World Cup Update

Between graduation yesterday and a trip to Williamstown Saturday (to see the Clark brothers exhibit, which was very cool), I didn't actually get to watch much soccer over the weekend. I caught most of the second half of the ancestral homeland's humiliating loss to Ecuador, and most of England's one-nil victory over Paraguay (though not the actual goal).

Scattered thoughts below the fold:

Boy, do American soccer announcers suck. The guys doing the England game for ESPN were just dull. In contrast, the YooKaydain team they had for Poland-Ecuador (One English, one Irish) was a hoot. At one point, they referred to the most experience player on the Ecuador squad as "a talismanic figure for this team," which is something you just don't get from American ex-jocks. I also liked "He's really made an impression on the Poles. Mostly around the shins."

England's really tall striker guy sure is a gawky sonofabitch, isn't he? And I say this as someone who's only an inch of so shorter than he is. But damn, he looks like a stick figure out there. Weirdly, he also seemed to feel a need to push off constantly, and was frequently called for it.He eventually got a yellow card for whining.

David Beckham is really good. I know this is hardly news to anyone in, oh, the rest of the world, but we don't see him much in the US. It'd be really interesting to see what he could do if he were putting forth some effort.

The US opens play at noon today, and I may wander down to the campus center to eat lunch and watch a littl of the game on the big-screen tv there. Other than that, I'll miss the rest of today's action, as I have to work. Curse these time zones, anyway.


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Peter Crouch does look like a lawnchair unfolding, doesn't he? The beauty is that he knows it, too; check him out, doing his goal celebration.

On the other hand, I think the only reason Beckham looked so good on Saturday was that the rest of the England team were so defensive and lackluster.

As for the commentators, heaven help us today, as we'll receive the dungian stylings of Tommy Smyth for the US-Czech Republic match...

I'll let you USiand away with it this time, but in future please remember that it is illegal to mention Peter Crouch without saying that he-has-a-good-touch-for-a-big-man.
You're both right about Beckham. He works very hard, he's great on a dead ball, and his crossing is consistently perfect. The trouble is, he hasn't the pace or close skill to beat defenders, and he can't tackle. Brilliant at what he does, but that's all he can do. (On the plus side, he's learned over the last few years that he doesn't belong in the centre of midfield. Only a pity he didn't realise earlier - he might never have had to leave United.)

USA playing well, but undone by two moments of Czech brilliance. Koller went off injured too late for them...

Overall, much better match than the England-Paraguay bore.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 12 Jun 2006 #permalink

Here in Canada, we get the UK feed. Usually their broadcasters work alone, and to someone brought up watching North American sports broadcasts, with a play-by-play man and a colour man filling every second of the broadcast with chatter, the differences are stunning: no forced enthusiasm and oh-so-hip catchphrases, entire 10-second intervals with no talking, no patronising explanations of the most basic concepts of the sport, no mentioning of the words "heart" and "adversity" and "makes his teammates better" (I'm sure they have their own cliches, but it's refreshing not to have to deal with ours for once). If you get a chance to watch some games on your Spanish-language station, do -- it's a real experience.

By igor eduardo kupfer (not verified) on 12 Jun 2006 #permalink

USA playing well, but undone by two moments of Czech brilliance. Koller went off injured too late for them...

The second Czech goal was a beautiful shot, but Reyna really should've closed on that guy faster.

The US has had a few good moments, but they really don't seem to be clicking as a team-- there were a lot of plays that looked like they were just kicking the ball around, and hoping that somebody at the other end would do something with it.

As for the announcers, I do sometimes watch the Spanish-language channel. I can't understand a word of what they say, but they're really, really into it, which is fun.

My current source of broadcast irritation is that they came back from commercial not once, but twice during halftime, only to say "Second half coming up," and go back to more commercials. They didn't even show highlights of the Japan-Australia game, where Australia scored three goals (!) in the last five minutes (!!!).

Chad, you're more charitable to the US than I would be. I'd call it a horrid game for them. They had three quality chances (the Reyna shot, the Johnson shot, and the Convey cross that almost found Johnson) but were abject for the rest of the match.

My one consolation is that we'll have Tomas Rosicky playing for Arsenal next year...

US looks to be in real trouble.
The big problem is the style. Quick passing along the ground is very much in vouge these days. So the country you are playing is used to defend against this type of play. And when your side is good, but not worldclass, then you are in trouble. One way to look at it is, if everybody zigs, then (exept if you are the BEST zig) you should zag. Think Korea 4 years ago.

I thought the US were actually pretty good the first half, but the changes made at half-time backfired -- their second half performance was very disjointed.

Watching Italy v Ghana I have to say that the US is the weakest team in the group (though it is a fairly strong group). Czechs and Italians to advance.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 12 Jun 2006 #permalink

Beckham is a very good attacking right midfielder, and more importantly a playmaker, but he is not an all-rounder.
England is a curious case, they have the talent, had good defenders and strikers, but it has been a long time since they had either a strong central midfielder (IF Gazza had stayed fit...), or a fast left flanker (If Giggs had been born further east...).
I blame the EU myself, no home grown talent when you can just buy a frenchman.

Anyway, now that Trinidad and Tobago have made it, Iceland can start thinking about it, if any of our players ever get released to play for the national team that is.
Be a change from the old tactics of "form a 200cm wall in front of the box and boot-it hard upfield to the one player who can run AND kick".
Ah, the Good Old Days.

? England have two very good central midfielders in Lampard and Gerrard. That's a bit of a problem, in fact - both are very good attacking midfielders, but they're both used to having someone else to cover the defence. The left has always been a problem though. Joe Cole has his admirers but he doesn't get a regular game at Chelsea, so he doesn't have enough match experience.
The strikers are also a problem. Crouch is not that good, Owen is over-rated and out of condition (and the whole point of Owen is his pace), Rooney is brilliant, someone who can win matches on his own, but he's being rushed back from injury and the World Cup is not the place to ease back into the game. And the only other striker England brought was Walcott, someone without a minute of top-flight football to his name.

I caught most of the second half of the ancestral homeland's humiliating loss to Ecuador

It will take years for me to erase the memory of this, you're right, humiliation :(

By Roman Werpachowski (not verified) on 22 Jun 2006 #permalink