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More than a few Americans joined me in taking Thursday and Friday of last week off, mostly to lounge in front of the TV, watching college hoops. If you're like us, you're going to be doing the same thing today and tomorrow; I don't need to tell you how to find those games, since you already have the channels memorized.
If you finally get tired of hoops, though, here's what else to check out this weekend:
Noon: Twins vs. Yankees (FSN Plus and MLB Network). Kevin Correia starts for the Twins, Masahiro Tanaka for the Yankees. I feel strongly that Tanaka needs to start going by one single name, like Ronaldo used to in soccer. Kevin Correia could also do this, too, but should you start suggesting names in the comments, I guarantee that those comments will get deleted.
1pm: Detroit at Wild (FSN). I have always enjoyed a matinee hockey game; there's something truly delightful about getting your hockey fix and then walking outside and finding out that you still have eight or nine hours left over for activities.
9pm: Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks, in Australia (MLB Network). It's regular-season baseball, which we enjoy, as long as we ignore this game being played on the other side of the world and more than a week before the rest of the regular-season games begin.
6:30pm Sunday: Wild at Detroit (NBCSN). It's pretty rare that you see two NHL teams playing a home-and-home weekend series, but that's exactly what's happening for Minnesota and the Red Wings this weekend. No doubt NBC Sports is hoping for a couple of brawls this afternoon that carry over into some bad blood for Sunday night's game.
What to read this weekend
Joe Posnanski explored the legend of Louis Sockalexis, and the origin of the name "Cleveland Indians," and whether the team was named to honor one of the great lost ballplayers, or just an early-20th-century racist caricature.
Also, Joe Prince-Wright of NBC Sports looked at Minnesota United's preseason trip to the UK, and why our local soccer team traveled across the pond just for practice.
Via Deadspin. Whoa. Like, whoa.
That worked great in the NFL, of course, so why wouldn't it be fine in soccer?
On a conference call earlier this week, MLS Commissioner Don Garber expressed confidence that things will be A-OK. That sentiment was echoed on Friday.
MLS said it will start its season on Saturday with replacement referees after an impasse between the league's referees and their employer, the Professional Referees Organization, forced a lockout.
MLS and PRO said the lockout of referees belonging to the Professional Soccer Referees Association took effect at 11 a.m. on Friday, according to Steve Taylor, the union’s vice president.
"Although it is regrettable that the Professional Soccer Referees Association rejected PRO’s offer to continue with the current referees while negotiations continue, we have great confidence in the plan for replacement referees that PRO has put in place," said Mark Abbott, MLS president and deputy commissioner.
The replacement referees come from a group that includes FIFA referees who have moved to North America from overseas, retired MLS referees, and referees from other professional leagues in the United States. In preparation, PRO said that the replacement referees attended a training camp last week.
Soccer enthusiasts already have the World Cup to look forward to this summer, but now local fans reportedly have another reason to be excited.
Per ESPN.com, a major international soccer match is coming to Minneapolis -- though the story didn't specify the exact teams, venue or date. Per the story:
Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City will take part in a summer tournament in the United States. The International Champions Cup will also feature AC Milan, Inter Milan, Roma and Olympiakos, giving it eight clubs who have won 150 domestic league titles and 27 Champions Leagues between them.
It will be played between July 26 and Aug, 4 in 11 American cities, with the eight teams due to be drawn in two groups of four, followed by semifinals. The final will be played at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium on Aug. 4.
Other confirmed host cities are Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Washington DC, with one more to be announced.
That said, it doesn't sound as though the match will be at either TCF Bank Stadium or Target Field based on interviews today. Here is an e-mail response from Twins President Dave St. Peter:
"Yes, Target Field could accommodate soccer. Currently no plans for soccer at Target Field in 2014. We’ll be sure to advise should that change. ... I’d say [the international event this summer] is a long shot based on limited available dates – largely due to the ASG. That said, the Twins do have interest and expect future conversations. I’d be surprised if soccer wasn’t played at Target Field at some point in 2015-16."
We later confirmed with a U of M spokesman who says the game "definitely isn't" at TCF Bank Stadium. Also, a spokesman from the National Sports Center in Blaine said he hasn't heard anything about the event.
We'll provide any further updates as we get them, but right now we're curious about the status of Minneapolis as a "confirmed host city" and wondering if it is, indeed, correct. St. Peter's answer didn't seem to preclude Target Field from hosting, but "long shot" is a far cry from confirmation.
And on Thursday, Miller was chosen No. 5 overall in the MLS SuperDraft. He's headed to Montreal, which landed the pick in a trade with Dallas, where he will join Calum Mallace, who played locally in high school at Henry Sibley.
You can follow the rest of the MLS SuperDraft right here if you wish.
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