Women's college season underway, weekend preview: Starting Lineup, August 18
by Jason Longshore
1- Lionel Messi gave his first press conference since joining Inter Miami, ahead of their Leagues Cup final in Nashville on Saturday night. In the full media availability, Messi talked about not having a problem with playing on turf, his happiness in Miami with his family, adjusting to the heat and humidity, and coming to the U.S. to play soccer as opposed to being a transformational figure for soccer in the U.S. He also spoke to ESPN's Luis Miguel Echegaray afterwards, and went into more detail on a few subjects. (ESPN)
2- Great feature from the AP on Spain's breakout star Salma Paralluelo. The 19-year old could have been preparing for next summer's Olympics on the track instead of preparing for Sunday's World Cup final against England. She'll be a key for La Roja. (AP)
3- Sarina Weigman might be the one who bring it home for England as manager of the Lionesses. They won the Euros on home turf last summer and they're one game away from their first World Cup. After taking the Netherlands to the final in 2019, Weigman has taken her place at the top of managers in the women's game. Some media have brought her up as a possibility for the USWNT job, but she's under contract through 2027 and with a team that has a brighter present and future.
4- Brooke Hart and Aaliyah Faddoul went into the Georgia State women's soccer record books with the first hat tricks for the program since 2009 in the Panthers' 12-0 win over South Carolina State in the season opener. The win is one of the biggest in program history as well. They're back in action on Sunday at the GSU Soccer Complex hosting Murray State at 1pm.
5- In other matches involving Georgia schools in last night's season openers, Georgia Southern went to Birmingham and defeated UAB 2-0 on second half goals from Meredith Pugh and Smith Cathey. Mercer and Evansville played to a scoreless draw in Macon, while Kennesaw State earned the same result on the road at East Tennessee State. Georgia had the longest trip of the night, playing the defending national champions UCLA in Los Angeles and falling 2-0 to the Bruins.
6- Saturday afternoon's heavyweight matchup in the Premier League will get lots of attention as Newcastle heads on the road to face Manchester City. Coming off the UEFA Super Cup win, where will City's fitness be on Saturday? The Magpies looked great in their season opening win, but this is a big measuring stick for them and their title aspirations this season.
7- Barcelona will be without their manager Xavi and their winger Raphinha this weekend and their usual home as they host Cadiz on Sunday. This will be the first competitive match for Barcelona at the Lluis Companys Olympic Stadium while the Camp Nou is finally undergoing a much-needed renovation.
8- The MLS regular season returns on Sunday night and most teams have ten matches left to secure their playoff future or improve their standing in their conference. The slate is headlined by the Hell Is Real derby in Columbus as the Supporters Shield leading FC Cincinnati come to to town. Diego Rossi should make his debut for the Crew. The Red Bulls host DC United in a battle for the final playoff spot that DC is currently sitting in.
9- With yesterday's announcement that an American will be the center referee for a World Cup final for the first time as Tori Penso takes charge of Sunday's match, The Guardian has a great feature on possibly the next referee to get that opportunity. Alyssa Nichols is one of the most impressive referees I've seen over the past few seasons and the sky is the limit for her in the game. (The Guardian)
10- On this date in 1983, the Atlanta Constitution had an article about Mary King of Stone Mountain HS and Karen Willoughby of Riverwood HS being named to the first ever USSF National Girls Youth Team. They went through Region III tryouts in Chapel Hill, NC and then national team tryouts in Lancaster, PA to be chosen to the 20-player roster. The team didn’t have any games scheduled, but there was discussion that some exhibitions would be played during the Olympics in LA in 1984. King played in 1982 for the U19 Phoenix Connection team that won the state championship. They were the first team from Georgia to reach the regional final, losing to a team from Dallas.
11- Also on this day in 1983, R.E.M. (my all-time favorite band in case you didn't know) played their biggest gig in their short history at Shea Stadium in New York. They were the first band on the bill that included Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and was headlined by The Police. It poured down rain during the 5-song set, the crowd only wanted The Police, and band pretty much hated the experience and rarely took opening slots again. This was the song that closed the set. (From a different live performance in 1983)