Where were you on June 23, 2010? Normally, the time between the end of the NBA Finals and the beginning of college football season is the barren dead ground of sports, but not this year. If you were as lucky as me on the 23rd, you were sitting at home on your couch, watching your high definition TV as the greatest sports day in the history of the world unfolded.
I don’t care how you feel about soccer (personally, I refer to it as women’s competitive ball kicking), Donovan’s goal in penalty time was amazing. That one goal by that one player may single handedly change the face of not only American
women’s competitive ball kicking soccer, but soccer around the world.
The introduction of the American market into world soccer would forever alter the face of the sport.
The Ghana-Germany game was also huge because it sets up the US against the only African nation left in the tournament in South Africa, where they should be dogs, despite winning their group and it pits England against Germany, another intriguing matchup.
That was followed up by the unbelievable Wimbledon match between John Isner, the 6’9 250 lb American ranked 23rd in the world, and Nicolas Mahut, the diminutive Frenchman. He became my new third favorite tennis player, behind Tsonga and Federer today (yes two of my favorite tennis players are French, deal with it). Isner and Mahut played their fifth set to 59-59, before the game was called due to darkness – it began at 2 in the afternoon.
Neither man won a single break point and they set just about every Wimbledon and tennis record in existence. Mahut put on probably the gutsiest performance I’ve ever seen from a French player. The juxtaposition of him diving head-first for multiple balls in the sixth and seventh hours of play against the French team getting bounced from the World Cup days after pouting and refusing to practice in “protest” of one of their players being thrown out of the Cup really saved what’s left of France’s reputation in the world.
In between those amazing performances, we were treated to images of Lawrence Taylor being indicted on rape, child prostitution and sex abuse.
But there was no time to laugh at LT. The best rookie pitcher in MLB history, Steven Strasburg, was pitching against the hapless Kansas City Royals…and LOST. He lost on a 95 pitch, 75 strike, one run, nine strikeout performance.
I immediately turned to ESPN U where TCU was mounting an amazing comeback against Florida State in the College World Series. In the eighth inning, the Horned Frogs’ Matt Curry hit a grand slam and Jantzen Witte (who had only hit three home runs all season long) hit another homer that lifted the crowd in Oklahoma City to chants of “TCU.”
The Horned Frogs came back from down 7-3 and put up eight runs in the inning – eight! – to win 11-7. Pitcher Kaleb Merck then got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning with a virtuoso pitching performance that would’ve made Strasburg proud.
I nightcapped all that action by watching a replay of the Kentucky-Mississippi State thriller from the SEC Championship tournament earlier this year. There was a “Cheaters” marathon on G4, but I needed more sports.
Oh yeah, and how about the Rockies walk-off homerun to beat the Red Sox?
Wednesday truly was a great sports day. Not only was there something for everybody, there was something for everybody all over the world.
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 US National Team’s World Cup prospects suffered another major setback with the knee injury suffered by Clint Dempsey over the weekend. The full extent of the damage won’t be known until the results from an MRI come back, but preliminary signs don’t look good.