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MANAUS, Brazil -- Allie Long is in some ways uniquely suited to play a game in the largest city on the dauntingly vast Amazon River. Her husband is from a Brazilian family. She understands Portuguese better than most of her teammates (or those Americans covering them). She even grew up with a penchant for toucans, for goodness sake, the birds that are surely a better bet to be found in this part of the world than in Portland, Oregon or Paris or Chapel Hill, North Carolina -- or any of the other places soccer has taken her.Manaus is a surprising place to find a major global sporting event. It isnt easy to get here, as far from Rio de Janeiro as Chicago is from Los Angeles and surrounded by largely impassable rainforest.But it is worth the effort. It is a place with a story to tell.Sometimes such circumstances make for the best stories.The coolest thing about Allie is the number of times shes been turned down, said Tobin Heath, a teammate now and also at the University of North Carolina nearly a decade ago. And I think in a way that other players would get discouraged, because she loves to play and she has a great belief in herself and her game, she would just always come back.Theres a reasonable chance Long will not be on the field when the United States plays Colombia in the Arena Amazonia in the final game of Group G on Tuesday (6 p.m. ET). That sentence wouldnt have elicited much surprise anytime the past few years. Few would have predicted she would play because few would have predicted shed be here.That she might not play because she is too valuable for what comes next is a change in plot.The United States needs just a draw against Colombia -- which has yet to score in five meetings since 2011 against the U.S. women -- to clinch Group G. With talk of unrest over players going unpaid, the Colombians continue to shed talent. Lady Andrade is expected to miss Tuesdays game with what was termed by team officials as exhaustion. So it is that the United States might seek as much rest as is prudently possible for the legs that expended the most energy in wins in the teams first two games.A 28-year-old veteran who has been on the fringes of the national team for so long that her bio page on the team website doesnt even have the spiffy childhood-pictures-and-favorite-moments treatment, Long started the Olympic opener against New Zealand as a defensive midfielder and played 90 minutes.Then she did it again against France, the third-ranked team in the world.Her role as a No. 6, more pulled back, has helped her because she keeps possession so well for us, Heath said. I feel like she really joins the lines together between the midfield and the defense. She allows us to build out of the back in really great ways. I think shes trying to do simple things really, really well, and thats one of the hardest things in the game to do.That role made all the difference for the United States a year ago in the World Cup when Morgan Brian emerged midway through the tournament as a skilled practitioner of those subtle arts, freeing Carli Lloyd to play a more dedicated attacking role and begin the goal-scoring binge on which the co-captain remains.That isnt Brians natural role, but she remained there much of this year and might yet return to the position in this tournament. It isnt natural either for Lindsey Horan, who partnered with Brian behind Lloyd through much of Olympic qualifying. Brian and Horan are two of the recent wunderkinds of American soccer. Brian, 23, was the youngest player on the World Cup roster a year ago, and Horan, 22, would have just completed her senior year in college if she hadnt instead turned pro out of high school.Yet as the third member of the trio tasked with filling the No. 6 and No. 8 roles, the often-overlooked Long made the group whole.For me, it was nice to be able to play the No. 8 and get in the attack more and have a little bit more free reign to attack and get forward, Brian said after the opening win. I think Allie played great in the No. 6, and I think its great for all three of us midfielders to be able to play any position with how many minutes everyone is going to have to play in such a short period of time.It is quite the turnaround for someone whose international aspirations appeared imperiled when Jill Ellis took over as coach in 2014. Long appeared in four of the first five games Ellis coached but then vanished, a standout for the Portland Thorns in NWSL but absent for the United States.When Allie was with the team before, when I first took over, I was pretty up front with her and just said there were certain things I think needed to improve, Ellis said. Tactical positioning, speed of play. But I think she really went away and committed to that.In January, Long wasnt among the 26 players invited to the teams training camp.Ellis said in Manaus that she received numerous reports about how good Long looked this NWSL preseason -- not just from her own coaches or coaches in the league but from players already on the national team. She said Long also checked in regularly, wanting to know what she needed to do. Eventually, with Olympic qualifying completed and the outlines of a roster seemingly already in place, Long received an invite for the national team camp that preceded multiple spring friendlies against Colombia. She was there again for a pair of June friendlies against Japan.And she was there when the final roster was announced, the least-capped player on the active roster.We didnt have a pure No. 6, and we needed depth in the midfield, Ellis said. I think that gave her a great shot at this, and she seized it with both hands.The coach didnt directly address how small Longs window might have been, but given the timing involved, it is easy to