Watford captain Deeney urging supporters to get behind themby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveWatford captain Troy Deeney is urging supporters to get behind the players.Deeney says the players remained confident that they could still have a good season, but said fans needed to be a bit more patient after the change of head coach from Javi Gracia and Quique Sanchez Flores.”We can’t panic yet. If we start panicking what does that transmit?” said the skipper.”Obviously there’s quality there [in the team], but the main quality that’s needed now is hard work and resilience and not to fold because as you saw tonight at half time, some fans were a bit iffy and it’s six games in. There has to be a sense of realism.”We’re not spending £50 million on centre halves, we’re not paying people 200 grand a week. We’re still Watford, we’re still learning, we’re still building, but when we win, we win together and when we lose, we lose together and that’s where I think we’re getting a little bit lost in the connection between fans and players.”Don’t get me wrong, lose 8-0, you deserve to get battered, we all do. We take that on the chin, but at the same time when we win, be with us.”We’re growing and ultimately changing manager, you’ve got to find your best team and best formation and we’ve got a lot of attacking talent now, so how you mould that and get everyone playing and clicking at the same time. It’s difficult.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
zoom Nasdaq-listed Golar LNG Partners has secured a time charter contract for one of its steam liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, the 145,700m3 Golar Grand.Under the deal, the 84,894 dwt vessel is scheduled to work for a period of up to a maximum of 9 years for an undisclosed oil and gas company.The 2005-built Golar Grand is currently on charter with Golar LNG Limited and will therefore be sub-chartered back from Golar LNG, at the same rate as the new charter, for the initial period of the deal until the current charter ends in October 2017.The LNG carrier will be delivered under the new charter during the second quarter of 2017 for an initial period of 2 years with a series of extension options up to the maximum charter period.The company informed that the Partnership’s operating income before depreciation derived from the Golar Grand will be unchanged until October 2017 when the Golar LNG charter ends.If initial extension options for up to 5 years are exercised, the deal is expected to generate around USD 10 million of operating income per year over the full 5-year term, according to the company.
BOSTON – Fidget spinners, a plastic Wonder Woman battle sword and a remote-controlled Spider-Man drone are among the toys topping a consumer safety group’s annual list of worst toys for the holidays.World Against Toys Causing Harm, or WATCH, unveiled the top 10 list Tuesday at a Boston children’s hospital. The non-profit organization has been releasing the lists for more than four decades.WATCH claims fidget spinners contain small parts that can be a choking hazard, Mattel’s Wonder Woman sword has the potential to cause blunt-force injuries and Marvel’s Spider-Man drone has multiple rotating blades that can lead to eye and other bodily injuries.The Toy Association, an industry trade group, dismissed the list as “needlessly frightening” to parents because all toys sold in the U.S. meet “rigorous” safety standards. It also criticized the organization for not testing the toys it focuses on.National toy safety standards are “inadequate,” as can been seen by the high number of recalls each year, WATCH President Joan Siff said.The non-profit says there have been at least 15 recalls representing nearly 2 million units of dangerous toys since December.Siff stressed the toys named each year have common hazards that the group sees year after year. She pointed to the “Pull Along Pony” by Tolo Toys that’s marketed for children over age 1 but has a 19-inch cord.“We don’t need a testing lab to know that’s a strangulation and entanglement hazard,” she said.With consumers increasingly doing their holiday shopping online, it’s more important than ever to have the most current information about the safety of a toy online, Siff said.For example, Hallmark’s Disney-themed “Itty Bittys” plush stacking toy for babies was recalled over the summer due to fabric pieces that posed a choking hazard. But the toy still is readily available online because many web sales are rarely monitored for recalls, Siff noted.Among the other toys that made this year’s list is Nerf’s “Zombie Strike” crossbow, which the organization says poses the risk of eye and face injuries because it uses a pressurized, pull back lever to shoot soft projectiles.Razor’s “Heel Wheels” are strapped onto children’s shoes to turn them into improvised roller skates but pose a burn risk because they include “real sparking action.”And “Slackline” is a tightrope-like device by Brand 44 meant to be anchored between two trees that WATCH says can lead to severe injury and death.
DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The Peace River Regional District Board held a special meeting on Friday, August 23, to hear about the next steps for Caribou Recovery in the Peace Region.Presenting to the Board on the next steps for Caribou Recovery were Community Liaisons Blair Lekstrom and Lorne Brownsey. Also in attendance was Cassie Doyle of Environment and Climate Change Canada.Brownsey says he was appointed by Premier John Horgan to facilitate an engagement process that aims to establish a pathway to conclude the Caribou Recovery agreements and in a manner that reflects the concerns of all community members. According to Brownsey, they have two goals that focus on the recovery of caribou and ensuring the success of the affected communities, while also maintaining a form of dialogue that will allow community members to have future input on the matter.Doyle says establishing a leadership table and a common knowledge base is important when it comes to Caribou Recovery.“That’s exactly what we were thinking through is a leadership table that would be able to oversee and provide input for the development of the Section 11 and the Partnership Agreements. I think that establishing a common knowledge base is really important to ensure that everything is known, from on the state of the caribou, on the economic analysis, and that is shared and everybody has an opportunity to question the experts that have done that work.”Lekstrom says he remains optimistic that they can develop a path forward, adding that it will take everybody at the table to form a resolution on the Caribou Recovery Program.“I remain optimistic that we can find a path forward but it will take, as it was laid out here, everybody at the table to find that resolution.”The full special meeting can be found on the Regional District’s website.
Kolkata: The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the state Ariz Aftab on Friday held a video conference with the senior election officers in all the poll-bound districts issuing guidelines on how to put in place adequate alternative arrangements if the cyclone ‘Fani’ affects the poll preparation.During his meeting, the CEO also took a stock of the overall arrangements that have been made to handle the crisis. One of the main objectives of the initiative is to ensure that the Election Commission does not face any problem to conduct the polls in the fifth phase. On May 6, elections will be held in Bongaon, Barrackpore, Howrah, Uluberia, Sreerampore, Hooghly and Arambagh. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaAccording to the weather office prediction, a severe cyclone ‘Fani’ will hit the state on late night of May 3 or early morning of May 4. The district election officers will have roughly 24 hours in hand to overcome any emergency situation. The election officials have already spoken to their counterparts in the Election Commission of India in Delhi. The CEO office has instructed the district administrative officials to deploy the disaster management personnel in various places under their districts so that prompt action can be taken in case of any untoward incident. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwaySanjay Basu, additional CEO, on Friday said that they wanted to know from the district election officers if everything was in place as per plan. The district officials have been asked to inspect the Distribution Cum Receiving Centers (DCRC) from time to time. DCRC are generally accommodated in a temporary makeshift structure outside school buildings. The Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are distributed from the DCRCs. The Election Commission is chalking out an alternative arrangement if the cyclone damages the DCRCs. “We are preparing a second plan so that the DCRCs can be put up inside the school or any other buildings. We have instructed the district election officials to make indoor arrangements if the DCRCs are damaged in the cyclone,” Basu said. He also mentioned that there will be adequate arrangements of vehicles to ferry the polling personnel to the polling stations on Sunday. Measures are being taken so that the poll personnel do not face any difficulties in reaching the polling stations. There will be alternative arrangement of small vehicles to take the poll persons to various places. During a press conference Basu said that the commission has so far received 2352 complaints out of which 113 are in the process of disposal. The Commission has seized 60.50 crore cash and nearly 15 lakh litre of liquor.
Mumbai: The BSE Sensex soared 537 points and the NSE Nifty reclaimed the 11,400 level Friday in a broad-based rally led by banking and auto stocks ahead of exit poll results, despite global headwinds. The 30-share BSE benchmark closed 537.29 points, or 1.44 per cent, higher at 37,930.77. It hit an intra-day high of 38,001.13 and a low of 37,415.36. Similarly, the broader Nifty rose 150.05 points, or 1.33 per cent, to settle at 11,407.15. During the day, it hit a high of 11,426.15 and a low of 11,259.85. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: Icra In the Sensex pack, Bajaj Finance and Bajaj Auto ended up to 6.09 per cent higher after posting strong quarterly numbers. Hero MotoCorp, Maruti, Kotak Bank, HDFC, HUL, M&M, HDFC Bank, ITC, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Coal India, SBI, IndusInd Bank and Asian Paints were also among the top gainers, rising up to 4.26 per cent. On the other hand, Yes Bank, Vedanta, Infosys, HCL Tech, Sun Pharma, TCS and NTPC ended up to 2.36 per cent lower. Also Read – Ashok Leyland stock tanks over 5 pc as co plans to suspend production for up to 15 daysInvestors lapped up banking and auto stocks, boosting key indices, ahead of the exit poll results scheduled for Sunday. Broader indices followed the benchmarks, with the BSE mid-cap and small-cap indices settling in the green. While Japanese stocks ended higher, bourses in China and Korea ended in the red amid the US-China trade conflict. European equities too opened significantly lower. The Indian rupee depreciated by 16 paise to 70.20 against the US dollar intra-day. Global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.26 per cent higher at USD 72.81 per barrel.
