I’ve watched it a few times now, both online and on the DVR. The online copies were all a bit too grainy to actually capture the detail of the move he pulled, though once you know it’s there, it’s easier to pick out. The DVR does it a ton more justice.
I’m talking about the USA U-20s’ second goal (also the winner) against Brazil on Friday, a goal that Freddy Adu didn’t score (he set it up) but which may have been the most exicting piece of skill we’ll see from a United States player this year. Say what we will about the overblown Freddy Adu hype machine, the outsized expectations, and the occasional whinging from the kid who was annointed the Chosen One at age 14 — what he did against Brazil the other night stands on its own. Never mind that he had scored three goals against Poland earlier in the week or that it was his defensive work that created the USA’s first goal against Brazil. That’s all well and good and it suggests very good things for his future as a player. I’m fixated on the trick he pulled to win the game.
Said trick: Adu receives throw-in from Zizzo just yards from the right Brazilian corner flag, drawing the attention of two Brazilian defenders, who immediately crowd him from behind. Instead of just settling the ball on the ground, Freddy pops it into the air with the bottom of his foot (a trick that’s very doable on the Field Turf) and then juggles it toward the corner flag (with defenders in tow). With a defender on each shoulder (as he’s juggling), Adu loops the ball over his own head, wiggles between the defenders, and begins running at the goal (!!!!!!). Another defender approaches; Adu slaloms to his left, finds a little bit of space and snaps off a left-footed shot. The shot is deflected to a waiting Altidore who maturely thumps it into the net.
Maybe the first goal against Poland was a better highlight (because Adu scored on that one). Maybe. But I’ve just never seen an American player pull a trick like that (the overhead flick), much less pull it TO SET UP THE MATCH-WINNER AGAINST BRAZIL.
Freddy Adu, your bandwagon is waiting. Someone get me a Sierra Mist!
Much as it pains me, I shall begrudgingly admit that the clips from Peyton Manning’s turn on SNL last night are at least mildly funny. The fake United Way ad (below) is pretty solid, if only because it included lots of bleeped Peyton Manning swearwords. Note also that said spot was filmed at the trusty ole soccer field at 23rd and Eleventh, site of many memorable F.C. Camena five-a-side tilts.
(I especially liked the tattoo joke.)
So we knew this was coming for a good long while: Becks was going to quit the Spain thing and put himself out to pasture in MLS, and specifically Los Angeles, home of the meaningless regular season game and underwear-free Britney Spears, respectively. (I can imagine Landycakes pulling him aside at the first practice to explain that “You don’t have to really try here, it’s sweet”) That wasn’t terribly shocking. The shocking part was the number they quoted on the deal: $250 million.
That’s a lot of dollars. A lot of dollars for MLS (certainly), for soccer (yup), and even for American sports (where your average backup center/ stiff in the NBA makes as much as the top strikers in Europe). Turns out that the number exists mostly for PR purposes; according to the folks at FoxSports.com (and specifically Jamie Trecker, the guy who reported that Jurgen Klinsmann would be the U.S. coach!), MLS is only on the hook for $400,000 per year, with AEG and adidas splitting the rest of the bill.
In terms of the actual footie, I think MLS is going to be surprised at how physical Becks is. MLS is not a terribly physical league, and I see Becks actually shoving some dudes around (and certainly getting tossed once or twice). That’s my prediction on January 11th.
In something of a shocker (inasmuch as there are “shockers” in the realm of imaginary soccer video games), Microsoft announced this week announced deals with both Electronic Arts and Konami that will make the XBox 360 the exclusive home of the next versions of FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer (Winning Eleven), respectively. So if you’re into video soccer, then the PS3 will not be the next-gen gaming platform for you!
Given that there really isn’t much of a convincing story around the PS3 right now (probably won’t be fully built out and stocked until late in the spring), this probably isn’t such a big deal. But I’m just psyched I’ll be able to rock the Winning Eleven on my XBox.
I look forward to seeing Camena in HD!
Xbox 360 Becomes the Home of Next-Gen Soccer [GameDaily]
As has been noted in this space many (comma many comma many) times before over the past couple weeks, we’ve become pretty obsessed with the Azzurri fans’ White Stripes chant. Essentially, they all chant the bass line of of “Seven Nation Army” in unison again and again.
