Walcoff: Thrilling victory has made soccer relevant in US 

Team USA’s fabulous sense of joy following Landon Donovan’s stoppage-time goal against Algeria can only be matched by a huge sigh of relief from FIFA.

Instead of fending off a barrage of criticism over the World Cup’s brutally bad officiating and quirky rules which could have decided whether America or England advanced to the Round of 16 by “random selection” (if the teams had the same number of points and goals scored), suddenly you actually care about soccer.

Now, it may just be a short-lived interest like it was for the women’s game after Brandi Chastain’s jersey-stripping championship goal in the 1999 World Cup, but at least the beautiful game is getting top billing here in the States rather than its usual slot, which is about one notch above professional bowling.

Reality check, though. As resilient and resourceful as the Americans have been in South Africa, they played in the weakest group in the tournament and came within minutes of heading home, fit to be tied in three straight games.

A truer test comes against Ghana. But even if their dream run ends Saturday, coach Bob Bradley has done the unthinkable. He has elevated U.S. soccer to a point of relevance at home, earning respect from the world.

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM

Is Larry Riley watching too many Larry David comedy shows?

Following the salary-dumping trade of high-scoring Corey Maggette to the Milwaukee Bucks for a couple of bench-warmers, the Warriors general manager released a statement that actually said, “Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric are two high character veterans who can provide us with some of the intangibles that we need on our squad.”

Curb your enthusiasm, Larry.

Not only is it doubtful that either player will be on next year’s roster, Golden State doesn’t need intangibles. It needs a legitimate pivot player and a shooting guard to complement, rather than compete, with Stephen Curry.

As exciting and talented as Monta Ellis is, he’ll never be comfortable being Curry’s sidekick.

Now imagine for a moment that the Warriors get bold and deal Ellis and Anthony Randolph to grab Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins and Syracuse swingman Wesley Johnson in today’s draft.

I know the 6-foot-11, 290-pound Cousins has been called immature and uncoachable, but he was also the most talented big man in college basketball as a 19-year-old freshman.

Cousins has a soft touch, strong moves around the basket and can own the paint with his 7-foot-6 wingspan. He also proudly talks about wanting to be a franchise player. 

Johnson, 6-7, is an explosive scorer and solid defender aided by his 7-foot-1 wingspan. Sure it’s risky business to rebuild the Warriors around Curry and a couple of hot-shot rookies, but given the franchise’s dreadful history and current state of affairs, what do they have to lose?

KGO (810 AM) Sports Director Rich Walcoff can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the KGO morning news. He can be reached at RichWalcoff@gmail.com.

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Rich Walcoff

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