Seriously awesome. The Wayne Rooney bit is particularly impressive.
The U.S. Men’s National Soccer team has taken their second loss in the Confederations Cup in South Africa, a 0-3 stomping that featured another red card (this time Sascha Klejstan was sent off; Ricardo Clark caught the card in the Italy game), another early goal given up on defense, and the perception that the United States can’t hang with the big boys on the pitch.
Ann Killion of the San Jose Mercury News put it best, comparing where the US MNT is as compared to the stated goals of 11 years ago; the U.S. felt that they were ready to emerge as a power, and Landon Donovan and DeMarcus Beasley were going to be key to that future.
There have been moments, for sure, and the team is far better than they used to be, especially in comparison to the local North/ Central American competition in the CONCACAF. And it’s not like the U.S. side is losing in basketball, a sport where the country has a long history, decided advantage, and deep fan appreciation/ identification.
But still… the results and notes from today just make it sound like a dog of a game.
After that downer, some links from this week:
* Emmanuelle Chriqui threw out the first pitch at a Dodgers game earlier this week. Hat tip to popoholic.
* Boise State football is looking to go on the road for some guarantee cash money from a big school (h/t Fanhouse) in 2010. This will bring in some money from the bigger schools to the smaller (budget-wise) state school; but brings up an interesting question. What team would bring in Boise State for a challenge game? They are always competitive, even if they have lost their last few guarantee games against Washington, Georgia, Arkansas, and South Carolina.
* Florida State will have to vacate 14 wins from their football squad’s record for violations invovling academic fraud. Man, that’s tough. But now maybe coach Bobby Bowden and Penn State’s Joe Paterno can retire; one could look at them and think that while they do love football, the lure of retiring as D-1 college football’s all-time winningest coach has to help them when the job seems to stressful, when the kids are acting like fools, when the age-related injuries slow them down… it’s time for both to consider hanging it up. They are like coach emiriti these days.
* As you know, Tim Floyd resigned from the University of Southern California amidst allegations of cash to recruit OJ Mayo and a perception that serious sanctions were coming down, especially since the allegations of wrongdoing have been very public. Currently, USC is moving ahead with its coaching search and looking for coaches with pro experience. They have locked in on former Seton Hall and pro coach P.J. Carlesimo and former New Mexico State and pro coach Reggie Theus. Reggie Theus is interested. I think he’s a good call – he seemed to be a decent coach at New Mexico State, players wanted to come to play for him, and while his pro career wasn’t stellar, it wasn’t terrible (and was cut too short). Put a pretty charming face on a couple of hard years and possible ineligibility for the Big Dance, USC!
* Some Japanese pro wrestlers are accused (and there is evidence) of some serious animal abuse with a pet monkey. Honestly, don’t read it if you’re squeamish. I thought it was some of the most juvenile, disgusting actions I have read about in a long time.
Hey, where’s the AIG facade? They’re changing the company name… The Onion on the Morning After Burrito, the contraceptimelt… Open up borders to skilled immigrants – opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal and from the NY Times’ Thomas Friedman… some completely bizarre “perks” in Josh Freeze’s "pay what you will" pricing, especially compared to Radiohead – including lunch, a day at Disneyland, his Volvo, and the opportunity to have a song written about you… China’s central bank is talking about a new reserve currency…
And now… sports.
+ Eric Devendorf – punk or not? Read the take on Rumors and Rants, and the take on Ballin’ Is a Habit (which is sensible). And a defense here. Personally, I just think his mind thinks of plays his body can’t finish; he’s gotten better at matching his actual talent with his imagined talent, but watching some of his drives, truer words were never spoken than Sean McDonough’s "Devendorf’s the kind of player that keeps both teams in the game."
+ Jonny Flynn’s going to return for his junior year, supposedly.
+ Pitt Blather will be hosting a roundtable discussion on Big East domination of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
+ Patty Mills gets the best of Stephen Curry and the Davidson Wildcats in their matchup at St. Mary’s, which was the best NIT game I have seen since St. John’s beat Georgetown in 2003. And that wasn’t actually a good game. Mills has a far better supporting cast, and doesn’t turn the ball over 6 times in a game with a questionable dribble and ill-fated passes.
+ Is Steph Curry going pro? Is that the last we see of him?
+ The Big Lead rips on Gonzaga’s Austin Daye and his disappearing act on the court.
