From: Riffster (
Date: 2002-06-01
Subject: World Cup Ramblings - Part 1 

There will be a lot of match reviews, etc, during the Cup, by
people a lot more knowledgeable about soccer than me (okay,
I don't really believe that but I thought I would trot it out....) so
I am going to offer some views "from the insomniac's couch"
on the games....

#1 - The time slots of these games are murder on us here in the
USA. Now I know how the rest of the world feels when they
adjust to some event in this hemisphere. And that feeling isnt very
good. Yuk. Naps at wierd times. Headaches from those naps.
Eating dinner at 1 in the morning. Me no like.

#2 - Is there some strange beam being transmitted between ball
and goalposts/crossbars? A lot of "woodwork" is being hit. Maybe
players are trying to be too fine - always going for the far corners.
But, with the exception of Sylva, I haven't seen how the quality of
the keepers is so good that it merits such precision. And with Sylva
it could just be that he was having one of those games a keeper has
where he just happens to be where the ball is all the time. We shall
see I guess.

#3 - My Spanish is rapidly improving. It reminds me of how I
learned Italian - listening to games on RAI. My Italian vocabulary
is still much stronger in soccer terms than anything else. I must
sound like a real calcio nut when I talk to Italians - all my references
are based in soccer. But I refuse to listen to the games on ESPN
or ABC -- there just isn't the references that I expect to hear. But
I will also say that the quality of Univision still isn't up to what I
expect (and get) from RAI. Bruno Pizzul rules!

#4 - Is it me or does it seem like there have been more hard
shots during this Cup? Probably me. Could be I am assigning
too much significance to this supposedly different ball they are
using. Wonder what the players are saying about it?

#5 - I love the fact soccer has no breaks in it. It makes watching
American sports so difficult (with the exception of hockey, which
of course our Canadian cousins would disagree is American.) To
me one can really get into the flow of the game when there is so
much uninterrupted time. Understanding and appreciating this is
a key to liking soccer - it makes the so-called "lack of goals/action"
a lot more bearable. In fact it makes it enjoyable.

#6 - I wonder how bad Recoba is hurt? It already has been a
blow to this Cup to have Zidane out for one and maybe more
games. It would be another blow to see El Chino have to sit
down due to injury. Hopefully there won't be any more key in-
juries so we can see the best out there.

#7 - Okay, maybe this qualifies me for the Conspiracy Theory
school of thought, but doesn't it make you wonder what is
REALLY wrong with Roy Keane? Is it really just a squabble
with Mick or just his semi-insane behavior that causes him to
walk out on his team/country/fans? I keep getting this creeping
feeling that he is hiding something.....drugs? Steroids? Well,
maybe it is just the lack of sleep that is making me paranoid.

- Riff "Seven points - sounds about right - nap time" Ster


From: Riffster (
Date: 2002-06-02 
Subject: World Cup Rambligs - Pt. 2 

Second in an indeterminate series of musings,
observations, and collected drivel and drooling.

#1 - Lookalikes. Casillas, the keeper for Spain, looks
a little bit like Joaquin Phoenix. So does Christian Vieri,
the Italian striker, although Vieri is more like Phoenix's
evil twin brother. Ashley Cole looks a bit like comedian
Chris Rock (and unfortunately for Enger-land fans, he
also plays a bit like him too.) Mladen Rudonja, a
Slovenian striker, looks a bit like actor Bruce Willis, and
probably can act a bit better than him too. :}

#2 - PK Calls - okay, the PK controversies had to happen
sooner or later. I thought the calls for PKs for South Africa
and Spain were mistakes. Particularly the one that let South
Africa tie Paraguay in the dying minutes of the match. Also,
for Slovenia there should have been at an indirect free kick
called for the first non-call against the Balkan team. The
second looked like something Filippo Inzaghi would try --
although not as well done. Still, some refs might have awarded

#3 - Spain - still not convinced, especially by Raul, who
scored a somewhat fortunate call by nutmegging his shot
through the defenders legs. The Valeron goal was good
though - but it was strangely reminiscent of a "contropiede"
 in a catenaccio-style game. Heh. Maybe the Spanish are
taking a leaf from the Azzurri book in order to try to have
some sort of success as a national side. ;}

#4 - Fan Treatment - I have heard some negative stories
about how fans are being treated, especially non-Asians.
Is this true? Or is it media hype? Some writers are saying
that Westerners are automatically being treated as hooligans
-- I can't believe this is true (or at least I hope it isn't.) Any-
one heard from friends there? Or is actually there now and
can relate to us one way or another?

#5 - Nerves - okay, Italy plays in about 12 hours and I
am already nervous. The latest news I have read is that
Inzaghi's health situation is improving rapidly and that he
could conceivably play versus Ecuador. Hmmm....we
shall see.

#6 - Croatia - is Croatia really too old to be effective? I
have to believe that they can handle a game but limited
Mexico without too much trouble. Then again, maybe the
1998 Croatian Miracle was just that - a miracle.

#7 - Cheesecake - and I don't mean Eli's - not as many
shots of cuties in the stands as in 1998. Are we actually
witnessing political correctness in soccer (gasp)!?!? And
not one shot of Posh yawning in the stands while Becks
toiled on the pitch. Gee - what a disappointment.

- Riff " It's a miracle - a pretty short Riffster post" Ster


From: Riffster (
Date: 2002-06-03
Subject: World Cup Ramblings - Pt. 3 

Third in an episodic and semi-clairvoyant, semi-delusional
series that attempts to make sense out of nonsense, intelligence
from chaos, form out of nebulae, and fruitcake from spam.


