Saturday, April 28, 2012

WM 2006--Round One

WM 2006
Greetings Syndicate Members,

Thanks to the revised format we now have a separate attachment for the one of you that feels some irrational compulsion to read my ramblings and those who wish to lay down some green. Your friendly bookie is more than effervescent about arriving at the lines.


Deutschland vs. Costa Rica


The German medical team continues to tend assiduously to “The country’s calf”. Though Ballack declares himself fit, Klinsmann has effectively quashed the idea of starting the talismanic captain in this opening match. Werder Bremen’s Tim Borowoski will instead lace up the boots and attempt to fill his gargantuan shoes.

With all the skepticism swirling around the Mannschaft, German fans should be able to settle in for what will be a cracking opening match. The honor of initiation has been returned to the hosts and even this thin squad is capable of crushing hopelessly outclassed Costa Rica. We’re in for a fantastic day of football at Munich’s brand new “Allianz Arena.” This 95,000-seat stadium’s pitch is a gorgeous natural/synthetic hybrid. Gleaming facilities, boisterous fans, deafening chants and some free flowing attractive play. I encourage everyone to call in sick to the office and savor this opening match. We’re in for a real pyrotechnic display. If there’s any country that knows how to sound an opening salvo, it’s mine. Birthday Boy Miroslav Klose treats us all to Hat Trick.

Enjoy the opening match, everyone. Let’s get this party started!

THE LINE: Deutschland +2 Goals

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Germany 4, Costa Rica 2. And did they ever…unquestionably the most memorable football game of football I’ve and many other fans across the globe have ever witnessed….and it wasn’t even in HD. Six goals and nothing even remotely resembling a dull moment. The World Championship was off to an electrifying jump-start. Who gives a shit what the actual seismological readings were? I’m convincing the entire planet was throbbing with a heightened pulse. Ibiza called the continent to complain that the rave was too noisy.

It all began with the true “Shot Heard Round the World” in the sixth minute. Under pressure, Klose played a square ball out to the left flank. Sensing his opportunity, the live wire left-back Phillip Lahm charged twenty meters off his line to collect. With incredible footwork he deked-out two Costa Rican defenders vis-à-vis a quick scissors dribble followed by a nifty little right-left-right-left shimmy that left a third defender so tangled that he tripped over his own feet. Nanoseconds after stepping inside the left corner of the 18 he shifted the ball over to his right foot and let one of the most exquisite efforts you’ll ever see fly. The arching cross-footed shot followed a parabolic path over five bodies in the box and a diving keeper before dropping directly into the right corner of the net. A more beautiful goal I’ve not yet seen. After the match ended and the company dissipated, I personally tore Youtube apart to locate calls of the opening goal in nearly two dozen languages. As I’ve already stated, copyright policing has since rendered all of those links dead. Fortunately, my memory is an absurdly strong beast that neither copious amounts of alcohol nor Blatter’s Gestapo have any chance of killing off. “Awww, WHAT AN EFFORT” exclaimed John Motson. “Jing-la, Jing-la. Shuai. Shaui. Shaui!” raved the Mandarin Chinese telecast. “O-la-la. Tres Bien, Monsieur Lahm!” bellowed the French. I could literally go on all night. My apologies to the poor families of those who were riddled with bullets during these few seconds of global comity. I remain aware that there is no such thing a world peace, even for a brief moment. Having not been born at the time of the moon landing, I can think of no other profoundly unifying seconds of worldwide history. Yes, this says something sad about myself and the generation at large. The once-in-a-lifetime sense of fellowship with the entire human race, experienced during a football match. Eh. It could have been worse.

It wasn’t before the weakness of the German back four manifested itself. Piss-poor marking an incredibly sloppy understanding of the offside trap allowed Paulo Wanchope to slip back behind everyone and easily beat Lehman one-on-one a paltry six minutes later. The hosts regained the lead five minutes after that as Bernd Schneider executed some of the most dazzling flank sweeping ever caught on camera to maintain possession and pick out a streaking Schweinsteiger. Schweine then placed a ball directly on a breaking Miroslav Klose’s foot for a clinical finish. An artistically manufactured team crisscross reanimated Pandemonium in the Fatherland. Three Goals in seventeen minutes. The guests hadn’t even arrived yet.