+ Missouri’s Mike Anderson’s trying to stay focused on the upcoming game against Memphis, and not on the talk of him possibly going to Alabama to coach the basketball team. He’s high on my list of coaches who might be switching jobs. CBS Sports reminds us that it would be much worse if he lied, instead of saying that he doesn’t want to talk about the future.
+ Alex Rodriguez. More high-end blonde hookers. Making fun of him is just boring at this point. At least he went to one of Eliot Spitzer’s trim suppliers.
+ The new women’s soccer league is confident despite the recession. I’ll be checking it out; women’s soccer in the US has to be better than the men’s pro league, MLS.
Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon choked general manager Ed Wade during an argument.
In Euro 2008, Turkey finally loses. But not without another ill last 15 minutes goal, which was answered in the 90th minute by a German goal for the win.
Tonight is the NBA draft; Chad Ford and Bill Simmons chat about the top picks (I like Chad Ford’s work, and his comments here).
The University of South Florida recruit Dwan McMillan has problems with his academic record and will likely not suit up for South Florida this coming season.
Photos from the Steve Nash charity soccer event in Manhattan, including Theirry Henry, Baron Davis, Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa, and Jason Kidd.
The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy disagrees with he feasibility of Brandon Jennings’ European basketball plan, making salient logistical points. I don’t agree with all his assertions, but why would a European team make an investment, and then, why would they play him?:
It starts with the notion there would be a huge market for a player in Jennings’ circumstance. His stated intention is to be a part of the 2009 draft. So why would a European team want to make any sort of investment in him? The agent wouldn’t rule out the possibility that some rogue owner might take a flyer, but he considers it highly unlikely. He said it’s not like it was when Danny Ferry was lured to Europe for a time after he went No. 2 overall in the 1989 draft. The money is not as loose for American players now.
“The only guarantee with contracts in Europe,” he said, “is that you’re guaranteed not to get all the money you’re expecting.”
There also is the fact we’re talking about Jennings, not LeBron James or Greg Oden or even O.J. Mayo. Jennings is an appealing prospect for the Arizona Wildcats, but he is not nearly as well known or established as some of his predecessors. He is a score-first point guard, and European coaches, who tend to be “play the right way” types in the Larry Brown mold, are unlikely to be excited about his style.
Many teams in Europe are loathe to play the young talents that are homegrown and under contract. French big man Alexis Ajinca should be one of the first international prospects taken in Thursday’s draft; he averaged 11 minutes a game for Hyeres-Toulon last winter. Turkish center Omer Asik, another first-round prospect, got about 18 minutes a game for Fenerbache in Euroleague competition.
In order to actually play, Jennings might have to go to a much lower level where the salaries are limited and collecting at payday can be an adventure. Indeed, if any of those teams will have him.
This is not the revolutionary moment in basketball that opponents of the NBA’s draft age limit dream it to be. Even if Jennings were find an interested team, sign a lucrative deal, navigate the likely cultural and linguistic barriers, crack his team’s lineup and excel on the floor — he’s more likely to go 0-for-5 in those pursuits than 5-for-5 — this still would not be the best avenue for elite prospects to follow because it removes players from the consciousness of the American sports fan.
NCAA antagonists have convinced a generation of players their time in college basketball is uncompensated, but it’s a lie. Beyond the education, living expenses and high-level training provided to all Division I basketball players, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony signed contracts with Nike worth a combined $81 million based on the reputations they gained in one college season each — Durant as 2007 national player of the year, Anthony as 2003 NCAA Tournament most outstanding player. They became famous, and therefore their endorsements became valuable, because of college basketball. There would be precious little marketing appeal in a player who went from Oak Hill Academy to Europe.
Me? I’ve been summering it up and welcoming expatriate New Yorkers, watching the trees twist in the wind when it storms, and watching Euro 2008. Are you NOT watching this? This tournament is reminding me what good futbol/ soccer can be – tense, ridiculous, with leads just hanging on a string.
We were cheering for Turkey (there’s Turkish history on my fiancee’s side, and I didn’t like the cut of the Czechs’ jibs), but while they were fighting to tie the game up, they gave up a second goal. All was lost… until it was not. The first goal was nice, but the second (how the keeper didn’t hang on to that ball was beyond me. Or a testament to being tired.) and third were the comeback we never thought we would see. Absolutely incredible. I haven’t said that many holy sh*ts since… well, it’s been a long time.
edit: Deadspin’s narrative about the game. I can go on for days about how incredible this was.
(I can’t embed the video from MySoccerMedia, so enjoy video highlights of Turkey vs. Czech via link, please.)
