Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup!! (I actually enjoy it very much!!)

Once every four years, the powers of Western Europe and their good friend Brazil invite a handful of other nations who nobody gives a crap about to a contest whose purpose it is to determine which country is the best in the world at the game of soccer. The first stage of the World Cup divides all the teams into groups of four, in which one good team is placed with three other crappy teams it can kick the shit out of and advance to the next stage. The second stage is an elimination tournament played between all the good teams that remain.

According to Time Magazine it's an event watched by 26 billion people (not a typo (not on my part at least)). And it makes sense... I mean, who wouldn't want to see their country's finest players made to look like a group of handicapped girl scouts by a Blitzkrieg of German offense? (sorry Socceroos)

This World Cup is in wonderful South Africa. The high altitude/thinner air, new "rounder" and seamless ball design, and roaring vuvuzelas (South African horn thing) should give players more chances than ever to bitch about the outcome of the games. (I realize that the new ball and vuvuzelas could make for interesting blog posts just on their own, but those posts will have to wait for now because I don't feel like writing that much at once).

As a quick aside, fuck Algeria and their garbage ass soccer fans who on a regular basis throw rocks and broken glass bottles at our (Egypt) players on the field. For the remainder of the tournament, "us" will refer to Team USA, because I am American and live in the wonderful USA.

Also, as another aside, I'm tired of all this adopted country bullshit that every American who spends a semester abroad is into. Just because you did a study abroad program in England or whatever doesn't make you English. Root for your own country damn it. I can assure you that when English people return to England, they DON'T root for the US (it's probably because we suck... but more on that later).

Now let's talk about some of these games!


Boring match. France wasted the only opportunities it made for itself and Uruguay barely even had the ball at all. Neither side played very well and the resulting "match" proved to be more of a distraction at work than entertainment.


I don't really have anything controversial to say here. Steven Gerrard's goal was great. Ours was a mistake (one which I will gladly take though...) I think the US defense/midfield did a good job at containing England and not allowing them to score more than once, despite a few very close moments (Rooney's cross goal shot from way out scared the crap out of me). Tim Howard, our fearless keeper, was obviously the man of the match (for which he was appropriately awarded the title: man of the match).

However, our offense was like the Veggi Tales Pirates Who Don't Do Anything... they didn't do anything! Team USA likes to play using a counter-attack strategy, which is great and all, but if you don't counter-attack, it doesn't work. Way too often I saw us take the ball, run halfway down the field, then stop, and pass it backwards. That's not counter-attack! That's the exact opposite of counter-attack. It's counter-nothing. If I were coaching Team USA I would sit my boys down for a nice lesson in 1-2 passing. Seriously, it's one of the most basic concepts in soccer - if a guy is running at you, you pass the ball to your teammate, make yourself open, and when the defender gets on him, your buddy passes it back to you! It's the quickest way to circumvent a defender when you have him outnumbered (as is usually the case in a COUNTER ATTACK scenario) yet we managed to execute it all of 1/2 a time (maybe). For a group of professional soccer players (a lot of which play in the Premier League) this is embarassing.

If you want an idea of how 1-2 is supposed to work, let me refer you to this match.


OUCH! All I have to say is Australia is lucky Germany only scored four goals. EINS DZWEI! EINS DZWEI! That's how you play counter-attack. Any sort of slip-up from the Australians was quickly turned into a goal scoring opportunity. Didn't quite kick that pass far enough?? Goal. Didn't run to that ball fast enough? Goal. Keeper didn't jump high enough? Goal. While they did miss a few chances, Germany played a superb match. They were swift, cold, calm, efficient... German. Let's hope the other teams in Germany's group can put up more of a fight than Australia (UNLIKELY!!) because if we have to face them in the first round of the elimination stage, we might as well start practicing for 2014.

That's all for now folks. Somehow Paraguay is beating Italy 1-0 at the half and I need to investigate why this is happening exactly. Perhaps their linguine was a little undercooked due to altitude differences (nerd joke).

Mo out.

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