Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Sports Illustrated is running an excerpt from Grant Wahl's new book, The Beckham Experiment. Some of the tidbits the excerpt has:
- Becks won't pick up the check at dinner
- Becks pushed to be named captain of the team, Landon Donovan resisted (way to go, LD*!)
- Becks had his best friend hired by the Galaxy to find the new coach -- and didn't tell the team
- Ruud Gullit didn't have his team practice set pieces at all during the preseason, despite Becks being able to bend it like, well, Beckham
- Gullit would show up for a 10am practice at 9 and roll out at 12:30 -- a mere 30 minutes after practice ended
- LD attempted to broach the subject of Becks' playing too far back via SMS
From the excerpt it seems like Wahl (fabulous at covering soccer and college hoops) has relied heavily on LD as a source -- a good idea, since he had the most to gain and lose from Beck's arrival. This quote by LD on whether Becks was a good teammate says quite a bit:
""He's not. He's not shown that. I can't think of another guy where I'd say he wasn't a good teammate, he didn't give everything through all this, he didn't still care. But with [Beckham] I'd say no, he wasn't committed."
Photo courtesy of Amazon.com
* Yeah, yeah, so Donovan's play and effort over the 5 Confed Cup games has reignited my fan crush on him. Sue me.
Following the lead of German Jermaine Jones, Edgar Castillo of Mexico now wants to play for the USA. Normally I would oppose this, but a) sticking it to Mexico and b) getting a good left back are high on the USA's list of soccer priorities (#1 is currently learning to hold a two-goal lead).
Of course, if Castillo is called up for Mexico in August and/or the USA loses badly in Azteca, he might have a change of heart.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Even a drunken spider monkey such as the ones on the Citigroup board* would have looked slightly less inept than the Uruguayan goalie does here.
* A cheap shot, I know. I apologize to all spider monkeys with alcohol issues.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Immediately after the USA-Brazil Confederations Cup Final, I was diagnosed with SITS* - Soccer-Induced Tourette's Syndrome. Symptoms are uncontrollable loud cursing during and/or after watching soccer games of beloved teams (in this case, the USA). Only cures are better finishing and oral application of alcohol. However, the condition is rarely fatal if the victim is watched carefully by several large friends.
* Not to be confused with the British version, FITS (Football, not Soccer), or SHITS (Send Help Into The Shitter, which I last had after visiting Morocco in 2007)
Three and a half years, now three bikes -- the dorf isn't kind. But here is Moe Howard, fresh from the flea market. He's smaller, angrier, and tougher than Shemp or Larry, but also cheaper.
Photo of the Stooge courtesy of www.clown-ministry.com (no, I don't know what it is, either.)
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Check out Coleman Collins's postings on espn.com. A gem from the Germany post:
"Nowadays when I hear someone run towards me yelling, "OBAMA!" I say as loud as I can, "GUANTANAMO!" and then head in the other direction."
Go ahead, check it out. I double-dog dare you.
*King Wally, I don't consider Beer Pong a sport. Wenching, though, THAT's a sport.
I gotta admit, I do like having a smartass as coach. While I still think that Guus Hiddink is the best manager in the world, I enjoyed Arena's snarkiness and it looks like Bradley also has a sense of humor. And, he knows the word "shiznit" which is pretty high on the Unintentional Comedy scale.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
46:00 - Not many people keep rockin' the peach fuzz mustache after puberty, but Iker Casillas is keeping the dream alive.
51:00 - The endless stream of corners is eventually going to kill the USA. I doubt it will be on a header, just on some amazing move along the baseline.
52:20 - Dempsey again overplayed the contact, but it's hard to see how that wasn't a card but Donovan's was.
53:30 - I gotta say, that seemed like a penalty. Of course, Donovan was clocked in the exact same way in a previous Confed match, so I guess it balances.
64:00 - OK, my 10 minute cherry break is done -- the boys need my blogging to keep them going. The two very near misses make me pass on the pits and return. Though, I think cherries are clearly not a breakfast snack -- the pits mean you need to be fully awake to tackle them.
66:30 - End-to-end action! Well, if you consider keepers picking up bad deep passes to be action.
69:00 - Torres was again about 6 inches from 1-1. That's gotta get old. And a big shoutout to Charlie Davies for another great game of running.
70:15 - And Dempsey predictably drops like a ton of bricks when whacked by Puyol.
72:00 - Spain seems to have figured out Altidore is good at shielding with his body, not so good with his touch.
