Should we bank on WWE pushing Sasha Banks in 2020?

Sasha Banks was one of the hottest acts in NXT in 2015, so much so that when she debuted on the main roster alongside Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair on Monday Night Raw, fans thought that she was going to be the next big thing in the womens division and one of the women to carry Monday Night Raw or Tuesday Night Smackdown, It hasn’t exactly worked out that way so will it change this time? If you listen to many fans on social media, they believe nothing will really change.

Going back to late 2015, the WWE universe would chant “we want Sasha” in matches she was apart of, matches she wasn’t even in with other women, or heck even arenas she wasn’t in, this continued until 2016 where she made her big “return” at the January pay per view Royal Rumble. She went into a feud with Charlotte all of 2016 and despite being the 2nd overall merchandise seller (this included a roster that had Roman Reigns, John Cena, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, and even a red hot Dean Ambrose), someone who brought in big ratings (Her vs Charlotte did 3M in a 3rd hour of Monday Night Raw), someone who helped sell out arenas in a time where wrestling was bigger than it is now, the WWE never capitalized on that momentum and never gave her a chance to run with the ball. They essentially in the end chose Charlotte over her and went with the other 4 horsewomen member Bayley in 2017 before going to Alexa Bliss.

For 2017 and 2018, both Banks and Bayley would be reduced to constant tag team matches with no direction, whether it be with the Riot Squad or with Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose known as fire and desire. Basically, Sasha Banks and her partner Bayley were on TV just to be on TV.. This continued until the womens tag team titles came early 2019 where they won the tag titles as the inaugural champions.

In 2019, Sasha and Bayley defended the tag team titles on PPV (or even tv) one time before they lost them to the Iiconics at WrestleMania. Now there were extenuating circumstances as Sasha Banks said in her chronicle that she was suffering from burn out and depression and just didn’t have the urge to do it anymore at the time. For months and months fans were wondering if she would even come back, they asked time and time again for her to come back into a feud with Becky Lynch, which ultimately she did after a red hot heel turn. However, much like her whole main roster run, even as a heel with a new attitude, new look, and the talk of the business again, she wasn’t chosen to be given the ball. She eventually lost her very first big feud back to Becky Lynch and then was drafted to Smackdown where she also at Survivor Series ended up losing being eliminated by Rhea Ripley but was protected in the loss.

Fast forward to today, Sasha is presented as a big deal on Smackdown, she is constantly involved with Bayley who is the SD womens champion. She is treated as a special attraction as she doesn’t really wrestle much, the roster has been basically cleared for her without Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, or heck even Asuka. She is on constant posters, gets constant promotion from Fox, and SEEMS to be heading into a WrestleMania program with Bayley, has been protected pretty much the entire time, yet fans on social media are constantly believing that the WWE will yet again ultimately choose someone else be it someone like Lacey Evans or Alexa Bliss.

The truth is, can we really blame those fans? Every single time Sasha has gotten red hot the WWE has done something to stop her momentum (purposely or not is up to what you believe), they technically just did it again this October unless there is a bigger picture really here. How do you not only book her as a face to lose big matches, but even with a change that made her successful from NXT she also loses 2 big matches as a heel? Most people have no belief at all she will win the Royal Rumble to kick start some momentum in 2020.

Even the biggest, most optimistic fan has belief that once again the company will choose someone else to give the ball to. Will this new found relationship with Vince pay off? Will sticking up for herself and betting on herself pay off? or will she be used as what she’s been used time and time again on the main roster to make the next star?.. Will she finally be treated as a star herself, or simply the star maker? I guess we will find out in 2020 starting with the Royal Rumble.

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Four Reasons Why the New York Yankees Should Choose Bryce Harper Over Manny Machado

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While the New York Yankees sit with the second best record in baseball in 2018, as a Yankee fan you can never not think about what could happen in the near future. Especially when in the near future is the 2018 off season loaded with talents like outfielder Bryce Harper and infielder Manny Machado both of whom have expressed interests in playing for the Yankees at some point in their careers. If the Yankees have their choice in the off season they should go with Harper.

