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June 25, 2019

2019 Women’s World Cup Quarterfinal Bracket: Odds & Game Times

High Press 10 June 25, 2019
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The 2019 Women’s World Cup quarterfinal bracket is set.

Italy put on a impressive display to defeat China 2-0 today. Norway topped China 2-1 on two Lieke Martens goals. China was the better team overall, but thanks to a handball in the box, Norway came away with a 90th minute winner:

Here’s a look at the quarterfinal bracket, odds, and probabilities.

Women’s World Cup Quarterfinal Bracket

For the first time in Women’s World Cup history, no Asian teams advanced to the quarters. The field is dominated by European countries. Of the 8 teams in the quarterfinals SEVEN (!!!) come from Europe.

Credit to European nations for investing in the growth of women’s soccer.

Women’s World Cup Quarterfinal Match-Ups and Times

  • Thursday, June 27th 3pm ET: Norway vs England on FOX
  • Friday, June 28th 3pm ET: France vs USA on FOX
  • Saturday, June 29th 9am ET: Italy vs Netherlands on FS1
  • Saturday, June 39th, 12:30pm ET: Germany vs Sweden on FOX

Women’s World Cup Quarterfinal Odds

Here are the quarterfinal odds and probabilities for each match.

Norway +260Draw +240England +108
France +225Draw +225USA +128
Germany -134Draw +225Sweden +390
Italy +340Draw +245Netherlands -118

The only odds-on favorites to advance are the Netherlands and Germany.

Women’s World Cup Title Odds

Heading into the quarterfinals, only the Netherlands have seen their title odds jump. Drawing Italy for the quarterfinals, the Netherlands have gone from +1200 to +900 in the past 24 hours.

USA +150France +350Germany +500England +750
Netherlands +900Sweden +1900Norway +2300Italy +2500
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Women’s World Cup Probabilities

The USWNT are still seen as probability favorites on FiveThirtyEigtht. Like with betting odds (and in spite of arguably a lucky win against China), the Netherlands have seen the biggest jump, leap-frogging England as the 4th favorite.

MLS All-Star Team: Did the Selection Process Get it Right?

Avatar June 25, 2019

MLS unveiled its full All-Star team on Monday.

In total, 26 players will go to Orlando to play Atletico Madrid, 11 of which were selected by fans. Orlando City SC coach James O’Connor picked 13. Commissioner Don Garber added two special picks — young FC Dallas midfielder Paxton Pomykal and RSL goalkeeping legend Nick Rimando, who will retire after this season.

All in all, it’s a pretty good team, and most of the players who should have made it made it. There are snubs, per usual, and smaller-market teams will rightfully complain that higher-profile players made it over more deserving guys. Bastian Schweinsteiger should not be on this team if we’re considering pure performance this season.

But it makes sense that fame and fan recognition takes precedence in some cases. This is a showcase for MLS against a high-level European team. MLS has plenty of motivation to let Schweinsteiger into this team ahead of, say, Jack Elliott, even if Elliott has been miles better than Bastian this season.

MLS All-Star game compared to other American pro sports leagues

And MLS’s All-Star Game does not carry the importance and prestige of other American all-star games. It’s not common to discuss an MLS player and say he’s a “three-time All-Star.” That statement in itself would not indicate that the player is very good, the way that it would if you were talking about the NBA or NHL. 

Most importantly, All-Star selections don’t significantly affect a player’s salary and contract like they do in the NBA, at least to public knowledge. In the grand scheme of things, Houston Dynamo fans can deal with a deserving Alberth Elis missing the team.

With that in mind, we’re looking today at the players who should have and shouldn’t have made it.

Attacking Selections and Snub

Elis is the biggest snub that comes to mind. The forward selections from the fan XI were Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Vela. Those three are fair and deserving, though Elis has been a bit better than Rooney this season. Elis has five goals and six assists in 400 fewer minutes than Rooney, who has eight goals and five assists. 

From there, O’Connor added Josef Martinez and Chris Wondolowski as coach selections. Martinez has 10 goals and is arguably the third-best player in the league. Wondo has caught fire in recent weeks. It’s hard to justify Wondo over Elis, Mauro Manotas, and others, but it’s nice to reward Wondo for breaking the scoring record. No quibbles there.

