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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Federer on track for 15, Williams sisters holding serve setting up US/Russia semis

Roger Federer has his eyes on the prize, slam title number 15, and Rafi recovering from injury in Ibiza there appears to be no one standing in his way. After another straight set victory over Robin Soderling, Federer finds himself in quarters again but there are some formidable obstacles still standing in his way. Firstly, how about the “local boy makes good” story of Andy Murray? You gotta believe if he gets anywhere close to Centre Court on Sunday the tidal wave of momentum may be too much even for the MOP (master of patience) to overcome, and homeboy can play, so for those of you that like an upset that may not be a bad call. Also you have the bazooka, Andy Roddick who possesses a serve still faster than the internet, and who should get by Lleyton Hewitt as he as conserved his energy well and has not needed more than 4 sets in any match thus far in the tournament. Lastly, there’s Novak Djokovic the sleeper sitting back at number 4 has won every match in straight sets except for one (4 sets) and looks very comfortable on the turf. Even against that lineup, you’ve got believe that Fed knows this may be his best opportunity to pass Pete, as he owns this tourney, number 1 is at home, and he’s healthy. If he’s anything like his new BMF Tiger, he’ll be wearing ‘blood red’ on Sunday. View the complete Gentlemen’s Singles results here and if you’re so inclined, get the odds for the quarters and semi’s here.

On the Ladies side the sisters are up to their old tricks and although neither are the top seed they find themselves in the semi-finals once again and both matches figure to be worth a flight across the pond as a classic US/Russia showdown is looming. Venus (3) takes on Safina(1) and Serena(2) takes on Dementieva(4) so the cream has risen to the top and now it’s time filter the sediment. Neither sister has lost a set thus far in the dance and both are playing as well as they have in a while so of the possible scenarios the all-family affair looks as good as it has in recent years. This is exactly the kind of semi-finals that the women’s side needed to not only support their case now that the prize money is equal, as the ratings should be equal or higher than the men’s, but also to give a boost to the attention to women’s game. These matches will display how powerful the women’s game is now, as you’ve got four ladies that can bring the heat off the serve, and put plenty of “stank” on forehands. This will not be matches that go well with Sunday whites or strawberries and cream. View the complete Ladies Singles Results here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

US wilts under Brazillian heat, lets championship slip away

I’ll be the first to step up to the plate when I’m wrong and I called the US Soccer team out after the first to disgraceful losses to Italy and Brazil by a combined score of 6-1. Fortunately the ‘1’ allowed them to advance to the semi-finals under the tie-braking system and given that chance played a game and a half of the best soccer in the countries history. However, the time for “moral victories” came and went after we hosted the world cup in 94’, now we need to evaluate our national soccer team as harshly as we do hoop and baseball. That said, the US collapsed underneath the Brazilian storm after taking a 2-0 lead at half time only to give up 3 goals in the second half to lose in the final of the Confederations Cup 3-2. This game showed exactly how far we need to go to really be competitive when the chips are on the table. It exploited three major weaknesses that will have to change if the US has any hopes of getting out of the group stage next year. First, our inability to withstand constant pressure, the kind we’ll see all during the World Cup next year, as Brazil played with a sense of desperation immediately out of the locker room to start the second half, scoring in the first two minutes and changing the complexity of the game. After that, even though we had the lead it felt as if it was only a matter of time until we succumbed to the heat. Secondly, Brazil exposed our inefficiency in controlling the ball. Even when behind they held a passion lead of 69% to 31% which will get you killed against the Canary Islands let alone the best in the world. Lastly, our inability to take away a teams strength. We knew going in that Brazil scored 75% of their goals on set pieces yet allowed we gave them 9 corner kicks and 24 shots on goal. If this were the Dream Team we’d be saying we played 1.5 good games of soccer, got lucky to advance via a bad tie-breaking system (the team that we beat out in the group stage actually beat us 3-1 on the field), and choked away a trophy in the finals. So are we really ready for the world stage? Let us know here and in the World Soccer rooms. Confederations Cup Chat room/2010 World Cup Chat room.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

