Hermits Rock

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Well, for those of you who are still in doubt, the U.S. team played like scared little boys. It was quite disheartening to watch them hang out around midfield and never really attack the goal, like they should’ve. When the first goal was scored on them, they should’ve played with abandon. One thing should’ve been on their minds… TIE, TIE, TIE. When the second goal was scored, they should’ve played with reckless abandon… now they not only have to score, they have to, at least, TIE, TIE, TIE. They’re already down two goals. Forget about humiliation, you’ve already been mocked by the entire world… and here Fifa ranked you at five. But with every goal, they hunkered down more. And the inevitable third goal was scored. You don’t save your pride by playing scared; you save it by going to the goal. They really need to take a lesson from the DECIDER in chief.

Then again, their style is much like the style of color commentating on U.S. television… just one admonishment… THIS ISN’T FREAKIN’ GOLF!! It’s soccer… it’s football… it’s the jogo bonito… even the cool, calculating, technically precise Germans have more color and pizazz than American commentators. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way someone told somebody that the way to get a viewership for football is to tell juicy little tidbits of off-court gossip. And, true, we always are interested in who Beckham is shagging… we much prefer to hear an intelligently commentated game. Truth be told, they do pair up the “sports-network guy” with an ex-player. But, no matter whom you pair with whom, if the network guy is clueless and talks more than the insipid player, you get a boringly commentated game. Even golf, in its whispered tones is more interesting to watch… and, I think this is largely attributable to the fact that the commentators understand the game and its strategy… and they don’t try and educate the viewers; they simply talk strategy and game.

Spanish, or rather Mexican and Argentine commentators are much better… and not just because they scream GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL, GOOOLAAAAASSSSOOOO, as any and all football viewers and non-viewers know and love, hate, or mock. No, it’s more interesting because they KNOW the game and comment on it and can speak fast enough that you don’t even have to watch it to know what is happening… yes, they still practice lost art of actually telling you what is going on in the game. Plus, they marshall all the rhetorical flourish of the language… the Germans aren’t simply Germans, they are the Teutons, the invincible Teutons, the indomitable Teutons… the ball is a sphere, a globe, an orb… a foul is an infraction, an assault, an insult, an attempt against the health of the player.

What is more, they LOVE to critique the refs. If the game is boring and the ref is bad, it’s almost as good as if the game were good. They mercilessly subtract points for every bad call. And refer to the refs as blind, idiots, sleeping, incompetent, incapable, bribed.

Needless to say, they slaughtered the U.S. team… but more than the team, they lost all respect for the coach because he sat on the bench sullen and pouting. Every coach since the U.S. game has been held up as an exemplar of how a coach should function as advocate, cheerleader, and judge of his team.



oh, i am not watching it on cable… we don’t have cable. we can’t afford cable. we can barely afford our metropolis on the peanuts they pay me.

we get univisión, though. well, we get it through the fuzz and snow of really bad reception.

it’s been, for the most part, nice ball.

france, however, played like wimpy frenchmen… gone are the days of the strong zindanes

We don’t get univisión, either. i watched a little in the hotel on sunday morning, and that’s all. plus what we hear on news reports…

I do not really have a television, nor do I watch anything sport-like as a general rule. The other night, however, I was at Mr. Sheetrock’s, and he said, flipping through the channels, “Oh, large negroes chasing leather-clad spheres!” This, of course, was basketball, but my friend T and I took great pleasure in reading the closed captioning in funny voices, thus assuring the continuance of bad commentary even though the sound was off.

Yglesias says liberals like football because it’s not statisticified.

Did I see what I thought I saw in the Brazil v Croatia match? Was that RONALDO that got PULLED OFF THE FIELD after 69 mins? Wow. They still played well, but a one point win against Croatia is not overwhelmingly impressive. I wonder if this could foreshadow the end of the Brazilian reign.

A-freakin’-men. With all the optimism and chest-puffing, I at least expected to see some anger, some passion, some sign of life. I would care much less about losing if we had shown a little heart. Dispirited in the first half of the first game is a poor, poor, poor way to start.

Saturday will be a talisman for US Soccer for the next decade. Show up and play, and we will proceed with the world. Lose, sulk and whine, and we stall. Show a little life for crying out loud.

I don’t think the Brazilians will win. After a few games now, as much as I hate it, the Germans look too tough, and the Czechs are for real. England is boring so far, but they are the x-factor, from this layman’s point of view.

far be it from me to be a brazil fan… they fall down too much…

but, they do have over 6,000 registered professional soccer players spread out across the world

ecuador, granted, nobody expected much from costa rica… but poland was supposed to beat ecuador!

i hope that germany and ecuador will be a good game… who would’a thunk it that ecuador would’ve gone into the second round with more points than the aryan team (another descriptor used on spanish t.v. to refer to the host nation)—yes, as problematic as that ethnic descriptor is and all, they still use it, without meaning it to be a slur.

here are a few choice phrases…

unfortunately, i didn’t catch much of ecuador’s pwning of costa rica

turn out the lights, england is going to party!

tonight is a night for viking revelry, the swedes move ahead!

I was eating dinner in a pub with B during most of the England-Trinidad game. It was packed with people watching the game, of course, but they were relatively subdued. This is Trinidad we’re talking about here, after all. And England. The English will, of course, be turning out the lights and drinking, but they do that every night anyway.

yeah, it’s one of those complicated colonial things… like with the french play senegal…

well, that, and half of trinidad lives in london.

more phrase célèbre: argentina danced a slow tango all over the serbian team.

we bought one month of cable for the world cup. there was a deal on cable and installation so it was $50 total. we will turn off the cable after the world cup.

i love int’l soccer; depending on the year, it is my biggest time waster. i didn’t miss a match of the last world cup, and when we lived in belgium i watched every match of the european championships except the final. during last world cup i watched the first rounds in london, some of it stranded in an airport all day in toronto, and then the rest on univision in mass.

all that to say, across all the commentators’ countries and languages i have heard (english, french, dutch, and spanish), I most of all miss “GOOOLAAAAASSSSOOOO… AAAAASSSSOOOO… AAAAASSSSOOOO.”

what’s commentary in dutch like? (you haven’t learned dutch yet, have you?) subdued? ecstatic? over the top?

(As the BBC might say….) Tomorrow the Yanks get to prove their manhood against the constant Azzuri, confident enough to ignore video as they threaten the North Americans with utter dismay and grief. Can Bruce and his boys ignite a moribund nation and get their pride on before the ravenous continentals? Only time will tell of couse, but Landon and Claudio must take deep breaths and muster their fighting spirit for this conflagration with the Old World.

re: USA vs. Italy

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

I never thought I could be so thrilled at a tie. I also never though I could utter the words, “U-S-A!”

i know, they actually played like they knew how to play.

i was stunned.

though, that first red card was a stupid play. i don’t know what pope was thinking going studs up into the italian’s ankles in over time.

18, 4 days later: spoken too soon.