Tag Archives: 500-1500 words

Lukaku is GONE: Reaction

Note: I’ll have a more “proper” post tomorrow, on MLS no less, but for now I need to write about Lukaku, because THIS IS STUPID!!! In case you haven’t seen my “about” page, I’m a Chelsea fan. That is important context.

Jose Mourinho is a great manager. Let me preface with that qualifier. He does lots of things really well, and he’s very entertaining. Some people find him annoying, but to me, any league that he is managing in is automatically 25% more fun, and no other manager does that (Ferguson was maybe 10%, and he’s probably second. Van Gaal is probably around that territory, too; he seems endearingly grumpy. Throw in Klopp and Rodgers, as well. But none of them approach the Special One).

Mourinho is great, BUT SELLING LUKAKU IS STUPID!!!!! TOO STUPID FOR ME TO HIT THE “ITALICS” BUTTON, SO I INSTEAD DO ALL CAPS, WHICH MAKES ME LOOK UNCIVILISED; AND I’M PROBABLY MISSPELLING WORDS BECAUSE SPELLCHECK DOESN’T WORK UP HERE BECAUSE THEY THINK I MIGHT BE DOING ACRONYMS!!!!!

Anyway, I’m not sure if Mourinho is even the one to blame. I haven’t gathered much real information because I’M ANGRY!!!!

The point is this: Romelu Lukaku is 21 years old. He has already scored 32 Premier League goals. When Didier Drogba, one of Chelsea’s best ever who was recently re-signed to the club, was 21, he was playing in the French second division. THE FRENCH SECOND DIVISION!!! This means that Lukaku has the potential to be better than Drogba!

But he won’t do it for Chelsea. In case you haven’t gathered, Lukaku was PERMANENTLY transferred to Everton today. He will continue to do good for them (he was on loan at the Liverpool-based side last season), and eventually get bought by Manchester City, and win the title with them over Chelsea, who have Diego “I like to start fights and go down with no contact” Costa, Fernando “I used to be really good but now I’m totally not” Torres, and Patrick “I was never really good and I probably never will be because that’s not how the world works” Bamford.

Lukaku isn’t just a player for the future. No, he’s already very good. I think that he’s the best player off the bench in the world. He’s a world class super-sub. With Diego Costa being the starter, what would Lukaku’s role be, for at least this season? SUPER-SUB!!!! That isn’t to say that he wouldn’t have started, but he would’ve played most games for only the last 20 minutes.

There has been lots of talk about Lukaku having “attitude problems.” I think it’s mainly lies, because the media wants to take the top players away from big, bad Chelsea and send them to plucky little good guys, Everton.

But I think that Lukaku does want to start. Can you blame him? Is there anything wrong with wanting to start? Him trying to force a move away doesn’t mean that he hates Chelsea or that he wants to insult the club, just that he wants to play.

Why couldn’t they at least send him on loan? As I said, I think that having him as a super-sub would be great, but why not at least have him on loan again so they don’t lose him forever? I know that that wouldn’t work because his contract was coming up next year, but why couldn’t they extend his contract? Even if they overpay him, I think he’s worth it. Selling him just seems stupid. As I alluded to earlier, he’s the best young striker in the world.

Who should I blame?

-Lukaku, for not being willing to have a little time on the bench and learn under his alleged idol, Drogba?

-Mourinho, for not being willing to compromise and keep him around?

-Chelsea owner Roman Abromovich, for paying Torres so much that he’s unsellable?

-Everton manager Roberto Martinez, for being such a warm and friendly person that it’s impossible to not want to play for him?

I really have no idea. Looking at it, I’m not sure if I should blame any of these people. It’s just one of those things that happen, I guess. AND IT’S STUPID!!!!!

Soccer is like life in many ways. In life, feelings happen. In soccer, feelings happen. Feelings just happened all over your computer screen.

I’m not sure what to say right now. This is the part in the phone call when you want to hang up, but you aren’t sure 1) if there wasn’t something else to say or 2) what the proper way to hang up even is. It’s made even more awkward by the fact that this isn’t a phone call, and is instead some guy making a blog very few people read.

I’ll go play silly computer games or something like that, and maybe later I’ll finish my MLS post. Good night, everyone.

