Monday, June 19, 2006

Much improved US; Not so for RSL

USA v. Italy

Incredible play from the United States as a whole. Nearly every player left it all on the field - quite literally. I watched the match in my sister in-laws basement in 88-inch High Definition glory! In attendance with our small group was my Italian brother in-law from Milan and his friend who just flew in from Italy. The mixed partisan crowd added an element to watching that was entertaining. Each time the Italians would scream for the Azzuri, we would yell even louder for the Red White and Blue.

Well done boys. You made a statement with your much improved effort. Dempsey and Conrad, as new comers, looked fantastic. With Ghana's result over the Czechs we have a lifeline, setting up for a crazy Thursday. I'm sure all of us will be calling in sick.

RSL v. Houston

An event filled weekend caused me not to be able to catch Real's game in Houston live. I should mention that KSL, the local NBC affiliate, earned my huge respect on Saturday. When most other NBC channels were showing Game 6 of the Stanley Cup, KSL was showing RSL's match live. I believe this is the first time I witnessed a local MLS telecast preempting another national sporting event. Well done KSL!

Getting home late I watched the entire match in fast forward - stopping only for goals and other points of interest. Thus, I didn't get a whole lot out of it except for the scoring changes. My impression as the play moved frantically back and forth across the screen is that RSL is having the same struggles as earlier this season. One or two costly mental errors in defense - resulting in goals - and choking in the attacking third.

Returning home this Saturday let's hope our boys can reset their minds and get back to winning ways.

Spain v. Tunisia

I figured it badluck that I would skip Spain's first match - assuming they were going to be their normal World Cup lousy selves - against Serbia. It served me right to think so as they demolished the fellow european nation 4-0 in a dominating performance.

Two-thirds the way through today's match against Tunisia I figured I was get my just-deserved as Spain dominated play but couldn't pull the trigger on a scoring chance. But, as the Spaniards mounted a come back on Raul's second half follow up goal and then won on Fornando Torres' sublime touch around the Tunisian keeper. Torres also put away a penalty for the brace.

I was glad I skipped an afternoon of work.

ESPN Coverage

I realize that their coverage has been far from flawless, but I do want to point out something that ESPN is doing well during this World Cup. They talk about the US team at every possible chance. Every World Cup live I've seen and nearly every half-time show has had a segment on the US National Team.

That is one thing, I think, that ESPN is grasping this time around. Most of the people watching do care about the American team and by constantly reminding the viewers that we're still in the tournament it can only boost their ratings for the US games. Well done ESPN.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Nevermind the score. The US effort against Czechs embarrassing

Retreat! Retreat! The Czechs look so scary! There is no way we can break their defense! Let's give the ball back to Kasey, he'll know what to do!

I feel bad for Kasey Keller. It seemed that guy touched the ball more than any other US player on the field today against the Czech Republic. And only one of those touches was a save. The United States looked so frightened to go forward, that there were times when Kasey decided to dribble around a bit. And why not, he had enough passes given to him during the match.

The only way to describe the US effort in their World Cup demoralization at the hands of the Czech Republic is a complete embarrassment.

During the warm up matches leading up to the tournament I was an optimist. The team would work out the kinks on American soil and then hit Group E play on all cylinders. Well, not a signal piston was firing during the entire 90 minutes of their opening match.

Jan Koller flowed like a harpoon between Gooch and Pope to spear home the first Czech goal just five minutes in. From that point most of the US players, stuck a fork in the match. They were done. With the exception of a few. Claudio Reyna pressed forward to get a shot off the post...and yeah, that was about it.

Just before ESPN 2 cut away from the match, showing mostly the Czechs congratulating themselves, there was one image that I hope some photographer captured. It was Josh Wolff with a look of absolute embarrassment. Nothing more needed to be shown or said. Not only did the United States mens national team embarrassed themselves, but they embarrassed their domestic league, and a growing fan base.

As a member of that fan base I have few questions for the team:

1.)In a World Cup match against a celebrated and experienced European side did you guys decide to stand around? It didn't matter if we had the ball or the Czechs, there always seemed to be a few blue shirts just standing in the camera shot.

2.)A team that is not very quiet about “playing their game” against any team in the world, why did you change your plans on this day? There was no taking on players, most players looked horrified to even receive the ball and thus made lots, and I mean LOTS of passes backwards.

3.)What's it like going for a nice leisurely stroll on a green grass field in the heart of Germany on a warm summer afternoon? Did you wonder what the guys in white were doing? It appeared so at times.

All hope is not lost. There are two more games, and it is possible to still get out of the group. But a must win situation against Italy or Ghana is not a favorable one. Although, if they were to pull it off, it would make for a great story. But the only story right now is why did the United States show so little effort and energy in a World Cup game? It's Baffling.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

World Cup Day 1: A Great Start!

The soccer gods were smiling on me today. Walking through the pouring rain to my work as a programmer the only thought in my head as that it was June 9th - World Cup Day. Nearly every for the next month would be a holiday in my mind, but his would be the commencing day.

Thinking that I was a responsible recent college graduate I figured I was going to be missing several games in the name of staying employed. On this day I was rewarded for my commitment. Tragically, my computer refused to boot up properly, getting worse with each successive try. My boss walks in, I tell him my dilemma and he tells me to go home - he'll call me when it gets fixed. A software can't do much work when his machine is down and the network admin doesn't come in until the middle of the day, right?

What's a guy to do with a free day off work on a World Cup day? Michael Davies over at's Page 2 is blogging his experience during the tournament while traveling around Germany. Well, I can blog about my World Cup experience as seen from Utah.

Germany v. Costa Rica

The 2006 World Cup began with a nearly perfect match between the host country Germany against tiny Costa Rica. There were goals. Lots and lots of goals.

I caught the match on a small tv in the eating area of the Utah State student center known as the Hub. Free cable, with free wifi makes the location a regular spot for watching games.

Overall an exciting match. The Germans flexed their muscle and dominated the Ticos - bombarding their goal with long range missiles into the upper corners of the net. On the flip side Paulo Wanchope saved the match from turning into a rout by streaking through the German offsides trap and burying a pair of his own.

Representing RSL was Douglas Sequeira for the Ticos was practically invisible at his defensive midfield position. Which is good, you usually don't want to notice those guys.

During this match I ran outside the student center to get within range of a stinking cell tower to make a call. Something inside a window of a room I had never seen shocked me - the game was being shown on a very large flat screen.

At half-time I went searching for this room and found a dimly lit secluded corner of the building with big plush couches, love sacs, recliners, tables and chairs if you had food and of course the flat screen mounted on the wall.

This little known haven became my destination for the Poland-Ecuador match.

Poland vs. Ecuador

What a great upset. Poland looked like absolute crap! And the Ecuadorians were all over it like...well use your imagination.

Good on the South Americans for defying their critics who said they couldn't win at sea level.

Plus, watching the match from a nice plush couch with my feet up instead of in a cafeteria style eating area was a welcome change. And did I mention their was an even better wifi signal in this room?