I had no idea what the origin of the cheer was (this was the first time I’d heard it), so I did some sleuthing (and by “sleuthing” I mean I put “the white stripes italy soccer” in the search box). Turns out that it was something that the Italians nicked from a group of Belgian supporters a couple months ago, and which has since been adopted by the Roma fans, who in turn have shared it with the Azzurri.
See below a link to a lovely podcast explaining the whole thing, including some great audio clips (around the 1:55 mark) of what it sounds like in the stadium, as well as a clip of Totti trying to do the cheer.
Global Hit [theworld.org]
All right, finally some corporate synergy I can get behind. Take a deep breath: Yahoo!, official online partner of the FIFA Wolrd Cup, is going to use recent acquisition flickr to post fan photos throughout the World Cup. Essentially, it looks like they’ll share all the photos that have tags like FIFA2006, Germany 2006, etc., right through the main World Cup site. I mean, Flickr was going to have some fabulous photo pools from the World Cup anyway, but it’s pretty cool that they’re bringing that community right to the World Cup site.
Flickr World Cup Pool on FIFA World Cup [fifaworldcup.com]
It wouldn’t be the World Cup (or really any major domestic or international sporting event) without some imaginary sports. While I flirted with the idea of doing the traditional draft-and-spreadsheet driven player pool, I realized that actually being at the World Cup might prevent me from doing a proper job on the administrative duties. So, we’re going to outsource.
While I’ve been a happy Yahoo! fantasy customer for years, their player pool was, ahem, a bit unwieldy. That is, there’s no way I could have dealt with the level of effort it was going to require if I was sleeping on trains in Europe for a week. So we’re going to go with the slightly friendlier Fox Soccer imaginary soccer platform(s). Fox Soccer, consider this your reward for letting me enjoy so much footy on the television. Also, you had me where you let me design a little Camena uniform for my fantasy team. You know me so well!
We’re going to do both a Predictor League and a Fantasy League. That means we’re going to do one where you pick who’s going to win the games (Predictor) and one where you pick players and score points based on their performance, like a fantasy league (player pool). Links and login info below. You’ll need to sign up first, and then join a league called “FC Camena” (it’s called that for both games); use the code below as the password. Note that you’ll need to get all your picks for each set before the first game kicks off on Friday — so be sure not to lollygag!
League name: FC Camena
League name: FC Camena
Any questions or issues, mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that this league is open to all — so feel free to pass along to your friends.
The first phase of group play finished early this morning, with Groups A, B, C, and D all sending two shirts through to the Round Of 16. It was an exciting opening round — and not without some surprises. In Group A, European tradition saw Germany and Poland easily through. In Group B, Paraguay was a shock runaway winner, with England sneaking through at the expense of voteless Trinidad and Sweden (not a single ballot for either shirt!). In Group C, largely considered to be among the most competitive groups, traditional power Argentina went through along with upstart Cote D’Ivoire. As usual, the Dutch flatter to deceive and crash out of the tournament. Finally, In Group D, Angola wins the group and a last-minute push for Portugal sends them into the knockout rounds — and leaves Mexico scratching their head.
Be sure to vote on Groups E-H. The draw for the knockout rounds will be released mid-week.
Generally speaking, I’ve been serious fanboy mode in re: the Nike Joga Bonito campaign. I like the stars involved (tough to go wrong with Ronladinho, Wayne Rooney, and Thierry Henry), I like all the fun interactive online stuff (except the joga.com “soccer myspace” thing — that’s actually kind of silly), and most of all I like its values (celebrating the joy of playing fairly and with style).
Which is why I find the most recent flight of creative in support of the US MNT to be so offensive. “Join forces” and “US Soccer Attacks”? Errrr, no. I was okay with the “Don’t Tread On Me” thing — that was more about demanding respect from the rest of the soccer world. But using such blatantly militaristic signifiers when the rest of the world tends to dislike us precisely because we’ve been a bit loose with the “use of preemptive military strikes” seems almost like a bad joke. Shouldn’t the World Cup be about forgetting why we all don’t like each other for just a couple weeks and focusing on the game? Why do we gotta be bringing up the recent unpleasantness? What was wrong with Don’t Tread On Me?
Yuck. I like the Gatorade ad better.