9.58 reasons to get excited about the track and field season

It’s a non-Olympic year. It’s a non-World Championship year. So why should care about track and field this summer? 1. The Diamond League. The Golden League was a neat idea — anyone who wins his/her event in each of six or seven meets gets a share of a golden jackpot. But after a while, it focused too much attention on the most predictable events, those that one person dominates. The Diamond League uses a points system so that the most competitive events will be the most interesting in the final. They’re also no longer limiting the events to a select … Continue reading 9.58 reasons to get excited about the track and field season

Thursday: Bring on Bellator

Quick roundup this morning in between a traffic-slowed morning run to school and a trek out of the Plex. As in Maryland SoccerPlex. – Soccer: Can anyone remember a more  memorable week of Champions League games? Messi’s magic and Bayern’s rally, punctuated by Arjen Robben’s wonder goal, were spectacular. Most of the semifinalists have no time to rest. Lyon is in the middle of a tight five-team race in France. Bayern Munich, which just reclaimed the lead in Germany, plays at third-place Bayer Leverkusen. Messi and Barcelona? Oh, they just have a game at Real Madrid, which is always one … Continue reading Thursday: Bring on Bellator

‘The Ultimate Fighter’: Season 11, Episode 2: Get off my back!

We met our 14 fighters last time as they won their way into the house. Now we’ll see what they’re really like.

Clayton McKinney, who stands out with the brightly dyed hair typical of the Tom Lawlor-Seth Petruzelli Jungle MMA camp, leads the charge into the house. Did Lawlor tell him which room to pick?

Injury update: Chris Camozzi has an infection from breaking a tooth in his bout. McKinney has a shoulder problem.

Off to team selection we go, and both coaches look prepared. Dana White decides first pick with a coin flip, which seems too conventional. Shouldn’t they arm-wrestle or compare film resumes or something? Tito Ortiz wins and has the option of picking first fighter or first matchup. He goes with first fighter, and it’s Nick Ring, who indeed looked impressive and has good credentials.

Chuck Liddell picks Kyle Noke, the guy who has a couple of decent names on his fight record. Tito goes for experience with Kyacey Uscola, who’s 18-15. Chuck follows with Rich Attonito, which is a surprise because Kris McCray is still out there and because he won his prelim with less striking and more wrestling, impressing Ortiz.

Tito, smartly, picks Kris McCray, the undefeated pro who wins fights in the blink of an eye. Chuck takes Charles Blanchard.

Continue reading “‘The Ultimate Fighter’: Season 11, Episode 2: Get off my back!”

What makes a soccer game change? Besides Messi

Barcelona was dominating Arsenal in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal, taking a 2-0 away lead that could have been more. Then the game changed.

Why? What made that game change? What makes any game change?

I asked a couple of people who are in far better position than I am to know such things.

X, O, squiggle, goal
Ummm, coach? Can you possibly go over all that again?

Houston coach Dominic Kinnear saw some tactical changes:

“Two things happened that changed the game. One was Arsenal’s decision to play three at the back. The other was the insertion of Theo Walcott. Walcott’s pace to get in behind (the Barcelona defense) was huge.”

U.S. women’s veteran Brandi Chastain went with another angle:

“When the other team seems to be in control but is not putting away chances, you start to think, ‘Maybe we’re in this.’ And they start to become frustrated with the lack of finishing. Barcelona probably could’ve scored another two goals. That becomes frustration, and then you start to let down your mental guard. Then the other team gets a little bit of success, whether it’s possession or chances on goal.”

Matt Besler from the Kansas City Wizards figures Arsenal just had to turn it up a few notches:

“I think it was just the situation that Arsenal was in. The urgency that they had once they went down 2-0, they knew that being at home that they needed a tie or win, they really needed to go for the goal. I think that was the tipping point that helped them get some more energy and get more urgent. That’s why soccer is such a tough game. You can dominate a game for 70 or 80 minutes, but if you lose concentration for 10 minutes you can lose everything that you worked for.”

Continue reading “What makes a soccer game change? Besides Messi”

Wednesday now officially renamed Messiday

The top news from yesterday: The story from Barcelona quickly changed from “Hey, can Arsenal really win at the Nou Camp?” to “Do we go ahead and put Lionel Messi alongside Pele and Maradona?” The young Argentine, just three years removed from being hyped alongside Freddy Adu as one of the potential stars of the U-20 World Cup, scored four goals to silence any talk of Arsenal advancing to the semis. Inter Milan advanced past CSKA Moscow in the other Tuesday quarterfinal. Also: – Soccer: Speaking of four-goal outbursts, Cruz Azul waited until the last 20 minutes to turn an … Continue reading Wednesday now officially renamed Messiday

Tales of soccer survival: MISL’s Milwaukee Wave

For a few years, indoor soccer was the dominant form of the game in the United States, with more than 10,000 watching the hybrid of hockey and outdoor soccer. Serbian-born Preki carved out a nice career in the indoor game before going outside with MLS and proving that his skills translated to a bigger field without those pesky walls.

