History of the US Women’s Volleyball Team – A Strong Favorite to Win the Olympics 2012!

1955 In Mexico City, the U.S. national squad beats the Brazilian team 3-2 (15-7, 7-15, 13-15, 16-14 and 15-9) to win its first medal (silver) in the Inaugural Women’s Volleyball Tournament at the Second Pan American Games (a performance it repeats in 1959 and 1963). This medal is the first medal of any kind for the States in volleyball in an international championship.

1956 The United States of America, birthplace of volleyball, participates for the first time in the Women’s World Championships at Paris, France, along with athletes from 16 other countries (Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Israel, Luxembourg, Netherlands, North Korea, Poland, Romania, USSR, West Germany, and the host nation).

1959 The American team finishes second in women’s volleyball at the III Pan American Games in Chicago, IL (in what may be the first women’s international volleyball tournament on U.S. soil), falling to Brazil in the finals 3-1 (15-7, 15-10, 9-15, 15-11).

1960 The national squad participates at the FIVB World Championships at Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), coming in sixth among 10 countries.

1962 America declines to compete in the World Championships in the Russian capital of Moscow in October.

1963 The IV Pan American Games (which is held every four years since 1951) are held in Brazil and serve as an Olympian qualifier for women’s volleyball. On Brazilian soil, the U.S. squad wins its third Pan American silver medal after losing to Brazil (3-1:12-15, 15-12, 15-4, 15-11) in the finals.

1964 Volleyball is admitted as an Olympian sport for the first time in the 18th Olympiad in Japan and the U.S. is one of the competitors, after Brazil announced their decision to cancel its participation as winner of the Pan American Games in 1963 (a Pre-Olympic tournament for athletes from Latin America and North America).

1964 Twelve athletes are selected for the first U.S. Olympic women’s volleyball squad. They are: Linda Murphy, Jane Ward, Jean Gaertner, Lou Galloway, Verneda Thomas, Barbara Harweth, Patti Lucas-Bright, Gail O’ Rourke, Nancy Owen, Mary Jo Peppler, Mary Margaret Perry, and Sharon Peterson.

1964 The States becomes the first country from the Americas (from Alaska to Argentina) to compete in the First Olympic Tournament, finishing in fifth place, behind Japan, USSR, Poland, and Romania.

1967 After not competing in 1962, the U.S. squad is runner-up to Japan in the 5th World Championships at Tokyo.

1967 The underdog United States volleyball team makes international headlines when they win the international tournament at the Winnipeg Pan American Games ( the country’s first Pan American gold medal in women’s volleyball and first major international title) by defeating five opponents– Canada (3-0: 15-6,15-5, 15-2), Peru (3-0:15-12, 15-8, 15-6), Mexico (3-0:15-7,15-4, 15-5), Cuba (3-0:15-8,15-8,15-10) and the defending champion Brazil (3-0:15-8,15-10,15-12). The winner gets a berth in next year’s Olympics in the metropolis of Mexico City.

1968 The Unites States sends players to the United Mexican States to compete in the Games of the 19th Olympiad. The North American country qualified for the Olympiad in the Pan American Games a year earlier.

1969 The U.S. volleyball team takes the bronze in the Inaugural Norceca (North and Central American and Caribbean regional volleyball championship) Tournament in the Mexican capital.

1970 Under the leadership of Mary Jo Peppler, the national side competes in their second consecutive FIVB World Championship in the Balkan republic of Bulgaria, placing 11th. On Bulgarian soil, Miss Pepper — a member of the first U.S. Olympic women’s volleyball squad at Tokyo’64 and 1967 Pan American Games women’s volleyball gold medalist– makes history as she is regarded as one of the top players on the planet (the first American to do so).

1971 The USA team refuses to participate in the Second Norceca Championship on Cuba.

1971 Surprisingly, the USA squad fails to qualify for the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics by finishing sixth in the VI Pan American Games at Cali ( a city in southwest Colombia, South America), after their victory over Haiti 3-0 (15-7, 15-1, 15-7).

1973 In the regional championship in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, the U.S. beats hosts (defending champion) 3-2 (15-10, 3-15, 2-15, 16-14, 15-11) to win the bronze medal, clinching America’s first appearance in the World Cup.

1973 Young-up-and-coming player Flora «Flo» Jean Hyman makes her major debut at the World University Games in the USSR/Soviet Union. Without a doubt, she will be the most famous female player in U.S volleyball history.

1973 The United States is one of 12 countries to compete in the Inaugural World Cup competition in the South American republic of Uruguay, one of the most prestigious women’s volleyball tournaments alongside the FIVB World Championship, the Grand Prix, and the Summer Games.

1973 South Korean-born Park Moo, who later was coach of the 1976 Canadian Olympic side, works with a new U.S. team.

1974 The American team -made up of six notable athletes: Paula Ditner, Leslie Knudsen, Debra Landreta, Susan Woodstra, Roxane Elías & Debbie Green– finishes 12th at the FIVB World Championship at Guadalajara (Mexico).

1974-1975 15-year-old Debbie Green becomes the youngest player in U.S history.

1975 Los Angeles (CA) hosts the IV Norceca Tournament. After defeating Mexico (3-2) and Canada (3-0), the host country finishes second in the regional championship, winning the right to compete at the 1976 Pre-Olympic Tournament in Heidelberg, West Germany.

1975 The U.S. women’s volleyball team fails to qualify for the medal round in the Seventh Pan American Games, despite defeating Mexico (the host country) 3-2 (6-15, 7-15, 15-12, 16-14, 15-11) in the first round.

1975-1984 Arie Selinger is named Head Coach of the USA Women’s Squad. Mr. Selinger has been praised by sportswriters and experts for his work with giant players, becoming an international pioneer in the sport of volleyball.

1976 After two difficult games against Bulgaria and East Germany and three victories over Switzerland, Poland, and the host Germans, the American squad, under Selinger as a head coach, fails to qualify for the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games by finishing in fourth place in the Pre-Olympic Tournament at Heidelberg (Federal Republic of Germany).

1976 The Peruvian side, led by its main athlete Mercedes «Meche» Gonzalez (who later played in the state of Arizona), makes a trip to U.S. to play friendly games against the American team of Arie Selinger.

1977 In the V Norceca World Cup Qualifying in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), the U.S side — spearheaded by the top-class volleyball player Flo Hyman — takes the silver medal after losing to arch-rival Cuba 3-1 (15-2, 15-13, 8-15, 15-13).

1977 The U.S. is invited to participate in the Second World Cup in Japan.

1977 At the FIVB Volleyball World Cup in Japan’s capital city of Tokyo, America defeats Soviet Union 3-1 for the first time in U.S. volleyball history. A year ago, the USSR picked up a silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Sumer Games.

1978 Before grabbing fifth place in the Women’s World Championships on Soviet soil, America beats China 3-0 (15-13, 15-11, 15-10).

