Monday, July 5, 2010

World Cup Madness

Hello there again folks. This is your favorite blogger Andy again! Sorry for the long delay between posts but there have been many things going on. Let start with what has been happening since we last left the World Cup.

What has to be one of the most dramatic US soccer victories ever happened in their last game of their group play. Thanks to the English victory, the United States needed a victory to advance to the round of 16. But hope was diminishing as they hit the 2nd half stoppage time tied with Algeria 0-0. Then came a quick sequence that defined this US team. With quick thinking, American goalkeeper, Tim Howard, stopped a dangerous header and started the fast break pitching the ball out to streaking American Landon Donovan who pushed the ball into Algeria territory before passing it to the wing for Altidore who placed it with a small 1-2 to a streaking Dempesey. He tried to tap the ball in but was denied by a brilliant save by the Algerian goalkeeper. The ball bounce back into the box and before anybody knew what happened, Donovan came streaking in to tap the ball into the left side of the goal. That goal literally put the United States out of elimination and into first place into there group. Fantastic and dramatic play. Although they played well enough in the Round of 16, they couldn't get past the speedsters of Ghana, falling 2-1 in extra time although they were given many chances. Great tourney for the Americans and I hope they come back stronger in the next World Cup finals.

With these beautiful games of course comes aspects of the beautiful game that mar it. Of course, I am talking about the officiating. First off are the bad calls in a few of the US' group play matches including two disallowed goals costing the US one game and nearly eliminating the US in the other. Then came the non offside call on Tevez of Argentina who was clearly behind the Mexican defenders when he scored Argentina's first goal in their round of 16. Followed swiftly after that was the non goal call that would've equalize England and Germany at 2. Instead England couldn't refocus and got MULLERED 4-1. The ball clearly hit woodwork and bounce in before the goalkeeper grabbed it. Horrible, horrible officiating. But what does this mean for futbol in general? Well, it has FIFA reeling and going back on their word of never implementing an instant replay mechanic in the "beautiful game". I agree with them in that it would slow down this really fluid and dynamic game but I think they NEED to have some kind of replay mechanic just so these obvious blatant mistakes don't happen. What I think they could do is have a replay system within the box with the very controversial plays (diving, hand balls, etc) and add that time back in shortage time. I can see that working but you can never know with futbol. Anyways have fun guys!

Monday, June 21, 2010

World Cup 2010: South Africa

Hello again folks. Today, we are going to talk about the world's most popular sport. That is of course fĂștbol or as we Americans like to call it, soccer. And of course, soccer's biggest stage is the FIFA World Cup where qualified nations take part in a 32 team international battle to see which country will reign supreme. So far, the action this year has been unpredictable with us seeing heavy favorites struggling and some outright upsets. Let take a look at today's matches before we head off to analyze all the group play.

June 21, 2010

North Korea 0 (0-0-2) Portugal 7 (1-1-0)

Cristano Ronaldo finally scores for his country in this beating of North Korea. Ronaldo hasn't scored for his nation since the 2008 European Championship so this must be awesome to get that monkey off his back. Although the score indicated it was a one sided affair, North Korea kept it close in the first half as 'The Navigators' as Portugal scored an early goal from Raul Meireles . Entering the second half, Simao scored early in the second half with a neat tuck under the North Korean goalkeepers. This visibly deflated the Koreans as Portugal went to town bombarding 5 more goals including Ronaldo score in the 87th minute. North Korea is eliminated from the tournament and will face the Ivory Coast for their last game.

Switzerland 0 (1-0-1) Chile 1 (2-0-0)

Chile capitalizes on midfielder Behrami's ejection from the game scoring off a header from substitute Gonzales in the 75th minute. The Swiss were irked by what looks like a controversial call but kept their composure playing a man down to keep it scoreless at the half but was unable to hold off the relentless Chilean attack. The Swiss had their chance to equalize the score but Dredivok missed wide left after some beautiful inner passing that set him up about 20 yards from goal. Killer missed as the Swiss fail to capitalize on their big win versus Spain with a point and remains at 3 points. The Chileans took their 2nd win in the WC and is comfortably in the driver seat of the group with 6 points.

Spain 2 (1-0-1) Honduras (0-0-2)

After the Swiss big upset of Spain, the Spaniards needed a big win versus Honduras to escape group play. David Villa showed great individual play scoring 2 beautiful goals by cutting back and through Honduras defenders. Villa had a chance at a hat trick when the a penalty on Honduras inside the box but Villa kicked it wide right on the ensuing kick. Honduras was the remedy that Spain seem to need as they dominated possession of the ball all game long due to Honduras' defense playing so open allowing the Spaniards to control the flow of the game. Beautiful performance by the #2 ranked team by FIFA but they must beat Chile in their next game to try to advance to the next round.

The big story in Group A has to be the host nation, South Africa. They stand a good chance of being the first host nation in the World Cup to be bounce from the first round. They take on a dishevel French team in their final round match that is having their own internal problems. This is probably the best chance for the South Africans to capitalize on this bickering and get their first win in the cup from former heavyweight France. In the other match, we have futbol powers Mexico and Uruguay. Uruguay showed their might tying with France 0-0 and dominating South Africa 3-0. Mexico tied with South Africa 1-1 but rebound back to beat France 2-0. Whoever wins this match will be advancing to the next round. Although the loser has a very good possibility of advancing as well.
Uruguay - Uruguay needs a win or a tie against Mexico to secure first place in Group A.
Mexico - Mexico needs a win against Uruguay to secure first place in Group A. They can also tie and be runner up.
France - France needs a win against South Africa. They also need either Mexico/Uruguay to lose and beat one of the team in Goal Differences.
South Africa - South Africa needs a win against France. They also need either Mexico/Uruguay to lose and beat one of the team in Goal Differences.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

NBA Finals GAME 7 Conclusion


Game 7 started off in the worst possible way for the Lakers. Bad shot selection plagued the Lakers in the first half with the Lakers shooting under 30% and Kobe having a really, really, really bad shooting night. Yet despite all this they were only down by 6 at the half?

