Gurley, Dawgs Head to Columbia to Face South Carolina

UGA's Todd Gurley Is a Heisman Frontrunner
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What a start to the season for the Georgia Bulldogs! The then 12th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs hosted the #16 Clemson Tigers in Athens, GA. Many expected (including me) this would be a close game, but thanks to 298 all-purpose yards by Junior running back Todd Gurley, who showed that he is in serious contention to bring home the Heisman Trophy this year, the Bulldogs had their way with Clemson, 45-20.  Although UGA lost an all-time great quarterback in Aaron Murray, their offense didn't see very much drop-off in 2014 in part because of a strong offensive line and a tough running game.  The Bulldogs revamped defensive unit led by Jeremy Pruitt played extremely well and played hard and disciplined for most of the game.  After a bye week for the Dawgs, all eyes are focused on Georgia's first SEC game against South Carolina in Columbia. Let's take a look at the key players in this game.

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Georgia-RB Todd Gurley: Amassed almost 300 total yards in the opening game against Clemson including a 100 yard kickoff return.  He is the best running back in the nation and a threat to do something special every time he touches the ball. He has a great chance of being one of the Heisman finalists later this year.

Georgia-OLB Leonard Floyd: Had a breakout freshman season and coaches and teammates have been all over him this offseason. Floyd had 7 tackles and 2 sacks against Clemson two Saturdays ago. He's an All-American in the making and will be pivotal for Georgia to get Dylan Thompson's jersey dirty on Saturday afternoon.

Georgia-ILB Amarlo Herrera/Ramik Wilson: The two interior linebackers will be important in this game. They will not only pressure the quarterback but also will be called upon to stuff the South Carolina Gamecock's run game. Herrera led UGA in tackles against Clemson with 12 total and 2 sacks. Wilson played a nice role in the clash with the Tigers, but he was limited in his playing time. Wilson was the leading tackler in the SEC a year ago.

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South Carolina-RB Mike Davis: Davis is the leader of Gamecock offense.  He is also one of the top backs in college football. He was limited by an injury in the Gamecock's first game, but looks to be back to normal.  The Atlanta, GA, native had over 1,100 yards on the ground in 2013 and saw some success against UGA last year. Look for Steve Spurrier to rely heavily on the feats of his premier tailback on Saturday. 

South Carolina-LB Skai Moore: Moore had a great season in 2013 in which he led his Gamecocks in tackles with 58 and also garnered Freshman All-SEC honors.  He should be relied on even more heavily by South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward to fill the large hole left by the NFL's #1 pick in DE Jadeveon Clowney. 

South Carolina-QB Dylan Thompson: Gone is Connor Shaw. Here comes veteran Dylan Thompson to the plate. He is a talented passer and showed that at times in back up roles over the past several seasons.  The one thing he has to work on is his consistency. Overall, he can be a weapon for the Gamecocks.

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Game Preview: The #6 Bulldogs enter Columbia flying high after a statement win against Clemson and a nice bye to rest.  The #24 Gamecocks were completely embarrassed on their home turf in Week 1 when Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies dominated Carolina. Then in Week 2, South Carolina squeaked by the East Carolina Pirates thanks to several field goals from Elliot Fry. 

A lot of people have counted the Gamecocks out in the SEC East race and have looked on to others.  Spurrier and his Gamecocks will be fighting mad when Georgia comes calling and hope to see the same result as they did the last time the Dawgs came to Columbia. That was in 2012, and Georgia was shellacked by the Cocks by a score of 35-7. 

This game will be UGA's first SEC game of 2014 and should be a factor in the quest to reach Atlanta. This is a must-win for the Gamecocks, and the Bulldogs would love to be undefeated after two back-to-back tough matchups. For the Georgia offense, look for offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to try to establish the run early in the game behind the likes of Preseason All-American Todd Gurley, fellow junior Keith Marshall, and two impressive freshman backs in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. At the quarterback position is 5th-year senior Hutson Mason. Mason will look to feed off a strong running game to take the pressure off of him and light up the the less-than-stellar Gamecock secondary through the air.  Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will look to build on a strong defensive start and attempt to limit Mike Davis and put pressure on Dylan Thompson. 

