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Gooooooooooooooooooooooal!!!
May 30, 2006 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Since the 1930s, only 16 teams have held the World Cup Trophy. In 10 days, the 2006 World Cup will begin. Pick your team, pick your jersey, then find your time.

Once the teams have all gone home, more than just the balls will have changed. The world will be saying goodbye to one of the greatest players of our generation. And this time its for real.
Here is a little something to put you in the mood (youtube).
posted by RobertFrost (148 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Warning: the video contains loud hair metal and wacky Japanese commentators. All in the great international spirit, right?
posted by RobertFrost at 10:44 AM on May 30, 2006


the music and the commentary are just perfect : )
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:51 AM on May 30, 2006


Man. I've seriously been counting down the days.
posted by dead_ at 10:55 AM on May 30, 2006


Please please let the US advance... such a tough grouping.
posted by dig_duggler at 10:56 AM on May 30, 2006


I feel you. 10 days seems like an eternity at this point.
posted by RobertFrost at 10:56 AM on May 30, 2006


I want this so badly.

I am always so much more impressed by the free kick goals. Some of those gave me goose bumps.
posted by mckenney at 10:58 AM on May 30, 2006


You don't get to pick a team, for goodness sake. A case in point: as an English person who lives in Scotland (aka Trinidad & Tobago), I'm glad I'll be in France for most of the competition.
posted by jack_mo at 11:01 AM on May 30, 2006


I'm thinking Germany or Brazil
posted by edgeways at 11:07 AM on May 30, 2006


Someone forwarded me the list of rules for wives [non-supportive mates] during the World Cup. I am not one for sexist declarations, but it made me laugh.

Especially rule number 7:
7. You are welcome to sit with me to watch one game and you can talk to me during halftime but only when the commercials are on, and only if the halftime score is pleasing me. In addition, please note I am saying "one" game, hence do not use the World Cup as a nice cheesy excuse to "spend time together".
posted by brheavy at 11:07 AM on May 30, 2006


That's what i came up with after running this
posted by edgeways at 11:09 AM on May 30, 2006


I only count 7 teams.
posted by empath at 11:09 AM on May 30, 2006


I'm thinking Germany or Brazil

Not making wild predictions eh?

A world cup betting site has these as the top 10, listed in order by odds:

Brazil
Argentina
Germany
England
Netherlands
Italy
France
Spain
Portugal
Czech Republic
posted by vacapinta at 11:10 AM on May 30, 2006


Smart money's on the Czechs.
posted by loquax at 11:15 AM on May 30, 2006


Brazil (5), Germany (3) Italy (3), Argentina (2), Uruguay (2), England (1), France (1) : that's only seven nations who can wear (at least) a star on their jersey.

I have a rule that european teams win and europe and (south) american teams win on their home turf.

I expect a german win. Am I the only one ?
posted by Baud at 11:17 AM on May 30, 2006


You could always consult FIFA's international rankings
posted by priested at 11:19 AM on May 30, 2006


It's "make your time, for great justice", not find your time.
Your Engrish is a little off.
posted by rinkjustice at 11:19 AM on May 30, 2006


In running that predictor, if the US places 2nd in Group E (behind Ita and ahead Czech which is no guarantee), and Brazil places 1st in Group F (which looks to be a weak group so they should take it) that places the US against Brazil in round 2, so they might get to round 2 but that'd be it.
posted by edgeways at 11:22 AM on May 30, 2006


Good heavens! And I thought otaku were obsessed!
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:25 AM on May 30, 2006


Do the Germans have a quality team? Besides Ballack, who's dangerous?

although if this Cup is anything like Korea 2002, the referees may be cheating for favoring the home side with about a gazillion a few questionable calls. You think?
posted by sic at 11:26 AM on May 30, 2006


I agree with you, edgeways. The only way the US have a chance to get beyond the Round of 16 is to win their group - a few miracles are in order for that to happen.
posted by brheavy at 11:28 AM on May 30, 2006


Pretty sure those FIFA rankings don't mean too much in reality.
posted by dead_ at 11:29 AM on May 30, 2006


Otaku is just a generic term for obsessed fan. You can be a Soccer Otaku.

Has the popularity of soccer increased much in the US lately? I seem to be seeing more soccer related commercials on TV.
posted by delmoi at 11:32 AM on May 30, 2006


edgeways, don't bet on Italy finishing first in Group E.

as for the winners, well, I think that Ronaldinho, a goalie and nine crash test dummies could easily do it
posted by matteo at 11:32 AM on May 30, 2006


Otaku is just a generic term for obsessed fan

yeah, it was first used for film cameras freaks in the 1970's, I seem to remember, correct me if I'm wrong
posted by matteo at 11:33 AM on May 30, 2006


empath: I only count 7 teams.

Baud: Brazil (5), Germany (3) Italy (3), Argentina (2), Uruguay (2), England (1), France (1) : that's only seven nations who can wear (at least) a star on their jersey.

woops. I guess I was considering different years of the same country's team to be a different team altogether. faulty logic. thanks for the correction.

And now that I've recounted, its actually 17.
posted by RobertFrost at 11:34 AM on May 30, 2006


I don't know about that, Ronaldinho didn't look so hot in the UEFA championship.
posted by dead_ at 11:34 AM on May 30, 2006



How about the 2006 mascot Goleo VI. I don't know how I feel about him. Kinda creeps me out honestly. And that ball...weird.
posted by RobertFrost at 11:43 AM on May 30, 2006


Related: World Cup Kickoff. Your chosen games in iCal, Outlook, whatever. (disclaimer: mate of mine did the site)
posted by Katemonkey at 11:51 AM on May 30, 2006


I'm just disappointed that they moved away from collared shirts this year. Ecuador and England have some very nice home jerseys

Jack_Mo, you absolutely do get to pick a team, if your country isn't in the Cup. I root for Columbia (via the wife's heritage) but they almost never make it past Argentina and Brazil. So every four years I pick a team to support. I've gone French the last two, but this year I think I'll take Argentina (on behalf of an old friend).
posted by oddman at 11:51 AM on May 30, 2006


If the United States are ranked FIFTH IN THE WORLD IN MENS SOCCER, why is it they get no respect with regards to the World Cup?

