Germany Finishes What Klinsmann Started

There’s universal agreement that Germany was the best team at the World Cup and deserved to win it. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was absolutely superb, giving up only four goals in seven games. Of course, it helps that the defenders in front of him, Jerome Boateng and Philipp Lahm in particular, were air-tight, thus making things a touch easier in what is considered the zenith of the national team’s decade long journey to get here.
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A journey that began in 2004 with the hiring of Jurgen Klinsmann. The current U.S. Men’s National Team manager came in and shook the very foundation of German soccer to its core, changing the joyless, stringent approach often associated with the team for a more progressive, attacking style of play.

Klinsmann needed to establish young cornerstones to see his vision through: Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker. That’s 4 players on the current roster of this year’s World Cup winning team, although the latter two were reserves. Mertesacker was quick to give Klinsmann credit saying they were only continuing what he started, but not everyone agreed as evidenced by the German media’s brutal treatment of him. Perhaps with time and now signature hardware, Klinsmann will be judged differently. He certainly deserves it.

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What You Really Get in Carmelo Anthony

The Knicks, Lakers, Bulls and Rockets are furiously elbowing each other out of the way to get Carmelo Anthony’s signature on a contract. The unflinching and relentless pursuit by these teams for Anthony’s services is mostly warranted. He brings instant name recognition and knows how to fill out the stat sheet as evidenced by his scoring title.

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As pointed out by Elias, the 30 year-old star is averaging 25.3 points per game in his career, the 2nd-highest average in NBA history by a player who has yet to get a whiff of the NBA Finals. You wonder if the teams doggedly chasing Carmelo truly realize the impact his signing will have on overall chemistry.

With the high volume of scoring you get with Melo comes the reluctance on his end to share the ball. He needs touches. Lots and lots of them and it comes at the risk of clogging the offensive flow. He’s not one to distribute the ball like LeBron James does. It’s true that he’s never had the strongest of supporting casts, but if he goes to one of these teams, who’s to say that he’ll be OK playing second banana? Besides, Melo does not elevate the play of other teammates. He doesn’t make them better, a staple of a true superstar. If that was the case, maybe one of his teams would’ve gone further in the playoffs. Asking him to buy in for the greater good of the team seems a bit of a stretch at this point in his career. His defense is practically non-existent. Always has been. Always will be. Just ask his former head coach George Karl. I understand teams going crazy for Melo, but buyer beware.

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Why USA Should Feel Good vs Belgium

The U.S. Men’s National Team is playing with house money right now. This is not too say that they should feel content to just make the knockout stage of the World Cup. No, they’ve proven to be rugged, gritty and determined enough to get through the Group of Death, a reality nobody expected to come to fruition in Brazil. That’s why if the Americans fail to get past Belgium on Tuesday, it shouldn’t be seen as a failure, but rather a positive step forward to where it wants to be: an upper echelon soccer power. Now to the actual game versus the Belgians. This was a side considered to be a darkhorse to win the World Cup. A young, talented yet inexperienced bunch. They’ve started off slow in games only to crank things up later. Belgium has relied heavily on Chelsea star Eden Hazard, who has not disappointed, but he is just one player.
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Romelu Lukaku has struggled, failing to score in this World Cup. If you’re the U.S., you hope this pattern continues. The defense has been solid, but could be missing Vincent Kompany, who’s doubtful with a groin issue. Kompany is considered a world-class defender. As for the Red, White and Blue, forward Jozy Altidore could be back on the pitch for the first time since sustaining a hamstring injury early on in the win over Ghana. Boy, is his scoring punch sorely needed. Clint Dempsey is up front as the lone striker and needs the midfield to do something. So far, Michael Dempsey has not gotten the job done despite his tireless energy thus far. Even he admits that he must step up for the U.S. to have a chance to advance. Still, the outlook is bright for the USA, no matter the result on Tuesday. That’s what happens when you play with house money.

