Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Back Page

After seeing all the British tabloids before the World Cup, I decided the Bearkat Sports Forum needed a back page. So here is the back page following the US victory over England.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Chili Dogs and Fish and Chips

We have waited 188 days for this matchup. This is US vs. England. I'll be blogging my thoughts throughout the match.

I am hoping for a good showing for the US. It is not a must win for the US, but they HAVE to play well. There is no way the US can afford to go out and play bad in this game. And I promise I will lay off of Donavan today.

I am glad Martin Tyler is calling this game. He has a great voice and his delivery is spot on.

4th Minute
The concern for the US was the back line and they just got shreaded there. Not a good start at all. Have to settle down and recover from this.

9th minute
Have to do a better job holding posession. Only getting one or two touches before losing it. We aren't going to be able to put anything together like this.

12th minute
Posession looking a little better here. Working a few corners in. We just have to do something with it. Don't panic with the ball.

17th minute
I don't think we have to have a goal here in the first half, we have to have some pressure on offense.England is winning everything at the back line right now.

19th minute.
Jozy has to get that. You are not going to get that many scoring opportunities. It should be 1-1.

21st minute
England responds. Three good lokks at goal in just a matter of minutes. They are so good at getting back and having an answer to the US.

28th minute
Game has settled in a little bit now. A few nervy moments in the box.

30th minute
Howard being down is not a good sign. If he can't go our World Cup is over. I have no faith in Guzan Heskey went in studs up on Howard. Don't like that challenge at all.

33rd minute
Don't really like that shot by Altidore. Need him to step it up. I'd love to keep as little pressure on Howard as mush as we can for the last 12 or so minutes.

35th minute
Rooney has been quiet, which is scary, because you know he is going to get loose at some point. Of course, he could get frustraded, and he is not very good when he plays frustrated.

40th minute

It was a very soft goal but we will take it. Dempsey just puts a ball on target and the US gets something out of it. I was surprised to see Green in goal and he gave us one.

44th minute
Nothing cheap here late. Let's take a draw into the half.

Halftime tied at 1-1

Very fortunate to be tied at the half, but the US needs to take advantage of this. England is shaken right now no doubt. We need to come out and try to put on on the early. It will be interesting to see if Green comes back on the field for the second half. The goal was soft, but the US has momentum right now and they need to take advantage.

Start of second half
A second replacement for England. They only have one left. I wonder if that will come back to cost them.

50th minute
We have survived the first five minutes. That was big to get through that stretch.

52nd minute
Big save by Howard. That was a very good run by Heskey. A good opportunity for England stopped.

59th minute
England is getting frustraed and nervous. I have seen a red given on that challenge by Gerard before. Studs up on the knee.

61st minute
A good opportunity for the US on the free kick. England gets back so fast though. they are attacking less than 30 seconds after a US attempt on goal.

64th minute
What a great strong run by Jozy. Would have been a spectaular goal.

70th minute
20 minutes to play. Who is going to step up and make the big play? Someone can become a hero and forever be remembered.

74th minute
Good run by Robbie Findley, but two minutes later he picks up a card. We have racked up a few yellows this match.

76th minute
Two more big saves from Howard. Rooney starting to get involved in the match. England os starting to get some good chances in the box. Have to hold on. Buddle coming on now. I like this change.

82nd minute
THe chants of USA starting to ring a little over the sounds of the vuvuzelas

Final 1-1
This was a huge victory for the United States. They are going to carry confidence into the next two matches. England is a bit shaken. We can now look at taking the group and hopefully avoid Germany in the round of 16.

Tim Howard was huge today. He is no doubt the man of the match. It was a lucky goal no doubt, but Howard kept the US in this one. A few hug saves, especially late. After seeing him on the ground for a few minutes in the first half it was great to see him bounce back and play, not just solid, he was money.

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup is finally here

It is the opening day of the World Cup and I am pumped. I actually had a hard time getting back to sleep after waking up early this morning, for fear I might sleep through a portion of the opener.

I have always been a fan of soccer and the World Cup. I played for seven years, so I have an appreciation for the sport. World Cup has always been fun to watch, and spending a few weeks in Europe during the 1994 World Cup gave me an even greater apperception for it.

I have some very good World Cup memories, especially from 1994. I had the chance to sit and watch Cup games in Italy and Greece with people who are truly passionate about the sport. It was unlike anything I had ever seen, or have seen since.

It seems as though this year I am even more excited than I have been in the past. The main reason might be because I have really stepped up my viewing in the past two years. I have begun closely following the English Premier League, as well as keeping tabs on the other leagues around the world through Champions League. I certainly know who more players are this time around than I have ever before and I think that adds a little something to it.

