USA gets gut-punched by Portugal in a draw that feels like very much like a Philly-style loss

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USA gets gut-punched by Portugal in a draw that feels like very much like a Philly-style loss

 Portugal's Silvestre Varela heads the ball past United States' goalkeeper Tim Howard to score his side's second goal and tie the game 2-2 during the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday. (AP Photo)

 

First: Let's get the anger out. Look at this photo below.

With a 2-1 lead and less than 60 seconds to go, Michael Bradley -- who is supposed to be the smartest, most veteran American player -- had the ball in MILES of space near midfield. All he's trying to do at this point is kill some clock. Instead, what does he do? He turns BACK TOWARD HIS OWN GOAL and tries a pass. He gives it away, and it leads to the only moment of Cristiano Ronaldo brilliance in the entire match.

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OK, now that I got that out of my system. Let's get positive.

The United States is still in really good shape going into Thursday's finale against Germany (noon, ESPN).

We'll start with the elephant in the room. Germany and the U.S. would both advance if they draw.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann is German. He used to coach the German team. He and the Germany coach are friends.

Now, I'm not suggesting that the teams will agree to play for a draw before kickoff (it's happened before). But if the game is tied in the final minutes, neither team will push for a winner.

The United States would win the group with a win over Germany, and there is still a very good chance they advance even with a loss.

If the U.S. loses to Germany, you need to hope Portugal and Ghana draw ... or Portugal wins a close game ... or Ghana wins by as many goals as we lose to Germany by (got that?).

The group winner will likely play Algeria or Russia, while the second-place team would probably face Belgium.

The two games will kick off at the same time on two different channels. So get your trigger finger ready for the remote, or get to a bar with multiple TVs.

We'll have a few days to break that down. For now, calm down, get some sleep, and make up a good excuse to skip work on Thursday.

Just watch this Jermaine Jones goal and feel better about life.

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Phillies shut out, but Jake Thompson's best start yet and kudos to that one fan

Phillies shut out, but Jake Thompson's best start yet and kudos to that one fan

You knew it probably wasn't going to be a very good night for the Phillies after Jayson Werth led off the game with a home run for the Washington Nationals. After the smarting blow from our former WFC RF, the Nats picked up another run to go up 2-0 in the first, and that was plenty for the NL East leaders on a windy Monday night in Philly. The Fightins managed just four hits, one walk, and zero runs worth of offense, and Tanner Roark and the Nats shut 'em out, 4-0, for the series opener. (That's Werth's 18th homer against the Phils, btw — one off his single-opponent high of 19 against the Braves, and in about 60 fewer games.)

Luckily, the night wasn't a complete wash for the Phils: We got our best start yet — indeed, the first one that would likely qualify as "good" — from young righty starter Jake Thompson, who buckled down after the two first-inning runs, and went six scoreless from there. (Thompson had yet to pitch more than three consecutive innings without an earned run in his four starts to date.) The starter's finest inning was his last, where he notched all three of his strikeouts on the evening, including a particular beauty dropped in for a third strike on an incredulous Trea Turner to close the frame. For a 22-year-old pitcher whose early-career issues are often said to be more mental than mechanical, it could be a huge confidence boost to come through like that against one of the best offenses in the NL.

Meanwhile, the other hero for the Phils tonight came in the guise of a fan sitting on the first-base line, who responded to a Frank Herrmann pickoff overthrow by reflexively cleanly fielding the ball as it bounced near the seats. The fan-interference got Nats third-baseman Anthony Rendon, who was well on his way to third base, called back to second, incensing Washington manager Dusty Baker and earning the fan a good deal of high-fives from the fans in his section. He got booted from the stadium — and Rendon was rewarded third base anyway after Baker's challenge was supported by replay — but y'know. No one can say dude didn't do what he could, and that's all anyone can ask of a real fan.

Jerad Eickhoff vs. Max Scherzer at 7:00 tonight. Still just 9.5 games out of the second wild-card spot.

Eagles LB Myke Tavarres reportedly changes mind, will stand for national anthem

Eagles LB Myke Tavarres reportedly changes mind, will stand for national anthem

Several hours after telling ESPN that he would join Colin Kaepernick in not standing for the national anthem, Eagles rookie linebacker Myke Tavarres has apparently changed his mind. 

Tavarres' agent told FOX29's Chris O'Connell Monday afternoon that the linebacker will stand for the national anthem Thursday in the Eagles' preseason finale against the Jets.

All right then. 

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson released the following statement regarding Tavarres' decision(s):

For what it's worth, Crossing Broad found this picture from Tavarres a few weeks ago, when he certainly seemed to be pro-America.

Happy Independence Day!! 🇺🇸

A photo posted by Myke Tavarres (@myket14) on

Flyers' farm system ranked 6th in NHL by ESPN

Flyers' farm system ranked 6th in NHL by ESPN

There's a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the future of Philly sports, although between the Phillies, Eagles and Sixers, the Flyers tend to go a little overlooked this time of year.

Maybe that shouldn't be the case. Not only are the Flyers coming off of a playoff season, unlike the other local teams, but their future might be as bright as any of the other three. Just look at their farm system, which is ranked sixth in the NHL by Corey Pronman for ESPN.com (Insider), up from number 10 last year.

It's hard to criticize the Flyers' system. Talented all-around centers? Check. Dynamic big defensemen? Check. Ridiculous goaltender depth? Check. Depth through their amateur and professional ranks? Check. Players with star upside? Check. They don't have an Auston Matthews-caliber player in the pipeline, but that player doesn't stay in your system longer than three months anyhow. Ron Hextall emphasizes patience in developing players, so I do expect this system to remain at a high level for another two seasons as the build continues.

The Flyers may not have an Auston Matthews-type, who happened to be first-overall pick in this year's NHL draft. Among the prospects they do have however are forward Travis Konecny, defensemen Ivan Provorov, Samuel Morin and Travis Sanehim and goaltender Anthony Stolarz, several of whom are already knocking on the door. This comes on the heels of what was considered another strong draft for the franchise in June as well.

And let's not forget, one of the Flyers' top prospects joined the club last season. Shayne Ghostisbehere isn't accounted for in these rankings for obvious reasons, but the fact of the matter is the dynamic blue-liner is only 23 and should be wearing orange and black for a long time.

Of course, Flyers fans already know the future is bright. Then again, seeing how their farm system is viewed relative to other teams around the league goes to show just what an outstanding job general manager Ron Hextall has done rebuilding the prospect pipeline.