1978 Selinger’s team shocks the world with a convincing victory over Peru 3-0 in the Global Championships at Moscow, USSR. In the event, America makes history again when its athlete Flora Hyman becomes one of the world’s top female players (alongside Yuri Yokohama from Japan and Cuba’s Mercedes Perez). The last American female to win this honor was Mary Jo Peppler in the early 1970s. Miss Hyman has played more than 300 women’s volleyball matches since her official debut in 1973.

1979 The Peruvian team travels to the United States to play some matches.

1979 Despite being one of the favorites at the Pan American Games in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the States is not able to win a medal after losing to Brazil 3-2 (15-8, 7-15, 15-11,7-15 and 15-11) in the bronze-medal match.

1979 At the VI Norceca Cup on the island of Cuba, the USA squad places second, winning the right to represent Norceca in the 22nd Olympiad (a feat it repeats in 1987). An American team has not participated in the Olympian event since 1964.

1980 For the first time since 1967, the United States defeats Cuba 3-0.

1980 Due to the American boycott of the Summer Games in the USSR ( in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan), the U.S. women’s Olympic team, made up of the best American athletes available, loses a chance to become an Olympic champion at Moscow (the capital of Soviet Russia), after impressive victories over Cuba (world champion and winner of the Pan American Games in 1979) and the People’s Republic of China during the last 10 months.

1981 In a historic volleyball match, the national team wins the regional championship title over the world’s number one squad, Cuba, 3-1 at Mexico City (they had spent nearly 12 years losing in the Norceca tournaments), a feat it repeats in 1983.

1981: The U.S. women’s World Cup team makes more history: For the first time in American volleyball history, the nation defeats Japan (host -country) 3-2 (15-10, 11-15, 15-13, 12-15, 15-9 ) at the FIVB World Cup. This win would have been extremely hard to imagine in the 1960s and 1970s. On October 11, 1964 America lost, 3-0 (15-1, 15-5, 15-2) to Japan at the Summer Olympics.

1981 The women’s volleyball squad of Peru makes a visit to Colorado Springs (USA’s main Olympic center) and to other cities to play important matches against the American squad of Mr. Selinger.

1981 During the III World Cup on Japanese soil, the United States national team beats South Koreans by 3-0 15-8, 15-12, 15-6; its first-ever win over South Korea.

1981 In Japan, the star of the U.S. women’s volleyball team is the African-American Flo Hyman, one of the most charismatic players in the history of sport. A 9-year member of the U.S. women’s national team beginning 1973, she paves the way for future champions in the United States of America.

1982 The United States beats China by 3-1 in the first round before falling 3-0 to Peru in the semi-finals of World Championship in the Peruvian capital of Lima. Nonetheless, Selinger’s team continues to make volleyball history as the first North American squad to capture a world medal (bronze), following a win over Japan, who dominated women’s volleyball for a decade.

1982 For the first time in US volleyball history, Miss Rita Crockett and her fellow American Flo Hyman are named to the All-Tournament Team in Peru, beating out teammate Debbie Green, Mercedes «Mamita» Perez of Cuba and the Peruvian-born Raquel «Chunga» Chumpitaz for the award.

1983 Giant Rose Mary Magers (who stands 1,90m tall) makes her first appearance on the U.S. national team.

1983 South Korean-born American player Debbie Green (1,63m-tall) is replaced by the less-experienced Carolyn Becker (1,84m-tall) as an official setter. By the mid-1970s, Miss Green was the first Asian-American player to make the U.S. volleyball senior national team. Despite her short stature, she was one of the top setters in American volleyball history.

1983 The captain Flo Hyman and her fellow Americans are on a tour of Cuba to play seven matches (six wins and one losses), becoming one of the first American amateur teams to visit Castro’s island since the late 1950s. Seventy years ago, the United States had introduced the game of volleyball to the island of Cuba.

1983 The Soviet-trained Cuban athletes, led by their world-class players Mireya Luis Hernandez and Josefina Capote, make a travel to the United States to play eight matches (USA won all matches).

1983 The VIII Norceca Championship is held in Indianapolis (IN) with the home country beating Cuba 3-0 (15-4, 15-9, 15-13) in the finals. They, with its new young star Rose Magers, become the first U.S. team to win back-to-back Norceca titles.

1983 At the Varna Cup in Bulgaria (one of the most notable international events on Earth), America — the world’s top-ranked squad- places first, following wins over the People’s Republic of China (3-0) and the Soviet Union (3-0), respectively.

1983 In the most glorious international match in volleyball history, Cuba beats the U.S. 3-2 (17-15, 15-7, 11-15, 9-15, 15-10) for the IX Pan American Games gold medal in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas; the nation’s first Pan American medal in 16 years. A marathon game where the global star Flo Hyman is overshadowed by the 16-year-old Cuban volleyball prodigy Mireya Luis Hernandez (who stands 1,76m tall, but with a jump of 3,39 meters over the net), a key-player during the match. Days ago, the U.S. had defeated Cuba 3-1 (16-14, 16-14, 11-15, 16-14) in the first round; it was the first defeat for a Cuban women’s volleyball squad in the Pan American Games since 1971. The North American nation also had wins over five other squads: Canada (3-0), Venezuela (3-0), Brazil (3-1), Argentina (3-0), and Peru (3-0).

1983 Despite being defeated by Cuba at the IX Pan American Games in August, the USA team becomes the top ranked volleyball team in the world and big favorite to win the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Games.

1984 The U.S. squad is preparing for the 1984 Los Angeles Games! The team embarks on a worldwide tour to play several international games– Far East, Eastern Europe, and South America.

1984 As a host nation, the North American team competes in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games.

1984 Arie Selinger leads the U.S. women’s squad to a silver medal at the 1984 L.A. Summer Olympics. The Los Angeles Games represented the culmination of Selinger’s 10-year project to remake the American side (first women’s volleyball squad in U.S. history to win an Olympian medal). In California, the United States is the only country to have both its squads (men and women) advance to the finals.

1984 California-born athlete Flo Hyman and nine teammates, among them Debbie Green, Rita Crockett, and Susan Woodstra, retire from international competition upon winning a silver at the Los Angeles Games. Miss Hyman was the most outstanding female player in U.S. volleyball history. In her outstanding career, she was nicknamed «the Black giraffe» for her tall (1,96m/6 ft 5 in) at a time when had not giant players in the world of volleyball. In those years, Hyman and her fellow Americans won a bronze in the global tournament by defeating long-time champion Japan in a historic volleyball match. Previously, they had earned a spot in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. By 1981, the national team was undefeated in five games at the Tokyo World Cup, beating Japan 3-2 for the first time. In the latter half of the 1980s and 1990s, Hyman was an inspiration to many world-class players such as Rose Magers, Gabriela «Gaby» Perez del Solar Cuculiza of Peru and Cuba’s Olympic champions Regla Torres and Magaly Carvajal.

1985 With an almost entirely different roster, the United States finishes last in the South Korea Cup (an unofficial championship) in Seoul, after losing its three games (Japan, Canada, and the Republic of Korea).

1985 The national team wins the Taurus Cup at Hungary, an international event with five teams (America, Japan, Italy, France, and the host Hungarians).

