FOOTBALLS ARE ROUND!

Soccer – The Most Important of Life’s Unimportant Things


June 23, 2006

QUOTE OF THE DAY


by @ 2:59 pm.
Filed under US National Team, World Cup

Markus Merk is the worst dentist since Olivier in “Marathon Man”.

– Dan Loney

June 19, 2006

FREEDOM IS OUR GOAL


by @ 12:26 pm.
Filed under World Cup

It’s been a good World Cup in terms of seeing repressive, women-hating, Christian-incarcerating, Islamo-fascist dictatorships get their pathetic tails kicked up and down the pitches of Germany.

Iran are out before the third game of the group stage even takes place, which is good for the German government; had that nutjob President Ahmadinejad decided to make the trip from Tehran to see the round of 16, German President Mrs. Merkel would have had to decide whether to roll out the red carpet, as international protocol demands, or to have the bastard thrown in jail, which German law requires when dealing with Holocaust deniers. I know what I would have voted for.

The Saudis, while not mathematically eliminated, suffered a 4-0 humiliation at the hands of Ukraine today, and have to face Spain in the next match. Heh heh heh. Go home and drown your sorrows in over-priced crude, fellas. See ya.

June 18, 2006

CID SPEAKS


by @ 11:54 am.
Filed under World Cup

Sometimes I think my wife should be writing this blog.

We’re watching Brazil-Australia today, and this is what she says about Ronaldinho:

“He’s like a little kid, running around out there trying to see what he can get away with.”

Can’t describe him much better than that.

June 15, 2006

QUOTE OF THE DAY


by @ 3:20 pm.
Filed under Major League Soccer

Brialliant, brilliant, BRILLIANT quote from FC Dallas boss Colin Clarke (as reported by the pretty-brilliant-his-own-self Buzz Carrick at 3rd Degree):

. . . I consider the supporters shield to be a lot more important this year. More important, I think, in a lot of ways, than the MLS Cup. It proves you were better the whole way and not that you won a 4 game knockout cup. Plus this year you get into the Champions Cup. Of course we know that MLS is set up for the MLS Cup.”

If more managers and GMs thought this way, the regular season would be ten times more exciting than it is. I know it has to do, partially, with the size of the league, but let’s face it, if 2/3 of the league make the playoffs, the regular season loses something. There’s no way around that. But if the Supporter’s Shield becomes just as important as the Rothenberg Trophy, well, then you have something to write home about.

Further, if things were as they should be, and more Coaches and GMs realized how important the US Open Cup is, you’d have three major titles up for grabs in one season. It is incalculable how much more interesting American soccer would be, if this were the case.

OH, YEAH . . .


by @ 12:45 am.
Filed under Major League Soccer, Pictures

Toyota Park

I’ve been so distracted by the World Cup that I’ve neglected Major League Soccer this week. Turns out this was a mistake, because I missed what may have been the best game of the year so far.

The Chicago Fire, FINALLY getting a home game with the opening of the brand-spankin-new Toyota Park, were up 3-1 over the Revs when the clock reached 90 minutes. The Revs then proceed to score two goals in injury time to pull a draw out of their collective backsides.

Talking about raining on someone’s parade, huh? Beautiful new stadium, two goal lead, time nearly up . . . disaster.

I love those Revs.

Go watch the highlights on MLSNET.com, and share the schadenfreude, won’t you?

June 14, 2006

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY


by @ 12:44 pm.
Filed under World Cup

The Good: BBC’s animated highlight feature. You can replay each goal from multiple angles, speeds, and viewpoints. If you’re truly a glutton for punishment, watch the Jan Koller goal against the USA over and over again from different points of view.

The Bad: Massimo Bussaca doubly screwed up on the third Spanish goal against Ukraine today. Not only was Fernando Torres not fouled, but sending off Vladislav Vashchuck has to go down as one of the worst calls in the history of the World Cup.

The Ugly: I think you know where I’m going here, but let me just go ahead and say it: The USA’s non-appearance against the Czechs was one of the ugliest perfromances I’ve ever seen from the boys. And I’ve been following them religiously since 1989. Of course, a good thrashing of Italy (heck, a lucky win against Italy, who am I kidding?) and all is forgiven.

