Shanoff's WUC: Donovan, 59-59, Draft, OH MY!

Today's Calls: Landon Donovan vs. Immortality, John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut, John Wall vs. Evan Turner, Nets vs. No. 3 NBA Draft slot, Phil Jackson vs. Retirement, Stephen Strasburg vs. the Royals, Ubaldo Jimenez vs. the Red Sox, Lawrence Taylor vs. Indictment, Italy vs. Oblivion, Japan vs. Denmark, Henrik Sedin vs. Ovechkin and Crosby, Albert Haynesworth vs. the Redskins and More ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Yes, it was the biggest moment in U.S. soccer history. ↵

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↵Soccer snobs -- the ones who likely resent the tens of millions of casual (or non-) fans who were enraptured by yesterday's miracle result -- point to the U.S. win over Mexico in 2002 in the 2nd round that sent us to the World Cup quarters. ↵

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↵But that can't be right, because that win didn't change anything. Ninety-nine percent of fans can barely remember the game, let alone the name of who scored and how he did it. Eight years later, we were still waiting for soccer to "break through" -- a moment that arguably happened yesterday, shortly before noon Eastern time, at a moment known simply as "Donovan 90' +1." ↵

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↵This time, the entire country was watching. It was do-or-die -- not just about advancing in the World Cup, but about advancing the cause of soccer mania in this country. And the win came as memorably as any win in the history of U.S. sports -- it was, in its way, even more improbable than Jason Lezak coming from behind in the final stroke to beat the French in the 4x100 in Beijing. ↵

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↵It wasn't just that the U.S. won, advancing to the 2nd round. We could have won 1-0 on Dempsey's goal early and everyone would have been happy, but not insanely ecstatic, participating in a shared national experience. ↵

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↵It was the WAY we won: Last gasp. Facing oblivion. Injury time. Everyone -- even the soccer snobs! (admit it!) -- had given up on the U.S. With the miracle goal delivered by the country's best player ever. ↵

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↵How big was the U.S. win? For the day, big enough to knock a record-obliterating tennis match ... to dwarf the usually all-encompassing lead-up to the NBA Draft ... to make Phil Jackson's possible retirement a footnote ... to make Lawrence Taylor's indictment a minor story ... to eclipse even Stephen Strasburg. ↵

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↵It is the biggest thing ever to happen with soccer in this country. And it is instantly one of the biggest national sports events of the post-"Miracle" era, right next to Mary Lou and the 4x100 swimming miracle. ↵

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↵What the soccer snobs -- and I respect them all -- don't get is that no one but them remembers Mexico in 2002. ↵

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↵But everyone -- everyone -- will remember "Donovan 90’+1." ↵

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↵And between the stakes, the audience and -- most of all -- the ending, that's why it matters more than any other win U.S. soccer has ever had. ↵

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↵Looking ahead: US vs. Ghana on Saturday, with the U.S. looking like they drew a very favorable quarter of the knock-out bracket. The winner gets the winner of Uruguay-South Korea. (On the far side of the bracket, England gets Germany on Sunday -- ouch!) ↵

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↵Wimbledon: Isner-Mahut 59-59. On any other day, this would have represented one of the most remarkable sporting moments (or hours -- and now days -- of moments) of all time. The only shame is that they had to temporarily stop: ↵

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↵118 games played in the 5th set (so far!), more than 8 hours of uninterrupted tennis -- the longest tennis match ever ... and that's just the fifth set. Like a 50-inning baseball game or 20-quarter NFL game ... only with no room for error, no timeouts, no subs, no mercy. Mind-numbing, yes -- but absolutely must-see today. ↵

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↵(Andy Hutchins has a spectacular post that puts everything about the match into perspective.) ↵

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↵Is Phil Jackson retiring? He is supposedly "leaning" that way. If he is, he picked a pretty good way to go out. ↵

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↵NBA Draft: Well, I was all set to lead with the NBA Draft ... right up until "Donovan 90’+1." (And Isner-Mehut!) Never been happier to rip up a plan and change things around. Here are my top 5 story lines for the draft: ↵

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↵(1) John Wall, Franchise: There hasn't been as much buzz about a guard coming into the NBA since Allen Iverson in 1996. If all Wall does is make the Wizards relevant and watchable -- let alone a playoff team -- he will be worth it. ↵

