And yesterday, as it happens, but let's get to today's headline first:
Boy, do we ever suck. We should all be diving into sewers and not floating to the top to atone for today's Shit Medal performance by the US team against the Czechs. An early defensive breakdown led to a 1-0 lead, and things never improved for more than the half-second it took for a pair or three of shots to clang off of the uprights or disappear into walls of Slavic bodies.
bDr addresses it at greater length and in more technical detail, but the thing was just bloody awful. No decent ball movement in the midfield, a decided dearth of technical skill, wretched field coaching, and two beautiful goals by Tomas Rosicky (both of which were occasioned by slightly less glaring defensive breakdowns) combined to produce the worst US defeat (3-0) since, oddly enough, the last time our boys played Czechs. The greater average age of this team (over the 2002 team) was supposed to produce corresponding increases in wisdom and treachery, but this was only evident in one glorious moment, when Claudio Reyna delivered an ingeniously well-placed and crippling knee, from behind, to the hammie of Pavel Nedved and didn't get carded for it. Other than that? Suck, suck, and suck. Slowly.
This brutalization left us with high hopes for a draw in the Italy-Ghana match, of which I only saw part, but those were dashed, too. The Ghanians were spirited and quick, and held Italy off for much of the game, but the Italians' speed, skill, and bribery, combined with the stunning rectitude of their female fans' barely haltered breasts, roundly brought down both the Ghanians and the US team's hopes of escaping Group E.
The early game today was the best of the lot. Japan scored on Australia fairly early in the game, with a cheap shot from a midget submarine. I'm only partly kidding. In the 26th minute, Shunsuke Nakamura launched a ball toward the goal from outside the penalty area. In a development now being downplayed in the game highlights, a Japanese player whom I cannot identify cut the legs out from under Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer as he was in the air, knocking the keeper to the ground and allowing the ball unimpeded progress to the net. On the Reality Planet, we call this both a foul and a booking. On whatever planet is occupied by referee Essam Abd El Fatah, it is called a goal.
This recomplected the game, of course; a 0-0 game is worlds different from a 1-0 game. For 55 minutes, the Aussies struggled. Then, on the strength of three late--and, in hindsight, brilliant--substitutions, they plugged home three goals in 8 minutes, starting in the 84th minute, to notch a 3-1 victory. All three goals were scored by substitutes. It was the finest kind of karmic retribution over the little Japanese bastards.
My wife thinks it's cute when I'm a racist.
The game from yesterday that I forgot was the stinky Orange Cheeseheads and the Serbs, who include Montenegrans on their squad as a gesture of good faith. The Dutch are one of the four or five teams in this tournament who'd look about right in black leather trimmed with silver (lightning bolts, for preference). They're precise, they're overwhelming, they're methodical, they're relentless. Arjen Robben is a wizard with the ball.
Y'know, if unis are kit, and the field is a pitch, and shoes are boots, shouldn't there be some cutesy affected name for the ball, so that hypersnob, America-hating watchers of EPL and Bundesliga games on channel 149--people who casually call Barcelona "Barca" and Juventus "Jew-vuh"--can give us one more way to know that we're shite and they're not? Actually, my favorite is the Irish commentator--I think his name is Tommy Guinness, or something--who keeps referring to the goal as the "onion bag," as in, "Oy, he punched that right into the old onion bag!"
Yes, Ilse, darling, all jokes are about you, except for the ones about bDr. Why do you ask?
Anyway, the Serbs are best described as a Hobbesian life: nasty, brutish, and short. The game was pretty uninspiring, the Dutch kit is second in sheer unmitigated ugliness to the Swedes (so far--reports on Croatia's kit make their jerseys out as something your grandmother in Kansas uses to cover her kitchen table), and the stinky cheese people won the game without much of a threat, even though it was only 1-0.
Not so much for the next three days, since I have to pay some attention to work. I'll try to tape a game a day and avoid the news. Tuesday, the highlight game is France and Switzerland; I'll pass on Brazil-Croatia, since the Brazilians make me hurl, and on Togo-Korea, because I have a hard time believing that I might find that entertaining. Wednesday, we have two brilliant games, Spain-Ukraine and Germany-Poland ("It'll be a war!"), coupled with the less exciting Tunisia-Saudi tilt; I'll probably go with Spain-Ukraine, since it rhymes and the war's outcome will be pretty predictable. Thursday, we have sacrifices to make, with interesting matches in Ecuador-Costa Rica and England-Trinidad. I'll pass on the yellow-pajama'd Swedes beating Paraguay, while hoping that the Swedes salt away five or six goals to yield some hope that Team USA will manage to finish 31st, instead of 32nd. I'll try to be back for six hours of futbol on Friday, but that's gonna be sort of a boring day, with (in decreasing order of interest) the Stinky Cheese-Cote d'Ivoire matchup, Mexico-Angola (outside shot of interest), and the totally unpromising Argentina-Serbia match.
In the meantime, play hooky and watch futbol.
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