Category: World Cup 2006

The All-Important First Touch

So much for another “stouuury book endin’.” Instead, another World Cup, another loss to a more organized, powerful and faster Ghanan team. The “Great Equalizer” strikes again.

I can’t say I’m shocked given the fine players Ghana has (and two of their best weren’t even on the pitch), but I am disappointed that the US National Team squandered a fine chance to equal and perhaps surpass their best finish ever in World Cup play. Poor possession and defensive organization led to the first goal (even US keeper Tim Howard, one of the world’s best, was about a step off in cutting down the angle and protecting that near post), but the overtime game winner by Asamoah “Baby Jet” Gyan was pure soccer artistry.… Read the rest

How Soccer Is Like Sex

The opening match of World Cup 2010 is underway, and in a desperate attempt to bring “The Beautiful Game” to the attention of my more unwashed American readers, I played the sex card and came up with a splashy, tabloid headline.

So tell me, did it work?

Four years ago, I tried my best to explain to one of my All-American, baseball-loving friends “Why the World Cup Matters.”

The following quote from that post is a true today as it was then:

It’s an acquired taste, and when it comes to taste, most Americans don’t have very much.

The rarity of the goals is what makes them special.

Read the rest

Die Mannschaft v. La Furia Roja

It’s on: Die Mannschaft v. La Furia Roja.

But does anyone care? I do. So does the entire Eyefam. Especially Number Two Son who’s in the thick of it over there. And I bet Brady will watch too, despite the fact that his beloved Nati bit the dust hard and early.

But chances are all this soccer futbol talk will cause the eyes of the average NASCAR/American football fan who hangs out here to glaze over a bit.

Too bad.

Covering World Cup ’06 2 years ago has been one of the highlights of my blogging career. Among my favorites during that time were the story of my very-best-day-ever on the pitch in “Allez, le Vieux” (“Go, you old boys!)… Read the rest

What a Difference a Year Can Make

Last year this time, I was singing the blues over the US National Team’s anemic performance in the 2006 World Cup and wondering if Bruce Arena had traveled with the team as a coach or merely a spectator.

One year later, I’m watching this immaculate strike over and over and over and allowing myself to dream a little about our prospects in South Africa come 2010.

The US’s come-from-behind 2-1 victory against Mexico in Sunday’s CONCACAF Gold Cup Final may prove to be a watershed moment in the Stars and Stripes’ march toward the next World Cup. Interim-now-permanent Head Coach Bob Bradley has brought new blood and a fresh perspective to a team that was mired in a mid-90s mindset.… Read the rest

A World Cup Reprise

zinedine-zidane-real-madrid2.jpgIt’s been over a month now, but I just can’t let it go.

Forget the head butt. These are the images which will endure. (Hat tip: Seattle Soccer Mom)

If a mix of Coldplay and Zidane aren’t to your taste, then try a helping of U2’s Bono and a mesmerizing montage of World Cup 2006 highlights.

Ok, I know some of you hate it when I write about soccer. Just do me a favor: watch the videos and then take the same pulsating passion, the vim and verve, the emmaculate elan, the deftness of foot, and the all-encompassing, all-seeing vision and apply them to whatever work God sets before you this day.… Read the rest

The Head Butt Heard ‘Round the World

Zidane head butt.jpgIt’s been a week since the “head butt heard ’round the world,” and the repercussions of Zinedene Zidane’s shot to the chest of Marco Materazzi continue to ricochet wildly throughout the internet.

Zidane has issued an apology (of sorts) for his outburst which arguably cost France the World Cup. For his part, Materazzi has reassured us that he would never dream of insulting someone’s mother. No, according to the Italian defender the insult that provoked Zidane was merely a garden variety one that is tossed around the pitch on a routine basis, implying, of course, that the French midfielder and captain overreacted.… Read the rest

Congratulazioni Azzurri!

It will certainly not go down as “one for the ages,” the 2006 World Cup final between France and Italy. There were stretches of brilliant soccer on display to be sure, but also long periods of timid, lackluster, even disjointed parrying punctuated with injuries, both genuine and theatrical.

