Posted on: February 25, 2010 6:08 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2010 6:18 pm
Judging by the ratings of the USA-Canada from Sunday, most people probably watched the USA pull out a late win over Switzerland. Fans watched Swiss goalie Jonas Hiller stifle the Americans for the first two periods before USA's Zach Parise finally connected with the twine early in the 3rd period on a power play. Parise also added a late empty net goal to seal the win for Team USA, who advanced to the medal round, semi-finals and will play Finland.
(But it was nice to see Olympic Hockey on NBC.)
Most people probably did not tune to ESPN Classic to watch the US Men's National Soccer team play El Salvador in a rainy Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay. US coach Bob Bradley is looking to finalize his World Cup roster and many of the regular starters weren't in action last night. A solid "B"-team wore down El Salvador, despite giving up the first goal of the match when Rudy Corrales in the 59th minute after he collected a defensive error and slotted past US keeper Nick Rimando. The US squad featured almost all MLS players and was devoid of its top stars like Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard. The US is currently thin at forward, with Charlie Davies' injury opening up not only a roster spot, but also a likely starting spot as well.
Both games featured very similar games for teams with "USA" on their chests. Both teams dominated possession and scoring chances but were unable to find a goal until late in the game. Parise finally snuck one past Swiss goalie Hiller, who was spectacular all tournament and Brian Ching headed one to equalize on the soccer pitch. Sasha Kljestan scored the go-ahead goal in the 90th minute after stealing the ball deep in El Salvador's defensive end and playing a nice 1-2 pass with Ching.
Both games also featured stalwart goalies that were making saves standing on their heads for most of the match. Jonas Hiller stopped 42 of 43 shots for the Swiss while El Salvador's Miguel Montes made several diving stops against the USA in the first half and had a few go off the woodwork. Each keeper had a relative brain fart as well, with Hiller's own goal that didn't count at the buzzer and Montes looking like a deer in headlights made of flubber on Kljestan's late winner. For most of both games, the story was the opposing keepers shutting out arguably a stronger side for a majority of the game.
The US Soccer schedule gets significantly tougher, as they head to the Netherlands to face the Dutch and then play the Czechs and Turkey at home in May before leaving for South Africa and the World Cup. Team USA plays Finland tomorrow, giving the women's team a chance to play their gold medal match against the homestanding Canadians, and a win would likely put them in the gold medal match, also against Canada.
Overall, both US teams but up great preformances and got wins. Even if the soccer team didn't come back, they dominated possession and the scoring chances and gave up a goal against the run of play off a defensive error. Sometimes the preformances are more important than the results. Let's say Team USA gets a medal in Vancouver, no matter what kind, that will be a great achievement for the team. And if US gets crushed by the Dutch in their next game, it's a great test for the Americans and it could make or break someone's spot on the World Cup roster.
But let's face it. Winning is pretty nice too.
Posted on: February 24, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: February 24, 2010 11:48 am
Last week in the rants, I asked NBC (nicely) to fix their prime time schedule to include more hockey and less live figure skating. My pleas were answered by putting the USA-Canada hockey game on MSNBC. That is a terrible job by NBC for several reasons. First, they have the national contract for the NHL and do a lousy job of that as it is. Next, MSNBC doesn't have HD in most areas, meaning one of the greatest HD sports to watch, was in standard definition. Lastly, MSNBC got high ratings (third highest rating in channel's history) and could have gotten a much higher rating in primetime on a major network. Hopefully the gold medal match for the men's and women's tournaments will be on NBC and in HD.
Here in Trumbull, CT, our great sports history is tied to our high school, and a Little League World Series title in 1989. The winning pitcher of that LLWS for Trumbull: Chris Drury, New York Rangers captain and forward. Before the Olympics, many people criticized Team USA for picking Drury on the team. Now, after scoring two goals, one each against Canada and Norway, I just have one question for all of Drury's naysayers: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT MY BOY NOW?!?! Jeremy Roenick was one of those naysayers and he ate his crow Monday on WFAN 660 NY. Here's the audio link. When you mess with The Bull, you get the horns.
My Monday entry on USA-Canada was featured on the CBSSPorts.com homepage. And for almost 24 hours, not one person commented on the entry. No Go USA, Down with Canada, nothing. Finally, in the 11th hour (literally, 11:14 am), Valleyfella saved me from a commeny shutout with a fantasic post defending his Canadian hockey team. Also, CBS columnists are following my entries with similar ones of their own. Freeman followed my Pro Bowl entry with a similar column, Dodd with USA Hockey in Vancouver and Parrish with the UConn-WVU game. I gotta go back to what I'm good at: bashing conferences that I don't like (SEC Football & ACC Basketball) so I don't make them look bad by posting my blog before their columns are posted on the site.
(Okay, I think Dodd beat me, but I beat Parrish by an hour and Freeman by a day.)
Here are my favorite highlights of the Olympics so far...
USA winning its first two Nordic medals. Canada throwing up the white flag to the USA's medal count. Bode Miller. Shaun White. Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso. Apolo Ohno and Shani Davis. Hockey. Curling.
And the lowlights...
NBC's primetime coverage, USA in curling (most underrated Winter Olympic sport and well, we sucked this year). Short-track speedskating zebras (officials) and rules (it should be perfectly legal to put someone into the wall in short-track). USA in Ski-cross.
Posted on: February 10, 2010 11:44 am
Unlike most of the Mid-Atlantic, the Northeast did not get hit with last week's big snowstorm. Now, everyone from Boston to D.C. to Chicago is getting hammered with another heavy dose of the white stuff. So, in between shoveling out your cars, driveways and walkways, here are some events to watch for the rest of the week to get your mind off of winter. Well, sort of...