Tag Archives: World Cup

Praise the Lloyd: U.S. Women Reign

carliThe visual that remains for me more than others, from Carli Lloyd’s for the ages performance in the USWNT’s W over Japan for the World Cup title, is not from any of her once, twice, thrice hat trick in the game’s first sixteen minutes.

Though those are magnificent visions.

It is the head shot of Lloyd, the look on her face, after she missed what could have been, should have been her fourth goal of the final’s opening half.

Lloyd had a relatively unimpeded, just about point blank header. Which she knocked wide.

The camera caught Lloyd, mouth agape, eyes bright but quizzical, with a look of how did that not net?

So, in the zone was Lloyd, it was as if she couldn’t conceptualize missing such a chance.

Her performance, arguably one of the greatest in sports on such a world stage, was, but for that miss, just as she planned. During training, Lloyd continually visualized tallying four goals in the final. Continue reading Praise the Lloyd: U.S. Women Reign

Hump Day Harangues: Auf Wiedersehen Deutschland, Sayonara Maverick, Luke’s Itinerary

carliThere is a brutal athletic competition that has been taking place in Florence, Italy since the 15th century. It is said to be the most barbaric extant, or, at least, in the Western World.

It’s called calcio storico, and you can read about it here.

Essentially teams of 27 mean motherfuckers from four quadrants of the city, compete for pride only — literally, no money or medals to the winners — in a sand pit, scoring goals by any means necessary. There are apparently no rules. Lots of medics present, performing lots of serious triage.

It is obviously a grizzly endeavor.

But, no more so than last evening’s roughly contested World Cup semi-final, in which the U.S. of A. upset Germany, 2 nil.

I’m not sure if I’ve seen a men’s soccer game with as much pushing and shoving and kicking and tripping, or as many elbows and forearms and knees not so delicately nudged into opponents body parts. The most noteworthy set-to was that first half noggin’ crash on a set piece, drawing blood from both American Morgan Brian and Germany’s Alexandra Popp, the latter of whom came out for the second half with her head bandaged, looking like an on-field advert for Johnson & Johnson.

It was the bloodiest conflict between these two adversaries since Allies vs. Axis in WWII. Continue reading Hump Day Harangues: Auf Wiedersehen Deutschland, Sayonara Maverick, Luke’s Itinerary

Monday Morning Breakaway: Soccer, Cycling and, Of Course, College Basketball & LeBron

cardsNow that the silly ol’ World Cup foolishness is over, you know the fütbol tournament without Jim Nantz calling play by play, the one to which only 800 million people watched the final. Now that it’s out of our minds for another four years, we can get back to what really matters.

Which is what 12 year old future superduperubersuperstar baller is dazzling the recruiting gurus at the Sebastian Telfair Humpty Dumpty Jamboree? And which 47 middle schools are still on his narrowed list for possible attendance?

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I was going to talk about various topics in a different order, but, trying to serve my public, I’ll get to what you want to read about most, first.

College hoops. Continue reading Monday Morning Breakaway: Soccer, Cycling and, Of Course, College Basketball & LeBron

Hump Day Hits & Misses

cards✔︎✔︎✔︎Hit: Louisville Cardinal Athletics. For the second year in a row, cbssports.com has recognized the transcendence of U of L sports.

The Cards, of course, dominated the ratings for the ’12-’13 school year.

You know, the old NCAA hoops title, BCS bowl W, CWS appearance and womens’ hoops runner up quadrafecta.

It was, you might say, a good year.

By the site’s point rankings, Louisville bested second place Oregon by a hefty 113 points, 625-512.

Think Secretariat in the Belmont. Continue reading Hump Day Hits & Misses

Sunday’s Short Shots: Fútbol, Cycling, Tennis, Announcing, Baseball and, of course, Hoops

animated_sportsLost in all the current sports hoopla, America’s new love affair with fútbol, the culmination of Wimbledon, Joey Chestnut’s less than stellar W, Tiger’s return to the links, Kentuckianians, including Nerlens Noel,  competing in the NBA summer league and Fourth of July cornhole smackdowns is this red, white and blue reality.

In the national pastime, that would still be baseball, kids, LA Dodger Clayton Kershaw has pitched 38 consecutive scoreless innings.

Which is, like, four consecutive games worth of shutout hurling. Plus a couple frames.

Which is awfully impressive. Yet, still 21 innings short of the MLB record, held by another guy who took the mound at Chavez Ravine, Orel Hershiser.

By the by, Tiger Rick Porcello, who hurls tonight for Detroit against the A’s, has pitched two complete game shutouts in a row.

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As I write, Roger Federer has just won a back and forth first set tiebreak against Novak Djokovic.

