THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
NO. 1: FIFA WORLD CUP:
UNITED STATES vs. GERMANY
Details/TV: In Recife, Brazil; Thursday at 9 a.m., ESPN:
There are times during the U.S. team practices when players such as Jermaine Jones, Julian Green, Timmy Chandler, Fabian Johnson and John Brooks converse with each other in German. Those five have dual citizenships — all were born in Germany to fathers serving in the U.S. military there. The 32-year-old Jones, the hard-nosed starting midfielder who lives in Encino, recently told Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated that there is no conflict for him to represent the U.S. despite what others may think as this important Group G matchup finally happens. “I will always have the half-side of Germany in my heart, but all of us ‘half’ players – and the coach, too – we will try to win this game for America. We want to get to the next round.” The coach, of course, is Jurgen Klinsmann, the 1990 World Cup star for West Germany, living in Newport Beach and recruited to coach this American squad in a way that may not please everyone. The subplots for this one run deep even among the fans, so much so that Forbes reports that the average price for tickets to this game is about $900 or three times more than what tickets were going for with the U.S.-Portugal meeting on Sunday. Following that 2-2 U.S.-Portugal outcomes, the Americans can go to the next round with a win or draw against Germany.
ALSO THIS WEEK:
NBA 2014 DRAFT
Details/TV: At New York, Thursday at 4:30 p.m., ESPN:
By the time the Lakers get to pick over the what’s available at not-so-lucky No. 7, the smart move might be Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart. Or, maybe they really dig Creighton’s Doug McDermott or the free-falling Kansas center Joel Embiid. There’s also three UCLA guys waiting to hear their names called – Zach LaVine, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams. Then again, maybe Mitch Kupchak will trade it on a whim as he has every other Lakers first-round pick the last seven seasons. Meanwhile, the Clippers, picking at No. 28 here, can make some positive news for a change.
TENNIS: 128th WIMBLEDON CHAMPIONSHIPS
Details/TV: Opening rounds, Monday at 4 a.m., ESPN:
Now that England has vanished from the World Cup radar, the nation can focus on its singular grass hero, Andy Murray, who defends his men’s title starting Monday against 104th ranked David Goffin of Belgium. If Murray stays on track, he’ll meet Rafael Nadal in the final. But then again, Nadal and Roger Federer were early exits a year ago. On the women’s side, favorite Serena Williams, who made only a brief appearance at the French Open, is seeded to meet up with Maria Sharapova in the final. Sharapova hasn’t defeated Williams since the Wimbledon final 10 years ago. Camarillo’s Bob and Mike Bryan, who won the men’s doubles last year, return as the No. 1 seeds. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS have about 140 hours of combined coverage through the men’s final on July 6.
MLB: DODGERS vs. ST. LOUIS
Details/TV: Thursday-Sunday, SportsNet L.A. and Channel 11:
Flash back to last year’s NL Championship Series, when the Cardinals needed six games to wipe away the Dodgers’ plans for a World Series appearance. Remember when rookie Michael Wacha beat Clayton Kershaw twice, Hanley Ramirez couldn’t do much with injured ribs, and Yasiel Puig was making a bigger mess of things in right field? The 22-year-old Wacha (5-5, 2.49), scheduled to pitch Friday in this four-games series, has been running out of gas lately, sporting a 4.24 ERA in June, and the team is trying to make sure they don’t overdo it with him. With the playoff atmosphere in place, the Dodgers will counter by giving away Brian Wilson bobbleheads during Thursday’s opener.
The series: Thursday and Friday at 7:10 p.m., SportsNet L.A.; Saturday at 4:15 p.m., Channel 11; Sunday at 1:10 p.m., SportsNet L.A.