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The Sports Report: U.S. team’s World Cup adventure is over

Haji Wright of the United States is comforted after losing in the World Cup Round of 16.
(Martin Meissner / AP)
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Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Kevin Baxter in Qatar: At the final whistle Tyler Adams dropped to his knees outside the U.S. penalty area, overcome by exhaustion and emotion. Haji Wright struck a similar pose near midfield and stayed there a while, unwilling or unable to be consoled by a stream of well-meaning teammates.

But the Americans’ World Cup-ending loss probably hit Christian Pulisic the hardest. As coach Gregg Berhalter wrapped a reassuring arm around his gutsiest player, Pulisic lifted his hands to his face to hide the tears.

Four days earlier Pulisic had been hospitalized after taking a knee to his pelvis, only to climb off the gurney and take a punch to the gut when Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Netherlands knocked the U.S. out of the tournament in the round of 16.

“It’s tough,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. “It hurts after a tough loss like that when we feel like we could have had more.”

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How different could the night have been had Pulisic struck his shot in the second minute with more force and precision, putting it into the net instead of into the legs of Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert? How different could the night have been if the U.S. had gone into the locker room at halftime down a goal rather than trailing 2-0 after giving up another score with 30 seconds left in stoppage time?

“Yeah,” Pulisic said with a sigh. “It’s going to hurt for a while.”

The Dutch were supposed to be here. They’ve made it to the final four in three of the last four World Cups they’ve played in. The U.S. has made it past the round of 16 just once. Dutch coach Louis van Gaal has never lost a World Cup game in regulation time, running his unbeaten streak Saturday to 11 games. Berhalter was coaching just his fourth game in the tournament.

Yet it was the U.S. that dominated in terms of possession, that had more shots and more shots on goal. It was the U.S. that made the most passes and was more accurate with the ones it made.

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Round of 16
Saturday’s results

Netherlands 3, United States 1
Argentina 2, Australia 1

Today’s schedule
France vs. Poland, 7 a.m., FS1, Telemundo, Peacock
England vs. Senegal, 11 a.m., FS1, Telemundo, Peacock

Monday
Japan vs. Croatia, 7 a.m., Fox, Telemundo, Peacock
Brazil vs. South Korea, 11 a.m., Fox, Telemundo, Peacock

Tuesday
Morocco vs. Spain, 7 a.m., Fox, Telemundo, Peacock
Portugal vs. Switzerland, 11 a.m., Fox, Telemundo, Peacock

Quarterfinals

Friday
Matchup TBD, 7 a.m., Fox, Telemundo, Peacock
Netherlands vs. Argentina, 11 a.m., Fox, Telemundo, Peacock

Saturday
Matchup TBD, 7 a.m., Fox, Telemundo, Peacock
Matchup TBD, 11 a.m., Fox, Telemundo, Peacock

Semifinals
Tuesday, Dec. 13
Matchup TBD, 11 a.m., Fox, Telemundo, Peacock

Wed., Dec. 14
Matchup TBD, 11 a.m., Fox, Telemundo, Peacock

Third-place match
Saturday, Dec. 17
Matchup TBD, 7 a.m., Fox, Telemundo, Peacock

Championship match
Sunday, Dec. 18
Matchup TBD, 7 a.m., Fox, Telemundo, Peacock

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Complete World Cup coverage

Qatar World Cup: Start times for every match and how to watch

‘They’re really tough.’ U.S. takes solace in earning respect despite World Cup exit

CLIPPERS

From Andrew Greif: The participation of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in practice Friday wasn’t a precursor to the injured stars’ return a day later, after all.

It only extended the pause surrounding their eventual returns, the All-Star duo watching in street clothes as Sacramento overwhelmed the Clippers in a 123-96 loss at Crypto.com Arena.

It was Leonard’s sixth consecutive absence with a sprained ankle and George’s seventh because of a hamstring tendon, while Luke Kennard, who also practiced Friday, missed his ninth game with a calf strain. A strained groin sidelined backup guard Norman Powell a second consecutive game, and as the Kings’ lead ballooned to 28 points before halftime, Powell rested his chin on his right hand, his expression conveying the emotion of this rout.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

From J. Brady McCollough: Once No. 4 USC was routed in the second half Friday night by Utah in the Pac-12 championship game, it became immediately clear which four teams would make the College Football Playoff and compete for a spot in the national title game at SoFi Stadium.

No matter what happened Saturday, No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Texas Christian and No. 5 Ohio State would finish the regular season as the only teams nationally unbeaten or with one loss. A two-loss team has never made the CFP field.

The only thing left to determine is seeding. After TCU’s 31-28 overtime loss in the Big 12 championship game to Kansas State, the Horned Frogs have opened themselves up for debate about whether they should remain ahead of Ohio State, which did not play Saturday after losing to the Wolverines, 45-23, in Columbus last weekend. It is likely the CFP selection committee will avoid a semifinal rematch between Michigan and Ohio State and keep TCU at No. 3. But it’s at least a question now.