US needs one more miracle as Brazil advances to final

The US must go back to the drawing board and find out how to slow down the masters of ‘the beautiful game’ over the next 48 hours because the rematch of their group play match will be for the Federations Cup Championship on Sunday. Brazil advanced to the final with a 1-0 victory over the host nation South Africa this afternoon. In front of a huge crowd RSA played an inspired game keeping the Brazilians at bay until the 97th minute when a penalty just outside the box gave them a free kick which Daniel Alves, who was recently substituted into the game, promptly banked off the side post and into the back of the net. A perfect strike worthy of the talent of Alves that took all of the euphoria out of the stadium as it was apparent that their hopes of hosting a title victory wouldn’t come to fruition. It was obvious that most interested parties viewed this game as championship match with either side expected to dispose of the US when the money is on the table. With that said, ironically, Brazil is a better draw for the US as they have already pounded them 3-0 and probably won’t make many changes to their lineup or game plan. Over confidence may be their worst enemy (please see Spain and previous post) as opposed to the RSA who would be riding the ether of the stadium and hopes of a nation and, sadly speak, a more dangerous opponent. If the US is going to pull off another upset they’ll need to execute a similar “hold the fort down, then strike when the opportunities arise” game plan and not miss one chance. That’s a lot to ask but after the “miracle on ice” and the “miracle on grass” one more and they are eligible for sainthood. Can they do the unthinkable and will be enough to get US soccer back on the map again?
Let us know here and in the World Sports chat room.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

US Stuns Spain advances to final of Confederation Cup

In a victory that ranks among the best in the history of US soccer, close behind the world cup victories in 2002, where they beat Portugal in the opening round and Mexico in the sweet 16 to advance to their first quarterfinal since 1934. This win was not quite as big simply because it wasn’t in the world cup but when you think about the wave that Spain was riding coming into the game, perhaps it should be in the conversation. The current FIFA World number one hadn’t lost a game since 2006 en route to 35 match unbeaten streak (one shy of the world record), including 15 outright wins in a row (setting a world record), and amazingly not allowing a goal in 451 consecutive minutes. All of these streaks were snapped in the 2-0 loss to the US. In the big scheme of things it could be the best thing for Spain as it defines a “wake up call” ahead of the 2010 World Cup. Next up for the US a spot in the final against either Brazil or South Africa, either one of these would be very difficult foes as Brazil already put a 3-0 beatdown on them and SA are the host. Either way, this team was written off by everyone (present party included) and have done a complete 180 since that debacle in game two. Is this the momentum changer that could be the catalyst to a strong showing in the 2010 World Cup? We think so. Let us know here and in the Soccer chat rooms.

Monday, June 22, 2009

US Open first time winner fits like a Glover

In one of the most improbable Opens in the history of the event where not one of the four rounds began and finished on the same day, a long shot came in that made Name That Bird’s 50-1 return look like a red or black. Lucas Glover, ranked 71 in the world, in his second career win where he never finished a major better than T-20, was your winner. In a script that was rejected by Hollywood because “Tin Cup” was more believable, Glover the pride of South Carolina battle back in the final round to win by two strokes over household names such as Mickelson and Duval, and four strokes over the best player in the world. Still not buying? Just wait, there’s more, Glover had yet to even make the cut at the US Open in his career. How’s that for improbable? If not for the exploits of Glover and Barnes, the comeback player of the tourney would have gone to David Duval who hadn’t been this close to the top of the chart since Bon Jovi was there. So, with all of the no-names at the top of the leaderborad where were the big dogs? Well, the sentimental favorite Mickelson had moments of glory but of course they were often couple with moments of unpredictability as his final round card contained three birds but four bogeys. And Tiger never recovered from playing during the sunami that was the first few hours of round one, shot 69,68,69 over the next three to make it respectable but would love to have those 5 bogeys from the first round back as that was the difference in the tournament. All things considered if you’re a purist then this wasn’t the tournament for you as bad weather forced great players to play poorly and made the final round Sunday which is normally one of the best events in American sports a cloudy Monday afternoon with empty galleries and only closed circuit TV watching. Although the underdogs were a great story, would you have rather seen Phil and Tiger go at it on a sunny Sunday afternoon where it was the skill of the players not the conditions that were the subject of the day? Let us know here and in the US Open Chat room.
Also view the up to date Leaderboard.