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USA-Belgium Thoughts

Here is what I think about the loss of the United States to Belgium (I wrote this up shortly after the game, but a combination of me procrastinating and me preferring to listen to other people’s opinions and then form my own, it hasn’t gotten up until now):

-It was a good World Cup for the US. The team just doesn’t yet have the talented players that many other countries have, and those countries more talented than the US include Germany, Portugal, Ghana, and Belgium. Beating one, coming tantalizingly close to beating two others, and narrowly losing to the fourth, especially when all four are better, is a nice achievement. This is the only time in all of history that the US has gotten out of the group in two straight World Cups. Not only was it a group, it was the Group of Death. Klinsmann earned his contract extension, even though they already signed it last year.

-But it wasn’t a great World Cup for the US. They were one of the better teams, team-work wise, while Portugal and Ghana basically imploded. Portugal had a nightmare against Germany (as I’ve said before, they’re captain is Cristiano Ronaldo and one of their best players is Pepe; that explains their team mentality), while Ghana had a nightmare of their own; two players were kicked out of the team for disputes with the Ghanaian FA and with the coach, while they also had a conflict over money. The US caught both Ghana and Portugal on off years, and they only made it through on goal difference. Am I sounding too harsh? My nice paragraph was the last one. This is my harsh paragraph. They have a better squad than 2010 and they got the same final result: out 2-1 in extra time in the Round of 16.

-Obviously there is a middle ground. Klinsmann did well overall (I still take issue with a lot of his decisions) but he could’ve done better. I’ll detail this more in the coming weeks.

-What about Julian Green, the player who I’ve criticized so much yet who scored? Do I apologize for my opinion on him? No. See, logically, it made no sense to bring in a German 4th Division player. He’s a great prospect, but he did terrible in the friendlies. And Klinsmann seemed to agree; he played less minutes in the warm-up games than everyone but Nick Rimando, the third-string goalkeeper. All indications said that Green wouldn’t play a single minute, much less score. And the minutes he did play were at the end of a game that at the time the US looked very unlikely to win. Although he did score, and there was no way to predict that.

-Anyway, good for him, and I hope he has a great career, but is it so wrong for me to still think that Landon Donovan would’ve been better? It isn’t.

-Here is something that I know that Klinsmann got wrong: WHERE WAS KYLE BECKERMAN?!? Howard, Besler, Gonzalez, and Howard (I meant to mention him twice; one of the best goalkeeping performances ever) were great in the back, but they wouldn’t have been tested so much if Kyle Beckerman would’ve been there.

-Now to players who didn’t do quite as well. Did I curse Wondo? I hope not. However you look at it, coming from Division II college soccer to MLS reserve league to league MVP to the World Cup, he’s had a career worthy of a made-for-TV movie (if he would’ve scored on that goal it would’ve been for theatres. But hey, considering that most people have never even played for their national teams, much less played in a World Cup, he’s done very well in his career.)

-We were so close to Wondokota being real. And if you don’t know what that means I suggest you read my USA-Belgium preview.

-So, should we blame Wondolowski? No. We shouldn’t blame any individual player. This is how sports work: you win as a team, and lose as a team. Of course some players play better than others, and we should recognize that, but putting all the blame on a player for the team not making it to the quarterfinals is ridiculous, especially when that player was only on the field for less than a third of the time the team played.

-Overall, I just feel sad for Wondo. He makes that chance 9 out of 10 times (Landon Donovan said that, and I agree) but for some reason this was the 1 time he missed it. It’s not nearly as easy as it looks, especially when Thibaut Courtois, the most terrifying goalkeeper in the world, is right there trying to stop you.

-Also, we shouldn’t be getting so upset about the US getting knocked out in the Round of 16. Talent-wise, do you think that the US is even top 10 in the World? No, I don’t. When you consider the fact that the team plays well together (as opposed to Portugal, England, and most African teams) it gives the US a boost, but I still think that top-10 is unrealistic. Not to say that Quarterfinals shouldn’t be an expectation. Or am I? I’m not sure. My point is that it isn’t a crime for the team to be knocked out in the Round of 16, and thus the team shouldn’t be punished as if it was a crime.

-And I’ll reiterate it: don’t pile all the blame on just a few players. That’s just silly. Be happy about the things the team did right, and learn from the things the team did wrong.

 

I will have a lot more about the World Cup and the USMNT in the coming weeks. Yes, even after the World Cup is over. Stay tuned.