#1 - Referees - okay, you knew it was going to happen, we
have our first really bad refereeing performances, primarily
that of Kim in the Brasil-Turkey game. Looking back on it
though, the poor guy had some tough calls to make and only
partially screwed them up. Unfortunately he screwed them
up in a hotly-contested game involving Brasil -- kind of like
being caught exposing onself at the funeral of Mother Teresa.

#2 - Fake fans - okay, this has my Conspiracy Theory
antlers glowing in paranoia - what about all those Japanese
fans dressed in kits and carrying well-lettered (dare I say
it, professional?) signs supporting a team? Are things so
bad for empty seats and lack of passion that it has to be
bought? I have to believe the promoters are going to take
a beating on this effort - not only are they not coming close
to the attendance levels of the last two WC's, but they are
having to pay to make the semi-vacant stadia look fuller
and the very reserved fans more noisy!

#3 - Lookalikes, again - Denilson is very similar in appearance
to American ex-athlete and current sports commentator
Ahmad Rashad. Cuauhtemoc Blanco - those of you old
enough will remember Bill Dana's now politically-uncorrect
Jose Jiminez character. My name, Cuauhtemoc Blanco.....
(this was huge in the sixties -- an illustration of this is
Scott Glenn's Alan Shepard character always saying
"my name Jose Jiminez" in 'The Right Stuff'.)

#4 - Aimar/Juninho/Emre - who looks more like the kid
who stole a popsicle from you when you were a kid? I
guess Emre is a third choice since his thighs approximate
tree trunks in circumference, but Juninho could be blown
over by anything more than a slight breeze and Aimar looks
like he will be Hobbit in the next installment of the Lord of
the Rings trilogy.

#5 - Ronaldo - he doesn't have 90 minutes in his legs/body
yet, but he showed some real flashes of the old phenomenon.
One particular sequence had him doing several step-overs
while juking back and forth and accelerating madly. Now
that's the old Ronaldo!

#6 - Italy - looked pretty good, then typically boring. But
regardless, it won't be easy to beat them. But they do have
to avoid a mentality that will lead to 0-0 games, which in
the knockout rounds lead to shootouts, in which anyone
can win.

#7 - Portugal - how badly will they beat the USA? Will
they really pile it on? Or will they save themselves? Or will
the USA shock them (and me) and give them a battle?

- Riff " time to go to sleep or whatever you call that business" Ster


From: Riffster (
Date: 2002-06-04
Subject: World Cup Rumblings - Pt. 4 

Part four in a sometimes-lucid peek into the stalacmites
and stalactites of emotion and form that form the glorious
cavern that we call the World Cup.

#1 Shutup - I will shutup about the "fake" fans.

#2 Wow - South Korea not only played pretty well (I also
think Poland played quite poorly), but their crowd was
very, very good. I particularly liked the banners - KOREA
TEAM FIGHTING SPIRIT - and another one (which I
may have a bit wrong but forgive me, I was overcome by
emotion and a whiff of kim chee) HIDDINK - HELP TAKE
US TO OUR DREAM. You can't argue with banners like
that and you can't argue with a crowd that didn't stop making
lots of noise from the initial whistle until the end of the match.
Excellent goal by Hwang too. He has the rest of his life to
smile about that one (and an emotional goal celebration that
reminded me of Tardelli's glorious run after his goal for the
Azzurri in the 1982 WC final.)

#3 - Yuk - The China-Costa Rica match (particularly the
first half) is among the worst World Cup matches it has
been my displeasure to watch. The first half highlights could
have been put on the head of a pin with room to spare.
Thank heavens I only taped this match -- I would not have
stayed awake had I tried to watch it live. The only thing
I remember of note was a pretty good play for the second
goal by Costa Rica. Outside of that I also note some very
nasty fouls by Costa Rica - including one in the first half
that earned a booking for the Tico who committed it, but
(in my eyes anyway) deserved a straight red. Frankly, the
entire match deserved a straight red.

#4 - Yuk #2 - The Costa Rican referee in the Japan-
Belgium game was not very good, he gave some very
silly yellow cards and generally inserted himself way too
much into the action. There were some fouls that
deserved bookings, but some cards (for example, the
one on Inamoto) were totally unnecessary. He seemed
starved for television time.

#5 - Cheesecake - Well the television directors who are at
the World must read RSS - the cheesecake content has
picked up in the last several games. Of note was one very
comely lass from Poland (I would nominate her for MOTM,
er POTM, ahem *Person* of the Match, for Poland - as
the rest of their team was pretty putrid.) Also, the Brasil
fan with strategic sombreros sewed on her halter top gets
a mention - I particularly liked the BRA-sil written on each
little sombrero! I love a woman with a sense of humor! :)

#6 - O Fernando! - Fernando Fiore, the Univision studio
anchor for the Cup was on "Cristina", the Univision talk
show. This particular one exceeded the most prurient Jerry
Springer segment easily - it featured various females in very
skimpy swimsuits engaged in "sports" like oil wrestling
(before which Fernando actually applied oil to the read end
of one of the wrestlers!), mud wrestling, whipped cream
wrestling (!!! - probably it was Cool Whip wrestling but
that brings other, even more twisted connotations into the
mix.) Also of note was that Colin Morris was disappointed
that he received notice on RSS IRC of this "classic" television
event too late to view the most "competitive" contestants.
(Just another reason to follow Vicky's advice and joing the
throng at Austnet, #wcrss and #rss! :)

#7 - Shutup Redux- if I shutup about the fake fans, will
some of youse guys please shut up about the Rivaldo
fake dive?

- Riff " yes I spelled it Rumblings on purpose" Ster


From: Riffster (
Date: 2002-06-05
Subject: World Cup Yodelings - Pt. 5 

Continued yipping, yapping, and yammering about the overwrought
but curiously delicious extravaganza that occurs every four years.

