Today I’m Kanye. Nobody asked me but I’m getting up on stage and putting forward my opinion anyway. I’m really happy you’re watch soccer I’ll let you finish patting Tim Howard on the Back but the 2002 squad was one of the best teams of all time! And the US could have done better this tournament. That’s all I’m saying. 

This World Cup has been exciting because of the elevated level of play in the group stages and the fantastic series of upsets that see four countries in contention who haven’t previously won the cup. A new winner will be healthy for the sport. For a second I thought it could be the United States.

But to reach this stage some very good teams, and some awful teams got knocked out. Yesterday the United States joined the carrion and they deserved it. They’re not heroes if anything they’ve missed an opportunity. You can thank Jurgen Klinsmann and his modified catenaccio and then ask yourself was life so bad with Bruce? (It was worse with Bob no doubt.)

The narrative that is being spun is that Tim Howard made history with his 16 saves last night and deserves the praise of his nation. He does, but what about the performance of his teammates?  Jurgen Klinsmann played “defend defend defend” and set Howard up as the target in a shooting gallery.

Before the game he knew the Belgians to have attacking merits and pace. On their day they could cut many top sides to pieces. But it wasn’t their day and the US could have capitalized. Belgium went behind in their first game against Algeria and stumbled their way through the next two against Russia and South Korea. Each of their goals came deep in the second half with Belgium spending the first 45 minutes as an extended warm up.

The point being they were vulnerable to attack and being caught sleeping. The US caught Ghana napping why not Belgium? Klinsmann set up an attacking formation (4-3-3) only to deploy defensive orders. Such a stance elevated Tim Howard’s exposure and reduced every other man to a deputized sweeper.

The US managed a woeful nine shots on target in 120 minutes. The Belgians had 27! To be proud of that is to underestimate the potential of the US National team.

In 2002 players like Bobby Convey, Clint Mathis, Eddie Johnson, Demarcus Beasley (when he was a winger) and Landon Donovan made their names by playing fast and unafraid of the opposition.  That was the first World Cup side to have cut their teeth in the MLS and advertise the quality the league could produce. Older players like Brian McBride, Frankie Hedjuk, Eddie Lewis and Kacey Keller balanced the squad and offered experience. For some it was the terrible experience of 98’. The dark memory of coming in last in the competition.

Now they didn’t come in last this year but they didn’t do much else. One win, Two loses and a draw. They also lost me a bet. I was convinced based on the conviction of play in 2002 the US would be in the Semis or better by 2014. There was real defiance and commitment about that side. Does anyone remember Mathis’ goal? Jesus that was beautiful. They weren’t afraid and they didn’t spend undue time in their own half. They were fun to watch, not agonizing and dull.

It cost them at times (Poland, Germany) but the plan was never to see what the other team was going to do. I’m glad so many Americans picked up soccer for this World Cup I just don’t want them to think that this was best the US was capable of.

Good Luck to remaining sides but I hope the World avoids another capitulation to Brazil or Germany.

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This article is spot on. That Sweden game was one of the best I’ve ever seen in the Cup. they never should have done away with Golden Goals. Senegal’s run is what the cup should be about.

Sandals For Goalposts

Think of great fairytales in World Cup history and what usually comes up? West Germany beating Hungary in the 1954 final, England winning on home soil in 1966, Cameroon beating Maradona’s Argentina in the first game in 1990, and of course, Senegal.

When we talk about it, it doesn’t even need a date, or indeed an explanation. Just saying ‘Senegal’ brings a knowing nod and smile from anyone who remembers the 2002 World Cup. It’s a wonderful share experience, the product of a bizarre tournament where nothing seemed to go according to expectation. Despite the turgid football and refereeing blunders, it was a tournament those who watched will never forget, and Senegal’s remarkable run is at the heart of it.

Before it begun, as with most major modern tournaments, the World Cup had its own hype machine, but Senegal had little part to play, other than as plucky underdogs facing…

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Posted: 03/27/2013 in Uncategorized

A little Brilliance from David Squire and the Sunshine Room.

