Category: U.S. National Team

The All-Important First Touch, Part II

The following is a talk I gave at the Health Talents International Breakfast, Lipscomb University, Nashville, TN on 7/2/10.


Thank you for your introduction, Marie.

I’m a little of a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to direct involvement with Health Talents International, but it’s certainly been on my radar for many years. We came to know Marie and Carl Agee through Cahaba Valley Church of Christ during my student days at the UAB School of Optometry in the late 80s. We were a mac & cheese, beans & weenies poor student family back then, especially after Sandy retired from being a full time CPA to take care of our newborn son.… Read the rest

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

“A Stouuury Book Endin’!”

“We were watching the soccer match,” Eyegal explained to the desk clerk at the historic Park View Guest House in the Garden District of New Orleans last Friday morning.

The US v. Slovenia match had ended just a few minutes before the 11:00 AM checkout time, but we had planned ahead and had our bags packed and ready to go. The “good” US National Team had taken the pitch in the 2nd half after the “bad” one, the U-10 squad that had showed up by mistake, had gone down 0-2 in the first.

Yet the 2-2 draw to stay alive in Group C play had left both of us a bit frustrated.… Read the rest

Soccer In New Orleans? It Could Happen.

Just to show you what kind of marriage Eyegal and I have, when it came to planning our 25th anniversary trip to New Orleans, one of the most discussed points on our itinerary was where we would watch the US v. Slovenia match on Friday morning.

The answer is our room at the Park View Guest House in the Garden District over a traditional Southern breakfast. Not exactly fish and chips at Wembley, but it’ll have to do.

I jest of course (slightly), but you know you’re made for each other when you can sort through your priorities like that and still stay married.… 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

Beware: Another Soccer Post Coming

We may have layed an egg at Copa with our inexperienced crew, but our U-20s are making some noise north of the border at the more junior World Cup.

Here’s some video of our 6-1 trouncing of Poland, including Adu’s neat hat trick.

Next up: USA v. Brazil. Adu v. Pato–should be a good one.

UPDATE 7/7: USA 2 Brazil 1! The U-20 Stars and Stripes book passage to the Round of 16, and Brazil, well, they’ll just have to wait and see if they advance. The lethal combination of Adu to Altidore did the damage up top, and US keeper Chris Seitz had a magnificent match, deflecting and/or smothering a barrage of dangerous opportunities.… 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

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

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

Sublime Soccer

sublime ( ) adj. Characterized by nobility; majestic. Of high spiritual, moral, or intellectual worth.

We are now in Day 2 of the 48 hour hiatus between second round matches and the quarterfinals of the 2006 World Cup, and I’m having serious withdrawal symptoms. Seems like a good time to review a couple of the more beautiful goals so far in this tournament.

I believe Argentina is a serious contender with a good chance of advancing to the final. Mexico, however, pushed them to the limit, and as many have commented, if you’re going to go down in the World Cup, you might as well die from a golden goal like that of Argentina’s Maxi Rodriguez.Read the rest