Soccer, aka “football” to the rest of the world, is the most popular sport on planet earth. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, World Cup soccer is in full swing, and has more drama then Snookie and her cohorts on “Jersey Shore.”
Episode number 1: Unfortunately, team USA has been on the back of a hand slap a few times already. In their game against Slovenia, veteran referee, and calling his first World Cup match, Koman Coulibaly blatantly robbed USA of their go-ahead goal by calling an offsides infraction (that no one else apparently saw). Afterward, Coulibaly did not offer an explanation as to how he saw what he did. Since then, the soccer governing body, FIFA, has not allowed Coulibaly to referee any matches in the next round.
Episode number 2: In the recent USA vs. Algeria vs. the referee game, horrendous calls reared their ugly heads once again. USA’s Clint Dempsey scored in the 20th minute, but the referee waved that goal off because he claimed Dempsey was offsides. The television replay clearly shows that he was even with the defender; hence the goal should have been allowed. USA, feeling like a jilted lover, stayed focused and scored their winning goal during the excess time.
Episode number 3: After the loss to USA, Algerian player Rafik Saifi slapped a female writer across the face as he walked through the interview area. Algerian journalist Asma Halimi, who hit him back, said the slap was unprovoked. Witnesses also confirmed the unfortunate event. She had previously written an article for her newspaper and apparently this non-starting player had a difference of opinion.
Episode number 4: The man who will definitely be left off the “sportsmanship of the year “ ballot has got to be France’s coach Raymond Domenech. Not only did he call his team “unspeakably stupid”, he sent home player Nicolas Anelka early, the team boycotted a training session, and the sponsors dropped France like overcooked french fries.
When the final whistle blew in South Africa’s 2-1 win over France, South African coach Carlos Alberto Parreira offered the customary handshake. Although Domenech shook hands with others around him, he refused Parreira’s hand, instead wagging his finger and giving him a tongue-lashing. Unapologetic, Domenech refused to answer any of the media’s questions regarding his behavior. Being such a disgrace for the entire world to see, one would think that Domenech attended the Bobby Knight “principles of coaching” class.
Round one of World Cup soccer is almost complete. With our collective breaths held, and DVR’s set to record the upcoming episodes….err, matches, the shenanigans of the referees, coaches, and players will continue to entertain. Stay tuned…
After the match yesterday, someone said to me, “That was a very uninspiring game.” It was obvious the man lacked knowledge of the game, as most Americans do. I kindly smiled at the man and politely disagreed saying, “I could not have been more inspired.”
Yes, there were only two goals.
Yes, there wasn’t much threat from the American side in the second half as the English controlled the majority of possession.
And yes we did not win the game. So what is there to be excited about?
A lot actually.
We just tied England, one of the best teams in the world. They are full of talent. They have a world-class manager. And they have a rich football history. This is their sport, not ours. Many fans weren’t giving the United States much of a chance, saying we would get blown out of this game. To me that is just ignorance. This is a sport where anyone can beat or play with anyone on any given day. It’s as simple as that.
Over the past couple years I’ll admit that I was not very excited about the team being put together for this World Cup. I am used to seeing a bunch of kick and run and not much soccer sense on the pitch from the U.S side. Yesterday’s performance gave all Americans a reason to be excited about our team’s chance the remainder of the way.
For the majority of the first half, the U.S. was controlling the pace of the game. We knocked the ball around great for our standards. We didn’t panic like I did after an early first strike from Steven Gerrard. Our composure was brilliant.
We also managed to take one of the best strikers in the world in Wayne Rooney out of the game. He was nowhere to be seen. Our defenders did an excellent job marking him and an even better job of clearing the ball from our end in dangerous situations.
With that said, Tim Howard is the anchor of our team. He is one of the best keepers in the world and will keep us in every game. The guy plays with heart and purpose. He is aggressive and committed to every play. He came up huge yesterday and a strong goalie can take you a long way.
This was a great way to start the tournament and a huge confidence builder. The result is what matters most, and the Yanks gave fans a reason to be inspired the rest of the way.
