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USA shocks Spain!

By:  Michael Dunham

When I heard that the USA was playing Spain I figured I would watch and get a good laugh at the pounding that would ensue.  The only thing is, despite my enourmous American pride, I thought I would be laughing at the pounding those dirty Spaniards would put on America.  Instead, I saw one of the greatest performances under extreme duress I have ever seen.

The game started just as I figured it would, Spain, the number one ranked team in the world, was constantly in the American third of the pitch, shooting shot after shot at goalie Tim Howard.  Every time the U.S. would attempt to move the ball to the other side of the pitch it would get stolen back and the barrage of shots would continue.

Finally, in the 27th minute, Clint Dempsey succesfully moved the ball to the Spanish third where he fed Jozy Altidore who fought off Spanish defender Capdevila’s best attempts at the ball and found the back of the net.  GOAL!  I was stunned.  Was the fourteenth ranked team in the world actually beating number one?! All of the sudden, America had a chance.

After the chaos of the goal completed and Altidore put his shirt back on after his yellow carded celebration, I realized, ‘America is still playing Spain, the number one ranked team in the world.’ I chuckled at myself for thinking that America could win and continued watching the game.

The Spainish attack continued as strong as before, but still, no goal.  The halftime whistle blew and the teams went to their locker room where I figured Bob Bradley would make some adjustments to help his defence out and put some more pressure on the Spanish side.

Instead, the opposite happened.  Spain made adjustments and their offense was even stronger than before.  I have never seen a game where a team was winning the game and their defence looked amazing, yet the commentators talked about how the United States would loose if they did not change their tactics.

When Spain’s pressure seemed to be at its peak, the US broke into the Spanish third and, just like before, found a way to make the most of a hopeful situation and score again.  After a cross by Donovan, Sergio Ramos chose to take a touch before clearing the ball and Clint Dempsey snuck in and poked the ball off Ramos’ foot and into the back of the goal.  Now the US really did have a chance!  2-0 over Spain! WOO!!  Then again, I realized they were playing Spain and there was still about 20 minutes left in the game.

The game continued as before in a fashion of:  Spain shot, Spain shot, clear, Spain shot, then it would all repeat again.  It was only made tougher when, in the 86th minute, Michael Bradley was red carded on a play that was a questionable yellow at best.  The next 10 minutes where likely the longest in the lives of most of these United States soccer players.  Think about this situation; you are playing the number one team in the world, they are on a 35 game unbeated streak, although you have a 2-0 lead, you have been outplayed in every facet of the game, if the amount of pressure being applied were to be weighed, it would make a sumo wrestler look in shape, and let me repeat THEY ARE THE NUMBER ONE TEAM IN THE WORLD!  If I were any of those players out there, I would have broken down and cried.  Luckily for America and viewers worldwide, I was watching the game on my couch like the rest of you.

87th minute: 2-0

88th minute: 2-0

89th minute: 2-0!

90th minute: 2-0?!

91st minute: 2-0!!

92nd minute: 2-0!!!!

93rd minute: 2-0!!!!!!!!

The Americans have done it!  U-S-A! U-S-A!  I think i did a backflip while celebrating.  This is the most incredible thing I have ever seen!  I am screaming like a schoolgirl who just got the latest gossip feed!  This is the best gossip I have ever heard!!  HAHA Spain in your face.

I know that anyone else who watched the whole game was doing something similar if the watched the game start to finish.

When I think about the game I can’t help but think of the similarities between this game and the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice.’  Both games were against teams ranked number one in the world while the common thought was that the Americans had no chance.  Both games were in the semi-finals of a major international tournament; granted the Olympics or the soccer equivalent World Cup is on a different level than the Confederation Cup, it is still a similarity none the less.  Most importantly, the United States won both games.

