Sweden ended the United States' 44-game unbeaten run with a 3-0 win in the Olympics group stage on Wednesday and Megan Rapinoe hailed them as one of the best European sides ever.

Strikes either side of the half-time whistle from Stina Blackstenius and a goal by Lina Hurtig proved the difference as Sweden claimed a famous triumph over their heavyweight rivals, who they defeated on penalties in the 2016 quarter-finals.

The world champions enjoyed a two-year spell without losing before the Group G opener but will quickly have to bounce back if they are to follow up their France 2019 success with Olympic gold.

Rapinoe found it hard to defend the USA's performance as she credited Sweden's hard-working display.

"We did not play a very good game and that is to take nothing away from Sweden, they played a great game," the attacking midfielder said after the match.

"This is the highest level and these are the best teams in the world. Sweden are one of the best ever in Europe and the world. If we don't play well we don’t win these games.

"We want to be a lot better, we played a bit tight and hurt ourselves a lot. You can't say one thing specifically.

"I can't remember the last time we gave up a goal, so to give up three is not great but we know what we need to do to win these games, get out of the group and go from there."

Head coach Vlatko Andonovski refused to panic and is keen to see a response against New Zealand on Saturday.

"It has put us in a big hole and we are the only ones who can get ourselves out of it," he said. "It is not going to be easy. We have to get good results in the next two games, but I know this team will not give up.

"I don’t remember this team losing 3-0 in recent history so it is a bit of a shock, but everyone is positive. We still have games ahead of us. We have got to bounce back. We have to forget this game and focus on the next one."

In contrast, Blackstenius, whose brace sealed a remarkable victory, spoke glowingly of her team, who were without Chelsea captain Magdalena Eriksson for the win.

"I'm very happy about the goals - of course I'm happy to score. The team helped me very much and I think I could have scored at least two more but I don't want to focus on that. I'm just happy and proud of the team", the forward said.

“We developed our game and our play. It's very good and we have so much quality in every player. Every player is also very different from the other. We have so many players that can do good stuff and as a team we are very good. Every player is very happy about going very attacking."

Hedvig Lindahl, though, maintained that Sweden's win was simply a starting point and that Peter Gerhardsson's side had not achieved what they had come to the Games for yet.

"It's just the first group game, we haven't won anything yet. We need to keep going," the veteran goalkeeper said. "If you have one high into lows in the group then this means nothing. But to win against the USA, it's something we can take some confidence from.

"You can go very far in a tournament even if you lose to the USA or whoever you play in the first game, so I don't know how much it means, but we showed the world and ourselves that we can play good against a team like the US and any team."

Shaq Moore struck after just 20 seconds as the United States beat Canada 1-0 in Kansas City to clinch top spot in Group B at the Gold Cup.

The tournament hosts withstood late Canada pressure to preserve a 100 per cent record, following the 1-0 win over Haiti and 6-1 thrashing of Martinique.

Moore's winning goal saw him sidefoot home from close range after Sebastian Lletget's low cross from the left rolled across the six-yard box.

It was the USA's fastest goal in Gold Cup history, tournament officials said, and it was Tenerife defender Moore's first international strike.

Gyasi Zardes glanced a header wide of the right post as the United States sought a second early goal, and Daryl Dike fizzed a shot a yard off target after a low cross from the right.

Canada began the second half with purpose, Tajon Buchanan drawing an early save from New England Revolution team-mate Matt Turner, but an equaliser proved elusive.

Jonathan Osorio, Buchanan and Richie Laryea all tried their luck without reward, and a late 20-yard shot from Lucas Cavallini that skidded off the surface and into Turner's arms was Canada's last chance at Children's Mercy Park.

Gregg Berhalter's United States side advance to a quarter-final against the runners-up from Group C, to be played on July 25 in Arlington, Texas.

Canada, coached by John Herdman, remain alive in the competition despite this loss, and they advance as runners-up from Group B to face the Group C winners.

Jamaica and Costa Rica, both with six points from two games so far in Group C, are certain to progress. They go head to head in Orlando on Tuesday to decide who finishes top and faces Canada and who comes second in that pool and takes on the US next.

Daryl Dike scored a double as the United States claimed their second win at the CONCACAF Gold Cup with an emphatic 6-1 victory over Martinique in Kansas City on Thursday.

USA, who won 1-0 in their Gold Cup opener against Haiti, found their goal scoring touch with four second-half goals to seal their passage into the quarter-finals.

