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San Diego Padres slumping in second-half of MLB season

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Frustration is building: Jorge Alfaro was batting just .100 in his last 7 games

Frustration is building: Jorge Alfaro was batting just .100 in his last 7 games
Photo: AP

On paper, the San Diego Padres got better at the trade deadline. In reality, they’ve gotten worse — and are very quickly becoming the laughingstock of the MLB.

For a third straight year, the Padres were buyers at the trade deadline. And for a third straight year, they’ve disappointed.

In 2020, they got Mike Clevinger, Austin Nola, and Mitch Moreland. They were swept by the Dodgers in the NLDS.

In 2021, they added Adam Frazier, Daniel Hudson, and Jake Marisnick. They finished the season 18-36 and missed the playoffs.

And now in 2022, the Padres had what people called the greatest trade deadline ever. They got Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury, and Josh Hader, and were being crowned the favorite to win it all.

Since, the Padres have gone 6-10, saw their $340 million “superstar” Fernando Tatis Jr. get banned for the rest of the year for PEDs, and are now barely hanging on to that sixth and final wild-card spot.

And they aren’t even playing good teams.

Aside from the Dodgers, who took care of them easily in a three-game sweep, the Padres haven’t played a team over .500.

They’ve gone 1-1 against the (as of Saturday morning) 52-69 Rockies, 2-1 against the 59-60 Giants, and 1-2 against the 52-67 Marlins. Most embarrassingly, however, they’re a shocking 2-3 against the now 41-80 Washington Nationals, the team who gave the Padres their two best players and top contributors.

If the Brewers weren’t also disappointing — they got swept by the Pirates and lost two out of three to the Reds — the Padres wouldn’t be sitting in the playoffs right now.

They’re really hanging on for dear life.

And the guys they got during the “greatest deadline ever” — well let’s take a look at how they’ve fared.

Drury has maybe been the best of the bunch, although that’s not saying much. Drury has hit three home runs and driven in 14 runs in the 16 games he’s played. Yet, he’s hitting just .207 since his move to San Diego and has struck out 15 times.

Bell is another guy who hasn’t found his swing. In his 16 games in brown and gold, Bell is hitting (and I use that word lightly) .121/.250/.155 with no home runs and just two RBI. He has double the number of strikeouts (14) as he has hits (seven). And for reference, he was slashing .301/.384/.493 in his 103 games in Washington.

Then there’s Soto, who the Padres unloaded the farm for. Soto is hitting the best and continues to get on base — he has a line of .286/.444/.429. But he’s not doing very much damage. In his 16 games, he’s hit one home run and driven in just three runs.

And then there’s the closer. Hader was the first move the Padres made. Hader has been arguably the biggest disappointment — or at least the most costly one.

In his five appearances, Hader has gone just 3.2 innings. In his last two, he entered a tied game in the 9th against the lowly Nationals. He left both games with the Nationals up, not even recording an out in his second appearance. His ERA as a member of the Padres is 16.20.

The Padres are yet again collapsing in the second half. They’re 18 games back of the Dodgers in the NL West, and just one game up on the Brewers in the wild card.

They’ve been booed by their home fans in their last two games, and are desperately searching for anything to get them back on track.

They also still play the Dodgers nine more times this season.

If the Padres miss the playoffs, it would be one of the biggest disappointments in MLB history. But at the same time, it would be about as fitting an end as you can write.

The Padres have been the laughingstock of the MLB for the majority of their 54-year existence. They’ve tried to buy their way out of that title. But unfortunately for them, it just fits too well. If only there was a reinforcement on the way



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U.S. beats England, 0-0

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Image: Getty Images

What psychopath called the long-awaited United States men’s national team’s Black Friday showdown against England a scoreless draw? I’ll have whatever you’re drinking. After gaining my bearings after that stiff cocktail, and realizing Matt Turner nor Jordan Pickford allowing a goal wasn’t just fallacy, it yielded a simple consequence for the American’s group-stage finale on Tuesday against Iran: win and the USMNT advances to the knockout stage. Lose? It’d be on the next flight out of Qatar. Tie? Who the fuck plays for a tie? It’ll come down to goal differential for you marks.

The American’s play in Qatar will draw plenty of comparisons to their efforts at the 2010 World Cup. Ties against England, yes that game with Robert Green’s all-time gaffe in net, and Slovenia to start group play. The exact same stakes were in the balance for the USMNT’s group finale against Algeria. A Landon Donovan extra-time goal was the difference as the USA went from eliminated to group winners with one kick of the ball. One goal against Iran could very well be the difference for the United States.

The goal for the USMNT coming into Friday’s game was proving it could hang with the Three Lions. In the four years Gregg Berhalter has led the Yanks, they’ve played an opponent of that quality exactly never. Zero minutes against a world-class team, especially in a competitive environment. The Americans not only hung with the country they gained their independence from, the USA would’ve won under Queensberry Rules. The first 20 minutes for the USMNT were tough, but it didn’t concede a goal. After that, the Stars and Stripes got the better of the Union Jack.

While the United Kingdom beats up on each other, all that stands between the knockout stage is Iran. What American fan wouldn’t have taken a victory over Iran to make the final 16 a week ago? You would’ve been crazy to want more. Iran hasn’t looked strong in either game so far in the tournament. The USA has had time in both games against the U.K. where it has looked organized and intimidating. It’s only yielded one goal.

Coming out of the game against Wales, the Americans felt lucky to get a point. After the draw against England, the Americans must feel like they can play with anyone. And their next game is against the team who gave up six goals to England. If the USA loses to Iran, Berhalter doesn’t come back stateside with a job. His overstated mindset of splitting the World Cup into two tournaments, the group stage and knockout stage, should be a great standard of how to evaluate the program going forward. Without seeing the USMNT in both of those phases, Berhalter shouldn’t be employed.

