Archive for the ‘Knockout Game’ Category

Giants notes: Bruce Bochy pulls Matt Cain from rotation, tells Denard Span his future is in LF – The Mercury News

SAN FRANCISCO The Giants trudged onto the field for the team photo Thursday afternoon. Some of their personnel found a way to smile. Manager Bruce Bochy was among them.

But upon meeting with reporters, Bochys smile vanished. He heaved an audible sigh.

It stinks, letting guys go, Bochy said.

In addition to Conor Gillaspie, the hero of last Octobers NL Wild Card Game, Bochy had to deliver bad news to two other veterans. He said right-hander Matt Cain would be out of the rotation and would serve as a long reliever for the remainder of the season. And he acknowledged that his chat with Denard Span on Monday involved telling the career center fielder to brace for a move to left field.

The move with Span might not take place in earnest until spring training, Bochy said. The move with Cain is more immediate. Right-hander Chris Stratton will start in place of Cain on Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the plan calls for him to remain in the rotation for the rest of the season.

This is the tough thing about going through a year like this, Bochy said of managing a 41-68 club. It comes with the territory, (making) changes.

Bochy delivered some of the bad news after Wednesday nights loss to the As, telling Gillaspie that he would be designated for assignment. Gillaspie, 30, batted .163 in 44 games while battling back stiffness. His defense at third base had slipped as well. He couldnt throw out 38-year-old Chase Utley on a roller at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, which started a ninth-inning rally that ultimately cost the Giants a win.

But Gillaspie still has something to offer a contending club, and Bochy hoped he would catch on somewhere.

Gillaspie hit a pair of late-inning home runs in recent days, including one with two outs in the ninth on July 21 that forced extra innings against the Padres. It was the kind of late-inning magic he displayed so often in late September and in the postseason last year.

His unforgettable home run off the Mets Jeurys Familia broke a scoreless tie and backed Madison Bumgarners shutout to get the Giants through the Wild Card knockout game. Then he hit a triple off the Cubs Aroldis Chapman that won Game 3 of the NL Division Series. It was the first triple a left-handed hitter had ever hit off Chapman, and it came on a 100.9 mph fastball the swiftest pitch that Gillaspie had seen in his major league career.

Special stuff, in other words. And it happened in his second tour with the Giants, coming back with a much different mindset after failing to establish himself the first time around just as Travis Ishikawa did when he hit the home run that clinched the pennant in 2014.

But baseball games are won because of production, not memories. The reminder was just as brusque for Gillaspie as it was for Ishikawa in 2015.

Its always difficult, Bochy said. As you know, he did a lot for us last year, especially down the stretch. A club can pick him up. If not, I hope hes in Sacramento.

Ryder Jones is up from Sacramento, hitting second in Thursdays lineup against the As and Bochy expects to play him almost every day. The way is clear for Jones at third base after the club let Gillaspie go and optioned Jae-gyun Hwang back to the River Cats. But Bochy said Jones would get occasional starts in the outfield, too.

Jones, 23, hit .375 with three home runs in 11 games since the Giants activated him from the disabled list and returned him to Sacramento.

Hes swinging the bat better, Bochy said. Hes driving the ball. With where were at, this is a perfect time for him.

They have an opportunity in part because Christian Arroyo is out for likely the remainder of the season because of a fractured finger. Likewise, Stratton is getting a shot because top pitching prospect Tyler Beede is sidelined two months by a strained groin.

Hes a four-pitch guy, hes got some velo, low 90s, and when his command is sharp, he works up and down (the zone) pretty well, Bochy said of Stratton, who is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA. Hes got a good slider and changeup. Hes got the equipment to be a 4 or 5 starter.

The Giants didnt promote left-hander Andrew Suarez because he has thrown 121 innings this season and he doesnt have to be added to the 40-man roster until after next season. Its not worth having him take up a space now when hell likely be shut down after throwing another 30-40 innings.

Perhaps the most significant future development involves Span, who couldnt make a play in the As two-run first inning Wednesday night and statistically ranks as the least effective center fielder in baseball.

Span is signed for one more season (with $13 million owed to him, including the buyout on an option for 2019), and if he is still here, Bochy left no doubt that his future would be in left field.

We had a discussion, Bochy said. Its hard to do during the season. More than likely, it happens next year. I cant tell you what will happen in the offseason. But we have talked about it.

Bochy said he is sensitive to the fact that the move from center field to an outfield corner is more difficult than one might presume, and he didnt want to throw Span into the fire. He mentioned that Angel Pagan needed an entire spring before he began to feel comfortable in left.

Bochy knows there is a pride factor as well. He has managed enough center fielders to know they often have a hard time seeing themselves as anything but a center fielder.

Jarrett Parker is back from his fractured collarbone, and played quite a bit of center field during his two rehab stints for Sacramento. But hes in left field Thursday as he makes his first start since the April 15 game in which he crashed into the wall while making a catch.

As for Hwang, he was 2 for 13 with a pair of singles in four starts upon being recalled and Bochy acknowledged the timing isnt there at the plate. Its been clear all along that the Giants werent counting on Hwang being a part of their long-term future.

Bochy said he anticipated that Hwang would return as a September call-up. But that doesnt mean Jones is free and clear at third base. The Giants have a certain Kung Fu Panda getting at-bats at Sacramento Pablo Sandoval set up his family in the Bay Area on his day off Wednesday and Bochy has said when the right time comes, itll happen.

One day after Daniel Gossett no-hit the Giants into the fifth inning in a 6-1 victory, the As sent him back to Triple-A. Its Kendall Graveman vs. Ty Blach as the Giants try to split this four-game home-and-home series with their interleague rivals.

Lineups:

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Giants notes: Bruce Bochy pulls Matt Cain from rotation, tells Denard Span his future is in LF – The Mercury News

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August 5, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Who’s the most decorated US keeper: Tim Howard or Kasey Keller? – Mile High Sports

Tim Howard has been a staple of the U.S. Mens National Team for so long that its hard to imagine a major tournament without the bearded bouncer in frame.

Hes had historic moments, inspirational messages and phone calls with the President, but it hasnt always been this way. Before Howards rise to international stardom, there was another big man on campus Kasey Keller.

The debate has long raged as to which is the more decorated U.S. keeper, but a lead may now becoming more clear.

Howard and Kellers respective club paths have some remarkable parallels. As youths, both honed their skills in leagues close to their homes. Keller, born in Washington state in 1969, played his first season of professional ball in 1989 with the Western Soccer League side Portland Timbers. Howard, born in 1979 in North Brunswick, New Jersey, started in 1998 in MLS with the New York MetroStars (who would go on to become the New York Red Bulls).

Then, both were recruited by English clubs to take their game to the next level. Howard famously joined one of the most recognizable and profitable clubs in the world in Manchester United, whereas Keller joined the London-based club Millwall. After proving himself for four years at Millwall, Keller seized his opportunity to make it into the Premier League and was transferred to Leicester City, which had just been promoted to the top-flight league in England. In his first season with Manchester United, Howard was named to the Professional Footballers Association Team of the Year along with the likes of Thierry Henry, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Steven Gerrard and current NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira. The award is one in which the best players in their positions from the top four flights of English football are honored, a feat which Keller was never able to accomplish.

Another area that Howard has the edge on Keller in club play is that Howard has played in the UEFA Champions League. Howard played with Manchester United in the 2003-04 competition and made it all the way to the knockout round before being ousted by the eventual champions FC Porto. The highest European international club competition that Keller has played in is the Europa Cup, which he played in once with Leicester City and twice with Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish top flight league La Liga.

Both Howard and Keller played the bulk of their careers in the best leagues in the world. Howard played the entirety of his European club career in the Premier League, heading to Everton after his time with Manchester United was finished. Keller played in arguably the best three leagues in the world: the Premier League, La Liga and eventually the top-flight German league, the Bundesliga, with Borussia Monchengladbach. However, Howard played more consistently during those times. In his 13 years he appeared in 399 games abroad, while Keller played 330 in his 12 years.

Howards teams also consistently finished in better positions than Kellers. The best season result for any of Kellers teams in the top-flight leagues in Europe was his first year with Leicester City in which the Foxes finished ninth in the Premier League. Though Howard never won the Premier League title in his time, he finished third with Manchester United twice and finished as high as fifth while with Everton. The worst finish Everton ever had with Howard in the net was the 2015-16 season in which Everton finished in 11th place.

Oh, and Howard has more goals than Keller with one (if you havent seen it, I highly suggest you check it out).

