Category Archives: futbol.

landon donovan: professional whiner.

I’d give you my thoughts on the Euro final, but really it’d just be three pages of man love for Cesc Fabregas, so we can probably skip that. But I do love the man. Make him captain, Arsene!

Back to the topic at hand: the lone MLS game yesterday. Ben and I attended, and yeah, it was a thorough, well-deserved beat down by United at 4-1. The Galaxy backline looked like they would much rather be napping in the shade; it appeared as if United’s runs were beating them soundly at even half-speed. As Matt Bourque notes over at DCist, “I counted eight such instances during which a United attacker had the ball with only the keeper to beat.” It was a pretty sound whoopin’. David Beckham was marked well, and really, when he did get off a cross (and there were a couple of beauties) no one was even close to being on the end of them. For instance: Edison Buddle, when Becks is looking to pass, just run towards the net. Good things will happen.

Additionally, my firm dislike of Landon Donovan was cemented further. Will somebody tell this guy that only players that can hack it at the world class level can whine and complain like that? (See: Drogba, Didier and Ronaldo, Cristiano.) Donovan fully deserved his yellow card for dissent. And there’s no way Gallardo deserved anything more than a yellow for an incidental finger to the eye. A straight red there would have been a pretty terrible decision by the referee, who for all the heat and the national pressure, handled the game pretty well. There were a couple of incidents where I thought tackles were getting a bit too sloppy and players much too out of hand, but the game ended in relative calm. So kudos to the officials.

The argument could also be made that the MLS game was a much more exciting affair than the Euro final (as That’s On Point mentions) – but as we all know, that really has more to do with the sub par defensive quality in the American league than anything else.

Oh, yeah, and it was crazy, insane, ridiculously hot. So, about those seats at RFK – which are mostly metal, and haven’t been painted since 1864? It makes it really difficult to focus on the game when you’re worried about your ass, back, and thighs getting those griddle marks that you see on hamburgers in advertisements.

Also, will someone please remind me to start wearing sunscreen to sporting events? Thanks in advance.

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Filed under for the district., futbol., sport.

what a doof.

Jens Lehmann, quote master:

‘As a player I can not promise a victory, only that I will push myself and give my life.’

He added: ‘You know what I mean – my sporting life. My private life belongs to my family.’

Have I mentioned that I can’t wait to see Almunia sporting the #1 shirt next year? Lehmann seems like the kind of guy that has never really cared about club football – only playing as a way to be the top keeper for Germany (read: beating Oliver Kahn). It’s strange because it’s usually the total opposite; players usually are more loyal to the organizations that make them their living.

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brilliance.

Really busy with proposals and other posting, but I made time last night for sure to catch the big Arsenal match at the San Siro. This just had to be posted.

Mmmmm, delicious.

A world-beater, this Cesc Fabregas is.

(No Milan representation in the Champions League makes it even sweeter. Cheaters, the lot of ’em. I don’t care how great Maldini was, they fixed matches. So, good riddance.)

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the proper accompaniment to your morning oatmeal.

digging.jpg

No time to write a post this morning, so here’s some links for the less busy than I (with a suggested reading order, no less!):

  1. “If there’s one thing this writer has learned over the years, it’s to never tell a woman to get breast reduction surgery.” [Consumerist]
  2. Milan – The Biggest Game At The Emirates Yet [A Cultured Left Foot] (Aaron notes: Oh, how true. I swear to God, my DVR better not break today.)
  3. “Only 22 percent of 3,400 officers holding the rank of major or lieutenant commander and above support the idea of allowing openly gay or lesbian Americans to serve in the military as a means of boosting recruitment.” [Yglesias]
  4. “It’s quite possible in the return leg at the San Siro that Rafa Benetiz fields six holding midfielders. Prepare for anti-football at it’s finest.” [That’s On Point]
  5. Container Store + Sale = Happy girlfriend. [Bargainist]
  6. “The oft-repeated story about [Castro] supposedly having gotten a tryout with the Washington Senators is total bunk, but it’s true that he long harbored a fantasy of playing for the Yankees (where El Duque and Jose Contreras would no doubt have greeted him by saying, “Dude, did you defect too?!”).” [Uni Watch]
  7. “Behold, the Oceáno, a collection of urinals for shy men by Roca, placed at descreet angle from each others that foil ‘peeking’.” [Neatorama]

[photo by andertho.]

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Filed under a big scary blogosphere!, futbol., here - reality called.

the event of the weekend.

Manchester United v. Arsenal, FA Cup 5th Round tie.

Noon, Saturday.

You know, we just have this nasty habit of breaking United fan’s hearts. Actually, it’s not that nasty, it’s quite heartwarming.

Best goal ever

Oh, and I’ll try not to break anything this time. See you at Lucky Bar!

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Filed under for the district., futbol., sport., weekend., yay!

the dark side of futbol joy.

Remember that post about the amazing power of soccer helping to reunify the Ivory Coast that I posted the other day?

Well, this is the other side of that.

More than an hour after the Iraqi goalkeeper Noor Sabri made the crucial save in a tense penalty shoot out, gunfire could still be heard in many parts of the capital.

