Sunday, June 18, 2006

USA Italy Battle to 1-1 Draw

By Robert H. Kelly

Feeling the possibly of an early exit and an end to their World Cup 2006 experience, the United States needed to step and play the type of soccer that would show the world they deserved to be here.

Facing an Italian that had far more tradition in the World Cup, the Americans stepped up to the plate, put the ball in the goal, and showed what good old American determination can do.

The Americans put themselves into a possible advancement to the next round with a 1-1 draw with Italy on Saturday. However, nothing has been determined, as all four teams in Group E still have a chance to advance to the second round.

The Italians head the way with four points (1-0-1), followed by the Czechs (1-1-0) and Ghana (1-1-0) with three points each and the United States ((0-1-1) with one point.

After Monday’s debacle, this writer felt the USA had already punched its ticket for an early return home. The one thing I had forgotten was that athletes rarely listen to sports writers and sports writers don’t determine the outcome of games, no matter how much we think we know.

Italy’s Alberto Gilardino, who scored in the 20th minute, voiced praise for the Americans after the match. “We came up against a strong and determined team,” he was quoted in saying.

The United States ties the match with a Cristian Zaccardo own-goal in the 27th minute.

The match was plagued by three red cards, with two of those coming in a span for five minutes."Two red cards in a span of five minutes is pretty hard. There's no way you prepare a team to play 10-on-9 for 45 minutes in a World Cup against a team like the Italians," said USA Head Coach Bruce Arena.

The Americans next take the field on Thursday against Ghana in their final match of the first round of World Cup 2006. They can still advance to the second round with a defeat of Ghana and with a Czech Republic victory over Italy.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

New Jersey To Test HS Athletes For Steriods

By Chris Price

New Jersey becomes the first state in the country to begin statewide testing high school athletes for performance enhancing drugs.

On the National School Boards Association website, the specifics of the programs were detailed. They are listed below.

Sluggers on steriods? Joggers on juice? Placekickers on performance enhancers? While this might sound like a likely roster of Congressional testifiers on the topic of steroids, it's actually the latest group to come under scrutiny in high schools. On Wednesday, New Jersey became the first state to introduce a statewide steroid-testing policy for high school athletes.

An article in USA Today reports that according to the "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 6% of U.S. high school students, or about 300,000, took steroids in 2003 without a doctor's prescription." In accordance with New Jersey's plan, student athletes testing positive for steroids will be punished with a one-year loss of eligibility.

The state expects to test about 500 athletes, with the state and New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association putting $50,000 toward the cost of the tests. Sixty percent of the tests will be performed on those participating in football, wrestling, track and field, swimming, lacrosse, and baseball, because NCAA data indicates that athletes in those sports are the most susceptible to steroid abuse.

California is also considering testing for athletes, but cites funding as an obstacle. Hawaii cites cost as a "red flag" in addition to the "legal ramifications" of testing.

How widespread steroid usage is in New Jersey is unknown. Obviously it must be a problem, so they won’t take this action.

Be ready to see a frequent lawsuits if tests start coming back positive. After all, Barry Bonds lawyered up when his problems started, so while shouldn’t future little Barrys.

I would love to see that happen her in Texas, but the cost would be so prohibitive that iy would be like stopping steroid use in Major League Baseball.

World Cup 2006 Preview: USA -vs- Italy

By Robert H. Kelly

If the USA is going to have any chance against three time world champions Italy and eventually advance to the second round of the FIFA World Cup, they are going to have to execute their game plan better than they did in their 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic on June 12.

The USA looked unorganized and as if they lacked confidence, which combined with the uninspired play of much of their talent, allowed the three Czech goals to go unanswered.

USA head coach Bruce Arena was critical of some of his stars, and stated "If we come out and play as bad against Italy as we did against the Czechs, we're going to lose. It's just that simple."

The USA managed only six shots on goal as opposed to ten by the Check Republic. No matter how well you think you played, a team cannot win a game with a shooting percentage of .000.

Indeed the Americans need to get their minds in the game and play the way they did so many years ago, when they advanced to the quarterfinals and played Germany to a 1-0 loss in 2002

I do not know if they USA can recover from the uninspired play earlier in the week. If I had to bet the rent money, I would put it on Italy, with a 3-0 win.

That decision is being made with my head. If I decided with my heart, I cannot say I wouldn’t still pick Italy. I think the Italians are simply a much better team.