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June 22, 2014

Futblog! USA concedes late goal in 2-2 World Cup draw with Portugal; plus Hot Button Top 10 debut, get-a-grip poll result & more

1) It is  SUNDAY, JUNE 22. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Get-a-Grip Heat poll, fun Marlins, Ricky Williams video, Futbol! World Cup and more. Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

1aa1abrazilwcFUTBLOG! UNITED STATES TRAILS, RALLIES, THEN IS TIED IN FINAL MINUTE VS. PORTUGAL: FUTBLOG! is the official World Cup post of this blog, a continually updated daily dose of the month-long soccer spectacle in Brazil. See earlier posts for earlier daily results and for group-by-group preview.

Day 11 / 6-22: MATCH OF DAY: U.S.A. 2, Portugal 2 (Group G): The U.S. put itself in strong shape with a 2-1 opening win over Ghana, while Portugal's 4-0 1aa1aussocceropening loss to Germany left it desperate. But the Americans had to match that imperative here to avoid absolutely needing to beat Germany in the next game. A draw is an OK result for the U.S. but a win would have assured an advance into the round of 16. Portugal had to win today. How and how well the Americans replace injured Jozy Altidore would be a key in this match. So would the health of Portugal's sublime Cristiano Ronaldo, who played, but whose left knee was less than fit. Portugal also was without Pepe after his silly/dumb headbutt red-card in the previous match. Americans trailed  1-0 very early, fought back for a 2-1 lead and were tied heartbreakingly in the final 39 seconds of extra time. I'd claim to have been an impartial journalist here, but the U.S. soccer shirt I was wearing might have given me away. "U-S-A! U-S-A!" Or, as I like to say: "Let's gooooooo States!"

Belgium 1, Russia 0 (Group H): Late goal forges a well-deserved win.

Algeria 4, Korea Republic 2 (Group H): Algerians up 4-0 before Koreans fought back.]

World Cup scoring statistics after today's play: 32 matches, 94 goals, 2.94 per.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Hot Button 1aa1ahotbuttonmakes its blog debut today as our Sunday notes-column package in the print edition (newspaper) is on summer hiatus, set to return in August. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1. World Cup: "U-S-A! U-S-A!": Exhilirating opening 2-1 win over Ghana segues to today's huge match vs. Portugal. On my count, America: "Let's gooooo States!"

2. Heat: LeBron's Decision II: Pat Riley told fans to "get a grip." All that matters is that LeBron James gets a grip on a pen and signs a Miami contract extension.

3. Marlins: Underdogs hanging in: Andrew Heaney's big-league debut and Marcell Ozuna's walk-off throw this week kept the Fish (mostly) fun to watch.

4. NBA Draft: Heat prepare for 26th pick: It's Thursday in Brooklyn, with the big news that Joel Embiid likely will fall from No. 1 spot after surgery on his foot and to remove that second 'i' from his name.

5. Panthers: New coach, draft on deck: Cats hire Montreal assistant Gerald Gallant, assuring a spate of awful headline puns. Draft is this coming Friday in Philly, with Florida picking No. 1 overall and expected to take defender Aaron Ekblad. For an analysis, let's go to Pierre Kiper Jr.

6. Dolphins: Moreno issues lowlight mini-camp: Team staged three-day minicamp, and biggest news out of it was that RB Knowshon Moreno is out of shape and may have degenerative knee problem. Oy.

7. NFL: More pressure on Redskins name: U.S. Patent Office ruled that "Redskins" is disparaging to Native Americans. "No it isn't!" said whitest-man-in-America Dan Snyder.

8. Wimbledon: Tennis' grandest major set to begin: Not sure who'll win it, but I bet the 'over' on breathless TV references to strawberries and cream.

9. Tiger Woods: Star finally makes return: Woods returns to PGA Tour this week with an eye on next month's British Open. Twelve weeks after back surgery, Tiger's back!

10. Clayton Kershaw: No-hitter best game ever?: No hits and perfection but for Dodger teammate Hanley Ramirez's error allowing one runner. Oh, and 15 strikeouts. Clayton K-shaw.

Poll result: We got a grip, Pat. Broad satisfaction with Heat: In the wake of Pat Riley advising fans to "get a grip" we asked how successful you think the first four years of the Big 3 era have been, and 56.6 percent said "unequivocal success," 34.0% said "mostly successful," and 3.7% said "somewhat successful." The rest, the 5.7% to whom Riley was apparently speaking, said "less than what I expected."

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