On Thursday night, the head coach of the U.S. men’s national soccer team, Jurgen Klinsmann, decided he would not be taking Landon Donovan to the 2014 World Cup. Given that Donovan is one of the most decorated and long-standing soccer players in U.S. history, the news came as a shock to many American soccer fans.But for those who follow the sport closely, Donovan’s omission from the roster wasn’t so surprising. Klinsmann and Donovan got off to a rocky start in 2011, when Klinsmann first took the head coaching job and Donovan decided to take a break from soccer. Since then, Donovan has been working to get back into Klinsmann’s player pool, but nagging injuries sidelined him for much of 2013. At age 32, Donovan appeared to have lost some of his pace and ability to finish. Since scoring Oct. 6 of last year, he has taken 32 shots with the LA Galaxy and men’s national team, but he hasn’t scored a goal.Similarly, over the past three years, all of Donovan’s offensive statistics have been declining: goals, assists, expected goals and passing expected assists. (ESPN TruMedia does not have data available before the 2012 Major League Soccer season for these statistics. Passing expected assists are a measure of how many goals we’d expect his passes to generate based on where players received the ball and other context.) Donovan’s most recent performance makes a clear case against sending him to the World Cup.Klinsmann’s detractors are probably clinging to the memory of Donovan’s storied stoppage-time finish against Algeria at the 2010 World Cup, which sent the U.S. out of the group stage. No U.S. player has performed as well as Donovan in the past three World Cups in terms of goals scored (five), and he improved his ability to create scoring chances, complete passes and assists in each subsequent World Cup he played in.No longer finishing goals himself, the best reason to include Donovan on the squad in Brazil is probably his ability to create scoring chances for other people. Since the start of 2013, Donovan created 36 scoring chances in 12 games for the men’s national team — 15 more than any player going to Brazil.But four years is a long time, and a lot has changed for Donovan and soccer in the U.S. People expect something of the men’s national team this summer; simply qualifying for the tournament is no longer a point of pride. In previous World Cups, coaches might have taken a player along for his leadership qualities or experience, but Klinsmann has made it clear that a 32-year-old in bad form is not worth any amount of intangible qualities.It will be difficult to know whether Klinsmann made the right decision until June 26, when the U.S. finishes the group stage of the tournament. Because of Donovan’s name recognition and fan following, his absence might hurt World Cup viewership in the U.S. But the fact that the men’s national team is finally bigger than one player is great news for soccer in America.
Monthly Archiv: September, 2019
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area idolizing Joe Montana, Steve Young and the San Francisco 49ers. Now, after winning his fourth Super Bowl on Sunday, Brady has helped the Patriots cement their place alongside the 49ers among the top NFL dynasties of all time.Whether the Patriots or the 49ers rank as the top modern NFL dynasty depends on the length of the period you consider. In the chart below, I’ve measured the top franchises over periods ranging from one year to 25 years.1I’ve listed the top three teams for each period, but there is no overlap allowed: For instance, if the 2003-2007 Patriots are the top five-year dynasty, I won’t also list the 2004-2008 Patriots. Rankings are based on a team’s average Elo rating at the end of each season. (We’ve calculated Elo ratings back to the AFL-NFL merger year of 1970, so great teams before that — like the Green Bay Packers of the 1960s — are not considered.) Here’s the list:Brady’s 2007 Patriots finished with the highest single-season Elo rating ever, despite being upset in the Super Bowl by the New York Giants. Even if you’re no fan of the 2007 Patriots, another Brady team ranks second: the 2004 Patriots.But when we’re thinking about dynasties, we’re thinking about success over a multi-year period. Brady’s 2003 and 2004 Patriots are one of seven franchises to have won consecutive Super Bowls, and on the Elo list they’re essentially tied with the 1992-93 Dallas Cowboys and 1972-73 Miami Dolphins for the best two-year runs ever. The early 1990s Cowboys earn the nod for the top three- and four-year peaks, although it’s a close call in each case.For periods of longer than four years, the top two franchises become pretty clear: the Patriots and the 49ers:The Patriots rate as having the best five- and six-year runs;The 49ers have the best seven- and eight-year stretches;The Patriots then overtake the Niners as the best dynasty for periods of nine through 12 years;But the 49ers win again for periods of 13 years and longer.The 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers is the other franchise that can make a case for being the top modern dynasty. The Steelers won four Super Bowls in a six-year stretch in the 1974 through 1979 seasons and are extremely competitive with the Patriots and the 49ers in Elo for the top six- and seven-year runs.But those Steelers did not have the longevity of the 49ers or the Patriots. Pittsburgh’s quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, was not terribly effective before or after his Super Bowl run. Brady, by contrast, has been anywhere from good to MVP-caliber since he first took over the Patriots’ starting job in 2001, and the Patriots have not had a losing year since. The 49ers, meanwhile, had 16 consecutive winning seasons from 1983 to 1998.