Keller wrapped up his playing career in MLS, where his biggest achievement is winning a U.S. Open Cup three-peat from 2009-11. Howard is one year in to his his second round MLS service, and in his first season led the Rapids, who finished the previous season with the worst record in MLS, to the Conference Finals, further than Keller was ever able to get in his three-year MLS stint.

On the club side, Howard has had the more illustrious career in one of the best leagues in the world, and he is still in the process of writing his MLS legacy. Keller had an amazing club career, but he didnt do enough to elevate himself above Howards status.

On the international side, Kellers stats are impressive. He has the second-most caps in U.S. Mens National Team history (behind Howard), the second most wins (again behind Howard) and the most shutouts with 47. This is the biggest stat for Keller. He has more shutouts in fewer matches with the senior USMNT, so in essence he gets shutouts at a higher rate than Howard. Does this mean hes a more effective keeper?

Lets look at the results. Keller has been on the wrong side of history during his World Cup appearances for the USMNT. He was first on the U.S. World Cup squad in 1990 as a backup to Tony Meola. After not being selected in 1994, Keller was in net for two of the teams three group games in 1998, all of which were losses. The team understandably lost to Germany in the first match, but followed that game up with a 2-1 loss to Iran. Keller was replaced for the third game by Brad Friedel, who he spent much of his career battling for the U.S. keeper position, but the U.S. lost that match 1-0 to Yugoslavia and finished last in their group.

Keller backed up Friedel for the duration of the 2002 World Cup in which the U.S. advanced all the way to the quarterfinals, but got his final opportunity on the biggest of stages in 2006. That year, however, would turn out to be a disastrous World Cup for the U.S. They finished last in their group behind Italy, Ghana and the Czech Republic. Their only result in the competition came, surprisingly, in a 1-1 tie with eventual champions Italy. Howard usurped Kellers role in 2010 and hasnt relinquished it since.

In Howards subsequent World Cups, the U.S. was never eliminated in the group stage. In 2010, Howard led the U.S. to an impressive group win over England, but the team ultimately lost their first knockout game to Ghana. In 2014, the U.S. advanced to the knockout stage in impressive fashion after being paired with tough teams. They finished second behind Germany in a group that also included Portugal and Ghana. The U.S. was again bounced in the first knockout game, this time by Belgium.

If the USMNT is able to secure a berth in the 2018 World Cup, Howard will have an opportunity to cement his status as the best goalkeeper the U.S. has ever produced. His accolades from the Premier League, MLS and the USMNT all speak for themselves, and though Keller should be thought of as one the the best the U.S. has ever fielded, Howard clearly has the superior track record. If you havent been out to Dicks Sporting Goods Park to witness him play live, do yourself a favor. A generational talent like his does not come very often.

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Who’s the most decorated US keeper: Tim Howard or Kasey Keller? – Mile High Sports

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Gold Cup 2017 Knockout Stage Primer – The Bent Musket (blog)

The group stage is over, the knockout rounds begin and good riddance.

I dont care if this was an off-year Gold Cup with a lot of B teams, most of the group stage games were uninteresting and/or bad to watch. This perhaps goes especially for the United States and Mexico, the two best nations in the region. There were hardly any upsets to speak of and the only storylines worth mentioning from the group stage were French Guianas forfeit and Alphonso Davies of Canada lighting it up before getting hurt.

Hopefully the Gold Cup knockout rounds can add something resembling excitement and drama, which we saw very little of in the group matches. The favorites for the most part got results even if they made it hard on themselves in the process for long stretches. The quarterfinal matchups are fairly interesting with the parity established during group games leading to interesting sides of the bracket leading to the final

The USMNT has called up six players to reinforce their squad while Mexico stood pat with their young roster of domestic LigaMX players. Canada added Cyle Larin to their roster, adding one of their best talents to a squad that made the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009. Costa Rica made a few changes as well and aside from keeper Keylor Navas they have been playing with a full senior roster from the beginning. Regional stalwarts Jamaica, Panama and Honduras are all knockout round threats while El Salvador is perhaps the only upstart left at this stage.

TV SCHEDULE (all games on FS1, all times Eastern)

Quarterfinals

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 (Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA)

QF1: Costa Rica vs. Panama, 6 p.m.

QF2: USA vs. El Salvador, 9 p.m.

Thursday, July 20, 2017 (Univ. of Pheonix Stadium, Glendale, AZ)

QF3: Mexico vs. Honduras, 7:30 p.m.

QF4: Jamaica vs. Canada, 10 p.m.

Semifinals

Saturday, July 22, 2017 (AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX)

QF1 Winner vs. QF2 Winner, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 23, 2017 (Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA)

QF3 Winner vs. QF4 Winner, 8:30 p.m.

Final

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 (Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, CA)

SF1 Winner vs. SF2 Winner, 9:30 p.m.

QUARTERFINAL PRIMERS

QF1: Costa Rica vs. Panama

This could very well be the best pure matchup in the quarterfinals. Panama have been on the cusp of a World Cup for what seems like the last decade and Costa Rica is coming off a quarterfinal appearance in Brazil 2014. On paper, Costa Rica has the edge but its actually been Panama thats been the better team in the Gold Cup in recent tournaments. Costa Rica sits in second place of The Hex at 11 points with Panama in fourth place at 7 points.

Both teams won two games in the group stage, with Costa Ricas 1-0 win over Honduras probably the best win out of those. Panama was solid in their 1-1 draw against the USA and then took care of business versus Nicaragua and Martinique but werent overpowering. Not only is this matchup between two high level teams, but its also fairly even and could produce a lot of quality and late drama as I expect this one to remain close. If Panama doesnt have to sit back on the counter, a wide open game could be very exciting between these two sides though that might favor the Ticos style of play more. Costa Ricas offense wasnt all that great in the group stage, just beating Honduras 1-0 and getting shutout in a 0-0 draw to Canada. Despite that, you have to assume the Ticos will score in this one and try and force Panama into an more open game to take advantage of the usually solid Panama defense.

QF2: United States vs. El Salvador

The USMNT are perhaps fortunate to be the winners of Group B as they were level with Panama on points and clinched the top seed on a goals scored tiebreaker. This meant the US avoided not only Mexicos side of the bracket but also Costa Rica in this round. With six new players on the roster likely to be thrust into the starting lineup, drawing El Salvador here gives the USAs reinforcements a good game to acclimate to the national team after missing the group matches.

El Salvador to their credit are no strangers to the quarterfinals but were thrashed by the US 5-1 in this round back in 2013. Usually a third place finisher in the group stages, El Salvador can make things difficult for anyone they play against but at the same time dont pull off a lot of upsets. Remember those two PKs the USA missed against Nicaragua? The quarter and semifinal rounds wont go to extra time, but rather straight to the shootout. Food for thought if El Salvador can get a draw in regulation.

QF3: Jamaica vs. Canada

This might be the most fun match of round if both teams are willing to attack. We know these two sides are usually organized defensively but Canada in particular has struggled to score goals in recent years and Gold Cups. If Alphonso Davies is healthy and with Cyle Larin now on the roster, Canadas should have all the offensive firepower they need to get into the semifinals.

The real equalizer for this matchup is Jamaica keeper and former Connecticut Huskies player, Andre Blake. With Tim Howard in the twilight of his career and Navas not playing, Blake is probably the best keeper in the tournament. Jamaica can ride his heroics in net especially if they find themselves in a shootout during the knockout games. What makes this game so intriguing to me is that both teams can go Jekyll/Hyde on us at any point. Weve seen mostly good Canada so far but this is a team that hasnt played a Gold Cup knockout game in a while and that does bother me. Jamaica, though theyve been solid so far in this tournament, did crash out of World Cup qualifying in spectacularly bad fashion last year. Even if both teams show up with their bad forms, this game could still be fun to watch in my opinion, just maybe for different reasons that involve comedy and/or groaning. If both good teams show up, it should just be fun period.

QF4: Mexico vs. Honduas

Under a different circumstance, I would be really excited about this game because like Costa Rica-Panama, its between two teams in The Hex. However, Mexico is using their B team and Honduras was incredibly disappointing in the group stage and really only qualified as a third place team because of French Guianas forfeit.

All that being said, if Honduras shows up they can turn this into a very CONCACAF affair. What bothers me about Honduras is they didnt score at all in the group stage, their only goals were awarded via the 3-0 forfeit. While Antony Lozanos addition to the squad could help the attack, the good news is the Honduras defense only allowed a single goal in the group stage, to Costa Rica in a 1-0 loss. However, playing for a 0-0 draw and penalties for 90 minutes against El Tri doesnt seem like a viable strategy in this one. Honduras is going to have to score and likely more than once, if they want a shot to advance.

