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Good morning! We’re going to get more penalty kicks, aren’t we?
While You Were Sleeping
New England enters the playoff picture
The Patriots rallied to beat the Cardinals in an ugly edition of “Monday Night Football,” setting up an intriguing final stretch of the season for New England (7-6). If the playoffs started tomorrow, they’re in as the No. 7 seeds.
Arizona (4-9) and Kyler Murray, meanwhile, just can’t catch a break. The fourth-year quarterback injured his knee during the game’s opening drive and did not return. His initial prognosis is looking bleak. Stay tuned. Your ball, Colt McCoy.
Grab Your Popcorn
Reyna addresses the World Cup controversy
USMNT forward Gio Reyna said yesterday he “let (his) emotions get the best of (him)” after he was told before the World Cup that he would be playing a limited role in Qatar, in response to the reports Sunday that he had to apologize to the US team over his lack of effort in training.
- As a reminder, the situation came to light after comments US coach Gregg Berhalter made at a leadership summit in which he appeared to reference it, without naming Reyna, were made public Sunday (the summit was supposed to be off the record).
- Reyna wrote in an Instagram post Monday that he is “extremely surprised that anyone on the US men’s team staff would contribute” to coverage of the matter and that Berhalter “has always said that issues that arise with the team will stay ‘in house.'” Whoops!
What just happened in Oakland?
The A’s are at it again: Oakland dealt star catcher Sean Murphy, easily the team’s best player in 2022, to the Braves in a three-team deal with the Brewers. We’re still not totally sure why the Brewers got involved here, but hilariously — tragically, for this author — Milwaukee somehow ended up the winner? Let’s unpack:
- The A’s got quantity without quality, at least in terms of high-end prospects, Keith Law writes. The return did not include anyone on Law’s past top 100 prospects lists or who will appear on it this year…or even be close. Sheesh.
- The Brewers, who only gave up center fielder Esteury Ruiz, walked away with 25-year-old catcher William Contreras, who’s three years younger and can hit. Milwaukee also got some useful arms.
Oakland’s willingness to trade Murphy was holding up the free-agent market for catchers. The move should have cascading effects — Christian Vázquez signed with the Twins just a few hours after the trade, to name one.
World Cup Update
A weighty semifinal — and a modest take
Argentina and Croatia meet this afternoon (2 pm ET) in the first World Cup semifinal, with a legend’s international career — Lionel Messi or Luka Modric — potentially coming to an end. Meanwhile, the cynic in us wonders if we should just fast-forward to penalty kicks.
- Croatia is all about PKs. They’ve won in regular time just once in five matches, drawing twice in the group stage and winning both knockout matches on penalty kicks. Our Michael Cox even asked this week: Are they actually any good?
- Morocco will need to park the bus versus France, too. The World Cup’s best defense has allowed just nine shots on goal in five matches. The only goal conceded was an own goal. The onus will be on France to break through a wall.
It all makes us question whether penalty kicks — in their current form — are the best way to end such a meaningful game. The pressure and the drama are great, but is there more merit to a golden goal format? Or, hear us out: Bring back the MLS’ 35-yard hockey-style shootouts? (We could watch this on a loop.) So it’s past time for another Pulse Poll: What’s your preferred ending? Speak up. We have no pull.
More Cup reading:
Latest on Mike Leach
Mike Leach remained in “critical condition” Monday after being taken to the hospital due to a “personal health issue” Sunday, Mississippi State said. The 61-year-old coach, known for his legendary air-raid offenses and sometimes hilarious interviews, sits at the top of a far-reaching coaching tree that includes Kliff Kingsbury and Lincoln Riley.
Texas’ Beard arrested
Texas men’s basketball coach Chris Beard was arrested Monday and charged with assault by strangulation/suffocation – family violence, a third-degree felony assault charge, yesterday morning in Austin. The 49-year-old was booked into Travis County Jail. Later Monday, the school suspended Beard without pay.
Pistons’ Cunningham done for the season
Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, will undergo season-ending shin surgery and miss the rest of the season, James L. Edwards III reports. The Pistons already have the worst record in the NBA. But it’s a misconception this news will help their chances of landing Victor Wembanyama: Remember, the three worst teams all get the same lottery odds (14 percent).
(Top photo: Christian Petersen / Getty Images)