*An intriguing (late-game drama), highly entertaining (no scoreless draws) and yet mostly predictable (most favorites advanced) group stage of the European Championship concludes today with the last two matches: England vs. Ukraine (ESPN) and France vs. Sweden (ESPN2). Both begin at 2:45 p.m. ET. Both are also available on ESPN3.com. None has clinched a quarterfinal berth and only Sweden has been eliminated from contention.
Two quarterfinals are set: Czech Republic vs. Portugal on Thursday and Germany vs. Greece on Friday. Spain will face the Group D second-place team Saturday and Italy will take on that group’s winner Sunday.
*A proposed summer friendly in Pittsburgh between AC Milan and Newcastle won’t happen, I’m told. Milan will probably end up filling its third match on the U.S. tour against a foreign club to be determined as part of a doubleheader with an MLS match. Last I heard, there was still a small chance Newcastle could come over for a single friendly.
*If you thought things couldn’t get worse for Toronto FC (one league victory, coaching change, disgruntled fan base), three players were arrested in Houston.
*According to the New York Red Bulls, fewer than 800 tickets remain for Sunday’s match against D.C. United at 25,000-seat Red Bull Arena. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET. (Last Saturday, about 500 DCU supporters traveled to Chester, Pa., for United’s 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union.)
While the Red Bulls have had to travel to Vancouver for a Wednesday night game against the Whitecaps (without Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez and Coach Hans Backe), United is off for two days before resuming preparations Thursday. Today the club is hosting its annual charity golf tournament at 1757 Golf Club near Washington Dulles Airport.
Meantime, yet another United reserve match (today vs. Philadelphia) was postponed because of scheduling issues. United has played just two reserve games; 16 teams have had at least five. United’s next one is July 1 against Montreal.
The lack of reserve competition has heightened the importance of sending players on loan: Defender Ethan White, who hasn’t been able to crack the first-team lineup since returning from knee surgery, played 90 minutes in the third-tier Richmond Kickers’ 2-1 loss to the Wilmington Hammerheads on Friday and one minute in a 4-1 defeat to the Charlotte Eagles on Saturday.