Hey y'all, the word of the day is "TWELVE"
12 straight wins.
Yeah this should have gone up yesterday, but fuck you I was working/trolling fools in the Buffalo News comments for sport. get on my level.
Yesterday was a good day. Fans on both sides will temper the boisterous joy with which some are looking at the USMNT's win in Sarajevo yesterday - it was their B team when the US put up those goals, the first half was all that mattered, it's a friendly so who cares - and I totally accept that.
BUT ALL THAT DOESN'T MATTER. This is goddamn awesome.
Things to consider:
Ok, that's it. If you're not watching this US team these days, I don't know what to say. Get yourself right and ready for Brazil.
- Bosnia-Herzegovina was/is ranked 13th in the world by FIFA, and 9th by the Soccer Power Index. US is ranked 19th by FIFA and the SPI (which seemed ambitious, and suddenly doesn't).
- Bosnia hadn't lost at home since 2010. That string included a scoreless draw to now-ranked 7th Portugal in Euro Qualifiers, a 2-1 Friendly win over now-ranked 9th Brazil, and a 3-1 win over Greece in World Cup Qualifying. Eight wins and three ties over that home undefeated run.
- On the field for the whole game was Edin Džeko, a dude who has 30 goals in 54 appearances for his national team, which plays in the most competitive Continental Football Association on the planet. In his club career, he's scored 152 goals, including 19 for Man City during their title run. He is legit.
- JOZY ALTIDORE MAKES ME WET.
- This streak is only three wins shy of tying Spain's record of 15. Only six national teams, including Spain, have done better.
- Since the last World Cup, the US have beat Italy, Mexico and Bosnia-Herzegovina away, and beat Germany at home. What more do these guys have to prove before they're considered legit?
I feel like writing, so will invent topics by musing on this hilarious world of ours and making jokes to keep me sane. And since I'm on a work/pleasure trip to Buffalo tomorrow and intend to have too much fun with the pleasure portion of my visit - i.e. anime porn, if you're interested - I won't be available much, and today it must be.
Bills training camp started, so a huzzah and merry almost football to you and yours. Professional catch and run ball is pretty great, except when it actually starts and we find ourselves enveloped again in an existential crisis of suck.
BUT THIS COULD BE THE YEAR. So they tell me; "they" being pretty much anyone willing to forget the past and start fresh, though for them it happens every year and EJ Manuel, by implication, sits in the same storied and shit-upon position as Trent and Fitz and JP and Robbie J and Bledsoe and even Levi Brown for a quick minute which tells you all you need to know about what it takes to be a Buffalo quarterback and ride the wave of foolish optimism that is being a fan of a Bills team with the shittiest wagons making the shittiest circle.
Related: when the Bills circle their wagons, rumor has it, a parallel dimension of this world is invaded by Cybermen and it's all really terrible until Rose Tyler appears and remains smoking hot as she saves the motherfucking day.
Whatever, have at the hope if you want to. It's sports. Have fun. EJ, jokes aside, is certainly less saddled with the cursed history of Buffalo football than the rest of us, so maybe he'll be fine. He's looked seriously good in these first few days of camp, if Buffalo sports writers are to be believed (they're not), but the stark contrast of his game when set against Kevin Kolb may be distorting everyone's perspective.
Calm down, and as mentioned, supra, Go Bills.
We gathered to chat about sports and stuff. Bills. Jokes. Dance music. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. America.
It's been too long.
Music by way of White Panda, Dr. Ooo and Ellie Goulding. That's right.
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Wow. Weekdays suck. I started my week with a crapload of work all jammed together like the Buffalo News Sports staff trying to ride an elevator together, then followed it with a bunch of exhaustion, and now the week is almost done and I figured I'd scrap together a few thoughts to impart to you before the weekend. Why? Because fuck you that's why.
Join me. And imagine me saying that in as non-creepy was as possible.
This is as belated as we've been in a while. Maybe the dad among us shouldn't promise to edit anymore, particularly on a noght of such heavy drinking. With esteemed Deeg colleague Monsieur Boner Shorts in town, things got weird.
I won't bother recapping it, except to say this was recorded the night of Tuesday, March 26th, in the midst of Sabres, Knicks, USMNT, Clippers/Mavs and shots of whiskey. Also, the Scizz was there, so if you love the soft tones of his Franklinville accent, make sure to join in the fun with a download.
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Checking out Jeremy White's twitter feed. Considering just quitting.
What a busy week it has been at DGWU Sports! Between news of the NHL Lockout and our battles with the various personalities at WGR for refusing, as is their custom, to engage with viewpoints other than (a) their own, or (b) those of the mouthbreathers who call into WGR and make it their mission to express their vehement disdain for everything in the world, there was a LOT to discuss when we gathered Wednesday night. More shots were fired and kindling put onto the world of Buffalo sports media so that we can continue to watch it burn. Heh. Sports.
