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ESPN is doo doo July 28, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in War on ESPN.
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You’d think Disney could pay for a competent copy editor. You’d be wrong. There are at least eight dangling modifiers in this article. I’ve bolded the implicit subject of the modifying clause.

After a respectable World Cup campaign, Martino’s contract expired

Martino’s contract had a respectable World Cup campaign?

After a shock win over Spain, defeat to Chile and a limp goalless draw with Honduras, opinion will be well and truly divided on his future.

Opinion beat Spain, lost to Chile and drew with Honduras?

Unpopular before the tournament, anything but bringing the trophy back to Brazil would’ve been a failure for Dunga.

The most egregious and obvious. Here’s the very next sentence

After their quarter-final exit at the hands of Netherlands, the writing was on the wall for the Seleção’s former captain.

I thought the Netherlands beat Brazil in the quarters, not “the writing.”

Publicly criticised by Socceroos’ striker Josh Kennedy, his reign has ended on a sour note

Kennedy criticized Verbeek, not his reign, no?

Combined with Cristiano Ronaldo’s South Africa no-show, Queiroz will be lucky to get a second chance

Cristiano’s no-show could be given a second chance?

having moulded the Stars and Stripes into a respected unit, fans will be hoping his new challenge is qualification for Brazil 2014.

If fans molded the Stars and Stripes into a respected unit, why would it matter Bob Bradley is leaving?

North Korea lost all three of their games in South Africa, although having been grouped with Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast this was hardly surprising.

The fourth team in Group E was “North Korea lost all three of their games in South Africa,” evidently.

And this doesn’t include questionable metonymic references to coaches who “finished bottom of the group.”

Anyway, I declare a war of words on ESPN.

Campbell’s move to Newcastle disappointes me July 27, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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As I think I’ve said before, perhaps not in so many words, I have a great deal of affection for Sol Campbell.

For one, the man and his family have suffered for the homophobia surrounding soccer, by all reliable accounts without even a basis in fact. That is the salient reason for my admiration as a human being. Soccer fans, though, are soccer fans first and human being second, and by that reasoning, my admiration roots itself in a much deeper reason.

Soccer’s reflexive tribalism is the reason I love the sport, deep down, because it is an antidote to the sterility of professional sports in my own country. Simultaneously, it’s also profoundly myopic in its denial of the extent to which the sport’s commercialization, especially in Great Britain, has divorced it from the communities that spawned it. That’s why I laud the bravery of Campbell’s move from Tottenham to Arsenal, and what it has subsequently subjected him to.

There’s also, even more fundamentally, as detailed in the first article I cited, an on-field reason: Campbell battles every day his own personal physical degradation, and that is as compelling a story as any in the sport.

Let’s remember, for a second, that Campbell was once perhaps the best player in the world at doing what he ostensibly does: presenting an insurmountable physique as an obstacle to opposing attackers. In an Arsenal team trading in ascetic deftness, he was the physical bedrock of that approach. He couldn’t pass, really, or even run, but his team needed a man like that to weave its magic. But that physique was so effective because it was wielded with a defensive intelligence that made it sublime, a brain that understood its limitations and could wield the instrument of Campbell’s body in a way that disguised them.

Since he came back up to the English top division with Arsenal last season, Campbell’s story has been one of that indomitable’s instrument’s decay and that admirable intelligence’s struggles to come to terms with it.

Campbell’s critics must remember that Arsenal owed him, for precisely his braveness in moving to the club in the first place, the chance to surmount those difficulties at the highest level. But one can excuse their dispensing with him now, having given him that chance, and shown that, if more limited than ever, he can function in a top-class team.

But seeing him go to Newcastle, as the Guardian reports he will, is disheartening. I don’t want to see Campbell submerged amid the chaos of that club. Newcastle’s defensive fallibility is institutional, I think. How else would you explain the phenomenon that even Titus Bramble has become a sought-after center half since leaving Newcastle? It is so easy, though, to foresee the man who will soon be the senior citizen of that club’s defense blamed for its inevitable frailties.

If such accusations don’t arise, it will be much to Campbell’s credit. At this late stage in his career, though, at which he can no longer disguise the ever-growing limitations of his game, he is coming up to his biggest challenge.

Joe Cole to Liverpool!!~~!!! July 20, 2010

Posted by michaeltomlinson in English soccer, European soccer, Hair.
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In other news; I don’t care at all, really… not one fucking bit

And neither do they..

Kevin Keegan doing uhh something.

TWO KEVIN KEEGANS YEEE!!