#1 Freaking Batsh*t! - one of the most stunning moments in
soccer history. And this isn't Yank marketing at work here -
it is simple fact. What an accomplishment. The entire US team
and its management should be so very proud. They beat a very
talented (although tactically silly and mentally unprepared) side
and beat them clearly. Congrats to the USA -- I never would
have predicted this -- then again there are a lot of games I can't
predict so really - this result is no big deal. ;}

#2 - Baia? Not guilty! - Vitor Baia obviously won't remember
this game with joy. But after looking at the tape I think it is quite
safe to say that NONE of the goals resulted from bad play by
him, unlike the opinions I heard expressed in the RSS chat of
the game (which was a wild session with nearly three dozen
participants, many of whom were actually not USians.) It is
obvious that the second and third goals were not his fault -- a
freak own-goal deflection and a serious marking blunder were
responsible for those. But was the first Yank score his fault?
NO. It was the fault of his defenders, primarily Fernando Couto
-- who was soundly beaten to the ball by Brian McBride. The
header was sharply hit and well-directed, forcing Baia to make
a desperation save. The fact that he collided with his own de-
fender worsened the situation so that John O'Brien had no
problems blasting in the rebound. Geez - everybody blames us
keepers (although putting myself in a class with Baia could get
my Artistic License revoked....)

#3 - Kudos - Tony Sanneh, John O'Brien, Earnie Stewart,
Eddie Pope and (gasp) Cobi Jones should all be particularly
proud - although the whole US team deserves a cheer. Sanneh
stunned me (freaking stunned me) with his marking of Figo.
Figo rarely had a free moment to make any kind of impact.
O'Brien was everywhere he was supposed to be when he was
supposed to be there. A small mistake in clearing the ball that
resulted in the first Portugal goal, but the rest of his output more
than makes up for that moment. Earnie Stewart -- US fans will
hope his injury is not serious -- simply was the guiding light to
the US first half. The Best Game of his Life -- and I never
thought he would have a moment bigger than that stunning goal
versus Colombia in 1994. Eddie Pope was majestic - battling
on despite a nasty cleating by Pauleta (who deserved a yellow
for that bit of business...) Cobi Jones came on and performed
a huge service in holding possession when Portugal desperately
was scrambling to try to get a draw.

#4 - BEASLES! Damarcus Beasley has earned some respect
around the world already this year - reports in the Italian press
praised his play after the US-Italy friendly. But today I think
that any semi-lucid observer of the game (even me) could tell
he is a genuine attacking threat with pace and moves to spare.
He kept Beto and other Portuguese defenders on their heels
every time he took off like a Sparrow missile towards the goal.

#5 - Ain't Over - ahem, two more games for the USA -- they
could still be flying home after the first three games if they don't
approach both the Korea and Poland games with seriousness.
Korea and the US know each other very well, having played
several times year against each other. Poland will be playing the
US in a desperation situation - either desperate to qualify or
just desperate for a point and some self-respect.

#6 Others? Oh yeah... - There were other games played along
with the Stunner In Suwon. Russia handled Tunisia with some
aplomb after struggling in the first half. Karpin hit the hardest
shot yet of the Cup -- and that's saying something when one
considers the other jet blasts hit with this new ball. Who is this
Sytchev kid? Some serious moves on the young man -- and I
can't help but note that his decking in the area for the PK that
led to the second Russian score was EXACTLY the same thing
that happened to Ronaldo four years ago in Turin against Juve.
(Argh - I will never forget April 26, 1998 - never....)

#7 - Fat Robbie Not Now - What a strike! WOW! The Irish
are for real in this tournament - without Roy Keane. And I
continue to marvel at Damien Duff - he is everything in a winger
that I wanted to see from Sergio Conceicao for Inter this season.
He isn't just fast, he is surprisingly strong for a small man and
maintains possession even under intense pressure. Robbie
Keane's goal was the deserved culmination of a personal and
team full-of-heart effort. Have to give him only a 8.2 on the cart -
wheel while "Santa" Klose gets a 9.4 for his flip. Still - one point

#8 - Forgot - almost - Looking at the tape again I have to say
I missed a quietly great game by Landon Donovan. Look at a
replay of the first goal and tell me that it would have happened
without the placement of Donovan in the area. No way. Also,
the mistake that Agoos made for the Portugal's second score
is magnified by the fact that he was humiliated by Beto for the
header score for the first Portugal score. Agoos did not have
a good game. Can't keep doing that Mr. Goose.

- Riff " yo de lady hoooooo" Ster


From: Riffster (
Date: 2002-06-12
Subject: World Cup Stumblings - Pt. 6 

Once again, assorted lurchings, leanings, and lambadaings listing
the lavish leapings of large football-playing types.

#1 - Lookalike - Lawrence Fishburne III - Saudi Keeper. You
read it hear first.

#2 - Ridiculous/Sublime - Watching a tape of the Nigeria-England
game would make a hummingbird catatonic (then again, how many
hummingbirds do you imagine are clustered in front of VCR's fast-
searching their little way through set pieces and diving displays?)
On the other hand, the sloppy but exciting Paraguay-Slovenia game
would make a rock do the Chattahoochie Two-Step. Who the freak
is this Jose Cuervo, eh Cuevas? Great drama in this game - mostly
thanks to the Slovenians treating defense as if it were a contagious

#3 - A bien tot, bleus - man, is there anyone who expected France
to go out in the first round without a single goal? But I will say that
whenever the French encountered Lady Luck, she took her purse
and swung it so hard into the Gallic marbles that Lemerre will have
to cover his mouth every time he gargles for at least the next two

#4 - One man, the rest minions - Argentina is out as well - they
had their chances but Sorin and Lopez squandered a handful
between them while Sweden did almost nothing and scored on a
perfectly taken free kick. Soccer is that way sometimes. But El
Piojo may have finally convinced me that he isn't even helpful as
a counterattacking striker - what does it matter if every shot you
take is not only off the outside of your foot, but off the outside
of the side of the net? What a waste! But I have to say that
Javier Zanetti was a real man in the game, always running the
flank hard, providing one sweet cross after another to the
bumbling Argie forwards. A frustrating season for one of the
classiest (on and off the pitch) players in the world.