Bold caps, a rarity from me. Clearly, I don't understand something...

...on the other hand, the 2005 MLS MVP isn't even on the US World Cup team. Ahh Taylor Twellman, you got screwed...
posted by andreaazure at 11:52 AM on May 30, 2006


great link Katemonkey, thanks!
posted by RobertFrost at 11:53 AM on May 30, 2006


Thank you, Katemonkey!
posted by oddman at 11:58 AM on May 30, 2006


andreaazure, I don't think the Fifa rankings always make sense, and I doubt that the US are really the fifth best team in the world for soccer.
posted by matthewr at 12:04 PM on May 30, 2006


Google Calendar also has a number of schedules you can subscribe to. Where's the place to watch the games in New York? Zum Schneider?
posted by muckster at 12:04 PM on May 30, 2006


If the United States are ranked FIFTH IN THE WORLD IN MENS SOCCER, why is it they get no respect with regards to the World Cup?

The rankings dont mean much, as mentioned above. Germany 19th?? Pshaw! Thats why I posted my ranking from a betting site - the very real-world measure of where people are plunking their money down!
posted by vacapinta at 12:07 PM on May 30, 2006


More muck on Goleo.

And more.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 12:09 PM on May 30, 2006


From FIFAs website about Goleo

A star is born

What singles out the 2.30 metre tall furry GOLEO VI from previous mascots is that he is a true personality with a life history. He can talk, walk and dance and trade witticisms with the best wisecrackers in the business. The lion is accompanied on his travels around the world as ambassador of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ by Pille, a speaking football endowed with a gamut of facial expressions. Pille is the brainchild of the Gum Studios in Cologne.

As befits a star, GOLEO VI is also getting his own reality TV show. Following an open tender from February to April 2004 for the production and distribution of the 2006 FIFA World Cup ™ Official Mascot TV Series, FIFA chose the Munich-based media group EM.TV -- FIFA’s exclusive licensing representative in Europe -- from a group of international candidates. Currently in the development stage, the plan is for an animated puppet series consisting of 30 mini-episodes lasting 50 seconds each to create an entertaining series of around 30 episodes.

posted by ClanvidHorse at 12:20 PM on May 30, 2006


Despite not being able to find anything on it online, I seem to remember something in the news this weekend about how some researcher has proven England never won their World Cup trophy, after converting archival footage to HDTV and enhancing the "disputed" winning goal.
posted by NationalKato at 12:21 PM on May 30, 2006


I kinda disagree about having to pick a team. Although I'm from Oz I really don't care how the Aussies do. They're half weight hacks at best. I don't wish them ill but they are very much out of class IMHO.

But being in the antipodes with a life long love of football and so little opportunity on television to watch the great leagues, I've developed an unprejudiced (-ish) passion for quality over club/country. I will be watching a more than healthy dose of the World Cup and will be equally happy whoever wins each game as long as I see some great play. I do think Brazil will win however.
posted by peacay at 12:26 PM on May 30, 2006


Hell, I'm American, and I pick Netherlands (when they qualify, thanks so much, 2002) to have someone to root for when the US gets crushed early on.
posted by mckenney at 12:26 PM on May 30, 2006


Here is a strange video (youtube) combinging reggaeton, Goleo and Shaolin Soccer. Really quite strange. ClanvidHorse, I wonder if its part of the animated shorts you mentioned.
posted by RobertFrost at 12:29 PM on May 30, 2006


My previous comment should read "should never have won their World Cup trophy." Obviously, they did win it.
posted by NationalKato at 12:29 PM on May 30, 2006


Do the Germans have a quality team? Besides Ballack, who's dangerous?

They may not have a quality team, but they have Jens Lehmann in goal, who covers for a lot of defensive frailty quite effectively.
posted by pdb at 12:45 PM on May 30, 2006


Oh, sellout's Goalmine site from Mefi Projects deserves a plug on general principles.
posted by peacay at 12:45 PM on May 30, 2006


yeah fifa rankings means nothing. However, it's not inconceivable we win out. it's just not likely. I think the best we can hope for is a 2nd place finish, which means we get Brazil.

However, no one thought we'd escape our group last world cup. And remember when Columbia was a favorite in 94? Who knows what will happen (at least that's what I tell myself so I don't feel like I'm wasting money going to watch the US..)?
posted by dig_duggler at 12:46 PM on May 30, 2006


I know the post is really about something much larger, but I really couldn't get past SoccerBallWorld [dotcom]. That's nearly as niche as you can get, isn't it?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:52 PM on May 30, 2006


If the United States are ranked FIFTH IN THE WORLD IN MENS SOCCER, why is it they get no respect with regards to the World Cup?

Coming out with phrases like ...on the other hand, the 2005 MLS MVP...' doesn't help ;-)


NationalKato: Your comment should read 'should never have been allowed the goal'. The final result was 4-2. Take off the goal & it's still 3-2.
posted by i_cola at 12:55 PM on May 30, 2006


Yeah. That sight is wacky. Did you catch Charles Goodyear's Soccer Ball? Care. Ball testing and approval. Physics. Its quite a databse of soccerball-dom.
posted by RobertFrost at 12:57 PM on May 30, 2006


Oh god help me, I'm in England.
(go team?)
posted by slimepuppy at 12:57 PM on May 30, 2006


My absolute favorite WC match was US v S Korea in 2002. Anyone know where I can get a dvd of the full match.
posted by poodlemouthe at 12:59 PM on May 30, 2006




The U.S. team is just ok. Not 5th in the world. Not by a longshot.

The MLS is almost on a par with Serie B in Italy (and nearly as interesting).
posted by wfc123 at 1:14 PM on May 30, 2006


Jack_Mo, you absolutely do get to pick a team, if your country isn't in the Cup.