June 12, 2006

STRIKE?


by @ 11:57 pm.
Filed under US National Team, World Cup

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the U.S. Team that had their shiny shorts taken down by the Czechs today the same group that just 18 months ago went on strike? Isn’t this the same group that wasn’t getting enough money, love, and/or recgonition from the United States Soccer Federation? Isn’t this the same group of players that nearly forced Bruce Arena to bring a group of replacement players for a World Cup Qualifier?

I was within a hair’s breadth of giving up on the team completely back when that happened, as were many of you. But like me, I think, you decided to let it pass as a temporary bit of ugliness that had to happen as American soccer evolved to the next level. Forgive and forget, that’s what I say.

Fine. I stand by that decision. But now, if it’s all the same to them, I’d like to go ahead and see that next level.

I think that group of poor exploited workers had best put a little fire in their respective bellies before meeting Italy this Saturday. Perhaps they could go ahead and start earning all that money that was so important to them they had to walk out on their country to get it.

If they do not, then, in the words of Don Vito Corleone, “This I do not forgive”.

MY HEART HURTS


by @ 8:33 pm.
Filed under US National Team, World Cup

I’ve racked my brain all day to come up with a positive spin for the heinous debacle that was USA v Czech Republic.

Okay, here it is, and it can be summed up in one word: SANDBAGGING.

Bear with me for a moment.

Logically, it must be true that the boys were pretending to be timid, frightened, and totally lacking in both conviction and skill. See, because that way, Italy will take them lightly and WHAM, we kick their paisan butts all the way back to the Eternal City. After that, and a shellacking of their own at the hands of the Czechs, Ghana will fear us, and we’ll cruise past them and into the next round.

Because, don’t you understand, that the only alternative explanation is that the boys really did come out for the most important game of their lives and proceed to play timid, frightened, convictionless and skill-less football in front of the entire world?

And that couldn’t be the answer, could it?

June 8, 2006

PLASTIC AND GLUE ARE FOR SUMMER CAMP


by @ 5:48 pm.
Filed under World Cup

When I was young, there weren’t many opportunities to play soccer. It just wasn’t done that much. But I was hooked on the game, and had been since I was five years old, when I saw a snippet of a television show featuring soccer (it could have been a commercial, it could have been a documentary, I really don’t remember, except that I found it fascinating).

On those rare occasions when a soccer ball was available, along with other people who wanted to play, it would break my heart and discourage me to no end to see a plastic soccer ball with glued-on panels. They’re ugly, don’t feel right, and significantly detract from the joy of the game. Not to mention that when it’s cold, they feel like a round brick when they hit your skin.

Everyone knows that soccer balls should be leather, and hand stitched. Maybe, maybe I say, you can get away with a synthetic material for purposes of weatherproofing, as long as there is no glue involved. Glue and soccer balls go together like caviar and peanut butter.

So, the preceding being undeniably true, imagine my surprise when I saw this abomination from Adidas:

Monstrosity

That’s right, it’s a plastic soccerball, with the panels glued on. They’re using a plastic soccer ball with glued-on panels to play the world’s biggest soccer tournament.

Now I’ve seen everything.

I’m not saying I want to go back to the soccerballs with laces, okay, but come on. It’s ugly, first of all, and even if it was leather, it would remain ugly. But it’s plastic as well, so that’s a double disgrace. And the glue . . . GLUE! Okay, Adidas calls it “thermal bonding” but I think we all know it’s glue. Paul Robinson, the England goalkeeper, is already on record as saying it’s an awful soccer ball, more akin to a volleyball in weight and feel. Further, he said that when wet, it is slippery to the touch even with goalkeeper gloves on. Please.

All of this, along with some fancy engineering to make the aerodynamics more amenable to bending and swerving shots, is done in the name of making the game more exciting by increasing the number of goals scored. Fine. I think we all agree that we like to see goals. But we don’t need to ruin the basics of the game to get them. Why don’t we just make the goals three feet wider and two feet higher? Why not have the goalkeeper blindfolded for the last fifteen minutes of each half? That would cause a flurry of goals. Well, except for the Galaxy, of course.

But I digress.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m way stoked about the World Cup, and this poor excuse for a ball isn’t going to ruin it. But still, it had to be said.

June 7, 2006

I HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE . . .


by @ 4:11 pm.
Filed under The International Game

Here’s the next big name in Brazillian (and therefore, world) soccer:

Kerlon.