Oh, and there are those Buffalo Bills, too, which is actually where we started in segment one as we recapped the shit show that was Sunday with the Deeg. Bills @ Cardinals was by no means an enjoyable time, but recapping the fun times we had and the trainwreck of a game ended up being pretty fun/depressing/rage-inducing.
In segment two we welcomed Colin Bruckel, one of the founders of TheHosers.com
, a site we have linked to for a while and which provides stellar insight about the legal issues surrounding professional hockey and, in particular, the CBA. Colin's assessment of the current CBA negotiations was as interesting and well-presented as any I've heard, and it is an understatement to say that we were lucky to have him on. I would note, however, that since our discussion took place before the NHLPA presented its own offers to the league (and before Bettman rejected them immediately), you'll want to keep an eye on his site for more hot legal takes. Or you could continue being ignorant and just keep listening to the superficialities of sports talk radio.
Segment three brings it back to our wheelhouse of inappropriateness and ill-conceived sports takes as we talk the USMNT's win on Tuesday, the NBA's new policy restricting pre-game celebrations, Apologist's suicidal ideations following the Orioles' elimination from the playoffs, and our predictions for the Bills/Titans game this weekend. I must add that we had intended to talk more about (read: make fun of) Shawne Merriman's return to Buffalo, but had to toss that to the back burner so we'd have time to talk about the more pressing issues of gloating about our intellectual superiority over talk radio hosts. It's a burden, really. In any event, I'm hopeful that Merriman's second tenure in the 716 will give us plenty of opportunities to point and laugh.
Musical interludes this week are provided by Broken Bells, Gov't Mule & REO Speedwagon, as well as - of course - The Jambrones.
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7,200 feet above sea level. Six tiers of unmitigated, raucous hell. An All - Seater in name only, with barely raised benches in the style of old Football Fortresses/Deathtraps The Ibrox, Old Wembley, and Parc Des Princes. It is the only stadium to hold two World Cup Finals, professional home of Club America, and spiritual/actual home of our most hated rival, El Tri. Behold, Estadio Azteca.
"We throw piss and cerveza on your players! And batteries! Ole!"
0-23-1. That's the Yanks record in Mexico since we started to think seriously about having a footy squad Stateside in 1984. We haven't elected to do a friendly match there in almost 30 years. We've NEVER beaten them in the Azteca. IF YOU HAVEN'T FIGURED IT OUT YET WE ARE SCAREDY PANTS NANCY BOYS WHEN IT COMES TO PLAYING MEXICO IN THEIR BACKYARD. Jurgen Klinsmann, our fearless leader and participant in some of Europe's greatest Professional and National rivalries, has decided it's time to make our boys sack up and face the music at the Azteca, tournaments be damned (If the previous USMNT administration had their druthers, they would wait until the very last dying minute with a gun to their heads to play at The Azteca and ONLY if it was for a FIFA sanctioned tournament).
The World's Biggest Pussy.
Sweet jersey, bro.
Three out of every four years, this is the point in the summer where sports cease to matter for me on their usual day-to-day basis. The Mets are inevitably out of the playoff picture (check), the Sabres have underwhelmed in an offseason in which they needed to pick up the pieces from a disastrous finish to last season (check), the Bills look promising but for the fact that they're the Buffalo Fucking Bills (check), and the various European footy leagues are still a couple weeks away (check). Summer provides its own distractions of day drinking and beach visits and eye candy throughout the five boroughs (well... four, since Staten Island is, well, Staten Island). And of course there's MLS action which continues to impress, particularly with the Red Bulls (who, incidentally, I caught live Tuesday night when they played Tottenham... I'd recap that match but, let's be real, I was drinking, coming off a separate four day bender and there's not much to say than that the Spurs looked pretty good when they tried and that they showed why the MLS still has a few years/decades to catch up with the quality of top-notch European clubs).
But, one of every four years, we get the Olympics to keep us busy in late July/early August so that we don't have to feel quite so down about the Mets or the Sabres or the Bills (or whatever other shit burger squads you happen to follow) each looking like minor league organizations trying to keep pace with the big boys. I've always been a huge fan of the Summer Olympics since it plays the role of gap-filler and since it typically happens while I have a little bit more free time than usual to watch endless hours of sports I know nothing about and drink enough tallboys to convince myself that I'm actually an expert. Back in '08, I absorbed the Beijing games on the heels of taking the NY bar exam, which worked out perfectly even if my family did start to question my motive in watching back-to-back matches of women's beach volleyball. (Spoiler: it was the ass shots
, of course). This year, I have a little bit less free time, being employed and all, though I did get to check out quite a lot of it during a three day bachelor party weekend, and have kept up with the bigger goings-on since getting back to NYC Monday night.