11 players make up the midfield, seven of whom are outright attackers (eight if you include Paxton Pomykal). The fan XI picks were, as expected, big-market stars: Nani, Pity Martinez, Ezequiel Barco and Jonathan dos Santos.

Nani and dos Santos have been very good this season and deserve spots. The same cannot be said for Martinez and Barco. Atlanta’s voting bots are effective.

Deserving players get recognition

It was nice to see James O’Connor add six deserving players with his coach’s picks. Diego Rossi, tied for fourth in the league in goals, made it, as did NYCFC star Maxi Moralez, who is second in assists with nine. O’Connor recognized the efforts of LAFC workhorse and play-driver Mark-Anthony Kaye, and made sure to add the league’s best defensive midfielder: Diego Chara.

Nicolas Lodeiro is in the team. He is consistently one of the league’s most valuable players and the Sounders are third in the west, so his spot is safe. O’Connor also included Toronto FC’s Alejandro Pozuelo, who looks like an instant superstar. Pozuelo has 5g and 8a already.

Credit to Don Garber for making Pomykal a commissioner’s pick — Pomykal was deserving regardless as one of the league’s best No. 10-ish players. A few guys, like Diego Valeri, Alejandro Bedoya, Latif Blessing, and Eduard Atuesta were unlucky miss out. 

Fans whiff on two backline selections

The seven players who will make up the defense were primarily deserving selections, except for two: Schweinsteiger, based on his performance this year, and fan XI pick Graham Zusi. But, as mentioned before, it’s hard to argue against the draw of Schweinsteiger as a superstar. 

Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez and Walker Zimmerman were the other two fan XI selections. Zimmerman is the running favorite for Defensive Player of the Year, and Gonzalez-Pirez remains an elite center back in this league. In addition to those four, O’Connor added Red Bulls right back Kemar Lawrence, Minnesota left back Romain Metanire and FC Dallas center back Matt Hedges. Quality picks.

It was disappointing to see that DaMarcus Beasley did not receive a selection in his final season. Elliott, Kelvin Leerdam, and Nick Lima were other contenders.

The retiring Rimando will be the third goalkeeper, added as a career honor. Brad Guzan and Andre Blake are the other two keepers — neither would have been my selections, but the goalkeeper pool is crowded, and there haven’t been many that have set themselves apart. 

Donald Trump Takes Uncharacteristic Measured Approach on Megan Rapinoe’s Anthem Protest: An Analysis

High Press 10 June 25, 2019

President Donald Trump spoke out against Megan Rapinoe’s anthem protest yesterday.

No, it wasn’t through a stream-of-consciousness nonsensical tweet with a dozen grammatical and spelling errors.

No, he didn’t give her some school yard bully taunting nickname.

Instead, Trump offered a measured take that expressed some basic levels of respect that was bordering on complimentary.

Given how totally and completely out of character that is for the POTUS, it’s worth an examination.

First, here’s what Trump said

Before we get into an analysis, let’s first look at what Trump actually said.

In an interview with The Hill, Trump was asked if he thought Rapinoe’s protest (she doesn’t put her hand on her heart during the anthem) is appropriate.

Trump said…wait for it:

“No. I don’t think so.”

– Donald Trump about Megan Rapinoe’s protest, no seriously, that’s all he said

That was it! That’s all! Who is this guy? Did they really interview Trump? Was it Joe Biden wearing a Trump mask?

Here’s what Trump also said:

“I love watching women’s soccer. They’re really talented.”

– Donald Trump actually really said this too

And as to why the USWNT don’t receive the same treatment as the men:

“I think a lot of it also has to do with the economics. I mean who draws more, where is the money coming in. I know that when you have the great stars like [Portugal’s Cristiano] Ronaldo and some of these stars … that get paid a lot of money, but they draw hundreds of thousands of people.”

– Donald Trump contemplating something with a reasonable level of thought (for him)

Ok, so Trump name drops Cristiano Ronaldo, who is currently accused of rape and paid hush money to silence someone who accused him of rape. Who else is currently accused of rape? Donald Trump. 🤦‍♂️

Maybe he should’ve gone with Messi there.

Regardless, he then closes by saying:

“But I haven’t taken a position on that at all. I’d have to look at it.”