Lahm would not be outdone. Ten minutes after the restart Lahm cut back a perfectly threaded cross for Klose. Porras could only pary the ensuing header and Klose pounced on the rebound. 3-1 Fatherland with a half-hour to play. Wanchope slipped through once again after Centeno flew past newly substituted Sebastian Kehl. This time he was clearly offside, but in the absence of a flag it made no difference. The Ticos were back within striking distance. A piece of magic put it beyond all doubt. Schweinsteiger leisurely shoved a free kick in the direction of Torsten Frings. Frings carefully stalked it before scorching a first-time rocket from fifty yards out that swerved past Torras’s flailing fingertips. A tomahawk. A thunder-strike. A laser-beam. A fucking hammer straight out of Valhalla. I’m out of synonyms. One of the most enthralling strikes your eyes will ever feast upon.

Long live football.   

Poland vs. Ecuador


After the elation gradually subsides, we are pleased to present the “Stretch out on the Couch for an Alcohol-induced Catnap” Game. Two to one odds say I nod off during the 37th minute of this one. Three to one I make it to the second half. Five to one my interest miraculously manages to be sustained for the entire fixture. I can easily picture this now. Empty beer bottles strewn about the clubhouse. Fuck cleaning them up just yet. I think I’ll get horizontal and take in a bit of this……..zzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

It’s not as if the Polish don’t produce fine footballers. They simply happen to all play for Germany. Neither side employs a player of any note. Kaiserslautern striker Kamil Kosowski might see some action, but I’ll be in light slumber by the time he’s introduced. I’d honestly recommend firing up some Playstation FIFA or engaging in a backyard kicking session rather than allowing the biter aftertaste of this liquor to spoil your German feast.

THE LINE: Ecuador +1 Goal

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Ecuador 2, Poland 0. The Poles were a mite unlucky in this one…or so I’m told. True to form I stretched out with the tele on mute. Watching the “Teamgeist” float along the Gelsenkirchen pitch soon had me in a hypnotic trance. The land of nod beckoned fifteen minutes in. The “Teamgeist”, many will recall, was the official ball of the 2006 tournament, a beautiful specimen that was just felt marvelous to boot. Naturally, the keepers lodged their usual complaints about the ball not weighing 40 lbs and being magnetically repulsed by the posts. The first person to broach the issue of this summer’s tournament ball (A Tango 12 Redux) will find themselves the recipients of an aggressive dope slap courtesy of moi. Shut the fuck up about the ball already.

Anyway, like seventy five percent of all naps, the laws of the universe dictate that the phone has to ring 1.6 seconds after you fall into a deep and peaceful sleep. Back in the landline days this meant yanking out the phone jack and later forgetting to plug it back in. The contemporary version of this translates to throwing one’s cell-phone into a drawer and then forgetting where you put it. Other cruel truths involving sleep include that inescapable reality that you WILL ALWAYS drift off into tranquil state of inertia you’ve been seeking all night exactly two minutes before the alarm clock goes off and that no mother on the planet seems to understand that it’s to irrational to walk straight up to a dormant, snoozing body and start talking to it as if it’s awake. Girlfriends and wives are generally pretty good about letting you get your afternoon kip in. For some reason this polite courtesy never extends to the children or grandchildren. After you spent nine months gestating in their womb they evidently feel they can talk to you whenever they damn well please.    


England vs. Paraguay 


Get the coffee brewing for the debut of Mother England! No Rooney just quite yet. He and Ballack are still nursing injuries. That won’t stop me from nursing an early morning beer (nay “midwifing” an early morning beer) and tuning in to watch Michael Owen and Peter Crouch tear it up. The Albirroja have their own spectacular talent in Roque Santa Cruz. Southern Germany’s turn to shine as we head to the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt. Er…actually Southern Germany is usually the only region that gets a turn to shine for more than a few weeks. This one should be as fun as Prime Minister’s Questions, which I also get up early for. A Crouch glancer helps the Three Lions eke out a win in a tight and entertaining match.

THE LINE: England +1 Goal

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: England 1, Paraguay 0. Carlos Gamarra inadvertently headed in a Beckham set piece in the third minute…and that was about it. Nary a crossbar was struck for the duration of an obscenely boring midfield trench match. 

Trinidad and Tobago vs. Sweden


And head back to bed. Larsson, Ljunberg, Ibrahimovic, and Linderoth will all be present, but this one has all the makings of a stinker. No one knows how best to approach Trinidad & Tobago because, well, frankly no one knows anything about Trinidad & Tobago. It took me nearly a half an hour to locate some tape of the team and I might as well have been watching the Zapruder Film. The Swedes will play it cagey in the absence of their superhuman goaltender Andreas Isaakson. Backup keeper Rami Shabaan didn’t even play an international match until last week. Edmun and Lucic will close ranks in order to protect their undercapped keeper. I don’t see Lägerbeck taking any risks in this tune up fight. Ibrahimovic with an apt long-range effort and then conservative play the rest of the way.