My chosen sports have been fairly dormant, thus leaving the typical Yachtist rage to rest whilst I enjoy summer cocktails on the poop deck. Therefore I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Sunil Gulati and the rest of the crew at the U.S. Men's National Team for hiring Der Golden Bombenschutze, Jeurgen Klinsmann.
Ich Bin Ein Klinsmanner.
I have been a Bradley naysayer since the day he was hired, and a Klinsmann supporter since his name first started being bandied about by higher-ups at USMNT. Klinsmann's hiring represents a drastic and much needed change in direction for the USMNT and American football in general. This team has needed fresh new leadership since Bora Milutinovic left in 95. Instead, it was handed to trusted same-olds Steve Sampson, Bruce Arena, and Bob Bradley. The tremendous strides US Footy took from the late 80s into the mid-90s came to a screeching halt somewhere during the Arena tenure (2003, specifically) and have laid stagnant since. Before I go any further trashing the US Footy system, I'll drop this disclaimer: I am a firm believer that the USMNT can no longer look within for development. We need to bring Continental/International football wholly into the US. MLS has understood this for years, bringing in designated players and hiring international coaches. I don't know exactly what can be done, but bringing in the guy who set the framework for the Deutscheland Fussball Revolution is a pretty awesome start.
Ja! Das is gut!
The hallmark of Klinsmann's brief stays at both Bayern Munich & Germany was the total revolution of the entire program. The German National Team was the most affected by this. Klinsmann brought together the entire coaching fraternity of the Bundesliga, explained the way he wanted Germans to be taught and how they should play (some were more open to the idea than others, however), and worked to instill that at all levels of German football. Additionally, he hired those around him to be successful in areas he wasn't (i.e. gameday coaching - the hiring of Joachim Low, now the current national team coach), improved facilities, and forced the German FA to think more forwardly in terms of exercise science, preparation, and injury rehabilitation.
In the US, Klinsmann won't meet nearly the same amount of pushback as he did in the first months of his German & Bayern tenures. The MLS/NCAA & the USMNT have one of the most cooperative pro/development/national team relationships in all of world football. One of Klinsmann's previous demands is that he be given authoritative control of the program should he take the position, so I imagine he will be the de facto head of US Soccer from youth all the way up through the professional ranks since he finally relented on the 3rd try (Gulati previously tried to hire Klinsmann in secret twice but apparently was rebuffed).
Time to sack up, Lando.
SELECTION, SWEET SELECTION:If you're a fan of the USMNT, the worst part of your game day was the lineup card for the starting 11. The combination of lack of talent (left back) and lack of direction (Bradley) led to some of the dumbest lineups in history. Donovan benched until the 2nd half of a Gold Cup game? Check. Jonathan Boornstein even WEARING a Yank jersey? Check. Klinsmann, on the other hand, clearly has an eye for talent, which should lead to smart lineups on game day.
This bodes pretty well for guys like Stu Holden, Freddy Adu, and Eric Lichaj. I'll be thoroughly convinced if Klinsmann hands the Centre Back reigns to my boy Tim Ream. Watching his passing prowess in New York has convinced me he is the answer to the Onweyu loss, and he would fit well into Klinsmann's philosophy, leading me to my next point...PHILOSOPHY:If you're sick and tired of Bob Bradley's hackneyed version of "Catenaccio", you'll be happy to read this article written by him after the 2010 World Cup thrashing of England by Germany.
Of course, whenever anyone hears the words "Attacking Football", expectations immediately skyrocket to Barca Football, laser passes, and Klose hat tricks. Klinsmann won't have nearly that kind of talent on his hands, but as we take longer strides towards success in the states, instilling an attacking philosophy in the ranks will be deeply beneficial. I for one am excited to see the boys learn how to actually run off the ball (anyone else tired of Landycakes' passes skidding towards the touchline because nobody is there to smash them home?).
I know this guy is pumped!
I'm pumped for this hire. It's a step in the right direction, and perfectly timed as World Cup 2014 Cycle starts now. First game is against Mexico, and although it's a friendly....it's fucking Mexico. Let's see what Der Panzerkapten can do vs El Tri.
*disclaimer: this post was hastily written due to a combination of immense writer's block, excitement over Bob Bradley's firing, and a vicous world-ending hangover. Please excuse my choppy prose and unsubstantiated arguments.
(The Scizz has brought it to my attention that not enough people are downloading CrapTastiCast #10. While I'm sure this is somehow related to the fact that I was not there for the recording - as I was in the midst of a booze-fueled wedding weekend in the Hudson River Valley and, then, northern Jerz - I would nevertheless greatly appreciate it if you all could take a moment to download & listen here. Scizz is having a coronary over this, and we really need him to survive through the summer so we can get in on his rad NASCAR plans up at The Glen. So, do me a solid and check it out. ~ B.)
