US Women Cruise to win in Houston

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The United States Women’s National Team again made light work of Russia as they completed their two match series in Texas. The USA won 5-1 in a strong performance across the board after a tight start to the match.

“Whenever you lose a game,” said USA head coach Jill Ellis referring to the She Believes Cup, “you want to get back on track, and reality is this team doesn’t lose very often. The results make you feel good but what do you get from that and where are the pieces? Those are the really important questions for me and where we are. I was happy with the players, and it was good to get so many players in these games… then we can decide on the next squad.”

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USA Demolish Russia in First Texan Friendly

Crystal Dunn celebrates a goal (Photo: US Soccer)

The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) has started their double header in Texas well as they managed a 4-0 win over Russia at Toyota Stadium in Frisco on Thursday night.

A sell-out crowd of 15,191 attended the match in Frisco with Crystal Dunn and Allie Long both scoring braces in the big win. It was a much needed confidence boost for the USWNT after a disappointing performance in the She Believes Cup.

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Houston Dash Settle for draw in final Portland Invitational Match

Photo: Houston Dash

Houston Dash completed their preseason stint in Portland with a 1-1 draw against the Portland Thorns on Saturday evening. The result sees Houston finish the tournament with a 1-1-1 record, a mixed weekend with promising signs ahead of the season proper.

Portland took the lead just 17 minutes in to the match as their midfielder Mana Shim was able to find space on the edge of the area and score. Her shot was hit too powerfully for Houston goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who got a hand to the ball but it wasn’t enough as the shot still hit the back of the net to open the scoring.

But Houston responded and found a goal back thanks to some stunning work from their forward Stephanie Ochs. She was able to collect the ball and send it forward for Houston midfielder Rachel Daly who beat the defenders to it and made space for the shot which beat Britt Eckerstrom in the Thorns goal to make it 1-1, where the score would remain until the final whistle.

There could well have been an early lead for the Dash as they had an early chance in the sixth minute when a corner fell to Bruna Benites. She was able to get a shot away but the Portland defense did just enough to keep it out and clear.

That control continued in the early stages of the match and in the 15th minute as Houston had their second early chance of the match. Dash midfielder Andressa was able to send a through-ball forward for forward Melissa Henderson who was unable to get on the end of the ball.

While Houston may have done well in the match and been the better side throughout the 90 minutes they were left frustrated. Part of that was no doubt because of Eckerstrom’s performance in goal routinely denying Houston’s chances.

San Antonio FC Complete Florida Trip With Scoreless Draw Against Orlando City B

San Antonio FC completed their Florida road trip on Saturday and will return to San Antonio undefeated from the two matches as they wrapped it up with a scoreless draw against Orlando City B at Eastern Florida State College.

The visitors were likely the stronger side in the match, with an impressive defensive performance making life hard for Orlando City B. That said the wastefulness in front of goal was back, leaving San Antonio FC frustrated and forcing them to settle for a scoreless draw.

It was a dominant performance from San Antonio FC in the first half as they had all of the chances in the first 45. Despite all those chances they were unable to finish any of those opportunities but defensively they were strong, keeping Orlando City B from having a single shot on goal.

After that tight and bogged down first 45 minutes, the second half was much more open with the two teams creating many more chances. The two main outlets for San Antonio FC were Cesar Elizondo and Billy Forbes who had several chances but they were unable to capitalize on those opportunities.

Late in the match Orlando City B really started going for the match as they had chances and with the very last kick of the match they got extraordinarily close to stealing the win. A free-kick from just outside the box beat Matt Cardone but it did not beat the bar, as it slammed off the crossbar and out for a final score of 0-0.

Tibet Women’s Team Denied Visa For Dallas Tournament

Photo: Tibet Women’s Soccer Team (Facebook)

(NOTE: This article wrongly stated the tournament, it is not the Dallas Cup, after the organizers clarified)

Donald Trump’s immigration policies have hit soccer as a Tibetan women’s soccer team set to play in a friendly tournament in Dallas was denied their visas the tournament organizer revealed on Tuesday. The team say that the applications of all members of the team had their visas denied “for no reason”.

After Trump initially raised hopes among Tibetan-Americans of recognition of the nation, which China claims as its own actions like these, while not orchestrated by Trump will shatter all illusions of Trump not following the ‘One China’ policy. The visa fee cost each player individually $160 and coupled with travel the total expenditure for the team was $5000.

