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June 27, 2019

England Rip Norway 3-0, Await Winner of USWNT vs France

High Press 10 June 27, 2019

England played their most complete game of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, dominating Norway 3-0.

The win puts the Lionesses into the semifinals. They await the winner of tomorrow’s match-up between the USWNT and France.

England waste no time

The Lionesses made a statement early. Just 2:07 into the game, Ellen White dummied a Lucy Bronze cross, giving Jill Scott a clean shot for the opener.

The game was never in doubt from there. The trust and teamwork displayed in that opening goal was evident throughout the match. And White and Bronze both eventually got theirs too.

In the 40th minute, Ellen White put England up 2 off of a great build-up and feed from Nikita Parris.

The goal made White the all time leading World Cup scorer for England.

In the 57th minute, Lucy Bronze drilled a blistering strike to ice the game for England. The strike will definitely be up for the running as “Goal of the Tournament.”

And it could’ve been worse

England could’ve won this by 5.

Parris missed a close-range shot in the 21st minute. Ten minutes after that, Ellen White popped the post from just a few yards out.

Then in the 83rd minute, Parris missed one from the spot. It’s Parris’ second penalty miss of the World Cup. If there’s any negatives from the game, it’s that England may need to assign a new penalty taker.

371 minutes and counting…

England has now gone 371 minutes without giving up a goal. They are certainly firing on all cylinders at the right time.

England will sit and wait to see who their semifinal opponent is. The Lionesses will draw the winner of Friday’s US vs France showdown.

England see title odds jump

With the impressive win, England sees their title odds improve from +650 to +475.

Ellen White also moves up to second favorite in the Golden Boot race. She goes to +300, trailing odds on favorite Alex Morgan (-286).

USMNT Defeat Panama 1-0, Advance to Quarterfinal vs Minnows Curacao

Peter Nolan June 27, 2019

In our USMNT versus Panama preview for High Press Soccer prior to Wednesday night’s 1-0 American victory, we predicted that coach Gregg Berhalter would make some changes to the lineup that defeated Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago by a combined 10-0 in their first two Group D matches.

We did not, however, foresee that the U.S. supremo would make a clean sweep of the lineup, replacing all 11 starters from that successful opening set.

This win sets up a quarterfinal matchup with surprising Curacao. Meanwhile,Panama gets the tougher draw when it goes up against Jamaica in the quarters. The other two quarterfinals feature Canada vs. feel good story Haiti, while CONCACAF giants Mexico and Costa Rica will go toe to toe in an intriguing contest.

11 new faces, same positive result

In his post-game remarks Berhalter said of all the changes, “the decision to start 11 new players was an easy one. We believe in the group; we wanted to show that.”

So, of the new 11, who impressed, if anyone? The player most wanted to see was Jozy Altidore, whom Berhalter has called the team’s first choice striker, when healthy. With Altidore trying to get to full fitness after missing time through injury, the Toronto attacker has been behind Gyasi Zardes, who played under Berhalter with the Columbus Crew, during this Gold Cup.

Zardes was poor in the U.S. opener versus Guyana, although he did score a fluky goal off of a deflection off of his face. However, he scored a brace vs. T&T, the second of which was a gem.

Altidore scored a gem of his own versus Panama when he elevated to blast home a spectacular bicycle kick for the games only score. Other than that, Altidore showed that he was fit enough to start but looked rusty when it came to linking with his teammates.

Elsewhere, Matt Miazga impressed with a strong defensive effort at center back while also distributing very well from deep. Berhalter’s captain of the day, Omar Gonzalez, did not fare as well and would have been punished for a bad giveaway, only to be let off by a proliferate Panama attack.

It was a similar one up one down for the American fullbacks with right sider Reggie Cannon catching the eye while left full back Daniel Lovitz was all too wasteful with the ball when opportunities arose.

Michael Bradley’s backup Wil Trapp had a solid night, while Christian Roldan was just ok filling in for Weston McKennie. 20-year-old midfielder Djordje Mihailovic was in and out of the action, although the Chicago Fire man did show glimpses of quality on the evening.

Altidore’s wingers Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis each had disappointing nights, although for different reasons.

