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The Day in 100 Words or Less It was another delicious day at the World Cup. Jay Novacek Jersey . The trends continued, and oh boy please let them continue on and on: Space in zone 14 for number 10s to exploit, clinical counter attacks, high defensive lines, poor defending, surprise results and lots and lots of goals. International football desperately needs a really good World Cup. At the moment it is providing a really great one. England 1-2 Italy - What a wonderful game of football. - Great teams can exploit an opponents weakness and Cesare Prandellis men did exactly that by working many of their attacks down the right. Matteo Darmian and Antonio Candreva tore England to shreds on that flank. Yes, Leighton Baines looked very average on a big stage but he wasnt helped. - Wayne Rooney, asked to play the left side of a three inside a 4-2-3-1, struggled terribly defending his flank. Roy Hodgson felt he did very well but if that was the case what was the reason for switching him to the right at the start of the second half? - Rooney will become the scapegoat the English press need to feast on but for a supposed world class player it is hard to feel sympathy for a man who has created a bar that is higher than most in that country. Few genuine world class players (which Rooney is not) do not play in four different positions during a game which is what the Manchester United man did, flipping from the left to the right back to the left and then up front as England made their subs. For me, he should be played up top as a striker but it is clear his manager has very little faith in him at the moment. - Rooney, who wasted a great chance by blasting wide on 61 minutes, has now played nine games in World Cups, combining for 685 minutes. He has more red cards (1) than goals (0). - Rooneys positioning aside it is difficult to think of anything Hodgson could have done differently. His team simply isnt near as good as Italy. He had no answer for the technical brilliance of Italys central midfield so he played his own game, counter attacking with pace. - That was how they scored their goal, from this position (below) when it took five seconds for Sterling-Rooney-Daniel Sturridge to make it 1-1. - Italy were excellent. Andrea Pirlo was even better than he was two years ago at Euro 2012 and alongside Daniele De Rossi and Marco Verratti were able to dictate the flow of the game. - England defended well and countered but it was difficult to play that style for the entire game and once again England didnt score in the second half (eighth time in their last nine at major tournaments). - Italy did and it came from a break down the right. Darmian hugged the touchline while the runs of his team-mates already had England nervous as Baines points... Darmian plays Candreva in behind and Englands backline is stretched... Claudio Marchisio makes an intelligent run to distract Glen Johnson. Candreva cuts back and prepares a great cross for Mario Balotelli to head home the winning goal. Colombia 2-0 Greece - The wonderfully proud country of Colombia had waited 5832 days to see their team play at a World Cup. Few things are worth waiting that long for but no Colombian in Belo Horizonte cared anything about the past on this day. - A year ago they were considered a contender for this World Cup. It scarred the country terrorized by high expectations of 1994 that ended in tragic circumstances. A year on, they were written off by some. Now it was their time to shine. - The stadium was a sea of yellow and on the pitch the game was played at South American pace. For the third successive day a South American team scored early, and when Pablo Armeros shot bundled into the back of the net on five minutes it was the earliest goal of the World Cup so far. - Armero got the glory but the architect was James Rodriguez. Without Radamel Falcao, manager Jose Pekerman misses a star striker but it does allow him to play five in midfield, something you cannot do with Falcao in the side. This meant James was placed deeper in a number ten role where he was given license to roam all over the field. - On the opening goal he picked up the ball deep and had the vision and guile to play a gorgeous ball into space for Juan Cuadrado to run on to. The moment he pinned the ball deep he sprinted into the box and within eight seconds was in the box, receiving the ball and drawing defenders towards him. Moments after this shot he dummied the ball and allowed Armero to slot the goal home. - Greece were forced to come out of their comfort zone and were the best team for 30 minutes in the first half. This is important because their World Cup is not solely based one match. How they react to this will be vital. Uruguay 1-3 Costa Rica - It is the World Cup that keeps on giving. A stunning result in Fortaleza has thrown a cat amongst the pigeons inside group D and no one can say Costa Rica didnt deserve it. - They were 7:1 underdogs heading into this game but they showed just how silly those odds looked. They never looked unsettled after going a goal down, through an Edinson Cavani penalty, and would defend brilliantly when asked. - At times they played a 5-5-0 formation with Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell dropping deep and demanding the ball. It was some contrast to Uruguays front two who couldnt get in the game. - World Cups do not care one bit for reputations. They create them. Many times we have seen old, slow players passed their prime be chewed up by the biggest stage and a day after Iker Casillas faltered for Spain, Diego Forlan did the same for Uruguay. - With no Luis Suarez (knee), Uruguays over-reliance on the front two meant the 2010 Golden Ball winner was thrust back into the limelight. It seemed like a big gamble by Oscar Tabarez and so it proved. Uruguay have a pedestrian midfield four, their wide players offer little, meaning the front two needs to click. Forlans place in the side pushed Edinson Cavani further forward and the two were invisible. Cavani is wasted as a pure target man. - It was a night that exposed Uruguays flaws. Much of their success has come against teams who have a lot of the ball who they can counter against. They couldnt do that today and, for once, when asked to be the team that dictated the match they buckled. - Fernando Muslera in goal is pathetic at this level; his centre-backs have no confidence in him or each other at set plays and dont have any help defensively outside of Cavani when clearing. The alarm bells were ringing in that area at half-time and Costa Rica exposed them in the second half. - Joel Campbell was great and benefited from a superb cross to score the first and laid in Marco Urena to complete the rout to make it 3-1. In between, Oscar Duarte wasnt tracked on a free kick and scored at the back post although he was inches offside. Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan - It was played while many slept in their beds or stumbled over their pint glass but if you missed it, you missed another good one. - For the fourth time already at this World Cup a team came from a losing position to take the lead. - Another trend at this World Cup has been momentum and, down 1-0 in the 64th minute Ivory Coast rocked Japan back, through the lively right back Serge Aurier. The Toulouse man, destined for a move to the Premier League, produced two outstanding crosses into the box in three minutes and headers from Wilfried Bony and Gervinho changed the game. - Japan, ahead through a Keisuke Honda bullet, couldnt find another gear. Much like Croatia, Spain and Uruguay they had been rocked by a comeback and were not the same when behind. - Yaya Toure doesnt look himself, however, and a funny moment took place in the first half when the ball from a teammate hit him in the face. He shook it off without a problem but I wondered if his mate didnt care too much for birthday cakes. Man of the Day Nominees: Mark Geiger The World Cup needed a good referee to step up and get things right. The American, who was helped by Canadian Joe Fletcher as his assistant, did exactly that in the first day of the game. James Rodriguez The Monaco magician was 7-years-old the last time Colombia played a World Cup. He has performed wonderfully in the Champions League but this was his big moment. He is so important to Jose Pekerman, allowing him to play five in midfield and be that deep lying playmaker, making up a midfield three, while also providing the decisive runs into the final third. His passing map (46 of 52) was special. (Stats powered by Opta) Joel Campbell We should be careful using small sample sizes to come to conclusions about the club game but no one can convince me that Yaya Sanogo is a better option at Arsenal, the club that Campbell belongs to. Andrea Pirlo Nothing he does should surprise anyone any more. England couldnt find a plan to counter him so they simply didnt even try this time. Antonio Candreva His tactical intelligence was marvelous. It is one thing for a coach to set out a team to play a certain way; it is something different to have his players recognize key developments in-game. The winner: Andrea Pirlo Candreva may have changed the game, Balotelli and Claudio Marchisio may have scored the goals but it was Pirlo who was the maestro and who everyone was talking about. It doesnt matter what country you support, this is the last time you will see the magician at a World Cup. Simply sit back and enjoy him while you can. What Comes Next? Switzerland vs Ecuador (12pm/9am), France vs Honduras (3pm/noon), Argentina vs Bosnia-Herzegovina (6pm/3pm). Burning Question for Tomorrow Can Switzerlands young stars find the space and beat Ecuador in a pivotal Group E match? Key stat of Day 3 At the 2010 World Cup 25 goals were scored through the first 16 games. At the 2014 World Cup only half the teams have played and we are already at 28 goals. Darren McFadden Jersey . And he said Sunday that players believe nobody in Sterlings family should be able to own the Los Angeles Clippers if hes gone. Terrance Williams Jersey . A lawmaker is hoping the buzz from California Chromes run for the Triple Crown might build support for a bill that would place the U.1. Jose Bautista has been shut down for the season. Thats two straight years with under 120 games played due to various injuries and a declining OPS. Should Jays fans be worried about his ability to carry the team in the coming seasons? Jose Bautista hit .302 in 2011 while slugging 43 homers and driving in103 runs.  