The Chicago Blackhawks will take the ice tonight for the chance to win their third Stanley Cup in six seasons. For NHL fans whose memories stretch back to the 1970s and 1980s, such a feat might not seem all that impressive. The NHL was once extremely friendly to dynasties: The Montreal Canadiens won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1976 to 1979, the New York Islanders did so from 1980 to 1983 and then the Edmonton Oilers won five Stanley Cups in seven seasons from 1984 through 1990.But this isn’t the same league: No team has won back-to-back Stanley Cups since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. And cases like the Blackhawks’ — where teams win championships separated by a couple of seasons, as they did in 2010 and 2013, or as the Los Angeles Kings did in 2012 and 2014 — are fairly rare, too.In the series of charts below, I’ve tracked the share of NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB champions who were repeat winners, along with the share who had won at least one title in any of the three previous seasons.1For instance, the 2014 champion would qualify by having won the championship in 2011, 2012 or 2013. These trends can also ebb and flow over time. After the Boston Celtics won 11 championships in 13 seasons from 1957 through 1969, the NBA then went 19 seasons without a repeat champion until the Los Angeles Lakers did it in 1987 and 1988. Since this data can be a bit noisy, I’ve stretched it over a fairly long time frame, showing trailing 20-year windows for each sport.Over its past 20 seasons, the NHL has the lowest share of repeat winners among the major sports leagues — the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998 were the only one — along with the lowest share of teams to repeat within a three-season window (four out of the past 20 Stanley Cup champions did so). By contrast, before about 1990, it was probably the easiest sport for repeat winners. From 1971 to 1990, for instance, 45 percent of Stanley Cup winners had also won the championship in the previous season, and 75 percent had won a Stanley Cup within the previous three years.The reasons for this are obvious enough: The NHL has expanded rapidly, from six teams in 1966-67 to 30 teams today. It implemented a hard and unforgiving salary cap in 2004-05. And it’s a fairly random sport: Compared with something like basketball, the best team won’t necessarily prevail, even over a seven-game series.Still, the differences are striking. Given the difficulties of keeping a team together in the modern NHL, winning three championships within six years, as the Blackhawks will do if they can finish off Tampa Bay, would perhaps be no less impressive a feat than what the Islanders did by winning four in a row, for example. And they’ll have done it with largely the same group of talent. Nine of the Blackhawks’ top 10 players by point shares this season, including Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, were also members of the franchise in 20102Although goalie Corey Crawford spent most of the 2009-10 season in the minor leagues and played just one regular-season game for the Blackhawks; the only exception is left wing Brandon Saad, who had not yet been drafted. UPDATE (June 16, 11:13 a.m.): The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup on Monday night, confirming their status as a modern dynasty.