1985 The States, under a new national coach, fails to qualify for the 1985 World Cup (in Far East) for the first time by finishing second in the Continental tournament at Santiago de los Caballeros (Dominican Republic).

1985 The global star Rose Magers, who won her country’s first Olympian women’s volleyball gold medal at L.A in 1984, earns a spot on the World All-Star Team (alongside Ute Oldenburg of East Germany, Cecilia Tait of Peru, Japan’s Kumi Nakada, Heloisa Roese from Brazil, and other top players from the Soviet Union, Cuba, Italy and Asia), making her the first American female to earn that honor.

1986 The U.S. squad qualifies for their sixth straight FIVB World Championship (not World Cup) in the Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia, placing 10th.

1986 Japanese-based player Flo Hyman, who was one of the U.S. women’s top players between 1973 and 1984, passes away in Tokyo. After the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, she became one of the first American players to play outside of the United States and one of the first to sign a professional volleyball contract in Far East at a time when many players could not compete as professionals in the Olympics.

1986 The United States Olympic Committee sends volleyball players to the First Goodwill Games on Russian soil.

1987-2004 The Flo Hyman Memorial Award, named after the former Olympian player, is given annually by the Women’s Sports Foundation to the sportswoman who by her example has done much to stimulate Olympic ideals and women’s interest in sports. Among the winners are Martina Navratilova (tennis), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (track & field), Nancy Lopez (golf), Lynette Woodard (basketball), Evelyn Ashford (athletics), Chris Evert (tennis), and Mary Lou Retton (gymnastics).

1987 Despite missing key players, the national team earns a Pan American bronze medal on home soil, behind Cuba and Peru and well ahead of Brazil (silver at the South American Cup) and Canada.

1987 In the 10th regional championship on Cuba’s capital, the North American nation is runner-up, clinching America’s fourth appearance in the Summer Olympics.

1989 At the Norceca World Cup Qualifying on Puerto Rico, the U.S women’s national volleyball team places third, losing a semi-final match to Canada.

1989 The first U.S. Under-17 team competes internationally in the FIVB Girls’ Youth Volleyball World Championship in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba.

1990 The underdog United States volleyball squad wins the bronze medal in the FIVB Women’s World Championships in the People’s Republic of China -the squad’s best World Tournament showing since the early 1980s– following a victory over the favorite, Cuba (led by its East German-trained coach Antonio Perdomo). It is one of the most extraordinary results in the history of the World Championship.

1991 At the 12nd Norceca Championship, the USA team places second, after losing to Cuba.

1991 Sportswoman Caren Marie Alexius Kemner leads the U.S women’s World Cup team to a fourth place finish in the Japan World Tournament by defeating Peru 3-2, earning a berth in the 1992 Summer Games in the Spaniard city of Barcelona.

1992 Caren Kemner becomes one of the world’s top female players at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, helping the U.S. volleyball team win a bronze medal (the nation’s first Olympian medal in eight years) by beating Brazil 3-0 (15-8, 15-6, 15-13).

1994: The North American players make a travel to Sao Paulo (Brazil) to compete in the Global Championship.

1995 100 years after being invented by W.G. Morgan in Holyoke (MA), volleyball is the second-largest participation sport on U.S. soil.

1995 America becomes one of the two best squads in the Western Hemisphere upon winning the silver medal at the Pan American Games in Mar del Plata (Argentina).

1995 The United States, led by its international star Tara Cross-Battle, defeats Brazil 3-2 (15-9, 15-10, 4-15, 5-15, 15-12) to capture the Third Volleyball World Grand Prix. This team becomes the first female team in U.S. history to win a major international championship. It is called the biggest upset ever in volleyball international.

1996 The Olympic Volleyball Tournament returns to the United States (Atlanta, GA) after a 12-year absence.

1999 In the regional championship, America’s team places second, qualifying for the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics.

2000 Hawaii-born player Robyn Mokihana Ah Mow leads the U.S. squad to a fourth place finish in the Games of the 27th Olympiad in Sydney (New South Wales, Australia), after finishing seventh at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games.

2001 America defeats China to become winner of the Volleyball World Grand Prix played in Macau, a former Portuguese dependency in Far East.

2001 The U.S. women wins back the Norceca championship by defeating defending champion Cuba 3-1 in the first place match.

2002 U.S. player Tayyiba Haneef-Park (6ft 7 in) is one of the most outstanding athletes in the FIVB Women’s World Championships on German soil, helping the U.S. squad win a silver medal.

2003 The North American country captures the Norceca Tournament for the second time in a row, beating 3-0 Cuba in the final and repeating its feat from 1981,1983, and 2001.

2003 Chinese-born Lang «Jenny» Ping, a member of the gold-medal winning Olympic volleyball team in 1984, becomes the first female in U.S. volleyball history to be named head of coach of the women’s national team.

2003 The Pan American Cup in Saltillo (Mexico) is won by the American side of Toshi Yoshida, who debuted as an assistant coach of the national squad in the early 1980s.

2003 The American women are the surprise squad of the World Grand Prix, winning the third place (behind the People’s Republic of China and Russia).

2004 The U.S. squad qualifies for the Summer Games for the seventh consecutive time.

2004 For the second consecutive time, the U.S. wins the bronze medal at the Volleyball World Grand Prix.

2007 At the Norceca Championship at Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada), the North American country comes in second behind Cuba’s team (first).

2008 Lang Ping (one of the top female players in the latter half of the 20th century) leads the 2008 United States Olympic team, composed in great part of professionals, to a second place finish in the Beijing Summer Games (the highest Olympic finish) after losing to arch-rival Brazil 3-1 in the gold medal match. In the People’s Republic of China, the States and Brazil are the only countries to have both their teams (women & men) advance to the finals.

2009 Hugh McCutcheon is named head coach of the U.S. women’s national team (WNT), replacing Lang Ping. By 2008, he coached the U.S national men’s team to Olympic gold medal at Beijing.

2009 McCutcheon’s team finishes fourth in the VIII Pan American Tournament played in Miami, FL.

2010 At the First Young Summer Games at Singapore City, the U.S. Under-20 National Team places second behind Belgium (gold) and ahead of Peru (bronze).

2010 The United States team, led by its top-class player Foluke Akinradewo (who plays in Japan’s professional league) beats Brazil 3-2 (25-22, 19-25, 28-30, 25-17, 13-15) to win its third World Grand Prix.

2011 Under the leadership of Nancy Metcalf, who plays professionally in the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, the national team wins the Norceca Championship in Caguas (Puerto Rico) with victories over the Dominican Republic (3-0), Cuba (3-0), Mexico (3-0), Canada (3-0), and the island-nation of Trinidad Tobago (3-0).

2011 The United States U-20 squad celebrates their bronze medal in the Junior World Championships in Lima (Peru).

2011 New Zealand-born Hugh McCutcheon leads the U.S. women’s World Cup team (made up of 11 professional players) to a second place finish in the FIVB Tokyo World Cup, gaining a berth in the 2012 Summer Games in the United Kingdom.