Round of 16 Thoughts

First of all, I want to apologize for slacking off the last few days. See, I mentioned before that I have something that makes writer’s block look like eating a cookie. That hasn’t changed. It’s like a combination of writer’s block and depression. There’s also guilt, and anger; anger mainly because none of it makes sense whatsoever.

But this is a soccer blog. I think that I’m ready to talk about soccer now. So I’ll do that.

They’ve done three-quarters of the Round of 16 of the World Cup. So I’ll talk about that. Let’s go:

-The first game was a nice one. In case you don’t remember, Brazil and Chile drew 1-1, and then the host nation won on penalties. We were very, very close to seeing Brazil be knocked out of this World Cup before the quarterfinals–the same World Cup that they have enormous pressure to win. Normally anything less than a tournament win is considered a failure for the five-time champs, but due to being at home the pressure is magnified.

-Chile did very well. In other parts of the draw Chile would’ve made the Semifinals.

-My thoughts on Brazil? I have one. They aren’t that great of a team. I kind of noticed this before, but it would’ve been weird to say “this isn’t really a good team” after they thrash Spain 3-0 in the Confederations Cup final. But you know what? Thrashing Spain is apparently easy, now. And Brazil haven’t yet beaten a team that has made the knockout stage in regulation. They beat Cameroon, they dubiously beat Croatia, they drew Mexico, and they narrowly drew Chile in regulation, and beat them in penalties. They’re fair game to criticize right now.

-Let’s compare this team, player-by-player, to Germany:

ST: Müller vs. Fred – are you kidding? Germany 1-0.

AM: Götze vs. Neymar – at club level it’s probably even if not in favor of Götze, but Neymar is very good for Brazil and this is the World Cup. 1-1.

AM: Özil vs. Hulk – huh, both of these players have been booed by their own fans. Which teams’ fans only booed the guy because they’re pessimistic Europeans? Germany 2-1.

AM: Schweinsteiger vs. Oscar – it’s kind of hard to compare teams like this with different formations, but it’s what I’m doing. Oscar is probably Brazil’s 2nd best midfield/attacking player. But still, Schweini. Germany 3-1.

CM: Kroos vs. Paulinho – one of them plays for Bayern, the other plays for Spurs. Do I need to elaborate? Germany 4-1.

DM: Lahm vs. Luiz Gustavo – yeah, even out of position I’m taking Lahm over Gustavo. You can say that Lahm took Gustavo’s place at Bayern Munich, and it’s obvious why. Germany 5-1.

LB: Höwedes vs. Marcelo – this is Germany’s weakness, which could be fixed if they move Lahm to LB. But Marcelo isn’t the crème de la crème either. I’m in a generous mood, however. Germany 5-2.

RB: Boateng vs. Dani Alves – Boateng is better defensively, while Alves is better in the attack. This is a tricky one. Germany 5.5-2.5. Yeah, I did that.

CB: Hummels vs. Thiago Silva – Hummels is great, but I still say that Thiago Silva is probably the best defender in the world. Germany 5.5-3.5.

CB: Mertesacker vs. David Luiz – Mertesacker isn’t likely to pick up any “defender of the year” awards, but David Luiz is always a costly error waiting to happen. Germany 6.5-3.5.

GK: Neuer vs. Julio Cesar – yeah, Cesar plays in MLS (well, he did last half season–he’ll probably re-join QPR for next season) and he was the hero last game, but Neuer is probably the best goalkeeper in the world. Germany 7.5-3.5.

So…best team in the world? Not Brazil. Then how come they are still the logical favorites? Because at home, for the national team, they seem to perform. Neymar, David Luiz, and many of the other players do much better for the national team than their club. This is very rare (think Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney; all better for club than country).

Also, homefield advantage plays a role. If the Brazil-Chile game would’ve been played anywhere other than Brazil, I’m pretty sure that Chile would’ve won.

-Another note: in the national anthems, they made a mistake to cut the sound on the Chile one. Yeah, against any other nation we heard the sound of the Chile fans belting their national anthem, but against Brazil, with a majority Brazilian crowd, it was drowned out by boos. You can question the merits of booing another country’s national anthem, but still, FIFA messed up (what? No way!) by cutting the sound on Chile’s.

-Let’s talk about Colombia. JAMES!!!! Or, phonetically, HA-MEZ!!!! This guy is crazy good. I’ll talk about him more later, but this guy would win the Golden Ball for best player in the tournament if it was to end today. He’s done better than Neymar, better than Messi, and better than everyone else as well.

