Team USA is back in the knockout round of the FIFA World Cup after losing 1-0 to the final team in their group Germany. The Americans now give themselves a shot to advance another round next Tuesday when they face off against Belgium. They are a team that the United States should beat, especially since they were able to do the near impossible.
Before the World Cup began, it was a consensual non-possibility that the Americans would survive the “group of death” that featured heavy weights such as Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Survival is the best way to define what the Americans did through group play, which resulted in a big win over Ghana and a draw to Portugal.
This is one of the biggest accomplishments that USA soccer has had in the World Cup in quite some time, but the ride is not over yet. The Americans have shown they can play with the upper class of the soccer world, so they have a chance to make a splash in the round of 16.
Tim Howard has allowed a goal each match, but he has made quality saves to always give team USA a chance to win. Howard has been solid, especially since the possession time has been favoring the opponent every match. There is hope on the defensive end of the field and things should swing upward on the offensive side.
Clint Dempsey is the best player for the American squad and he has been consistent throughout group play. He has scored two goals in three games and he continues to get his opportunities. Dempsey nearly scored an equalizer using his head in the closing moments against Germany. With the best player continuing to produce scoring chances, it should open up opportunities for other players.
Jozy Altidore has missed every game ever since his injury early on against Ghana. With extended time until their next game, there is a chance that Altidore can get his second start. If Altidore can crack the lineup, the offense gets an immediate impact.
If there is one player that needs to step up it is Michael Bradley. He has not played well at all throughout group play so he cannot play any worse. Luckily for Bradley, he has a chance at redemption now that team USA has moved into the knockout round. If Bradley can take his game to another level, the Americans will definitely advance.
Any way that the Belgium game goes next Tuesday, it is a huge accomplishment for Jurgen Klinsmann, coaching his first World Cup with the Americans, to get out of the group of death. This is not where the road ends for Team USA, as they will win Tuesday against Belgium 1-0. With that win they will most likely have to face Argentina.
One of the most anticipated draft classes that has come in nearly a decade, the NBA draft featured a plethora of future potential stars. Once former Kansas standout Joel Embiid fractured his foot during a workout, there was uncertainty at the top of the draft board. Everyone waited to see what the Cleveland Cavaliers would do with the first selection in this year’s draft.
After selecting Anthony Bennett first overall in last year’s very weak draft, the Cavaliers selected Kansas Jayhawk freshman Andrew Wiggins. The Wiggins selection did not come as a big surprise because there is a lot of upside with the pick.
The former Jayhawk product has elite athleticism and is productive on both sides of the floor. Wiggins can match up with just about any player on the wing in the NBA defensively. His length gives him an advantage one on one and on the boards down low.
Jabari Parker is the safest player in this draft and is the most NBA ready right away. Parker is a much better offensive player than Wiggins is right now. Wiggins still needs to improve his jump shot and ability to finish consistently at the rim. The former Blue Devil has a better offensive game than Wiggins, but defensively is not as sharp. Parker was a great pick for the Bucks in their start to rebuild the franchise.
Joel Embiid most likely would have been the first selection if not for the foot fracture, but he found his way to becoming the third overall pick to the 76ers. It is a great decision for Philly to go with Embiid, who is clearly not in a hurry to win now, as they seem to be taking a patient approach. They still have Nerlens Noel and might be dealing away last year’s rookie of the year Michael Carter Williams.
If Philadelphia gives Embiid the proper time to recover, they could be getting one of the best players to come out in a very long time. Embiid has an extreme amount of potential and you cannot teach being over seven feet. Watching Embiid at Kansas, you could see drastic improvement from his first game to his last.
The other picks that stood out the most in the top ten and look to be great additions is what both Boston and Los Angeles did. Marcus Smart is arguably the best scorer in this years draft alongside Parker. Adding Smart to a backcourt with Rondo is potentially lethal. Rondo makes everyone around him better and if they can find a way to play together, it will make for one of the better young back courts in the league.