Now on to the post...
The BarristerI confess that I have always loved Clint Dempsey. A lot of USMNT fans give him a hard time for being kind of a dick, for being aloof at times, for seeming like he could give a shit
that the team isn't dominating the world like we all want, and even expect them to at this point. Yet, where many see an arrogant player, I see one of the few hopes for US success. A player who plays with a flare rarely seen clad in red, white and blue on the pitch.
As I look forward to tomorrow's semifinal - a game in which the US looks to exact revenge for a tough 2-1 defeat against Panama in the group stage [Ed Note: Thanks to Dan for pointing out my error with the previous game's score in the comments. My apologies. Just the kind of shoddy reporting you can all look forward to from The Barrister.].
- my thoughts are on Clint, a player upon whom I peg much of my hope for the team's success in the Gold Cup and leadup to the next World Cup. As I often do when trying to focus my theme for a post, I drew inspiration from the web today - this time it was a Deadspin post from the weekend. I haven't read Deadspin since their stellar coverage of the Brett Favre A-cock-alypse, so was happy to find an analysis of Dempsey that I happen to agree with: "What a paradox we have in Clint Dempsey. His composure provides results. Those results give him confidence. That confidence makes him appear casual. And in the end, the biggest criticism we can muster is that Dempsey makes the game look easy, all the while his teammates make soccer look so hard."
Seriously, check out that post if you need to understand why Dempsey is our key to success in the men's game. The Yachtsman and I have often griped about the state of the American game - downhill soccer that lacks flare and creativity, driven only by the singular desire to progress the ball forward, even where the situation demands patience and thoughtfulness in a player's touch. Indeed, America's success - such as it is - has been the result of jamming the ball down the opponent's throat. Look at last year's World Cup goals: Donovan's winner to take us into the knockout stage? Scored off a rebound as the team streaked down the field like a team coached by Gordan Bombay. Or even Donovan's first goal in the Slovenia game
. Great shot, sure, but a great example of shoving it down the other team's throat with as much will and force as you can muster. And don't even get me started on the garbage luck we had to count on to get the equalizer against England.
I bring these examples up not to denigrate the US team, but only to point out that, to their credit, the team has willed themselves to victory. But, when you take away that will to win - or when you at least recognize that the team's desire and heart can be easily matched in the passion of international play - we're left with a team that is worlds behind in terms of skill and natural talent. And, this is where a guy like Dempsey can change things - especially when he combines those traditional elements of the USMNT - the gritty determination of a perennial underdog - with the natural talent and skill of a kid who learned the game growing up in Nacogdoches, TX, outside of the traditional US youth soccer system, and with the influence of the Mexican game that had luckily worked its way into the community.
And for tomorrow's game, as the US looks to get one back from the Panama team that so thoroughly embarassed them a couple weekends ago, the US team needs a few things to change. I must say that it's been bizarre to watch an international tournament in which the team is favored to win it all, and maybe its that position - the lack of underdog status - that has had the team looking so befuddled over the past four games. Maybe they need to pack themselves into a corner to succeed, to kick it into that next gear where a nation's soccer hopes can be fulfilled. Either way, for this tournament to be what fans had dreamed it would be, the US not only has to win, but has to do so while showing itself to be the skilled and talented squad people keep saying it is.
Time is running out for the US team under Bob Bradley's leadership. Last summer's success, which I enjoyed and cheered on, was sort of illusory in retrospect. As I say above, it was based on good old American willpower, and that alone cannot be the only thing that surges a team to football glory. As a fan, I don't need a championship team - Dear God, we all know that's true - but I do need one I can believe in. And, as good as the international competition is worldwide, that NEEDS to include a hope for success at some point in the future. The recent success of American players in Europe - Dempsey, for one, but also Jay Demerit and even Freddy Adu - has indicated that there might be hope we're getting somewhere. Yet, the realist in me knows that it also has to show up on the pitch, and after the shellacking Panama put on the US team last time around, the only choice now is revenge...with a healthy portion of skill and flare. Anything less will be a failure in the short-term, and an indication that the US's long-term plan of international progress may be off-course.
Yes, as the title of this post suggests, the US team needs to play with a chip on its shoulder and show itself to be more than a one-trick pony. The team needs to work with a cockiness in their skill, exemplified by Clint Dempsey, along with the grit we've always expected out of the Yanks. Our national future of success with the Beautiful Game depends on such strides in tournaments like these - tournaments we're expected to win, where the only surprise should be whether we can get it done while showing the world that we're still getting better and that someday soon we'll be competing against the best of the best.
Freely admitting that this post was more style over substance, lacking in analysis as I rush off to do a triple-header of depositions this morning, it figures that I'd resort to some video imagery to take us out. Thus, I give you Panama...with puppets. America - FUCK YEAH!
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