On Sunday afternoon, at Soldier Field in Chicago, on a cool day of merely 68 degrees but with plenty of wind, the United States Men's National Team won the Gold Cup championship, playing against an unexpected but totally justified team from Panama.
The match began under the cloud of controversy, as coach Jurgen Klinsmann—ejected in the 87th minute on Wednesday's semifinal match against xxx—and on Friday, the CONCACAF ruling board decided the head coach could not be on the sideline during the final match. Assistant coaches Martin Vasquez and Andreas Herzog were declared co-coaches for the match, with Herzog being listed as the official manager on the score card.
Panama got the first corner kick of the match in the 10th minute. The United States got their first in the 17th minute. When Panama attacked on the counter, Stuart Holden took a hit on the knee and went out of the game, leaving the US with only 10 for a brief time. The disadvantage was enough that the replacement coaches felt the need to make an unusually early substitution, bringing in Mikkel Diskerud in the 23rd minute. Holden's history of injury—he broke his leg in 2010, tore his ACL in 2011 and suffered from knee cartilage damage just 6 months after that ACL tear—made his quick disappearance from the game particularly disappointing. Grant Wahl reported that Holden had sprained his right knee and would be evaluated further at a later date. The biggest bit of action in the first half was the 9 fouls on the side of the US, to Panama's 5. The red, white and blue did control 75% possession in the first half, but neither team had any shots on goal.
In the second half, Landon Donovan continued his impressive performance during the Gold Cup, completing his comeback tour for the men's national team with something of an aberration. When Brek Shea came in for Joe Corona in the 68th minute, he scored almost immediately—in the 69th—off a Landon Donovan whiff that was fortunately a miss. Had Donovan touched the ball, it certainly appeared as though Shea would have had to be called off side. It was an unusual way for Donovan to put his imprint on the game, but it was undeniable fun.
57,000 out of the 61,000 seats were filled and after this game, the national team will return to World Cup qualifying matches, playing in Costa Rica on September 6 and Mexico in Columbus on September 10.
Winning used to be a pretty common experience for Roger Federer. He and Rafael Nadal would go back and forth, tossing the victories in world tennis competitions between themselves. It seemed like it would last forever. Then, Novak Djokovic came from out of nowhere, changed his diet and started to look unbeatable. It was a poor time to be Nadal, but it was probably harder on Federer, since he thought that he had seen the threat coming, in the form of Nadal, and had neutralized him.
On Friday, however, Federer took the first step toward getting back to his top spot. He will play in the Wimbledon Final against Andy Murray. This Grand Slam final will mark the 30th in a row that includes one of the trio of Federer, Nadal or Djokovic, a remarkable record that stretches all the way back to 2005. To say these three are in complete control of the sport of tennis is an understatment. This is what pure domination looks like.
The semifinal match-up was, amazingly, the first time that Djokovic and Federer have faced each other on grass, and Federer endeavored to capitalize on this advantage. The match, however, was an incredible back and forth display of power on both players' parts. In triumphing 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 Federer showcased the old grit that has consistently made him one of the most difficult opponents to close out. Djokovic committed uncharacteristic mistakes that cost him the match, moving Federer to a record of 15-12 all time against the Serb.
The men's Wimbledon Final will be played on Sunday, and Federer will face tremendous pressure to clinch the deal, now that he's conquered Djokovic. However, Andy Murray is no token opponent and promises to be ready for the match. His defeat of Jo-Wilifried Tsonga 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 later on Friday sent him to his first Wimbledon final, where he will be itching to play the role of the spoiler.
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison for “heinous and brutal” war crimes.
The seemingly endless GOP presidential nomination season ends with Mitt as the last one standing. He celebrates with Donald Trump.
Governor Susana Martinez is scheduled to return from California today after attending private PAC fundraisers. Susana PAC has almost a million dollars in its coffers, which the guv aims to use in key state legislative races.
With a week left to go before the primary election, experts are projecting low turnout. Get out and vote!
Wikileaks’ Julian Assange still has a little time left to fight Swedish extradition charges, although he lost his latest appeal.
In a split decision, the state Supreme Court upheld the Guild Cinema's conviction for violating a city ordinance prohibiting adult film screenings, which the theater argues infringed on free speech rights.
War veterans make stops in New Mexico as they bike across the country to raise awareness about many serious issues that face returning service members.
Two asteroids hurtled past Earth on Monday and Tuesday. Some scientists (and billionares) see a missed opportunity to troll for valuable minerals.
Roger Federer broke grand slam records with his most recent win at the French Open, while Novak Djokovic successfully battled into the third round.
Notorious cult leader and mass murderer Charles Manson could have ties to unsolved cases in the L.A. area.