The largely MLS-based US side was dominant, with 69 per cent possession and 20-9 shots against Martinique who lost 4-1 to Canada in their first-up game.

Orlando City forward Dike opened the scoring with a 13th-minute header from Schalke talent Matthew Hoppe's cross, before Dike's 23rd-minute header deflected in off Martinique's Samuel Camille.

After the break, defender Miles Robinson headed in from close range before Dike grabbed a second after a slalom run and lobbed finish in the 59th minute.

Martinique pulled one back from the spot in the 64th minute from Emmanuel Riviere.

Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zardes drilled a low shot home in the 70th minute before Gianluca Busio found substitute Nicholas Gioacchini to net a sixth in stoppage-time.

USA will finish their group phase against Canada, who won 4-1 over Haiti on Thursday, on Sunday in Kansas City, while Haiti and Martinique – who are both eliminated – face off in Frisco.

Canada are level on points and goal difference with the USA but ahead on goals scored heading into the final fixture, meaning the hosts must win to top the group.

The United States will aim to put a halt to Haiti’s flow when the teams meet in Group B of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

The U.S.'s overall record against their opening opponent is 7W-6D-9L might surprise some, but U.S. fans shouldn't be surprised by Haiti's ability to challenge on the pitch. Two of the Stars and Stripes' legends, Joe Gaetjens and Jozy Altidore, have Haitian heritage. Former player, Gaetjens played for the U.S. in the 1950 World Cup and scored the stunning game-winner in his team's historic upset over England. Altidore is currently third place for all-time USMNT goals (42) and ninth in international caps at 115.

The U.S. comes in as the defending Concacaf Nations League winners after an impressive 3-2 extra-time win over Mexico in June. Aside from a few holdovers, the team chosen to represent in the Gold Cup is mostly different. This is an opportunity for several players to make an impression on head coach Gregg Berhalter.

This U.S. team still boasts star power from abroad, namely in forwards Matthew Hoppe and Nicholas Gioacchini, who play for Schalke and Caen in Germany and France, respectively, while defender Shaquell Moore plays in Spain for Tenerife. There are a number of MLS stars featured on the roster as well. Between DC United’s Paul Arriola and the Columbus Crew’s Gyasi Zardes, they account for 20 U.S. goals and will look to add to that number in Gold Cup action.

However, Haiti has hit the ground running in the tournament, having already seen game action in the Prelims. Duckens Nazon scored three goals in the Prelims and now has seven overall goals, making him not only Haiti’s top Gold Cup scorer but also for the Caribbean.

Strikers are often more effective as a duo, so it is ideal for Haiti that Frantzdy Pierrot is also rounding into great form, scoring a hat trick in the final Prelims game. Pierrot is now right behind Nazon in overall Gold Cup goals with six. Pierrot working beside Nazon on the field means that the U.S. faces a pair of extremely effective strikers. Goalkeeper Matt Turner’s shot-stopping skills, which have proved to be the best in MLS this season, will now be tested in international action.

The tasks are set for both teams, with the U.S. looking to stop Haiti’s flow and get a good start of their own in a tournament the U.S. have won six times. Haiti will try to maintain their momentum, especially their scoring streak, to build on the semifinal finish the team produced in 2019.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have established themselves as genuine title contenders in the flagship Concacaf Gold Cup.

Over the three consecutive editions, the Jamaicans were beaten finalists in 2015 (3-1 to Mexico) and 2017 (2-1 to the United States), and were losing semi-finalists in 2019 (3-1 to the U.S.), performances that underline their pedigree in the biennial tournament.

Having come so close to being crowned champions, the only thing left for the Reggae Boyz at this stage it seems is to lift the trophy.

Still, veteran Damion Lowe says while the team will be targeting the title, it’s a goal they aim to pursue with an air of cautious optimism, and with as little pressure as possible.

“There is no pressure because people always write us off, and even now people don’t give us the recognition that we deserve and how good we are as a team, especially in tournaments,” he said.

“Nobody expected us to become a powerhouse in Concacaf as we started from scratch and built the programme,” Lowe added.

When Jamaica kick-starts its Group C campaign against Suriname at Exploria Stadium in Orlando on July 12, Lowe notes that the plan is to let the country’s football do the talking.

“So for us, the job is the same and that’s to prove people wrong. We will do our best and let the football speak for itself,” said the Al-Ittihad defender, who will be participating in his third Gold Cup tournament.