THE LINE: Sweden +1 Goal

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Sweden 0, Trinidad & Tobago 0. The match turned out to be far from colorless, even if the scoreline would so indicate. Reduced to ten men after MLS Man Avery John was sent off on double yellows, the Soca Warriors spent the back 45 under constant bombardment. The Swedes rattled of at least a dozen shots, half or more of which severely tested T & T Keeper Shaka Hislop. He was forced to stonewall no fewer than three Ibrahimovic stingers. He also charged out bravely to meet a bumrushing Marcus Allbäck twice in the closing minutes. Shabaan flirted with some serious fuck-ups, but didn’t let in any howlers. Never heard from him again, either internationally or in club football. One wonders if he’s doing ads for “Shabaan’s Saab” outside Malmo.

The real highlights of the match were the shots of the Caribbean Cuties in the stands. Oh yes sir. They came in all flavors. Chocolate, Vanilla, Mocha, and…screw it let’s just say “Twinkie”. “Someone ought to be keeping track if these babes,” I recall thinking. Following this crucial insight I had another beer and promptly forgot about the gem for four years. 

Argentina vs. Cote d’Ivoire


Bam! I’m so jazzed about this match I’m skipping the only wedding I’ve ever been invited to in my life. If the Ivorians wish to back up the political fairytale rhetoric that accompanied their qualification, they’d best get off to an explosive start. Igniting the fire falls to the man with the coolest conch perm since James Brown: Chelsea Striker Didier Drogba. For now Kalou will serve as his partner with Dindane ready to come off the bench. French coach Henri Michel has options at his disposal. Nevertheless, an early statement is essential. Should Les Elephants fail to establish themselves within the first quarter of an hour, they only cede valuable warm up time to the juggernaut.

My soul pines for another astonishing African stunner in the mold of 2002’s Senegal electroshocker over France. Despairingly, close scrutiny of the matchups capsizes my hopes “Rainbow Warrior” style. There’s no way to make it work LL Riquelme, Cambiosso, and Maxi are too strong. They’ll command influence over the central pitch, freeing up Crespo and Saviola for more quality chances than either one can consistently botch. When those two tire out, Tevez and “the kid” are the fresh-legged reinforcements. Crespo. Mascherano, and Crespo again to outweigh a Drogba brace. 

THE LINE: Argentina +1 Goal

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Argentina 2, Cote d’Ivoire 1. Tons of fun, and I even made it to the wedding in time to scoop up the drunk and dejected bridesmaids. Drogba & Co were indeed shot out of a cannon in the opening minutes, though unpolished finishing skills prevented them from putting anything on frame or generating any real threat. A Mascherano set piece took a propitious deflection off Kolo Toure to fall directly to the boot of Herman Crespo. Minutes later Mascherano threaded one to hit a striding Saviola in the midst of a perfectly-timed run. 2-0 White and Sky Blue. Some outstanding defending from Roberto Ayala frustrated Droga and Kalou. In one instance he saved a sure goal with a desperate slide to clear a Drogba flick towards an empty get. Michel brought on three strikers in the second half for an all-out press. The two Kones and Dindane joined Drogba up front. Keita and Kolo Toure also poured forward as the Ivorians frequently sent eight men into the box. Nothing really came together until a fine overlap and triple-pass sequence concluded with a freed-up Drogba in the 82st. Hopes that a draw might be salvaged were high..but then Drogba got too hot-tempered for the referee’s taste. Once he starts getting irascible, forget it.

Serbia and Montenegro vs. Netherlands 


So we all know the most effective hangover tonic is Orange Juice…mixed with more booze. Sunday morning Mimosas over at my place in honor of the Brilliant Orange! Van Basten looks to play a 4-3-3, sitting the slumping midfielder Van der Vaart in favor of an extra striker, most likely van Persie. The Serbs (and er….one Montenegrin) are not ones to let anyone but Tito walk over them. I expect a competitive match with the Serbian (an er one Montenegrin) 4-4-2 cherry picking a few quality balls out of the midfield. As off tilt as the Dutch machine may be, the Serbs (an er…you get the idea) will be hard pressed to get anything an Edwin Van der Sar in top form. We’re off to East Germany for the first time. Practically no one in the former DDR is employed. That means everyone in Leipzig will show up! Hurrah, Hurrah. Wir sind alle da!

