23 July 2007


United Dong longs to prove critics wrong

The bored Soccernet headline writer strikes again!

20 July 2007

Friday linkpost

18 July 2007

Speaking of the shallow end

Quiz time! Here we see:

a) a farmer-tan convention
b) the US Copa team

16 July 2007

The second annual end-of-season awards

Yes, Footie Girl and I are doing it again. Yes, we realize that the Premiership is already pretty much back in season, with friendlies and summer tours and meaningless cup competitions. But like everyone always says, the season's not over till Argentina choke in a major way, so here we are. Some of the categories have changed since the last time -- different season and all that. Anyway. With apologies for the delay, here are the Second Annual Footie Girl and You'll Never Blog Alone End-of-Season Awards!

Chav of the Year: Steven Gerrard. While his wedding wasn't quite as gloriously tacky as we'd all been hoping for, the best man's toast tipped the scales all the way over to chav. It takes a lot to have a tackier wedding than John Terry (Lionel Richie, that's all I'm saying), but Steven managed. Good job, kid.

Runner-up: Rio Ferdinand. For the Myspace page alone.

Most Valuable Spaniard: Pepe Reina. He had a good season overall, really, but basically, this award comes down to one thing: penalties. I've never really seen an alleged "penalty specialist" who lived up to the hype like Pepe does. I don't have a lot to say here, since the video really speaks for itself. Basically, though, our keeper's a total fucking stud, and maybe the best buy Rafa's made.
Runner-up: Cesc Fabregas. Scored basically no goals, but really grew into his central midfield role, and grew up enough (apparently) to be Arsenal's new vice-captain. Stop throwing pizza and see where it gets you, kids?

Most Emo Player: We've got a tie! This one goes to both Jose Antonio Reyes and Julio Baptista. Either Arsenal is really awful, or Reyes and Baptista both need to get a sunlamp or two and just deal with it. It's not like Real Madrid was the happiest place on earth, either.
Runner-up: Andriy Shevchenko. Left Milan in the summer, and pretty much immediately started batting his eyes at them again. Now he might go back, he might not, but ugh. We're over it.

Clusterfuck of the Year: England. Runaway winners in this category, especially after Real inconveniently ended up winning La Liga. For the analysis here, I'm just going to quote Footie Girl: "For the entire World Cup fiasco, the endless process of replacing Sven that ended up with ... Steve McClaren (woo), dropping Becks and then bringing him back, the ongoing attempts to shoehorn Steven and Lameass into the same midfield, the failed experiment with 3-5-2, etc., etc." Add in the incredibly lackluster, and likely doomed, Euro qualification campaign, and you've got a big old mess, and one that's not going to get better anytime soon.
Runner-up: Chelsea. There are so many links I could dig up here, but I'll just go for this one.

Gayest Team: Italy. The Internets are being remarkably uncooperative with photographic evidence right now, but come on. Gattuso was pretty much naked before they even laid hands on the trophy, and apparently the Italian way to congratulate your keeper for winning a penalty shootout is to straddle his crotch. Not that we're against either of those things.
Runner-up: Arsenal. Still and forever.

Best Fight: Craig Bellamy, John Arne Riise, karaoke and golf clubs. Everyone's heard about this one by now, but it's still awesome. The facts alone are probably enough for this to win, but the part where these two idiots -- and I say that with love -- went on to score in the Barcelona game? Seals the deal. I don't want to say it was ironic, but it was at least Alanis Morrissette ironic.
Runner-up: Inter/Valencia. Like, play with that much energy and one of y'all would probably have scored.

Douchebag of the Year: Mike Newell. Knowing that you're a sexist doesn't make it any less douchey, sunshine. (Yes, I did just call Mike Newell "sunshine." He's lucky that's all I'm calling him.) We would also like to take this opportunity to point out that Rachel Yankey wins. Unlike Mr. Newell or his team.
Runner-up: Jose Mourinho. No new links, but basically he gets this for everything he's ever said at a press conference ever. Also getting arrested over a dog.

Special Achievement Award: Daniel Agger. We'd like to be all high-minded here and say that this is for his goal against West Ham. Or even for his goal against Chelsea, which was less pretty but more important. But we have to be honest. Those helped, but this is really because somewhere along the line, Dan got hot. If this makes us shallow, we can live with that.

That's all for this season's awards! Hopefully next year they'll be done before preseason.