KNOCKOUT STAGE OVERVIEW

I really like the balance of the bracket in this one. Mexico might have the harder quarterfinal against Honduras, but it will be the Americans with the harder semifinal if both teams advance. If we assume the US and Mexico do advance, I think regardless of who wins the Jamaica-Canada and the Costa Rica-Panama match it will produce two excellent semifinal matches this weekend. All signs will always point to a USA-Mexico final until proven otherwise, but the group stage I think has proven this tournament could be very wide open. Im not entirely sure parity reigned in the group stage, but certainly no team ran away with their group or looked overly impressive in advancing to the quarterfinals except for perhaps Canada. Im banking on this theory to finally produce some good soccer in this tournament because if were being honest, we havent see much of it yet.

GOLD CUP KNOCKOUT PREDICTIONS

QF: Panama, United States, Canada, Mexico

SF: United States, Mexico

Champ: United States

I want to see a rematch of the US-Panama game in the semifinals and I also want to see just how good Canada is right now. In the end, the USAs roster reinforcements are the difference as they claim the title in extra time over Mexico.

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Gold Cup 2017 Knockout Stage Primer – The Bent Musket (blog)

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July 23, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Combrinck thrives on big moments – iAfrica.com

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 5:56 PM Rugby365

Lions captain Jaco Kriel admitted that he had his doubts about Ruan Combrinck having a shot at goal which proved to be the winning kick in his side’s 23-21 victory over the Sharks in their Super Rugby quarter-final encounter.

Having missed an earlier kick at goal, Combrinck was adamant that he wanted to kick the penalty even though the call from the sideline was to kick for touch.

“I had my doubts after he missed his first kick and the decision from the sideline was to kick for touch but when I looked again, Ruan [Combrinck] had his tee in his hand. If you know his character, you will know that he is always looking for an opportunity for a big moment,” Kriel said.

Landing that vital kick did not take away from the fact that throughout the 80 minutes, the Lions struggled with both their line and goal kicking but Kriel refused to lay the blame on any player.

“I believe you can’t put it [kicking problems] down to one player because that’s not fair if the whole team hasn’t put in the performance they should have. We made small mistakes and created opportunities that we never took.

“When we made mistakes in their [Sharks] half, that’s where they got their energy. All credit must go to the Sharks though, they defended really well and kept us out. They put us under a lot of pressure but credit to our players for pulling it through in the end,” Kriel added.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann admitted that despite their inaccurate performance, they will not change their approach to the game.

“Our [game] plan is the right way [to play], we just need to finish our chances. I don’t think we will change much at this stage because it’s just [our] decision making that was lacking [against the Sharks].

“We will take it [the win] and I’m grateful for that but credit to the Sharks, they really played well and put us under a lot of pressure. But then again, we must look deep at ourselves as well – to throw an intercept pass in a knockout game is putting yourself on the back foot.

“We had a lot of line breaks in the first half that we didn’t finish. The credit must go to the players for the fight they showed but the whole 80 minutes was not good enough. We are lucky to get away with the victory and a lot of work needs to be done if we want to go further [in the competition],” Ackermann said.

Ackermann had no doubt that the match itself was going to be tough, especially playing the same opposition in consecutive weeks.

“We knew it was going to be tough and that they would put pressure on the breakdown and be a lot more physical but we felt that if we could just score, we could put water on the fire but the fact that it went the other way.

“That deviated from our plan and kept them confident. It’s only when we scored our two tries and took the lead that we saw there is a bit of doubt [in the Sharks] – but they showed a lot of fight to score under the posts and put us under pressure,” he added.

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July 23, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Canada is back! Canucks ready for first Gold Cup knockout game since 2009 – Goal.com

The Canadians are preparing for their most important match in eight years, with a meeting against Jamaica in the quarterfinals set for Thursday

The Octavio Zambrano era has gotten off to a near-perfect start for Canada.

Since the Ecuadorian took over the program in March, the team has yet to experience a loss. In fact, the Canucks have not tasted defeat in 2017, with the unbeaten streak extended to six games thanks to a scoreless draw with Honduras last week in Canada’s final group stage match at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

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The positivity, while modest, will continue for a few more days at least, with Zambrano’s squad preparing to face Jamaica in the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday in Glendale, Ariz. It’ll be the first of two meetings between the sides over the summer, as the teams will also square off in a friendly at Toronto’s BMO Field in early September.

If it wasn’t obvious, Thursday’s match is the far more important of the two against the Jamaicans.

The Caribbean nation claimed the most recent meeting between these two sides, securing a 1-0 victory in the 2015 Gold Cup thanks to a stoppage time goal. Canada looks to exact some revenge on Thursday, riding a newfound confidence under the new coach that saw the beleaguered team finally break a number of embarrassing tournament droughts (goals, wins, advancement to the knockout stage) en route to this week’s clash.

For their part, the Canadians aren’t idly accepting advancement to the quarters as the end goal. Cyle Larin, the 22-year-old former MLS rookie of the year who plies his trade for Orlando City, has been summoned by Zambrano to replace midfielder/defender Raheem Edwards in the squad. The move signifies a commitment to the type of attacking soccer that Zambrano promised when he took the reins earlier this year, glimpses of which we’ve seen on display in the group stage.

Larin will be in tough to crack the starting lineup as Lucas Cavallini has performed admirably as a tireless force up front, harassing defenders and providing link-up play that has resulted in teenage sensation Alphonso Davies’ first of three goals so far in the tournament.

Regardless, Larin will be another weapon at Zambrano’s disposal, as Canada looks to claim a very realistic opportunity to move on to the semifinals of the regional competition for the first time since 2007.

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Even if Thursday is the end of the road for the Canadians, this year’s Gold Cup will have to be looked upon as a success. Zambrano has managed to introduce several new players to the fold, with young players like Davies, Michael Petrasso, Samuel Adekugbe and Mark-Anthony Kaye having notable Gold Cup debuts. Along with the likes of Scott Arfield, Junior Hoilett and Steven Vitoria all veterans who are still relatively inexperienced in international play Canada has managed to give its player pool a much-needed infusion of new talent at a time when several of the more familiar faces from the past decade are transitioning away from the national team.

Zambrano’s task is to essentially prepare the Canadians for World Cup qualification for Qatar 2022, which won’t begin for another 2-3 years. In the time leading up to those matches, it’s all about exposing young talent to the rigours of international action while forging an identity upon which the program can be based.

Gold Cup 2017 is just the first step, and there is plenty of work to be done, but it’s already been a giant leap forward.

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Canada is back! Canucks ready for first Gold Cup knockout game since 2009 – Goal.com

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Canada prepares for first Gold Cup knockout game since 2009 – Sporting News

The Octavio Zambrano era has gotten off to a near-perfect start for Canada.

Since the Ecuadorian took over the program in March, the team has yet to experience a loss. In fact, the Canucks have not tasted defeat in 2017, with the unbeaten streak extended to six games thanks to a scoreless draw with Honduras last week in Canada’s final group stage match at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

MORE: Whitecaps’ Davies bursts onto international scene

The positivity, while modest, will continue for a few more days at least, with Zambrano’s squad preparing to face Jamaica in the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday in Glendale, Ariz. It’ll be the first of two meetings between the sides over the summer, as the teams will also square off in a friendly at Toronto’s BMO Field in early September.

If it wasn’t obvious, Thursday’s match is the far more important of the two against the Jamaicans.

The Caribbean nation claimed the most recent meeting between these two sides, securing a 1-0 victory in the 2015 Gold Cup thanks to a stoppage time goal. Canada looks to exact some revenge on Thursday, riding a newfound confidence under the new coach that saw the beleaguered team finally break a number of embarrassing tournament droughts (goals, wins, advancement to the knockout stage) en route to this week’s clash.

MORE: U.S. is Gold Cup favorite, but Canada could keep surprising

For their part, the Canadians aren’t idly accepting advancement to the quarters as the end goal. Cyle Larin, the 22-year-old former MLS rookie of the year who plies his trade for Orlando City, has beensummoned by Zambrano to replace midfielder/defender Raheem Edwards in the squad. The move signifies a commitment to the type of attacking soccer that Zambrano promised when he took the reins earlier this year, glimpses of which we’ve seen on display in the group stage.

Larin will be in tough to crack the starting lineup as Lucas Cavallini has performed admirably as a tireless force up front, harassing defenders and providinglink-up play that has resulted in teenage sensation Alphonso Davies’ first of three goals so far in the tournament.

Regardless, Larin will be another weapon at Zambrano’s disposal, as Canada looks to claim a very realistic opportunity to move on to the semifinals of the regional competition for the first time since 2007.

