Monday, June 12, 2006

Day 4 Random Thoughts / Open Thread

I'm so pissed at myself for this, I can't even come up with anything informative, witty, or insightful to say. Maybe in the morning. Enjoy, and keep your mullet eyes focused.

Group E preview
Group F preview


AUS 0-1 JPN. HT. That was the ultimate moral-relativism goal. If you are defending team or a fan thereof, then the offensive player clearly impeded the goalkeeper and if he hadn't been fouled the goal never would have been conceded. If you are the attacking team or a fan thereof, then there was no foul; rather, the goalie himself ran into the defender and effectively blocked himself out of the play, and the goal should have stood. Reminds me a hell of a lot like this, which is funny because I just posted about that yesterday (FWIW, I thought today's looked more like a foul by the attacking player, whereas for me Sol's should have stood because Ricardo ran into Terry at least as much as Terry ran into him, if not more).

AUS 1-1 JPN. Can't really say that Cahill's equalizer wasn't deserved after being hard done by with that first goal. Going punching bag on the corner flag was a nice celebration, too. And that giant inflatable Kangaroo in the stands is pretty sweet.

AUS 2-1 JPN. Golaso! Cahill rocket off the post in the last minute. I can never keep track of what time it is in Sydney, but whatever time it is they are partying hard right now. Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

AUS 3-1 JPN. Another Golaso in the 93rd minute. Do they know the "1-nil down, 3-1 up!" chant in Oz?

Australia 3-1 Japan.

United States-Czech Republic
Nedved = Jeff Spicoli

I'm off to the courthouse. Enjoy.

United States 0-3 Czech Republic

Amazingly, I managed to watch all 3 matches today in their entirety, as I embarked on a bizarre, beautiful oddysey today that will be covered in a seperate post. Now then...

Gotta hand it to you Michael. I have been watching Nedved for years, and every single time I ever see him I immediate chuckle thinking of Spicoli and think things like "Mr. Referee - what a dick!". Now here you come and show me that as ringer as that is, it's not dead fucking ringer. So today, thanks to you, I didn't even see Spicoli out on the field once - all I saw was Patrick Swayze from Point Break. At one point I laughed out loud to myslef in the middle of a standing room only footy pub and drew a few confused looks. A tip of the hat to you, good Sir. You have significantly changed my soccer-viewing life forever, and I am grateful.

Now you have your pick of 2 surfer dudes

Jesus, where to begin?

Michelle Lissel on Fox Soccer Channel, reporting tonight from Gelsenkirchen, asked a US soccer fan on the street:
ML: "If the team could take one positive from this match, what would it be?"
Dude: "It ended in 90 minutes"

At least somebody represented

They are now 0-8 in WC matches held in Europe. On the other hand, they are 2-0 in World Wars held in Europe, and that is a good bit more important if you consider what things would be like right about now if the US were 8-0 in European WC matches and 0-2 in (European) World Wars. And make sure to use that line on ANY non-American who talks shit to you about team USA. Then tell them "you're welcome" for the fact that all of Europe doesn't play efficient, tactical, devoid of flair German football (if Moin will allow me one sip at the stereotype trough).

My emotion throughout the match was not dispair or disdain, but utter confusion at how this team managed to lose the one attribute that caused the world so much trouble 4 years ago (and is the envy of college football coaches everywhere): team speed. In WC2002 the USA suprised everyone with their pace and ran their socks off, Beasley & Donovan especially. Today they looked like USA Soccer: old-skool edition, as did the aforementioned duo. That is, consistently seeming like they were a step slower than their opponent and trying to simply keep up with a traditional soccer power. It was like they decided on a massive Thanksgiving dinner as the pregame meal and forgot about the effects of triptophan on the human body. And as much as I think Bruce Arena is a good manager (I would take him over Sven for FC Kanu in a second) his tactics today were, to borrow a phrase, dodgy at best. Reyna, who I always have thought was completely overrated, largely did nothing the whole match (as did the entire midfield), yet ironically had the best chance of the day and was unlucky that his shot hit the woodwork. Theres a difference between hitting the post on the outside and hitting the post like he did: agonizingly close to being 1-1 and changing the complexion of the match. That being said, the Czechs always looked in control and more likely to score the next goal (except for one stretch that we'll get to shortly) and win the match, which is exactly what they went on to do.

