Graham Watson

  • U.S. and Japan exchange mild trash talk ahead of World Cup final

    Graham Watson at FC Yahoo 20 hrs ago

    The United States and Japan have become unexpected rivals in the past five years, but that doesn’t mean they’ve become good at trash talk.

    On Thursday, Japanese midfielder and captain Aya Miyama tried her best to add fuel to the fire with her comments about playing the United Sates for yet another prize.

    “(The Americans) took the Olympic gold medal, but we aren’t going to hand over the World Cup. That is the kind of spirit we’ll play with.”

    Take that America!

    Burn.

    OK, so Miyama’s comments don’t even register on the Scoville scale compared to the not-so-nice things Colombian players had to say about the United States prior to their round-of-16 matchup, but that didn’t stop Fox analysts from trying to poke the bear a little bit by calling Miyama’s comments “pretty strong.”

    [Women's World Cup: Latest news | Scores and Schedule | Group standings]

    United States captain Carli Lloyd, however, wasn’t biting.

    “Love it. Bring it. We’ll be ready,” Lloyd said.

    What’s up now, Japan?

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  • Alabama DC Kirby Smart said Alabama 'did not respect' Cardale Jones

    Graham Watson at Dr. Saturday 21 hrs ago

    In about a month, Alabama will open fall camp for the 2015 season, but it’s still working through the mistakes of 2014.

    Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart told Atlanta radio station 680 The Fan that he performed “exit interviews” with three departing defensive players — Landon Collins, Jarrick Williams and Nick Perry — and asked each what they felt went wrong in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Ohio State.

    All stated they didn’t feel prepared for the Buckeyes and specifically third-string quarterback Cardale Jones.

    Smart said while the staff knew Jones was a capable passer, they had no idea he had the ability to run the ball so well. Jones rushed for 43 yards and most were in an effort to escape the Alabama defensive pressure. He had a long run of 27 yards.

    Smart acknowledged that despite leading 21-6, he never felt like his defense was in control of the game.

    The ability to acknowledge shortcomings and seek out answers to rectify them is what has made Saban and Alabama so successful, and it will only make the team better in the future.

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  • The World Cup final between the U.S. and Japan feels preordained

    Graham Watson at FC Yahoo 1 day ago

    It’s the final we all wanted.

    The United States and Japan will face off for the World Cup title on Sunday in a rematch of the 2011 final that saw Japan win on penalty kicks. The Americans were the favorites to win the tournament, Japan an unknown underdog, and since that game the U.S. hasn’t been shy about its desire for redemption.

    [Eric Adelson: Coach Jill Ellis deserves credit for U.S. success, but how much?]

    In the promos leading up to the World Cup, the catchphrase was a “score to settle.” The spots featured Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan looking back at their careers and the one thing that’s missing.

    It’s been 16 years since the Americans hoisted the World Cup trophy in one of the greatest moments in women’s soccer history. That championship essentially started the country’s love affair with women’s soccer and those loyal fans have been patiently waiting for the next moment that will reaffirm the USA's place as the world women’s soccer power.

    It’s almost like this rematch was preordained.

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  • Stoppage time own goal sinks England against Japan in World Cup semi

    Graham Watson at FC Yahoo 2 days ago

    “It’s OK to cry.”

    That’s what England coach Mark Sampson told his team following a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Japan in the semifinal of the Women’s World Cup on Wednesday.

    And no English player had more tears flowing than Laura Bassett.

    In the 92nd minute, Bassett slid to try and clear a potential through pass out of the path of a Japanese forward and inadvertently knocked the ball into her own net.

    It was, in the most plain and simple terms, the most agonizing way for England — or any team — to lose.

    Moments like that one are used as cautionary tales for up-and-coming defenders or scary stories former players tell their baby budding defenders before bed.

    It was a nightmarish play with a nightmarish ending.

    While Sampson’s words gave some of his players a measure of comfort, he couldn’t console the one player who needed it the most. Bassett was being ushered off the field by a teammate when Sampson stopped to pat her on the head. He tried to say something, but couldn’t. The two parties walked in opposite directions, Bassett letting tears flow and Sampson trying to hold back his own tears.

    Shockingly, Sampson has been mostly right about his country’s reaction.

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  • Urban Meyer says QBs Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett are near 100 percent

    Graham Watson at Dr. Saturday 2 days ago

    Ohio State coach Urban Meyer isn’t ready to name a starting quarterback, but he is encouraged that he’ll have three from which to choose come fall camp.

    Meyer, who was in Northeast Ohio on Wednesday as part of his youth instructional camp, told fans that both quarterbacks Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett were close to being completely healthy with the Buckeyes about a month away from opening up fall camp.

    "Braxton is pretty close to full speed," Meyer said

    And Barrett?

    "Close to 95 percent," Meyer said

    This news is both encouraging and probably a little discouraging. It’s encouraging because Ohio State has the best stable of quarterbacks in all of college football. It’s discouraging because Meyer and his staff now have to pick just one of those guys to start.

