Friday, August 20, 2010

Travels abroad: The opening of Chivas' new stadium

I am a diehard Chivas fan. Those who know me can attest to this fact seeing as I rarely go a week without donning the 'rojiblanca' jersey. The reasons behind my fandom are intricate and longwinded and deserve a post of their very own. For the purposes of this post, however, just know that my family in Mexico is red and white through and through. This benefitted me supremely this summer when I took my annual pilgrimage to Guadalajara. For you see, for the first time in 60 years, Chivas would not be calling the historic Estadio Jalisco home any more. A new stadium, one that had been promised for over a decade, was built and Chivas was to move in. My family, namely my grandma, my grandpa, and my uncle Tony, had the foresight to buy into the promise of a new stadium and had bought seats in the new stadium before any concrete had been poured. They bought three seats at midfield in the 200's section and consequently now own them for five years.

Well, a little known team named Manchester United was invited to come play and to christen the new stadium with their prestige and elegant play and guess who had the good fortunate to witness it firsthand. As you can tell by the picture above, this guy. My grandma gave me her ticket and allowed me to experience probably the greatest sporting game/experience I have ever seen in person. This is a little taste of what I got to experience. (Click on the pictures to see them at full size)

6 men in one cutlass is a tight fit. Being the youngest and smallest, I squeezed in to the front seat with my grandpa.

Traffic was beyond terrible. It took 10 minutes to get to within a mile of the stadium. It took 50 to get into the parking lot. Let's just say, having one entrance for 45,000 is not the smartest thing in the world.

Nearing the stadium now. Such a thrilling experience. The structure is supposed to represent a volcano with clouds above it. I'm not sure it does, but I am sure I fell in love with it.

Parking was 60 pesos. Only about $5.50. Not bad for a world class exhibition.

"The boys" From left to right: my uncle Oscar, uncle Luis, Uncle Tony, me, grandpa, uncle Hector.

Just take in this picture. The colors, the people, the stadium itself. There was so much electricity in the crowd.

We had to wait in line for about 25 minutes because they were patting down every single person before entering. It would have taken a lot longer but they opened a pat-down station real close to us while we were in line and we jumped into the newly formed line.

My breathtaking first look at the field. Wow doesn't even begin to describe it.

The crowded, yet spacious concourses at the new stadium.

The view from our seats. Not shabby eh?

Stadium shots with over 4 hours left until game time.

A very elaborate opening ceremony. Not my thing though. I just wanted to watch the game already.

By far the coolest sight of the night. They gave us little plastic cards the size of a small poster board and told us when to put them up, creating the first ever mega-mosaic in Mexican history.


They also gave us a t-shirt to give the stadium the whole red and white striped look. This is my beloved Chivas taking the field against Manchester United, with Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez playing his last half as a member of Guadalajara.

Chivas played a phenomenal first half and took a 2-1 lead to the intermission. Ee saw a lot of this in the half, the Red Devils pinned in their own end. Fittingly, Chicharito scored the first goal of the stadium and the place was deafeningly loud. No pictures of the celebrating crowd though because I was too busy screaming and hugging everyone.

Blurry, I know but still worth seeing. The building played host to a fantastic soiree worthy of the best club in Mexico. Chivas won 3-2 and even though a few substitutions were made in the second half, 11 by Chivas and 6 by Man U, it was still an exciting affair.

I will never forget this night. Tremendous on all accounts.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mere memories remain

(From the Reporter newspaper website)
By Andrei Greska

Emptiness. That's the only way to describe the feelings North American soccer fans held after last weekend's sad performances by Mexico and the United States at the World Cup. After four years of excitement and anticipation, the curtains have closed for the neighboring nations.

The U.S. was bounced out by Ghana for the second consecutive World Cup, again losing by a score of 2-1. The game this year though was much more contested than that of four years ago. Landon Donovan tied the game on a penalty kick in the second half and sent the game into extra time. However, Ghana scored two minutes into the first overtime. America's achilles heel had shown itself once again. The U.S. allowed goals in the first 15 minutes in three of its four games in South Africa. Down a goal and looking physically spent, the U.S. could not mount a comeback and missed a once in lifetime opportunity to reach the semifinals.

Mexico crashed out in the Round of 16 of the World Cup for the fifth consecutive time, and at the hands of Argentina for the second consecutive time. This match was nothing like the 2006 meeting in Leipzig, Germany, though. The Argentines scored in the 20th minute in a clear offsides position, causing the Mexicans to lose concentration and concede another a few minutes later. Carlos Tevez blasted a third goal at the start of the second half, putting the game out of reach. Mexico's lone bright spot was Javier Hernandez, the Manchester United signee who struck a morale-saving goal in the 70th minute. Mexico was severely outplayed throughout the match and came home without fulfilling it goal of getting to a fifth game.

Both countries will now watch the rest of the World Cup with a tinge of remorse, wishing it was their countries battling for the title. They will only have these memories to tide them over the next two weeks and the next four years:

Landon Donovan scores in stoppage time against Algeria In 20 years, this will still be remembered as the moment in which America cared about soccer. I'm not saying this is the moment which will make America fall in love with the sport, that has been erroneously predicted for the past 30 years. However, there is no denying the joy that America felt when Donovan slotted the ball home to send the Americans into the knockout stages. A quick Youtube search is all the proof you need.