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Champions League Final, Man U’s to loose

Man U wins again

Categories: Soccer, Sports

Finals preview: Lakers vs Magic

By: Michael Dunham

Unfortunately, the Kobe-Lebron matchup we all, including the NBA, wanted to see was put off for at least another year by Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.  Instead we will get to see the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Orlando Magic in the NBA finals.  While this match-up will not generate the revenue that a Kobe-Lebron finals would have generated, it will undoubtedly be just as exciting to watch.

The Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets in six games and a times were dynamite on the court.  The problem that could get in the way of the Lakers on their quest to get their 15th championship, and 10th in Los Angeles, is their hot and cold unpredictability.  In both the Western Conference Semi-finals and Western Conference Finals, the Lakers have been up and down.  They will go out and win by 20 or 30 then the next night they will lose by the same amount.  This rollercoaster type basketball could, and in my book will, be what costs the Lakers the championship.

The Magic have taken the role of underdog and run with it.

They have been placed under the radar all season while they quietly beat all of the “great” teams in the league.  Even though they had taken the regular season series from the Cavs 2-1 i thought the Magic wouldn’t be able to show up like that in the playoffs and they proved me wrong.  They turned a 5-5 game into a Lebron-5 while the rest of the Cavs flat out did not show up.  I think the Magic will take advantage of the fact that they will be written off as not good enough again and use it to their advantage in the series.

I am not going to make the same mistake that I made in the Eastern Conference Finals and write off the Magic and that is why I am picking them to win their first NBA championship in 6 games over the Lakers.

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Categories: Basketball, Sports

Lebron vs. Kobe, the showdown

By: Michael Dunham

Of all the stars and big time players in the NBA, two men stand above them all.  Thats right, Lebron James and Kobe Bryant.  Ever since it came time to vote for mvp it has been of great debate whether Lebron has taken over the reigns as the biggest star in the league.

Ever since the days of Shaq and Kobe, Kobe has been the face of the NBA and the most loved and hated player in the league.  After he famously had Shaq shipped off to the other side of the country, Kobe haters have argued that he can’t win a title without Shaq and that Shaq is what made Kobe great.  Those on the other side of the arguement say that ever since Shaq left Kobe has single handedly carried the Laker team on his back.

Lebron has been a huge star and basketball icon ever since his senior year at St. Vincent-St. Mary high school in Akron.  When he was drafted into the NBA out of high school he was instantly a star, winning the Rookie of the Year award his rookie year and making his first all-star team in year two.

It has been hugely hyped that Lebron’s per (player efficiency rating) was a record high 31.76 this year, which makes Kobe’s 24.46 look miniscule, even though its 10 points higher than the league average.

What really makes a great player and an NBA icon is what they are able to do in the playoffs.

Lebron has increased his per to an incredible 43.39.  He has also improved from his season average in every major statistical category, including ppg from 28.4 to 34.7, rebounds from 7.6 to 9.3, and steals from 1.6 to 2.0.  Kobe has countered by improving in most major statistical categories but not by as big of margins.

With a Lebron vs Kobe finals matchup looking inevitable I think that the winner of the finals will take home the crown as the face of the nba; for the next year, at least.

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More to read:

Cavaliers vs Magic preview:

https://themiclounge.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/preview-cavaliers-vs-magic/

Lakers vs Nuggers preview:

https://themiclounge.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/preview-lakers-vs-nuggets/

Kobe Doin Work review:

https://themiclounge.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/kobes-doin-work/

Categories: Basketball, Sports

Preview: Cavaliers vs. Magic

While it only took the Cleveland Cavaliers eight games to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, it took the Orlando Magic 13.  This huge difference in number of games presents fears for both Cavs fans as well as Magic fans.

The obvious fear would be in the eyes of Magic fans, who not only have to go up against the Mvp of the league and the team with the NBA’s best record, but also have to worry about the fatigue of playing so many extra games.

To beat Cleveland you have to bring your A game, and when the Cavs are at home, even that will probably not be enough.

With all these extra games, fatigue could prevent that Magic from playing at their A game, in which case Lebron and the Cavs will keep on coasting strait to the Finals.

