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Friday, June 16, 2006

6/16 World Cup of Coffee

Not the most exciting day of action, but there were moments. First, Ecuador looks like one of the surprise teams of the Cup as they now lead Germany on goal difference in Group A. They have scored multiple goals and kept clean sheets in both games. Second, England does not look like a team that could win the World Cup. Great collection of individual talent, though. Sven has not pieced it together. Valiant effort from Trinidad & Tobago before England grab 2 late goals. Big news was the return of Wayne Rooney. Closing out the day, Sweden and Paraguay induce snores until a dramatic late Freddie Ljungberg header gives Sweden a critical win and ends Paraguay's chances to advance.
The action picks up tomorrow with the Group of Death on display...

Argentina looked impressive against the Ivory Coast, withstanding attacks, maintaining possession, and finishing off opportunities. Serbia & Montenegro (the latter of whom will surely never return to the World Cup) couldn't break through the Dutch. I see a similar game unfolding here, with the Balkan boys keeping things tight until Argentina ices the match in the second half. Argentina 2 Serbia & Montenegro 0.

There are going to be goals in this match. I really like the Ivory Coast (mainly just to save face since I picked them to advance from the group). They had a couple of defensive calamities against Argentina but scared the South Americans with their relentless attacking. This time they're bringing in another striker to help Didier Drogba. This will be an up-and-down, entertaining match that will bring Africa its first World Cup victory. Gulp. Don't let me down, boys. Ivory Coast 3 Holland 2.

Mexico continue their brutal slate of matches--er, wait, that's the US. First Iran and now Angola for Mexico. That means six points and the second round. Angola can be proud that they held Portugal to one goal but I see Mexico doubling that total here. The loss of Borghetti could be painful down the road, but Mexico prevails with relative ease today. Mexico 2 Angola 0.

(Thanks to Rowboat for sending me the last two links.)

Swedish babes at the World Cup. No, I mean real babies.

World Cup mascot Goleo the Lion speaks out about his hard knock life.

Just what we need: a little war talk from Eddie Johnson to motivate the Italians. Check this quote: "We'll do our talking on the field. That's what we're here to do," forward Vincenzo Iaquinta said Thursday. "But if they consider it war, then it will be war for us, too." Ack! Eddie, sshhhhhhhhh.

Meanwhile, The Onion reports on the devastation of the American public after the Czech Republic debacle.

Profile of a Soccer Hater: Washington Post writer Marc Fisher is a self-proclaimed soccer hater. My view is that it's totally fine if people don't want to watch or like soccer. But there's not being interested--I'm not interested in hockey, for example--and there's enjoying winding people up while not knowing your topic. He claims that soccer isn't "complex" enough and that its strategy lacks "intricacy." (This doesn't strike me as familiarity with the sport.) Then there's the concern about hooligans (never mind the 2 billion non-hooligan fans or the local political/ethnic dimensions of hooliganism). He worries about the nationalist fervor it evokes (um, Miracle on Ice anyone?). He thinks calling it a "World" Cup is presumptuous and arrogant (207 nations compete for bids from every continent sans Antarctica).
I've only scratched the surface of his arguments. Click the link if you want more. I will say that he misses how the Internet/satellite/cable have made it easy for Americans to follow INTERNATIONAL soccer, regardless of MLS's success. He misreads the impact of immigration. Finally, he gives himself away and feeds an unpleasant caricature of Americans when he responds to the question of how the US will do at the World Cup:

I have no clue. I couldn't tell you the name of a single player. And more important, neither I nor 99 percent of Americans cares. Please enjoy your tournament!

On behalf of millions of Americans, let me say, 'We will, thanks!'

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