FC Barcelona doesn’t care about black people July 18, 2010

Posted by michaeltomlinson in European soccer, Spanish soccer.
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First George W Bush and now the authority on beautiful football, FC Barcelona may catch the weary eye of one, hip-hop fashionista Kanye West. Over the last two years they have for one reason or another let go of their three most prominent African descended footballers (Touré, Henry, Eto’o). French National Eric Abidal is the lone ranger who sees consistent starting time at left back, and made clear by this striking photo he apparently doesn’t like you, sorry.

I’m not trying to portray Juan La Porta as xenophobic or anything, I’m just saying he fears foreigners for generally unfounded preconceptions, its different. I am willing to accept that his MAY be an absurd and unjust claim, but really it is too easy to blame Spain and their people for cute little instances of racial insensitivity, its just so casual!

One of the more recent exits of Yaya Touré felt personally the worst and from a footballing stand point made the least sense. Thierry Henry’s voyage to the new world was no shock, The retirement home for former European greats, errrr The MLS had been keen on him for a while and shouldn’t leave Camp Nou in any sort of dire position. But Touré at times did for Barcelona what Cesc is heavily relied on doing for Arsenal and arguably Spain in his substitute stints, and that is break down the center of the pitch with timely and calculated runs. I’m ready aware that Cesc plays an attacking role while Yaya generally holds down the defensive side of things but what they share is an innate ability to find gaps in the center of defense for runs off the ball, and both players do this for teams who at times control possession without much vigor to push forward.

On another note Xavi and Iniesta are often coined by many as the little magicians and what they do, they do it superbly, but that certainly isn’t being 6’2 and large bodied. Where as Xavi and Iniesta together use more outside of the foot touches and turns to frustrate defenders Touré literally boxes them out a la Charles Barkley. Size in soccer probably means less than any major sport especially in The United States but that isn’t to say that it is unimportant. Between Xavi, Iniesta and Messi they barely have 15 and a half feet between them and calling Sergio Busquets frail may be an understatement. Sometimes you need a large body out there just to keep defenses honest.

Whether you find it absurd or not their is a Reason (outside of spending money on pretty much anything) that Manchester City made Touré the highest paid player in the Premiership. Being able to hold down the fort with stellar positioning and smart passing coupled with the ability to ward off defenders to maintain possession and create through the center of the pitch is something any team in the world would love to model a holding midfielder after.

It’s been made fairly obvious with the disgraceful departure of Chygrynskiy that at times even with the touted youth system and scouting prowess Barcelona has at their finger tips they dig a bit too deep. If it aint’ broke don’t fix it, and yet with Samuel Eto’o  a year prior and with Yaya recently the Catalan giants seem content with dealing away talent in search of the next best thing.  An analogy can be made to your neighborhood heroin addict and his inherent need for more but I think the xenophobia reference was quite enough for everyone.

World Cup post-mortem part 3: The Final: Spain’s fear, Holland’s fouls July 11, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in World Cup 2010.
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Somewhat unfairly, the name of the 2010 World Cup final will become a byword for infamy, it seems. Certainly, with the first word having come from the Guardian’s puzzlingly influential Richard Williams, it seems likely the red card for Johnny Heitinga and the cynical fouls of Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong will be the salient images of the match.

In a way, that’s only fair. After all, at the very least, this final dispensed decisively with two myths of international football: the Dutch national team’s penchant for winning friends with attractive soccer and the exhilarating football played by the Spanish national team. The less mystique that surrounds teams inappropriately, the better, I think. Now, if only someone could ram it into the international zeitgeist that Brazil has actually spent much of the time since 1982 playing functional, sexless soccer, and that that isn’t Dunga’s fault, we’d be truly refreshed.

It’s also unfair, though. A friend of mine who could only catch the end of the second half and the extra period sent me a text message calling it “a fun game to watch.” When I accused her of sarcasm, she was genuinely confused. “I thought it was really exciting and fun to watch!” And this is someone who has never watched a soccer match before. So much for turning off the Americans wooed by this World Cup.

It really did become more exciting, too, once Vicente del Bosque introduced Cesc Fabregas into the lineup. Suddenly, he stumbled upon the midfield he should have been using throughout the entire tournament: one with Fabregas and Xavi in front of Sergio Busquets in the center. Fabregas gave Spain the pinch of penetration in the center it has lacked throughout the tournament. I mean, if Busquets as the lone defensive midfielder is good enough for Barcelona, it’s probably good enough for Spain.

Spain was genuinely attractive between the introduction of Fabregas and Fernando Torres’ injury. There was also intrigue and the very satisfying departure of a Dutch player, even if Heitinga was one of the least dirty Dutchmen on the pitch.

