From: Riffster (nerazzurri@nowayJOSEattbi.com) 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 (nerazzurri@nowayJOSEattbi.com) 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 it. #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 (nerazzurri@nowayJOSEattbi.com) 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 (nerazzurri@nowayJOSEattbi.com) 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 (nerazzurri@nowayJOSEattbi.com) 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 each. #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 (nerazzurri@nowayJOSEattbi.com) 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 disease. #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 weeks. #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 (nerazzurri@nowayJOSEattbi.com) 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 (nerazzurri@nowayJOSEattbi.com) 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 (nerazzurri@nowayJOSEattbi.com) 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 "Pentecampeao?" #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 (nerazzurri@nowayJOSEattbi.com) 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 (nerazzurri@nowayJOSEattbi.com) 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 game. 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 (nerazzurri@nowayJOSEattbi.com) 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 WONDER WHY PLAY ISN'T VERY GOOD!?!? # 7 - Blank - I can't think of point #7 - point #6 tired me out. - Riff " Houston, we have a problem " Ster ========================================================================= From: Riffster (nerazzurri@nowayJOSEattbi.com) 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 refs. 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