Even if Thursday is the end of the road for the Canadians, this year’s Gold Cup will have to be looked upon as a success. Zambrano has managed to introduce several new players to the fold, with young players like Davies, Michael Petrasso, Samuel Adekugbe and Mark-Anthony Kaye having notable Gold Cup debuts. Along with the likes of Scott Arfield, Junior Hoilett and Steven Vitoria all veterans who are still relatively inexperienced in international play Canada has managed to give its player pool a much-needed infusion of new talent at a time when several of the more familiar faces from the past decade are transitioning away from the national team.

MORE:Mourinho wants 15 more years at United

On a more intangible note, Zambrano’s quest to get Canadian players to stop seeing themselves as also-rans seems to be alreay taking hold.

In a weird way, Im kind of disappointed we didnt win the group, Arfield told Sportsnet after the draw with Honduras cemented Canada asthe second place team in Group A. I think we were good enough to do so. I think that has to be the mentality going forward, that we cant be second best. Its a huge stride for soccer in this country. It gets people taking notice.

Zambrano’s task is to essentially prepare the Canadians for World Cup qualification for Qatar 2022, which won’t begin for another 2-3 years. In thetime leading up to those matches, it’s all about exposing young talent to the rigours of international action while forging an identity upon which the program can be based.

Gold Cup 2017 is just the first step, and there is plenty of work to be done, but it’s already been a giant leap forward.

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Canada prepares for first Gold Cup knockout game since 2009 – Sporting News

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Limerick clash a knockout game for Wexford, says John Kelly – RTE.ie

Updated / Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 10:56

Wexford joint manager John Kelly says that the players are treating their final Group 2 tie in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship as a knockout game.

Following their five-point defeat of Tipperary at Innovate Wexford Park last Saturday, the Yellowbellies are in second position but could still lose out on qualification to the quarter-finals which is available to second and third in each group if they were beaten by Limerick by six points this weekend and Offaly overcame Tipperary.

Neither is an impossibility but a win in Bruff on Saturday (5.30pm) would remove all doubt for Wexford.

“Limerick beat Tipp and won a Munster Final” says Kelly, who is co-manager withMatty Flynn OConnor.

“Theyre not going to be any pushovers. Well have to be on top of our game going down to Limerick. Were treating it as knockout Championship.

“Every game since the Cork game has been like that. Its in your own hands.”

The Cork game he refers to was a disconcerting experience, as the Rebels had 18 points to spare in Pirc U Rinn at the beginning of the month.

That placed real significance on the Tipp clash and the players answered the call, especially in the second half, when Orla ODwyer and Ereena Fryday plundered two second-half goals.

“It was a big win after going down to Cork and getting a good beating.

Tipp last year for us was a sticky one down in Waterford and we were dodgy going into it but the girls hurled very well and did what we wanted them to do.

“When they got back level with us you would be a bit shy but we came down the field and got the next score. Chloe (Foxe) came on and got a great point and we seemed to lift it.

“There is a great spirit in the team. Theyre young. Theres still a few of the older crew there not much of them now but it is a help.

“There are some good, young girls coming through the county and the further we can go in this Championship, it will stand to them.”

Foxe wasnt risked from the start having injured her hamstring against Cork but scored 1-02 off the bench and, like Joanne Dillon, has had a big impact in a panel that lost even more experience this year, though Kellys legendary sister Kate is remains a welcome figure in the background, passing on some of her wisdom to the new crop that represent the future.

“You know what youre going to get out of the Leacys and the Kehoes,” he said.

“You can rely on them all the time. Its what you get out of the younger players will determine how you go in the Championship.

“We have lost Katrina Parrock, Mags DArcy and Kate this year, another three massive players. Those players are not replaced overnight but you have to battle on.

“All good things come to an end and we have to find the next ones.”

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Limerick clash a knockout game for Wexford, says John Kelly – RTE.ie

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US survive, but Bruce Arena not pleased with effort vs. El Salvador – MLSsoccer.com

PHILADELPHIA In any tournament knockout game, the most important thing is to survive and advance.

But members of the US national team know they wont survive much longer in the Gold Cup if they play anything like they did in Wednesdays 2-0 quarterfinal win over El Salvador at Lincoln Financial Field.

I thought we had a difficult time tonight, head coach Bruce Arena admitted after the match. Our timing wasnt good. We didnt deal with the physicality. The game had no rhythm, with all the fouls and players falling on the ground, but we werent good on top of it. It took us 30 minutes to play a little bit and then we got a little better service and capitalized on them. It was just a sloppy game overall.

To call Wednesdays game physical is probably an understatement. After the USMNT took a 2-0 lead into halftime on goals from Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj, El Salvador resorted to some dirty antics in the second half, biting not one but two US players.

Afterwards, Arena told reporters he thought someone should have been sent off. And asked if he thought his team could maybe learn from a game like this, the US coach was blunt.

I dont think so, Arena said. Games shouldnt look like that. Too many fouls. Time wasting. Players falling on the ground. It doesnt prepare us for big games.

The US certainly have a big game looming Saturday as they’re set to face a Costa Rica team that routed them 4-0 in a World Cup qualifier this past November.

And they know their Gold Cup run may end vs. Los Ticos in the semifinals if they once again come out slow and dont, as striker Jozy Altidore put it, put a stamp on the game.

Look, I think this was one of the better Salvador teams Ive seen since Ive been part of the national team, said Altidore, who was on the wrong end of one of the bites and nipple twists. They gave us their best in the first 35-40 minutes but we rebounded well. We cant be coming out flat like that. As games get tougher good, a good Costa Rica team will punish you early on for coming out like that.

Along with Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, Altidore was one of the big guns Arena brought in for the knockout round, hoping the longtime USMNT stars could elevate the team after a somewhat unconvincing showing in group play.

But even though Bradley and Dempsey came through with pretty assists and Howard had a nice early save, Arena thought the team looked tired and out of sorts for much of the hot night in Philly.

I think our backline for the most part played OK, Arena said. I think Michael Bradley and Darlington Nagbe played very well. It was a very good goal by Omar and Lichaj and at times, we passed the ball pretty well. But we werent clean in the last part of the field. We have to do better.

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US survive, but Bruce Arena not pleased with effort vs. El Salvador – MLSsoccer.com

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Harmanpreet’s hour: India’s hero, India’s pride – WION

By Yash Jha

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This was a week which began with a sparking off of the Greatest-Of-All-Time debate in sport. Roger Federer’s capturing of a record-extending 19th Grand Slam with a historic eighth title at Wimbledon had arguably sealed his position in the pantheon of sporting immortals. Think Ali, Bradman, Dhyan Chand, Pele, Jordan, Phelps – surely Federer already ranks among them, but could he be considered better?

Comparisons are difficult. Especially when they are across generations. When they are across disciplines. When they are across formats. When they are across gender.

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Late last year, Harmanpreet Kaur, then 27, became the first (and thus-far only) Indian to play in the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia. A little over seven months later, the Aussies might rue the hospitality and platform, they provided Down Under.

Only four times in the 44-year history of Women’s ODI cricket had an individual scored over 171 in an innings. Only once had someone touched three figures in a World Cup knockout game.

Kaur did it with India in a position of discomfort, having lost their top-three, against six-time champions of the competition. India had only ever made one final before.

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When you consider different generations in sport, everything that changes with time – basically, everything – becomes a hindrance in drawing comparisons.

When you consider different formats of the same sport – say Tests and ODIs, for instance – the varied challenges faced depending on scenario becomes a hindrance in drawing comparisons.

When you consider different genders in sport, societal convention – effectively, everything – becomes a hindrance in drawing comparisons.

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Let’s go back in time, say two decades earlier when the Indian Men’s team was accustomed to tasting defeat with regularity against a to-be world-conquering Australian unit.

Let’s say the sides met in a match to decide whether India could reach the final of the tournament.

Imagine one man scored an exorbitant proportion of the team’s runs, say close to 60% even, to alter the course of the game and provide India the desired result.

You could call it one of the greatest innings ever, couldn’t you?

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Against Australia, at Sharjah, in the final group stage match of the Cherry Blossom Sharjah Cup, on 22 April 1998, Sachin Tendulkar scored 59.09% of India’s runs.

Against Australia, at Derby, in the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, on 20 July 2017, Harmanpreet Kaur scored 60.85% of India’s runs.

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Yes, comparisons are difficult. They rely heavily on an element of opinion. Opinion, while not always, does sometimes deviate from fact. And facts are the best base for comparison.

But whichever way one looks at it, Harmanpreet Kaur’s epic is one of the greatest knocks in the history of Indian cricket – Men’s, or Women’s.