THE LINE: Holland +1 Goal

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Netherlands 1, Serbia and Montenegro 0. Man, did van Basten’s trio concept ever pay dividends. In the 18th it was van Nistelroy to van Persie to Robben onside and in space. Two one touch passes and a calm race to a brilliant finish. The Japanese call of this goal seems to have led the announcer’s head to go kablooey all over the booth. There exists no other reasonable explanation why there were sounds reminiscent of the combustion scene in scanners followed by a few minutes of eerie silence and eventually a new voice calling the rest of a humdrum match. This sort of thing probably goes on all the time in the world of Japanese broadcasting. “Well, Nasuo just had a seizure. Get in there Yoshi!” 

Mexico vs. Iran


Who’s up for some delicious irony? We’re bringing the holocaust deniers in for a trial they cannot possibly win…in Nuremberg no less! Bwahahahahaha. Sweet, delectable, palette-pleasing IRONY!  I lap it up. I take it home, lick it, fuck it, and cuddle with it afterwards. I…alright let’s get off this riff. There will be scores of drunken celebratory Mexicans on the streets of every major U.S. City this Sunday night. In any event, more than you might usually expect. Forty-eight hours after the Fatherland waxes Costa Rica we’ll have our second major rout.

Franco will slice up this defense like a gangbanger switchblade through an avocado. Yeah…that’s about the best I can do right now. Fiddled around a bit with Agave, Sombreros, Donkeys, Refried Beans, Mariachi Bands, Schwag Weed, Bacteria-Infested Water, and Chlamydia…not necessarily in that order. Not to worry. I’m doing fine after all of that….and ready to present my boldest line yet!

THE LINE: Mexico +3 Goals

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Mexico 3, Iran 1. Played out much as I had anticipated, although it was not Guillermo Franco who proved to be the hero. He bowed out with an undisclosed injury at the half. Little known striker Omar Bravo had a date with destiny, catapulted from obscurity when a flick on landed auspiciously on his boot in the 28th. Speedy little Mario Mendez crept up from the back later to set up his second goal, a rico-suave finish that was smoother than a freshly naired pair of legs. Apart from the Bravo Brace some Persian playing for a club in the holy city of Qom called “Saba Battery” scored. I could have sworn “Saba Battery” was the Armenian place where I take the car for a tune up. Following the goal by…let’s see if we’ve got this right….”Yahya Golmohammadi”, the entire match was placed on hold while the whole squad faced toward Mecca and went through a Shiite Prayer Ritual. Three minutes of added time before the half were classified not as “injury time”, but “prayer time”. Wonderful. Not that I wish to pick on the Muslims. It sucks equally to watch American Athletes point toward the sky as if Jesus had nothing better to do than watch a meaningless regular season Bengals-Seahawks game. The Mexican attack would have made Pancho Villa proud. Sinha added a third to top off a thrilling second half during which the fiery beaners could have scored three more.

Angola vs. Portugal


We wrap up the day in Köln, a not-at-all unspectacular city end your day in. Read through it again and you’ll get it. If anyone’s still with me following the primer......well.....firstoff congratulations. You must have no life. More importantly, you may recall that the Navigators are my championship pick. They couldn’t possibly have been gifted a better squad against which to get in gear. The “Black Antelopes” are indefensively the worst team in the tournament aside from the Saudis. Scolari plans to murderously roll out his 4-2-4 to achieve instant results. In spite of the overwhelming evidence in favor of a quick and easy Portuguese, victory I have to set this line low. My reasoning? You guessed it. It’s our FIRST COLONIAL BATTLE. Who-hoo. Drop the balloons. Grab your machete!

Colonial battles are governed by a slightly different set of rules. African heroes arise in every tournament. What better team to stand tall than the only Sub-Saharan side I know of that actually employs an African coach! Don’t misunderstand me. We’re not sounding the upset special horn just yet. A side that refuses to be their former colonial master’s whipping boy will still be unable to stem the tidal forces of Navigator talent. I maintain that we’re in for a surprise or two come Sunday. That is all. 