Railhawks beat Chicago Fire 1-0 to advance to Open Cup quarters. Aw. Good job, boys. Maybe I can actually make it to the game next time. This one doesn't sound like it was much of a thriller, but knocking out the holders is always a pretty sweet feeling. Just ask Arsenal about that FA Cup match.

Sorry, y'all, this is what you get when Liverpool's boring me. (Babel's a good signing, but I know nothing about him, and I can't get worked up about friendlies.) Consider yourselves lucky I'm not talking about the u20s anymore.

09 July 2007

And it's better than a camera on Donovan.

This is lame, but odds are I'll watch.

And, really, train a camera on Zidane for an entire game and you've got yourself an art film, so who knows. Let's call it nationally broadcast installation art. Who knew ESPN was so pomo?

Well, and also, I can't mock Chelsea if I don't watch them. So there's two reasons.

06 July 2007

Friday linkpost

05 July 2007

I blame Footie Girl for this.

Because instead of writing about the Torres deal (thumbs up!) or Rafa's new facial hair (thumbs down!), I'm being forced to defend the US's team selection for Copa America. Note: this is not defending their performance, because I can't do that. They lost concentration and allowed Argentina back into the game, and their finishing was absolutely dire against Paraguay. But those were both problems during the Gold Cup too, and so I don't think that's really down to team selection. Given the constraints they had to work under -- club commitments, fatigue, and the need to win the Gold Cup -- I don't think the team selection was that bad. And it certainly wasn't bad enough to be singled out by CONMEBOL.

The general criticism of the Copa America squad is that it was second-tier and too inexperienced; usually people argue here that Bob Bradley or US Soccer or whoever should have picked the more experienced internationals for Copa America and let the younger players handle Gold Cup. But that's based on a misunderstanding of current priorities, and, I think, a desire for prestige now instead of later. While I think everyone would agree that Copa America is the more prestigious tournament, it's also not entirely relevant to the US's immediate goals. Winning it -- which they were never going to do, even with their strongest squad -- would have gotten them nothing in terms of the Confederations Cup or financial reward. Copa America is essentially a no-stakes tournament for the US. Even the best result for them would have been pretty much meaningless, like winning a friendly. While getting to the quarters, or even further, would have been nice, that's all it would have been. For better or worse, the US is in CONCACAF, and I don't think you can fairly blame them for the weakness of the conference. In the short term, winning their conference tournament still has to be the priority, since it gets them both immediate rewards (money) and future payoff (Confederations Cup, and more international experience).

Therefore, since there was no real benefit to winning, it seems like the US decided to treat Copa America as essentially a practice tournament, calling up next-generation players and a few more established ones. One of the things they were faulted for after the World Cup was only playing against weaker teams, which hurt them when they got drawn into one of the tougher World Cup groups. Well, again, it's not the US's fault CONCACAF is weak, and they're absolutely required to play Gold Cup. But now a lot of the players likely to be in the mix for 2010 (assuming qualification) will have experience against more quality teams. So, yeah, this is really a developmental squad, but I don't think that's necessarily bad. In addition, it's not like the US is the only country who took that approach. Brazil, a CONMEBOL team, exempted its two best players and took a more untried team as well. And yet the US are the only ones getting called out by CONMEBOL. Doesn't make a lot of sense.

Finally, you have to look at the issue of availability. Since Copa America isn't the conference tournament for the US, releasing players for it was optional on the part of their clubs. Especially with European clubs starting training so early, this meant that many of the more experienced players had to return, like Dempsey, Howard, and Bocanegra. So the US was, I think, hampered to a large extent by the fact they were only invitees to the tournament and not required to play, unlike Brazil, Argentina, and the other CONMEBOL teams. (And even that doesn't take into account the fatigue issues present in playing two tournaments back-to-back.) In addition, the u-20 World Cup started immediately after the Gold Cup ended, which meant that some of the more experienced younger players like Michael Bradley and Freddy Adu were committed to that instead. So even if they had wanted to pick the exact same team as for Gold Cup, there was no way they would have been able to. (A side issue here is that there don't seem to be a lot of mid-level players; people tend to either have 30+ caps or under 10. I don't know why that is, but I blame Arena.)While I agree it's a significantly weaker team than I would have liked, I think it'll pay off in the long run. A lot of the players in the Copa America team now will be in their mid-20s by the next World Cup, which is when it'll really matter.