In 2010, he crushed 54 homers and drove in 124 runs.  He was a beast both years. He had become a player that no one ever dreamed he could. He went from being a utility man to "The Man." Unfortunately since then injuries have limited the games that he has played. Injuries have also impacted his performance.  His injured wrist last season drained some of his power in addition to costing him games.  A bad hip this season has hampered his ability to rotate his hips when he swings the bat. He is starting to feel like one of those players who just cant stay healthy. But the biggest reason his production has fallen off is because he just isnt as good as his numbers from 2010-11.  Those years were anomolies.  He will never again hit over .300 in a season nor will he ever hit 54 homers again.  He doesnt have enough quality at bats to do either.  He is much more like the .254 hitter that he has been in his career than the .304 hitter he was in 2010. Bautista will still be an important contributor for the Jays moving forward but he is not a carry-the-team type of offensive player.  You either have to hit 30 homers and bat over .300 or hit 45-50 homers to truly carry a team.  He isnt that guy.  The Jays and the fans need to reduce their expectations of Bautista moving forward to get a true read of their team offense, otherwise they will be disappointed. 2. Joe Mauer is on the DL with a concussion after taking a foul ball off the helmet. He is one of eight catchers to go on the DL this season with concussion-like symptoms -- its a growing trend. Is there anything MLB should be doing to help protect catchers more? There is a reason why catchers careers typically fizzle out by the age of 33. There is a reason why very few catchers win batting titles or home run titles. The job is brutal.  It is tough on any player to go to the gate for 162 games in 181 days; it is most difficult for catchers. The job takes a physical and mental toll like no other. Joe Mauer is one of only three catchers to ever win a batting title. He won in 2006, 2008, and 2009. The first catcher to ever win the batting title was Eugene "Bubbles" Hargrave. He hit .353 in 1926 while playing for the Cincinnati Reds. The next catcher to win a batting title was Ernie Lombardi in 1938 and 1942. It is amazing to me whenever catchers contribute offensively in an extraordinary way. Their bodies get so worn down over the course of the season. I had Mike Piazza as the catcher for my Mets teams.  He was the best offensive catcher to ever play the game.  It was difficult to build my team around a catcher because he needed more days off than any other position to allow his body to recover.  So automatically I knew I would be playing without my No. 3 hittter for 30+ games.  The more serious concern, though, is that I could lose my superstar catcher to injury. There is always a risk of a catastrophic injury like Buster Posey of the Giants suffered a few years ago in a collision at the plate.  There is a risk to the hands and wrists of a catcher because of the pounding they take receiving thousands of 90 MPH fastballs. Yadier Molina is currently sidelined with the Cardinals because of a sore wrist on his glove hand.  And there are risks of concussion because of potential foul balls and collisions. Some catchers are worth the risks but as a GM I would love to see my guy protected as much as possible. I dont believe that there have been more concussions for catchers this year than any other year. Our awareness of concussions has grown. Our diagnosis of concussions has become more expansive and the willingness of players to speak up about their condition has grown significantly. All of this is good. The next step has to be improved technology and equipment. The NFL is continuing comprehensive studies about player safety regarding concussions. The issues for catchers are the same as NFL players. Catchers need to wear better protective gear. I know some catchers have gone to the hockey mask style helmet but I dont believe that is enough. Why shouldnt baseball catchers wear helmets like football players?  Many college, high school and youth football teams in the States are making players wear extra padding outside of their helmets for practices. Why cant a catchers helmet have extra padding too?  I know there are weight issues and vision issues.  It is 2013; can someone please figure this out? 3. Atlanta has a huge lead. Should they be resting players or playing them to keep sharp heading into the post-season and perhaps risk injury? What is the right strategy? All teams with large leads in the standings are faced with this dilemma.  Should we play our guys and keep them sharp or should we rest them so they can be sharp again? The truth is that there is not one right answer.  In fact, there isnt a correct answer from team to team.  It is really a question that has to be considered for each individual player.  What is right for one player may not be right for another. This is where a manager has to truly know his team.  Some players may need a rest and recover physically and mentally while others mayy need to keep up with the routine of playing. Anthony Hitchens Jersey.   It comes down to communication and trust.  