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World Cup 2014: Portugal Ties United States With Goal in Stoppage Time

Published on June 23, 2014, by

A stoppage-time goal by Silvestre Varela gave Portugal a 2-2 tie in Manaus, Brazil, on Sunday. Credit Elsa/Getty Images

The ball was barely past United States goalkeeper Tim Howard, and already he had put his hands to his head. On the bench, Jurgen Klinsmann spun away as if he had seen a ghost. Up the field, not far from where he lost the ball, Michael Bradley could only stare.

The celebration had been epic after Clint Dempsey, the captain, the man with the black eye and the broken nose and the swollen cheek, scored just nine minutes from the end to put the Americans in front and surely — surely — into the knockout round of the World Cup. It was bedlam. It was overwhelming. It was historic.

But then, suddenly, the lead was gone. This United States team will not be the first to advance to the Round of 16 after just two group-stage games. It will not get to skate in its final Group G game, against Germany. It will not get to relax.

Instead, it will live on the precipice between success and failure for another day. That was the cost of two lapses on Sunday — one at the beginning of the game and one, brutally, at the end — that allowed Portugal to salvage a 2-2 tie at the Arena da Amazônia. Half a minute more, and the United States would have had a victory that guaranteed advancement. Now, the math is suddenly murkier.

“Football is cruel sometimes,” Howard said.

It is. Yet despite the collective gut punch that the United States endured here, the situation is not dire. A victory against Germany on Thursday in Recife would be ideal, allowing the United States to top the group. A loss would leave the Americans possibly needing to win a tiebreaker with Portugal or Ghana. A tie would also put them through, in second place behind Germany.

Given that reality, as well as Klinsmann’s heritage and connection to the German national team, questions were immediately raised as to whether he and Germany Coach Joachim Löw, Klinsmann’s former assistant, would conspire to play out a mutually beneficial tie on Thursday in much the same fashion that West Germany and Austria seemed to have manipulated a game at the 1982 World Cup that allowed both teams to advance.

Klinsmann quickly shot down the notion, saying, “That is only part of German history, not the United States.” He added: “We have that fighting spirit. We have that energy and that determination to do well in every single game. We are going to go into Recife very ambitious.”

Sunil Gulati, the president of the United States Soccer Federation, was even more forceful. “We’re going to that game trying to win the game, full stop,” he said.

Of course, the Americans thought they had won Sunday. Things started poorly for the United States, as a bad miscue from defender Geoff Cameron allowed Nani to give Portugal an early lead. The mistake did not cause the Americans to crumble, though, and they largely had the better of play before Jermaine Jones finally leveled the score in the 64th minute with a whistling shot from nearly 30 yards out that left Beto, the Portuguese goalkeeper, flat-footed.

It was a thunderous strike, the ball whizzing over Dempsey — who wisely ducked — and curling devilishly in a way that even the Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo would have to admire. Jones sprinted to the sideline as the ball nestled into the side netting, pounding the U.S. Soccer crest on his jersey as his teammates erupted.

“I heard Beas behind me,” Jones said, referring to fullback DaMarcus Beasley. “He said, ‘Shoot, shoot, shoot.’ So I shot.”

That goal had the United States in position for a tie, but the Americans wanted more, and, about 20 minutes later, Graham Zusi crossed the ball off a broken play. Dempsey, who scored in the opening seconds of the first match against Ghana, was lurking in front of the net, and when he turned the ball over the line, he looked to have completed the perfect bookend to a miraculous opening two games.

After watching Dempsey finish with his stomach — the captain could certainly be forgiven for not dropping his battered face for a header — Klinsmann exploded, running up and down the sideline and even pulling Zusi in for a hug and a kiss on the head. The outcome seemed almost unbelievable: The United States, which had been roundly expected to crash out of the so-called Group of Death, was on the verge of being the first team to advance.

But it was not to be. Deep into added time, Ronaldo — who had largely been neutralized by a crowded midfield strategy that Klinsmann orchestrated and the players executed — finally found a bit of space. Bradley lost the ball near the sideline, and Ronaldo seized upon the opening, swinging in a perfect cross that Silvestre Varela, a Portugal forward, barreled past Howard with a powerful header.

Portugal, which really needed a win to have any significant chance of advancing, barely celebrated. The Americans, collectively, all but collapsed.

They had run so hard for so long on a night that was so hot. The conditions were staggering, the Amazonian climate suffocating. Temperatures were in the high 80s, and humidity levels nearly 70 percent, making it feel as if the entire game were being played in a bathroom where the shower had been left on. Through it all, victory had been theirs. Then, suddenly, it was gone.

The Americans tried to be pragmatic. Klinsmann quickly preached turning the focus forward, to Germany, and the fast turnaround that would be required. They are still in control of their fate, the players said afterward. Still in command of what will happen.

It was all true, but it did not dull the pain. Dempsey let loose a monstrous roar after he scored that goal — joined, presumably, by most of the soccer-watching public in the United States — but there was only silence after Varela’s header. That came with shock, too.

“We could all taste it,” defender Matt Besler said. “We could all taste the second round.”

