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Lloyd's first-half hat trick lifts USA to World Cup title

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Lloyd's first-half hat trick lifts USA to World Cup title

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Carli Lloyd came up big again. Three times.

And with it came the Americans' elusive third Women's World Cup title.

Lloyd scored a hat trick as the U.S. burst to a four-goal lead in the first 16 minutes, and the Americans overwhelmed defending champion Japan 5-2 Sunday for their record third championship and first since 1999.

A sellout crowd that included U.S. Vice President Joe Biden roared in approval for Lloyd's hat trick, the first ever in a Women's World Cup final.

"We just made history," Lloyd said. "I was on a mission."

When it was over, Lloyd collapsed to her knees and pumped her fists. Forward Abby Wambach bear-hugged teary-eyed coach Jill Ellis, lifting her off the ground.

[SHOP: Buy Team USA Women's World Cup champions gear]

Lloyd, voted the Golden Ball as player of the tournament, scored twice in a span of about 135 seconds as the U.S. led 2-0 by the fifth minute.

Lauren Holiday boosted the lead in the 14th and two minutes later Lloyd made it 4-0 with an audacious 54-yard, right-footed shot from midfield that sailed over goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori.

Japan closed on Yuki Ogimi's goal in the 27th and an own goal by Julie Johnston in the 52nd. Tobin Heath scored two minutes later for the Americans, who had struggled in the World Cup since winning the inaugural tournament in 1991 and then again at the Rose Bowl eight years later.

Christie Rampone, the only holdover from the 1999 team, lifted the trophy with Wambach, the 35-year-old former FIFA Player of the Year who lost her regular starting job with age. Wambach was among the most vocal opponents of FIFA's decision to play the tournament on artificial turf.

With FIFA President Sepp Blatter staying away during a U.S. criminal investigation of soccer officials, the trophy was presented by FIFA Senior Vice President Issa Hayatou of Cameroon, the head of African soccer's governing body.

Hope Solo won the Golden Glove as top goalkeeper of the tournament. She played despite critics who urged the U.S. Soccer Federation to drop her after she initially faced two misdemeanor counts of domestic violence from a June 2014 altercation at her half-sister's house, charges that were dismissed on procedural grounds.

The title also vindicated the U.S. Soccer Federation for its decision in April 2014 to fire coach Tom Sermanni, who had replaced Pia Sundhage the previous year, and replace him with Ellis, the British-born American who had been an assistant on the coaching staff.

Japan returned eight starters from the 2011 final, when it beat the U.S. on penalty kicks. The Americans, turning their roster over more, started just four of the 11 players who opened that game in Germany.

Lloyd, a 32-year-old midfielder, had come up big before, scoring the winning goals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic finals.

She put the U.S. ahead in the third minute off a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe, then made it 2-0 when she poked the ball between two defenders and past the Kaihori's outstretched arms.

Lloyd's third goal came when Kaihori came far off her line. The keeper backpedaled and got a hand on it, but it bounced into the goal.

It was also the fastest hat trick in World Cup history — men or women — and Lloyd became the first American since Michelle Akers in 1991 to score multiple goals in a World Cup final. The only other hat trick in a World Cup final was when England's Geoff Hurst scored three times against Germany in the men's 1966 final at Wembley.

Lloyd scored six goals in seven matches during the monthlong tournament, raising her international total to 69.

Holiday added her goal in the 16th minute, volleying a header by a Japanese defender.

Ogimi's goal in the 27th minute was the first Solo had allowed after five straight shutouts. The only other goal scored against her came in the first half of the tournament opener against Australia.

The United States went 540 minutes without conceding a goal, the longest streak in the World Cup since Germany went 679 scoreless minutes from 2003-11.

Japan's victory over the United States four years ago its first World Cup title and it came just months after the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, killing more than 20,000 people and touching off the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl in 1986.

The United States has a 25-1-6 record against Japan, and a 3-1 advantage in World Cup meetings.

The tournament was been played while FIFA, soccer's international governing body, has been rocked by a widening American corruption probe that alleges bribery and racketeering worth more than $150 million involving high-ranking FIFA officials over a 24-year span.

Manchester City brings Premier League trophy to Chicago ahead of preseason game in Soldier Field

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NBC Sports Chicago

Manchester City brings Premier League trophy to Chicago ahead of preseason game in Soldier Field

Manchester City is coming off a season in which it dominated the English Premier League to the tune of a record 100-point season.