This kid has made up a move called “The Seal” where he gets the ball to his head and just runs down the field, heading it to himself over and over. Usually it ends with some cynical defender trying to cave in his ribcage, but it’s fun to watch.

Check this out. 

FROM BAD TO WORSE


by @ 2:28 pm.
Filed under Major League Soccer

If, like all right thinking people, you hate the dirty dirty LA Galaxy*, you were saddened a little the other day when you heard Steve Sampson had been sacked. Because, let’s be honest, despite winning the Rothenberg Trophy last year, S.S. wasn’t taking this team anywhere but dumpsville. As long as Steve was around, the beast was dying, if not already dead.

I mean, come on, they didn’t score a goal the entire month of May. That’s nearly six hours of soccer, without scoring. That’s the time it takes me to drive to Frisco and back for an FC Dallas match – no goals.

Life was so good, and stoopid Alexi Lalas had to ruin everything.

Now, to heap hurt upon hurt, ‘Lexi’s gone and hired Frank Yallop. Now there’s nothing the dirty dirty Galaxy can do but improve.

Man, talk about harshin’ my mellow.

*with the exception of Dan Loney, of course, who somehow manages to be a Galaxy fan and a genius

I CRACK ME UP


by @ 7:47 am.
Filed under Media, Miscellany

Those foolish, foolish lads over at The All American XI let me write the header this week.

So, in honor of the upcoming World Cup, I made up a list of the All American Celebrity XI.

As you can imagine, it took quite a while to come up with a full complement. Really, I had to stretch the definition of “fan” a time or two, as well, but did not (boy scout’s honor) lower myself to the level of just making things up.

You may find a few surprises, and you’ll pick up some really excellent trivia to wow your friends and co-workers with, as they ask you all about this crazy “world cup soccer thingy” going on this summer. Because, if you’re reading this, let’s face it, you are the only one who knows anything at all about soccer in your immediate circle.

Or, you could be my mom, I suppose, and reading just out of blind loyalty.

(Hi, Mom!)

June 6, 2006

I KNEW IT!


by @ 8:44 am.
Filed under World Cup

Secret video of the  Italian training camp in Germany

June 5, 2006

DREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: FCD v Columbus Crew


by @ 2:45 pm.
Filed under Major League Soccer, Stream Of Consciousness

Sorry, I couldn’t write a Stream of Consciousness for the Columbus game. I’m embarrased to admit this, but, I fell asleep Saturday evening. I know. I’m a big time soccer writer, and I should be above that kind of amateur mistake. But that’s life.

It’s funny though, that night, I had a dream.

It was scary and horrible. Too horrible to be real life, but so lifelike, that only it’s ridiculously unlikely content convinced me it was only a nightmare.

At the beginning of it…….

a guy who looked liked Greg Vanney, but who was obviously not, because he was bald, hit a beautiful free kick, only to see it bounce off the crossbar. I knew I was in for a really bad dream. I tried to wake myself up, but my screams had no breath behind them, and I fell further and further into the realm of Morpheus.

(Nice imagery, huh?).

Later, another bald man, but this time for the other team, a team that seemed to be made up of sad-sacks and cast-offs, hit a similarly beautiful free kick. This free kick also went off the crossbar, but some player with no face and no name kicked it into the goal, as my hero Sala, as if he was trying to run in waist high water, could only grasp at the shot.

I began to sweat. I began to tremble.

Later, someone who looked a lot like Richie Kotchau (but surely it couldn’t have been; he’s been out of the league for years, hasn’t he?) traveled back in time, to 1986, and possessed the body of Diego Maradona. Then he time-traveled back to the present, went to Pizza Hut Park, and proceeded to beat, like, six different guys on a 40 yard run to score against FC Dallas.

In my dream, I began to scream “Sala, SALAAAAAAAAAAAA, STOP HIM………………”

But again, no voice would come out of my petrified lungs. It was all too unreal. It was all too surreal. It couldn’t possibly be happening.

And then, almost to the end, A man who looked like a little fish took the ball, and even though closely marked, scored a goal from absolutely nowhere, from absolutely nothing. But yet it was too late, for in my dream, the game ended immediately after, and FC Dallas had lost.

Okay, that last part, I didn’t have much trouble believing.