The Sunshine Room

Parallel Universe copy

I’m as guilty of this kind of thing as any sports fan. I regularly lounge in my seat at the Sydney Football Stadium and between mouthfulls of pie offer beery advice and constructive criticism to Alessandro Del Piero. Just to outline my credentials: I haven’t kicked a football in over four years and when I was 14 the coach of the team I played for once opted to leave me on the bench and start a match with 10 players.

The pub interior is loosely based on my old local, The Hand in Hand in Brixton. I would often sit in the back room, watching live matches in the company of football critics whose collective tactical genius remained criminally unrecognised by football authorities. England may have won the last two World Cups if the FA had only tapped into this rich vein of thinking.

The pub exterior is based on The Selkirk in Tooting; a…

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I’ve had to defend my viewing habits on a couple occasions this week. Waking up at 8 am  to watch a game or turning off Man United to watch the NY Red Bulls raises concern in the minds of the uninitiated.

Man City’s loss to Everton was worth the early start to the day. I put it that way because Everton had no business being as disciplined and productive as they we’re after the red card. They looked for no favors and gave no quarter.

David Moyes has never received any compliments from me, I have no great love for Liverpool Blue or Red. But the team he’s built is one of the best to watch in the EPL. When they play well they leave nothing on the table, all action and commitment.

In the age of the juggernaut teams (United, Barca) a good plan and intimidation get the jo done. There’s no mystery or gamble as to who’s winning. 15 points ahead is a lead that hardly seems reasonable. The title race is over but teams like Everton keep it interesting.

The gulf has forced managers lower in the league to play more adventurous soccer. It’s not about tactics, teams like Wigan, Newcastle, Everton and Aston Villa play with great style even if they don’t have the points to show for it. If I was advising a new fan on games to watch I’d point to the teams with something to fight for.

The reason United gets so much criticism as they grind the bones of their opposition is the loss of  their style. They are winning games without that impressive swagger. It’s no fun. Chelsea had the same criticism when they won three straight under Mourinho.  I’m sure Sir Alex isn’t bothered though. Mancini might be but he couldn’t be reached for comment.

 


You’ll be forgiven if you missed the Champions League Match between the Seattle Sounders and Tigres UANL. The CONCACAF Champions League hardly gets the publicity or coverage of its European counterpart. It’s format is far from straight forward, I can never tell what stage they are in and I watch soccer the way some people breathe air, constantly.(Group stages and qualifying took place starting last July)

The point is, under the cover of obscurity, and Lionel Messi destroying AC Milan; a great game was played on our shores, by our teams. Seattle came into the game two goals down on aggregate and no real hope of going through. A US/MLS team had never beaten Mexican opposition to make it into the Semifinals since the format change. US teams have hard going against Mexican opposition any roads and a comeback didn’t seem likely especially an additional goal down going into the second half.

Two thunderbolts and a surgical strike later, Seattle had gotten through to the next round. Eddie Johnson is already an American staple but DeAndre Yedlin and Djimi Traore are now heroes for the Sounders. Their 30+ yard rockets came from outer space.

Today Is the European Round of 16 closer but if you happen to catch the quaterfinals of the CCL, you could surprise yourself to some good soccer.

Nobody even considers what Ronaldinho pulls off. That goes for your precious Messi too. Here he fakes exhaustion one minute and sets up a goal in the next. (Source Whoateallthepies)

Video  —  Posted: 02/14/2013 in Football, Humor, Video
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Animation from Yissus Galiana

Wisdom From Charles Bukowski

degeasave2 GIF: David De Geas Matrix esque sliding kick save v Real Madrid

Source 101GG

The hype for these matches can be terrifying. The commercials, commentary and highlights make it seem like God and Satan are going to square off again. It’s all a bit much and the hyperbole cheapens most results.

But today… Today, was everything a game of this stature should be. The first half hour was as intense and exciting as you’ll see in any competition. Di Maria and Khaderia looked like the guns of the Navarrone as they welcome De Gea back to Spain. Coentrao couldn’t believe      De Gea got to his shot in time to bounce it off the inside post.

Just when it looked like United were going to get run out, Danny Welbeck scored a stunning header. With Valencia on the sideline, I was convinced Mourinho had won the selection battle but it’s hardly my place to question the red face Scottish genius.