Since we’re there, let’s say this too: If India are to defeat England at Lord’s this Sunday, it will be the greatest moment in Indian cricket – Men’s, or Women’s – since 2 April 2011.

Perhaps even since 25 June 1983.

As an aside, Sachin Tendulkar followed that breath-taking century at Sharjah with another one two days later to win India the title.

Over to Lord’s then. Go on, #WomenInBlue.

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Giants notes: Bruce Bochy pulls Matt Cain from rotation, tells Denard Span his future is in LF – The Mercury News

SAN FRANCISCO The Giants trudged onto the field for the team photo Thursday afternoon. Some of their personnel found a way to smile. Manager Bruce Bochy was among them. But upon meeting with reporters, Bochys smile vanished. He heaved an audible sigh. It stinks, letting guys go, Bochy said. In addition to Conor Gillaspie, the hero of last Octobers NL Wild Card Game, Bochy had to deliver bad news to two other veterans. He said right-hander Matt Cain would be out of the rotation and would serve as a long reliever for the remainder of the season. And he acknowledged that his chat with Denard Span on Monday involved telling the career center fielder to brace for a move to left field. The move with Span might not take place in earnest until spring training, Bochy said. The move with Cain is more immediate. Right-hander Chris Stratton will start in place of Cain on Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the plan calls for him to remain in the rotation for the rest of the season. This is the tough thing about going through a year like this, Bochy said of managing a 41-68 club. It comes with the territory, (making) changes. Bochy delivered some of the bad news after Wednesday nights loss to the As, telling Gillaspie that he would be designated for assignment. Gillaspie, 30, batted .163 in 44 games while battling back stiffness. His defense at third base had slipped as well. He couldnt throw out 38-year-old Chase Utley on a roller at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, which started a ninth-inning rally that ultimately cost the Giants a win. But Gillaspie still has something to offer a contending club, and Bochy hoped he would catch on somewhere. Gillaspie hit a pair of late-inning home runs in recent days, including one with two outs in the ninth on July 21 that forced extra innings against the Padres. It was the kind of late-inning magic he displayed so often in late September and in the postseason last year. His unforgettable home run off the Mets Jeurys Familia broke a scoreless tie and backed Madison Bumgarners shutout to get the Giants through the Wild Card knockout game. Then he hit a triple off the Cubs Aroldis Chapman that won Game 3 of the NL Division Series. It was the first triple a left-handed hitter had ever hit off Chapman, and it came on a 100.9 mph fastball the swiftest pitch that Gillaspie had seen in his major league career. Special stuff, in other words. And it happened in his second tour with the Giants, coming back with a much different mindset after failing to establish himself the first time around just as Travis Ishikawa did when he hit the home run that clinched the pennant in 2014. But baseball games are won because of production, not memories. The reminder was just as brusque for Gillaspie as it was for Ishikawa in 2015. Its always difficult, Bochy said. As you know, he did a lot for us last year, especially down the stretch. A club can pick him up. If not, I hope hes in Sacramento. Ryder Jones is up from Sacramento, hitting second in Thursdays lineup against the As and Bochy expects to play him almost every day. The way is clear for Jones at third base after the club let Gillaspie go and optioned Jae-gyun Hwang back to the River Cats. But Bochy said Jones would get occasional starts in the outfield, too. Jones, 23, hit .375 with three home runs in 11 games since the Giants activated him from the disabled list and returned him to Sacramento. Hes swinging the bat better, Bochy said. Hes driving the ball. With where were at, this is a perfect time for him. They have an opportunity in part because Christian Arroyo is out for likely the remainder of the season because of a fractured finger. Likewise, Stratton is getting a shot because top pitching prospect Tyler Beede is sidelined two months by a strained groin. Hes a four-pitch guy, hes got some velo, low 90s, and when his command is sharp, he works up and down (the zone) pretty well, Bochy said of Stratton, who is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA. Hes got a good slider and changeup. Hes got the equipment to be a 4 or 5 starter. The Giants didnt promote left-hander Andrew Suarez because he has thrown 121 innings this season and he doesnt have to be added to the 40-man roster until after next season. Its not worth having him take up a space now when hell likely be shut down after throwing another 30-40 innings. Perhaps the most significant future development involves Span, who couldnt make a play in the As two-run first inning Wednesday night and statistically ranks as the least effective center fielder in baseball. Span is signed for one more season (with $13 million owed to him, including the buyout on an option for 2019), and if he is still here, Bochy left no doubt that his future would be in left field. We had a discussion, Bochy said. Its hard to do during the season. More than likely, it happens next year. I cant tell you what will happen in the offseason. But we have talked about it. Bochy said he is sensitive to the fact that the move from center field to an outfield corner is more difficult than one might presume, and he didnt want to throw Span into the fire. He mentioned that Angel Pagan needed an entire spring before he began to feel comfortable in left. Bochy knows there is a pride factor as well. He has managed enough center fielders to know they often have a hard time seeing themselves as anything but a center fielder. Jarrett Parker is back from his fractured collarbone, and played quite a bit of center field during his two rehab stints for Sacramento. But hes in left field Thursday as he makes his first start since the April 15 game in which he crashed into the wall while making a catch. As for Hwang, he was 2 for 13 with a pair of singles in four starts upon being recalled and Bochy acknowledged the timing isnt there at the plate. Its been clear all along that the Giants werent counting on Hwang being a part of their long-term future. Bochy said he anticipated that Hwang would return as a September call-up. But that doesnt mean Jones is free and clear at third base. The Giants have a certain Kung Fu Panda getting at-bats at Sacramento Pablo Sandoval set up his family in the Bay Area on his day off Wednesday and Bochy has said when the right time comes, itll happen. One day after Daniel Gossett no-hit the Giants into the fifth inning in a 6-1 victory, the As sent him back to Triple-A. Its Kendall Graveman vs. Ty Blach as the Giants try to split this four-game home-and-home series with their interleague rivals. Lineups:

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Who’s the most decorated US keeper: Tim Howard or Kasey Keller? – Mile High Sports

