Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Made it onto CNN's Fan Zone!

SnakeEyes of BigSoccer told me the video I put up has been seen on CNN International too (I also emailed it to them). I'm busy watching Tunisia try to take down Spain right now, but I went to their website and saw parts of it there as well. Go to their Fan Zone and click on "Your Video" for the compilation of videos; the US supporters are after Korea's and Trinidad's. For some reason, you need IE to access it; Firefox doesn't seem to like CNN's video.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The US has a tomorrow

Photos of USA-Italy here.
Videos of the US rally also shown here and here.

So the good news: this is technically our best World Cup result on European soil.

Now the bad news: We still have to win. We still have to score. And we would rather we scored a lot in the final game.

(thanks to dirtskier of BigSoccer for this picture)
Let this picture be iconic of the US' character in this World Cup. The image (before Photoshop, of course) could be seen on the Sunday covers of the New York Daily News and New York Post, among other sports covers post-Italy. Everyone knows the story by now: McBride and De Rossi goes up for a ball, and the Italian, unexplicably, elbows him in the face. Our guy gets up and plays while their guy heads for the showers. Maybe we're not the most talented players in the world, but Americans are the type that never stays on the ground beaten. Compare that to the 572 dives by the Italian team last night.

I've been very vocal about it. I don't like Beasley in this World Cup. He had one good shot against Italy that, if McBride hadn't touched it, would have had a small chance of not being called offside. Other than that, he was dead weight. No desire at all to chase or attack. He has to sit down against Ghana.

Everyone's in agreement, I think, that Eddie Johnson has to play against Ghana. No one around me understood what Arena was thinking not subbing him in, or subbing anyone in when any amount of fresh energy would have tipped the balance in the final minutes.

Why was Dempsey subbed out?

Talked to a few people yesterday on the way to the game:
- Christian. I met him on the train to Kaiserslautern, and he was coming from the Holland game in Stuttgart, after which he said he was partying until 5:30AM. Speaks at least three languages, the result of traveling all over Europe. I'm sure he went to the Fan Fest all night after the Italy game.
- Three American fans, one of them named Matt (sorry, I wish I could remember the others!). Shared a beer with them as they waited for a friend, who was holding their tickets. I've been keeping my tickets within reach since I got here. To each his own, of course.
- Bryan, who sat next to me during the game. Admittedly, he's more knowledgeable about the game than I am. We sat in the very last row, and we had a guy jump on us celebrating the disallowed Beasley goal just prior to the flag going up. We ended up throwing him (accidentally) into the next row. Good times.
- Christian (on the left), a Luxembourgian (<- is that right?) who went for Italy because, hey, his country doesn't have a real national team. His first team, of course, is England. Oh well. He said he had fun, though. I invited him to join us American fans. Not surprisingly, he declined.
I'm packing up and will be in Nuremburg on Tuesday. Don't know about the Internet access there, but I hope to have more pictures up after the Ghana game. Will there be a party for the US afterwards?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

When you have no points...

...there is no tomorrow. I will be back in a day or two at the latest to upload photos and give my post-mortem of USA-Italy.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Yeah, that was ugly

(finally got myself to a wireless Internet connection)

Photos from before and during the game are found here.

USA 0-3 Czech Republic. There really isn't that much left to say.

OK, maybe there is. Remember "The Replacements"? The first game they lost, which meant they had to run the table to make the playoffs. So Keanu Reeves, lacking confidence to make the big plays, tries the conservative approach and bungles the final offense. Gene Hackman chews him out, and the QB knows next time to play like a winner in order to be a winner. (you may also watch "Tin Cup" for a similar message)

That's either Landon Donovan or DaMarcus Beasley. Or both of them, because both of them were pretty lame on Monday. Not that they were outplayed talent-wise, mind you. Everyone on the train back thought the same thing: they both lacked heart. Fire. Confidence. Whatever. They didn't have it, and paid the price. Either they find it or we're all going home (figuratively) Saturday.

That's not news, though. Like I said, everyone had reached a consensus by full time.

Here's the news: this may very well be the most educated traveling bunch of US supporters at a World Cup to date. From estimates of 1,000-2,000 in Korea four years ago, people are saying over 5,000 Americans - a lot of them converts from 2002 - made the trip to Germany. Maybe it's because it's closer, and therefore cheaper, to get to this World Cup than the last. But whatever it is, these are people who are invested their time and energy, not only to get here, but to know all about this US team. This is not nominal, just-because-it's-my-patriotic-duty kind of fan support I saw in Gelsenkirchen. These are real fans, and win or lose for the US team, this fan base isn't going anywhere after this World Cup. No one could have been sure of that after Korea; now I'm convinced US Soccer is becoming less and less of a niche in America. Sure, it will take more time, but we are seeing very positive signs, and will continue to see them in Kaiserslautern and Nuremburg.

