With the FIFA Club World Cup and the NCAA Championships done and dusted and half of Europe taking a winter siesta, things look to have really wound down for 2007. Speaking specifically about the U.S., a look at Fox Soccer Channel’s 15-day domestic forecast says it all: the only thing more pointless than an international club friendly is a days-old, tape-delayed international club friendly…that it stars the Major League Soccer (MLS) dog-n-pony show only makes it that much worse.
Given that, I’ll be going into a winter break of my own till the New Year, but won’t start that till the end of this week. I’ve got Christmas BS throughout, in any case, and will thus be too busy with food, euchre, presents, running my kids around, and having drunkenly aimless, yet unbelievably passionate arguments about everything under the sun to get to much for posting.
But there’s always today and the rest of the week – and, as Steve Goff points out on Soccer Insider, today is positively stuffed with activities. The time being what it is, I’ll get to those tomorrow…it’s not like the story is going to change on me. So, on with the show, this is it….literally…
– On ESPN’s site, Steve Davis posted the quintessential hubris-checker regarding the United States’ road through World Cup qualifying; those wanting a clearer explanation of what the hell he’s talking about can get that through My Soccer Blog’s road map for the first part of the journey. The latter is useful for Davis’ column, but by no means necessary. Speaking for myself, I’m most worried about the one I’m assuming worries everyone else least: the play-in home-and home versus either Dominica or Barbados. Yes, either team is miles below us, both in the FIFA Con-jo…er, World Rankings, and quality of play, but it’s the lower margin of error that brings the anxiety, not to mention the potential for MASSIVE, unbearable humiliation. The thing is, if the U.S. finds themselves in a funk, or if Barbados (to pick one at random) somehow steals a goal and plays killer, athletic defense…well, that’s it. Unlike in the round-robin stages, both games against whichever Caribbean minnow we face matter, at least so long as we don’t carry a butt-stomping lead into the second leg; anything less than a 3-0 lead going into the second leg and I’ll be more nervous than I ought to be given the opposition. This is the point of Davis’ column: weirder things have happened in World Cup qualifying. So, stay frosty, people.
– Duly noted: AC Milan won the FIFA Club World Cup. An incredible third straight fuck up while setting VCR meant I only caught the game’s first 55 minutes (this time ’round it was failing to rewind the tape and recording at too low a speed). For what it’s worth, I thought Boca Juniors looked the better team during that time, but it was close and the score by no means unjustified. Still, it ended how it ended; I’m mainly pissed I missed the late goals.
– And, of course, Wake Forest won the NCAA Championship. I didn’t see a minute of this one, but the write-ups for ESPN and The Fullback Files lead me to believe I missed something special. Am I happy? Can’t say for sure. What I do know is that some mascots are better than others. I’m just saying that when things come to blows, I’d rather have a demon deacon in my corner than a buckeye.
– Speaking of the The Fullback Files, he produced a pretty smart 2008 wishlist for DC United.
– Speaking of DC United, Yahoo! News’ Martin Rogers clocks the aborted arrival of Juan Sebastian Veron and, based on his record in the EPL, doubts whether the famous Argentine would have worked out. Chastened by my similar and generally incorrect predictions regarding one Cuauhtemoc Blanco, I’m not willing to go so far. Sure, Veron might have been in the fast lane to Albatross City; then again, he might not have…
– Goal.com’s Kyle McCarthy on which players should get a little something extra in salary for 2008, y’know, for the effort.
-Finally, on Sideline Views Andrea Canales posted a good piece on the differences in style and technique between Bruce Arena and his successor, Bob Bradley. It’ll make you smarter, trust me.