Ronaldo wasn’t to be outdone and scored against his old “family.” The jump was straight out of starship troopers. He looked like he could’ve stayed up there until the ball crossed his path. Ferguson is right, Ronaldo’s only gotten better since leaving United.

ibeEnBAapJe3sa GIF: Cristiano Ronaldo heads Real Madrid level against Manchester United

United stayed compact and defended as well as they could. A consistent back four would make this exceptional team fearsome. Madrid showed none of the weakness from their league campaign and countered at every occasion. De Gea answered every attack that got through with the most impressive, Kung Fu save I’ve seen since Higuitta’s scorpion.

The second leg at Old Trattford will be more of the same. United can’t sit back. one is never enough. As well as Madrid played, their crowd elevated their display. It was consistent noise and will be match by the United faithful.

Football is so much better when the game out plays than the hype. All the GIFs are the best moments from the match courtesy of 101GG.

degeasave GIFs: David De Geas two world class saves for Manchester United v Real Madrid

welbeck GIF: Birds eye view of Danny Welbecks header v Real Madrid

Kim Jong Un

Them! Kill Them!

North Korea have elevated their status as members of some super villain association. They’ve created an earthquake! With nuclear bombs! This should cause fear in the heart of all unlucky enough to call Kim Jong Un and his legions of henchmen enemies.

Unfortunately the class 5 earthquake was hardly more vigorous than a shake weight demonstration. Even worse for those dastardly detonators is that earthquakes produced by human activity are fairly common. Shit, Tesla had an earthquake machine, among other outlandish super villain standards. A Death Ray, really?

But while I joke about this recent activity North Korea’s repressive nature is still pretty serious. Things are changing. Kim Jong Un isn’t his father or his grandfather. that kind of crazy is hard to top. I also have it on good authority that people everywhere appreciate living without the threat of assassination or arrest without cause. Like the cartoon villain all security mad governments get it in the end just not in the compact 30 minute window we’re accustomed to.

Nigeria Nations CUp

Champions Nigeria celebrate their first nations cup since 1994.

Another impressive South African tournament in the books even if the hosts’ involvement was a short one. The former dominance of the North Africans has officially been ceded to the West Africans. Not only did Nigeria win but runners-up Burkina Faso, Mali and Ghana were head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.

African soccer is on the rise and the leadership of Nigerian coach Steven Keshi and his Ghanaian counterpart should not be ignored. Now African countries know they don’t need European guidance to win. This is my team of the tournament, leave all grievances in the comments.

I put an unconventional formation in a 3-4-3 with Keshi as coach. The man is a natural leader and made the changes no other Nigerian coach was willing to make. Six of his squad was home based and only 5 played in previous tournaments. Reputation  meant little to him and his judgement payed in full.  

Nigeria’s Enyeama was an impressive shot stopper among many during the tournament. If Ghana had made it further Duada would have been in the side.

In the back Bakary Kone, Nando Maria Neves and Efe Ambrose. Neves is the only player not from one of the final four teams.

The midfield houses the stars of the tournament. Jonathan Pitroipa of Burkina Faso was named player of the tournament and plays on the wing. Mubarak Wakaso from Ghana, was impressive in every game he played would be on the right, when he’s not scoring penalties. In the center Mikel Obi and Seydou Keita keep the ball.

Up front the three Nigerians put the goals away. Victor Moses, Sunday Mba and standout Emmanuel Emenike. Their contributions went beyond the Ghana’s profligate captain and Aristade Bance who lacked service to get beyond Nigeria’s scoring unit.

Goalkeeper

Vincent Enyeama (Nigeria)
Defenders

Bakary Koné (Burkina Faso)
Nando Maria Neves (Cape Verde Islands)
Efe Ambrose (Nigeria)
Midfielders

Jonathan Pitroipa (Burkina Faso)
Wakaso Mubarak (Ghana)
Seydou Keita (Mali)
John Obi Mikel (Nigeria
)
Strikers

Victor Moses (Nigeria)
Sunday Mba (Nigeria)
Emmanuel Emenike (Nigeria)

But you watched the games. What do you think? Who makes your team.large_4586307007