-You could certainly say that Uruguay would’ve had a much better chance if Luis Suarez was still there. And you’d be right. But I’m not sure if even with Suarez Colombia would have been beatable. I mean, Colombia are arguably the best team of the tournament so far.

-Before I continue talking about actual soccer stuff, I want to say this: I’ve had at least one page view from every continent except Antarctica (should I have more penguin-themed articles? Hmmm…). I haven’t had one from every Confederation though; I’m still missing an OFC view. New Zealanders? Tahitians? Fijians? I won’t bite.

-My thoughts on Netherlands vs. Mexico? Well, Mexico played very well. The Dutch are Colombia’s competition for best in the tournament, and Mexico looked like the better team for 87 minutes. The Netherlands attempted to play a possession style, because someone had to. Both teams have played a counter-attacking style for most of the tournament. Mexico stayed back and responsibly defended, and then hit hard on the counter attack.

-My thoughts on the penalty? It was probably the right call. Yeah, Robben looked quite floppy, but Marquez stepped on his foot. You can’t do that. And you know what? Earlier in the game there was a clear PK on Robben that wasn’t called. So complaining that the referees were biased is just whining for no reason.

-Watching Mexico is like a win-win situation for me as a US fan. If they lose I play the arch-rival card, and if they win I play the CONCACAF card.

-Costa Rica vs. Greece? The interesting thing in this one is that either way it’s a feel-good story. Yeah, Greece play defensively, but smart tactics is no reason for me to hate a team. Costa Rica play defensively, too (the Dutch will be forced into possessing the ball again in the Quarters). Costa Rica won on penalty-kicks, by the way. See, both teams already had a good World Cup by just making it out of the group stage. They’re playing with house money. And now Costa Rica will face the Netherlands in the Quarterfinals; while Spain, Italy, England, and Portugal were all eliminated in the group stage. The World Cup of unpredictability.

-Now, how about today’s first game: France vs. Nigeria. The Nigerians did well, although France forced two mistakes out of them which became goals. Watching Paul Pogba is like listening to a great song and then realizing that they haven’t recorded all of the parts. He’s only 21! He’s said that his weakness is heading. He just scored on a header in the World Cup. This guy is legit.

-Germany struggled against Algeria, needing to take it to penalties, but they came through in the end with Andre Schürrle and Mesut Özil goals. Algeria got one back, but it wasn’t enough to keep us from seeing Germany-France, an intriguing quarterfinals battle of Western European nations.

 

That’s all I’ve got. I’ll have a US-Belgium preview up fairly soon. And I’ll do other stuff as well.

Monday/Tuesday Thoughts

Here is what’s going through my mind: World Cup wise. Key topics are bolded. Let’s start with the headliner:

LUIS SUAREZ BIT SOMEONE!!! AGAIN!!! This is absurd. What in the world would compel someone to bite a person? And then suffer the consequences…only to bite a person again? And then to suffer worse consequences (worse because England)…seem to sincerely regret his decision…rebuild his reputation by having a legendary season…only to bite a person FOR THE THIRD TIME!?!?!?

-Something has to be wrong with him mentally. I’m not saying that he’s stupid or even mentally challenged, really, but that there is something about the way that his brain functions that other brains don’t function that way. Something in his mind that for some weird reason tells him to bite another human being, despite past experiences, logic, and common rules of etiquette saying otherwise.

-What is the source of his success is the source of his shortcomings. He’s too competitive for his own good. He’s a player who is a joy to watch 97% of the time unless you are a fan of the team he’s playing against. He’s one of the top 5 attacking players in the world. Not only is he a wonderful goal-scorer, but he’s a team player; he scored 12 assists in the Premier League last year, trailing only his Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard.

-He shouldn’t be banned for life or anything like that. A hefty suspension, yes, but going overboard is silly. They should slap a hefty suspension and a hefty fine on him, which obviously includes him being out of the rest of the World Cup, and then make sure that he sees a psychiatrist of some sort. For 97% of the time he’s playing he’s entertaining, and for probably about 98% of the time he’s living he’s a good person. But when he’s playing, sometimes his competitiveness gets too much for him to handle.