State television broadcast a warning from the Iraqi military urging residents not to engage in celebratory gunfire. But the warning appeared to have been ignored. Preliminary police reports said one person was killed and 17 wounded by the gunfire.

It’s just sad, really. Joy can be such a powerful reaction – for both positive and negative things.

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five goals to erase five years of war.

“Don’t worry,” said Vehgu, smiling as he screwed a seat cushion to its frame and water ran down his face. “The rain will stop, and tomorrow the sun will shine. Drogba will play. And thanks to him, our country will reunite.”

What a fascinating article. Stop reading me and go immerse yourself in the framing of a five year struggle for peace, solved by the simplest of means – a football game between nations.

See? I told you.

There are so many wonderful things about this article. First, I must thank The Beautiful Game blog for even bringing this article to my attention (and keep up the good work – the future of American soccer depends on blogging, I’m pretty sure of it). I don’t usually read Vanity Fair and to have missed this would have been a shame. I’ll tackle the immensity of this piece in two ways: from a soccer perspective and a writing lens, because it’s superb in both arenas.

Initially, I was attracted to this article through my (mostly ridiculous) rivalry with the admittedly formidable striker from the Ivory Coast, the aforementioned Didier Drogba. Drogba ripped the twine an absurd number of times (I want to say it borders on the thirties) in last year’s campaign – most notably the goal that defeated my beloved Arsenal in the Carling Cup final, crashing any hope for the Gunners to take silverware in an otherwise bland season. He is without question one of the best players in the world today.

But Drogba the player and Drogba the man are now two completely separate identities, to millions of Ivorians and now, sitting in Washington, D.C., me. He is little short of a messiah to the citizens of the Ivory Coast, where people “display their Drogbacité – their Drogba-ness.” But it is obvious that whereas the man of the hour David Beckham is as much a fashion model as he is a midfielder, Drogba is legitimately a man for all ages. His words,

“We, the Elephants, all we did was our duty as soccer players, our obligation as Ivorians. We wanted Ivorians to share our dream and see it realized—the return of peace to Ivory Coast. The most moving thing was the national anthem. All the stadium was singing and it was the first time that the two armed forces were together, face-to-face. That was the best moment of my last several weeks.”

portray a sense that the best is yet to come.

I’ll be honest. When scrolling Soccernet for scores, I tend to skim over ones that aren’t that personally interesting. I don’t think there are many people that don’t do this – we all skim stories in the paper because we don’t really care about them. I am sure that this 5-0 tie between Madagascar and the Ivory Coast was no different. But for Drogba, this moment of unification is only the next step, whereas for the remainder of the country, it is a godsend, a miracle delivered by a team in green. Drogba is not finished, and he intends to complete his mission of seeing a unified Ivory Coast with his feet and his words and his actions.

Now I know the magnitude; although why I doubted it for a moment is beyond me.

That inability to doubt is the greatness of this sport – there is such an inherent aesthetic in its components that it is impossible for the game to mean nothing. The players are sculpted from bronze, flying and sliding through the sky and turf, athletes of stature and class. The elements are embraced, not condemned as obstacles – be it snow, or rain, or immense heat, or wind. The green of the grass stains the whites of the players who pour their efforts into the dirty business of defense and guarding their goals. The creativity and agility of the strikers, speeding through the trunks of the opponents is a sight even for the most jaded of spectators. The goals, so precious, bring a jubilatory orgasm of the senses: crowds roaring, the scent of sweat and beer and release, the sight of colors celebrating the thrill of success, together.

So beautiful, it possesses the ability to cease war.

While I may root against him and his teammates in the upcoming campaign, I will always recall his guile and abilities after the match for many years to come.

Mr. Drogba, thanks for reminding me of the beauty.

Now, from a writing standpoint.

So rarely, there are stories that can be told without any work. The writer needs only to allow the descriptions to be written, and get the hell out of the way. Aside from the contextual information that is necessary to explain his presence (i.e. his service in the Peace Corps that familiarized him with the Ivory Coast), Merrill does a fantastic job of getting the hell out of the way.

But that is not to say that he is unimportant – if anything, his understanding of the living relationship between the game, the people, the nation, and the future is the most important attribute of this story. I could tell that he felt it at this juncture:

I remember watching the World Cup when I was young and marveling at Diego Maradona and the furious passion of the players and fans. But it wasn’t until I saw kids playing soccer in my Peace Corps village—barefoot, on grassless fields, with anything that might roll or bounce a bit—that I began to understand…

It is difficult for us writers to keep ourselves completely out of the story (what can I say? We have big egos). All that aside however, this is really the only time that Merrill tosses in his own story, and it only makes it better. He cheers with the crowd, mixed together. A white man from New York who writes for a magazine that is 75% fashion spreads, supposedly unbiased, cannot help but cheer on the movement of something so good.

Mr. Merrill, kudos to you – you left me wanting more, and more I will find.

I could go on, but since this post is already at three pages, I think I’ve staked my claim.

I think I’ll just go read it again.

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Filed under a big scary blogosphere!, futbol., here - reality called., required reading., sport., stories of the year.