The One with Soccer on the Brain

Fun Fact of the Day: Cleveland’s been on cloud 9 recently. On top of the Cavalier’s NBA Finals title, the Indians have now won 10 straight games!


Today's Rundown

SOCCER

The Messi Machine.  Last night, Argentina beat the U.S. 4-0 in the Copa America (psst—it’s the 100th anniversary of the South American soccer tournament, and we were invited to host!).  Argentina dominated the game scoring early and often, including a goal and a free kick from superstar Lionel Messi.  We always knew the game would be tough for the U.S., since we were missing three starters on card suspensions (Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya and Bobby Wood), but we didn’t even finish the game with a shot on goalYeesh! Next up, Argentina’s going to the final and we’ll play the game for 3rd place against the loser of Colombia v Chile. 

A stacked bracket. Yesterday, underdog Croatia defeated the two-time defending champions Spain 2-1 in the Euros (psst—the Euros are a prestigious European soccer tournament held every 4 years).  Now, Croatia’s taken the top spot in Group D and is moving on to the Round of 16. Spain will also move on to the next round, but they’ll face some insanely tough competition on the other side of the bracket, which is already stacked with heavy hitters Italy, Germany, England, and France.


Seen and Heard

NBA 

Taking my talents elsewhere… Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard decided to opt out of his contract and become a free agent.  Howard used to be a big star known for his athleticism and physique, but over the past few years, he’s been slowly fading out of the limelight. Last season, he averaged just 13.7 points a game, his lowest numbers since his rookie season 11 years ago. What’s the deal with his decline? People love to point to Dwight’s bad ‘tude, including looking bored in games and out-of-sync with his teammates. But Dwight said the problem is he felt hurt when the Rockets started intentionally phasing him out. He’s definitely right that the Rockets are trying to keep up with the NBA’s trendy new focus on perimeter shooting, proven by their recent hire of new head coach Mike D’Antoni. Who else is testing the free agent waters?  After 18 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki also decided to opted out of his contract yesterday. But as a career Mav, he’s expected to work out a deal to return to Dallas and finish out his playing days.  One thing’s for sure, Dirk definitely doesn’t have an under-appreciation problem.  Mavs owner Mark Cuban even said he’d offer to make Dirk head coach to keep him there.  

 

OLYMPICS

Guilty, until proven innocent.  The International Olympic Committee (IOC) affirmed a decision to ban all Russian track and field athletes from the Rio gamesBut what about the poor innocent drug-free athletes? Individual Russian athletes can apply to try and get back in the games but it’s not going to be easy. The IOC said that Russian athletes have lost the presumption of innocence, so they will need to prove that they were not tainted by the state-doping program, including presenting clean tests taken outside Russia.

 

SPORTS AND MEDIA

Birthday suit up!  Yesterday, ESPN magazine announced the athletes that will be posing in the buff for their annual “Body Issue” to be released next month. This year, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade will be gracing the cover. Athletes are just like us! Wade said he’s always been self-conscious about his outie belly button and even wore a shirt in the pool when he was younger.  UFC fighter Conor McGregor, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, and Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta are among the other athletes that will be posing au natural.  But we’re most excited about feasting our eyes on all 325 pounds of Houston Texans defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.