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Every four years, but for a brief fortnight, a handful of world-class athletes convene from all reaches of the globe to capture our hearts, enrich our lives and inspire us with wondrous feats of strength and speed.

We call these men and women heroes in the most literal, historic sense. They are an inspiration, not just for the success they achieve, but for all they sacrifice to do so. They are Olympians: a better breed of human being…or so we often hope to believe.

Sometimes the pedestal we place our champions on is warranted, and other times the truth of a person's character lies deep within, behind the layers upon layers of accolades, hard-plated in gold—sometimes silver or bronze, but mostly gold—and protected from ever reaching the surface.

It's easy to compare Oscar Pistorius and Michael Phelps in so many ways, but almost all of them tend to come tethered to each star's athletic prowess.

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Jurgen Klinsmann is managing U.S. Soccer like a second-term president. Now past one World Cup cycle that saw him receive a contract extension through the 2018 tournament before his team even landed in Brazil this summer, the American soccer governing body handed over as much power as it possibly could to its current head of state.

It seems—and frankly, who can blame him—the power has gone to his head. There is no person in international sports with more job security than Klinsmann, and his recent comments illustrate just how much he cares about his legacy in the annals of U.S. Soccer above anything else, including his current constituents.

It's not even that Klinsmann is wrong with his recent comments; it's more the sheer audacity of their timing.

[Update: Klinsmann's comments about the MLS harming certain U.S. players' progress inspired a heated response from MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who said in a conference call Wednesday, "For him to publicly state issues that he has with Major League Soccer, in my view, is not something that is going to allow him to effectively serve the role of not just coach, but as technical director.")

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"I think in the end we're all just trying to do our part to keep building the game."

That's what Landon Donovan told U.S. Soccer as part of a tribute video the organization put together to celebrate the amazing career of the best soccer player to ever represent the red, white and blue.

There's been little debate about that over the years, at least in terms of field players for the United States men's national team. Donovan is the best American to play the beautiful game, but if you look at the roster put together by Jurgen Klinsmann for Donovan's testimonial match on October 10 in Connecticut, this send-off is as much a look to the future as it's become a celebration about the past.

For U.S. Soccer to grow into a new era, it seems only fitting for it to end—and begin—this way.

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In America, we are used to being the best at everything. Frankly, even when we aren't actually the best, people in this country just spout off unprovable sentiments like "America is the best country in the world" and, sure, why not go with that, because it sounds just about as awesome as we know America to be.

We're the best at everything, especially when it comes to sports. (Except soccer. We aren't the best at that. And men's tennis, international hockey and a bunch of other Winter Olympic sports we try not to care too much about because we don't win.)

But in everything else, America rocks. We're the best.

Except golf. We are not the best at golf. Not this year. Not anymore. Does that mean it's time for American golf fans to embrace an underdog role? Could the Ryder Cup be looked at more like…the World Cup?

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It is evident—if it wasn't before the second domestic assault video involving Ray Rice and his then-fiancee Janay Palmer surfaced this week on TMZ—that Roger Goodell is in over his head as commissioner of the National Football League.

He is, simply put, a bad commissioner.

And yet no matter how many of us think his job should be on the line after this latest debacle, it's short-sighted to think Goodell's tenure as the face behind the Shield is coming to an end anytime soon.

Wanting Goodell gone and getting him gone are two very different things.

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The National Football League, as an organization, trades in violence.

No matter how many rules the league puts into place to curtail injuries and prolong the careers—and lives—of its players, the NFL finds some other ways to justify the use of violence as a means to promote its product.

There's a reason for that. Big hits still make all the highlight shows, even with the growing realization that each crushing blow is doing irreparable damage to both the player getting hit and the one doing the hitting. The NFL athlete is unlike any other in professional sports—a professional gladiator through and through. And the league is banking on that…quite literally.

That's why situations like what happened this week at a joint practice between the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders is met with raucous cheers from the fans in attendance. Two teams duking it out on the field after a huge hit knocked one player to the turf, all right in front of the fans? That's NFL manna. That's why the fans show up to preseason sessions in the summer. That's what it's all about.

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After a long summer of virtually no soccer worth talking about at all, it's officially Premier League season! Soccer is back in America! "Tim-may How-ward! (Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!)"

Wait, I feel like I'm forgetting something.

The World Cup, as it does in this country every four years, managed to once again turn general sports fans into soccer supporters, and casual soccer viewers—they'll put a game on every other Saturday morning just to see what all the fuss is about—into ardent footy fans.

Only, there's something a bit different about the post-World Cup buzz this year. It feels like this time—with the prevalence of the sport on American television across close to 10 different networks—a lot of those World Cup fans are heading into the fall looking for more.

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Tom Watson had to be watching the final round of the 2014 PGA Championship with a wry smile on his face and a sinking feeling in his heart.

The U.S. Ryder Cup captain witnessed the best player on the planet—for the first time since the late 1990s, decidedly not an American—win his third consecutive tournament this season, including two major championships, while a host of top American players could do little down the back nine but hang on and hope for a mistake that never came.

Rory McIlroy is now fully formed—David Feherty called him a "baby-faced assassin" during his back-nine 32 on Sunday—winning the final two majors of the year, lapping the field at the British and coming back from a slow start, by his standards, to pass an all-star collection of golfers at the PGA on Sunday.

For a while on Sunday it looked like McIlroy was indeed human, losing his advantage over the field early in his final round—his three-stroke lead over runner-up Phil Mickelson had long since disappeared by the turn—before putting on the kind of all-world display we've now grown accustomed to seeing from the kid. It was great drama, even if it did leave Watson and the Americans with a lingering belief that McIlroy—and with him the Europeans—seem entirely unbeatable this year.

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On Wednesday night, in front of a packed house in Portland, Oregon, and a television audience around the globe, Landon Donovan netted the game-winning goal to lead MLS All-Stars over one of his former clubs, Bayern Munich.

One day later, Donovan officially announced his retirement from professional soccer, effective at the end of this MLS season.

It's a heck of a way to go out.

Donovan officially announced his retirement on his Facebook page Thursday afternoon. In part:

It's hard to put into words exactly what Donovan has meant to soccer in this country. He is without question the best American man ever to wear the red, white and blue on a soccer field, and his play for the U.S. national team helped usher in a new generation of talent that, ironically, made his inclusion in this year's World Cup unnecessary.

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As the marquee event for Major League Soccer, the 2014 All-Star Game, finally arrives (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2), everything has lined up perfectly for the American soccer league.

A deep roster of U.S. Soccer talent teaming up with notable stars from around the world to play against the best club side on the planet in Bayern Munich, with their own set of world-renowned stars fresh off Germany's victory in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

It should be the league's greatest night. And yet the concern has to be: What if it's not?

Before we delve into the negative, let's look at all the positives. The MLS roster is stacked with known quantities, and not just MLS standouts who may only be household names to those who habitually watch the American soccer league, but bona fide stars in this country after the performance of the U.S. national team in Brazil this summer.