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Monday
Jul062015

The Future of American Soccer After Women's World Cup Victory 

photogearch/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. team's victory at the 2015 Women's World Cup is part of a slow but steady trend of growing national interest in soccer.

So what's taking so long?

"Soccer is already being taken more seriously than ever before," Danny Townsend, chief revenue officer of global sports and entertainment sponsorship research company Repucom, said, pointing to the recent improvement in Major League Soccer television deals and investment of brands such as Heineken and Audi.

Though the U.S. men's team has never won a World Cup title, the entire men's tournament is the world's most-viewed sporting event. But in American culture, and in terms of pay for U.S. players, the other professional sports dwarf the beautiful game.

Could that be changing? Major soccer viewership and attendance is currently on the rise -- a trend that began after the United States hosted the 1994 World Cup.

While the men's game remains in growth mode, women's soccer has failed to grow. Since the women's last won the World Cup in 1999, two women's pro leagues have come and gone. A third, the National Women's Soccer League, averages just a few thousands fans per game.

The broadcast of the women's 5-2 victory over Japan on Sunday reportedly had 25.4 million viewers, breaking the record for the most-watched soccer game in the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources.

Nielsen will release its final numbers on Wednesday. The U.S. men's match against Portugal last year in Brazil was the record-holder with 18.2 million American viewers on ESPN. Including Univision viewers watching in Spanish, the total reached 24.7 million. According to Nielsen, last year's men's World Cup final between Argentina and Germany had 14.2 million average viewers. There were nearly 18 million who watched the U.S. victory in the 1999 Women's World Cup final.

By comparison, the 2015 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks was watched by a total of 114 million people.

The men's performance in Brazil last year and the women's victory in Vancouver will continue to strengthen the sport's commercial appeal, Townsend said.

"The challenge has always been converting that participation and casual interest into genuine fan avidity," he said. "MLS is aware of that and this upside highlights the opportunity."

Townsend said it's difficult to assess if the sport has finally "made it" in the U.S.

"U.S. sports fans are patriotic and there aren’t many national sports teams that engender that same spirit as the national soccer teams," he said. "Equally, as the MLS continues to build its fan base through leveraging its local talent, supplemented by global stars such as Kaka, [David] Villa, [Frank] Lampard, [Steven] Gerrard and now [Andrea] Pirlo, soccer has plenty of runway ahead."

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Monday
Jul062015

Rory McIlroy Injured

File photo. Allen Kee / ESPN(LONDON) -- Golfing champion Rory McIlroy may withdraw from the upcoming British Open due to an ankle injury.

The star golfer ruptured a ligament in his left ankle while playing a game of soccer.

McIlroy has not indicated how long he might be out but he says he's "working hard to get back as soon as possible."

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Monday
Jul062015

2015 FIFA Women's World Cup: Carli Lloyd's Determination Fuels US Victory

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) — Carli Lloyd experienced the game of her life Sunday.

The midfielder scored three goals — in the first 16 minutes — of the Women’s World Cup final, leading the United States to a 5-2 victory against Japan. The win marks the United States’ first Women’s World Cup title since 1999, when Lloyd was an up-and-coming high school soccer player in New Jersey.

"I've dedicated my whole life to this," Lloyd told reporters following the victory. "And everything [else] comes second. But I wouldn't have it any other way."

Lloyd, 32, began playing soccer at age 5, her mother Pam said in a 1999 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“At that age, it was coed, and Carli was hanging with the boys,” Pam Lloyd said. “She always loved it and showed a lot of ability from an early age, but she also has always worked hard.”

Lloyd attended Delran High School and Rutgers University, and has represented the United States in three World Cups: 2007, 2011 and 2015. She has also participated in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, helping the United States win gold medals in each Games.

Lloyd has previously credited her two goals in the 2012 Olympic final against Japan as her best moment.

But that was prior to Sunday’s World Cup final. Her first goal Sunday came in the third minute on a perfectly timed run on a corner kick. The second goal came minutes later, off a deflection on a free kick.

Her third goal came from midfield, when she caught goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori off-guard — securing the fastest hat trick in World Cup history.

"I was just on a mission," Lloyd said. "I was on a mission to help my team win this game."

Lloyd won the Golden Ball Sunday as the tournament’s best player. All six of Lloyd’s goals came in knockout rounds.

Following the victory, President Obama congratulated Lloyd and her teammates on Twitter.

“What a win for Team USA! Great game @CarliLloyd!” he wrote. “Your country is so proud of all of you. Come visit the White House with the World Cup soon.”


ABC US News | World News

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Monday
Jul062015

Scoreboard Roundup -- 7/5/15

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) —

WOMEN'S WORLD CUP FINALS
USA 5, Japan 2

INTERLEAGUE

Pittsburgh 5, Cleveland 3

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Tampa Bay 8, N-Y Yankees 1
Toronto 10, Detroit 5
Boston 5, Houston 4
Baltimore 9, Chi White Sox 1
Kansas City 3, Minnesota 2
Seattle 2, Oakland 1
L.A. Angels 12, Texas 6

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Milwaukee 6, Cincinnati 1
Philadelphia 4, Atlanta 0, 10 Innings
St. Louis 3, San Diego 1
Chi Cubs 2, Miami 0
Colorado 6, Arizona 4
N-Y Mets 8, L.A. Dodgers 0
Washington 3, San Francisco 1

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Monday
Jul062015

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wins Rain-Delayed Race at Daytona

Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) — It was a long night for NASCAR drivers on Sunday night — a very long night that was capped with a very scary crash.

