Monday, July 06, 2015

Champs: U.S. Women take World Cup

World Cup champs
VANCOUVER - Delran's Carli Lloyd netted the fastest hat trick in Women's World Cup history as the U.S. Women's National Team defeated Japan 5-2 at BC Place  to become the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Champion.

In the first 16 minutes of play the USA took a 4-0 lead on the three Lloyd goals as well as another from  Lauren Holiday, the wife of ex-Sixer Jrue Holiday en route to becoming the first three-time FIFA Women's World Cup winner.

Japan ended the USA's record-tying shutout streak at 540 minutes by scoring in the 28th minute. The Asian nation built a bit of momentum early in the second half as Julie Johnston's defensive clearance instead sent the ball into the USA's net. However, Tobin Heath responded two minutes later to make it 5-2 and complete the highest scoring Final (seven goals) in FIFA Women's World Cup history.

Loyd and goalkeeper Hope Solo were awarded the Golden Ball and Golden Glove, as the best player and the best goalkeeper at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, respectively. It was the second straight Golden Glove award for Solo (she also won it in 2011) and the first for Lloyd. Lloyd became the second American to win the award, joining Carin Jennings, who won it in 1991.

The USA is now the only country to win three Women's World Cup and the country to score the most goals (five) in a WWC Final - no other team has scored more than two.

The WNT will return to the USA for a pair of friendly matches against Costa Rica on Aug. 16 and Aug. 19 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, respectively, before embarking on their nationwide celebration tour.

Goal Scoring Rundown:

USA - Carli Lloyd (Megan Rapinoe), 3rd minute: Playing a short corner kick on the ground, Megan Rapinoe sent a ball straight through several Japanese defenders to the middle of the six yard box. Carli Lloyd stormed from the back of the box to time her arrival with the ball perfectly and finished with a left-footed strike to score the fastest goal in FIFA Women's World Cup Final history. USA 1, JPN 0

USA - Carli Lloyd, 5th minute: Two minutes later, another set piece play led to a U.S. goal. Lauren Holiday stepped up to take the free kick from the right side of the box and sent a shot to the middle of the box that was flicked on by Julie Johnston through a forest of players before Carli Lloyd found it right in front of the net and tapped it in with the inside of her right foot for the second goal of the game and he fifth of the tournament. USA 2, JPN 0

USA - Lauren Holiday, 14th minute: The sequence began with Tobin Heath, who sent a pass from the midfield intended for Alex Morgan but had the ball intercepted by Japanese defender Azusa Iwashimizu. Iwashimizu tried to head it out of danger but instead directed the ball up in the air. It came down right in front of Lauren Holiday, who volleyed it in stride with her right foot to net her first goal of the tournament. USA 3, JPN 0

USA - Carli Lloyd, 16th minute: Carli Lloyd intercepted the ball in midfield and touched it past a Japan player. Crossing the midfield line, she launched a shot that caught Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori out of her net. While Kaihori got a hand to the ball, she could not keep it from bouncing off the post and into the back of the net, thus completing the fastest hat trick in Women's World Cup history. USA 4, JPN 0

JPN - Yuki Ogimi (Nahomi Kawasumi), 28th minute: Nahomi Kawasumi played a great ball from the right channel, spotting teammate Yuki Ogimi inside the box. Ogimi evaded a challenge from Julie Johnston, swiveled around and sent a curling shot beyond the reach of Hope Solo for the Japan's first goal of the match that ended the USA's record-tying shutout streak. USA 4, JPN 1

JPN - Julie Johnston (own goal), 52nd: Julie Johnston tried to clear a free kick attempt with a header that bounced across the face of goal and nestled inside the far post of Hope Solo's net for Japan's second score of the game. USA 4, JPN 2

USA - Tobin Heath (Morgan Brian), 54th: Japan's goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori  punched a Lauren Holiday corner kick clear to the right side. Kaihori's punch wasn't strong enough and the ball landed at Morgan Brian's feet. Brian cut the ball back into the middle where Tobin Heath used the inside of her foot to one-time Brian's perfect ball into the back of the net for the final score line. USA 5, JPN 2 (FINAL)

Thursday, July 02, 2015

John McMullen talks Eagles and NFL off season

Hinkie crowns Kings, gets shooter in Stauskas

PHILADELPHIA - Is Sam Hinkie actually moving forward?