On the opposite sideline stands the Ol' Ball Coach Steve Spurrier. First of all, let's stop to praise Spurrier on his job at South Carolina. He has taken an a perennial cellar-dweller in the SEC and taken them to 3-straight double-digit win seasons for the first time in school history. The Cock's offense is lead by veteran QB Dylan Thompson, star RB Mike Davis, as well as a receiving corps led by Nick Jones, Damiere Byrd, Shaq Roland, and Pharoh Cooper.  South Carolina lost a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball in 2013 including All-American DE Jadeveon Clowney. The Cocks top returnees are LB Skai Moore, SPUR Sharrod Golightly, and DT J.T. Surratt.

Overall, look for Mike Davis to have a little success against the Bulldogs on the ground but for the Georgia defense to still be pretty solid. Georgia's running game led by Todd Gurley and the play-action passing of Hutson Mason will prove to be too much for a reeling Gamecocks team.  






CFB: Top 5 Heisman Candidates for 2014


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The 2014 college football season is coming soon! A huge storyline every college season is who will be named the best player in the nation and lift the Heisman Trophy. Jameis Winston won the Heisman last year after an outstanding freshman season. This year as always, there are many talented playmakers across the nation who will compete for this year's edition of one of the most prized individual awards in American sports.  Here are my top five candidates coming into 2014.  

1. QB Jameis Winston, FSU


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Yes, he won it last year, and yes, he is the favorite again this year. In his remarkable Heisman-winning season last year, Winston passed for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns while winning multiple awards, going 14-0, and throwing the game-winning touchdown in the BCS Championship game.  Pretty good season, I would say.  Jameis will look to stash aside his bling this season and build on his accomplishments. He will be the focal point of the FSU offense in 2014 and should put up huge numbers again in Tallahassee. Winston has a great arm and can also tuck it and run it himself and pick up a few yards when called upon even though he is primarily known as a pocket-passer. He is a bonafide superstar, and his team should see a little success this year as well.  

2. QB Nick Marshall, Auburn


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Auburn surely experienced their fair share of miraculous finishes and a little luck along the way to an SEC Championship-winning season and were thirteen seconds away from pulling an upset of the FSU Seminoles and winning it all.  Despite some magical finishes, make no mistake, Auburn was and is loaded with talent.  One huge reason for the Tiger's success in 2013 was the emergence of one of the top playmakers and best all-around athletes in college football.  That man is QB Nick Marshall.  

Marshall was a JUCO transfer that burst on to the scene, passing for almost 2,000 yards and rushing for another 1,068. This year Auburn will be without Heisman finalist RB Tre Mason who has gone on to the NFL. Marshall will now be the main vocal point of the offense for Gus Malzahn's Auburn squad. Marshall is an extremely talented playmaker who is extremely adept at not only tucking the ball and running himself but also is a very underrated passer.  Look for his passing stats to improve in 2014 and for Marshall again to put up huge numbers on the Plains.  

3. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon


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Mark Helfrich's has consistently one of the top offenses in college football.  Mariota is the perfect fit to run the up-tempo and high-powered Duck O in Eugene.  Mariota embodies the speed, athleticism, and dual-threat ability that Oregon desperately wants in a QB. In this offense, look for Mariota to put up huge numbers again this season.  In 2013, Mariota threw for 3,665 yards for 31 TDs and rushed for 715 yards and scored 9 times.  He is truly an offensive juggernaut at Oregon and with guys like WR Josh Huff and WR/RB De'Anthony Thomas gone to the greener pastures of the NFL, look for Mariota to be called upon even more to lead his team.  

4. QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State


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Urban Meyer has done a fantastic job in Colombus.  Then again, it helps having Braxton Miller as your QB.  This man can play.  In 2013, the now Senior QB from Huber Heights, Ohio, threw for 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns.  He also rushed for a 1,068 more yards with 12 TDs on the ground.  He's one of the top dual-threat QBs in the nation.  He's fast, and he's got a great arm.  With the Big Ten grind (Ok, more like coast), Miller should again stuff the stat sheets and contend for a spot in the new CFB playoff.