These days, the outdoor game is alive and well, and indoor continues on its own path. The MISL went away for a while, leaving two competing leagues that eventually came together and became the MISL again, except last year, when the league was the NISL. The PASL, which operates a pro league and amateur divisions, opted to affiliate with FIFRA. No, not FIFA, the custodians of the World Cup. The PASL actually has its own U.S. Open Cup, with the reborn San Diego Sockers (first version immortalized in this not-quite-Super-Bowl-Shuffle video) traveling to take on the Louisville Lightning this weekend.

Anyway: The Milwaukee Wave led Sunday’s MISL final 6-0 in the third quarter. Then came a three-point goal by Monterrey’s Chile Farias, quickly followed by a two-pointer to make it 6-5. La Raza took the lead late in the third, made it 9-6 in the fourth and tacked on an empty-net three-pointer for a 12-6 win. (Video highlights)

Not the way any player, coach or fan wants to end a season, but after what Milwaukee went through last year, the city’s soccer community still has plenty to celebrate.

Continue reading “Tales of soccer survival: MISL’s Milwaukee Wave”

Tuesday tribalism (and news, not all about Duke)

We’re Americans, with a capital ‘A’, huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog. We’re mutts! … We’re mutants. There’s something wrong with us, something very, very wrong with us. Something seriously wrong with us – we’re soldiers. But we’re American soldiers! We’ve been kicking ass for 200 years! We’re 10 and 1!

– John Winger (Bill Murray), Stripes

America may be the biggest and most powerful country the world has seen since Britain decided to quit naming most of the world after its monarchs, but we still love the underdog. No one’s making a movie about the big school with the great facilities that won the Indiana high school basketball championship as expected.

Once upon a time, Mike Krzyzewski and Duke were the underdogs challenging the long reign of Dean Smith and North Carolina in the ACC. No one had a clue of what was to come. True story: In a freshman dorm at Duke in the fall of 1987, someone said it was a shame we had all arrived after all the good basketball. And no one doubted it.

That’s changed a bit. The well-mannered runners-up with the unruly trend-setting crowd have become champions once, twice, three and now four times. By 2001, most people were sick of seeing Shane Battier on ESPN, no matter how likable and admirable the guy was. And seriously, what was up with that “Who’s your daddy Battier” chant?

Duke is also seen as a place of privilege, and as a standout Salon piece points out, Americans have mixed feelings about that. They’re not even consistent in how they apply that prejudice to basketball. Why would Duke be any more evil than Georgetown, another private school where the rent is a lot higher than it is in the crime-infested neighborhoods around Duke?

Continue reading “Tuesday tribalism (and news, not all about Duke)”

Combat Games: New era of sub-Olympic competition?

Everybody wants to get a sport into the Olympics, but the line is long and slow-moving. The IOC hasn’t even put women’s ski jumping in the Olympics, preferring to leave a couple of ski jump ramps idle for a few days rather than admit that girls can jump, too. If you’re getting in the line now — attention, MMA fans — you’re not getting in the Games anytime soon. The Summer Games are too big, and they’ll eventually run out of permutations of ice and snow for the Winter Games. (But wouldn’t you love to see “snowboard combined,” with halfpipe … Continue reading Combat Games: New era of sub-Olympic competition?

Monday news: 1 week and counting, Coach K rumors

SportsMyriad is one week into its existence, and I’m keeping it in “soft-launch” mode for another day or two. The idea here is to do mostly original content, and that takes time to bring to fruition. When you’re still catching up on household things like paying taxes and trying to finish up an expense report for a former employer, that content doesn’t just spring up. And while you can’t tell from looking at it, I have put a lot of time into the “design” here. Once I’m up to speed, you’ll still likely a get a weekday morning roundup. Like … Continue reading Monday news: 1 week and counting, Coach K rumors

MLS Week 2 wrap

Houston 2, Salt Lake 1 (highlights) – The best that can be said about Brian Ching’s injury is that he clutched his hamstring and not his knee. Non-contact injuries can be the worst. – Real coach Jason Kreis opted for Fabian Espindola and newcomer Alvaro Saborio, though the goals are coming from midfielder Javier Morales. – Agreed with the first penalty, with Jamison Olave making contact and pulling Geoff Cameron’s arm. Not so much the second. Minor contact on Luis Landin at best, highly embellished. – But to give credit where it’s due: Brad Davis smashed both PKs past Nick … Continue reading MLS Week 2 wrap