Javier Hernandez scores his first World Cup goal Hernandez, also known as Chicharito which is Spanish for little pea, is Mexico's next great hope. A rising star with club team Chivas de Guadalajara winning the scoring title even though he only played nine of the 16 games, Hernandez was signed by club giants Manchester United. He instantly became the hottest thing since sliced bread in Mexico and was expected to lead his team to glory. Unfortunately, he wasn't given the starting spot in the opening games but he showed his worth scoring a game winning goal against France only 10 minutes after he had come on as a sub. The goal was his first ever in a World Cup and made headlines even in England.

English Goalkeeper Robert Green commits the gaffe of the tournament Down a goal and being completely outmatched, the U.S. was in trouble against the mighty English team. And then lightning struck. In great play by Clint Dempsey, twirling past his defender twice, Dempsey unleashed a dribbler, a very weak shot on goal that all goalies in the world, no matter what age could stop. Except Robert Green. The English keeper fumbled the ball, bouncing it off his chest and into the goal. It was one of the few fortunate breaks the U.S. would receive in the tournament but one that will forever be known as Greene's Gaffe.

Mexico opens the World Cup It's not the greatest memory in the world for Mexican fans. Up against host South Africa, a team only ranked 83rd in the world, Mexico had to come from behind and was lucky to come away with a tie. However, the game as a whole will be remembered for historic purposes. It was only the second time Mexico opened the World Cup and the first time since 1986 when it hosted the tournament. All eyes focused on Johannesburg, where the Bafana Bafana gave El Tri all that they could handle.

Comeback kings This is more than one memory, it is the tournament for the U.S. summed up. The U.S. fell behind in three of four of its games and came from behind to at least tie every single time. They set a new World Cup record coming back from a 2-0 deficit at halftime against Slovenia to tie the game at 2 (and win it, but a glaring decision by the referee invalidated a legitimate goal in the 86th minute). America won admiration from the worldwide press for its never-say-die attitude and its uncanny ability to score goals in closing minutes. The U.S. might have been bounced out, but there is no doubt they left it all out on the field each and every game, and at the end of the day, that's all you can ask for from your team.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Second Week Thoughts

"You're doing that mighty well coach."

The second round of group play of the 2010 World Cup is just about in the books, and it couldn't have been any more different than the first round. There has been intrigue, upsets, scandals and most importantly, goals. Lots and lots of goals. The first round had only 25 Jabulanis find the back of the net. In comparison, with one game to go, 39 goals have been scored in this round for an average of 2.44 a game. Increased scoring has brought renewed excitement to what was a dull tournament. More goals, however, are just the introduction into what has been a fascinating week of soccer. Here are the top three story lines from around the world.

1)France does what it does best: quit
France came into the tournament in the most controversial fashion possible, beating Ireland 2-1 in a playoff on a Thierry Henry handball. They are determined to leave the World Cup in the same manner. It is no secret that French Coach Raymond Domenech is not well-liked in France. Not by the fans, not by the players, not even by his employers the French Football Federation, who already hired his successor for after the World Cup. Things hit a new low this weekend, though. Star striker Nicolas Anelka, upset with his boss' decision to sub him off in France's match with Mexico, let Domenech hear about it in the locker room at half time going off in a profanity-laced rant. That did not go over well with the French skipper who threw Anelka off the team and sent him packing.
This wasn't enough drama for the French, though, they wanted more. Captain Patrice Evra went to the press saying there was a traitor in the locker room who disclosed the rift between coach and player and that he would be found and punished. Apparently Evra found him in the form of fitness coach Robert Duverne. Evra confronted Duverne who had none of it and quit the team, marching off the practice field and throwing his credentials to the ground. This still was not enough drama for the Frenchies. The team, in an act of "solidarity" walked off the practice field, refusing to train, in a show of support for the exiled Anelka. Now that my friends, is prima donnas at their finest. Can you imagine this ever happening in the United States? Only in the World Cup can a reigning world power act like a bunch of babies. The French newspaper Le Parisien said it best, "To have the worst football team at the World Cup was already unbearable. To also have the most stupid is intolerable … The mutiny at Knysna will forever remain the Waterloo of French football."

