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Introducing the Golazo 100, ranking the best men's players in the world; USWNT roll on under Emma Hayes

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Hello! I'm Pardeep Cattry with a midweek check-in that's all about new developments, including the USWNT's new era under EMMA Hayes and the official launch of the Golazo 100, CBS Sports' ranking of the 100 best men's soccer players.

📺 Footy fix

All times U.S./Eastern

Wednesday, June 5
🌍 Friendly: Belgium vs. Montenegro, 2:30 p.m. ➡️ FS2
🇺🇸 USL Championship: San Antonio vs. El Paso Locomotive, 9 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Network

Thursday, June 6
🌍 Friendly: Netherlands vs. Canada, 2:45 p.m. ➡️ Fox Soccer Plus

⚽ The Forward Line

💯 Introducing the Golazo 100

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CBS Sports design

Wednesday marks the debut of the Golazo 100, a collaboration between over 30 voters across CBS Sport' soccer departments to rank the 100 best men's players currently in the game.

The top end of the list may have been a foregone conclusion as recently as last year, when the incomparable Lionel Messi was just months removed from winning the World Cup with Argentina and adding to his unrivaled legacy at the top levels of the club game. The 36-year-old's age and move to Inter Miami, coupled with Cristiano Ronaldo's jump to Saudi Arabia months earlier, has ushered in a new generation of stars that opens up a true debate to decide who the best players in the world actually are. The same rings true in the women's game, and so another Golazo 100 will drop shortly before the Olympic Games next month.

So how did we decide who ranks within the top 100, and who actually made the cut? Here's a little primer as the first batch of names is officially unveiled.

How it works

Each voter was asked to compile individual lists ranking their top 100 players, with the top player receiving 100 points, the second player receiving 99 points and so on. There was no criteria other than the fact that the selectees had to be active players -- anything from recent form, current club teams, accolades and injuries were factored in at each voter's discretion. You can read more about the voting process here.

Who made the cut

The players ranked 81 to 100 were revealed on Wednesday, with Barcelona's Ronald Araujo kicking things off by earning the last spot on the Golazo 100. Here's Roger Gonzalez on Araujo's attributes ahead of his time at the Copa America with Uruguay.

  • Gonzalez: "Continuing the tradition of Uruguay's production of elite center backs, the 25-year-old Rivera native is a menace in the middle. At 6-foot-2, he plays even bigger with his superb aerial ability. He's got speed and power to push nearly any player off the ball with his aggression. A key piece for Marcelo Bielsa's Uruguay national team, if the Charrua make any noise at the Copa America this summer, he will have to play a big role. His 2023-24 season, while strong for an inconsistent Barcelona, will unfortunately be remembered by his questionable red card on Bradley Barcola of PSG in the Champions League quarterfinal second leg. Barca were up 4-2 at that point before their surprising elimination. Those occasional high-profile errors are what keep him from being higher up the list."

Wednesday's drop includes some of the game's most consistent stars like Manuel Neuer, high-profile players now plying their trade outside of Europe like Neymar and the list's lone American -- Christian Pulisic. Another group of 20 will be revealed on each weekday until the top 20 are revealed next Tuesday and Wednesday.

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🔗  Midfield Link Play

🇺🇸 Dunn, Yohannes shine in USWNT win

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Getty Images

In their final game before Emma Hayes names the Olympics roster, the U.S. women's national team beat South Korea 3-0 on Tuesday as several players in a rotated team made their case to be mainstays for the foreseeable future.

Hayes made nine changes to the team that beat South Korea 4-0 on Saturday with the hopes of auditioning as many players as possible, including Crystal Dunn. The veteran scored her first international goal since 2018 in the 13th minute, leaving her mark in her first USWNT start as a forward since 2017. The strong showing likely shakes up the conversation around roster spots -- Dunn made her name as an attacker but has long been the USWNT's left back, a role she seems to have lost to Jenna Nighswonger in recent months. Dunn is likely competing with Trinity Rodman for minutes on the right wing now, but the 31-year-old's well-established versatility is no doubt an asset as Hayes compiles an 18 player roster.

Another player who had a big night in Minnesota on Tuesday was 16-year-old Lily Yohannes, who made her international debut as a substitute and scored just 10 minutes after coming on. It is unlikely that she will make the Olympics squad, but the USWNT have had one eye on the post-Paris future with Yohannes' inclusion, especially since the talented youngster's international future is up in the air. The Virginia native has represented the U.S. at youth levels but after moving to the Netherlands at the age of 10, she is in the process of obtaining Dutch citizenship and is leaving her options open, taking part in a youth camp for them last December.

Above all, though, Hayes was able to outline an attack-minded strategy for the USWNT that feels on trend after the squad refresh of the last several months, led by assistant coach Twila Kilgore. Hayes said her first camp was all about filling in the tactical details after Kilgore established a strong foundation, something Darian Jenkins said she noticed after Hayes' first two games were complete.

