Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

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.

“We deserved to go out,” Spain manager Vicente del Bosque said in published reports. “But the team showed character today, kept going and were a bit unlucky with the goals. We all tried, but we were not as good as both teams we played.”

It was a sudden and inglorious end for a group of players who will go down as one of the greatest national teams ever assembled after adding consecutive European championships to their World Cup win in 2010. We have to wonder if we have seen the last of players like Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta, David Silva and Sergio Ramos, to name a few, in a major tournament wearing Spain’s colors.

“Whenever something negative happens in a World Cup or an important competition like this, it has consequences,” Del Bosque said. “I don’t want to get into that analysis because we have a lot of time ahead of us. We need to reflect on this calmly … We will have time to do the things that we think are best for Spanish football and that applies to me as well.”

It’s been a heck of a start to the World Cup, but it’s not going to be the same going forward without La Furia Roja around.

Injuries raising questions for USA and Portugal

It still may be four days away, but there is still plenty of new surrounding the USA’s game with Portugal.

altidore injury updateWhile he hasn’t been officially ruled out yet, it seems pretty unlikely that Jozy Altidore will be able to play come Sunday after suffering a hamstring injury. Altidore had an MRI on Wednesday, but the team did not release the results, which you know they would have done if everything was OK.

“With Jozy, we’ve got to see how he now reacts the next couple days with his hamstring, and we’re full of hope that he comes back still in this tournament, and that’s what we kind of work on every day,” U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann said. ‘”The medical staff is doing a tremendous job (for) weeks, so we still have to hope that Jozy will be back. How quickly? That is down to his healing process.”

With Altidore out, it will be interesting to see who Klinsmann turns to, with Aron Jóhannsson and Chris Wondolowski as options.

“I think we have guys who can fill in that spot,” midfielder Graham Zusi said. “Our depth was tested (against Ghana), and it proved to be very good for us. I think we have guys who can fill in that spot and do the same job that Jozy can.”

ronaldo knee injuryOn the opposite side, Portugal will be without defenders Pepe, who will miss the game after receiving a red card, and Fabio Coentrao, who is out for the rest of the World Cup with a thigh injury. They may also play without Hugo Almeida and Rui Patricio.

But the biggest news of the day is that Cristiano Ronaldo limped out of practice with his knee heavily taped. Ronaldo has been struggling with thigh and knee problems and has reportedly been warned by his doctor that his career could be in danger if he doesn’t rest his injured knee.

While you don’t want to see anyone injured, and you want your opponent to be at its best, there’s no denying that facing Portugal with a hobbled Ronaldo, or better yet without Ronaldo, increases the USA’s odds of winning.

Premier League schedules released

A little more than a month after the World Cup comes to a close, the 2014-15 Premier League season will kick-off.

The season schedule was released on Wednesday and Liverpool will open at home against Southampton before traveling to face Manchester City in Week 2.

The Merseyside derbies will take place on Sept. 27 (at Anfield) and on Feb. 7 (at Goodison Park).

The Reds will close out the season by playing four of their last six away from home, which could make the title quest a little bit harder than manager Brendan Rodgers would probably like.

(Photos by Getty Images)

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