Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
  Cup Coverage Ramble
Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I was out of town for a while dealing with a family tragedy and of course, I’ve had a few games to watch in addition to the trip. However, there are no games today so I guess I don’t have an excuse not to blog.

First off, ESPN/ABC’s coverage of the World Cup has taking a bit of heat from the soccer geeks. Most if the complaints (especially when it comes to Dave O’Brien) I agree with the geeks. The majority of the problems are very well summed up by Jeff Klein at the NY Times. I’m still trying to figure out why Dave O’Brien would make those comments to the USA Today though (scroll down to the bottom). Am I the only one who is tired of ESPN/ABC (and other media outlets) feeling the need to ‘dumb down’ their calls for the audience so the newbies to the sport will understand? Personally, I have found that even people I know who don’t watch much soccer, know enough to not need things explained to them every match.

In addition to my addiction to soccer, I also love to watch Formula 1 racing. I grow up with the great Murray Walker calling the races. Not once do I remember him insulting the intelligence of the viewer by explaining things every race. My enjoyment of F1 is continued today by the coverage of SpeedTV. David Hobbs and Steve Matchett who instead of dumbing down their commentary actually increase the viewers knowledge of the sport by drawing on their experience in F1 and their contacts still in the sport to give the viewers the latest technical innovations. Unfortunately, 4 races each year are broadcast to the masses on CBS and they commentary seems to do nothing but go over the basics each time. I also learned the sport of Aussie Rules Football by watching broadcasts with Aussies doing the commentary. Hey, if I can learn what’s going on in that sport, there must be something to this method.

While I was away, I was driving a car which had XM radio. How many of you know that the GolTV crew-plus a few others-are doing commentary and caller phone-ins from Germany? It was awesome. Read through the guys they have calling the games. Phil Schoen in particular is my favorite American play-by-play announcer. He did a great job of calling the game for radio. If only I could convince my wife that I need XM.

One last thought... In 1990 I had just moved to the US. I was amazed I was able to get the World Cup…well, some selected matches on TBS and the rest on Univision. TBS would cut to the matches right at kickoff, had horrible announcers and took commercial breaks during the action. When the US bombed out, there was no reaction on any media…heck, finding any English language media was impossible. This year, we have every match on live with English commentary (regardless of your feelings about the commentators). There are pre/post match studio analysts who tore the team and Arena apart just seconds after the final whistle. The papers have a decent amount of coverage of the Cup this summer.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
  What was that?
Seriously, what the heck was that? I mean, where does anyone start after a debacle like that. Thank God I don’t get paid to write this stuff or I’d go broke. For the last 18 hours I’ve been trying to come up with some kinda positive to take out of yesterday’s match—everyone else got a fast jump on the negatives—and I can’t come up with a thing. Well, maybe the performance of Eddie Johnson when he came on. He and Reyna were about the only sparks on the pitch for the US yesterday.

After watching the Aussie’s make a great comeback in the final 10 minutes, I kept blindly hoping that the US could to the same. However, while the Aussies kept fighting and attacking the Japanese, the US just seemed to give up about the 60th minute…if not before then. The US lacked any creativity when they did have the ball—which was the majority of the time based on the stats—simply slinging cross after cross into the Czech box which usually had half-a-dozen 6’ + Czech defenders and one of the best keepers in the world and maybe 1 or 2 blue shirts. C’mon, if something doesn’t work the first few times, why not try something different. Actually, they did try something different the last 10-15 minutes, we started getting the hoof and hope approach where a defender hoofs it forward and hopes someone in a blue shirt is somewhere close to the ball when it lands.

That was probably the worst performance by the US team since ’98. Arena has ripped the team apart (as they should be) but a lot of the blame should be placed on him as well. My feeling is that the team was too overconfident. They thought they could mail yesterday’s match in and focus on getting past Italy. The coach is the one who should be keeping that mindset in Czech (err, check).

Well, that’s it. Saturday the US has a lot to prove. I expect to see Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey starting and probably several other changes (maybe Beasley, Lewis, Donavan and McBride will show up for the Italy match) as Arena tries to kick-start this campaign. Let’s just hope things in Germany turn out better than they did for Howard Dean.

Oh, I almost missed it because of the little tournament taking place in Germany but it seems that LA has managed to get a point. Also, they’ve now managed to score two goals in two matches. Looks like Yallop has started to right the ship. There’s still a long way to go. That would be big news in the US Soccer World, however, why does the league continue to go up against the World Cup? The league gets hardly any publicity and with the World Cup taking place, that coverage is reduced or buried even more than usual.

What’s that? The Fire played a home match in Bridgeview? Who knew?
Thursday, June 08, 2006
  Ding Dong the witch is dead...
Yeah, I haven’t posted much lately, but with the news about Sampson being relieved of his duties at the HDC, I had to find some time.

Bottom line is, Sampson had lost whatever plot he’d found last fall. There’s no doubt in my mind now that LA won the double in spite of Sampson, not because of Sampson.

Now, the news that former Tractor Boy Frank Yallop is heading back to Cali--and more importantly, to lead LA--makes this week even better…heck the best week I’ve had since LA completed the double.

I’ve been saying that LA needs a coach who has played in the league, now we finally have one. Heck, now I won’t mind staying up until midnight tomorrow to watch the LA derby.

The other big news right now is all the build up to the World Cup. To be honest, I can’t believe how well ABC/ESPN is covering things. You’d think they might have just spent a few million on the rights to some future events or something. I mean, those nightly reports from the US Camp and no snide comments about the sport. No smirks when doing the intro to a piece on racism in the sport. Just straight reporting. How refreshing is that?

Oh, and one of my pet peeves (though they are quickly decreasing in number) about MLS is that they continue to play during the World Cup. Well, that may be a thing of the past as well. At this rate, I soon won't have anything to complain about.
An American who fell in love with soccer while living in Europe.

Location: Hoosierville, IN, United States
August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 /

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