Equalizer Soccer http://womens.soccerly.com The No. 1 Source for Women's Professional Soccer News Sun, 14 Sep 2014 13:52:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Solo sets shutout mark in 8-0 U.S. thumping of Mexico http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/13/solo-shutout-mark-usa-thumps-mexico-8-0/ http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/13/solo-shutout-mark-usa-thumps-mexico-8-0/#comments Sun, 14 Sep 2014 03:37:54 +0000 http://womens.soccerly.com/?p=16556 Abby Wambach (20) and Alex Morgan scored two goals each in an 8-0 whitewash of Mexico.  (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Abby Wambach (20) and Alex Morgan scored two goals each in an 8-0 whitewash of Mexico. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The United States blitzed Mexico, 8-0 in Sandy, Utah on Saturday to affirm regional dominance ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifying tournament where Mexico stands as their stiffest competition.  A large majority of the match was played in the Mexican end of the field, but it was U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo who made history with her 72nd international shutout to take sole possession of the U.S. record she had shared with Briana Scurry.

Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan both scored twice for the U.S., who will play Mexico again Thursday night in Rochester, N.Y.

“I thought we had a lot of opportunities and I thought we put away a lot. Obviously there were a couple that were close, a couple unlucky shots, but overall I think everyone was really happy with the result tonight,” Morgan said. “And just the fact that we didn’t really drop our level too much, obviously there was waves her and there, but I thought overall we set the tempo.”

Wambach and Morgan were everywhere in the opening 45.  It was Wambach who Alicia Garciamendez was shielding when the Mexican defender’s attempt to clear it out of danger accidentally chipped her own keeper, Cecilia Santiago, for an own goal to make it 1-0.  The U.S. needed no help with the rest of their goals.  First Morgan took advantage of space to dribble in on the left side where she calmly found Wambach in prime scoring position where she was never going to miss from.

Morgan got on the board herself when she outfought Bianca Sierra after initially being beat to a ball over the top.  Santiago made a poor effort coming off her line and Morgan was able to take a touch over the keeper for 3-0.  Still not finished, Morgan used the right side near the end of the half and sent in a cross/shot that Santiago was able to reach out and deflect but no one picked up Wambach on the far post and her second of the night was an easy tap in.

The second half brought more of the same.  The teams were barely settled in when Christen Press was able to find Morgan central in the penalty area where she finished her 2nd of the night to make it 5-0.  The next one was a Whitney Engen header for just her 2nd international goal—168 behind Wambach who finished the night on 170.  A Lauren Holiday corner kick found Sydney Leroux for an easy finish to make it 7-0.  And Heather O’Reilly finished off the scoring with her 41st international goal.

Wambach and Morgan both flirted with hat tricks.  Wambach had an open header that hit the post and Morgan was in the mix on multiple late chances.  Both settled for two goal nights as the spotlight fell on Solo.

The easy win left Solo with little work to do in her record shutout.  Mexico won a corner kick that was deflected high in the box before Solo made an easy catch on it.  That was about as difficult as it got on a night the U.S. thoroughly dominated.

The teams will do it again Thursday at Sahlen’s Stadium in Wambach’s hometown, Rochester, N.Y.  The World Cup qualifying tournament begins Oct. 15 for the United States against Trinidad & Tobago.  Mexico opens against Costa Rica a day later.  Both of those matches will be at Sporting Park in Kansas City.

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Debutante Spain, 3 others qualify for 2015 World Cup http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/13/germany-spain-norway-france-qualify-for-2015-womens-world-cup/ http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/13/germany-spain-norway-france-qualify-for-2015-womens-world-cup/#comments Sat, 13 Sep 2014 17:17:18 +0000 http://womens.soccerly.com/?p=16550 Dzsenifer Marozsan (center) and Germany are headed to the World Cup. (Getty Images)

Dzsenifer Marozsan (center) and Germany are headed to the World Cup. (Getty Images)

Spain has qualified for its first-ever Women’s World Cup on a day that also saw past champions Germany and Norway qualify from Europe. World Cup vets France also joined the group of qualifiers on Saturday.

