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nd Casey Mears. There would
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CHICAGO -- The last time the United States womens national soccer team played at Soldier Field, it scored six goals and pummeled an upwardly mobile opponent that had recently qualified for a major tournament.It is unlikely many people remember that August game played nine years ago. It is unlikely many American fans remember fondly the World Cup campaign that followed a month later. What glittered along the shores of Lake Michigan back then soon foundered, accompanied by a literal typhoon, in China.Which is to say, extrapolate from Saturdays lackluster 1-0 win against South Africa at your own peril.But, well, it fell some ways short of compelling. No one is going to argue that.It wasnt our best performance, U.S. coach Jill Ellis said by way of the lexicon of diplomacy.It was a historic matchup, both because it was the first meeting between the United States and South Africa, which will make its major tournament debut in the Olympics, and because it marked Hope Solos 100th clean sheet for her country, an unequaled milestone.It offered the specter of societal significance, although American players ultimately did not take the field wearing the shirts or temporary tattoos in support of equal pay, as reportedly planned.It even took place against the backdrop of a spectacular summer afternoon, equally free of clouds and humidity.It just wasnt a memorable game of soccer.Ranked No. 52 in the admittedly dubious FIFA world rankings, behind the likes of Myanmar and Uzbekistan, South Africa showed itself a good deal more organized and committed than that assessment. But a team with few full professionals never really put Solo or the U.S. defense in danger. The United States controlled the game but couldnt dominate it, lacking the precision to create or finish chances.With the team on the verge of naming its final roster of 18 players for the Olympics -- Ellis said she would inform players Monday of the final decisions -- Saturday played out less as a final opportunity to impress than as a university lecture scheduled after the final exam.Send-off games are never easy, Crystal Dunn said after scoring the games lone goal. South Africa is obviously in the Olympics as well, and theyre giving their all. And they had a good game as well. I think, for us, were all coming off NWSL seasons, playing a lot of minutes. The league is very intense, and obviously everything thats going on with us mentally -- yes, we are all preparing for the roster to be announced. But its really no excuse. This wasnt a good performance.But at the end of the day, its all about results.Thats debatable. Just ask the folks who watched the U.S. women pummel New Zealand here nine years ago. But if were talking about the result of Olympic preparation, of months of work rather than 90 minutes of work, it wasnt without some positives.Ellis spoke this week about preparation as a funnel, all the personnel changes and tactical tweaks placed in the wide end of the funnel months ago, with what is left now the distilled product.On the goal, Meghan Klingenberg intercepted a South African pass deep in its own half, no surprise given the amount of time the outside back spent on the attacking side of the halfway line. She moved the ball to Mallory Pugh, who sprinted past a defender to the end line and delivered the cross that Dunn slammed home at the far post. South Africa should have done better with the ball before it ever reached Dunn, but Pugh put it in dangerous space.In that sequence, isolated as it was on the afternoon, Klingenberg looked the veteran completely comfortable in her marauding role, Dunn looked like the player fighting not for the roster spot she didnt claim in the World Cup but a starting spot in Brazil. And Pugh looked like a player who has lived several soccer years in the mere months since she debuted against Ireland in January.Indeed, Pugh was far and away the bright light on the day, full of energy and threatening movement.I dont think of Mal in terms of age because I think shes got a bit of ice running through her veins, Ellis said. She came in in January with us for the first time and, yeah, I think you see a little bit of anxiety there. But now you see her off the field -- and thats important, too, that she feels comfortable off the field. Off the field, shes well blended in, respected in the group. And then her performances, she doesnt play like a young player. Shes special, and we know that. Thats why shes in with us regularly now.Thats why, while confirmation will only come with the official announcement, shes going to Brazil.The other