Written by Will Parchman

Believe it or not, the U20 Women’s World Cup in Canada is less than a week away. To honor the occasion, FIFA.com ran a video ranking its picks for the 10 best goals from the 2012 tournament in Japan. Then-Illinois standout Vanessa DiBernardo’s rope against North Korea weighs in at No. 4. Mexico’s Olivia Jimenez took the title with her thunderous effort against Switzerland.

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Written by Will Parchman

I’d love to put a baby in Thierry Henry’s arms and then throw a pumpkin at him.

Not because I think he’d drop the baby, but because by the end of the sequence I’m fairly certain the baby would be the president of the United States and the pumpkin would be carved – expertly, I might add – into an intricate, miniature blow-by-blow visual of how the French came to make and then gift the Statue of Liberty to the United States.

This goal here is proof of all that. Henry one-touches (one-brushes? can we call these one-brushes?) this ball here, 23 yards from goal, with the cushioned inside of his right foot.

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Written by Will Parchman

guate

Six months ago, Southern California native Lolo Markwith had just wrapped up a CONCACAF U20 Women’s World Cup qualifying campaign with Guatemala when she got an idea. Why not invite her So Cal Blues ECNL club teammates to Guatemala over the summer to work with children?

Markwith enlisted eight teammates to join her on the trip, and they spent the following months collecting more than 100 complete kits to distribute to the children of Guatemala. Markwith also collected donations through a non-profit she runs called Strike 4 Better Futures, which yielded more than 100 pairs of cleats, soccer balls, 250 boxes of crayons and coloring books, 100 pairs of sandals, 50 T-shirts and goalie gloves to distribute.

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Written by Will Parchman

Ronaldinho is 33. That will make you feel both old and sad at the same time. One of the most whimsical players in the game’s history is on the cusp of retirement, and he took a step closer when he announced he was leaving Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro after two years of service. He’ll go somewhere else (maybe MLS), but that’ll likely be the last stop on his farewell tour. Players like Ronaldinho don’t have that much life in their legs into their mid-30′s.

To honor the occasion, we have this wonderful highlight video honoring ‘Dinho’s time in Brazil, probably his last domestic club stint until he retires. No-look passes galore. Retirement league be damned, MLS could use him. Plus, then he can list his Brazilian mansion for rent all the time.

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Written by Travis Clark

4279715As the month of August nears (we’re only a couple of days away here people), the arrival of European soccer is nigh.

And if you’re of the type who enjoys watching the English Premier League, consider this your invitation to play EPL Fantasy soccer this year with the staff and readers of TopDrawerSoccer.com.

All you need to do is go here, create your team, and join Private League with the code 575062-157949. It’s easy.

First place winner at the end of the season will get special recognition on The 91st minute, a congratulatory phone call from Blog Editor extraordinaire Will Parchman and a snazzy TDS shirt. As if you need more incentive than that.

 

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Written by Will Parchman

flores

What if we took the best U.S. YNT prospects (that is, players eligible for the U23 team and down) based in England and on the European Continent, organized them into respective Best XIs and had them play each other?

Sounds pretty tremendous, right?

I’ve organized both these teams into formations that best utilizes the talent on hand into the closest approximation of their skill set. Pretty much everybody here is playing in a position they’d feel comfortable playing in real life, though I took some obvious artistic liberties.

In any case, let’s stack these two against one another and see who comes out ahead.

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Written by Will Parchman

Do you know Martin Odegaard? You should know Martin Odegaard.

Odegaard is a 15-year-old phenom who’s been tearing up the Tippeligaen in Norway this season. In 12 matches, the skillful attacking midfielder has three goals and three assists for Stromsgodset. Most recently, he went the full 90 against Sandnes Ulf on July 26 and registered a goal and an assist. Did I mention he’s 15?

Odegaard doesn’t turn 16 until December, and he’s already ensconced in the Norwegian U17 setup. As both the youngest player in the history of the Tippeliga and its youngest scorer, Odegaard is generating buzz in Europe. Judging by that newly minted highlight reel (just posted today), you can see why.

Celtic were rumored to be in for him in early July, but then Barcelona entered the picture, which pretty much ends that Scottish fantasy. Barcelona steals everything.

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Written by Will Parchman

The US Youth Soccer national championships wrapped in Boyds, Maryland last week, and we’re on the spot with highlights for your viewing pleasure. You can scope out a look back at the championship games (in word form!) here.

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Written by The 91st

Right Facing Navas

Manchester City’s Jesus Navas is a small, tricky Spanish winger who can either bring pace off the bench or overwhelm fullbacks from the jump. His name is also Jesus. Man City looked to capitalize off both those things this week.

In one of these Twitter Q&A mashups (NYCFC’s #AskLamps was another weird one), City invited fans to pepper Navas with questions tagged with #AskJesus. Typically, it didn’t stay on topic.  Here are a few of the better ones.

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Written by Will Parchman

Midfielder Gershon Koffie couldn’t get off the bench for Vancouver at the start of the season. That seems to be a distant whisper of a memory now.

FCD and Vancouver fought to an entertaining 2-2 draw on Sunday, and this feed from Koffie was its pinnacle of watchability. This opened up Mattocks for the game’s opening salvo, and just look at that damn thing. It isn’t just that he placed it literally perfectly. It’s that he did it on one touch on a difficult bouncing back pass that many would struggle to place at 10 yards. Make sure you take a few blinks in between hour-long sessions of watching that gif. Your eyes might bleed otherwise.

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