Well, there's really only one thing to talk about today.
U.S. 2:1 Ghana.
Germany 4:0 Portugal.
What an embarrassing performance by Portugal in the Group G opener. Germany looked creative and potent, but Portugal was shambolic. Just awful. (Aside: Iberian Peninsula has been outscored 9-1 in two games at the World Cup).
It started with a penalty drawn by Mario Gotze in the 12th minute, but even prior to that Germany was already pressing. Gotze tried to go by the Portuguese defense in the box, and Joao Pereira grabbed a handful of jersey to impede. While you don't always get that call, it was legitimate, and Thomas Muller put away the penalty for the first of his three goals on the day.
After Germany's second goal, a header by Mats Hummels off a corner, things got ugly. To be fair, Muller totally dived and play acted getting hit in the face when Pepe was holding him off in Portugal's defensive half. When the referee called a foul on Pepe, he got in Muller's face and gave him a light headbutt. That's it. Red card, and deserved. But Muller was a prick on that play.
An aside: I would like to see more retroactive review of diving. They should give out post-game cards for players diving and playacting.
Anyway, Germany cruised from there, adding another goal at the end of the first half and a fourth in the 2nd half when they were on cruise control.
In addition to Pepe, who will miss the game against the U.S., the Portuguese will also be without Fabio Coentrao, who left the game with what looked like a groin injury.
For the U.S., it was a dream start and a nightmare next 85 minutes. Clint Dempsey made a beautiful individual run less than a minute into the game, taking a Jermaine Jones layoff that was a little bit behind him, controlling it, driving into the box, past a Ghanaian defender, and slotting it home far post.
The U.S. continued to look reasonably potent on the counter for the next 15 or 20 minutes even as they were ceding possession to Ghana, until Jozy Altidore pulled up with a hamstring injury that forced his removal. After that, the entire game was the U.S. fending off attack after attack from the Ghanaians. They were absolutely horrible in possession, failing to connect on the simplest of passes to relieve the pressure time and time again. Michael Bradley was particularly egregious, with several poor and/or lazy passes.
Injuries continued to mount as Clint Dempsey got kicked in the face and apparently broke his nose on a play that didn't even warrant a foul call, and Matt Besler also had a hamstring problem that forced his removal at halftime in favor of 21 year old John Brooks.
Of course, Brooks was the big hero, scoring the winner after the inevitable equalizer from Ghana came on a beautiful back heel pass by Asamoah Gyan in the box and a terrific short-side shot with the outside of the boot by Andre Ayew. Fabian Johnson, who did a good job defensively for the most part, was caught ball watching on the goal, and Ghana deserved the equalizer. Four minutes later, however, Brooks struck on a corner taken by fellow substitute Graham Zusi, as a perfect delivery found brooks seven yards out, and he headed home for the winner.
The real heroes today were the defensive mid-field paring of Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones, who were incredibly steady in support of the beleaguered back four, constantly covering, breaking up plays, and generally getting stuck in. Jones probably deserves man of the match for the amount of tracking and tackling he did for 90 minutes.
The U.S. did not play well, especially with the ball. It was a poor performance in many ways, but they got three points out of it, and with the result in the other game, they now have a real chance to go through. A draw against Portugal on Sunday puts them in very good shape.
Today's fixtures are:
Elsewhere, the Minnesota Lynx, losers of two straight, try to find the winning formula again tonight in Los Angeles vs. the Sparks. The game is at 9:30 Central tonight on Live Access. All of a sudden, they Lynx are getting blown out early, and trying to come back from huge first half deficits. It's a tough stretch to try to turn it around, as they have a road back to back, travelling to Phoenix to face the Mercury tomorrow night.
Just a couple of Wolves workout notes today:
UCLA's Zach LaVine will be making it town to workout for #Twolves. They like him as a two-guard. He's in mix at 13 w/ Payne, Stauskas, etc.
— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) June 16, 2014
Clemson's K.J. McDaniels couldn't make it to today's #Twolves draft workout. Got stuck w/ bad weather in South Carolina.
— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) June 16, 2014
Jerry Zgoda reports that Ronny Turiaf is in Taiwan with Basketball Without Borders:
He is there with Wolves player development coach Bobby Jackson, Toronto's John Salmons and Charlotte's Cody Zeller spreading the game, just as Turiaf had done with previuos Basketball Without Borders excursions to India, Senegal and France.
"This is my fourth edition, something I pride myself on," Turiaf said. "I like just traveling, different countries. It changes my perspective on everything that surrounds me."
One last note: Remember the mock draft SBN did last year, when I took KCP 9th and traded 26 and JJ for Jeremy Evans? Well, we're doing it again. I'm entertaining Love offers, but nothing worthwhile so far. Feel free to chime in with your 2 cents in comments.
Today in history
1579: Sir Francis Drake lands on the coast of California
1631: Mumtaz Mahal dies in childbirth; her tomb, the Taj Mahal, takes 20 years to build
1775: Battle of Bunker Hill
1837: Charles Goodyear obtains his first rubber patent
1856: Republican Party opens first convention
1885: Statue of Liberty (in parts) arrives in port in New York City
1940: France asks Germany for terms of surrender
1950: First ever kidney transplant done in Chicago
Today's musical birthday is Igor Stravinsky, born in 1882 (d. 1971).
Open this Tuesday right up. Right now.