– Donald Trump again, no seriously

That’s…kind of responsible, right? This is virtually unprecedented in his Presidency / life in general.

Why / how did we get here?

1. Trump loves winners

If there’s one thing Trump loves more than anything, it’s cheeseburgers Putin literally being insane Putin bragging about sexual assault winning.

The only high-profile US team with a similar track record of winning is the men’s national basketball team.

Given the frequency though of USWNT games vs all of the iterations of the Dream Team, our women’s national program simply wins more.

2. Barron likes soccer

Trump’s son, Barron, likes soccer. He kicks the ball on the White House lawn.

Maybe Barron is a huge USWNT fan? If Trump has a soft spot for anything, it’s cheeseburgers Putin literally being insane Putin bragging about sexual assault his kids. So this is at least plausible.

3. Soccer is too popular to bash

This seems unlikely.

Trump had no problem bashing America’s most popular sport, the NFL. He took hardline stances on Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protest and Nike’s support of him.

Americans love the NFL. Some of Trump’s supporters view soccer as more of a European thing. If anything, that dichotomy makes it that more mind-boggling that Trump didn’t bash Rapinoe at all.

4. Trump’s most recent allegations

Right now isn’t exactly the best time for Trump to bash women.

Not that Trump listens to advisers / doesn’t do whatever the hell he damn well pleases, but people close to him have to be pleading that he not pick fights with any woman right now.

“Donald, handle this with kid gloves please,” is what they’re saying. And not just because he has tiny hands.

Final Analysis

All of the above is moot.

What’s going to happen: Trump reads something from an egg head on Twitter bashing him for not coming out stronger against Rapinoe. At 5:30am tomorrow he sends out a series of 5 tweets bashing the women’s team and soccer in general.

Mallorca Wins Promotion in Dramatic Fashion

Tyler Everett June 25, 2019

The La Liga table for ’19-20 is finally set: Osasuna (1st in Spain’s second division), second-place Granada and promotion playoff winner Mallorca will be in the top flight. They replace Girona, Huesca and Rayo Vallecano.

Osasuna and Granada secured their places in La Liga weeks ago. The journey for promotion was more memorable for Mallorca, which is owned by Robert Sarver.

Yes, the same Robert Sarver who owns the Phoenix Suns. Also involved in the club are Basketball Hall of Famer/Bleacher Report Football analyst Steve Nash (who is on the board of directors) and ex-U.S. internationals-turned-broadcasters Stu Holden and Kyle Martino (minority stakeholders).

The club also claims tennis legend Rafael Nadal as a fan. The point is: Mallorca isn’t your typical promoted team.

A night to remember

In Sunday’s playoff final against Deportiva La Coruña, Mallorca entered the second leg down 2-0 and in need of a historic effort. They got exactly that, turning in a dominant performance in front of their home fans. Mallorca won 3-0, scoring in the 21st, 62nd and 82nd to set off a chaotic celebration.

Few will compare it to the miracles Liverpool and Tottenham pulled off in the semifinals of this year’s Champions League. Reversing a 2-0 deficit with promotion on the line nevertheless made for memorable scenes on the island, even if the result did not get the headlines a UCL thriller would.

Nash and Holden looked like they wouldn’t have had it any other way.

A quick rise from rags to riches

Mallorca has now been promoted in back-to-back seasons. They were relegated to Spain’s non-professional third tier after the ’16-17 season. However, they were promoted to La Liga 123 (as the second tier is titled for sponsorship reasons) after one year in the third tier. This year, a fifth-place finish in the regular season got them into the four-team playoff for the final spot. They knocked off Albacete in the semis to set up the showdown with Deportivo.

Mallorca, which was acquired by Sarver’s group in January 2016, played in La Liga from the ’97-98 season through the ’12-13 campaign. The club won the Copa del Rey in ’03 and plays at the 23,000-seat Iberostar Stadium. It will be interesting to see what kind of investments are made in the squad ahead of next year’s return to Spain’s top flight, as Mallorca’s pockets are much deeper than the typical club that earns promotion.

But will they spend appropriately?

If you follow the NBA, you’re aware that Sarver’s Suns have been inconsistent in sticking to a plan at best, and totally directionless at worst.

Having the likes of Nash involved may help steady some of Sarver’s worst impulses. And if Sarver is less involved due to unfamiliarity / geography, Mallorca could benefit from a sort of “hands off” approach.