The first reason the Yankees should go with Harper is because he is a left handed power bat which would compliment the right handed power of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. While its true the Yankees are getting above average production from the likes of Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorious from the left side, you really can’t qualify either one as a power threat. There is also the fact that Aaron Hicks hasn’t been the epitome of health and Didi Gregorious before coming to New York was a failed prospect. Meanwhile the power bat the Yankees thought they had from the left side in Greg Bird putting it mildly hasn’t quite lived up to what the Yankees envisioned him being. If the Yankees can add Harper in the off season it would give them that power left handed bat complimenting their right handed heavy power hitting lineup.

The second reason the Yankees should go with Harper is because they already have a future all star third baseman in rookie Miguel Andujar who is well on his way to becoming the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year. While its true the Yankees can use an upgrade defensively at third base, there’s no reason to think Andujar who is only 23 can’t improve his defense there. Not to long ago, another rookie by the name of Derek Jeter, started his Yankees career makin 26 errors at short stop and playing less than average defense. It would appear he turned out pretty well there. While he will never be Manny Machado at the hot corner, Andujar’s all star level bat will surely make up for his defense.

The Yankees once considered to have outfield depth galore are now playing Shane Robinson in 90% of the games due to injuries to Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier, and a balky hamstring to Giancarlo Stanton who is now being forced to DH. The Yankees depth evaporated quick when they traded away outfielders like Billy McKinney, Dustin Fowler and others to upgrade other areas or for future assets. There’s an old saying in baseball that you can never have enough pitching. Well in the Yankees case this year it appears you can never have enough outfielders. While the Yankees at one point envisioned Clint Frazier taking over LF after Brett Gardner, the injury history of Frazier has to make them somewhat hesitant to hand him the starting job in 2019. The thought of Bryce Harper taking over for Brett Gardner in left field sounds better than Manny Machado taking over for Miguel Andujar at third base. The Yankees will get far more production in Left field from Gardner to Harper than they will Andujar to Machado at the hot corner; not to mention having to shift their infield around on the off chance that Andujar could be a better 1st baseman.  Furthermore, the Yankees signing Bryce Harper would then give them the options of trading a Clint Frazier or Estevan Florial for a deal for starting pitching.

The final reason is one Hal Steinbrenner will love, the idea of Bryce Harper playing left field in Yankee Stadium will be too tempting for him to pass on. This is the guy that wears the number 34 because the two numbers together adds up to 7 because of his idol Mickey Mantle. His favorite player when he was growing up was former Yankees captain Derek Jeter. It has always been a dream of Harper to represent the pinstripes. If the Yankees sign Harper, think of the merchandise sales from his jersey, or the ticket sales to see a lineup that includes not only Bryce Harper but Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez, talk about a real murderers row. Above all Hal Steinbrenner is a business man, and Bryce Harper adds more business, money and revenue to the Yankees than Manny Machado will.

The Yankees will continue to play baseball in 2018 and attempt to finish out the season on a high note going for their 28th World Series championship, but as a fan of the team its still hard not to think of what could be if the Yankees do end up signing Bryce Harper after the season is over. The Yankees need pitching first and foremost and will address that, but if the Yankees have their choice of Harper or Machado in the off season, it will be Bryce Harper.

Lack Of Urgency Will Cost The New York Yankees The Division.

The New York Yankees are one of the best teams in the major leagues against teams over .500. So why then are they in second place in their division? It has to do with their play against teams under .500 as well as the lack of urgency on the part of the organization.

The Yankees own the best record in baseball against teams over .500 but are 16th in the majors against teams below that mark. You can say “its baseball Suzyn” but the real problem is they play down to their opponents. They are often times unprepared and take teams for granted.

The Yankees had a chance coming off their All Star break to reconfigure their starting rotation and make sure they threw their three best pitchers at the Mets who are using their two best despite being in last place and lucky to win 75 games. Instead of the Yankees pitching Luis Severino, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka they chose to start their two worst starting pitchers by far this season in Domingo German and Sonny Gray.  That’s a lack of urgency despite being 4.5 games out already in the division because they’re playing a bad Mets team.

While the starting pitching market is thin, there are still upgrades out there available as mid rotation arms over German. Meanwhile they were engaged in third baseman Manny Machado and CL Brad Hand neither who fill the Yankees biggest need which is SP. In one aspect you can understand the leash that Sonny Gray has been given, he at least is a proven starting pitcher but what exactly has German done to earn such a long leash?

