Monday, June 12, 2006


My goal this year was to watch 56 games of the World Cup. (There are 64 games in total, but on the last four days of group play, FIFA schedules the games simultaneously to avoid having meaningless games.)

Four years ago, I had just moved to a new city and was unemployed for the entire month of June. I probably watched two-thirds of the World Cup matches from South Korea and Japan, even though I had to set my alarm to wake up for most of them.

So, as the 2006 World Cup approached, I seriously considered taking the month of June off from temping and dedicating myself to the circular deity of football. However, I am in a pretty good temp situation, and I can't really afford to take the whole month off. So I am doing the next best thing, and Tivo-ing all 56 matches. I don't have enough time to watch 4.5 hours of soccer after work each day, but I can watch at least one game a day (and all the games on the weekends) and fast-forward to the good parts in the others. Also, I watch an hour of soccer during my lunch-break at work due to a projection TV in the lunchroom (I told you it was a good temp situation).

Anyway, these are my World Cup thoughts so far:

It's about time we abandon this silly notion of "own goals." I think an own goal should only be termed as such when a player directs the ball into his own net. When the ball glances off a defender and into the goal, it doesn't make a lot of sense to call it an own goal. Sure, it takes some responsibility off the goalkeeper, but I can't think of any other advantages of our current system. It's ridiculous to credit Beckham's thunderous strike against Paraguay to the defender who barely touched it.

Speaking of the England-Paraguay match, it was not fun game to watch. First of all, the Jumbotron and it's spidery supports threw all kinds of horrible shadows on the field. They should really only be allowed to play night games at that Frankfurt stadium. There are billions of people watching on TV, as opposed to the sixty-thousand people who can see that stupid Jumbotron. Let's have some perspective here.

Secondly, the game was unbearably boring. England looked painfully stiff, and Paraguay played just awful. Comparatively, the Argentina-Ivory Coast match was a beauty to watch. I was pessimistic about the Argies since they always seem to choke, but despite some suspect defending, they look good.

My final complaint is about the American broadcast announcers. Are there any worse announcers than Dave O'Brien and Marcelo Balboa? They sound like they aren't even watching the game and continually call players by the wrong names. Dave O'Brien is a BASEBALL announcer. And just because former baseball players make good color commentators, it doesn't mean you should dig up some player from America's soccer wilderness years and give him a microphone. I can't believe this is ABC's "A" team. That means these idiots will be calling the final. Embarrassing. Especially since ABC has two great announcers who would make a superb team, JP Dellacamera and Tommy Smyth. I'd watch Nascar as long as Tommy Smyth was calling the action. He makes every punch in the onion bag exciting. There plenty of qualified soccer announcers; why are you giving us amateur hour, ABC? Shameful.

11 games down, 45 to go. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a Tivo full of soccer to watch.


Ronan said...

Wow. Such devotion. I don't share your hatred for the commentators. It's been a good WC so far; the Aussie comeback was wicked!

m said...

i'm in full blown world cup mode too. did you see the end of japan-australia? three goals in ten minutes. just painful to watch.

now, if usa could just pull their heads out of their arses...

NFlanders said...

Ronan-- I'm surprised that you don't mind the O'Brien/Balboa team. I think they are awful. What did you think of England's first game?

M-- I did see that game. I was torn because Japan clearly didn't deserve their goal, but I don't like the Australian team or Viduka.

During that last goal, the Japanese players didn't even bother trying to get back on defense. They still need a lot of work.

Ronan said...

My thoughts on England depend on the T&T game. We were lacklustre against Paraguay, but unlike many of my countrymen, I'm not panicking. A win is a win and you don't want to peak too early. I need to see improvement in Thursday. Rooney is a must.

Hellmut said...

The English team played the traditional German script. Control the ball. Systematically, create standard situations.

That's actually an effective system to sustain a team in a tournament. It preserves the players' health and energy.

Germany, of course, has given up its system. They are playing like an African team, which is more entertaining. But I am not sure if you can sustain that pace for an entire tournament, especially when you have to face stronger opponents.

Bryce said...


You should be watching hockey while you can.

Capt Jack said...


You are right, the Argies will choke.

Although this year they don't have any of the real volatile nutcases of years past (Caniggia, Maradona, et al), so they have a better chance than they have since 1986.

They do have Tevez, a great player who has a bad temper and has gotten into two fist-fights with his team-mates on his Brazilian club, Pekerman will keep him in check.

It sounds obvious, but the key to the Argies doing well will be not losing any games they should have won. Once they lose, they'll start fighting like scorpions in a bottle, concentrating more on who was to blame and who to slime in the press back home than on keeping their cool and moving on.

Tim J. said...

When I saw that guy from Paraguay scor that "own goal" my first thought was, "when he gets back home, they're going to shoot him like they did to that Colombian (?) a few years back."

Enochville said...

2-1, Ghana over USA at halftime