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Major Link Soccer: Tobin Heath’s World Cup stock is up

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Also: Defiance open their season; Power rankings love Sounders; the fall of Numenor,

2019 SheBelieves Cup - United States v Brazil Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Puget Sound soccer

Tacoma Defiance kick off the USL Championship season Friday night at 7 p.m. (ESPN+). Yes, they are the only match that night.

Toros travel to Tacoma to kick off 2019 - Dynamo Theory
RGV FC and Tacoma Defiance will face off in the first match of the 2019 USL Championship season.

Academy Snapshot: Seattle Sounders youth teams put together solid weekend at Starfire Sports Complex | Seattle Sounders FC

culture & news

Is the NHL the future of marijuana in pro sports? Why it could be

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV show is set in the Second Age - Polygon
The Twitter account for Amazon’s LOTR TV series has been posting maps that give away more than you may expect about what the show will cover — and it turns out, it won’t be about a young Aragorn. Here’s everything we know about the upcoming Amazon Prime Original.

MLS

D.C. United Is One of Only Two MLS Teams that Charges for its Academy
It probably doesn’t need to.

Plans to broadcast every 2019 US Open Cup game, caps on suspensions among changes in tournament handbook | TheCup.us - Full Coverage of US Open Cup Soccer
Since the 2018 Open Cup concluded … there have been some significant changes, many of those related to increasing standards to set the stage for the United States Soccer Federation’s plans to broadcast every match of the 106th edition of the tournament which begins this May.

MLS Power Ranking Averages - Wk 1 - RSL Soapbox
#1 is also #1 in our hearts.

FC Cincinnati to place Smith on waivers - Cincinnati Soccer Talk

The LA Galaxy-Gio dos Santos mess is over, but debate about MLS spending rules is just beginning
A crisis was averted on Friday when the LA Galaxy bought out Gio dos Santos' contract to get compliant. Yet the real stress for MLS is ahead.

MLS ranks as most diverse pro league in North America as average age drops | MLSsoccer.com

#SnowClasico3: What it was like at the coldest game in MLS history - Burgundy Wave
One fan shares his experience surviving the match last weekend.

USL and other lower men’s leagues

ASN article: On loan at Charlotte, Gutman holds big ambitions with Celtic

Goalkeeping brothers from West Chester a rarity in pro soccer - Brotherly Game
First-year Real Monarchs goalkeeper Todd Morton joins his older brother Kyle Morton this season in the USL Championship

Phoenix Rising FC Acquires Defender Lamar Batista On Loan From LAFC

USL Championship Weekend Guide - Week 1
Four games and four players to watch that aren't Tacoma Defiance

United States national teams

FOUR NEW CLUBS TO JOIN BOYS’ DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY FOR 2019-20 SEASON

Which USWNT players helped or hurt their stock at the SheBelieves Cup?
Tobin Heath and Samantha Mewis provided solutions for the attacking contingent, while Becky Sauerbrunn’s orbit affected several players.

USWNT home jersey for 2019 Women’s World Cup leaks - Stars and Stripes FC
It looks...clean?

World soccer

International women's day: The role women play in Afghanistan's football growth - CNN
Women's football has the greatest growth potential of any sport, but we are yet to see its full strength.

Colombia women's players alleging discrimination receive men's team's support - BBC Sport
Treated as "second-class citizens" by their national federation, with no matches or head coach for seven months, members of Colombia's women's team have begun to speak up and have the support of their male counterparts.

UAE sports chief would back UEFA punishment of Man City
UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules have a seemingly unlikely supporter: The United Arab Emirates government sports chief. Mohamed Khalfan Al Romaithi says he would back a decision by European...

FIFA has $2.7 billion in cash, but won’t fix women’s World Cup prize money gap
FIFA's record finances have renewed debate over why Women's World Cup winners earn so much less than their male counterparts.

Lament for our Champions - Managing Madrid
Madridistas — when it rains it pours. After two straight defeats to Barcelona in the Copa and Liga, a young Ajax side came to the Santiago Bernabéu and ended Real’s European reign of 1,010 days. It...

Turkish third-tier player accused of slashing opponents given life ban