#5 - One dive deserves another - the outrageous dive that Diouf
took to get Cameroon an undeserved penalty was pretty much
returned by Morales, who also made a huge meal out of what
was not even a brush.

#6 - Deodorant in Spanish is......not Camacho. Please, please,
please, will someone get Hector Camacho a better brand of
underarm roll-on!!! Or, as Gaborzinho suggests, don't wear light
blue shirts. (Just say "Si" to "camisa blanca" Hector!)

#7 - What!?!?! What did Tommy Smythe mean when he said
the humidity was 903 "something"???? 903 millibars? 903 drops?
903 joules? Well, at least it woke me up during a boring game!

#8 - Zzzz - I now officially pronounced myself bored with all the
silly American journalists who write large piles of drivel about
how bad and silly and boring soccer is. Do they even know for
one second how silly and boring and bad such repetitive and
stupifyingly pandering articles they themselves are creating? Gee..
I don't know what to write - ah, yeah, let's make fun of those
foreigners in short pants - that will hold me until I get a chance
to get back to the bar to swill back some more hooch.

- Riff "Jay Mohr - go scratch this you moron" Ster

P.S. What on earth was Paredes sent off for?!?!?!


From: Riffster (
Date: 2002-06-15 
Subject: World Cup Snorings - Pt. 8 

Or was it Part 9? Part 4? Maybe it is time for a new numbering
system? Dewey Decimal? Or hex? Braille?

#1 - Bandwagons - More trains going to nowhere have been caught
in this World Cup than anywhere else outside of Philadelphia. First
it was Germany, then it was Italy, then it was Spain, then it was Brasil,
and now it is England. Who is going to win? Who is on form? Who is
really the Real Thing (tm)? I have no idea - I just ask whomever is
the Real Thing to not play another match like Germany-Paraguay!

#2 - Pinto - I have to believe that he is sitting on a plane over Sverdlosk
right now wondering what the freak happened. Yeah, he is another
less-than-overwhelming striker from Portugal - a specialty I understand
on par with Fado, Port, and salt cod. But even as chippy and pointless
as his play has been until now I can't believe he actually had some sort
of organized neuron firing when he decided that Angel Sanchez was
actually Lennox Lewis in disguise. Not that he was really the one that
Lost It All (tm) for Portugal - that was done in Suwon two games ago.

#3 - Spain - In my long line of poor predictions for this WC is joined
the insistence that Spain Will Choke (tm). So far about the only thing
that has proven true is that Raul and Co. win a game against compe-
tition only slightly more arduous that the Sunday Afternoon Ladies Tea
League in Melbourne. Nevertheless, they have been winning - unlike
"big" teams like Argentina, France, and a lucky-as-a-dog-locked-in-
a-meat-van Italy.

#4 - Univision to ESPN to ABC - Also known as The Soccer Rake's
Progress. I have devolved from listening to "tubo-metalo-palo" to
"he scoowwhzzz!" to "next on ABC - the Waxahachie 400". But I
guess what I am really doing is merely the equivalent of crop-rotation
for the footy freak - change my poison and maybe I won't throw my
JVC big screen out the window. (Well, *try* to throw anyway....)

#5 - Thankful - That while Poland won its' last game, it didn't qualify.
That Croatia, while beating Italy, did not qualify. That Italy, while
qualifying, is now not regarded as a favorite. That Agoos, while hurt
and not able to continue to play, is still relatively healthy and will play
for some other team than the Fire in the MLS.

#6 - Experts - The inrush of newbies into RSS that happens during
the World Cup hasn't been too bad. Only a handful of self-important
experts and trollers. My killfile has increased in girth, but not to the
extent I expected. A couple of interesting posters has emerged - let's
see if they stick around or go back to yelling witty retorts at Sky
Sports commentators.

#7 Fatigue - No, not going to whine about the lousy hours -- this time
I am whining about how it is becoming quite obvious that far too many
players are really exhausted due to overtraining and too many games.
Often this doesn't manifest itself in sloth on the pitch during games, but
in injuries that don't seem to heal, or in inexplicable decisions (how
about Mr. Pinto? Sorenson's 'save' during the first England goal?) made
on the pitch. An interesting conversation with Mr. Mischkies (aren't
they all?) had us both wondering if anyone compiles the number of
games played in by top players (friendlies, national cups, Euro/SA
Cups, league, and internationals)?

#8 - But, Riff.... - Spain, one of the top performers (so far) in the
Cup has to have amongst the most overplayed performers (not over-
PAID - this time - but overPLAYED) in the world. So, Riff, what
about your theory of Too Many Games (tm)? Huh?

- Riff " okay, so now you know why I never go over 8 notes " Ster


From: : Riffster (
Date: 2002-06-16
Subject: World Cup Hopings - Pt. 9 

A motley collections of mopings, gropings, and low-pings ;p
about the best damn sports tournament in the history of the
freaking world!!!

#1 - Flop Flip? Did Damien Duff Dive? I don't know if it all
so conclusive that he did - reviewing the play time after time
seems to come to no conclusion, so I guess one has to cede
to the referee. But, as Ian Harte took the PK, there was no
damage done anyway. Duff was pivoting fairly hard at the
time of the attempted tackle by JuanFran (love that name)
and I really don't think it would have taken all that much con-
tact to bring him down. That being said, I don't think it was
above (or below) the feisty little Irishman to decide to hit the
turf on that play without benefit of the Spaniards foot.