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Colorado makes a ‘Prime Time’ move, hiring Deion Sanders as football coach

RAMS

From Gary Klein: The Rams on Saturday put quarterback Matthew Stafford on injured reserve because of a neck injury, almost certainly ending the 14th-year pro’s season and adding another footnote to the team’s lost season.

Stafford, 34, was cleared from concussion protocol Friday but was declared out of Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks at SoFi Stadium.

John Wolford will start at quarterback for the Rams. Bryce Perkins also could play.

UCLA BASKETBALL

Charisma Osborne scored 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting, Kiki Rice added 14 points and eight rebounds and No. 15 UCLA overcame a cold-shooting start to beat UC Santa Barbara 68-57 Saturday night.

Gabriela Jaquez made 5 of 7 from the field and scored 12 points for UCLA (8-1), which rebounded from a 73-54 loss at No. 1 South Carolina on Tuesday that snapped the Bruins’ seven-game win streak.

Gina Conti made a jumper, Osborne hit a three just before the buzzer and Rice added a jumper to open the fourth quarter to make it 50-44 with nine minutes to play and UCLA led the rest of the way.

USC BASKETBALL

USC sophomore guard Taylor Bigby scored a career-high 21 points, and senior guard Alyson Miura tied her career best with 19 points to lead the USC women’s basketball team to a 80-48 victory over Merrimack at the Galen Center. The Trojans ended the game tying their program record of most three-pointers made in a game (14) and posting the largest margin of victory since the beginning of the 2017-18 season.

KINGS

Martin Necas had a goal and an assist and the Carolina Hurricanes extended their winning streak to four games, beating the Kings 4-2 on Saturday night at Crypto.com Arena.

Brady Skjei, Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov also scored for the Hurricanes, who got at least one point for the 10th time in their past 11 games. Pyotr Kochetkov made 31 saves.

Samuel Fagemo scored his first career goal for the Kings, and Arthur Kaliyev connected on the power play. The Kings had their four-game point streak end. Jonathan Quick gave up four goals on 31 shots.

DUCKS

Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy scored in the shootout, helping the Minnesota Wild to a 5-4 win over the Ducks on Saturday.

Calen Addison and Joel Eriksson Ek each had a goal and assist during regulation as Minnesota won for the fifth time in six games and closed out a seven-game homestand. Connor Dewar also scored for the Wild, who have beaten Anaheim in 12 consecutive matchups, the longest streak against any opponent in team history.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1945 — “Mr. Inside” Doc Blanchard of Army becomes the first junior to win the Heisman Trophy. Blanchard also becomes the only athlete to win both the Heisman and Sullivan Award.

1951 — Princeton triple-threat tailback Richard Kazmaier wins the Heisman Trophy. Kazmaier led the nation in total offense and the Tigers to an undefeated season.

1956 — Notre Dame quarterback Paul Hornung edges Tennessee’s Johnny Majors to win the Heisman Trophy.

1961 — Floyd Patterson defends his world heavyweight title by knocking out Tom McNeeley in the fourth round in Toronto.

1961 — Syracuse running back Ernie Davis becomes the first black to be taken No. 1 in the NFL draft after being selected by the Washington Redskins.

1977 — Tony Dorsett becomes the third rookie to rush for more than 200 yards in a game with 206 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

1982 — Georgia’s Herschel Walker wins the Heisman Trophy. The junior running back beats out Stanford quarterback John Elway and Southern Methodist running back Eric Dickerson.

1988 — Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders wins the Heisman Trophy then proves he’s worthy of the award with spectacular performance in a 45-42 win over Texas Tech in Tokyo. Sanders rushes 44 times for 332 yards and four touchdowns, setting the NCAA single-season rushing record with 2,628 yards in 11 games.

2004 — Louisville becomes the first football team in NCAA history to score at least 55 points in five straight games, beating Tulane 55-7.

2005 — Croatia wins its first Davis Cup title when Mario Ancic beats Michal Mertinak of Slovakia 7-6 (1), 6-3, 6-4 in the decisive fifth match.

2009 — The New Jersey Nets win for the first time this season, ending the worst start in NBA history at 18 losses by beating the Charlotte Bobcats 97-91.

2010 — Cam Newton passes for a career-best 335 yards and four touchdowns, and runs for a couple of TDs to lead No. 2 Auburn past 18th-ranked South Carolina 56-17 for the Southeastern Conference title.

2013 — The NFL fines Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin $100,000 for interfering with a play against the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving. In the third quarter of the Ravens’ 22-20 win, Jacoby Jones swerves to avoid colliding with Tomlin and is tackled after a 73-yard return that might have gone for a touchdown if not for the obstruction.

2016 — Tom Brady becomes the NFL’s career leader in victories by a quarterback, earning his 201st by throwing for 269 yards and a touchdown to lead New England past Los Angeles 26-10.

2016 — Detroit becomes the first team in 60 Saints home games to stop Drew Brees from throwing a touchdown pass, as the Lions pull away from New Orleans, 28-13. It’s also the Lions’ first victory in a road game following Thanksgiving since 1974, snapping a streak of 22 losses in such games.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin interferes with a kickoff return. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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