2011 The Unites States Olympic Committee sends an unofficial female squad to the Pan American Games at Guadalajara (Mexico), winning a bronze medal.

2011 The national team, led by its Italian-based player Destinee Hooker, successfully defends its World Grand Prix title, becoming the first North American squad to win back-to-back championships and capturing the attention of many experts and sportswriters around the globe. They, on the other hand, have become the fourth American team to take home a world title.

2012 The American women’s volleyball squad is one of the favorites to capture the gold medal in the 2012 Summer Games in the British Isles, upon their international wins between 2010 and 2012. They are professional athletes abroad, especially in the oil-rich country of Azerbaijan.

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Flag Pictures – How to Take Outstanding Photos of Flags With Digital Cameras

Every country has its own flag as a symbol of the nation and the common interest of the population. So our flag is something we share and respect. We need good pictures of flags in many circumstances. For printing, for celebrations, for …

Learn to take better pictures of flags by following these simple photo tips.

1. Show the flag in the environment

A flag isn’t just a sort of clip-art. The flag is living because of its surroundings. If we want to take impressive flag pictures we need to catch the flag in the environment. It can just be the blowing wind, or the blue sky with a few clouds behind. Or the flag shown as a central point for a gathering of people or enjoyment.

2. Let the wind blow

A flag hanging lazy down from a flagpole isn’t a real flag. The flag becomes alive when the wind is blowing. Take a lot of pictures of the flag in the wind with your digital camera. Each extra picture doesn’t cost you a cent, and we need to be quite patient to catch the right moment when the flag is at its most beautiful position, also related to the light.

3. Get the light behind the flag

If you can take the flag pictures with the light behind the flag so the light is shining through the cloth of the flag, the flag will look much more interesting in a kind of transparent mood.

4. Avoid distracting elements reaching into the frame of the flag

The flag in itself should stand out clearly from the background and from other elements in the picture. At least that will give the most impressive flag picture in most situations.

5. Let people show their appreciation of the flag in the picture

When possible compose flag pictures in such a way that people are interacting with or showing their appreciation of the flag.

6. Decide if the flag is the main object or an additional object in the picture

The symbolic nature of national flags means that an addition of a flag to any picture can add much more than just the small area of the picture it is occupying. Lets say you are taking pictures of a group of people in another country or a building. And just by including a small flag will signal where in the world you are taking the picture.

7. Make use of the colours’ of the flag

The best result for pictures isn’t when you include a lot of colors in the same picture. It is much better to mach colours’ to each other. If you can add an element of the same color of parts of the flag it will enhance the flag and create a more coherent picture.

8. Many similar flags can be very impressive.

Pictures with several or many flags of the same kind can be very impressive on pictures. Especially, if you follow some of the photo tips above.

Every time you go to a new country or meet a new flag you will benefit from taking an impressive picture of the flag. Exactly because of the symbolic nature of flags such pictures will serve you in many applications, like in photo shows, in PowerPoint presentation, and may be in celebrations.

In my country small country Denmark in Scandinavia we use our old red flag with the white cross not only as a national symbol, but in fact much more as a symbol of celebration and good mood and atmosphere. With every birthday – whatever it is children or up to the oldest people – the red and white flag will be raised and used to celebrate the person with the birthday. Are friends receiving their friends arriving in the airport they will bring small Danish flags to celebrate the arrival.

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Physical Therapy and Recovery

If you play sports or other physical activities, then you know that injuries come with the territory. Depending on the type of injury and the extent of your injury, you may need physical therapy. Physical therapy is the process of rehabilitation and recovery from your injury or physical ailment. Physical therapy works on recovery of your musculoskeletal system. Massage therapy is used as part of the recovery process. Some of the more advanced therapy clinics are starting to use massage chair recliners as part of their arsenal of tools to help people recover from their injuries.

If you start a physical therapy program, then you will be assigned a physical therapist. The therapist is a trained professional to help restore your strength, motion and activity. The therapist understands the mechanics of your body and will help design a treatment program for you. You will learn specific stretches, exercises and other specialized techniques to help your body recover. You may also use specific equipment that can address particular issues. Massage therapy has become an important tool in the recovery arsenal and many clinics are making use of massage chair recliners.

Your therapist is trained in different surgeries, treatments and rehabilitation techniques and goals. The therapist will design a recovery treatment targeting the areas of your body that needs greater flexibility or strength. If you are recovering from surgery, then the therapist will be knowledgeable about different surgical procedures. The therapist will help in setting goals as you work through the initial limitations of your physique. Some of the important physical therapy tools are stretching, exercises and massage therapy.

Stretching is important to help regain lost flexibility. The muscles may be tight, the joints stiff and you may have scar tissue. These reduce your range of motion and decrease flexibility. Stretching helps to elongate the muscles. This helps to stretch the muscles helping their elasticity. A frequent and continuous regimen of daily stretching helps to speed recovery. Your therapist will design a stretching routine which will help focus on restoring the range of motion.

Exercises are important to help rebuild strength. When we have an injury, we tend to protect that area. Protecting that area is usually to isolate and immobilize it. In other words, we tend not to use the injured area. This helps to prevent further injury, but at the expense of strength and conditioning. To help rebuild the body, exercises help to build up strength, endurance and agility. Physical therapy clinics have a wide array of exercise equipment from treadmills, stationary bikes, weights and more. These help you focus building up a particular set of muscles.

Massage therapy is important to assist the total healing process. The muscle tissue breaks down and its fibers become shorter. This makes the muscles tighter. Massage therapy starts where stretching leaves off. Massage therapy helps to penetrate deeper into the muscle tissue to help elongate and invigorate the muscles. This helps the healing process by restoring flexibility throughout the muscle and scar tissue. Massage is given either by a massage therapist or a massage chair. Massage chairs come with a variety of therapeutic massages, heat therapies and even traction. These not only provide effective therapy but also help you to relax and clear your mind.

Whether you are a professional tennis player or a beginner skier, injuries can happen to anyone. If you do find yourself in physical therapy, work on setting goals to recover. Find yourself an excellent physical therapy clinic. Make sure they have qualified people, proper exercise equipment and massage therapy. And if you need massage therapy, make sure a massage chair is part of your recovery plans.

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Welcoming A New Family Of Stars Into Our Galaxy's Heart

The starlit galaxies of the observable Universe were born very long ago, and began to cast their brilliant, beautiful, starlit fires into Space less than a billion years after the Big Bang birth of the Universe almost 14 billion years ago. Our own large barred-spiral Galaxy, the Milky Way, is a very ancient structure that houses our Solar System, which is located about 27,000 light-years from the Galactic Center, on the inner edge of one of the spiral-shaped concentrations of gas and dust called the Orion Arm. The stars that dwell in the innermost 10,000 light-years of our Galaxy create a bulge and one or more bars that radiate out from the bulge –where there lies in wait, at the very heart of our Galaxy, an intense radio source, named Sagittarius A * , or Sgr A * (pronounced saj-a-star) , for short. Sgr A * is thought to be a supermassive black hole that weighs-in at millions of times the mass of our Sun. In November 2016, a team of astronomers announced the happy news that they have discovered a new family of stars living in our Milky Way's heart. This new family of stellar sparklers are a welcome addition to our neighborhood because they can shed new light on our Galaxy's birth in the primordial Universe.