2)Power Outage
Did I forget to mention that France lost the game against Mexico and is now almost assuredly out of the World Cup? Yea, that happened too. France currently sits in a tie for last place in group A with South Africa. In order to advance, they would need a victory over the host nation in their final match as well as a lopsided score in favor of either Uruguay or Mexico. Chances of that happening, slim to none. France is not the only super power in serious danger of embarrassing elimination. Italy, the reigning world champions, have only managed two draws in what was widely considered the easiest group in the tournament. After tying Paraguay 1-1 in their opener, the "Azzuri" let fearsome New Zealand score first and had to rely on a phantom penalty kick to avoid the ignominy of being the victim of the Kiwis' first ever World Cup victory. Italy now faced Slovakia and must win in order to advance. The Italians should take care of the Slovakians without much difficulty, then again, that's exactly what they said about their first two opponents.
Joining the underachieving club is England, the father of all underachievers. They too could only muster a tie against the fearsome Algerian squad that hasn't scored a goal in the World Cup since 1986. Sitting with two points in group C, a loss by the "Three Lions" would leave them out of the knockout stages for the first time since 1958. I can't wait to see the headlines in London if and when that happens. Rounding out the struggling powers are Germany and Spain. Germany was unfortunate in their 1-0 loss to Serbia and still might advance, but they need a draw or a win to assure themselves of a spot in the final 16. Spain plays later today, attempting to bounce back from a shocking 1-0 loss to Switzerland. They must beat Honduras and still have to take on a surging Chile after that.

3)"disMALI" refereeing
We all have little bias towards our home teams and feel that referees always have it out for us. However, there is no bias when I say the United States got robbed by Malian referee Koman Couliably. None. We got screwed, hosed, jobbed, whatever you want to call it. The U.S. had made one of the greatest comebacks in World Cup, overcoming a 2-0 half-time deficit against Slovenia to tie it up on a goal by Michael Bradley. I'll let the one and only Peter King take it from here:
"With the score tied at 2 in the 86th minute, the United States had a direct kick on the Slovenian side of the field. There was much pushing and shoving in front of the goal, both before the ball was in the air and while it flew toward the net. Replays showed three American players being bearhugged by Slovenians -- and Americans, in the case of at least two scrums, hugging back. But in the case of an earlier hero, midfielder Michael Bradley, Slovenian Aleksander Radosavljevic did his best Ray Lewis imitation, practically dragging Bradley down just feet from the goal. As the ball fell to earth, American sub Maurice Edu pounced on it, flicking it hard into the net for what appeared to be the winning goal. But in his first World Cup game, referee Koman Coulibaly, from the landlocked West African country of Mali, ran into the fray and blew off the goal. At least four Americans tried to find out what the call was. But Coulibaly, who, according to several U.S. players was all but mute during the game (a rarity in world-class games, they say), didn't inform either side what call he made. We still do not know what the infraction was that Coulibaly called, and under the idiotic rules of FIFA, Coulibaly doesn't have to say what the infraction was. He might go to his grave with it."
The goal would have given the U.S. the victory and almost assured them of their qualification to the knockout stage, but one blind official ruined it for the Americans. "We waited our whole lives for this, and you feel like it was taken from you,'' said goalkeeper Tim Howard.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

First Round Reactions

From The Reporter web-site, written by yours truly.

By Andrei Greska

One round of group play of Africa's first World Cup is officially in the books and there is only one thing that comes to mind: Snoozefest.

I'm sure by now you have read all about the dreaded vuvuzela, the plastic horn driving fans bonkers with its incessant bee-like hum, as well as the fearsome Jabulani, the new adidas ball criticized by everyone from the players to the water boys.

The fact is, the only reason such a big deal was made about both is because the play on the pitch has been nothing to write home about, so writers don't. Scoring is down, teams are playing too defensively and referees are having outstanding performances during this tournament. The soccer played has not been of the highest quality, resulting in too many low-scoring ties.

Nevertheless, the first round of group play was not without its interesting plot lines. Here are the top four:

Switzerland beats Spain
Do you remember the 1997 Bulls team? You know, the one that won an NBA record 72 games and is widely considered as the greatest regular season team ever. Well, Spain is the '97 Bulls on steroids. They don't have a Michael Jordan on their team, instead they have 10 Scottie Pippins. Every single player on that team can ball. In fact, in the past two years, they played 50 games and lost exactly one game, to the United States no less. They were heavy favorites against the Swiss, who while not completely incompetent, are not a world power by any stretch of the imagination.

But that my friends, is why they play the games. Spain attacked and attacked and attacked some more, outshooting Switzerland 24-8. The ball simply refused to go in. Then in the 75th minute, a long ball skipped over the Spain defense, rattled around in the box and ended up in the back of the Spanish. It proved to be enough as the game ended 1-0, handing Spain a shocking defeat and the biggest upset in the World Cup since Senegal beat France in 2002.

U.S. beats England 1-1
I know you can't win by a score of 1-1, but the draw against England sure felt like a win for the United States. After falling behind in the fourth minute when Steven Gerrard slotted home a great ball, the U.S. rallied and controlled much of the first half. It paid off near the end when Clint Dempsey put a weak shot on goal and England keeper Robert Green committed the gaffe of the year, allowing the ball to bounce off him and into the net. The U.S. held on in the second half as England put all hands on deck and went into full attack mode. The result puts the U.S. in great position to advance to the next round for the first time since 2002. They play two relatively easy teams now in Slovenia and Algeria and should post W's for both of them.

North Korea impresses
It's hard to root for North Korea. Their dictator is a menace to the world, their army is about to start a war with South Korea and their country is sealed off to everyone else. Yet here was this plucky team, up against five time World Cup Champion and No. 1 ranked team, Brazil. This was going to get ugly. North Korea was ranked 105th in the world, hadn't been to a World Cup since 1966 and even had to train in a public gym in South Africa. After on half, the score was 0-0. No matter what happened the rest of the match, they could hold their heads up high knowing they held Brazil scoreless for 45 minutes. The game ended 2-1 in favor of the South Americans, but North Korea won respect from the rest of the soccer world.

