WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
US, Mexico get wins
The US and Mexico both opened their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaigns with 3-1 wins, while Honduras suffered a surprise loss in the opening fixtures of the third round. The US beat Antigua and Barbuda in their CONCACAF Group A encounter in Florida, with captain Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey and Herculez Gomez all scoring. Antigua replied with a goal from substitute Peter Byers. Carlos Salcido and Giovani Dos Santos both scored inside the first 15 minutes as Mexico cruised to victory over Guyana in Group B. Honduras, who represented CONCACAF in the last World Cup alongside the US and Mexico, were beaten 2-0 at home by Panama in Group C, with Blas Miguel scoring both goals in the second half. Canada held on to beat Cuba 1-0 in Havana, despite having goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld sent off in the second half, also in Group C. Demar Phillips and Ryan Johnson both scored to lead Jamaica to a 2-1 win over Guatemala in Group A, extending their unbeaten streak to 13 games against the Central Americans. In the other Group B match, Costa Rica were held to a 2-2 draw by El Salvador.
WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
Japan scores record win
Asian champions Japan continued their confident march toward the World Cup finals by handing 10-man Jordan a record-equaling 6-0 defeat on Friday, as rivals Australia struggled under the scorching sun in the Middle East. The Socceroos escaped Oman with a 0-0 draw after a disjointed display in muggy Muscat, where the 35oC temperatures had a big impact. Perennial World Cup qualifiers South Korea had no such struggles in a later kickoff as they beat Qatar 4-1 at the air-conditioned Al Sadd Stadium in Doha. Lebanon dreww 1-1 against Uzbekistan in Beirut.
Ramirez gets new medal
Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez got a replacement for his lost gold medal that he earned with Cuba’s Olympic team at the 2004 Athens Games. During a surprise presentation on Friday, Ramirez was left emotional and momentarily speechless as he received the new medal. Fellow Cuban Jose Contreras, the star of the White Sox’s 2005 World Series winner and currently with the Philadelphia Phillies, showed up during stretching and, with the team gathered in the outfield, handed Ramirez a box with the replacement medal in it. The original medal was lost or stolen while Ramirez and his wife were en route to Chicago before his first season with the White Sox in 2008. The White Sox eventually contacted the International Olympic Committee and had a replacement medal made.
Swimmers may not tweet
Controversial Australian swimmers Nick D’Arcy and Kenrick Monk have been slapped with a social-media ban and will be sent home early from the Olympics as punishment for posting pictures of themselves toting firearms on Twitter and Facebook. The 24-year-old swimmers apologized after being slammed by anti-gun groups in Australia. “The Australian Olympic Committee [AOC] has decided Nick D’Arcy and Kenrick Monk will be sent home to Australia at the conclusion of their swimming events at the 2012 London Olympic Games,” the AOC said in a statement yesterday. “The AOC Selection Committee also decided that D’Arcy and Monk will be banned from using social media, including Twitter, Facebook and blogging, for the Games’ period of July 16 to Aug. 15.”