World Cup – Day 2 and Classes for Curses

13 06 2010

The day started with South Korea’s 2-0 victory over Greece. Lee Jung Soo scored in the seventh minute and Greece was never able to get past it. At the 52nd minute, Park Ji Sung cemented South Korea’s lead with another goal. Since the first goal set the trend for the whole game, it’s my photo moment of the match.
The second match of the day was between a name that comes up often when a casual fan in the US says “soccer” – Argentina – against a lesser known team – Nigeria ending in a 1-0 win for Argentina. My American brain was predicting a route, and that probably would’ve been the case if it weren’t for the efforts of one man – goal keeper Vincent Enyeama. He blocked many shots including several by the man who is arguably the best in the world – Lionel Messi. Even if the team itself doesn’t go farther than the group stage, he can leave having won that personal victory. Because of this, he is the subject of my photo moment of the match.
One more bit of news concerning Argentina. Their coach, Diego Maradona has promised to run naked through the center of Buenos Aires. I’m sure that there are some Argentina fans who would now be quite satisfied with second place.
The final match of the day was the one I’d heard the most about. It was the USA going up against England. Depending on who you listened to prior to the game the US was either completely and totally useless as should just fly home to save themselves from embarrassment or they had magically been possessed by the spirit of the Soccer Gods and were going to absolutely flatten any team they played. The truth was, unsurprisingly, somewhere in between – a 1-1 draw. There was a very early goal by England and many thought the US was done for since, historically, if the US gives up an early goal, they can’t catch up. The thing is, soccer rarely goes by history or numbers. The Soccer Gods always have their say and yesterday they smiled down upon the US in the form of a straight forward kick and an abysmally botched attempt at a save. Yes, the photo moment of the match is Robert Green’s epic fail.

Oh, the pain… if you an England fan.
Tim Howard also played a big part in the US hanging on. Early on there was a fear that he might not be able to continue after a save resulted in his colliding with the England striker and taking a foot to the chest. A whack to the solar-plexus is very painful and it knocked the wind out of him, but after a few minutes he’d shaken it off and the game continued. He gave a great performance leading the commentators to call the match “A Tale of Two Goalkeepers”.
One interesting fact. In preparation for this match, the Brazilian referees took courses in… curse words. I understand why especially given Wayne Rooney’s much talked about penchant for colorful language, but I still think it’s funny. I just keep remembering my time in language classes over the years and the image of a class in Modern English Obscenities is hysterical. One question, where’s my application to teach this course? I’m more than qualified.

And now the fan homage.


South Korea


Greece


Argentina. I really hope the guy in front has something on.


Nigeria


England. Is anyone else thinking Monty Python?


USA. There is a special feeling one gets when hearing their national anthem sung rather drunkenly by thousands of strangely dresses supporters of their nation and knowing that there might be a snowball’s chance in hell that their team won’t lose this one.


I haven’t found any pictures of Joe Biden at the game, so I don’t know whether or not he made a good Fan-in-Chief. This meeting with FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

The Slovenia-Algeria game just wrapped up about a half hour ago. The score was 1-0. Serbia and Ghana are due to play in a half hour. Germany plays Australia at 2:30 pm.

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Joe Biden – World Cup Fan-in-Chief

12 06 2010


South Africa tied Mexico this morning 1-1. The first goal of 2010 World Cup, the first World Cup in Africa, was scored for the home team by Siphiwe Tshabalala and I think it’s safe to say that the whole country saw it and reveled in it. If you went my the books, Mexico should have trounced South Africa, but soccer rarely works that way. It was not, however, for lack of trying and a hat should be tipped to South African goal keeper Itumeleng Khune.
Yes, I know that Mexico made a goal too, but the South African goal was less expected, more hoped for, and made a nation go nuts, so that is why it’s my choice for photo moment of the match.

France and Uruguay played a much duller game which ended tied as well. The final score was 0-0. The game picked up at the very end, but it was the French game that was so disappointing. Somebody needs to remind a few of their stars that there’s no “I” in “team”. That was the inspiration for my choice of photo moment of the match. Thierry Henry, France’s superstar, having his free kick blocked my a wall of Uruguayan defenders. That’s pretty much that match in microcosm – France would get the ball down the field and be held back by Uruguay’s defensive line. The only other incident of note is that this game brought the World Cup’s first red card. This distinction goes to Uruguay’s Nicolas Lodeiro after, wait for it, 18 minutes of play. He came on as a substitute at minute 63 and got his first red card two minutes later. Sixteen minutes after that he was off for a bad tackle. The drama was the most interesting part of this game. By the way, I’ve posted links to match summaries because I could go on forever. Once again, the soccer photos are from daylife.com.

Joe Biden will be at the US vs. England game representing us – the soccer fans, I mean – and I am so glad about the. Who else in this administration could be an effective fan-in-chief? The president is too reserved and doesn’t get too emotionally charged. I like that in a world leader, but it makes for an awful soccer fan. Soccer fans are a rather intense bunch, and I want the government official representing me to get into the game a little. They don’t have to get fully costumed like the dedicated individuals we’ve become so used to seeing, but jumping to one’s feet and cheering like a frat boy on pledge week would be nice. I don’t see that coming from Obama – at least not in public. The president is not the worst choice for a fan-in-chief though. Hillary Clinton is probably the worst choice for the job. At least the president has a certain “coolness” factor that could work at a sporting event. Hillary Clinton is many things, but she is not cool. Not even a little bit. The Secretary of State goes well beyond just being reserved, she’s never relaxed in public. There never are light moments with her that the public is privy to, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – she’s more than entitled to her privacy – but she’s too sever a personality to be fan-in-chief. Can you see her in the stands? Cheering. Not being at all serious or concerned with her work. The mental image is laughable! I can’t imagine her looking anything but miserable and that is not the look I want to represent my soccer fandom. Besides, pantsuits aren’t exactly proper fan attire. She’d look ridiculous and would you want her singing the national anthem?

That just looks painful!
I have confidence in Vice President Biden’s ability to behave like a fan at today’s game against England. He needs to get himself a USA scarf and cheer and jump around like the rest of us will if the US manages to score against England.

I’ll have more soccer info later today. South Korea is playing Greece now and has just scored at about the seventh minute making it 1-0. Argentina will play Nigeria at 10:00 am and then it’s the USA vs. England. Pre-game stuff starts at 2 pm. I’ll leave you with a look at what is usually referred to as a soccer team’s 12th man – the fans.


South Africa fans.


Desmond Tutu celebrates the South African goal. Behind him is Mexican president Felipe Calderon.


Mexico fans.


An Uruguay fan who is or knows someone who’s really good with face paint.


Fans of France. Love the ‘staches!

This is the strangest fan I’ve seen yet.

Yes, it’s a rooster and yes, I am holding back about a half-dozen jokes. I’ won’t type them out because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. In case you were wondering…


yes, they were in the stands for the game. I love the expression on the face of the guy in red. I think he sees the comic potential of this situation as well and just doesn’t want to be involved.