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World Cup, Volume 10

Sat Jun 21

An Irregular Series
The early on btw CHI and BRA has been an up and down affair.  Physical, demanding, difficult on the ref.  And now the news (to me) that every time CHI advances to the knockout stage in the World Cup, they get eliminated by BRA.

And BRA has scored first off of a corner!

BRA 1, CHI 0. 18 min gone.

CHI will still be attacking, but now possibly even more furiously.  (Why is it curiouser and curiouser but not furiouser and furiouser?  Just because of Alice in Wonderland?)

Not only are the knockout rounds generally better because of the skill level of every team, but these two teams specifically are very technically proficient individually and well organized at the team level.  This is a good fun attacking game to enjoy.

The crowd is awesomely pro-BRA.  Unsurprising, yet still impressive.  It gives a real sense of home field advantage and is spurring the BRA players on.

That Neymar is just so so fast when he wants to be.

I am not enjoying this Neymar diving experience.  I am enjoying the rest of his game.

The BRA side looks unhurried yet fast.  Elongated speed even.  CHI looks more frantic and choppy.  Either team can put it together to mount an attack at any moment, make no mistake about that.  The predominant characteristics of their offenses beyond "very skilled" vary, however.


(The CHI fans are all cordoned off from the rest of the fans.  That has to be an intimidating experience.  They show no signs of being unenthused, however.)

1-1 32 min gone.

Madness in the attacking box for BRA as CHI cannot clear... and now a near-break for CHI... but not to be.

Neymar is so good guys.  He's got hops taboot.

WOAH!!  If CHI keeps pressing the backfield like this, BRA might well give then un regalo soon enough.  Almost like BRA can't believe CHI is pressing like that.

Hulk score by accident off of knee.
Hulk carded rather than scoring.

That CHI feller up high is quite excited.  That's like... NFL Defensive Back excitement.  CHI is getting into attack attack attack mode and realizing tha BRA is nothing too too special.  No reason for them not to press everyone and make them PROVE their abilities.  Yet again to make a frisbee analogy, it is like pressuring the openside throws of great throwers.  You're not looking for the handblock (though you'll take one) but rather you've making them execute at the highest level over and over again rather than letting them relax and complete passes.

That CHI attacking sequence was glorious.  That the BRA GK saved it?  great positioning and GK-level reaction speed.  You can't ask for more.

CHI generates another short field to attack by pressing the backs of BRA.

SANCHEZ got skills on display, yo.

Even this disjointed second half of play (as of 71min) has been enjoyable.

Jo probably shoulda scored on that perfect cross from HULK.

This CHI coach misordered his polo with little boy sized sleeves.

Excellent Hulk effort.  he looks fresh.  That hamstring injury from early in the tourney seems to have done him well.  Rest?

Hulk is still creating in this extra time.  And Neymar is still jumping way up over folks.

This could be a incredibly meaningful foul on Dani Alves now.  I assume it is for his silver hair.

Happy that Willian is coming on now in the extra extra time for BRA.  I think he's not getting enough time on this BRA squad in large part b/c I feel OScar is overrated.

And CHi could have won it there if not for that pesky crossbar!  Now BRA with a counter and corner.

Fucking PKs.


David Luiz buries it.  BRA 1, CHI 0.
#9 for CHI drives it into the GK.  BRA 1, CHI 0.
Willian for BRA misses wide.  BRA 1, CHI 0.

(on the town the beast is loose)

Alexis Sanchez gets stoned bt the GK.  BRA 1, CHI 0.!!!!!
#6 for BRA puts it through the GK hands.  BRA 2, CHI 0.
CHI #20 BURIES it.  BRA 2, CHI 1.
HULK gets blocked despite crushing!  BRA 2, CHI 1.!!!!!


CHI #21 sends it home with just enough rise.  BRA 2, CHI 2. !
Now, the Neymar strikes...
Neymar of course uses his theatricality to send it home.  SO GOOD.  BRA 3, CHI 2.
Jara for CHI... bones it off of the post. Such pain.  Such remorse.

Unreal that penalties end 3-2.

This might be the kick in the ass that BRA needs to show their next level... If they have it at least.  I'm not sure that they do.  The rest of the draw should be so so so happy that CHI was matched up against BRA.  Had they not been, they would have eliminated some other country.

 This Is The World Cup.

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World Cup, Volume 9.

Thu, Jun 26

GER while not looking comfortable are still generating chances
And USA is not possessing well.

Now i'm in a bar with a ton of uneducated soccer fans... yelling and getting upset about all of the wrong things...
Happy they aren't in the stadium...

The field condition are clearly suboptimal.  Will likely be a low skipping power shot that makes the difference.

Jurgen looks dumb in his hat.  It is just rain and yer hair ain't that wonderful to begin with.

USA gets a legit shot from Zusi....  coulda been a cross... but that was a whistler of a shot.

Theroblem is that this GER attack is like a deathmarch. It is only a matter of how many miles are traveled before something terrible happens.

Bad touch Bradley has returned.

Beasley makes a great run... his best play of the tourney if you ask me.

I like these dark GER jerseys.

Aaand the GHA own goal! POR 1 GHA 0.

The slick turf is playing games with players on GER and USA. JJones was the most recent victim.

The folks who yell "terrible call" after an obviously correct call are the worst fans in the world.

Badtouch Bradley.

Half at 0's.
Half at POR 1, GHA 0.

USA seems intent on pushing forward and hoping either for brilliance or a bad bounce.  It could well happen, but GER is developing attacks and maintaining dangerous possession for longer periods.

The funny thing is that USA does not at all seem outclassed, just... not wholly coherent.

I do not like the practice of players pulling their socks up over their knees. That is ridiculous-looking.

Enter the Klose.

Great work tracking back, Gonzalez!

And, thanks in part to the insurance provided by one Christiano Ronaldo,  USA advances with GER to the knockout stage!
There were other games later that day, but I did not watch them coherently.  Too much work and too much fresh Loose Cannon IPA at the bar.

Now, I am already mentally preparing for the BRA v CHI game.  This should be a blast to watch.  However, the Suarez-less URU taking on COL later today will not likely be a great game unless URU takes the advantage and scores first by hook or by crook.

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World Cup Volume 8

Mon Jun 23 - Thu Jun 26

An Irregular Series
NED v CHI for first and ESP v AUS for not-last.

