World Cup 2014 after one week: high drama, beautiful goals, a former Union goalie dancing, and Rip to the rescue

World-Cup-Frenzy-Hits-Phill.jpg

World Cup 2014 after one week: high drama, beautiful goals, a former Union goalie dancing, and Rip to the rescue

[gallery columns="4" ids="1051591,1051592,1051593,1051594"] One full week has gone by and I can honestly say this is the GREATEST WORLD CUP EVER. There have been upsets (like Costa Rica representing CONCACAF in style) and comebacks (like Japan getting Drogba’d). There have been stunning early exits from past champs (thanks for playing, Spain!) and upstart teams making the most of rare World Cup appearances (nice work, Colombia). There have been world-renowned stars doing world-class things (Messi!), word-renowned stars breaking World Cup droughts (Rooney!) and world-renowned stars returning from injury just in the nick of time (Suarez!). There have been breakout stars (Colombia’s James Rodriguez) and unlikely heroes (our favorite German-American John Brooks). There has been the closest thing you’ll see to a buzzer beater in soccer (thanks, Switzerland and Ecuador) and even damn exciting scoreless draws (thanks, Mexico and Brazil). But, above all else, there have been goals. People that don’t like soccer like to point to the sport’s lack of scoring as a reason why – but this tournament is shaping up to be the highest-scoring World Cup ever. And many of the goals have been dramatic and beautiful. Here now is a list of our five favorite goals to this point: 5. USA’s Clint Dempsey vs. Ghana American bias? Perhaps. But the three touches the U.S. captain makes are brilliant and his finish is a perfect one. And don’t act like you didn’t jump off your couch screaming when this goal happened in the first minute of the game. [nbcsports_video src=http://player.espn.com/player.js?pcode=1kNG061cgaoolOncv54OAO1ceO-I&width=576&height=324&externalId=espn:11095373 width=620] 4. Costa Rica’s Oscar Duarte vs. Uruguay There have been a lot of great headers for goals in this tournament but this one is certainly one of the best – not only because it was the game-winner in Costa Rica’s massive upset over Uruguay but because a defender’s foot was practically in his face when he dove for the ball. [nbcsports_video src=http://player.espn.com/player.js?pcode=B4a3E63GKeEtO92XK7NI067ak980&width=576&height=324&externalId=intl:1881933 width=620] 3. Ivory Coast’s Gervinho vs. Colombia Who doesn’t like a bit of individual dribbling brilliance? That’s exactly what Gervinho did against Colombia, splitting a couple of defenders and dancing around another one before scoring a beauty to the near post. [nbcsports_video src=http://player.espn.com/player.js?pcode=B4a3E63GKeEtO92XK7NI067ak980&width=576&height=324&externalId=intl:1894342 width=620] 2. Netherlands’ Robin Van Persie vs. Spain Most people would have tried to settle this long ball. Most people are not Robin Van Persie, who opted to fly instead. [nbcsports_video src=http://player.espn.com/player.js?pcode=B4a3E63GKeEtO92XK7NI067ak980&width=576&height=324&externalId=intl:1878442 width=620] 1. Australia’s Tim Cahill vs. Netherlands The force and precision behind this one-time volley is hard to fathom. One of the greatest goals you’ll ever see. And I hear this guy plays in MLS. [nbcsports_video src=http://player.espn.com/player.js?pcode=B4a3E63GKeEtO92XK7NI067ak980&width=576&height=324&externalId=intl:1891216 width=620] --- And since this is purportedly a local blog, we should also highlight the goal from Colombia’s James Rodriguez against Ivory Coast because it led to an epic dance party on the Colombia sideline – led by none other than ageless former Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon. (Look for the guy right next to James, who then tries to go for a piggy-back ride on him). Also, great call from former Union forward and color man Alejandro Moreno, who’s been calling the Colombia forward James “Don’t call me James” Rodriguez. (You have to listen to it to get it.) [nbcsports_video src=http://player.espn.com/player.js?pcode=B4a3E63GKeEtO92XK7NI067ak980&width=576&height=324&externalId=intl:1894334 width=620] One last sorta local story: former NBA star Rip Hamilton – our favorite native son from Coatesville – is on his way to Brazil to give one his signature masks to Dempsey, who broke his nose in the last game.  Gotta love that American solidarity.

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.