Clint Dempsey Plays the Hero as USMNT Tops Italy

Clint Dempsey Plays the Hero as USMNT Tops Italy

Wednesday was a great day for international soccer action, even if none of it officially meant anything. With a FIFA International date on the calendar, some of the top national sides in the world squared off, including the United States Men's National Team facing Italy in Genoa.

If you were to put together a cursory list of things you'd like to see leading up to a USMNT win, they would likely include a goal by Clint Dempsey and a clean sheet for Tim Howard. There was plenty more to the action here, but those two did come to fruition, leading to a big 1-0 win. In 10 matches over a 78-year period, the US had never previously beaten Italy. Regardless of the setting, it was a meaningful win.

Below, a look at Dempsey's strike, plus full highlights from the match.

Things looked a bit sketchy for the US early on, as Italy generated too many opportunities for comfort. But they weathered it, and a scoreless first half was something of a win for the visitors. Ten minutes into the second half, a countering opportunity gave the US as much lead as they'd prove to need. The goal that meant the difference was the result of a fine cross by
Fabian Johnson, which was corralled by Jozy Altidore and calmly set in
place for the most dangerous American in the sport.

The latter portion of the second half was nerve-wracking to say the least, with Italy controlling possession and firing what they could toward Howard. USA's defense withstood the barrage though, containing the attack until the final whistle. In all, the defensive efforts to stifle the playmaking of Andrea Pirlo were impressive. The amount of blocked shots was increasingly amazing, and Timmy had to be happy with the effort in front of him in the second half in particular.

Friendlies like this may not continue on in the years ahead, as the power clubs are rarely thrilled with being forced to share the players they've invested heavily mostly for the purposes of exhibition. But from a non-stakeholding viewer's standpoint, it's a pretty exciting day, and certainly a prideful one for the Americans.

Below, full highlights via USMNT:

And to top it off, the US U-23 team beat Mexico last night in Dallas. Watch to see which Union player gets an assist at the 2:13 of this set of highlights...

Carson Wentz falls far behind Elliott, Prescott in Rookie of Year odds

Carson Wentz falls far behind Elliott, Prescott in Rookie of Year odds

Carson Wentz's Rookie of the Year odds took a hit, the Eagles' Super Bowl odds shortened and the Vikings' lengthened after Sunday's 21-10 win.

The Eagles are 33/1 to win it all, a week after being listed by Bovada at 50/1. The Vikings, meanwhile, went from 7/1 to 9/1. They still have the third-shortest Super Bowl odds in the NFL and are two spots ahead of the Cowboys (14/1). 

Wentz, who had his worst statistical game against Minnesota, is now 9/1 to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, according to Bovada. Last Wednesday, he was 6/1.

Wentz trails Cowboys studs Ezekiel Elliott (2/5) and Dak Prescott (11/5) on that leaderboard.

As far as this week, Wentz is favored to throw for more yards than Prescott. Wentz is 5/7 to outgain Prescott through the air in Week 8, while Prescott is 1/1 to outgain Wentz.

Elliott's over/under rushing total against the Eagles is 99.5. He's rushed for 130-plus yards in each of his last four games, and the odds are 3/1 that he'll reach that number again this week. 

The Eagles have allowed just one 100-yard rusher this season, Washington's Matt Jones (16 for 135).

Elliott is also now on pace to break Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record. Dickerson had 1,808 in 1983; Elliott is on pace for 1,875. Will Elliott break that 33-year-old mark? A "yes" bet pays 2/1; a "no" bet pays 1/3.

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Many, though not all hockey games, have a tipping point or pivotal moment that factors into the outcome.
Sometimes it’s obvious what it was and when the moment occurred. Other times, it’s overshadowed by something else on the ice.
Ask the Flyers which moment would define their come-from-behind 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo on Tuesday and the response will be virtually unanimous: when Dmitry Kulikov leveled Jakub Voracek with a high hit that made contact to the head in the third period.
Voracek was forced off the ice under the NHL’s concussion protocol.
That hit incensed the Flyers, who went on to score two power-play goals and tie the game, 3-3. The comeback was on.
Yet there was a less obvious but significant point that happened late in the second period, and it concerned goalie Steve Mason.
Matt Moulson had given Buffalo a 3-0 lead on Michal Neuvirth at 15:43, when Flyers coach Dave Hakstol elected to make a goalie switch.
Rather than call a simple timeout to buy Mason some warm-up time and allow his team to collect itself on the bench, Hakstol challenged the goal, claiming “goalie interference.”
Replays won’t show any direct interference on the shot itself. Neuvirth was speared several seconds before the play developed.
Hakstol knew the goal would likely not be overturned, but his strategy was to buy time for Mason and his team. By using a challenge, he knew the review process would take a lot longer than the 60-second timeout.
Either way, he was going to use his only timeout.
“You know what, I think we needed a timeout at that time, anyway,” Hakstol said coyly. “Pretty low probability of it being successful. Everything worked out well in the end.”
Mason appreciated what his coach did, too. Buying extra time for you?
“Yeah, probably,” Mason replied. “Regardless of the situation, you’re sitting on the bench, you know? You’re not really gauged as much as when you’re playing, obviously. So, you just try and ramp things up as quickly as possible.”
Mason had two saves in that shortened period, five in the third period and one in the overtime to register his second victory.
“There’s a never-quit attitude in this room,” he said. “We showed in Chicago — we were just talking about that. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to close that one out.
“But guys have a belief that you get one [moment] and it comes. [Travis Konecny] got us going with his first NHL goal, which is great. The guys really pushed to capitalize on their chances.” ​