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Founder, The Sports Court
On a hot summer night in downtown Austin, Texas, at the green Q2 Stadium, the United States Men's National Team found themselves in a tightly contested matchup against World Cup 2022 Host country, Qatar.
Led by head coach Gregg Berhalter and captain Sebastian Lleget, the US dominated possession. The USMNT created good chances but poor execution led to a lack of production up top in the attacking third.
Meanwhile, when the USMNT lost the ball, Qatar was deadly. Their forward duo of Akram Afif and Al Moez Ali possessed quality that challenged the US defense.
US goalie Matt Turner stood head over heels and was the sole reason the first half ended 0-0. With cat-like reflexes and a constant awareness of his surroundings, Matt Turner was as sharp as a knife in the first half against Qatar.
The US at times looked indecisive in the attacking third. Center forward Daryl Dike wasn’t producing and the midfield lacked the creativity needed to advance the ball consistently.
Then came the second half and luckily for Matt Turner, his job was easy, except for one moment.
James Sands went for a tackle on Qatar forward Akram Afif, but missed the ball and hit Afif’s knee.
On the spot stepped captain Hassan Al-Haydos. Haydos went for a cheeky panenka but ended up skying the ball into the supporters section as a big weight got lifted off of both Sands and Turner's shoulders.
Then, Gyasi Zardes was subbed in, 63 minutes into the game. Then in the 81st minute, both Eryk Williamson and Nicholas Gioachinni came onto the pitch as late substitutes.
These three players were all subbed in by USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter, combined in a heroic play that led to an 85th-minute winner, with Gyasi Zardes being the hero of the day.
However, it shouldn't go without notice that it was Berhalter who subbed these three in. He saw the talents they had and what was lacking on the pitch and he adjusted accordingly. For a coach who was berated on Twitter for not being able to adjust during games, this wasn’t so bad.
And don’t mistake it for luck, this was pure coaching genius from Berhalter, a coach who has helped elevate the USMNT both on and off the pitch, also leading recruiting efforts.
Now after a heart-racing win, Berhalter has his eyes set on winning Gold at the Gold Cup Final, taking place at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. Perhaps the most beautiful stadium in the world.
The USA will face the winner of Mexico-Canada.
Founder, The Sports Court
Drew Pearson and Julian Edelman were both collegiate QB’s turned wide-receivers.
On top of this, Pearson and Edelman were both seen as afterthoughts coming into the NFL, only there to fill up space. Pearson went undrafted and Edelman was a late 7th rounder.
However, the two combined for 4 Super Bowls, 14,704 yards, and two of the greatest catches in NFL History.
The two-star receivers have a lot in common, to the point where it looks as if Pearson and Edelman are twinning.
Pearson came into the Cowboys camp during his rookie year as an undrafted receiver with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Coming into camp, Pearson knew he had to be on his A-game.
“Things were a lot different back then. I was one of 80 some free agents along with the 17 draft picks they had that year. We had a full two weeks in Thousand Oaks with Coach Landry and he just tried to kill us. He was trying to get people to quit and he got half of them by the end of that first week. He wanted to see who was tough enough and could improve once the veterans got there,” said Pearson at the NFL Hall of Fame media day.
Meanwhile, Edelman came into his rookie camp as a 5’10, 196-pound seventh-round pick with one thing, a chip on his shoulder.
However, things were rough for the kid for the undersized late rounder. Edelman’s first training camp saw fans boo him off the field after a poor performance fielding punts (for the first time in his career).
As time progressed, Edelman got better and just good enough to make a spot on the Patriots 53 man roster; the rest is history.
3 Super Bowls, 1 Super Bowl MVP, one of the most clutch catches in NFL history later, Julian Edelman decided it was time to hang up his boots.
Pearson helped pave the way from college QB’s to transition to the WR position, Julian Edelman followed in Pearson’s path. Both carved out largely successful careers.
Despite there being a lot of talk about whether Pearson should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, the kid from South River, New Jersey, waited it out and at 70 years old, 38 long years since retiring from the NFL, Pearson was inducted into the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame.
His ‘twin’, Julian Edelman, is now in a similar situation. Many NFL fans are debating whether the Prince of Foxboro is worthy of a spot in Canton.
Edelman - who wasn’t a ‘star’ wide receiver during the regular season always appeared and made plays when it mattered the most. Tom Brady’s right-hand man had the second-most receptions, receiving yards, and 100-yard games in playoff history. The undersized wideout who got booed off the field after his first day on training camp also has the 4th most receiving yards and 5th most receptions in Super Bowl history.
Judging by the ways things have gone with Pearson, Edelman may have to wait 38 years, but it’s all worth it in the end as Pearson stated in his press conference.
A writer who loves to learn and share.
All Editorials written by Chris Dailey