But how do you manage to give a shit? I mean, I will tend to pick one team over another if my team isn't playing, based on past rivalries, alliances or, as peacay sort of says above, due to enjoying of a team's skill during a match. But if England weren't in the Cup, I really can't imagine mustering the proper levels of extreme love/hate required when watching football if I've just picked a team at random to follow through a competition. If you can method act your way into supporting your chosen team, though, fair dos I suppose.

Then again, I look very coldly indeed at folk who support a team from a town other than the one they were born or grew up in or near, so maybe I'm not best judge of this. (My favourite football chant of all time might be, from fans of London teams to fans of Manchester United at games in London, You only live round the corner! Wonderful.)
posted by jack_mo at 1:18 PM on May 30, 2006


Nice and convenient collection of links RobertFrost. Thanks. I love soccer! Thought Shaolin Soccer was fun. Bend It Like Beckham [flash/imbedded audio] too. Ajax was my fav team ages ago.
posted by nickyskye at 1:19 PM on May 30, 2006


I really can't imagine mustering the proper levels of extreme love/hate required when watching football if I've just picked a team at random to follow through a competition

Once Mexico drops out, I usually root for the South Americans over the Europeans. Its an Old World-New World rivalry thing. And very much full of love/hate.
posted by vacapinta at 1:25 PM on May 30, 2006


Palm/Treo users might be interested in this free app.
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:26 PM on May 30, 2006


Jack_mo. I know what you mean. Being anglo-polish, I get two bites of the cherry this year, but if I were Welsh, say, I'd have a lot of trouble *really* caring.

And as for the home town team thing - testify, brother! If my kids start showing interest in anyone other than Brighton and Hove Albion, they're in trouble (I understand that this is condemning them to a life of football misery, but there's a PRINCIPLE at stake here, damn it!).
posted by athenian at 1:26 PM on May 30, 2006


Old Trafford update:

Lampard missed penalty in 1st half v. Hungary.

Terry & Gerrard scored for England in early 2nd half... but Hungary's capt. pulled one back a min. or two after England's 2nd goal.

Walcott & Crouch now in as subs (65) for Gerrard and Owen.
posted by wfc123 at 1:29 PM on May 30, 2006


The USA is fifth in their world rankings by virtue of the fact that most of their competitive games are played against other nations from North and Central America and the Carribean; their record therefore was obtained against powerhouses such as Puerto Rico and Belize. Whilst the formula for the rankings attempts to allow for this, it clearly doesn't work because the USA and Mexico are in the top 5, and ahead of the likes of Argentina, Italy and Germany.
posted by nowonmai at 1:34 PM on May 30, 2006


The US have a really good goalie in Kasey Keller, and a good goalie can carry a team far in the world cup, look at Germany last time around. So I wouldn't count out the US right away. Of course the Czech's have Cech "the best goalie in the world" so we will see what happens.
posted by afu at 1:40 PM on May 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


What with live coverage from Old Trafford, this thread is rapidly turning into a pub discussion. Can I be the first to say, pint of Tom Paine please.
posted by athenian at 1:41 PM on May 30, 2006


There are football supporters in Hanover now? Lordy...
;-)
posted by i_cola at 1:43 PM on May 30, 2006


Crouch has scored for England (85). 3 - 1.
posted by wfc123 at 1:49 PM on May 30, 2006


From the live text commentary on the BBC site: "[Crouch's] goal is far superior to his dubious robotics-inspired celebration." Now that's what I call public-service broadcasting.
posted by matthewr at 1:53 PM on May 30, 2006


Ronaldinho didn't look so hot in the UEFA championship.

tell that to Arsenal
posted by matteo at 1:53 PM on May 30, 2006


To be really fair, Brazil should come with at least 4 teams, they have so much good players they can afford it.

And no doubt Brazil gonna win
posted by zouhair at 1:54 PM on May 30, 2006


Since the US hasn't got a hope in hell, I'm rooting for Argentina, where I used to live. Mano de Dios, baby!
posted by languagehat at 2:09 PM on May 30, 2006


Buzz on Germany is that they're sunk. Nobody is happy with the coach.

I'm gonna pull for the US, but Italy and the Czechs are just too good. I think England might actually do pretty well for once.

I love Croatia's unis--the whole checkerboard thing works for them.

Can anyone answer this question (matteo, maybe?): Why does Italy play in Blue? Does that precede or come after the current national flag colors?
posted by bardic at 2:19 PM on May 30, 2006


I will be backing Poland but I believe Portugal will win it.

England do not have a hope in hell.
posted by fire&wings at 2:19 PM on May 30, 2006


>>Ronaldinho didn't look so hot in the UEFA championship.

>tell that to Arsenal


As a die-hard Arsenal supporter, I concur that Ronaldinho didn't look so hot in the final. In fact, by his standards, he was complete crap. It wasn't Ronaldinho that beat Arsenal, it was bloody Henrik Larsson (and being down to 10 men for 75 minutes).
posted by dopamine at 2:23 PM on May 30, 2006


Screw Brazil right in the ear. Screw her hard.

Jack_mo, those of us not lucky enough to come from a football powerhouse muster enthusiasm from our love of the game (and hatred for powerhouses).

Portugal has a chance, Greece isn't playing.
posted by oddman at 2:32 PM on May 30, 2006


The U.S. will not get get out of their group.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 2:35 PM on May 30, 2006


Yeah, but Ghana better watch out!
posted by bardic at 2:37 PM on May 30, 2006


Oh, and though I started out rooting for Argentina because of a lifelong friendship with some Argentines. I stumbled across this.

"Argentina's coach is flying in the face of the contemporary idea that the game is won and lost either on set pieces or on transitions, those moments when possession changes hands and a rapid counter-attack can be launched.

Instead, control of midfield is king. . . .

It all means that Argentina are a thoroughly old fashioned football team.
"

Argentina wants to pass and pass and pass, the beautiful game indeed.

