Monday, June 27, 2016

Chile: 2016 Copa America Champions

Francisco Silva’s penalty kick sealed the Copa America Centenario championship for Chile with their 4-2 win on penalties following a 0-0 draw against rival Argentina Sunday night in a dramatic Final at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Chile, FIFA’s fifth-ranked national team, defended its 2015 Copa America title, also won on penalties over Argentina. La Albiceleste is still seeking its first major tournament title since 1993.

After Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo stopped Lucas Biglia’s shot in the fourth round of the shootout, Chile needed only to make their fifth try to win, and Silva buried it as La Roja outscored Argentina 4-2 in the shootout. Silva’s winner came moments after Argentina superstar Lionel Messi shockingly missed over the goal.

The contentious finale of the tournament saw 35 fouls called with eight yellow cards and two red cards issued, the first red to Marcelo Diaz of Chile in the 28th minute after he collided with Messi. Consequently, Chile played with 10 men. But only for 15 minutes.

Messi was fouled several times as Chile were physical in marking the diminutive forward, and even he was shown yellow for embellishment in the 40th minute.

In the 43rd minute, the sides were evened at 10 when Argentina’s Marcos Rojo drew a straight red card for a hard tackle on Vidal. It marked the third time that players from both teams were sent off in a Copa America Final.

Before all of that drama, Argentina missed an excellent chance to take an early lead. Chile’s Gary Medel lost control of the ball deep in his team’s side of the field, and Gonzalo Higuain made a run with only the goalkeeper to beat. Higuain’s 21st minute shot trickled just wide left of the goal with Medel laying out against the post to keep the ball out of the net.

Things quieted down in the second half as far as scoring chances and whistles, but Argentina missed in the 84th minute when Messi found Sergio Aguero on the flank and Aguero skied his open shot well over the goal.

Messi missed high on a counter attack early in stoppage time and the game went to an additional 30 minutes.

Romero saved an Eduardo Vargas header in the 99th minute, then Bravo barely tipped away Aguero’s high header in the 100th.

The crowd of 82,026 was the largest to ever see a soccer match in the state of New Jersey.

Vargas didn’t score Sunday, but took the Powerade Golden Boot as leader for the tournament in goals with six. Chile’s Alexis Sanchez was awarded the MasterCard Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player, while Bravo won the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper for the second straight tournament.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Britain Decides To Leave The European Union

“Good morning everyone. The country has just taken part in a giant democratic exercise, perhaps the biggest in our history. Over 33 million people from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar have all had their say. We should be proud of the fact that, in these islands, we trust the people with these big decisions.
“We not only have a parliamentary democracy, but on questions about the arrangements for how we're governed, there are times when it is right to ask the people themselves, and that is what we have done. The British people have voted to leave the European Union, and their will must be respected.
“I want to thank everyone who took part in the campaign on my side of the argument, including all those who put aside party differences to speak in what they believed was the national interest. And let me congratulate all those who took part in the Leave campaign, for the spirited and passionate case that they made.
“The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered. It was not a decision that was taken lightly, not least because so many things were said by so many different organisations about the significance of this decision. So there can be no doubt about the result.
“Across the world, people have been watching a choice that Britain has made. I would reassure those markets and investors that Britain's economy is fundamentally strong, and I would also reassure Brits living in European countries, and European citizens living here, that there will be no immediate changes in your circumstances. There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move, or the way our services can be sold.
“We must now prepare for a negotiation with the European Union. This will need to involve the full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Ireland governments to ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced. But above all, this will require strong, determined and committed leadership.
“I'm very proud and very honoured to have been Prime Minister of this country for six years. I believe we have made great steps, with more people in work than ever before in our history, with reforms to welfare and education, increasing people's life chances, building a bigger and stronger society, keeping our promises to the poorest people in the world, and enabling those who love each other to get married, whatever their sexuality. But above all, restoring Britain's economic strength. And I'm grateful to everyone who's helped to make that happen.
“I've also always believed that we have to confront big decisions, not duck them. That is why we delivered the first Coalition government in 70 years, to bring our economy back from the brink. It's why we delivered a fair, legal and decisive referendum in Scotland. And it's why I made the pledge to renegotiate Britain's position in the European Union, and to hold a referendum on our membership, and have carried those things out.

