Thursday, July 06, 2006

ZZ on Top

Sorry that I've been MIA for a while now. No excuse really. Just laziness. Basically nothing exciting going on except...France! After playing an abismal first round they have exploded into full stride and are looking fabulous. The great thing about this is that we're all getting a chance to remember why we fell in love with this man in the first place:




Even before this World Cup Zinedine Zidane's name would've inevitably come up in a conversation about the greatest soccer players of all time. He is past his prime though, way past it. He was at the top of his game over 6 years ago. He'd hardly hung up his bootstraps, but he was no longer playing the brilliant game of his youth. Or so we thought. Zizou is back in full force, and pretty much everyone I know is ecstatic about it. We're falling in love (or lust for some) with him all over again. His vision and ballhandling schooled even the boys from Brazil, and now he's on a roll and we're eating every bit of it up. Even if France doesn't win in the Final on Sunday one thing is for certain. In this World Cup Zizou changed this phrase, "Zinedine Zidane was one of the greatest soccer players in history." to "Zinedine Zidane was one of the greatest soccer players in history!" He's put an exclamation point at the end of his brilliant career, and that's something that won't soon be forgotten. Allez Zizou! Viva la France!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Holy Shit

I'm in no frame of mind--intellectually or emotionally--to comment on the game right now, but I just want to say how PROUD I am of the US team for more than showing up and playing beautifully. You did good. The love has been restored. More later...

Italy Can Suck It....Oh, Please!

Ussoccer.com says that we have a mere 4 hours and 10 minutes left until the US take on Italy for their second World Cup match. I had a dream that we would tie them, but I remain hopeful (and definitely supportive!) that we're going to shock the shiz out of the world and beat them gloriously. Well, maybe not gloriously, but beat them nonetheless.

Just in case things don't go quite that well Crystal and I have bought a case and have vowed to take shots of tequila if Italy scores on us in the first ten minutes and/or they score three or more goals against us. I have ponied up and vowed to take a shot if Beasley starts, but that's really more for my own mental health because if Beasley is starting--or even playing--in this match, I'm going to need more than one shot of tequila.

And if somehow for some reason we don't pull off any points in this game (I'm trying to live in denial right now and believe that that's impossible) all you ladies out there--and a handful of gentlemen as well--should feel free to return and look as these...um...professional photos of the US squad to help ease your pain:

















Okay, so the last two are actually of Swedish soccer player Freddie Ljungberg, but he's playing in this World Cup too, and he makes you feel a lot better, yes?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Follow the Children

This entry comes from the blog posted on the ussoccer.com website. It's extremely cute and probably the most encouraging thing I've read about soccer all week.

I copied and pasted this directly from the blog so any misspellings and grammar errors are the author's and not my own. I'm not going to go through at put "(sic)" at the end of all the mistakes. I just don't have that kind of time tonight:

Entry #71: June 14, 8:54 p.m. (2:54 p.m. ET)

Sorry if you've been starved for updates: it's been a rather hectic day here. The media interest continues to be incredible, with everyone gearing up for the Italy game this Saturday. What's been gratifying to hear - along with the coverage of the team, positive or negative - is the amount of support the team is receiving back home. Despite the loss, we continue to have a mailbox full of e-mails offering support for the players and the coach, and telling stories of packed pubs and viewing parties across the country. Here's one e-mail that stuck out:

My son Alex (six years old), who loves soccer and the U.S. MNT, was devastated after the loss. After crying alone for awhile, he apparently sat down and wrote a letter which I found after he went to sleep. He is entering first grade, so he's just learning to spell. Below is what he wrote verbatim.

TO: U.S. Team. Play good. have fun - it will make yuo play good. From: Alex

Thanks, Alex. Pretty sound advice. And thanks to everyone who has chimed in. We keep reading 'em, so please keep sending 'em.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The US vs Czech Republic: A Conversational Recap

NOTE: All conversations between my dad and myself were live and in person; all conversations between Tim and myself were over the telephone; all conversations between myself and myself were held exclusively in my head.

2nd minute: We're looking nervous. Very, very nervous. Settle down boys. Breathe.

5th minute:

Me-Pope on the back line makes me nervous. He's too slow. I don't think he'll be able to stop the attack.

Dad-Our entire back line looks awful. This game is going to end 2-0, Czech Republic.

8th minute (Jan Koller scores):

Me-Are you crying?

Tim-Um, nice one Pope.

