USA! USA! USA!

Before the main part of the post, two reminders of things that interest me… 🙂

1. The 2nd Semi-Annual “Paradox Comedy 3-on-3 International Invitational Tournament of Improv Champions” takes place tonight and tomorrow at 8pm at Art6 downtown.   Each night, 3 to 5 3-player teams (the lineup is fluid right up until showtime – reminds me of my ring-announcing days…) will compete for audience reaction and judges’ scores.  There may, or may not, be a winner announced (for the first tournament, “comedy” won).

2. I’m on the radio again this weekend.  Tomorrow 10am-3pm, Sunday noon-5pm, Big Oldies 107.3 in Richmond (we are still not streaming, sorry).  The first two hours tomorrow are dedicated to the Midas/Virginia Blood Services blood drive.  At this time of year, VBS has a miserable time getting blood donations.  If you have blood, you’re qualified, and you have time, stop by vablood.org to book your reservation.

Unless you have been hiding under a really large rock, you know that the USA national soccer team has qualified to the second stage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup ™.  You probably know the manner in which it happened – needing to win to advance, the USA had one goal called back (more in a moment) and went into second-half stoppage time tied at 0 with Algeria.  That wasn’t going to work.  Then… well… you’ve seen it, right?  US goalie Tim Howard sees Landon Donovan starting to get behind Algeria’s defense, throws the ball halfway down the field, Donovan gets it in stride, runs it deep into Algeria’s half of the field, pass to Jozy Altidore, pass to Clint Dempsey, shot blocked, rebound just sitting there, Donovan cleans it up, PROFIT!  I lost my voice for a moment, I screamed so loudly in my quiet apartment…

But I wonder… would we have been so excited had the first goal counted, and the USA had a 1-0 lead for 70 minutes?  Probably not.  American fans love “the moment”.  That early goal wouldn’t have been a moment.  The drama wouldn’t have built up enough.  We wouldn’t have been on the edge of our seats, knowing we were minutes from elimination from the tournament.  So the way the USA won, to me, was as important as the win itself.  For those on Facebook, go to my page and find the YouTube video I linked, of USA victory celebrations at the moment the goal was scored.   I think that video says a lot.  It wouldn’t have looked the same if the winning goal had come early in the first half.

Now, as to that first goal.  I took a little heat for this, but I am convinced that Clint Dempsey was slightly offside on the play.  Keep in mind that soccer has a difficult offside rule – the offside line is, basically, the defensive player second-closest to the goal they’re defending.  And the call is made at the time the pass is kicked.  So… the sideline official has to watch both the player passing the ball and the intended target, to see when the ball was passed and if the recipient was offside.  It’s not easy.  From all the angles I saw, I thought Dempsey’s leading foot was offside when the pass was made.  However, I can certainly see the argument that he may have been level.  But we have the benefit of 20 viewings of the instant replay.  On the field, if you assume the sideline official looked to see when the ball was kicked, then turned his head slightly, Dempsey certainly looked offside to him.  And I don’t think the video evidence is conclusive enough to argue that call.

It’s certainly a more defensible call than the outclassed Malian referee made in the USA’s 3-2 win over 2-2 tie against Slovenia.  In that game, the American fans got their first real taste of the European colonial arrogance of FIFA.  Bad enough that FIFA uses mediocre referees because “in the spirit of Fair Play ™, we should use officials from all over the world”… the referees are not required to explain, to anyone, at any time, their calls.  I don’t have a problem with the idea that they don’t have to face the media.  I do have a major problem with the fact that our team still doesn’t know, a week later, why the foul was called on what should have been their third goal.  FIFA, in their Old World smugness, feels that the little people (i.e. EVERY-FREAKING-ONE) have no right to know the decisions of their imperial officials.  They made the call, ergo, the call is right.

For those who saw the USA-Algeria game, the balding, tubby Eurotrash sitting next to former President Clinton was the Dear Leader of FIFA, Sepp Bladder Blatter.  Blatter makes former IOC Head Patronizer Juan Antonio Samaranch seem both enlightened and competent.   Seriously, Blatter is an arrogant little snip of a man, who in the real world probably would have a hard time latching on to a fryer’s job at McDonald’s.  But he’s murdered his way up to leadership of the biggest cash cow in the world.  And you know he’s dipping into the trough.  But enough slander.  Far better writers than I have slandered Blatter far more effectively.  It’s not hard to find.

Speaking of Dear Leaders, as I type this, it’s early in the final game of Best Korea North Korea’s World Cup.  They lost 7-0 to Portugal last Monday.  They are already down 2-0 to Cote D’Ivoire today.  They have disappointed Dear Leader badly.  The best thing they can do at this point is beg their bus driver to put the bus over a cliff on the ride back to their hotel – a quick death in a bus plunge would probably be preferable to what’s going to happen to them when they go home.   North Korea has, from what we hear, some pretty nasty labor camps.  In 2002 and 2003, Dear Leader sent some cheerleaders to South Korea accompanying North Korea’s entries in the World and University Games.  Apparently, the cheerleaders liked South Korea, and told people about the conditions there (which, no doubt, were far superior to the North).  For that transgression, they were tossed in the gulag, according to any number of media reports who quoted an escapee who claimed to be in the same gulag.  And those were just cheerleaders.  Can you imagine what’s going to happen to the North Korean athletes who have given up 9 goals in a game and a third?  No, actually, don’t imagine it, you want to keep your lunch down.

OK, I’m going to enjoy the rest of Brasil-Portugal today.  Looking forward, of course, to USA-Ghana tomorrow.  If the USA plays to their best, it’s winnable.  But no dramatics tomorrow, boys… try to get one in the net early… PLEASE?

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Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), generally nice person (if you ask me).

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