Monday, June 28, 2010


This was a great soccer weekend for me. My World Cup viewing so far has been limited to 2-3 minute glances I get on our TV in the break room at work, and watching fuzzy standard def replays that I already know the result of on ESPN Classic. Finally, this weekend I got to watch in hi def, elimination matches that I didn't already know what happened in. It was awesome.

Wayyy back when, when the World Cup was but a disorganized clustermess played in front of crowds that were as small as 300 people, and a lot of countries would choose not to participate in if it was too far away, Uruguay won the first World Cup. That was precisely 80 years ago. A lot has changed since then, but now theres a chance, not a very good chance, but a chance that things could come full circle and Uruguay bring the Cup back home to its birthplace. They've reached the quarterfinals for the first time in 40 years thanks to a 2-1 win over a feisty South Korea side, with the winning strike coming on a beautiful candy cane shot from Ajax's Luis Suarez, which traveled thru the raindrops from the southwest corner of the box to snake just inside the post kitty corner from where he launched it. South Korea, which played really well, almost tied late in the match on a scoring chance by Lee Gong-Dook, but the Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera made a great save to preserve the win.

I watched this match with my WAG at the Tilted Kilt in Elgin, IL. I wanted some soccer pub ambiance, and was not disappointed as the place was packed with people rooting for the US. Except for my WAG, like a Russian boxing fan watching the Balboa/Drago fight, she switched sides about halfway thru and started rooting for Ghana. I attribute this either to a crazy pregnancy hormonal thing, or the 20 years she spent living amongst a colony of chimpanzees in Ghana. The US had a weird thing in this tournament of coming out and conceding goals right away and then playing from behind. They did it against England, they did it against Slovenia, they did it in the first half against Ghana, and then did it again in extra time and finally it was just too much to overcome. This was a best 2 out of 3 falls match, with Ghana dominating the first half, the US dominating the second, and Ghana striking early then having its players rolling around on the ground like they were dying for most of the 30 minute overtime to run the clock out. Tim Howard should have come out and challenged on Asomoah Gyan's winning goal. Shoulda but didnt'a. Ghana ends it for the US for the second straight World Cup.

Uruguay vs. Ghana-
One of these teams, by rule, has to make it to the semifinals. Uruguay has done nothing but impress this whole tournament, and Suarez and Forlan have been superb. I like Uruguay to win this one 2-0.

If you think we as Americans have a social issue in how we deify sports stars, try reading the English press. They obsess over these footballers much, much worse than we obsess over any sports stars, and probably more than even we obsess over entertainment celebrities. This ones snogging that ones girlfriend and this ones shagging this lingerie model and this ones caught with his knickers down with the office junior and so on and so on and so on, and for what?
Wayne Rooney was invisible for this tournament, with the exception of slamming his "home" fans after a 0-0 sleepwalk against Algeria. The man who had a BP-like amount of ink spilled over him this winter, John Terry, was powerless to stop Germany from hanging 4 goals on a defense he was supposed to anchor. The manager who was supposed to finally lead England to glory, Fabio Capello, could only watch helplessly for most of the second half of a hopeless match.

All this obsession so they can go out and just get completely steamrolled by Germany, who have some fairly well known players but mostly are a faceless machine who's majority of goals are scored by someone (Lucas Podolski) that plays mediocre football for a team that perennially fights off relegation in the Bundesliga?

Lots of too doo and hullabalooo about nothing if you ask me.

While I'm on the topic of haranguing the breathless football press, let's talk about Argentina. To listen to the broadcast of the convincing 3-1 win over Mexico yesterday, you'd think that Argentina's success is allll due to Diego Maradona. My view is, Argentina's success has nothing to do with Maradona the Mascot. They are winning in spite of him, not because of him. They are winning because they have freakin Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi on their team, and they are light years more talented than any other team in the tournament other than Brazil and probably including Brazil. Again, I emphasize over and over that I am a soccer neophyte, but I've done pretty well in predicting this tournament (12 out 16 in who would advance), and you know why, because I am almost completely ignorant of all the fucking hyperbole that soccer people throw around. That's why.

Germany v. Argentina-
Now that I've ripped on soccer hyperbole, let me throw some soccer hyperbole at you. This match is going to be awesome. This might be the two best teams in the tournament, meeting in the quarterfinals. I see this match as a complete toss-up, but I picked Germany to advance to the final before the tournament, and I'm not going back on that now. I say Germany on PK's after a 2-2 classic.

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