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Fuel Soccer Talk: US appears ready for France; Shipp shares his ODP story; “Other” players to watch in World Cup

World Cup fever is warming up!

World Cup: USWNT blanks Mexico 3-0 in final tune-up

HARRISON, N.J.  – The U.S. Women’s National Team closed out its three-game Send-Off Series, Presented by Volpi Foods, with a 3-0 win against neighbors Mexico before 26,332 fans at Red Bull Arena on May 26. Tobin Heath’s 11th minute strike combined with second half goals from Mallory Pugh and Christen Press lifted the USA to victory in the team’s final preparation match for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which kicks off on June 7 in France.

Photo courtesy of NJ.com. Main photo courtesy of Denver Post.

The USA dominated first half play, generating a 15-1 shot advantage, putting seven on goal. Mexico goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago’s early mistake gifted Heath the opportunity to score the opening goal, and she duly obliged after a bit of nifty footwork to beat her defender. Shortly after Heath’s opener, Santiago faced down an Alex Morgan breakaway and came up with a big save. Morgan nearly scored on another golden opportunity but just missed applying the finishing touch to a perfectly placed Megan Rapinoe cross.

As the game marched toward half time, the U.S. forced Santiago into a pair of impressive saves. The first one on a header just before half and the second on a volley by Crystal Dunn in first half stoppage time.

After the break, U.S. head coach Jill Ellis made five subs bringing on Press for Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd for Morgan, Lindsay Horan for Rose Lavelle, Pugh for Becky Sauerbrunn and Allie Long for Dunn.

The changes made an immediate impact as Lloyd rounded Santiago in the opening moments of the second half, but her shot was cleared off the line. While Mexico then carved out two half chances, the U.S. resumed where it had left off in the first half and was unlucky not to add a second in the 67th minute when Lloyd once again got around Santiago but was whistled offside as she deposited the ball in the vacated net.

However, the USA would not be denied more goals on a day when they finished with a 25-3 shot advantage. On the second goal, Lloyd played provider as she beat a defender off the dribble and centered into a crowd of players in front of goal. Pugh met the pass and was able to drag the ball over the line in the 76th minute.

Press finished proceedings with her second strike of the year in the 88th minute. Julie Ertz slipped the ball to Press near the top of the box and she juked away from one defender before burying a low shot into the bottom right corner to cap the 3-0 win and an undefeated (3-0-0) Send-Off Series.

What are the keys for the US side in France?

My ODP Story: With Seattle Sounders midfielder Harry Shipp

In his second season with Seattle, Harry Shipp compiled his most prolific attacking season since 2015, tallying three goals and three assists during the MLS regular season. The talented midfielder started 15 of his 19 appearances and added two more appearances, including one start, in the 2018 MLS Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

The former Chicago Fire Homegrown player was a finalist in 2014 for the AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year, Shipp made 33 MLS appearances, including 29 starts. He registered seven goals and six assists in his inaugural campaign, including a hat-trick just eight matches into his professional career (May 10 at New York).

A four-year standout at Notre Dame, Shipp helped lead the Fighting Irish to the first national championship in program history during his senior season. Shipp made 84 appearances over his four collegiate seasons, in which he scored 23 goals and recorded 24 assists.

What stands out so far in Shipp’s impressive soccer career?

2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup: 10 “other” Players to Watch

Oh Canada’s Christine Sinclair

Canada played England in a friendly in April as both teams prepared for the upcoming World Cup. Canada’s Christine Sinclair scored the game’s only goal to lead Canada to a 1-0 win that not only moved Sinclair that much closer to history but also gave Canada a huge boost of confidence heading to France. Sinclair, the gifted Canadian captain, pounced on a rebound after Nichelle Prince’s shot hit the crossbar and knocked it in from close range for the 81st-minute winner. The goal was the 35-year-old’s 180th of her career moving her just four goals back of retired American Abby Wambach’s world record of 184. “It’s just an honour to be chasing Abby down,” said Sinclair, who scored her first goal for Canada on March 14, 2000, in her second senior appearance. The win also was a measure of revenge for the Canadian women, who were knocked out of the 2015 World Cup by England in a 2-1 quarterfinal loss in Vancouver. The teams had not met since. England was ranked third in the world and Canada No. 5 at the time of the match.

10 US PLAYERS TO WATCH IN FRANCE

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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