The World Champions get shown up by Brazil then shown the exit

In an unbelievable turn of events the defending World Cup Champions got whacked by the conductors of “the beautiful game” 3-0. In what was billed as the tournament's showcase game Brazil effectively ended the clash as a contest at half-time, with all their goals coming in an eight minute spell at the end of the first half. Luis Fabiano helped himself to two goals before Italy defender Andrea Dossena put through his own net to round off the score. Italy manager Marcelo Lippi kept faith in the players who had helped him win the World Cup in 2006 with six players who had started the final in Germany starting on Sunday, but the vets let him down as they couldn’t muster any offense in the second half. After an impressive win vs. the US in game one the Italians finished the pool with two lack luster efforts and now find themselves looking towards the 2010 World Cup with more questions than momentum. On the flip side the US may have gotten the win that US supporters have been looking for, one where the team played with the spirit they didn’t show in the previous two matches, and finally had the offense play to their potential as the blew out Egypt 3-0 (actually should have been 4-0 but an obvious handball was not called). With the win, coupled the afore mentioned improbable Italian loss get the US through on goal differential. A result that could not have seemed more improbable after the match day one, and for their reward the US gets to play Spain who has not lost an international match since a 2006 friendly to Romania. How far can the US go?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Is this really the tournament you wanted to see?

The second round played much like the first with the exception for those who were fortunate enough to get on early while there were still some good scoring opportunities. Ricky Barnes and Lucas Glover ( I know I’ve never heard of them either) were two of those people and took full advantage by shooting a 65 and 64 respectively to sit atop the leader board at the end of the second round. An attempt to get the scheduled third round in was thwarted by mother nature. And that’s my point if you can’t play the rounds consecutively, without delay, and you’re going to have to postpone/extend the tournament beyond Sunday anyway, then why not delay the start until all rounds can be completed as planned. Firstly, the delays alone with all of the starting and stopping, make it impossible to get a rhythm. Moreover, it’s not a level playing field, as the players with the luck of the draw in regards to tee time coincidentally have the best scores and sit in the lead. I’m a terrible golfer but if I got to play with stiff greens, no wind, no rain, and sunny I would beat Tiger and Phil too if they were playing in a torrential downpour. This is not what our nation’s national tournament is supposed to be like. The trophy should have an asterisk engraved on it. Would you delay the start of the tournament? How would you deal with the delays/cancelations? Let us know here and in the US Open chat Room. Also visit the Real Time US Open Leaderboard here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

US Open players get a break in the weather but not on ‘The Black”

The weather has cleared and the current conditions look conducive for a long day of golf as the players will need to complete their first round then play a complete round 2. However what they didn’t get a break on was Bethpage Black, as the course was beating up the best in the world early in the morning as Tiger (+4), Vijay (+2), Cabrera (+4), and Westwood (+2), are among those who can’t find red numbers. Phil Mickelson is on the course completing his first round with cheering galleries on every hole. For the second consecutive tournament Tiger is in trouble of missing the cut as he finds himself eight shots back of the leaders, I know what happened at the Memorial but this course is a whole different animal. There are no guarantees they’ll be able to get the full day in or tournament for that matter as the weather looks dicey at best for the weekend. One thing is for sure if there is a break in the clouds you had better get your scoring in as there has been a distinct advantage for those on the course when the sky is clear. Can Tiger pull a rabbit out of his hat for two tournaments in a row? Can Phil ride the wave of momentum to the top of the leader board? Let us know here and in the US Open Chat room.
Also view the up to date Leaderboard.

US teams arrives late to Confederations Cup

If the past week is a harbinger of how the US Men’s National Soccer Team is adjusting to the atmosphere in South Africa then it does not bode well for US chances in the 2010 world cup as they have failed to show up for their first two matches and face an early exit. Against the defending World Cup Champion Italy in their first game the US actually managed to take a 1-0 lead into the break but then got swallowed by wave of Italian pressure before drowning 3-1. Although it needs to be noted that they were the victim of one of the worst calls ever seen in international play, as a routine mid-field missed tackle was awarded a capricious red card early in the first half, putting the US at a one man disadvantage for most of the match. It was an exercise if futility after that. However there were no excuses for the second match against Brazil, where the US simply mailed it in and got hammered 3-0 setting them up for a quick trip back home. It’s time to call it as we see it, that the way this team is coached, the athletes we have on the pitch right now is not worthy of the number 14 world ranking they currently enjoy, and definitely looks like a team that will not make it out of the round robin come 2010. On their way out they get a chance to salvage some dignity against the surprise team of the tournament, Egypt, on the 21st but that’s all their leave with. What changes does the US need to make to become more competitive on the world stage? Let us know here and in the Soccer chat rooms.

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