Lowe, 28, says he has grown to love playing in the Gold Cup.

“Playing in the Gold Cup tournament is always a joy. We are grateful for the experience and how far we have come as a nation and we just want to move on to higher heights,” he said.

The Jamaicans, who are currently hosting a pre-tournament training camp in Orlando, have quality within their ranks with the likes of Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon and Bailey and former Manchester United wonder kid Ravel Morrison.

With the pair, plus a host of English-born players and local-bred talent, the Boyz are quite capable of ruffling more than just a few feathers in the 2021 edition of the confederation’s marquee competition.

The Boyz also have group stage matches against Costa Rica and Guadeloupe.

Meanwhile, Lowe says he is still getting used to life playing in the Egyptian topflight.

 

Haiti arrives at the Concacaf Gold Cup with momentum gained from their 4-1 victory over Bermuda in the Prelims to qualify for the main tournament.

This will be the eighth Gold Cup for Les Grenadiers, as the Haitian squad is nicknamed. Unlike some other teams in the tournament, Haiti has full focus on the Gold Cup, since earlier this year the squad was eliminated from World Cup Qualifying.

Though the team once won the earlier version of the Concacaf tournament (in 1973), they have never won the modern version, called the Gold Cup. Coach Jean-Jacques Pierre, who is a former Haitian national team player and is in his first year coaching the squad, will have the players looking to build on their dynamic play from the qualifying tournament.

With a mix of players from teams abroad in Europe sprinkled in with Major League Soccer members and others from Caribbean clubs, Pierre has an intriguing ensemble to manage.

Haiti is coming off their best-ever participation in the 2019 Gold Cup, where the team reached the semifinals. One of their best matches in the tournament was a thrilling comeback 3-2 quarterfinal victory over Canada, who is one of their Group B opponents this year.

Haiti came up against eventual winners Mexico in the semifinal, but fought hard in a 1-0 extra-time loss, with the goal against them coming from a penalty kick taken by Raul Jimenez.

Frantzdy Pierrot was the break-out star for Haiti in the 2021 Prelims. The forward, who plays in France’s Ligue 2, scored three of the team’s four goals in the match against Bermuda. Duckens Nazon, another experienced forward for Haiti who plays in Belgium, scored the final goal from the penalty spot.

Both also scored for Haiti in the team’s electrifying 2019 Gold Cup run, so the pair is likely to slide back into a scoring groove for the team once the tournament begins.

Having ultimately qualified on July 6, Haiti is a bit of a wildcard in Group B, since other coaches haven’t had much advance notice in order to prepare for the squad. Haiti opens up Gold Cup play on July 11 against the United States

 

Guatemala are a step closer to the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup group stage after posting a 4-0 victory against Guyana in the First Round of the 2021 Gold Cup Prelims on Saturday night at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Sha ‘Carri Richardson has apologized for her actions that led to the disqualification of her 100m results from the US Olympic trials last month after traces of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis, was found in her samples taken after the race in Eugene, Oregon.

The athlete has also accepted a one-month ban from the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which means she will miss the 100m. The ban takes effect on June 28 with the Olympics set to start July 23.

Speaking on NBC this morning, mere hours after news broke yesterday that she had tested positive for a banned substance, a contrite Richardson said: “I want to take responsibility for my actions. I know what I did. I know what I am supposed to do. I know what I am allowed not to do and I still made that decision but not making an excuse or looking for any empathy.

“I’d like to say to my fans and my family and my sponsorship, the haters too, I apologize. As much as I am disappointed, I know that when I step on the track I don’t just represent myself, I represent a community that has shown me great support, great love and I apologize for the fact that I didn’t know how to control my emotions. I am human.”

She explained that her actions were triggered by an interview before her race when a reporter told her that her biological mother had died the week before. Richardson was reportedly abandoned at birth and was raised by her grandmother. The news, she said, caused her to be blinded by emotion and hurt.

“To hear that coming from a complete stranger was definitely triggering, nerve shocking because it was just like how are you to tell me that, that sent me in state of mind of emotional pain and I still had to go out and put on a performance,” she said.

Richardson might have lost her place in the 100m as, according to reports, Jenna Prandini, who was fourth in the 100m finals at the US trials, has been pencilled in to replace her and 200m champion Gabby Thomas entered as the alternate runner.

