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Regional Heavyweights U.S. & Mexico Meet In Gold Cup Final

Regional Heavyweights U.S. & Mexico Meet In Gold Cup Final

Before I get into my US/Mexico Gold Cup Final (9PM/Fox Soccer) thoughts I need to state something for the record. How in the world does Major League Soccer, the professional soccer league of record in this country, schedule games during the final of the most important tournament in the region?

As Matt P. and I were discussing it took MLS forever to release their schedule. How did they not take into account the likelihood that the US would face its biggest rival in the Gold Cup Final? For a league desperate to connect with and retain soccer fans in this country scheduling games for tonight is a stroke of pure unadulterated idiocy.

Ok, now that that's out of my system I can go ahead and talk about the actual game

Mexico comes into the game having outscored their opponents 18-2 over the course of the tournament. By comparison the US has outscored their opponents 8-2. Chicharito, who lit it up in his first season in the English Premier League, has dominated the tournament, scoring seven goals for Mexico.

Putting those numbers aside for a moment an argument could be made that these two teams have been headed in opposite directions since the tournament got underway. The US started off incredibly slow - squeaking past Guadeloupe and then losing to Panama. Since then the US has steadily improved.

What's been the difference? Well, in my opinion the US fortunes started to change as soon as Bob Bradley replaced Tim Ream in the lineup. Carlos Bocanegra moved to the spot Ream vacated in the middle. Eric Lichaj then stepped into the left back spot. The US has not conceded a goal since making the change - keeping a clean sheet over the last three games.

Mexico, after breezing through he group stage, struggled to get past Guatemala. They then needed overtime to beat Honduras in the semifinal.

Don't get me wrong, Mexico is deservedly favored to win tonight. The Rose Bowl will be filled 70%-80% with Mexican fans. However, I can't imagine a rivalry game like this will result in a lopsided affair.

These two teams know each other too well for that to happen. If the US has any advantage it's between the sticks with Tim Howard along with the physical play provided in the center of the midfield with Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones.

This will be the first game all tournament where the US is not expected to win. It will also likely be the first game where the opposing team will not simply sit back and give the US time on the ball.

El Tri will undoubtedly have chances. It's up to the US to recapture the success they had in the Confederations Cup and the World Cup in transition.

Landon Donovan, who presumably will start tonight, is going to need to be a monster on the flanks. The recipe is the same as always for the US. If Howard, Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and Michael Bradley play well they'll have a chance to win.

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CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

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CSNPhilly Internship - Advertising/Sales

Position Title: Intern
Department: Advertising/Sales
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Deadline: November 20

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Fantasy football: Tight end replacements, pass-catching RBs, sleeper WRs

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Fantasy football: Tight end replacements, pass-catching RBs, sleeper WRs

I'm assuming you need a tight end.

Injuries to Greg Olsen, Tyler Eifert, Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed have turned a thin position into a fantasy wasteland two weeks into the season. Olsen is out at least eight weeks, Eifert appears to be out this week and has been brutal the last two, and Gronk and Reed will likely be game-time decisions Sunday.

The somewhat good news if you're in the market for a tight end, though, is that there should be several quality options available on waivers.

Here's a look at the top tight ends (and more importantly, top TE matchups) of Week 3, as well as suggestions at other positions:

Bears TE Zach Miller (vs. Steelers)
The Steelers have allowed just 27 points through two games thanks to a pair of favorable matchups against the hapless Browns and a Case Keenum-led Vikings team in Week 2.

Still, through two weeks they've allowed 10 catches and 107 yards to tight ends. If you average that out to 5-for-50, you're looking at a double-digit fantasy performance in PPR leagues. In standard leagues, 50 yards would still be more than Eifert brought you in two weeks.

I like Miller for five or six catches this Sunday. He's been targeted 15 times by Mike Glennon through two games. Only Jason Witten and Zach Ertz have seen more targets.

Miller isn't going to win you a week or go for 25 points but he's a steady short-term plug-and-play this week. If it's a PPR league, he'd be my No. 1 target if you're looking for safety over a boom-bust performance.

Ravens TE Ben Watson (vs. Jaguars in London)
The only reason I can't put Watson ahead of Miller is because the Ravens' tight end picture is a bit more crowded.

Whereas Miller has run 35 more pass routes than the Bears' second-string tight end, the pie in Baltimore has been split more evenly.

Watson has run 33 pass routes while Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams have combined to run 34, according to Pro Football Focus.

Watson is by far the most accomplished receiver of those three and he was a prime target of Joe Flacco's this past Sunday, catching all eight targets for 91 yards. 

Watson also has a great matchup against the Jaguars, who have allowed 151 yards (fourth-most) and a TD to tight ends so far.

Watson has more touchdown potential this Sunday than Miller, so if you're in a standard or even half-PPR league, I'd give Watson the slight edge on Miller. In PPR, it's just hard to pass up Miller's 8-to-10-point floor.

Other TEs:
Jack Doyle is probably owned in your league, but if not, he's a better season-long option than both Miller and Watson. He caught 8 of 8 targets for 79 yards in Week 2 from Jacoby Brissett, who starts again this Sunday vs. Cleveland.

• Folks will be intrigued by Evan Engram's 4-49-TD line on Monday Night Football but I'd avoid starting him this week against the Eagles, who are usually very good against opposing tight ends. Travis Kelce was an exception last week but he's one of the top three tight ends in the NFL.

• Keep an eye on the Jordan Reed situation. If he sits, Vernon Davis is a decent option. Last season, Davis had 13 catches for 176 yards and 3 TDs in the first three games Reed missed, having a quiet game in only the last one on Christmas Eve.

• It would be bold to start Antonio Gates against the Chiefs' stingy defense, but Gates always has top-five touchdown likelihood at his position because of his rapport with Philip Rivers. The problem is he also has more 1-catch likelihood than most tight ends.

Running backs
Chris Thompson is available in 68 percent of Yahoo leagues. Whether or not Rob Kelley plays Sunday, Thompson is worth grabbing. If it's a PPR league, he has no business sitting on the waiver wire. He won't scoop up between-the-tackles carries if Kelley misses the game but he's always a factor in the passing game.

• I also like Shane Vereen (22 percent owned) this week against the Eagles. The Giants have a porous offensive line and the Eagles' strength is their pass rush, which should result in plenty of quick passes from Eli Manning.

Wide receivers
• I'd advise picking up Allen Hurns but not starting him Sunday against the Ravens unless you absolutely need to. The Jaguars are always going to be playing garbage time minutes and that's where Hurns shines. He had six receptions for 82 yards and a TD in Week 2 with almost all of that coming in the fourth quarter of a lopsided loss. Hurns is available in 73 percent of leagues.

• I trumpeted Jermaine Kearse in this space last week as a cheap waiver option nobody will use a claim on, and he picked up two TDs Sunday. The Jets, like the Jags, will always be playing from behind. Josh McCown-to-Jermaine Kearse is one of those average QB-average WR pairings that can produce points out of sheer necessity and volume.

• The Packers' Geronimo Allison is a sleeper option this week, if and only if Green Bay is down a receiver or two. Jordy Nelson' prognosis is 50-50 for Sunday, whereas Randall Cobb is expected to play. If both miss, Allison is an intriguing option who could get six-plus targets from a top QB. If Nelson misses, Allison is worth starting only if your next-best option is like Cole Beasley.

Defenses
• The Dolphins are the best defense to stream in Week 3 because the Jets are the Jets.

• The Bucs' defense (26 percent owned) is worth starting in Minnesota if Sam Bradford misses another game.