CHI seems to have the best of it thus far, pushing forward with consistency.  Not fully into the attack, but consistently past the half.

Not sure which of these teams is going to go ore all-out in order to win... or if either will.  The permutations of the finishes are too much to consider for a mind like mine.  Who they'll play and all of that.  I'm more interested in that they play and how they play than who they play.

Now NED get a cross into the box... into 5 CHI defenders.

AUS is tackling hard.  ESP seems to have most of the control of it however.  I definitely dislike the black&neon ESP jerseys.  Not only the color, but that lonely star seems  little too big.

NED seems to be packing it in a bit... not sure that their counter will be strong enough without RVP to make use of the space, but it will be interesting to see how it all works out.

That CHI corner was the first on-the-ground not-short corner I've seen thus far.  They did a great job of pulling all the defenders almost into the mouth of the goal before pulling the trigger.

And ESP probably should have finished that shot in the goal from about 8-9yds out!  This could be two games of frustration.

What a well developed attack with a very stylish back-foot finish for ESP.  David Villa will always have a sense of style.

And NED seems to be generating some chances going forward with their counter... but they have not converted yet on either Robben's ability to put the ball back across (AFTER GOING LEFT) or the longer shots that others getting forward have decided to take.
Did ESP just try to counterattack?  What the hell is this world coming to?

CHI's weird non-V-neck on their jerseys is killing me.  It gets more aggravating the more I see it.

Now ESP gets a second with a brilliant assist to a run and finish from Torres.  While it is all over for both of these sides, at least this generation of ESP did not go wholly quietly.  They have certainly left their mark on the future.

Nice corner play design there from NED to get the goal on the cross to a full-on header that the GK had no shot at whatsoever.  Changing the angle like that off of the corner is effective if you can pull it off quickly.  In this case, they did and the CHI defense seemed to be channeling USA in the last 3 seconds of the game yesterday.  They simply were watching the ball rather than marking their players.

That corner hit the NED defender in the arm while he was bear hugging the CHI near-post threat.  Odd.  That seems like it should be a PK.

These fans in the NED v CHI game know that the POR v USA goal happened yesterday, right?  Also, they're at the World Cup.  Where is it that they are trying to get to exactly?

Sometimes Robben plays with time as well as space so well.  He held and faked the hold and knew his teammate was coming, following hard... and #21 finished off the pass from Robben with a difficult one-timer to the back of the net.  What a Cup Robben's having so far.  And yes, he did, of course, go left on this one too.
Looks like I'll be watching just one game this time around.  MEX v CRO.  While I'd love to watch BRA v CMR as well, the place I'm at at the moment has only one TV and that game doesn't really matter.  While it could be entertaining, this bar has Stone Enjoy By IPA 7.4.14.

The CRO side is of an attacking mindset , as is MEX.  NO matter what the potential results are, both teams seem to prefer moving forward, even though CRO has started off a little defensively, they are the team with the first corner.

MEX, however, has created the best yet opportunity off of a free kick near midfield on a very creative and well-scripted run.  While it did not come to fruition, it was worthy.

CRO has looked stronger on attack in general, but MEX is pressing effectively and with pace.  Now a wicked shot bounces off of the top corner of the goal 15 min in.  Best shot yet.  Incredible that it didn't meet the back of the net.

Apparently, CMR has tied BRA, and the Mexican bartender has decided to switch over to that game... which makes no sense at all to me.  Neither from a pure soccer sense nor from a Mexican-roots sense.  Now he's walked away.

This is the worst.

I mean, I love the soccer, but this is not good TV game management.  Maybe he's really an American football fan masquerading as a soccer fan. Like... the whole beauty and glory of soccer is watching the whole damn game.

Back to MEX v CRO.

Now CRO gets away with a handball on a corner... into a counter... and now a coldblooded takedown on the break from a trailing MEX defender gives CRO a free kick about 25 yads out.  To no result.

AAAAAAAnd that's the second blatant handball by CRO near the goal.  Yeah, there's some extra-curriculars going on now btw the two teams b/c that's just cheating, bruh.

I really enjoy how the refs in soccer write down the names of the carded on the yellow and red cards.  Like a permanent strangely colored record.  one day these cards will be unearthed by a human society with no notion of soccer... hilarity ensues.

MEX has been controlling this second half, for the most part.  Possessing and attacking while CRO seems unable to do either.

And MEX scores on a corner! Marquez scores on a contested corner through the GK's hands!  If you watch the replay, note his arm-motion leading to the jump.  Both arms together in front of chest, then swing back low behind hips, then both arms swing up above your head.  Textbook jumping technique.  Hat tip to my high school volleyball coach!

MEX 1, CRO 0.

And now a second MEX goal!!!  El Tri! what a top-shelf finish from distance!  The middle of the box to the back of the net after a nicely developed run from Chicharito!  He, like Robben earlier today, mastered time as well as space in that run.  Feint, hold, read the field, change the angle... pass... GOAL!

MEX 2, CRO 0. 75min gone.

And now Chicharito scores again on a double header!

MEX 3, CRO 0!!  82min gone!

CRO is still fighting and scoring a goal here from a very difficult angle off of some nice development near the penalty box.

MEX 3, CRO 1.  87min gone.


Boy this ITA v URU game is wild.  I do not enjoy the ITA centerback.  I want him to just go away.  Don't go away mad, just go away.

Then this red card!  After Balotelli's yellow!

Now a header of a goal for URU!  ITA is, as always, prepared to play w/ 10, but still... stop being so ready to play with 10!

Did Suarez bite that dude???
Thus far, JPN has had the best of COL in the early going, but their penalty area play has been sorely lacking.  Now, JPN makes a  bad tackle in the box on a COL break and they surrender a corner!!

COL finishes, of course, and now JPN must press for the remainder of the game.  I wonder what sort of interest COL will show in attacking bersus hust sitting back and countering when JPN over-commits.

GRE v CIV is still knotted at 0-0.

These JPN jerseys might be the best of the tourney.    I like the GRE jerseys too ... but I'm a sucker for collars.  However, they're a pretty basic and classic design.  The thing with the JPN jerseys is that there is something wholly different an innovative about them even though they are almost just a basic old-school adidas set... but with the perfect pitch of blue matched to an ideal hue of hot pink.  Somehow they are dignified and exciting all at once.