South African celebration
South Africa is the weakest team ever to play host to the World Cup. Ranked 83rd in the world, most predicted it would become the first host nation to not advance from group play. It opened against Mexico, not a power but definitely respected nation when it comes to the beautiful game. At first Mexico dominated, playing keep-away for the first 20 minutes. South Africa gained confidence as the game progressed and in the 55th minute, launched a lethal breakaway that ended with a rocket shot in the upper 90 to send the stadium and the nation as a whole into a tizzy. Although it could not hold on for the victory, the tie gave the Bafana Bafana reason to believe it could continue to perform well at the biggest stage.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

At long last, my reactions to a 1-1 'loss'

The first round is only a few games from being completed and I have yet to write a single word about it. Not Mexico, not the U.S., not Germany, no one. This stems from my deep disappointment with Mexico in the opening match against South Africa. They shit the bad. Pardon my French but that is the best way to describe it. They came out fast and furious, nearly scoring in the second minute, then after 20 minutes of completely possessing the game, they wilted. Sure, they had a much better first half than South Africa, but that was not the same team that beat Italy and almost ripped South Africa a new one. This was the old Mexico, the one that gets tense in close encounters and forgets how to play. It was disappointing to say the least. It was disheartening.

It only got worse when Tshabalala broke past the back line and lazered in the best goal of the tournament thus far. Just imagine, the last goal scored on Mexico was Maxi's miracle, now this? Kill me now. You want to know the worst part, I didn't watch the game live. I angered the Mexican soccer Gods and they punished me for it. Instead of watching the game I have been dreaming about for four years, I went to the Blackhawks parade. I'd do it again too. Had I watched the game live, I might have passed out. Seriously, I would have turned off the TV, that's how much confidence I have in this team. So in the end, I am expecting the worst from my green men, and praying for the best. I've been let down too many times. It's sad to say, but Mexico's weak showing has dampened the whole competition for me. Bummer.

Here are three thoughts from the disappointing point gained against the host nation:

1) Franco must sit. He had three point blank chances and didn't convert. He had his shot and proved what most knew all along, he's not a big game player. He's done at West-Ham and will probably move to a European Minnow or Mexican team for next season. He makes good runs so he is not completely useless, but his finishing is subpar, to say the least. Thanks for your time Guille, but your moment has passed.

2) Chicharito has to start. I find it funny that coach Javier Aguirre trusted an aging striker with little future over the crown-jewel of Mexican soccer. There is a reason Manchester United signed Chicharito and it's not because he sits on the bench well. He puts balls in the back of the net. Period. He isn't tested, he is not a veteran, and he has yet to prove anything at the World Cup, but that doesn't matter. He needs the chance to prove himself. Give him the start Aguirre, or all the players will be watching the rest of the tournament from their behinds.

3.) Dos Santos is the best player we got. Chicharito may be the future, but Gio Dos Santos is the now. I know they are the same age, but Dos Santos proved he brings the most to the table of anyone on the field. His dashing runs and tremendous skill saw him terrorize the South African back line. Had his shot in the opening minutes not been deflected away from goal, Dos Santos would be the name you would be hearing the most. He is special, and hopefully he can keep playing at that level the rest of the World Cup.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Disappointed, yet relieved

The Goals...

The Full Highlights...

Before the game...

Mexican National Anthem...

South African National Anthem...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More World Cup Hype

From the online edition of The Reporter newspaper by yours truly.

Do you remember what you were doing on June 25, 1998? Doubt it. Most people couldn’t tell you what they ate for breakfast yesterday. I was 7-and-a-half years old and I can still recall it as if it happened this morning.

Seated around my grandparents’ kitchen table in Guadalajara, Mexico, my whole family erupted in delirious bliss as Luis Hernandez of Mexico scored a miracle goal in the third minute of stoppage time against Holland to tie the game at two, sending Mexico into the knockout stages.

This was the equivalent of the Doug Flutie “Hail Mary” play, or Michael Jordan’s shot over Craig Ehlo, only 20 times bigger. It wasn’t just a team or a city being lifted, it was the entire country. At our small kitchen, it was pure pandemonium as hugs and screams reigned supreme. Mexico had done the impossible and I had front row seats. I haven’t missed a Mexico game since.

That’s the World Cup for you. It sounds so cliché to say it’s more than a game, but it truly is. It’s a matter of life and death.

During the 1998 edition in France, 151 people were treated for “football related problems” at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in Scotland. Heart attacks also increased by 25 percent on the day and in the two days after England lost to Argentina in penalty kicks.

It didn’t get any better in 2002. Reports show heart attacks increased by 60 percent in Switzerland during the World Cup, and they weren’t even in the competition!

It’s not all gloom and doom though. Heart attacks actually dropped in France when its national team won the whole shebang. That’s the amount of emotion invested in this tournament. A loss might kill you, but a victory could save your life.