How nice it shall be to Simao, Pauletta, Luis Figo, and Christiano Ronaldo sharing the same pitch once again. After securing the lead, we’ll likely have Maniche, Deco, and Nuno Gomez grace our presence. My Sunday afternoon’s booked. So many old friends to catch up with JJ

THE LINE: Portugal +1 Goals

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Portugal 1, Angola 0. The boys in burgundy produced something incredibly special. Tiago with a cross-field header for Luis Figo. Figo with a marvelous first touch to place it behind Jamba. Figo outruns Jamba down the length of the penalty area to regain possession, cutting it back for Pauletta just before reaching the touchline. Foxy stuff. Pauletta managed a few more long-range efforts and Ronaldo headed a golden chance off the crossbar. Otherwise, the Antelopes held their own quite adroitly. The best chance came from Mendonca, who late in the second half blasted a thirty-meter cruise missile that Ricardo barely got in front of. As the game progressed I found myself falling hopelessly for this Angolan side. They sported the snappiest uniforms in the tournament. Midfielder Andre proved via his hairstyle that they didn’t take themselves too seriously. The jolly fat man coaching them was a regular African Santa Claus. I recall being taken enough to even root against my wallet late in the match.


Australia vs. Japan


Gentlemen, welcome to Kaiserslautern and the hallowed ground of Fritz Walter Stadion high atop the sacred Betzenberg. Birthplace of loquacious foul-mouthed Aryan bookies; The point of origin for a saga so grand, so monumentally epic that even Mel Gibson couldn’t begin to make a shitty movie about it. Twenty-three and a half years ago in this very town a virtuosic genius was born into a world incapable of fathoming his unparalleled intellectual brilliance. It’s also happens to be where I was born. I beat that other guy to a bloody pulp and assumed his identity.

Start the day off right with a Longitudinal Pacific Scrap. Hiddink vs. Zico. The outspoken and very gifted Dutchman takes on the shy and intuitive Brazilian hermit. In spite of having what may be described as the more glamorous squad, the Aussies always have trouble with the Japs. Not sure which strikers Zico will send out, but I’ll guess Yangisawa, Takahara, and Tamada. Sounds like a set of triplets I’d like to stick in the Jacuzzi. I may know precious little about how this new Blue Samurai will look. I know I’ve lost all faith in Gus Hiddink and his spurious strategy.

THE LINE: Japan +1 Goal

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Australia 3, Japan 1. Well, we can toss that trenchant analysis out. I mean, “unparalleled intellectual brilliance”? Hehe. No we leave that part in. I can scarcely believe I once invested actual money in Zico. As it turns out I came out in the black from this one, as a lot of uninformed money came in on Japan. Together with the U.S. game it was quite lucrative morning…until the wops had to come and wipe it all away.

I digress. Zico left Tamada on the bench and started an uncomfortable looking 5-3-2. Hiddink’s initial selection was devoid of any surprises, but he eventually earned his paycheck by outmaneuvering Zico. Three brave substitutions galvanized the Socceroos, who scored three goals in the final eight minutes to finish off one of the most thrilling encounters in tournament history.

The scoring opened up when Celtic’s Shinsuke Nakamura chipped in a routine cross that Australian keeper Mark Schwarzer badly misjudged. He ran out to punch it only to watch it sail over his head and bounce into the goal. 1-0 Japan in the 23rd minute. The Aussies fought hard for their equalizer, out-shooting the Japs three-to-one. Still they were unable to memorably trouble Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi until Mark Viduka made him stretch late in the half. Ten minutes into the second half Bresciano, Kewell, and Viduka once again had stung Kawaguchi’s paws and the Aussies showed signs of finally clicking. Still, the time for adjustments was nigh and the chess match was on. Zico swapped stay-home-fullback for stay-at-home fullback while Hiddink traded Bresciano for Tim Cahill. It seemed a curious move, but bear in mind this was prior the “The Legend of Timmy Cahill: K-Town ‘K’ontender.”

Zico stuck with his ten outfielders even though they were clearly wilting. He didn’t get around to reshuffling the formation towards a more defensive posture until the 79th minute. By that time extra strikers Joshua Kennedy and Tim Aloisi were already in the match, warmed up and in step. In the 83rd, all remaining nine Aussie outfielders crowded to box to receive a long Cahill throw. The abundance of bodies led to a minute long pinball frenzy of blocked shots, failed clearances, and second/third/fourth chance efforts. Finally Miyamoto couldn’t control a Kennedy stinger that bounced back to Cahill, who rifled it in on the turn. What happened next would forever alter his career, goal celebrations, and the numinous holy consecrated grounds of Fritz Walter Stadion. He raced over to the left corner flag and proceeded to shadowbox it. It’s now known as the “Kaiserlautern KO”. Though it remains Cahill’s signature move, he’s not so dickish as to have trademarked it. Players across the world emulate it. The mood strikes for my Teufel nicht immer, aber immer öfter J I did a stupendously pathetic job of mimicking it after my first big-time goal, a corner kick that was supposed to be swung in the opposite direction. Pugilist feigning gave real men a post goal celebration. To hell with ripping your shirt off, sliding into the player orgy, jumping into the coach’s arms, kneeling before the crowd, or placing your boot on another player’s knee. Can’t wait to enact this one again. For those of you tuning into the 2012 Euros wondering who the naked lout who streaked across the field to go smoking Joe Frazier on the corner flag was….     