Williams is, however, correct in his lament: “No more all-European finals, thank you very much.” As I’ve said before, all the romance is taken out of the World Cup when the teams from the other continents are eliminated. This final contained 10 starting players who have, at one point or another, been under contract at Barcelona, plus the substitute Fabregas. Soul-crushing, if you ask me, and I’m a Barcelona fan. More than half of the starting 22 have played in Champions League finals. These are the usual suspects from a tournament that usually turns up so much more that is memorable.

That wasn’t the fault of the final game itself, and the American television commentators didn’t help by banging on about how boring it all was. It was the fault of a poor call between Brazil and the Netherlands that gave the Dutch a game-winning free kick, a bat off the line by Luis Suarez, the failure to allow Paraguay to retake a spot-kick against Spain, the award of a pretty dubious goal for Argentina against Mexico. Arguably at least. It’s been a World Cup of disappointments, sure, but it’s had its moments. We just chose to accentuate the negative.

As it is, though Spain has confirmed its newfound emergence as a legitimate soccer power with its victory, it would be only just to remember Luis Aragones’ European Championship-winning side of two years ago as a better football team. Carlos Marchena may not be or have been as immaculate a central defender as Gerard Pique, but Spain would have looked much better with an on-form Marcos Senna’s balls (and I don’t mean “passes”) in midfield and the terrifying prospect of a fit Torres leading the line, not to mention a more dynamic David Silva rather than the incomplete Jesus Navas or the schizophrenic Pedro. Spain 2008 simply had more style than Spain 2010, more elegance. The current Spain is attritional.

It’s as if the current Spaniards spent the tournament living cowering under the weight of their two-year-old legacy. All, that is, except the perpetually fearless Carles Puyol and, Andres Iniesta once he somehow managed to liberate his soul as the final drew to a close.

Which Spain will arrive in Poland and Ukraine in two years? That could be the most interesting story in international soccer in the coming years.

Why, Dan? July 10, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.
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Maybe it’s “the principle of the thing,” but I don’t for the life of me understand why Dan Gosling would want to leave Everton for one from “Newcastle, Sunderland and West Ham,” provided he got a raise.

World Cup post-mortem part 2: preview of the third place game. July 10, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in World Cup 2010.
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Who cares about it?

(More after the jump) (more…)

World Cup Post-mortem part 1 July 6, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Dutch soccer, European soccer, German soccer, Spanish soccer, The World Cup.
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What’s that you say? “The World Cup isn’t even over yet! How can you think of doing a post-mortem?”

To that I say that the only sides that matter to me at the World Cup are the ones from outside Europe. Without teams from the other continents, it’s simply not the World Cup, because the World Cup is an experience richer because it allows new players and new ideas to take center stage in the footballing world. The final, whomever wins between Germany and Spain, will be 4-2-3-1 vs. 4-2-3-1, chic European technocrat vs. chic European technocrat, winger with defensive responsibilities vs. fullback with attacking responsibilities, and Champions League winning captain vs. captain who has at least reached the final of the champions league.

All this from a tournament that, at one stage, promised a reinvigoration of footballing ideas: South American demigods, careworn East Asian ghosts, Argentine revolutionaries, and Iron Curtain throwbacks in chintzy suits and chintzier ties were among the managerial stars. We suddenly discovered three-man defenses working in harmony with three-man attacks, lopsided systems that actually worked, goalscorers and speed-demon wingers repurposing themselves to remarkable effect as trequartisti.

And then nothing. It’s over. Who cares which European giant triumphs in the end? It’ll just confirm that Europe’s trendiest system is the one true God; that a slick, generously subsidized national youth development project in a large country with a sizable immigrant population can yield extremely effective footballers and very successful national teams when welded to a competent bureaucratic structure. That, readers, is not rocket science.

But when we look back on this World Cup, if we look back on it, unless we’re celebrating in roja or oranje on Sunday night, it’s unlikely we’ll remember anything about the Spanish or Dutch (except for what a resolutely negative presence Mark van Bommel is in our lives, and perhaps Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s thunderbolt). And if we remember the Germans, it will likely be in the context of the greater things the likes of Ozil, Muller and Khedira go on to achieve, and how funny it was when they were alloyed with Miroslav Klose, Arne Friedrich and Lukas Podolski.

On the other hand, it will be difficult to forget Diego Maradona’s touchline charisma, the absurd injustice of Ghana’s defeat, Marcelo Bielsa’s thrilling quixoticism, North Korea’s bizarre appearance, Slovakia’s thrilling victory over the World Champions, and at least four brilliant Uruguayan goals.

The final and the champion are of lesser importance. In the greater scheme of things, competent bureaucracy, devotion to youth, 4-2-3-1 win out, but it’s no surprise when things that are well funded and organized come out on top. We don’t watch the World Cup to see that. We watch to see what’s wild and new and free, or at least I do, and with the tournament now rid of all of that, I think we’ll call it a month, no?