Natalia scored a goal in each half on Saturday to beat Romania, 2-0 and clinch first in UEFA’s Group 2 for Spain, booking a ticket to Canada next year.

Germany qualified on Saturday with a 4-1 win over Russia, while Norway clinched Group 5 and a spot in the World Cup with an 11-0 thumping of Albania.

France won 2-0 away to Finland to qualify on goals from Louisa Necib and Gaetane Thiney.

England and Switzerland had already qualified for the World Cup.  Still to be decided in UEFA is Group 4 where Scotland hold out hope of an upset at Sweden on Wednesday that could  steal the group and a bid to Canada.

Also already qualified are China, Korea Republic, Australia, Japan and Thailand from Asia, as well as host Canada. The 2015 Women’s World Cup will be the first to feature 24 teams.

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USWNT set for two matches against Mexico http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/13/uswnt-mexico-preview-1/ http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/13/uswnt-mexico-preview-1/#comments Sat, 13 Sep 2014 12:50:44 +0000 http://womens.soccerly.com/?p=16547 The U.S. women are set to play Mexico Saturday for the first of two meetings in a week. (Photo Courtesy Michelle Morrison, The Soccer Desk)

The U.S. women are set to play Mexico Saturday for the first of two meetings in a week. (Photo Courtesy Michelle Morrison, The Soccer Desk)

The United States women’s national team hosts Mexico on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, for the first of two meetings in less than a week. The matches are the final two for the United States before World Cup qualifying in October, where the Americans could see Mexico again in a semifinal or final.

Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, N.Y., will serve as the venue for the second match on Thursday.

Mexico’s lone win in 29 games (1-27-1) against the U.S. came in qualifying in 2010, when a semifinal upset nearly cost world No. 1 a spot at the 2011 World Cup. Most recently, however, Mexico lost 7-0 to the U.S. in September 2013.

U.S. coach Jill Ellis will be using the matches and training sessions as a way to evaluate her squad for the qualifying campaign. Ellis will have to trim the current 28-player roster down to 20 for October’s CONCACAF Women’s Championship.

Just like these two friendly matches, that World Cup qualifying tournament takes place on home soil, where the U.S. is on a record 85-game home unbeaten streak (74-0-11 since Nov. 6, 2004). The most watched record on Saturday, however, could be the one in net. Goalkeeper Hope Solo, who is facing domestic violence charges from an alleged incident in July, is one shutout away from standing alone atop the U.S. history books. She is currently tied with Briana Scurry with 71 all-time shutouts.

Mexico enters the match carrying some injuries, but looking to improve ahead of World Cup qualifying. Las Tri were drawn into Group B with Costa Rica, Jamaica and Martinique.

Kickoff Saturday is 9:30 p.m. ET, with the match streamed on ussoccer.com.


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Swanson still fine-tuning new-look Virginia http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/12/virginia-steve-swanson-adjusting-changes-morgan-brian/ http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/12/virginia-steve-swanson-adjusting-changes-morgan-brian/#comments Sat, 13 Sep 2014 03:14:59 +0000 http://womens.soccerly.com/?p=16534 Virginia coach Steve Swanson is still finding the right pieces after losing several important seniors. (Photo Copyright Steve Bruno for The Equalizer)

Virginia coach Steve Swanson is still finding the right pieces after losing several important seniors. (Photo Copyright Steve Bruno for The Equalizer)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Turnover is an inevitable part of sports. For Virginia’s Steve Swanson, sweeping changes from last year’s spectacular squad have given the 14-year Cavalier coach a hatful of roster vacancies as he prepares his No. 2-ranked team for another deep run.

“I think that’s probably the biggest challenge of college athletics, at least it is for me as a college coach in our sport,” he said. “You kind of get them right where you want them after four years and then they graduate. For us, we got the team right where we wanted it and then we lost half of them.”

