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The U.S. Women’s national team advanced to the semifinals of the 2019 Women’s World Cup on Friday, with a 2-1 win over host nation France. Both sides entered the fixture as the number one and number two favorite to win the tournament, with many thinking that the winner of this game would go on to win the whole thing. That now remains to be seen, but the USA advance onward to a semifinal matchup vs England on Tuesday.

Megan Rapinoe got the stars and stripes off to a dream start with a free kick goal in the 5th minute of the game. She drilled the kick from the left side of the goal low and hard into a mix of French and American players. Somehow, through all the clutter, the ball squeaked through, and with the goalkeeper unable to see what was in front of her, it found the back of the net. Rapinoe then added on to her stellar game, knocking home a cross at the back post from Tobin Heath to put the U.S. up 2-0 in the 65th minute. From that point, the US went to a 5 player defensive system, a sign of “buttoning down the hatches” to try and close out the game.

In the 81st minute, France got one back off a free kick which found the head of the tallest player on the field in Renard. She powered the header past Naeher who had no chance to make the save, and France had life. The USA did well to hold off France for the final 10+ minutes, and send the host nation home much earlier than they would have liked.

France dominated possession having the ball for over 60% of the game, as well as having 20 shots to the USA’s 10. Despite having more of the ball, USA had more shots on target (8) and had the more dangerous chances of the game. With Rapinoe’s two goals, she now has five for the tournament, and is tied with teammate Alex Morgan and England forward Ellen White for the Golden Boot race.

“That was the most intense match I have ever been a part of” coach Jill Ellis said. “A win is a win in the World Cup”.

Julie Ertz added “We had to defend a lot. That’s what the game gave us. We take a lot of pride of having a lot of tools in our toolbox”. Ertz played a crucial role in midfield for the USA before dropping back into defense when the U.S. switched to a back five.

The USA has not trailed for a single minute of the 2019 World Cup, however, the margins of their victories have gotten smaller and smaller as each game has gone on. Going to a back 5, something rarely done by the USA who are known to constantly attack, shows just how nervy things got. Maybe that is a good thing though. The group heads into the semifinals vs England battle tested, knowing that they can grind out tight games. The Americans are now just two wins away from repeating as back to back World Cup champions, a feat only accomplished by Germany in 2003 and 2007.

NBA Free Agency officially opened up on Sunday, and from the jump, some high profile players have already committed to deals. NBA Twitter was filled with Woj bomb after Woj bomb on Sunday, and depending on who you support, it was either a really good day, or a really bad day. Let’s take a look at some of the notable action from yesterday.

  1. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving team up in New York. Despite Durant’s injury these were the top two free agents on the market outside of Kawhi Leonard, and the two of them are joining forces in New York, only, it’s not with the Knicks. The Brooklyn Nets the surprise winners of free agency landed both former NBA Champions on 4 year deals at slightly below max money. The duo taking slightly less opened up money for the Nets to sign DeAndre Jordan on a 4 year deal as well. Brooklyn also signed Garett Temple on a 2 year deal. Huge day for Brooklyn.
  2. Staying in the news of Brooklyn, the Nets sent D’Angelo Russell to the Warriors in a sign in trade, and he inked a 4 year $117M max contract. The guard broke out this year in Brooklyn leading them to their first playoff appearance since the Deron Williams days. He will team up with Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and in all likelihood Klay Thompson when he returns from his injury. A big add for GSW to fill the void of Thompson as he recovers from an ACL, but in order to clear up cap space, they had to send Andre Iguodala to Memphis.
  3. Kemba Walker signed with the Boston Celtics on a 4 year maximum deal ($141M). The former all-star heads to the Celtics with an opportunity to finally compete for something in the Eastern Conference after spending all of his career with the lowly Hornets. He is a great replacement for Irving and should be better for team chemistry as well under coach Brad Stevens.
  4. Jimmy Butler is heading out of Philly to Miami in a sign and trade. Details of the contract have not been announced yet but likely will be a 4 year max. In return the 76ers pick up Josh Richardson. Despite losing Butler, the 76ers stayed busy, resigning Tobias Harris to a 5 year $180M max deal, and five time all star Al Horford to a 4 year $109M deal. Miami gets an adult in the room to go along with their young core, as do the 76ers with Horford who will bring immediate credibility into their locker room. The 76ers also saw JJ Reddick leave to New Orleans on a 2 year deal.
  5. The Milwaulkee Bucks kept some of their core intact resigning Brook Lopez and Kris Middleton. Lopez gets 4 years $52M, while Middleton cashes in with a 5 year $178M deal, the third highest contract in NBA history! While the two pivotal players for the Bucks stay in town with the Greek Freak, the Bucks did lose Malcom Brogdon who signed a 4 year $85M deal with the Indiana Pacers.
  6. The New York Knicks, missed out on some of the top free agents of this year’s class, but managed to make a couple good moves to help build a roster around their young developing players. They signed Taj Gibson on a 2 year $20M deal, Julius Randle who broke out last season on a 3 year $63M deal, and Bobby Portis on a 2 year $31M deal. The contracts give the Knicks some flexibility down the line as they will look to their younger players including #3 overall pick RJ Barrett to become the next generation of Knicks basketball.