Blue/Red/White Man Group:
Playing the Bellagio now through early July

But to be fair people are piling on a bit. The US didn't create many chances, but they were not as abysmal as society at large is going on about based on the result. Remember 1998 and 1990: that shit was abysmal. This was not. It was a good team that didn't play very well or create many good chances, against a really good team who played great, created a similar amount of chances statistically (shots-shots on goal: US 10-3, CZE 10-4) but took 3 of those chances brilliantly. This together with the pregame hype created a bit of an illusion about the level of domination. To wit: after about 65 minutes, the US started to create some chances. I turned to the dude next to me in the pub and noted that the last 20 minutes of the match is when the aging Czechs legs would tire (memo to retards at Disney: this is how it works with an aging team - you morons had people thinking that the Czechs were going to come out and need walkers and respirators form the moment the match started, you wankers), the US would have an advantage, and will start to create more chances and might even pull 1 back or possibly even 2 (watch enough soccer and you will see this alot, a team get tired in the last 20 minutes and another more fit team dominate that other team late). And that is exactly what happened, up until Harry Potter Thomas Rosicky killed the game with his brilliant run and touch (a goal of considerably more skill than it looked to the naked eye in real time). 3-nil to the old men. Game over. Note that Rosicky is not one of the 30 something Czechs, but rather a 25 year old B-A-D-A-S-S. Any suprise that he is the one who played a freaking blinder today? This is the kind of shit you need to be telling us Marcelo Balboa, you horrible fucking analyst you. For god sakes, you played the game professionally at a high level and you are getting paid to add insight. I was never that great and stopped after high school, and I don't get paid jack shit to think up stuff on the spot that your stupid ass should have been ready to talk about because, you know, you did your job and fucking prepared (Big post coming on the utter & complete ineptitude of the worldwide leader and they people they are paying to bring you the WC btw).

Hurry up and print the new home jerseys,
Arsenal & Nike, cause I want one and I
have a funny feeling that I am not alone.

***Update: skip this next paragraph, or read it and then watch Solon destroy it's postion in the comments section.

But as bad as today was for Uncle Sam's army, it's not all doom and gloom. They really needed a draw in the Italy-Ghana match and didn't get it, but contrary to popular belief it is not "if we don't beat Italy it's all over and we're out". No. Wrong. Sorry. It's "we have to get a result against Italy - at least a draw". If the US draw with Italy then yes, they will absolutely have to beat Ghana and will likely require help elsewhere, but it is an extremely lazy analysis to run around saying 3 points against Italy or we're done, which of course is not stopping anyone from doing it.

{Regular service resumed}

The shame of it all is that this, being the first match, drew alot of attention from otherwise casual fans that watched them today for the first time, only to walk away thinking "this is the team that you soccer-loving fairies hyped as being able to contend at the highest levels? They're douchebags, and y'all are douchebags for making me waste 90 minutes of my life watching them. Give me a break - I'm out. Enjoy your Eurotrash World Cup, where's my Phil Steele?". In that regard it may very well have set US soccer back a few years socially, although given the demographic shifting going on the US, I still believe that in 100 years we will be very into futbol as a nation, fanbase-wise and socially speaking.

So if you are a casual fan who was turned off, then cool. No soccer fan can blame you based on today's reality versus the hype that preceded it. Enjoy your month, and we'll catch up with you on July 10th.

On the other hand, if you are a loyal foot soldier in Sam's Army then it's kind of like post-devastating breakup time between now and Saturday: take a deep breath, go outside and get some fresh air, stop feeling sorry for yourself, find distraction in your work, your friends and the gym, crank the shit out of "Enough Cryin" by Mary J. Blige on your iPod, and maybe even talk to that cute girl across the way in your apartment building that you had secretly been digging when you were with your now-ex. Regroup, refresh, rejuvenate, and wake up Saturday with the belief that this was a throwaway performance (that the team learned from it and focused in practice), and believe that you can not only compete with the Italians but that anything in soccer is possible and you can even beat them. That's an order, soldier.

Oh, and Kasey Keller = Jim Furyk. Can't believe, as much as I see him in the Prem, this this lightbulb went on over my head just today.

OK Swindles of the world USA, our time is up. We'll see you for another couch session next week, and you can pay the receptionist on your way out.