  • Jenkins: "They attack. They like to move the ball quickly. We heard [Hayes] talk a lot about patience -- being patient, not forcing play, and I think they finally have some tools in their arsenal when a team adjusts. We saw South Korea adjust in [Tuesday's] match, go into a low block. They blocked the holes in the middle of the pitch. [The USWNT] will go over the top, they'll try to get it [to the] endline, they'll cut back crosses, so we're seeing them actually adapt in the run of play as opposed to waiting from game to game to make changes, tactically. … Less one-dimensional, for sure."

🔗  Top Stories

💯 Golazo 100 central: Here's the list of players ranked 81 to 100, as well as the reasons why Christian Pulisic is the lone American on the Golazo 100. Plus, here's the hub for all things Golazo 100 and an explainer on the voting process.

✍️ Mbappe joins Real Madrid: Kylian Mbappe officially signed for Real Madrid on Monday, ushering in a new era of Galactico signings in the process. He leaves an unrivaled legacy at Paris Saint-Germain -- even if he had a contentious relationship with the club's higher-ups before Luis Enrique and Luis Campos "saved" him during his final year at the club.

⚖️ Manchester City lawsuit: Manchester City are suing the Premier League in relation to its associated party transaction rules, with the court case scheduled to begin next week and internal conflict amongst the Premier League's 20 clubs likely to follow.

🇺🇸 National team check-in: Here's the latest edition of player ratings after the USWNT's win, while the Morning Footy team selects which USMNT players will have the biggest impact at the Copa America.

🆕 Conte to Napoli: Napoli officially hired four-time Serie A champion Antonio Conte after a nightmarish season, but his fiery personality and the club's internal chaos might cause some friction even with success.

🔴 Arsenal's offseason: The Morning Footy crew play a round of "Keep or Sell?" with some of Arsenal's players, including Aaron Ramsdale and Eddie Nketiah.

🇸🇦 KDB to KSA?: Kevin De Bruyne said he's open to a move to Saudi Arabia, most likely Al-Nassr, and argued that "If I play there for two years, I will be able to earn an incredible amount of money."

📺 Arena on Kickin' It: Veteran American soccer coach Bruce Arena sounds off on several topics in the latest episode of Kickin' It. He suggests that MLS' "miscommunication" on his clearance has hindered his job prospects after he was suspended last season for "inappropriate and insensitive remarks," discusses his tense relationship with Clint Dempsey and the fallout from the USMNT's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

💰  The Back Line

💵 Best bets

  • Friendly: Netherlands vs. Canada, Thursday, 3 p.m.
    💰 THE PICK: Teun Koopmeiners to score (+195) -- Jesse Marsch's first match as the Canada head coach is going to be an uphill battle against the Netherlands, who are considered the heavy favorites at home. A lopsided win could be in the cards for the Dutch, who may not be amongst the top contenders to win this summer's Euros but are undoubtedly an aspirational group with several top-tier talents. Midfielder Teun Koopmeiners can be counted amongst the standouts, and ranks at 98 in the Golazo 100 after a breakout season with Atalanta. After making his name a defensive-minded player, he demonstrated his attacking abilities with the UEFA Europa League winners, scoring 15 goals last season.

📺 What's on CBS Sports Golazo Network

☀️ Morning Footy (Weekdays 8-10 a.m.): Hosts Susannah Collins, Charlie Davies, Nico Cantor and Alexis Guerreros help fans get their day started on the network's flagship morning show with highlights, interviews and the biggest soccer storylines. Morning Footy is also available in podcast form, so you'll never have to miss an episode.

📦 Box 2 Box (Weekday afternoons): The news-driven show quickly recaps all the latest headlines from around the world with panelists previewing the top matchups of the day. Catch Box 2 Box on CBS Sports Golazo Network on the CBS Sports app, PlutoTV and Paramount+. 

3️⃣ Attacking Third (Monday, Thursday): The leading women's soccer podcast and social brand is now a live studio show. The NWSL season is back and our coverage of the women's game is stronger than ever. Our analysts will be breaking down the USWNT, NWSL and European domestic season all year long.

👟 Kickin' It (Tuesdays): CBS Sports Golazo Network's unfiltered interview show releases Tuesday. Hosted by Kate Abdo, Clint Dempsey, Mo Edu and Charlie Davies, the group chat candidly with the biggest names from the Beautiful Game and share their stories from on and off the pitch. 

Call it What You Want (Monday night): A weekly podcast where Jimmy Conrad, Charlie Davies and friends cover all things USMNT and the state of the beautiful game in the United States.

🥅 Scoreline (Daily): Scoreline is the newest place for fans to catch up on all the biggest news and results impacting global football, match highlights from the top soccer competitions and all the can't-miss goals from the day's action, starting Thursday and airing seven days a week.

📺 How to watch: CBS Sports Golazo Network is a free 24/7 channel exclusively dedicated to offering unparalleled coverage of all the top soccer competitions worldwide. You can stream for free on the CBS Sports app, Pluto TV and Paramount+.

🎽Shop Now: Elevate your game-day style, shop curated collections inspired by Golazo Network. Paramount will receive a portion of sales.          

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