Other notable signings and moves:

  • Derrick Favors is heading to New Orleans for two second round picks
  • Patrick Beverley stays in LA with the Clippers on a 3 year $40M deal
  • Mario Hezonjia goes to Portland on 1 year minimum deal with a team option
  • Ed Davis signs with Utah on a 2 year $10M deal
  • Rodney Hood signs 2 year $16M deal with Portland
  • Bojan Bogdanovic signs 4 year $73M deal with Utah, leaving Indiana
  • Terrence Ross agrees to 4 year $54M deal to return to Orlando
  • Jonas Valanciunas agrees to 3 year $45M deal to stay in Memphis.
  • Derrick Rose signs 2 year $15M deal with Pistons
  • Harrison Barnes agrees to 4 year $85M deal to stay in Sacramento

Yankees vs. Red Sox is one of, if not the best rivalry in sports. In front of large crowds at London Stadium new home of West Ham United, both squads put on an offensive clinic over the weekend. 50 runs, 65 hits, and over 10 combined hours of baseball is what the Yankees and Red Sox gifted London in their first taste of MLB action across the pond. By the way, this was a two game series, not three!

The Yankees took both games of the series, winning the first 17-13, and the second 12-8. Runs, runs, and more runs. In game 1 both pitchers were knocked out in the first inning as both teams put up 6 runs a piece. The Yanks would put up 6 runs again in the 4th, and 3 in the 5th, before surviving another 6 run inning from the Red Sox in the 7th, who actually brought the tying run to the plate despite trailing by as much as 11 runs. Game 2 was a little more like your average baseball game until the Yankees put up a 9 spot in the 7th inning, coming back from 4-2 down to take a 11-4 lead.

Despite the fact that both teams have elite offenses, the stadium played very hitter friendly, contrary to the opinion of many prior thinking it would favor the pitchers. The dimensions were about 330 feet to the corners, and only 385 to dead center, with a 16 foot wall. There was more foul territory than any other stadium in the majors, and the playing surface was turf and played extremely fast.

Overall this first series was a big success for baseball and for London. The crowds were treated to two action packed games and were responsive throughout, 70% of the ticket sales were sold in Great Britain, and thee players seemed to enjoy the atmosphere being apart of the first ever MLB games played in Europe as well. The London series returns next year with another classic rivalry as the St. Louis Cardinals will face off against the Chicago Cubs.

The Yankees moved 11 games ahead of the Red Sox for first place in the AL East with the series sweep, and extended their MLB record consecutive home run streak to 31 games. Let us know what you though about the London Series

June was a big month for Lil Nas X — he released his first EP, his hit Old Town Road reached 14 weeks straight at #1 on the charts, and to cap it all off, he got a monkey off his back that was likely there for quite some time. June is also gay pride month, and that proverbial monkey was in fact the news that Lil Nas X is gay, and he announced it in a rather laid back and casual way.

Taking to social media as he often does, Lil Nas X through a series of tweets revealed and confirmed his sexuality several times using humor, wit, and sarcasm. It was a tweet on Sunday that was the groundbreaker and has over 500K likes and 100K retweets.

It read:

“Some of y’all already know, some of y’all don’t care, some of y’all not gone fwm no more. But before this month ends i want y’all to listen closely to c7osure.” The tweet was followed by a rainbow emoji, and starface emoji’s.

After seeing the tweet and going back to read the lyrics of C7osure (off of “7” his EP) it became very clear the song is 100% about his battle and need to come out of the closet — for closure of course!

Back to twitter, Lil Nas X took any jokes or slanderous comments as exactly that, and instead of trying to fight them, he embraced them, and made jokes of the jokes and slander of the slander.

