- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 2, 2014


SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) - They captured the hearts of America - from coast to coast, big towns and small, all the way to the White House. Capturing the World Cup will have to wait.

Just like four years ago, the United States is going home after the round of 16, beaten when Belgium scored twice in extra time and then held on for a 2-1 win.

Playing the finest game of his career, U.S. goalkeeper Howard stopped a dozen shots to keep the Americans even through regulation and force an additional 30 minutes. He wound up with 16 saves - the most in the World Cup since FIFA started keeping track in 2002.

The Belgians built a two-goal lead when Kevin De Bruyne scored in the 93rd minute and Romelu Lukaku in the 105th. But then Julian Green, at 19 the third-youngest player in the tournament, stuck out his right foot to volley in Michael Bradley’s pass over the defense in the 107th.

SAO PAULO (AP) - Argentina’s theme at this World Cup seems to be scrappy wins with Lionel Messi pulling through at the last minute to save the day.

This time he didn’t score on his own, but set the stage for Angel Di Maria to score an extra-time winner against Switzerland.

In the 118th minute, Rodrigo Palacio won the ball in midfield and fed Messi, who dribbled down the middle in trademark fashion, escaping a challenge from Swiss defender Fabian Schaer before poking the ball to Di Maria. Unmarked, the Real Madrid player beat goalie Diego Benaglio with his 10th goal in Argentina’s colors.


LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Cleveland Indians executed an unorthodox triple play in the fourth inning against the Dodgers that required two video replay reviews to sort out.

With runners on first and third, Adrian Gonzalez lifted a fly ball to left fielder Michael Brantley, who threw out Dee Gordon at the plate. Catcher Yan Gomes then fired to second baseman Jason Kipnis for the tag on Yasiel Puig as he slid headfirst.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona challenged the original safe call at second and got the play overturned after a replay delay that lasted 1 minute, 29 seconds. Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly then challenged the call at the plate, but that call stood after another wait of 1 minute, 34 seconds.

Cleveland went on to a 10-3 win.


LONDON (AP) - Rafael Nadal ran out of comebacks at Wimbledon, losing to a brash, big-serving, between-the-legs-hitting 19-year-old kid who might just be a future star.

Maria Sharapova, somehow, seemed on the verge of a turnaround despite a flurry of unforced errors, saving six match points before finally succumbing on the seventh with - what else? - a missed shot.

And in the most striking sight of a memorable day of departures by past Wimbledon champions, Serena Williams couldn’t get the ball over the net in a doubles match with her sister Venus, stopping after three games because of what was called a viral illness.

All in all, it was a day chock-full of significant events.


GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - The Arizona Coyotes made their big offseason move before the free agency period started, trading for a playmaking center to replace the one they lost.

Once they could sign free agents, the Coyotes filled a couple of holes.

Arizona signed center Joe Vitale to a three-year contract and goalie Devan Dubnyk to a one-year deal, adding depth two days after trading for center Sam Gagner.

Arizona initiated a buyout of Mike Ribeiro’s contract on Friday after last year’s big signee didn’t pan out in his one season in the desert.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Penguins addressed a significant need on their blue line by signing veteran defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to a one-year, $4 million contract.

The team announced the deal a few hours into the start of the NHL’s free agency period.

Ehrhoff became a free agent on Sunday after the Buffalo Sabres bought out the final seven seasons of his 10-year contract. The German-born Ehrhoff has 69 goals and 313 points in 692 games.

The Penguins, under newly hired general manager Jim Rutherford, are restocking on defense with Brooks Orpik signing with Washington and Matt Niskanen also a free agent.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The Minnesota Wild have made another splash in free agency.

Thomas Vanek, one of the top players available when the NHL market opened, agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Wild shortly after free agency officially began. The left wing will get a chance to settle in after playing for three teams last season.

Vanek has 277 goals in 663 career NHL games.

FRISCO, Texas (AP) - Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky are going to find out if what they started in Ottawa can lead to something special in Dallas.

Briefly teammates with the Senators last season, both forwards were acquired by the Stars - Spezza in a trade just before free agency opened and Hemsky on a three-year contract after deals could be done.

Spezza agreed to the Dallas deal a few days after using his no-trade clause to turn down a proposal from Nashville.

The Stars also signed goalie Anders Lindback and forward Patrick Eaves to one-year contracts.

DENVER (AP) - The Colorado Avalanche added a big-name scorer in Jarome Iginla shortly after losing a fan favorite in Paul Stastny.

The Avalanche signed Iginla to a three-year, $16 million deal, bringing in a forward with 560 career goals.

Iginla played last season with the Boston Bruins and had 30 goals in 78 games. He will be counted on to help fill the scoring void left by Stastny, who signed a four-year, $28 million deal with division rival St. Louis earlier in the day. Stastny spent his entire career with Colorado after being picked in the second round of the 2005 draft.

Iginla is a six-time All Star who turned 37 on Tuesday. He’s played in 1,310 regular season games with Calgary, Pittsburgh and Boston.


DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Pistons have decided to invest in Jodie Meeks’ future, banking on his best basketball being ahead of him.

Meeks agreed to a $19.5 million, three-year deal with Detroit, according to a person familiar with the situation. Free agents can’t sign contracts until the league’s moratorium ends July 10.

The 6-foot-4 Meeks averaged a career-high 15.7 points and scored a team-high 1,209 points last season for the Los Angeles Lakers. The shooting guard has averaged 9.7 points over his five-year career.



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