Category: News and Events

One Year, Fam!

The countdown to Rio 2016 hits another milestone. One year until golf and rugby make their triumphant return. Kosovo and South Sudan enter the Parade of Nations for the first time. And God willing, Matt Lauer and Al Roker will add to their Rhythmic Gymnastics repertoire.

In the meantime, check out the future competition zones and sports program for Rio 2016.

Back to Beijing

Congrats (and Godspeed), Beijing! China’s capital city is set to become the first city to host a Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

Earlier this week, IOC President Thomas Bach announced that Beijing had beat out (another potential history-making choice) Almaty, Kazakhstan for the 2022 Winter Games. Had Kazakhstan been successful, the country would have become the first central Asian nation to host the Winter Olympics.

In the end, I guess you could say it came down to the safe choice, as safe as selection could be. Both cities had pros and cons. Both exist under authoritarian regimes. Both have dubious human rights records. The keyword, however, is both. As in two. Two cities out if the entire world that were willing to put on this insanely complicated event.

From CNN: High costs and dubious returns have arguably made democratic countries — where politicians are forced to listen to their voting public and answerable to budget blowouts — wary of hosting the world’s biggest sporting events.

So…work with what ya got!

Beijing brings proven experience and control to the table. Enough control to not only combat the intense smog throughout the city, but to create snow in the absence of precipitation. Science.

There are, of course, concerns about where to get the water for the faux snow. The current solution is apparently to draw water from established drinking sources in an already arid (no snow-making) area. Another Games, however, can bring jobs and economic growth to the region. They also present an opportunity to reduce pollution, update or fix the 2008 Summer Games venues that have fallen into disrepair, and promote a healthy lifestyle to 1.3 billion people.

A lot of hope. A lot of concerns. A lot of work ahead.

War Hero & Olympian Louis Zamperini dies at 97

Louis Zamperini

All I want to tell young people is that you’re not going to be anything in life unless you learn to commit to a goal. You have to reach deep within yourself to see if you are willing to make the sacrifices.

Louis Zamperini, a member of the 1936 U.S. Olympic team & a WWII bombardier who survived repeated torture for two years as a Japanese POW, passed away yesterday at the age of 97.

A standout while on the track team at USC, Zamperini competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, where he became the youngest American qualifier for the 1936 Berlin Games, running the 5,000 meters at age 19.

He finished eighth at the Games, but his final lap of 56 seconds was fast enough for Adolf Hitler to request a personal meeting. As Zamperini tells the story, Hitler shook his hand, and simply said “Ah, you’re the boy with the fast finish”.

When WWII broke out, he enlisted and was sent to the South Pacific as a bombardier aboard a B-24 Liberator. In 1943, his plane crashed into the ocean, and he survived a harrowing 47 days in an open raft with two others until he was taken prisoner by the Japanese.

Zamperini was held as a POW for two years, during which time he was repeatedly tortured and eventually listed as killed in action by the U.S. government.

When he eventually returned home he received a hero’s welcome. Zamperini went on to visit many of the guards from his POW days to let them know that he had forgiven them.

Truly an incredible and inspiring life of service. Rest easy, Mr. Zamperini.

The future is bright for USMNT, and by future, I mean the Olympics

My good friend JP coaches 3-year old soccer in McKinney, TX.

While he may not be uniquely qualified to offer definitive words on Tuesday’s USA vs. BEL game, he is indeed more qualified than I.

If asked to sum up this World Cup for the USMNT in one word I simply say “Progress”. Though there is still much work to be done over the next several years, to look at this cup as anything but a step in the right direction is to ignore the growth that US soccer has had both in this tournament and as a major sport in this country.

Now, I’m not sure which side of the Landon Donovan/Group of Death/Doom & Gloom you were on in May, but I’m sure it’s all conveniently forgotten now. Talk of Jurgen Klinsmann’s power play has since given way to a progress play. 19-year old Julian Green is a young star waiting to shoot. The future is undoubtedly bright for USMNT.

Julian Green goal

So what’s next?

Well 10 MLS players will head back to the States to rejoin their professional clubs for next week. Diskerud will head to Norway to rejoin Rosenborg. Beasley, who plays in Mexico, and the European-based players will get a little bit of time off before their seasons begin toward the fall.

USMNT has a friendly against the Czech Republic, but it’s a friendly, so I’ll smile a little and move on.

Prime time kicks off again in 2015. There are a lot of competitions that begin with Cs, and then the United States will host the 2016 Copa America Centenario. The Washington Post tells me “This will be a pretty big deal.” I believe them. Moving on.

