Saturday, July 22, 2006

Petit Hombre

Pictured to the left is Jonah Blum, one of the US team's rising fans
and a true developing soccer mind in the Atlanta suburbs. Recently, I was able to get a few minutes of his time.

MK: Jonah, your thoughts on the US's world cup flameout ?

JB: nuzzhhh... zabab zzababa
MK: So, it sounds like you're blaming Arena for the team's lacklustre performance...
JB: unga... zabbbab... zhhss (biting sock)
MK: Strong words, indeed. Do you think he can be successful with RBNY?
JB: nnaapppzaz dugaduga mpat
MK: Well said. On to the next question. Freddy Adu.. ready for Europe ?
JB: Brilliant...I've authentically been impressed with Fredinho this year. He's adjusting on the pitch to the withdrawn striker spot, and is reading passing lanes well. Novak has succeeded in teaching him better defensive awareness and technique. Before, he was just out there to impress everyone. And, lest we forget.. the lad is only bloody 17!
MK: Where do you see him ending up ?
JB: uaannns zapa nahng nhanb.
MK: There you have it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Meet the New Boss (same as the old boss)

Well, Bruce Arena is the new coach of Red Bull New York, which is a complete non-surprise, overall. Bruce is a NYC guy, and RBNY wanted a name coach, so I can see the match. I've always liked the NY/NJ franchise, dating back to their original taxicab logo.

Most coaches, after they leave their WC team, travel, golf and generally do nothing noteworthy for a few months after (I have a feeling Klinsmann is at a Jamba Juice enjoying the anonymity). It's kind of a susprise to see Bruce back in the news so soon after, but I guess he wanted to do something, and NY needed him, so it all fits.

I have no doubt Bruce will win at Giants Stadium. He'll figure out a way to get it done. I wonder what his future holds; it's not like he's going to be one of these Kinnear or Yallop-type guys who bounces around MLs teams. After being the big man in the US, that's a step down, and he's not a step down kinda hombre.

I wouldn't be surprised, honestly, to see him coach another small to midsized national team like Canada - a team with some skill that needs a coach with a resume. ehh ?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Out of Left Field

I read in yesterday's Washington Post that the DC United and Real Madrid are discussing a possible exhibition match to be held... in Baltimore!
Howzzabout that?
I can't imagine anything that I'd like more.. close to town, in a unique stadium. My fave club team versus one of the world's top clubs. I can't imagine Ronaldo, Raul, Roberto Carlos and Beckham all making the trip over, but I'd think some would be here.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Guten Tag, Jurgen.

Grant Wahl wrote today about the US's chance of signing former German coach Jurgen Klinsmann. I certainly hope they can. It makes all the sense in the world, plus there's really nobody else who fits the bill. Let's hope Gulati let Bruce go, knowing he had a good replacement.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Thanks, Bruce.

Well, you heard it here 27th. Bruce Arena is out as US coach. - his contract wasn't renewed.
I have a feeling this was all pre-decided, but I have respect for Gulati.

I'll take your questions now.

Is this because he failed to get out of the first round ?
Mostly, yes.

Are you surprised ?

If we beat Ghana, would Bruce still be here ?
I think so, yes.

So, why was Bruce one bad PK call away from being retained ?
Sports are a funny thing. When good things happen, we overlook a lot. Conversely, when bad things happen, we review a lot.

Klinsmann ?
There's a chance.

Are you sad to see him go ?
This isn't like the ending of "Cheers". 8 years is a very long time. Bruce will be OK. He's a smart guy. It's soccer. Bruce was a great - great coach, but his time to go had arrived. Fresh blood is a good thing in international soccer.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


So, the news is that Jurgen Klinsmann has resigned as German coach.
Completely surprised me as with many people. Germany had a great run in this World Cup and he was again regarded as a national hero. I've no doubt that he was much loved by his players. The common thinking was that he'd stay until Euro 2008.

I can't imagine that he left for personal reasons. Klinsmann isn't an angry or spiteful guy. Just makes it look more like he's doing it to become the next US coach. Timing is a little weird, though. The last German game was Saturday - he celebrates, enjoys and he announced his leaving on Tuesday night. Seems a little pre-meditated for me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

War of The Words

Two days after the World Cup final, and news outlets are getting some deeper information about what Materazzi said that got so under Zidane's skin.

I agree with what most people have said about this - that no matter what insult flew that Zidane has to keep his cool there - violence is a far worse thing than an insult. The latter happens all the time in sports; it's well known that teams are taught how to insult opponents in their native language.

Now, in no way do I condone what was said. If I was in the heat of battle, and someone slung something anti-semitic at me, I'd want his head bitten off, but I'd fuel that rage into performance on the field.

