Sunday, June 27, 2010

Where in the World is Arizona

Recently Peggy West, the county supervisor from Milwaukee, WI came under fire because she opened her mouth suggesting that Arizona had no right to enforce immigration law due to it's proximity to Mexico.

My first thought was how can a county supervisor not know where Arizona and Mexico are. But a little bit of research makes you wonder if perhaps Ms. West knows exactly where Arizona and Mexico are and her successful attempt at playing stupid were really just a smoke screen for a larger political agenda?

No Comment

So far we've had four games in the elimination round and two huge missed calls. One taking away a goal that was and another giving a goal that wasn't. In the first, the referee was in the "right spot" and had no angle on the ball crossing the line. In the second, the referee was out of position and the speed of play was so quick that there was no recovering.

Good luck if you're looking for commentary from FIFA on why in football's marquis tournament they won't take steps to make sure the players -- not the referees -- are determining the outcomes.

2010 World Cup Player Comments

Looking at the 2010 Roster, we had a solid keeper and a strong midfield. Our Defense and Forwards were more of picking the best of what you've got as opposed to having a large group of standout players and having to make cuts. There is definitely room for improvement and growth.

1 Tim HOWARD -- Solid keeper play that too often got hung out to dry by his defenders. This said, you need more than solid keeper play in the World Cup. Brad Friedel was a huge part of our success in 2002. Much more so than Tim Howard in 2010.

3 Carlos BOCANEGRA -- In my mind Carlos was one of the weak links in the defensive line. He was taken to school in the game vs England and appeared to quit on the second goal vs Ghana.

4 Michael BRADLEY -- Solid midfield play and contributor.

5 Oguchi ONYEWU -- May be a great player when fit but wasn't ready to play in the cup for 2010.

6 Steve CHERUNDOLO -- I liked his ability to get forward and contribute to the offense.

7 DaMarcus BEASLEY -- limited appearance vs. Algeria

8 Clint DEMPSEY -- Clint's got game and you saw him work his butt off in this year's cup run. . He should have had at least 3 more balls find the back of the net.

9 Herculez GOMEZ -- From their actual game play all of the new USA forwards -- Gomez, Altidore, Findley, and Buddle -- looked interchangeble with none of them really differentiating themselves. Herc had limited chances to play and didn't make the most of it.

10 Landon DONOVAN -- Landon did what was expected of him but you always want
more. Personally I'd like to see him play more central mid to allow him to create more.

12 Jonathan BORNSTEIN -- I know he played but nothing remarkable came to mind

13 Ricardo CLARK -- not sure why this guy started two games. Obviously the turnover v Ghana was huge.

14 Edson BUDDLE -- See Gomez

15 Jay DeMERIT -- Jay was the guy on defense for the US.

17 Jozy ALTIDORE -- Jozy showed lots of hustle / work rate up until Ghana. He's a young striker that should only get better.

19 Maurice EDU -- solid midfield play and great contributions to the team.

20 Robbie FINDLEY -- See Gomez

22 Benny FEILHABER -- Why isn't he a starter? Each time Benny came on the field the US played better and he contributed.

Looking to 2014, you never know who will still be playing and what new faces will arrive. Based on their performance for this cup, here are the folks that have set the bar going forward:
- Keeper -- Howard.
- Defense -- Demerit. Then we have lots of opennings.
- Midfield -- Donovan, Feilhaber, Edu, and Bradley are keepers. The rest of the midfield is wide open.
- Forward -- Dempsey. Then we need to see who wants it.

World Cup Thoughts

Arrrrgh. So close yet so very far away.

It was a fun run with lots of excitement and emotion but ultimately the things that added all of this flavor was our undoing. You simply can not get behind in 3 out of 4 games and expect to get a result. So much potential and opportunity simply slipped through our fingers in the process..

On the positive side, this was a much better effort than the 2006 version. Coming into 2006, we were ranked a hilarious #6 in FIFA rankings and proceeded to show just how silly this was. We were slow, we were tactically and technically weak, and we were overmatched throughout. The one thing we did show in 2006 was heart. The effort against Italy was inspirational.

For 2010, we came in ranked a realistic 14th and showed that we actually know how to play the game. We've improved the overall level of the team with better / more experienced players, our speed of play was much better, we scored goals in every game, and we showed the level of intensity we had in the 2006 game v Italy throughout the tournament.