#2 - Figo, Figo, Figo - Tell me it ain't so, Figo! Tell me you
didn't sidle over to that Korean defender who was closer to
your Portuguese heart than a Nike endorsement check and
suggest that both teams settle for a draw?!?! Not so much
that I am outraged at the lack of sportmanship such an act
would betray, but that it really shows a fundamental weak-
ness and insecurity. NOW that is what is so sad about the
incident. But, despite all the brouhaha over this, I doubt this
will get much attention from FIFA.

#3 - Tri/Free - I expect a very hard fought and closely
decided match between Mexico and the USA. I don't think
the US can win, but they will not go down easily. The Poland
game was a reminder that the slightest inattention will be paid
for dearly - and also (and despite my respect for Agoos as
a person I have to say this) there is no Agoos in the back line
scaring the crap out of me. Apparently the rumor mills have
Mastroeni taking Agoos' place and Regis stepping in for
Hejduk. Regis having to play scares me - but there is little
alternative to this. Mastroeni not only will have pressure from
the side but he may well have to help Regis out with the Mex-
cans right flank attackers. Argh.

#4 - Brasil - I can't see the Belgians beating the verdeamarelha
unless there is some disastrous red card/early Belgian goal
scenario. Probably Belgium will try to hold on to the ball and
force the game to be a static chess match, but sooner or later
Ronaldo or someone else is going to break to space and the
Europeans simply won't be able to maintain contact.

#5 - Woohoo! I have moved up 13th in the RSS team Yahoo
competition! While not exactly a lordly placing, it beats the
heck out of the 33rd place I was in until recently (out of 50.)

#6 - Sniff! I have plummeted to 100th in the RSS Tipping
Comp conducted by Thomas Esamie. I am even behind the
conductor himself - which is pretty bad since the Tank Engine
is not usually very good at this either. ;} The only regular
RSSer who I know I am ahead of is Shussbar - but he is
French so that doesn't count! :^D Plus, he is in last place
-- which is almost a honor. Almost.

#7 - Scores  Well I have refrained from sermonizing until
now in these notes of sermonizing but I can't hold it in any
longer - please guys, not only should one not put scores or
spoilers in headers, but you shouldn't respond to dorks who
do! I have put many of these dorks in my killfile, but you
defeat that move when you respond to them, either to chide
them or talk about a non-spoiler part of the post. Come on,
help me out here!Please? Pretty please with a dancing garota
on top? :}

- Riff "  " Ster


From: Riffster (
Date: 2002-06-17 
Subject: World Cup Stunnings - Pt. 10 

Double figured post of slack-jawed, stupified, and nearly
uncomprehending reaction to the events of the World Cup
of football as ably hosted by Japan and Korea.

#1 - HFBS - Holy Freaking Bat Shit Pt. 2 - I didn't think the
USA was going to have another moment like the win over
Portugal, but they just did. Beating arch-rival Mexico in a
match that put them into territory that no modern era American
team has even dreamed of being in, much less accomplishing!
When I saw the Mexicans bringing in old, washed-up 'stars' in
a vain attempt to catch the USA, I said to myself "how the
worm has turned....." Unbelievable.

#2 - Broooos - He has been a favorite whipping boy of many
on RSS and in the US soccer community (including by me!)
but that smirky smile he seems to permanently wear nowadays
is eminently deserved. He coached Aguirre off the field -- put-
ting in an unexpected, yet intelligently placed lineup that held
the predictable Mexican attack in check, kept his players as
fresh as possible, and yet placed just enough spark into the
attack so as to be able to puncture the Tricolor defense twice.

#3 - Ri-Ro - The Brasilians may play a somewhat labored
and halting "jogo bonito", but when the ball gets on the feet
of Rivaldo or Ronaldo, very good things happen for Felipao
and company. Rivaldo's trap and turn for the first Brasilian
goal had almost everything Svensson's attempt to beat Sene-
gal had, with the added bonus of actually going inside the
post. Ronaldo made a great run in the dying minutes of the
match to grab a great cross from Kleberson (I think!) and
power the shot past the Belgian keeper. Can you say

#4 - Controversy - Okay, so did he foul or not? When did
he foul? Did Wilmots deserve to have his fine header goal
disallowed? I frankly don't think so - but then again, all of
the replays I have seen of this were so late and from so far
away that he could knifed the entire verdeamarelha defense,
sold Junior into slavery, and become the mayor of Brussells
and I wouldn't have noticed.

#5 - Junior - Speaking of Junior - does anyone get the idea
that he is Felipao's secret bastard son? Every time there was
a celebration, Junior was there in Scolari's arms like a human
slinky. Oh well, I guess I am being sarcastic - *somebody*
has to like Big Phil. ;}

#6 - Lookalike - I can't believe I didn't spot this one earlier
- Scolari and American movie actor Gene Hackman (Under
Suspicion, Red Storm Rising, French Connection, etc.,)!!!
Different in the nose - but the eyes, hairline, and even the
'stache are almost identical.

#7 - Malo - The reaction of some of the Mexican players
nearing the end of the game. I can understand the frustration
(having gone through a somewhat frustrating season as an
Inter fan myself....) but I cannot condone the cheap and
totally uneccessary fouls that were committed, most of them
on the admittedly un-lovable Cobi Jones. Marquez richly
deserved his red and Garcia Aspe came perilously close to
one as well. Muy estupido - especially coming from veteran
players. (Not to mention a terrible dive from Luis 'Way Far
Over the Hill' Hernandez when he should have kept on
dribbling to the goal!!! What a putz!)

