Friday, December 4, 2009

The World Cup

I realize this is completely off topic of a beauty blog. However, it's very relevant for today. I am a huge soccer fan. I have played since I was 10 years old, coached for 10 years, and have been to more games than I can count. The US National team is a particular favorite of mine, both men and women's. I've been to the Olympics, countless qualifying games, the Women's World Cup twice and to Germany in 2006 for the Men's World Cup (or as the German's say "der Weltmeister" - I think it's der anyway...). I am passionate about the game and our teams.

Today was the World Cup 2010 draw in South Africa, and after a very tense and hotly contested qualifying race I was hoping the US would have a less frightening group than 2006. In some respects we got lucky and in some, we are going to have a very hard fight.

(my friend Brian and I at the pregame "warmup")
England set all kinds of records in qualifying and the US will play them our very first game. Can you say frightening? At least for the casual fan, many of our players play in the English Premier League, including our incredible goalie. (I have serious goalie love for Tim Howard). We shouldn't be intimidated by them, but Wayne Rooney is a shifty guy and if they decide Beckham is going to be on the team - expect many a perfect pass to him right over our defense.

The other 2 teams in our group, Algeria and Slovenia, are complete unknowns to me. I know that Algeria had a very tough qualifying game in hostile territory to get into the tournament. Slovenia is rumored to have a very stingy defense, as I read they allowed the fewest goals in qualifying. So both could be tough opponents.

The US has problems of it's own. One of our very best and most experience defenders jacked up his knee in qualifying and it's unknown whether he will be ready. This rings of the injury to Chris Armas before the 2002 Cup. So one of 3 things will happen, our defense will be like a sieve, Gooch (Oguchi Onyewu) comes back or we will find a miraculous young talent to fill his place. Bob hasn't found him yet - so keep looking (the most promising guy I can think of is unfortunately I think a foreigner).  The other weakness I see is that Charlie Davies, who really is a young talent, was in a terrible car crash right before the final qualifying match. He is not likely to be recovered in time either. We do have some talent in the forward line, but they need some lessons from Brian McBride on how to dominate the space they are running.  I will for now, leave our hapless midfield alone - there is so much room to improve there, I don't know where to begin. All I can say is that I hope the players are shaken out of their comas and are inspired by the task ahead.

So I apologize for the off topic narrative today, but I am very excited about the possibilities that lie ahead for the US team and for the World Cup in general. I would LOVE to see the USA vs. England game live as I think it will be an incredible atmosphere. Both teams have passionate fans (some of whom I know from Fire games and Germany - here's to you Koz(pictured with drum)) and I think have a love / hate relationship with each other. After my experience in Germany in 2006, I think I know just how exhilarating that game will be.

Good luck men, and here's to the intense training required in the months ahead.

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