Wednesday, June 3, 2009

USA World Cup Qualifier Running Diary

The US hasn't won in Costa Rica since... ever. They don't win there. That bodes well.


10PM - GJW is in his underwear. Mrs. GJW is out of town.

10 PM and 4 seconds: Costa Rica has already scored. It was off a terrible touch by Demarcus Beasley. It's time to recognize that Beasley plays soccer like he hates the soccer ball. He is fast. That's cool. But that guy kills us. The experiment needs to end.

10:05 - John Harkes is doing the color with John Paul Delcamera. JPD has called every soccer game that we can remember. John Harkes is like a judge on a fashion show.

10:10 - The US defense looks atrocious. Costa Rica just scored again. This time the Marvel Wynne/Mastroeni side was at fault. Wow. It's only World Cup qualifying. Way to bring your A game and then leave it in the hotel.

10:16 - Is it a rule that Latin American countries have to play games on sh*tty fields? This field looks like the kind of green carpet over asphalt they put down for awkward sales at stadium armories.

10:18 - Is it also a rule that every Costa Rican player has to have aggressively sweaty and matted down hair?

10:22 - The US hates offense.

10:26 - The US is possessing the ball a lot in the midfield. Harkes and JPD are bantering about a questionable call in a recent MLS matchup. We'll defer to them because we somehow missed it.

10:30 - Beasley, Mastroeni, Wynne, and Dempsey are not good. That hurts a team's chances.

10:33 - Costa Rica has 3 goals on 2 shots on goal. The US does not have a shot on goal or a corner kick. It's about strategy.

10:36 - Harkes reminds us that the US is without Frankie Hejduk. If you need Frankie Hejduk, you're not the 14th best soccer team in the world.

10:37 - On cue, Harkes says he doesn't buy the world rankings from FIFA. We are forced to agree. The US is 14th which means that according to the governing body of soccer, there are only 13 teams better. Watch us name 13 off the top of our head: Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, England, Russia, Czech Republic, Turkey, and Greece. There have to be some more teams besides them right?

10:42: The ball is bouncing all over the place and the US just got their first shot but it was not on net. The US hasn't scored in this country since the year 2000. We went through some slumps too... but those were like a couple months.

10:43 - Why does it always look like the other team always has 3 more players on the field when they play the US in soccer? That's the thing that always makes us anxious when we watch the US; they look outnumbered on both sides of the field.

10:45 - There will be 1 minute of stoppage time. This is one of the 4 reasons why soccer will never really catch on in the US; there was way more than 1 minute of 'non-play'. Just stop the clock and get rid of the extra layer of subjectivity. Stoppage time is just another way for the referee to feel important.

10:46 - Halftime. 2-0 Costa Rica. Hey Landon, where's my bag? I left it right here... I packed it up before the game started and now I can't find it...

11:00 - 2nd half adjustments... none. The US throws in a guy that plays in the MLS. US soccer is in trouble. We mean it. Not just this game, which is bad, but in general. Here's what happens:

- Some guys play in the MLS. This league doesn't resemble anything like the better leagues around the world. It's choppy and gross. This doesn't help guys get better.

- The guys that play in the good leagues in Europe sit on the bench for months at a time. This doesn't help them get better.

- The MLS guys all want to get European deals. Again, not good.

11:15 - The US still doesn't have a shot on goal. Jozy Altidore, the team's best scorer looks rusty. He hasn't played in months or something. He looks awkward like a chick in football pads.

11:25 - We just checked to see what was up with Randy Johnson. Game is a rainout.

11:30 - Again, banter about the MLS. It's not gonna happen JPD. We are not going to tune in to see the Metro Stars and/or New England Revolution.

11:32 - Marvel Wynne should never be allowed to play again.

11:34 - The entire US team stands still and watches the 3rd goal. Everyone looks tired. The amount of space the guy had to work with was like the ball was radioactive. Embarrassing.

11:36 - 3-0. What a gong show. Harkes is upset. Like really upset. 'Get these designs out of here!'

11:38 - They keep saying that Tim Howard never had a chance on any of those goals. Sure he did. He was 10 yards off his line on the 1st goal. It was a great shot but he could have saved it if he was in position. He anticipated a cross. Whatevs.

11:44 - Harkes was comparing this team to some of the past years of US soccer. He makes it sound like the 'old guys' were warriors. Umm broseph? You guys went 0-3 in 1990. We remember that because we were excited about it. Your squad was the dinner party fart.

And yes, that is a picture of Toto Schillacci from the 1990 World Cup.

11:46 - Here is reason #2 why soccer will never really catch on in the US. A CR player pretended to get hit in the junk and rolled around hoping to get a card on the offending US player. Several points here:

- US fans hate flops. That's why everyone who didn't go to Duke hates Duke basketball.

-The 'card' is such a big deal. In other sports, penalties are more in proportion with the way the game is played. 6 fouls, 5 (or 15) yards, 2 minutes etc. 1 yellow is huge. A player that gets a yellow cannot play aggressively at all for fear of a 2nd card. 2 yellows means an ejection. 2 straight games with a yellow means you are suspended for the following game! Imagine that: Orlando Pace committed holding penalties in 2 straight games so he will sit out week 3.

- There are too few officials. The game happens so fast and any insinuation that you need more people to cover the action is treated like an insult against refs. The fact is, players get rewarded for taking dives (Italy won the world cup this way).
11:48 Freddy Adu looks decent. How did that go so wrong? You've got to play that kid. He's 20 and we get that he isn't going to save the world but you need him. You need the symbol that kids can follow so they want to play the game and play it in the US.

11:54: Penalty shot. Donovan scores. 3-1. Too little too late.

12:00 - Yuck. 3-1. Just a butt salad.

Honduras on Saturday. Hopefully, they bounce back like the 14th best team in the world should.

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