Bradley Breaks Through

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 10.3.2016

Bob Bradley has done it. He became the first American to be named manager of a Premier League club. Bradley takes over Swansea City which is based in Wales but plays in the Premier League. It is another step in Bradley’s trailblazing career.

Bob BradleyBradley has found success in just about everyone of his coaching stops. He lead MLS’ Chicago Fire to an MLS Cup and US Open Cup title in their first season in the league and his first managerial job at the professional level. He later went on to coach the US Men’s national team and take them to the final of the Confederations Cup in 2009 and to the knockout stages of the World Cup2010.

He famously coached the Egyptian national team through a turbulent time (the Arab Spring) but failed to qualify for the World Cup. After that he made stops in Norway and France’s second division before scoring his historic new job.

As you can see, Bradley is absurdly qualified and has been considered for jobs in Premier League before. Most, including Bradley, would point to the inherent bias against American managers for being passed over for those earlier positions. Swansea City does have American owners but it turns out that chairman Huw Jenkins made the final call to hire the New Jersey native.

Bradley has to improve Swansea City fast and it won’t help that he will be under the every watching eye of the UK press. But he’s been there before so this should be nothing new to the trailblazing American.

What To Watch Fri. 7/10 – Sun. 7/12

All times are Pacific.

Friday July 10th

Montreal Alouettes at Winnipeg Blue Bombers – 4pm ESPN2: Football on a Friday night. Check out the Al’s new QB, former Marshall record setter Rakeem Cato. He only went 20-25 for 241 yards and three TD’s. And that was his first ever CFL game!

Gold Cup: USMNT vs Haiti – 5:30pm FS1: The US were ok  in their 2-1 win over Honduras. Haiti could present some different problems.

 

Saturday July 11th

Tour de France – 5am NBC: Stage 8 is 181.5km of cycling joy.

Wimbledon Women’s Final – 6am ESPN: Serena Williams looks for her 21st Grand Slam title.

New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox – 4pm FOX: While the Red Sox are not in the best shape it is still one of the best rivalries in all of sports.

UFC 189 – 7pm PPV: Conor McGregor takes on Chad Mendes for the interim Featherweight belt and Robbie Lawler takes on Rory MacDonald for the Welterweight title. Two title fights are usually worth the price of admission or a ppv.

 

Sunday July 12th

Tour de France – 5am NBCSN: It’s stage 9 and that means team time trials.

Wimbledon Mens’ Final – 5am ESPN: Roger Federer takes on Novak Djokovic face off….again. This will be the 40th time they have faced off with Federer leading the matchups 20-19.

St Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates – 5pm ESPN: Pirates have a chance to get a little closer to the division leading Cards.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Sporting KC – 6pm MLS Live: Vancouver is coming off a tough loss in Colorado but SKC is shorthanded due to the Gold Cup.

What To Watch Fri. 7/3 – Sun. 7/5


All times are Pacific.

Friday July 3rd

SF Giants at Washington Nationals – 3pm ESPN: A rematch of last years NLCS. The Nationals Bryce Harper is having an MVP season and this is a chance to see him in action.

USMNT v Guatamala (Friendly) -4pm FS1: The final tuneup for both teams as they head into the Gold Cup.

Calgary Stampeders at Montreal Alouettes – 4:30pm ESPN2: Question in this game is the quarterback play. The Stamps Bo Levi Mitchell threw three INT’s last week in the Stamps come from behind win and the Al’s played three QB’s in week one.

Seattle Sounders vs DC United – 8pm UNIMAS: The Sounders look to get back on track against the top team in the Eastern Conference.

 

Saturday July 4th

Tour De France – 4am NBCSN: Cycling’s premier event gets underway in Utrecht, Netherlands of all places. GoPro Video.

Biking

Tampa Bay Rays at NY Yankees – 10am FS1: Toughest division in baseball. Good series to see who is really going to be there in September.

Toronto Blue Jays at Detroit Tigers – 10am MLB.TV: Two teams fighting for relevancy in their respective divisions. It’s also a battle of pitchers from middle Tennessee as R.A. Dickey (Nashville) takes on David Price (Murfreesboro).

Copa America Final – 1pm BeIN: Yes it’s the 4th of July but it’s Argentina vs Chilie.

NY Mets at LA Dodgers – 4:15pm Fox: The Mets send over hyped Matt Harvey to the mound against Zack Greinke. Not bad for a Saturday.

LA Galaxy vs Toronto FC – 4:30pm MLS LIVE: While some stars will be missing such as Michael Bradley, LA’s newest signing, Steven Gerrard,  will make an appearance.

 

Sunday July 5th

Tour De France – 4am NBCSN: Stage two gets underway.

Toronto Argonauts at Saskatchewan Roughriders – 12:30pm ESPN3: The Riders lost starting QB Darian Durant for the year after only a half of football last week. The Argos on their backup too. It’s should be a good one in Riderville.

FIFA Women’s World Cup Final – 2pm FOX: USA meets Japan in a rematch of the 2011 World Cup Final.

NASCAR Coke Zero 400 – 4:45pm NBC: NBC has Nascar now….probably why we have to wait until almost 8pm EST to watch a race on a Sunday night at the end of a Holiday weekend. #Fail.

SF Giants at Washington Nationals – 5pm ESPN: Not a bad way to cap off a long Holiday weekend.

Another Loss, Another Win – Part 2

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

‘A tie is like kissing your sister’

Anyone over the age of 30 in America heard this term a lot growing up. Traditional American sports (baseball, football, basketball) don’t have ties or draws. At the end of a game there is a definitive winner and loser. No points are garnered to go along with the win either. In other words it’s not like soccer where a draw can be viewed as a win.