imagine that a bad day or two in those April or June practices, the kind of day every player endures, might have scuttled the whole thing.Little wonder, then, that Alex Morgan had to tell Long to calm down on the bus ride to the opening game; she was too full of energy for the moment that was so long coming. A few nights later Long sat on the dais in the postgame news conference as the player of the match.Its kind of weird because Ive always had to develop outside of the team, Long, who turns 29 on Saturday, said of her path. Where usually you get brought in, you get a couple of camps, you get to develop here against the girls and see where you stand. Right before a world tournament, I kind of got brought in, was in a couple of camps, and didnt make the roster. So I had to go back and develop on my own and make sure I was developing so when I came in I had an impact.Last summer, Long missed out on the World Cup roster and had to watch from afar, one more window shut.Knowing I was so close to it and then watching them, it was definitely tough, Long said. But my closest friends are on the team. Im proud to [cheer for the] USA, and I want them to win and do the best they can, but of course there is a part of me that wished I was there.There are no easy ways to get to Manaus. But Long will be here Tuesday night.Too valuable not to play. Unless she is too valuable to play. Discount Nike Air Max Shoes .500 on the season. The Jets are now 0-5-1 in the second game of back-to-backs. The game started the same way the Vancouver game started the night before, with the Jets taking the first two penalties of the game and killing off the first, but the Oilers getting on the board first, scoring on the second man-advantage. Nike Air Max Mens Shoes Sale . The Cincinnati Reds remain perfect with their speedy rookie outfielder in the starting lineup. . -- Eastern Kentucky thrives off creating havoc for others. Cheap Nike Air Max Shoes For Sale .com) - The Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks both take aim at their first wins of the season on Saturday, as the Canucks open their home slate at Rogers Arena. Cheap Nike Air Max Mens . -- The Sacramento Kings are set to become the first major professional sports franchise to accept Bitcoin virtual currency for ticket and merchandise purchases. ST. LOUIS -- Having played in San Diego for the first three seasons of his major league career, Jedd Gyorko has spent this week talking with old teammates when he has a chance.His former teammates have spent most of the last three days in town watching Gyorko round the bases.Gyorko belted three homers on Wednesday in the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 and 3-2 doubleheader sweep of the Padres, giving him six in his last five games against San Diego and making him 13-of-21 against his ex-employer this year.His final chance to add to those spectacular numbers comes Thursday night in the series finale. Another homer would make him the first player to homer in six straight games against the Padres since Chipper Jones in 2003-04.But Gyorko, who has raised his average 27 points in the last three games, has no illusions about his place in the sports planet.Im far from Superman, he said. I had two good games today. Hopefully, I can stay locked in and keep building confidence.More than half of Gyorkos 11 homers this year have come against San Diego pitching, a stat that has to be especially galling to Padres management and fans. After all, they are still paying $2.5 million of his salary, a condition of the Dec. 8 trade that sent Jon Jay to the west coast.San Diego manager Andy Green says it comes down to execution, or the lack of it.Weve consistently missed our spots by a foot and a half, Green said. Weve consistently put the ball right in his wheelhouse. I dont think its a matter of the game plan being wrong. The guys getting pitches in his zone.ddddddddddddAndrew Cashner (4-7, 5.05 ERA) has the task of keeping the ball out of Gyorkos nitro zone, unless he gets traded before the start, as some rumors suggest could occur. Cashner is coming off a 4-1 win on Friday night over San Francisco and Madison Bumgarner, fanning a season-high nine in six innings.St. Louis plans to start Adam Wainwright (9-5, 4.15), who can become its first starter to reach double figures in wins. Wainwright has allowed only one run in his last 23 innings, tossing a three-hit shutout Saturday night against Miami.Wainwrights recent return to the form that made him one of baseballs top starters in recent years should pose a threat to the Padres 18-game home run streak, the National Leagues longest since Cincinnati did it in 2010.But San Diego (41-54) hasnt been able to use its long ball proficiency to reverse its poor fortunes in St. Louis, where it is 10-27 since the third version of Busch Stadium opened in 2006.The Cardinals first doubleheader sweep in more than three years turned extra profitable when wild-card contenders in front of and behind them all lost. They gained 1 1/2 games on four teams, drawing within a game of Miami for the second wild-card spot.Their latest success against the Padres included what Gyorko called the first curtain call of his career after his second homer of the nightcap.That was cool, he said. Hopefully, I can get a few more of those. Cheap Jerseys Store Cheap Jerseys Store Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Cheap Stitched Jerseys Cheap NFL Gear Wholesale NFL Womens Jerseys Cheap NFL Black Jerseys Cheap NFL Autographed Jerseys Wholesale Stitched Jerseys Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys NFL Jerseys Outlet Youth NFL Jerseys Cheap Cheap Jerseys Throwback Wholesale NFL Autographed Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys ' ' '

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