What will the crowd be like tomorrow night at the Basque Soccer Friendly? What will the crowd be like tomorrow night at the Basque Soccer Friendly? Not only in numbers, but in spirit? The sizeable local Basque community will be supporting Athletic Bilbao, and the more sizeable Treasure Valley Hispanic community will be pulling for Tijuana. The hard-cores among those fan bases (there will be some Athletic fans who make it over from Spain) will be boisterous, headquartered in the end zones of Albertsons Stadium. I’m thinking that, if passive but curious fans really want the international soccer experience, the energy of each team’s supporters will rub off on everyone else. Enough of them have likely seen a Seattle Sounders game on TV. Hey, you can dust off your Thunderstix and bring ‘em with you. For the sake of Bilbao faithful who come to town, it’s too bad the Basque Soccer Friendly had to be moved forward from Jaialdi week. What a party that would have been.
We’re learning as we go as tomorrow night’s match approaches, and we know far less about Club Tijuana than Athletic Bilbao. The “Clausura 2015” is the second championship stage of the Liga MX season. The regular phase of the tournament began on January 9 and ended on May 10, and Tijuana finished 11th. The Xolos had two of the top 12 scorers in that Clausura portion of the season—Dayro Moreno tallied eight times and Juan Arango six. No guarantee that they’ll be here when the team arrives at the Boise Airport tonight, but they’re on Club Tijuana’s current roster. Moreno, a forward, wears No. 17, and Arango, a 35-year-old midfielder, dons No. 18.
The big news for Athletic Bilbao right now is the courting of Arsenal star Nacho Monreal. The 29-year-old defender from the English Premier League power is reportedly on the verge of signing a two-year deal worth almost $10 million to return to Spain’s La Liga and join Athletic Bilbao. Moves like that are one reason Athletic remains one of three teams that has never been relegated to a lower division from La Liga. How would you like that “relegation” system—being dropped to a lower level based on poor perfornace—in other sports in America? That would be tough, particularly on fans. Like, how about the Philadelphia 76ers being relegated to the D-League, or the Phillies being relegated to Triple-A. Or, egads, what about college football: an FBS team being relegated to the FCS.
Stewart Mandel’s Mailbag this week at FoxSports.com presents a sidebar to the Boise State-Washington game (now less than 50 days away). A reader from Coral Gables, FL, asks, “If Boise State returns to the Boise State of old and Washington remains mired in mediocrity, what will it mean? Will it mean that Bryan Harsin was the brains behind Chris Petersen? Will it mean that success at Boise State simply doesn’t translate elsewhere?” To Part I of the question, Mandel writes, “Harsin left for Texas in 2011 and the Broncos kept winning. Petersen was the primary architect behind Boise’s extraordinary 84-8 run from 2006-12, and I fully expect him to elevate Washington over the next couple years. If that doesn’t happen, though, it would raise more questions about Petersen than it would either his current or former employer.”
To Part II of the question, Mandel responds, “While people would inevitably try to correlate Petersen with former Boise coaches Dan Hawkins (Colorado) and Dirk Koetter (Arizona State), who flopped at a higher level, that seems misguided, too. Each of those guys ran the program in their own unique ways, but beyond that, why would Boise be a less likely launching point than Bowling Green (Urban Meyer), Central Michigan (Brian Kelly) or any number of other mid-majors?” Good point there. How is it that things change so much when the Broncos’ uber-successful head coaches move on? Petersen’s first year at UW was okay, but far from overwhelming. Writes Mandel, “Petersen’s personality and philosophy were ideally suited to Boise. There’s no guarantee they will translate at Washington, but I believe they will.”
NFL.com is running a fan vote for the “Greatest College Football Play” of all-time, and Boise State’s Statue of Liberty that ended the 2007 Fiesta Bowl is in the Round of 16 after a first-round bye. Fans are currently deciding between Ian Johnson’s dash and Michael Crabtree’s game-winning catch in 2008 that led Texas Tech to an upset of Texas. You would think Statue Left would prevail. The point has been made, though, that the hook-and-lateral that preceded it against Oklahoma was probably greater. It was a perfectly-executed 50-yard play on a fourth-and-18 at a time when failure would have sent the Broncos packin’. Among the other first-round byes were The Play (“The band is on the field!”), the Kick Six (Auburn’s field goal return versus Alabama) and the Hail Flutie.
Graham DeLaet has teed off this morning after a three-hour rain delay in the second round of the Open Championship. The former Boise State star is in position to make the cut, entering Day 2 in a tie for 41st on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Friday didn’t work out so well at Royal Liverpool last July, when a second-round five-over 76 sent him home. DeLaet is playing today with Russell Knox, the guy who shot the 59 at the Albertsons Boise Open two years ago. On the Web.com Tour, Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge has withdrawn from the Stonebrae Classic in Hayward, CA, after a seven-over 77 yesterday.
The Boise Hawks were, well, mad as hell and weren’t going to take it anymore. Last night at Salem-Keizer, they put up 11 runs over the first five innings. But the way things have been going, would that be enough? It was, as this time the Boise bullpen kept the Volcanoes at bay. Dylan Thompson, Justin Lawrance and Taylor Black held S-K scoreless over the final three innings in an 11-8 victory that snapped a four-game losing streak. All nine Hawks starters logged at least one base hit in the 14-hit attack, and they collected a whopping nine stolen bases. The three-game series along I-5 in Keizer, OR, wraps up tonight.
Mountain View High point guard Destiny Slocum arrived in Russia yesterday for 2015 FIBA U-19 World Championships that begin tomorrow. Slocum still sports the No. 4 ranking in ESPN’s analysis of the women’s basketball 2016 recruiting class. She geared up for the opportunity by training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, although she wasn’t part of the Americans’ initial roster. Slocum was called up to the team Wednesday. Her college recruitment is open—she decommitted from Washington in April.
The Idaho Steelheads and Dallas Stars are staying the course, announcing yesterday that they have renewed their affiliation for the 2015-16 season. The Texas Stars will remain Dallas’ AHL farm club, and the Steelies will continue to fill that role in the ECHL. This will be the 11th straight season—and 12th overall—that Idaho has been affiliated with Dallas. That makes it the third-longest continuous active association in the ECHL.
More Friday football footnotes: the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and Optimist Youth Football are hooking up for the fifth annual Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Football Challenge today and tomorrow at the Optimist fields on Hill Road Parkway. The event includes varsity and junior varsity 7-on-7 passing tournaments, a linemen challenge and a tug-of-war competition. There’ll be 19 high schools participating, including reigning 5A champion Highland and last season’s runnerup, Mountain View. And the Seattle Seahawks’ “12 Tour” is in Boise and will take over City Hall Plaza at 12 noon. Tomorrow there’ll be a Fanfest at Dona Larsen Park (tickets required). Wide receivers B.J. Daniels and Ricardo Lockett will represent the Seahawks, as will the Sea Gals.
This Day In Sports…July 17, 2011:
Rallying twice to tie the match when it was on the ropes, Japan hands the United States a crushing 3-2 defeat in the Women’s World Cup soccer final in Frankfurt, Germany. The Americans seemed destined to win the Cup after rallying from the brink itself in the quarterfinals against Brazil. But it was the Japanese who scored with less than three minutes to go in extra time, sending the match into penalty kicks. Japan made quick work of it from there, winning the shootout 3-1 to set off a wild celebration in a country devastated just four months earlier by one of the most destructive earthquakes and tsunamis in world history.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)