Around the globe where where soccer is, usually, the number one sport, draws are not always bad things. Why? You still get a point vs zero points for a loss. Obviously a team always wants a win and the three points but if a team is on the road in a tough environment then a single point can sometimes be a victory. For the home team three points is a given. If they come away with a draw it’s almost like a loss. It’s still a point but they left two points on the table. There is where the ambiguity comes in.

Americans and the media don’t do well with that.

Take the US National Team in the World Cup. They went 1-2-1 overall for a total of four points. All those points came in their first two matches and that was enough to help them advance to the knockout stage where they lost a heartbreaker to Belgium. This is seen as a success in the eyes of many including the media and non soccer fans.

Still, a lot of Americans don’t care for the soccer and probably never will. Why? Because ‘a tie is like kissing your sister’ perspective. There is too much ambiguity in the sport for them. Some couldn’t understand how the US could advance when they only won one game. Some would ask, ‘shouldn’t they have to win all three to advance?’

When MLS first started in 1996 they tried to avoid draws by having shootouts decide games. They dumped it a few years later because it alienated traditional soccer fans and didn’t gain any new ones.

Look at it from another perspective.

September 2, 1945. The formal surrender of Japan to the US that took place on the deck of the USS Missouri. April 30, 1975 was the fall of Saigon. Definitive ends to conflicts. Contrast those two events with the ‘War on Terror’. A conflict which will probably never have a definitive ending.

We are by no means trying to compare soccer to warfare. We are just trying to give some background about American psychology.

With draws, it is a matter of perspective. While both teams receive points and usually a team ‘lost’ points. In the end the points are what matter but a positive takeaway on a draw by a team could be just as important. Look at the US National Team. One point against Portugal was good enough to help them to get through to the next round but it felt kind of like a loss because they played so well and Portugal had to steal a goal at the end just to get a draw.

While liking and disliking something is a personal preference or choice it is influenced by those around you. For a very long time the preference or choice was to have a clear cut winner and loser in American sports. Now that’s changing. Americans are becoming ok with draw because they are beginning to see the bigger picture. They are looking at the right metric. A point is a point. Yeah three would be nice but one is still better than none. With that change comes an opportunity for soccer to elevate its profile in America. While soccer may never be ‘big’ in America it can certainly be a very viable product and with that should come a different perspective on the world at large.

 

 

 

What to Watch Fri. 5/30- Sun. 6/1

Friday May 30th

San Francisco Giants @ St Louis Cardinals – 5:15pm MLB.TV: A great pitching matchup, Madison Bumgarner (6-3) vs Adam Wainwright (8-2), and two teams who will compete to represent the National League in the World Series. Just like they’ve done the last four years.

Indiana Pacers @ Miami Heat – 5:30pm ESPN: Looks like King James and crew will get it done in Game 6 at home. But the Pacers were the best team in the East this year so, that’s why we watch the game.

Chicago Blackhawks @ Los Angeles Kings – 6pm NBCSN: Game 6 and the Kings can close it out at home. It’s a tall order for the struggling Blackhawks.

Saturday May 31st

UFC Fight Night Double Header – Noon/ 7pm: Since the UFC doesn’t have enough fights they decided to put two events on the same day. The first one features Mark Munoz vs Gegard Mousasi and the second one features Stipe Miocic vs Fabio Maldonaldo. Basically if you’re in the mood for a cage fight at some point on Saturday, odds are there is a live fight happening somewhere. See UFC.com for more info.

Real Salt Lake @ Seattle Sounders – 1pm MLS LIVE: Regardless if players are going to Brazil or not, this is a key match-up out West. Why? It’s the top two teams in that’s why.

San Antonio Spurs @ Oklahoma City Thunder – 5:30pm TNT: Yep, it’s a Game 6. Someone can close it out.

Sunday June 1st

USA vs Turkey – 11am ESPN2: Team USA’s second tune up game for the World Cup.

Vancouver Whitecaps @ Portland Timbers – 6pm MLS LIVE: A Cascadia Cup match-up and Portland looks like they are starting to find their legs (even though they may not have a lot left with this being their third game in eight days.)

How Stars Got Their Shine Back

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Saturday had a slew of sports on tap. From the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) in Gold Cup play to baseball to Canadian Football. Two people in particular stood out on Saturday. Two former players whose stars have diminished recently, Landon Donovan and Tim Lincecum.

Landon Donovan

Early in the day Landon Donovan helped lead the USMNT to a 4-1 win over Cuba and helped lock up a spot in the next round of the Gold Cup. Donovan got the US on the board after nailing a stoppage time penalty kick at the end of the first half. It was his second goal in as many games. He also has two assists.

Timmy Lincecum

Tim Lincecum is not the same pitcher that won back to back Cy Young awards in 2008 and 2009. He has lost some of his velocity off of his fastball and has struggled to keep his ERA below 4 runs a game in the last two years. However Saturday night he made baseball history by becoming the 218th player to throw either a no hitter or a perfect game. While perfect games are rarer than no hitters it is an exclusive club none the less. It was the first of his professional career and he threw some 148 pitches in the process which is unheard of in this day and age.

Both of these players have a long road to haul to regain that dominance they once had in their respective sports. But they are evolving. Donovan is becoming more of a complete player on the pitch and Lincecum into a veteran starting pitcher who is learning how to out smart hitters as opposed to overpowering them.

The question now becomes, can they capitalize on this recent run of success and transform themselves into the veteran winners that their teams need them to be. It’s a tall order for two men who have reached the pinnacle of their sports already.