Olympic sports writing: 2004-2015

Selected features and interviews, plus coverage from several Olympics:

Features

Sochi 2014

London 2012 (all Bleacher Report unless noted)

Vancouver 2010: Nordic sports and biathlon (all USA TODAY)

Beijing 2008: Everything, especially soccer (all USA TODAY)

Torino 2006 (USA TODAY)

Athlete interviews (all USA TODAY)

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I’m back – what’d I miss?

My hand is out of a splint after three weeks, though my typing speed is still diminished by a bit of tape on my two still-aching fingers. I may need to put my goalkeeping career on hold for a while.

I’m also relatively not sick. I have no idea how I’ve had waves of sinus and throat problems through the most mild summer of my lifetime, but a doctor has assured me she’ll figure it out. I got back from vacation to find Northern Virginia had become a sauna to start September, and after leading a couple of youth soccer practices in Venusian conditions last night and walking a couple of miles this morning, I actually feel better. Go figure.

Enough complaining. I’m back, and it’s time to give a quick update on the blog, my writing priorities over the next few months, and what happened in the sports world while I was healing.

The blog: Expect more links and fewer 1,000-word pieces. I want to keep sharing Olympic sports news, but I’m going to do that more efficiently. No more Monday Myriad (in part because my youth soccer practices are on Mondays), so this will be the last “roundup” post for a while. My analysis will more commonly be on …

The podcast: Hoping to do another one this week, depending on my guest’s schedule.

Medal projections: By next year, I hope Olympic sports news will be in the context of my medal projections. I’ll be working on that, along with …

Enduring Spirit epilogue: The tentative plan is to re-release the book (electronically only) with the epilogue added. I’ll also release the epilogue separately at a low, low price, so if you already bought the book, you won’t be shelling out another six bucks. I’m going to do a few postseason interviews, so don’t expect this right away.

Single-Digit Soccer: This project keeps gathering momentum. I’m planning to speak and gather input at the NSCAA convention in January, and I hope to finish it by next summer.

Other than that, I’ll still be writing at OZY, a site you should check out even if you never read anything I write. And you may still see an MMA book I finished a while back.

So what happened while I was out? In no particular order:

Badminton World Championships: South Korea wins men’s doubles, China won three other events, and the women’s singles went to … Spain? First time for everything, and this is a terrific photo:

Judo World Championships: Olympic champion Kayla Harrison was the only U.S. medalist, taking bronze.

Rowing World Championships: Britain won 10 medals, New Zealand won nine, Australia and Germany eight each, and the USA won seven. The World Championships include a lot of non-Olympic events, so don’t use this for medal projections. These championships included some para-rowing events, which accounted for one U.S. medal. The sole U.S. gold went to, as always, the mighty women’s eight.

World Equestrian Games: The sole U.S. medals so far are in the non-Olympic discipline of reining. Britain, Germany and the Netherlands are cleaning up. Olympic quota spots (earned by the country, not the athlete) are available in dressage, eventing and show jumping.

Also, Ollie Williams (the man behind Frontier Sports) looks at the Olympic prospects of horseball. Yes, horseball. They compare it to a mix of rugby and basketball, but I think it’s a mix of polo and quidditch.

Triathlon, World Series grand final: Gwen Jorgensen didn’t need a great finish to clinch the world championship. She did it anyway. Too early to declare her athlete of the year?

Swimming, Pan-Pacific Games: Phelps, Ledecky and company have it easy compared to Haley Anderson, who won open-water gold after a jellyfish sting, a race postponement and a race relocation. 

Track and field, Diamond League finals: Half of the events wrapped for the season at the Weltklasse Zurich over the weekend; the rest finish up Friday in Brussels. Check the Monday Morning Run for a recap that includes fellow Dukie Shannon Rowbury diving along with U.S. teammate Jenny Simpson as the latter took the women’s 1,500 title in style.