Down by 13 in the 3rd quarter, it looked like the Celtics had the game in the bag when they just STOPPED scoring. This was also the same time the Lakers decided that shooting quality shots would probably be better then getting triple team and launching a off-balance fade away jumper!! So how did the Lakers pull this win, clinching their 16th NBA championship, despite playing poorly throughout most of the game? Lets look at the key points that boosted the Lakers to win.

1) Rebounds - Los Angeles dominated the boards 53-40 ( 23-8 on the offensive end), exploiting the void left by Kendrick Perkins. There is no way a team with a -15 in offensive rebounds will have a good chance to win the game. Boston just gave up WAY too many 2nd chance points keeping the Lakers in the game when they were struggling.

2) Defense - Both team played perhaps their best defense in the entire series. They played with such intensity that their offense became stagnant from the opposing team's overwhelming defensive aura. Key to this game was the Lakers holding PP and Allen to 8/29 shooting. They even slowed Rondo enough to stagnant the Celtics' offense in the third and fourth quarter for the Lakers' surge.

3) Role Players - Kobe was sucking it up big time early but instead of the role players wilting upon seeing their leader struggling, they found renewed strength instead! The whole team contribute in huge way with Gasol (19pts 18 rebs) and surprisingly Artest (20pts 5stl) leading the way. Artest had his best game of the series, carrying the Lakers on his back in the first half and finish with a fine shooting performance that includes knocking down a pivotal three when the Lakers needed the breathing room. And I got to give special props to 'The Machine', coming into the game basically COLD and calming sinking what is perhaps the two LARGEST free throws like it was during practice. VEINS OF ICE COLD WATER!!!

Not surprisingly, the Lakers were within striking distance of the Celtics the whole game even with their horrible offensive possessions using their advantage on the glass, stringent defense, and solid teamplay to overcome the Boston Celtics and clinch their 16th title. This allowed the Lakers to refocus and calm their nerves and come storming back from a 13 point deficit starting with a string of back-to-back baskets halfway through the 3rd quarter. Kobe started to shoot less jumpers and decided to drive his way into the charity strike. Boston could only slow the inevitable result.

Great teams make the big shots when they need them the most. That how championships are won. The Lakers proved that in a big way tonight. Congrats LA, you deserve it!!

NBA Finals: Lakers Vs Celtics Game 7

Hello folks.Today, I am extremely excited for one reason only. GAME 7 between two of the most storied franchises in NBA history. In one corner, we have the Los Angeles Lakers coming off a monstrous blowout win in the Staples Center to force a game 7. Can they continue to feed off the adrenaline and take home the franchise's 17th championship. In their way is the spunky veteran team, the Boston Celtics. Led by their spitfire catalyst, Rajon Rondo, the Celts look poise to increase their monopoly atop the NBA hierarchy with their 18th title. Whatever happens, it's going to be ONE intense and awesome game to watch, that'll be sure!

Keys to the Game: Lakers
1) Control The Boards - Rebounds WILL be very big in this game. The team who controlled the boards in this series thus far have gone on to win the game (6-0). With Kendrick Perkins out of the line up, the Lakers must expose this now undersized Boston team with their length. With Bynum getting limited minutes, it is up to Gasol and Odom to pick up the slack. DFish must also box out Rondo to stop Rajon's from sneaking in and grabbing uncontested rebounds. If the Lakers are able to lock up the boards, expect a Lakers win!

2) Rajon Rondo - The speedy guard from Boston is the prime catalyst for the Celtics Offense. And the Lakers must stop him from controlling the flow of the game too much. Rondo is leading the Celtics in assists, steals, and rebounds (wtf?!) Slowing Rondo will let the Lakers control the tempo of the game like Game 6.

3) Bench - Although I predict that the bench playing time for both teams will be fairly limited, the time they spend ingame will be very important. In addition to giving the starters a rest, they will be very important in either maintaining a lead or chipping away at a lead. The Lakers' bench must rise to the occasion once again or the Lakers will have a very tough time to win. Luckily, the Lakers have home court advantage allowing players like Sasha, Farmar, and Odom to break out of their "road awfulness" funk and feed on the energy of the home crowd.

4) Help for Kobe - We know that Kobe will bring his A game. Knowing that Pierce and Rondo will have solid performances, Garnett getting more comfortable within the offense, and Allen trying to find his stride again, who will respond for the Lakers? Gasol must have a HUGE game with Odom and Artest contributing enough for the Lakers to win decisively. With KP out for game 7 and a likely undersized Big Baby guarding the Laker's big men, there is a HUGE possibility this can happen.

5) And most importantly, DEFENSE - Defense win championships. There is no ifs, ands, or buts about it. If the Lakers want to send a message to the Celtics, they must be vigilant in limiting the effectiveness of Pierce and Rondo. Also they need to block off KG dribble left into fade away shot. If Gasol can force him to dribble the other way, expect a very ineffective KG in tonight's game. It is no wonder that the two best Lakers game this series were also the two games that the Lakers played a defense that would be consider "good".

Los Angeles Lakers 98
Boston Celtics 89

Kobe and Gasol will have HUGE nights. Artest contributing 10-14. Bynum not contributing much to the box score, but a huge presence down low when he is in and a huge surge thanks to the bench led by Farmar. Rondo and Pierce keeps it close with Allen knocking down a few threes late into the game but the Lakers will pull away in the last minutes of the ballgame.

Finals MVP: Kobe Bryant

Looking forward to an EPIC game 7!!!!! :)
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