If the Yankees are content with the Wild Card then by all means keep sending German out there to try to develop him more. After all, Luis Severino was destined to be a reliever after his awful performances as a starter in 2016. However, if the Yankees goal is to win the division, which it should be, they better show more of an urgency before the division completely gets away from them.

The New York Rangers Should Not Use The Cap Space They Have This Summer

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The New York Rangers are in the midst of continuing their rebuild and reports say they are interested in bringing in character guys and guys who play much harder than they did last season. Any signing the Rangers make should be a one year commitment only. Although the Rangers have a lot of cap space, they also have a lot of restricted free agents. Whether its signing unrestricted free agents or worrying about their own restricted free agents they have to be careful what contracts are given out with an eye on upcoming NHL free agent class that can be as star studded as this year’s MLB free agent class.

The Rangers goal this season should not be to attempt to bring in guys and then try to sneak their way into a playoff spot. This is New York, ultimately we dont care about playoffs, the goal of a New York team should be to win a championship. The Rangers are nowhere near that at the moment. What sense then does it make to bring in players (maybe outside Tavares whom they didn’t even request a meeting with) for a multi year commitment? The Rangers did that with Michael Grabner and although he performed well, what exactly did that do for them in the end? The Ranger are nowhere close to a championship this season. The goal this off season should be to continuing to attempting to build the team with as much high end talent as possible.

While its true NHL free agent superstars rarely hit free agency, the odds next year are better that at least a few of them will shake loose because there are just so many impact players and so many teams who don’t exactly have a ton of cap space. This list includes guys like Tyler Seguin, Arteri Panarin, Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture, Drew Doughty among many others.

The Rangers have almost 30 million in cap space this Summer but they should be very careful with how they use it. They have to make a decision on guys like Kevin Hayes and Brady Skjei who probably should be part of this solution but guys like Spooner, Namestnikov and the other restricted free agents they have should not be. The Rangers can’t get stuck in the same cycle they were in the past where they were paying good money to players who are simply not going to win you a Stanley cup if they are who you are relying on.

If you’re the New York Rangers wouldn’t Arteri Panarin and/or Tyler Seguin look good on Broadway? The Rangers need to make moves this off season with an eye on the star studded class that could await the team after the 2018-2019 season.

Four Reasons Why Alex Morgan Is The Most Irreplaceable Player on the USWNT

Over their history, the United States Womens National team have been blessed with many great players such as Mia Hamm, Michele Akers, Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach. The United States in 2010 introduced yet another player who is well on her way to joining those greats. The player I’m talking about is Alex Morgan who has quickly become the most irreplaceable player on this national team much like Hamm, Akers, Lilly and Wambach were on their respective teams.

The first reason is Alex Morgan has such a unique skillset that nobody else on the team has at this current moment. She possesses all the qualities you want in a top forward; speed, strength, balance, agility, and most of all the ability to score a goal from pretty much any angle and almost with any part of her body. She has the ability to beat a goalie with the narrowest of windows, she has the ability to beat a goalie by heading the ball in the net,  and since her return from Lyon, she has become quite proficient in being able to play back to goal and improve her hold up play in the attacking half. She has improved her technical ability on the ball and she has made a career out of making timely runs off the ball getting into the dangerous areas for scoring chances. She is also a very underrated playmaker who creates chances for others.  She has everything you want in a striker, something no other US player at the moment possesses, the others have strength indeed, but they dont possess everything that Morgan does.

Secondly, the United States is able to play a much faster tempo when Morgan is on the field playing striker opposed to anyone else there. While coach Jill Ellis has attempted other players in that spot such as Christen Press, Crystal Dunn, and even Carli Lloyd, none of them have stood out the way Morgan has. In fact at times, the United States would actually be playing some of their worst soccer going back to 2017 with anyone but Morgan there.  Morgan has made a career of being the top striker on the USWNT (evident by her 86 goals in just over 140 caps) going back to her teaming up with Abby Wambach as far back as 2012. The opposing defenses game plan to stop Morgan from getting in behind them, they sometimes try to have 2 or even 3 players around her at all times in the final third which opens up space and other opportunities for her teammates.  The other forwards haven’t been able to provide that.

Alex Morgan is also one of the biggest leaders for the United States Womens National team whether its on the field or off the field. She was instrumental in their fight for equal pay and better fields, she has been a captain numerous times both for the national team and in club play and her coaches and her teammates respect her. They say she’s the consummate professional and will literally throw her body around in order to help her team win which in the past has led to her being a bit injury prone. She constantly will give you everything she has to help get you a win which is something you want in a leader, someone who can inspire others and hates to lose, she does both.

