Shanoff's W.U.C.: U.S. Soccer, Rivera, Rubio

Today's Calls: USA Soccer vs. World Cup 2010, Ricky Rubio vs. David Kahn, Mariano Rivera vs. History, Tommy Hanson vs. Scott Kazmir, Joey Logano vs. Mother Nature, Lance Stephenson vs. Brandon Jennings and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Are you ready for World Cup 2010? ↵

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↵That is the only thing that matters about yesterday's thrilling — and, yes, disappointing — U.S. soccer loss to Brazil in the Confed Cup finals. ↵

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↵Consider where we were little more than a week ago: The U.S. was a terrible team, not only NOT a world power, but — inconceivably — regressed from any progress made over the past decade. ↵

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↵Then the logistical madness to get them into the semifinals. Some folks were paying attention, but it really screamed "Fluke!" more than "U-S-A!" ↵

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↵The win over Spain was a quantum leap — beating the world’s No. 1-ranked team in a game no one gave the U.S. team any chance of winning. Still: No one gave the U.S. any chance (no: this time we REALLY mean it!) at competing in the finals with Brazil, let alone beating them. ↵

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↵And then, the most incredible moment yet: Up 2-0 over mighty Brazil — only the finest soccer power in world history. ↵

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↵The lead did not last — you could see its evaporation coming, even in the afterglow of Donovan's goal to make it 2-0 — arguably the most brilliant goal in the history of U.S. Soccer. ↵

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↵But it didn't matter: We held our own with Brazil. It felt like the whole country was — for a memorable hour or so on an otherwise sports-barren Sunday afternoon — transfixed by U.S. Soccer. And it wasn't even the World Cup. ↵

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↵No, that comes next. And though it's a year away, fans will tuck away the memory of "up 2-0," reviving it just in time to care come World Cup time more than they ever have since the U.S. hosted the World Cup back in '94. We will care about it as more than a novelty. ↵

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↵That's the good news. The bad news: Expectations for the U.S. will be — and should be — higher than ever. ↵

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↵Ricky Rubio Watch: OK, first of all, T-wolves GM David Kahn is a laughingstock. Rubio won't play for him, it's a buyer's market and Kahn looks like a fool. How bad must it be if Rubio — whose dream is to play in the NBA — would rather not play in the NBA than play for Kahn. ↵

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↵(Apparently, the T-wolves were offered — and rejected — Shane Battier and Aaron Brooks by the Rockets for Rubio. While Houston GM Daryl Morey would be fleecing his colleague, Battier feels like the ideal "glue guy" — particularly playing a position (SF) the T-wolves still need.) ↵

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↵Meanwhile, I am still looking for a good explanation of how the Knicks trading for Ricky Rubio helps them if their ultimate goal is to have LeBron run their offense. LeBron — like MJ or Kobe — doesn't need a pass-first/can't-shoot PG; he needs the ball in his hands and a PG who can nail clutch shots. That ain't Rubio. From a marketing perspective, yeah, sure: Rubio helps. But he is a terrible fit for any team led by LeBron. ↵

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↵NBA Offseason: I have mentioned several times how bad I think it is for the Magic to let go of Hedo Turkoglu — the X-factor who was a key part of the title run. But beyond replacing him with Vince Carter, shoring up the front line with Rasheed Wallace would be an AMAZING move. ↵

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↵(Wow: Did the Blazers try to trade for Shaq? That's what O'Neal says. Wait: I thought Portland already had a young franchise big man in Greg Oden — what kind of signal does it send about their confidence in Oden that they would want to eat into his minutes with Shaq?) ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points ↵

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↵— Milestones: Mo Rivera reaches 500 saves ↵

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↵— More: Jamie Moyer > Bob Gibson ↵

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↵— DeRosa’s Cards Debut: Cleanup, but a loser ↵

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↵— Greinke! There's the Zack we know ↵

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↵— Injury Return: Scott Kazmir seems to be back ↵

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↵— Join the Club: Rays 100 HR/100 SB by ASB ↵

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↵— Rookie Watch: Tommy Hanson ↵

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↵— Sweet MLB Debut: Ryan Sadowski ↵

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↵— 1st Rule of Pro Athletes: Never hit a fan. ↵

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↵— Fantasy Stud: Ian Snell (Oh: AAA? D'oh!) ↵

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↵NASCAR: Joey Logano matches the hype, becoming the youngest driver ever (19) to win a Sprint Cup race. (No one will remember it was rain-shortened by the end of the year, let alone 10 years from now.) ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: I cannot get enough of the Wildcat exploding throughout the NFL this upcoming season. I think it will be the No. 1 story line — yes, even beyond the return of Brady and the Pats. The Wildcat impacts teams with an eye on making The Leap, Mike Vick and — especially — fantasy. ↵

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↵NHL Draft: Is John Tavares the next Sidney Crosby? Um, anyone think the Islanders are the next Penguins? (No?) ↵

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↵CFB Countdown: Easiest non-conference schedule in the country? Matt Hayes says Ole Miss. Hey, you don't get to become the trendy pick for "at-large" outsider to crash the BCS cabal by scheduling toss-ups. ↵

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↵CBB Recruiting: Lance Stephenson is being recruited by Cincinnati? At what point will he just suck it up and go to Europe — or even the D-League? He could create an endorsement campaign that would more than make up for one year of low pay before the 2010 NBA draft. ↵

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↵In case you missed it: This conversation between Brandon Jennings and Joe Budden is kind of hilarious. ↵

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↵The Last Word: RIP, Billy Mays. Perhaps the most effective and ubiquitous TV pitchman in the history of the medium. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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