Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What kind of soccer blog doesn't have any posts during World Cup?

The simple answer is a blog written by a guy who's got way too much on his plate to be pounding out copy at midnight even if it is in the aftermath of an historic World Cup match,  Germany v Brazil, in the semifinal of this 2014 tourney.   

I made a tough decision today to leave work for two hours and take a long lunch,  not something I do easily, in order to watch the Germans play Brazil.   My read was that this would be the monumental match of the competition,  maybe better than the final.  Even without Neymar,  the Brazilians aggressive swaggering style was a force to be reckoned with.  And the Germans,  though seeming vulnerable in their draw with Ghana,  still were my pick to go to the final and bring home the trophy.   

I set out toward a bar I was sure would carry the game not far from where I work. I arrived to find it was closed.  On the car radio,  the news announcer was noting that the match had begun.  No worries,  I thought.   I'll go down to the Bucket Brigade on Powell.  They'll have the match on.   And it's early in the game I won't miss much.   You can imagine my surprise when I walked into the bar and scanned the big screens.   The score was 3-0 Germany.   I took off my glasses and squinted thinking something was wrong.  But that was indeed the score.   The rest is history--perhaps the worst pummeling in the World Cup ever.   

This evening I had a chance to go back and look at the missing  twenty some minutes I hadn't  seen.   I was surprised to see that Brazil was strong, organized and attacking.  Even after Mueller's first strike,   they came thundering back--a certain tension in their eyes when the cameras panned across the faces-- but no sense of panic.   The second and third goals though were like banderillas sticking into the jugular of Brazil's confidence.  Without any solid  leadership to rally them,  the Brazilian defense unwound.  And at the end,  the match had clearly become legend.   A 7-1 drubbing of the host nation in World Cup is not likely to happen again in my lifetime.   Unless, of course,   the gambling consortiums pay enough money in the dark corners of the game.  

Other impressions of this Copa del Mundo?

I am really appalled at the use of a laser pointer to distract or disable Russia's keeper in their game against Algeria.    I was watching and saw the green circle playing across his face as there was a setup for a corner kick.  I thought immediately that this kind of action can destroy sport.

I am really happy to see the new, young talent on the USMNT get playing time in a World Cup.  I was not all that interested in the conversations about Landon Donovan's presence or absence.   I was happy that the team did as well as it did.  But my biggest hope was that we'd begin giving a new generation of players time on the field--we'll need them in four years.  And more.   I think that decision by Klinsmann is a profound one that will pay dividends.

I'm hoping that the final is Germany v Netherlands..  I think Messi is a great player, but I like the passion the Dutch have shown in getting their aging team through so far.  I think they'd be the perfect foil to the German organization and poise.    And, of course,   that would mean that the tango for the 3rd place finish would be between Brazil and Argentina,  a match that would be dripping with emotion.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Technology: Laser pointers and Goal line calibrations

The World Cup has a role in the continuing unfolding of technological marvels in everyday life.  The two that jump to the forefront for me are the harassment via laser pointer which obviously was aimed at Russia's keeper in the match with Algeria.  This is a development which could wreck soccer as we know it.   Lasers, easily obtained for a pittance, could destroy the integrity of the game if unchecked.    At the other end of the spectrum, goal line technology which has been heatedly debated for many years now is making its world debut in Brazil.   As a fan watching,  the calibrated measurement seems helpful, particularly in those instances when the ball's speed confounds the eye.   If FIFA is convinced that the technology is reliable,   I think it's a plus.   But it is all about the reliability.   And the images presented are only digital representations of the physical universe.  As such, they are able to be manipulated.   So, as always,  we trust.