2016! As in 2016 Olympics. Back in beautiful Brazil. A chance for soccer to once again capture the national consciousness. Of course, this is assuming we qualify.

Let’s take it back to 2012. To another close game decided in stoppage time on a March night in Nashville:

The Americans had only a handful of seconds left to run out the clock and advance a step closer to the Olympics. With the pressure building with each tick, the victory slipped right through their hands.

The United States, known for producing top goalkeepers such as Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller and Tim Howard, found itself done in Monday night when substitute Sean Johnson couldn’t handle a long shot from Jaime Alas of El Salvador in stoppage time.

The ball bounced off his hands, up over him and into the net, and El Salvador ousted the United States from Olympic qualifying with a 3-3 tie.

The stunned Americans missed the Olympics for the second time since 1976 and second time in three games.

HuffPo

But wait, we have Tim now, right? And Beasley and Dempsey, Beckerman and all his dreads. Right? Wrong.

Men’s soccer rosters at the Olympics are U-23, or made up of players under 23 years old, with three exceptions per nation. That’s right! A little something I like to call age discrimination, now that I’m about to hit my quarter century.

While three overage players are allowed at the Olympics, the qualification rosters must be all U23s. Should the U.S. qualify for 2016 with a strong U23 goalie effort, it might be tough to bench him for a player who did not help the nation qualify. And what would the purpose be of using one of those three overage roster spots on a backup goalie?

NBC OlympicTalk 

Klinsmann’s got his work cut out for him. Still, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more and more of these:

Jurgen K celebration

 

Daily Medal for Best Piece of the World Cup goes to…

Gwendolyn Oxenham in The Atlantic.

Before Tim Howard stops trending on Twitter, I wanted to make sure you saw this awesome piece she did on Ryan Dempsey, USMNT star Clint Dempsey’s brother. Hands down my favorite of the tournament so far.

When he graduated, whatever opportunities he’d once had in soccer were gone. Like most players, he had to find something else to do with his life. Which isn’t all that easy to do when you’ve grown up playing, watching, and hoping about one thing. “It wasn’t that I didn’t have a backup plan,” Ryan says. “I didn’t have a backup passion.”

Nowadays Ryan works a 50-hour-a-week job—“It’s pretty much the most boring thing in the world to talk about.” But he’s quit trying to replace his passion. A job is just a job, while futbol is who he is, even if he never made it as far as he wanted. When the workday is up, he does what he’s been doing his whole life: He heads to the field. He is one more middle-aged guy playing for nothing on dirt, still the blanco surrounded by guys from Honduras, Mexico, and Panama.

 

“Ties are Un-American” and other tweets from last night

ties usa portugal

Bear Bryant (of the other football) once said, “A tie is like kissing your sister.”

Victory denied in the last minute of overtime stoppage led to this comment overheard at work the next day:

“This is why I hate soccer. Because games can end in ties during time that magically appears whenever the ref wants it to.”

Americans—we may not understand soccer, but dang it, we love to win. That’s why this tweet from The Wire was just a little too soon:

Followed a little too late by:

Still, there is some good news:

 

Here’s what needs to happen (courtesy of NYTimes Sports):

IF GHANA BEATS PORTUGAL IF GHANA AND PORTUGAL TIE IF PORTUGAL BEATS GHANA
IF THE U.S. BEATS GERMANY The U.S. advances The U.S. advances The U.S. advances
IF THE U.S. TIES GERMANY The U.S. advances The U.S. advances The U.S. advances
IF GERMANY BEATS THE U.S. The U.S. could still advance, but it has much fewer options The U.S. advances The U.S. probably advances if both games are close

 

Thursday afternoon—you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.

 

June 10: Amy Van Dyken Rouen, six-time Olympic gold medalist, severed her spine in an ATV accident

Image

This is so awful to hear.

Former Olympic swimming champion Amy Van Dyken-Rouen is recovering following surgery to stabilize her spine after it was severed during an all-terrain vehicle accident in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Friday, according to Jeff Metcalfe of azcentral.com.

I actually had the chance to meet Amy Van Dyken while I was interning at the OTC in Chula Vista. She was working as a news correspondent ahead of London 2012, and she was there to interview a few of the up-and-coming summer athletes. Folks who dreamed of leading the kind of career she’d led. She was gracious and sly all at once, and I can only hope that her humor is staying with her through this difficult time.

Thoughts and prayers go up for her rehab and recovery.