#8 - Kudos - To most Mexicans I know, who are as
gracious in defeat as they are always in life. I saw the
game with a Mexican friend of the family - who was nothing
but superb in the way she handled what was a shocking loss.
Also kudos to the following - Pablo Mastroeni (what a job
making Blanco's life miserable!), Landon Donovan (he isn't
promising anymore, he is arrived), Eddie Lewis, Brad
Friedel (easily the best keeper in the Cup so far!), McBride
(not just a head ball specialist anymore), and Tony Sanneh
(who was praised to the sky in the Italian press reports of
the game.)

- Riff "USA in the final eight nations....holy freaking batshit" Ster


From: Riffster (
Date: 2002-06-18 
Subject: World Cup Shockings - Pt. 11 

If this is Tuesday, then it must be time for another collection
of snorts, retorts, and aborts concerning the strangest football
tournament since like forever dude. Totally!
#1 <          > - Trying to think of something to say about Italia-
Korea without launching into a long string of profanities. Hmmm,
I can't come up with anything yet. Maybe later in the post.

#2 - Lookalike - Marco Materazzi and comedian Harlan
Williams (the cop in 'Dumb and Dumber' amongst other
things.) They both have regrettably weak chin. Although
Harlan makes me laugh my @ss off, Marco usually only
succeeds in making me cry - at least lately.

#3 - Turkey is cooking! - Okay, Japan is after all, a rather
modest side. But I still liked the way the Turks controlled
the game. Hasan Sas is a really fine attacking midfielder and
they have several other worthy players. Rustu is a very com-
petent keeper with a lot of guts. All this despite having the
millstone of Hakan Sukur up front (and I understand he is
being heavily criticized back home - gee, I am stunned!) ;}

#4 - <        > - Nope still can't think of anything without
imaging obscene and/or scatalogical acts and references.
Give me another couple of paragraphs.

#5 - Apologies - to Portugal and Luis Figo. Should have
realized that the story circulated in the Korean press was
hyperbole and hysteria, not fact. A thousand pardons, my
Lusitano friends. (although Joao Pinto is still a jerk.)

#6 - Classy Japan - they fought hard and ran like Corgis
on methampethamine. Did themselves and their country
very proud. But Ono did not have a very good game and
I am somewhat surprised it was not him but Alex who was
subbed off by Troussier. Was that a 'politically correct'
substitution by the Frenchman or just a lousy decision?

#7 PORCA MISERIA! - okay, allow one rather mild Italian
profanity as I think of Italy's continual descent into self-doubt
and fear of success. Korea wanted to win this game, and Italy
wanted not to lose. Congratulations to Korea - they fought
like the Tigers they are named for - heroic. That being said
I thought the official was wrong to send off Totti - I think
that situation called for no call. Just let play go on. But I
honestly think the ref didn't know he had just given a 2nd
yellow to Totti - which on second thought, is the way he
should be thinking! But still, there should not have been a
card - I think the referee got carried away by the crowd.
That being said, that didn't lose the game and the ref didn't
effect Italy - they themselves were big enemies along with
the indefatigable Korean players and THAT CROWD.

#8 Wow - what a Korean crowd! In 35 years of watching
soccer I have never seen a crowd that combined absolute
total isane levels of support and cheering with such *order*.
I have seen crowds (and been in them) that were as loud,
but nowhere near as controlled (which I guess could have
good and bad connotations.) But still, my cyber-hat is
doffed to the Korean fans - they were truly a 12th man
- not the ref - for Korea.

- Riff "Plain and simple - Korea deserved the win" Ster


From: Riffster (
Date: 2002-06-21 
Subject: World Cup Yappings - Pt. 12 (spoilers) 

Continual yippings, flippings, tippings (all bad) and
yowlings about the formerly whine-soaked Junefest
that is the World Cup of soccer/football/kick-a-round-
ball-in-a-square-net type of game.
#1 - Exhaustion - I don't know about you but I saw complete
exhaustion on the faces of all of the participants in the England-
Brasil game as the second half grew older. At one point even
motor mouses like Andy Mills and Roberto Carlos looked like
mozzarella in a microwave - wilting and probably smelly. ;} Not
only are players being overplayed and overtrained, they are
being played in a humid, hot afternoon in their fifth match in less
than three weeks. These are human beings people, they get tired --
no matter how wondrous an athlete they are and how big a spirit
they have built up.

#2 - Mistakes - As a testament to exhaustion, one can say
merely "final score of Brasil-England". This is not to take away
from Brasil's win (I am in fact a bit of Brasil fan in case you
don't know....:) but as I noted during the game and others have
written on the newsgroup, it was England 2, Brasil 1 in mistakes.
First it was Lucio (who looked hurt *and* exhausted almost
right from the start) who simply couldn't turn and clear a cross.
Not only could he not physically react, I don't think the lad was
very alert - some feel he could have let that ball go through and on
to a certain goal kick. Physical acuity and technical skill aren't
the first things to go with tiredness - mental skills crumble as well.

Second, the Beckham miscue that started Ronaldinho's fine rush
(and folks - pay attention - a gambeta that actually meant some-
thing other than calling attention to itself was performed by Mr.
Gaucho on this play!) seemed to me the result of tiredness and/
or exhaustion. I just don't see a fit Beckham doing that. And last,
the cross by Ronaldinho -- Seaman may be a keeper who doesn't
have to run around, but he was suffering from a bad back caused
by a nasty spill earlier plus he is (was) the oldest player left in the
Cup, and he simply brain cramped and ventured away from the
net, allowing Ronaldinho to score.

And I am not going to go into how boring the game became in
the second half -- a great disappointment -- because reliving that
dreck of a stretch of soccer is no funner the second time than
it was the first. Suffice it to say that both teams looked like
punch-drunk, over-the-hill fighters slumping into each others
arms for at least the last 15-20 minutes of the match.