Tim Howard has been a staple of the U.S. Mens National Team for so long that its hard to imagine a major tournament without the bearded bouncer in frame. Hes had historic moments, inspirational messages and phone calls with the President, but it hasnt always been this way. Before Howards rise to international stardom, there was another big man on campus Kasey Keller. The debate has long raged as to which is the more decorated U.S. keeper, but a lead may now becoming more clear. Howard and Kellers respective club paths have some remarkable parallels. As youths, both honed their skills in leagues close to their homes. Keller, born in Washington state in 1969, played his first season of professional ball in 1989 with the Western Soccer League side Portland Timbers. Howard, born in 1979 in North Brunswick, New Jersey, started in 1998 in MLS with the New York MetroStars (who would go on to become the New York Red Bulls). Then, both were recruited by English clubs to take their game to the next level. Howard famously joined one of the most recognizable and profitable clubs in the world in Manchester United, whereas Keller joined the London-based club Millwall. After proving himself for four years at Millwall, Keller seized his opportunity to make it into the Premier League and was transferred to Leicester City, which had just been promoted to the top-flight league in England. In his first season with Manchester United, Howard was named to the Professional Footballers Association Team of the Year along with the likes of Thierry Henry, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Steven Gerrard and current NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira. The award is one in which the best players in their positions from the top four flights of English football are honored, a feat which Keller was never able to accomplish. Another area that Howard has the edge on Keller in club play is that Howard has played in the UEFA Champions League. Howard played with Manchester United in the 2003-04 competition and made it all the way to the knockout round before being ousted by the eventual champions FC Porto. The highest European international club competition that Keller has played in is the Europa Cup, which he played in once with Leicester City and twice with Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish top flight league La Liga. Both Howard and Keller played the bulk of their careers in the best leagues in the world. Howard played the entirety of his European club career in the Premier League, heading to Everton after his time with Manchester United was finished. Keller played in arguably the best three leagues in the world: the Premier League, La Liga and eventually the top-flight German league, the Bundesliga, with Borussia Monchengladbach. However, Howard played more consistently during those times. In his 13 years he appeared in 399 games abroad, while Keller played 330 in his 12 years. Howards teams also consistently finished in better positions than Kellers. The best season result for any of Kellers teams in the top-flight leagues in Europe was his first year with Leicester City in which the Foxes finished ninth in the Premier League. Though Howard never won the Premier League title in his time, he finished third with Manchester United twice and finished as high as fifth while with Everton. The worst finish Everton ever had with Howard in the net was the 2015-16 season in which Everton finished in 11th place. Oh, and Howard has more goals than Keller with one (if you havent seen it, I highly suggest you check it out). Keller wrapped up his playing career in MLS, where his biggest achievement is winning a U.S. Open Cup three-peat from 2009-11. Howard is one year in to his his second round MLS service, and in his first season led the Rapids, who finished the previous season with the worst record in MLS, to the Conference Finals, further than Keller was ever able to get in his three-year MLS stint. On the club side, Howard has had the more illustrious career in one of the best leagues in the world, and he is still in the process of writing his MLS legacy. Keller had an amazing club career, but he didnt do enough to elevate himself above Howards status. On the international side, Kellers stats are impressive. He has the second-most caps in U.S. Mens National Team history (behind Howard), the second most wins (again behind Howard) and the most shutouts with 47. This is the biggest stat for Keller. He has more shutouts in fewer matches with the senior USMNT, so in essence he gets shutouts at a higher rate than Howard. Does this mean hes a more effective keeper? Lets look at the results. Keller has been on the wrong side of history during his World Cup appearances for the USMNT. He was first on the U.S. World Cup squad in 1990 as a backup to Tony Meola. After not being selected in 1994, Keller was in net for two of the teams three group games in 1998, all of which were losses. The team understandably lost to Germany in the first match, but followed that game up with a 2-1 loss to Iran. Keller was replaced for the third game by Brad Friedel, who he spent much of his career battling for the U.S. keeper position, but the U.S. lost that match 1-0 to Yugoslavia and finished last in their group. Keller backed up Friedel for the duration of the 2002 World Cup in which the U.S. advanced all the way to the quarterfinals, but got his final opportunity on the biggest of stages in 2006. That year, however, would turn out to be a disastrous World Cup for the U.S. They finished last in their group behind Italy, Ghana and the Czech Republic. Their only result in the competition came, surprisingly, in a 1-1 tie with eventual champions Italy. Howard usurped Kellers role in 2010 and hasnt relinquished it since. In Howards subsequent World Cups, the U.S. was never eliminated in the group stage. In 2010, Howard led the U.S. to an impressive group win over England, but the team ultimately lost their first knockout game to Ghana. In 2014, the U.S. advanced to the knockout stage in impressive fashion after being paired with tough teams. They finished second behind Germany in a group that also included Portugal and Ghana. The U.S. was again bounced in the first knockout game, this time by Belgium. If the USMNT is able to secure a berth in the 2018 World Cup, Howard will have an opportunity to cement his status as the best goalkeeper the U.S. has ever produced. His accolades from the Premier League, MLS and the USMNT all speak for themselves, and though Keller should be thought of as one the the best the U.S. has ever fielded, Howard clearly has the superior track record. If you havent been out to Dicks Sporting Goods Park to witness him play live, do yourself a favor. A generational talent like his does not come very often.

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Gold Cup 2017 Knockout Stage Primer – The Bent Musket (blog)

The group stage is over, the knockout rounds begin and good riddance. I dont care if this was an off-year Gold Cup with a lot of B teams, most of the group stage games were uninteresting and/or bad to watch. This perhaps goes especially for the United States and Mexico, the two best nations in the region. There were hardly any upsets to speak of and the only storylines worth mentioning from the group stage were French Guianas forfeit and Alphonso Davies of Canada lighting it up before getting hurt. Hopefully the Gold Cup knockout rounds can add something resembling excitement and drama, which we saw very little of in the group matches. The favorites for the most part got results even if they made it hard on themselves in the process for long stretches. The quarterfinal matchups are fairly interesting with the parity established during group games leading to interesting sides of the bracket leading to the final The USMNT has called up six players to reinforce their squad while Mexico stood pat with their young roster of domestic LigaMX players. Canada added Cyle Larin to their roster, adding one of their best talents to a squad that made the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009. Costa Rica made a few changes as well and aside from keeper Keylor Navas they have been playing with a full senior roster from the beginning. Regional stalwarts Jamaica, Panama and Honduras are all knockout round threats while El Salvador is perhaps the only upstart left at this stage. TV SCHEDULE (all games on FS1, all times Eastern) Quarterfinals Wednesday, July 19, 2017 (Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA) QF1: Costa Rica vs. Panama, 6 p.m. QF2: USA vs. El Salvador, 9 p.m. Thursday, July 20, 2017 (Univ. of Pheonix Stadium, Glendale, AZ) QF3: Mexico vs. Honduras, 7:30 p.m. QF4: Jamaica vs. Canada, 10 p.m. Semifinals Saturday, July 22, 2017 (AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX) QF1 Winner vs. QF2 Winner, 9:30 p.m. Sunday, July 23, 2017 (Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA) QF3 Winner vs. QF4 Winner, 8:30 p.m. Final Wednesday, July 26, 2017 (Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, CA) SF1 Winner vs. SF2 Winner, 9:30 p.m. QUARTERFINAL PRIMERS QF1: Costa Rica vs. Panama This could very well be the best pure matchup in the quarterfinals. Panama have been on the cusp of a World Cup for what seems like the last decade and Costa Rica is coming off a quarterfinal appearance in Brazil 2014. On paper, Costa Rica has the edge but its actually been Panama thats been the better team in the Gold Cup in recent tournaments. Costa Rica sits in second place of The Hex at 11 points with Panama in fourth place at 7 points. Both teams won two games in the group stage, with Costa Ricas 1-0 win over Honduras probably the best win out of those. Panama was solid in their 1-1 draw against the USA and then took care of business versus Nicaragua and Martinique but werent overpowering. Not only is this matchup between two high level teams, but its also fairly even and could produce a lot of quality and late drama as I expect this one to remain close. If Panama doesnt have to sit back on the counter, a wide open game could be very exciting between these two sides though that might favor the Ticos style of play more. Costa Ricas offense wasnt all that great in the group stage, just beating Honduras 1-0 and getting shutout in a 0-0 draw to Canada. Despite that, you have to assume the Ticos will score in this one and try and force Panama into an more open game to take advantage of the usually solid Panama defense. QF2: United States vs. El Salvador The USMNT are perhaps fortunate to be the winners of Group B as they were level with Panama on points and clinched the top seed on a goals scored tiebreaker. This meant the US avoided not only Mexicos side of the bracket but also Costa Rica in this round. With six new players on the roster likely to be thrust into the starting lineup, drawing El Salvador here gives the USAs reinforcements a good game to acclimate to the national team after missing the group matches. El Salvador to their credit are no strangers to the quarterfinals but were thrashed by the US 5-1 in this round back in 2013. Usually a third place finisher in the group stages, El Salvador can make things difficult for anyone they play against but at the same time dont pull off a lot of upsets. Remember those two PKs the USA missed against Nicaragua? The quarter and semifinal rounds wont go to extra time, but rather straight to the shootout. Food for thought if El Salvador can get a draw in regulation. QF3: Jamaica vs. Canada This might be the most fun match of round if both teams are willing to attack. We know these two sides are usually organized defensively but Canada in particular has struggled to score goals in recent years and Gold Cups. If Alphonso Davies is healthy and with Cyle Larin now on the roster, Canadas should have all the offensive firepower they need to get into the semifinals. The real equalizer for this matchup is Jamaica keeper and former Connecticut Huskies player, Andre Blake. With Tim Howard in the twilight of his career and Navas not playing, Blake is probably the best keeper in the tournament. Jamaica can ride his heroics in net especially if they find themselves in a shootout during the knockout games. What makes this game so intriguing to me is that both teams can go Jekyll/Hyde on us at any point. Weve seen mostly good Canada so far but this is a team that hasnt played a Gold Cup knockout game in a while and that does bother me. Jamaica, though theyve been solid so far in this tournament, did crash out of World Cup qualifying in spectacularly bad fashion last year. Even if both teams show up with their bad forms, this game could still be fun to watch in my opinion, just maybe for different reasons that involve comedy and/or groaning. If both good teams show up, it should just be fun period. QF4: Mexico vs. Honduas Under a different circumstance, I would be really excited about this game because like Costa Rica-Panama, its between two teams in The Hex. However, Mexico is using their B team and Honduras was incredibly disappointing in the group stage and really only qualified as a third place team because of French Guianas forfeit. All that being said, if Honduras shows up they can turn this into a very CONCACAF affair. What bothers me about Honduras is they didnt score at all in the group stage, their only goals were awarded via the 3-0 forfeit. While Antony Lozanos addition to the squad could help the attack, the good news is the Honduras defense only allowed a single goal in the group stage, to Costa Rica in a 1-0 loss. However, playing for a 0-0 draw and penalties for 90 minutes against El Tri doesnt seem like a viable strategy in this one. Honduras is going to have to score and likely more than once, if they want a shot to advance. KNOCKOUT STAGE OVERVIEW I really like the balance of the bracket in this one. Mexico might have the harder quarterfinal against Honduras, but it will be the Americans with the harder semifinal if both teams advance. If we assume the US and Mexico do advance, I think regardless of who wins the Jamaica-Canada and the Costa Rica-Panama match it will produce two excellent semifinal matches this weekend. All signs will always point to a USA-Mexico final until proven otherwise, but the group stage I think has proven this tournament could be very wide open. Im not entirely sure parity reigned in the group stage, but certainly no team ran away with their group or looked overly impressive in advancing to the quarterfinals except for perhaps Canada. Im banking on this theory to finally produce some good soccer in this tournament because if were being honest, we havent see much of it yet. GOLD CUP KNOCKOUT PREDICTIONS QF: Panama, United States, Canada, Mexico SF: United States, Mexico Champ: United States I want to see a rematch of the US-Panama game in the semifinals and I also want to see just how good Canada is right now. In the end, the USAs roster reinforcements are the difference as they claim the title in extra time over Mexico.