“Dead*ss thought I made it obvious” he tweeted while posting the cover of his EP and focusing in on one of the large buildings in the background that was rainbow colored. He’d then go on to say “Just because I’m gay dont mean I’m not straight”. Finally to clear everything up, he let twitter know that “Old town road is literally about horses”.

Lil Nas X has to be given a lot of credit for the manner in which he conducted himself through a very challenging moment in his young life. He wasn’t seeking attention, praise, or glorification, but rather just the freedom and relief of the world knowing who he truly is. He did so with grace, humor, and respect for others opinions. The only question about Lil Nas X that should be asked now is, what music is next for the young up-and-coming artist.

Spoiler Alert … It is VERY underwhelming!

Lil Nas X burst onto the music scene through the hit song Old Town Road (and Old Town Road Remix) which has sat atop the Billboard Top 100 charts for 12 straight weeks now. An amazing feat for the up and coming 20 year old music & meme artist.

Fan’s of Lil Nas X and the music world have been anxiously awaiting what was to come next as he continued to define his image and brand in the music industry. What was next was the release of his EP “7” which dropped on Wednesday June 27th. The EP has 8 songs including both Old Town Road, and Old Town Road Remix, thus 6 new tracks. It’s run time is a mere 18 minutes and change, about long enough to listen to while taking a shower and getting ready for school or work.

The EP features the likes of Billy Ray Cyrus (obviously) as well as a song with Cardi B, called Rodeo. Rodeo maybe is the closest song to Old Town Road in terms of the mixture of a country and rap feel, outside of Cardi B’s verses of course. The other songs are kind of all over the place, ending abruptly at times, while never really establishing a theme or flow throughout the EP. “Panini” the second song on the EP, is rather a catchy trap beat with relatable lyrics, and likely will be the new song that grabs the most traction off this EP.

Writer’s Opinion

For me personally, the EP was a total disaster. I was (am) a big fan of the Old Town Road songs, and continue to listen to them in daily rotation. However, as far as the rest of the EP goes, I’ll take Panini for my playlist and toss the rest in the do not touch folder. Lil Nas X is only 20, and I have no doubt he has a bright future ahead of him, but he’s made some rookie mistakes and has failed to create an identity for himself with this EP.

X sounded like a combination of Kid Cudi & Khalid, but as if the Monstars from Space Jam stole their talent and forced the artist into the studio to perform. The EP gets a C- from me, and that is only because of Old Town Road. Remove Old Town Road from the equation and you’ve got yourself a major clunker. Hopefully Lil Nas X can rebound from this disappointment of an EP or he’ll find his name added to a famous list of “One and Done” artists that reads LOL Nas X.

“Drizzy” Drake has had quite the month of June. He has announced that he is in “album mode”, his beloved Raptors have won their first NBA Championship, and he released a two pack of songs to follow. One of those two songs, Money in the Grave, has debuted in the Hot 100, which was the icing on the cake for Drake’s June of successes. With Money in the Grave debuting as number 7 in the Hot 100, Drake’s thirty-fifth top 10 track, he breaks the tie at thirty-four with The Beatles for the second most top 10 songs all the time. Any record that is broken previously held by someone with such prestige like The Beatles is an incredible feat, and yet another accolade to add on to the long list of accomplishments in Drake’s career to date. Next up on the list for Drake is icon Madonna, whom Drake ironically has a song named after. She has 38 Top 10’s all-time, and there is little doubt that Drake will break her record in due time. Take into account the fact that he has done all this in a span of just over 10 years, one can imagine that he will not only break her record, but set a bar to be broken so high it almost seems implausible. Suffice to say, June was a pretty good month for Canadian icon Aubrey “Drake” Graham.

The famous Broadway musical “The Prom” is set to become a movie on Netflix, and with the recent release of the casting, viewers can expect an all-star lineup of talent. Headlining the superstar cast is Oscar and Emmy winning actresses Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. Additionally Netflix’s movie version of “The Prom” will feature Awkwafina, James Corden, Ariana Grande, Keegan-Michael Key, and Andrew Rannells.

The basis of the story is around an Indiana lesbian teenager who struggles with the acceptance and permissions of the LGBTQ community in day to day life. She is banned from attending her school’s prom with a partner of the same gender, and thus gains traction with Broadway big shots to fight the injustice of this particular scenario.