bit of good news Saturday is that Carli Lloyd looks as if she will take the field in the Olympic opener Aug. 3 at 100 percent -- or 120 percent, by her own estimate. Absences were a story Saturday, with none of Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath or Megan Rapinoe in uniform. The injuries for Brian and Heath are described as minor, their absences precautionary. Rapinoe is the biggest question mark on the roster, Ellis saying Friday that she had seen what she needed to see out of the midfielder seven months removed from an ACL injury but also that quad and hamstring concerns would keep Rapinoe off the field against South Africa. But in 45 minutes as a second-half substitute, punctuated with some firm tackles if not goals, Lloyd eased the anxiety created by her knee injury early in the NWSL season.It felt good, knocking the rust off, Lloyd said. You as a player always want to just come on and think everything is going to be perfect. I have to keep it in mind that its been 11 weeks since I played a game, so I think for the most part it felt pretty good. I thought it was the perfect amount of time for me to play, first game. Unfortunately it wasnt maybe our best overall team performance, but we all knocked the rust off. Now everyone will go home and recharge.It will be that process, not this game or the final send-off game against Costa Rica in two weeks (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET, July 22), that matters most. Physical ailments aside, mental freshness is an equally notable challenge. As Dunn alluded to, players have logged far more NWSL minutes this season than those who went to the World Cup a year ago did before that tournament -- and these minutes on top of the international calendar in womens soccer that crowds major tournaments into back-to-back years. It is one more reason no team has won World Cup and Olympic titles in back-to-back years.In reality, these players havent had a break in 2?, Ellis said this week. Since we started the buildup to World Cup qualifiers, then they come straight out [the World Cup] straight into a 10-game victory tour and straight into the league and all the friendlies.So thats something that I think going into these Olympics Im trying to be very thoughtful about making sure were not just physically ready but were also mentally ready.And if they are, chances are few will remember a sunny summer afternoon at Soldier Field. Craig Anderson Jersey . While hell be dialed in to that tournament on a course he loves, you can forgive him if his eyes glance down the calendar just a bit, towards April. Daniel Alfredsson Jersey . -- Aldon Smith believes he is on the path to being sober for good. http://www.cheapsenatorsjerseys.com/?tag...zza-jersey . -- If this was Aaron Gordons final home game at Arizona, and it almost certainly was, then he went out in style. Mike Condon Jersey . Third-seeded Murray had the easiest path to victory on New Years Eve, barely breaking a sweat during his 6-0, 6-0 win over 2,129th-ranked Qatari wildcard recipient Mousa Shanan Zayed. Clarke MacArthur Jersey . -- Ty Montgomery had 290 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, and fifth-ranked Stanford held on to beat No. DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Matt Kenseth is quickly showing how well he fits in at Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth passed JGR teammate Kyle Busch 13 laps from the end to win the Southern 500 on Saturday night, his third victory in his debut season after a successful stint with Roush Fenway Racing. JGR president J.D. Gibbs knew he was getting a champion in Kenseth. Still, even hes been surprised with how fast the new driver has come up to speed alongside teammates Denny Hamlin and Busch. "Hes a good leader," J.D. Gibbs said. "Denny and Kyle really like having him there and hearing what he has to say. And on the track, hes got a gift." He proved that again at Darlington, where Kenseth patiently sat behind Busch much of the race before the right adjustments to the car clicked. It didnt hurt that Busch, who led 265 of 367 laps, cut a right rear tire down the stretch that cost him. Once Kenseth cleared his teammate, he had clear sailing toward his 27th career Sprint Cup victory. "Ive got the good job and Ive got the easy job," Kenseth said. "When they give me cars this fast, its a lot of fun." Hamlin completed his first full race since suffering a compression fracture in a vertebra in his lower back on March 24 and finished right behind Kenseth. Jeff Gordon finished third in his 700th straight career start. Points leader Jimmie Johnson was fourth and Kevin Harvick fifth. Kenseths victory came without crew chief Jason