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FUEL Soccer Talk: USWNT use their heads; Loons head home; MLS News & Notes

U.S. Women impressive at both ends of the pitch in rout of Belgium

Two months to France and the Women’s World Cup!

And maybe, just maybe, the U.S. Women’s National Team is not only showing signs of being ready but also being dominant. Following a 5-3 win over Australia in Colorado on Thursday night, the U.S. routed Belgium 6-0 at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles Sunday. The U.S. team scored four goals in the first half and added two more in the second half, including a goal in the final minute to cap off a perfect night.

U.S. Coach Jill Ellis (below) made several changes following the friendly with Australia including subbing out the starting front line of Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe with Christen Press, Carli Lloyd and Mal Pugh. While the competition wasn’t the same, the moves certainly showed up in the back of the net. Lloyd scored twice and added an assist. Morgan, Lindsey Horan, Samantha Mewis and Jessica McDonald all had goals in the win. Press earned three assists on the night.

Other changes for the U.S. side included Ali Krieger at right back to earn her first cap in two years, Julie Ertz at center back and Crystal Dunn at left back.

The U.S. was impressive from the opening kick especially in the air – they scored five of their six goals on headers. And their defense was much smarter and stronger than against a talented Australia side in Colorado. The U.S. showed not only Belgium but the world that they still have the talent to win the World Cup. The desire also still burns, and if this group can stay healthy over the next two months, they stand a very good chance of defending their title.

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be the eighth consecutive World Cup appearance for the USA, which has appeared in each of the previous seven tournaments that have been contested and won in 1991, 1999 and 2015. The USA is one of six countries to qualify for all eight Women’s World Cups along with Brazil, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden and Nigeria. The tournament will be held from June 7-July 7 in nine cities in France.

What were the positive signs for the U.S. in the win over Belgium – besides the six goals?  

Home Loons: Allianz Field makes first pitch on Saturday

The Loons are coming home. And what a home it is. Minnesota United will play its first MLS game in brand new Allianz Field on Saturday after playing its first five games in 2019 on the road while finishing touches were being done back home. Allianz Field is designed to be one of the best in the world. It features real grass grown in Colorado and will include grow lights and a heated field – built to handle both the rugged play on the field and the Minnesota climate. The $250 million, 19,400-seat stadium opens on Saturday, April 13 for the Loons match with New York City FC.

What features of the new stadium make it special?

MLS News & Notes from around the league

Sporting Kansas City 1, FC Cincinnati 1: All things considered, Sporting will take this. They suffered a hugely demoralizing defeat in CCL on Thursday and heavily rotated their squad, but still managed a point in a tough away trip. Given the balance of the play, a draw was probably a fair result, but FCC will probably be a little more disappointed after taking the lead and missing a chance to join the second-place logjam in the Eastern Conference. – Nick Rosano

Seattle Sounders FC 1, Real Salt Lake 0: For the first time in four matches, Real Salt Lake finished with all 11 players on the field, as red cards previously pegged head coach Mike Petke’s squad back for three straight losses. However, a road trip to CenturyLink Field left RSL with their fourth defeat in as many games, even if there were spells of possession and attacking play. – Jonathan Sigal

Philadelphia Union 2, FC Dallas 1: Suddenly, the Union — who were just minutes from losing at home to a team that gave minutes to seven under-21 players — have put together three straight wins, and find themselves in a logjam with Toronto and D.C United just below Columbus on the East leaderboard. FC Dallas, who were down three key players due to a team policy violation and two more due to injury and illness, it’s just the second loss of the season, coming to top East teams away. – Phil West

For more excellent coverage of this weekend’s MLS action  

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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