Only thing: the freaking goalie makes a save and, to the side, shoves an opposing player, getting kicked out with a red card. In the 91st minute. So he’s out for the next game. Nice work, dude.
+ Top NYC guard Lance Stephenson lists his prospective schools as Kansas, UCLA, USC… and possibly St. John’s, in the way that vowels sometimes include “Y”.
+ This is how South Florida creates a program: another guy with eligibility problems in Gus Gilchrist, former Maryland recruit… who was a Virginia Tech recruit before that… will now transfer to USF. He’s highly regarded, and a great get for Stan Heath:
As a senior at Progressive Christian, Gilchrist averaged 22.3 points and 10.3 rebounds. He initially signed early with Virginia Tech in November 2006, but opted out of his letter of intent because of the tragic April 2007 shootings. He enrolled in Maryland in January 2008, but the Atlantic Coast Conference ruled Gilchrist would not be eligible until January 2009 and would lose a year of eligibility because he had previously signed with another ACC school. This decision prompted him to leave Maryland.
“No one ever told him about it [the transfer rule],” Woody said. “They sprung it on him. He could have gone to any school in the country after Virginia Tech.”
Maryland’s appeals to have Gilchrist eligible this fall were denied, so that’s why Gilchrist left Maryland, Woody said.
Woody said USF would begin the process Monday to appeal to the NCAA for a hardship waiver that would allow Gilchrist to play this season at USF. If the appeal is not successful, Gilchrist would not be able to play at USF until the 2009-10 season.
+ Voluntary restrictions for college coaches with respect to letters of intent for pre-high school athletes? Myles Brand finds them untoward, and the National Association of Basketball Coaches is looking for a voluntary ban on signing kids who can’t drive to basketball commitments.
+ West Virginia forward Joe Alexander is staying in the draft (where he can’t beat up on St. John’s anymore). Kansas State forward Bill Walker hurt an already-injured knee, but wants to stay in the draft. Jeff Goodman reports that it’s a partial tear in the meniscus. What’s that, you ask? To the right is a picture of a knee.
+ Zach Randolph and his entourage get into a fight in Portland. *Smacks Head*
+ Becky Hammon is playing for Russia in the Olympics, though she has no ancestral ties.
+ Willie Randolph might be safe from being fired, but Mr. “I can fix Victor Zambrano in 10 minutes” Rick Peterson might be looking into unemployment benefits.
Ah American soccer. I mean football. Why can’t we just call it futbol, say it with a little accent, and differentiate? “Futbol” sounds sexy. SAH-ker sounds nasal.
That digression is for another day. I guess soccer/ futbol here is so good it makes Cubans want to defect:
They made their plans to defect back in Cuba, before their under-23 national soccer team left the island for Tampa to begin play in a qualifying tournament for the 2008 Olympics. Wednesday, hours after battling the U.S. team to a surprising 1-1 tie, five Cuban players were in Lake Worth, trying to figure out how to begin life as new immigrants.
Not even their families knew that team captain Yenier Bermudez, goalkeeper Jose Manuel Miranda, defender Erlys Garcia Baro, midfielder Yordany Alvarez and defender Loanni Prieto planned to defect. But after Tuesday night’s game, they bolted from a Tampa hotel, slipped into the waiting car of a mutual friend and headed east.
They bought a cellphone, contacted a lawyer, and celebrated their newfound freedom with a nice Cuban meal….
”I watched their game against the U.S. on TV, and I thought the Cuban team played very well,” [Luiz Muzzi, general manager of Miami FC, a United Soccer League team] said. “We were kind of scouting that game because anytime a Cuban team comes to the United States, there’s a chance someone might defect*.”…
The Cuban delegation was meeting Wednesday night with officials of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football to decide whether Cuba would remain in the tournament with a limited roster, or be forced to withdraw.
”Cuba has plans to keep playing in this tournament, and we don’t want to forfeit our next two matches,” coach Raul Gonzalez said. The top two teams in the eight-team tournament earn berths to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
This was not the first time Cuban soccer players defected in recent years.
Rey Angel Martinez and Alberto Delgado defected during the 2002 Gold Cup in Los Angeles. Maykel Galindo bolted from the team’s Seattle hotel during the 2005 Gold Cup, and last year, Lester More and Osvaldo Alonso defected during the Gold Cup in Houston.
Don’t they have security people after all these years of defections from baseball players?
* Anyone else find that quote kind of interesting? As in, it smells of collusion?