Where he got the team was five minutes away from playing in the NCAA final last year, until a late, game-tying goal from UCLA set up a penalty-kick shootout in a semifinal classic which eliminated the Cavaliers and ended their case for a national championship.

The heartbreaking loss was the final shot for a large senior class, including five starters, who helped power the most formidable offense in the country on their way to a school record 20-game winning streak. Virginia’s key to success was a gorgeous, intuitive passing game that, at times, elevated rapid ball-movement to an art form and was the envy of virtually every other program in the country.

“People asked me last year… ‘Wow, how does that kind of style happen?’ Well, it’s hard work! It’s four years of hard work!” the coach said in mock exasperation. “Our players took a lot of time to get to that and we’re not just going to turn that around when you have (lost) as many players as we have and make that happen as easily. It’s difficult.”

Swanson admits, though, despite the bittersweet loss of the players he nurtured over those years, the opportunity to integrate and develop the next generation is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of his job. While Virginia undoubtedly has designs on another College Cup trip in 2014, they’ll have to do it without last year’s starting outside backs, center back, holding midfielder and both right-flank attackers. In their place, seven freshman and two sophomore transfers make up the incoming class.

Brittany Ratcliffe celebrates a goal in a recent match against Samford. (Photo Copyright Steve Bruno for The Equalizer)

Brittany Ratcliffe celebrates a goal in a recent match against Samford. (Photo Copyright Steve Bruno for The Equalizer)

Despite having half his starting lineup graduate, Swanson retained the heart of Virginia’s goal-scoring prowess which the Cavaliers used to mercilessly smother opponents in 2013. Brittany Ratcliffe made a name for herself in 2013 as a super-sub who shredded tired defenses and jolted the Virginia offense when she came on the pitch, scoring all but one of her 12 goals last season while coming on in relief. Now combining with leading-scorer Makenzy Doniak in the starting lineup, the two juniors are expected to form one of the most threatening strike partnerships in the country.

“Brittany, for all practical purposes, could’ve started for us last year,” Swanson said of his junior forward’s vital role on the 2013 team. “I think she did a great job coming off the bench. She accepted that role and there’s a lot of players you can’t bring off the bench, they don’t have that spark, but Britt has that inner DNA — she’s very competitive, she works awfully hard, she’s got the athleticism to cause problems for teams and she’s quick and hard to contain.”

Doniak missed much of the team’s preseason with the U.S. U-20 national team in the World Cup and Swanson says it may take some time for the two to form what, on paper, looks to be a dynamic duo. Already, though, Ratcliffe and Doniak are 1-2 for the team lead in points and goals. Freshman Veronica Latsko, twice the Gatorade State Player of the Year in Pennsylvania, has proven an able understudy as well, with two goals scored already in her first five games as a substitute.

Many of Swanson’s challenges begin in the midfield, where senior Morgan Brian returns to command the offense in her final season. As the lethal, glistening point in Virginia’s midfield diamond, Brian was at or near the top in the Cavaliers’ three major offensive categories in 2013. Through the first five games of the season, though, Brian has only scored once, picking up her first goal on Sunday against Samford. For a player who scored 14 times in 2013 and now sits fifth on Virginia’s career points leaders’ list, such a slim goal haul might be setting off alarm bells in Charlottesville, but the midfielder says her role behind the potent pair of Doniak and Ratcliffe in the front and the inexperience further back in the formation necessitates a more withdrawn role instead of an outright attacking mid.

“Just with our personnel this year, I almost have to do a little more string-pulling from deeper with the midfield,” Brian said. “It could change once we get players more experience and maybe I can get the ball higher up the field rather than having to get it from the backs. Between Brit and Mak… both of them score goals and I think that could offer some more threat up top. For us it will probably be good, we just have to figure out the chemistry between them and between myself and the whole midfield.”