Me-I was just telling my dad how nervous Pope makes me.

Tim-Yeah, Koller totally rocked Pope.

25th minute (Claudio Reyna's blaster hits the post, does not go in):

Dad and I are screaming and involuntarily jumping up and down. We suffer minor heartattacks.

Tim-I think I'm going to throw up.

Me-No shiz. I'm quite sure that that shot was our last chance. We're not going to get another opportunity like that. Are you watching the game alone?

Tim-So far. I'm in a random Mexican restaurant.

32 minute: Beasley sucks.

33 minute:

Me-Beas sucks.

Tim-No kidding. I'm so ready for him to be subbed out for my boy (for those who don't know, Tim's boy is Clint Dempsey).

Me-I was ready for him to be subbed the moment I saw he was in the starting line-up.

37th minute (Rosicky scores):

Dad-I'm ready to start drinking.

Halftime:

General consensus-We're sucking. Our first touch sucks. Beas sucks majorly. Donovan, Mastroeni, McBride, and Convey have all disappeared from the match. We need substitutions. Bring on O'Brien and Dempsey!!

46th minute:

Me: Dad says he's ready to start drinking.

Tim: I have to go back to work, but if they score another one I'm going to tell them to start lining up the shots.

Me: Thank god O'Brien is coming in.

47th minute: Wait, did Arena seriously put Johnson in for Cherundolo? Take Beas out immediately!

52nd minute:

Dad-I wonder if the USA realizes that soccer isn't supposed to be entirely played in the air. SETTLE THE BALL.

55th minute:

Me-Beasley sucks.

Dad-If I were the coach I'd pull him off the field and immediately send him on a flight back to America.

61st minute: Johnson has the right idea, but where in the eff is the rest of them team? Where's the leadership?

66th minute: Good god, please don't let them score on us again.

70th minute (Josh Wolff prepares to enter the game):

A drippingly sarcastic Tim: The answer to all our problems is preparing to enter the game.

Me: Why god, why? Where's Dempsey?

74th minute:

Me-Beasley has the absolute worst first touch of any person I've ever seen.

Dad-My high school team plays better than this. Oh yeah and Beas sucks.

78th minute (Rosicky scores again):

Me: This is thoroughly depressing.

Tim: Yeah. I'll call you on the fourth goal.

Depression and embarrasment begin to settle in.

83rd minute: Dave O'Brien needs to shut the hell up. Where's Rob Stone when you need him? Oh my god, did I just wish for Rob Stone? Something is seriously wrong here!

88th minute: For everything good and righteous in this world DO NOT let us give up another goal!!

90th minute: Sweet Jesus. It's over.

Post-game report:

Alexi Lalas gives his depressed and totally embarrased speech. Eric Wynalda is barely restraining his anger. Gives a stern lecture. I half expect him to stand up and begin punching the wall. Julie Foudy looks like a disappointed mother, and there isn't anything worse than a disappointed mother.

Dad is irate. He wants Arena to immediate resign and Beasley to be run off the face of the earth.

I'm wholly depressed and disappointed but am waiting to see the Italy game before passing final judgement.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

1 Question

As is the case with everyone who is anyone these days I have a Myspace profile. Myspace is both extremely interesting and extremely bizarre. It's more intrusive than Facebook, but because of that some of the most random people (one of my best friends from junior high, a guy who makes lo-fi music in Stuttgart, Germany, someone I once met at a party for five minutes, etc) find you. I like Myspace because you can connect with so many different people from your past and present. And because I can claim that Hal Sparks is one of my Myspace friends. I bet that Arbusto can't claim that. Boo-yah.

Most of my "friends" on Myspace are actually people I know (Can I claim that I "know" Hal Sparks since I did indeed meet him once? I just like to remind Arbusto that I met him. And he's even more hilarious in person. Boo-yah). I do have a few favorite bands mixed in there, and ussoccer.com. Yes, ussoccer.com is one of my Myspace friends, if you can in fact claim that a website is your friend. Currently it's occupying a space in my Top 8 because I like ussoccer.com a lot right now because it's debuted Studio 90--information overload!--and is blogging about all the use -less/-full (your pick) information surrounding the team in Germany.

When I logged into Myspace today I noticed that ussoccer.com has posted a bulletin with the subject "1 Question". This is what the bulletin said:

One Question
Ok. You get to ask me 1 Question (TO OUR INBOX). Any one question, no matter how crazy it is, I won't display the answer and I promise to answer it!