With Cleveland’s last game being a week ago, Cavs fans fears might be that Cleveland will come out rusty and give up a home game to the Magic.  While it doesn’t sound like a big deal to give up a home game, in a 7 game series it is huge.  Not only does it give the Magic home court advantage, it will also give them the confidence that if they can beat Cleveland at home, they can win the series.

While it is a possibility, I don’t think that a few days off will slow the Cavs roll at all.  This being said, Orlando will be more of a challenge than the Hawks or the Pistons were and they will not be able to sweep.  As long as the Cavs don’t come out rusty and give up one of the first two home games, they take this series in 5.  If they do lose one of the first to games then it will be more of a series than the Cavs want it to be and will likely go to 7.

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Categories: Basketball, Sports

Preview: Lakers vs. Nuggets

As the Lakers played the Rockets in Game 7 of their Western Conference Semi-final series the Denver Nuggets and the fans watched and waited to see who they would be playing.  What they saw was a fairly dominating game by Kobe, Lamar, and co. over the Yoa and McGrady-less Rockets; winning the game 89-70.

Kobe and Melo will square off in the Western Conference finals starting Tuesday, May 19th and you can expect it to be a show.  The Lakers have been the best team in the Western Conference all you, but as of late they have been very hot and cold.  They will go out and get dominated by a Rockets team that has just lost their superstar then win the next game by 40.

This inconsistency could prove to be a problem against the Nuggets (or Thuggets as we in Dallas like to call them) who have had their eyes on one thing this entire post season, the first NBA championship in the teams history.

Behind the Cavs, the Nuggets have been the hottest team in the playoffs.  With a playoff record of 8-2 they really haven’t been that tested either.  The Lakers are that team that can really test them and that is exactly what will happen.  If the Lakers can play with the same intensity and mindset that they played with in game 7 then this could be a very fun series to watch.

I think that the Lakers will heat up when the bright lights turn on and that is why I’m picking them to win in 7.

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Categories: Basketball, Sports

Kobe’s Doin’ Work

Spike Lee’s new “Joint”, Kobe Doin’ Work, premiered on Espn on Saturday.  By using multiple camera angles and mixing on-court audio with game commentator audio and commentation from Kobe Bryant, a new, interesting dynamic was shown on Kobe’s game.

I’ve always viewed Kobe as a ball hog and not much of a team player but after watching this show it is apparent that he tries to focus just as much on his teammates game as he does his own.  This is good from the aspect that most people do not know that about him but throughout the show also became kind of a negative to me.

As the show went on and on it seemed that Kobe did not respect the basketball I.Q. of his teammates.  He would talk to them and give them instructions as if they were a group of middle school basketball players instead of a group of top tier, NBA basketball players.

I can understand him calling out “i got ball” or “cutter, cutter” to warn his teammates about certain actions taking place on the court, but some of the things he would call out seemed completely pointless and a bit annoying.

By the end of the show, I would not have been surprised at all if he called out the he was about to dribble before doing so.

With all this being said, I acknowledge that Kobe is one of the best, if not the best, basketball players on the planet at this present moment; so he must be doing something right.  Outside of how he communicates with his teammates, this program showed me a lot of good things I did not know about Kobe, and how the professional basketball game is played.  I also gained a lot of respect for Kobe’s ability and knowledge of the game of basketball.

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Categories: Basketball, Sports

How ‘Bout them…Rangers?!

Who would have thought that 36 games into the season, the Texas Rangers would be in first place in the Al West?  If an Espn analyst had predicted this before the season he would have likely been fired.  If you had tried to predict this in any credible baseball community you would have been laughed at.

Yet the only ones laughing right now are those 22-14, Texas Rangers.

Two pitches into the game, Angels pitcher John Lackey was already being thrown out of the game and you knew that you could add another “W” to the record.  After starting May 12-3 they will be tested with a 6 game road trip to Detroit and Houston and they begin a 3 game series against those dreaded New York Yankees.

With All-Star slugger Josh Hamilton just rejoining the team all they can do is get better.

Categories: Baseball, Sports