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World Cup Weekend, Lynx Split with Storm, Free Agency Begins

The round of 16 at the World Cup got started over the weekend, while the Lynx split a home and home with the Seattle Storm. Teams can begin talking to free agents at midnight.

Jamie Squire

It was another big weekend at the World Cup, as the round of 16 got underway.

Saturday was CONMEBOL day, as all four teams in action are from South America.  Brazil and Chile went to penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw, and Brazil snuck through as their goal keeper Julio Cesar saved the first two Chilean penalties, then the final taker for Chile banged one off the post. It was another not entirely convincing performance for the home side, who better step it up because in the quarterfinals they will have to face...

Colombia, who took care of a Suarez-less Uruguay 2-0, with both goals coming from AS Monaco star and emerging star of this World Cup James Rodriguez.  Go watch this goal if you missed it. Sit through the ad. I'll wait.

Colombia continues to impress as much as any team in the tournament, and that is going to be a spectacular quarterfinal matchup.

Sunday was CONCACAF day, as two of the region's teams played.  Mexico lost a heartbreaker to the Netherlands 2-1, with both Dutch goals coming in the final minutes, the winner on a penalty that the Mexicans, shall we say, didn't agree with. It was a tough game. Mexico carried play for much of the first half and finally took the lead through Giovanni Dos Santos just after pay resumed in the 2nd half.  After that, however, they became far too defensive in trying to protect the lead, ceding possession and space to the Dutch.  In the 88th minute, the Orange broke through on a vicious strike from the top of the 18 by Wesley Snedjer.  Then, in stoppage time, Arjen Robben got to the by-line and tried to cut back inside, but fell over Rafa Marquez's leg.  It was a tough call, but not awful, especially since he had probably earned an uncalled penalty in the first half.

Following the game, he admitted to diving on another play, but asserted that the penalty call was correct. Lars Huntelaar slotted home from the spot and Mexico were out.  Very tough.

Costa Rica and Greece played a pretty unimaginative game until Carlos Ruiz scored early in the 2nd half for Costa Rica. Minutes later, they should have been awarded a penalty for an obvious hand ball in the box as a Greek defender pushed away a cross with his hand.  It went uncalled, and then the calls started going Greece's way.  A second yellow card on Costa Rican defender Duarte in the 66th minute left Costa Rica playing with 10, and they held on under pressure from the Greeks until another stoppage time equalizer off a rebound.  Costa Rica held on through extra time, and won on penalties, sending a CONCACAF team through to the quarter finals.

Today could be called CAF day, as Nigerial takes on France (11 am CDT) and Algeria faces Germany (3 pm CDT), both on ESPN.  It will be tough for either African nation, as France and Germany have been two of the most impressive teams at the tournament so far.

The Lynx beat the Storm at Target Center last night, 74-69, after losing to them on Friday in Seattle. Janel McCarville led the Lynx with 22 points. Maya Moore did not shoot well, but contributed 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 blocks. Dev Peters had a big game off the bench with 12 points on 6-8 shooting, along with 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks. The Lynx continue to struggle with bench production and consistency, but managed to hang on after leading by 12 at halftime.

Teams can begin to talk to free agents beginning at midnight EDT tonight, though they cannot strike official deals until next week when the salary cap for next season is made official.  Teams have been jockeying for cap space already, with deals like the Asik trade to New Orleans.  The Hawks traded Lou Williams and Lucas Noriega Nogueira (as I was informed, I really messed that spelling up) to the Raptors for John Salmons and his unguaranteed contract.

The biggest name in free agency looks like it's going to be Carmelo Anthony, as signs point to LeBron James staying in Miami.  Melo is scheduled to meet with Chicago on Tuesday, then head to Texas to meet with Dallas and Houston. Meanwhile, the Rockets are declining Chandler Parsons' final year option, making him a restricted free agent. There has been chatter about a sign and trade involving him for Kevin Love. If the Wolves can also get Terrance Jones, that's not a bad deal, at least compared to Golden State, but Parsons would have to agree. This would only happen if the Rockets fail to land Anthony.

As for the Wolves, I'm not expecting anything in free agency. They have no cap room and limited roster space, and of course the Love situation has to be resolved.  They likely won't do anything until the 2nd or 3rd phase, once the big and medium names are accounted for.

Today in History

1294: Jews expelled from Bern, Switzerland
1520: Spaniards expelled from Tenochtitlan
1834: Congress creates "Indian Territory;" what is now Oklahoma. 
1894: Korea declares independence from China
1914: Gandhi arrested for first time
1936: Gone with the Wind published
1938: Superman first appears in DC Comics "Action Comics" series #1
1960: U.S. stops sugar imports from Cuba
1960: Zaire declares independence from Belgium

Today's musical birthday is Florence Ballard, born in 1943 (d. 1976). Ballard was a founding member of the Supremes, and here she is singing the lead on a cover of a Sam Cooke song:

Open your Monday right up.