This is not the first tournament the women have attended as they went to a German tournament in 2015 and had no issues. But under a new reality in the United States that was not the case as they were barred from entering the country.

The side was organized by New Jersey native Cassie Childers who has been handling a lot of the logistical work from the United States. Childers submitted the relevant paperwork to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with a letter from the Dallas Cup organizers confirming their financial sponsorship of the team. On her post about fundraising for the team she said that officials did not look at the paperwork submitted and grilled them about their positions on the field and if they had any relatives, seemingly worried they’d overstay their visas, before deciding that (as Childers puts it) “they had no good reason to visit the US”

The application took place in New Delhi, India and sources confirmed that the application visa was denied but USCIS provided no further information. A generosity campaign has been set up to raise money to cover costs and has exceeded that goal as they earned $6,604 in the past five days.

San Antonio FC Claims First Ever win Over MLS Opposition

The two sides warm up (Photo: San Antonio FC)

San Antonio FC has won their first ever match against MLS opposition as they managed a 2-0 win over Minnesota United FC in Florida on Sunday morning. San Antonio FC rebounded perfectly from their disappointing double header last week and will gain a full steam of confidence from the victory.

There was a goal in each half as San Antonio FC managed a big preseason victory by upsetting the Loons in their final pre-season match. Defender Cyprian Hedrick scored his first goal for his new club while forward Devin Vega continued his stunning preseason with a second goal, forcing his way in to starting XI contention.

The opening goal came right at the death of the first half as Minnesota gave away a free-kick right in range for San Antonio FC midfielder Rafael Castillo. Instead of going for the direct shot at goal Castillo opted to send in a cross to Hedrick, with the big defender using all of his strength and height to get a header away, beating the keeper and hitting the back of the net to give San Antonio FC a 1-0 half-time lead.

The second goal came at the end of the second half as Vega was able to seal a famous win for San Antonio FC. New defender Ben Newnam was able to get a ball through for Vega to run on to, allowing him to slot home the winner.

While the scoreline makes the match sound like San Antonio FC dominated the match, it was a tight affair throughout. Often times San Antonio FC had their goalkeeper Matt Cardone to thank for keeping them ahead as he pulled off a number of classy saves.

As often happens in friendlies the second half saw the intensity drop due to the large number of substitutions. But soon enough San Antonio FC took charge of the second half and were able to find a second goal to win the match.

San Antonio FC Fall in Preseason Double Header

Photo: San Antonio FC

San Antonio FC’s preseason had a setback as they suffered their first preseason loss in a difficult day at Toyota Field. Playing St. Edward’s twice they failed to win either match with a scoreless draw followed by a 1-0 loss on Saturday.

Fans should not panic, however, with the two squads being experimental, playing in a different formation. In addition, there were five trialists on the park for San Antonio FC at one point in the second match, with San Antonio FC head coach Darren Powell using preseason for what it is intended for.

“All the contracted players got 60 minutes today,” said Powell explaining the day. “We were also able to look at players who have been on trial and see where they’re at and where they stack up in terms of our roster. There were a lot of positives to take away today.”

San Antonio FC made the bulk of the chances in the matches but they just could not connect and put any of them away against a determined St. Edwards’ defense. This may perhaps be due to the new formation with San Antonio playing a 4-1-4-1, a rare chance to see a lone striker, with Carlos Garcia and Kris Tyrpak given the difficult task in each match. The question remains if Powell will persist with that formation or move back to 4-3-3 which has proved more successful.

After the two sides couldn’t score in the first three halves of the two matches five minutes in to the second half the goal finally came. A loose pass allowed St. Edwards’ possession, setting up a one-on-one chance against number two keeper Lee Johnson to give the Eddies the only goal of the day.

San Antonio FC will continue their preseason preparations away from home next weekend as they head to Florida to take on Eastern Conference team Orlando City B and Major League Soccer team Minnesota United.

USWNT to Return to Texas for Russian Matches in April

The Russian Women’s National Team (Photo: FAU)

Texas will be hosting two international friendlies in April as Russia will take on the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT). The first match will be at Toyota Stadium in Frisco on April 6th while the second will be at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston three days later, April 9th.

The matches take place right before the start of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season begins, allowing hype to build ahead of what will be an historic fifth season for the NWSL and women’s soccer in the United States.