And, speaking of sports pundits, I've heard opinions from the usual soccer minions, as well as SI's football elder statesman Paul Zimmerman, Mike Golic, Dan LeBatard and Wilbon and a host of others. Hey, that's progres... regular sports journlists stepping in with their 2 cents. CNNSI's website even had a list of the top-ten sports meltdowns. I pretty much hate those silly lists, but atleast its' genesis was soccer.

And, getting back to Materazzi's quote, he said something like, "I'm a cultured man, I've never heard of a muslim terrorist". I realize that English isn't his first language, or maybe it came via an interpreter, but I think he meant to say something like, "I'm a cultured man; I don't believe Muslims are terrorists" or "I don't know any Muslim terrorists", to show his open-mindedness for Muslims.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Hot Potato

There's a lot of soccer-related hot potato/blame game over the last few weeks, vis-a-vis the US team. I realize this post shoulda come a few weeks ago, but it took me a few weeks to digest the whole thing.

OK, so we got 1 point, and were lucky to get that. We lost badly to the Czechs and unspiritedly to the Ghanians. I'm not sure if it's an American thing, but people like pointing fingers. It's tidy and it makes for good news. Wynalda blames Arena, Arena blames MLS Donovan and Beasley, Donovan blames himself (sorta), I don't know whom Beasley blames it on. Some reporters blame it on our youth system, and pretty much everything else.

I'm curious what South Korean writers are saying, or Japanese, Ivory Coastan, Czech or even Serbian, for that matter.. all teams with aspirations of getting into the knockout phase of the Cup. It makes it look as though each defeat has a definite reason; as if all of life's outcomes have a definite reason that we can learn from. There's something psychological there - that we can always improve and learn from mistakes, which I think it's great, but I don't think that's always so.

Not everything in life happens b/c of a definite reason. People like and don't like each other; stocks appreciate, people get hired for jobs. Sometimes, the reasons are harder to distinguish from others, but when it comes to sports, which is much more about percentages than people know, sometimes things just happen. Most of the time when a team or an individual loses, it's because their opponent was better. OK, so maybe if Ching comes in, or Convey played longer, or Gibbs stays healthy, we do better, but we don't know - it's just conjecture. The easiest explanation is the correct one here - teams get beat by better teams; maybe players or tactics or preparedness, but our opponents were just better. It happens. We don't need committees to look into it, or meetings or anything else.

See You in South Africa

Johannesburg is in the same time zone as Berlin. Initially, I wouldn't have believed this, but it makes perfect sense. Africa is below Europe and to the west of the Middle East. I suppose I thought South Africa was like 27 hours ahead of us, b/c it takes so long to fly there, but that's because of north-south distance, not east-west distance. So, call me enlightened.

I doubt I'll be in South Africa in 2010, but it would be fun. My friends Mark, Bill and Dino might be there. I'm sure it wouldn't take too much to convince them. As for me, it's not exactly economically feasible to do so, but it's not impossible. Odder things have happened.

And so, herewithin, I thank all of the people with whom I've shared this World Cup, either in fandom, defense or explanation - Amy, Mark, Scott, Vadim, Susan, Joe, Peter and Lois, Dino, blogger Isis, Jeff,, my parents, Amy's parents, the guy at BWI airport in the US jersey, the guy outside of ESPN zone who shared my disgust after the US-CZE game, the cute Irish waitress at James Joyce, SoccerTowne in Hunt Valley, the guy at the Senator who asked about my shirt, the guy at Nordstrom who got the wrong 2006 kit, WNST, like-minded reporters and all who share in the passion, love and wonder.

And So, the Clasp is Shut

This evening, I have 2 errands - to mail some things from the Post Office, including a request for trial for a parking ticket (ack) and a gift for my second cousin. After that, I will visit Staples, to buy a large single clasp binder which will hold the literature I have purchased for the World Cup.
I've done this for every WC since 1994.

Added will be the preview issues from World Soccer, FourFourTwo, Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, The Washington Post, and today's NY Times Sports Monday. I'll check them out in the months/years to come, but they serve as a little time capsule so I can look back and reread the writers projections, reflect, smile and remember where I was and what I was doing during the monthly tournament - mornings at James Joyce, afternoons at Rocky Run, watching US-Italy in Washington DC, some first-round playoff games with my in-laws in Tampa and the final with my friend, Jeff in Baltimore.

The last item to get will be the official WC2006 DVD which will come out in November, or so.