5. RB Todd Gurley, Georgia


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Yes, a RB actually breaks into my top five Heisman contenders' list.  Todd Gurley is a beast, plain and simple. He's got NFL scouts drooling over him and thinking he might slip up into the 1st round of the NFL draft which is rare for a running back in this day and age.  Gurley is the perfect blend of size, speed, agility, and power.  He is very hard to bring down and is known for his ability to break tackles. He is without a doubt the best running back in all of college football. Last season, Gurley battled injuries much of the year but still managed to rush for almost 1,000 yards and 10 scores.  He also showed his ability to catch passes out of the backfield by compiling 441 receiving yards and 6 TDs. He's a preseason 1st Team All-American for a reason.  With a QB like Aaron Murray departing, Gurley might be depended on more to lead this Georgia offense.  And yes, he'll definitely play on Sundays one of these days.  

Best of the Rest: QB Bryce Petty, Baylor; QB Brett Hundley, UCLA; RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin, RB Mike Davis, South Carolina

For more football news and news from the world of sports, follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydawg


What's Next for the USMNT?


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Sad to say, the World Cup is officially over.  The USMNT had a good World Cup overall.  The US got out of the "Group of Death" despite the doubters and showed that they can compete with the best. Jurgen Klinsmann has been somewhat of a controversial manager at times, but his decision-making overall has been pretty good. This 2014 World Cup has been one to remember.  It has galvanised the US fans and seem to be another step in the US becoming a full-fledged soccer nation.  So what's next for the USMNT? Let's find out. 

Future Friendlies

Sept. 3: USMNT vs. Czech Republic

Nov. 18: USMNT vs. Republic of Ireland

The United States keeps looking forward as it schedules two international friendlies a few months after the World Cup. The first is against the Czech Republic in one of Europe's most beautiful cities in Prague on September 3.  Also according to Irish Media reports last week, the Republic of Ireland has agreed to host the US in an international friendly match in Dublin, Ireland.  The US will of course play other friendlies as well in the future.  


2015 Gold Cup

The CONCACAF confederation had a fine showing in the World Cup and earned a little more respect when it comes to the world stage.  The United States and Mexico both got out of their group and barely lost to two good teams in the Round of 16.  Costa Rica proved to be the cinderella team this summer in Brazil as Los Ticos bonded together and got all the way to the Quarter-finals where they lost to the Netherlands in penalties.  

The CONCACAF's success will make for an even more exciting Gold Cup next summer.  The Gold Cup, for any soccer novice, takes place every two years and is the championship of the CONCACAF confederation.  It pits twelve teams from CONCACAF in a tournament to decide this confederation's championship. The 2015 edition should feature teams like defending champ USA, the talented Mexicans, the dangerous Costa Ricans, 2013 runner-up Panama, among others.  There is a series of qualifications that takes place for every team except the US, Mexico, and Canada.

The winner of the 2015 Gold Cup will face the defending champ United States in a playoff to decide who gets the CONCACAF's bid to represent the region in the 2017 Confederations Cup (more on that later).  If the US wins the Gold Cup next year, it automatically is guaranteed a spot in the Confederations Cup.  The Gold Cup will also serve as qualification for our next event.  

2016 Copa America Centenario & the Summer Olympics

The Copa America, or the tournament to decide the South American or CONMEBOL champion, is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016.  For this special edition, the Cup will not only feature top teams of South America but also several top CONCACAF teams. The Copa America Centenario will be hosted in the United States.  Thus the home team US squad and Mexico will not have to qualify for this tournament.  This competition will most likely be another great step in growing soccer in the United States. Just think, Neymar and Brazil, Messi and Argentina, Suarez and Uruguay, James Rodriguez and Colombia possibly playing in your backyard.  

The scheduling and logistics of the Copa America Centenario will be quite complicated and crazy because there is another big event coming up that same summer. That event is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which will host the Summer Olympics.  Yes, football, a.k.a soccer, is in the Olympics.  In the Olympics each country (that qualifies) has to field an U-23 squad, so we will not see the same talent that we see in other competitions. Mexico took the gold medals in the 2012 edition. Could hometown Brazil get revenge? 

2017 FIFA Confederations Cup & 2018 World Cup 

Granted the US either win the 2015 Gold Cup or beat the winner in a playoff, they will clinch a spot in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.  It's kind of like a warm-up for the World Cup.  It's obviously not as important, but it still gives teams another chance to showcase their talents and seize bragging rights.  Sorry, Brazil, that didn't last long.  