Now, I know these are all examples from outside the U.S. There just isn’t that emotional investment in this country, yet.

This summer is an opportunity for the sleeping giant to wake. The U.S. has one of its best teams in terms of talent, with over half the team plying their trade in the upper echelons of European soccer. Landon Donovan is back to his world-beating 2002 form, showing he can play with the big boys with his successful loan-spell at Everton. Clint Dempsey is scoring unfathomable goals for Fulham, and will played in the Europa Cup Champioship last month. Phenom Jozy Altidore is a man amongst boys and proved that even at the tender age of 20, he can compete with the best in the world.

Unlike the 2006 fiasco where it faced three stud teams, it has a manageable group with England, Algeria and Slovenia as its first round opponents. Soccer-wise, this is a great opportunity to jump on the bandwagon without fearing you will be left with egg on your face.

The intangibles make 2010 the year of the U.S. fan as well. South Africa is only seven hours ahead, meaning the games will be on TV at a reasonable hour. All 64 matches will be broadcast in HD for the first time ever. And for an even more enhanced viewing experience for the rich people out there, put the 3D glasses on because ESPN is unveiling the world’s first 3D network by broadcasting 25 World Cup games in three dimensions.

So come June 12, plunk yourself in front of the big screen. The match against England will be the most watched soccer game in the history of the U.S., guaranteed. You do not want to miss out on that.

Who knows, you may fall in love and make some memories of your own.

USA vs's big

Reprinted from my Marquette Tribune column
Arm yourself. The redcoats are once again aiming to suppress the rebellion. They look down on our small, unorganized uprising and laugh with contempt. It is time to show those pompous Brits the American way. We’ve done it once before, and we will do it again. So gather your friends, gather your family and prepare for the fight for independence. USA vs. England. The revolution begins Saturday, June 12, 2010.

No, this is not actual war, but it’s close. That’s the day the United States will take on England, opening the 2010 World Cup with the most important soccer game in the history of America.

Sure, some will say the 1-0 victory over England in the 1950 World Cup takes the crown. But let’s be honest, that game was like the proverbial tree falling in the forest. No one knew about that then, and fewer know about it now.

Others will argue the win over Mexico in the 2002 World Cup was the most significant. It was unprecedented and did draw worldwide attention, but again, few in the U.S. even saw the game. Aired at 2 a.m. local time, only die-hards witnessed it.

Still, some will point to last year’s victory over the top-ranked Spanish team that hadn’t lost in two years. While that may have been the most impressive victory in American history, it wasn’t the most important. It happened at the Confederations Cup, the baby sister of the World Cup.

This sets the criteria for determining the importance of any game. (1) Did anyone watch the game? (2) Are most of the people who remember the game still alive? (3) Was it a quality opponent? (4) Was it on a prestigious stage?

USA vs. England matches all the criteria.

Almost everyone who watches the match will be alive afterward. Almost. I would say all, but when it comes to World Cup soccer, you never know what might happen. Heart attacks increased by 25 percent during the two days following England’s loss to Argentina in penalty kicks during the 2002 World Cup, taking the oft-shouted phrase “you’re killing me” to a whole other level.

This will be the biggest TV audience for a soccer game in America ever, guaranteed. It is getting the big boy treatment by being shown on ABC, even interrupting the classic “One Saturday Morning” cartoons. ESPN is betting the house on this one, not only broadcasting the game in full HD, but even launching a new network for it, ESPN 3D. Yes, it is really a 3D channel, and the beautiful game will be the lucky one to christen it.

England is one of the top teams in the world and has more talent on the bench than most teams even have on the field. Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand. This team is loaded and has played ferociously of late, breezing through World Cup qualifiers. There are high expectations for the “Three Lions”, and anything short of a victory against the Americans would be seen as a failure across the pond.

There is no bigger stage than the World Cup. Plain and simple. This is the marquee match-up of Group C, and having it be the opening game for the U.S. makes it that much more lucrative. The bright lights will definitely be on for this one.

The offer is out on the table. You have an opportunity to be a part of history. In 38 days, America will once again claim its independence. Will you be watching?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Time to put up or shut up

This is how I think the World Cup will play out. Thoughts?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Nervousness starts to creep in

You know that feeling that you used to get as a little kid during the last week of school, the one that made it impossible to do anything? All you could do is look at the clock and watch it slowly tick, tick, tick away. It was like Chinese water torture watching the second hand take it's leisurely stroll. Damn you clock.

Well, that feeling has come back. These past two days at work have been particularly excruciating. I can't focus. I can't write. I can't sit still. All I want is for Friday to come. And it's all because of the World Cup. I have pretty much scoured every single web-site written in English that even briefly mentions soccer. Not to mention I frequent Mexican newspaper's websites about as much as anyone in the country. It has gotten so bad, that I even looked up Italian newspapers and their web-sites, scavenged through them looking for any reference to the Mexico vs. Italy game. Mind you, I speak Italian about as well as my pen does, which is to say not at all. I have this unsatisfiable thirst for information but no matter how much I take in, my need is never quenched. And it won't be unttil Friday at 9:30 A.M. Not until the first ball is kicked will this restless monster inside of me lie down.

