Day 186: U.S. 5, Japan 2



The first 16 minutes of today’s World Cup final was the reason why soccer is called The Beautiful Game: four goals for the Americans, a hat trick for Carli Lloyd (topped off with an incredible strike from midfield), and the team’s third World Cup title.

It was stunning, unbelievable, and awesome.

Not sure what else I can say about watching my country win the most prestigious futbol tournament in the world. I’ll just end with my favorite hashtag during international play: #OneNationOneTeam

Day 181: U.S. 2, Germany 0

Carli Lloyd

Carli Lloyd

In a game they were not expected to win, the U.S. played their hearts out and upset the No. 1 team in the world tonight. We watched with our local chapter of the American Outlaws and although the crowd is louder for the men’s team, there was a lot of vocal support for the women’s team. Chants of U-S-A were sprinkled throughout the contest and after the U.S. took the lead, the “I Believe That We Will Win” chant rang throughout the bar.

The semifinal against Germany was billed as the greatest game in women’s soccer, featuring the top two teams in the world and ranked the highest by the Women’s Soccer Power Index. It was the precise attack of the Germans versus the impenetrable defensive wall of the Americans.

This is what I love about The Beautiful Game: the ebbs and flows, the highs and lows. I love how all of the details add up, from a player’s subtle move to the extra pass that leads to a shot on goal. I was so fired up after the first half, in which Team USA outplayed the Germans: the defense was solid again and the offense was generating enough chances that a second-half score seemed inevitable.

The good feeling quickly soured as the second half began and the Germans took their efforts to the next level. I was down in the dumps when Julie Johnston was carded, giving Germany a penalty kick. Johnston had played brilliantly throughout the tournament and for her to make such a crucial mistake seemed like a cruel gesture from the soccer gods.

Then something unbelievable happened: Celia Sasic pulled her penalty kick wide. The roar of our crowd was one of disbelief. Could the Americans take advantage of their new lease on life?

They did. A controversial foul (it looked like Alex Morgan was taken down outside of the box) led to a penalty kick that was converted by Carli Lloyd, then minutes later Lloyd set up substitute Kelley O’Hara for the insurance goal.

From depression to elation in a matter of minutes. I love this game.

Day 177: One Nation, One Team

Carli Lloyd with the winner (from

Carli Lloyd with the winner (from

The slogan for the U.S. soccer team (One Nation, One Team) couldn’t be any more appropriate today. Hours after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, the women’s national team played its quarterfinal game against China. Maybe it was just me, but the national anthem before the game seemed just a bit louder and more passionate. And the Americans’ effort on the pitch matched the anthem.

The first half was utter dominance by the U.S.; even though the offense still isn’t firing on all cylinders, the effort and hustle was evident on every play. Amy Rodriguez and Kelley O’Hara were excellent as they took over for the suspended Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday. The offensive attack was more dynamic and it seemed like every time China had the ball, American players were swarming all over them.

My favorite player of the tournament has been Julie Johnston, who fed a perfect ball to Carli Lloyd for the winning header. Johnston has owned her area of the field, playing more physically and precisely against whomever lines up against her. It’s part of the reason why the Americans haven’t allowed a goal in what seems like months.

It still feels like the U.S. offense should be scoring more goals, but with the defense and effort they gave tonight, it’s shaping up to be a classic against Germany. As Coach Jimmy V said decades ago about the college basketball tourney: “Survive and advance.”

Day 173: USA 2, Columbia 0


The first knockout game of the Women’s World Cup for the USA was against Columbia. I thought the Americans would outclass the Columbians and sure enough that’s what happened. Although the US offense continues to struggle, the defense has been outstanding, with its third shutout in a row.

We watched the game with our fellow American Outlaws and munched on pigs in a blanket and loaded tater tots. The local Outlaws group hasn’t been as vocal as they were for the men’s team, but it’s still a passionate fan base. We’ve got our fingers crossed for a run to the finals, but I may have to cut down on the bar munchies if I’m going to fit into my USA gear by the time the final rolls around.