One looming issue will be more international call-ups for Brian. The pride of Frederica Academy already has a few appearances scheduled in mid-September friendlies and, with World Cup Qualifiers on the horizon, it is possible Brian could miss even more of her senior season if she makes a favorable enough impression on national team boss Jill Ellis.

“What’s hardest for me is just switching in my mentality of how to play,” Brian said of her trials playing for both college and country. “The speed of play is a little quicker. You’re playing with the best players in the world there, so it’s a little different. It’s difficult, but I think I’ve gotten a little used to it… hopefully.”

Swanson says his team has been able to get used to it, too.

“It’ll be a challenge, but the good thing is it’s a challenge we’ve been dealing with all three of her years,” Swanson said. “She’s been in and out of our team since she arrived at Virginia. We played several spring games against good competition without Morgan and they’ve shown they can maintain the high quality there.”


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Lohman among 12 NWSL players waived http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/12/nwsl-waiver-wire-12-players/ http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/12/nwsl-waiver-wire-12-players/#comments Sat, 13 Sep 2014 01:41:55 +0000 http://womens.soccerly.com/?p=16531 The Boston Breakers waived midfielder Joanna Lohman n Friday. (Photo Copyright Clark Linehan for The Equalizer)

The Boston Breakers waived midfielder Joanna Lohman n Friday. (Photo Copyright Clark Linehan for The Equalizer)

Twelve players were waived by their NWSL clubs on Friday, including Joanna Lohman, Angie Kerr and Emily Van Egmond.

Teams have until Monday at 5 p.m. ET to claim a player off of the Waiver Wire. If two teams request the same player, that player will be awarded to the team that finished lower in the standings during the 2014 NWSL regular season. Once a team claims a player from waivers, it is moved to the bottom of the claiming order for all future waiver sessions for the remainder of the off-season.

Lohman was waived by the Boston Breakers after two seasons with the team. Kerr played for Portland Thorns FC for two seasons, while Van Egmond was with the Chicago Red Stars in 2014 after playing part of 2013 in Seattle.

The Western New York Flash led all teams with four waived players, while the Houston Dash waived three players.

Here are the 12 players waived:

Name Club
Joanna Lohman Boston Breakers
Emily Van Egmond Chicago Red Stars
Nina Burger Houston Dash
Rafaelle Souza Houston Dash
Kika Toulouse Houston Dash
Angie Kerr Portland Thorns FC
Madeleine Thompson Sky Blue FC
Danesha Adams Washington Spirit
Teigen Allen Western New York Flash
DiDi Haracic Western New York Flash
Lydia Williams Western New York Flash
Courtney Wetzel Western New York Flash
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Canada midfielder Kyle to endorse FieldTurf http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/12/kaylyn-kyle-endorse-fieldturf-2015-womens-world-cup/ http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/12/kaylyn-kyle-endorse-fieldturf-2015-womens-world-cup/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 13:04:48 +0000 http://womens.soccerly.com/?p=16527 Kaylyn Kyle has signed on to endorse FieldTurf. (Photo: Canada Soccer)

Kaylyn Kyle has signed on to endorse FieldTurf. (Photo: Canada Soccer)

Artificial turf company FieldTurf has signed Canadian national team and Houston Dash midfielder Kaylyn Kyle to endorse its product, according to TSN.

FieldTurf will pay Kyle $15,000 over three years, according to the report, to market the synthetic surface, which will be used in four of the six 2015 World Cup venues (Montreal and Vancouver use other brands). This comes as the battle against artificial turf surfaces at the 2015 Women’s World Cup rages on, with a group of over 40 players threatening legal action and citing gender discrimination as they try to have venues changed to natural grass.

[MORE: Complete coverage of the 2015 Women's World Cup Turf War]

Kyle, according to the TSN article, would not comment publicly until the announcement is made official, although FieldTurf vice president of marketing Darren Gill called Kyle “a good fit for us.” Kyle’s agent, Brant Feldman, called the opposing players’ arguments against turf “lame,” noting that NFL players compete on artificial turf.