Today’s Frontier Sports wrap has a couple of track and field links (along with helpful links on badminton and much more), including “the often-told, never-dull tale of how (Brianne Theisen-Eaton) almost impaled (Ashton Eaton) with a javelin.”

Overall Diamond League winners include Simpson, Michael Tinsley (USA, 400 hurdles), Christian Taylor (USA, triple jump, took title away from teammate Will Claye at final), Lashawn Merritt (USA, 400 meters, Kirani James wasn’t at the final), Reese Hoffa (USA, shot put), Veronica Campbell-Brown (Jamaica, 100), Dawn Harper-Nelson (USA, 100 hurdles — Americans won every Diamond League race), Tiana Bartoletta (USA, long jump) and Valerie Evans (New Zealand, shot put, swept).

Women’s soccer, NWSL final: I got back from vacation to see this, and I’m glad I did. It was a compelling final, and while Seattle would’ve been a worthy champion in every sense, Kansas City deserved it. The Lauren Holiday-to-Amy Rodriguez combo is as potent as anything you’ll see in soccer.

Kansas City now holds the top-division U.S./Canada titles in men’s soccer (Sporting KC, MLS), women’s soccer (FCKC), and men’s indoor soccer (Missouri Comets, coached by FCKC’s Vlatko Andonovski). The latter won the last MISL title before most of that league leapt to the MASL.

The league also announced it would play a full schedule next summer with a break for the World Cup, which means international players will miss a considerable number of games. The big worry: The season will spill into September, bad news for those counting on international loans or fall coaching jobs to supplement the league’s small paychecks. But the league didn’t have a lot of good options, and now they’re poised to ride a World Cup wave if one materializes again.

Basketball World Cup: Senegal over Croatia is the big upset so far, while France, Brazil and Serbia have created a logjam for second behind Spain in Group A. The USA is cruising through an easy group.

Men’s volleyball World Championships: Many people are watching.

The USA won a thrilling five-setter and lost an epic to Iran in early group play.

Modern pentathlon World Championships: Underway with relays.

MMA: The UFC 177 pay-per-view card had already been hit by a rash of injuries. Then one of the UFC’s most heralded recent signings, Olympic wrestling gold medalist Henry Cejudo, had a “medical issue” while trying to make weight. Then former bantamweight champion Renan Barao, set for a rematch against new champ T.J. Dillashaw, also couldn’t make weight. Joe Soto got the Seth Petruzelli-style bump from the undercard to the main event. Unlike Petruzelli against Kimbo Slice, Soto couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity.

So the most noteworthy things about the card, apart from Cejudo and Barao’s weight-cutting issues, were:

1. Bethe Correia taking out another of Ronda Rousey’s buddies, veteran Shayna Baszler. Now Rousey wants a piece of Correia, who’ll be happy to oblige.

2. Dana White launching an unholy rip of the media. Some days, I miss covering this sport — this would’ve been fun.

Overseas in ONE FC — I’m absolutely biased toward Kamal Shalorus, who works in our wonderful local dojo and is as nice as he could be. Glad to see him get a title shot, but Shinya Aoki was always going to be a tough matchup, and Aoki indeed kept the belt.

Chess: World champ Magnus Carlsen and top U.S. player Hikaru Nakamura are at the Sinquefield Cup, but Italy’s Fabiano Caruana has left them in the dust, beating Carlsen, Nakamura and the other three to go a perfect 5-for-5 halfway through the double round-robin.

And we’re a month away from Millionaire Chess. Ignore the monetary losses and enjoy.

Cycling: Vuelta a Espana in brief — Nairo Quintana fell, Alberto Contador took the lead.

Video games: A terrific glitch in Madden ’15 — a 14-inch-tall linebacker:

Coming up: Bloody Elbow is looking at the upcoming wrestling World Championships.

Glad to be back!

Monday Myriad, June 9: Horse-athlon

Heading into the weekend, I cast some doubt on the hype for the modern pentathlon World Cup final, which included the peculiar boast that it was expected to draw a U.S. audience of 25 million on NBC Universal. I couldn’t even find actual broadcast info after checking several sources.