Yet, as it is only Tuesday right now, an eternity stands between sanity and myself. Worst of all, this anxiousness has turned from an excited anticipation, like a child on Christmas Eve, to a nervous anxiety, like an inmate on death row. I'm scared senseless. I have no faith in my teams. Every flaw or appearance of a flaw is magnified in my mind until it becomes a gaping hole. What if Mexico's goalie Conejo Perez forgets how to jump and gets goal after goal scored on him? What if Gooch and Jozy don't recover and our front and back lines fall apart? What if Mexico lays an egg against South Africa and becomes the laughingstock of the world? What if England spanks the U.S. and declares it a colony once again?

Ok, I don't really think a U.S. loss would send us back to pre-revolutionary times, but you get the picture. It's bad. I am an optimist in every other aspect of life, always seeing the light shining out of every black hole, but when it comes to the World Cup it is expect misery and hope it doesn't last long.

Alas, I really am not a psycopath. I swear. Once the games begin I will be back to normal. I just can't stand the wait. As I have yet to invent a time machine, I will have to suck it up and go into my padded room. Youtube videos full of cheery memories, here I come.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A little bit of American soccer history

This is a must watch to get the blood pumping 5 days before the big game. But to really understand how monumental America's rise has been, read this.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

USA beats Australia 2-1

Good victory by the Americans over the Socceroos. Four things to take away:

  1. Edson Buddle. Dude can put the ball in the back of the net. He is on a tear like no other, scoring two goals today to add to his impressive tally in MLS. Whether or not Jozy Altidore is healthy, play the man.
  2. Oguchi Onyewu is not fit yet and won't get the start against England. He was a second half substitution today and while he didn't look bad, per se, he was not his usual imposing self. He was shown limping once or twice as well. Rest the man.
  3. The ball movement was stupendous in the middle. And that was with Rico Clark looking non-existent. Insert Fransico Torres or Mo Edu and we have got ourselves a good looking midfield.
  4. Herculez to the rescue! Herculez Gomez continues to be a super duper super sub. Coming in late in the second half, he scored off of a Landon Donovan cross in the 93rd minute. He is a dangerous weapon coming off the bench.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Meet the neighbors

As we get closer and closer to June 11, the start of the World Cup, it is time to divert our attention solely from the teams we root for, to the teams we will face. The United States resides in Group C and will take on England, Algeria and Slovenia. This won't be a normal get to know your opponent segment, there are many of those all over the interweb. This will be slightly different. We will compare the opponents to teams from other sports in an attempt to make it easier to gauge the degree of difficulty we will face.

England- The Three Lions squad is a supremely talented group playing some very good futbol right now. They are always good, but very rarely great. They have only won one trophy in their history, a World Cup win on their home soil in 1966. Think of the Boston Red Sox pre-2004 championship. It is almost as if they are cursed. Both teams have loyal, rabid fanbases that get quite annoying to outsiders. Both have tremendous history. on their side. Their home parks are basically historic landmarks: Wembley Stadium and Fenway Park. Both teams are full of chokers. Remember Bill Buckner, England has David Beckham. Mr. Goldenballs himself choked big time in Euro 2004, and World Cup 2002, and World Cup 1998. Finally both England and the Red Sox have the media hounding them like gold diggers to a basketball player. The poor players can barely use the loo without a reporter making it into breaking news.
Final Assessment- This will be the United State's toughest game, by far. England's Wayne Rooney will give Oguchi Onyewu all he can handle and then some. A draw against England would be a great result for the U.S. A win and America is basically in the next round. They will open against the Btits on June 12 at 1:30 p.m.

Slovenia- This little European team did big things in beating Russia in a playoff to get to the World Cup. It can best be compared to the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder. Both have not been around very long: Slovenia has only been a country for 19 years while this year was only the Thunder's second in the league. They don't have much if any history to fall back on bcause of it. They both play in relatively small markets with a small population. Slovenia only has 2 million citizens while OKC has around 550, ooo. Both are underdogs in every sense of the word. No one expects Slovenia to do much just as no one expected much from the Thunder against the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. They do have plenty of talent though. While Slovenia does not posess a game-changer like Kevin Durant, it has a varitey of other skilled players. Keeper Samir Handanovic is one of the best in the World, and Robert Koren will wreak havoc from his attacking midfielder spot.

Final Assessment- In the end, the United States will be heavy favorites against the Slovenes (if that's even a word). That does not mean it will be easy, just that the U.S. should beat them.

Algeria- The desert foxes, as they are known, are like Jekyl and Hyde, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Their only problem is that when they are bad, they are frightfuly bad. Their closest counterpart in the sporting world would have to be the Milwaukee Brewers. Both have had recent success that was preceded by long droughts of futility. Both haven't made any noise on the biggest stage since the 80's. Both have a rabid home crowd when winning, and empty stadiums any other time. Strange seeing as neither Algeria or Milwaukee have other dominant teams. The Algerians, much like the Brewers, are just happy to be there. "Our qualification has made it possible for the country to put itself back on the map. It's a joy and even an honor to be at the origin of that," Algerian Coach Rabah Saadane.