(CBS News)

Will Selva: Videos

Brain Cramping On LeBron

As soon as LeBron James went to the bench for good toward the end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, it was on. The Twitter haters were springing up like fast-growing weeds in the backyard. You couldn’t pull them out fast enough as the Crampapocalypse was officially upon us, creating such gems as the Twitter handle @KingJamesCramp, which at last check, had over 100 followers.

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While some of the images and messages admittedly provided a hearty chuckle for their sheer absurdity, what I found astonishing is this snap judgement about LeBron’s desire and motivation. He had a cramp. A really bad one that obviously precluded him from continuing to play. Any athlete will tell you that it is extremely difficult to play through it. I can’t explain why he was the ONLY player to develop a cramp when all the players had to deal with the AC being off.

The Celtics and Lakers, by the way, would always play in sweltering conditions like that at the Garden. What’s lost in all this talk about LeBron’s cramp is that as soon as he went out of the game, Dwyane Wade was invisible. A measly 7 points in the 2nd half on 3 of 10 shooting. That can’t happen. Neither can a relatively silent bench. If this is what happens when LeBron goes out or suffers a major injury, then the Heat are doomed. The Spurs, on the other hand, hold a vibrant bench that is much deeper than Miami’s, helping to end the game on a 16-3 run. Manu Ginobili continues to show that no matter the situation, he’s clutch whether he’s starting or coming off the bench. An true energizer bunny that keeps going. Now we must suffer through countless nauseatingly, gut-wrenchingly long debates on LeBron’s psyche heading into Game 2. No thanks. I’ll just chew on a giant shard of glass until then.

Manziel Went To Vegas, So What?

So this is how it’s going to go, huh? Wait, I’m answering my own question. That would be a resounding YES. Yes, this is how it’s going to be with Johnny Manziel whose every move, frivolous or not, is getting the ultimate Tebow treatment. Did I mention that we’re barely into OTA’s? You may have heard he went to Vegas over Memorial Day weekend. Imagine that. A 21 year-old who wants to go to Sin City. Ah, but it’s not just any 21 year-old. It’s Johnny Football who’s living in his own sphere which doubles as a fish bowl.

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Maybe Manziel was on to something when he was asked about being drafted by the Cowboys, “I don’t know if the world could have handled that, honestly.” He’s absolutely 100% spot-on. If he was in Dallas or New York, we would’ve been absorbed in an armageddon scenario. All city municipalities would be shut down. Meteors would crash into the Earth. Computers would malfunction. As is, he’s the Browns quarterback and that’s causing almost as much chaos. Almost. Who cares if he went to Vegas? Really. There’s reports he even sat in the middle seat on a Southwest Airlines flight.

You see, he’s slumming it like the rest of us. Of all the people, he’s put it into perspective by saying he hasn’t done anything yet to even create a buzz. Right again, Johnny! If and when his off-field antics become a distraction, then and only then, should we process his choice in pool parties he attends, but until we reach that point, let him, as he says, “live life to the fullest.” Browns head coach Mike Pettine says Manziel is studying the playbook. That’s all you can ask for right now. For what it’s worth, he took reps with both the first and second teams. Last week, he worked exclusively with the third team, so he’s making strides on the field. Let’s ease up on the Tebow-like fascination and put this in perspective. At least Manziel is.

(Youtube)

Klinsmann’s Risky Move

Calling it the toughest decision in his career, U.S. men’s manager Jurgen Klinsmann nearly tipped the earth off it’s axis by leaving beloved star Landon Donovan off the final World Cup squad of 23. Klinsmann’s move took, for lack of a better word, stones to make.

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It was highly unpopular among die-hard fans and a head scratcher among the fringe ones. After all, we’re talking about the U.S. men’s national team’s all-time leading scorer, but Klinsmann didn’t just wake-up and make this decision based on one week of World Cup training camp. No, it had been one that was germinating for awhile, ever since Donovan took a sabbatical during CONCACAF World Cup qualifying when a roster spot was anything but solidified. Klinsmann never got over what he perceived as Donovan’s lack of committment and fitness.