Like soccer, tennis is a global game. This wasn’t always so. Fifty years ago, the U.S. and Australia dominated the sport, in men’s and women’s play. Today, all sorts of lands across the world—Andorra to Zimbabwe—compete in tennis.
At the ColemanVision Tennis Championships, Albuquerque’s longtime women’s professional event, lots of foreign languages could be heard this weekend. I wrote about the fabled hill outside Tanoan courtsin this week’s Alibi, which Coleman winners and losers alike must hike.
Indeed, the four semifinalists in singles last weekend hailed from: Canada (by way of Poland), the Republic of Georgia, Romania and Russia.
In Sunday’s final, Regina Kulikova of Russia upset No. 1-seed Anna Tatishvili of Georgia, 7-5, 6-3. For winning, Kulikova, ranked 179th in the world and unseeded in the tournament, took home $11,400 in prize money.
The doubles final, happily for most of the 300 fans who turned out to watch, was an all-American affair. Alexa Glatch of Newport Beach, Calif., and Asia Muhammad of Las Vegas, Nev., stopped Melanie Oudin and Grace Min, both from Georgia—the state, not the country—4-6, 6-3 (10-2).
For the title, Glatch and Muhammad each pocketed $2,090.
The greatest rivalry in modern tennis just got a new twist. No, not Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Rather, Nadal and Roger Federer. For years, Nadal and Federer have battled back and forth. Their styles have been contrasted, and their stories have been written. It was Federer on top, with his precision and beautiful game. Nadal was the brash young kid with the passion and the angst, especially at the fact that he could never get over the top against the king. He was ranked second to Federer's first for a record 160 consecutive weeks.
Then, all of a sudden, in 2008, Nadal went on a spree against Federer. Rafa beat Fed three times in a year and took the number one spot. It was as though his time had come. At only 27 years old, it's not like Federer was knocking on the door of retirement by any means. But those who followed the game got a sense that Nadal had paid his dues. He'd been rooted against long enough. He'd been the wild child. It was his time to ascend the throne.
To categorize the last three years as poor for Nadal would be a mistake of the grossest severity. After winning what some called the greatest tennis match ever, Rafa went on a rampage. He won his first Olympic gold medal in Beijing, ran through several of the majors (but never completing a true Grand Slam) and compiled a magnificent record. He was a monster by anyone's account.
As the U.S. Open progressed this year, however, Rafa and Fed were, once again, on opposite sides of the bracket. The match-up was there to be had. But Djokovic insisted upon playing spoiler as a set piece conclusion to his season for the ages. When historians look back to the 2011 tennis season, the big font at the top will be about Djokovic's season record: 64-2 at this point with not a sign in sight that his rate will decrease.
Djokovic has received plenty of press for his change in diet and the possibility of this being the move that puts him truly (and, seemingly at this point, inevitably) over the top. Members of the press have never been shy to describe Roger Federer as, perhaps, the greatest tennis player of all time. Lost in the fray between these two singular talents, somehow, is Rafael Nadal. If ever there has been an overlooked number two talent in the game, this is that moment. If all of these circumstances can somehow be believed, there is a distinct possibility that those same people who have dismissed Rafa as a boyish rager may now start to root for him. Ironically, they might be too late.
After Serbia’s Novak Djokovich played Roger Federer on Friday in the semifinals of the men’s singles at the French Open, I wondered how Aleks Kostich was holding up.
In last week’s Alibi, I wrote about Kostich, a Serbian-American who lives in Albuquerque. A huge tennis fan, Kostich had been avidly following Djokovich’s undefeated match string, which began late last year. The number had reached 43 straight. He needed three more wins to tie the modern-day record of 46.
As everyone by now knows, it didn’t happen. The Fed Express prevailed, in four tense sets.
How did Kostich feel? I resisted calling him lest he think I wanted to rub it in. Kostich knows I like Fedster, and I do, except when Federer cries, which he did after he lost the Australian Open to Rafa Nadal in 2009.
On Sunday morning, Federer fell once again to Nadal. No tears this time, at least that I could detect.
But what was up with Kostich? Why hadn’t I heard from him?
Midafternoon Sunday I found a message on my cell phone.
“Just got back into town from Santa Fe. We went there trying to avoid all that smoke. Thanks for the piece. Unfortunately things didn’t pan out for the man himself. But you know, I guess you got to roll with it. I expect him to come back pretty strong for Wimbledon. There’s no reason he can’t have that success at Wimbledon. Looks like Roger expended himself in the semifinal. See you around.”
For Aleks Kostich, a Serbian-American living in Albuquerque, the biggest war this week is taking place on the red-dirt courts at the French Open tennis championships. The No. 2 seed there in men’s singles is Novak Djokovic, a tall 24-year-old built like an arrow.