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Lynx Host Fever, World Cup Fever, U.S. vs. Portugal: Rumble in the Jungle

The Lynx try to put together a winning streak while the U.S. tries to book a ticket to the knockout stages of the World Cup.

Ronald Martinez

There is a well-worn complaint about soccer that there isn't enough scoring.

I see this as a feature, not a bug, for several reasons:

1. It makes every goal special. The joy you get when your team puts one in the back of the net is supreme.

2. It means that, while the better team usually wins, really, anything can happen. When one goal has a huge impact on the outcome, a lucky bounce, one mistake, one moment of brilliance can turn a game.

3. Let me focus on that one moment of brilliance for a second:

Lionel Freaking Messi.  Frankly, Argentina have looked pretty blah in their first two games of the tournament; they can't seem to figure out how to deploy all of their great talent, particularly attacking talent, to best effect. Iran had a draw in that game, which would have kept them realistically alive for the knockout stages, and could have been leading. They didn't get a legitimate penalty shout, and had a couple of other good chances on the counter.

Then, in stoppage time: Messi. After having been bottled up all game, he finds one sliver of space, and does that. Incredible.

Elsewhere, Germany and Ghana played to a fantastic 2-2 draw in which all the goals were scored in the 2nd half. It was a terrific back and forth affair, with Ghana proving how good they really are by striking twice after Germany took the lead. Ghana has terrific attacking talent, with a great ability to create chances in transition.  Their defense let them down, however, when Miroslav Klose, who has made a living for more than 10 years by being at the back post on corners, got to the back post on a corner unmarked, and bundled in for the equalizer.

As a result of this draw, the U.S. can advance to the knockout stages today if they beat Portugal. A draw also helps, as they would be in pretty good shape heading into the final game with Germany, and a loss, while not fatal, would leave them in bad shape. Actually, in terms of their advancement chances, a Germany win would have been better, because then a draw with Portugal would have eliminated Ghana and left them 3 points clear of Portugal and clearly ahead on goal difference even in the event of a Portugal win over Ghana and a U.S. loss.  The draw leaves Ghana in it, which is not ideal.

However, it enhances their chances of actually winning the group. If they beat Portugal, a draw against Germany in the final match would send them through as group winners.

Today's fixtures

Belgium vs. Russia 11 am CDT ABC
South Korea vs. Algeria 2 pm CDT ABC
U.S. vs. Portugal 5 pm ESPN

Why, you ask, are the other two games on ABC but the U.S. game on ESPN?  Scheduling. Originally, the U.S. game would have been the 2 pm Central game and shown on ABC. However, the game is in Manaus, which is in the rain forest.

Everyone got together and realized that an afternoon start (4 pm in Manaus) was worse than the stupidity of having games in Manaus at all, and verged on the criminal. So they pushed it back to the later start (7 pm Manaus), when it might be, oh, 5 degrees cooler.

Back in Minneapolis, the Lynx host the Indiana Fever at 6 pm CDT. The Lynx are coming off a home win against the Mystics, and will look to gather some momentum after a tough stretch where they lost four of six. Minnesota is tied for the lead in the Western Conference with Phoenix currently.

I'm not going to mention the elephant in the room today; there will be plenty of that for the next few days.

Speaking of which, it's draft week this week. The draft is Thursday, and this week is when trade talks will actually get serious. We will try to stay on top of it as much as we can here at Canis Hoopus. That said, and I know I don't have to tell you this: don't believe everything (anything?) you read.  People leak stuff for their own agendas.

We'll have draft related stuff throughout the week. Hopefully.

Today in history

1377: Richard II succeeds Edward III as King of England
1559: Jewish quarter of Prague burned and looted
1611: Henry Hudson set adrift by mutineers from his ship Discovery
1633: Galileo forced to recant his absurd theory that the Earth revolves around the sun. What a maroon. 
1812: Napoleon invades Russia
1847: Donut created. The world is a better place
1873: Prince Edward Island becomes part of Canada
1911: King George V crowned
1915: BMT begins subway service in New York
1940: French surrender to Germany and disarm
1970: Nixon signs 26th amendment lowering voting age to 18. 
1994: U.S. beats Colombia 2-1 at World Cup; Colombian defender Andres Escobar, who scored an own-goal, would be killed in Colombia two weeks later.

Today's musical birthday is Cyndi Lauper, born in 1953.

Sunday y'all.

Michael Bradley Day.