The whole phenomenon wouldn’t have caught on had Cahill not struck again five minutes later. This time it was Kewell to Kennedy. Kennedy to Aloisi. Aloisi to Cahill three meters outside the eighteen. Takes a touch. Takes another touch. Takes a hasty third. Boom. Clearly disinterested in his surroundings, Timmy rotated the ball thrice before it was lined up to his satisfaction. Kawaguchi stood no chance of stopping a precision-guided strike going exactly where Timmy wanted it. Off to the flag for more prize fighting.

Alosi added insult to unholy tribulation with his own lustrous tally in the 92nd. The final demented detail I recall about this mind-blowing match returns us to the meticulous (some might say incorrigible) hoarding of global telecasts. The Japanese announcers’ enthusiasm for their own team’s collapse cannot find comparison. Three goals in eight minutes without the subtlest hint of tempered vocalizations. Can anyone imagine an American announcer pulling off something so ludicrous?

“In the 84th minute now with the U.S. clinging to a one goal lead. Throw in from the Chinese. OH. THERE’S A SHOT by Sho Xie Weh. AND ANOTHER ONE. GOAL! GOAL! GOAL! How amazing. What an incredible goal from the Chinese. BEAUTIFUL GORGEOUS. The U.S. blows its lead. What an AMAZING game this is football fans.”

“The 89th minute approaches, the U.S. have already surrendered their lead. Xeng Fai Weng Yang with the shot. OHHHHHHH. IT’S A GOOOOOAAAAAALL! GOOOOAAAALL for CHINA!! YES, SIR! SIMPLY AMAZING. Now the U.S. has COMPLETELY BLOWN IT. We’re going to lose. LIFE SUCKS FOR ALL OF YOU WATCHING THIS. What an INCREDIBLE turn of events. GOOOOOAAALLL CHINA!”

“The fourth official has told us we’ll have three minutes of added time. Deep into the 92nd minute now, any moment this despicable misery will come to an end. But wait a second, here’s Liu Quing Wen. Wen passes it over Xiao Meng Fang. Fang picks out Ling Chong-qui for the header. GOOOOOAAALL. WOW! AMAZING! We’ve just had our asses handed to us by the CHINESE. SHO XIE WEH, XENG FAI WENG YANG. LING CHONG-QUI. They’re all SPECTACULAR. We are TERRIBLE. My head is about to EXPLOOOOOOODE!” 

Dear Sean Hannity,

Seeing as how I’m not a public figure, you may instruct your staff to cease all work on efforts to take that bit out of context.


Someone who actually has a dick

USA vs. Czech Republic


Your moment arrives. Welcome upon the world stage. Now turn and fret and strut your hour upon the wooden plank before you’re heard no more. Okay..that was somewhat harsh. Some gentle ribbing notwithstanding, this makes for one insanely challenging debut. You have the rudiments of a functional club whereas the Czechs have a proven core. Victory is not out of the question, but you’ll have to sprint. Don’t go with the 4-5-1 formation. You’ll find yourself waist deep in shit should you not heed this warning. Eddie Johnson needs to start opposite McBride. Convey and Dempsey need to get involved. Jimmy Conrad deserves a look. If he’s not producing, yank the Yank Captain. Give O’Brien his stab at it.

As you may readily infer, I believe success in this match depends upon Arena’s lineup and flexibility. As smashing a player as Donovan might be, there’s no getting this done without some finishing power up front. Now that you’ve skimmed enough names to fabricate the false impression of being knowledgeable at your B-B-Q, let’s get on with the business of me taking your money.

THE LINE: Czech Republic +2 Goals

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Czech Republic 3, USA 0. It doesn’t get much more humiliating than this. What went wrong? We’ll begin with Arena’s lineup selection. Never trust a former goalkeeper shaped like a Herpes Strain. He started the ailing Demarcus Beasley in place of the blossoming Clint Dempsey. McBride was left alone at striker, Donovan over-committed to negating Reyna’s mistakes in the midfield. Onyewu was preferred to Bocanegra. Only a keeper could make such a patently stupid call.