As they approach the playoffs, the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat should be worried about their recent slumps, but probably no more than if these rough patches had arrived earlier in the season.In their last February game, the Pacers beat the Milwaukee Bucks — their third consecutive win — to improve to 44-13. They were a game and a half in front of Miami in the East, after the Heat’s sixth straight win that same night over the New York Knicks. Since then, Miami is 12-11, which is mediocre but better than Indiana’s weak 10-12 run, which the Pacers reached after beating the Bucks, again, Wednesday night. Indiana coach Frank Vogel had benched his starters, and his reserves pulled out a two-point win over the team with the worst record in the NBA.Up next for Indiana and Miami: each other. They play Friday in a game that two months ago looked like a preview of the Eastern Conference finals. Now it must feel more like a reprieve, a chance to face a struggling opponent.How far the East’s titans have fallen. But the historical record suggests that bad play in March and April, the last two months of the season, hurts teams’ playoff chances no more than earlier slumps do.Using Basketball-Reference.com’s Play Index, I searched for playoff teams that played an 82-game schedule since 1983-84, when the postseason expanded to 16 teams. That left me with 446 teams. (That’s 16 teams for each of the 28 seasons with a full schedule, except for two teams last year — the Boston Celtics and the Pacers — that missed one game.)I broke down these playoff teams’ regular seasons into two parts: the games through February and those in March and April. Then I ran a linear regression, seeking the relationship between each team’s playoff results and two variables: its overall regular-season performance, and whether it improved or declined in the last two months of the season. The result: Teams’ regular-season winning percentage was a highly significant indicator of postseason success. Every increase of one percentage point in regular-season winning percentage boosted postseason winning percentage by 1.4 percentage points (p<10^-15).But the timing of teams’ regular-season wins didn’t matter. There was no statistically significant relationship between a team’s winning percentage before March subtracted from its winning percentage in March and April, and how the team did in the playoffs (p>0.8).In other words, while the slumps aren’t yet distant memories for Indiana and Miami fans, they’re no more damaging to the teams’ playoff hopes than if the slumps had occurred in the season’s first 22 or 23 games.The basketball stats site Hickory-High.com similarly found no particular importance for the playoffs for a team’s March performance relative to its results the rest of the season.This doesn’t mean the East leaders’ slumps are irrelevant. If either team had won more games, it would have a big lead for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and a better chance at home-court advantage in the finals.Their late slumps also are unusual for teams as good as they are. Miami and Indiana have 53 and 54 wins, respectively, with a handful of games remaining. Just one playoff team in our sample with more than 50 wins had a losing record in March and April: the 54-win Detroit Pistons in 1996-97, who lost in the first round of the postseason. And just two teams with more than 50 wins were outscored in March and April. (Each one, the 2003-04 Sacramento Kings and the 2004-05 Seattle SuperSonics, won one playoff series.)It’s also notable that Miami and Indiana have slumped differently. Miami has been unlucky, losing close games while otherwise winning by big margins: The Heat have outscored opponents by about four points per game in March and April, not far off their season mark of 5.45.But Indiana has been lucky to win 10 of its last 22 games: The Pacers have been outscored by nearly five points per game, thanks to offensive woes outlined by my Grantland colleague Zach Lowe last week. That’s by far the biggest scoring deficit this late in the season for a 50-win playoff team in our sample. Perhaps the encouraging results of prior playoff teams don’t apply as far down the charts as Indiana has fallen.The table below shows the 50-win teams in 82-game seasons with the worst winning percentages in March and April, and how they did in the regular season and the playoffs.
Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 14Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 14 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction. YEARTEAMQUARTERBACKWINSBACKUP QBTEAM PLAYOFF RECORD HOU76%HOU64%SF 26, HOU 16+13.9– 2016OaklandDerek Carr12Connor Cook0-1 CIN71CIN71CHI 33, CIN 7-1.2– DAL61DAL67DAL 30, NYG 10+1.9– DEN50NYJ55NYJ 0, DEN 23-7.9– TB50DET57DET 24, TB 21+4.2– Source: ELIAS Sports Bureau, Pro-Football-Reference.com BUF72BUF69IND 7, BUF 13-3.9– 2005ChicagoKyle Orton10Rex Grossman0-1 There’s some hope here for Foles and the Eagles in the form of Jeff Hostetler, who stepped in and led the 1990 Giants to a Super Bowl victory after New York lost starting quarterback Phil Simms to a fractured foot in Week 15. Granted, that New York team rested heavily on their defense to claw them to glory — and last time we checked, the Eagles don’t have Lawrence Taylor. The Giants gave up the fewest points in the league that year and succeeded by not asking Hostetler to do too much.With this in mind, Philly should probably channel any remaining optimism toward its defense, which ranks fifth in the league in points allowed this season. Since he took over the defensive playcalling in 2016, Jim Schwartz has quickly turned his unit into one of the top defenses in the NFL: The Eagles ranked 18th in defensive EPA the season before Schwartz took over and rank fourth in the league through 13 games this year. The D could be the team’s best hope of making a deep run in January.The 2017 season might be remembered as “the year of the injured quarterback,” and in Week 14, it was Philadelphia’s turn feel the bite. The Eagles will be fine with Wentz as their franchise quarterback of the future, but in the present, Philly fans can only hope their team mimics the 1990 Giants and their defense comes through for them.FiveThirtyEight vs. The ReadersWeek 14 in our NFL predictions game — in which we invite you to outsmart our Elo algorithm — saw the readers suffer three heavy defeats. The Chiefs rebounded from four straight losses to beat the Raiders, which gave the readers a net loss of 10.4 points. Miami shocked New England on Monday night and won at home 27-20 to give the readers a loss of 11.5 points. And on Thursday night, the readers incorrectly predicted that the Saints would beat the Falcons, handing them a net loss of 11.7 points. There was only one victory over our Elo algorithm in which the readers scored double-digit points: San Francisco beat Houston 26-16, and because the readers had less confidence in the Texans than Elo did, the readers netted 13.9 points.Make sure you get your Week 15 predictions in early, and thanks for playing! 2015CincinnatiAndy Dalton10A.J. McCarron0-1 LAR52PHI52PHI 43, LAR 35+2.1– TEN53TEN57TEN 7, ARI 12-6.0– 1990ChicagoJim Harbaugh10Mike Tomczak1-1 SEA53SEA55SEA 24, JAX 30-4.2– PIT71PIT70BAL 38, PIT 39-3.1– Will Nick Foles keep Philly flying?Quarterbacks that won at least 10 games in a season for their playoff-bound teams but didn’t make a playoff start, since 1970 MIN53MIN58MIN 24, CAR 31-8.1– LAC69LAC68WAS 13, LAC 30-2.5– 2012MinnesotaChristian Ponder10Joe Webb0-1 OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION 1999BuffaloDoug Flutie10Rob Johnson0-1 KC67KC57OAK 15, KC 26-10.4– When Carson Wentz entered the blue sideline tent of doom on Sunday, he took close to 60 years of unfulfilled football dreams in Philadelphia with him. At that moment, the 10-2 Eagles had just taken a lead on the road against one of the NFC’s best teams. Shortly thereafter, the second-year quarterback limped down the tunnel at L.A. Memorial Coliseum, forcing backup quarterback Nick Foles to take over for the remainder of the game. In just a few minutes, the Eagles’ unexpected dream season was seemingly cut down by hard luck — something that comes with the territory in Philadelphia.We now know that Wentz tore the ACL in his left knee and will miss the rest of the season. It’s a huge blow to the Eagles’ Super Bowl hopes, and they’ll have to lean on someone other than Wentz and his MVP-caliber offense. The sophomore quarterback has been so good this season that the Eagles ranked third in the league in offensive expected points added — behind only the Patriots and Saints — and his 33 touchdown passes through 13 games are third-most in NFL history for quarterbacks in their first or second year, behind only future Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Kurt Warner.Fortunately for Doug Pederson’s men, the win over the Rams secured a playoff berth with three weeks to spare, and their remaining games against the Giants, Raiders and Cowboys should give Foles enough time to feel comfortable as the leader of a playoff team again. Foles is uniquely familiar with this position: In Week 5 of 2013, he was forced into action when starter Michael Vick suffered an injury. Foles became the unlikely savior that year, as he steered the Eagles to an 8-3 record for the remainder of the season and a wild-card berth. Along the way, he compiled an eye-popping passer rating of 119.2, the third best in NFL history, and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 13.5, the second-best of all time.While there’s little doubt over whether Philly will bypass the wild-card round — one more regular-season win will secure a first-round bye for the Eagles — let’s not kid ourselves about their overall playoff chances: History is not on Philadelphia’s side. No one is expecting Foles to repeat his 2013 performance and keep the team’s run going. We’ve seen this scenario unfold before. In fact, a backup being thrown into the fire of playoff