In short, the two men simply did not mesh. The painful reality is that at 32, Donovan is not the same player he once was, lacking the burst of speed that was his trademark. Consider this: He hasn’t scored a goal in any professional match since October 6th 2013. With the Donovan omission, there’s now a total of 5 players who have World Cup experience on this roster, while the rest are newbies entering the Group of Death.

However, there is talent with attacking options at Klinsmann’s disposal. Still, a player of Donovan’s ilk would’ve provided a nice spark off the bench. That’s the risky part of this. Klinsmann may have made this move and possibly others with an eye toward 2018, but let’s remember that the German may not even be around then. As the realization of a World Cup without Donovan sets in, take a moment to remember perhaps the greatest memory we have of him. The stoppage time goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup, a sequence that for a glorious time, stopped the planet from spinning on its axis.

Will Selva: Sports Broadcasting Photos

Michael Sam Still Faces Obstacles in NFL

The Dolphins fining safety Don Jones and excusing him from team activities for comments about Michael Sam on Twitter is a jolting reminder that the former Missouri defensive end enters a culture with certain archaic corners of it largely not accepting of him or his sexuality. Jones has since apologized for his response to Sam kissing his boyfriend after getting drafted. It obviously was jarring for many people like Jones, who were not ready for the public display of affection on national TV between two men. How do you explain this to your kids? Someone on Twitter nailed it perfectly and it was re-tweeted many times over. “You explain Michael Sam as a pass rushing specialist who plays on passing downs and tries to sack the QB.”

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He’s a football player folks. Look beyond his sexuality. It all makes his journey to get to this point all the more admirable considering what potentially lies ahead of him. Something tells me that insensitive tweets will likely be the tamer part of it. Wait until he gets to other stadiums, where the vitriol at times, can be toxic. However, he’s shown that he possesses the right attitude, downplaying the attention and reminding the world that he’s.. wait for it.. a football player! As well as he should.

He says this will only fuel him to be a better player and as it turns out, the Rams were the absolute right match for him. He’s nearby where he once starred in college, will be with a no-nonsense coach in Jeff Fisher and is part of a defense as a situational pass rusher. A very good defense we should add. He couldn’t have asked for a more ideal situation, although you have to wonder, now that we’re a few days removed from the draft, just how high he would have gone had he not announced he was gay. Roto World had him listed in the top 90 or so prospects before his announcement, but fell to 140 after it. You can blame it on his poor combine performance, his small stature at 6 foot 2 or his limited ability in coverage. All salable points that may prove to be stumbling blocks to a long and prosperous career. We’ll never know, but we know this. He’ll attack the quarterback just the way he’s attacked this whole thing.

Being Witness to Johnny Cleveland

One of the enduring images from the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft was the normally confident Johnny Manziel tugging at his collar, nervously sipping what seemed like an endless supply of bottled waters, as Commissioner Roger Goodell announced everybody’s name but his. The intrigue his agonizing wait created goes to show that the league’s OTHER yearly spectacle is better than any reality program on TV because well, it’s real. You simply can’t manufacture this kind of suspense as Manziel became the star of his own Draft Day movie.

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Once the Jaguars selected UCF QB Blake Bortles, it looked like a forgone conclusion that Manziel would land in Cleveland.. the first time around. Instead, the Browns took Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. A perplexing move at the time that baffled nearly every draftnik. They owned the 26th pick, but then moved up to 22nd. At that point, you had the feeling they wouldn’t pass on him again.

The Twitterverse nearly shut down after he heard his name finally called. His arrival creates a buzz around Cleveland not seen since LeBron James was picked by the Cavaliers. Whether he can make everyone witnesses like LeBron did, remains to be seen. What we do know is that Manziel makes the Browns truly relevant again. Their PRESEASON games will be a must-watch. How good will he be? Finding out will be the fun part. He will be extremely motivated to prove every team that passed on him wrong. During the broadcast, you could just see the giant chip on his shoulder grow. Kyle Shanahan and his version of the West Coast offense should be a good fit for Manziel. It’s just a matter of if his 5 foot 11, 207 pound frame can take crushing blows and how it will alter his style of play. At least, we’ll be closely watching just like we did on draft night.