The final reason she’s irreplaceable though is because of her ability on the field. She has made a career out of scoring big goals in big moments going all the way back to 2010 with the u20 womens team. Then, at age 19, she scored what turned out to be the game winning goal in the final against North Korea to help the United States win that world cup. In that same year, for the USWNT Morgan would score the only goal against Italy which helped them qualify for the 2011 World Cup. Speaking of the World Cup, at just age 21, Morgan would score the goal against France late in the game that essentially would send them to the finals. From there she would go on to score the first goal against Japan in the second half of the 2011 WC final and assisted on what should have been Abby Wambach’s world cup clinching goal before Japan was able to come back and tie it while eventually defeating the US on PKs.

The following year in 2012, perhaps her most memorable moment to many is the header in the semi finals against Canada in the 123rd minute that sent the United States to the gold medal game against Japan. In the final it was again Morgan who was also influential as she had the assist on Lloyd’s first goal. In 2015 Morgan was coming off a serious knee injury and couldn’t  quite get in form, however she did draw the penalty kick against Germany in the semi finals which ended up leading to being the game winner when Lloyd converted the kick. Many people will bring up the missed PK in 2016 (one of the very few times she didn’t get it done when it mattered) in the 2016 Olympics against Sweden but will ignore that when the US was trailing in that match late in the second half, it was again Morgan who would come to the rescue when she scored the equalizer before the United States would again lose on PKs. You want more proof? Since Morgan’s debut in 2010 in the games she has scored in the only 2 losses are the 2011 WC and the 2016 Olympics both losing on penalty kicks. The United States in 2017 would also play one of their worst years of soccer when they lost 3 times on their own soil, something that they have never experienced before as well as losing the She believes cup getting dominated by France in that tournament 3-0. Morgan at that time was back and forth between the US and Lyon and barely played in that tournament and it was some of the worst soccer we’ve ever seen from the US. The US would struggle at times in 2017 while Morgan had her 8 game goal drought, after Morgan broke that the United States would finish the season undefeated and haven’t yet lost in their last 15 games (13-0-2) with Morgan scoring 13 goals total and in at least 10 of those games.

In the World Cup one of the biggest areas of need for a team like the United States is having a quality striker. With the ability to score big goals in big moments, read the defense better than the other forwards, possess leadership abilities, and open up space for others while drawing players to her, Morgan is simply the most irreplaceable player on the national team. When Alex Morgan is in form like she’s been lately she’s almost impossible to stop.

 

Five Players The Rangers Could Select With the 9th Overall Pick In The NHL Draft

The New York Rangers are in a rebuilding phase. They sold off some assets such as Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, Nick Holden and Ryan Mcdonagh at the NHL trade deadline and acquired prospects and most of all draft picks in this upcoming 2018 Draft. While the Rangers have the ammunition or draft capital so to speak to move up in this year’s draft for a player like Andrei Svechnikov, Filip Zadina, Brady Tkachuk or even Quinn Hughes, there are also a few quality players to have if they were to stay at 9.

  1. Jesperi Kotkaniemi – C (Finland)

If you’re looking for a potential future #1 center the only center in this draft class that might have that ability is Kotkaniemi. He is a skilled player who at 17 is playing against players much more older and seasoned than him. If you’re looking at points only, (29 points in 57 games) you will be disappointed. The team drafting Kotkaniemi will be drafting him based on his potential, much like other players such as Patrick Laine (33 points in 46 games) in the SM-liiga league. Kotkaniemi is only 17 years old and will be a top 6 center in the NHL with the ability and skill set to become a top line center in the NHL as he matures.

2. Noah Dobson – D (QMJHL)

Dobson projects as a two way defenseman with top pairing potential. He is a right handed defenseman who can move the puck very well which is essential in todays NHL. The Rangers have not been able to move the puck out of their zone quickly enough but this guy has the ability to do that whether he’s moving it to another teammate or skating the puck out of the zone. He has a strong shot from the point which is also something the Rangers defenseman have lacked maybe since Sergei Zubov. Some scouts believe that Dobson could develop into another Alex Pietrangelo which would be a coup for the Rangers at 9.