So I thought, why not? I'll send a question to ussoccer.com and see if it answers me. I actually had a burning question that's been eating away at me since we saw the MNT play in Cleveland. Granted, it's a pretty silly question, but I figured that ussoccer.com might appreciate a silly question and a chance to give a witty, funny response in light of the fact that likely 85% of the questions they received were, "OMIGOD. Landon Donovan is so HAWT!! How can I get my hands on a piece of his delicious ass, receding hairline and all? Kicking my love LD's way **giggle**-Tiffany" With a response along the lines of, "We're responding to inform you that you have been issued a restraining order. You must not ever mock Landon Donovan's receding hairline ever again. Furthermore, you are banned from being my Myspace friend. Love, ussoccer.com."

During my lunch break I typed my question to ussoccer.com. It had a witty little introduction to cleverly set-up my fun question which was: "All three of our goalkeepers for this World Cup and many of our former National Team keepers are going bald. What are your thoughts on the correlation between being a goalkeeper and losing your hair?" I sent the question along happy with myself for providing ussoccer.com with the opportunity to give at least one fun and witty response.

A few hours later I checked my Myspace profile again, hoping to see a response from ussoccer.com and lo and behold there was one! I eagarly clicked on the subject line. What lovely, fun, clever response would the guys behind ussoccer.com have provided my equally lovely, fun, clever question?:

"As far as our GK's are concerned, it's totally herititary."

This....is....it? First of all, **hereditary**. It's spelled HEREDITARY. Dude, you are representing ussoccer.com. We are already facing an uphill battle with nonsoccer lovers in this country, and you are going around sending out Myspace messages with atrocious spelling? Second of all, this is all you could muster? Seriously? Dude, I set you up perfectly. All you had to do was deliver the punch line, and you fell over faster than a Spanish soccer player who's in the 75th minute of a losing match.

It's a good thing I tricked that stupid ussoccer.com into answering TWO questions, since I slying slipped in a question about why the players' bios hadn't been updated for five years. Ussoccer.com's response to that? Bruce Arena doesn't allow them to pose too many personal questions to the guys. So where was Bruce Arena the other night when that lameass Neil Buethe (by the way, where did they dig this guy up? Sometimes he seems decent, then suddenly he converts into a complete douchebag--and I never use the word douchebag. I'm pretty sure that my grandma could do a better job than this Neil Buethe fellow at interviewing the guys, and it would be a whole hell of a lot more entertaining to watch) all but asked Steve Cherundolo what his girlfriend's favorite sexual position is? I couldn't believe how personal he got with the questions. Anyway, all of this is to say that ussoccer.com has now fallen in the ranks of my high estimation, and it may just have to be demoted from my Top 8. Bad ussoccer.com. Very bad!

p.s. Oh yeah, and brother is getting MARRIED this weekend. I'm pysched. I can't wait to see everyone because it's going to be a blast!

Monday, June 05, 2006

MNT vs Venezuela or Bust--The Roadtrip

What: A roadtrip of epic proportions, not to be taken by the weak-hearted or easily exhausted.

When: Thursday May 25 and Friday May 26.

Where to Where: Iowa City, IA to Cleveland, OH and back again.

Distance Travelled: 1206.88 miles in a little under 36 hours.

The Players: Tim, Christine, Jeremiah, and myself.

The Purpose: To catch a glimpse of the Men's National Soccer team in action before they head to Germany and the World Cup.

The Result: 50% Pure Elation. 50% Pure Exhaustion. 100% Pure Soccer Goodness.

When I heard a few weeks ago that the Men's National Soccer Team would be playing one of their three pre-Germany friendlies on a Friday night in Cleveland, I thought, "We're so there." Of course, at the time I had the thought I figured we'd just make a weekend of it, stay in Cleveland and do all the fun Cleveland things--if there actually are fun things to do in Cleveland. What I didn't count on was that Tim and my brother would have to be back in Chicago for his Saturday bachelor party, and that Christine and I would have to be back in I-town for her Saturday night wedding shower.

Armed with or rather despite of this knowledge we decided to buck up, drive through the night--twice--in order to attend the game. It's a distinct possibility that none of us will ever be able to afford to go to an actual World Cup game (my dad found 4 tickets to this year's World Cup final on the internet yesterday, and they were a measly $4000. He briefly flirted with the idea, but when faced with the fact that he hadn't booked a hotel room for that particular weekend a year ago and would therefore have to sleep outside, he decided against it. Well, that and he doesn't really have the $4000 or a plane ticket or a passport) we figured this was our best chance to at least see an American World Cup team in action.

