A GRIP ON SPORTS
Never in the history of athletics – now that's a loaded statement – has a team's fans been more deflated by a game their team didn't lose. At least it seemed that way last night. Read on.
• I get it. When you are this close to getting into the next round, an improbable result that even your coach seemed to doubt was possible, then to have it torn away with a goal in the final seconds (pictured), well, that's deflating. And demoralizing. Now I'm more inclined to see the clouds than the silver lining as much as anyone but I just can't right now. Maybe it's because I'm new to this World Cup-fan thing, but if you had told me before the match the United States would leave with a draw, I would have smiled and said "OK." Then, just a few minutes later when the U.S. team had given up a goal even parents at the South Complex would have shaken their head over, I would have been ecstatic. Why not? Portugal came into Sunday's match as the fourth-ranked team in the world, according to the most recent FIFA rankings. Sure, the team was beat up and was missing one of its better players after a red card in the loss to Germany. But still. The U.S. is ranked 13th in the same ranking system, a fine spot considering where this country's soccer program has been over the years, but not the top five. A draw would be just fine. And that's what the U.S. ended up with. A draw and one point, putting them in a tie with the Germans atop the Group G standings. Portugal and Ghana each have one point and, as you may or may not know, two teams move on to the knockout round. Those standings are what I am focusing on today. Not the blown opportunity. (As an aside, did you notice an extra minute was added to the stoppage time yesterday? According to what I read, the fourth referee, basically the last guy in the officiating hierarchy, added it when Graham Zusi walked off too slowly during a late-match substitution. Really?) The United States can still advance, though it is tougher. Win against the Germans, ranked second by FIFA, and the U.S. is through as the top qualifier. Tie and it is through as the second seed. Lose and the result is up in the air. The problem is, if the U.S. and Ghana end up tied in the group standings, the head-to-head result may not matter. It is the third tiebreaker. Not the first, the third. Goals matter more. Goal differential, then goals scored. And if Ghana defeats Portugal, than the U.S. will be hard-pressed to win those tiebreakers. So here's my advice. Everyone in America needs to go out, buy a Portugal flag and cheer for Ronaldo and company to win (or tie). But not by too much. Now isn't that fun?
• WSU: There isn't a lot of action on the field right now. And, usually, there isn't a lot of recruiting excitement either. But there is today. The Cougars added a late pickup to their 2014 class over the weekend and Jacob Thorpe has the details in this blog post. Plus, ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog looks at the 2015 recruiting for each conference football program. WSU is well represented, as well as I can ever remember.
• Indians: This just might be a memorable summer for Spokane. The Indians are off to their best start since the Great Depression. And that was a long, long time ago. Chris Derrick addresses the historic achievement in this blog post and his game story from the 6-2 win over Boise yesterday.
• Mariners: Speaking of winners, the M's have been winners lately. A sweep of Kansas City on the road is a good indication of that. Roenis Elias (pictured), who grew up in Cuba, had little trouble with the Missouri heat as he pitched Seattle past the Royals, 2-1. ... Lloyd McClendon said before the game there was little chance he would use closer Fernando Rodney a fourth consecutive day but then, with a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, out trotted the crooked-hat-wearing one. Three outs later the M's were on their way home with another W. They face the Red Sox tonight.
• Sounders: Everyone has an opinion on what happened yesterday, even Sounders coach Sigi Schmid.
• If you are my age, the idea of this country getting all excited about a World Cup match in Brazil seems a little surreal. Heck, when I was young, the Cup didn't even register. And there I was, all alone in my television room yesterday, going nuts when Clint Dempsey chested in the go-ahead goal. That whirring sound you hear is my father spinning wildly in his grave. He can't believe he raised a commie for a son. Until later ...