#3 - Seeing Red - Again, I think a match official was too hasty
pulling out a red card - this time to Ronaldinho. Yes, technically
Ronaldinho made what was a cleats-up challenge, but he did
actually touch the ball first and I also believe that Mills made a
bit of a meal of the challenge (he seemed as spry or spryer after
the challenge than before IMHO.) Mr. Official should have
been wiser than Byron Moreno and done a bit of situational
reffing (which is not a crime according to the UN - who gives
a shit about FIFA) -- still letting Ronaldinho know not to threaten
other players with that kind of challenge, while not destroying the

Which is what that call most certainly did.

#4 - Arrival - I am not going to talk about pride (although it is
there) or about grit (although it most eminently exists), but I
am going to talk about Arrival. Because the USA has arrived --
or is at least out on the tarmac taxiing into the terminal. The
Germans had to fight tooth and nail (with a few Wagnerian
theatrics thrown in as well) to advance past the Americans. It
was not a deceiving 1-0 loss like the 1994 result with Brasil
was, this was actually a hard-fought and tight game. Germany
may not be the mean machine they have been in other WC's,
but they are hardly a weak side. Kudos to all the US players
- from a herioic Tony Sanneh (one mistake and a thousand
gutty moments), Landon Donovan (note how the Germans
*flew* back to help on him when he rushed at net), Eddie
Lewis, christ the whole team. Bravo Yanks!

Head high Americans, head high!

#5 - Keepers - The two best keepers in the Cup were on
the pitch in the USA-Germany game. Friedel and Kahn
lived up to their reputation built so far in the Cup -- Friedel
surrendering one blameless goal (I will touch on this later)
and Kahn deflecting all the insistent attempts by the USA to
put a ball past him. To those who think Friedel made an
error on the play that led to Deutschland's goal, then I say
you most likely have never been a keeper. A hard hit shot
from close in that comes even close to the body is an ex-
tremely difficult save. Only a few keepers in history can
make that kind of save - a Pagliuca, a Banks, a Zoff.....
but those are legendary keepers and those kind of players
don't come around often and also don't make saves like
Friedel would have had to make very often - that's why
they are legends! I think Kahn has played so well in this
Cup - his positioning is simply perfect, his reactions are
fantastic and his timing and guts are first-rate - but I don't
think even he could have saved that blazing header from
close in. It was a nightmare scenario - that low, streaking
cross the Germans seem to do better than anyone, headed
in with authority from close range. What should be blamed
on this play was the US surrendering too much possession
and too many spot kicks from close in at that time of the
contest, NOT Brad Friedel's keeping.

#6 - Boring - Even more boring than the second half of
the second half of the Eng-Bra game has been the whining
and trolling about the Italy Incident(s). Instead of any kind
of analysis of what may be provoking these declarations
and what are the ramifications (outside of Benny and a
few others - who attempted to discuss some kind of future
for Italian soccer and mostly were ignored...)  may be --
instead we get newbie and non-newbies saying naughty
words and racial epithets, trolling, and spamming (Tottigol
- ma dai, che sei un scemo! vattene via cretino!) and some
racist scum whom aren't even worth mentioning (and who
now rest in my killfile.)

# 7 - Cool - Jens Jeremies and Claudio Reyna showing
some real sportsmanship at the end of a very hard-fought
match instead of the pouty exits and clownish celebrations
of some other players and teams. These two players went
at it tooth and nail (and more in fact) during the game, and
had their clashes, but put it aside afterwards in what looked
to be a moment of genuine respect and almost affection.
That is what FIFA Fair Play is all about -- I wish we would
see this after every hotly contested match. Some countries
and their fans should take note of this -- in fact, all countries
should (and US and Germans should remember it for the
next time when us Yanks beat you Germans! ;)

#8 - A Bow - to the Germans - they don't give up, they
don't panic, they don't play soccer (oops - did I say that
- Riff slaps himself) Just kidding!  :}  That was for Sven!

But really, congratulations to Germany - it wasn't pretty
but it showed Germany is a resourceful side that has
enough talent to get by when it isn't very intelligent, and
enough intelligence to get by when it isn't very talented.

- Riff " now can they do it in the semis? Viel glueck!" Ster


From: Riffster (
Date: 2002-06-27 
Subject: World Cup Stampings - Pt. 10023 

The next-to-last lurching, swaying, swooning, almost
falling to the mat affirmation of the presence of various
short pants types running about on big lawns in front of
people who chant Italian arias.

#1 - Peggy Lee - Okay, so I am old - no bulletin that one.
But to me the phelgmatic, seen-it-all air of the Peggy Lee
song "Is That All There Is?" suits this World Cup very well.
Never mind the upsets, where has the soccer gone? I don't
care who shows me good soccer, just show me good soccer.
The game is out of control - has been for years - and too
much soccer is ruining the quality of play. Players are simply
exhausted coming into the Cup - at least most of them are.
(P.S. - how many people have figured out that one of the
reasons the USA did so well is because their players are not
as overplayed?)

#2 - Oliver Stone - I am starting to get as tired of the people
who are tired of the conspiracy threads as I am of the types
who think a plot is behind everything that happens at the WC.
But, I just have to add some more grapes to my whine about
whining! (pleeeeeaazzz!?!?)

Sometimes people just make mistakes - not because they are
from Maldives instead of Belgium, or Borneo instead of Monaco.
If there is a conspiracy, it is by FIFA to make all officials look
stupid - by first giving them directives that make the game even
harder to officiate, then by then making comments to the press
that criticize the referees for making those directives actual
reality. Sepp, the Whine-O-Meter (tm) is on fire and smoking
in Geneva, please send over those nice lads in the fireman suits
and put the blaze out!

