“UNDERRATED: Tequila shots for every goal.”
That came from a clever over/under feature from Goal.com and my only response to that is, “Sir, yes sir! What brand, sir?!”
The same piece included the following, which I appreciate:
“OVERRATED: Refusing to call this game a ‘friendly.'”
Tee, hee, hee…
Now, I know I’ve spent the past week doing my level, if unconscious, best to deflate the hype on tonight’s U.S. Mexico game (see: LINK, LINK, and LINK). Happily, the hype machine carried on over all that. In my defense, however, I’m not totally obtuse. I mean, I understand why U.S. soccer fans – simple partisanship/nationalism aside – get up for games against Mexico. And this was framed very nicely by that cat, Landon Donovan (at the bottom of the WaPo’s preview:
“‘At the end of the day, it doesn’t account for anything — we know that,’ Donovan added. ‘There are psychological advantages, there are mental advantages, there are confidence advantages when we play them for real. If we beat them again, we keep pushing them down, keeping them down, and that is big for us.'”
What Donovan’s describing goes double where defending the home turf is concerned. The thing is, we don’t need to beat Mexico at all to qualify for the World Cup – so long as we beat everyone else at least. But the more often Los Tri-Colores step on a U.S. field choked with panic, the likelier we are to come out of CONCACAF’s qualifying tournament at the top of the heap. That, in turn, brings us one step closer to getting seeded in the World Cup draw. And that, my friends, is the difference between playing Iran, Angola, and Portugal in the group stages of the World Cup versus the Czech Republic, Italy, and Ghana (see Groups D and E).
So, yeah, I get the psychological side…which is why I think we really need work on beating the Mexicans in Mexico. But that’s a gripe for another day…and I’ve already lived that one.
Finally, anyone requiring a little something else for their emotional mix going into tonight’s game would do well to read Goal.com’s U.S./Mexico preview. This is the only piece I have so far read that gives a clear edge to the Mexicans…nothing beats a little pre-game anxiety to get the mood just right, now does it?
As much as I liked that piece and found it educational, I have to quibble with one passage:
“However, [Pat] Noonan showed last month he was in over his head against Sweden’s B-side and would drown against the best from Mexico.”
OK, I’m a Noonan fan. Noonan didn’t light it up, but “in over his head” against Sweden overstates it a bit. His freaky glancing header set up Eddie Robinson’s goal and Noonan was also involved (I think) in setting up the second. Yeah, he was anonymous outside those moments, but give the man a little credit. No U.S. forwards really lit it up that day.
With that done, and in spite of my moaning, I’m plenty excited about tonight’s game. Since I’ll be away from all respectable media tomorrow, I’ll have to post whatever thoughts I can (or am able…[hiccup!]) tonight. Obviously, this means I’ll miss the release of the regular season schedule…and I’m OK with that.
Eh, on the off-chance more people read this post than any of today’s other offerings, I figure I should chuck this great Sarah Silverman bit on the end here…no spoilers.