Materrazzi = Cosmo Kramer
Camaronesi = Furio from Sopranos

Italy 2-0 Ghana
In my preview I said not to sleep on Ghana, that they were legit, and that they would shock the world and get out of the group. Although they lost today, nothing I saw today makes me cahnge my mind. From what I saw, which was the entire match save minutes 60-70, they went toe-to-toe with the Azzurri and held their own and then some. Truth be told there wasn't much betwen the two teams in this match. No disrespect to Italy, becasue Pirlo's goal was an absolute cracker, and the crossbar is still shaking from Luca Toni's rocket shot that hit it smack in the face, but this was a 1-nil on a blinder of a goal that ended up being a 2-nil becasue Sammy Kuffour, despite being Ghana's most seasoned player with several years in Serie A, doesn't know that when you pass the ball back to your keeper, your keeper is the big dude wearing gloves waiting for said pass, not the dude in the other color shirt who is running at you as fast as he can. Both teams created lots of chances in an exciting match that on the pitch was fairly even if not on the scoreboard. All credit to Italy, but don't write off Ghana just yet. Something tells me that they are going to get a result against Patrick Swayze & Harry Potter, then beat the US (be they inspired or demoralized after Italy) and go through.


moin said...

Is it bad that the only match I really care about is the Australia-Japan match? And that what I really want to happen is for both teams to look absolutely inept in every way, so much so that FIFA proceeds to kick both team out of the Tournament on the spot, out of mercy for the rest of us?

I just don't want to deal with either group of people in my daily life if their squad happens to win that match. Oi-vey!

But damn work, can't watch any of those matches. Save the good goals for the weekend matches fellas!

David said...

So far, the ineptness belongs to the referee who missed a clear foul for the Japanese goal.

Michael said...

No, no, no. Nedved = Patrick Swayze from Point Break. And while we're on the subject of heartthrob look-alikes, Rafa Marquez = Antonio Banderas from Desperado.

moin said...

I don't think I need to add anything more than that.

Kanu said...

Michael - that is STRONG.

No longer will I see Spicoli every time I see Nedved ina game; it'll be 50/50 Spicoli and Patrick Swayze. The greatest would be if he sang "She's Like The Wind" at halftime to entertain the crowd. Stop laughing - it's Germany, where Hasselhoff reigns supreme.

David said...

Just as long as he doesn't go for someone's knees, like Swayze did in Roadhouse.

What a fantastic ending to the Australia/Japan game. 3 goals in the last 5 minutes. Thoroughly entertaining.

And now, the nerves... GO U.S!


moin said...

Ole ole ole ole... three-nil, three-nil.

I think I'm enjoying this more than I should be morally capable of.

Blame it on the world wide leader at Brent Musberger:

"You are looking LIVE, at the US training! Can they win the World Cup this year?"

Wynalda: "Yeah sure, they just have to play like the Dutch did, because, ya know, we are the same as the Dutch in terms of talent."

David said...

What a disaster. Terrible on offense and inept on defense. The Czech players must have been bored, because it never looked like they even got into second gear. The only player who acquitted (pun intended for Kanu) himself was Eddie Johnson. To many backwards passes.

On the other hand, Kanu will be glad Rosicky is going to be playing for Arsenal. His first goal was a screamer.

nico said...

After watch the first half of Italy v. Ghana, it is clear that USA v. Ghana will be playing for pride for both teams because the Europeans in this group are going through to the round of 16.

Peter said...

Little did you know your jury duty was more exciting than the US match.

What a miserable outing. Ugh.

A10 said...

Kanu you were there for the World Cup Draw. I chanted "No Czech No Czech" and you aptly replied "Oh it's gonna be the Czech's". Low and behold the team that no one should sleep on got the nod and became what is considered one of two possible groups of death. Argentina's being the other. Piss poor play by the US. The Czech Rep. is a team with the experience and talent that people were a bit shocked at their reply to the US's squeak of a mouse presence on soccer's greatest stage. Many critics and commentators have called the US the sleeping giants but they actually have to be heads above someone to fill that part. I really enjoyed Donovan calling out his teammates when he also should have taken a good long look in the mirror. Nothing is for sure in the World Cup but the US have a mountain to climb to even grab a point in this group. Even though Ghana lost 2-0 to the Azzurri they played a freshmen yet inspired match that is reminiscent of the recent African teams that don't have any quit in them. (Essien is still a dirty rotten player and their goalie needs to stay in the frickin box). The US need to use a microscope and locate their sacks if they want to stay in this unpredictable group and start playing like a team.

