When U.S. women’s national team coach Jill Ellis on Thursday announced her 23-woman squad for this summer’s World Cup, perhaps the only surprise was seeing Ali Krieger in the list of defenders, rather than Casey Short. Given that neither was likely to be featured significantly on the field, selecting the experienced Krieger for her third World Cup makes some sense.
Other than that, the squad is what Ellis has had in place for a year or so. The team still has worries on defense, and defensive midfielder Julie Ertz has no real backup in the midfield lineup. Ertz and stalwart center back Becky Sauerbrunn might be the two most important players in the team, if only because they’re the most irreplaceable. Meanwhile, the team is loaded up front, so maybe the USA’s best hope is for a few 4-3 victories.
This is a veteran team with more big-tournament experience and trophies than any other squad in the competition. The core of the team remains intact from the previous World Cup. My worry is that this was also true of a team at the men’s World Cup last summer, a team that many picked to win it all. Does anyone remember how Germany fared in Russia last year?
• Lionel Messi scored his 600th goal for Barcelona this week, an otherworldly free kick in the Champions League semifinals. To put that in some perspective, just remember that Barcelona has long been one of Europe’s top clubs. It has boasted some of the most famous players in soccer history. Messi is now 368 goals ahead of the second-place scorer on the club’s all-time list.
• Once again, Monterrey is the CONCACAF Champions League winner, and once again, its local rivals Tigres came up just one victory short of a title. Monterrey won the two-legged final 2-1 and took its fourth CCL title of the decade. Meanwhile, Tigres lost the final for the third time in the past four years, after falling in the Copa Libertadores final in 2015. It makes one wonder if the club bears some sort of international-tournament curse.
Premier League: Liverpool at Newcastle, 1:45 p.m. Saturday, NBCSN. With two games to go in the Premier League season, Liverpool is still one agonizing point behind Manchester City. Since the Citizens don’t play until hosting Leicester on Monday — and will surely defeat lowly Brighton next week — Liverpool’s only hope is to win and put the pressure on Man City. Newcastle, though, boasts red-hot striker Ayoze Pérez, who has scored five times in three games.
Writer Jon Marthaler gives you a recap of recent events and previews the week ahead. E-mail: email@example.com