“I've fought this campaign in the only way I know how - which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel, head, heart and soul. I held nothing back. I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union. And I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone, not the future of any single politician, including myself. But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path, and as such, I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.
“I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination. This is not a decision I've taken lightly. But I do believe it's in the national interest to have a period of stability, and then the new leadership required.
“There is no need for a precise timetable today, but in my view we should aim to have a new prime minister in place by the start of the Conservative Party conference in October. Delivering stability will be important, and I will continue in the post as Prime Minister with my Cabinet for the next three months. The Cabinet will meet on Monday. The Governor of the Bank of England is making a statement about the steps that the bank and the Treasury are taking to reassure financial markets.
“We will also continue taking forward the important legislation that we set before Parliament in the Queen's speech. And I've spoken to Her Majesty the Queen this morning and advised her of the steps that I am taking. A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new Prime Minister, and I think it's right that this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.
“I will attend the European Council next week to explain the decision the British people have taken, and my own decision. The British people have made a choice. That not only needs to be respected, but those on the losing side of the argument - myself included - should help to make it work.
“Britain is a special country. We have so many great advantages. A parliamentary democracy where we resolve great issues about our future through peaceful debate. A great trading nation with our science and arts, our engineering and our creativity respected the world over. And while we are not perfect, I do believe we can be a model of a multiracial, multifaith democracy where people can come and make a contribution and rise to the very highest that their talent allows.
“Although leaving Europe was not the path I recommended, I am the first to praise our incredible strengths. I've said before that Britain can survive outside the European Union, and indeed that we could find a way. Now, the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way. And I will do everything I can to help. I love this country, and I feel honoured to have served it, and I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed. Thank you very much.”
-David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland



United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016
Choice Votes %

Leave 17,410,742 51.9
Remain 16,141,241 48.1 

Valid votes 33,551,983 99.92
Invalid or blank votes 26,033 0.08 

Total votes 33,578,016 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 46,501,241 72.2%

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Cleveland Cavaliers: 2016 NBA Champions

It's a championship 52 years in the making.

One that was won by the Cleveland Cavaliers 93-89 over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on Sunday night. But one that was made all the more meaningful by decades of losing seasons from Cleveland's Browns and Indians, as well.

It took a native son -- the most important draft pick in franchise history 13 oh-so-lucky years ago, born and bred just about 30 miles down the road, in Akron, Ohio -- to break the cycle of disappointment.

If back-to-back titles in Miami were James' breakthrough as one of the game's all-time greats, the championship in Cleveland represents his ascension to living-legend status.

His NBA Finals record still stands at a lopsided 3-4 -- not nearly as stellar a bullet point on his résumé than the four MVP awards and top-five ranking in all-time playoff points, assists and steals -- but that third ring carries so much weight.

Hundreds of players have won the NBA title before, but nobody has ever done it quite like James and the Cavs did this year.

James dominated the series, pushing it to an improbable brink with back-to-back 41-point games in to bring Cleveland back from a 3-1 deficit. The first 32 teams to fall down 3-1 in the Finals ended up losers. The Cavs, led by a certain No. 23, made sure that streak ended when it came to 33.

A win by the Warriors would have solidified their place in the discussion of the greatest team ever. James' performance in the series changed the conversation and steered it toward consideration for him as the greatest player ever.

He did it, of course, on the same court as the league's back-to-back MVP in Stephen Curry. Only anyone watching could see by James' play that when everything matters the most, he remains the best the sport has to offer, with Curry still a level below.

And he did it by elevating a group of teammates like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson -- with a combined zero playoff games between them before James came back to Cleveland -- to the game's zenith.

As he famously posted in his homecoming letter in the Players' Tribune, "In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have."

James and the Cavs outworked and outlasted the greatest regular-season team.

And now the city of Cleveland can rejoice a well-earned championship -- one that will be remembered for the ages -- at last.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

GWS Giants...Have A Women's Team!

The Greater Western Sydney GIANTS are delighted to announce the club will field a team in the new National Women’s League (NWL) in 2017.

The AFL today announced that the GIANTS were one of eight AFL clubs to secure a licence to field a team in the inaugural year of the NWL.

The GIANTS’ successful bid detailed the club’s experience in establishing a new AFL team, it’s capacity to house a women’s team immediately and its commitment to driving inclusion and diversity in the New South Wales and ACT communities.

GIANTS CEO David Matthews said today’s decision was a watershed moment for the game and for female athletes in New South Wales and the ACT.