P.S. Luca Toni is a beast. Go Azzurri

Kanu said...


Good stuff, but make sure by tomorrow morning you switch over to A7. It's the summer of Adriano Brasiliano: hopefully it will be better than the spring of Adriano Milano.

Kanu said...

Nico - Don't sleep on Ghana, man. I think they will beat the US, and they are capable of a result against the Czechs and even beating them (they played well today but are not Brasil II like everyone is going on today. Their 3 goals were all wonderful, but this match was more about the US looking like a USYSA U-14 boys team rather than CZE being Brasil II). I'm not saying the czechs suck - they are really good. I'm saying that Ghana is really good too - they just need to practice passing back to the keeper, and start converting one of the many chances they create here and there. I still believe wholeheartedly that they can go through. US can start looking at flights home.

Kanu said...


Funny, I think Essien is a warrior and I really like him, which now makes, gulp, TWO Chel$ea now that they have stolen Nigerian wunderkind ObiMikel from ManUtd. I can't wait to see that dude play when the EPL starts back up and see if he lives up to the hype. Oh, that's right - he'll never see the field (Essien, Ballack, Lampard, Cole, Robben, Duff, Gudjonsen, Wright-Phillips, Crespo, Drogba, Sheva, and whatever 4 players make the WC all-tournament team that they don't already own). They are just stockpiling this kid so that none of their competitors can have him, just like the Tevez to Corinthians scam.

And don't thnk that I won't feel like shit if Italy don't make it out of the group for waht I said at the bar during the draw - what a bastard I was. Not cool to even joke around about fucking up your mojo. You know Italy is far from my favorite, but if they go through then at least I'll have that burden off my mind.

Solon said...

Kanu, I would take issue with one bit from your analysis, i.e., the idea that all the naysayers would claim that we need all three points against Italy. This is mainly because there's little doubt that we need all three points against Italy.

Consider--a draw against Italy will leave the US with 1 pt and Italy with 4, and Italy with a massive +5 edge in GD. Outside of a Ghana win against the Czechs, there is absolutely no way that the US will make this up against Italy--first off, the Italians will need to lose, probably by more than a goal, and the Americans will absolutely need to thrash the Ghanans--both results are unlikely, but the latter is downright impossible.

Bottom line--if the Czechs don't lose their last two matches, the US is going to need to beat Italy in their next match, or else start focusing on 2010.

Kanu said...

Well done, me ol' china.

I wish you had told me that 2 hours ago, you would have saved me 20 minutes (turns and looks at billboard on wall: "If Solon's words lived here, you'd not only be home right now but you would already be asleep, too!").

Those sounds like the words of a man who has gotten more than 20 hours sleep in the last four nights and is up at 1.30 a.m. trying in vain to get caught up becasue this tournament is s relentless bitch that does not let up for another 15 days, at which time we will be granted a 48 hour rest, which is already badly needed but still 2 weeks away.

Is Brasil-Coatia really on in 4.5 hours?

Solon said...

No, South Korea-Togo is on in 4 (+.1) hours...

You've got to wait another 6 to see Joga Bonito.

rob said...

It was the midnight hour in Sydney when the goals were scored. Heard that someone went to bed at 80 mins - and missed the scoring.

A much more sensible time in Perth where I am (closing on 11am).

nico said...

Kanu: I agree that Ghana is good, but I don't see them getting past the Czechs if they only play half a game. Essien is a ninja and better than anyone on our team. I was just saying that unless Italy or Czech implodes, they both showed enough in their games to make me think they'll both have at least 6 points when it's all said and done and who knows what'll happen when they meet? That was the basis of my "playing for pride" comment about the USA and Ghana.

And you're right. Balboa is shit. He just mails in every "performance" in the booth. I think he's in it for the free hair care products.

phil said...

On the other hand if the US does pick up 3 points against Italy, then they are right back in it. For my money this is the toughest group. I can see the Czech's picking up 9 points and I think they are a legitimate contender to win the whole thing. I thought they were the most impressive team at Euro 2004.