Asked if she would take that slight chance she has to run in the relays, Richardson responded: “Right now, I am just putting all my time and energy into doing what I need to do to take care of myself. If I am allowed to receive that blessing then I am grateful for it but if not, right now I am just really focused on myself.”

She concluded by saying this was not the end of the road for her as she intends to bring the 100m gold medal back to the USA at the next Olympic Games in Paris in 2024 and vowed the name Sha’carri Richardson would never be associated with performance-enhancing drugs.

 

USA Track and Field appears to confirmed that Sha Carri Richardson has returned an Adverse Analytical Finding for cannabis from last month’s US Trials and will likely miss the Olympic Games this summer.

American sprint sensation Sha Carri Richardson has reportedly tested positive for a banned substance and is likely to miss out on her making her Olympic debut, according to multiple reports.

The 21-year-old American, who won the 100m at the US trials last month, returned an adverse analytical finding, following a test administered at the US Olympic Trials and marijuana was classified as a Substance of Abuse by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on January 1, 2021.

According to the reports, the use of this substance carries a maximum four-year ban.

However, if she can prove that the use of the drug was used outside of competition and was not intended to enhance performance, she could have the ban reduced to three months. It has also been reported that should she agree to undertake a treatment program, the ban could be reduced further.

As it stands, however, the athlete has been stripped of her performances at the US trials and fourth-place winner Jenna Prandini as well as Gabby Thomas have been notified that they could be potential replacements and have been entered in the 100m.

Richardson, the 2019 NCAA 100m champion, generated much excitement for a potential match up with two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce when she raced to a world-leading 10.72 100m in April. It was the fastest any woman had ever run so early in a season.

She followed it up with four more times under 10.8 seconds during the season.

When Fraser-Pryce, who is vying for an unprecedented third Olympic 100m title, ran a world-leading 10.63 on June 5, the excitement in anticipation of a blockbuster clash in Tokyo intensified.

Now it seems that that match up will not happen.

The best-case scenario for Richardson, should the ban remain in effect, is that she would be available to run on the USA’s 4x100m relay team at the Olympic Games in August if selected by USA Track and Field.

 

 

Briana Rollins-McNeal, the 2016 Rio Olympics 100m hurdles champion has been banned for five years by the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Athletics Integrity Unit starting August 15, 2020, for tampering with the results management process.

It was the second violation for the 2013 World Champion, having been banned for a year in 2016 by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after missing three drugs tests - two of them after she forgot to update her whereabouts details when she was attending a fete of honour in her hometown and travelling to the White House to meet the President Barack Obama.

However, the athlete has filed an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), which has stayed the sanction until they have heard her case. CAS will hear the full case and make a ruling before the start of this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo on July 23.

This will allow her to compete at the USA Olympic trials which end on June 27. Should CAS uphold the ban, Rollins-McNeal, 29, will be banned until August 2024, which means she would also miss the Olympic Games in Paris, France.

 

A 23-member Reggae Girlz squad assemble in the United States tomorrow without inspirational captain Khadijah Shaw for two upcoming international friendly games as part of the 2021 Women's National Team Summer Series hosted by the US Soccer.

The local delegation from Jamaica will depart on Thursday, June 3 out of Montego Bay at 2:20 pm.

The squad will have a camp in Houston from June 4-7 after which it will relocate to the host hotel.

Jamaica will play number 38 ranked team Nigeria on June 10 and World champions the USA on June 13. Both games will be played at the BBVA stadium in Houston, Texas. The games will be the first for the Jamaican team since they participated in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers in February 2020 and they will do so without their prolific striker Shaw.

Jamaica's number-nine, the leading scorer for Bordeaux in the Division 1 Féminine, the highest division of women's football in France, has reportedly asked for time to recover from what was an intense season in which the team fought successfully for a Champions League spot.

Shaw was the joint-leading scorer, alongside PSG’s Marie-Antoinette Katoto, with 21 goals for Bordeaux, which finished third in the division.

Meanwhile, five new players have been named to the squad including Rebecca Spencer of Tottenham Hotspur, Drew Spence of Chelsea, and Shania Hayles of Aston Villa as well as Mikayla Dayes of the University of Maryland and Satara of FC Austin Elite.

They will join 14 veterans who represented Jamaica at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

According to the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), once the teams arrive in Houston both for training camp as well as the tournament, they will operate under a highly controlled environment that will include testing on arrival for the camp and testing at the host hotel.

