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Soccer

The Sports Report: U.S. advances to Women’s World Cup final

¡Estados Unidos, a la Final!
Alex Morgan celebrates after scoring against England during the Women’s World Cup semifinals Tuesday in Lyon, France.
(Richard Heathcote / Getty Images)

Howdy, my name is Houston Mitchell and I’m really craving some tea today.

Women’s World Cup

There was a bit of apprehension among U.S. soccer fans on Tuesday when they tuned in to watch the U.S.-England World Cup match and saw that Megan Rapinoe wasn’t in the starting lineup. The broadcasters didn’t offer much clarity on what was going on, neither did a check of social media. What was going on? Could the U.S. win without Rapinoe?

Yes. (And it turned out she was dealing with a hamstring issue).

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Christen Press started in Rapinoe’s place on the left wing and scored the first goal as the U.S. defeated England, 2-1, to advance to Sunday’s final against either Netherlands or Sweden. Rapinoe is expected to be ready then.

Press scored in the 10th minute, then England tied in nine minutes later on a goal by Ellen White. The U.S. pulled ahead for good in the 31st minute when Alex Morgan scored on a header.

The win seemed in doubt late in the match, but Alyssa Naeher stopped a penalty kick in the closing minutes that could have sent the game into overtime.

“Everyone is willing to step up. That’s the mentality of this entire team,” midfielder Julie Ertz said, continuing the U.S. women’s streak of most cliche-filled and boring quotes ever provided by a team. “Whatever’s thrown at us, we’re going to take.”

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After Morgan scored, she celebrated by pretending to drink from a cup of tea, pinkie extended. It was a dig at the English, as the U.S. seems to be relishing the role of the heel in this World Cup. Maybe after Sunday they can join WWE and go after Seth Rollins’ title.

Times columnist Helene Elliott is in France, and you can read her take on Tuesday’s game by clicking here. An excerpt: “A wave of her teammates sprinted toward goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to thank her for saving a late penalty kick against England and essentially saving their World Cup tournament, but Naeher wasn’t looking for hugs. She was in full-on game mode, already thinking about the next play and how the team could preserve or pad its 2-1 lead.

“So when Julie Ertz, Alex Morgan and Kelley O’Hara tried to embrace Naeher after she had lunged to her right to smother England captain Steph Houghton’s penalty kick in the 84th minute of the teams’ semifinal Tuesday, Naeher didn’t return the affection. She got in their faces and yelled and gestured with her left hand for them to get back into position. Wisely, they listened and fled. “I wanted to transition, try to get a goal,” Naeher said of her unemotional reaction to her biggest moment on the world stage.

“The penalty kick was only one of Naeher’s memorable feats on Tuesday at Stade de Lyon. She also had gone to her left to stop a dangerous long chance by Keira Walsh in the 32nd minute, shortly after Morgan’s header had put the U.S. ahead. She was focused, calm, in command. “She saved our ass,” Morgan said in an international TV interview before apologizing and substituting “butt” for the mildly family-unfriendly word she had used.”

World Cup poll

After Tuesday’s victory, a lot of people on social media complained about Alex Morgan and her “cup of tea” celebration after her goal. And, to be fair, a lot of people thought it was great. There were also complaints after the U.S. defeated Thailand, 13-0, in their opening match that the U.S. women are being less-than-gracious this World Cup. What do you think. are the U.S. women arrogant, or just having fun? Click here to vote in our poll, or email me and let me know.

Semifinals schedule and results (PDT)

Tuesday

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United States 2, England 1

Today

Netherlands vs. Sweden, noon, FS1

Third-place game

Saturday, 8 a.m., Fox

Final

Sunday, 8 a.m., Fox

Angels

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While they struggle to come to terms with the death Tuesday of teammate Tyler Skaggs, the Angels decided to play their scheduled game against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.

“I talked with some of the guys on the club, and I don’t want to speak for them, but it felt like, one, it was what Tyler would want,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler said.

“Also, it’s a time to allow them to get back into a routine and to have a period of time where they feel disconnected. A lot of problems go away when the first pitch is thrown until the last pitch is thrown. These guys will be there fighting for each other, with Tyler weighing heavy on their hearts tonight, I’ll tell you that.

“We lost a member of our family yesterday. Tyler Skaggs was a teammate, a brother, a friend, and, most important of all, he was a husband and a son. He was an exceptional young man with an entire life so full of promise yet to live. For some reason that is incomprehensible to all of us, he lives on now only in our minds and in our hearts.