-He’s actually said that he’s like a different person when he’s playing soccer. Part of that is the Latin American (especially Uruguayan) culture, where winning at all costs is considered an admirable trait, but part of that is just him. He goes all out. Oh, and for whatever reason his go-to reaction is to bite someone. I really don’t understand it. It doesn’t make him an evil person, however, just one who has serious problems.

-The Netherlands are second to last in possession, with 39.5% (Iran is last). No one has scored more goals than them, although France may equal their mark of 10. As I always like to say, possession is not a measure of how good a team is but rather a measure of how good it plays. The Dutch went undefeated in a very hard group, which included beating reigning champions Spain 5-1, beating a surprisingly good Australia side 3-2 (that Tim Cahill goal was m-a-g-i-c), and then efficiently beating Chile 2-0. They’ve been killing teams on the counter, and it’s working. Can Rafa Marquez and Maza Rodriguez keep up with the speed of Arjen Robben? Is there anything that can stop this Dutch team?

Miguel Herrera is great. After each Mexico goal he was going crazy. No, literally, going crazy.

-Do you know who is leading the World Cup in scoring goals? Neymar. Yes, that’s right. He’s had the weight of a country on his shoulders, and he’s capitalized. The 22-year-old also had the weight of the country on his shoulders in the Confederations Cup last year. He was named that tournament’s best player. Does this guy even feel pressure?

Diego Godin’s Head should win the Ballon d’Or this year. His Head scored the equalizer in the final game of La Liga, which propelled Atletico Madrid to historically win the title; his Head scored the opening goal in the Champions League final, which would’ve been the winner if it wasn’t for Sergio Ramos; and his Head also scored the goal that got Uruguay out of the group stage in this World Cup. Wow.

COSTA RICA WON GROUP D!!!!!!!! EVERYONE ELSE LOST!!!!!!

-Seriously though, Italy and England both got knocked out, while Costa Rica won the group. UEFA have more losses than wins, while CONCACAF have 5 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses. Undefeated not counting Honduras, who have very little World Cup experience.

-I’ll mention the players who have most likely finished their last World Cups. On Tuesday alone, Didier Drogba, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon and maybe Yaya Toure all played in their last World Cup games, and on Monday David Villa, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Iker Casillas, and Samuel Eto’o ended their own World Cup careers. These are greats of the game. Fortunately they’ll still play at club level. Might I add that one of them (Villa) plays in MLS, and most of the others have been rumored to come to MLS? Just something to think about.

Wednesday Picks:

Argentina 2-0 Nigeria – At some point this Argentine attack has to gel, right? And if not, Messi will still probably bail them out.

Bosnia 1-0 Iran – I still can’t believe that those refs made those calls against Bosnia. Terrible, terrible calls. Even if you think that Emineke didn’t foul Spahic, that Dzeko goal was clearly onside.

Honduras 2-1 Switzerland – Upset alert! It’s the alpine nation of Switzerland vs. the Central American nation of Honduras. In Manaus, in the Amazon Rainforest. Doesn’t sound like much of an upset now, eh?

Ecuador 0-2 France – Les Blues might go far in this tournament. Then again, they may not. Unless the Argentines just collapse, they’ll face either Nigeria or Iran in the Round of 16. No offense, but those aren’t the hardest opponents in the world.

 

My next post will be my preview of the United States vs. Germany. Stay tuned.

Friday Thoughts (Brief)

This will be super-short because I’m working on the USA-Portugal preview. Go:

-France just completely thrashed Switzerland for 80 minutes. I guess they kind of turned off, and that was how the Swiss got back their two goals. Can France win the World Cup? That’s a real question. We won’t know until they play better teams. Bosnia’s good enough right? And if they beat Bosnia and you still aren’t amazed, the likely quarterfinal opponent is Germany. You can’t win the World Cup without playing some good teams, so an easy draw can only get you so far. We will learn how good France and the Netherlands really are long before they’re in view of the trophy.

-Honduras now has a very small chance to advance, since they lost to Ecuador. However, Ecuador have a pretty good chance now, and they’re basically up against Switzerland, although they don’t play each other. Might I add that these three countries would have much less chance to advance in any other group, while in any other group I doubt that France would be so dominant. However, speculating on non-existent scenarios is stupid, so I’ll stop. We won’t know how good they really are until they play opposition that we also know is good. Did I mention that Argentina is the likely opponent for the Group E runners-up?