The days since the US debacle on Monday have been spent sightseeing and otherwise-wandering around. No one to talk to. Match days, however, have been lots of fun, because there's so many people to talk to. Let's list a few of them now:

- Bret and Tony, two people I met at Brauhaus Hibernia, the site of the US rally prior to the CZE game. They did not have tickets to the game, yet came all the way to Germany, hoping to score some tickets. They are picture 1866 in the photo album.
- Prairie, one of the people I know on BigSoccer. Actually, we met in person first at Anime Boston last month, when I was teaching Japanese. She got to Germany before me, and I think she'll be here after I leave next Saturday. That's dedication.
- Drew Carey. A couple of guys beat me to asking him for a picture, I didn't have the courage to pile on. I said to expect a 4-0 win as the bunch of us walked the long walk to the entrance to the stadium, to which he responded with a 2-1 prediction of his own.
- Jim, the guy sitting next to me while we were taking a 3-0 beating. The other guy was a Czech fan. I guess he wanted to be deep in the US fan section so he could gloat.
- Doug and Carl, the two people on the train I talked to on the way back. The three of us were not that confident after the game, but I imagine they're also thinking like I am, that a berth in the second round is still ours to take if we want it.
Nothing's over. But as Garrison Keillor says, "Every show is your last show." Let's hope, at least, that our guys think and play like it against Italy.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Please don't let it rain

Heading out to the airport tonight for the plane to Germany. Must stopover on the way, gives me time to page through my German pocketbook and cram.

Almost three games out of the way, looks like the World Cup GPG will be somewhere around 3.0. Should be a very exciting tournament.

Sometime after I get into Frankfurt, I should set up picture albums and I'll link them here.

I need a cheeseburger before I leave.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Zarqawi killed, justice served...

...bet you good money not one illegal wiretap or rendition was needed to get the job done.

The two real ideologies

Based on what I've parsed in the news lately, I'm testing out a theory that I've never quite articulated all the time until now. Since "compassionate conservatism" blew away any expectation of what it means to be conservative (i.e. the environment, the scope of government), let's now redefine the two ends of the political spectrum as this: for conservatives, beliefs dictate circumstances; for liberals, circumstances dictate beliefs.

Take your uber-conservative, Ann Coulter, for example. 9/11 has been repeatedly and continuously exploited for their purposes, not necessarily because they felt it proved their expectations (let's face it, they had none when it came to security), but because it drifted into the worldview and seemed to fit what they comprehended. Now that the families of 9/11 have spoken out and have drifted out of the beliefs of conservatives, it is perfectly alright to now trash the one thing that has kept them in power. Circumstances no longer fit, but beliefs remain intact, and conservatives continuously attempt to will those beliefs into reality, hopefully to shape the circumstances that may or may not be in their control.

Take same-sex marriage, for another example. If Democrats thought they could win voters by saying bigotry is bigotry, and it's wrong to twist the spirit of the Constitution to send megachurch-goers to the polls, they would say so. Yet, and it's probably true, that strategy would be too risky. So the circumstances surrounding that risk dictate what Democrats believe: that it should be left to the states (see Sen. Levin). As if everyone forgot that the ideal liberal position would be to reconsider the Second Amendment and consider its repeal.

Liberals should take warning, as this is not the best strategy either. Nobody triangulates better than a DLC Democrat. Like...Hillary. Or...Kerry (I mean, c'mon, when was he talking about stem cells before Christopher Reeve died?).

Here's your problem: circumstances change all the time, and moderates have no clue what to believe (at least liberals feel themselves committed to what they do believe).

Yeah, I'm stuck on this one.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


One cursory glance at the headlines for the CA-50 special election tells me this: one of the last hurdles keeping Democrats from taking Congress and the White House is turnout. They cannot depend on Republicans staying at home; they themselves must vote and bring others to vote, and in large numbers. Nixon may have been right about the existence of a silent majority, but this generation cannot be silent and complacent about their choices. The stakes have become so high now.

It just occurred to me...

Whenever we Democrats want to do something that we think is good, Republicans tag it as "political" and urge the American public to reject it, against their own interests. How come when they talk about gay marriage and immigration - all of a sudden, the two biggest evils some hidden verse in the Bible has forbidden - we can't say the same thing in return?


I really did forget how pompous Fox News was. But there was also a stretch of fifteen minutes that I was watching while preparing fried chicken that the broadcast jumped from Gregg Jarrett to Patti Ann Brown and back to one more person (can't remember now). They were all former NBC News personalities! And I swear to you, they all looked so neutral and objective when they were over at MSNBC. What happened!?

I'll be off to Germany on Saturday night, to arrive in Frankfurt and be in my hotel by Sunday night. USA-CZE is Monday; I will be taking tons of pictures, and you will see them here!

I do believe the foreign citizens' tax extension is coming up very quickly; have you filed for the extension yet?