For those not accustomed to having the beautiful game on their televisions, this week must have come as a shock as soccer dominated the airwaves. ESPN made sure all the twist and turns of Euro 2012 were not missed by anyone, while Major League Soccer came back with a vengeance and some upsets along the way. Meanwhile, the USWNT continued their journey to the Summer Olympics with matches against Sweden and Japan. If you are reading this today, then you survived a suspenseful week of football, and are ready for week two of Euro 2012.
Greece ended up being the big story of Group A as they pulled a huge upset over Russia, who were favorites to win the group. Instead, the 2004 Euro Champions played exactly how they should have, with a do or die mentality, leading them to a narrow 1-0 victory and sending Russia home with a shockingly early exit. Giorgos Karagounis was the hero for Greece, scoring their one and only goal in first half stoppage time.
Unfortunately for Karagounis, the Greek captain fell victim to more poor officiating, picking up a yellow card for diving despite contact being made as he was tripped up in the penalty area. Because of the bad call, Karagounis will not be eligible to play this Friday when Greece takes on Germany in the quarter-finals. Despite losing their captain for the knockout stage, Greece should be satisfied that they knocked out the favorites of Group A in one of the biggest upsets in Euro history. The Greeks join the Czech Republic, who won the group with two wins and a loss.
In other Euro news, Ireland was knocked out of the tournament early, losing big to Spain, 4-0. Despite the loss, the Irish faithful who made up a large portion of the crowd, made their support known, singing their team off the field as the game headed to stoppage time. Fernando Torres, despite having a shoddy start to the tournament, was hugely responsible for knocking out the Irish, scoring early in the fourth minute and later in the 70th.
Group C is still in question as Italy can advance with a win against Ireland, who are now only playing for their pride. Anything less than a win, and Italy goes home a lot earlier than expected.
Meanwhile, Germany, to no ones great surprise, won Group B. It marks the first time in Euro history that a team played through the group stage perfectly, winning all three of their matches. With a 2-1 win over Denmark, the Germans will take on the Greeks this Friday in the quarter-finals. They will be joined by Portugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, a man who faced a lot of adversity after a lackluster performance against Denmark. Ronaldo, being Ronaldo all but said, 'no problem,' scoring both of Portugal 's goals against the Netherlands on Sunday.
Group D will be decided tomorrow, with England and France sitting at the top. England will take on Ukraine while France will take on Sweden. Sweden has already been eliminated, but host nation Ukraine can still advance to the knockout stage with a win over England. Both games will kick off at 2:45 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN 2 respectively.
In MLS action, the Montreal Impact re-opened Stade Saputo with a huge upset win over the Seattle Sounders. After an eight month renovation, the Impact christened their new home with an 18th minute goal from Brazilian midfielder Felipe. Former Union player Justin Mapp and first round SuperDraft pick Anderw Wenger also contributed to the Impact's 4-1 route over a shocked Seattle squad.
The John Hackworth era in Philadelphia started with a controversial loss to DC United this past Saturday. After being rewarded a free kick on what seemed like a botched call on Carlos Valdes, Chris Pontius then proceeded to get a foot on the ball and score the only goal of the night. Despite the loss, the Union looked much more energized then they have in weeks, taking healthy shots on net and playing strong defensively. Philadelphia are now winless in their past six, but hope to turn things around this Saturday when they take on Sporting Kansas City at PPL Park.
Other results saw Chicago upset the third place Red Bulls with a 3-1 victory. Toronto continued to struggle to find wins as they lost 2-0 against second place Kansas City, a squad that has rediscovered their winning ways. Perhaps the biggest story in the MLS this weekend was the LA Galaxy, who snapped a 7 game winless streak with a 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers. Josh Saunders played his first game since April 21st, making some big saves in the process to keep LA in the game. This match also saw the Portland debut of Philadelphia Union first round draft pick Danny Mwanga, who played forward with Kris Boyd.
Finally, this weekend also saw the USWNT in action against Sweden and Japan as they continue to make their way towards the London Summer Olympics. The US Women won both matches by fine margins, with a 3-1 victory over Sweden and a 4-1 victory over rival Japan. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan highlighted the scoring for the USWNT, with both players scoring in each match. Wambach and Morgan each got a goal against Sweden with Tobin Heath rounding out the scoring with the third goal.
Against Japan, it was truly the Alex Morgan show who now has 17 goals in 2012. While the young phenom scored two against Japan, she should have had a hat trick with one of her shots going just a touch high and hitting the top post. Wambach also scored two in the match against the reigning World Cup champs on the way to their 4-1 victory. The USWNT will play their final match before the Olympics against the Canadian Women on June 30th at Rio Tinto Stadium.