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Fuel Soccer Talk: US U-20 net three crucial points; Go West MLS; US Players to watch in France

Post holiday soccer happenings!

The U.S. U-20 MNT bounced back at the FIFA U-20 World Cup on Monday with a 2-0 win over Nigeria. After a disappointing 2-1 loss to Ukraine in the World Cup opener, the USA knocked off the Flying Eagles to pick up a crucial three points. Nigeria got off to a soaring start in Poland, downing Qatar 4-0 in the teams’ opening match.

The top two teams in each of the six U-20 World Cup groups advance to the Round of 16, plus the four best-ranked third-placed teams. Monday’s win levels the US with Nigeria at three points each. Ukraine is 2-0 and sits atop the table with six points. Qatar is last with no points and two losses.

Sebastian Soto (left), inserted into the starting lineup after coming on as a substitute in the U.S. opener, got free on a corner kick in the 18th minute, and took a pass from Alex Mendez and headed the ball home to put the US ahead 1-0.

Just a minute into the second half, Soto took a perfect pass from Chris Gloster and slipped the shot past keeper Olawale Oremade to make it 2-0.

Despite being outshot 19-12, the US had 59 percent of possession and 460 passes Nigeria’s 313.

The US face Qatar on Thursday and three more points should push them through to the next round. Follow the U-20 MNT throughout the tournament on ussoccer.com.

What have been the strengths of the US side in the first two games? 

West the Best – for now: MLS West teams unbeaten in last 13 vs. the East

Until recently, the MLS East sides had a better record against their friends from the west. But that advantage has been erased and rewritten by teams out west over the past two weeks. With San Jose’s win over Toronto, the Western teams improved to 11-0-2 against the East in their last 13 matches.  The East side’s last win was May 15 when Atlanta defeated host Vancouver.

In Week 13, the West went 6-0-1.

Read MLS contributor Dylan Butler’s breakdown.

For the MLS East vs. West tables 

What are the reasons for the recent West dominance?  

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

Crystal Dunn, Fullback (Albertson Fury/ RVC Tornadoes/ RVC Power)

Crystal Dunn can play almost any position on the pitch which gives Coach Ellis some options but the “best dancer on the team” will be dancing mostly at left back in France. Dunn (North Carolina Courage) started her WNT career as a defender and reached the full international level after featuring prominently for the WNT programs at the U-17 and U-20 levels. Since her emergence at the end of 2015 after a stellar NWSL season, Dunn moved up the pitch to winger/striker. More recently, she has been playing as a defender for the U.S. WNT once again. As a senior at UNC in 2013, she led the Tar Heels in scoring with 34 points (14 goals and six assists). The Rockville Center, N.Y., native played with the Albertson Fury from U-15 until she left for college. She played U-13 through U-15 with the RVC Tornadoes and played U-10 though U-13 with the RVC Power where she won a state title.

10 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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