In a tweet from June 9, 2013, Kyle mocked the FieldTurf used by Starfire Stadium, where she played home games for Seattle Reign FC during the 2013 season. The tweet showed turf burn on her legs, with the text, “I LOVE TURF!!!”:

A now deleted tweet from Kaylyn Kyle from June 9, 2013. (Photo: Twitter)

A now deleted tweet from Kaylyn Kyle from June 9, 2013. (Photo: Twitter)

“What you say on Twitter a year and a half ago, you don’t realize it could come back and haunt you,” Feldman said.

Kyle’s Canada teammates have remained mostly quiet on the issue. Sophie Schmidt recently said the team is trying to not be distracted by the turf war, but added that ” I’m pretty sure that every soccer player, any age, loves to play on grass.”

Canada captain Christine Sinclair weighed in on the topic earlier this week on Canadian radio show Brady & Walker.

“If you ask any soccer player, they prefer to play on natural grass, it’s a fact,” she said. “But obviously I’m proud of the CSA and Canada for hosting this tournament. As a team, we’re not going to focus on what surface we’re playing on. We’re going to focus on trying to win the World Cup and let the others worry about what fields they are playing on.”

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Nobbs aiming for England’s 2015 World Cup squad http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/12/jordan-nobbs-england-2015-world-cup-dream/ http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/12/jordan-nobbs-england-2015-world-cup-dream/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 11:45:04 +0000 http://womens.soccerly.com/?p=16521 Jordan Nobbs hope to be part of England's 2015 World Cup team. (Photo Copyright Harjeet Johal for The Equalizer)

Jordan Nobbs hope to be part of England’s 2015 World Cup team. (Photo Copyright Harjeet Johal for The Equalizer)

LONDON, England – If the Three Lions are poised to make some noise at next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, one of the promising players England coach Mark Sampson will be counting on to help produce results is Jordan Nobbs.

The 21-year-old Arsenal Ladies central midfielder has tremendous talent and vision that makes her a standout player. She has already shown on many occasions that she is a dynamic football player that can make her opponents look silly on any match day.

Nobbs had an up and down year, missing three-and-a-half months with a fractured bone in her vertebrae which she picked up with England during a Cyprus Cup match against Canada in March. She missed the first half of the FAWSL season with Arsenal and the Gunners run that won them their 13th FA Women’s Cup. Not being able to play football was tough; it was her first major career injury. Nobbs believes her eventual return has been made stronger in the long run.

“I was out for three-and-a-half months, so that was not the best time,” she said. “That was my first major injury and I think that only makes you stronger. I’ve come back and played some international games and been pleased with my performances.”

On July 6, Jordan Nobbs returned to the pitch with Arsenal as a second-half substitute during a Continental Cup match against Chelsea. Over the next month with Arsenal and England, Nobbs gradually built up her overall match fitness. She played 90 minutes when England qualified for the World Cup with a 4-0 win over Wales on August 21 and three days later she followed that with her first FAWSL goal of the season.

Nobbs opened the scoring away to Manchester City in the 5th minute with a spectacular chip from about 35 yards out. A shocked Karen Bardsley was caught off her line and that set the tone for an eventual 4-0 Arsenal win. That goal earned Nobbs nomination for August goal of the month and postmatch praise from teammate Kelly Smith.

“Yeah she’s fit, she’s ready and she’s energized,” Smith said. “You can see her will and determination to win today. She covered every blade of grass and that’s what we’ve missed during the early part of the season, her energy and leadership. We welcome her back with open arms.

“Jordan’s definitely a go-to player, you want her on your team. You want her buzzing around the pitch and she certainly gave us that energy today.”