The loss suffered by the Ohio State women’s basketball team in the Sweet 16 represented more than the end of the season — it represented the last time Jantel Lavender would don scarlet and gray. The vacancy left by the four-time Big Ten Player of the Year will be coach Jim Foster’s toughest obstacle, as he will look toward Ashley Adams to improve on her solid freshman season and develop into the type of low-post threat Lavender posed. “We have to find someone else,” Foster said. “Sammy (Prahalis is) back — another opportunity for her to lead and help some of our younger players grow over the summer.” Samantha Prahalis will be a senior next season under the expectation that the team will be hers to lead. Her 14.5 points per game were second, behind only Lavender. She finished Big Ten play as the conference leader in assists, with 6.9 per game, ranking third in the country. It’s likely that the majority of her assists next season will be from baskets made by Adams, who shot 61 percent from the field this year. After averaging less than six minutes of playing time over her first nine games, Adams moved into the starting lineup and contributed heavy minutes after senior Sarah Schulze suffered a serious knee injury Jan. 16. From then on, Adams averaged more than 27 minutes per game and started 16 of the team’s last 17 games. At 6-foot-4, Adams presented opposing teams with the challenge of facing two sizeable players in the post when paired with Lavender. After Schulze went down, Adams averaged 8.2 points per game. Before she moved into the starting lineup, she averaged fewer than two points a contest. Guard Brittany Johnson is the other senior starter leaving. Johnson was the team’s most potent threat from beyond the 3-point line, making 42.7 percent of her attempts. Johnson was the 29th player in program history to record 1,000 points, and was second in the Big Ten, averaging 2.9 threes per game. It will be up to guards Tayler Hill and Amber Stokes to fill the void Johnson leaves next year. Hill, entering her junior campaign, earned Big Ten All-Defensive team honors this season, and was voted honorable mention for the conference. She was third on the team in scoring, with 12.8 points per game, and handled the ball when teams looked to shut down Prahalis. Stokes became known as the team’s spark plug off the bench, often providing the Buckeyes with intangibles. Others who will likely see increased roles next season are centers Aleksandra Dobranic and Darryce Moore, forwards Martina Ellerbe, Brianna Sanders and Emilee Harmon, and guard Amy Scullion. Foster has four incoming freshmen signed for next season, including guards Raven Ferguson and Kalpana Beach. Ferguson is rated as the No. 35 overall prospect and sixth among point guards by ESPN. Beach is ranked as the No. 26 incoming freshman guard. “You just sort of reload and get ready,” Foster said after the Sweet 16 loss. “You can’t dwell.”
Ohio State junior guard Raven Ferguson (31) dribbles the ball during a game against Old Dominion Nov. 22 at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio. OSU won, 75-60.Four players scored in double figures for the Ohio State women’s basketball team Thursday, as the Buckeyes took down Michigan, 61-50, in Ann Arbor, Mich.OSU (13-9, 3-3) was led in scoring by junior guard Raven Ferguson, who came off the bench to score 16 points on 7-14 shooting.The game started off much like the first meeting between the two squads, which took place on Jan. 5, in Columbus, as the Buckeyes once again shot poorly from the field in the first half – just 28.6 percent.The Buckeyes found their stride in the second half.OSU shot an impressive 60 percent from the field in the game’s final 20 minutes, while holding the Wolverines to 29.4 percent shooting.Despite being outrebounded and turning the ball over 18 times, the Buckeyes’ reserves dominated, as junior guard Maleeka Kynard and Ferguson combined for 28 of OSU’s 30 bench points while Michigan only received six points from their bench.Kynard, who averages just 14.2 minutes per game this season, played a career high 31 minutes and tied a career-high with 12 points in the win.Likely due to her improved play of late, senior center Ashley Adams earned a start over fellow senior center Darryce Moore and was one rebound shy of a double-double, recording 11 points and nine rebounds in the Buckeye victory. It was Adams’ eighth start of the season.Sophomore guard Ameryst Alston, who leads the team in scoring this season with 17 points per game, scored just 11 points, seven of which came at the free throw line.Michigan was led in scoring by junior guard Shannon Smith who scored a game-high 17 points.The Buckeyes will attempt to keep the momentum from win over their rival going Sunday, as they are scheduled to play Michigan State (12-7, 4-2) at 12:30 p.m.