Ratcliff, who was suspended for the No. 20 Toyota having an illegal part in a win at Kansas. Carl Edwards finished seventh, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ryan Newman rounded out the top 10. "This is a dream come true," Kenseth shouted on his radio. "Thank you guys very much." Hamlin mightve thought the same thing after his second-place finish. The driver missed four races because of the injury and ran just 23 laps at Talladega last weekend handing the car off to replacement driver Brian Vickers. Hamlins finish was just what the team needed as it tries to move up from 31st place when the week began into 20th, where itd be eligible for a wild card entry into NASCARs championship chase. As Hamlin neared the end of the grueling 500 miles, crew chief Darian Grubb radioed his appreciation of the effort Hamlin put forth in his first full race back. "I am extremely proud of you there, buddy. Just an awesome job hanging with it all day," crew chief Darian Grubb radioed as they closed in on the finish. "Thank you so much. I appreciate it," Hamlin replied. Hamlin wasnt sore, just worn out after leaving the car. "This is a tough, grueling race," he said. "Nothing to hang our heads about coming up second for second year in a row." Kenseth had won three times here in the Nationwide Series, but had never come closer than third in Sprint Cup. "I dont know that Ive had a win that feels bigger than this," said Kenseth, who counts the 2003 series championship aand two Daytona 500s among his achievements.dddddddddddd No one matched Busch for most of the race. He had powered to victory in the Nationwide event here Friday night-- leading 107 of 147 laps -- and was running strong again after taking the lead from older brother and pole-sitter Kurt Busch 74 laps in. Kyle Busch stayed on top through several stretches of green-flag racing and through the first four restarts. But his machine couldnt keep up after Kenseth went by. Crew chief Dave Rogers said Busch had a cut right rear tire and only 12 pounds of pressure left when he went into the garage. Its the 11th time Busch has led at least 200 laps in a Sprint Cup race, yet hes only won four of those. Busch left the track without comment. Hamlin, though, was pretty certain about his teammates mindset. "Yeah, he definitely wont be happy, thats for sure," Hamlin said. "But its tough when you have a car that was as dominant as his, then the last run, whatever happens happens." Kenseths win came with Wally Brown calling the shots as crew chief. Ratcliff is expected back for the next race after JGR had penalties imposed by NASCAR reduced on appeal. The best chance to defeat Busch appeared to come from Kasey Kahne, who pressured his JGR rival on the restart after the fourth caution period. Kahne looked like he had cleared Busch but the car got loose and the back end slammed the wall. Kahne was not happy with Buschs manoeuvr. "Three times this year me and Kyle had contact and I had a chance, capable-winning cars, its disappointing on the points side and not winning some of these races," Kahne said. "Whether he hit me or just blew the air off, whatever it was, he blew his entry. Im not sure what he was thinking on that." Kurt Busch had hoped to go from an upside-down finish when his car went airborne late and crash-landed on Ryan Newman at Talladega last week to his first Sprint Cup victory in two years at Darlington. He set a qualifying record to win the pole Friday and led 69 of the first 73 laps before getting passed by brother Kyle. Kurt Busch struggled to stay close during the unexpected long stretches of green-flag racing. He was sent a lap down by Kyle on lap 279 and was part of a three-car dustup about 20 laps later that also involved defending series champion Brad Keselowski and Casey Mears. There would be no joyous moment for Kurt Busch here on the 10-year anniversary of his side-by-side final lap dual with Ricky Craven as he finished 14th. Busch ended up in second, .002 seconds behind in Sprint Cups closest finish since it went to electronic timing in 1993. The late accident at Talladega opened the door for the duo from Front Row Racing, David Ragan and David Gilliland to finish 1-2 in last weeks race. The pair couldnt capitalize on that success at Darlington. Gilliland was 29th and Ragan 39th. Danica Patrick improved on her placing in her second Sprint Cup race at Darlington, finishing 28th three spots better than in 2012. Wholesale NFL Womens Jerseys China Womens NFL Jerseys Nike NFL Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys Outlet Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale NFL White Jerseys Discount Jerseys ' ' '
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