Now that she is back healthy and contributing, Nobbs is hoping to improve her play with Arsenal and England so that she can earn herself a seat on the England plane that heads to Canada next year. The 2014 FAWSL season has been hotly contested with surprises at both the top and bottom of the table. Chelsea and Birmingham City look to be battling it out for the championship while Everton are hoping to escape the drop zone by catching Notts County. Arsenal sit 4th with 14 points from 11 matches. Nobbs believes that the quality of the players and close competitiveness from the FAWSL teams are helping players improve and step up when they do get called up to the England national team.

“I think it just shows with what’s happened with the points this year and in the league, it just shows how many teams are now stepping it up and getting in more players and improving the league,” Nobbs said. “I think that’s only making us stronger as players. The past few performances with England have showed that with the players, and obviously Mark’s strategies on the game have been brilliant. I think that’s exactly what we need.”

Sampson and his coaching staff have completely turned England around since they crashed out at the 2013 UEFA European Championships in Sweden. The purported dictatorship and control under Hope Powell that saw players like Lianne Sanderson leave the program is no more. Players are happy and enjoying playing football again. The positivity that Sampson provides is something Nobbs instantly sees when he walks into a room. England are confident in the game plan provided and most of all they’ve gone out, secured results, and qualified for the World Cup.

“As soon as Mark comes in you know he’s very positive,” Nobbs said. “I think he knows exactly what he wants and where he wants us to get to. I think all the players truly believe in his strategies and what he wants to do. If you believe in your managers and their strategies then you’ll put the work rate in.

“There’s a lot more competition in the team this year and I think that’s definitely pushing everyone as players. You can’t slack no matter who you’re playing against. I think there’s a great vibe within the girls at the moment and I think it is showing on the pitch. Hopefully there’s a lot more to come of that and we can keep on improving and actually start challenging for the World Cup in Canada.”

The Stockton-on-Tees native has never been to Canada before. She insists on doing her talking on the pitch and if Sampson selects Nobbs, the agile and speedy playmaker will be ready to give her all for England.

“No, I’ve never been so I think it will be a great experience,” she said. “Hopefully I’m going to be working hard and up for selection. I’ll just keep putting in the performances and I’m sure whoever goes out there will all be ready.”

The debate concerning artificial turf surfaces at the World Cup has made the jump across the pond. England players are well aware of the noise that has surrounded the use of artificial turf pitches at all six venues. Nobbs is happy to just go out and play the game she loves. As a player on the younger side of life, she isn’t quite bothered by the turf tug-of-war.

“I think football is football, I just want to play to be honest,” Nobbs said. “I’m young so I’m alright for now (laughs). Maybe I’ll realize it after we’ve played a few games on it. Right now I’m okay, but I think there’s nothing we can do about it really.”

If England are to succeed and advance out of the group stage, Nobbs is a vital key in making that happen. She creates for her teammates around her and her ability to read the play with a quick counterattack is something that will catch England opponents off guard. A fit and healthy Nobbs is something Sampson won’t have to lose sleep over.

Notes: Arsenal Ladies and Manchester City Ladies have both advanced to the Continental Cup Finals with victories over Notts County and Chelsea Ladies, respectively, on Sunday. They will contest for the Continental Cup next month at a venue and date to be named later.

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2015 WWC tickets on sale as Canada aims high http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/10/2015-womens-world-cup-canada-tickets-on-sale/ http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/10/2015-womens-world-cup-canada-tickets-on-sale/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 01:05:05 +0000 http://womens.soccerly.com/?p=16514 Canada World Cup ticket

Tickets went on sale Wednesday for the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, marking another step in the countdown to the tournament which kicks off on June 6, 2015.

And Canada plans to do things big — record-breaking big.

Peter Montopoli, the chief executive of the National Organizing Committee and general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association, says the NOC’s and CSA’s ambitions are to make Canada 2015 the biggest FIFA event ever, outside of any men’s World Cup. The targeted total attendance is 1.5 million, Montopoli said last month at the FIFA 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup closing press conference.