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↵(2) What do the Nets do? This becomes the linchpin of the Top 5-10 picks. Will they go Derrick Favors? DeMarcus Cousins? Wes Johnson? Whatever they do triggers what the T'wolves will do, then who the Kings will have available. ↵

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↵(3) Where does Gordon Hayward go? I want Hayward to do well; I don't think he will. If he's the next Daequan Cook, there to launch 3s when defenses worry about everyone else, is he really worth a Top 10 pick? ↵

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↵(4) Latavious Williams: The first prep to go straight to the D-League got better pro coaching and mentorship than any college player in the draft -- and will be drafted ahead of plenty of "name" collegians. Take the lesson, preps. ↵

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↵(5) Trades, trades, trades: The top of the draft is thin, but this is as deep of a draft as we have seen in years -- or will see in years to come. Rebuilding teams can find loads of young rotation talent. ↵

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↵(Check out Sean Deveny's final mock draft.) ↵

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↵CP3 WTF: Will the Hornets actually trade Chris Paul? Here's the easy answer: No. (He wants to play for a contender? That's easy: He can rip up his contract, play for the league minimum, get his teammates to do the same thing and free up the cap room to make a play for LeBron.) ↵

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↵Strasburg Watch: Egad, a loss! It certainly wasn't his fault, allowing a single run in 6 IP, with 9 Ks and 0 BB. Strasburg doesn't need much run support to win prolifically -- but he needs at least one or two, please. ↵

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↵Ubaldo Mania: Is it possible that Ubaldo Jimenez -- the NL's best pitcher this season -- has been feasting on the NL's weaker lineups? The Red Sox hit him harder than any team this season, racking up 6 runs and 10 hits in less than 6 innings pitched. It's a blip once the Rockies go back to playing intraleague games, but it is a very notable new data point on his resume. ↵

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↵More MLB Talking Points: ↵

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↵• Streaking: Angels win 5th straight. ↵

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↵• Walk-Off Watch: Jimmy Rollins HR! ↵

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↵• Rays fading? Another L to Padres. ↵

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↵• Fired: Fredi Gonzalez. ↵

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↵• Hired: Bobby V to take his place? ↵

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↵CWS: I love that TCU might win the national title. ↵

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↵LT Indicted: We all saw this coming. Like Isner-Mahut, on any other day, this leads the news. Today: 4th-biggest? 5th? ↵

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↵NHL Awards: Henrik Sedin defied the Ovechkin/Crosby stranglehold to win the Hart as league MVP. I'm squarely "Team Ovi," but I appreciate when a lesser star breaks through. ↵

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↵Blackhawks trade Byfuglien: Sounds like it was all part of the champ's master plan. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: Albert Haynesworth won't refuse to participate in training camp after all. $100 million crisis averted! (Or should I say: "Averted?") ↵

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↵CFB Expansion Post-Mortem: Now it can be told? Oklahoma and Texas A&M got invites to join the SEC. That's straight from the OU president. It is a bit of a humiliation for the SEC that they were turned down (and puffery for the Big 12 to announce it), but I suspect that the SEC will exact some measure of payback the next time an SEC team meets a Big 12 team for the national championship. ↵

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↵CFB Offseason: 1-on-1 interview with Nick Saban? Yes, please. ↵

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↵World Cup Today: ↵
↵Group E: Japan-Denmark is a de facto "play-in" game; the winner advances. If they tie, Japan holds the edge. (Netherlands has already secured a place in the knock-out round.) ↵

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↵Group F: All four teams still can advance. Paraguay (playing New Zealand) advances with a win or tie (and, even if they lose, can advance if Italy-Slovakia ends in a tie). It would be in their interests to win the group and avoid the Dutch in the 2nd round. ↵

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↵Meanwhile: If defending champ Italy wants to avoid the ignominy of not advancing out of the group round, they must win. If they tie, we get into the uncertainty of multiple-level tie-breakers. (The rest of the world, of course, is rooting for Italy to fail.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: "We embody what Americans are about. We can moan about it or we can get on with it, and we kept going." -- Landon Donovan ↵

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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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