And GRE misses on a breakaway distance look by hitting the top corner of the goal while JPN misses on a 24-5 yds free kick juuuust wide and low.  Ah!  SO MUCH SOCCER.

Now GRE kicks it straight at the keeper with some heat.  JPN still seems largely in control of the game even though COL is showing no lack of confidence.

Not sure that the decision to start Drogba was the right move... he's the sort of fella that at this point in his career may be better against he tired opponent rather than the fresh.  He is older,r, but still as big and strong and dangerous.  It is the constant press of 90 minutes that wears his legs down a bit.  That was a solid bicycle try from JPN.

uh-oh a turnover in the rear for JPN... but no danger.  And now Drogba is yellow-carded for an aggressive challenge.  Not necessarily bad, but... gotta let everyone know where the line is.

I do, however also like the front of the COL jerseys.  The diagonal lines are something that seem new to me.  If I've sen it before, I don't remember it.

And GRE SCORES!!!!  A turnover in the CIV backfield leads to a killshot from the striker!  There was a way to miss that shot, but he would have had to work harder to find it.

Yep, these JPN jerseys are better every time I get a good look at them.

This JPN fan with his head painted red and poking through a JPN flag on which is written "Never give up" is crazy creative and rather intimidating.

JPN GOAL!   Just like that damn POR goal, this was the last strike of the period.  Incredible finish with the head on that cross.  The ability to finish while running the other way is so so hard to come by.

COL scores just outta half to go up 2-1!! On a nice shot that was helped a bit by glancing off of the bottom of a sliding JPN player's leg!  WOAH!!! I got that WCup Fever and I got it baaaaad.

One of my favorite subplots of this WCup is listening to clueless American "fans" (who I do not begrudge their burgeoning fandom) have the arguments I had with my soccer teammates in like 6th grade.  Sneaky-hilarious to hear folks who are rabidly intelligent about other sports be so unerringly dumb about this one.

Which is why I don't say shit about shit when I watch hockey.

But then again... we Americans are a confident bunch if nothing else.  I also love how the WCup brings out the whole of national character for each country writ large (er... small?) on the great green field.

That JPN Okazaki (he of the header) got his face fucked up by that COL defender.   He's gonna be suffering from Dempsey-nose in a few days, methinks.

And now a card for the COL defender who took out a player for JPN on a pseudo-break.

Another GRE shot off the crossbar!

(The number of folks I've seen in bars over the last few weeks who are not drinking has been bizarre.  Like... Why are you sitting at the bar? There is a restaurant area here too.

Also, "Are you still working on that?" is one of my least favorite things for a server/waitress/waiter/barkeep to say... and they all fucking say it.)

And CIV score to tie with GRE at 1!!!

And a brilliant goal from a well-weighted through pass by COL.  The receiver had enough space to use a nice first-touch change of direction to get a shot off to the far post.  JPN is pretty much done now.  (As I type this JPN produces a just-wide chance.)

COL adds another in the 89th minute.  Just as CRE is prepping a free kick from about 25 yds out... which amounts to a CIV counter which is snuffed out.   Does GRE have enough Off to create a chance in stoppage time??

Well, YES!  A PK!!! in Stoppage time!!

Have there been any missed PKs yet?

This CIV GK believes... but it is not to be!!!   The GRE Pirate Ship has set sail for the elimination rounds!!!!!!!


I did NOT see that coming!!!

3 min gone and Messi has already scored on a rebounded shot off of the post...

And now NGA counters with a great individual goal following a smooth pass to put him in space.  He made it all the way to the far post!

4 min gone!  Reset to a tie!

NGA's crosses and longer passes always stand out to me as more direct than others.  Lower trajectory in general.

And now BIH scores against IRN.  Nice shot from a bit of distance which bounces off of the post and in.  Low, hard.  A skipping, skidding shot that gets there in a hurry and is hard to predict.  A loss would put IRN out.

But IRN nearly equalizes with a shot off of the bottom of the crossbar!

And now a nice long strike from NGA flies over the crossbar.

Now NGA a free kick just outside of the box b/c the ARG defender arm-tackled him by the thigh.  Sub coming on for ARG has a LOT of weirdly spaced tattoos.

If you keep giving Messi these free kicks, he is going to bury... oh.  He buried that one.  Second goal for Messi today.

ARG 2 NGA 1.
Ended up away from those games and staring at the back of my eyelids.  There was a lot of biking yesterday.

Now that i'm watching this ECU v FRA game, both teams are attacking, with FRA looking slightly more coordinated.  And I missed the SUI goal because Watch ESPN kinda sucks.  But I did catch the second SUI goal, which was a situations where one defender got stuck attempting to defend two in space... that's an impossible task.

Never been able to watch watch ESPN without seriously glitchy streaming video.

Looks like it'll be SUI and FRA going on, eh?

HON just doesn't seem up to the task of the World Cup this year.

I'm pretty sure this ECU dude with a mesh condom on his bloodied head is not actually prevented from getting blood all over everyone.  I don't really understand what is happening here.

Caught the second SUI goal, but the first was obscured due to watchespn.  Now that I've seen the replays, the first goal was quite impressive.  Opposite post, upper 90.  Boom.
Now the first goal-scoring opportunity coming out of half is not finished by the FRA player with the fake-ass Zach Morris haircut.

Now a red card for the ECU captain for an unlucky play.  Definitely cardable by the rules, but the actual experience of it was definitely not malicious.  No way things work well for ECU now, right?  10 v 11 for 40+ minutes?  That's an ITA special, not an ECU special.

And just as HON generates a quality opportunity (Which gets saved by a defender filling in for the GK-- the SUI defense is strong) ECU gets a solid look at a 3 v 3 break and fails to get a truly solid shot as the pass forced the ECU player to come back to the ball rather than keep his momentum forward.

I love when players in both football and futbol "shrug off tackles".  Just like when in ultimate a player shrugs off a marking foul or an unwarranted bid.  Absolutely love it.

Often, when I look at the HON jerseys I imagine it is some bizarre alternate Harvard jersey in Yale colors.

That SUI dude on the free kick was calling for something specific from his teammates which he responded to not getting by passing the ball directly to HON.

HON is showing fight.  I like that.

The ECU jerseys are the only ones I like with the fake v-neck.  It is more subdues than the others.  Also a nice use of two-color vertical flank striping.  A lot of the teams out here don't realize that the socks truly make the jerseys.  ECU is not one of them.

