#1 plenty as Mejia has been hitting. But th von mary123 12.09.2019 09:57

BRASILIA, Brazil -- There was annoyance. Maybe a touch of frustration. But in the aftermath of a surprising draw against Colombia in Tuesdays Group G finale, there was no worry in the words or faces of American players. If such feelings lurked beneath, they hid them masterfully.U.S. womens national team co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn said only a loss would have been reason to worry because only a loss would have changed the calculus on a quarterfinal opponent and destination.As in, where do we go from here?Logistically, the answer didnt change after the draw against Colombia. All the United States needed to clinch first place in the group was a draw, and it got that point -- while at the same time getting plenty of rest for players who needed it and minutes for players who hadnt had many of those to this point in the tournament. It was a surprising result but not calamitous.The Americans still woke up the next day and headed to Brasilia, the preferred plan all along.But where do they go from here?Less literally, after the charter flight to Brazils capital, its the question still to be answered as the United States prepares to face Sweden in Fridays Olympic quarterfinal (noon ET). Will the unsatisfying result in Manaus versus Colombia end up a footnote, like the scoreless draw against Sweden in last years World Cup group stage? Or was it a harbinger of something more, a team not peaking at the right moment or short some necessary ingredient?It is often the captains to whom we turn for answers.I wouldnt want a perfect journey to the top, said co-captain Carli Lloyd. Theres really no such thing. ... The [Golden State] Warriors, take for example, who were on a perfect run and then ended up not winning -- thats happened over and over with teams. And I think everyone just needs to take a deep breath and relax. We tied against Colombia, but its all good.The captains a year ago were givens; the limited minutes Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone played in the World Cup were less important than their résumés. Their very presence pushed the team to a World Cup title that had become an almost Ahab-like quest.That team was a reflection of them. New to the role, Sauerbrunn and Lloyd are reflections of the team they lead. A quietly confident team that believes it understands what is required to win a tournament like this, a team that wasnt going to sweat a draw on a sweltering night in Manaus.The culture of the team is so entrenched that probably as they came through it, they took on qualities of the program, U.S. coach Jill Ellis said of her two co-captains (although Lloyd wears the armband). They were selected because they represent those traits so well.Sweden coach Pia Sundhage -- who is familiar to American fans after leading the national team to two Olympic gold medals and nearly ending its World Cup drought -- said Thursday she was not surprised to see either Lloyd or Sauerbrunn as a captain. She affirmed this despite bumps in the road in her relationships with both players, including a frank assessment of Lloyds temperament as recently as the eve of last years World Cup (the coach chose only to praise Lloyds skills this time around) and the long wait Sauerbrunn endured to crack Sundhages roster.Sauerbrunn is quietly contemplative, while Lloyd so often plays with what seems a silent fury. Both paid their dues to get where they are in ways that some of their younger teammates will never experience but need to understand.We [still] have a certain culture thats ingrained within our team, defender Meghan Klingenberg said. Thats to be fighters, to have an awesome mentality, to never give up. Its to practice when were ... not together. So we have a really great culture to begin with. But I think that the captains that we have do a good job of bringing everybody together, making sure were on the same page when were playing, making sure that we have everything we need to be the best team we can be.When asked where the teams ability to finish challenges comes, Megan Rapinoe suggests its an identity learned through older players providing, shall we say, pointedly worded encouragement to never relent.It is by design and necessity a cutthroat environment, like almost any that produces the best in the world at something. Yet it is different now, different because of the youth on the roster and the peace of mind a World Cup title gives the veterans -- not just the captains, but players in leadership roles like Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Hope Solo.I think even from last year, the World Cup, I feel like we were way more tense, Heath said. Not to say that we dont have the same focus and the same intentions that we did last World Cup, but I think there was just so much built around ... winning that because we hadnt won [in 16 years], that there was this great pressure that not only I felt like we put on ourselves, but we had from the outside world as well.When we accomplished what we set out to do in the World Cup, I feel like that almost took the pressure