[SPORTS] The Week In Sports #21: Copa Mundial Sudáfrica 2010

The World Cup is now only a little over two days away. The host nation, South Africa, will take on Mexico in the opening game on Friday Morning at 10 am EST. The only other Friday game will be Uruguay against France at 2:30 pm EST. For many American soccer fans, the World Cup will officially begin on Saturday afternoon when the Yanks take on the Three Lions (England) at 2:30 pm EST.

There has, however, already been a few big injuries that will impact the tournament in a big way. England has been bitten by the injury bug (good news for USA fans). Defender and team captain Rio Ferdinand is out of the tournament and midfielder Gareth Barry has a bum ankle (Won’t play against USA). Forward Wayne Rooney and midfielder Steven Gerrard have had injury plagued seasons, but appear to be ready for the most important tournament in soccer (aw dang). Dutch striker Arjen Robben won’t be playing in the first few games after pulling his hamstring right before the tournament.

The biggest injury might also be the  most important. Ivory Coast star (and arguably the best player in the World) Didier Drogba broke his arm in a preliminary friendly match against Japan.  Originally, it was assumed that Drogba was lost for the World Cup and with that, so were the hopes of the Ivory Coast making it out of the group of death. Drogba had emergency surgery to set the bone and will be wearing a soft cast during the tournament. Only time will tell how this will affect his and the rest of his team’s style of play.

MLB: Stephen Strasburg made his MLB debut last night in an impressive win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Strasburg struck out 14 and only allowed a two run home run to Delwyn Young in a 5-2 victory. This is the first time ever that a pitcher struck out 14 and didn’t allow a walk in his MLB debut. I went and saw Strasburg pitch in a minor league game a few weeks ago and was amazed at how he baffled hitters with his fastball, his changeup and his ridiculous curve ball. If you didn’t watch last night’s game on MLB Network, you missed out big time. Let the hype machine continue!

NHL: The Chicago Blackhawks can wrap up their first Stanley Cup since 1961 tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. Chicago won the first two games 6-5 and 2-1 and looked to be cruising, but Philadelphia came back to win the next two 4-3 and 5-3. The Blackhawks, led by American Dustin Byfuglien’s 4 points (2g,2a) beat up on Philly 7-4 in game 5. If they want to hoist the cup tonight, they’ll have to win in front of the brutal Philadelphia fans tonight. I think they will. Hopefully someone else will step up so I’ll never have to write Byfuglien ever again.

NBA: The NBA finals have also begun, although much more recently than the NHL finals. The Lakers, after last night’s 91-84 win over the Boston Celtics, are up 2-1. It’s still anybody’s game in this classic match up of the last two NBA champions, but my money is on the Lakers. Nobody beats the Black Mamba.

MLL: Open mouth, insert foot. I wrote a Major League Lacrosse preview for Inside Lacrosse where I made odds on which team will take the Championship this year. Boy was I wrong. The team that I gave the best odds, Toronto, has yet to win in their first four games and the team I gave the worst odds, Chicago, is 3-1. I guess that’s why they play the games on the field and not just on paper. Plus, sports would be fairly boring if they were only played on paper. If you haven’t caught the MLL yet, check it out next time a game is on ESPN or locally if you have a team in your city.

Take a break from the World Cup and check out the Boston Cannons as they take on the Denver Outlaws on Saturday at 3 pm EST on ESPN2. On second thought, don’t. USA will be playing England at that time. Talk about a tough break for the MLL. NOBODY will be watching that game. I think you should DVR it like I will be doing. The magic of technology.

Zane Lamprey: I interviewed Zane a while back about his TV show(s), his book and his tour. The tour is now in full swing and there are rumblings that the Travel Channel might finally be ready to finally pick up Three Sheets. I’ll surely keep you updated.

As for the World Cup…Here’s the match schedule: http://g.sports.yahoo.com/soccer/world-cup/schedule/

The games are on the ESPN family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ABC and Univision). I strongly suggest turning to Univision for goal calls. Those guys go freaking crazy.  You definitely won’t be disappointed.

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