The guy with the mesh condom on his head just headed the ball.  That can't be right.

And now a HON player carded for... something.  Mouthing off?

Now SUI scores their third and Shaqira his third.  Off of an very nice assist from Drmic.

Just caught a shot of a muffin-topped sub on the SUI sideline... those jerseys are not made for you, sir.

ECU has proven particularly proficient in the art of slide-tackling FRA shots.

SUI and FRA advance.

The knockout rounds are looking incredibly compelling.  Good teams, different styles of play in the matchups (styles make the fights!) and everything I could've hoped for.

Now we just need USA USA USA to advance... but that's tomorrow.
Well, now it is today. But still, no more on that.

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World Cup Volume 7

Sat Jun 21-Sun Jun 22

An Irregular Series


First look I've gotten at the Russians.  They look hard-working and fit.  Not sure that BEL will give them much of a chance with the ball over the game, as up to this point at the beginning of the game, BEL has dominated possession and while RUS has gotten one counterattack, they flubbed it horribly.

BEL seems content to rely on their long, largely veritical passing game.  Not vertical only going forward, but vertical going in both directions.  Counter this to the persistent swing 'round hte back that many teams do in the defensive half.

nice shot leading to a RUS corner... which nearly turns into a valid BEL counter... isntead, the ball goes OB on the RUS tackle.

WEll-developed BEL attack foiled at about  8 yards out by a solid mark iinterrupting the pass to Lukaku.

What a great last name "Lukaku" is.

Some nice combinmation play down the right side for RUS now leads to a RUS corner.  This has the feeling of a game which will see its first goal come on a messy corner or cross of some kind and then the tenor will change.  If BEL scores first, it might well be over.  if RU scores first, it might well make it more interesting.

OH!  and a perfect RU cross hits the forward in the head and doesn't get on goal!  That coulda been exactly the play!
The second half has seen RUS using more aggressive overlapping runs on both sides and generating a few good looks at the goal, but no results.  The BEL side has been using energy, but it is unclear what the purpose has been.  Certainly both these teams will be happy to take the point and walk, but it doesn't seem that either is attempting to simply tamp down the opponent witout attacking.

Now!  Ahandball just outside the RUS penalty box!  BEL will get a free kick!

I've come to terms with the RUS jersey... but am reasonably certain that they just look way better up close than at distance.

NICE SHOT ON THE FREE KICK... But no!  The post!

And BEL attacks again only to be a step or two off!

BEL seem committed to attack for this stretch of game.  Not sure that it wil yield any goal, but it is high-pressure attacking right now with about 6 minites left.

Now Hazard is getting a shot off, which results in a BEL corner.  Now BEL offsides might end the attacking for a while with RUS in control of the ball.

And Origi... to HAZARD... BACK TO ORIGI FOR THE GOAL!!!  87minutes gone!!

Soccer, everybody!  Soccer!
ALG is playing really very hard against KOR.  Attacking hard when KOR has the ball, and going forward without rushing when they possess it.
Woah.  I was  obviously up late last night.  I woke back up this afternoon still in the first half and it was ALG 3, KOR 0.

Didn't even realize what was happening there.

Caught the majority of the second half, and KOR showed a lot of grit and skill., but ALG plus their insurance goal proved to be too much.

On to USA v POR.
Off to USA v POR.
So that USA game was crazy crazy crazy.  It was awesome, andd it was terrible adn it was awesome all over again.  until it was awful all over again. IT was a ton of this that the other and then more of all.

USA looked to control the field for most of the encounter, but did not prevent from one-legged Ronaldo from being a force.

While there are a thousand things so say negatively about that last goal, there isn't much that truly matters.  That's soccer, eh?

On to 4 days of 2 games at a time twice per day.
I think I'll make it until the break on Friday. I think.

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World Cup Volume 6

Fri Jun 20 to Sat Jun 21 (morning)

An Irregular Series

And Benzema scores just after the clock runs out!  After missing a PK?  French Firepower.
Of course HON scores on a quick break long strike.  Nice backspin on that one.

And ECU scores the revenge goal!


Now we're at the point whre both teams are still attacking into the 40th minute in the frst half.  This is a sign of optimism.

And exactly what seems to be the general overall theme in world soccer at this year's World Cup.

Perhaps this only means that the elimination rounds will be more cynical, but then again, if everyone actually feels like they can win, then there will imply be more scoring.

Compare this with soccer in which there is one clearly dominant team and a handful of also-rans.

I appreciate the simplicity of the HON jerseys, but the ECU jerseys are a l(i/o)vely color combination.  how could you not love those?

And ECU ahead on a finish of a cross!  ECU 2, HON 1.
Today, Saturday, any WorlCupping will likely be done on the radio or via some other audio source.   The thing is that, once again, I will be watching the MLU.  This is not a bad thing, per se, but that I enjoy both World Cup Soccer and Major League Ultimate is not wholly surprising, one would imagine.  Both are full-size field sports.  Soccer even larger than football and frisbee.  Each are predicated on the ability of players to quickly and aggressively move into space from a previously defended place.  New angle and innovative notions are the calls of the day.  They reward both quick creative and slow deliberate players and styles.  The field can be a wide open space or it can be constricted either by style or by skill.

I imagine this is true for other sports too.  Yes certainly for basketball, but in a ver small tight contained space that has very little to do with the wide open spaces that are out there.  The space of a basketball court requires you to create space with excellence to come up with something out of nothing.  Coaches in basketball constantly talk of spaacing and court balance because there is so little real estate for the five giant men at peak physical condition.  In soccer and MLU play, there is so much space that it is a matter of how you choose to use it or whether you choose to use all of it or not.  There are advantages to each.  By using a small amount of space with all of your players ready to provide some sort of assistance immediately, you both give yourself more option and give the defense more options.  If you space out and place players all over the field, the defense is forced to choose one thing or the other as opposed to being able to disguise it or ad hoc it.

So too in Soccer.  If you press your forward up, there will be space for a counter.  If you don't press anyone up, there will be difficulty scoring  unless you have a godlike player a la Ronaldo, Messi, Luis Suarez, Drogba, or a demigod or imp of some kind like Robben, RVP, WRooney, or most of Germany.

There is another style of play as well.  The "CONCACAFFY" as the Men in Blazers put it.  This is an attacking style.  A relentless team spirit that relies on everyone just going all out until they pass out.  A surprising number of the them don't pass out.  This is the limit of soccer.  This is where the US must head.