The staging of the official training and matches will fall under the comprehensive US Soccer Return to Play Protocols and Guidelines and in accordance with CONCACAF Return to Play Protocols. The JFF has also developed protocols for the training camp in keeping with these guidelines.

The full squad comprises Sydney Schnieder (Washington Spirit FC USA), Rebecca Spencer (Tottenham Hotspurs FC), Chantelle Swaby (Glasgow Rangers) Konya Plummer (Orlando Pride), Allyson Swaby (AS Roma), Deneisha Blackwood (Houston Dash), Havana Solaun (Carolina Courage), Chinyelu Asher (Washington Spirit FC), Olufolasade Adamamouken (University of Southern California), Drew Spence (Chelsea FC), Peyton McNamara (Ohio State University), Sashana Campbell (Petah Tikva), Tiernny Wiltshire (Maccabi Emek Hefer), Jody Brown (Florida State University), Shania Hayles (Aston Villa WFC), Gabrielle Gayle (South Alabama), Kayla McCoy (Training with Glasgow Rangers), Vyan Sampson (Charlton FC), Cheyna Matthews (Racing Louisville), Yazmeen Jamieson (Unattached) Tiffany Cameron (Ferencvaros), Mikayla Dayes (University Of Maryland), and Satara Murray (FC Austin Elite).

The pre-tournament camp which is mainly financed by the JFF has received support from the Bob Marley Foundation, the Reggae Girlz Foundation, Cool Runnings based in Houston, Arm Wave and Wisynco with its Wata brand.

 

Mark Elliott, the Director of Track and Field and Cross Country at Clemson said there is an all-around excitement in response to the news that the university will no longer discontinue its men’s track and cross country programme.

Focus on details helped Kemba Nelson run a personal best 100m time and a decent 200m at last weekend’s West Coast Classic in Tucson.

Nelson, a junior at the University of Oregon, clocked 11.18 to win the 100m well clear of teammate Jasmine Reed who stopped the clock at 11:48. California’s Ezzine Abba ran 11.52 for third.

An hour later, Nelson would finish second in the 200m, beaten by UCLA’s Shae Anderson who clocked 22.96 for the win. Nelson ran a creditable 23.03, sandwiched by Anderson’s teammate Makenzy Pierre-Webster, who clocked 23.51.

Nelson expressed her satisfaction afterwards.

“I am happy with races! Big PR for me. Great opener as well,” said the former UTech sprinter, whose previous best was 11.49 in Kingston in June 2019.

“In the 100, I was more focused on execution. Staying patient with the drive phase and not rushing the race.”

She wasn’t too perturbed by her 200m loss seeing that her time was also a personal best.

“Though it was an hour after the 100 it was a good race too. I definitely have a lot to work on. But it’s a part of the sport. You win some, you lose some. Just have to get back to work.”

Nelson is having an outstanding first year on the US Collegiate circuit. In March she was the NCAA 60m Indoor title in a personal best 7.05s, a time that made her the fifth-fastest Jamaican woman indoors behind Merlene Ottey, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Slightly disappointed over her times on the weekend, Kiara Grant believes there is no reason why she should not break 11 seconds this season as she plans to fight through a competitive field to make Jamaica’s team to the Olympics this summer.

Based on how well she has been training, “there is no reason why I shouldn’t break 11 seconds,” she said.

The 20-year-old Grant, a junior at Norfolk State University, ran 11.29 for second place in the 100m and 23.25 to win the 200m at the Gamecock Invitational at Gregger Park on Saturday.

“This was my opener. I could have been better but they’re okay times for an opener,” she said, “so I know what I need to fix in practice. It’s to see how I can lower my times before regionals asap.”

She has about two weeks to those regionals and she believes that is more than enough time to get the required work in. “I have two meets to get those times down. I am a lot stronger and I have been putting the background work, so with the right competition I can get my times down,” she said confidently.

Grant, who has a personal best of 11.04, said she was expecting to run 11.1 or 11.0x on Saturday and around 22.9, said running her intent to go faster is not just for regionals but for the much bigger event this summer.

“That’s the biggest goal right now. I am up for the Olympics. It doesn’t get better than that. That’s why I am working on getting my times down,” she said.

“Sha’ Carri Richardson ran 10.7, we have to do something over these next two weeks. We have to apply some kind of pressure,” she declared.

 

 

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