The love-him-or-loathe-him Sixers general manager delighted his followers on Wednesday night by taking advantage of the Sacramento Kings in a Vlade Divac salary sump.

The Sixers acquired shooting guard Nik Stauskas, power forwards Carl Landry and Jason Thompson, a 2018 protected top-10 pick and the right to swap first-round picks in 2016 and 2017 in a late-night deal with Sacramento.  The Kings in turn will receive the rights to two of  last week’s second-round draft picks who were set to remain stashed overseas for the time being in Arturas Gudaitis (47th) and Luka Mitrovic (60th).

“I’m excited to start a new chapter in Philly! #The MarathonContinues,” Stauskas tweeted out after YAHOO! Sports reported the deal.

"Thank you to the whole Kings organization for drafting me and helping me start my NBA career. The city and fans were awesome," the University of Michigan product also tweeted.

The move clears significant salary-cap space for Sacramento, which is believed to be targeting players like Portland swingman Wesley Matthews, and Dallas guards Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis.

The Sixers reportedly wanted Stauskas in the 2014 draft and were set to take the 6-foot-6 marksman with the second of two first-round picks at No. 10 overall but when the Kings selected him two spots earlier Hinkie grabbed guard Elfrid Payton and traded him to the Orlando Magic for Dario Saric’s draft rights.

Stauskas wasn't all that impressive during his rookie season, averaging 4.4 points and shooting 36.5 percent from the field.  He did, however, get better as the season progressed, connecting on 48 of his final 149 three-pointers.

In Philadelphia he will be given every opportunity to create space for post players like the incoming Jahlil Okafor as well as Nerlens Noel and possibly Joel Embiid, depending on the big man's health situation.

The other two players are more typical Hinkie pickups, the next round of so-called gypsies that Brett Brown is asked to incorporate for short periods or not at all.

The 6-foot-11 Thompson is a local product out of Lenape High School in South Jersey as well as Rider before being taken by the Kings as the 12th overall pick in '08. The big man averaged a career-low 6.1 points and 6.5 rebounds last season and was deemed expendable after Sacramento drafted Willie Cauley-Stein last week.

The 6-foot-9 Landry scored 7.2 points and snared 3.8 rebounds per game and is currently recovering from wrist surgery.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Neuvirth in the fold to back up Mason

In the first hour of the free-agent period, the Flyers shored up their crease, signing journeyman netminder Michal Neuvirth to a multi-year deal.

According to multiple reports, Neuvirth's deal is worth $3.25 million over two years, which represents a slight pay cut.

The 27-year-old Czech Republic native will serve as  the backup to  Flyers starter Steve Mason. It's a chance to regain form from earlier in his career as a touted prospect in the Washington system. He finished just 7-20-4 with a .914 save percentage and a 2.98 goals-against average over 32 games split between the Sabres and Islanders last season.

Over  seven North American campaigns with the  Capitals,  Sabres and  Islanders, Neuvirth  has posted a 66-63-17 record with a .912 save percentage and 2.73 GAA. He went 6-17-3 with the NHL-worst club in Buffalo, but three of his six wins were shutouts. There's a strange parallel here, as Tommy Soderstrom, in his final season as a Flyers goalie in 1993-94, won six games all year but two by shutout.

Neuvirth once held the starting job with the Caps, and appeared in as many as 48 games in one season back in 2010-11 where he won a career-high 27 games. That could bode well for Mason, whose nagging injuries and heavy workload the last few seasons required a backup with greater health, youth and experience.

Hextall alluded to just that in saying: “He’s a proven goalie. One of the attractive things for us with a backup goalie is, God forbid, if something happens to Mase [Steve Mason], he can carry the load and he’s done that in the past. We think we brought in a real good goalie who is going to give us a solid backup and probably play more than the typical backup."

That should put to rest any questions whether Rob Zepp could -- or should -- be elevated to an NHL backup position. As of this moment, he's still the nominal starter for the Phantoms. Zepp made a memorable debut before Christmas, eventually finishing two stints in the NHL with a 5-2-0 record, but his goals-against was .288 and his save percentage worked out to 88.8 percent -- indicators that success at the next level may be elusive.

Ray Emery, who was brought back to sub for Mason on two straight one-year deals, departs the franchise for a second time after going 19-23-9 with two shutouts and a GAA approaching three-per-game over 59 appearances.