Then in 2018, we have another World Cup which will hopefully have as much drama as this year's edition.  Will Germany defend their title and could they be a dynasty? Will Brazil even qualify? There are many questions like these that will be answered in 4 years time.

Overall, I am sad that the World Cup is over, but there's still a lot going on with the USMNT. From friendlies, qualifiers, and big tournaments, we'll see the last of some beloved veterans and the emergence of new stars. Looking forward to the Gold Cup, until then time for the other football.

For more sports news, follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydawg

Looking back: The Controversial Suarez

When Uruguayan star striker Luis Suarez bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in last Tuesday's game at the World Cup, shockwaves exploded across the internet and into houses across the globe.  Not only did it prove a hit to Suarez's career in the short term, it also hurt his team and lost the trust of many people.  This bite was bad enough, but it's not Suarez's only history of problems.

Yeah, he's done it before.  In 2010 when Suarez was at Ajax in the Dutch Eredivisie league, he served a seven game suspension after biting PSV Eindhoven MF Otman Bakkal. The same year he got in trouble for an intentional handball on a header bound toward the goal against Ghana. Fast-forward a year to Liverpool vs. Manchester United, Suarez received an eight game ban and was fined for racially abusing an opposing player.  

Then in 2013, Suarez bit Chelsea D Branislav Ivanovic and was suspended for 10 games.  What's worse after his most recent escapade is that Suarez denied biting Chiellini deliberately.  Suarez said, "I lost my balance, making my body unstable, and falling on top of my opponent." Well, we now know he's a liar too.  Watch the replay!  He clearly bit the Italian defender DELIBERATELY. 

The Infamous Teeth Marks Left by Suarez on Tuesday

The most glaring problem with Suarez is his biting scandals.  What could make a man bite another player out of anger? Apart from it being awful, biting is just strange and doesn't make sense for a grown man to do.  A normal soccer player's first reflex as a defense mechanism or act of aggression is to shove someone, or slide tackle them, or even elbow them.  But who bites? There is something clearly wrong with Suarez.  This guy has to have some type of mental problem and needs to see a psychologist. 

But of course this guy gets a pass because he is an athlete.  He's a good one as well.  He's considered by many as one of the superstars of soccer and was a major reason Liverpool experienced so much success in the EPL this season.  Suarez is a difference maker.  This is evidenced on the club level and at the international level as well.  

Luis Suarez Has Proven to Be One of the Stars in the Premier League 

After the public outrage of the Suarez bite last week, FIFA banned Suarez from nine international matches and a four month suspension from all football related activities.  He was also fined $112,000. This will not only hurt and has hurt the Uraguayan side, but it will also affect Liverpool FC as they will be missing Suarez for the early part of the EPL season.  Suarez will certainly regret his actions, but is the suspension enough? 

No, it's not.  It's his third biting offense as we have already mentioned.  The suspension levied by FIFA won't really affect Suarez's livelihood.  I mean; he has a net worth of 40 million dollars.  The fine is just a scratch on the surface of Suarez's wealth.  

What should happen is that he should be suspended from all football events for at least a year and have to pay more fines. That won't happen.  He's a great player which means more success and more money.  That's the bottom line. It's about money.  Funny how it blinds people, even when biting is involved.  

For more World Cup news and news throughout the sports world, follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydawg

A Nation's Hopes Live On

Pressure. That's what Brazil was facing.  Every member of the Brazilian squad was under enormous pressure from both their hometown fans and the world as a whole.  A country filled with unrest, rampant poverty, and numerous protests in the past few years, was looking to their beloved national team to take their minds away from the hardships at home and hopefully win a remarkable sixth World Cup.  

These hopes looked in the balance today in Brazil's 2nd round game against Chile.  Early on, the Brazilians looked in control of the game in the early-goings. In the 18th minute, Chile scored an own goal on a set piece, though the goal was credited to Brazil's David Luiz.  Chile then answered in the 32nd minute with a goal by F Alexis Sanchez who is teammates with Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

Alexis Sanchez Celebrates His Equalizer

Both teams were chippy throughout the game, as numerous fouls occurred and cards were given out. The game went back and forth the rest of the time with both teams taking multiple shots and maintaining possession almost equally.  