Argentina!
posted by oddman at 2:38 PM on May 30, 2006


In fact, by his standards, he was complete crap.

Totally. Arsenal would've been horribly thrashed if Ronaldinho hadn't completely forgotten how to play football. I thought Arsenal was robbed, to be honest - they played bloody well with ten men.

And talking of local support, watching that match in a Glasgow pub was weird. Obviously, everyone was rooting for Barca, on the grounds that they aren't English, but whenever Larsson came on screen, there were boos and cheers, from Rangers and Celtic respectively. (I just kept completely quiet throughout - I dislike Arsenal, of course, but was watching it with North London girl who I'd already kind of offended by jokingly suggesting she ought to be Spurs, not Arsenal, by virtue of her ethno-religious background, and we were sat opposite a table full of Liverpool, so I couldn't be arsed getting into a 'If you're Tranmere, does that make you Everton?' thing with them!)
posted by jack_mo at 2:44 PM on May 30, 2006


On not-preview:

Jack_mo, those of us not lucky enough to come from a football powerhouse muster enthusiasm from our love of the game

Oh, I don't love the game. I just love Tranmere.
posted by jack_mo at 2:46 PM on May 30, 2006


My wife's a Tranmere fan, and having been to a few games, I can confirm that love of Tranmere has nothing to do with love of the beautiful game. :-)
posted by athenian at 2:49 PM on May 30, 2006


Arsenal would've been horribly thrashed if Ronaldinho hadn't completely forgotten how to play football.

Ronaldinho didn't forget how to play football. Toure, Campbell, and Cole stopped him from playing football.

If only Henry had converted one of his chances....sigh.
posted by pdb at 2:57 PM on May 30, 2006


> If the United States are ranked FIFTH IN THE WORLD IN MENS SOCCER, why is it they get no respect with regards to the World Cup?

As I understand it, this is because the placing is based on scores in competitive international games. This suits America, because many of America's competitive games (until this point) have been against reasonably easy opposition (not withstanding the last World Cup). If America were in the European qualification round, or even the South American group stages, they would have to face much more difficult opposition, and would be less likely to pick up as many points.

That's what skews the rankings...
posted by catchmurray at 3:05 PM on May 30, 2006


Ronaldinho didn't forget how to play football. Toure, Campbell, and Cole stopped him from playing football.

This is true, but you have to admit, his free-kicks were tragic.

Next year for Henry, thank all that is righteous. Next year he'll show 'em.

I think he'll win the Golden Boot this time... I really do. Even if France don't make it past the quarterfinals.. he's going to be unstoppable.
posted by dopamine at 3:07 PM on May 30, 2006


Angola is playing Portugal in the first round?

Awkward!
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 3:10 PM on May 30, 2006


You sirs talking Arsenal this and that remember the game, don't you? Robbed? If anyone was robbed, it was Barcelona when the Arsenal's keeper was expelled - the referee should have let the game go on, there is a specific rule about "advantage" and Barcelona would've scored. Then, palying against the score without a player, Arsenal would've been justly trashed.

Now, I think Brazil has a good shot at the Cup - player by player we probably have the best team. But almost every time Brazil took the Cup for granted we were sent home early by a combination of hubris, sound defenses and unlucky penalty shots.
posted by nkyad at 3:11 PM on May 30, 2006


Toure, Campbell, and Cole stopped him from playing football.

Fair point.

athenian: can't argue with that, and I have a strong feeling that they're about to get worse. Hey ho, where's the fun in supporting a successful, skillful team? Misery in the rain and deep disappointment in one's own team is the true supporter's condition.
posted by jack_mo at 3:11 PM on May 30, 2006


This is true, but you have to admit, his free-kicks were tragic.

Yeah, they were, which...surprising.

Even if France don't make it past the quarterfinals.. he's going to be unstoppable.

The driving force behind Henry's game, as he himself has said, is anger - you can see the rage in his goal celebrations, most times. I hope that the CL final made him good and angry, because watching Thierry Henry cut a wide swath across the world's best defences will be a joy to see.
posted by pdb at 3:13 PM on May 30, 2006


Three games a day , bliss.
It's sad Scotland aren't there but maybe next time.
I fear an England victory - dont see Germany doing much - Holland will be up for it as well - Serbia - boring dark horse semi finalists possibly.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:15 PM on May 30, 2006


Then, palying against the score without a player, Arsenal would've been justly trashed.

Even as an Arsenal fan, I did not think Arsenal were "robbed". But trashed? Come on - the play in the first 18 mins, before Lehmann was sent off, was all Arsenal. Barca looked utterly lost. Given the way Arsenal were playing, I would have gladly taken 1-0 down with a full eleven on the pitch and 72 minutes to play.
posted by pdb at 3:16 PM on May 30, 2006


Perhaps I'm blinded by nationalism, but I think that the US has a chance, albeit not a great one. Italy has a spotty record at major matches in recent history and the Czech Republic is similar. With America's strong corps of guys in goal, all it would take is a good streak by Brian McBride and Landon Donovan upfront with Reyna and Beasley giving good balls forward.

One win against Italy or the Czech's and a tie versus the other and I think that first and second in the group may come down to goal differential. And if the US team comes out first in the group, they've got a decent shot at making it deep into the tournmament. A big if, admittedly.

They will certainly have to play with more speed and enthusiasm than they did against the Latvians though. Even with the hacking fouls, the US should have won by a lot more than 1-0.
posted by afflatus at 3:19 PM on May 30, 2006


Hexacampeão! That is my prediction, I have spoken.
posted by msali at 3:26 PM on May 30, 2006


Footballers Battle one-on-one battles of various footballers. endless entertainment for the whole family!
posted by cell divide at 3:26 PM on May 30, 2006


Italy has a spotty record at major matches in recent history

Plus, with all the scandal going around Italian football these days, Italy's focus might not be 100% on the tournament.
posted by pdb at 3:27 PM on May 30, 2006


Has the popularity of soccer increased much in the US lately? I seem to be seeing more soccer related commercials on TV.