“This is one of the most significant announcements in the game’s history and certainly one of the most important things the GIANTS will ever do,” Mr Matthews said.

“Today’s decision opens up a clear pathway for women and girls looking to play Australian Football at the elite level. The opportunity this provides females in New South Wales and the ACT is unprecedented.

“We’re pleased our bid has been vindicated and our commitment to the promotion and development of female sport has been recognised by the AFL. We are in the unique positon of having a proven track record when it comes to building a club from the ground up. We know what it takes to establish a new team and take the game to all corners of the community from day one.

“Our objectives in establishing a women’s AFL team are also aligned to the AFL’s broader strategic aims of providing comprehensive pathways for female athletes and developing a truly national code.

“We have world class facilities and play out of some of the best stadia in the country which will provide the ideal platform for growing the women’s game. We are proud to be the flag bearers for female athletes looking to play Australian Football in New South Wales and the ACT and can’t wait for the inaugural NWL season to get under way next year.”

The GIANTS will now work with the AFL on planning for the inaugural NWL season with further details of the 2017 NWL competition forthcoming in due course.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Pittsburgh Penguins: 2016 Stanley Cup Champions

Who needs a goal on the statistical ledger when you win a Stanley Cup?

There’s another addition to Sidney Crosby’s championship legacy in the form of the Pittsburgh Penguins' fourth Stanley Cup title.

The Elias Sports Bureau’s research shows that Crosby is the third skater to win the Conn Smythe despite not scoring a goal in the Stanley Cup finals -- joining Scott Niedermayer of the Ducks in 2007 and Jonathan Toews with the Blackhawks in 2010. All three were captains of their respective teams.

Crosby has two titles, the same number as Penguins owner Mario Lemieux. He has won five championships overall, including two Olympic gold medals and the 2015 world championship. He also has the same number of professional titles as LeBron James.

The history

This is the Penguins' first title since 2009 (which they also won on June 12). All four have been won on the road. The Penguins’ four titles are tied with the Red Wings for the most since 1991, the year of the Penguins' first championship. The Penguins are 4-0 in games in which they had a chance to clinch the Cup on the road.

Among teams to debut since the NHL’s first expansion in 1967-68, the only team with more Stanley Cup titles is the Oilers with five, all between 1984 and 1990.

The goalie

Penguins goalie Matt Murray went 6-0 immediately after a loss this postseason. Elias Sports Bureau research shows that his 15 wins match the most by a rookie goalie in a single postseason and that he’s the seventh rookie goalie to win all four games during the Stanley Cup finals, the first since Cam Ward in 2006.

The best support

Crosby won the Conn Smythe, but Phil Kessel was also one of the Penguins' top players. Kessel was traded from the Maple Leafs in a six-player deal after being much maligned in Toronto.

His sister, Amanda, was not going to play her senior season at Minnesota after suffering a concussion. But things changed for the family. Amanda returned in February and scored the game-winning goal in the national championship at the Frozen Four. She won three national titles at Minnesota.

Kessel’s season turned on March 13 when he joined a line with Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino. He led the Penguins with 10 goals and 22 points in 24 postseason games.

To top it off, on May 1, Amanda signed a one-year deal with the New York Riveters of the NWHL (National Women’s Hockey League) worth $26,000, making her the top-paid player in the league.

How they won

The story of the series was how the Penguins limited the Sharks' opportunities. The Sharks had 67 shot attempts in Game 6 and the Penguins blocked 33 of them. The Penguins blocked 136 shots in the series, an average of 23 per game.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

I Could Never Serve On A Jury. I Know Too Many People.

Yesterday, I was due to report for jury duty on an election day. Well, a Primary Day, to be technical. So, I was sent to a courtroom in the George Deukmejian Courthouse, Department S17, to be given an orientation by the presider, Judge Judith Meyer. The building looks similar to the CSULB Student Union, only slightly bigger. A Subway and Coffee Bean/Tea Leaf is on the first floor, and there is also a convenience store that I am not aware of. This was going to be a two to three week trial. That's at least 250 dollars that I could get from being called to serve. The case was a gangbanger case from 2011. Nothing special. The guy, as far as I concerned, is guilty but the defense will most likely appeal anyway, only to have it declined. Waste of time all over.