Then I suggested the following:

That probably wouldn’t go over well in the host city(ies) of Sarasota/Bradenton, where the local writeup headline is “Equestrian event ignites interest.”

In the morning, less than 30 spectators watched athletes begin their quest for pentathlon glory during the fencing and swimming events at the Selby Aquatic Center.

OK, granted, the fencing is hard to follow. And you can catch half (well, two-thirds, in a sense) of the pentathlon at one venue later in the day.

More than half the number of spectators that filled the grandstands to watch the show jumping portion of the event left by the time the combined running and shooting event started.

You know, if you just want to see show jumping, you can.

I had a lot of fun covering pentathlon in Beijing. Maybe one day it’ll be appreciated for what it is. Though this is a nice first step:

Best and worst from myriad sports this week:

BEST WORLD CUP PERFORMANCE

USA 4, Germany 1.

USA 2, Argentina 2.

OK, so it’s women’s field hockey, not men’s soccer. Still very impressive. And the USA is likely headed to its first World Cup semifinal in 20 years.

BEST U.S. TEAM PERFORMANCE INVOLVING A NET

BEST JUDO TRIP TO CUBA

BEST PERFORMANCE IN EMERGING SPORT

Is 3v3 basketball the next beach volleyball? Given the comparative histories of the sports, probably not. But the U.S. women continue to dominate, taking World Championship gold. The men lost in the round of 16 but got a bronze medal in the dunk contest.

BEST AQUATIC EVENT THIS WEEK

BEST AQUATIC PERFORMANCE BY 50SOMETHINGS

WEIRDEST CHORD

F#-A-E … A#? Or is Omar Gonzalez just using his ring finger to mute the G string? Or playing in alternate tuning?

BEST TRIATHLON TRANSITION

From short-track speedskating to long triathlon:

WORST INJURIES

Scotland beat the USA in rugby, four injuries to nil.

BEST ROUNDUPS

– Ollie Williams’ Frontier Sports: More on Team Chris Froome vs. Team Bradley Wiggins, Rio promising clean water for sailing, first steps toward women’s Nordic combined, a triathlon misprint, Rulon Gardner forgetting he’s nearly my age.

– Daily Relay’s Monday Morning Run: The Tori Bowie phenomenon, some youngsters ready to challenge Mary Cain, decathlon champion Ashton Eaton blasting through the 400 hurdles.

– Team USA Sports Scene: More World Cup medals — in shooting this time.

Monday Myriad, April 7: Pentathlon power

We’re in a lull between winter and summer sports, which means this is a good time to tell you there will be no Monday Myriad next week.

It’s also a good time to remind you that Margaux Isaksen is really good at modern pentathlon. And Twitter.

Not bad considering she was jet-lagged and had this just a couple of hours earlier.

Despite all that, Isaksen remained in contention throughout the fencing, swimming and riding phases of the pentathlon, then stuck around in the running/shooting phase despite missing 10 shots at the first shoot. (Athletes have to hit five shots to before running again.) She finished fourth overall.

Other best and worst of the week:

Best shot by a guy in funky pants: Norway’s men won the world curling title. This helped:

The U.S. men finished 10th.

Best non-women’s basketball performance by a Notre Dame athlete: Fencer Lee Kiefer won the women’s foil junior world championship.

Best look at the bright side:

Worst controversy: Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race. Can you all keep your oars to yourselves?

And we’ll leave it at that (plus the TeamUSA roundup). Might be the shortest Monday Myriad of the year. Wait until track and field season.

How modern pentathlon stayed in the Olympics (attn wrestling)

In elementary school, I used to wander into the Coliseum at the University of Georgia to watch wrestling. When UGA cut the varsity wrestling program, I drafted a complaint letter and had my classmates sign it. That letter was reprinted in a local weekly. (In retrospect, that may have been my first published work.)