Julius Randle makes for a great addition to the Lakers starting five, as he will provide good offensive output. Any time you play with Kobe Bryant, your opportunities will open up. Randle has a good inside and outside game, so he is a versatile player on the floor. If the Lakers can add someone like Kevin Love via trade, Randle, Love and Bryant will make for a solid three-pair.
The NHL awards took place Tuesday in Las Vegas and most of the top tier awards were predictable. Sidney Crosby was the most obvious choice for the Hart Trophy, which is the NHL’s most valuable player award. There wasn’t really another candidate that gave Crosby a run for his money for the Hart, especially since the awards in the NHL are based on the regular season. If it were based on post-season, Getzlaf would have gotten it since Crosby had a 13-game scoring drought in the playoffs dating back to last post-season.
The most puzzling award winner seemed to be Bob Murray, who was awarded general manager of the year. Not to take anything away from Murray, the Ducks had a fantastic season and ultimately lost in the second round to the eventual Stanley Cup champion, but the GM of the year should have gone where the Cup resides.
Dean Lombardi made the best move during the trade deadline and it paid off in the biggest way possible. Marian Gaborik was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets and was one of the main difference makers for the Kings in the top six. Anze Kopitar and Gaborik had instant chemistry, which propelled them through the Stanley Cup playoffs.
In the twenty-six playoff games played, Marian Gaborik led everyone in scoring with 14 goals. The former Blue Jacket also cashed in eight assists that brought his points total to 22 in the 26 games played. Without Gaborik and his timely goals, the Kings do not win the Stanley Cup.
Patrice Bergeron won the Selke tropy, which goes to the best defensive forward in the NHL. The Boston Bruin won the Selke in 2012 and once again this year. Bergeron is definitely one of the best defensive forwards, but Anze Kopitar should have brought the hardware home. Kopitar was the best defensive forward in the league and it was on display during the playoffs. He has not won the award yet in his career and deserved to after this seasons performance.
NBA Free Agency:
After opting out of his contract with the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony heads to free agency with many options out there. There are all kinds of sources putting out possible destinations for Anthony, even the possibility of teaming up with his good friend LeBron James. All this sounds great and all, but there is one team that is a perfect match for Carmelo. There is no better place for Anthony to go than to the Windy city. The Chicago Bulls are a perfect destination for the former Knick for a number of reasons.
The Bulls are a defensive powerhouse, which could make up for the liability Anthony brings defensively. What the Bulls showed they did not have during their only playoff series against the Wizards is a closer.
The Bulls had difficulty scoring in the fourth quarter and never had a go to guy. With the uncertainty of Derrick Rose’s future, Anthony would provide the lineup with a consistent scoring threat.
Tom Thibodeau is one of the best coaches in the NBA and would find the best ways to utilize Anthony in the lineup. He could potentially make Anthony a better defender in the Bulls system. If Rose comes back healthy, Thibodeau could make the adjustments to fully maximize Anthony and Roses potential together.
It is time for the Decision 2.0 and there are plenty of rumors everywhere discussing the future of the 4-time MVP. Anywhere from Cleveland, LA or even Houston the possibilities seem endless. Everyone needs to relax because the King is not going anywhere. If you are LeBron James, why would you leave the Miami Heat?
From an organization standpoint, how much better does it get than Pat Riley? If James decides to give Miami his loyalty, Riley will find the pieces to put around James to bring the team back to championship caliber.
The Heat already drafted Shabazz Napier, the tremendous guard from the NCAA champion UCONN Huskies. In a few years everyone will be looking back at the 2014 draft and say why did we pass on Napier because he will be an impact starter from the beginning. If LeBron decides to stay, Napier will be one of the better rookies in the NBA.
Napier has the all around game as a point guard: he is a versatile scorer, underrated passer and is an absolute stud defensively. The most noteworthy ability seen in his time at UCONN is his killer instinct. Napier has the mindset and ability to take over a game and hit the big shot. With this much potential talent at point guard, LeBron will not leave Miami.