In the second half, Brazil's Hulk made a great run, received a pass from Marcelo, and put the ball in the back of the net.  However, the goal was disallowed on a controversial call of a handball by the official.  Nevertheless, the replay clearly showed that the ball glanced off Hulk's shoulder, and thus the referee made the right call.  Chile kept the momentum on their side, and the Brazilian squad was very tense to say the least.  

The rest of the match remained scoreless and was forced to go into extra time and then penalties. At the end of the 2nd extra time, Chilean F Mauricio Pinilla struck the ball off the crossbar, inches away from sending Brazil home.  GK Julio Cesar of Brazil made two terrific saves on the first two Chilean penalties while both David Luiz and Marcelo converted their penalties. 

Brazilian Keeper Julio Cesar Blocks the Penalty Kick of Chilean Star Alexis Sanchez. 

Down 2-0 in penalties, Chile answered with two scores by Charles Aranguiz and Marcelo Diaz. Then with the pressure of a country on his shoulders, the bright, young star Neymar stutter-stepped and put a ball promptly in the goal.  That proved to be the go-ahead score as Gonzalo Jara's shot glanced off the post thus shattering Chile's upset hopes as well.  

Neymar Celebrates

Brazil has shown what could be some fatal flaws and weaknesses in their latest game and throughout this World Cup.  Nonetheless, the millions of people throughout Brazil still have something to cling to - their beloved national team.  Success in the beautiful game is something the Brazilian people can take pride in.  In American terms, it's patriotism.  For Brazil, it's hope. It's a break from the struggles of normal life.  It's more than just a game.  

The pressure on each Brazilian player is hard to understand. For Julio Cesar, he dreams of redeeming himself from his disappointing performance in the last World Cup and doesn't want to be remembered like the infamous Barbosa.  For Neymar, it's the pressure of being expected to carry Brazil and beliefs that he could be the next Pele.  For Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, he doesn't want to be remembered as the coach who oversaw Brazil's defeat on their own soil.  

The game wasn't pretty.  Questions still remain.  Brazil is expected, almost commanded to win this World Cup.  Many outsiders don't think they can now, but that doesn't matter to the Brazilian populace. As long as Neymar, Hulk, David Luiz and crew continue to don the old yellow and blue, there is still a chance.  There is still hope.  There is still the beautiful game.  

For more World Cup coverage and news throughout the world of sports, follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydawg

After Memorable Win, the US Sets Sights on Portugal

What a game and what a victory! After being knocked out of the World Cup the last two times by Ghana, the third time was definitely the charm.  The US desperately wanted this win.  They needed to get at least a point out of this match, but they got three.  It was an important step in traversing through the "Group of Death."  Concerns still surfaced throughout this game, but the US won, and that is all that matters. 

The US started off with a bang as Clint Dempsey scored a goal within the first 30 odd seconds against Ghana.  The Black Stars then settled down and started being very dangerous.  The US didn't play the greatest game and was weakened by numerous injuries and rampant exhaustion.  Ghana had most of the possession time this game, and their dangerous speed and attacking prowess led to a goal in the 82nd minute by Andre Ayew.  Jurgen Klinsmann had been stressing the importance of getting three points in this first group stage game; that hope looked all but over.  



Captain America A.K.A Clint Dempsey Scores the 1st Goal

Ghana kept attacking and looked dangerous the rest of the game.  The US looked like they would have to settle for a draw.  That changed in dramatic fashion.  On a US corner, Defender John Brooks headed in the go-ahead goal to beat Ghana in the 86th minute.  Brooks is only 21 and is very inexperienced.  Klinsmann has been criticized for deciding to bring him to Brazil.  Everyone is very glad he did.  The US hung on and played good enough defense to knock-off Ghana in a game that will be remembered for a long time.  

Brooks' Game-Winning Goal With Time Winding Down

Questions and concerns became evident in this game such as the absence of possession time for the US, injuries of Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler, and others, and the United State's ability to cope with the conditions of Brazil.  It wasn't the cleanest game as mistakes and miscues occurred frequently, but as former USMNT player Alexi Lalas said about the match,

"No,  it wasn't progressive or new. But I don't care. It was American. It was who we are. It was beautiful."