Ryan Murphy, producer of this movie who recently inked a new 5 year deal with Netflix was also the producer behind American Horror Story and American Crime Story. “The Prom” is set to become the first of several projects in which Murphy will produce for Netflix, as he enjoys the fruits of his labor with a 300 million dollar deal.

Group play in the Copa America wrapped up Monday evening in Brazil as Group C concluded with Uruguay defeating Chile to win the group, and Chile finishing as runners up. Japan and Ecuador played to a 1-1 draw and both sides were eliminated as a result. Here is how the knockout stage has been set: Quarterfinals
  • Brazil vs. Paraguay (June 27) – Porto Alegre
  • Venezuela vs. Argentina (June 28) – Salvador
  • Colombia vs. Chile (June 28) – Sao Paulo
  • Uruguay vs. Peru (June 29) – Recife
Semi Finals
  • Winner QF 1 vs Winner QF2 (July 2) – Belo Horizonte
  • Winner QF3 vs Winner QF4 (July 3) Porto Alegre
Consolation and Finals
  • Loser SF1 vs Loser SF2 (July 6th) – Sao Paulo
  • Winner SF1 vs Winner SF2 (July 7th) – Rio de Janeiro
Brazil, hosts, and pre tournament favorites, draw Paraguay in their first knockout round game. It is a very favorable matchup as Paraguay managed to earn one of the two wild card spots into the knockout stages having only two points in group play. The winner of that game will meet the winner of Venezuela vs Argentina. Argentina have struggled in form, while Venezuela has been playing above their heads. It sets up an intriguing matchup with upset possibility written all over it. Should Argentina get through, a classic Argentina vs Brazil matchup would be impending, one that rarely disappoints. On the other side of the bracket, Colombia who were the top team across all groups with 9 points out of 9, will take on Chile. A bit of a tough draw for the Colombians who off the bat will face a capable squad in Chile, despite the fact they (Colombia) were the top team in group play. The winner of that game will face the winner of Uruguay and Peru. Uruguay went undefeated in group play with two wins and a draw, while Peru got off to a good start on four points in two games, only to be demolished by Brazil in the final game of their group, thus earning the other wild card spot in the knockout stages. Brazil is the clear favorite to come out of the top half of the group and into the final in Rio, where down below, all four teams are capable of getting on a roll and making a run at the Copa America. A Colombia vs Uruguay matchup would be an intriguing battle. Predictions for Quarterfinals Brazil 3 – Paraguay 0 Venezuela 1 – Argentina 1 (Venezuela adv on PK’s) Colombia 2 – Chile 1 Uruguay 2 – Peru 0 Let us know your thoughts on how the knockout stages will progress, and who you like to lift the trophy on July 7th in Rio!

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup round of 16 concluded on Tuesday and the quarterfinal match-ups have been set. Europe has been dominate so far in this World Cup. Seven of the eight teams remaining are European and the lone outcast is the United States. Here’s how the next round of fixtures will look and a preview of each.

Germany vs Sweden

We start with Germany and Sweden who will face off this Saturday. The Germans were flawless in group play winning all three of their games, and have still yet to concede a goal this tournament. They are looking like a true contender to bring the cup home in typical German soccer fashion. Germany defeated Nigeria 3-0 en route to a quarterfinal matchup against Sweden. Sweden who finished second in their group to the USA is always a threat in the women’s international game. The Swedes narrowly edged out Canada 1-0 in their round of 16 game, a game in which Canada missed a PK to tie the game. This should be one of the better quarterfinal match-ups among the four, played very tightly and tactically.

Prediction – Germany concedes it’s first goal of the tournament, but defeats Sweden 2-1.

Italy vs Netherlands

Next up is Italy who take on the Netherlands on Saturday. Italy were a surprise winner of their group which features the likes of Brazil and Australia. All three teams finished with 6 points but it was Italy who advanced in first place on goal differential, defeating Jamaica and Australia and losing to Brazil. Meanwhile the Netherlands dominated group play with three wins including an impressive victory over Canada. Italy beat China 2-0 in the round of 16 while Netherlands outlasted Japan thanks to a 90th minute penalty kick giving the Dutch a 2-1 victory. Italy typically has the reputation for being very defensive, while the Dutch, very technical, and fluid in possession. If Italy are to win this one, we expect it to be done potentially in extra time or in penalties, but advantage Netherlands heading into this quarterfinal game.

Prediction – Italy defend well and frustrate the Dutch, but it is not enough as the Netherlands narrowly escape with a 1-0 victory.