-COSTA RICA!!!!! How in the world did that happen? Well, I can actually tell you: they defend as a team, and they attack as a team. Obviously they got help because they played Uruguay without Suarez, and they played Italy after their Manaus game, but still, Costa Rica have played very, very well. Italy’s two best players, at least going forward, are Pirlo and Balotelli. If you can shut them down, you’ve basically kept yourselves from losing. If you can also be dangerous going forward, then you’re probably going to win. That’s what Costa Rica did. And that’s why, in the first ever group with 3 different World Cup champions, the first team out is one that’s never made the quarterfinals. What a World Cup from Costa Rica.

-Is anyone excited to see what Messi and Argentina can do against a bad team? Iran are not to be under-estimated defensively, but I doubt that they can slow down Argentina like Bosnia did. Speaking of which, is anyone excited to see the Edin Dzeko led Bosnian attack in all their glory? As I said, Iran have a fairly good defense, but that’s not Nigeria’s strong-suit. While goalkeeper Vincent Enyema might be good, he’ll be forced into making tons of saves if the Super Eagles are to contain Bosnia.

-Boateng vs. Boateng. With Hummels out, how will Germany line up against the Black Stars? Will Ghana salvage their World Cup hopes after going down to the mighty, well, passable US?

-Oh, and a note: the reason that the US didn’t dispatch Ghana so easily was because Michael Bradley, our best outfielder, decided to get all of his bad play out of the way in one game. Ballon d’Or stuff from here on out, everyone.

That’s it.

I said it was super-short. If you really want more of me, check out the “World Cup” page. I’ve got some good stuff in there that you may have missed.

Any special requests for the USA-Portugal game? Or any articles that I do for the rest of the group stage? That’s what I’m here for.

Thursday Thoughts + World Cup of CONCACAF

I’ll make something about Spain’s shocking (or is it?) elimination for when Spain play next, but today I can’t pass up the chance to talk about North America’s impact in this World Cup. First, though, a few thoughts:

-Do you like my new header? That’s the DSE crest. 2013 because that’s when it was founded, DH because that’s my initials, “Adulti Recalcitratio Effercio” because that’s Latin for “Adults Kicking Stuff,” circle-shaped because I like circle-shaped crests, the tacky soccer ball because I loved how people freaked out about the San Jose Earthquakes having a tacky soccer ball in their crest, and how terrible they thought it looked, and it’s all done in fuzzy MS paint because I aim for mediocrity.

-Colombia is good. I guess Chile has joined Belgium in being disqualified for being called “dark horses” because they’ve been called that so much, so it leaves Colombia (joint dark horses with Belgium before Falcao’s injury) and maybe a few others (Bosnia? France? Can the Dutch be dark horses after almost winning last time?) in the “dark horse” category.

-Do you know who else is good, and Colombian? James Rodriguez. He came in as the star man in Falcao’s absence, and he’s delivered. A goal and some nice play in each of his two games, and he’s only 22! He may not know how to pronounce his name, but he sure can play.

-Congratulations to the Netherlands, Chile, and Colombia. All three of these teams will be in the knockout stage. It’s starting to take shape!

-England still have a chance to go through, but not a good one. I’ll break down all the final day scenarios a bit later. They have a semi-promising side for the future, with young players Sterling, Barkley, Shaw, and the Ox, and not-as-young-but-still-pretty-young players in Sturridge, Wilshere, Welbeck, and currently injured Walcott. I was going to mention Phil Jones, but I’m trying to be serious, here. If half of these guys reach most of their potential, this team has a chance to get to the final of the Euros. And lose on penalties.

-I’m glad that Wayne Rooney scored. Now the English will have to get more creative with placing the blame. Also, while Rooney was unfortunate in his finishing, he was so very active. They’ll blame Hart, because they always do, and they’ll probably blame English Roy, even though I don’t think he should get it. They played well and narrowly lost against superior teams. Only special managers (yes, I said “special” intentionally) can reliably get out of that kind of group.

-Jozy Altidore will, as expected, miss the game against Portugal. The US player is the only one on the team who can really play as a target-forward. Wondo kind-of can, but not really, especially at the international level; Dempsey can as well, but not nearly as good as Altidore, plus he plays much better in a floating role; Jóhannsson is probably the worst of the four strikers at hold-up play, as he proved against Ghana. A lot of people forgot that he was playing, although you can’t pin all that on him. Klinsmann should’ve called up Terrence Boyd or even Eddie Johnson. But instead he didn’t call up a true replacement for Altidore, and he got hurt.