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James addresses an official during a game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Nov. 10. at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Cleveland won, 118-111.Credit: Courtesy of TNSWhen LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he knew the team would have an adjustment period.“It’s something that I was ready for,” James told ESPN.com on Nov. 24. “I knew that it was going to be my biggest challenge of my career thus far, so I accept the challenge, and when we lose, I take full responsibility. When we win, the team wins. That’s what it’s about.”And a transition it has been. Through their first 16 games, the new “Big 3” of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and James have gone 9-7 and currently sit in sixth place in a weak Eastern Conference.However, it takes time for everything to play out.But what is everything though? Everything consists of team chemistry to off-court relationships and both offensive and defensive playmaking. James knew that the Cavs would go through all of this. And it’s because he’s done it before.Many fans and media expected the Cavaliers to start the regular season being a great team, and with James’ first “true” point guard in Irving, many thought this team could rely on its playmaking alone.Despite having a 5-3 record through the middle of November, the Cavs lost four straight, causing many to wonder if coach David Blatt was the right coach for one of the most talented teams in the NBA. Some fans have even wanted Blatt fired, as James has taken on a coaching role because Blatt has never played or coached in the NBA before.Blatt played collegiately at Princeton and then went on to play and coach in Israel, as well as coach the Russian national team in the 2012 Olympic games, leading the team to a bronze medal.But the NBA is different from any place Blatt has coached before, and it shows.Coming into Tuesday’s game against Milwaukee the Cavs, despite being 11th in the NBA in points per game with 103.3, ranked 24th in total rebounds per game with 41.1. Defensively, it ranks 17th in total points allowed per game with 99.3. They are also 27th in assists allowed per game with 24.8.Love was also on the record saying that his new team was going to have a transition period.“It’s going to take a little bit of time, but we’re going to clean this up, I guarantee you that,” Love told ESPN.com. “Team morale is great. We get along, but we know we have a ton of work to do.”Through everything the Cavs have gone through this season, many fail to mention that James and his former team, the Miami Heat, had a transition period of nearly a month and a half, before the team started to get a feel for one another’s style of play.It wasn’t until Dec. 2, 2010, when the Heat played the Cavs, in what was James’ first game against his former team, that the Heat turned the corner. Despite Cleveland going into that game with two straight wins, the Heat beat the Cavs, 118-90. After that, everything seemed to click for the winning team. From there, the Heat continued their three-game winning streak and won 20 of their next 21 games.Before going on that run and heading into 2011 at 25-9, some were calling for the firing of coach Erik Spoelstra.Despite taking the Heat to the NBA Finals in his first two seasons coaching the team, its start was something many didn’t expect.In their first 18 games together, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and James went 10-8, with key wins coming against the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers, who both made the playoffs that season. Rumors had spread that Heat President Pat Riley would relieve Spoelstra of coaching duties and take over. Instead, Riley did nothing, and the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals that season.Sixteen games in, the Cavs have key wins against the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards and are still going through some growing pains, but have won four-straight.But like the Heat, it doesn’t matter what is going on now, the future is more important. That’s why people say it’s not how you preform in the first half of the season, it’s how you preform in May and June.So while fans may be worried about how the Cavs preform, remember that it just takes time.Time is one of the hardest things to live with as a sports fan because as a team is going through a rebuilding phase, the product you see on the floor isn’t necessarily the product you’ll see at the end of the day.By the beginning of January, I guarantee Blatt and the Cavs will have figured something out and will continue to fight toward a potential birth in the NBA Finals. Only so much can be learned during training camp, and time for adjustments in the regular season has to be learned in practice and during in-game situations.