In 2008, I covered a little bit of wrestling and a little bit of modern pentathlon. In 2012, I watched a bit of wrestling and a bit of modern pentathlon online.

Guess which I enjoyed more? No, not the wrestling.

College wrestling, when I get a chance to watch it, isn’t bad. International wrestling is one of the most befuddling sports to watch in the Olympics, and I say that as someone who has watched a live trampoline competition.

Modern pentathlon, on the other hand, has modernized. The shooting and running phases have been combined to resemble biathlon, a popular winter sport in Europe. The athletes are shooting laser pistols. In London, they ran through a cross-country course in Greenwich Park. If you didn’t see it, it’s your loss.

How did modern pentathlon realize all of these changes would be a good idea? They communicated with the IOC. Maybe cynics would say it takes more than communication to get the wheels moving, but the fact is simple: Modern pentathlon responded to IOC concerns, and wrestling didn’t. That’s the lesson of a USA TODAY story by my former Olympic press center office-mate Bryce Miller, who is leading a comprehensive look at wrestling’s Olympic fight at The Des Moines Register.

If anything, wrestling got worse over the years. It was already a sport that turned on arcania, particularly the Greco-Roman competition. Remember the highlight of Rulon Gardner’s monumental upset over Russian giant Alexander Karelin? The final score of that contest: 1-0. Gardner was awarded his point when Karelin’s hands broke apart on a clinch. That’s it.

Now we have “ball draws” and foam blocks. Defense still rules.

In a conference call earlier this year, I asked whether wrestling might consider drastic changes such as replacing Greco-Roman with grappling. I didn’t hear much enthusiasm for that idea.

The lobbying effort that quickly sprang to life, with the USA taking the lead but forging solid relationships with Iran and other countries, has made vague references to tinkering with the rules:

The objectives of this committee include these key points: 1) simple for spectators; 2) increases action 3) rewards risk-taking; 4) allows no bias into officiating; 5) allows the best athlete to win; 6) is exciting for television viewing.

An Iran Times piece* put it this way:

(A)nother goal is to try to make officiating more “scientific” and less subjective.  There have been many complaints from both within and without wrestling that a move will get a wrestler points from one official and punishment from another.

The IOC’s voters might be seeing the backlash from the recommendation to drop wrestling. But they’re too proud to save face and change their minds. A few changes might be enough to let them claim that they’re keeping wrestling in the Games because wrestling met their demands. For better or for worse, that’s how the Games game is played.

* The original link is here, but I can’t get it to load.

Wrestling’s biggest fight: Getting back in the Games

Modern pentathlon seemed to be the likeliest sport to be eliminated from the Olympic program. Then perhaps taekwondo. Maybe an outside chance of one of the Asian-dominated net sports, badminton and table tennis.

Wrestling? If you saw that coming, consider taking your psychic talents to Wall Street or Vegas.

“A surprise decision,” says the AP. “A shocking move,” says Yahoo’s Maggie Hendricks.

But is it a final decision? Maybe not.

AP puts it like this:

Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for inclusion in 2020. The others are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. They will be vying for a single opening in 2020.

The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC session, or general assembly, in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

It is extremely unlikely that wrestling would be voted back in so soon after being removed by the executive board.

If the federation facing the axe was the tiny modern pentathlon federation or the dysfunctional taekwondo federation, then yes, getting back in the Games would be nearly impossible.

But wrestling’s federation, FILA? Don’t be too sure. To mangle John Paul Jones’ famous quote, FILA has not yet begun to lobby.

And the international outcry is sure to be monstrous. Have you ever wanted to see the USA and Iran join forces? Get ready, ’cause here it comes.

