At some point, it’s just about the game.
If Landon Donovan scores a hat trick in a crushing 5-2 win over Ghana tomorrow, it won’t suddenly fill every MLS stadium and push Fox Soccer Channel’s MLS broadcasts to NFL levels. Nor would a 3-0 loss send U.S. soccer back to 1985. (The year, not the excellent Bowling for Soup song.)
Saturday’s game is a great opportunity for the USA to match its best modern-day World Cup finish (no, I don’t count 1930 as modern-day in this case) and perhaps move on to more. Nothing more, nothing less.
And it’s part of this complete weekend, which includes the return of MLS.
Poker: Most recent world champions are Ayaz Mahmood (heads-up no-limit hold’em) and Valdemar Kwaysser (pot-limit hold’em). Phil Ivey won his eighth WSOP bracelet in H.O.R.S.E., but he’s not in the H.O.R.S.E. world championship due to end Friday. The tournament of champions starts Sunday with 27 players and will be whittled to a final nine to resume next Sunday.
MMA: Like occasional U.S. wrestling teammate Ben Askren, Joe Warren has won a Bellator tournament. Russia’s Alexander Shlemenko is the middleweight winner. (MMA Fighting Stances)
2:30 p.m.: World Cup soccer, Chile-Spain. Chile has two wins but technically isn’t safe — a loss here and a Swiss win would send us to goal difference (currently Chile +2, Switzerland 0 – so the Swiss would at least tie them with a win and Chile loss), goals scored (Chile 2, Switzerland 1) , then head-to-head (Chile). Not lots. Spain, the pick of many to win it all, would advance with a win or likely by matching Switzerland’s result (points AND goal difference on the day). The other wild-card scenario that would keep Spain out: a loss and a Honduras rout. ESPN/ESPN Deportes/Univision/ESPN3
2:30 p.m.: World Cup soccer, Switzerland-Honduras. See above. A rout would clinch Switzerland’s spot, but that’s not their style. Realistically, they need a win plus any of the following: Chile win, Chile-Spain draw, Spain rout. A draw does Switzerland no good unless Spain loses. Honduras needs a rout and a Spain loss. ESPN2/TeleFutura/ESPN3
9 p.m.: MLS, Salt Lake-San Jose. Welcome back to league play with a good one. Direct Kick/MLSSoccer.com
7 a.m.: Wimbledon, ESPN2, over to NBC at noon
10 a.m.: World Cup round of 16, Uruguay-South Korea. Winner gets USA-Ghana winner. ESPN/ESPN Deportes/Univision/ESPN3
1 p.m.: Track and field, USA Championships. ESPN
2:30 p.m.: World Cup round of 16, USA-Ghana. No more to say. ABC/ESPN Deportes/Univision … NOT ESPN3
3 p.m.: Track and field, USA Championships. Should include men’s 400, men’s 400 hurdles, women’s 1,500, women’s 100 hurdles. NBC
4 p.m.: Action sports, Dew Tour Skate Open/ISF World Championships. Shaun White and Ryan Sheckler expected. NBC
7:30 p.m.: MLS, Toronto-Los Angeles. Can the Galaxy keep winning without Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle against the excellent Dwayne De Rosario and the less-excellent rogue’s gallery that fouls effectively? Fox Soccer Channel
10 p.m.: MMA, Strikeforce, featuring Fedor Emelianenko-Fabricio Werdum heavyweight bout. Also a women’s title fight between Cris Cyborg and Jan Finney, a rematch for Cung Le against Scott Smith, and a lightweight bout between Josh Thomson and Pat Healy.
10 a.m.: World Cup round of 16, Germany-England. Just a bit of history here. ESPN/ESPN Deportes/Univision/ESPN3
1 p.m.: Track and field, USA Championships. Should have a healthy dose of live field events and taped track events. ESPN
2 p.m.: Beach volleyball, AVP Belmar (N.J.) Open, women’s final. ESPN2
2:30 p.m.: World Cup round of 16, Argentina-Mexico. For Spanish-speaking U.S. viewers, this is the non-USA game of the tournament. ABC/ESPN Deportes/Univision … NOT ESPN3
3 p.m.: Track and field, USA Championships. Includes men’s and women’s 200 finals, plus men’s 1,500 and 110 hurdles. NBC
4 p.m.: Beach volleyball, AVP Belmar (N.J.) Open, men’s final. Universal Sports
5 p.m.: MLS, Seattle-Philadelphia. ESPN2
6 p.m.: WPS, Bay Area-New Jersey (Gold Pride-Sky Blue). Front-runners break in new stadium against defending champs. FSC/WPS online
- Softball: Well, it’s still an Olympic sport to us. The World Championships are in progress in Venezuela. USA opened with 1-0 win over China and will continue pool play against New Zealand (Friday), Venezuela (Friday), Botswana (yes, really — Saturday), rival Australia (Sunday), Dominican Republic (Monday) and Czech Republic (Monday). Japan and Canada are in the other pool. Live stats at USA Softball.
- Water polo: Women’s World League Super Final starts Monday in SoCal.
- More events: Canoe/kayak World Cup, U.S. Rowing championships.
- USA Track and Field Championships: Webcasting when not on TV.
- World Series of Poker: How to follow.
- College World Series (NCAA baseball): UCLA, TCU, South Carolina and Clemson remaining. ESPN/2/3 splitting coverage.
- Full soccer listings at Soccer America.
- Selected weekend listings at USA TODAY
- ESPN3: Plenty of Wimbledon matches, Australian Rules football and poker, plus World Cup and college baseball simulcasts.
- Tennis Channel: Wimbledon analysis and classic matches.
- Universal Sports: Beach volleyball and triathlon.