This new discovery can solve some of the haunting mysteries surrounding globular clusters –which are spherical concentrations of about a million stars that formed at the very beginning of our Galaxy's existence. Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) researcher, Dr. Ricardo Schiavon, led the project responsible for discovering the tattle-tale family of stars. LJMU , in Liverpool, England, is a member of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) –an international collaboration of scientists at numerous institutions. One of the projects of this collaboration is the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) which gathers infrared data on literally hundreds of thousands of stars dwelling in our Milky Way Galaxy.

By observing stars in the infrared towards the Galactic Center , the team of astronomers were able to discover the new family of stars – the likes of which had previously been observed only within globular clusters.

Globular clusters are beautiful spherical collections of stars that orbit around the core of a galaxy, and are very tightly glued together by their own gravity – which is why they have spherical shapes and relatively high stellar densities towards their centers. These lovely collections of stars are usually found in the halo of a galaxy, and they harbor considerably more stars – and are also much older – than open clusters , which are considerably less dense than their globular cousins. Open clusters are also usually seen in a galaxy's disk , rather than in the halo.

There are approximately 150 to 158 globulars known to inhabit our Galaxy, and they are considered to be fairly common objects. In addition, there are perhaps about 10 to 20 more still undiscovered globular clusters within our Milky Way. These globulars orbit our Galaxy at radii of about 130,000 light-years– or more! Galaxies that are larger than our Milky Way can also play host to more globulars. For example, the slightly larger largest spiral, the Andromeda Galaxy , may host as many as 500 of these clusters. Some of the giant elliptical (football-shaped) galaxies – especially those that are located at the centers of galaxy clusters, such as M87 –can host as many as 13,000 globular clusters.

Our Galaxy is a denizen of the Local Group . Every galaxy of sufficient mass dwelling in the Local Group has an associated collection of globular clusters. The Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy, and the controversial Canis Dwarf galaxy, have both been observed to be in the midst of contributing their associated globulars –such as Palomar 12 –to the Milky Way. This sheds light on how many of our Galaxy's globulars might have been snatched up in the past.

Globulars contain some of the first stars to be born in a galaxy like our own. Nevertheless, how these clusters were born, and the role they once played in galactic evolution, are not well understood. Despite all this, it is generally thought that globular clusters formed in concert with the star-birthing process that occurred within their primordial parent galaxies – rather than as separate and distinct galaxies in their own right. Also, in many globular clusters , most of the constituent stars appear to be at the same stage of stellar evolution. This observation suggests that they were all born about the same time. However, the star-birth history varies from cluster to cluster, with some clusters showing distinct populations of stars.

Milky Way Matters

A sparkling host of brilliant stars hurl their fabulous light out into Space from where they dwell within the more than 100 billion galaxies of the observable Universe. The observable Universe is that relatively small portion of the unimaginably vast Cosmos that we are able to observe– most of the Universe exists far beyond what we can see. This is because the light streaming towards us from those mysterious and remote regions has not had enough time to reach us since the Big Bang. The starry galaxies of our observable Universe trace out for us enormous, and otherwise invisible, heavy filaments composed of transparent dark matter . The identity of the dark matter is not known, but many astronomers strongly suspect that it is composed of exotic, non-atomic particles that cannot interact with light, or any other form of electromagnetic radiation, which is why it is invisible. The starlit galaxies that mingle together to form groups and clusters of galaxies light up the transparent filaments that compose what is called the Cosmic Web. In this way, the stellar constituents of galaxies outline, with the bright light of publicity, that which we would otherwise not suspect is there.

The most widely accepted theory of galactic formation and evolution is frequently referred to as the bottom up model. The bottom up model proposes that large and majestic galaxies – like our own Milky Way – were rare in the early Universe, and that galaxies only gradually attained these impressive sizes as a result of collisions and mergers between much smaller, amorphous protogalactic blobs. It is generally thought that the most ancient galaxies were only about one-tenth the size of our own Galaxy, but as a result of their rapid production of fiery new and dazzling baby stars, they were just as brilliant. These relatively small, but extremely bright, very ancient galaxies served as the "seeds" from which the large galaxies inhabiting the Universe today grew and flourished.

In the primordial Universe, opaque clouds of mostly hydrogen gas bumped into one another and then coalesced along the massive, enormous filaments of the invisible Cosmic Web –composed of the ghostly dark matter. Even though scientists have not as yet identified what the dark matter really is, they have a good idea of ​​what it probably is not. Dark matter is most likely not made up of the "ordinary" atomic matter that composes all of the familiar elements listed in the Periodic Table– the so-called "ordinary" stuff of stars, planets, moons, oceans, sand, trees, and people. "Ordinary" atomic matter is really very extraordinary – even though it only accounts for about 5% of the mass-energy of the Universe. Atomic matter is what brought life into the Universe. We are such stuff as stars are made of. The stars created literally all of the atomic elements heavier than helium, that made life possible, in their nuclear-fusing hearts. In this way, the stars progressively created heavier and heaver atomic elements out of lighter ones. The iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones, the oxygen we breathe, and the carbon that is the basis for life on Earth – the dirt, stone, and sand beneath our feet – were all manufactured in the searing-hot nuclear-fusing furnaces of the stars or, alternatively, in the explosive supernova demise of the more massive stellar denizens of the Cosmos.

Our Galaxy's oldest stars have been estimated to be 13.6 billion years old. This would suggest that the Milky Way is almost as old as the Universe itself, which is about 13.8 billion years old. Stars and gases at a wide range of distances from the Galactic Center of our Milky Way all orbit at about 220 kilometers per second. This constant speed of rotation conflicts with the laws of Keplerian dynamics and hints that much of our Milky Way's mass does not emit or absorb electromagnetic radiation – an indication of the existence of dark matter.

In the primeval Universe, little by little, the wandering clouds of primordial gases and the invisible, ghostly dark matter did their fantastic dance together, combining to create the familiar structures in Space that astronomers observe today. Dense collections of the dark matter came to fill the entire ancient Cosmos, thus becoming the "seeds" from which the galaxies formed and evolved through Time. The powerful gravitational tugs of those ancient protogalactic "seeds" squeezed the primeval gases into ever tighter and tighter clouds. The clouds intermingled in a mysterious ancient dance, colliding and merging with one another to create these very ancient galactic building blocks. The primordial building blocks formed when halos of dark matter collapsed under the powerful and heavy weight of their own gravity. The protogalaxies did their ancient waltz together, eventually forming ever larger structures that became immense, majestic, starlit galaxies like our own Milky Way. The very ancient Universe was much smaller than it is today because of the accelerating expansion of Spacetime. The protogalaxies were relatively close to one another and, as a result, frequently bumped into one another and merged. This is how galaxies like our Milky Way were born.