After waiting out a lengthy rain delay, the Sprint Cup Series staged its Coke Zero 400 into the early morning hours at Daytona International Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race. Jimmie Johnson was second, followed by Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch.

The race was scheduled to begin a little after 8 p.m. ET, but because of the weather it didn’t begin until 11:42 p.m. — and was capped with an ugly crash that left Austin Dillon's car obliterated against a safety fence in the final lap.

The driver was able to escape the wreck and wave to fans; he only suffered a bruised tailbone and forearm, ESPN reports.

Multiple cars were involved in the crash, which sent Dillon's #3 car airborne at top speed, and smashing into the Daytona International Speedway catch fence.

Joie Chitwood, the president of the Daytona International Speedway, said at a post-race presser that 13 people in the grandstands were assessed by medical personnel after the crash. Eight declined medical attention, four were treated at the scene, and one was transported to a local hospital in stable condition.

Experts agreed it could have been much worse. "The fence worked," Chitwood said.  


ABC US News | World News

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Monday
Jul062015

U.S. Women Defeat Japan to Win World Cup

Photo by William Volcov/LatinContent/Getty Images(VANCOUVER) -- Carli Lloyd scored twice in the first five minutes on the way to the fastest hat trick in World Cup history and the the U.S. made the margin stand up, defeating Japan 5-2 to win the 2015 Women's World Cup.

With the victory, the American women avenged their 2011 World Cup finals loss to Japan, a game they lost on penalty kicks.

The U.S. struck first, in just the third minute of the game, when Lloyd drilled a shot out of a crowd in front of the net that found the net to Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori's right.

The goal, coming off a corner kick by Megan Rapinoe, was the fastest goal in a finals game in Women's World Cup history, amd had Japan trailing for the first time in the tournament.

Lloyd scored again less than two minutes later to put the U.S. up 2-0, flipping a shot through a defender's legs that trickled into the goal off a free kick.

The U.S. stretched the lead to 3-0 when a charging Lauren Holiday pounded in a shot from the edge of the box in the 14th minute, after a header from Japan defender Azusa Iwashimizu went straight up in the air.

Lloyd made it 4-0 less than two minutes later when her blast from midfield got over the goal keeper's outstretched hand.

With the goal, Lloyd became the first woman to score a hat trick in the World Cup final, and just the third U.S. woman to score a hat trick in any World Cup match. Michelle Akers and Carin Jennings Gabarra both accomplished the feat in the 1991 tournament.

Japan finally got on the board in the 27th minute, when Yuki Ogimi turned right in front of the net and chipped a shot over the outstretched hand of U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo.

It was first goal scored against the U.S. since the opening match of the tournament against Australia.

Japan cut the margin to 4-2 on an own goal off Julie Johnston's head, but Tobin Heath put the U.S. up 5-2 in the 54th minute, scoring out of a crowd in front of the net.


ABC US News | World News

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Sunday
Jul052015

MLB All-Star Game Starters Announced

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Major League Baseball All-Star Game starting lineups were announced on Sunday night, with the Kansas City Royals landing four of the starting slots.

A number of familiar names made the cut, with two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera starting at first base for the American League, and Mike Trout joining him in the outfield. For the National League, Buster Posey, Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton will start.

But the leading vote-getter was Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, who will appear in his second midsummer classic.

Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier will start the game at his home stadium on July 14.

Reserves, pitchers and players eligible for the Final Vote will be announced Monday.

See the full list of starters below:

American League

Catcher: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals
First Baseman: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Second Baseman: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Shortstop: Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals
Third Baseman: Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays
Outfielder: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Outfielder: Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals
Outfielder: Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals
Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz

National League

Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
First Baseman: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
Second Baseman: Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins
Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals
Third Baseman: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds
Outfielder: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Outfielder: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Outfielder: Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals

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Sunday
Jul052015

Jason Pierre-Paul Injured in Fireworks Accident

Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul suffered an injury to his hands in a July Fourth fireworks accident.

ESPN sources and multiple reports confirmed the injury. Pierre-Paul was meeting with doctors on Sunday.

The extent of his injuries was not immediately known.

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Sunday
Jul052015

Tiger Woods 'Pleased' After Shooting 67 at Greenbrier Classic

Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images(WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va.) -- Tiger Woods finished his weekend at the Greenbrier Classic with his first bogey-free scorecard in 55 rounds, a finish that he says is encouraging.

"It's the best I've hit in a very long time," Woods said on Sunday, "I had full control for all clubs." Tiger had been coming off of some of the worst golf of his career, shooting a third-round 85 at June's Memorial Tournament and missing the cut at the U.S. Open.

Saying that he felt like he took a step forward at the Memorial Tournament, Tiger said that if he had made a few more putts, "this week could have been completely different."

"It's not a short-term fix," Woods added, "it takes time to build it." Expressing confidence in his ability to get his game back to the level he's accustomed to, he says he's "pleased" with what he is able to do."

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Saturday
Jul042015

San Antonio Spurs Sign Lamarcus Aldridge

Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Lamarcus Aldridge has decided to sign with the San Antonio Spurs, the star announced on his Twitter page on Saturday afternoon.

Aldridge, who is from Texas, said he is "excited to join the team and be close to my family and friends." The former Portland Trail Blazers forward had been among the most coveted free agents of the NBA offseason, garnering interest from the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns, among others.

ESPN reports the contract Aldridge signs will be for four years, with the option for him to opt-out after the third year. It will be worth over $80 million.

Aldridge, who had spent the first nine years of his NBA career in Portland, met twice with Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

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