While the win was a huge result for the US, Klinsmann and crew don't have much time to celebrate right now.  They have to face Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in Manaus in the Amazonian rainforest on Sunday night.  There are some key concerns heading into this match for both teams in what will prove to be a very important game. 

Portugal comes into the game after a depressing and demoralizing start to say the least.  They lost their first group stage match at the hands of the powerful Germans, 4-0.  As evidenced by the final score, this game was never close.  While Portugal has to mentally heal from a terrible loss, they also are faced with several other challenges as well.  For one, they lost starting defender Pepe because of a red card attained when he head-butted German star Thomas Muller in Monday's game.  Portugal also lost another starter in D Fabio Coentrao to an injury.  

Fortunately for Portuga, they have arguably the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo who reportedly will be 100 percent for the game against the United States.  He will be leaned upon by his team to help advance the Seleccao Das Quinas out of the "Group of Death." He is surrounded by other notables such as F Helder Postiga and M Joao Moutinho.  

Cristiano Ronaldo Is Portugal's X-factor

For the US, they will have to play without star forward Jozy Altidore who went down with a hamstring injury in the Ghana game.  It looks like the 23-year old Aron Johannsson will take his place just like he did in the rest of the Ghana match although he didn't seem to have any impact.  On the other hand, will Jurgen Klinsmann decide to put in a veteran like Chris Wondolowski in to replace him? ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman even wonders if 18-year-old Julian Green could be put in Altidore's slot.  

A key storyline in this game is how the US defense will handle a world-class striker in Ronaldo.  The US defense has been much maligned leading up to the World Cup but had a strong showing in the game against Ghana.  Good news also is that D Matt Besler who left the game will be fine for the game on Sunday.  The question mark is the left side of the US defense with DeMarcus Beasley.  Beasley seemed to be somewhat of a liability against Ghana.  Will he be able to defend the Portuguese adequately?

One of the keys to this game is how will Portugal respond after the Germany debacle.  Will they be so demoralized that it will affect their play? Or will they come back angry and with a chip on their shoulder with something to prove? Also, which Ronaldo will we see - the one that appeared virtually non-existent in the game against Germany or the one that carried his team on his shoulders in qualifiers?

This game will be very important for both teams respectively.  For the US, if Germany beats Ghana on Saturday, and they beat Portugal, they are guaranteed a spot in the round of 16.  For Portugal, a win would be a redemptive spark that could unite the Portugese and help them get out of the group.  Either way, both teams desperately need the points in this game.  Will Klinsmann's young US squad ride momentum and get a win or will Ronaldo carry his beloved nation to a beautiful 3 points?  Time will tell. 






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Takeaways from the USMNT's Victory over Turkey

The USMNT beat Turkey, 2-1, on Sunday in New Jersey in the 2nd of the Yanks' Send-Off Series.  This game saw the return of Clint Dempsey who's presence was surely felt as he scored a goal for the US in the 52nd minute.  The other goal for the US was in the 26th minute as Michael Bradley lobbed a beautiful ball to Fabian Johson in the box who then promptly scored.  This match was a much better performance than the Azerbaijan game, but several question marks still remain.  Here's a few positive and negative takeaways from this game.  

Dempsey & Bradley Are Co-MVPs 

With Landon Donovan not getting to go to the World Cup this year, a few veteran leaders have to step up and take control in this young and inexperienced squad.  Clint Dempsey has cemented himself as one.  He is Captain America after all.  Dempsey is not only known for his ability to put balls in the back of the net but for his leadership as well.  His absence because of groin soreness from the Azerbaijan match was clearly evident as the US offense looked stagnant for much of the game.  No one knew for sure if this would effect Dempsey's play on Sunday, but he answered with a resounding "no" with his strike from a few feet away to put the US up by two.  

Michael Bradley was playing well overseas but decided to come to the MLS to help bolster the league. Michael Bradley is a talented player both on defense and on offense.  He can set up chances for his teammates as shown in his beautiful chip asist to Fabian Johnson.  Bradley is recognized as one of the best US players who could thrive worldwide. He'll have to play up to his abilities if the USMNT is to have a chance in Brazil.  He's another guy the US will count on as one of their most critical players. 