“Grief is personal to all of us. It doesn’t have a timeline. It doesn’t have a road map. What is more important is we’ll all be here for each other as a team, as an organization and as a family.”

The Angels did not replace Skaggs on the roster Tuesday, deciding to go with 24 players.

“The first day back, whether it was today or tomorrow, was going to be one of the toughest, other than yesterday,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “So I think Billy hit the nail on the head in a sense that the game itself can be a refuge for the players where they can turn their minds off and focus on baseball. I don’t know that sitting in a hotel room would do them any good.”

The Angels won the game, 9-4.

The Angels don’t return home until after the All-Star break, and will have a tribute to Skaggs planned then, perhaps something similar to when pitcher Nick Adenhart died in 2009.

Some Angels fans wrote me today to say they are disappointed the team decided to play Tuesday, that it was disrespectful. To them, I say: It’s up to the players to decide what is respectful. They knew him and know what the right thing to do is a lot better than you or me.

Dodgers

The Dodgers are going to have a roster crunch soon. Three players are coming off the injured list, so three players will have to either go to the minors or go on the injured list themselves.

Manager Dave Roberts said first baseman David Freese is expected to be activated Friday or Saturday, while shortstop Corey Seager and center fielder A.J. Pollock will probably be back on July 12, the first game after the All-Star break.

“Unless something changes, I see [Pollock and Seager] both being active when we start the second half,” Roberts said, later adding: “An activation [of Freese] either Friday or Saturday seems feasible.”

“They’re progressing well,” Roberts said of Pollock and Seager. “They’re doing everything an active player would essentially do. Taking light at-bats today, they came out of it well.”

Meanwhile, the Dodgers took on the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday and won after the Diamondbacks walked five consecutive batters in the bottom of the ninth.

Your favorite sports moment

Something new to open up this newsletter and make it more reader interactive: What is your favorite all-time L.A. sports moment? Click here to tell me what it is and why, and I’ll start running them in future newsletters. And yes, if your favorite moment is about the Angels or Ducks or a team just outside of L.A., I’ll count that too. And the moment doesn’t have to have happened in L.A., just needs to involve an area team.

Our next one comes from Todd Dean of Corona:

“My favorite sports moment is a piece of time.

“I’m 65 years old. A Dodger fan for life. Like most kids in my era, it was my job to mow the lawn every week. With a push mower, of course. It was my favorite thing to do and here is why. I timed it for every Sunday at 1 p.m. Dodger time. We didn’t own a portable battery radio back then, so I got the extension cord out and plugged in the radio that I placed on our red brick front porch (the one my dad built). Then I mowed away while Vin Scully made my weekly nightmare a perfect dream!

“Which is hard to do when a typical game went like this. Maury Wills lays down a bunt single. Steals second and third. Scores on a sacrifice fly. They give the ball to Koufax and say, ‘There’s your run, make it happen.’ And he did.

“Those were great times and recently I have enjoyed listening to games again, of course now streaming on my phone.

“We’ve come along way … but then we haven’t.”

Odds and ends

Veteran Jared Dudley agrees to minimum deal with the Lakers…. Clippers guarantee the final season of Lou Williams’ contract…. Mfiondu Kabengele and fellow Clippers rookies get ready for summer league…. Wimbledon: Roger Federer and Ash Barty advance to the second round…. NBA free agency: Warriors to re-sign Kevon Looney, reach agreements to sign two others

Other newsletters

We also have other newsletters you can subscribe to for free. They are emailed to you and we don’t sell your name to other companies, so no spam from us. They are:

Our Dodgers newsletter, written by me. Subscribe here.

Lakers newsletter, written by Tania Ganguli. Subscribe here.

Horse racing newsletter, written by John Cherwa. Subscribe here.

Soccer newsletter, written by Kevin Baxter. Subscribe here.

Today’s local sports schedule

Arizona at Dodgers, 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Angels at Texas, 5 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830

LAFC at Sporting Kansas City, 5:30 p.m., YouTube TV, AM 710 ESPN

Born on this date

1953: Former Angel Frank Tanana

1957: Former Dodger Danny Heep

1965: Baseball player Greg Vaughn

1966: Baseball player Moises Alou

1966: NFL player Neil O’Donnell

1967: Yankees GM Brian Cashman

1968: NHL player Teppo Numminen

1970: Former Duck Teemu Selanne

Died on this date

1957: Baseball player Dolf Luque, 66

1993: Former Dodger Don Drysdale, 56

1994: Tennis player Lew Hoad, 59

And finally

The Angels and Rangers have a moment of silence to honor Tyler Skaggs before Tuesday’s game. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email us here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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