The Sports Report: Can the U.S. women win a third straight World Cup?

Sophia Smith, left, Kristie Mewis, center and Trinity Rodman celebrate after the U.S. scored a goal earlier this month.
Sophia Smith, left, Kristie Mewis, center and Trinity Rodman celebrate after the U.S. scored a goal earlier this month.
(Josie Lepe / AP)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Kevin Baxter: For as long as she can remember, Sophia Smith has dreamt of playing for the U.S. in a World Cup. As a young girl growing up in northern Colorado, she planned for it, she practiced it, she even acted it out in her backyard.

“We played World Cup, and I was always the USA,” she said. “I didn’t fully know that this could be me one day.”

Friday it will be, with Smith and U.S. kicking off what they hope will be a drive to a third consecutive world championship against Vietnam. Only now is that reality beginning to sink in.


“We did a welcome ceremony the other day and the other teams in Auckland were there,” Smith said. “Just kind of seeing the other teams, it was like, ‘OK, it’s really happening.’

“It still feels surreal.”

Surreal is a word the Stanford-educated Smith uses frequently. It’s surreal that she made the World Cup team, she says, surreal that she’s playing alongside women she once idolized and surreal that she’s the leading scorer on the No. 1 team in the world.

But if all those things were unexpected, what’s not surreal are the huge expectations the U.S. carries into the tournament. With 32 teams, 64 games, two host countries in New Zealand and Australia and a prize-money purse of more $150 million, this will be the largest and most lucrative women’s World Cup ever. For the Americans, however, nothing has really changed.

“There’s only one thing in mind: we’re going into this tournament to win,” coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “I don’t think anyone on our team thinks different.”

The U.S. hasn’t lost a World Cup game since the final group-stage match in 2011, when a penalty kick and an own goal gave Sweden a 2-1 win. Overall, the U.S. has lost just four times in 50 World Cup games, the other three coming in the semifinals. If the Americans run the table again in this tournament, it will give them a third consecutive title, something no team of either gender has accomplished.

But the challenge has grown more difficult because the World Cup field has not only grown in size, it’s gotten better as well, with nearly a dozen countries — among them Spain, the Netherlands, England, Germany, Canada, Sweden and Australia — all believing they have a shot at the crown.


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From Mike DiGiovanna: There are 12 shopping days left before the Aug. 1 trade deadline, more than enough time for the Dodgers to address their most pressing needs — a starting pitcher or two for an injury-ravaged rotation, an impact arm for an improving but still-thin bullpen and perhaps a right-handed-hitting outfielder.

It’s a sellers’ market, with 19 teams entering play Thursday with a division lead, in a wild-card position or within six games of a playoff spot, and two or three teams — the New York Mets, San Diego Padres and perhaps the Cleveland Guardians — on the bubble, trying to decide whether to hold — and maybe be bold — or fold.

Starting pitching, as usual, is the focus of most trade talks, and there appear to be a fair number of solid rotation candidates available, though no surefire ace unless the Angels shock the baseball world and decide to part with two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani.

A look at trade targets who might be fits for the Dodgers:

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‘You didn’t get the icing on the cake.’ Dodgers recall muted celebration of 2020 title


Dodgers, 55-40
San Francisco, 54-43, 2 GB
Arizona, 54-43, 2 GB
San Diego, 46-51, 10 GB
Colorado, 37-59, 18.5 GB

top three teams qualify

San Francisco, 54-43
Arizona, 54-43
Philadelphia, 52-44

Miami, 53-45, 0 GB
Cincinnati, 52-46, 1 GB
San Diego, 46-51, 6.5 GB
Chicago, 45-51, 7 GB
New York, 45-51, 7 GB

For full standings, go here


From Sarah Valenzuela: Shohei Ohtani’s 35th home run of the season Monday reminded the New York Yankees that he is a baseball titan much like reigning American League MVP Aaron Judge.

With Judge on the injured list with a toe sprain, there was no duel of spectacular, towering home runs like in previous meetings between the Yankees and Angels. Yet, Ohtani’s home run represented more than an awesome flash of power.

Ohtani showed he’s capable of at least getting close to Judge’s single-season American League record of 62 home runs, perhaps even surpassing it.


“Records are meant to be broken,” Judge said before the Angels swept the Yankees on Wednesday. “It’ll be exciting for the game if he went out and got 63-plus. So we’ll see what happens.

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Texas, 58-39
Houston, 54-43, 4 GB
Angels, 49-48, 9 GB
Seattle, 48-48, 9.5 GB
Oakland, 27-72, 32 GB

top three teams qualify

Tampa Bay, 60-40
Toronto, 54-43
Houston, 54-43

Boston, 51-46, 3 GB
New York, 50-47, 4 GB
Angels, 49-48, 5 GB
Seattle, 48-48, 5.5 GB
Cleveland, 47-49, 6.5 GB

For full standings, go here


From Ryan Kartje: Ahead of its final tour through the Pac-12, USC has been picked as the preseason favorite to ride off into the sunset with a conference title in 2023.

Conference media voted USC as the overwhelming favorite to win the Pac-12, with 25 of 36 first-place votes going to the Trojans. Washington was picked to finish in second, followed by Utah third and Oregon fourth.


UCLA was picked to finish sixth, the same place they finished in 2023.

