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USWNT sets packed 10-game 2019 schedule leading up to Women’s World Cup

first_imgThe series starts Jan. 19 and ends May 26 as the USWNT will play two games abroad to start the year and then eight domestic matches before departing for the World Cup, which starts June 7. “This schedule checks a lot of important boxes in our preparation for the World Cup. We’ll get to experience a variety of teams in regard to their strengths and styles of play and almost all of them will be in their World Cup preparation as well,” coach Jill Ellis said in a statement.”We are playing tough games in Europe, which is vitally important, and also get to play in front of our home fans at venues all across the USA. It will go fast, but these games will be a major factor in pushing us to be at our peak once we arrive in France next summer.” The U.S. Women’s National Team is gearing up for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in a big way. U.S. Soccer revealed Thursday a 10-game schedule that will put the USWNT up against tough competition in the months leading up to the tournament in France. As Ellis noted, the team is taking its preparation seriously as five of the 10 teams the U.S. will face are ranked in the top 10 in the world. With matchups against England (No. 3 in the world rankings), France (4), Australia (6), Japan (7) and Brazil (8), competition will be tough to help prepare the team for France.Once the road to France is over, the USWNT will face the challenge of defending its World Cup title. The U.S. women enter 2019 on a 28-match unbeaten run (25-0-3) and went undefeated in their 20 games during 2018. DateOpponentKickoffVenue; LocationJan. 19France2:30 p.m. ETStade Océane; Le Havre, FranceJan. 22Spain2:30 p.m. ETEstadio José Rico Perez; Alicante, SpainFeb. 27Japan7 p.m. ETTalen Energy Stadium; Chester, Pa.March 2England3:30 p.m. CTNissan Stadium; NashvilleMarch 5Brazil8 p.m. ETRaymond James Stadium; TampaApril 4 Australia7 p.m. MTDick’s Sporting Goods Park; DenverApril 7Belgium6 p.m. PTBanc of California Stadium; Los AngelesMay 12South Africa  1:30 p.m. PTLevi’s Stadium; Santa Clara, Calif.May 16TBA*   7 p.m. CTBusch Stadium; St. LouisMay 26Mexico Noon ETRed Bull Arena; Harrison, N.J.* Based on Women’s World Cup drawlast_img read more

How the Angels helped Tommy La Stella find his power

first_imgIn 2017, La Stella hit .288 with a .389 on-base percentage, which is not far from what he’s doing now. The difference is he’s playing more often, so he has the timing to be more aggressive with his swing. Instead of just poking the ball someplace, he’s driving it.“Just getting consistent at-bats has helped get my timing more consistent,” La Stella said.After four more hits Wednesday, he’s up to .301 with a .388 on-base percentage, comfortably settling in as the team’s leadoff hitter, at least against right-handed pitchers.He is thriving batting in front of Mike Trout, who is also chasing him in the home run column. Trout has nine.“I might as well enjoy it while it lasts,” La Stella said of his homer edge on Trout. “I’m sure it won’t last very long.” “We knew he gave good at-bats and falls under the category of professional hitter,” Manager Brad Ausmus said. “But the power has been a pleasant surprise.”For the first 396 games of La Stella’s career, over five seasons with the Atlanta Braves and Cubs, La Stella hit 10 homers. His season-high was five, in 2017.La Stella, 30, blew past that in April. He’s already had three multi-homer games this season, two more than he had in his previous five years.“I don’t want to say (I’m surprised) because it makes it seem like I didn’t believe I could drive the ball,” La Stella said. “I’ve always driven the ball. Over the last few seasons, it’s been more of taking whatever I can get at the plate. When you go up infrequently, it’s not really an opportunity to be driving the ball.”In other words, when La Stella was spending most of his time on the bench, he didn’t have the chance to lock in his timing. Each at-bat was more about survival, as he tried to simply get a strike and spray the ball wherever he could. Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield center_img ANAHEIM — Scroll back through videos of Tommy La Stella’s at-bats over the past few years, and you’d be hard-pressed to find his true swing.With the Chicago Cubs, La Stella played sporadically, giving him plenty of time to try different things, and not much time to see if they worked.It took an entire spring and the first week of the regular season for La Stella and the Angels’ hitting coaches to discover – via tons of video – the Angels’ unlikely home run leader.In just more than a quarter of a season, La Stella has hit 11 homers, one more than his career total coming into this year. Simply having plate discipline and good enough hand-eye coordination to put the ball in play manifested itself in the career .345 on-base percentage that attracted General Manager Billy Eppler.Throughout spring training, La Stella and hitting coaches Jeremy Reed, Shawn Wooten and Paul Sorrento were sorting through different stances to unlock that hitter. Over the past couple of seasons, La Stella had changed his setup often. Sometimes he’s been more crouched. Sometimes he’s had his bat straight up and sometimes it was parallel to the ground. Sometimes he opened up his feet.Wooten sifted through it all.“One of the things we actually did was go back through all his videos from years past,” Reed said. “Wooten does an unbelievable job of finding that video, and we’ve gone back to his optimal position.”The optimal position, as it turns out, has La Stella standing taller, knees hardly bent at all, with his bat at about a 45-degree angle on his shoulder.“On video, it may not be as athletic of a position, but it’s comfortable for me, which allows my swing to work the way I want it to,” La Stella said.Big league hitting coaches will tell you that most of the job is just getting the hitters to start in a good position, allowing their natural athletic ability to take over once the ball is on its way.For La Stella, this upright position allows him to be loose and relaxed, so his hands can be free to get the barrel of the bat to the ball as efficiently as possible. Instead of jabbing at the baseball to punch it somewhere, he unleashes a smoother swing that powers the ball.“We really just got him in a repeatable position with his setup,” Reed said. “We did a couple of drills with him to get his barrel in a position and he just goes in there and repeats it. The success he’s having now is something he knows he’s capable of.”La Stella’s average exit velocity hasn’t changed much, but his launch angle has gone from 8.1 degrees last year to 15 degrees, which explains the balls going over the fence. La Stella insists a higher launch angle was not the goal. It is merely the side effect of locking in his setup in the optimal position. He actually had a similar launch angle from 2015 to 2017, between 13.3 and 15.7 degrees.Related Articles Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more