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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Ilya Bryzgalov warns Flyers fans to bring speedos to Heinz Field

Ilya Bryzgalov warns Flyers fans to bring speedos to Heinz Field

The last time the Flyers were in an outdoor game, Ilya Bryzgalov was drinking from a thermos on the bench while Sergei Bobrovsky started against the Rangers five years ago.

Fast forward to Saturday night. Bryzgalov is out of the NHL, Bobrovsky has himself in the conversation for his second Vezina Trophy in Columbus, and the Flyers face off against the  Penguins at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh in a Stadium Series game … weather permitting.

The weather is expected to cooperate tonight, though. The forecast called for rain today and temperatures in the 50s, but it hasn't rained much. The temperature is expected to drop into the 40s and 30s, and may even hit a lot of 28, according to Weather.com.

Don't tell Bryzgalov that. "Bryz" took to Twitter to offer advice for Flyers and Penguins fans attending the Stadium Series match tonight.

You don't need no stinkin' thermos.

If you're not following Bryzgalov on Twitter, you should click that follow button now. He's always an entertaining follow.

The Sixers are the perfect distraction from the Sixers

The Sixers are the perfect distraction from the Sixers

There's your Philadelphia 76ers season in a nutshell, huh? Nerlens Noel gets traded for an all-lemon pack of Starbursts, Ben Simmons' right foot is still apparently stuck in a beartrap, Joel Embiid can't get himself dismissed from the nurse's office, and Jahlil Okafor is forced back into +1 status after everyone else passed on going to the concert with Bryan Colangelo -- and the Ballers still go out and beat one of the best teams in the East in their first game back from the All-Star break. Nearly everything about the Sixers is depressing right now, except for the team themselves. They're cool. 

Kudos to Brett Brown, man. The team is playing with such fluency and energy right now that it can withstand some losses in personnel without the drop-off being particularly dramatic -- at least for the moment. Replacing Embiid and Noel with Okafor and Holmes for as long as we'll have to do it will catch up with us in time, but for now, all you can do is marvel at the pace, cohesion and (with some mildly glaring moments of exception) discipline that Brown has the guys playing at the moment. I doubt there are five coaches in the league having a more impressive season than him right now. 

But the players were pretty good in this one, too. Dario Saric had 20-11-4 in his first start in three weeks, continuing his unlikely Rookie of the Year surge with his third-straight double-double and fourth game of 20-plus in his last six games. The All-Star Break hasn't cooled Robert Covington's hot hand, as the shooter went 5-9 from deep last night and is now 17-31 on threes over his last four games, also posting a 20-10 night with his 25 points and 11 boards. (Also three assists and four steals, whatever.) Richaun Holmes dunked over some people and reminded a handful of fans why they've gotten way too excited about him at various points earlier in the year. Good times were had by all. 

Games like last night's also just remind you how marginal the difference between winning and losing is. As they've been wont to do forever, the Sixers blew their considerable lead to the Wizards late in this one, which would've undoubtedly resulted in a tragic loss in years past. But these days, the leads are a little bigger going into the Sixers' fourth-quarter tailspins, and their defense is just a little tighter on critical possessions, and that's the difference between losing on a Bradley Beal buzzer-beater and hitting just enough free throws to squeak out a mildly secure 120-112 victory. 

Anyway, after an impossibly discouraging week of Sixers happenings, it turns out some actual Sixers basketball is just what we needed. Hopefully their level of play will continue to get better as news of their off-court developments invariably keeps getting worse .