#3 - Kudos - To the Koreans and Japanese for having had some
wondrous stadiums and very well run games with very pleasant
hospitality and efficient organization. Well done!

(Which is more than I can say for FIFA's ticketing system!)

#4 - Tired - Why so little press about how these games have
been diminished by the overplaying and overtraining of players?
I have seen just a handful of journalists write about this - I would
call it a conspiracy but I know the sports media too well to believe
that they might be able to organize themselves into a group that
blocks news. They just don't get it - or if they do, they don't think
that it will help sell papers, etc., 

#5 - Ronaldo - He has six goals and probably will win the Golden
Boot and has been the Real Thing (tm) for just a game or two.
The Ronaldo I saw picking up speed while issuing gambetas like
a customs agent stamps passports in the first Turkey game, has turned
into a trotting hopeful waiting for the handful of times he can issue
up enough courage to withstand the pain of sprinting in the second
game versus the game Turks. Is this the Ronaldo that will come back
to Inter - one who will be nursed from week to week on gimpy legs
and wierd haircuts? Still a player who is brilliant - no other Brasilian
and I mean NO other Brasilian - can match his finishing *and* his
passing abilities. A brace of simply genius-level passes to Edilson
were wasted with the briefest of mentions by anyone else. Not even
Rivaldo makes those passes folks.

#6 - Recipe - Take hundred of exhausted humans, subject them to
intense public scrutiny, make them train already aching bodies
still further, bus them to humid and hot locales, make them compete
in vicious matches with those aching bodies yet more, bus them to
other hot and humid locales amidst intense pressure from home
and abroad, train yet again with bodies the consistency of Jell-o
on a Death Valley summer's day, trot them in front of hundreds
of microphones with hundreds of morons asking them the same
questions hundreds of times, play them in yet more insanely pressure-
packed contests in very pretty giant outdoor saunas and YOU

# 7 - Blank - I can't think of point #7 - point #6 tired me out.

- Riff " Houston, we have a problem " Ster


From: Riffster (
Date: 2002-06-30 
Subject: World Cup Woofings - Ruff's Wrap 

It was a stunning World Cup, with more surprises than a
diarrhetic dachshund on a merry-go-round. The mad
canine journalist Ruffster examines what went wrong (and
a couple of things that went right, and left, upside down,
etc.,) He also hunts for that doggie treat I gave him yesterday
during the final (so he would go away and stop dropping the
walking leash in front of me) and with which he then promptly
attempted to show me how well he had learned clearing kicks.

Group A - Ruffs picks to advance were -------France and
Denmark. Based on cuisine of course.
Riffs comment: My dog has a stomach, it has no brain.
Ruffs comment: My owner has a stomach, it has no brain.

Group B - Ruffs picks were Spain and Paraguay ---- holy
Paella Valenciana Batman, he got it right! So did Riff!

Riffs comment: You lead Ruff to water and occasionally he
will actually take a drink. And your shoe if you're not careful.
Ruffs comment: This is more like the form I expected from
my picks - too bad that big Paraguayan keeper appears to
have eaten most of the training table. By the way, your shoes
have nothing to fear from me -- last time I chewed on one of
them I couldn't bark for two days!

Group C - The Group of Food Death - Ruff flipped a bone
to pick the two who went through and came up with.......
Costa Rica and China. (Now you know who not to use as
your life line......)

Riffs comment: Well, this IS a dog we're talking to!
Ruffs comment: Obviously a conspiracy by the Great Chefs
of Europe, or somewhere, to throw me off track!

Group D - Ruff picked Portugal and Poland - a big fat zippo,
blank, nada, nicht, ningun cosa, niente for the Ruff-puppy.

Riffs comment: Well, to be honest this is what I picked too.
Ruffs comment: Nice to see honesty infiltrating you occasionally,
now shutup and give me another doggie treat.

Group E - Germany and Cameroon were picked to go through
by El Maximum Ruffmeister. Well, one out of two ain't bad!

Riffs comment: I picked Germany and Ireland to go through -
another proof that I am indeed "In Charge Around Here."
Ruffs comment: Every now and then a blind squirrel finds a
nut. In your case, a blind and dumb squirrel.

Group F - Ruff picks Argentina and Sweden - another one of
two for both Riff and Ruff.

Riffs comment: How was I supposed to know Bielsa was
even sillier than Trap?
Ruffs comment: You were as wrong as I was -- which is quite
good for you actually. Keep it up and I may let you walk me
one of these days.

Group G - Italy and Mexico go through - which is what both
Riff and Ruff picked.

Riffs comment: well, we had the right teams, but wrong order.
Ruffs comment: And FIFA had the right venues, but the wrong

Group H - Riff picked Belgium and Russia, Riff picked Belgium
and Tunisia (because he liked the sound of "cous-cous" - it
reminded him of the sound a cute Corgi made at him once...)

Riffs comment: Sooner or later the human species will prevail.
Ruffs comment: Over what? Algae?

The picks for the second round and beyond are where both
Riff and Ruff were almost completely shut out. Only one correct
round of 16 matchup was picked by Ruff - and that was the
incredibly boring Germany-Paraguay match (in which both Riff
and Ruff actually picked the correct winner.)

After that - zippo, which is why Riff finished approximately
3,122nd in the RSS Tipping comp (pretty incredible when
you consider there were not more than 120 or so competitors
entered!) Something must have gone wrong with Riff when
he picked the Yahoo RSS team comp - he finished 16th of
50 after menacing the top ten for several games - but then
that could have been the proverbial lucky nut for Riff.

Riff now has to return to work and Ruff will return to whatever
he has decided is worthy of being chewed into barely recogni-
zable chunks of doggie spit and paper wadding.

- Riff " Congratulations Ladies and Gentlemen - you have
survived the invasion of the World Cup newbies " Ster