Final Assessment- Another game the U.S. will be favored in. Depending on the results of the first two games, this could be a blessing or a curse. They cannot think it will be an easy game and come unprepared or they will be left wondering what happened. History is on the Americans' side when it comes to facing an African team in the third game of the group stage. Their 3-0 victory over Egypt in the Confederations Cup last summer comes to mind. Let's hope it doesn't come to needing a win this time around.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mexico takes the current champions to the woodshed


Okay, okay, I know it was only a friendly, but it is very difficult no to get excited about Mexico's 2-1 victory over reigning the World Champs, Italy. For starters, this was Mexico's first victory, ever, against the Azurri. In ten previous attempts, the best result El Tri could muster was a measly tie. (Well, not that measley. The last two games against Italy were draws in the group stage of the 2002 World Cup and the group stage of the 1994 World Cup). This historic feat could not have come at a better time either. This being the last friendly Mexico will play before opening the 2010 festivities against South Africa, it was critical to get some confidence and some momentum. Boy did they ever. Carlos Vela opened the scoring with a nice finish of a beautiful Giovani run and pass. Sub Alberto Medina then doubled the lead beating Buffon on a 1 on 1 after a gorgeous chip from Cuahutemoc Blanco. Italy drew within one in the 89th minute when Leonardo Bonucci put in a loose ball off of a corner.

Coming off two defeats to strong opposition, England and Holland, and a beatdown of a local pub team I mean Gambia, Mexico had to prove it could play well with the big boys. Sipmly speaking, it did. El Tri dominated posession Barcelona style, out possessing Italy 64-36 percent. This wasn't an Italy B team either. It might not have been the starting XI, not after this thrashing anyways, but all of the big names for Italy played. Buffon, Pirlo, Cannavaro, DeRossi, Gilardino, Iaquinta. This was a straight up beat-down of a good team.

Mexico made Italy look old, which with all due respect, Italy is. The Aztecs ran circles around the Italians and were crisp with their ball movement. The scoreline was very deceiving. Chicharito Hernandez missed a bunny three feet in front of the net when he whiffed on a great feed by Carlos Vela. Vela was hauled down from behind by Cannavaro inside the area for a clear penalty kick, only to have the ref tell him to play on. In the closing stages of the game, sub Andres Guardado missed a 1 on 1 with the keeper. Three crystal clear opportunities to run up the score wasted. Mexico's lack of finishing is still worrisome, but the generation of so many goal scoring opportunities is uplifting.

So what did we end up learning from the match?
  1. As much as it pains me, Luis "Conejo" Perez will be the starter bewteen the pipes for Mexico. Not only did he get the nod again today, he also was given the coveted number 1 jerset. Memo Ochoa was given the number 12. Perez was decent today. He wasn't tested much and the goal was not his fault, but he doesn't instill confidence. His diminutive frame and lack of youth frightens me. Head coach Javier Aguirre has proven people wrong before, let's hope he can prove me wrong this summer.
  2. Mexico's three-headed monster up-top will be a sight to see. Chicharito, Vela, and Giovani Dos Santos are fast. Time and time again they were outrunning the vaunted Italian defense today. They have great field vision as well, as shown by Dos Santos' assist to Vela in the first half. They have a lot of chemistry together and share the ball. Look, I am a homer so my glasses are green colored, however, if I were South Africa, France, or Uruguay, I'd be losing sleep over this talented trio. To think they are all under 23 year old, too. Now that is scary.
  3. Mexico will play a variation of the 4-3-2-1 that might look a little like this:


Vela------------------Dos Santos




As crazy as it might seem to say, Guardado and Blanco will be coming off the bench.

4. Mexico will die by the set-piece. The only goal it gave up came off a corner in the 89th minute. This is its weakness. I know it, you know it, everybody knows it. It has to improve and quickly.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Only in Mexico...

I hate it when people call Mexico a third-world country. Having lived there for a good portion of my life and having gone back for a few weeks every year, I can tell you, that is far from true. I mean, we have ESPN and wi-fi at my grandma's house. That alone should disqualify my home country from third-world status. Nevertheless, there are some things that go on in the land of the Aztecs, that only a backwards country could experience. Take the most recent scandal from the telenovela that is the Mexican National Team.

Jonathan Dos Santos, 20, is a promising prospect at Barcelona. He has yet to become a fixture with the first team at Barcelona but coach Pep Guardiola speaks highly of this up-and-comer. His potential garnered him an invitation to the Mexican National Team camp. Coming off an injury, he was unable to play much during the camp or the games played in that time-frame. Nevertheless, he survived the initial roster cut and was one of the last 24 standing. With almost no experience at any level, he was a surprising pick over some veteran players.

On Sunday, Jonathan was cut. While a crushing blow, this is a fairly common occurrence seeing as every other national team in the World Cup had to cut its roster to 23. But, being Mexico, this couldn't go over that easily. That same day, Jonathan's father, Mexican-Brazilian and ex-soccer star Zizinho came out guns blazing and announced "Jona" would never lace up a pair for Mexico ever again.