England vs Norway

On the other side of the bracket, Norway match up with England in the first of the quarterfinal games this Thursday. Norway finished as runners up in their group to hosts France and squeaked by a strong Australia side in penalties after the game finished 1-1. England have had a resurgence in the last couple international cycles and carried that momentum through an undefeated group stage, which included a win over Japan. This game should be another tightly contested match with both teams looking to stay organized and attack off the others mistakes.

Prediction – 1-1 after 120 minutes and England lose on penalties in classic England fashion. Norway goes two for two in penalty shootouts and onto the semi finals.

United States vs France

That leaves us with the matchup everyone has their eyes on, powerhouses USA take on host nation France, kicking off this Friday. This game very well could be the best game of the entire World Cup, and could just as easily produce our eventual champion. The USA enters the match as the favorite to win the World Cup, ever so slightly over France. Both sides won their groups with relative ease, and both played below their potential in their round of 16 matchups vs Spain and Brazil respectively. The result of this finals like matchup in the quarterfinal round will depend on two factors.

First, will France try and play off the defensive like Spain did, and frustrate the Americans in their efforts to attack. This would be the sensible decision, but France, a strong team of its own, and the host nation, may choose to go toe to toe with the Americans, which could be a big mistake. The second key is the goalkeeping for team USA. Alyssa Naeher has had a good year for club and has gotten off to a good start internationally. However, this is her first ever World Cup, and she hasn’t looked like the confident rock we’ve grown accustomed to in goal for the USA like Hope Solo or Brianna Scurry of years past. We expect Naeher to be tested, how she answers the bell will be a huge factor in who wins and who loses this all star matchup.

Prediction – No bias here! USA defeats France 3-1 as the depth and drive of the Americans rises to the occasion and knocks the host nation out of the World Cup!

The semi finals are set to take place on July 2nd and 3rd, and the consolation game and final on June 6th and 7th respectively.

Give us your thoughts on the Women’s World Cup thus far, and how you think it will play out going forward.

When a player is regarded by only one name; Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Pele, Maradona, it usually means they’re good, really good.

Marta, also falls into that same category, she is really good, and everyone knows her by one name, Marta. In fact, she is more than really good, many think she is the best women’s player to ever play the game. It would be hard to argue with that claim. She has the most goals ever for any male or female player in World Cup history, she is a 6 time FIFA Player of the Year, has scored in 5 world cups, and has more World Cup Goals than any Brazilian player ever. Yes that includes Ronaldo, and Pele.

Marta is however missing one major piece on her resume, a World Cup Trophy, and at age 33 this year was thought to be the last opportunity for her to earn one. Brazil struggled through group play and qualified for the knockout stages as a third place team. Unfortunately that meant they had to meet the host nation France in the round of 16, who were among the top 3 favorites to win the tournament at the start.

When Brazil and France meet in a World Cup, there is always drama, and it rarely disappoints. Sunday’s match was no different. France had a first half goal taken off the board thanks to VAR, but managed to open the scoring in the second half, and grab the first lead of the game. Brazil answered just 10 minutes later with a goal that stood up against VAR to tie the game. It would remain that way through 90 minutes and extra time would be required. Despite an excellent opportunity for Brazil to take the lead in overtime, it was France who scored first in the 106th minute with a goal from Amandine Henry … no not Thierry. The result would hold and it was France who would move on ending the journey for Marta’s Brazil.

Naturally the Brazilian side including Marta was very emotional after the game. Many of their star players are aging, and the window with their “golden generation” is all but closed. Through all the tears and emotions that flooded the pitch, Marta delivered maybe one of the most powerful post game interviews ever, across any sport male or female, to her nation and the female footballers within it.

Staring down the lens of the camera, into the eyes of millions across the globe watching, here is what Marta had to say (translated from Portuguese to English) to her nation.

“It’s wanting more, it’s training more, it’s taking care of yourself more. It’s being ready to play 90 minutes plus 30. This is what I ask of the girls. There is not going to be a Formiga forever, there is not going to be a Marta forever, there is not going to be a Cristiane. The women’s game depends on you to survive. Think about that. Value it more. Cry in the beginning so you can smile in the end.”

If Marta is not the greatest women’s footballer of all time, she is certainly one of them. And if this is her last time in a Brazil kit on the World Cup stage, she certainly closed this chapter of her career with a powerful message that speaks to way more than just the game of soccer.