Tag Archives: Clint Dempsey

U.S. soccer battles valiantly, but falls to Belgium. A fantastic commercial empowering young girls. And a stunning Wimbledon upset, as Nadal goes down.

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For just a few minutes, I started dreaming.
After Belgium had thoroughly dominated the U.S. Tuesday evening and finally, after superhuman goalkeeping by Tim Howard broken through for a couple of goals, leading 2-0 with just 15 minutes to play, it looked like it was over for America at the World Cup.

But then, a 19-year-old kid named Julian Green scored a great goal, and the U.S. was pressing, and Clint Dempsey had an incredible chance right in front of the net of a perfect set piece, and maybe, just maybe, we were going to tie Belgium and win on penalty kicks.

But nope. Belgium hung on, and they 100 percent deserved to win. They were so much better than the U.S., offensively, defensively, everywhere but in goal.
Tim Howard, the U.S. netminder, may have had the best game in goal of any American keeper, ever. He was incredible back there, a stone wall of defense.

(My favorite “Tim Howard was awesome” Tweet Tuesdsay night, and there were many fantastic ones, came from Grey Munford: “Tim Howard’s protection is so effective, Hobby Lobby has banned him from their stores.” I also heard Tommy Smyth on the ESPN Radio broadcast compare Howard to Henrik Lundqvist. Beautiful.)

And so for many American sports fans, the World Cup is over. But for millions more, like me, it goes on, because we’re hooked on this tournament now.

Couple great pieces I wanted to share about Tuesday night: Sports On Earth’s Will Leitch wrote a terrific story about why there’s reason to hope for the future of U.S. Soccer, and ESPN.com’s Chris Jones with a beautiful column about each American player in the starting lineup, and what playing for country meant to them.

**After yesterday’s awful news about the Supreme Court’s disregard for women’s health and well-being, here’s a nice palate-cleanser. A group called the Always Global Puberty Education Program has been doing excellent work all over the world for decades, and they just put out this terrific PSA on what it means to younger people about what doing something “like a girl” means to them.

Really, really encouraging stuff. In five days, this video has been viewed more than 14 million times.

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**Thrilling day at Wimbledon Tuesday, with Rafael Nadal getting upset by a much-lower ranked player for the third straight year.

Truly though, this time Rafa didn’t play poorly at all; 19-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios just took it to him, playing beautiful, brilliant tennis. Kyrgios showed no fear, and when the match got tight in third and fourth sets, the kid showed zero nerves.

What does this mean? Well, it could be the arrival of a new star, as Kyrgios has the serve, forehand and cojones to be a top player, it looks like (and you’ve gotta love his enthusiasm.)

And also, Rafa’s ouster is great news for Roger Federer, who, if he beats Stan Wawrinka today, won’t have to see his nemesis in the semis. Not saying my man Fed is going to win Wimbledon, but his road looks a lot easier than it did yesterday morning.

The Supreme Court doesn’t give a damn about women. Rafa Nadal with an amazing off-court feat. And a major moment arrives for USA Soccer

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The current United States Supreme Court believes in religion more than science.

It believes the beliefs of a few outweigh the rights of the many.

And it believes that requiring companies to cover women who want contraception, as legally required under the Affordable Care Act, is wrong and shouldn’t be mandated.

The right wing of America hasn’t just hijacked one political party. They’ve hijacked the Supreme Court.
And it’s a damn disgusting sight.

There were a ton of great pieces written Monday in light of this horrendous Hobby Lobby decision, one that will affect millions of lives. Here’s a roundup of what it all means, and here’s a devastating piece from Mother Jones about why what 5 justices did was so wrong.

**Next up, this is pretty freaking amazing. Rafael Nadal, during a day off at Wimbledon, decided to see how many times he could bounce a tennis ball off the frame of his racket.

He claims he once did it 100 times. Sunday, he did it 406 times. Insanely hard to do (I’ve tried hundreds of times and could never get past 20.)

What can you say, Nadal is amazing.

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**Finally, pretty enormous moment arrives at 4 p.m. Eastern today for the U.S. men’s soccer team at the World Cup (and thank you, sports gods, for scheduling the game right about the time the terrific Wimbledon lineup on Tuesday should be wrapping up. Sometimes, the gods think of me).

If Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Co. find a way to beat Belgium and advance to the quarterfinals (nobody eat any Waffles today, support America), it might be the biggest moment in American soccer history.
I know we’ve made the final 8 before, in 2002, but the difference is, there are SO many more Americans paying attention to soccer now, so many more soccer fans thanks to a variety of factors (Premier League being on TV, U.S. being better, Major League Soccer thriving and expanding), and such a soccer presence on the Web.