Also, I think there is just a greater expectation for the US team this time around. After the success they had last summer in the Confederations Cup, people are expecting a deep run at the Cup. I am not in the camp that sees us making a final, but a trip to the quarters is possible.

The other factor that has interest so high is the opening round match against England. To a lot people in the United States, England is soccer. Just like the win over Mexico eight years ago, this is a measuring stick match. The win over Spain last year was nice, but this is England, this is Wayne Rooney, this is the World Cup.

If Mexico was looked at as our big brother, then England would be our dad. That moment you finally beat your dad in anything is always a special landmark. I think that is the thinking here, we have not arrived until we beat England.

While I don’t think this is the year for the US, I think this campaign is a huge step. With the youth on this year’s team, I think they are setting up for 2014 in Brazil. However, those plans can be derailed if the US has a poor showing over the next month. I think we took a big step back after the 2006 Cup, and we are really just starting to recover from that.

England is immensely talented and should e able to handle the US, but we saw last year against Spain, the American are capable of pulling off a shocker. As much as I would love to knock off England, I don’t think this team is capable of a magical run. If we have just one huge shocker in us, I would rather it come in the knockout round.

A draw would be something special and a big-time result. While I would love 2-2, I think we probably fall 2-1. But, don’t be surprised if we regroup and knock off Germany in the round of 16.

As for the rest of the Tournament, I think it will be fun if the African countries do well, I will be pulling for Netherlands and I think Spain wins it in the end.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Predicitions for the College World Series

After giving much thought and in some cases, not much thought at all, here are my predictions for this year’s College World Series:

Regional Rounds

Tempe Regional – Arizona State shouldn’t have much trouble getting out of this regional.

Fayetteville Regional – Arkansas will get a little pressure from Washington State but I like the Razorbacks here.

Auburn Regional – I’d love to see an Auburn/Alabama Super Regional, but I like Clemson to get out here.

Atlanta Regional – Home team should take care of business here with Georgia Tech moving on.

Charlottesville Regional – Virginia and Ole Miss will battle here, but in the end I think I like Virginia to get out here.

Norman Regional – No one expects anything from the ninth-place team out of the ACC. That is why North Carolina wins this.

Columbia Regional – Virginia Tech is on a roll right now and hopefully we will get to see their sweet Astros style rainbow jerseys.

Myrtle Beach Regional – Coastal Carolina might be a dark horse national champion. I look for them to advance.

Austin Regional – Texas shouldn’t have much of a problem here.

Fort Worth Regional – TCU is the best team here with a loaded pitching staff. Might drop a game, but still see them getting through.

Norwich Regional – Uconn is the home team, Florida State is the top seed, but I think Oregon pulls off the shocker and gets through

Louisville Regional – The Cards play on an all synthetic field and will have the home field advantage as they know how to play all of the hops.

Los Angeles Regional – LSU gets shipped out west for the first time in school history. They are still the defending champs and will continue their hot play.

Fullerton Regional – Fullerton is at home and the 2-seed Stanford is not that strong. Titans shouldn’t have a problem.

Coral Gables Regional – Interesting Regional with FIU and Wittles hitting streak and the Aggies, but I think Miami still gets through.

Gainesville Regional – Another magical run for the Beavers? No, Florida wins it, but might get pushed a little.
Super Regionals

Arizona State/Arkansas – Sun Devils will make it out of this regional in two.

Clemson/Georgia Tech – Tigers go on the road for the second straight week, but Georgia Tech will win this in three.

Virginia/North Carolina – Both teams very familiar with each other, but I think the ACC Champs will put an end to UNC’s streak of four straight trips to Omaha.

Virginia Tech/Coastal Carolina – Coastal Carolina will earn its first trip to the College World Series taking this in three.

Texas/TCU – TCU has the pitching to win this, but in the end, the Longhorn will return to Omaha.

Oregon/Louisville – The Ducks’ Cinderella runs ends here.

LSU/Fullerton – LSU won’t get a chance to defend their title, falling to Fullerton.

Miami/Florida – A good rivalry game that I think Florida will end up winning.

College World Series

The Big 12 tournament was not the Texas we are going to see in the postseason. I think the Longhorns win this year, knocking off Arizona State in the championship series.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Field of Dreams - CWS style

I am going to do predictions later in the week, but since I am going to be in Omaha, I am going to first do my College World Series wish list. These are not the teams I think will make it to Omaha, but rather the teams I want to see at Rosenblatt.

There are a couple of factors involved here and a few will actually clash so I will have to make a few concessions. The main factor is program prestige. Cinderella need not apply, so UConn, I am a big fan of your basketball program, but I would like to leave it at that. Also, College of Charleston, Louisville and Florida Atlantic can stay home as well. Prestige factor will overrule every other reason for making my list.

The next major factor is whether I have seen the team play before. I am always looking to add new teams to my list, so UCLA, Baylor and Rice, I have no need for you in Omaha. Southern Miss and Ole Miss, you are out as well.