The facts are on wrestling’s side. The last time the IOC went through this process, they released their report on each sport. A few numbers for consideration (from 2009, but it’s hard to imagine too much has changed since then):

  • Wrestling has 167 active national federations. Other sports: Archery 139, equestrian 133, field hockey 122, triathlon 116, modern pentathlon 104. (Taekwondo, surprisingly, has a healthy 186.)
  • The “average minute of TV coverage” of wrestling in the 2008 Olympics was watched by 29.5 million people globally. Field hockey: 11.8 million. Fencing: 24.3 million. Badminton: 21.2 million. Team handball: 23.3 million. Sailing: 24.5 million. Triathlon: 19.4 million. Modern pentathlon: 23.1 million. Even tennis was lower: 26.1 million. (Swimming, gymnastics, weightlifting (?!) and track and field are the big draws, as you’d expect — 40 million to 65 million. Table tennis was also over 40 million, so the people complaining about “ping pong” might want to adjust their arguments.)

Now wrestling is battling for a spot against the combined baseball/softball bid, karate, squash, roller sports (speed skating), sport climbing, wakeboarding (a modified version that will confuse the heck out of U.S. viewers) and wushu. That’s a battle wrestlers should be able to win.

Then the other sports can get back in line and hope the IOC comes to its senses next time and reverses its ludicrous decision to add golf, where the costs far outweigh the benefits. Perhaps other federations can merge, as baseball and softball are doing, to try to sneak another sport into the Games.

So take heart, wrestlers. There’s a lot of time left on the clock.

 

Save modern pentathlon

The Winter Olympics are taking on an X Games feel. Even the older sports are modernizing — biathlon has caught on with TV-friendly pursuit and mass start competition, and luge has added a cool relay event.

The Summer Games don’t have as much room to grow, and IOC President Jacques Rogge has been in more of a trimming mode. If we’re adding a sport, Rogge and company believe, we must cut one.

And that’s reasonable. The Summer Games have outgrown most cities’ capability to host them.

Not that the IOC’s decisions on cutting and adding sports have been reasonable. Rio won’t have softball, but it’s scrambling to build a golf course. Then organizers will have to deal with security for the whole area.

Baseball and softball have joined forces in an effort to get back in the Games, competing against karate, squash, wushu, sport climbing, wakeboarding and roller sports. But before one sport is added, one must be eliminated.

One wrinkle to consider: The IOC groups its sports according to the governing federation. That means all the aquatic sports (swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming) are one sport, just as the two wrestling disciplines (freestyle, Greco-Roman) are a single sport. (That’s also why baseball and softball can go in together as long as they’re under the same umbrella.)

So if you’re thinking synchronized swimming should get the axe, think again. Unless the IOC decides to overhaul its bureaucracy on the fly, an entire sports federation will be taken out of the games.

The only realistic cuts are taekwondo, controversially added to the Olympics ahead of karate, and modern pentathlon.

On the surface, modern pentathlon would be no great loss. It’s an esoteric and expensive sport requiring access to a pool, a shooting range (now modernized to lasers), fencing equipment, and horses. Britain has managed to boost participation to five figures, but it’s hard to imagine that sort of interest elsewhere. In the USA, it’s not exactly a popular youth sports option.

The argument for saving it is that it preserves the legacy of modern Olympic founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who introduced the sport to the Games. Perhaps that’ll sway some sentimental people within the IOC,

Another argument: Modern pentathlon uses existing facilities (no extra stadiums, baseball fields or golf courses) and adds less than 100 athletes to the Olympic Village.

I’ll add another: Modern pentathlon is a uniquely Olympic sport. Not like golf or rugby, the two recent additions that have lives outside the Games. Not like soccer or tennis, though they’ve carved out solid niches for themselves in the Games.

If the Olympics won’t be the pinnacle of achievement in a given sport, I don’t see the point in adding that sport to the program. If a sport is historically linked to the Olympics, I don’t see the point in removing it.

Modern pentathlon has adapted to modern times. All five events now take place in one day. The running and shooting have been combined, biathlon-style. In London, that meant half the competition (or three-fifths, if you count running and shooting separately) took place in Greenwich Park. In Rio, the idea is to run all five events in one stadium.