Day 167: She Believes


Abby Wambach

Last year my favorite World Cup hashtag was #IBelieveThatWeWillWin. This year for the Women’s World Cup, the hashtag du jour is #SheBelieves. After winning Group D, aka the Group of Death, Team USA is in great shape to go far in the tournament and bring home the Cup.

I believe.

Day 157: Sports Saturday


A change in plans today meant I could watch some sports while cleaning up the garage. What a day! I woke up to Serena Williams winning her 20th Grand Slam title. Next, FC Barcelona completed the Treble by beating Juventus. Finally, American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, becoming the first horse in almost four decades to do so.

I had planned on watching the opening of the Women’s World Cup, but after the Belmont Stakes I was wiped out. There’s still work to do in the garage, but that’ll wait until tomorrow. For now, a tip of the cap to Victor Espinoza and American Pharoah. A misspelled name never looked so good.

Day 116: Fair Trade

The L.A. Galaxy's Landon Donovan

The L.A. Galaxy’s Landon Donovan

I haven’t been to a Los Angeles Galaxy game this season, but I heard something today that reminds me of being at the StubHub Center cheering on my favorite futbol team: the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” The last time I listened to this song was during the MLS Championship game in December, when the Galaxy won their fifth MLS Cup. Like other teams, the Galaxy play the song after scoring a goal and sometimes the team supporters will start up that infamous chorus chant during random moments.

I’ve heard Seven Nation Army numerous times during Premier League matches and, according to the song’s Wikipedia page, it was the unofficial anthem of Italy’s World Cup win in 2006. I think it’s great that an American song has become so ingrained into sports across the pond. It’s like we finally paid back the debt owed for countless plays of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” at all of our sporting events. Considering how much I enjoy each song and how they’re both perfect songs to sing along with a crowd, I’d say it’s been a fair trade.

Day 35: Galaxy

Go Galaxy!

Go Galaxy!

Two days ago the Los Angeles Galaxy visited the White House, where President Barack Obama honored my favorite soccer team for their 2014 MLS Cup win. It’s the third time in four years that the Galaxy have been to Washington, D.C.

My wife and I were at the Home Depot Center in December when the Galaxy defeated the New England Revolution to claim the Cup. We sat with the Angel City Brigade supporter group and were part of the passionate Section 121. It was a great day, watching legend Landon Donovan end his professional career with another title.

Of course, being at an L.A. sporting event means I can enjoy my beloved post-game bacon-wrapped hot dog. It’s not as exciting as meeting the President, but it’s a fine way to celebrate a championship.

Typical scene after an L.A. game.

Typical scene after an L.A. game.

Day 10: Minor League, Major Fun


Since moving to the Inland Empire years ago, I’ve become a minor league sports fan, thanks to the close proximity of two excellent franchises: the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and the Ontario Fury. I’ll write about the Quakes as we get closer to baseball season. For now, I’ll focus on the Fury.

The Fury began playing in Ontario in 2013 as part of the Professional Arena Soccer League (re-branded as the Major Arena Soccer League for the 2014-15 season). My wife bought tickets for my birthday last year and I was instantly hooked: it was soccer on fast-forward, with lots of action and an unexpected dose of physical play. What I appreciated most was that the Fury might be a minor league team, but the experience was as good as any major league sport. They play home games at Citizens Bank Arena, which is a diminutive version of the modern sports arena, with all of the amenities of the big leagues, yet better sight lines due to its smaller size. Like other minor league teams, the Fury offer a family-friendly event; local businesses sponsor giveways and silly halftime contests.

Last night we had VIP seating, compliments of my wife’s win in a Fury social media contest. She thought we’d won general admission seating and as an usher showed us to our seats, we were pleasantly surprised when we were seated at front-row, glass-side tables and had access to the VIP bar area. I enjoyed my beverage as we rooted for the Fury as they held off the Harrisburg Heat, 10-9. My favorite moment? Former UCSB Gaucho Tino Nunez scoring on an awesome bicycle kick. It was a major league play, no matter what jersey you’re wearing.

Note: I’ve tried for years to like hockey, but it’s just not for me. However, I should note that the Ontario Reign, the local minor league hockey team is highly regarded as well. Since they’re affiliated with the Los Angeles Kings and I love all things L.A., I’ll eventually get around to seeing them.