Overrun by the Czechs he made even dumber decisions. Instead of withdrawing Reyna, he pulled Mastroeni for Johnson. Cherundolo made way for O’Brien, which should have been Eddie Lewis’s responsibility. He finally pulled McBride for Wolff a full two minutes after it might have mattered. Tweedle-fucking-dumb. He even resembled Lewis Carroll’s original vision. Nedved and Pobrovsky combined to eventually deliver a perfect cross to Jan Koller in the fifth minute. Thomas Rosicky discharged a 50-meter shot worthy of Peter North. Keller had no chance. In the 76th Rosicky again fooled the bald-skulled numbskull. The end. A more disgraceful day in U.S. Football will have to wait until Snooki coaches the women’s team. Oh Christ. I felt for you as I lay on a bed fashioned from your money.   

Italy vs. Ghana


Where’s that Upset Alert Button? Hold on…I think it’s in the shoe closet. No dice….perhaps over in the guest quarters. Let me try the clubhouse…over to my opulent private bathroom….hmmm….I’ve got it. My own personal washer-dryer! Nope. Oh to hell with it. I’m not supposed to rub my riches in your face until the middle of next week.


Now is the time, Black Stars! Pantsil, Boateng, Mensah, Amoah. Muntari, Gyan, Boateng, Pimpong, and Kingson. I’m looking at you! You’re “Ghana” win. Totti won’t be able to last the entire match. Cannavaro still hasn’t scored for Real. Iaquinta and Totti are the respective names of a two-star hotel and a children’s confection. Marcello Lippi looks like Christopher Dodd after twelve consecutive hours of cocaine and strippers. Channel the serendipity of your Ethiopian brothers. Whack the wops. Kick the shit out of those futile guineas. Consign those Dagos to the trash heap, the fetid pile of rotten rubbish on which they belong. Die motherfuckers, die motherfuckers, die moetherfuckers, die! Go Gold Coast, Go.

THE LINE: Ghana +1 Goal

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Italy 2, Ghana 0. Oh Black Stars, how could you so thoroughly let me down against the “Brown Shirts”? Oh it sucked harder than Mega-maid from “Spaceballs”. Luca Toni should have scored inside of ten minutes. He banged it off the crossbar and characteristically placed his two opposing index fingers centimeters from one another while making the “whiny wop” face. Can’t help but love the “Luca Toni” face. “Gesu Bambino! I was-a so-a close-a. Signore! Mamma Mia!” Pirlo averted the need to make such faces in the 40th minute with his breathtaking long-range effort. Totti couldn’t muster more than 56 minutes. His replacement Cameronesi telegraphed a pass to Iaquinta for a solo goal the elegance of which was immediately disparaged by the rather crass display of hot sweaty man love on the sidelines. Sigh. Damn Italians. Lube over boob. Go jab at the flag!


Brazil vs. Croatia


Should be a cakewalk for the Samba Kings. Ooops, I do believe I inadvertently provoked Ronaldo into thinking about more food. Sorry fat boy, no cake for you. See if I can’t cook up another metaphor. No. Out of the kitchen, fat boy. Tangible aromas weren’t wafting from that expression were they? See if I can’t start from scratch here. HEY! What did I just say? I’m trying to write something about your team, not fucking offering to bake you homemade lasagna! GIT!  Goddamn tub of lard. DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!! I was referring to you. No deep-fry action taking place over here. Leave me the hell alone. Can’t you see I’m trying to work?

Both Lula and I have had our fun with Brazil’s “Bread-and-Butter Ball”. To be fair, he has been packing on the pounds. Coach Parreira freely admits that his fitness level will prevent him from playing more than 70 minutes. Poor Carlos must be frustrated that he returned for this. Ordinarily, each trainer devises his own fitness metrics complete with the autonomy to bench any player who fails to meet his standards. Ronaldo knows he’s untouchable. He also knows that those sandwiches over on the smorgasbord aren’t going to eat themselves. With his career at Real Madrid stalled, he recently came close to signing a contract to play for the New York Red Bulls. From the neck down he would be a perfect fit for one of those American Media B-Roll montages on how the country is dangerously overweight. Enough. Go out there and grab a brace, tubby. Croatian B.O. should repress your appetite long enough to dazzle.  

THE LINE: Brazil +2 Goals

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: Brazil 1, Croatia 0. I’m surprised Croatian B.O. didn’t induce bulimia. In later years Ronaldo would present a dubious doctor’s diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. Wait a second, I thought that meant that your metabolism functioned at abnormally high levels? Okay..let’s give the poor bloke a break here. Ronaldo was the first aging player since Pelé to be targeted as part of a broader push to get over-the-hill stars to play in America. Four months later the L.A. Galaxy found their man in 32-year-old Real Dud David Beckham. Ljunberg and Henry followed. Wonder who’s next? It might very well be the man with the magic Jesus Cleats; the one who scored in this match. Few can match his sublime skill with distance efforts. Ones like the 50-yard boot he scorched past Pletikosa are what I’ll pay to see.  