football is quickly becoming an annual NFL tradition. Last year, Connor Cook, a third-stringer, started his first game ever for the Raiders, who lost star Derek Carr (then backup Matt McGloin) as their dream season turned into a nightmare. And two seasons ago, Alabama-star-turned-professional-clipboard-holder A.J. McCarron started a wild-card game for Cincinnati in the wake of the Bengals losing Andy Dalton in Week 14.As expected, this usually doesn’t go well. Cook and McCarron both lost in the playoffs, posting passer ratings of 30 and 68.3, respectively. Neither has started a game since. In total, Wentz will be one of only eight quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to win 10 or more games for a future playoff team and not appear in the postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Among the backups for these teams, only two won at least one playoff game. GB77GB76GB 27, CLE 21-3.2– 2017PhiladelphiaCarson Wentz11Nick Foles? Check out our latest NFL predictions. 1990N.Y. GiantsPhil Simms11Jeff Hostetler3-0 ATL56NO54NO 17, ATL 20-11.7– NE81NE87NE 20, MIA 27-11.5– PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.RESULTREADERS’ NET PTS
In filling out the men’s NCAA Tournament bracket this year, you might have noticed that fewer obvious upsets are popping up than in previous seasons. According to the FiveThirtyEight March Madness model, only one game in the first round — No. 9 Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Ole Miss in the South region — features the worse-seeded team as an outright favorite (at 53 percent), compared with three such upset picks last season, two in 2017 and a whopping six in 2016. At the same time, truly promising Cinderellas are more difficult to identify in this year’s bracket as well, with the most probable double-digit seeds to make the Final Four being major-conference members Florida (No. 10 in the West region) and Ohio State (No. 11 in the Midwest). Did the committee get things weirdly right this year? And for bracket-pickers, is that even a good thing?Certainly the seeds this year more closely follow what the statistics would recommend. The Spearman rank correlation coefficient between a team’s overall seed (according to the selection committee’s list) and its place in our Elo rankings is 0.941 this season, higher than in the 2018 (0.926), 2017 (0.912) and 2016 (0.893) tournaments. One reason for the lack of instant upset picks is that the committee appears to have done a better job seeding this year — even if Tom Izzo and Michigan State fans might feel differently.Moreover, this year’s top seeds are generally stronger than in recent seasons — at least outside the No. 1s. According to Elo, each seed number from No. 2 through No. 7 contains a significantly stronger team this year than it did in the previous tournaments this decade: Relative to the field, this year’s No. 1 seeds are basically the same level of strength as usual. But a much stronger crop of teams on the next six seed lines naturally makes it harder to find good upset picks, particularly in the early rounds.One very interesting component of that, however, is that it hasn’t been caused by seeding more power-conference schools in the top half of each region’s seeds. If anything, the opposite is true: Headlined by tiny Wofford as the No. 7 seed in the Midwest and Buffalo as the No. 6 in the West, small-conference schools were acknowledged by the committee as much as ever. Since 2010, there hasn’t been a season where more teams outside of major conferences1Defined as we’ve done before — teams from conferences with fewer than 100 all-time NCAA tournament appearances. got top-seven seeds in the tournament than in 2019. (Plus, the Ohio Valley managed to get two teams into the tournament — Belmont and Murray State.) At the same time, major-conference schools are getting an abnormal number of bad seeds: Using the same definition as above, 11 different major-conference teams have double-digit seeds this season, tying 2012 for the most in any tournament since 2010.All of this paints a picture of college basketball’s changing landscape, with better mid-major schools getting more credit for their accomplishments, leading to a better bracket overall. The only hitch in this development might just be for fans of interesting tournament-pool picks. Nonchalky brackets are inherently more fun than ones in which the better-seeded teams are constantly picked to win, and choosing against chalk requires finding inefficiencies in the committee’s original seeds. Better seed choices cut down on those possibilities, making “fun” brackets more risky and chalky ones more likely to win pools. So in some ways, we as bracket-pickers should want a return to the era of worse seedings, to make upsets easier to spot (or at least more tempting to pick).Maybe the selection committee’s better seeds were a one-off this year. Its new “NET” rankings have come under heavy fire, even as the NCAA has tried to modernize and replace the old ratings percentage index (RPI) as its chief statistical guideline for ranking teams. But maybe the improved seedings are a sign of an improved selection process, whatever the reason behind it. (For instance, the committee also appeared to reward regular-season performance over conference tournaments in several cases, which would tend to favor teams that have proved themselves better over a larger sample of games.) Either way, this year’s bracket has made it tougher to pick upsets — and whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on your perspective as a fan.Check out our latest March Madness predictions.
