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England coach Phil Neville irked by U.S. staff scouting hotel for World Cup final

U.S. coach Jill Ellis says scouting lodging is routine for operations team.

England head coach Philip Neville gestures to his players during the Women's World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Norway and England at the Oceane stadium in Le Havre, France, Thursday, June 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

LYON, France — England coach Phil Neville took issue with staff members from the United States women’s national team scoping out his team’s hotel as it prepares for Tuesday’s World Cup semifinal clash.

The U.S. will move into that hotel if it advances to the final. FIFA assigns teams hotels for each round. The loser of their 3 p.m. ET match will go to Nice for the third-place game. 

“It’s not something we’d do, send somebody around to another team’s hotel,” said Neville, who added that the team was at training when the U.S. staffers were there. “But it’s their problem. I’m sure [U.S. coach] Jill [Ellis] probably wouldn’t have been happy with that arrangement. I wouldn’t have been if that was my team ops person going around, and I’m sure she’ll be dealing with their infrastructure within their own discipline, probably.”

Ellis said she didn’t know that happened, but didn’t see a problem with it. She said it sounded like normal preparation for the next round. The USWNT is staying in a different hotel in Lyon for the semifinals, so it would have to move if it advanced to the final. The U.S. also sent staff to check out the hotel assigned for the third-place game in Nice, according to U.S. Soccer. 

“I would assume everybody’s doing that,” Ellis said when asked by a British reporter if scouting the final hotel was a sign of overconfidence. “You have to plan ahead. The only two people that think planning ahead on my team are my administrator, because she has to book all the flights and everything and do all that stuff, and her boss. So those were probably the two people. Everyone else, we don’t think about that.

“That’s got nothing to do with us. That’s planning and preparation for our staff. So, I think that’s pretty normal. I mean, I had no idea where we were headed and where we were going — didn’t even know how we were going to get here, yesterday. They think of that so we don’t have to.”

Neville said the U.S. staff did not impact his team and was not a concern to him. He said if anything, he found the situation “quite funny.”

“I just thought, ‘What are they doing?’ It’s just not etiquette really is it?”

Reset button

It began right after the victory over France — the reset. 

“It started in the huddle at the end,” Ellis said. “As much as we were celebrating this win, I just reminded them we’re just getting warmed up. We’re on a mission. So, I think that was the early message.”

Ellis said the players started recovery immediately after the match and then got a good night of rest. The day after a match, the team typically debriefs on the game just played and then moves forward to prepare for the next opponent. 

“So, pretty quickly we’ll reset,” Ellis said.

Again the U.S. will have fewer days of rest than its opponent. The Americans played France on Saturday, giving them three days of rest before Tuesday’s semifinal. England played its previous match against Norway on Friday.

“It’s just you stick with your routine that got you here,” U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn said. “We have kind of a routine we go through every single day. We have a great sport performance staff and medical staff that’s prepping our bodies and helping us recover, and then we’ll have the same meetings at the same time at the same part of the day. So it’s just really sticking to your routine.”

Watch party

U.S. Soccer will host a viewing party for the U.S. versus England semifinal at Lincoln Park in Chicago. The event will open to fans at noon CT near the Benjamin Franklin statue on LaSalle Drive. 

The event is free to attend, but space is limited so fans are encouraged to register in advance

The match will play on a giant screen outside. Food, beverages and U.S. Soccer merchandise will be sold, and there will be a “FanHQ” that features a live DJ, games, giveaways and a beer garden.

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