off of us and allowed us to then grow as a team this year and push and progress in the ways that we want to and in our style. Now come the Olympics; we still have the same intentions and the same goals, but the feeling is a little more free in that way.Which is why we wait to see how this team will respond.The United States has plenty of tangible challenges ahead, first on Friday but also beyond if the team advances. That begins with a field in Brasilia that looked Thursday much the worse for wear on the eve of its ninth game in nine days. Olympic organizers didnt immediately respond to queries on who oversees the playing surface, but one end of the field had sizable swaths that were barren of grass.Conditions that could keep the ball from playing true will affect another of the challenges awaiting the Americans, a Swedish team that isnt likely to let itself be drawn into an end-to-end game, just as it measured its steps in the scoreless draw a year ago in Winnipeg.They will park the bus, Ellis said of Sweden. They will play as low as they possibly can, sit as low as they possibly can, and then look to transition. Theyre going to try and kill the game that way and make it very, very hard, not give up space.That makes a U.S. midfield that has produced goals, directly from the foot of Lloyd or off a pair of Morgan Brian assists, all the more important in finding space. Tangibly and tactically, the United States needs the midfield, particularly Brian, to play to its full potential and with greater abandon.Theres going to be 6 yards between their back line and their midfield line, Ellis said. So for our midfield, its going to be really important about how we find spaces to play. ... As we start to get to this point, it is more about letting them express themselves. I think were going to have a lot of the ball in our opponents half, and weve got to play. Morgan Brian is one of our most creative players; Im really excited to see her. ...Theyve got to feel the game and read the game, and I think Mo, especially, does that exceptionally well.That has everything to do with talent and tactics, but it comes from players in the right mindset to make use of those skills. After a win against France in March this year, Lloyd voiced frustration with a lack of service sent her way. The sentiments were honest and not even particularly damning, even if they conflicted with her coachs assessment minutes earlier of a team beginning to understand a new style. Perhaps a few words were spoken between coach and player, a reminder of how a captains words carry. But whatever the source, Lloyd has been a consistent voice of calm belief ever since. If she leads, others will follow.Thats the beauty about leadership, I think, is you get something different with Abby and Pearcie [Rampone] than you do with Becky and Carli, Brian said. Ive always looked up to Becky as a leader on this team, from day one since Ive been here. Shes a quiet leader. She does everything correctly, on the field and off the field. She leads in that way. And Carli has always been someone, especially me playing in the midfield with her when I first got on the team, she leads by playing on the field. She brings it every single day.Friday well find out where their team goes from here. Johnny Bucyk Jersey . -- The Sacramento Kings are set to become the first major professional sports franchise to accept Bitcoin virtual currency for ticket and merchandise purchases. Ray Bourque Bruins Jersey .ca NHL Power Rankings for the second straight week, ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche. http://www.thebostonbruinshockey.com/joakim-nordstrom-hockey-jersey/ . Coach Tom Thibodeau says the former MVP will probably start travelling with the team in the next few weeks. Rose tore the meniscus in his right knee at Portland in November and was ruled out for the remainder of the season by the Bulls. Jaroslav Halak Jersey . Siddikur, whose previous win on the circuit came in Brunei three years ago, finished his bogey-free round with a birdie on the 18th for a total of 17-under 199. Indias Shiv Chowrasia, who has finished runner-up in this tournament twice, was in second place after a 66. Jaroslav Halak Bruins Jersey . -- When the Florida Panthers fell behind by two goals in the first period to the top team in the NHL, it appeared they were on their way to yet another loss. WOODBRIDGE, Va. -- Francisco Mejia stepped out of the clubhouse and into the dugout with little fanfare. He did his usual turns in the batting cage, and the 5-foot-10, 175-pound catcher looked like just another 20-year-old in the minors.Yet Mejia is something of a modern-day Joe DiMaggio, plying his trade for the Lynchburg Hillcats of the high Class A Carolina League. The Cleveland Indians prospect now has a 49-game hitting streak thats tied for the sixth-longest in pro baseball history and the best in 62 years.Mejia has gotten a hit in every game he has played since May 25, a string that dates to his time with the Lake County Captains of the low Class A Midwest League. He extended it Friday night with a sixth-inning single against Winston-Salem -- that tied