“We’re trying to set goals that haven’t been accomplished before for 2015, and that’s 1.5 million spectators, which would make it in our hopes to be the largest attended FIFA event in history outside of a men’s World Cup and would also make it larger than the Vancouver Olympics of 2010, in terms of attendance,” Montopoli said.

The highest attendance Women’s World Cup in history was USA 1999, totaling 1,214,209 fans for 32 matches between the 16 teams. Canada 2015 will be the first-ever Women’s World Cup with 24 teams, increasing the number of total matches to 52.

“We have to do everything that we can to make sure that our country is fully engaged, and we’ve done our studies already to know that the country is engaged and supportive,” he added.

Stadium passports and half-passes for all six venues are now on sale, along with tickets to the July 5 final in Vancouver. Tickets to the final start at $50 and can be purchased here.

The first phase of Canada 2015 ticket sales run until Dec. 6, the day of the draw. At that point, the second ticketing phase begins, once teams are assigned to host cities and groups. Individual tickets are scheduled to go on sale early in 2015.

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Bale rips artificial turf for Euro 2016 qualifier http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/10/gareth-bale-rips-andorra-artificial-turf-worst-pitch/ http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/10/gareth-bale-rips-andorra-artificial-turf-worst-pitch/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 19:07:03 +0000 http://womens.soccerly.com/?p=16509 Gareth Bale (left) says Andorra's plastic pitch was the worst he ever played on. (Getty Images)

Gareth Bale (left) says Andorra’s plastic pitch was the worst he ever played on. (Getty Images)

Gareth Bale slammed the artificial turf he played on Tuesday in Andorra for a Euro 2016 qualifier, calling it “by far the worst pitch I have ever played on.”

Bale delivered the game-winning goal for Wales against Andorra for a 2-1 victory, but he wasn’t happy about the excessive black rubber pellets that kicked up throughout the match, and the feel of the field.

“I can’t describe how bad, bobbly and hard the pitch was to deal with,” he said, via the Daily Mail.

Bale’s comments are particularly relevant to women’s soccer as a group of about 40 players fights for natural grass at the 2015 World Cup, currently scheduled to be played on artificial surfaces across six cities in Canada. All fields at the 2015 World Cup are required to be FIFA Recommended 2 Star turf, which is what that Andorra pitch is.

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger also ripped the surface in Andorra after his start midfielder, Aaron Ramsey, suffered an ankle injury.

“[There were] bad tackles and on an artificial pitch,” Wenger said, via the Guardian. “There’s nothing worse for the players than to change pitches. I’m personally against [artificial pitches] but I can understand the decision from FIFA because in some countries, sometimes it’s better to play on an artificial pitch than on a normal, bad pitch.

“In Russia in the winter, for example, the artificial pitch gives you the guarantee of a flat pitch. Also, the quality of the artificial pitches improves always and gets closer to what is a normal pitch.”

The Daily Mail reports that the Estadi Nacional pitch was certified by UEFA last week after failing initial tests. The field is a 3G — third generation — field that is supposed to be the best of available technology.

As the question continues to be asked — Would the men be asked to play a World Cup on artificial turf? — there’s an implicit answer from one of the world’s best players, who is outraged to be playing even a Euro qualifying opener on the plastic stuff. The answer is no.

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Tracking NWSL players abroad this offseason http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/10/nwsl-offseason-loans-players-abroad/ http://womens.soccerly.com/2014/09/10/nwsl-offseason-loans-players-abroad/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 14:21:32 +0000 http://womens.soccerly.com/?p=16507 This was published on Monday, but as a stagnant page and not a new article, so it may not appear on everyone’s radar: Here is a comprehensive list of National Women’s Soccer Players who are playing abroad this offseason.

Check back to that link for updates, as there are still some loans that have not yet been made official by the NWSL. But for the most part, that is the large bulk of what is going on in NWSL player movement abroad.

Expect some but not much internal league player movement in the coming week, with a waiver wire/draft on Monday. Teams will submit their waiver lists to the league on Friday.

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