73:20 - GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!! Dempsey takes advantage of a bad-luck touch on a Donovan cross to put the USA up 2.
75:30 - While Altidore is good at using his body, he's also been taking notes from Dempsey on his flopping. Any more of that and I'll be channeling Sean Connery.
78:30 - More fouls like that and it won't be a shutout much longer. Also, these chest pains might get worse.
80:30 - Assuming Brazil takes care of business tomorrow night, I think we can safely say one of the Confed Cup groups was a bit tougher than the other.
82:00 - Altidore is clearly hurting here. I think a sub wouldn't hurt. On the bright side, Dempsey is running all out to keep possession. Good to know he wasn't mailing it in, just saving himself for the important games.
84:10 - Spain still hasn't figured out that the guys in white are getting all the crosses.
86:00 - Apparently getting the ball isn't enough to avoid a red card if you're Michael Bradley. Fing bullshit. The cleats weren't up, it wasn't vaguely dangerous. Ugh.
88:40 - Landon! Donovan draws a yellow Fletch-style -- walks into the Spain player and drops. Of course, a red would have made it 10-10.
90:00 - 3 minutes of stoppage. I'd feel better if Spector didn't keep leaving a guy open on the wing. Of course, with Bornstein having fresh legs for the saving tackles, that's ok.
Aaaaaannnndndddddd... USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!
8:28pm - First Carlos Puyol sighting. I snort my beer. I don't think there's much question that he has the most recognizable hair in World Soccer.
8:29pm - Am I the only one who thinks it's hilarious all the black players stood on one side of the "Say NO to Racism" banner?
2:10 - Apparently Dempsey's good play ratio of 1/game is enough for a start.
3:50 - Jozy Altidore does not look 19. He and Freddy Adu must have the same Dominican broker for their birth certificates
4:34 - Donovan gets a card for a rather innocuous challenge.
6:30 - HI-YOOOOO! Charlie Davies is making Bradley look smart (for playing him the last 2 games) and stupid (for ignoring him in the 1st 2 debacles) with a spectacular bicycle that just goes wide.
8:00 - Dempsey goes just wide. The USA is really taking it to Spain here. Shades of Cuba, Teddy Roosevelt-era. Probably the best run I've seen by the team in a loooong time.
9:30 - The book is out on Howard -- shoot from distance.
11:00 - Being captain doesn't keep you from napping -- Bocanegra almost gives up a goal.
13:10 - Until I hear otherwise, I'm going to assume that Bradley got the scar in a knife fight with his son Michael after tiring of young Michael's fear of being carded.
15:25 - Offsides or no, you have to give it up for David Villa's soulpatch.
17:40 - The USA finally catches a break with Villa being ruled incorrectly offsides, though it really only robs Howard of a sweet save. It's OK Tim, we saw it.
21:25 - While the USA strategy of telling Spain the match started at 20:45 worked splendidly for the first 20 minutes, the Euro champions have finally showed up. This is not a good thing. On the bright side, while Torres and Villa are fabulous, they're not really threatening Onyewu and DeMerit on corners.
26:00 - GGGGGGGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLL!!! Jozy is so excited he forgets to keep his jersey on while celebrating, getting himself a yellow card. And also giving me the chance to point out that this is one goal more than Germany scored against Spain last summer.
29:15 - In a show of solidarity with the other US backs and wings, Spector puts a cross into the 10th row -- directly behind the goal. Just hideous.
31:00 - Clark is taken down at midfield leading to Villa skying a shot over the bar -- the bar for the luxury boxes.
34:00 - It's nice of Spain to keep setting up Gooch for headers. And what is up with all these offsides calls on Torres?
35:30 - Capdevilla pulls down Altidore leading to Dempsey missing a header -- that Bocanegra would have had an easy shot from. Perfect ball from Donovan, who is playing extremely well.
38:00 - WHEW! Torres was about 6 inches from making it 1-1.
45:00 - Puyol is El Rey of blatantly shoving an offensive player but not getting a call or a card. He has yet to go for a ball instead of a man, yet has remained uncarded. I'm thinking it's the perm.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Following their 1-0 win over Italy, several Egyptian players celebrated the traditional way -- with hookers.
Of course, no team wants to be tagged with the copycat label. Other pro soccer players & teams have recently been in the news for sharing prostitutes, multiple hooker orgies, and questions of mistaken gender, but the Egyptians dug deep and found a new angle -- "We Wuz Robbed!" Five players originally reported wallets stolen with a total of $2400 dollars, but they were at a loss to describe how their hotel rooms had not been broken into nor belongings rummaged through. Instead, cops believe that either they bought $2400 in extremely personal services (and were looking for South Africa's hard-earned rep as the African version of Detroit to bail them out) the short-term employees ripped them off, OR tipping is more of a two-way street in the Southern Hemisphere.