I have no idea if we’ll beat Belgium, who from the snippets of highlights I’ve seen look really tough. But Jozy Altidore, our best offensive threat, is back from injury, Team USA is a lot more rested than they were against Germany, and hey, it’s been a wacky World Cup so far, so why not the upstart Americans advancing?

Really looking forward to the game. My prediction? Belgium wins in penalty kicks, which would be the ultimate drama and ultimate heartache (ask Greece about that).

“Searching for Sugar Man” and when fame doesn’t change a man. Team USA excruciatingly ties at World Cup. And “The Karate Kid” turns 30

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So I mentioned briefly last week that I finally got around to watching the Academy Award-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” the story of a mysterious early 1970’s rock singer from Detroit named Rodriguez, who never found success in America but developed an enormous following in South Africa, where more than 500,000 of his records have been sold in the last 40 years.

The film, released in 2012, is astonishingly good, and at less than 90 minutes, packs a lot of story and fabulous music into an incredible story.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot (The movie is playing on the Starz cable channel all month, and is on Netflix), because the story is so incredible, about how Rodriguez was living his life in Detroit as a construction worker, toiling in anonymity for decades, before being “found” and told what a sensation he was in South Africa.

But for days now I’ve been thinking about this theme of fame and success. Sixto Rodriguez made a few records in the early ’70s, and never became famous. And he seems pretty fine with that. When he was “discovered” by two enterprising and dogged South Africans, he was stunned, and happy to discover his music found a huge audience.

But it didn’t change him, this “accidental” discovery. So many times in America we’ve seen people go from anonymity to instant fame and it completely changes who they are, and what they believe.
Very rarely does fame not change a person. What I found fascinating about Rodriguez is he was living his anonymous life, suddenly became famous, then went back to his mostly-anonymous life for years afterward, until “Searching for Sugar Man” brought him back into the spotlight.

He’s still the same guy, living in the same house. And I think that’s beautiful and rare. In his mind, he’s always been a success, because he’s doing what he loved, and had everything he needed.

Not sure if I’m making the point I’m trying to make here. I guess what I’m trying to say is the true character of a person comes out when they suddenly get “famous,” and in Rodriguez’s case, it was wonderful to see.

Now go see the movie.

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**Man, that USA-Portugal soccer game Sunday night was intense. Has a tie ever felt more like a loss in our lives?
I’ve really gotten into this World Cup, and from what my soccer friends tell me, this has been the best tournament in decades. But Sunday night brought forth all the emotions: Despair when Portugal got the early goal, encouragement when we tied it, elation when Clint Dempsey and a 20-year-old kid named DeAndre Yedlin team up to give America an improbable 2-1 lead, and then utter shock when with 30 seconds left Portugal ties it.

Crazy. Now the U.S. has to beat or tie Germany, or hope Portugal squeaks by Ghana by only a goal or so, to advance.
You know what else is crazy? That soccer’s “extra time” period is a joke; only the referee knows how much beyond 90 minutes the team’s will play, and even that seems to be an estimate.
Is there some intelligent reason why the referee can’t stop and start the clock whenever there’s an injury or sub? I mean, every other sport seems to be able to do it, but not soccer.
Just seems ridiculous to me.
Still, even with giving up the late tying goal and all U.S. fans feeling deflated, it was a hell of a game, and a hell of a performance, from the Americans. Now a tie or win against Germany and our boys advance to the knockout round, something very, very few people thought possible two weeks ago.

 

**A teenage soccer player named Daniel LaRusso moved from New Jersey to California, fell in with an old Japanese guy who was the handyman at his new apartment complex, met and fell in love with a beautiful blonde girl named Ali (with an “i”), learned karate, got bullied by some mean boys, then got the girl and some revenge at the end.

Sounds like the plot of a classic movie to me! “The Karate Kid” was somehow released 30 years ago last week, and Mental Floss has once again come through with some awesome facts (30 in all) about a movie that I, and everyone else in Generation X, considers a classic.

A few of my favorite nuggets from this piece:

— Daniel’s original last name was “Webber,” and even more horrifying, Johnny Lawrence was gonna be “Donald Rice.” Sorry, Donald Rice could be your attorney, not a blond karate killing machine.

— One of the greatest song/movie montages ever (above), Joe Esposito’s “You’re The Best,” was originally written for “Rocky III” but was replaced by “Eye of The Tiger.”

–That was NOT Mr. Miyagi actually doing the crane kick in the famous beach scene, it was a body double.
Well, you might as well tell me there’s no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny either, man.