By the way, we need a fun name for this team.  There are teams called all kinds of fun things.  Super Eagles? Black Stars? Azzuri? El Tri? The Seleção? What the heck are we?  USMNT?  Maybe we need to make sure that we have a cheer that takes advantage of the varius rhythms one can say those letters in.

Anyway, that's the last one I'll put up today, methinks.  Maybe I'll get some words down here and there in between travel and MLU, but it'll probably be very little World Cup until Sunday.  Which should be quite the fun day of spectating and fandom.

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World Cup, Volume 5.

Mon Jun 16-Fri Jun 20

An Irregular Series
Ronaldo bends the defense around him. He then manipulates it do give him something he wants.

Khedira returned the gift of the goalkeeper unopened.  How rude not to finish that.

Right now POR seems to have the upper hand in attacking while GER is generating some chances, they are mostly on errors... And now a card in the box for a takedown!  GER will have the PK chance!

GER 1, POR 0.  11:50 gone.

And a deserved goal from GER on a corner they earned on a break a moment earlier.  This is gonna be tough sledding for POR who has been in-fighting (of course led in part by the always churlish supremely gifted Ronaldo.

GER 2, POR 0.  34:26 gone.

POR seems continually unable to make the crucial pass despite creating dangerous offensive situations near the goal.  Eder looks a little pphysically overmatched, but that was a nice job getting his head on that cross.

WOAH!  RED!  Yeah, you can't headbutt a guy when he's down, either faking or for real.

This could get ugly.

I do not at all like these GER jerseys.  Sometimes they're okay, but not this version.

Another goal.  GER 3, POR 0.  First half stoppage time.

Fell asleep there.  I missed a goal.  It was not for POR.

Happy that Michael Ballack is back as a commentator/analyst.  I enjoy his observations and unique phrasing.
I have no idea at all what to expect from the Iran v Nigeria (IRN v NGA) game.  No clue.

This IRN GK is really not inspiring any confidence in this spectator.

IRN generates a great chance, but the NGA GK is doing exactly that.  Nice Save.  Neither team really seems coherent yet.  Maybe nerves, maybe lack of skill... not sure.

IRN jerseys are alright.  I think the cheetah needs to be a little bit bolder.  Just a little bit.  Also, the bands around the sleeves seem inappropriately inelastic.  We're not all Lebron or Ronaldo.

Scoreless into half.
Scoreless at the end.

Neither team worked well together on the attack, but were sufficient on defense.  Meh.  I've seen better.  And worse.  This was a middling game.

Up next?  USA v GHA!
And no we get to watch the USMNT play in the World Cup!

I expect a very quick pace and much pressing from both teams.  I expect that we will see the unveiling of a relentlessly attacking US style.  Clearly we're aware that GHA has frequently gotten the USA goat.  So to speak.

BANGARANG!!  Dempsey!

USA 1, GHA 0 1:11 into the game!

Yes, they are attacking... will they continue to do so???

I hope yes.

I am undecided about the GHA jerseys.  Not sure why the band of color and pattern doesn't go all the way around the shorts.  I like the band on the socks though.  And the low, wide second-color collar.

GHA is looking very solid attacking when they get a little bit of space.  I see the danger now.  There will be a slicing ball to a fast striker or a mid-range cross to a runner.

Huh.  Altidore, I barely knew ya.

Who's Better Who's Next?

Do we see.. Yes.  Johannson.

I have no complaints.

Let's hope/bet we get more Mix Diskerud too.

Loss of Size though.  Altidore can possess under duress sometimes.

24:00 in.

Yeah, you're right announcer, that was a rough one.  But shit happens.  Beasly needed to hustle back a bit quicker.

The USA is like a 4-3-2-1 or sometimes a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-2-2 with Michael Bradley doing all of the extra tunning to change the shape so regularly.

GHA is getting more frequent shots.  TIm Howard is good, yeah.

I assume someone else has made the Michal Bradley as the Silver Surfer jokes already?  I find him strangely calming.

That's soccer, folks:  Sometimes you get kicked in the face.  Prolly just a broken nose or at least bloodied.  Are We gonna see #MASKEDEMPSEY?

34:43 gone.

Beasley, quittit.  Do better.

Oh.  I hope that "Hamstring in the heat" doesn't become the story of the USA.  Not a fun one.

That's Beasley not getting back again.

1-0 at half.

This is a very PRO USA crowd.

The GHA team gets the inevitable goal as USA has been looking tired.  Damn.  Don't know what they did wrong... not enough salt?  Put some Pickle Juice on that, son.

That was a fantastic goal by GHA!

And that was Brooks following for USA!!

This is why you always attack.

Get up duuuude, you got more minutes to play yet.

GHA is gonna press now.

2-1 final.  USA comes out atop!
The next day!

Now ALG is ahead of BEL!  1-0 on penatly at half.
That is an incredible goal from BEL's Fellaini.
71min in. 1-1 BEL v ALG.

The Red Devils are starting to push more consistently, but still are not showing full coherence as a squad.  Fellaini really seems to be adding to the complexity of the attack and #17 is pushing forward rather aggressively.  Here comes another BEL corner.  Too deep to head well.

This is the sort of experience I was expecting in this game.  A sort of slog-it-out defensive affair... but I was expecting BEL to be up 1-0 or 2-0.  That ALG penalty reallt amde a difference.  If they escape with a point it would be the sort of thing that could change the whole of the cup by way of a seemingly innocuous tie.

And BEL with another goal on a truly beautiful pass enabled by a strongly angled run in the center... and finished by Mertens.  That was awesome.!  BEL 2 , ALG 1.

Don't think that ALG has it in them to get another score here.  This whole game has been their inability to truly maintain and create on offense.  The other part of this game has been the ALG ability to play strong, coherent defense.  Individually passable, but no coherence.  BEL now, with 82 min gone, can maintain possessions rather easily against what ALG has shown thus far as a pressing offense.

And Fallaini is still creating opportunities.

BEL Wins.
Now we get to watch BRA and MEX.  The first half has been a flood of defense.  While BRA has created some very solid scoring chances, MEX has proven up to defending the BRA attack for the majority of the game.  While they have been able to push forward against BRA intermittently, they have been unable to do so for any sustained stretches of pressure, both mental and physical.

Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo are still the players who are near-impossible to take your eyes off of.  Fellaini, Bradley, Robben, RVP, Pirlo, are on the second level in this list, for varying reasons, as is Alexis Sanchez.

0-0 a bit after half.  The ref here is on the verge of losing too much authority.  The thing is that there has been a lot of (legal, allowable) contact in this game.  Think there is some truth to the notion that there could have been a few cards earlier, but I'm not sure that the game would have been improved in any way shape or form.  Restraint in World Cup refereeing is a virtue.  Long-term effects can be ruinous.

Unclear who will come away from this game with benefit at this point, but MEX wants this one pretty badly and are working very hard to not allow BRA to move confidently up the field. BRA players are not showing frustration at this point, but they are already looking more aggressively forward than they had in the first half.  This is to be expected.  If they are to win the World Cup, then they must beat teams like MEX.  But right now?  MEX is readying the counter.

What the matter at hand will grow to be is whether the BRA last line of defenders will hold up during this.  The key being that MEX has shown little to no ability to hold the ball under pressure in the front third or so of the field.  There possession in the rest of the field has been solid.

Neymar is stronger than you or the defenders on him think.  He is constantly using good-technique hand-fighting to redirect defenders and keep them off of his body.  His slender frame and near-weightless aerodynamic design (+headspoiler) combine to guarantee that he doesn't want to be rerouted as he slides between defenders.  Instead, he accelerates, pushes off and glides.  Else, all could be disastrous for him.

Some of these long range shots from MEX are verging toward danger.

The way that MEX played was based on aggression in their defensive side paired with a cautious look forward on the offensive side.  The reason the looks forward were cautious had a ton to do with the outside midfielders being unable to receive the ball while moving.  The counter would start, but then as soon as the ball was played wide to an attacking mid, the ball would be mishandled and everything would have to slow up, allowing BRA to catch up just enough.  That MEX was consistently firing off 20-25yd shots while attacking was likely their best option, knowing that they had proven unable to string together enough passes to mount a valid attack.


Man, sometimes I forget how many suits there are in DC.  Here I am out at a random bar watching the World Cup and there are not one but two company meetings or parties going on.  Split to either side of the bar, there are toasts and folks talking about what they've accomplished, all looking very relatedly dressed in each group.  That is, there is a self-similar style within each office group.  The one looks like it should be a law firm of some kind, the other seems to be a technology firm or a foreign group of some kind.  I don't know how better to describe that, but that is indeed the way it seems.


Wish I could continue watching the Cup... I'm gonna go play some league ultimate instead.  Maybe eventually I'll see Russia??
We won the league game, I think.
Don't you see?  Robben is going left!!  That was a nice play-through of the foul by Robben as that guy kicked at him.

NED is pressing AUS, but up until this point, there was no real attack.

AND CAHILL!  Volleys are so damn dangerous!  What a strike.

NED 1 AUD 1.  21:00 gone.

The classic NED defense against players turning into the box:

 "Oh, I shall mark that guy?"
   (Then raise hands in depression communicated to teammates as goal goes in.)

Seems like AUS is working very deep in their own side on purpose, in an attempt to force NED to work harder.  And NED is knowingly taking the bait.  A lot of Robben and Sneijder pressing and switching.  Shaping up for the sort of ugly game which RVP is built for.  At some point he'll sneak open for a 1 v 4 goal, right?

Nice first half from NED v AUS.  AUS seems stronger on the whole, but that is their ability to possess deep in their own territory.  NED seems more adept at pushing forward when they have the ball, though this seems mainly a function of getting the ball deep in AUS territory rather than the result of developing an attack over it the length of the field.

That is some truly bad luck for NED.  Now the AUS PK.

Buries it.

AUS 2 NED 1 53 min gone.

And Van Persie responds!  Just like that!  The counter counter-counter goal!
Terrible play by the fullback-- you gotta keep a line with your central defenders or that kind of goal happens.

Now NED is turning the ball over deep in their own territory.  A near-goal from AUS... now NED #21 with the wonderful strike from distance.  NED 3 AUS 2.  68 gone.

Cahill subs out for AUS... Now NED generating multiple chances just after the other goal.

NED does look dominant, eh?
And the way that soccer players walk out, both teams at once... this i love.  This is a chance for the fans to just scream for everyone at once.  Not sure what I think about the kids walking too.  As long as they like it?

ESP v CHI...

There is a chance that ESP lost the Cup with those shiny white warmup jackets.

Sure, announcer-guy Ian Darke... it was a free header for CHI, but that ball a sheer tonne of spin on it.  No way to clearly direct it.

CHI is attacking consistently.  This could be a GREAT game.  Contrast btw contain to attack (ESP) and attack to contain (CHI).

Awesome pro-Chile crowd here today.  I like ESP under duress.  More fun to watch.  This might be more like beseiged all evening.  Or day.  Or whatever.

Hey other announcer guy:  Everybody can look distressingly slow against Alexis Sanchez.

This is gonna be a good well-paced game.

CHI scores on a STRONG finish from VARGAS #11.  Beating keeper and defender who were both sure.  Now ESP will be stretched out in attack all game.  They are technically capable... but mentally?  Physically?  We shall see.

ESP #11 is fixin' for a fight or a card if he continues at this rate.

"Chile are working manically hard."
Fo sho sho, Mr. Announcer.

Yes, Mr. Announcer, that was in fact perfect refereeing.  Attempting to use advantage to let CHI play through and waiting... until it was clear there was no advantage.

Nice rip onto goal on the direct kick,  followed by the outside of the foot to catch the GK wrongfooted after a difficult direct kick.

The rebound.  Follow the ball liekyou follow a disc on a huck.


44 min gone.
And CRO scores first on CMR!

11 min gone.

And CRO would not stop scoring on CMR.
Now COL opens up a 2-0 lead over CIV!  COL had just scored and survived a siege on the part of CIV, who shows no sign of doubt now that Drogba has returned, no matter the score.

COL seems an odd mix of quick tempo passing and effectively disorganized play.

Most dangerous lead in the game emphasized by Gervinho.  COL 2, CIV 1.  73 min gone.

Andbutso it ends.
Wow Wayne Rooney.  That was almost a pass-through-the-generations set piece goal.  Now just another of your not-goals.

10:33 gone in ENG v URU.