Ohio State redshirt senior first baseman Zach Ratcliff at bat during the Scarlet and Gray World Series in October 2016. Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsA matchup between reigning Big Ten tournament champions and reigning Big Ten regular season champions was sure to be a much anticipated matchup among fans.And with a 2017 record 2,342 fans in attendance at Bill Davis Stadium, there were plenty of eyes set to take in a Friday night matchup between a pair of heavyweight pitchers.Those fans were treated to quite the pitching battle between the two starters, but the Gophers bullpen held on to the late lead they were given and helped propel Minnesota to the 5-2 victory in the Big Ten opener for both teams.The Gophers got on the scoreboard first with a sacrifice fly off the bat of junior first baseman Toby Hanson in the top of the third inning, scoring junior right fielder Alex Boxwell from third base.Two innings later, Boxwell would again step up to the plate, and this time crushed the second pitch of the at-bat over the batter’s eye in straight-away center field to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead.After five anemic innings from the Buckeye offense, it was again the freshman second baseman Noah West who provided his team with a spark.West extended his hitting streak to five games with a single through the left side. He proceeded to register his first-career stolen base, swiping second and giving the Buckeyes only their second runner in scoring position on the day. And after a bunt single loaded the bases for senior shortstop Jalen Washington, a wild pitch scored West from third to bring the score to 2-1.A groundout by Washington after the wild pitch scored junior center fielder Tre’ Gantt from third, knotting the game up at two.With the game tied, OSU coach Greg Beals opted to pull redshirt senior starting pitcher Jake Post in favor of redshirt senior reliever Joe Stoll. Post finished the day with two runs (one earned) over six innings of work. He walked just two while striking out five and giving up seven hits.Just a half inning later, the Gophers would get the bats going again. With the Buckeyes’ starter out of the game, a walk and a single put runners on the corners for redshirt senior catcher Matt Stemper who rolled a grounder to junior reliever Seth Kinker. Kinker fired on to home, unable to nail the runner at the plate and the Gophers took the 3-2 lead.A single to right field put the second Gopher run of the inning up on the board and an error in right allowed the runners to reach second and third. Kinker retired the next two batters to keep the game at 4-2.The Gophers scored once more in the top of the ninth to seal their victory at 5-2.The bullpen blowing the lead was a tough blow for a team that had battled back to tie the game up late in the game, and Washington believes it took some of the momentum the team had built up out from under them.“We preach throwing a zero after a big inning,” Washington said. “Came out and got two and we couldn’t stop them the next half inning. We wanted to throw a zero and they got a few hits, maybe a walk or so. But that kind of crushed a bit because we had a bit of momentum going that inning so definitely hurt us a little bit.”It was Post’s third time this season reaching the sixth inning and his fourth time allowing two runs or fewer in the outing. But for Beals, this was the kind of outing the team was looking for as he was able to keep his team in the ballgame against a tough opponent.“I think it was kind of a workman’s outing for him,” Beals said. “I thought he did a great job getting through six innings, a quality start for us and that’s what you expect out of the senior to do that. Give his ballclub a chance like he did tonight.”Post said that he was not his best at the beginning of the game, but settled in and found his groove towards the end.“It was kind of the same trends as the last three starts,” Post said. “First inning or two, just kind of moving to quick. And then I settle in and I felt a lot more comfortable towards the end of the game, or towards the end of my six innings.”One big reason the team struggled to provide Post with some runs was a result of the dominant outing turned in by Minnesota’s starting pitcher.Junior starting pitcher Lucas Gilbreath limited the Buckeyes to two runs, only one earned, across 6.2 innings of work. He did not issue a single walk during the game, while striking out seven batters. Beals tipped his cap to the opposing pitcher, acknowledging that their southpaw did a fine job keeping the Buckeye batters off-balance all day.“Gilbreath did a good job, he pitched the ball well, commanded both sides of the plate with his fastball,” Beals said. “We were prepared for arm-side run on the fastball, we weren’t as prepared for him to come inside like he did. I thought he did a good job of keeping our hitters off-balance with the fastball on both sides.”There has been a change in the OSU baseball schedule. Rather than play on Saturday and Sunday, OSU will face off against Minnesota in a doubleheader on Saturday starting at noon.Though the change in schedule was not announced until Friday afternoon, Beals said the team will be ready for the matchup and that they are just taking each game one at a time.“I hate to be cliche, but you can’t think about the doubleheader. We’ve got to win Game 1,” Beals said. “We’re going to go with (sophomore starting pitcher Connor) Curlis still in Game 1 and get a quality start. I think him being a left-hander versus the steady diet of left-handers that are in their lineup ought to be a solid matchup.”Curlis and sophomore starting pitcher Ryan Feltner will start Game 1 and Game 2 of the doubleheader, respectively. First pitch for Saturday’s game is scheduled for noon.
