KEEPING IT RAHEEL

Raheel Ramzanali: Help me find a country to root for in the World Cup

Leo Messi will lead Argentina in the World Cup. Is he Raheel worthy? Dennis Doyle/Getty Images

Usually, these posts are reserved for the writer showing off or writing about something they have answers to and want you to know, but I am not that kind of writer. I know when to admit weakness and right now I’m weak. Ever since the USA failed to qualify for the World Cup I’ve been searching for a team to root for so I can enjoy the tournament even more. 

I’ve taken the online quizzes, spoke to soccer officials I respect, and taken requests on Twitter, but I still can’t find the perfect team to root for starting this week. 

This is why I need YOUR help. I’ll layout a few things that are important to me as a sports fan and you can make a case for a country I should root for in the World Cup. Send me your submissions on Twitter

  1. No Bandwagons - I appreciate greatness, but there is something more fun in rooting for a team that is close, but not the best in the world already. Now, I’m not saying I want to root for a team that is more than likely going to be knocked out in the group stage, but I also don’t want to root for one of the top favorites. I know wild things will happen and even favorites might have a tough road to win it all, but there is something exciting about rooting for a team that could get knocked out in the first round OR win it all. I just don’t want a team that will be filled with a bunch of bandwagon fans. 
  2. A Good Backstory - I know this will be a one time deal rooting for this country, but I’d like one of their best players to have a really good backstory. I’m talking about E:60 caliber drama. I want this player to be driven by hurt AND the desire to be great. I want to be all in on this ride and nothing connects me more to a team than a good backstory. 
  3. Style - Naturally, all soccer players are stylish and have unique fashion forward looks, but I need my team to be about that life. From a stylish haircut to maybe even wearing a male romper to the match, my team has to be in top 5 most stylish team rankings. 
  4. Food - After sports, food is one of my favorite things to enjoy so it would only be right that I enjoy my new rooting country’s food. Look, I’m sure Germany is really damn good at soccer, but I can’t even name you one German staple dish so I can’t root for them. 
  5. Sellout Factor - I’m a Pakistani born American and there are certain factors that go into rooting for another country where I don’t want to be labeled a sellout. This country should be relatively cool with both Pakistan and ‘Merica! 
  6. Not Mexico - No, I’m not rooting for Mexico. Never. 

All right, so there you go. Let me know what you come up with and recommend! 

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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