-Bottom line: start Wondo!

-Isn’t it ironic how the guy who gets hurt is the only one that there isn’t a true replacement for? Life’s funny that way…

-If you have nothing else to do, and this is your first visit, I suggest that you read some of my other posts. Not all of them are bad. And yes, that is my tagline. Well, one of my several taglines, actually.

World Cup of CONCACAF

This is a table of how good the confederations have been:

Confederation……Teams…W…D…L

AFC (Asia)………………….4……0…3…3

CAF (Africa)……………….5……1…1…5

CONCACAF (N. Am.)….4……3…1…1

CONMEBOL (S. Am.)….6……7…1…2

UEFA (Europe)………….13…..8…2…8

So the Americas are a combined 7-2-3, while UEFA has just as many losses as wins? I’m just the messenger, you draw the conclusions.

Let’s look at CONCACAF’s games:

Mexico 1-0 Cameroon

Calling this win 1-0 is a bit inaccurate, considering that Gio Dos Santos scored two goals that were incorrectly called offside, but still, a win is a win.

Uruguay 1-3 Costa Rica

This is the biggest win for CONCACAF, and it was totally unexpected. Even without Luis Suarez, it was a big win for Costa Rica.

France 3-0 Honduras

This was the only loss. The three French goals came after a Honduras red card, so we’re still undefeated 11-on-11. Plus, France have alternated between good World Cups and bad World Cups. Based on that, this is a good World Cup for them.

Ghana 1-2 USA

A win is a win is a win.

Brazil 0-0 Mexico

This was a BIG result. Memo Ochoa stood on his head. The home team and favorites, Brazil, couldn’t break down the team that just barely squeaked into the World Cup.

All in all, CONCACAF has had a great World Cup so far. Wish you were here Panama, although selfishly FC Dallas need Blas Perez, regardless of him being 57. Anyway, 3 of the 4 teams are in position to make the knockout rounds. I’ll say that at least two of them will probably do it.

 

Today, we have a double-dose of CONCACAF, plus a dose of Pirlo and Balotelli’s Italy. I’ll have a USA-Portugal preview tomorrow, and then I’ll work on the previews for the third games. And I’ll also do something about Spain. At some point.

Wednesday Thoughts + the 4 Stages of Belgium

I’ll try to write up something about Spain’s elimination, and I’ll also do something about CONCACAF in this World Cup, but for now I’ll just give a little sampler of what’s on my mind (and then something about Belgium after):

-This blogging experience, which is one of many attempts I’ve made at being a blogger (I’ll probably share some of my old posts on a slow day), could be going much worse. Considering the fact that I’m terribly lazy and experience something that makes writer’s block  like eating a cookie, this has been somewhat successful.

-Apparently I’ve had views from Canada, Ireland, Germany, plus 27 from the US. While 20 of that 27 is probably me, it’s still nice to see that this blog is getting some views, even by accident. I want to add that I wholeheartedly appreciate all of you for wasting spending time reading me talk about adults kicking stuff.

-Alex Song? What is wrong with you? You shouldn’t hit people, but especially when they don’t have the ball. Not only do you do that, but you’re doing it in what is basically an elimination game at the World Cup!

-Luka Modrić, I think, might have made a mistake by cutting his hair. He isn’t playing poorly, but if I was about to play in a World Cup and I’ve been playing well at club level, I wouldn’t change a thing.

-Do you know who refereed the Spain-Chile game? MLS’s Mark Geiger! I’ve seen this guy referee a game in person, and now he’s at the biggest stage. In this case, he was proceeding over the former king’s execution like Maximillian Robespierre.

-Oh, and I’m not saying that Mark Geiger is an insane revolutionary. He’s a pretty good referee. Maybe it was a bad analogy, but any opportunity to make a French history reference is one that I can’t help but capitalizing on.

-Tim Cahill, one of Australia’s greatest players, scored his second goal this World Cup in as many games. As he also picked up his second yellow card he will be suspended for the game vs. Spain, Australia’s last due to their mathematical elimination. The 34-year-old has thus most likely ended his World Cup career, where he’s scored 5 goals in 8 games. That record is made even more astonishing considering the fact that in his three World Cups Australia has only made it out of the group stage once, when Guus Hiddink was coach back in 2006.