Then he shrugged. “I think we like to do things the hard way,” he said. “It’s the American way.”

original article via: NYTIMES

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Apple buying Beats audio for $3 billion

Published on May 28, 2014, by

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Apple is officially buying Beats for $3 billion, just shy of the rumored price leaked a few weeks ago, the companies announced Wednesday.

Apple(AAPL, Fortune 500) will pay $2.6 billion up front, plus another $400 million over time. Apple’s getting stylish hardware from Beats Electronics and a streaming service with Beats Music.

The deal is chump change for Apple, which is sitting on a giant mountain of cash: $159 billion as of last year.

Still, many think Apple is wasting its time with Beats. The music streaming service has an estimated 500,000 customers, puny compared to Spotify’s 4 million subscribers. Pandora (P), which is valued by investors at $5.2 billion, has more than 250 million active accounts. Apple could buy 30 Pandoras right now.

But on Wednesday, CEO Tim Cook made his case. In a statement, he said the deal brings together “extraordinary teams so we can continue to create the most innovative music products and services in the world.”

Apple expects the deal to close in late summer or early fall.

The winners of the deal are Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, both successful music producers who launched the company back in 2006 and quickly grew it via celebrity endorsements.

For his part, Dre is already calling himself “the first billionaire in hip hop.” His stake in Beats, estimated at 20% to 25%, is expected to push his net worth of $550 million close to that number. But it’s too early to tell if Dre is a billionaire just yet.
Meanwhile, Iovine described the deal as a match made in heaven. He said the whole Beats concept was inspired by Apple’s perfect blend of culture and technology.

“I’ve always known in my heart that Beats belonged with Apple,” Iovine said in a statement.

Dre and Iovine are also joining Apple, so Iovine is stepping down from his perch as CEO of the record company Interscope Geffen A&M.

original article via: CNN

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Clippers hurried sale is expected to draw bids up to $2 billion

Published on May 28, 2014, by

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Up to five bidders are expected to offer up to $2 billion, and possibly more, for the Los Angeles Clippers in a hurried sale that could be largely settled as early as Wednesday afternoon, according to two people involved in the process.

As a 2 p.m. deadline passed for bids, two people with knowledge of the bid process said the would-be owners were likely to offer as much as four times what has been paid previously for an NBA team. The Milwaukee Bucks recently sold for a record $550 million earlier this month.

“We were told this was the only bid process that would exist and that they are going to make a decision based on these initial offers,” said the representative of one prospective buyer, who asked not to be named. “It’s hard to believe they are not going to come back and try to get some extra money out of people after the first round. But that is what they said.”

The sale process, guided by team co-owner Shelly Sterling, comes a little more than a month after her husband, Donald Sterling, touched off a furor with his racially inflammatory remarks in which he told a companion he did not want to see her with blacks at Clippers games.

Donald Sterling, 80, wrote to the NBA a week ago and said he had authorized his wife of 58 years to negotiate with the league and potential buyers in connection with the sale of the team.

Bidders were also trying to make sense of statements from Donald Sterling’s lawyer late Tuesday. Attorney Maxwell Blecher said that despite Sterling’s letter to the NBA, he would not support his wife’s sale of the team and planned to stage a prolonged fight to maintain ownership. Two bidders said they still believed the sale would go ahead.

One development in the sale — timed to beat the league’s Tuesday hearing to oust both Sterlings from the team — is that Shelly Sterling appears to have agreed to relinquish her bid to maintain part ownership of the team.

The half owner, who is 79, had hoped to maintain a stake of up to one-third of the Clippers. But the “term sheet” the bidders responded to before Wednesday’s deadline was for 100% of the franchise, which is held in the Sterlings’ family trust.

Among the likely bidders are:

— A group that includes Chicago-based Guggenheim Partners, which bought the Dodgers two years ago for more than $2 billion. Guggenheim has joined with a trio of billionaires who previously said they would launch their own bid for the Clippers: Oracle software co-founder Larry Ellison, entertainment magnate David Geffen and mega-entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey.

— A partnership with ties to major league sports: Tony Ressler, the Los Angeles-based co-founder of the investment firm Ares Management and a minority owner of baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers; Bruce Karsh, co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management and a minority owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and chairman of Tribune Co., which owns the Los Angeles Times; and Grant Hill, a former NBA All-Star who finished his career with the Clippers.

— Steve Ballmer, the former chief executive of Microsoft, who left in February after leading the company for 14 years. Ballmer last year joined a group, led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, to bid on the Sacramento Kings and intended to move the team to Seattle. NBA owners voted to reject the proposed move.

— A group backed by money from Middle Eastern investors. Individuals familiar with the other bidders said they knew less about this group, which has previously expressed an interest in entering the Los Angeles sports market.

Shelly Sterling’s advisors have told bidders they expect to announce a winner expeditiously, though they did not specify a time for their decision.

The NBA’s other 29 owners will have to sign off on any sale made by the Sterlings. Three-quarters of the owners must approve the deal.

original article via: LA TIMES