After two draws, Berhalter must make a few changes to his starting lineup. Do enough to not disrupt chemistry and facilitate the proper change to score more. Haji Wright didn’t get it done at striker and Josh Sargent at least looked comparable against Wales. We have yet to see Berhalter’s favorite coming into the tournament, Jesus Ferreira. I wouldn’t be shocked if he had a large shift against Iran. The USMNT has been looking for a consistent striker who can score in big games for about forever. It won’t be solved at this World Cup. Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Another change I’d make would be Tim Weah coming off the bench and starting Gio Reyna or Brenden Aaronson in his place. Even though Weah scored the USA’s only goal of the World Cup so far, he didn’t do much against England. The USMNT should give Iran a set of personnel it couldn’t have scouted together.

With that new-look USMNT, the must-win scenario looks much more attainable. Let’s not dismiss Iran completely here, it’s a solid soccer team. It did more than enough to make the World Cup. Let’s not also pretend like the Americans shouldn’t win this game with some ease at their best. We saw one of the best efforts from the USMNT in recent memory, albeit without a goal, against England. Now the Yanks must do it again with their World Cup lives at stake.



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Reality check for England as World Cup 2022 hopefuls second-best to USA in deflating draw

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E

ngland were second best in a deflating 0-0 draw with the USA, which will go down as a reality check on their World Cup ambitions to leave Qatar as champions.

Gareth Southgate’s side were booed off by their travelling fans after a pedestrian performance, which leaves the manager with a raft of questions to address ahead of Tuesday’s final group game against Wales and before the business end of the tournament gets under way in the knockouts.

The bigger picture is that England now have one foot in the last-16, and this result mirrored their second group game at Euro 2020, when they were held to a goalless draw by Scotland at Wembley but went on to reach the final.

That result sparked widespread criticism of Southgate and his players, which was vastly overblown in hindsight, so an element of calm is needed, particularly given the strange and warped conditions of this tournament.

Nonetheless, an impressive and hard-pressing USA side exposed flaws in England that were obviously not apparent in the 6-2 thrashing of Iran, and raises questions about Southgate’s setup and selections.

The US, who face a decisive final group game against Iran, were unfortunate not to win, with Christian Pulisic striking the bar and Weston McKennie firing a half-volley over from ten yards.

Jude Bellingham, who opened the scoring on Monday, was pressed out of the match by the USA’s excellent midfield three of Tyler Adams, McKennie and former England youth international Yunus Musah.

Bellingham was withdrawn with 20 minutes to go after what has to go down a lesson about the realities of this level for England’s prodigious teenager.

With the 19-year-old subdued by the US pressure, England struggled to establish a midfield foothold and the danger is that Gregg Berhalter’s team have now provided a blueprint which other teams can follow.

Southgate may need to introduce another midfielder for the knockouts or even against the Welsh, but then he would have to sacrifice a forward player. After such a promising start to the tournament, the England manager is back to having to make difficult compromises to balance his team.

Another question for Southgate was why he ignored Phil Foden, who remained an unused substitute as England struggled to find a spark.

When Southgate eventually turned to his bench, Jordan Henderson replaced Bellingham and Jack Grealish came on for Raheem Sterling, leading to an improvement, but Foden’s ingenuity and silk on the ball would surely have been beneficial as England toiled.

On the plus side, Southgate’s defence held firm and Harry Maguire was particularly impressive in another outing that will dampen doubts around the defender.

Southgate was alarmed by the lapses which allowed Mehdi Taremi to score two second-half consolation goals for Iran and demanded improved focus for the duration against the US.

PA

While England were pedestrian going forward, John Stones and Maguire, winning his 50th cap, held firm at the back.

Stones was England’s brightest player for the first hour, twice getting across to make important interventions against Pulisic, while Maguire continued his encouraging start to the tournament with a series of defensive headers in the second half when the US piled in corners and crosses.

England did not follow Germany in protesting inside the colossal Al Bayt Stadium but back in London the Wembley arch was illuminated in rainbow colours ahead of the game – as the FA made their point to FIFA over armband-gate, albeit from afar.

Southgate predicted the game would be played at “100 miles an hour” but for most of the first 70 minutes there was only only side at the races.

England were hesitant and ponderous in and out of possession, a stark contrast to their aggression from the off against Iran, but the US were full of purpose and a constant threat on the counter-attack.

McKennie should have opened the scoring when he half-volleyed over from ten yards before Pulisic spanked a brilliant left-foot shot off the crossbar, with Jordan Pickford beaten.

England went close at either end of the half through Harry Kane and Mason Mount, who extended US goalkeeper Matt Turner, but would have been the more relieved at the half-time whistle.

The US faded in the second half in their 1-1 draw with Wales, unable to maintain the intensity of their press, and the big question after the interval was whether they could keep it up, particularly given England’s arsenal from the bench.

By contrast, the US only continued in their ascendency after the interval, and were soon camped in England’s half, sending in a succession of crosses and corners, expertly repelled by Stones and Maguire.

It was not until Southgate finally turned to his bench with the introductions of Henderson and Grealish, and latterly Marcus Rashford, that England were roused from their slumber.

Grealish provided some verve down the left flank and began finally asking questions of a US back line who must have expected a far sterner examination.

With England back on the front foot, Kane nearly nicked the victory with a stoppage-time header which flashed wide but three points would have been far more than Southgate’s side deserved.



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'England were unrecognisable' | 'It shouldn't be all doom and gloom'

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Rob Dorsett and Kaveh Solhekol analyse England’s 0-0 draw against USA at the World Cup in Qatar.



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