-Oh, and do you know where Tim Cahill plays? For the New York Red Bulls, in MLS!

-I’ll say one thing about Spain’s elimination: watching Xavi on the sidelines being sad makes me sad. I’m glad that they didn’t also show Juan Mata being sad. That would’ve been too much to bear.

-I’ve been thinking a good bit about my preview article for US-Portugal. I’ll lock myself in the closet making it on Friday, and I’ll finish it off Saturday night Eastern US time. Hopefully. It will be like my epic USA-Ghana preview, only better and with more CR7.

-And before I do that, I’ll drop a CONCACAF-based view at the World Cup, and I’ll also drop something on Spain’s elimination, if I can find the time. But I’m not making any promises on the latter.

-In lieu of a real England-Uruguay preview, I’ll say this: Wayne Rooney is England’s best player. He hasn’t showed it in the World Cup, but that doesn’t change the facts. He did poorly vs. Italy mainly because he was on the wing, which isn’t his best position. Oh, and he did have a good club season, despite the fact that his team was poor, so don’t come at me with any of that.

-I’d like to say something about Germany: in the last game they had Bastian Schweinsteiger on the bench, Phillip Lahm at central midfield, and both of the full-backs were converted center-backs. Couldn’t they move Lahm to left-back, and then put Schweini in the team? I know that Lahm is a good D-mid, and that’s where he’s been playing at club level, but he’s also a good full-back, and Schweinsteiger is too good to leave off the team, I think. Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy?

[EDIT: I have since learned that Schweinsteiger had injury concerns. But I still insist that when the entire team is healthy it’s better to put Lahm at full-back. They’re a great team either way, though.]

-I’ll get to the Belgium thing, but first I want to reveal the USMNT’s secret to making it out of the group: we have a Boateng brother, too: Zack-King Boateng. He’ll make his debut vs. Portugal. Game. Set. Match. Boateng.

(Note: is there a name more American than “Zack?”)

The 4 Stages of Belgium

You know, I could write all day and all night about Belgium. About their fascinating country, their fascinating national team, Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, “Big Rom” Lukaku, Vincent Kompany, Fellaini’s Hair, Witsel’s Hair, and all that stuff, but for now I’ll just write about the thought process that has gone around about the public opinion of this team:

1. Discovery: “Wait, he’s from Belgium, too? Man, there are a lot of good Belgians.”

You notice that several prominent players are from Belgium. Not anything special yet; I mean, the Ivory Coast have lots of good players and they’ve been poor despite those players.

2. Realization: “This Belgium team is a dark horse to win it all!”

Everyone noticed that they had a lot of quality players, and that they theoretically make a good team. Everyone makes the discovery that, hey, this team can make some noise in Brazil! And they feel so good about it.

3. Hipsterism: “Belgium are as good as that underground band you’ve never heard of.”

Are Brazil, Spain, Germany, and Argentina too mainstream for you? Then pick Belgium. They’re cool. I mean, they’ve got Kompany, Hazard, and Courtois; plus, if you pick them over those four then you’re standing apart from the crowd. Is anything cooler than that combination? Belgium became trendy.

4. Annoyingness: “If you call them dark horses one more time I’m not responsible for what I do!”

Belgium have become so trendy that they’re now mainstream. Many people have scoffed at people calling Belgium “dark horses,” mainly because they’re 5th favorites to win the World Cup. By the way, if you’re telling me that Belgium have a better chance at winning the World Cup than Italy, I’m very sorry. See, World Cup success doesn’t come that easy.

Seriously, though, this is someone’s Belgium preview:

“DON’T CALL THEM DARK HORSES!!!!”

“But, I wasn’t going to ca–”

“JUST DON’T, OKAY!?!?”

“I wasn’t thinking of–”

“They are NOT dark horses!!!”

“Okay, but can’t we–”

“Because lots of people have said ‘Belgium are dark horses’ AND IT ISN’T TRUE!!!”

“Yes, but let’s talk about Hazard or–”

“Do you think they’re dark horses?!?”

“No, but–”

“NOBODY CALL THEM DARK HORSES!!!”

“We have a preview to do.”

“Nope, we’re out of time.”

 

That’s it. Remember, stay tuned to Daniel’s Soccer Emporium (I’m Daniel, by the way), your home for adults kicking stuff.