The numbers don’t favor modern pentathlon. A 2009 report on the existing Olympic sports found pentathlon lagging behind taekwondo and other sports in most categories — number of participating countries, media interest, etc. Europe likes it, but other continents are really interested. (That said, some of the sports bidding for inclusion are pretty weak as well.)

So the sentimental argument is all we have. But you’d think, given the low cost of keeping such a unique Olympic tradition alive, that would be enough.

Here’s a radical solution for solving the problem: Merge the pentathlon federation with the equestrian federation. Or the triathlon federation.

Silly, you say? Is it any sillier than having swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming under the same federation because they all take place in water?

Perhaps such a move would violate the spirit of Rogge’s mandate to shrink the Games. But so does building a bloody golf course in Rio. And the point isn’t supposed to be the number of sports — it’s supposed to be the number of athletes and the number of events. With modern pentathlon, we’re talking about two events and less than 100 athletes. Tighten up the qualification criteria in swimming or track, and you’ll have the same net effect.

So you may say the Olympics don’t have much to gain by keeping modern pentathlon. Perhaps not. But they have less to gain by cutting it. Why dash the dreams of competitors to satisfy a bureaucratic statistic counting the number of federations who have a seat at the table?

2012 medal projection update: Modern pentathlon and triathlon

Holding a world championship in an Olympic year always seems a little redundant. And we really don’t know if we can peg someone a favorite for being in peak form in the Big Show a couple of months before the Really Big Show.

That’s the case in modern pentathlon, but in addition to the 2012 Worlds, we also have world rankings to consider, as well as the 2011 Worlds, which were moved from Cairo to Moscow last year.

Triathlon just keeps going and going, with athletes picking up ranking points. They tell us not only who has the most points but who only needed a couple of races to get them. The federation is also kind enough to give us updated start lists.

Check the previous picks for both sports. And away we go …

Continue reading 2012 medal projection update: Modern pentathlon and triathlon

2012 pentathlon/triathlon: Modern times

Modern pentathlon and triathlon have a few things in common — running, swimming and the inevitability of being lumped together when people like me are doing sport-by-sport breakdowns.

Aside from that, they aren’t too similar. Triathlon has become the trendy way for people to show how fit they are. If you know anyone who has said, “Hey, I’m raising money for charity by doing a pentathlon,” please let me know.

At the Olympics, modern pentathlon is held in a couple of venues through the day, and they can’t really be choosy. In London, for some reason, they’ll have the fencing in the handball venue. Then it’s across the Olympic Park to the main Aquatics Centre for the swim, then over to the equestrian venue at Greenwich Park for the remaining events. (That wasn’t an option in Beijing, where the equestrian venue was in Hong Kong.)

Beijing triathlon venueThe triathlon, meanwhile, is held in a scenic venue like the one in this picture. Beautiful, isn’t it? One of my favorite days in China.

London organizers are opting to hold the triathlon in Hyde Park. Pretty cool.

Triathlon also is much simpler. Swim 1,500 meters. Bike 40k. Run 10k. Cross finish line. Collect medal.

Modern pentathlon has a more complex scoring system, but as they do in Nordic combined (and really should do in the decathlon), they convert points to seconds and start people in the final race in the order in which they currently stand. Build a big lead in the first three events, then try to run alone.

Continue reading 2012 pentathlon/triathlon: Modern times

Friday Myriad: French finals, final Cup tune-ups

One side effect of the World Cup: These are the last MLS weekend games until June 25. They’ll play a few midweek games June 9-10, then break.

This is an eclectic weekend. How often do you see beach volleyball on two channels? College rugby on a major network?

If you’re an MMA fan, this is your one weekend off before a dizzy stretch with five cards (UFC PPV, Ultimate Fighter finale, WEC, Sengoku, Strikeforce) in nine days.

