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Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

Altidore is back, but can he make a difference against Belgium?

altidoreThe USA received some good news on Monday, as forward Jozy Altidore has been cleared to play against Belgium in today’s round-of-16 game against Belgium.

The question is how much will Altidore play, if he plays at all?

USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann faces a tough decision on how to work Altidore back into the lineup. Does he start him and risk having to use an early substitute if Altidore can’t go? Does he bring Altidore off the bench if things are not going well? Or does he save him, not wanting to risk further injury, knowing that there may not be a next game without Altidore?

We start figuring out what this means in our latest post at World Soccer Talk.

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Soccer)

Brian Hoyer in no rush for a new contract with Browns

brian hoyer contract talkThe Cleveland Browns have found themselves in a bit of a predicament when it comes to quarterback Brian Hoyer.

The team wants to sign Hoyer, who is entering the final year of his contract, to a new deal. That’s good. Even if Johnny Manziel lights it up during preseason and wins the starting quarterback job, it is in the Browns best interest to keep another viable starting quarterback on the roster.

And with today’s rookie contracts much more manageable, it is also financially feasible to do so, especially if the contracts signed by Matt Cassel (two years, $10 million) and Chad Henne (two years, $8 million) are starting points.

While the Browns are willing to deal, Hoyer may not be in quite such of a hurry.

Read more…

Why are we still surprised by Luis Suárez?

luis suarez latest banOver the past couple of years we have written more words about Luis Suárez than we ever imagined possible.

From suspensions to transfer rumors to key goals at the most opportune time, we thought we had seen it all and there was nothing left that could surprise us.

But that all changed on Monday while watching Uruguay’s game on Monday when Suárez and Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini clashed in front of the Italian goal with just a few minutes left in the game. Suddenly, Suárez was on the ground holding his mouth, while Chiellini was chasing the ref, pulling at his shirt collar to show something on his shoulder, and we were left in disbelief.

Did Suárez really do what we think he just did? Did Suárez really just bite Chiellini during a win-or-go-home World Cup game?

Unbelievable.

How is it that Suárez continues to surprise us? And what does it mean for Liverpool?

Find out in our latest post at World Soccer Talk.

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

 

World Cup Preview: USA vs. Germany

Ghana v USA: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup BrazilThe USA and Germany face off today at Noon ET/9am PT in the final game for each side in Group G. A win by either team wins the group, but both teams only need to walk out of the Arena Pernambuco in Recife with a single point to ensure advancement into the next round.

The teams have reached this point after opening wins followed by shocking draws in their respective second games – Germany coming back against Ghana, while the U.S. gave up a game-tying goal with just 30 seconds left against Portugal.

Check out the full preview in our latest post at World Soccer Talk.

(Photo by The Associated Press)

USMNT content to do things the hard way

usa loses to portugalIt’s been almost 24 hours and we’re still trying to accept what happened in the final 30 seconds of the USA’s game with Portugal on Sunday night.

To come so close to qualifying for the knockout stage with one game to play only to see it all fall apart at the very end would be difficult for any team to overcome. The good news is that the U.S. doesn’t have to wait very long for their next match and this team, more than others, is a resilient bunch. They came back after giving up an early lead to Ghana, and then did it again on Sunday after falling behind Portugal just five minutes into the game.

“That’s who we are,” midfielder Michael Bradley said. “We talk all the time about what we’re like on the hardest day and when the spotlight comes on brightest. When the biggest tests come, what are we like? How do we respond in the difficult moments? I thought tonight was another example of us showing everybody who we are and what makes us a good team.

Read more…

Should the Browns be more worried about Johnny Manziel?

manziel las vegasWhen the Cleveland Browns called Johnny Manziel’s name during the NFL Draft back in May, everyone involved knew what they were getting in to with the high-profile quarterback.

With very little actual football activities taking place since that day, the national media has had a field day chronicling Manziel’s off-the-field antics. From pool parties with Rob Gronkowski, to money phones and inflatable swans, there has been no shortage of talking points for those people who care about such things. And with a little more than a month until training camp starts, there will undoubtedly be more opportunities to shine a light on Manziel.

For the most part we’ve tried to drown out the noise, partially because as a Browns fan we’d be perfectly happy if the national media minded their own business, and also because it is the off-season and what Manziel does with his free time is up to him.

But is there possibly more to this situation, a darker side that, as a Browns fan, we don’t want to confront?

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From the editor’s notebook …

david blatt cavsThe Cleveland Cavaliers landed their man on Friday, naming David Blatt as the team’s latest head coach.

We admit to knowing next to nothing about Blatt before the Cavs undertook their third head coaching search in the past four years. But the more we learn about him the more we are intrigued by the hiring.

Blatt comes to the Cavs fresh off leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague championship. His coaching job in the tournament led one NBA general manager to observe that “Maccabi was outgunned at every position except coach. David took down two Goliaths in a weekend. He belongs in the NBA.” (h/t to @WFNYJacob for the link to that story.)

Over the past four seasons, Blatt’s teams went 222-55 and, in addition to this year’s Euroleague title, won the Israeli Cup and Israeli league title. He’s been a head coach in Europe for 15 years and coached the Russian national team from 2006 to 2012. (So at least he will be used to the harsh winter weather in Northeast Ohio.)

Read more…

Spain’s reign comes to a crashing halt against Chile

spain loses world cupWe knew it was going to be difficult for Spain to repeat as World Cup champions – there is a reason no country has lifted the trophy in consecutive tournaments in 52 years – but we don’t think anyone saw this coming.

Following their 2-0 loss to Chile on Wednesday, Spain is out, making them the first defending champion eliminated after just two games.

While the score was not as bad as their opening-game loss to the Netherlands, Spain looked just as out of sorts against Chile and never seemed like a threat to walk out of the game with a much-needed point.

Read more…

The Tribe’s $56-million question

Nick+Swisher+Cleveland+Indians+v+Minnesota+DIPqAEf9VfllAs the Cleveland Indians continue to try and keep pace in the American League Central Division, manager Terry Francona faces an important question.

What to do about the Tribe’s $56-million man, Nick Swisher?

Since signing the largest free agent contract in franchise history prior to the 2013 season (more on that in a moment), Swisher has been average at best and pretty horrible at worst, considering that he has batted .225 or less in five of the nine months he has been a member of the team.

Read more…

USMNT starts the party early in opening win against Ghana

usa beats ghanaIt was a start that the U.S. Men’s National Team dreamed of.

More importantly, it was a finish that the team so desperately needed.

John Brooks’ goal at the 86-minute mark gave the U.S. a 2-1 win over World Cup nemesis Ghana on Monday at the Arena das Dunas and the all-important three points.

“We have a great spirit and (we) fight until the last second,” Klinsmann said. “There is undoubtedly things that we need to improve. At the end of the day we got the three points.”

There was much to like from the game, starting with Clint Dempsey’s opening goal, which made him the first U.S. player to score in three different World Cups and allowed the U.S. to play from in front. It was the fifth-fastest goal scored in a World Cup match, which seems pretty amazing given that it only took 29 seconds for Dempsey to find the back of the net.

But it was the goal by Brooks that stands out the most, and not just because it was the game winner.

Read more…

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