There was one problem with that, bigger than the predictable conclusion I forecasted. One of the witnesses happened to be the husband of one of the board members/instructors that works for one of my companies, the Long Beach Bar Foundation, whose classes happen to take place at the courthouse. Because of his links, it was very unlikely the defense would get a fair trial. Seeing this, the resident court clerk excused me and took my questionnaire. I had a lunch break (I ordered a Malibu Dream with almond coconut milk from the Coffee Bean/Tea Leaf), and afterwards, with no other trials, my jury duty was over, I took a bus home and got some sleep so that I could wake up and go back to my soccer writing for the Stoppage Time.

The fact that I know a lot of people at the courthouse—and this was my very first visit, one of the staff checking bags was at the Recognition Reception earlier this year—means that in order for me to really have a chance, I have to be assigned to a different courthouse. HOWEVER, they would have to pay extra for mileage, so it would be more expensive. Convenience breeds familiarity. My brother in law was also sitting on the jury of a trial. He was two and a half weeks into his case.

After I woke up and had some coffee, I found out that Hillary Clinton had won the California primary in the early morning. Earlier in the morning, I made my vote and a number of choices I made wound up going through, including Clinton, Kamala Harris and YES to all the measures. No surprises, but what was surprising was that Bernie Sanders refused to concede. I don't know about this, but I am sure he is now making himself and his constituents looks bad. This is why I can never accept Bernie Sanders as the leader of the free world: he is a sore loser.

Bernie, being a sore loser is my job, and I apply in a different setting. It's called sports. It's called punditry. Give up, old man. With all due disrespect to Mr. Trump, Hillary Clinton will be our next president.

Monday, June 06, 2016

"I Can Move Mountains, I Can Work A Miracle..."

The USA gains nothing from winning the Copa America Centenario. In fact, this is actually a series of international friendlies posing as the Copa America. It's the matches in September that will really determine whether or not Jurgen Klinsmann is still our manager. I actually prefer to have Jurgen Klopp as our manager of the USMNT. Character, personality, mystique, resilient tough talk, able to work up a crowd like those college football coaches and assistants in the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, etc.

The 2-0 loss to Colombia was expected. They had actual players like Juan Cuadrado and James Rodriguez. On our national team, we have incompetent geriatrics like Michael Bradley who have no business playing international soccer anymore. The only incentive for the USA to show up at the Copa America Centenario is image purposes, to assure the locals that they have the right to wear the shirt, wear the colors and play for their country instead of sulking on a paycheck that will be coming anyway.

Very skeptical that the USMNT will take down Paraguay and Costa Rica, but the match with the Ticos would be a nice warmup match for WCQ qualification against the likes of, say, Trinidad and Tobago. A country that was unfortunate to be drawn with the States and Guatemala, but it's really Guatemala that are under the pump and need the States to do the unthinkable and get scalped by Vincy Heat.

Making the Hexagonal has been a tradition for USA and Mexico in this region. It is an iron-clad expectation because fans in both countries will pack stadiums for their respective teams during the Final Round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualification. A lot of money is also into play as a result. From the Rose Bowl, to MAPFRE Stadium, to the Azteca, to Soldier Field and the Meadowlands, the matches in the Hexagonal that involve El Tri and the USMNT are always the hottest tickets in town, and the USA are on the verge of breaking with tradition and not qualifying for the Hex, which they have done for the past few cycles, often times finishing on top of Mexico.

So this has been a cycle of regression for the USA. It takes a proper team to defeat the Nats, but it also has to do with Jurgen Klinsmann trying too hard to come up with a winning formula and not going with stability and consistency. For the time being, it is the duty of CONCACAF's second fiddle to show up at the Centenario and play for their shirts. Thw national team's image is now at stake.

Cue Uma Thurman.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

More Football Wallpaper Archives To Enjoy

I have attached archives of wallpapers from Euro 2012, the London 2012 Olympics and Miss International Love, the latter being a collection of wallpapers from the major sports leagues named after Pitbull and Chris Brown's namesake song. The latter collection has been updated to include changes to team logos, league logos, stadium logos, and also new teams and venues. If you want the old version, request it via the comments. Do not ask for requests in bulk, they will not be granted.

Also, in the Euro 2012 archive, Sweden and Ireland have new walls. This is because Imageshack did not keep all of my images. To counter this, two new walls have been made specifically for this. If you somehow have a copy from my old DeviantArt days, let me know and I will see if I can replicate it; otherwise you'll have to settle for what you get here. These are for personal use, send me an email if you want to use it for something else.