This Gentleman’s Final looks like it could be, might be a classic. Continue reading Sunday’s Short Shots: Fútbol, Cycling, Tennis, Announcing, Baseball and, of course, Hoops

D Day: Defeat to Deutschland ist Denada & the Draft

soccerRemember Rule #2 from back during post season hoops?

2) Survive and advance.

Style points mean nichts. (Which admonition is now really an adjunct explanation to Rule #2, though the Rules Committee is considering elevating it to Rule status at its next meeting.)

Die Nationalmannschaft 1, USMNT 0.

Given Portugal’s 2-1 W over depleted Ghana, the loss is of no consequence now. Nor, is that last second header given up to Portugal. Had the U.S. held on 2-1 then, it would not have changed a thing, assuming today’s result was the same.

Actually, if the Americans had qualified already for the knockout round prior to today, Jurgen Klinsmann more than likely would have rested most, if not all, of his starters and Germany might have rolled by 4, 5 goals or more. Continue reading D Day: Defeat to Deutschland ist Denada & the Draft

Shouldn’t US & Germany Play for a Draw?: An Ethicist Considers

soccerTogether We Fight Match Manipulation

So says the tag line of a public service TV commercial, FIFA, fútbol’s international governing body, is running during the World Cup, currently being contested in Brazil.

This ad hominem coming, of course, from the body that took bribes to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a nation that is underwriting world terrorists, a land with seriously dangerous summertime Fahrenheit, and, oh yes, no history in the sport whatsoever.

The sentiment expressed in the ad is obviously admirable, given that the world’s most important sporting event has a modus operandi that lends itself to chicanery. It is also somewhat disingenuous. Continue reading Shouldn’t US & Germany Play for a Draw?: An Ethicist Considers

US 2-2 Draw Disappointing; But No Death Knell

soccerSome random ruminations in the aftermath of the biggest game in US soccer history . . . so far.

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My memory is that the cartoon went on for years, or at least months. It may have run only a couple of times, but long after the fact.

Charles Schulz, the creator of “Peanuts,” was a huge San Francisco Giants fan. His team lost the ’62 series in seven games to the Yankees. The one that sealed the Giants fate was a 1-0 nailbiter in Candlestick.

The game ended in the bottom of the 9th when Matty Alou was on 3d, Willie Mays on 2d and, at the plate, Willie McCovey, who had tripled earlier in the game against Ralph Terry and homered off him earlier in the Series. NY Manager Ralph Houck decided to pitch to McCovey, rather than walk him to load the bases for Orlando Cepeda.

McCovey hit a line shot to second baseman Bobby Richardson, to end the game and end the Series.

Schulz’s cartoons, the first appearing two months after the baseball championship had been decided, showed the ever forlorn Charlie Brown in furrowed-brow contemplation.

“Why couldn’t McCovey’s hit been two feet higher?”

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This morning I woke up with the same contemplation I had when I went to sleep last night. Continue reading US 2-2 Draw Disappointing; But No Death Knell

World Cup Fúbol ‘r’ Us: Some Rambling Observations

soccerI shan’t even pretend to project any technical knowledge about this game that has grabbed our current attention, the one we in America call soccer.

I love the talent of these guys using their feet, the flow of the action, and the passion of the fans both here and elsewhere around the globe. I have some sense of the strategy, and realize albeit imperceptibly when the game I’m watching is a good one or not.

Other than that, I claim nary a scintilla of expertise.

But I do know this.

Brazil vs. Mexico might have been nil nil, but it was a mighty fine game.

And this. That Mexican goaltender fella — Guillermo Ochoa is his name — gave us THE performance of the tourney so far during the stunning, scoreless but far from actionless tie.

After the last of Ochoa’s many miraculous stops in the 86th minute or so, announcer Fernando Palomo screamed, “Will they build a statue of him back in Mexico City, or what?” Continue reading World Cup Fúbol ‘r’ Us: Some Rambling Observations

Monday Musings: Mound-Worthy, Manners, Marijuana & More

b-ballThe shot clock was running down.

With their usual panache and purpose, the San Antonio Spurs had passed the rock to and fro, in and out. It ended up in the hands of Tiago Splitter, back to the bucket, five feet along the endline to the left of the lane, facing a soft double team, preventing his move to the hoop.

One teammate cut through the lane right to left but was thoroughly checked. Followed in sync, from around the left elbow, free thanks to an immaculate screen, streaked Manu
Ginobili. Splitter’s internal bounce pass was pin point. The Argentinian wonder laid the ball in the hoop relatively unimpeded.

In my mind’s ear, I could hear Charles Barkley barking, “Ginnnnnnnnnooooobly!!!!”

From the TV, Jeff Van Gundy exclaimed, “Exquisite.” Continue reading Monday Musings: Mound-Worthy, Manners, Marijuana & More