City is kicking off the preseason of its title defense in Chicago. City takes on Borussia Dortmund at Soldier Field on Friday night.

The last time the reigning Premier League champions were in Chicago was when rivals Manchester United came to Soldier to take on the Chicago Fire in 2011.

The Citizens won’t have the full arsenal of stacked stars for its U.S. tour, which also includes stops in New York and Miami as part of the International Champions Cup. Many of the team’s best players are getting a break after playing in the World Cup. Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne, one of the stars of the tournament, is one of six Man City players to reach the semifinals.

Paul Dickov, who played for City for nearly 10 years between 1996 and 2008, is on tour with the team and talked about City’s preparations.

“The reason the clubs want to come to the States and play in International Champions Cup is the facilities are fantastic, the training facilities, the hotels, the treatment they get and just give them the best preparation going into what’s going to be a hard season,” Dickov said. “Nobody has won the Premier League back-to-back titles for nearly 10 years now so it’s going to be tough. Coming here and being able to prepare the way they can in the United States is going to put them on a long way to regain the title again.”

City brought the Premier League trophy to Wrigley Field on Thursday for the Cubs-Cardinals game. Dickov got to throw out the first pitch. The Scotsman threw a strike, much to his relief.

“I was quite calm beforehand, but I must admit when I got out there and I had to walk out there both hands started getting a bit sweaty,” he said. “I managed to make it and I got a fantastic reception off the Chicago Cubs fans so thank you to everybody at Chicago Cubs for having me there. It was great. Something I’ll never forget.”


Dickov compared Cubs fans to City fans in the way both teams struggled for a long time before finding success.

“They stuck by us through thick and thin when things weren’t as great,” Dickov said of Man City fans. “I suppose it’s a little bit like the Chicago Cubs here in Chicago. The fans turn out, they get 30-40 thousand, great atmosphere, back their team.”

While promoting the game, the Premier League trophy made multiple stops in Chicago, including with the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on an off day.

City also took the trophy and new signing Riyad Mahrez, who just joined Man City from 2016 champions Leicester City, to Haas Park in Logan Square. Haas Park includes a soccer field donated by Manchester City and the American embassy of the United Arab Emirates in 2012.

“The outcome of it has been great,” Dickov said. “Thousands of children and families benefiting, not just from the soccer part of it, but the education program as well. To be down there the other day for the full day and seeing the joy in the kids face seeing soccer here and the other activities that are on is great because, yeah, football is fantastic, soccer is fantastic and when you’re out there and you play you want to win, but it’s important, especially from Manchester City’s point of view, the city and the community. The stuff that they do off the field is second to none and it’s giving something back.”

Chicago Fire permanently sign midfielder Aleksandar Katai

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USA TODAY

Chicago Fire permanently sign midfielder Aleksandar Katai

The Fire have secured the transfer of midfielder Aleksandar Katai from Deportivo Alavés of the Spanish La Liga, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

This season’s breakout playmaker has been signed with Chicago through 2019, with a 2020 club option. Before the transfer, Katai was on loan from Alavés, which was set to expire after July.

The Serbian player has emerged as one of the most important pieces of the Fire’s offense this season. Since joining the club on Feb. 6, Katai has scored eight goals in 18 league matches, tying forward Nemanja Nikolić for the most on the team. Katai also has three assists in 2018.

The 27-year-old’s biggest game of the year came against New York City FC last month when he scored two goals to lead the Fire to 3-2 victory. His production this season in the MLS has been much more significant than it was in 23 matches with Alavés, where Katai only tallied three goals and four assists.

His transfer fee is unknown but, according to Sam Stejskal of MLSsoccer.com, he will be a “Targeted Allocation Money player” for the rest of this season and will not be a Designated Player until 2019. Whatever the official price was, acquiring Katai for a lengthier amount of time seemed like a must.

Throughout this season, the Fire were rumored to be in talks with legendary Spanish striker Fernando Torres. On Tuesday, he signed with Sagan Tosu, a Japanese club. The Fire signed Katai the next day, showing that the team was possibly waiting for Torres to leave the market.

Chicago will face the Philadelphia Union Wednesday night at Toyota Park, where Katai will look to continue his impressive season.