Soccer

Australia, New Zealand to co-host 2023 Women's World Cup

Australia, New Zealand to co-host 2023 Women's World Cup

GENEVA (AP) -- Australia and New Zealand will co-host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The island neighbors beat Colombia 22-13 in a vote Thursday by FIFA's ruling council, which judged them as having the best commercial prospects for women’s soccer.

The vote was split along continental lines, with Europe joining South America in voting for Colombia.

The expanded 32-team tournament -- eight more than the 2019 edition in France -- is expected to open in July 2023.

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The winning bid proposed 12 cities with seven in Australia and five in New Zealand. It includes the main stadium used for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

After a successful World Cup last year, FIFA wants the next women’s tournament to further establish its independence from the men, and show it is commercially attractive.

At least $100 million is expected to be paid by the governing body in 2023 -- for prize money, team preparation costs and to clubs releasing players for the tournament -- FIFA president Gianni Infantino pledged last year in France.

Colombia’s bid was rated a high-risk commercial option in an evaluation of the candidates published this month. Australia and New Zealand's bid was rated low-risk and scored 4.1 points out of a maximum 5. Colombia scored 2.8.

A third candidate, Japan, withdrew on Monday. That gave fellow Asian Football Confederation member Australia a clearer run. New Zealand is part of the smaller Oceania continental group.

The 2023 tournament will be the first time a World Cup for men or women will be shared across two continental bodies, and the first co-hosted women’s edition.

Colombia’s bid was supported by most of the nine voters from European soccer body UEFA.

Launched in 1991, the Women’s World Cup has never been hosted in South America.

Both Australia, the No. 7-ranked team in women’s soccer, and No. 23 New Zealand will qualify automatically for the tournament.

Colombia is currently ranked No. 25 and was the only one of the three bidders not to qualify for the 2019 edition.

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D.C. United to return to Audi Field as MLS will host local matches beginning August 12

D.C. United to return to Audi Field as MLS will host local matches beginning August 12

Following the conclusion of the MLS is Back Tournament, MLS will continue its 25th season by having teams compete in their local markets, the league announced on Saturday.

Thus, D.C. United will be returning to Audi Field for regular-season action. The team will open up on the road against FC Cincinnati on Friday, August 21, before having its home opener on Tuesday, August 25, against the New England Revolution. For at least the beginning of the season, no fans will be in attendance. 

“I would like to thank everyone involved with the MLS is Back Tournament -- players, coaches, staff and partners -- for their role in helping us recapture the momentum we had at the beginning of our 25th season and reconnect with our passionate fans,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “Since suspending play in March, we have been working on plans to play as much of our season as possible, beginning with the tournament in Florida and resuming in our local markets following the competition. We remain focused on the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff, and look forward to continuing our season in our home markets.”

Though the league is planning to allow teams to travel after holding the tournament in a bubble, it doesn't mean protocols will lessen in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Players will continue to be tested every other day and are strongly advised to limit exposure outside of team facilities and mandated areas.

However, a major complication is how the three Canadian teams (Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver) will handle the season. Much like how the Toronto Blue Jays had to relocate to Buffalo to play the MLB season, Canada still has tight restrictions in place when it comes to leaving the country and coming back.

MLS states that it will have a clearer picture of the schedule in September, but initially plans to have U.S. teams only square off against one another. That may lead to the three teams north of the border only playing one another for the beginning of the season. PLans there remain uncertain. 

As it stands now, the league is set to kick off on August 12 and each team will play 18 games. Decision Day will be on November 8, and 18 teams will enter the playoffs. That number is four more than last season. The MLS Cup will take place on December 12. 

The MLS is Back Tournament is set to come to a conclusion on August 11 and the Portland Timbers will take on Orlando City for the title on August 11. D.C. United did not reach the knockout stage after finishing last in their group.

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Christian Pulisic continues to shine for Chelsea early in FA Cup Final, leaves match with injury

Christian Pulisic continues to shine for Chelsea early in FA Cup Final, leaves match with injury

Since the resumption of soccer in England, USNMT star and Chelsea attacker Christian Pulisic has been among the best in the sport. He continued that on Saturday, wasting no time giving his team the lead in the FA Cup Final against Arsenal.

Pulisic netted a goal just five minutes into the match.

The FA Cup is a knockout-style tournament that pits the best British soccer teams against one another. Pulisic's goal not only gave Chelsea an early advantage, but put him in the history books as he became the first U.S International player to score in the final.

Pulisic's brilliance on Saturday is just the latest impressive performance by the 21-year old. His effort since the Premier League returned helped Chelsea finish in the top four of the league.

Unfortunately for Pulisic and Chelsea, he did not get the opportunity to further leave his mark on the FA Cup Final and he exited in the 48th minute with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Though he had to leave the contest early, Pulisic once again proved that he is an emerging star both nationally and internationally.

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