The trip there was a lot of fun. I think Christine was the only one of us who slept at all, and she only did briefly. We were hopped up on excitement to see the match, the excitement of seeing each other again (it had been a few months since I had last seen Tim), and the monster mixed CDs that Tim burned for the occasion. Despite only getting 3-4 hours of sleep on Thursday night (really, Friday morning) by the time we reached the Cleveland Brown's Stadium I was hopping with excitement. Yes, I hop when I'm excited. We've discussed this. Get over it.

We got there as soon as the doors opened. The stadium was pretty empty but there on the field was Pablo Mastroeni warming up with the MNT fitness coach Pierre. He was going at it pretty hard core, so we were a little surprised later to find that he wasn't slotted to play in this match (After we got back I learned that he was suffering with the flu, so perhaps it had something to do with that). We also got to see the whole warm-up for the entire team, and a longer one for Kasey Keller--he definitely worked the crowd. It's an entirely different experience to watch them in person than it is to watch them on television. I knew this, of course, but I was unprepared for just how good their control of the ball or how phenomenal their touch is. The game begins, and we get our first looks at these fine lads:






Ah, yes. Clint Dempsey, a.ka., Deuce. Tim and I were fans coming into the match. He's proven himself a clever, imaginative player who is unafraid to take risks to make it happen. He didn't disappoint that night, and his goal was so lovely that even though we were on the entirely other end of the field we saw him sailing through the air for the header. If possible we left liking him even more. I've even taken to calling him Tim's "lovaah" (in a purely platonic way, of course).



I didn't think much of Bobby Convey, a.k.a. The Reverse Clark Kent, coming into this match. Although he is always energetic and in pure attack mode, he had failed until this point to make an impression on me. That all changed seeing him live. I saw vision, a strong ability for playmaking, and even some occasional decent D. He seemed to lose his focus in the second half, but despite that I'm encourage by his performance and think he has a lot to contribute to the team in Germany.


My opinion of Josh Wolff stayed the same. That is: What the hell is he doing on this team? No creativity, no touch, nothing. He has heart, I'll give him that, and I'm sure he's a really nice guy, but I can't help but think the same thing that the crazy guy in front of us kept bellowing all night: Where the heck is Taylor Twellman?



None of us had ever really had the chance to see Jimmy Conrad play before, but as we came to see throughout the match, Jimmy Conrad is the shit. I feel much better knowing that such a solid defender stands on our back line. We left huge fans of Jimmy. (To be perfectly honest, Steve Cherundolo is the shit, but Jimmy is a definite close second.)

Tim Howard, a.k.a. The man who suffers from tourettes yet has overcome this obstacle to become one of the greatest keepers in the world, looks so teeny-tiny in person that I had a hard time believing his ussoccer.com profile that says he's 6' 3", 210 lbs. He made a few lovely saves, and one friggin' sweet one (see the above picture), and I was happy to get a good look at the man who is backing up the man, Kasey Keller.

At the beginning of the game we were a bit disappointed to discover that we'd only really be seeing the second-string players (except Donovan and Beasley who **shockingly** came in during the second-half, although when they came in it was amazing how much they changed the pace of the game. It instantly became a one-touch game, and a goal soon followed). And for one brief second I was the saddest little girl in all the world when around the 65th minute I realized that John O'Brien and Steve Cherundolo were not going to be making an appearance. I got over it though. After the game we promptly jumped back into the car and drove straight to Chicago where we dropped off Jeremiah and Tim at Jer's pre-bachelor party party, and Christine and I kept plugging away until dawn arrived over Iowa City. At that point we were so delirously tired that Christine was talking to herself, and I--the driver--was hanging my left arm out the window and singing Janet Jackson at the top of my lungs just to stay awake. It took me two days to recover, but boy, it was worth it!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Another Quick Note

This may be the funniest thing I've read for weeks. If Heather and Jessica ever stop running this site I'd be beside myself with grief!

Blog Roll Update

If you hadn't noticed I updated my blog roll a couple of weeks ago. I also added a brand spankin' new one today called We Call It Soccer. It's a funny, informative blog by some fellow American soccer fans. They do a great job of keeping all the information about American soccer and the World Cup rounded up in one location. Plus they have lots of links to other soccer blogs that will keep you reading for a month. Enjoy it!