Soccer or Futbol?

So I’m sure everyone expects me to write about the Cubs making the playoffs and, I must say, even I’m a bit surprised I haven’t spent more time on it below. There are two real reasons for this:

  1. I expect them to continue at this rate so there will be more time
  2. There are some other stories that have been cropping up in sports which I feel need some more coverage

The Sunday Sports was one section that, when I chose to not post as much, I had personally seen a decline in the content of. I love all sports but I felt like I was simply regurgitating the stats of instead of highlighting meaningful stories which didn’t get as much press or I thought were cool.

First up was a super important match yesterday between the U.S. and Mexico in soccer. El Tri and the Stars and Stripes first met in 1934 with the U.S. getting the victory by a score of 4-2. Then there was a little more than half a century of, more or less, domination by Mexico. Since 2000 however the U.S. has fared much better and are an extremely respectable 13-5-5 against our neighbors. It doesn’t make it easier that 2 of our 5 losses though have been in the Gold Cup Finals (2009 and 2011) however. Plus with our poor performance in this year’s Gold Cup, which resulted in us even having to play this game, there was a lot at stake.

Last night was a tough and, yet again, disappointing loss for the USMNT. We fell by a final score of 3-2 in a game which only saw 2 goals in regular time, one by each side. In the 30 minutes of extra time 3 more goals were scored as there were some tired defenders out there and unfortunately for the U.S. things didn’t end up our way.

After allowing a goal to mexico to make the score 2-1 in the first 15 minute period of extra time, we came back and tid it up yet again in the 2nd extra time period. However with 2+ minutes left Mexico netted their 3rd goal and held on for the victory. While the stats of the game favored Mexico (time of possession 63% to 37% and shots (on goal) 23 (7) to  14 (4)). However both teams were not without their chances and opportunities throughout the game to make it a higher scoring match but there were some slightly errant passes and good saves by both keepers in the end.

A few more interesting stats about this great rivalry:

  • Both of the second leading scorers in their country’s history (Clint Dempsey for the U.S. and Javier Hernandez or Chicharito for Mexico) have never had a goal against the opposing team when these 2 teams have gone head to head before … Chicharito ended his drought tonight with the first goal of the match
  • This was the 6th time the two teams have met at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which is normally a more pro-Mexico crowd, and has now seen a record of 2-1-1 in favor of Mexico
  • This game, technically being a friendly, meant a lot as it was for an automatic bid into the 2017 Confederations Cup which is essentially a solid warmup tournament to the 2018 World Cup, both in Russia

Next up, let’s stick with soccer for a minute. While I have really only been covering U.S. sports there has been an ongoing story of a more international nature which may finally be getting somewhere. The embattled (and no doubt corrupt) FIFA president Sepp Blatter has finally been suspended by FIFA ethics committee for 90 days. When Blatter, somehow, won his re-election for president back in May 2015 and has been the reigning president since 1998 allegations started to surface against him and others in his regime. Namely on the naming of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup sites in Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Not only is Russia one of the most politically crazy places right now with Putin and his camp running wild out there but Qatar may be the bigger story. First the World Cup is normally played in the summer when temperatures reach over 120° on an almost daily basis and will be even hotter on a soccer field. So they have moved it to late November/early December when it will be cooler but still hot. However the bigger issue is how many people have already died building these stadiums and structures for the World Cup. An estimated 1,200+ people have already perished which, again is being denied as reaching those numbers, but many say are a conservative guesstimate.

Over the years there have been rumblings and allegations of misuse of funds, bribery and, simply put, corruption under his watch and directly from him but nothing has really been done until this year when he was reelected. Finally people starting speaking up, members within his “inner cabinet” were being indicted on different charges.

Since then Blatter has done what any politician in his position would do … deny, deny, deny. Until finally he said that he would step down but not until a February 2016 vote to elect a new president since he was not guilty and didn’t want to throw FIFA into some crazy downward spiral. What a guy …

So knowing that the current FIFA organization is as corrupt, if not more so, than I already think it is I’ll be very interested to see what happens to Sepp Blatter in the coming weeks as he obviously maintains he’s completely innocent and has done absolutely nothing wrong. Something to keep an eye on and if you haven’t already heard of this do a bit of research for yourself, quite the interesting story.

Finally we come to the glory that is October baseball. It’s quite the interesting mix of teams that made the playoffs this year and there are some really interesting match-ups in the Division Series round. Here are the quick highlights (and current standings) of each series:

Kansas City Royals vs Houston Astros – the series is tied 1-1; the theme of this series is last years young guns (Royals) vs this years young guns (Astros); the Royals were in the World Series last year so they’ve got what it takes, especially with some good mid-season moves to make it back if they continue their dominance; the Astros have not been in the postseason since they lost in the World Series in 2005 when they were still a part of the National League so they’re a big underdog with a young core who could cause some havoc and already beat the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card game

Texas Rangers vs Toronto Blue Jays – the series is 2-0 in favor of the Rangers; the theme of this series is better luck next year; Texas had a blistering end to the last 2 months of the season and came in red-hot to the playoffs but can they continue this scorching effort with an injury to one of their leaders, Adrian Beltre, and  have known the sting of defeat in the playoffs a few years ago; Toronto isn’t that used to being in the postseason and while they have one of the best regular season pitchers in David Price he has never really gotten it done when it truly matters for any of the teams he’s played on plus now the Blue Jays need at least 1 win otherwise it’s quickly going to be better luck next year

New York Mets vs Los Angeles Dodgers – the series is tied 1-1 ; the theme of this series is pitching, pitching, pitching; the Mets had a wonderful run to the postseason which was anchored not only by their ability to score runs in bunches but mainly their starting pitching; the Dodgers were the team who had the least wins of any to win their division but have a huge advantage over a lot of other teams thanks to their top 2 pitchers (Kershaw and Greinke) who are 2 of the most dominating in the entire league and are 2 of the 3 up for the NL Cy Young award with Arrieta from the Cubs

Chicago Cubs vs St. Louis Cardinals – the series is tied 1-1; the theme of this series is the rookies (Cubs) vs the veterans (Cardinals); the Cubs are obviously on the longest championship streak of any team in the majors professional sport groups and have a young core to try to get them there; the Cardinals however seem to be in the playoffs and battling to get into the World Series year after year; plus this is a bitter division rivalry but only the first time the 2 teams have met in the playoffs

– Beard

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