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Combrinck thrives on big moments – iAfrica.com

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 5:56 PM Rugby365 Lions captain Jaco Kriel admitted that he had his doubts about Ruan Combrinck having a shot at goal which proved to be the winning kick in his side’s 23-21 victory over the Sharks in their Super Rugby quarter-final encounter. Having missed an earlier kick at goal, Combrinck was adamant that he wanted to kick the penalty even though the call from the sideline was to kick for touch. “I had my doubts after he missed his first kick and the decision from the sideline was to kick for touch but when I looked again, Ruan [Combrinck] had his tee in his hand. If you know his character, you will know that he is always looking for an opportunity for a big moment,” Kriel said. Landing that vital kick did not take away from the fact that throughout the 80 minutes, the Lions struggled with both their line and goal kicking but Kriel refused to lay the blame on any player. “I believe you can’t put it [kicking problems] down to one player because that’s not fair if the whole team hasn’t put in the performance they should have. We made small mistakes and created opportunities that we never took. “When we made mistakes in their [Sharks] half, that’s where they got their energy. All credit must go to the Sharks though, they defended really well and kept us out. They put us under a lot of pressure but credit to our players for pulling it through in the end,” Kriel added. Lions coach Johan Ackermann admitted that despite their inaccurate performance, they will not change their approach to the game. “Our [game] plan is the right way [to play], we just need to finish our chances. I don’t think we will change much at this stage because it’s just [our] decision making that was lacking [against the Sharks]. “We will take it [the win] and I’m grateful for that but credit to the Sharks, they really played well and put us under a lot of pressure. But then again, we must look deep at ourselves as well – to throw an intercept pass in a knockout game is putting yourself on the back foot. “We had a lot of line breaks in the first half that we didn’t finish. The credit must go to the players for the fight they showed but the whole 80 minutes was not good enough. We are lucky to get away with the victory and a lot of work needs to be done if we want to go further [in the competition],” Ackermann said. Ackermann had no doubt that the match itself was going to be tough, especially playing the same opposition in consecutive weeks. “We knew it was going to be tough and that they would put pressure on the breakdown and be a lot more physical but we felt that if we could just score, we could put water on the fire but the fact that it went the other way. “That deviated from our plan and kept them confident. It’s only when we scored our two tries and took the lead that we saw there is a bit of doubt [in the Sharks] – but they showed a lot of fight to score under the posts and put us under pressure,” he added. Rugby365

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July 23, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Canada is back! Canucks ready for first Gold Cup knockout game since 2009 – Goal.com

The Canadians are preparing for their most important match in eight years, with a meeting against Jamaica in the quarterfinals set for Thursday The Octavio Zambrano era has gotten off to a near-perfect start for Canada. Since the Ecuadorian took over the program in March, the team has yet to experience a loss. In fact, the Canucks have not tasted defeat in 2017, with the unbeaten streak extended to six games thanks to a scoreless draw with Honduras last week in Canada’s final group stage match at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Bet on Juventus v Barcelona in ICC The positivity, while modest, will continue for a few more days at least, with Zambrano’s squad preparing to face Jamaica in the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday in Glendale, Ariz. It’ll be the first of two meetings between the sides over the summer, as the teams will also square off in a friendly at Toronto’s BMO Field in early September. If it wasn’t obvious, Thursday’s match is the far more important of the two against the Jamaicans. The Caribbean nation claimed the most recent meeting between these two sides, securing a 1-0 victory in the 2015 Gold Cup thanks to a stoppage time goal. Canada looks to exact some revenge on Thursday, riding a newfound confidence under the new coach that saw the beleaguered team finally break a number of embarrassing tournament droughts (goals, wins, advancement to the knockout stage) en route to this week’s clash. For their part, the Canadians aren’t idly accepting advancement to the quarters as the end goal. Cyle Larin, the 22-year-old former MLS rookie of the year who plies his trade for Orlando City, has been summoned by Zambrano to replace midfielder/defender Raheem Edwards in the squad. The move signifies a commitment to the type of attacking soccer that Zambrano promised when he took the reins earlier this year, glimpses of which we’ve seen on display in the group stage. Larin will be in tough to crack the starting lineup as Lucas Cavallini has performed admirably as a tireless force up front, harassing defenders and providing link-up play that has resulted in teenage sensation Alphonso Davies’ first of three goals so far in the tournament. Regardless, Larin will be another weapon at Zambrano’s disposal, as Canada looks to claim a very realistic opportunity to move on to the semifinals of the regional competition for the first time since 2007. USA’s Miazga eyeing Chelsea and World Cup Even if Thursday is the end of the road for the Canadians, this year’s Gold Cup will have to be looked upon as a success. Zambrano has managed to introduce several new players to the fold, with young players like Davies, Michael Petrasso, Samuel Adekugbe and Mark-Anthony Kaye having notable Gold Cup debuts. Along with the likes of Scott Arfield, Junior Hoilett and Steven Vitoria all veterans who are still relatively inexperienced in international play Canada has managed to give its player pool a much-needed infusion of new talent at a time when several of the more familiar faces from the past decade are transitioning away from the national team. Zambrano’s task is to essentially prepare the Canadians for World Cup qualification for Qatar 2022, which won’t begin for another 2-3 years. In the time leading up to those matches, it’s all about exposing young talent to the rigours of international action while forging an identity upon which the program can be based. Gold Cup 2017 is just the first step, and there is plenty of work to be done, but it’s already been a giant leap forward.

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Canada prepares for first Gold Cup knockout game since 2009 – Sporting News

The Octavio Zambrano era has gotten off to a near-perfect start for Canada. Since the Ecuadorian took over the program in March, the team has yet to experience a loss. In fact, the Canucks have not tasted defeat in 2017, with the unbeaten streak extended to six games thanks to a scoreless draw with Honduras last week in Canada’s final group stage match at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. MORE: Whitecaps’ Davies bursts onto international scene The positivity, while modest, will continue for a few more days at least, with Zambrano’s squad preparing to face Jamaica in the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday in Glendale, Ariz. It’ll be the first of two meetings between the sides over the summer, as the teams will also square off in a friendly at Toronto’s BMO Field in early September. If it wasn’t obvious, Thursday’s match is the far more important of the two against the Jamaicans. The Caribbean nation claimed the most recent meeting between these two sides, securing a 1-0 victory in the 2015 Gold Cup thanks to a stoppage time goal. Canada looks to exact some revenge on Thursday, riding a newfound confidence under the new coach that saw the beleaguered team finally break a number of embarrassing tournament droughts (goals, wins, advancement to the knockout stage) en route to this week’s clash. MORE: U.S. is Gold Cup favorite, but Canada could keep surprising For their part, the Canadians aren’t idly accepting advancement to the quarters as the end goal. Cyle Larin, the 22-year-old former MLS rookie of the year who plies his trade for Orlando City, has beensummoned by Zambrano to replace midfielder/defender Raheem Edwards in the squad. The move signifies a commitment to the type of attacking soccer that Zambrano promised when he took the reins earlier this year, glimpses of which we’ve seen on display in the group stage. Larin will be in tough to crack the starting lineup as Lucas Cavallini has performed admirably as a tireless force up front, harassing defenders and providinglink-up play that has resulted in teenage sensation Alphonso Davies’ first of three goals so far in the tournament. Regardless, Larin will be another weapon at Zambrano’s disposal, as Canada looks to claim a very realistic opportunity to move on to the semifinals of the regional competition for the first time since 2007. Even if Thursday is the end of the road for the Canadians, this year’s Gold Cup will have to be looked upon as a success. Zambrano has managed to introduce several new players to the fold, with young players like Davies, Michael Petrasso, Samuel Adekugbe and Mark-Anthony Kaye having notable Gold Cup debuts. Along with the likes of Scott Arfield, Junior Hoilett and Steven Vitoria all veterans who are still relatively inexperienced in international play Canada has managed to give its player pool a much-needed infusion of new talent at a time when several of the more familiar faces from the past decade are transitioning away from the national team. MORE:Mourinho wants 15 more years at United On a more intangible note, Zambrano’s quest to get Canadian players to stop seeing themselves as also-rans seems to be alreay taking hold. In a weird way, Im kind of disappointed we didnt win the group, Arfield told Sportsnet after the draw with Honduras cemented Canada asthe second place team in Group A. I think we were good enough to do so. I think that has to be the mentality going forward, that we cant be second best. Its a huge stride for soccer in this country. It gets people taking notice. Zambrano’s task is to essentially prepare the Canadians for World Cup qualification for Qatar 2022, which won’t begin for another 2-3 years. In thetime leading up to those matches, it’s all about exposing young talent to the rigours of international action while forging an identity upon which the program can be based. Gold Cup 2017 is just the first step, and there is plenty of work to be done, but it’s already been a giant leap forward.

