Friday Kickoff: Davies makes Sochaux lineup, USWNT set for rematches & more

Friday Kickoff: Davies makes Sochaux lineup, USWNT set for rematches & more

Americans Abroad

Friday Kickoff: Davies makes Sochaux lineup, USWNT set for rematches & more

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Photo by Brad Smith/ISIphotos.com

For Charlie Davies, perhaps not securing a full transfer or loan extension was the best tactic to take this winter after all.

Davies has been included on Sochaux's first-team roster for the club's league game at Stade Rennes on Saturday, marking a major milestone for him and his quest to break back into the club's lineup.

Davies had been playing with the Sochaux reserves since returning to the club after D.C. United passed on the chance to purchase his contract outright when his loan expired in December. Following his recovery from life-threatening injuries suffered in a fatal car crash in the D.C. area in October, 2009, Davies made one appearance on a matchday roster for Sochaux but did not see the field. The last game that he played for Sochaux's first team was an Oct. 3, 2009, league game againt Le Mans.

Here are a few more stories to get your Friday going:

U.S. WOMEN TO FACE BRAZIL, JAPAN

The U.S. women's national team will face 2011 FIFA World Cup foes Brazil and Japan in the three-team Kirin Challenge Cup in Japan in April.

The U.S. women knocked off Brazil in a classic quarterfinal match, with Abby Wambach forcing a penalty shootout after heading home Megan Rapinoe's cross in the final moments of extra time to level the score. They eventually advanced to the final to meet Japan, which battled back on two occasions to stun the favored U.S. side and win the World Cup in penalty kicks, delivering a massive emotional lift to a country that had been ravaged by tsunamis.

The rematch with Japan will be the second meeting in as many months between the two nations, as they'll square off in the Algarve Cup in March as well. The Algarve Cup and Kirin Challenge Cup provide strong pre-Olympic tune-ups for the reigning gold medalists.

"Playing two of the world’s best teams almost back-to-back will be a tremendous challenge for our entire roster," U.S. women's coach Pia Sundhage said in a release. "Obviously, we are very familiar with both Japan and Brazil, and we have the ultimate respect for their coaches, their players and the technical and tactical abilities of both teams. There are no better games to prepare you for Olympic competition than facing this caliber of teams away from home."

GIGGS SIGNS EXTENSION

The seemingly ageless Ryan Giggs will be playing for at least one more season after signing a one-year extension to remain at Manchester United through the 2012-2013 season.

Giggs, 38, continues to play at a high level for the Red Devils in his 21st year with the club. In that time he has amassed a team-record 898 appearances and won 12 Premier League championships and two UEFA Champions League titles, among other silverware.

BABBEL TAKES OVER AT HOFFENHEIM

Markus Babbel has been handed the coaching duties at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim after the club fired Holger Stanislowski this week. Stanislowski had been on the hot seat, and the club's DFB Pokal quarterfinal loss to 2. Bundesliga side Greuther Furth was the final straw for his tenure as manager.

Babbel, 39, previously coached Hertha Berlin to promotion and signed a two-and-a-half year deal with Hoffenheim. What his arrival means for American internationals Danny Williams, Fabian Johnson and Joe Gyau remains to be seen. Both Williams and Johnson have been lineup staples for Hoffenheim, while Gyau just recently made his way into the first team and made his debut in Wednesday's loss.

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What do you make of Davies making Sochaux's lineup? Excited for the high-profile women's matches in the coming months? How much do you think Giggs has left in the tank? What do you think the coaching hire means for the Americans at Hoffenheim?

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