It was awful though. I’ve made an appointment with a neurological psychiatrist to get some help. I feel pretty sure that anymore nightmares like this and my already tenuous grip on reality will come crumbling down around my head.

So did anybody actually see the game? How did it go?

SPEAKING OF WHICH


by @ 11:40 am.
Filed under Media, World Cup

Speaking of NY Newspapers, the Daily News (much more my speed, as compared to the Old Gray Lady) has Filip Bondy over in Germany, blogging about the festivities.

Hier ist ein snippet:

Everybody smokes in Germany, then rubs the Smoke in your Face. I’ve been to Norway, Czech Republic, France, Italy, UK, you name it, I’ve never seen anything like this. These People are proving a Point. By the time I got to the Soccer Session, my Shirt and Pants were stinky for the Duration of the World Cup and I was coughing for the first 10 Minutes of Interviews.

Add Mr. Bondy to your World Cup “must read” list.

GETTIN’ IT DONE, AND NOBODY DIED


by @ 10:50 am.
Filed under Media, World Cup

Because I am undeniably a flyover state bumpkin yayhoo hickboy, I generally don’t have much use for the New York Times.

(Except the obituaries, which they have raised to an art form, much like Roger Ebert has done for movie reviews.)

But having said that, I have to tell you, those boys are gettin’ it done when it comes to World Cup coverage.

Take, for example, Jere Longman’s profile of Bruce Arena. You can’t do much better than that, sportswritingwise.

Tolle lege y’all.

June 2, 2006

FEAR OF A CZECH PLANET


by @ 7:20 am.
Filed under US National Team, World Cup

I know, as a soccer fanatic, patriot, and pundit, that I should be watching the replay of the Czech Republic friendly against Costa Rica.

I should be. But I’m not.

Why? I’m a coward, that’s why. I don’t want to see how good the Czechs are and get all petrified and whatnot just 10 days before we play them in the 1st round of the World Cup. I’m not terribly worried about Italy; apparently without bought-off refs and other help, they’re not that formidable. I’m not worried about Ghana, though I think they’ll be tough.

I’m worried about the Czechs.

So, yeah, I can’t bring myself to watch. I’ll admit it. I’m a mouse, not a man. Okay? That make you happy?

So shut up and tell me how the match went. I need to know!

Just not first-hand, that’s all.

June 1, 2006

CROUCH-BOT


by @ 7:56 pm.
Filed under Miscellany, The International Game, World Cup

I’ve liked Peter Crouch since the first time I saw him for Southampton. It’s such an incongruous sight to see this gangly 6′7″ man playing such skilled soccer; you can’t not like him.

Then I saw him so this the other day, after scoring for England in a pre-WC friendly against . . . somebody.

So now, I like the guy even more.

Best. Celebration. Ever.

If you’re a fan of The Chronicles of Narnia, you’ll have to agree that when they make the movie version of The Silver Chair, Peter is a shoo-in for the role of Puddleglum the Marshwiggle.

ROCHESTER’S NEW STADIUM


by @ 3:03 pm.
Filed under Miscellany, Pictures

PaeTec Park

In the small but growing world of internet soccer punditry, there are any number of columns written each week about “signs that soccer is catching on in the USA”. These are usually of the “P-Diddy was seen wearing an Arsenal jersey” variety, or the “Pele wants to make a comeback and play for Red Bulls” type.

So, who am I to not take part?

But, look here, I’m right about this. The Rochester Raging Rhinos of the 2nd-tier United Soccer League First Division are opening PaeTec Park, a brand-new, beautiful, 14,000 seater stadium this weekend. Not only that, the Atlanta Silverbacks of the same league are opening a 3,000 seater on the same day.

If you want to talk about the health of the game in this country, then you have to talk money. People in both cities were willing to plunk down some serious coin to build these stadiums, and they didn’t do it for their health. They expect a return.

PaeTec Park has a pice tag of $35,000,000 (according to Wikipedia, which, as we know, is never wrong), the cost being split between the club and local government. The Silverbacks’ new stadium is part of an existing soccer complex with mutltiple fields and dozens of leagues for youth and adults. Eventually the stadium will seat 15,000, and has a $20,000,000 price tag. That’s an investment that means something.

So, yeah, soccer is catching on in this country. If you need proof, and you’re in the area, check out a Rhinos or a Silverbacks game sometime soon.

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