It is increasing, albeit slowly. The women's team, I believe, remains the most popular women's team sport on TV. The men are getting better ratings.

I really doubt that soccer will ever be the #1 sport in the US, but I can see it passing the NHL in a couple more years. And I think, honestly, that the rest of the world doesn't mind the current state of affairs all that much. If soccer became the #1 sport, the US would win two out of every three World Cups, at the very least.

The MLS is almost on a par with Serie B in Italy (and nearly as interesting).

Serie B? Try the Championship, aka English Division 1, aka English Division 2 (pre-Premiership). The play is better than Serie B, and the crowds are better.

The USA is fifth in their world rankings by virtue of the fact that most of their competitive games are played against other nations from North and Central America and the Carribean; their record therefore was obtained against powerhouses such as Puerto Rico and Belize.

When did the US play them? They played Grenada in qualifying. The quality of play in the hexagonal was the best ever. Do I need to list off some of the home-and-homes some of these European superpowers played in qualifying? I mean, Andorra??

Given that the FIFA rankings are a joke (especially when they lack any strength of schedule), the US is a top 16 team in the world right now. If the WC were being played outside of Europe, I would expect the US to get into the knockout stage.

Perhaps I'm blinded by nationalism, but I think that the US has a chance, albeit not a great one.

That's the spirit! Blind loyalty! Support the team that George Bush barely knows exists!
posted by dw at 3:34 PM on May 30, 2006


I really doubt that soccer will ever be the #1 sport in the US, but I can see it passing the NHL in a couple more years.

ESPN has started showing paintball tournaments, and they're probably getting better ratings than the NHL these days. I would be happy if soccer in this country surpassed the NHL; in a country this big, where more kids play soccer than any other sport, I'm not sure why it hasn't already.

MLS isn't a great league, but it's not nearly as bad as it used to be - although its weird insistence on being American and not like every other league in the world (the season being during the summer, the playoffs at the end of the season instead of a pure points competition) is probably holding it back from being a truly world-class league.
posted by pdb at 3:42 PM on May 30, 2006


It's cause the americans cant win it and never will - Iran has more chance- ( and probably iraq) if its not about america - youre not interested - you cant even see a thread about the world cup without trying to turn it into a conversation about yourselves.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:54 PM on May 30, 2006


ESPN has started showing paintball tournaments, and they're probably getting better ratings than the NHL these days.

Actually, probably not, but the paintball is a lot cheaper to produce than the NHL. I read somewhere that the NHL's ratings on OLN have been in the 0.6-0.8 range for the Stanley Cup; MLS has been running about that on ESPN the last few years.

MLS isn't a great league, but it's not nearly as bad as it used to be - although its weird insistence on being American and not like every other league in the world (the season being during the summer, the playoffs at the end of the season instead of a pure points competition) is probably holding it back from being a truly world-class league.

Dumping the Americanized rules helped (though I liked the shootout that didn't involve the dead ball). But I don't think the playoffs are holding things back as much as the lack of a strong cup system. I mean, if you made the Hunt Cup like the FA Cup and let any beer league team enter, could you imagine the enthusiasm you could generate?

"Yeah, we beat those shmucks over at Jimmy's Auto Repair, that's the good news. Bad news is that we're playing FC Dallas next round. I told them they're buying down at Mickey's when we at Eastside Bail Bonds are done kicking their asses!"
posted by dw at 4:02 PM on May 30, 2006


I've never understood why MLS has gone for the same sort of structure as baseball or American football. Surely differentiation is good, and Americans aren't incapable of understanding different systems, like a league based on points, or even two leagues with promotion and relegation? Or is there some huge financial advantage in having franchises that I don't fully appreciate?

(Waiting eagerly for the launch of Major League Cricket, BTW)
posted by athenian at 4:03 PM on May 30, 2006


in a country this big, where more kids play soccer than any other sport, I'm not sure why it hasn't already.

In a sport thread a while back (which I can't find), quite a few Americans suggested that the perception of soccer football as a kids game that you 'grow out of' was holding back it's acceptance as a major sport in the US.

If soccer became the #1 sport, the US would win two out of every three World Cups, at the very least.

*throws up on American flag*
posted by jack_mo at 4:04 PM on May 30, 2006


Bah, I still remember the forty years the US went without even qualifying, so just being there is great, and we did reach the quarterfinals last year. Top 8, and it wasn't magic. Are we a soccer powerhouse? Maybe not just yet.

The main thing that bugs me about MLS is that we can't play in the Copa Americana because of them.

Now, soccer is definitely going to continue to grow, if only because of the continued influx of immigrants, especially Latin Americans.

I admit to liking soccer but not being much of an expert, so I choose my fallback teams by my ethnicity -- in order, Sweden, Germany, England. Unless one of them creams the US, then I get to hate them and do the "switchover".
posted by dhartung at 4:13 PM on May 30, 2006


The US team might not be #5 in the world, but they are more than capable of getting out of their bracket, at which point anything is possible.

Okay, well, not everything. If they finish second in their group, they'll draw Brazil in their second round game, so if I was a betting man, that's where I'd bet the US's Cup Dream ends.

Personally, I'm pulling for any and all the African and Asian countries. Whatever shifts the power from the European/South American axis, even a little bit, would make my month.
posted by chicobangs at 4:14 PM on May 30, 2006


Fun facts for you:

Historical record is reasonably accurate for predicting the finish in World Cups.

The US has never won two consecutive games in a world cup final. Considering winning requires winning 4 in a row it might be a while before the US wins the tournament.....

Every final since 1950 bar one has had either Germany or Brazil playing.

A 'new' team winning the world cup has occurred with increasing spacing, Germany 1954, Brazil 1958, England 1966, Argentina 1978, France 1998. If that kind of exponential increase in new winners continues expect to see a team that is not Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Uraguay, England or France win around 2038!

Excluding Uraguay (which is reasonable as Uraguay last won 56 years ago) - the average population of World Cup winners is about 80 million people. Small countries get on, but they don't win.