    And Meyer quickly changed the subject.

    "So," Meyer said, "how's the weather?"

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  • Collision between USA and German players shows the fault in FIFA's concussion policy

    Graham Watson at FC Yahoo 3 days ago

    One of the more brutal moments of the first half between the United States and Germany— other than Alex Morgan’s finishing — came during a German free kick when USA’s Morgan Brian and Germany’s Alexandra Popp collided while Brian was attempting to head the ball out of the U.S. box.

    Both players went down, Popp with a bloody head and Brian clearly dazed. Both players were down for several minutes before medical personnel helped them to their feet.

    This would be a good time to revisit FIFA’s concussion policy.

    Oh, you’re still waiting?

    Well, there isn’t really one, actually. After the FIFA Men’s World Cup last year, there was a meeting and a proposal was made on enhancing the concussion protocol. Here was the recommendation:

    And this is pretty much what happened. Brian walked around, said she was fine. Popp had some water squirted on her bloody head, said she was fine and they continued on like nothing happened.

    Definitely not the best way to handle a situation that has been medically proven to have possible longterm side effects, but apparently soccer’s concussion protocol hasn’t caught up to the other football’s stringent handling of concussed players. Yeah, the guys with helmets.

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  • Report: Ole Miss' Laremy Tunsil was meeting with agents on night of fight

    Graham Watson at Dr. Saturday 3 days ago

    The stepfather of Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil alleges that his stepson was meeting with football agents prior to the incident that led to Tunsil’s arrest for domestic assault.

    According to The Clarion-Ledger, Lindsey Miller told sheriff's deputies on Thursday night that he and Tunsil's mother, Desiree Tunsil, were arguing about Tunsil "riding around with football agents."

    According to the police report, which was obtained by The Clarion-Ledger, Miller told deputy Rudy Howell that "Tunsil and the agents" left in a yellow convertible.

    Ole Miss has not yet released a statement about Miller’s allegation of Tunsil meeting with agents, which would be an NCAA violation.

    Tunsil voluntarily turned himself into police on Friday and did offer his own statement of events. That statement has not yet been released.

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  • What to watch: Can the U.S. defense slow Germany's offense?

    Graham Watson at FC Yahoo 3 days ago

    It’s finally here.

    The game many anticipated when the FIFA Women’s World Cup started has finally come to fruition and it’s going to be a dandy. Germany and the United States are ranked first and second in the world, respectively. They each have two World Cup titles and the winner of this game is considered the favorite to hoist a third trophy.

    [Women's World Cup: Latest news | Scores and Schedule | Group standings]

    But it won’t be easy. These teams match up oddly well and tonight’s game should be a hotly contested affair. It almost feels like a World Cup final and, rest assured, both teams will treat it as such.

    Here are a few things to watch when the game kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.

    Release Alex Morgan

    Thwarting Germany’s attack

    In the meantime …

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  • England boots host nation Canada from tournament with 2-1 win

    Graham Watson at FC Yahoo 6 days ago

    England needed just three minutes of sustained offense to defeat Canada 2-1 and advance to the semifinals of the World Cup for the first time in its history.

    Jodie Taylor kicked off the scoring in the 11 th minute when she stole the ball from Lauren Sesselmann, beat her defender and slid the ball past goalkeeper Erin McLeod. Less than three minutes later, Lucy Bronze headed the ball over McLeod to notch her second game-winning goal in as many days.

    Bronze, a defender, had only two previous international goals coming into the tournament.

    After that unexpected offensive flurry against a Canadian defense that had only allowed one goal in the tournament, the Lionesses bunkered in on defense like they have so many times this World Cup.

    Canada dictated play, but didn’t get many quality shots on goal. Striker Christine Sinclair cut the lead in half in the 42 nd minute when she corralled a rebound off goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and knocked it into the net, but outside of that, the quality chances were few and far between.

    "The dream is over,” Coach John Herdman said following the game. “Gutted, gutted for all of Canada. Christine (Sinclair) said sorry, but she can’t say that.

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  • Japan defeats upstart Australia 1-0 to close in on title repeat

    Graham Watson at FC Yahoo 6 days ago

    World Cup reigning champion Japan wants everyone to know it’s not going to give up its title without a fight.

    It defeated Australia 1-0 with a late goal and became the third team to punch its ticket for the semifinals. Australia, who became the Cinderella of the tournament after a stunning upset of Brazil in the Round of 16, didn’t have the same drive against a more structured and defensive Japanese team to move on.

    This game was marked as potential upset because Japan had only played World Cup debutantes prior to the contest and because Australia had played three top 10 teams and defeated two of them. However, Australia’s gameplan of putting high pressure on the Japanese defense was never executed.

    Japan controlled the ball early and often and its suffocating defense stopped Australia’s speedy offense from getting quality chances. Australia was forced to play Japan’s game and never had the opportunity to be the aggressor in the contest.

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    Want to read my in-game ramblings about soccer? Follow Graham Watson on Twitter@Yahoo_Graham