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Limerick clash a knockout game for Wexford, says John Kelly – RTE.ie

Updated / Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 10:56 Wexford joint manager John Kelly says that the players are treating their final Group 2 tie in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship as a knockout game. Following their five-point defeat of Tipperary at Innovate Wexford Park last Saturday, the Yellowbellies are in second position but could still lose out on qualification to the quarter-finals which is available to second and third in each group if they were beaten by Limerick by six points this weekend and Offaly overcame Tipperary. Neither is an impossibility but a win in Bruff on Saturday (5.30pm) would remove all doubt for Wexford. “Limerick beat Tipp and won a Munster Final” says Kelly, who is co-manager withMatty Flynn OConnor. “Theyre not going to be any pushovers. Well have to be on top of our game going down to Limerick. Were treating it as knockout Championship. “Every game since the Cork game has been like that. Its in your own hands.” The Cork game he refers to was a disconcerting experience, as the Rebels had 18 points to spare in Pirc U Rinn at the beginning of the month. That placed real significance on the Tipp clash and the players answered the call, especially in the second half, when Orla ODwyer and Ereena Fryday plundered two second-half goals. “It was a big win after going down to Cork and getting a good beating. Tipp last year for us was a sticky one down in Waterford and we were dodgy going into it but the girls hurled very well and did what we wanted them to do. “When they got back level with us you would be a bit shy but we came down the field and got the next score. Chloe (Foxe) came on and got a great point and we seemed to lift it. “There is a great spirit in the team. Theyre young. Theres still a few of the older crew there not much of them now but it is a help. “There are some good, young girls coming through the county and the further we can go in this Championship, it will stand to them.” Foxe wasnt risked from the start having injured her hamstring against Cork but scored 1-02 off the bench and, like Joanne Dillon, has had a big impact in a panel that lost even more experience this year, though Kellys legendary sister Kate is remains a welcome figure in the background, passing on some of her wisdom to the new crop that represent the future. “You know what youre going to get out of the Leacys and the Kehoes,” he said. “You can rely on them all the time. Its what you get out of the younger players will determine how you go in the Championship. “We have lost Katrina Parrock, Mags DArcy and Kate this year, another three massive players. Those players are not replaced overnight but you have to battle on. “All good things come to an end and we have to find the next ones.”

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

US survive, but Bruce Arena not pleased with effort vs. El Salvador – MLSsoccer.com

PHILADELPHIA In any tournament knockout game, the most important thing is to survive and advance. But members of the US national team know they wont survive much longer in the Gold Cup if they play anything like they did in Wednesdays 2-0 quarterfinal win over El Salvador at Lincoln Financial Field. I thought we had a difficult time tonight, head coach Bruce Arena admitted after the match. Our timing wasnt good. We didnt deal with the physicality. The game had no rhythm, with all the fouls and players falling on the ground, but we werent good on top of it. It took us 30 minutes to play a little bit and then we got a little better service and capitalized on them. It was just a sloppy game overall. To call Wednesdays game physical is probably an understatement. After the USMNT took a 2-0 lead into halftime on goals from Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj, El Salvador resorted to some dirty antics in the second half, biting not one but two US players. Afterwards, Arena told reporters he thought someone should have been sent off. And asked if he thought his team could maybe learn from a game like this, the US coach was blunt. I dont think so, Arena said. Games shouldnt look like that. Too many fouls. Time wasting. Players falling on the ground. It doesnt prepare us for big games. The US certainly have a big game looming Saturday as they’re set to face a Costa Rica team that routed them 4-0 in a World Cup qualifier this past November. And they know their Gold Cup run may end vs. Los Ticos in the semifinals if they once again come out slow and dont, as striker Jozy Altidore put it, put a stamp on the game. Look, I think this was one of the better Salvador teams Ive seen since Ive been part of the national team, said Altidore, who was on the wrong end of one of the bites and nipple twists. They gave us their best in the first 35-40 minutes but we rebounded well. We cant be coming out flat like that. As games get tougher good, a good Costa Rica team will punish you early on for coming out like that. Along with Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, Altidore was one of the big guns Arena brought in for the knockout round, hoping the longtime USMNT stars could elevate the team after a somewhat unconvincing showing in group play. But even though Bradley and Dempsey came through with pretty assists and Howard had a nice early save, Arena thought the team looked tired and out of sorts for much of the hot night in Philly. I think our backline for the most part played OK, Arena said. I think Michael Bradley and Darlington Nagbe played very well. It was a very good goal by Omar and Lichaj and at times, we passed the ball pretty well. But we werent clean in the last part of the field. We have to do better.

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed

Harmanpreet’s hour: India’s hero, India’s pride – WION

By Yash Jha **************************************************************** This was a week which began with a sparking off of the Greatest-Of-All-Time debate in sport. Roger Federer’s capturing of a record-extending 19th Grand Slam with a historic eighth title at Wimbledon had arguably sealed his position in the pantheon of sporting immortals. Think Ali, Bradman, Dhyan Chand, Pele, Jordan, Phelps – surely Federer already ranks among them, but could he be considered better? Comparisons are difficult. Especially when they are across generations. When they are across disciplines. When they are across formats. When they are across gender. **************************************************************** Late last year, Harmanpreet Kaur, then 27, became the first (and thus-far only) Indian to play in the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia. A little over seven months later, the Aussies might rue the hospitality and platform, they provided Down Under. Only four times in the 44-year history of Women’s ODI cricket had an individual scored over 171 in an innings. Only once had someone touched three figures in a World Cup knockout game. Kaur did it with India in a position of discomfort, having lost their top-three, against six-time champions of the competition. India had only ever made one final before. **************************************************************** When you consider different generations in sport, everything that changes with time – basically, everything – becomes a hindrance in drawing comparisons. When you consider different formats of the same sport – say Tests and ODIs, for instance – the varied challenges faced depending on scenario becomes a hindrance in drawing comparisons. When you consider different genders in sport, societal convention – effectively, everything – becomes a hindrance in drawing comparisons. **************************************************************** Let’s go back in time, say two decades earlier when the Indian Men’s team was accustomed to tasting defeat with regularity against a to-be world-conquering Australian unit. Let’s say the sides met in a match to decide whether India could reach the final of the tournament. Imagine one man scored an exorbitant proportion of the team’s runs, say close to 60% even, to alter the course of the game and provide India the desired result. You could call it one of the greatest innings ever, couldn’t you? **************************************************************** Against Australia, at Sharjah, in the final group stage match of the Cherry Blossom Sharjah Cup, on 22 April 1998, Sachin Tendulkar scored 59.09% of India’s runs. Against Australia, at Derby, in the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, on 20 July 2017, Harmanpreet Kaur scored 60.85% of India’s runs. **************************************************************** Yes, comparisons are difficult. They rely heavily on an element of opinion. Opinion, while not always, does sometimes deviate from fact. And facts are the best base for comparison. But whichever way one looks at it, Harmanpreet Kaur’s epic is one of the greatest knocks in the history of Indian cricket – Men’s, or Women’s. Since we’re there, let’s say this too: If India are to defeat England at Lord’s this Sunday, it will be the greatest moment in Indian cricket – Men’s, or Women’s – since 2 April 2011. Perhaps even since 25 June 1983. As an aside, Sachin Tendulkar followed that breath-taking century at Sharjah with another one two days later to win India the title. Over to Lord’s then. Go on, #WomenInBlue.

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July 20, 2017   Posted in: Knockout Game  Comments Closed


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