For Morris, it was a matter of failing to recapture the form he flashed while picking up two assists off the bench against T&T. Lewis promised much while delivering little before he was replaced by Christian Pulisic late in Wednesday’s contest.

Next up, Curacao

Curacao awaits and while Berhalter said all the right things about Sunday’s quarterfinal opponent, calling Sunday evenings opponent “Cinderella,” the United States should handily advance to the Gold Cup semifinals against the winner of Jamaica vs Panama.

On the other side of the draw rising Canada will take on Haiti, the surprise packet of the Gold Cup, having won its group with a perfect 3-0-0 mark. The other semifinal features Mexico and Costa Rica.

Transfer Grade: Manchester United Land Aaron Wan-Bissaka for £50 Million ($63M USD)

Chops June 27, 2019

Who: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
From Where: Crystal Palace
To Where: Manchester United
For How Much: £50m
Grade for Manchester United: A-
Grade for Crystal Palace: B-

Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United Overview

Manchester United march on with their summer overhaul as they’re set to make their second signing: Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

AWB has been linked to Man U for a couple of months. United’s backline was anywhere from bad to atrocious in 2018-19. Targeting defensive support was a top off-season priority. Man U land one of the more talented and well-regarded defenders on the market.

With AWB and the Daniel James signing, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues reshapings his squad younger and potentially more dynamic.

Who is he?

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 21, is regarded as one of the top young right backs in England.

Called up to Crystal Palace’s first team in 2017-18 (7 appearances), he made 35 EPL appearances last campaign. His WhoScore rating places his in Trent Alexander-Arnold territory, although for completely different reasons.

Where TAA is an offensive fulcrum who led Liverpool in assists last year, AWB is a defensive force. He excels at tackling, intercepting, and blocking and rarely makes mistakes. At 6’0, he’s strong on aerials too.

He’s got room though to grow into more a TAA player too. Wan-Bissaka is an excellent dribbler / penetrator, but is a poor at passing / crossing. His 73% pass success rate has room for improvement. If his passing improves (he had just 3 assists last campaign), he can jump-start counters with penetrating dribbles into the attacking third.

Is the price fair?

At first, it felt like a “Manchester United tax” was assessed here. Wan-Bissaka has just over 40 top flight domestic caps to his credit. He’s a right back. That’s a steep price.

However, United didn’t really overpay that much given the current market. Initial reports pegged the deal at £55m. New reports suggest the deal is closer to £50m with only £45m up front. Transfermarkt lists AWB’s value at £35m. It’s an over-pay, yes. But it’s not horrible.

Assuming Wan-Bissaka continues to perform at a high-level defensively and improves his servicing on through-balls and crosses, this is a great price. He’s 21. He’ll improve.

Ultimately, United get a top 4 EPL right-back before he hits his prime. That’s a smart investment.

What impact should we expect?

Without question, AWB is one of the top young players on the transfer market.

Wan-Bissaka is an immediate upgrade defensively over an out-of-position Ashley Young or Matteo Darmian. Yes, United need a capable center-back as well. But Rome wasn’t built in a day.

While United will see immediate defensive improvements on the right side, they’d be wise to invest in AWB’s offensive development. He’s a skilled penetrator, and gradual progress on his servicing will eventually aid the attack. If OGS wants to build more from the back, AWB is a piece that will serve that goal.

If Man U don’t sell Romelu Lukaku or Paul Pogba, this deal means they only have another £35m-ish to spend. So make no mistake, Wan-Bissaka needs to make an immediate impact. He’s nearly half the budget.

The Grades

Still, we give Man U an “A-” for the deal. For the price, it would’ve been wiser to have targeted a center-back who could steady the whole defense. However, they landed one of England’s top transfer targets and didn’t overspend for him. If you’re a United fan, you have to be encouraged with OGS’ purchases so far. He’s going young. He’s going for players who remind him of teammates from Man U’s glory years.

For Crystal Palace, the “B-” is for not leveraging Manchester United’s desperation to land young building blocks for an extra £5-10m. Could they have struck a deal for, say, £35m, but getting a loan back for one more year of his service? United wasn’t coming at this from a position of strength. They could’ve gotten more.

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