Mexico wins CONCACAF Gold Cup

Here are the winners


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Bravo, Mexico! this was a hard-fought match between two North American teams. Both have been in re-building mode for appropriate reasons. They were very evenly matched. Personally, I have as about as much expertise as the average fan – who never played the game.

I have only two things to say about the match: 1. The difference to my mind was that Mexico played a better match at defense. 2. I went looking through the pages of GOOGLE for an appropriate photo of the Mexican team celebrating this match – and GOOGLE has done their usual crappy job of showing us anything outside the realm of screaming USA/USA. So, I used the online scoreboard.

I found a photo this morning more representative of the match result and added it to the post.

Hertha Berlin Players, Officials Kneel in Solidarity with American Athletes


Click to enlargeAP Photo/Michael Sohn

❝ Players and coaches from Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin kneeled prior to Saturday’s game against Schalke in a stand “for diversity and against violence.”

“Berlin is colourful,” the public address announcer at Olympiastadion Berlin said, according to ESPN FC’s Stephan Uersfeld. “Hertha BSC stands for diversity and against violence. For this reason, we are joining forces with the protest of our fellow American athletes to take a stand against discrimination. For a tolerant Berlin, both now and forevermore.”

❝ …Ivorian forward Salomon Kalou told reporters Hertha Berlin got the idea to kneel from NFL players who have protested social injustice and racial inequality during the American national anthem.

“As Hertha we always fight against racism,” he said, per Uersfeld. “For us, kneeling down is a way of fighting against this kind of behaviour. It should not exist in any kind of sport. Not in NFL, and not in football or soccer, like they call it in the U.S.—it shouldn’t exist in any sport, period. For us, it’s a good example to show.”

Meanwhile, individual gutless owners of American sports teams, NFL officials and candyass politicians kissed Trump butt. They have taken a constitutional symbol of protest and tried to turn it into an act worthy of the sort of pseudo-patriotic witch-hunt we haven’t witnessed since the inglorious days of McCarthyism.

I’ll take constitutional guarantees over quasi-religious breast-beating any day

Swedish footballer gets red card for deliberate farting


Does this look like an innocent man to you?

A Swedish footballer has hit out after being sent off for breaking wind during a match – with the referee accusing him of “deliberate provocation” and “unsportsmanlike behaviour”.

Adam Lindin Ljungkvist, who was playing at left-back in the match between Järna SK’s reserve team and Pershagen SK, was shown a second yellow card late on in what local media called “bizarre circumstances”.

“I had a bad stomach, so I simply let go,” the 25-year-old told Länstidningen Södertälje…”Yes, I was shocked, it’s the strangest thing I have ever experienced in football.

“I asked the referee, ‘What, am I not allowed to break wind a little?’ ‘No,’ he replied … I don’t get it but maybe he thought I farted in my hand and threw the fart at him. But I did not.”…

The referee, Dany Kako, confirmed that Ljungkvist had received the second yellow card for breaking wind, explaining: “I perceived it as deliberate provocation. He did it on purpose and it was inappropriate. Therefore, he received a yellow card.”

Ljungkvist told Aftonbladet: “To provoke anyone with a fart is not particularly smart or normal. It’s nonsense – I just broke wind and got a red card. I spoke to the referee afterwards, I was annoyed, but there were no bad words. I just said he was a buffoon.”

Some referees might consider being called a buffoon serious dissent. Especially, I guess, if the player is correct.

Crucial October 10 match: USA vs. Mexico

The Mexican view of the upcoming match is more fun than SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

Judgment day is coming on October 10 for the U.S. men’s soccer program, or at least the closest thing to judgment day not related to the World Cup. On that day, two important games will take place. One is the senior team’s showdown with Mexico at the Rose Bowl for a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup. The other is a one-game decider for the Under-23 team with a spot in the 2016 Olympics on the line.

The U.S.-Mexico game is a mid-term referendum on Jurgen Klinsmann the U.S. men’s national team coach, while the Olympic berth is a referendum on Klinsmann the U.S. technical director. It’s a results-based business, so the takeaways will be relatively easy to make: Elation with two wins. Disaster with two losses. And something in between if there’s a mix.

The senior match is one of those where I will use the 4K upscaling critter in my living room to sit 5 feet away from the screen to watch. Hopefully, all the way through to the end. 🙂

Lloyd hat-trick inspires U.S. Women to World Cup victory


Click to enlargeReuters/Michael Chow

The United States won the Women’s World Cup for the third time, crushing Japan 5-2 on Sunday with striker Carli Lloyd scoring the tournament’s fastest ever hat-trick, including a spectacular goal from the half-way line.

The American captain struck three times inside 16 minutes as the U.S. stormed into an unexpected and unsurmountable 4-0 lead over their shell-shocked opponents.

Japan, winners four years ago, were utterly stunned as the U.S’s deadly finishing ensured they added to their 1991 and 1999 titles, and became the first nation to win the Cup three times…

No team had ever scored more than two goals in a Women’s World Cup final but the brilliant Lloyd went one better all by herself — and within just 16 minutes…

And got her the Golden Ball for the tournament.

Japan restored a little bit of pride in the 27th minute when Yuki Ogimi turned Julie Johnston in the area and fired past Hope Solo to make it 4-1.

The Japanese have been widely praised for their short-passing game but it was an old-fashioned route that brought them, temporarily, back into the game early in the second half.

Aya Miyami’s long free-kick into the box was aimed at Sawa and Johnston rose for the ball but could only deflect a header past a helpless Solo.