him for the longest hitting streak by a catcher, set by Harry Chozen in the Southern Association in 1954.Neither Lynchburg manager Mark Budzinski nor hitting coach Larry Day has had a single conversation with him about the accomplishment, which stands out because of Mejias age, his role as a catcher and the distractions he has faced along the way.As one of Clevelands top 10 prospects, he took part in the MLB All-Star Futures Game in San Diego and would have gone to the Milwaukee Brewers at the trade deadline last month had the deal for Jonathan Lucroy occurred.It has not been easy for him, said Carter Hawkins, the Indians director of player development. This has not been put on a silver platter. Hes moved levels, hes traveled around to different All-Star Games, hes been a name that came up in trade rumors. There have certainly been a lot of different reasons or potential excuses to end this streak, but I think just focusing on his work and focusing on what he can do and what he can control has really helped him out.In the meantime, Mejia has moved closer to the record 69-game hit streak by Joe Wilhoit of the Western League in 1919.DiMaggio owns the streak that most fans know about, the major league mark of 56 games in 1941 for the New York Yankees. Many fans dont realize Joe D also owns the second-longest hitting streak ever in pro ball -- as a teenager in 1933, DiMaggio hit in 61 straight for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League.Mejia, who signed out of the Dominican Republic at 16, reminds Budzinski of a young switch-hitting Vladimir Guerrero without the power because of his ability to hit the ball so effectively out of the strike zone. An aggressive hitter, he doesnt walk much.Its no coincidence that after the organization decided to make him repeat a year in the Midwest League, like a student who gets held back a grade, Mejia changed everything from his body language to his preparation.This year I got a better approach, better routines, Mejia said. I got routines this year.Last season, he said, it was simply come to the stadium, lets go play. This year everything is different.It has paid off. Mejia improved his batting average from .243 in 2015 to .348 this season, which DDay credits to an improved all-field approach, especially left-handed.dddddddddddd Before, the right-handed-throwing Mejia would pull from that side of the plate and cut off half the field.Now hes hitting the ball everywhere, early and often.Its his gifted hand-eye coordination ability to put the barrel of the bat on the ball, Budzinski said Thursday before a game at the Potomac Nationals. The guys that are a little more aggressive and can hit the ball out of the zone hard, which he can do, thats where you tend to see guys that can extend those hit streaks longer.The streak is even more remarkable because of Mejias catching responsibilities.When Mejia arrives at the park, he first works with pitching coach Rigo Beltran and the days starter to prepare, then focuses on his defense and finally works on his hitting. Its working out pretty well.Youre dealing with not only calling a game from a mental standpoint, working with a pitching staff, blocking balls, youve got all the gear on in the hot weather, foul tips off of you, youve got to make 100-some throws a night, Budzinski said. It is impressive to see a guy that can kind of maintain that through the course of a season and stay strong physically, mentally, emotionally.Handling the mental and emotional pressure of the hitting streak seems to be the least of Mejias concerns. He acknowledges its fun to keep it going and hear encouragement from his teammates, but he doesnt talk to fellow players about his place in history.That maturity and focus goes a long way as far as earning respect from the staff.He doesnt make it about him, Day said. These games are not being played to see if he will or will not extend his hitting streak and he doesnt act that way. He plays to win. He hits to win. He prepares to win.The Hillcats are winning plenty as Mejia has been hitting. But they almost lost him when the Indians tried to acquire Lucroy, an All-Star catcher.As much as playing -- and getting a hit -- in the Futures Game gave him confidence and motivation, almost being traded made Mejia upset. Of course, he understood the situation like a grizzled veteran.A couple times I feel sad at that trade because I signed with this organization, Mejia said. I like (it) here. But Cleveland wants a World Series, so they have to do it.Lucroy vetoed the trade and went to Texas instead, leaving Cleveland with one of its top prospects still in the organization. Mejia, of course, still has a long way to go before hes ready for the show.Hes still in A-Ball, hes still extremely young, hes still learning a lot of things about the baseball game, Hawkins said. If he continues to improve, if he continues to have the consistent approach at the plate, if he continues to improve behind the dish and manage a pitching staff, we absolutely see him as a guy that can help us out in the major leagues down the line. ' ' '

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