Uy Campari

In the hours leading up to Sunday's final, I did my best to get my Italian on. I downloaded the Pavarotti "Funiculi Funicula" from Napster, I listened to my Putamayo 'Italian Odyssey' CD and wore my black AC Milan jersey. That I watched the game at a neighborhood sports bar in Timonium, Maryland is inconsequential. I was about 65% agreed on going to the Little Italy neighborhood of Baltimore after the game, if the Azzuri won. When they did, I started heading downtown. I figured it would be a fun memory; I could honk my horn, see some flags and get some gelati. Well, my wife called while I was on my way. She was OK with me going, but she wanted to be able to go to dinner before we saw my brother's family for dessert. So, I turned around and we got sushi. I'm Ok with that; my wife trumps my World Cup interests, but I read a piece in today's Baltimore Sun about people rooting in Little Italy - I wished I'd known that before.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I Did My Part.

Story in the Baltimore Sun about Baltimore-area bars reaping WC profits.
Read it here.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Next USMNT Coach

After a long and unprecedented series of evaluations, I am happy to be the first site on the blogosphere to report the next manager of the USMNT. It is no other than Ginger Tompkins, (pictured). Some might know Ginger for his uncanny goalkeeping ability, having bested such competition as Hugh Jass. Others have mentioned his uncanny resemblance to British comedian Benny Hill, which is merely speculative. Regardless, Ginger brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and a great red afro to the US Men's Team. Stay tuned - there's more to come.

Vive Le...

Well, Les Bleus are in, after a very exciting game yesterday.
This was the first sports game I'd ever watched over the Internet, using ESPN's 360 feature. Was just like TV - same image, everything. I always figured eventually I'd watch TV online, and yesterday, I did.
I thought Ronaldo played great, and while I tend to think that French GK Fabien Barthez is a liability, he's won a World Cup and a European Championship with a chance to hoist another Rimet trophy, so he must be doing something right.

Throughout this cup, I've been defending/explaining/promoting the World Cup to friends and co-workers and people who are a little of both. Yesterday's game, while great, is a reason I have to do the former 2. Basically, the second-most important game of the tournament was won on a somewhat disputed call that cost the game, especially after the ITA-GER game was such an epic. I've listened to radio call-in shows wherein all manner of sports fans who admit to not liking soccer are all-too ready to give their ideas for improving it, such as removing the offsides rule or other things to increase scoring. Sorry to tell them that soccer is fine, and attempts to make it appeal more to American non-soccer fans are not the issue. But, that being said, I wish there was something that could be done to halt the fact that one questionable call can make a game - especially at the highest level. Problem is.. I don't know what it is. Refs can't stop calling things, nor can they use instant replay to further examine acting on tumbles, so I guess we're stuck.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Darker Side of things

From --

Can't I do anything original?

CNN story on the popularity of 2006 World Cup Blogs.

Also, some of the blogs I've been reading will discontinue at the end of the Cup.
As for myself, I plan to keep on blogging until... well, for a while atleast.


Well, Italy books their ticket for the Sunday game in Berlin. I remember people talking up Italy's chances a few months back, but I don't think they could see it under these circumstances - drawing with the US, Brazil's sudden departure, the Serie A scandal, Totti's injury, Toni's scoring drought. But, they're there and that's all that matters. I gotta think they'll be favored, as well. They're younger and have more heart than either of their potential foes.

Of course, rooting for Italy is easy, si ? Everyone likes Italy for their food, their style of life, their names, their fashion, etc. I'm sure that there are some people who dislike them, but not many. Germany, on the other hand, is a tough country to root for - you need a reason to root for them. Deutschland is a vast place with great contributions to literature, music, lederhosen and of course, beer and pretzels. But, their actions from 1933-1945 coupled with the corporate and unemotional way that people think about them, make them a tough sell. It's like rooting for Microsoft to have a great quarter, I guess.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Saving Time

I've noticed that watching games with the first forward setting on Tivo is a great time-saving measure. It plays at about 2x speed which is still understandable, and it's kinda interesting to see the ball speed down after a long volley. You should try it some time. The games only take 45 minutes to watch.

The Four Tops

So, we're down to four - Portugal, Italy, France and Germany. Much has been written about Brazil's loss to France, so I won't comment too much but to say that I'm really surprised. I had told anyone who would listen that the tournament was Brazil's to lose. I didn't put much weight in the theory that Brazil can't win big games in Europe, until now. And, I saw potential weaknesses in all of the other teams, save maybe Argentina.

Max Bretos made the comment last night the Brazil being out helps the tournament b/c it opens it up (obviously) and derails Brazil's quadrennial dynasty, assuming they win each time it's NOT in Europe. I suppose that means they'll win in South Africa come 2010.

The sad thing about tomorrow's game is that it's on July 4th at 3pm, which isn't a time I was preparing to be home. But, it's a game I need to see. My only saving grace is a rainy day, wherein I'm forced to be inside. I suppose I could justify a 3-5pm home spell.