For Russia the matches are vital preparation as they prepare to compete in the 2017 Women’s Euros. The task for Russia in the Netherlands will be difficult as they have to take on Germany, Italy and Sweden in Group B, having played Germany in qualifying behind them as the second place side in Group 5.

While the United States will be using the matches against Russia as preparation for their hosted tournament, the SheBelieves Cup. That tournament will bring strong teams as German, France and England will come to US soil.

As is so often the case with the USWNT they have a strong record against Russia, having won seven matches and one draw against them. The two teams last played in 2014 when the United States won a double header series 7-0 and 8-0.

The UNSWNT has an incredible record in Texas, having won every match they have ever played in the state. At Toyota Stadium they have won all three matches, beating Canada 6-2 and 1-0 in 2007 and 2014 while they beat New Zealand 2-1 in 2012. At BBVA Compass Stadium they have won the only match they played there beating China 4-0 in 2012. The average attendance in matches in Texas is 13,170.

This could well be the last chance fans in Texas will have to see a United States national team play, due to the discriminatory SB6 that will be going before the state legislature. A similar bill in North Carolina cost them all NCAA events, and while US Soccer didn’t take events away from North Carolina, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati suggested that they would not give matches to the state due to the law. “Given the legislation, I’ve asked the people who handle our games to reconsider,” he said in a Washington Post interview. That may be why these matches were announced now, to get the matches scheduled before SB6 passes to have a defense when that measure passes.

RGV FC to Face Monterrey in Long Awaited HEB Park Opening

Photo: RGV FC Toros

Rio Grande Valley FC’s stadium opening will finally take place on March 22nd, a year later than originally planned. That delay allows for a great match to open their soccer specific stadium as Rio Grande Valley FC (RGV FC) Toros will play CF Monterrey on March 22nd in the first match at HEB Park, the club announced on Monday.

The match between the two teams is a perfect opener for the new stadium with Monterrey being just 150 miles away from Edinburg, where HEB Park is located. CF Monterrey is the closest professional team to RGV FC Toros, with San Antonio FC being 229 miles away.

It will be multiple firsts for RGV FC as it will be the first international friendly the club has ever played, and the first match at their own stadium. It will be one of the first matches for new head coach Othoniel “Junior” Gonzalez who replaced Wilmer Cabrera who moved to Major League Soccer side Houston Dynamo in the off season.

This friendly will be the last pre-season match before RGV FC as they open the season in their new stadium against San Antonio FC. The match will also be the first played with full facilities opened, allowing for a dry run for what is sure to be another hotly contested South Texas derby.

HEB Park is a 9,700 capacity stadium, the building of which has been beset with problems, as weather, and overly ambitious scheduling delayed the opening of the stadium by almost a year. Tickets for this match go on sale beginning Friday February 17th and can be purchased through the RGV FC website.

San Antonio FC Wins First Preseason Friendly

Photo: San Antonio FC

Life in the second season in the history of San Antonio FC has got under way as they managed a 2-1 victory over University of Incarnate Word (UIW) in a friendly at Toyota Field on Saturday morning. It was a strong come from behind victory, with San Antonio FC using two different 11s, each 11 getting 45 minutes each.

The two goals came in the second half, first to defender Ryan Roushandel, who was able to get on the end of a set piece from midfielder Devin Vega. Vega then added a second shortly afterwards as he buried a penalty.

Vega is certain to be a fan favorite for San Antonio FC this year, and proved it in this match, despite it being a closed door friendly. The 18-year-old has been given his chance at his home town club, and with few home town players on the squad, Cardone is the only other, and impressive performances like that against UIW he is sure to be loved by the fans.

It was a tight match through the first half, with San Antonio seemingly having a measure of control throughout. Despite that the Cardinals were holding out well as they defended strongly against the professional side, keeping it scoreless at half-time.

San Antonio FC switched out the entire team for the second half, one that included four trialists attempting to impress for a contract. That led to an unstable backline, and especially midfield, allowing UIW to capitalize and score the opener in the 55th minute thanks to a perfect through-ball.

But the professional side started getting their feet and on the hour mark it was a goal for Roushandel to pull San Antonio FC level. The ball was whipped in to the box by Vega who found Roushandel, who was able to easily head home the equalizer.

It didn’t take long for Vega to turn from provider to scorer as he was able to score his first goal for a professional side. After Akwaefi Ajeakwa was fouled in the box, Vega was able to step up and bury the penalty, sealing the 2-0 win for San Antonio FC.