A potential good rivalry game always makes for a good story in Omaha, so I will have to see if there is the potential for a historic matchup at Rosenblatt. After seeing what happened with Alabama and Auburn at the SEC Tournament, it is a shame they are slatted to meet up in a Super Regional. Had they had a potential opening round matchup they would have been a shoe in for my fantasy CWS field.

Historical significance will play a part. Is there anything that can happen that will always be remembered and I can say, I was there for that. Most of the time you can’t plan for that, like Warren Morris hitting a walk-off to beat Miami in the 1996 final (BTW, the only other team to beat Miami that postseason was Sam Houston State). Others you can plan for, like Robin Ventura extending his hitting streak to 58 games with hits in his first two.

Finally, potential to see future pro prospects will make a team intriguing. We will already know who has been drafted by the time the World Series rolls around, but right now I am looking at prospects and who has the most.

With all that in mind, here is my CWS wish list:

Tempe/Fayetteville Regional - Arizona State is pretty much a slam dunk here. They have 21 appearances and five titles and I have never seen them play before. The Sun Devils have two top pitching prospects with Seth Blair (No. 34) and Jordan Swagerty (No. 61). Arkansas is the other intriguing team there with Zack Cox who is rated the No. 6 prospect in this year’s draft and Brett Eibner who is rated No. 23.

Auburn/Atlanta Regional – There are a couple of good teams here and it makes it a tough one to pick. No one in these two regionals has a national title and I have only seen Southern Miss play before. Alabama, Auburn and Georgia Tech all got consideration here, but I think I am going with Clemson. They have made 11 trips to Omaha, one less than the other three combined. I have never seen them play before and outfielder Kyle Parker is a potential first round pick.

Charlottesville/Norman Regional - North Carolina has made the last four College World Series and features pitcher Matt Harvey who is a potential top 20 pick. They, however, have no national titles and didn’t even make the ACC Tournament this year. Oklahoma has been nine times and claimed two titles, the last in 1994. I’ve never seen them play and even with no real prospects, the Sooners still get the nod here.

Columbia/Myrtle Beach Regional – This is tough to pick and I think I am going to have to break my rules here. South Carolina has the most history with eight trips, but no titles. Virginia Tech has never been and NC State was only there in 1968. College of Charleston would be Cinderella here and I have no interest in them. Coastal Carolina is a national seed, but no prospects or history. I’m leaning toward South Carolina because of the history, but it is kind of a toss up with Coastal.

Austin/Fort Worth RegionalTexas, enough said. They have 33 trips to the CWS and six titles. They also have six other trips to the title game. A lineup full of pro prospects headlined by pitcher Brandon Workman (No. 19). Yes, I have seen them play before, but Rider and Arizona are the only two teams here I haven’t seen play.

Norwich/Louisville Regional – This was another fairly easy pick. Florida State has made 19 trips to the CWS, but don’t have a title. Still, they have been a staple in Omaha and I’d like to hear the War Chant ring around Rosenblatt.

Los Angeles/Fullerton Regional – Wow! Tough, tough, tough. Cal State Fullerton, LSU and Stanford have a combined 47 CWS appearances and 12 titles. I have never seen any of them play and there is lots of historical significance. A potential second round match up against Texas would be a Finals rematch for both Fullerton (1984, 2004) and LSU (2009). Stanford is just not sexy enough for me, and really has no top pro prospects for this year’s draft. LSU, being the defending champs, feels like the pick here. But the potential to see them in person is better than the chance to see Cal State Fullerton in future years. Plus Christian Colon and Gary Brown both being potential top 15 picks this year ultimately gives the Titans the nod. On a side note, throw in Minnesota’s three titles from the 50’s and 60’s and these two regionals have a combined 15 championships.

Coral Gables/Gainesville Regional – I really want to say Florida International here just to see Garrett Wittles extend his amazing hitting streak. It would be in the 60s by the time he got to Omaha and already be an NCAA record. The chances of FIU getting out of the first round are slim and even more remote they get through a Super Regional. Texas A&M could give an Aggie/Longhorn rivalry game, but the Aggies don’t really excite me. I know Cody wants to see Florida, but I have to go Miami here. Like Texas, I have seen them play before (1996 loss to Sam Houston State – Eat’em Up). But 23 appearances is second-most behind Texas and they have four titles. A top catching prospect in Yasmani Grandal helps the ’Canes cause here as well. There is also the potential for a Miami/Florida State second round pairing which helps.

That gives a loaded right side of the bracket with Texas, Florida State, Cal State Fullerton and Miami battling it out for a spot in the championship series -- can’t argue with that. There is only a combined 91 CWS appearances in that grouping.

Looking forward to see how it all plays out.