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At least two other MLS teams, LAFC and

MILAN (AP) ? Some players appear to be taking advantage of newly implemented handball rules to deliberately win penalties.The new rules state that it is automatically a penalty if the ball touches a player?s hand or arm when it is above their shoulder Cheap Liverpool Soccer Team Uniform , regardless of intent.That is how Roma forward Edin Dzeko won the first-half penalty in the Rome derby on Sunday.Rather than shooting at goal, Dzeko appeared to see Sergej Milinkovic-Savic raise his arm and instead struck the extended limb to earn the spot kick which was then converted by Aleksandar Kolarov.?We have to get used to this new rule,? Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi said. ?I think it was looked for and it was found.?We mustn?t keep our arms up because otherwise footballers with really good aim will look for the arm in the area and, as a consequence, with these rules, a penalty will be given.?Luis Alberto equalized for Lazio after the break and the match ended 1-1.The rules were supposed to provide greater clarity for those playing or watching the game but they continue to cause controversy.Last week, Fiorentina was awarded an early penalty when the ball was deflected by a knee on to the underside of Piotr Zielinski?s arm, which was slightly raised.However, Napoli went on to win 4-3.DEFENSIVE FRAILTIESJuventus has had the best defense in Serie A in each of the past eight seasons.Its famed BBC defense of Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini have helped it win the title in each of those years.Despite the retirement of Barzagli, Juventus was expected to remain solid at the back especially after it made Matthijs de Ligt the most expensive defender in Serie A history when signing him from Ajax for 75 million euro ($85 million) last month.But the Bianconeri were hit by a blow when Chiellini tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in training on Friday, ruling the Juventus and Italy captain out for about five months.De Ligt was handed his debut in Saturday?s match against title rival Napoli and was at fault for two of the goals as Napoli fought back from three goals down to level before Juventus won 4-3 thanks to a stoppage-time own goal.?He comes from a team that defended differently, in a league that is not the Italian one www.thetopsoccer.com/club-team-kit/manchester-city ,? Juventus assistant coach Giovanni Martusciello said. ?He also played well for an hour, then his condition was lacking a bit. But he is a player of the highest level.?WATCHING BALOTELLIMario Balotelli was at San Siro on Saturday to see his new club take on his old as Brescia lost 1-0 at AC Milan.Balotelli joined newly promoted Brescia after his deal with Marseille expired, returning to Serie A with his hometown club after an absence of three years.The forward has to wait to make his debut as he serves a four-match ban following a straight red card in his final game for Marseille against Montpellier in May.?He?s working really hard, he?s done double training sessions three times,? Brescia coach Eugenio Corini said. ?He?s here with the right mentality, we?re counting a lot on him.?Balotelli?s last spell in Italy was a miserable one as he struggled with injury and scored only once in a season-long loan at AC Milan before returning to Liverpool in 2016 and moving immediately to France, resurrecting his career first with Nice and then at Marseille.That was Balotelli?s second spell at Milan, the team he supported as a child.Balotelli?s first appearance for Brescia will likely be the home match against eight-time defending champion Juventus on Sept. 25. While record crowds at National Women?s Soccer League games are evidence of a World Cup bump, players want the momentum to extend beyond the ticket office.Portland drew a league-record 25,218 fans to a game against the defending champion North Carolina Courage earlier this month, and last weekend Sky Blue staged its first game at Red Bull Arena before a club-high 9,415 fans. The Chicago Red Stars had to open the upper-deck section at SeatGeek Stadium when they drew more than 17,000 to a post-World Cup game.Across the league Cheap Manchester United Soccer Team Uniform , attendance is up about 15% overall this year, with the most dramatic swings coming after the United States? victory this summer at the Women?s World Cup in France. That?s the bump: Both the NWSL and its male counterpart, Major League Soccer, traditionally see increased interest during a World Cup year.In the NWSL, the bump is likely to be larger once the entire season plays out. In 2015, following the national team?s World Cup victory in Canada, the league drew an average of 5,046 fans per game, up from the league?s all-time low average attendance (4,137) in 2014. Following last weekend?s games, average attendance across the league was 6,917.But players aren?t satisfied. In addition to bringing in new fans, they want sustained growth and stability.The key is investment.?We?ve won two World Cups back-to-back. We?ve done everything on the field to encourage and inspire players and kids and parents and coaches www.thetopsoccer.com/club-team-kit/marseilles , boys and girls to come to the games,? said Carli Lloyd, who plays for Sky Blue and is a member of the U.S. team. ?Now again it?s up to the people with money to market it, to buy into this, to invest in it, and to promote it.?While the NWSL has been incrementally drawing bigger crowds since its inception in 2013, there have been recent questions about the league?s health.The league and A&E Networks terminated their broadcast agreement in February, leaving the NWSL with no TV partner. Last season, a game aired each week on the Lifetime channel. A&E surrendered its stake in the league, but Lifetime remains a jersey sponsor.The NWSL has also been operating without a commissioner since 2017, and there?s been no new teams coming on board despite persistent rumors to the contrary. The league contracted to nine teams before the start of the 2018 season when the Boston Breakers folded.But there have been recent positive developments beyond attendance. Budweiser announced a multi-year sponsorship deal with the league this summer. The NWSL also reached an agreement to air 14 games this season on ESPNews and ESPN2, including the playoff semifinals and the final. ESPN recently signed an agreement for worldwide rights to the league.?I think that it?s going to take a lot of investment from owners. We want it to grow, we want big companies to come on as sponsors Cheap Real Madrid Soccer Team Uniform , like the Budweiser thing is huge. We want more teams, we want a longer season,? said North Carolina?s Sam Mewis, echoing Lloyd.It?s a sentiment that players amplified in France.?Hopefully it grows, hopefully we get more teams, and more people buy into us and realize how important it is for the women?s game ? and that our NWSL gets better and better so we can get better for our national team,? Lindsey Horan said before the World Cup final.One club that has provided something of a blueprint for NWSL success is the Thorns. The team drew an average of 16,959 fans per game last season, and that?s risen to 20,072 this year. For perspective, that?s better than the average attendance for seven Major League Baseball teams.The Thorns have been able to capitalize on the game?s roots in the city. The University of Portland?s women?s team won NCAA titles in 2002 and 2005. Current U.S. team star Megan Rapinoe and Canadian star Christine Sinclair both played for the Pilots.?They?ve been the same from the get go. I mean we lost the championship last year against this team and they stayed at least 30 minutes to continue to chant. So you know if anything the Thorns fans are the ones that have started the hype in this county,? Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch said.Some have suggested that Portland?s model ? it is affiliated with Major League Soccer?s Portland Timbers ? is one key to sustained growth. Four teams, the Thorns www.thetopsoccer.com/club-team-kit/tottenham-hotspur , the Houston Dash, the Utah Royals and the Orlando Pride are connected to MLS teams. At least two other MLS teams, LAFC and Atlanta United, have expressed interest in adding a women?s team.At the end of this year, U.S. Soccer?s management agreement with the NWSL will come to an end, which could potentially give greater control to the league?s owners and a more hands-on approach to growth. The federation currently pays the salaries of the national team players and has also invested considerably in the league, and that support is not expected to end.Players say they?re hopeful for the league?s future ? even beyond the bump.?I think that we?re taking steps in the right direction,? Mewis said. ?I feel like it?s stable. I don?t know like how tuned in I am to what goes on behind the scenes, but I?m relying on it and I?m counting on playing here for a long time.?

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