 2002 and four born in 2003.

What are the keys to success for the USA? 

Atletico Madrid will face MLS stars in 2019 All-Star Game in Orlando

Major League Soccer announced on Thursday that Spanish giants Club Atletico de Madrid will face the best in MLS in the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, set for Orlando City Stadium on Wednesday, July 31.

“The atmosphere in Orlando will be intense and memorable when Atletico de Madrid take on the MLS All-Stars,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber in a league release. “Atletico de Madrid joins the list of the many prominent clubs in global soccer to play in our midseason showcase, and we know the passionate supporters that make up The Wall and the rest of Orlando City Stadium will provide a distinctive home-field advantage for the MLS All-Stars.”

Ten-time champions of La Liga, most recently in 2014, Atletico are one of the most tradition-laden clubs in Europe with a history dating back to 1903. The current squad features stars like Antoine Griezmann, the silver boot winner for 2018 FIFA World Cup champions France and a 2016 finalist for the FIFA Men’s Player of the Year Award, Spanish internationals Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa and Jan Oblak, winner of the last three Zamora trophies, the award for La Liga’s best goalkeeper.

Los Colchoneros (“The Mattress-makers,” an old reference to their red-and-white striped kits) are also a consistent contender in European competitions, winning the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup three times apiece and reaching the UEFA Champions League final in 2014 and 2016.

“Atletico de Madrid are proud to participate in our first Major League Soccer All-Star Game and battle the many great players of MLS,” said club president Enrique Cerezo. “The US and Canada have always been important markets for our club and competing in the MLS All-Star Game is an excellent opportunity to connect with our fans in North America and reach out to new ones.

“It will also be a great experience to play in Orlando, which has developed into a top soccer city with incredibly passionate fans since joining MLS. This is an exciting moment for Atletico de Madrid.”

A look back

What do you expect from the MLS stars against one of the best teams in the world?

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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