In the end, it was Fabio Grosso, the diving and rolling bane of the Socceroos, the man with the magic touch that broke the back of a fine German squad, who stepped to the line during shots from the mark with the hopes of Italy on his shoulders and the eyes of the world watching his every move.… Read the rest

Italy v. France, World Cup 2006 Final–Live

Based on what I’ve seen from the singing of the respective national anthems, the Italians seem to be coming out with a little more spirit. Gattuso, in particular, is on another level with his eyes closed like that–could be trouble for Zidane. It seems fewer of the French know the words. Zidane wasn’t singing at all–he seemed to be already playing the game in his head.

Ok, it’s time for kickoff…

2:00 Checking Henry’s pupils? The commentators have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.

4:37 Henry’s back, good. Oh, hold the phone, a PK already!

6:30 Well, whadaya think? Looks like there was contact there, but that much?… Read the rest

World Cup 2006-Live With the Eyeguy!

I’ll be blogging live with my reactions and thoughts during the final match this afternoon between France and Italy. I’ve never blogged live during a sporting event before, but I’ve seen others do it and it looks like fun so I’m going to give it a whirl. Expect a lot of typos, and hopefully, a lot of Gooooooooooals!

Here’s some good reading while you’re all waiting with bated breath for me to start: First, a great match preview (complete with a cool diagram of starting lineups) from USA Today, and second (and third), a couple of good background articles from Slate: The True Story of American Soccer and Among the Brainiacs–The Intellectual Classes Descend on Soccer.Read the rest

Allez, les Vieux!

For most international soccer players, age 30 usually marks the beginning of the twilight years. Harbingers of things-not-so-pleasant-to-come are everywhere–the lost step, the extra breaths to full recovery, the stiffness in the lower back upon rising, sweat which forms thick like morning dew on foreheads marked by nascent, faint furrows.

Yet World Cup 2006 has seen its share of such long-in-the-tooth “oldsters” who have created space and opportunity around the hard challenges of men 10 years their junior: Zidane, Figo, Del Piero, Reyna, McBride, Barthez and Keller, to name just a few. They’ve all seen better years, but they still have the heart and courage to lay what’s left on the line for squad and country and have shown that if thirty is not the beginning, it surely is not the end either.… Read the rest

More Than a Game

2006-07-06-robben-med.jpgSoccer is pervasive throughout the world. So pervasive, in fact, that it can thrive in the most unlikely places–such as the notorious Robben Island Prison off the coast of South Africa.

World Cup 2010 will be held in South Africa, and in advance of that, USA Today has a stunning article on how a soccer league gave hope to the victims of apartheid who were imprisoned at Robben Island.

I’ve been trying to make the case that soccer is more than a game to some of you skeptics out there. Maybe now you’ll believe me.

Read the rest

If You Think I’m Fickle…

If you think I’m fickle, changing World Cup allegiances faster than Jennifer Lopez changes husbands, then check out Englishman Michael Davies’ sudden infatuation with the Italian National Team.

Methinks he enjoys Die Nationalmannshaft’s demise just a little too much.

WARNING: If you have asthma, keep your inhaler close by while you read this. I should know.

With inhaler in hand, you might want to check out several of his other posts as well. He is by far the funniest and most insightful WC blogger out there (hat tip to JRB for pointing this one out to me).

Some other interesting WC blogs can be found at the International Herald Tribune (Roger Cohen), Soccer Sweep at USA Today and WorldCupBlog.orgRead the rest

Plan Z–Vive la France?

zidane 2.jpgThat’s it, I guess I’m switching to Plan Z. After Germany’s shocking 2-0 loss to Italy in overtime yesterday, what other alternative do I have? It’s time to put the past behind me, forgive the snooty little French lady at the ticket booth at the Louvre and place my support behind Zidane, Henry and the rest of Les Bleus. Vive la France? Yeah, whatever.

I was disappointed that Germany didn’t have the legs to finish yesterday, but my hat’s off to the Italians for getting the job done and not letting the match go to PKs which would have only added more fuel to the fires of the mostly American soccer haters out there.… Read the rest

What’s an American Guy to Do?

fan.jpgAlthough my Plan B (anybody but Brazil) is technically intact, please pardon me if I screw up my face in disgust while I try to choose a side to pull for in the remainder of World Cup 2006. What else is there for an American guy to do when his favorite team is eliminated in group play, all his other alternatives have bitten the dust, and the only remaining choices are Germany, Italy, Portugal and France?

Fortunately, two are relatively easy to eliminate. Italy’s roster is chock full of whiney, flopping phonies who fret more over their pomade and Prada shoes than they do corner kicks and PKs.… Read the rest