World Cup

First They Ignore You. Second... Wait, There is No Second.
June 28, 2010

Over at the World Cup Blog, Stefan Fatsis is again full of soccer triumphalism: A poster named “Irishman” puts it nicely: “The USA has the extraordinary luck to be both Germanic and Hispanic, black and white and brown, African and European and Asian, all in one driven national character.” Progress is uncertain for every national side, but it’s highly likely for the U.S. Irishman quoted Gandhi: “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” To which JustinO replied: “First they ignore you (to 1989). Then they laugh at you (1990-2001).

More on Americans and Soccer
June 27, 2010

The thing that bothers me most about the Americans-not-accepting-soccer story is the underlying notion that if the majority of Americans have no interest in soccer, then Americans have no interest in soccer. By the same logic, Americans have no interest in reading novels, as survey upon survey shows that the majority of Americans prefer television to reading. I don't know the numbers, but I would venture to guess that the number of Americans reading literary fiction is in the neighborhood of the number of Americans interested in soccer.

Americans and Soccer
June 27, 2010

Every time the World Cup is on the same annoying question comes up: Will Americans accept soccer? Well, frankly, I could not care less. Yesterday I watched the US-Ghana game in a steakhouse in the suburbs of Nashville, with the game sound replaced by a country music selection so immaculately insufferable that they’re surely using it to extract bogus information in the Guantanamo Bay torture resort. Apart from me, there was a guy drinking alone, and some of the kitchen staff. Did I care less about the game because of that? No.

First They Ignore You
June 27, 2010

I was en route home from South Africa yesterday—and still haven’t made it to D.C.; I’m sipping a Jamba Juice and typing in the lovely JetBlue terminal at JFK—so I still haven’t seen all 120 minutes of USA-Ghana. The last 30, however, I did catch during a short layover in Dubai. I was drained, the U.S. seemed drained. Maybe it was sitting in a quiet airport lounge, listening to play by play in Arabic, with just a couple of American fans in a small group around a flat screen.

Second Touch
June 27, 2010

My brother’s favorite description of a technically poor soccer player is that “his second touch is a tackle.” I might add, “and he’s probably English.” There was a moment at the very start of the second half of today’s trouncing by Germany where the flaws of the very essence of English soccer were so clearly evidenced as to be borderline hilarious (if you DVR’d it—and why would you?—go to 45.45 and watch for a minute). 

 Here’s what happened: Schweinsteiger attempts a stupid over-the-shoulder pass, square at the half-way line, and Steven Gerrard picks it off, pings it to Rooney, who checks an

The Huns
June 27, 2010

First of all, let me stand corrected: Germany is impressive. I am the last person in the world who would enjoy being wrong about the Germans. They were fantastic today and just gave a new meaning to the word hiding. They came away from the defeat against Serbia with increased mental strength so far beyond the English that it ought to be studied at the level of county league clubs. Ozil, Muller and Schweinsteiger ran rampant at a speed that was quite literally incomprehensible to the English midfield.

Mourning USA
June 26, 2010

What made this team different? Longtime fans of the national team will remember our past painful efforts to string together possession. Or the times when our defense consisted of spasmodic clearances. Or the moment we coupled poor quality with poor character, staging our own disgraceful mutiny. This was a fine team in every respect. It should be said that they played several atrocious halves, the kind that reminded one of the most shambolic chapters of our soccer history. But they were able to put those behind them.

The Boys from Montevideo
June 26, 2010

Let us now praise Uruguay. The Little Country That Did is deservedly back on the world stage and it's splendid to see. In a sense Uruguay are close to the platonic ideal for a heart-warming World Cup story: a tiny country of just 3.5 million souls who, once aristocrats of the game, subsequently fell on hard times but who now find themselves back in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1970.

Look Who’s Afraid of the Three Lions
June 26, 2010

Some of my earliest memories are of international football matches, between England and Germany among others, like the game this Sunday afternoon. I can’t honestly claim to have seen the famous England 6-3 defeat at the hands of Hungary in 1953, or even to have been more than vaguely aware of it. Much later, my friend A.J. Ayer told me that he had been taken to the game by Arthur Koestler, still enough of a Hungarian to gloat over his native country’s victory. In the following year came the “Miracle of Berne” when those same magical Magyars lost the World Cup final to West Germany.

A Metablog in Links
June 26, 2010

--I have to admit, I’m not patriotic. It has partly to do with principle, but it is also a phobia/neurosis. When I hear people yelling, “USA, USA,” I begin to look for an exit through which I could slink away. Yet, my heart practically burst when I saw Shot Heard 'Round The World. Of course, my first thought was, “Kiss my ass, Glenn Beck.” --The Daily Show’s ‘coverage’ of the World Cup was superb! --Daniel wrote about Peru not making the tournament since 1982.

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