After a couple of weeks off to R&R and get this holiday madness under way, I am back on the blogging scene.
I thoroughly enjoyed the World Cup draw last week, and for once as a US supporter, I can finally say, "Hey, at least we're not in that group over there."
And by "that group" I mean Group G, as in Golgotha. Brazil, Cote D'Ivoire, Portugal and the North Korean Little Sisters of the Poor. My favorite Tweet after that lineup was decided was (and I don't remember who this was) "What kind of coverage are THOSE games going to get in the North Korean media next June?" That is a brutal group and will easily yield some of the most amazing games. My early pick to get through from there: Brazil and Cote D'Ivoire. See ya Christiano, and try to keep your shirt on next time.
That's not to say that the US' path to the knock-out stages is secure. Slovenia did knock out Russia after all, which is a better team than the US. I'm not that worried about Algeria because, after all, we're not the Egyptians. Still, I don't dismiss them either. Only Arab nation in the tournament, playing on African soil.
I still think the US is the second best team in that group. I like starting off with England because you don't want to play them needing a victory later in the round. And Holy Belo Horizonte Batman, if the Snakes DO start with a draw, it would be epic to say the least. Easily, it will be one of the most-watched soccer matches in US history. That is still a mighty big if, win against Spain last year or no. But hey, that's what makes this tourney so fun year in and year out: Improbable victories, catastrophic English failures and, my early pick, a Brazilian run to the championship.
Fun fact, courtesy of Beau Dure, Tim Howard's amazing spot kick save against Jermaine Defoe yesterday has the English media already getting all weak in the knees about a possible Belo Horizonte repeat. Read this report here and see if you can spot the fear and nervousness. I love it!
That being said, anyone who thinks the US is suddenly a World Cup contender needs to have their head examined. My expectations remain low, though my hopes of getting through the group stage are high. Right now it wouldn't surprise me if the Americans finished second or third in that group, though first or fourth would. I do expect our first victory since 2002 and would hope that at least one commentator would point out that the US was the only team to get a point off the Italians in 2006. Party poopers may justifiably point out that it was via an own goal from the Azurri, but we takes what we can gets around here. And we also got the iconic image of Brian McBride's bloody face in that game, so we'll take it as a marketing win at the very least!
Ah moral victories, the Laffy Taffy of sport!
Some people making great points about this draw that I will not bother to plagiarize because you should read/hear the whole thing:
Jamie Trecker and Kartik Kirshnayer on the US' precarious position on the MLS Talk podcast. Click here.
The inimitable Dan Loney. Click here. My favorite part of that great post from Dan:
10:16. What is this Eng...land of which you speak?
10:17. Yeah, our draw is pretty much over, now. BECKHAMLAND and two other countries, here's some college football.
10:18. Per comment, yeah, Grant Wahl's book just went into another printing.
Simply put, if you don't read Loney regularly, well then I don't know what to call you, but I do pity you.
The indomitable Bill Archer. Click here. If you don't read Loney AND Archer regularly, then take one of those classes at Kumon or somewhere and get your literacy skills up to snuff podnah.
Here's some trademark Archer genius:
As noted a couple weeks ago, CONCACAF Supremo Jack Warner has pledged the full support of the Confederation - and all three of it's votes - to the USA World Cup bid.
then about ten days ago Warner left a meeting with British PM Gordon Brown SAYING THAT "IT'S ENGLAND'S TIME and apparently promising to back that bid as well.
Of course he got what he has been lobbying for, a private meeting with the Queen, although Warner said afterward that the meetings were "not for (his) ego". My guess is that Her majesty was touting the quality of the hotel food or possibly Londons' nightlife. Hopefully that drooling dolt of a son of hers was someplace else at the time.
So it would appear that Jack is done and done, his ballots practially cast, right? I mean Jacks' word is his bond, right?
Last week, after attending a cocktail party thrown by Australia for him and three other FIFA VPs PRESS REPORTS ANNOUNCED HE IS BACKING AUSTRALIA
"If there is a country that truly deserves to host the FIFA World Cup, then it is the island continent of Australia".
Of course there are only two World Cups being awarded, and to a lesser man this might seem to be a roadblock to endorsing three bids, but for jack Warner it's all in a day's work.
And, oh yes, last week he told reporters that he felt Spain/Portugal was "in the lead" for securing a World Cup.
He's scheduled to visit Russia next month. Good thing they're well known for open and above-board dealing.
I stand in awe (and doubled over in laughter).