I wanted that URU goal to go in.  I'm just a spectator here, a USA fan.  A feller who played soccer for a long time as a kid.  I wasn't very good.  But I still like watching it.  I see what they're doing... I know how it works.  And when I see a shot like that?  I can't help but hope it goes in no matter which team has shot the ball (non-USA-opponent, of course).

I'm waiting for USA to make a run in this World Cup.  THAT is the only thing which will spark a USA revolution in soccer.  A run on the grand stage in a World Cup which everyone is watching.  They are on their way...

Sterling is strong.

Suarez is so Suarez.  Nice header on a nice cross.  Terrible defense though... neither the defender nor the keeper applied any real pressure there and certainly they did not apply team-level pressure.

This is gonnabe a rough ride indeed.

Though Sturridge is strong too.

Out of half, still URU 1, ENG 0.  Rooney keeps adding to his not-goal total.

Sturridge down the right... to #2 who gives a fantastic cross and Rooney provides a perfect finish!  He's finaly got a World Cup not-not-goal!  URU 1-1 ENG 75 min gone!

Oh Luis Suarez.  Oh wow.

Nevermind, WRooney.

Predictably defensive, but both teams are creative in the other team's half.  Balotelli is being Balotelli and CRC, while they are taking long shots, are also passing quickly in combination.  The key to this will be which team gets just a tough more space on one of these counters or developed attacks.  It looks like both teams are competent shots and there should be a goal or two before all it told.

Wow.  that's a not-a-good no-call.  That Costa Rican got trucked.

I like the collars on the ITA jerseys.

That's an incredible cross with a perfect header off the crossbar into the goal.

CRC 1 - ITA 0.  45min gone, 2min stoppage time to go.

Those dang substitutes gettin into it in the tunnel.
Pretty certain that ITA is more likely to generate a scoring chance when CRC has the ball than when ITA has the ball.

Nice save 20 yards outta the box, Buffon!

I do not like the CRC jerseys.

The closeup of the neck area of the ITA jerseys make me like them even more.

And CRC qualifies for the elimination round!  ENG out!
ITA v URU is gonna be a BEAST.
That header from FRA seems like it should have been saved by the SUI GK.  Maybe I'm too used to MEX and USA GKs saving e'rything.

AND NOW ANOTHER QUICK GOAL!  FRA has immediately erected the most dangerous lead in the game!  FRA 2, SUI 0.  18 min gone!

Every crest with a single star is made to feel lonely by the BRA shirts.

An incredible break, cross counter from FRA!!!  FRA 3 SUI 0! 40min gone.

Ton of space for all involved.  Counter Counter Counter.

That SUI defender on the third goal needed to "do his work early".  He did not.

Pretty sure that SUI is going to lose to FRA.

This second half could be great (but I'll be watching in the background).

 (Oh and That goal by Benzema?  Incredible service.  Now 4-0 FRA over SUI.
 Border non-war, sirs.  That was the editing time.
 And just now at 72 min gone, FRA has scored again.  5-0 over SUI)

See you seeing me next time 'round the bend.

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World Cup Volume 4

Sun&Mon, June 15-16.

An Irregular Series

ECU scores by way of picture-perfect service to an unmarked man in the box who finishes with a spot-on header.

The suisse are physical. Grabbing, chasing, bumping. They are generating good hard shots just outside of the box and strong low crosses from the corners of the box. Especially from the right side.

SUI seems unable to play any quick passing, so too ECU.

SUI seems to rely on two-level passing... thiis is likely in part due to the depth of the ECU defense.  ECU seems content to counter, and seemed so from the start. Doubly so now that they have a goal in hand.

Really like the SUI red kit. The vertical flank lines are pleasingly straight and plain.
And now SUI scores! On a header by a marked man off a corner... he held his ground quite well against the ECU defender and got a very solid head on it.

More hard 20-25yd shots from SUI.

I do not appreciate the attitude problem of SUI. Lots of exaggerated falls, arms wide, palms up in the univeral sign for "whaaaaaat?" And complaining to teammates as well.

Looks like SUI got jobbed on that offsides call.  Can't be off on an opponent's play, right?

Looks like #9 from SUI didn't get the skintight shirt memo.


Argentina, thus fa, has benefitted from a ball bouncing off of a stationary defenderr into the net. BIH needed #3 to not cower on the cross and instead head it away.  He really ducked down to get under that one.

That Messi is just so quick and has very good vision.

Are the refs wearing golf shirts? Why would they have the spine-stipe for refs? The weird yellow-orange on yellow is a trip too.

I see it glanced off of a BIH defender, but that was all Messi.

Y'all gotta quit it with these fugazi whistles in the stands.

And BIH is back in it! The most dangerrous lead in the game is 2-0! 85min in, and now BIH has the lift in their step.

Yo, BIH, yyou're gonna wanna put more than 5 up against their 7 back wwhen you've got 5 or so minutes to score.

Feels like ARG has more men in attack and more men in defense. BIH just doesn't seem to be able to keep up. Or even "be" as frequently as they need to.


And now we've moved on to The Day The Death Starts.


I always really enjoy the POR jerseys.  this yeah, so far, no exceptions.  When they founded "Portugal" did they just pick the best colours for their flag as the whole basis for a country?

Cool that POR is playing at the spot that they discovered... in kind of a weird colonial way.  That's the weirdness of world sport.  Quadruply o for the World Cup.  There is all this weird y'know... histroy behind the teams that has noting at all and everything to do with the team itself.

I like when players sing or mouth the words to their national anthems.  I like when folks attendings game do that too.


This GER side really has one of the most... coherent set of players in the Cup.  The rest of the teams have more repeat-players.  Like, doubling up on identical players.

Anyway, on to the watching.

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World Cup Volume 3

Fri, June 13.

An Irregular Series
Mexico is attacking Cameroon. Not wure what CAM's answer will be yet. MEX seems to have the superior crowd support. CAM not tired but getting beat by through balls from second-level offensive players down the wings.

Eto'o is not as fast as he once was.

A great goal by MEX raken away. So far MEX is ending all of their possessions in shots. CAM is not completing passes in attack and seem confused as to what next to do. There go-to must then be a counter-attack, perhaps.

A couple of corner kicks for CAM.

Now a MEX player kicks a CAM player in the ribs. Foul. Appropriate, but overacted.