Given what a great story Mallorca’s promotion is for La Liga, that would be a major positive for the club and the league.

MALLORCA, SPAIN – JUNE 23: Rafael Nadal celebrates the victory of RCD Mallorca after the play off second leg match between Deportivo de La Coruna and Mallorca at Iberostar Stadium on June 23, 2019 in Mallorca, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
MALLORCA, SPAIN – JUNE 23: Players of Mallorca and his fans celebrate after winning during the play off second leg match between Deportivo de La Coruna and Mallorca at Iberostar Stadium on June 23, 2019 in Mallorca, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
MALLORCA, SPAIN – JUNE 23: Rafael Nadal celebrates the victory of RCD Mallorca after the play off second leg match between Deportivo de La Coruna and Mallorca at Iberostar Stadium on June 23, 2019 in Mallorca, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Gold Cup Preview: USMNT vs Panama

Peter Nolan June 25, 2019

Who: USMNT vs Panama
When: Tuesday @ 9pm ET
Where: Kansas City
Line: Panama +650 | Draw +330 | US -230

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Two wins from two matches have qualified the USMNT for the knockout stages of the 2019 Gold Cup, and the same can be said for Panama, Wednesday night’s opponent.

The U.S. defeated Guyana 4-0, and Trinidad and Tobago 6-0. Winning by a combined 10-0 score is an impressive start as they adjust to new coach Gregg Berhalter and his system.

Meanwhile, Panama defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 and Guyana 4-2.

USMNT vs Panama Preview: Familiar Foes

Panama is a familiar foe for the Americans and with a healthy dose of MLS and former MLS players U.S. fans will be familiar with the Canaleros.

Seattle’s Ramon Torres anchors the Panama defense, after a season that saw him lose his starting position with the Sounders. Torres has been reinstated and he continues to be an inspirational leader for the Canal men.

Red Bulls fullback Michael Murillo is another familiar face and his ability to get forward can trouble the U.S. former Toronto FC midfielder Armando Cooper is playing his soccer in Israel these days, but Berhalter and his players will remember the midfielder from his MLS days.

Panama striker Gabriel Torres never quite caught on with the Colorado Rapids but he has come back to lead the line for Panama.

With both teams already assured of moving on to the next round, the coaches will be free to experiment and rotate. It should be noted that Berhalter went with the same starting 11 in consecutive matches, as he sought to build continuity. Will he again?

Berhalter is unlikely to make it three in a row with the same 11 but he may not make wholesale changes that many might expect.

Goalkeeper Zack Steffen is likely to maintain his place. Reggie Cannon impressed in a brief cameo versus Trinidad and Tobago and may be in line for a start if Nick Lima gets a night off. Center backs Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman are coming off of big games, with Long scoring a brace versus Trinidad and Tobago.

Tim Ream may also get a rest, while Christian Roldan could step in for Weston McKennie and Michael Bradley may sit for Wil Trapp. Will Christian Pulisic get a night off? How about wingers Paul Arriola and Tyler Boyd, so good in the first two U.S. matches, will Berhalter rest them?

Can’t take anything for granted at this Gold Cup

One thing for sure is that neither team can take anything for granted. Especially not after Haiti’s 2-1 win over Costa Rica to win its group. Even Bermuda topped Nicaragua by a 2-0 scoreline.

There have been shock results, blowouts, and in the case of Honduras, last rights for a reeling program that has slid down the CONCACAF rankings to the point of losing 1-0 to Curacao!

This while everyone is taking turns beating Cuba 7-0. First Mexico scored a touchdown against the Cubans, then Martinique could only manage a 3-0 win in game two before Canada hung another seven against the hapless Cubans.

With all of this swirling around Berhalter and his team, Wednesday night’s winner will probably face a weaker team in the next round, most likely El Salvador or Curacao, rather than the stronger Jamaica side in the quarterfinals.

Mexico, who only edged Martinique by a 3-2 score on Sunday, will take on reeling Costa Rica in another of the quarterfinals, with a possible U.S. and Mexico showdown a bit further down the road.

With Berhalter looking to impose his style on the USMNT, perhaps this game is a bit more important to the U.S. than Panama, so look for the Americans to prevail on Wednesday night.

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