Co-players of the game for the United States: Tim Howard and Steve Cherundolo
England’s man of the match: Glen Johnson
Next game: Slovenia 10AM eastern Friday morning. Support our team. Support our country. This game brings the world together.
It’s Christmas in June. Soccer fans throughout the world are holding their breaths just a bit today, ready to exhale for an entire month. I am, for lack of a better term, excited. But if you have a better term please send it in. My symptoms include dry mouth, perspiration, and a complete inability to work.
The World Cup is March Madness in June. That is if March Madness were an international affair pitting the top athletes in their sport against each other every four years. So yes, World Cup is better than March Madness. That should say something to those nay sayers out there. Especially since I used to loathe futbol.
But now I am part of the lucky few. I am aligned with those in this country that can witness and marinate in the greater picture that is soccer. I was once befuddled by those that could sit around and watch a game that had no score for an hour and a half. Now I know the answer to that question is easy. You sit and watch. Once you do so, you will never look back.
My arguments were the same as yours. The scoring is too low. Well that’s a very American thing to say. Sometimes the foreplay is just as tantalizing as the act itself. In soccer the build up of a potential goal is like an hour with a beautiful woman. Except if you’re me, you are drinking beer and the room probably smells like carnitas. I am talking about the game watching not the being with a woman…but the same for that too. Either way the passing and movements in open space are like poetry. That is of course if poetry was awesome.
What else? Oh yeah the flopping. I can’t help this. I hate it. You hate it. The players feel foolish doing it. Its a necessary evil that more people should just accept. Running around for ninety minutes is tiring. So if there are no timeouts in this sport, why not just fall down and say “Hold on a fucking second, I’m Super winded over here.” I can deal with that. I think I might employ this tactic in my daily life, perhaps after reaching the top of a flight of stairs.
Then there is the possibility of a game going to kicks. This is another acceptance that one has to make for a game that already takes from every player all they can muster. When running for 90 minutes does not give us a winner, the players will run for thirty more. If they still have none they can either run for a little more and make a complete mess of the field or they can just kick the ball and call it a day. I hate that this happens, but really there is no other way.
But in the arbitrariness of the free kick is the justice of it all. Both teams get a coin flip. The rest is left up to fate. I like that idea. Let’s let some magical mysticism decide the game. I guess. I’m sure I will still be pissed in the end. But here’s to the journey. That is all soccer is after all.
The last match of the European football season will be the most anticipated one: FC Bayern Munich will face off with Internazionale Milan in this year’s Champions League Final, played on Saturday at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain. Both squads have won the most prestigious trophy in club competition multiple times (Bayern in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 2001, Inter in 1964 and 1965) and have enjoyed a season of terrific domestic success.
Inter, led by controversial manager Jose Mourinho, won their fifth consecutive Series A crown and 18th overall, finishing atop the table with 82 points. In addition, the Nerrazurri also claimed the ‘Coppa Italia’, the annual cup competition in Italy. In Champions League play, Inter boast the tournament’s best defense, having ceded only 3 goals against in their last 7 meetings. It was in the knockout stages where Inter truly began to flourish, frustrating Chelsea and CSKA Moscow before stifling Barcelona’s brilliant attacking unit in the semifinals.
Bayern, on the other hand, has had an improbable run after a rough start to the season. Managed by first-year Bayern coach Louis van Gaal, the team eventually bought into their new boss’ strategy and gradually improved. They secured yet another Bundesliga title (their 22nd overall) along with a ‘DFB-Pokal’, the German cup. Reinforced by new acquisition Arjen Robben, FCB also put their stamp on Champions League play, advancing past Fiorentina and Manchester United while beating the latter in an epic battle. It was Robben’s spectacular volley goal late in the second leg of the quarterfinal that allowed Bayern to advance on aggregate. Lyon was no match then for Munich’s potent attack in the semifinals.
The table is nicely set in Madrid, not only for a spectacular matchup between these two titanic clubs, but for history to be re-written. The winner will be assured their first ‘Triple’ in club history. No german or italian team has ever won the coveted combination of two national titles along with the Champions League. Either Mourinho or van Gaal will also join the elite club of coaches who have guided two different teams to ultimate glory in the most illustrious of club competitions.