No matter the final story, kudos to the team and FIFA for finding a way to distract me from the USA's miserable 135 minutes of soccer since being up 1-0 on Italy.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
For the past few months, I've had problems going to sleep. I'll be in bed, exhausted, trying to sleep, and ... nothing. Then the next morning I'll wake up, surprisingly refreshed for a night of tossing and turning. That all changed in Amsterdam. Once again, I was unable to sleep, when suddenly, I was woken up by our intrepid captain who informed me that I was snoring. Now, snoring is very unusual for me -- when I'm awake. Apparently, I haven't really had trouble sleeping, but instead I've just had a recurring dream of having trouble sleeping.
This is, to say the least, annoying. First, I feel like a character in a John Irving novel. Second, I have a wide variety of better dreams that are not recurring (see: Hayek, Salma). While this one has a nice metadream quality, it's not really something I would choose for my iDreams playlist. On the bright side, like the gray dots in the classic optical illusion, once this dream has been identified, it seems to have disappeared.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Ok, so I skipped a few days in the trip. But the first set of photos with snarky comments are ready. Other days to follow. If there's a delay, blame Dan's super camera for my camera-based feelings of inferiority. Bastard.
Since I have an INSANE number of photos to sort through and snarkily comment upon, here's a tease -- click for the monstrously huge version.
And a note just for King Wally -- while you were whining about Prague, we were soaking up the rays in the Adriatic :)
And, for your viewing pleasure, the sweet sounds of the Adriatic lapping upon Supetar beach.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
With the early start, I couldn't pull away in time to get an online diary, but I did manage to catch the last 30 minutes at a pub. On the bright side, they did serve beer, which was necessary.
- While Brazil did look good against the USA, the days of Jogo Bonito are gone. In its place is Jogo Oscaro -- playing for the call. If there was even a whiff of contact, the South Americans dropped like rocks. At least with Ronaldinho off the pitch, the team could find a central midfielder that can run at least from midfield to the box when nachos weren't involved.
- It's clear these two teams have been shaped by the World Cup in '94 -- Brazil has the captain of that team (wearing an outfit borrowed from Ross on Friends) as coach and the style is his -- gritty, floppy with occasional breaks for style. The USA team tried to play D and score off set pieces and corners. This is not a good thing for the USA. In '02 they showed attacking flair, but in '09 all they've shown is a flair for red cards.
- How did Klejstan start ahead of Adu, Torres or Feilhaber? Is Altidore completely out of shape? And the photos that DMBeasley has of coach Bradley, do they involve farm animals, hookers, or Bruce Arena? Or all 3? I just don't see how he keeps getting time on the team. Stick Bocanegra at left back (where he plays for his club) and be done with it.
- It's not a good sign when you feel that you'd prefer to be at work than watching your team. I know that all soccer fans have Cassandra Complexes, but I am not even vaguely heartened by the showing at the tournament -- 7-1 aggregate against Brazil and Italy has convinced me that looking into a South Africa trip just isn't worth it.
Monday, June 15, 2009
49:00 - The USA looks content to defend and play the long ball. That NEVER backfires.
51:00 - Or not! Altidore, Dempsey & co. show they have other ideas.
52:00 - Handy Cam has almost the exact same tackle that cost Clark a red card. In Italian, it's just a foul.
53:00 - Italian defensive strategy on Altidore is simple. Hold them, then hack them, then throw him down. This is one group that seems determined not to be the ones with a knife in a gunfight.
55:00 - Fabio Grosso is apparently ok with the perpetuation of stereotypes about Italians.
56:30 - Giuseppi "I'm too good to play for the USA" Rossi comes in for Handy Cam while Gattuso goes out for a large man with a suspicious-looking bulge under his black leather jacket.
59:00 - Nah, you don't want someone who can do that on your team. Nice work by Arena & Gulati in not pursuing Rossi. 1-1. Ugh
65:00 - You know a team dislikes playing against you when they sprint over to tell you that you're being subbed for. Great work by Altidore in scaring the Azzurri D sin merda
70:00 - I didn't realize Chris Rock was on the US team. No, wait, that's the corpse of DaMarcus Beasley.
71:00 - Goddammit. I hate De Rossi. And why didn't Onyewu use his left foot?