From Earth the Milky Way can be seen as a fuzzy band of soft white light about 30 degrees wide, creating an amazing arc across the sky. The light emanating from this band originates from the accumulated light of unresolved stars and other material situated in the direction of the Galactic Plane . Darker segments of the band, such as two areas named the Great Rift and the Coalsack , are really regions where light from distant stars is blocked out by shrouds of obscuring dust swirling around in the space between stars. The area of ​​the sky blocked by our Milky Way is called the Zone of Avoidance. Our Galaxy is the second-largest inhabitant of the Local Group , after the spiral Andromeda Galaxy .

Our Milky Way plays host to between 200 and 400 billion stars, and at least 100 billion planets. By comparison, the Andromeda Galaxy is thought to harbor approximately one trillion stellar inhabitants. However, most of the mass of our Milky Way appears to be composed of the dark matter , which interacts with "ordinary" atomic matter only through the force of gravity. A dark matter halo is spread out relatively uniformly to a distance beyond one hundred kiloparsecs from the Galactic Center.

The disk of stars in our Galaxy does not display a sharp edge beyond which there are no stars. Instead, the concentration of stars decreases with distance from the center of our Milky Way. Surrounding the Galactic Disk is the spherical dark matter halo, containing stars and globular clusters, that extends outward. However, the halo is limited in size by the orbits of a duo of amorphous Milky Way satellite galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. The Magellanic Clouds make their closest approach to the Galactic Center at approximately 180,000 light-years.

Welcoming A New Family Of Stars Into Our Galaxy's Heart

The lovely new family of bewitching stars possibly once belonged to globular clusters that were destroyed during the violent beginning of the formation of the Galactic Center. In this case, there would have once been approximately 10 times more globular clusters in our Milky Way, during its formative early years, than there are today. This means that a large percentage of the elderly stars, now dwelling within the inner portions of our Galaxy, may have been born in globular clusters that were eventually destroyed.

"This is a very exciting finding that helps us address fascinating questions such as what is the nature of the stars in the inner regions of the Milky Way, how globular clusters formed and what role they played in the formation of the early Milky Way– and by extension the formation of other galaxies. The center of the Milky Way is poorly understood, because it is blocked from view by intervening dust. Observing in the infrared, which is less absorbed by dust than visible light, APOGEE can see the center of the Galaxy better than other teams, "explained Dr. Ricardo Schiavon in the November 21, 2016 LJMU Press Release.

Dr. Schiavon continued to note: "From our observations we could determine the chemical compositions of thousands of stars, among which we spotted a significant number of stars that differed from the bulk of the stars in the inner regions of the Galaxy, due to their very high abundance of nitrogen.While not certain, we suspect that these stars resulted from globular cluster destruction. They could also be the byproducts of the first episodes of star formation taking place at the beginning of the Galaxy's history. We are conducting further observations to test these hypotheses. "

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The Story Behind Simon And Garfunkel’s Greatest Hit Songs: "Homeward Bound"

Over the years many songs have been written about the varied experience of life on the road. Many examples come to mind including Grand Funk Railroad’s «We’re an American Band» («Out on the road for forty days, last night in Little Rock, put me in a haze»), Creedence Clearwater Revival’s «Travelin’ Band» («Take me to the hotel baggage gone oh well»), Dan Fogelberg’s «Same Auld Lang Syne» («I said the audience was heavenly but the traveling was hell.»). And of course there’s the desolation, quiet fury and desperation of Bob Seger’s «Turn the Page» («And you always seem outnumbered. You don’t dare make a stand»). But none capture the loneliness of touring as well as Simon and Garfunkel’s «Homeward Bound».

Bear in mind that this song was recorded somewhat hastily after «The Sounds of Silence» became a surprise smash hit in early 1966 without either Simon’s or Garfunkel’s knowledge. They had split up by then, Garfunkel having returned to college and Simon touring England as a solo folk artist. Needless to say, they reunited in a hurry.

So who was he writing it for and where was he when he wrote it? The first question is easier. After moving to England in 1964 in the wake of the failure of Simon and Garfunkel’s acoustic folk album «Wednesday Morning, 3.A.M.» Simon met Kathy Chitty at his very first club date he played, the Hermit Club in Brentwood Essex. Chitty, who was only 17, worked there part-time selling tickets. A picture of her can be found on the cover of the solo acoustic album Simon recorded while in England, «The Paul Simon Song Book». Simon and Chitty fell for one another

Kathy was in London when Simon wrote the song but where was Simon? In a railway station, of course. But which one? That’s debatable. But in an interview with SongTalk magazine in 1990 Simon recalled, «That was written in Liverpool when I was traveling. What I like about that is that it has a very clear memory of Liverpool station and the streets of Liverpool and the club I played at and me at age 22. It’s like a snapshot, a photograph of a long time ago… «. So Simon claimed Liverpool. Garfunkel thought it was in the vicinity of Manchester. However, if you go to the rail station at Widnes in Cheshire county in the northwest of England you’ll find a plaque commemorating the song displayed on the Liverpool bound platform. Simon once said of the Widnes railway station that if you ever saw it you would understand why he’d been so eager to quickly return to London.

And so Simon wrote these memorable lines:

«Every day’s an endless stream of cigarettes and magazines.

And each town looks the same to me, the movies and the factories.»

Although he longed to be back with Kathy in London their relationship was fated not to last. Together they revisited America touring mostly by bus. Kathy went back to England by herself with Simon following a few weeks later. Simon then came back to America when «The Sound of Silence» hit #1 on the U.S. charts but Kathy, a shy girl by nature, didn’t want to have anything to do with Simon’s new-found fame. They soon parted ways.

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2010 World Cup – Full List of Preliminary National Team Squads

The 32 qualified teams participating in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa have provided a preliminary list of up to 30 players. The teams have till June 1st to provide a final list of 23 players. Provisions are made where players with serious injuries can be replaced up to 24 hours before their team’s first game.

The highlight in any footballer’s career is without a doubt, playing for his country in the World Cup. This week was «a dream come true» for many players and a massive disappointment for others. Thousands of fans in the 32 countries will contest their coach’s controversial decisions to include certain players while omitting others.

World Cup Group A (France, Mexico, Uruguay, South Africa)

Raymond Domenech, the French coach announced a preliminary list of 30 players for the 2010 World Cup. The big surprises are the absences of Benzema (Real Madrid), Nasri (Arsenal) and Patrick Vieira (Manchester City). France and the host country South Africa will face in the opening match of the tournament on 11 June.

In this same group Mexico have chosen a very young squad and will play without the talented Miguel Sabah due to injury. Bafana Bafana’s Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, also sprang some surprises for South Africa, like Israel-based defender Bevan Fransman and prodigal son Benni McCarthy.

As for Uruguay, Oscar Tabarez announced a list of 26 without any major surprises except for the non inclusion of Cristian Rodríguez, possibly for the fact that he would have missed the first two games of the World Cup due to a red card suspension.

