Lots Of Drama In South Africa
Why can't the English.......?
In the old show "My Fair Lady" that song goes,"Why can't the English teach their children how to speak." It's all about taking someone a bit rough and cleaning them up, making them more presentable and polite. Team England at the World Cup needs to do just the opposite. This team of perennial potential, and chronic underperformance needs its stars to stop being so nice to one another. A player gets the ball into the opposing penalty area and then seems to say to a teammate, "Oh please, after you" then passes the ball. "No you first!" might as well be the reply, as they overpass themselves right out of the scoring opportunity. Shoot the bloomin' ball! Blimey! Goal scorers shoot, they don't try to avoid being the guy who missed the opportunity by passing it off to someone else. Put Wayne Rooney in a Manchester United jersey and he can't be stopped. Now he can't get started. Put Steven Gerrard in his Liverpool kit, or Frank Lampard in his Chelsea gear and it's almost goals at will. Dress Aaron Lennon up in Tottenham White and he breezes past every defender. Put the Three Lions on their chests and they all struggle. Their own fans booed them after a lifeless, goalless draw with not-quite-so-mighty Algeria. Be a team player, yes, but don't do so at the expense of the very skills that got you on the team! Come on England! You're better than this.
Singing Les Blues
Quel dommage! The French are falling apart. Today they decided as a team to skip their training session after their captain got in a shouting match with their fitness coach. All this on the heels of the unbelievable dismissal of striker Nicolas Anelka! The superstar was sent home for being very naughty. He apparently insulted near-universally disliked coach Raymond Domenech, then an agent provocateur within the team leaked details of the nasty spat to the nasty press. Au revoir les enfants! This may be "Fin" for France. The biggest French Farce since Moliere. What's amazing is..they still have Franck Ribery and Thierry Henry and a lot of other stars...and they still have a chance to advance.
All American Quarter Pounder
So far this tournament Team USA has pounded the opposition..about a quarter of the time. In the second half of the second game they manhandled Slovenia. They came from down by two, to tie it up. Everyone on the planet agrees that they actually won it 3-2..everyone except the one guy whose opinion matters, the referee who called some phantom foul and disallowed the winning goal. Bottom line, win and you're in. The US simply has to beat the still-not-quite-so-mighty Algeria to advance to the final 16.
Notorious slow-starters/big finishers Italy were held to a draw today by unexpected New Zealand. It would have been a loss too, without an Academy Award quality performance that won an Italian penalty to bring it to 1-1. There was contact in the box to be sure....but come on! Italy will be fine, eventually..
Caught on Cameroon
Maybe the most entertaining match yet saw African stars Cameroon fight hard, only to lose to Denmark. The Danes played some great soccer. This match though, was riddled with terrible defensive mistakes and many, many missed opportunities as the ball flew end to end over and over. In a cruel twist, this loss sent the courageous Cameroon out of the World Cup.
The beauty of this tournament is that there is often a wide margin for error. Make two huge mistakes in the opening round (such as 2 draws for both the US and England) and you can still recover to move on to the knockout phase. There's time to find your feet before defeat sends you home.
That is if you aren't too mean to your coach..then you get sent home anyway.
Still lots of football to unfold, lots of drama to be played out, plenty of opportunity for teams to bounce back from shaky starts. The U.S. and England can both move on with a win..and they both play Wednesday. I'm a fan of both so I'll be watching..hope you will too.
We'll talk again soon.