3. Evan Bouchard – D (London Knights OHL)

Bouchard is becoming one of the fastest risers in this years draft class due to his impressive size (6″2 195). Bouchard also is another right handed defenseman which are very valuable in the NHL today, just look at what the value is in trades to acquire one. Bouchard offensively has dominated the OHL (87 points in 67 games) this year and has the ability to develop into a top 4 defenseman in the NHL. He very well might end up the best offensive defenseman in this years class.

4. Adam Boqvist – D (SHL)

This on the surface seems like a long shot, some believe this kid offensively has the ability to become the next Erik Karlsson so why is there any chance the Rangers might be able to get him at 9? According to reports, some teams are becoming skeptical of Boqvist due to the two concussions he had last season as well as his smaller size (5’ll 165). While he may be on the smaller size, he possesses every skill you need in the NHL, he moves the puck very well, he skates well, and has offensive ability of a top line forward. Some may also be turned off that Boqvist seems to be less proactive in his own end, but the old saying here is true, you can teach talent, and Boqvist is oozing with it. The Rangers should run to the podium if he somehow slips to them at 9.

5. Oliver Wahlstrom – RW (USHL)

We have all seen the video of the penalty shot that this kid made when he was just 9 years old playing on NHL ice. Wahlstrom possesses something the Rangers haven’t had since Jaromir Jagr, a potential dynamic offensive player. Wahlstrom is said to have the best shot in the entire draft and with 22 goals in 26 games this season its hard to say thats not accurate. Furthermore, his performance in the 2018 WJCs did nothing but help his stock. Some have him only a step below guys like Svechnikov and Zadina who are projected to go 2nd and 3rd overall. Wahlstrom is committed to Boston College so any team that drafts him is going to have to wait for him. Could that help the Rangers who are in a rebuilding mode? The Rangers surely wouldn’t have a problem waiting for Wahlstrom if they believe he’s the next Ilya Kovalchuk as they’re not really expected to contend for the next few seasons as they figure out their next best course of action for this rebuild. If Wahlstrom were to somehow be available at 9 the Rangers shouldn’t take any time and run to the podium to select him.

 

 

 

Yankees Should Say Hey To J.A.

The New York Yankees have the second best win percentage in major league baseball behind the Red Sox who have played 4 more games this season. The Yankees lead the league in homeruns, and pretty much every category offensively and when right they have the best bullpen in the game. If the Yankees are going to win the World Series though, they are going to need to upgrade the starting rotation. The Yankees would be wise to look at left handed pitcher J.A. Happ of the Blue Jays to fill that need; three reasons why.

First the Yankees have always had a left handed pitcher in every year they won the World Series; whether it was Ford, Guidry, Pettitte or Sabathia. A left handed pitcher is crucial for a team to succeed in Yankee Stadium; not only that but a left hander who can also eat innings.  While its true the Yankees already have left hander CC Sabathia, he is 37 years old and just can’t give them the innings they need averaging only five innings per start. On the other hand, Happ is averaging 6 innings per start and has pitched into the seventh inning four times.

The second reason is the Yankees are gearing up to make a World Series run and post season experience counts. The left handed J.A. Happ has that experience that guys like Pettitte and Sabathia have had in the past when he pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2016 post season and was their game 1 starter.

The most important reason might come down to cost, not only money but prospects that would have to be given up. While its true that guys like Michael Fulmer and Chris Archer are much younger than Happ, they’re also team controlled for more years and younger which means the return for them would be a lot more than the return would be for Happ. The Yankees dont seem to want to trade away guys like Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield or Estevan Florial but to get a guy like Fulmer, Archer or the dream of Madison Bumgardner of the San Francisco Giants, the Yankees would likely have to part with at least 2 of those guys. On the other hand, J.A. Happ is a free agent after this season so he will be a rental. The Yankees are stacked with pitching prospects; The Toronto Blue Jays not so much. A complication could arise with the Jays and the Yankees being in the same division, but with Happ due to be a free agent after this season wouldn’t it make sense for the Jays to get the best return possible for him? The Jays likely will not be competing with the Red Sox or the Yankees for the AL East this season so an in division trade for Happ likely wouldn’t be too much of a hurdle if they can agree on prospects.