The manager and coaches need to listen to the players and how they feel.  Then they have to match those words to what their eyes are telling them about a players performance. Have you ever been really tired but you ignore it because you have a project to complete or you are really busy?  If at some point you decide to take a break and sit down for a bit, you can start to feel your body shut down.  You tell yourself you better get up and keep moving because if you dont you know you wont be able to get up at all.  That total shut down is what a manager needs to guard against when he rests his players. Typically for most teams and players some combination of rest and playing makes sense.  A player can be given rest without messing up his routines and rhythm. A manager would prefer to rest those who need it prior to the last week of the season if the standings allow for it.  This way the players are back in the lineup for the last five or so games before the playoffs begin to sharpen their skills. If it is a close call between giving players a rest or keeping them on the field, I would always keep them on the field. Remember; the playoffs automatically allow for some physical recovery as there are built in travel days in each series.  The players have the entire off-season to rest. Writing this has made me tired.  I need a nap. Fair or Foul Hip Hip Hooray!  The Pittsburgh Pirates (81-58) have clinched their first non-losing season since 1992.  What a thing to celebrate.  I guess that is what you do when you have lost so many games for so many years. They teased us a few times over the last twenty-one years. Even just last season they were 11 games over .500 in July only to collapse and finish 79-83.  I didnt want to believe this year and be disappointed again.  But it finally feels safe to believe that they will have a winning record.  They have to be able to win at least one more game.... Right? Actually, the Pirates have been a nice story.  They sit atop the NL Central as you read.  Whether they hold on or not to that they will likely make the playoffs.  They have delivered hope to a hopeless fan base. The Pirates pitching staff has the second best ERA in the NL.  They have lowest opponents batting average and have allowed the fewest home runs as well.  Their rotation has been good while the bullpen has been even better.  They have the second most wins from a pen and the second fewest blown saves.  Pitching has clearly been the key to their success this year. Offensively, they are middle of the pack in most categories.  They dont have extraordinary team power or speed.  They dont hit well in the clutch as evidenced by their .225 batting average with runners in scoring position.  In other words they have scored just enough to support their pitching and win games.  This is a formula that has worked for the San Francisco Giants over the past couple of years. Pittsburgh is a blue collar town with a blue collar team.  They have reenergized their fan base.  They are excited.  The fans think this is great.  Old time baseball fans are remembering the "We are Family" Pirates from back in the day.  Expectations have changed.  The fans are going to get greedy now.  A .500 record is no longer the goal.  Now its the playoffs and soon the goal will be a World Series. I want to get excited for and about the Pirates but I know the truth.  This team isnt going anywhere. They may hold on and win the division.  Sure they may make a run in the crap shoot that is the baseball playoffs.  In a short series anything can happen.  But they dont have the type of roster to sustain success.  So many of the young players have outperformed their abilities and the veterans arent this good.  They have track records that prove this.  I wish it was different but its not. Small market cities get excited when small market teams compete.  It gives them hope.  But it is very difficult for them to sustain success.  Just ask the Astros.  Give the Twins a call.  Check out the Padres. Sure Tampa and Oakland are on a decent run.  But they havent won anything.  And neither will the Pirates. Plus, MLB is praying that the Pirates dont advance deep in the playoffs if they make it.  They are a good story, but at some point a no-name Cinderella team lacks appeal.  The networks want a Red Sox vs. Dodgers World Series.  Fans wont watch the Pirates vs. Rays. So, good for Pittsburgh.  It is a good little story.  Clint Hurdle has done a masterful job managing his roster.  Neil Huntington has made some very astute moves as the general manager.  The players have played hard. All parties deserve credit.  They have found some success. Unfortunately it will be short-lived and it will fall short.  I hate to be so pessimistic because there is finally some hope but the facts are the facts.  They dont have enough impact talent and the talent they have wont be affordable in a couple of years.  So enjoy it while you can.  It may be another 21 years before they do it again. Steve Phillips was general manager of the New York Mets from 1997 through 2003, helping lead the club to a National League championship in 2000 and its first World Series appearance in 14 years. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '


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