Andrea Pirlo’s transfer status is now Juventus Official. The Italian club confirmed what most of us already knew on Monday, ushering the maestro off into the pale sunset over the Alps.
Sunday’s final of the Women’s World Cup bucked every trend imaginable. The 2015 version of the Japanese team that hoisted the trophy in 2011 was dogeared and showing signs of irreparable wear. They’d won every match in the tournament by a mere goal, Homare Sawa was 36 and despite their intricate passwork, the finishing wasn’t consistent.
But this? Four U.S. goals inside the opening 16 minutes? Carli Lloyd’s explosion into full Human Torch mode? A defense that suddenly didn’t need to be a human rampart? This was not the U.S. versus an equal opponent. It was a knight versus a painting.
But the American experience in Canada stretched beyond Sunday. The full month provided a moving tapestry to dissect, a liquid hologram that shimmered and shook and ultimately changed as the winds of coach Jill Ellis’ gameplan blew across and through the team’s tenuous locker room dynamic. And we learned much.
Here, specifically, is what we learned from this magical, at times stressful journey to World Cup glory.
Argentina took down Paraguay 6-1 in a Copa America semifinal on Tuesday, but the real story had less to do with the scoreline than Lionel Messi’s decision to embarrass people in front of a global audience.
Already up 3-1, Messi sliced through Paraguay’s back line, cutting through multiple players before causing two Paraguayans to crash into one another and tumble to the floor as Messi ran past.
Argentina went on to the score on the play, with Angel di Maria finishing off the move, but more importantly, photographers managed to catch the moment of Messi’s brillance perfectly.
Just look at the collateral damage. So dirty, Lionel:
If you’ve watched the NBA during the last few years, it’s pretty likely that you’re familiar with the ‘Uncle Drew’ commercials, in which Kyrie Irving and friends disguise themselves as senior citizens and go on to dominate park games.
Now, soccer has its own version.
Enter Xherdan Shaqiri and Swiss-German newspaper, Blick. Following the same general theme as the ‘Uncle Drew’ commercials, Shaqiri was made up to look like a fictional coaching legend in his 70s while managing a training session with a group of Swiss youngsters.
What happens next is exactly what you’d expect. Old-man Shaqiri dominates the training session, hitting perfect crosses and free kicks before outrunning a youngster to a ball and revealing himself. Check it out, it’s a great spot.
The 2014/2015 season wrapped up a few weeks ago, but thankfully, the soccer calendar never seems to be without its fair share of tournaments to fill the Summer slumber. That said, with break days slow, this might be the perfect time to take a look back at the best tricks, shots and skill moves that defined the 2015 season across the world.
Thanks to the fine folks over at /r/Soccer, we’ve nabbed a few of our favorite clips that deserve another look.
Did we miss any? Let us know.
Dairon Aspiralla with a double, double nutmeg:
Luis Suarez with the killer flick:
That Bolassie touch is so dirty:
Thiago with an elastico that’s just not fair:
That time Kompany died:
Marco Fabian, Marco Fabian, Marco Fabian:
THAT Lamela goal:
This isn’t fair:
And of course, that time Lionel Messi ruined Boateng’s life:
The yearly Amazing Soccer Ritual in Portland between the Timbers and Sounders went off in similarly riotous voice on Sunday. Tied into half, the Timbers scored three goals in the second half – two from Fanendo Adi in less than a minute – and it finished 4-1 in favor of the home side.
It was a great rivalry match. And then Rodney Wallace scored to make it 4-1 and, like, slit some invisible throat and stabbed some invisible gut.
— LP (@LikkitP) June 29, 2015
This will, most assuredly, not make this rivalry anything more than it already is. Portland-Seattle love, right guys!
We don’t talk about beach soccer around these parts too often, but when we do, it’s for golazos like this. Enter Madjer, the 38-year old Portuguese beach soccer legend who’s been scoring ridiculous goals since he was a toddler.
Down 2-0 to Switzerland at the European Games in Baku, Madjer stepped up and created a dimensional rift with this strike that was clocked around 1,000 MPH. Portugal ended up with a 6-5 victory, and Madjer gained a whole new legion of followers.
