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Fuel Soccer Talk: U.S. takes on host France in World Cup; Young lineup pays off for U.S. men; Gold Cup news and notes

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Women’s World Cup: U.S. ready to face biggest test – host France

The U.S. Women’s National Team advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2019 Women’s World Cup after defeating Spain 2-1 in a hard-fought battle on June 24.

The USA faces tournament host France in Paris on Friday (3 p.m. ET; FOX and Telemundo) in their biggest test of the 2019 World Cup. Les Bleues rolled through Group A, defeating Korea Republic, Norway and Nigeria, in that order. France opened the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Paris at Parc des Princes, the site of the quarterfinal showdown with the USA.

The USA is 17-3-3 all-time against France, but the last nine games following the meeting at the 2012 Olympics have produced a 4-3-2 record for the USA as France has risen into the world’s elite. The USA’s first loss to France came on Feb. 8, 2015, a 2-0 setback in Lorient, France that kicked off the 2015 schedule for both teams. The USA avenged the loss with a 2-0 victory in the championship game of the 2015 Algarve Cup in Portugal as Julie Ertz (neé Johnston) and Christen Press scored.

The USA’s second loss came at the 2017 SheBelieves Cup, while the third took place in the teams’ first match of 2019, a 3-1 U.S. defeat in Le Havre on Jan. 19 in a match in which the USA was missing a handful of starting players. France’s forward Kadidiatou Diani was able to put away two goals for Les Bleues and Marie-Antoinette Katoto finished the third. USWNT forward Mallory Pugh closed out the match by putting the U.S. on the board in the 91st minute.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT FRANCE

What does France have to do in order to pull of the upset against the U.S.?

Gold Cup: Berhalter’s lineup switch pays off in more ways than one

It was a bold move by Gregg Berhalter to change up his starting XI for the match against Panama. The first-year coach left Christian Pulisic, Gyasi Zardes and Michael Bradley out of the lineup went with a young lineup. There was still experience on the pitch with Jozy Altidore, Matt Miazga, Omar Gonzalez and Jordan Morris all in the lineup on Wednesday.

But the decision didn’t hurt in the short-term and should pay off in the long-term as some young players gained valuable experience in a big-match atmosphere. And the U.S. side should be well rested for the upcoming knockout round.

“I think everyone helped themselves tonight,” Berhalter said. “When we think about the conditions, it was a very physical Panama team, very warm conditions, and I think the guys showed grit and determination.”

Berhalter wasn’t too concerned about fielding a young lineup against a talented Panama side.

“The decision to start 11 new players was an easy one to be honest,” Berhalter said. “We believe in the group, we believe in keeping the group together, we believe that everyone can contribute to this team for the team’s success, and we wanted to show that. The guys have been training really well and they deserved this opportunity.”

What did you like from the young U.S. lineup?

Gold Cup: News & Notes following U.S. win over Panama

The USA (3-0-0; 9 points) and Panama (2-1-0; 6 points) advance from Group D to take on the second and first place teams from Group C, respectively. In Group C, Curacao (1-1-1; 4pts) grabbed a second place finish thanks to a last-second goal from Jurien Gaari that earned the island nation a 1-1 tie with group winners Jamaica (1-0-2; 5pts) on the final match day and a date with the USA in the tournament quarterfinals. Kickoff for USA-Curacao is set for 8 p.m. ET on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The game will be broadcast on FS1, Univision and UDN.

  • With the win, the USA clinched the top spot in its Gold Cup group for the 14th time in 15 tournaments.
  • Jozy Altidore earned his first start and collected his first goal since his brace in the USA’s 4-0 World Cup Qualifying win against Panama on Oct. 6, 2017. Altidore’s goal was the 42nd of his international career and fifth all-time in the Gold Cup.
  • The strike was Altidore’s fourth all-time against Panama and third international goal at Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Park.
  • Gregg Berhalter made 11 changes to the starting XI that began the first two group stage matches. With the swaps, 22 have played for the USA during the group stage with only goalkeeper Tyler Miller yet to appear.
  • Veteran defender Omar Gonzalez captained the USMNT for the first time. Gonzalez is the eighth different player to wear the armband in the team’s nine matches under Gregg Berhalter in 2019. The others: Aaron Long (2 games), Michael Bradley, Matt Miazga, Tim Ream, Zack Steffen, Wil Trapp and DeAndre Yedlin.
  • Defender Daniel Lovitz and winger Jonathan Lewis made their Gold Cup debuts.
  • Goalkeeper Sean Johnson made one save to keep his fourth career clean sheet.

MORE ON THE GAME WITH PANAMA

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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