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Major Link Soccer: Rooney, Neymar open up about mental health struggles

NWSL balances soccer and systemic change; fan violence at UEFA qualifiers

Soccer - International Friendly - England v Brazil Photo by AMA/Corbis via Getty Images

NWSL / women’s soccer

Usually, for 90 minutes in a match, or for a couple hours at training, the everyday worries of the world can be put on pause. The weight of balancing soccer with systemic change – Equalizer Soccer

NWSL players returning to play are having to balance their emotional exhaustion with one of the most competitive seasons in league history. Balancing crisis and professional duty: inside the NWSL’s pivotal week | Just Women’s Sports

The nine-year-old league is at an inflection point, and must rapidly decide how to navigate the difficult road ahead. Crisis experts evaluate future for scandal-ridden NWSL | Sports Business Journal

US soccer

A school board in northern Michigan plans to send a protest over sportsmanship following a soccer player’s 16-goal record-setting game. ‘They set out to do it’: Michigan school angry after opposing player’s 16-goal game | The Guardian

Once again, 3 crucial points are at stake. USA vs. Costa Rica, 2022 World Cup qualifying: What to watch for - Stars and Stripes FC

Crew Stadium has been the setting for some of the USMNT’s biggest games, but will that continue at Field amid a slew of new venues in MLS? How did Columbus become the USMNT’s spiritual home, and will it continue to be? | ESPN

Americans are making an impression on the global game, and Europe’s biggest clubs are now rivaling MLS for the country’s most gifted young players. How Barcelona, Villarreal and other European clubs are competing with MLS for America’s top talent | ESPN

World soccer

People saying, ‘I’m sick of it, I’m sick of hearing about it’ - well, we’re sick of getting abuse, of hearing things in the news. Footballers are sick of being racially abused.” Demi Stokes: Manchester City and England left-back says players are ‘sick’ of racial abuse | Sky Sports

The Milan striker on faith, the family friend who told him to stay away from Goodison and his highs and lows with France. ‘A sign from heaven’ – Olivier Giroud on turning down Everton and his Mbappé bond | The Guardian

Rooney will give an insight into his thinking during some of the biggest moments in his career and also open up on his battle with his mental health during a new documentary. Wayne Rooney opens up about ‘difficult periods’ in his life in documentary | The Guardian

Thiago Silva has offered his emotional support to Neymar, his close friend and Brazil team-mate who earlier this week admitted he doesn’t know if he has the “strength of mind to deal with football” much longer. Silva sends Neymar emotional support as Brazil team-mate admits mental health struggle |

Diego Simeone said he wanted to bring Lionel Messi to Atletico Madrid this summer, saying he called Luis Suarez to ask if a deal was possible. Simeone: I asked Suarez if Messi would join Atletico Madrid | ESPN

Amnesty International has called for a meeting with the Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, over the controversial takeover of Newcastle United Amnesty wants meeting with Premier League over Newcastle takeover | The Guardian

The Danes have qualified for the 2022 World Cup after an eventful year that included the collapse of Christian Eriksen and a semifinal run at the Euros. Denmark qualifies for 2022 World Cup in Qatar with win vs Austria - Sports Illustrated

Poland’s World Cup qualifying victory over Albania in Tirana is suspended for over 20 minutes after home fans throw objects at the visiting players. Albania 0-1 Poland: Home fans halt play after visiting players hit by objects - BBC Sport

Lyndon Dykes’ 86th-minute effort salvaged a vital Scotland win over the Faroe Islands and kept their World Cup qualifying bid on track. Faroe Islands 0-1 Scotland: Lyndon Dykes rescues sloppy Scots - BBC Sport

England drew with Hungary in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley that was overshadowed by clashes between away fans and the police. England 1-1 Hungary: Gareth Southgate’s side held in World Cup qualifier - BBC Sport

Fans appeared to fight in the Hungary section during their World Cup qualifier with England at Wembley. Crowd trouble early on in Wembley qualifier - BBC Sport

Legal action, if successful, could radically change how player information and data is used. Professional Footballers threaten data firms with GDPR legal action - BBC News

Adidas chief executive Kasper Rorsted has said he ‘doesn’t think much’ of the proposal to hold the World Cup every two years. Fifa’s biennial World Cup plan draws negative reaction from sponsor Adidas | The Guardian

What’s on TV?

Today features Four UEFA Women’s Champions League games free on YouTube, more Concacaf Men’s World Cup Qualifying, four rescheduled NWSL games, lots of USL action, and an absurd number of NCAA men’s and women’s games mostly on ESPN+.

12:00 PM: Juventus vs. Chelsea (UEFA Women’s Champions League) — YouTube (DAZN)

4:00 PM: USMNT vs. Costa Rica (Concacaf Men’s WC Qualifying) — ESPN2 / TUDN / UniMas

4:30 PM: Canada vs. Panama (Concacaf Men’s WC Qualifying) — Paramount+

4:30 PM: NC Courage vs. Washington Spirit (NWSL) — Paramount+

7:00 PM: Tacoma Defiance vs. Las Vegas Lights (USL Championship) — ESPN+

7:05 PM: El Salvador vs. Mexico (Concacaf Men’s WC Qualifying) — CBSSN / Paramount+

7:30 PM: Portland Thorns vs. OL Reign (NWSL) — Paramount+

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