The Yankees need another solid pitcher if they are going to win the World Series, if they want to go big and try to acquire a Bumgardner, Fulmer, Archer or someone of that nature then by all means go for it. If they fail to come to an agreement there however, the Yankees could do a lot worse than picking up a guy like J.A. Happ to slot into their rotation along with Severino and Tanaka and take their shot this year and try to add someone either by free agency or trade in the off season.

 

The Mets Will Not Trade Degrom or Syndegaard to the Yankees.

By now you have heard the debates on social media that if the Mets were to blow up the team and rebuild the Yankees would make sense as a trading partner. The ideal candidates for the Yankees would be Degrom or Syndergaard. Does it make sense for both? maybe. Will it happen? Absolutely not.

First, if the Mets were to trade either starting pitcher they would essentially be telling their fan base that they’re throwing in the towel for the foreseeable future. It doesnt matter what they get back in return. If you dont have pitching you have nothing and the Mets have very little pitching with Degrom and Syndergaard.

Second, If the Mets do intend to rebuild, why wouldn’t they keep these 2 pitchers who are under team control for 3 plus years? These are guys you build around if you’re building a team.

Finally, the Yankees and Mets are both afraid of the PR nightmare. Can you imagine if Degrom or Syndergaard delivered the Yankees their 28th World Series Championship? The Mets fans would never let the team hear the end of it. It doesnt matter what the Mets got back in return. These are the two teams that couldn’t even agree on a trade for Lucas Duda or Jay Bruce but they’re going to agree on a bonafide ace starter? Not a chance.

Its something fun to speculate and for writers it gives them clicks but in reality the Yankees have a better chance of getting 2012 Jacoby Ellsbury again than they do of getting Degrom or Syndegaard from the Mets.

Why The United States Should Win The 2019 Women’s World Cup

In 2017 The United States men’s soccer team failed to beat the 92nd ranked team in the world in Trinidad and Tobago. With the loss the United States also failed to qualify for the 2018 World cup something that they haven’t done since 1986. The good news is the United States also has a women’s soccer team. The United States women’s soccer team has won 3 world cups since the existence of the tournament and they are also the favorites to add a fourth world cup to their resume in 2019.

The Women’s world cup first started in 1991 and the Americans defeated China by a final score of 2-1. They have since added two more victories; first in 1999 with a victory on their home soil over China once again this time in penalty kicks with Brandi Chastain scoring the world cup clinching goal. They would also go on to defeat Japan in 2015 on a Carli Lloyd first half hat trick to a final score of 5-2 and getting retribution for Japan stunning them in the final of the 2011 women’s world cup on penalty kicks.

While there are some teams that are catching up to the United States on the women’s national level, as evident by the US failing to reach the semi finals in the 2016 Olympics, they are still the team to beat for next years world cup. The United States at that time lost key players in Abby Wambach, Lauren Cheney among others who retired before the 2016 Olympics. They also did not have a healthy Megan Rapinoe for the Olympics. They were also in a transition phase then and after that loss that would continue until mid 2017 under Head Coach Jill Ellis. The United States would have one of their worst professional tournaments during the 2017 she believes cup losing two of their 3 matches on home soil. There were many that questioned whats wrong with the women’s national team. The US would also lose yet another game to Australia in the first game 2017 Tournament of nations. It was the first time in 30 years the United States lost 3 games on their home soil. Ironically those losses will be the reason the United States should win the 2019 world cup.

During the transition phase, Jill Ellis would experiment with things that didn’t need to be experimented with. There were many fans that would call for the firing of Ellis who said that her goal was to get the squad ready for the 2019 World Cup and she was not concerned about the results. This became quite clear by some of the formations she would try as well as the personnel she would use. Some of these personnel decisions were head scratching; forward Alex Morgan and midfielder Julie Ertz were pretty much substitutes while forward Megan Rapinoe was also in and out of the lineup.  In the summer of 2017 during the 2nd game of the Tournament of Nations vs Brazil the United States were heading for their 4th loss on home soil, something that they have never experienced before when they were trailing by a score of 4-2. The United States led by mid fielder Julie Ertz and Megan Rapinoe two of the catalysts for the 2015 World Cup championship and incidentally two of the players not seeing a lot of time during this transition phase on the field,  came storming back and ultimately led the United States to a 5-4 comeback win. The next game was probably one of the most important games for the United States. It was a game that didn’t mean anything due to Australia already being the champions of the tournament but for the United States it was something that they desperately needed. In the 80th minute of that game forward Alex Morgan who was coming off an 8 game goal less streak finally found the net. This goal lead to Morgan going on a tear too finish off 2017 scoring 6 goals in the teams final 7 games. The US also got contributions from midfielder Julie Ertz (5 goals in 6 games) as well as Megan Rapinoe and the US finished 2017 with a 5-0-1 record.