The glimmer of hope flickered for just two minutes, however, when a U.S. corner fell to Morgan Brian beyond the far post and she did well to find Tobin Heath, who confidently fired home to make it 5-2 and effectively end Japan’s hope of a comeback.

Bravo! The US Women’s team proved their worth, demonstrated that a nation that still hasn’t grown to full participation in the world’s most popular sport can grow through school programs and amateur leagues to play at the best professional level.

Real Madrid and Manchester United shatter American attendance record for proper football

Michigan Stadium
Click to enlargeLeon Halip/Getty Images

A small town in Northern Michigan had the eyes of the soccer world watching it with the largest crowd in American history on hand to witness Real Madrid and Manchester United at Michigan Stadium. A grand total of 109,318 were in the stands to witness the event. The game was broadcast around the world in up to 40 countries, with an estimated economic impact of $15-20 million on Washtenaw county…

As expected, the atmosphere inside the stadium was even louder and more energetic than the one created outside of it leading up to the match. Fans had descended onto Ann Arbor from around the world, and once the game kicked off, it was easy to forget that the match was only a part of a preseason tournament. Nonetheless, Manchester United, only needed a point to reach the final in Miami, and Louis Van Gaal wanted his team to be there…

The game on the pitch was rather action packed, but it was those watching the match in the stands that really made it such a special occasion. Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor was proof that soccer has made it in North America.

Major League Soccer continues to grow in strength, reputation and competitive level. Reflecting not only the growth of proper football in the United States; but, the reputation and ability of teams throughout our regional association CONCACAF.

Today’s record attendance broke the existing record by almost 10% – and that was a match between Brazil and France. Not in Michigan.

The match was fun BTW. Man of the Match was Mr. Potatohead – which is not a negative in my mind for Wayne Rooney from Man U.

Benfica 1 – 2 Chelsea

chelsea win
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Three minutes earlier, Frank Lampard had rattled the woodwork, leaving Chelsea fans to rue what at the time seemed to like a storybook ending. What better way to win a trophy than, on the day he’s reported to have signed a one-year extension, to have an icon secure silverware.

But Chelsea fans wouldn’t have to wait long for another well-established Blue to secure another piece of European gory. With the match tied 1-1 and Amsterdam’s Europa League final looked destined for an extra 30 minutes before another, less revered part of the Blues’ core gave the Londoners another European trophy.

In second half stoppage time, Juan Mata swung a corner kick far post, allowing veteran defender Branislav Ivanovic to elevate above André Almeida and Jardel, his contact putting a long, looping header back near post, leaving goalkeeper Artur flat-footed as the Serbian center half secured Chelsea’s 2-1 victory…

A lackluster first half ended scoreless before Fernando Torres, on the end of a Petr Cech ball, beat Luisao to go in Artur, the Spaniard’s finish from the right of the box putting Chelsea up in the 60th minute. Eight minutes later, Benfica equalized, with Paraguayan Oscar Cardozo converting from the spot after a hand ball from Cesar Azpilicueta.

In a match largely controlled by Benfica’s midfield yet often lacking inspiration, it was just that a late tally eventually separated the sides. Benfica had 58 percent of the possession but only three shots on goal. Chelsea, on the other hand – often content to let Benfica play at the edge of their attacking third – managed five shots on Artur.

The last, of course, was the most meaningful…Ivanovic has done it before, his two against Liverpool in the 2009 quarterfinals as well as his winner against Napoli in 2012 standing out, but with the timing of tonight’s tally, Ivanovic is unlikely to have scored a more important goal. With his looping header in stoppage time on Wednesday, the 29-year-old helped Chelsea secure this year’s Europa League.

The first half suited everyman’s description of Euro football, e.g., no one dares play harder than at 90%. Less if you’re off-camera. But, the second half came alive even if the handball from Azpilicueta put me in mind of Serie A match-fixing shenanigans more than anything else.

BTW, I chose NBCSports.com for this article to see if I can tolerate their print coverage of footie – since starting the coming season they will be the provider of Premier League coverage on DirecTV.

The kicking queen of the [American] football field

In his 18 years at Pinckney Community High School, Jim Darga, the principal, said, the homecoming queen had always been crowned at halftime of the school’s football game. Never before, though, had she had to be summoned from the team’s locker room.

And that was just the beginning of Brianna Amat’s big night.

If being named homecoming queen is a lifetime memory for a high school student, so, too, is kicking a winning field goal. For Amat, 18, they happened within an hour of each other.

On Friday, with Pinckney leading powerful Michigan rival Grand Blanc, 6-0, at the half, Amat, the first girl to play football for the school’s varsity, was asked to return to the field. When she arrived, she was told that her fellow students had voted her queen. When the tiara was placed on her head, she was wearing not a dress, like the other girls in the homecoming court, but her No. 12 uniform, pads and all.

A short while later, with five minutes to play in the third quarter, Amat was called to the same field to attempt a 31-yard field goal. She split the uprights.

The kick proved decisive as Pinckney held on for a 9-7 victory against a Grand Blanc team that had come into the game ranked seventh in the state in its division. It also earned Amat the nickname the Kicking Queen…

Before Friday, Darga said, Amat was known primarily as a student with a perfect 4.0 grade average who was involved in student government, serving as treasurer…

Amat’s prowess as a defender on the school’s girl’s soccer team led to the invitation to try out as a football kicker. She competed against two male students, including one who wound up as the team’s punter.

“She won the position on her own merit,” Darga said. “She won it outright.”

Bravo!