Italy have lost every penalty shoot out they have ever been in a world cup final. Germany have won every one.
posted by sien at 4:16 PM on May 30, 2006


Has the popularity of soccer increased much in the US lately? I seem to be seeing more soccer related commercials on TV.

Yes it has. I'm just one example. The new TV contract for MLS is the first time it hasn't been a time buy--the networks are paying for the rights. In between that and the new soccer specific stadiums popping up all over the country, it is beginning to find its way.

"Bad news is that we're playing FC Dallas next round."

Indeed. Go Super Hoops!!! :)

Surely differentiation is good, and Americans aren't incapable of understanding different systems, like a league based on points, or even two leagues with promotion and relegation?

Nobody's gonna go for promotion and relegation in the US. It is an alien concept which is borderline offensive to the American sports ethic in general. MLS is in its second year of having a reserve league, though. That's helped a LOT, in many ways.
posted by First Post at 4:17 PM on May 30, 2006


Or is there some huge financial advantage in having franchises that I don't fully appreciate?

Money, yes. It helps that clubs are in a permanent "major league" state, mainly because of stability. For good or for ill, the KC Royals or the Arizona Cardinals will never be dropped from MLB or the NFL.

Also, we had Branch Rickey and his minor league farm system in baseball, then college football becoming a kind of rookie league for the NFL. Instead of Everton being "forced" to sell Wayne Rooney to Man U, you have Albert Pujols being signed by the Cardinals and working his way through low-A in Peoria up to AAA Memphis, then finally making his debut in 2001. Where Div 1/2 teams find talent to sell, American minor league teams develop talent under a contract with the major league they get players from.

And remember, too, that promotion/relegation is still a fairly recent innovation. There was no promotion/relegation as we know it in the 1920s, when Rickey came up with the farm system.
(Waiting eagerly for the launch of Major League Cricket, BTW)

What are you waiting for? We've had it for years.
posted by dw at 4:18 PM on May 30, 2006


The main thing that bugs me about MLS is that we can't play in the Copa Americana because of them.

The new format CONCACAF Champions League might prove to be interesting, although little is known about it yet, other than they plan to pattern it more after the UEFA version.
posted by First Post at 4:20 PM on May 30, 2006


*throws up on American flag*

This is why I can't wait for the US to finally win the dang thing.

"Yeah! Stupid Americans! You suck at football! You'll never win the World Cup! Go home to your American pansyball and 'World Series.' We're so much better than...

uh...

um.

Uh.

Crap, they won it.

Football sucks.

THE US WILL NEVER WIN IN RUGBY!!!! RUGBY RULES!!!!"

posted by dw at 4:23 PM on May 30, 2006


Hey, we came in 3rd place in 1930...
posted by delmoi at 4:26 PM on May 30, 2006


I am not a huge soccer fan, it's probably my 3rd favorite sport to watch, but the World Cup is something else. It's just the most fun sporting event to watch, as the pressure is so intense, the worldwide audience so massive, and the knockout stage games so intense.
posted by cell divide at 4:27 PM on May 30, 2006


If soccer became the #1 sport, the US would win two out of every three World Cups, at the very least

Given the number of other countries where this is already the #1 sport and the fact that only five countries have ever won it more than once this seems quite a stretch.
posted by chrispederick at 4:30 PM on May 30, 2006


Ooops. Fact check. From delmoi's remark about coming 3rd the US has won two games consecutively in a World Cup in 1930.

Is there anyone on MeFi who can remember those games?
posted by sien at 4:33 PM on May 30, 2006


I'm waiting to see if we get an Iran vs. USA rematch.
posted by Jimbob at 4:42 PM on May 30, 2006


Why don't they hold a pre-tournament competition based solely on penalty shootouts, for the benefit of those of us who cannot be bothered watching all the tedious, almost inevitably scoreless dribbling?

(c'mon, there *has* to be a snark in a soccer thread!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:46 PM on May 30, 2006


Thanks to whoever posted the Rules for Women. I am prepared to become a World Cup Widow next week.

Though my husband will allow my presence during game watching. He asked me the other night who I was rooting for and I indicated that I am merely rooting against Norway. He told me this will be REALLY easy as they're not even playing.

(But really, I'm rooting for Sweden. And the US. But mostly Sweden.)

(And not the Netherlands since they kicked Sweden out of the European Championships. Fucking Dutch.)

(Oh my... I seem to have caught something.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:49 PM on May 30, 2006


Is there anyone on MeFi who can remember those games?

I doubt anyone alive in the US even knew it happened, save friends and family. Soccer had already fallen to minor status in the US by 1930.

So much so that in 1950 there was only one American reporter at the biggest upset in World Cup history.
posted by dw at 4:53 PM on May 30, 2006


Has the popularity of soccer increased much in the US lately? I seem to be seeing more soccer related commercials on TV.

Yes it has. I'm just one example. The new TV contract for MLS is the first time it hasn't been a time buy--the networks are paying for the rights. In between that and the new soccer specific stadiums popping up all over the country, it is beginning to find its way.


I think the (perceived?) increase in soccer commercials aired in the US is also directly related to the upcoming World Cup.

On a slight tangent, my favorite soccer movie is "Victory" with the amazing trifecta of Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone and Pelé. It's so bad it's good.
posted by Juggermatt at 4:57 PM on May 30, 2006


The ball is round. Anything can happen. QED. (YouTube video embbeded in linked blog post)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:59 PM on May 30, 2006


(And not the Netherlands since they kicked Sweden out of the European Championships. Fucking Dutch.)

I remember that night. I remember where I was, what I drank, how much, and with whom. It cured us all of penalty shootout anxiety (Fucking Germans). And I fear the rift between us may be deepening, grapefruitmoon.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:06 PM on May 30, 2006


embbeded embedded
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:07 PM on May 30, 2006


I don't know what you are all talking about, the World Cup started about a month ago here in Brazil (what with the commercials, flags, t-shirts, etc.).
posted by iamck at 5:47 PM on May 30, 2006



It's cause the americans cant win it and never will - Iran has more chance- ( and probably iraq)


I'm with dw. I've never understood the near hatred that soccer/football "fans" have for some of the most unappreciated American athletes (not that "most unappreciated" is saying much).