There’s a certain reputation that follows prominent college soccer conferences across the country. Everyone knows about the PAC-12 and the Big East, but what about life in the WAC?
Enter, California State University, Bakersfield, a rising college soccer program in the unlikeliest of places. With a dedication towards maximizing meager resources, the school is on the rise, looking to build upon a strong 2014 campaign that included the debut of a new head coach after the departure of long-time leader, Simon Tobin.
So how do players adjust to games in 100 degree weather? How have European imports made the most of the WAC’s travel schedule? How does the local community embrace the program?
Find out in a new series tracking the beginning to the team’s 2015 campaign, brought to you by the same folks who trailed Stanford. It’s not easy in the WAC.
For most kids grinding through youth leagues across the country, college soccer is a step along a path towards a professional career. But while most fans and would-be stars keep up-to-date on the day-to-day lifestyles of professional athletes, the reality of college sports are often overlooked. From traveling to academic rigors and professional aspirations, it’s a world entirely unto itself, and one that isn’t as widely recognized as it deserves.
Enter ‘The Stanford Cardinal’ a recently debuted web series focusing on the PAC-12 Champions as they look to repeat and make a run for the College Cup. Come for a peek at Jordan Morris training with teammates, but stick around for a glimpse into what goes on behind-the-scenes at a college soccer powerhouse.
The 2015 Gold Cup kicks off in less than two weeks, and both expectations and pressure are higher than ever. With an easy ticket to the 2017 Confederations Cup on the line, can the US lock up their spot without resorting to a playoff? That remains to be seen, but U.S. Soccer just released the 23-man roster Team USA will run with during the group stage. Check it out below.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/2007), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake/2011, 2013), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS (7): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC/2009), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy/2013), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers/2011)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake/2009, 2013), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes/2011, 2013), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/2007, 2011), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo/2005), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC/2013), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/2011), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC/2005, 2007, 2011), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes/2011, 2013)
Immediate things that come to mind:
- Experience is high, but so is the age of the roster: Youth development has been a consistent theme throughout Jurgen Klinsmann’s reign atop the U.S. National Team, but so too has there been a difficult interplay between long-term goals and immediate results. This roster perfectly exemplifies that give-and-take, with multiple veterans suiting up who likely won’t play a role during the next World Cup cycle, alongside up-and-comers like Gyasi Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin. It’s a tough relationship to balance, but you’ve got to question the inclusion of veterans who might not even play a role during the Gold Cup, like…
- Brad Davis: Brad Davis hasn’t completed a cross in MLS since May 23rd, a real statistic that isn’t that surprising when you consider the recent slate of injuries and lack of form Davis has struggled with in 2015. If he’s not 100% in MLS, what’s the point? Add in Jurgen Klinsmann’s insistence on club form playing a major role in national team call-ups, and this one just doesn’t make sense.
- WONDO WONDO WONDO: Chris Wondo(w)lowski is the perfect example of a Gold Cup All-Star. He’ll score goals. Ugly goals. Terrible goals that make you question whether you even like soccer, but he’ll score goals.
- William Yarborough: Despite his initial struggles with the US set-up, William Yarborough has largely cemented himself as a fixture of the team since his debut, much to the detriment of Bill Hamid, D.C. United’s keeper extraordinaire. With Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando permanently locking up the 1 and 2 spots, the third keeper position came down to a battle between Yarborough and Hamid. And while it might be easy to make long-term proclamations about Jurgen Klinsmann’s preferences, this decision might come down to the fact that Yarborough still hasn’t been cap-tied. A one-off appearance in a group stage game accomplishes that. Easy.
- Changes Can (Will) Be Made: In one of the weirder characteristics of the Gold Cup, teams can replace up to six players once the group stage has been completed. Whether due to injuries or tactical adjustments, expect more than a few players to join the team if (when) the U.S. advances.
- NO JORDAN MORRIS: We’re not 100% sure, but it’s pretty likely that Jordan Morris is wrapping up a Summer internship before joining up with the U.S. squad. If not, maybe he just wants to take one last Summer vacation at home watching Price is Right before turning pro. Either way, we’re disappointed.