Freshman quarterback Justin Fields sits at the Ohio State men’s basketball game between the Buckeyes and Michigan State on Jan. 5 following his transfer to Ohio State from Georgia. Credit: Nick Hudak | For The LanternWithout ever playing a snap for Ohio State, and being with the program for fewer than two weeks, Justin Fields already has high expectations.Fields, the freshman quarterback transfer from Georgia, has been given 10-1 odds of winning the 2019 Heisman Trophy, according to the betting site, Bovada. Those odds tied him at No. 3 with former teammate, Georgia sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm, and behind Clemson freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Alabama sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who stand at 2-1 and 4-1 odds, respectively.Another website, BetOnline, has Fields tied for No. 4 in the odds with Clemson sophomore running back Travis Etienne, again behind Lawrence and Tagovailoa. He also trails junior quarterback Jalen Hurts, who is expected to transfer from Alabama instead of sitting behind Tagovailoa for another season.Hurts has 9-1 odds at the Heisman according to BetOnline, which also had Hurts’ odds of landing at in-conference opponent Maryland at the highest at 1-2.Ohio State sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins was a co-favorite to win the Heisman at 6-1 when Bovada updated its rankings before the 2018 season on Jan. 30. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who ended up finishing No. 3 in Heisman voting, was given 35-1 odds on Jan. 30, 2018.Fields was a five-star prospect out of high school and the second-highest rated quarterback in the history of 247Sports Composite Rankings, trailing only Lawrence.At Georgia, Fields completed 27-of-39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns in limited playing time through 12 games. He also rushed for 266 yards and four touchdowns on 42 carries while backing up Fromm.Redshirt freshman quarterback Tate Martell entered his name in the transfer portal, who removed “Ohio State” out of his Twitter bio and took visits to West Virginia and Miami. If Martell were to leave, Fields is expected to be the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes in 2019. Fields is still awaiting confirmation that he will be eligible to play next season due to transfer rules requiring players to sit out a year between schools.
We are satisfied with their accounts and that they were not hurt or in danger in any wayDet Sgt Craig Smith The mother of one of the teenagers contacted police explaining what had happened in Wellington, Shropshire.She revealed that it was she and her husband who had been spotted collecting their daughter from the town after her friend had phoned to say the girl had “had too much to drink”.Detective Sergeant Craig Smith said: “This was a very concerning set of circumstances and we were very keen to ensure the safety of the two girls.”One of the calls received was from the parent of one of the girls who confirmed that she and her husband were in the car.”They had gone out to pick up their daughter from Glebe Street after receiving a call from the other girl to say their daughter had had too much to drink and needed to be taken home.”We have been out to speak to the parents and both the girls and we are satisfied with their accounts and that they were not hurt or in danger in any way.”He added: “We believe the initial report was made in good faith and would like to thank the caller for their concern.” Police have withdrawn their appeal over fears a teenage girl had been forced into a car – after the “victim” turned out to be a drunk girl being picked up by her parents.West Mercia Police launched an urgent plea for information after the alarm was raised in the early hours of Monday.A member of the public reported the incident in which two teenage girls were reportedly “pulled forcibly” into the vehicle.But after a widely publicised online police appeal in which officers wanted to speak to anyone with information as a “matter of urgency”, it turned out to have an innocent explanation. The girl’s parents had picked her up from Glebe Street in Wellington, Shropshire Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Minor altercations of a kind to be expected in a marriageJudge Robin Tolson QC Tini Owens leaves the Royal Courts of Justice in LondonCredit:Dominic Lipinski/PA