“Time heals all wounds” is kind of a nonsense saying when it comes to sports. If it were true, rivalries wouldn’t exist and 35-year-olds on the brink of retirement wouldn’t hang on for one last World Cup. More than half the likely starters on the U.S. and Japanese national teams in the Women’s World Cup final this Sunday were there for the agony and ecstacy — depending which team you were on — of the 2011 final game, when Japan defeated the U.S. on penalty kicks. Japan now has a chance to repeat history, and join Germany and the U.S. as the only countries to win two World Cup titles. The U.S. is looking to break its 16-year World Cup drought and secure its place in history as the greatest World Cup dynasty of all time (in either the women’s or men’s game).This championship game might not be the greatest of all time, but it’s one with a lot of still-fresh wounds, so here’s a look at how it’s shaping up.Things are more even than they seemBack in 2011, some betting lines put Japan’s chances of beating the U.S. around 28 percent, not so far from where they are this time around. Coming off a huge semifinal win over Germany, FiveThirtyEight’s model says the Americans should win 67 percent of the time, but the two teams’ performances in this World Cup have been pretty similar. Both teams have created the same number of chances (59) and scored the same number of goals (nine), despite having traveled very different paths to the final.It’s likely that goals won’t come easily for either side. The U.S. hasn’t been scored on since its opening game, and Japan has conceded only three goals in six games (one of which was an egregious keeper error). It may very well come down to who can capitalize on the few good opportunities the defense allows, and which team doesn’t miss early chances like the U.S. did in the 2011 final.A battle of two very different stylesJapan is arguably the most technical team in the world; it has had the highest pass completion percentage of any team at the World Cup (80 percent compared to the Americans’ 74 percent) and its players have touched the ball and attempted almost 1.5 times as many passes as the U.S. players. Japan plays a quick, one-and-two-touch style of soccer that is different from the styles of most teams the U.S. has faced so far. The closest comparison is probably Colombia — and the U.S. struggled a bit to win the ball back in the midfield in that game.Where the U.S. will excel against Japan is with its physicality and speed; by pressuring the defense and surprising Japan by playing the ball in behind. This is how the first U.S. goal came at the 2011 World Cup: The midfield collapsed to win the ball back, Megan Rapinoe played a long ball in behind, and Alex Morgan outran her defender and scored with just two touches. In the semifinal game against England this year, Japan struggled when the Lionesses pressured and stepped to win the ball back, and the U.S. must do the same thing if it hopes to break down Japan’s tremendous organization. The Americans are undoubtedly faster and stronger than Japan, but they’ll also need to be able to win the ball from a team that hardly loses it.Slow and steady wins the race (at least for one team)Both teams’ chances of winning didn’t change significantly throughout the tournament aside from a bump after the semifinal games; the U.S. hovered around 30 percent and Japan around 10 percent for the majority of the World Cup. Neither team looked stellar during the group stage — eyes were on Germany, France and even Brazil’s early dominance — but these are the two teams that have made it to the World Cup final.“These are two talented teams with a lot of history and rivalry, and I think it will be a classic matchup,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said about Sunday’s final. The score in head-to-head matchups is one to one right now — one World cup victory for Japan to one Olympic gold medal for the U.S. — but everyone knows a World Cup trophy tastes sweeter than gold.