FRIDAY

7 a.m.: Tennis, French Open men’s semi, #5 Robin Soderling-#15 Tomas Berdych. Tennis Channel

11 a.m.: Tennis, French Open men’s semi, #2 Rafael Nadal-#22 Jurgen Melzer, possibly on delay. Might also see women’s double’s final, Williams sisters vs. Kyeta Peschke-Katarina Srebotnick. NBC

11:55 a.m.: Soccer, France-China. Start the panic in Paris if this one goes awry. ESPN2

2 p.m.: Track and field, Diamond League, Bislett Games, Oslo. Universal Sports.com

7/9:30 p.m.: Softball, Women’s College World Series, winner’s bracket games. ESPN

8 p.m.: Hockey, Stanley Cup finals Game 4, Philadelphia-Chicago (Chicago leads 2-1). Versus

SATURDAY

8:30 a.m.: Soccer, USA-Australia. How well have the final 23 acclimated to South Africa? We’ll find out. ESPN2, with live coverage right here at SportsMyriad.com

9 a.m.: Tennis, French Open women’s final, Samantha Stosur-Francesca Schiavone, and men’s doubles final, NBC

12/2:30 p.m.: Softball, Women’s College World Series, elimination games. ESPN2

4 p.m.: Soccer, Toronto-Kansas City. How far can Dwayne De Rosario and Stefan Frei really carry TFC? Direct Kick/MLSSoccer.com

4 p.m.: Rugby, Sevens Collegiate Championship Invitational, San Diego State-Tennessee, Army-Navy, California-Dartmouth, Ohio State-Penn State, NBC

7/9:30 p.m.: Softball, Women’s College World Series, elimination games. ESPN

7:30 p.m.: Soccer, New York-Chivas USA. The Red Bulls rebounded nicely with a big home win Wednesday, stopping the plummet out of the playoff places. FSC

  • 7:30 p.m.: D.C. United-Real Salt Lake. Direct Kick/MLSSoccer.com
  • 8 p.m.: Los Angeles-Houston. Galavision
  • 8:30 p.m.: Dallas-San Jose. Direct Kick/MLSSoccer.com
  • 8:30 p.m.: Chicago-Philadelphia. Direct Kick/MLSSoccer.com
  • 9 p.m.: Colorado-Columbus. Direct Kick/MLSSoccer.com

10:15 p.m.: Boxing. Miguel Cotto-Yuri Foreman bout tops card from Yankee Stadium. HBO

10:30 p.m.: Soccer, Seattle-New England. Two teams with high expectations try to shake off the early-season misfortune. Direct Kick/MLSSoccer.com

SUNDAY

9 a.m.: Tennis, French Open men’s final, NBC

1/3:30 p.m.: Softball, Women’s College World Series, unbeaten teams in each bracket vs. other surviving teams. ESPN

2 p.m.: Beach volleyball, AVP Huntington Beach Open women’s final, ESPN2

3 p.m.: Cycling, Dauphine Libere prologue (delay), Versus

4 p.m.: Beach volleyball, AVP Huntington Beach Open men’s final, NBC

4 p.m.: Rugby, Sevens Collegiate Championship Invitational final, NBC

6 p.m.: Soccer (WPS), Chicago-Atlanta. Missing St. Louis Athletica? See several of their players in action for the visiting Beat. FSC

7/9:30 p.m.: Softball, Women’s College World Series (if necessary), winners advance to best-of-three championship. ESPN2

8 p.m.: Hockey, Stanley Cup finals Game 5, Chicago-Philadelphia. NBC

OLYMPIC SPORTS

  • Beach volleyball, track and field televised (see above)
  • Volleyball: U.S. men open World League play at Russia
  • Triathlon: World Championship Series, Madrid; UniversalSports.com
  • Modern pentathlon: Final World Cup before the final; Saturday/Sunday coverage at pentathlon.org. Americans Margaux Isaksen (ninth) and Will Brady (21st) in good shape to reach 36-athlete final.

MISC