The Trials and the Elation
June 23, 2010
When Landon Donovan finally slammed the Jabulani into the net, 91 minutes after the kickoff, there was one part of me that wondered “Will it count? Will it count?” And not, Alex, because I think there’s been a massive anti-American conspiracy, but simply because the refs in this group stage have been terrible. Contrary to popular prognostication, Koman Coulibaly, according to FIFA's official report, called back Edu’s goal for a foul not by Bocanegra, but by Edu (who didn’t commit a foul); there's a reason FIFA gave Coulibaly a "poor" rating and dropped him for the second round.
Best of the Web, AM Edition
June 21, 2010
Simon Kuper: Brazilian football has moved from poetry into prose Familiar pattern emerging in Capello's reign Will fans just have to accept diving? Rob Hughes: cracks in the European camps Tim Vickery: South American stars shine Zonal Marking: Brazil always in control against Ivory Coast, Portugal exploits the space against North Korea Gabriele Marcotti: Denmark's Simon Kjaer is a throwback to the ball-playing defenders of old Can the Cup really spur grassroots soccer in South Africa?
Does England Just Need a Good Shag?
June 21, 2010
Things are not looking good for England. Two draws against opponents many in the global football community had quickly written off. The passes aren’t coming through, the runs are being cut off, the set pieces are blasting over the cross-bar. Exasperation was clear and bright red on the faces of players during Friday’s match against unexpectedly impressive Algeria. They were snippy with each other, with the officials and with their coach. Their game could simply be described as frustrating.
The Dreadful French
June 17, 2010
Soccer is a dreadful game, and I mean that in the best way. There is beauty, to be sure, and we’ve seen some (well, a little) so far. But what makes the sport so desperately engaging for me, and maybe a lot of fans, is the creeping horror that can build over the course of a second half. Yes, every sport has a final period and can end on a last second field goal or three-point play or run batted in. But, I would argue, in no other is the suspense as drawn out as it is in soccer. And if you have spent years watching the United States play, then the suspense is agonizing.
June 16, 2010
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- I watched Brazil’s 2-1 win over North Korea in a bar in the hipsterish neighborhood of Melville, where my brother, nephew and I are renting a small house for two weeks. Brazil shirts abounded, as they always do. The run a distant second to South Africa’s ubiquitous shirt, but the two kits combined make yellow the dominant street color of this World Cup. I like Brazil for all of the usual reasons -- grace, possession, elan, the inevitable jaw-dropping ball-on-a-string move or physics-defying shot.
On "Men With Balls"
June 16, 2010
Don DeLillo’s 2007 novel Point Omega begins with an anonymous man, standing in the Museum of Modern Art, watching Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho, which stretches the Hitchcock film to diurnal length, turning mere frames into emergent stories. “Suspense is trying to build,” DeLillo writes, “but the silence and stillness outlive it.” DeLillo says Point Omega was inspired by his own accidental encounter with Gordon’s work.
Why The World Cup Has Been Crap So Far
June 16, 2010
Alex takes on the important question of why the World Cup has been crap so far. Or, if you want to stick to a proposition that's not debatable, why we've seen so few goals -- just 23 in 14 games, a clear drop-off from previous Cups. I agree it would have been better to have had Croatia for Slovenia, the Czechs for Slovakia, the Russians for Greece, and anyone for Denmark -- whose utter lack of anything resembling goal-scoring ambition against Holland I had the misfortune to watch live Monday.
The Hand-Picked Supporters
June 15, 2010
A Poem by Martin Tyler and Ally McCoist -- as Commentated During the Brazil-North Korea Game (note: each of these phrases was said during the commentary in the order they appear in the poem, though not everything uttered by Tyler and McCoist is used) The eye-catching Hong, if you can throw a coat over them, had a bit of bend and dip. He takes it into tight areas-- an absolute blinder, not pressing any panic buttons, they won't go route one, (clip it up high) pass the ball when the player wants to receive it-- in dangerous areas he's more than capable. Maicon rolls him one, but doesn't have
The Wrong Teams
June 15, 2010
"Why," asks a friend, "is this World Cup so rubbish?" At least, he says, "Italia 90 had a good sound track going for it." And it's true: Pavarotti is better than the Vuvuzelas. But is this tournament a disappointment so far? I'm not convinced it has been. True, there's not been too much spectacular football—though Germany and Argentina have had more than their share of moments—but did anyone really expect much from, say, France? Or England? And wasn't Italy-Paraguay always likely to be a tactical affair?
Best of the Web, PM Edition
June 14, 2010
Israel's separation wall turned into giant TV screen The economics of the World Cup Meet America's Jewish players Can Dunga fine-tune Brazil's imperfections in time? Tim Vickery: How North Korea can stop Brazil The triumphant return of Special1 TV Why Holland had trouble breaking down Denmark's defense An anthology of English goalkeeping howlers