World Cup Group B (Argentina, Greece, Nigeria, South Korea)

Diego Maradona’s selection provided some surprises for the Argentines, by picking the unknown trio of Ariel Garce, Sebastian Blanco and Juan Insaurralde, contrasting with notable absences like Javier Zanetti, Cambiasso, Gago, or Lucho Gonzalez. Argentina is drawn in Group A along with Greece, Nigeria and South Korea.

The Greek coach, Otto Rehhagel, named 30 players without any surprises, bringing in Seitaridis and Patsatzoglou after an injury filled season.

Lars Lagerback, the Nigerian coach, made no notable surprises in the 30 man list, maintaining veteran striker Kanu in the squad.

South Korea’ coach Huh Jung-Moo also made no surprises in the 30 choices, maintaining 2002 FIFA World Cup hero Ahn Jung-hwan who will play for a third consecutive appearance on World Cup.

World Cup Group C (England, USA, Slovenia, Algeria)

England were surprised by call-up of uncapped Michael Dawson, and the talented Adam Johnson. Jamie Carragher and Ledley King return to the squad. The two big names that Fabio Capello will not go to South Africa’s World Cup are David Beckham because of injury and Pal Scholes, retired from the England Squad.

The other teams in this group include the USA, Slovenia and Algeria. Coach Bob Bradley did not include Freddy Adu in the US team even though he went for the Confederations Cup. Another absence due to a serious car accident is Charlie Davies.

There were no big surprises from Algeria coach Rabah Sadaane whose team is dominated by a strong Europe based contingent. No surprises from coach Matjaz Kek after chosing 30 for Slovenia bringing in young striker Tim Matavz. This is Slovenia’s second participation in a World Cup.

World Cup Group D (Germany, Serbia, Ghana, Australia)

Joachim Löw of Germany picked his 30-man provisional squad with a few surprises. Two uncapped players, Holder Badstuber and Dennis Aogo, were chosen, while the most notable omission was that of midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, as well as Simon Rolfes, Aaron Hunt and goalkeeper René Adler.

Radomir Antic named seven players, based in England to a very strong looking Serbia squad, with no notable surprises.

For Ghana, Coach Milovan Rajevac picked Chelsea’s Michael Essien who is still recovering from knee surgery. In a similar situation as Essian is John Mensah.

Australia coach Pim Verbeek named 31 players including star forward Harry Kewell still recovering from his latest injury before July’s FIFA World Cup. One surprise call-up was 18-year-old Tommy Oar, who only made his international debut in March this year.

World Cup Group E (Denmark, Netherlands, Cameroon, Japan)

Denmark’s goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen was included by Danish coach Morten Olsen, despite suffering a dislocated elbow two weeks ago. Patrick Mtiliga was the surprise inclusion even though he had not played for his country since November 2008.

Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk, left out 33 year old Ruud van Nistelrooy who admitted he was «greatly disappointed» in his rejection. On the other hand its worth taking note of 23 year old Eljero Elia who many believe is Hollands hidden gem.

Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen included Sebastien Bassong, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Alexandre Song who play in the Premier League. Surprise is the call-up of teenager Joel Matip and the exclusion of Ngom Kome. Only three players from the Cameroon League are included.

Japan coach Takeshi Okada’s only surprise was including Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, the Portsmouth goalkeeper who has not played in the national team for 18 months after recovering from a broken leg.

World Cup Group F (Italy, Slovakia, Paraguay, New Zealand)

Marcello Lippi reserved some surprises for the «azzurri» squad when he left out Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano, Nicola Legottaglie, Luca Toni, Simone Perrotta, and most notably Francesco Totti, while American born Giuseppe Rossi was called up for Italy, the World Cup holders.

Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino called Argentine striker Lucas Barrios who recently became a naturalized Paraguayan. No surprise was the inclusion of strikers Nelson Haedo Valdez and Oscar Cardozo who are in great form, while Salvador Cabanas didn’t make it due to injury.

Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss is hoping that Martin Skrtel, Filip Holosko and Robert Vittek recover from their injuries in time for the World in South Africa. Curious is the fact that this is Slovakia’s first World Cup appearance, as well as the inclusion the coach’s son Vladimir Weiss into the squad.

New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert did not pull off any surprises, except for the inclusion of midfielder Aaron Clapham. This is the Kiwis second World Cup appearance, the last one being in Spain back in 1982

World Cup Group G (Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast, North Korea)

Brazil coach Dunga probably had the biggest pool of talented players to chose from. This inevitably led to some surprises like the omission of Ronaldinho, Adriano, Ganso, Pato and Neymar into the Selecção (squad) Surprise inclusions were Michel Bastos, and Grafite.

Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz also upset many Portuguese fans by not including goalkeepers Quim and Rui Patrício as well as midfielders João Moutinho and Carlos Martins. Queiroz also picked Pepe even though he is still recovering from knee surgery. Surprise call-ups were Beto, Daniel Fernandes and Zé Castro.

Sven-Goran Eriksson of the Ivory Coast had no surprises in the 29 players to represent their country. Didier Drogba will lead the powerful attacking «Elephants».

North Korea coach Kim Jong-Hun will count with some J-League players like Jong Tae-Se, Ahn Yong-Hak and Ryang Yong-Gi. This will be North Korea’s second participation in a World Cup.

World Cup Group F (Spain, Chile, Switzerland, Hunduras)

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque had no surprises in his provisional 30-man squad and included injured stars Andreas Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres for South Africa 2010. Also included in the list is naturalized Brazilian Marcos Senna.

Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa surprised many, when he picked Luis Marin, Jaime Valdes and Charles Aranguiz. Notable names missing are Claudio Maldonado, Hans Martinez and Osvaldo Gonzalez.

Ottmar Hitzfeld, the Switzerland coach announced 30 names without any surprises. One curiosity is Johan Vonlanthen, 24, who was born in Colombia but has lived in Switzerland since he was 5 years old.

Honduras coach Reinaldo Rueda had no surprises but was forced to replace the injured Carlos Costly by Georgie Welcome. The experienced Wilson Palacios, Hendry Thomas, Maynor Figueroa, David are part of the list.

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Man United, The Birth of a Star

Marcus Rashford: Who Is He, Where Did He Come from, and What Does His Presence Mean for Manchester United’s Future?

There’s an outside chance that Manchester United could still finish in the top three in the 2015/16 Premier League. Who knows, the football club could even collect some silverware this season, with both the FA Cup and the Europa League still up for grabs.

Still, by most metrics, the 2015/16 season has not been a terrific one for Man United. The Red Devils have failed to return to their previous heights of Premier League dominance, even with last season’s champions (Chelsea FC) flaming out of the title race early on. Rumors about Louis van Gaal exiting the job of manager-either by way of sacking or resignation-have also been commonplace this season. Even Adidas, United’s kit manufacturer, acknowledged how boring the team’s soccer squad has looked out on the field this season.

The Birth of a Star?