Altidore Will Be Fine, but Could Use a Confidence Boost

Let's face it.  The referees were attrocious during this game.  It was evident in Jozy Altidore's goal in the early going that was disallowed for "shoving." It was clearly not enough to call, but Jozy was robbed of a goal that would have really given him confidence after his goal-drought and abysmal season at Sunderland. One could see Altidore was not himself mentally passing the ball near the box to a teamate when he should have attacked.  Overall, Jozy will be fine for this World Cup, but he needs to have his name on the score sheet just to improve his psyche.  

Julian Who?

Many including myself have raved about this youngster from Germany.  Julian Green has the ability and potential to be a star for the US in the future, but most likely not in this World Cup.  I could be wrong; he could turn it around, but so far he has looked like a deer in the headlights and has not impressed.  I'm looking forward to see Green play against Nigeria, but I don't see him doing all that much this summer.  I hope I am wrong.  

Youngsters Prove Worth

Young defenders John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin both performed well on Sunday afternoon.  Klinsmann has been critisized for bringing such young players such as Brooks and Yedlin to the World Cup.  They both had solid games of their own.  Brooks really impressed me as he seemed a lot better than his mediocre showing in the past.  Yedlin continues to showoff his speed and ability in the back.

Overall, the US victory over Turkey was encouraging but still some questions remain.  The US fans hope those questions are answered in the last game before Brazil - the Nigeria friendly on Saturday night in Jacksonville, Florida.  

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USMNT 2014 World Cup Preview (VIDEO)


Watch as Yours Truly breaks down the US World Cup, asks burning questions, and discusses key storylines including:

-Julian Green's golden ticket 

-Landon Donovan's omission

-the US back line

-Other Key Concerns

-And Much More



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Real Madrid Wins La Decima in One for the Ages

What a game! Real Madrid's 4-1 win over fierce rival Atletico Madrid was one for the ages.  With Real's hoisting of the 2014 UEFA Cup, it gave them their tenth UEFA Champions League title. It was an extremely close game and a physical, hard-fought football match.  Players on both sides were suffering through cramps, and there were fouls and cards given out all over the place.  It was an extremely emotional game in Lisbon, Portugal.  The 2014 UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will be talked about for years to come.

Atletico Madrid struck first in the 36th minute with a nice header by Diego Godin that caught Real's GK Iker Casillas out of position and made the score one-nil.  From that point on Atleti seemed content to play defense, and Real Madrid began attacking.  Guys like MF Angel Di Maria and Marcelo set up good chance after chance for Real, but Ronaldo, Bale, and others just couldn't capitalize.  

Atletico's Diego Godin heads a ball in for the first goal of the match. (Paneikon/Paul Hanna/Reuters)

Then in the 93rd minute when it looked like Atletico had all but won their first UEFA Champions League title, Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos headed in the equalizer to make the score 1-1.  The game then went to extra time. In the 110th minute, Real's Gareth Bale, who had been struggling the whole game missing several golden opportunities, pulled off a tremendous header that gave Real Madrid the lead, 2-1. 

Bale finally capitalizes with a marvelous header in extra time. (Getty Images)

Eight minutes later Marcelo made a goal that all but sealed the game for Real Madrid, but they weren't done.  Cristiano Ronaldo, the best football player in the world, put the game on ice after he made a cold-blooded penalty after getting fouled in Atleti's box.  The time ran out shortly afterwards, and Real Madrid won the UEFA Champions League Final and became Kings of Europe for the 10th time in the club's history.  

One has to give credit to Madrid's aggresive attacking in this game.  It really paid off in the end as Real Madrid was given numerous chances which they finally pounced upon.  It was a total team effort on both sides, and each team played an incredible game of football.  

One of the big storylines in this game was the status of Real's Cristiano Ronaldo and Atleti's Diego Costa for this huge matchup.  Ronaldo didn't seem to be hampered at all as he was not subbed out the entire match.  Costa, however, who has been bothered by a hamstring ailment that was re-injured the week before in the La Liga Final against Barcelona, only played the first nine minutes of the game then was taken out for the rest. 

Overall, congratulations to both squads on their respective fantastic seasons.  Atletico Madrid came out of nowhere and won La Liga which had previously been a two-team race between Real Madrid and Barcelona.  Although they came up short in La Liga, Real Madrid won the one that mattered most and became the 2014 UEFA Champions.  

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