As we look to 2014, it'll be interesting to see if we can continue to improve. On the plus side, the growth of soccer in the US is starting to take root. Our premier players are playing in top leagues around the world. We should continue to play better all around. Still, there are several areas that we have got to get better at:

Team focus. The problem with giving up early goals has been a huge problem for the US side going through the qualifying process and that it continued in the Finals was no surprise. We need to improve our mental toughness and be ready to go from the whistle.

Defensive line. One of the reasons we became the Cardiac Kids of 2010 was that our defensive line was routinely overmatched. Poor communication, missed mark-ups, and routinely being beaten one-v-one was standard fare. We've got to do better and if we expect to get out of the group play we've got to be able to defend more reliably. DeMerit came to play but the rest of the defenders were pretty much MIA and that's being kind.

Finishing. Listening to the talking heads, they felt our #1 gap was the lack of a world class striker and when you look at the opportunities missed you can see their point. The reason I'd put this need as third on my list -- but still on the list -- is that we were both getting chances and scoring goals through out the tournament. We scored in every game and had two goals taken away, so that was a big positive. But there were simply too many times where we had open nets or one-v-one situations and were unable able to find the back of the net. In the final game v Ghana, they had two different forwards go to goal and finish with power. We had none.

Looking forward to seeing the beautiful game in Brazil 2014.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

World Cup Refereeing

With all the hubbub about the USA goal that was disallowed in the USA v Slovenia game, there are has been some suggestion that this was an isolated incident and was specific to the USA game -- perhaps the ref was just out to get the USA.

But the truth is that there has just been some really bad refereeing in the World Cup. Refs that don't put themselves in the right spot to make calls, refs that don't take command of the game, and refs that make simply horrific calls.

Now to be fair, this is a tough job ... the game is played at a very fast pace, the refs can't see the instant replay in super slo mo from 3 different angles, and many of the players exadurate the actual intensity of the play.

So how about doing two things ...

First add more transparency to the process. It would be very interesting to know, if not during the game then afterwords, what exactly the ref saw / was thinking when he made a call. Now on one hand, the ref may not remember every play but when you take away a goal you should have a clear reason for what you saw and why you made the call you did ... and this should be public. This doesn't mean we're changing the call, just that there is an explanation. To often -- and at all levels of soccer -- the ref hides behind the fact that he doesn't have to explain his call and he can card you if you question his call.

Second there should be video review of cards given and players whose embellishments result in cards should be penalized by a card. To make it fair, the level of evidence would need to be very high but this would at least eliminate the player being hit in the shoulder and grabbing is face type of embellishments.

Am I Angry?

There seems to be lots of discussion by folks on the left about how angry people are who disagree with the lunatic politics / policies of the Obama administration.

If you suggest that perhaps passing a 2000 page law that none of your elected officials have read -- let alone understands -- is a bad idea, you're angry. Suggest that spending trillions of dollars we don't have on programs we don't need, yep angry. Suggest that it was the government that caused this economic crisis, very angry. Suggest that the Obama administration are generally a bunch of inept fucks, very, very angry.

Unfortunately, this is just a bunch of bullshit. I'm not angry. I'm just totally disgusted by the ideas, politics, fiscal policy, and abuse of government power that epitomizes the Democrat / Progressive / Socialist movement. I know we deserve better and I know we're not likely to see it as long as President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Reid remain in power.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Things That Annoy Me This Week

The first topic is the "oil leak" still coming hot and heaving in the Gulf. Somehow, someway, we need to get this under control. Since both BP and the US Government seem to be making it up as they go along ... and doing so poorly ... here are two thoughts:

1. Instead of looking for someone to be accountable (see as just one example, or do your own google), why doesn't President Obama take responsibility?

2. Instead of trying one thing at a time, seeing if it works, then trying something else and repeating ... how about a government task force that drives resolution along the following areas and where each area has someone in charge:
- How do we stop the pipe from leaking?
- How do we collect the oil that has not reached shore yet?
- How do we clean-up the oil that has reach shore?
- How do we assess, mitigate, and repay the impact of the oil leak on the Gulf Community?
- How do we learn from this process so we can avoid doing it again?

Once we have the task force in place, the job is not to create single threaded solutions but rather to build a frame work that brings all resources to bear to solve the problem.

The second thing that really annoyed me was Alan Grayson's comments on the Stephanie Miller Show suggesting that people who said "drill baby, drill" should be put in jail. If only we could put both Stephanie Miller and Alan Grayson in jail .....