Regardless of these factors, though, there have still been a few bright spots in Manchester’s 2015/16 campaign. One of the brightest of these came in a February 25th home match against Denmark’s FC Midtjylland. The game, which functioned as the second leg of the Europa League’s round of 32, was a make-or-break moment for the Red Devils. They’d lost to Midtjylland 1-2 in the first leg and needed a clean win to push their way into the round of 16.

Rather than just skating through with a 1-0 win, though-which would have earned United a win in the round of 32 based on away goals-the Red Devils completely dominated the Danish football club. After falling behind 0-1 at the 27-minute mark, things looked dire for a moment Manchester. However, the former English champions got a reprieve when Midtjylland conceded an own goal just five minutes later and went on to play arguably the best 30 minutes of soccer they’ve played all season in the second half.

Man United scored four goals in the closing half hour of the match to win a decisive victory and put themselves in the next round of the knockout stage. Even more remarkably, the hero of the match was a complete unknown: 18-year-old forward Marcus Rashford. Rashford scored two goals in quick success to put the Red Devils up 3-1 over Midtjylland. Ander Herrara and Memphis Depay then followed with goals of their own, to turn United’s win into a bonafide season highlight. Talk about a turnaround.

The Story Behind Rashford’s Big Debut

Up until that February 25th Europa League fixture, Rashford had never featured in a senior football match before. Now, he’s one of United’s biggest up-and-coming stars. Could the youngster be United’s best chance of salvaging the soccer season?

To understand just what Rashford could mean to the Red Devils going forward-both in the final act of the 2015/16 and in the years to come-we have to look at how the 18-year-old attacker got his big break in the first place.

For most of the season, Rashford has been playing as part of United’s U-19 team. He’s no newcomer to Old Trafford: the 18-year-old has been a part of United’s youth program since 2005. Louis van Gaal even had Rashford as a substitute-on-bench for two Premier League games earlier in the season: a pair of November fixtures against Watford and Leicester City, respectively. Rashford didn’t ultimately see any playing time in either of those games, but a meticulous eye could have seen him as a potential up-and-coming talent from looking at United’s lineups.

Rashford finally made it onto the pitch in United’s February 25th match against Midtjylland because Louis van Gaal had no other choice. Wayne Rooney was out with a knee injury. Anthony Martial was sidelined (at the last minute, no less) with a hamstring injury, after getting hurt in the warm-up. Those two, who have traded off the role of center forward throughout the 2015/16 season, were among about a dozen players who Van Gaal had to leave out of the lineups for both the Midtjylland Europa League match and the following weekend’s Premier League match against Arsenal. In other words, the Dutch manager was running out of players to put on the pitch, and he turned to United’s youth academy for reinforcements.

That decision could have easily been a disastrous one. It could have given Manchester United’s board a reason to sack Louis van Gaal at last. An early elimination from the Europa League or a huge loss in that key EPL game against Arsenal would have been tough for the Red Devils (and, for that matter, their fans) to recover from.

A Record-Breaking Performance

Instead, Van Gaal got lucky. Rashford realized every bit of his potential in the February 25th Midtjylland match, taking up Rooney’s role as center forward and coming away with two goals. The first of those two made Rashford the youngest Manchester United player ever to score in a European competition. The second made him one of the most talked about talents in the world of soccer.

The achievement wasn’t a fluke, either: just three days later, Rashford made his Premier League debut at Old Trafford, taking the center forward position against Arsenal. At the 29-minute mark, Rashford broke the ice and scored the first goal of the match (and the first goal of his Premier League career). He’s the third youngest United player ever to score in an EPL game, after Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck. Three minutes later, he scored again.

Ironically, Danny Welbeck scored Arsenal’s first goal of the match at the 40-minute mark, but it wasn’t enough. In a competitive match that saw Manchester United trailing in possession time and relying largely on defense, Rashford’s early brace provided the edge the Red Devils needed to grab a win. He even provided the assist that allowed Herrara to bring United’s goal total to three in the second half. He was absolutely, unequivocally, the man of the match.

The Next Chapter

The question now is how Marcus Rashford will fit into Manchester United’s lineup as the football club’s many injured players start coming back into the game. Anthony Martial is expected to make a quick recovery from his relatively minor injury. Rooney’s sideline spell will probably last a bit longer, but when both men are back to full heath, where will that leave Rashford?

With all of the praise that is understandably coming Rashford’s way right now-and with how the youngster saved Man United from almost certain defeat in a pair of key matches-it would be tough to leave him on the bench or send him back to the U-19 squad. With the win against Arsenal and Manchester City showing some pretty glaring weaknesses in the past few weeks, the Red Devils could have a chance to snag a podium position before the season runs out. To get there, though, he’ll need someone who injects excitement and momentum into United’s often dry play style, and Marcus Rashford might just be the best man for the job.

Then again, Marcus is very young, and as Van Gaal has noted, a lot of praise and pressure could easily go to his head. Is this teenager with just two senior starts under his belt really ready to take up the center forward role on a permanent basis? And if he does become a regular part of the lineup, who will get pushed out of the squad? Will it be fellow forward Memphis Depay, who has been something of a disappointment since coming to Old Trafford from PSV Eindhoven? Will it be Anthony Martial, who Louis van Gaal paid so handsomely for last summer? Will it be winger and rising star Jesse Lingard?

Only time will tell what decision Louis van Gaal will make going forward, and frankly, it’s not an enviable one. Still, we hope we’ll be seeing a lot more of Marcus Rashford on the field during the last few months of the 2015/16 season. The 18-year-old debutante has, quite simply, given Manchester United supporters something to cheer for again.

Do you think Rashford can help turn things around at Manchester United? Could the Red Devils still manage a Champions League qualification and some potential silverware from the FA Cup or the Europa League?

For more sports news and free tips go to http://bettingforwinners.com

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The Top 5 Strikers in the English Premier League This Season

As we’re coming to the end of the Barclay’s English Premier League (EPL) this season it’s time to take a look back at some of the strikers who have really lit up the league and fired in the goals. Luckily, this season we’ve been blessed with some truly brilliant attacking play and some fantastic strikers who have made this happen. I’ve picked out my top 5 strikers for the season (both in terms of how many goals they’ve scored and their overall performances):

Fernando Torres – While being injured for long parts of the season, when Torres has been fit he’s been in absolutely scintillating form terrorising defences to no end. While his club (Liverpool) hasn’t had the best of season’s, many believe that if Torres can stay fit and firing on all cylinders then Liverpool will be able to finish in the coveted fourth spot.

Didier Drogba – While his best days may be behind him, Drogba continues to be the battering ram for Chelsea’s title challenge and has enjoyed one of his most prolific scoring seasons ever.

Wayne Rooney – England’s best striker by miles and the person they’re calling our best player of this generation hasn’t failed to live up to his potential this season. Always a scorer of great goals, he has now become a great goal scorer.

Darren Bent – While not the flashiest or most technically gifted striker ever, Bent certainly has that special knack of popping up in the right place at the right time to score a crucial goal.

Jermaine Defoe – Another English striker and a really lethal finisher. Defoe has pace and is someone that only ever needs one chance to score.

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