According to Dave Isaac of the Courier Post, the Flyers are now roughly $4.11 million under the salary cap. They can spend $11.255 the rest of the summer, thanks to the 10 percent overage that's allowed before opening night.

That number does not include the $1.3 million qualifying offer Ron Hextall gave to restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto earlier this week.

Later in the evening, per multiple beats, Hextall indicated he's done moving pieces but will be amenable to taking more money off the salary cap -- something which becomes more important the closer it gets to the end of summer. 

Union advance in U.S. Open Cup

Chester, Pa. – Despite playing a man down, the Philadelphia Union recovered from a one-goal deficit to top their Eastern Conference rivals D.C. United 2-1 in the Round of 16 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Tuesday night.

The Union went down a man early in the first half as forward C.J. Sapong was shown a straight red card in the 24th minute.

D.C. United capitalized shortly afterwards with a strike from Jairo Arrieta in the 27th minute.

Eric Ayuk equalized in the 56th minute, scoring from Sheanon Williams´ cross. The winning goal came in the 79th minute, with Fabinho scoring a spectacular goal from Cristián Maidana´s assist.

With the win, the Union move to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup with the next game set for July 21 or 22.

USWNT top Germany, heads to World Cup Final

MONTREAL, Canada - Delran's Carli Lloyd scored on a penalty pick and assisted on another goal as the U.S. Women's National Team topped FIFA No.1-ranked Germany 2-0 at Olympic Stadium to advance to the Final of the 2015 Women's World Cup.

It will be the fourth World Cup final appearance for the USA.

The first half was a balanced affair with both teams pressing and having opportunities to get on the board yet neither was able to capitalize. In the second half, things got going when U.S. defender Julie Johnston was called for a foul inside the penalty box in the 59th minute for pulling down Alexandra Popp. Celia Sasic stepped up to take the penalty kick but missed wide left to keep the game scoreless.

Almost ten minutes later, Alex Morgan got fouled in the box and it was the USA's turn to attempt a PK. Lloyd confidently netted the shot to give the USA the lead before assisting on Kelley O'Hara's 84th-minute strike - the first of her international career - to secure the U.S. win. 

Hope Solo and the USA back line continued to shut down opponents and has now kept a scoreless streak for 513 straight minutes (a span of more than five-and-a-half matches)  in this year's World Cup, the longest clean sheet streak in U.S. World Cup history.

It was Solo's 10th clean sheet in World Cup play, tying Brianna Scurry's record for shutouts in World Cup competition. The 10 clean sheets in a World Cup are not only a U.S. record, but also a FIFA Women's World Cup record.

The WNT will vie for its third Women's World Cup title on Sunday, July 5 at 4 p.m. PT, when it takes on the winner of the other Semifinal between England and Japan, which will be determined Wednesday, at BC Place in Vancouver, Canada.

The tournament Final will be broadcast live on FOX and Telemundo.

Goal Scoring Rundown:

USA - Carli Lloyd (penalty kick), 69th minute: Germany's Annike Khran was called for a foul against Alex Morgan in the box, prompting the referee to point to the penalty circle. Carli Lloyd stepped forward and sent former FIFA Women's World Player of the Year Nadine Angerer the wrong way as she blasted her shot into the left side of the goal. USA 1, GER 0

USA - Kelley O'Hara (Carli Lloyd), 84th minute: Meghan Klingenberg played a great ball from th outside of the area to Carli Lloyd inside the right side of the Germany box. Lloyd made a strong move to the endline and played the ball across the face of goal where Kelley O'Hara tapped it in with her right foot to finish the opportunity cap a sterling team move by the USA with her first career WNT goal. USA 2, GER 0 (FINAL)

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:

GER- Nadine Angerer, 7th minute: A corner kick from Megan Rapinoe went to the middle of the six-yard box by the near post where Julie Johnston was in great position to head it home. Germany's goalkeeper Nadine Angerer was well placed to come up with a huge save and get the ball out of danger.

USA - Hope Solo, 8th minute: Alexandra Popp had a clear shot at goal from the left side of the USA box, sending a ball to the near post. However, Hope Solo was prepared and jumped high to deflect the ball over the crossbar for a Germany corner.

GER - Nadine Angerer, 15th minute: Alex Morgan split two defendersas she broke into the Germany box from midfield. Morgan sent a shot straight towards Angerer, who made a solid stop with her foot to deflect the shot away.