I suppose it's so the archetypal "Bubba Redneck" won't be able to say "We beat you [racial/national epithets] at your own fucking game."

Hating American soccer seems to be a lot like hating Cuban/Chinese baseball. Grow up.

Oh, what the hell. I can be childish too. Fuck Brazil in the other ear.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:24 PM on May 30, 2006


Just in case people are still checking the thread out (obviously)- This hit the news stand recently in Nat'l Geographic with an intro from Sean Wilsey of McSweeney's (internet version) literary magazine...

The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup
(need patience for the link to load).
posted by priested at 6:35 PM on May 30, 2006


Hexacampeão! That is my prediction, I have spoken.

Those Hexa guys don't have a prayer; in fact, I don't even see them on the list of teams.

I'm thinking Brazil to take it all, for its ... let's see ... sixth championship. Wow, that's a lot.

I'll be rooting for the U.S. for geographical reasons, but mostly I'm just looking forward to watching a sporting event that doesn't have a bunch of commercials every 10 minutes.
posted by diddlegnome at 7:04 PM on May 30, 2006


Hexacampeão! That is my prediction, I have spoken.

I believe that translates as "sexpeat," né?
posted by rob511 at 7:22 PM on May 30, 2006


(Note to self: the "Preview" button is there for a reason...)
posted by rob511 at 7:24 PM on May 30, 2006


goodnewsfortheinsane: I don't know if this rift can ever truly be healed. I'm selling your ticket on the longboat to the highest bidder. Or the lowest bidder. Or someone who is not rooting for the fucking Dutch.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:30 PM on May 30, 2006


Amen to that rob511, that would be a sexpeat.
posted by msali at 7:35 PM on May 30, 2006


My favourite game ever. 1982 Final between Italy and W. Germany, aaah Dino Zoff and Paulo Rossi :)
posted by infini at 7:44 PM on May 30, 2006


Kitbag is where I'm getting my gear this year.
posted by ericb at 9:18 PM on May 30, 2006


i got my england away shirt from kitbag. it was a lot cheaper even with shipping to america. i might get another one too.
posted by kendrak at 9:57 PM on May 30, 2006


I don't think anyone hates American League soccer, it is just that if you were to compare the skill levels to those of the Spanish, English, Italian and South-American leagues, it isn't worth watching.
posted by catchmurray at 12:08 AM on May 31, 2006


Douglas Gordon's gloriously funny and audacious Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait, following the footballer over 90 minutes, was the most purely enjoyable event at the festival. Zidane is the best sports movie I have ever seen and a wonderful film that brilliantly marries up a daringly experimental style with a popular subject. It had bespectacled cineastes crying out: "Zizou!" I can't wait to see it again when it comes out here. The film follows the face of ZIZOU for 90 mins. We see him sweat gaze get the bal. And Prowl. Prowl. Prowl. AMAZING! Think it opens in France real soon.
posted by bernardrudden at 12:21 AM on May 31, 2006


"I haven't felt that good since Archie Gemmill scored against Holland in 1978!"
posted by matthewr at 1:22 AM on May 31, 2006


one month every four years ...

n
o
t

s
u
r
e

I

c
a
n

w
a
i
t

a
n
y

l
o
n
g
e
r

t-t-t-tension getting to me
posted by doogyrev at 1:47 AM on May 31, 2006


It's invariably a previous winner or the host nation that wins it (this holds true back to 1958 when Brazil won their first trophy in Sweden). If you then remove Uruguay (didn't qualify) and France & England (neither have won it outside their own country) this leaves you the following probable winners: Brazil, Argentina, Germany or Italy.

Unfortunately, these are all very short odds at the bookies, so you're probably better spending your cash on extra beer and snacks.
posted by PurpleJack at 3:31 AM on May 31, 2006


First Post said 'Nobody's gonna go for promotion and relegation in the US. It is an alien concept which is borderline offensive to the American sports ethic in general.'

You mean that an American Football team stays in the league it's in, regardless of results, even if they lose every game they play for years? And a stellar team in a lower league could top their league every year forever without progressing, even if they are demonstrably better than the worst team in the league above? Mind-boggling. Perhaps this is why American sports fans always seem oddly dispassionate to football-supporting eyes.
posted by jack_mo at 3:42 AM on May 31, 2006


edgeways, don't bet on Italy finishing first in Group E.

:( Damn matteo - Calciopoli burnout? Between that and Zidane's retirement, I'm pinning my hopes on a strong Azzurri showing to pull me out of my current footie funk.

Forza Italia fucking Berlusconi Azzurri!

/yes this means I cheer against my native USA
//please don't tell the NSA...
posted by romakimmy at 4:19 AM on May 31, 2006


Everyone saying it's an automatic out for the U.S. if they meet Brazil in the 2nd round should do well to remember 1994. The U.S. placed second in the group stage then and came out to meet Brazil. They played a scrappy match and only lost 1 to 0. The U.S. team has come a long way since 1994.

Why don't they hold a pre-tournament competition based solely on penalty shootouts, for the benefit of those of us who cannot be bothered watching all the tedious, almost inevitably scoreless dribbling?

(c'mon, there *has* to be a snark in a soccer thread!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:46 PM EST on May 30 [+fave] [!]


What took so long!
posted by Otis at 5:08 AM on May 31, 2006


I didn't see it anywhere in the thread, so this page has the Google Calendar of the match scedule.

Go Sweden!
posted by Who_Am_I at 5:12 AM on May 31, 2006


The lost 1-0 to 10 Brazilians, Otis - Leonardo got sent off with the score 0-0.
posted by Mr Bismarck at 5:51 AM on May 31, 2006


I say GO USA! All the way to the final, beating Iran in the Semi's!