No one was quite as confident in the Trojans at this time last year, as Lincoln Riley took over a struggling outfit that finished 4-8 the previous season. USC was picked to finish third ahead of 2022, but outperformed expectations, winning 11 games and falling just short in the Pac-12 championship against Utah.

The expectations are much higher in 2023, with Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams back under center and much of his supporting cast returning. But the schedule is also far more exacting, with road trips to Notre Dame and Oregon on tap, as well as critical home matchups against Utah, Washington and UCLA.

The most pressing questions for USC will be on the defensive end, where the Trojans struggled mightily last season. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch returns for what’s expected to be a make-or-break season for the unit, which Riley has vowed to improve, in spite of losing the nation’s sack leader, Tuli Tuipulotu.


Napheesa Collier scored eight points in a late 12-0 run and finished with 22 points as the Minnesota Lynx defeated the Sparks 73-70 on Thursday night.

Collier scored 10 of her points in the fourth quarter as the Lynx (10-12) won despite squandering a 20-point lead, completing a season sweep of the Sparks (7-14), who matched a franchise record with its seventh straight loss.


Rookies Dorka Juhasz and Diamond Miller played key roles in the win. Juhasz scored a career-high 16 points on seven-for-10 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. Miller added 13 points, a career-high nine assists and eight rebounds.


From Helene Elliott: Pro tennis is taking an abrupt turn this week, careening from the stately strawberries and cream and reverential hush of Wimbledon to a relatively new event that will encourage fans to make noise, feature mid-match interviews and be contested by a field that includes “The Hot Shot,” “Big Foe” and “Bublik Enemy.”

The Ultimate Tennis Showdown is coming to Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson for three days starting Friday. With matches divided into four eight-minute quarters, loose conduct rules and interaction between players and fans, the series aims to engage audiences that are accustomed to consuming entertainment in quick, action-packed bites.

Creator Patrick Mouratoglou, the Frenchman who coached Serena Williams for a decade, isn’t trying to replace what he calls “classical” tennis, the men’s and women’s pro tours. He wants to shake off stuffy traditions and create “a disruptive tour which really aims to seduce the new generation.” That means turning passive spectators into active participants.


The British Open showed again Thursday that even after 163 years, golf’s oldest championship can still deliver a few surprises.

It started with Christo Lamprecht, the South African amateur as tall as a flag stick and almost as thin, making three birdies over his last six holes and posting a five-under 66 to become the first amateur in 12 years to share the 18-hole lead at the Open.


Curiosity about the 22-year-old amateur turned to glee at the site of local hero, Tommy Fleetwood, running off three straight birdies on the back nine at Royal Liverpool to join him atop the leaderboard. Emiliano Grillo of Argentina became the third to post 66 by holing a birdie putt from 50 feet on the last hole.

Not to be overlooked was Jordan Spieth hitting a shank; Rory McIlroy missing a five-foot putt; Justin Thomas going bunker-to-bunker-to-rough — each shot further away from the flag than the previous one — in making a nine on the 18th hole to post his highest round in a major at 82.

McIlroy, trying desperately to end his nine-year drought in the majors, was happy to get away with a 71. He risked the round getting away from him until making up for that wee miss on the eighth hole with a 40-foot birdie on the 14th that sparked him.

For the British Open leaderboard, go here


Local teams on TV today:
All times Pacific

5 p.m., Dodgers at Texas, SportsNet LA

6:30 p.m., Pittsburgh at Angels, Bally Sports West

6 p.m., U.S. vs. Vietnam, Women’s World Cup, Fox, Telemundo

Women’s World Cup schedule: Start times for every match and how to watch


The rest of today’s sports on TV listings can be found here.


1957 — Lionel Herbert wins the PGA championship with a 2-1 final round victory over Dow Finsterwald.

1957 — Althea Gibson wins the U.S. Open to become the first Black person to win a major U.S. tennis tournament.

1963 — Jack Nicklaus wins the PGA championship by two strokes over Dave Ragan to become the fourth golfer to win the three major United States titles.

1968 — Arnold Palmer becomes the first PGA golfer to earn $1 million over his career despite losing by one stroke to Julius Boros in the PGA championship.

1973 — Hank Aaron hits home run number 700 off of Phillies Pitcher Ken Brett.

1974 — Sandra Haynie edges Carol Mann and Beth Stone by one stroke to win the U.S. Women’s Open championship.


1979 — Spain’s Seve Ballesteros captures the British Open by three strokes over Ben Crenshaw and Jack Nicklaus.

1985 — John Henry, the greatest money winner in horse racing history, is retired. The 10-year-old won 39 races in 83 starts and earned $6,597,947 in total purses.

1985 — Sandy Lyle wins the British Open by one stroke over Payne Stewart.

1989 — Mike Tyson knocks down Carl “The Truth” Williams with a left hook and stops him 93 seconds into the first round of his heavyweight title defense. It is the fifth shortest heavyweight title fight in history.

1996 — Tom Lehman shoots a final-round 73 for a 72-hole total of 13-under 271 to win the British Open, two strokes better than Ernie Els and Mark McCumber.

2002 — Ernie Els squanders a three-stroke lead but outlasts Thomas Levet of France to win a four-man playoff that produces the first sudden-death finish in the 142-year history of the British Open.

2013 — Phil Mickelson wins his first British Open title with a spectacular finish. He birdies four of the last six holes for a 5-under 66 to match the best round of the tournament.


—Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally...

Mike Tyson knocks out Carl Williams. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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