In 2018 the United States have scored 18 goals while conceding only 5 in six games; including during the she believes cup (which they were crowned champions) and against some of the best teams in the world like Germany, France, and England. Despite missing several key players. While the play of Morgan, Ertz and Rapinoe has been mostly the reason for the US turn around since last summer, the additions of several key players have also helped. There is now starter forward Mallory Pugh who combined with Rapinoe and Morgan to form a dominant front 3 that we haven’t seen in women’s soccer since Alex Morgan went to Lyon and played with Eugene Le Sommer and Ada Hederberg. They are creating havoc for any opposing back line.  The additions to the back line of Emily Sonnett and newcomer Tierna Davidson have seemed to help stabilize a leaky back line that also features Kelly O Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn.  There is no other country that has as much talent and depth as the United States.  The addition to the midfield of Julie Ertz combined with Sam Mewis has given the team 2 linchpins there. There are also players like Christen Press, 2015 world cup MVP Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, Abby Dahlkemper among others that head coach Jill Ellis can insert into the line up.

While injuries can certainly change the outlook of a tournament, as we saw with the United States not having a healthy Megan Rapinoe for the 2016 Olympics, the United States have so much depth that they should be able to put a great team on the field next summer. If the United States were to be completely healthy at that time, there’s not another team in the world that can contain the front line of Rapinoe, Morgan and Pugh up front who are all playing at a top level and also contend with a back line that could feature Sauerbrunn, Davidson, Ohara and Dunn. This does not even factor in the the depth that will be available to head coach Jill Ellis. There simply is not another team in the world at this moment that has as much talent and depth as the United States Womens National team currently has and its why they should win their fourth world cup and become the second team ever along with Germany to win back to back world cups.

The Truth Of Why Sonny Gray Isn’t Made For New York.

Many New Yorkers and beat writers alike will tell you that Sonny Gray needs to pitch to back up catcher Austin Romine. They go so far as to say not only does he need to be behind the plate for Gray, but he needs to be his personal catcher every start he makes. This is completely bogus and an excuse for those looking to explain Gray’s struggles as a Yankee so far. The truth is like many others that have come before him, he has the stuff but he’s unable to handle New York’s bright lights.

Sonny Gray was one of the better pitchers in the AL in 2014 and 2015 before suffering some injuries in 2016 that pretty much gave him an up and down season. During those years, Sonny Gray did not have a personal catcher while he was one of the better pitchers in baseball during that time. At that time, Sonny Gray wasn’t a member of the New York Yankees, so why all of a sudden does he need Austin Romine behind the plate? I’ll tell you why, because he’s a mental case, he like many others that have come before him can not pitch in the bright lights of New York. Why is it that Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka have no problem pitching to Gary Sanchez? Why is it that last year the Yankees rotation had a better ERA with Sanchez behind the plate than with Romine? Why is that none of them have asked for a personal catcher? Why is it that his homeruns and his walks have skyrocketed while being a Yankee? Why does Sonny Gray have an ERA approaching 5 with the Yankees when he was one of the better pitchers for 2 straight years before coming here?

Many fans and media will tell you that Gray needs to stay down in the zone to be effective and thats why he needs Romine behind the plate. However with a 95 mph fastball and a wicked slider to go along with a curve ball why does Gray struggle so much no matter who is catching him in New York?  Why are the homeruns and walks way up in New York opposed to when he pitched in Oakland? Why are the ground balls not coming? I’ll tell you why its because Sonny Gray doesn’t trust his stuff. He is constantly nibbling and getting in hitters counts where he has to come over the plate and results usually aren’t good. If this sounds familiar to you its the same exact issues that plagued Phil Hughes In New York.  The issue with Sonny Gray is not Gary Sanchez or a personal catcher. The issue with Sonny Gray in New York is he’s become afraid to trust his stuff and when things go wrong he just gets down on himself and it further snowballs; again much like many others that have come here before him that have been unable to sustain success.