Then lose to England in the final.
posted by Blip at 6:19 AM on May 31, 2006


Mr. Bismarck, sure Leonardo got sent off, but he took one of the better Americans with him with that dirty cheap shot...
posted by inigo2 at 7:07 AM on May 31, 2006


You mean that an American Football team stays in the league it's in, regardless of results, even if they lose every game they play for years?

Didn't I mention the Arizona Cardinals already? Charter member of the NFL, but they're won two playoff games in 85 years and only two division titles in the last 50.

And a stellar team in a lower league could top their league every year forever without progressing, even if they are demonstrably better than the worst team in the league above?

Keep in mind that there's NO league below the NFL. It's NFL, Arena, and then some semi-pro regional leagues, with college and high school teams mixed in around them. Arena football != classic football.

Mind-boggling. Perhaps this is why American sports fans always seem oddly dispassionate to football-supporting eyes.

If anything, it probably says why we're relatively indifferent to national teams outside of the Olympics. Loyalty in Seattle is split between the Seahawks, Sonics, Mariners, Storm, and Sounders. Even if the US bombs out of group play, we still have the Seahawks, and we can watch the Mariners continue to suck on another cable channel.

And with football, I think Americans really do have this attitude of "you should be happy we don't give a damn." I mean, if we did, then we'd be dumping a large chunk of the billions we spend annually on baseball/football/basketball into soccer training and recruiting. I stand by the "we'd win two of every three World Cups if we cared" statement. We have 300 million people, a $7 trillion economy, and lots of useless disposable income. We would build a race of superhuman players built with the single-minded purpose to destroy all opposition.

And probably go out to Brazil in the semis on penalties. But still, race of superhumans. Europe would cower before us until Lichtenstein finally built that race of cyborg attacking midfielders they've always promised.
posted by dw at 7:27 AM on May 31, 2006


We would build a race of superhuman players built with the single-minded purpose to destroy all opposition.

You can have Chelsea. We don't want them anymore.
posted by Blip at 7:47 AM on May 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


bernardrudden: Douglas Gordon's gloriously funny and audacious Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait, following the footballer over 90 minutes, was the most purely enjoyable event at the festival.

Thanks! I'm gonna keep an eye out for that. Sounds like it may have potential.

This reviewer hated it. But this one was far more hopeful and accepting of the apparently more experimental work. I think it looks quite interesting. Thanks again!
posted by RobertFrost at 8:16 AM on May 31, 2006


Loyalty in Seattle is split between the Seahawks, Sonics, Mariners, Storm, and Sounders

<timbersarmy>
the soon-to-be kitsap sounders thank you for even mentioning them in the same sentence as the seahawks and sonics. that's the closest they'll ever be to seattle's sports scene.
</timbersarmy>

if the US advances out of their group (please oh please), it will be because of breakout performances by some of our newcomers. Onyewu, Convey, Dempsey, i'm looking in your direction.... and dear god, EJ, put a shot on frame, for fuck's sake.
posted by acid freaking on the kitty at 9:02 AM on May 31, 2006


the soon-to-be kitsap sounders thank you for even mentioning them in the same sentence as the seahawks and sonics. that's the closest they'll ever be to seattle's sports scene.

Seattle could keep the Sounders if they'd just rebuild Memorial Stadium. Sadly, Greg "Fat Tony" Nickels wants to tear it down to build The Greg "Fat Tony" Nickels Is The Greatest Mayor In The World Parking Garage At The Greg "Fat Tony" Nickels Seattle Center.

if the US advances out of their group (please oh please), it will be because of breakout performances by some of our newcomers. Onyewu, Convey, Dempsey, i'm looking in your direction.... and dear god, EJ, put a shot on frame, for fuck's sake.

My thoughts exactly. Why the hell is Convey coming off the bench when he should be starting?
posted by dw at 9:49 AM on May 31, 2006


RobertFrost: Thanks for linking those reviews; I am now sure I have no desire to see the film.
posted by languagehat at 12:14 PM on May 31, 2006


"we'd win two of every three World Cups if we cared"

Hah, bring it.
posted by iamck at 3:01 PM on May 31, 2006


languagehat - at the risk of sounding like a snob, reviews from entertainment sites mightn't be the best places to get a decent impression of this film - they seem to have missed the point that Gordon is more interested in exploring the viewers relationship with cinema/film/moving images than the 'subject matter' of his film work. (See his best known work, 24 Hour Psycho, which is Hitchcock's Psycho slowed down so it lasts... well, you can guess the rest! Or, better yet, check his Self-portrait as Kurt Cobain, as Andy Warhol, as Myra Hindley, as Marilyn Monroe - that's one photograph of Gordon wearing a blonde wig, again imagery over image.)
posted by jack_mo at 3:30 PM on May 31, 2006


i'll say it again, im interested in Gordon's film. the way that the first reviewer described it (the more negative review) made me actually want to see the film. needless to say, I don't think that was his intention.
posted by RobertFrost at 3:48 PM on May 31, 2006


See his best known work, 24 Hour Psycho, which is Hitchcock's Psycho slowed down so it lasts... well, you can guess the rest! Or, better yet, check his Self-portrait as Kurt Cobain, as Andy Warhol, as Myra Hindley, as Marilyn Monroe - that's one photograph of Gordon wearing a blonde wig, again imagery over image.

Now you've convinced me I don't want to see anything he does. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying his films are "bad," and I'll defend (if not to the death, at least to the drunken stupor) his right to make them—but I simply have no desire to see movies like that. If I want to get into that complex stuff, I'll watch my beloved Godard, who (except during that awful Maoist phase) keeps the balls of narrative and quotation and fun stuff like that in the air along with the "exploring the viewer's relationship with cinema/film/moving images." Do people really enjoy watching Psycho slowed down so it lasts 24 hours? If they do, good for them, but it ain't me, babe.
posted by languagehat at 5:22 PM on May 31, 2006


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