75:00 - I do like a 'keeper so intent on yelling at a defender that he can't be bothered to make a good outlet pass.
78:00 - I just figured it out -- I need an HD receiver to see Dempsey in the 2nd half.
79:20 - Right on cue, Dempsey shoots from range right at Buffon. This is followed up by Toni flopping twice in 2 seconds. I don't think he likes big defenders.
80:40 - Apparently kneeing Donovan's head in the penalty box is ok if you fake an injury.
85:00 - I think it's obvious we need some Adu. Is he that rusty? Hopefully Kljestan can pass the ball better than he has recently.
87:36 - And that's a nice little shot -- a few inches over the bar. He's got about 5 minutes to sharpen that up.
93:00 - That's what happens when you play a man down for most of the game. Oh well, 2 more games to play. I fing hate the Italian team. They're hanging out in soccer hell with the Mexican team, at least in my cosmology. I hope they get busjacked on the ride back to the hotel. GAH!
4:40 - The first clear flop of the game came courtesy of, no surprise here, Camoranesi. If I were Sean Connery on Celebrity Jeopardy, I would say that's a wop move if I ever saw one. And, suck it, Trebek.
8:05 - How is it that Landon has been at exactly the same level of "balding" for the last 5 years? Is it possible he just cuts his hair this way?
9:50 - Nice job by Demerit to clear a ball that was not dangerous, then for the USA to leave Camoranesi unmarked near the back post. Ever the polite guest, Handy-Cam tries to give some fan in the upper deck a souvenir.
11:00 - Apparently the Italians do remember that the best player on the field in their World Cup matchup was Landon Donovan. They show their respect with a blatant foul. Classy bunch. Good pizza, though.
13:50 - I think Bob Bradley might want to rethink his pregame strategy of telling Altidore, "If we're going to beat them, you have to take them off the dribble, regardless of the numbers."
15:00 - Apparently reserves in La Liga must be more than 3 yards behind the last defender to be considered offsides, based on Altidore's positioning.
17:20 - Michael Bradley's frustration at not yet yearning a yellow leads him to crush a ball over Bornstein's head. Or maybe he's just annoyed with all US leftbacks for turning the side into a sieve over the last few months.
19:30 - Handy-Cam goes down faster than Lehman Brothers stock price and Bornstein gets a yellow for tapping him on the shoulder.
32:00 - The ref apparently believes that a foul deserving of yellow is a red for Clark -- immediately after missing a clear foul by the Italians. I didn't realize Bennet Salvatore was working this game.
34:30 - While intentionally slapping Donovan in the face is only a yellow.
38:00 - Bornstein fights to take Beasley's spot as the new Agoos with an extremely well-placed own goal. Or not -- Handy Cam was generously offsides. "I'm so mad I'm a gonna smasha thesea barrels!" is his response.
39:30 - Altidore being held in the box is justly called as a penalty, so perhaps it's not Salvatore working the whistle.
40:20 - GOOOOOOOOAAALLLLLLL!!!!! Landon buries the penalty as Buffon dives toward the hair gel to his right rather than the ball to his left. Looking good is its own reward.
44:00 - Timmy! Howard is looking damn fine in goal.
45:00 - I think Lippi is the Italian Wade Phillips. He always has that confused look of a senior citizen trying to understand Star Wars.
45:00 + 1:50 - If this is what it takes to fire up Landon, Bob Bradley should elbow him in the face before every game.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
As everyone's** favorite Europe-based blogger, I feel that it's my responsibility to act as tour guide to my friends that want to visit (God knows why) the 'dorf. Of course, a few of these friends hit The Continent and fall prey to the lures of French wine, Bavarian beer or Czech women*** and never make it to the scenic realm of Nordrhein-Westfalen. I feel that it's my duty as a blogger to point out said weak individuals. On the other hand, I don't want to draw undue attention to these jackholes.
In 2009, the third****, but most egregious, was Steve C. No, that's too obvious. Let's call him S. Cook. Said Pottsie has talked a Eurotravel game for over a year, but only this April was able to walk the walk*****. Unfortunately, he chose to walk said walk on the same plane I was using to go back to DFW for my semi-annual reintroduction to breast implants and Mexican food.
This post was brought to you by the generous folks at extraneousfootnotes.com.
* Except the weasel
** Well, everyone I give a shit about.
*** Never British women, though. Odd, that.
**** The first two were Erin P. and Casey H.
***** Ok, fine. Charge the charge,