CAM generates a great scoring opportunity and shot with a hard run down the right flank with a cross onto the striker's foot. Miss by just a sidebar. Keeper was there too.

Now madness off of the corner in front of the MEX goal. Eto'o just sets up in front of the goal waiting for slop. Aging still effective strikers, man.

Wow, now a great MEX set piece... shoulda been a goal.

MEX still generating attacking runs which CAM must make tackles on. Thus far they have done so.

And now MEX scores on a set piece!

NOOO! Another flag! Let's see the replay! Oh wow... they might have gotten that right, technically, butnot... i mean... that's tight.

OH, that Forward Peralta has to get a foot on the ball there... a redirect, anything. MEX still looking superior, however, CAM has shown the ability to beat individual defenders in tight spaces.

MEX still talking to the refs in the rain. Man is it coming down out there.
MEX creates a two-step attack on that one-- setting up the body from an offsides position which will then be onsides when your teammate receives it.

"The keeper didn't know much about it but that didn't prevent him from saving it."

MEX finally breaks though the initial disappointment and scores a second-chance goal on a carom off of the CAM keeper.

And THAT is why you trail the play actively, waiting for a chance.


SPA v NED is looking as-advertised. A little less possession than ESP would like, nice incisive attacks for NED.

Wow a PK for that? Looked like he didn't make contact to me.
Perfect ball to get the pass there though.

And Spain is up 1-0.


Wow, RVP really made a fantastic header there from distance. A nice run and a passable ball through to him, but a fantastic header in what is normally no-man's land. Nice first half here.


And then the floods.


And like that, CHI has scored 2 on AUS in 13+ minutes.

They are attacking attacking attacking.
Like The Spurs on The Heat.
Like they're playing their younger brothers.

Not sure I'll need to keep watching this one afterall.

I mean, my father often said that 2-0 is the most dangerous lead in the game.. but these guys are playing for their countries, right?
I mean, that makes a lead more or less dangerous to hold?

wow that was a bad boot, AUS.

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World Cup Vol 2.

an Irregular Series.

Croatia starts aggressive.  Gets a shot on goal.

Brazil now in charge.  Charging ahead.

Croata gets a turn and charges ahead, getting a solid cross... but to no one.

Now some back and forth into a wide Brazilian free kick.

Across, a couple of BRA headers... no goal.

Modric creates a shot for another cross... tight header... woah.  Almost Croatian lead.

Another dangerous cross...

Brazil down.  0-1, 11th minute.  woah.

Both teams now agitated.  Aggressive.

Croatia has a religious goalkeeper?  Could this end up like the Stanley Cup?  Hot GK wins?

More breakdowns in the back for Brazil, and then a brilliant cross which BRA cannot finish.  This could be the World Cup recotrd breaker for BRA like 2014 MLU play was to the Boston Whitecaps.

Oh.  I assume some oh you know that whole MLU thing.  YOu may not.

Back to the footy.

Much more confidence and excellence from Brasil Now.

STill dangerous CRO attacking.  They get to the endlines, and make dangerous crosses back.  They attack as you advance up the field.


This is going to be a great World Cup.

Nice size-difference subsitution putting #20 in for HULK.

These teams are showing the sort of timidity that I expect tosee challenged by USMNT.

TERRIBLE DIVE rewarded for Brazil!

PK Time.  Neymar again?
Nice quick rythhmdance attack, NM,Jr.

GK prolly shoulda grabbed that with one of hte both hands he hit it with.

It is certainly not beyond CRO to score again before this ends though.

Nice advantage playon there... nice... goal!! for CRO!

Oh.. no... i'm not sure what the call here is... ? Announcers are saying for something on the GK?  Boo.   Bad call ref.  Long-standing soccer tradition, I know... but bad call.

And a well executed goal to finish 'em from Oscar.  That's one hell of a toe poke, Oscar.

BRA 3 CRO 1.

BRA still attacking... FRED pulls up lame... They looks like they may yet pay for these 3 points with blood.

Now cramping?  these guys conna get the LEbron tratment for cramps?

CRO will probably score some goals this tourney.  They get balls into the box.  They got jobbed on that penalty.  Neymar is very sprightly yet powerful.


This show is now like 300 miles away from the game?  Ohright, BRA is a big place.



Now today I look forward to every single game.  The centerpiece is clearly
          SPA     v NET
          Spain      Netherlands
          Espana    Nederlands
          ESP     v NED
  Two nations of footballing idealists.  There are egos galore, and skill which justifies it.  But how will it shake out this time as each team will truly debut themselves after their last battle?  Quick aggressive passing and forceful recovery versus longer range-slicing passing and the holding ability and SNEIJDER AND ARJEN AND RVP (the last of whom I intensely dislike despite his ability).

  Not to be underestimated is the opener of
          Mexico v Cameroon
          MEX    v CAM
  There hould be a basic contrast of styles which is appealing in the World Cup, a well as two teams full of aspiration at this point in play.

  And we finish with the always aggressive
            Chile v Australia
           CHI   v AUS

  Australia is always a hard team to predict for me in any international sport.  They just have athletes down under and any given generation in any given sport that has a group of particularly talented and dedicated big people is dangerous.  This works in American Sport as well.  The issues for each preventing soccer from dominating are country-based football variants, other professional field sports leagues, and whatever else.
  Chile has always been  team which plays to score.  They will do whatever they need to do and do it aggressively.  This should be a telling match for both teams.

  There are no take-backs or do overs at the World Cup.

  But there IS extended "Advantage, play-on..."

  On to the soccer-watching.

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World Cup Volume 1.

Thurs, June 12.

Folks are all talking about Klinsman. 
 As they should be
 As he wants us to be.
 But most are underestimating his intelligence.
 By that I mean that he's speaking clearly from a philosophical seat of removal.
 He's not in the game and thus far, nothing in the World Cup has happened.
 The World Cup is a different world for as long as it lasts.
 Sure it contains nations, but the nations are not at war with one another until
 The World Cup begins, and then when it is over,
 The Worlds are no longer at this type of war.

 No matter which team he would be coaching at this point, Klinsman would say that it is too early to talk about chances to win the World Cup. It is not a statement about the USMNT. It is a statement about him Klimsman and his beliefs. He would not presume to speak for his team as a whole, I think. But then again, I think. Not time for this first opening display of futbol, football, soccer, &c.
 BRA vs Croatia


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"He's just this guy, you know?"