Jon Marthaler bakes up a batch of delicious links just for you. Other times, you can find him here and here. Jon?


Ah, summer; it's a time for baseball, and for the NBA and NHL drafts, and for breathless, pointless coverage of NFL minicamps. For those of us who are soccer-inclined, it's also a time for international soccer, and for USA fans, it's a Gold Cup summer. Quick summary for the uninitiated: the Gold Cup is a biannual soccer tournament in which all of the North American and Caribbean teams play each other for three weeks before the USA and Mexico play in the final. The USA can't beat Mexico in Mexico, and the Mexicans usually have trouble winning in America, mostly because America helpfully schedules most of the matches for Ohio in February when it's about 23 degrees outside. (I think Bud Grant may coach the team.)

Anyway, the final is tonight, at 8pm, and while it's in America, it's at the Rose Bowl, which if anything is usually a road game for the USA. Unless you're really looking forward to the Rugby World Cup, this might be your one chance this summer for some good old fashioned nationalistic cheering. [Proprietor note: What our misogynistic friend meant to say was, the Women's World Cup also starts Sunday!]

And the first two links are about soccer in America, so away we go!

*Spencer Hall muses on the one-year anniversary of Landon Donovan's goal in the World Cup against Algeria, certainly the best USA soccer moment of the recent past. It turns into a few thoughts on what it means to be a fan. It's the same reaction I remember having at the time: that right there, that is why we are sports fans.

*The Run of Play thinks that soccer is like that woman you know you shouldn't chase. The only issue I take with this piece is that it seems to wonder if America will ever embrace soccer, a question that I find to be about 10 years out of date. Occasionally, you still read the "soccer's about to catch on!" article, or the "America will never like soccer rabble rabble" opinion piece, but I have some news: while we were all talking about it, soccer arrived. Kids play it. The games are on TV. Die-hard crowds show up for MLS games across the country. Believe me, I know niche sports, and soccer isn't a niche sport in America, not any more. Like it if you want, hate it if you want, but arguing about it won't change that it's already here.

*Enough about soccer; let's talk Timberwolves! Most of the local basketball literati had a strange reaction to the Timberwolves draft - they actually think there's now a light at the end of the tunnel. The Wolf Among Wolves blog is upbeat, always a surprising reaction for a Minnesota basketball fan. (Granted, this was before we found out that the Wolves had reportedly drafted an ineligible player, which while unfortunate, is also hilariously funny - but still.)

*And finally: RandBall correspondent Stu is funny, which you already knew. Joe Mauer is boring, which you also already knew. But the former teased the latter for his dullness this week, and frankly, that's a combination that we like to see. Well done, Stu. Well done.

That'll do it for me; I'm off to make sure that RandBall correspondent Dave MN doesn't punch anybody in the face. (You know how he gets when discussions about hops get started.)

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