France vs. Switzerland


Ugly teams, ugly town, and a faint sense of depletion. For those who have never had the misfortune to visit Stuttgart, it’s about as exciting as say…..Akron with a Daimler Museum. In my humble opinion, festive matches shouldn’t be held in company towns. Thankfully the council in Lautern went 10 million Euros in debt to renovate Fritz Walter and edge out VW’s Wolfsburg.

The French starting eleven will make history as the oldest team ever to contest a World Cup match. Five players (six including keeper Barthez) are over the age of 32. I’ve no choice but to offer even odds on one of them breaking a hip. Beyond injuries, there remains little reason to give the “Lawrence Welks” an audience. A minor factor with the potential to arouse some curiosity will be Domenech’s adjustments. The sooner he inserts the next generation of FFF-Heroes into the equation, the better this team’s long-term prospects will be. A late Govou effort propels les Bleus past the mountain men.

THE LINE: France +1 Goal

Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: France 0, Switzerland 0. Reading through all these texts for the first time in years, the sincerest heart pangs always occur upon identifying when poor little Vicey runs out of gas. Typical of the pitifully stubborn bastard. With the end in sight, fatigued and blocked, he refused to walk away for more than a few minutes. The above write-up could have turned out significantly better had he just dropped the project for an hour or two and refreshed by doing something else….anything else. O.G. Pete simply didn’t roll that way. You couldn’t physically pry him from the keys, no matter how depleted he was.  That was the literal reality. A highly embarrassing and infinitely pathetic truth must be told. There were indeed those that clasped his shoulder with sturdy hands, attempting to lead him away from the screen in the same manner one might try to rip an A.M. drunk off a barstool.

Amalgam Character: “That’s enough writing for today, Peter. Let’s get some fresh air”

Vicey: “I’ll let you know when I’ve had enough! Can’t stop. Have to keep going. I can’t see the end, but I can FEEL it out there…somewhere…in the ether. Get your damn hands off me!”

Poor misguided soul. I’ll give him a retroactive tip of the cap for the Lawrence Welk reference, as this fixture was about as thrilling as a Saturday evening spent watching TV with your grandparents. The rough linear process for accruing retroactive note content begins with whether or not something noteworthy exists in the original text. Following that, I comb through the old notes in my black book to reanimate long dormant memories from the game. The book doesn’t always get the neurons firing, but old box scores/match reports/highlights sometimes can. For the first time in over one hundred matches, all techniques have failed. I don’t remember a goddamn thing about this one except that it was excruciatingly lame. Perhaps I should take a break…..nah. Soldier on, O.G.  

South Korea vs. Togo


After painfully chronicling the Tragedy of Togo in my primer section, I can only summon enough strength to recap the sad state of affairs in one sentence. This coach-less team’s players are not getting paid. For full details on how an impoverished debut nation is now a hopeless, headless group of volunteers…read a bloody newspaper.

I’m still psyched to watch Schwanz Befürworter (Dick Advocaats) new-and-improved Taeguk warriors. If only it were under different circumstances LL

THE LINE: South Korea +2 Goals


Editor’s retroactive notes:
RESULT: South Korea 2, Togo 1. For all the melodrama, the “Sparrow Hawks” came through after all. Pfister retracted his resignation out of respect for his players one day prior to the match, five days after the above was written, and two days after a sizeable amount of cash flowed in on the Koreans JJ Made out quite nicely. 

The Tigers of Asia Fan section was out in force on a positively gleaming day in Frankfurt. I could easily watch stand clips of that base on a continuous loop for 72 straight hours. The inconceivably small African nation took us all by surprise with some blistering early efforts and a stunner of an opening goal. Any hopes for the impossible, however, upset were dashed after Captain Jean Paul Abalo blatantly tripped up Ho Lee’s on a wide open goal scoring opportunity. The referee held up a red and yellow card simultaneously for the first-ever challenge ruled “Double yellow, but that would also have been a straight red you dirty, dirty motherfucker. Son of a bitch! What the fuck were you thinking?” Chun Soo Lee bent the resulting free kick around the wall for a sensational equalizer. Jung Hwun Kwan went top corner to secure the lead minutes later, but it wasn’t enough to beat the spread. JJ Bravo, Togo. Way to prove you deserved to partake Glad everyone came to their senses.