It happened with Chucho. Now, Aguirre. My child will never put on Mexico’s shirt again. For me, it’s garbage. I respect Giovani, who’s with the team. Jona should put on Brazil or Spains shirts, there they will appreciate him. My sentiments toward the Mexican national team flipped completely but not because I’m the father, not because of that, but simply because you can’t do things like that to the future of Mexican football.

Oh yea this plot only gets thicker. Let's not forget that Jonathan is also the younger brother of another up-and-comer, Giovani Dos Santos, an ex-Barcelona prospect and current fixture on El Tri. Gio is said to be so distraught by the news that his brother was cut, that he wants to quit the team. According to his father Zizinho, Gio called his father crying and said he didn't want to play in the World Cup.

For those that tuned in late, let's recap. Unexperienced young player gets chance to prove himself, gets hurt, doesn't play much, gets cut, dad goes bonkers, other unexperienced young player and brother of first unexperienced young player is sad, doesn't want to play in world's most important tournament, other players console him, to be continued.

First off, let me grab a cloth to shove in my mouth as I scream profanities at the top of my lungs (I am at work and I'm sure my boss wouldn't like me swearing for a minute straight). There are so many things wrong with this picture, I don't know where to begin.

Look, I get it that Zizinho is bummed his son didn't make the team. If that was my kid I'd be pissed too. Still, I would have to be on one high horse to declare that he would never play for that team again. THIS IS THE BIG LEAGUES. Sorry for the all-caps but it was definitely necessary. This is not some tee-ball league where every child has to play an inning. It's life. All over the world there are players being cut and I don't see any other dad's taking the ball and going home. It's one thing to stand up for your son, it's quite another to throw a temper tantrum in his name. He has to grow up on his own. He is my age for pete's sake. He is a star in the making. He will have plenty of opportunities to make it to the Big Dance again. All his dad is doing is making his son look petty and immature. Way to go Zizinho.

About Jona, why hasn't he spoken. He is young but he is not a kid. I am a little younger than he is, but I still wouldn't rely on my daddy to speak to the press for me. I know he is probably too upset to express himself right now, but he should have the courage to release a statement saying he is bummed and will speak for himself. He could at least call his dad and be like "Hey, dad, thanks for sticking up for me, but you don't have to make me look like a spoiled brat." He is 20 so that gives him a realistic shot at three more World Cups, maybe four. That's about three or four more than I will ever go to. I would give my left arm to play professional soccer and I would give my other remaining arm to play for my home country, let alone be a rising star in upcoming World Cups. There are 30 million young Mexicans who would do the same. It makes Jona look real selfish. I'm not saying that he is, only that his father is making him look that way. He has to step up, grow up, and speak up. If he really doesn't want to play for Mexico, good luck cracking a starting spot in Spain or Brazil. I think he will find it's not that easy.

Then there is Gio. I have jersey with his name on the back. He is my second favorite player in the world. I really really like the dude. BUT, he too has to grow up. He has a job to do and is being paid very handsomely to do it. To give it all up like that because of what he feels is an injustice to his brother seems petty to me. He can use it as motivation if he has to. All I know is that if he really quits on Mexico 10 days before the biggest game of his life, he will be done with El Tri forever. He could have Maradona's skills for all I care and I would still shun him. You don't quit on your team and you don't quit on your country. Not to mention that he is cap-tied to Mexico so he could not play for any other country. He would be risking ending his entire international career at the tender age of 21.

I love my brother with my whole heart as well, but this is petty. Jona is not being tortured or killed, just cut from a team. To the Dos Santos family: take a breath, clear your heads, and grow the heck up. You are not the end all, be all. Mexico was there before you and will be there after you. You can choose to be loved or vilified for decades to come. It's not just about soccer, this is about life.

When you get knocked down, stand up and dust yourself off. Just ask Mr. Jordan.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Back on track

My my how one weekend doth change much. On Friday the US was a team still full of question marks who disappointed mightily against the Czech Republic, and Mexico was a team on a two game snide with no confidence and no definitive starting XI. By Sunday, all of that had changed.

(Goals at :25, 2:30, and 4:40 for those only interested in goals)

Three things we learned:

1) Jose "Paco" Torres is a playmaker. His playmaking and ball distributing abilities ignited a stagnant US attack. He deserves to be in the starting line-up against England.

2)Robbie Findley is not a waste call-up. Critics (myself included) were befuddled by Bob Bradley's decision to call up Findley over veteran veteran Ching. His speed kept Turkey on its heels the whole time Findley was out there. His scoop pass to Ladon Donovan was a thing of beauty as well.

3)Carlos Bocanegra will be our starter at left back. Jonathan Bornstein was mediocre at best against the Turks. He is to inconsistent to be relied on time in and time out. Bocanegra has plenty of experience at the spot playing for club team Rennes and is a much better option in the back.

1)Chicharito deserves to be a starter come June 11th. His brace against Gambia gave him seven goals in 10 career appearances with El Tri. He is a goal scorer unlike any Mexico possesses.

2)Set pieces will be the death of Mexico. Conceding yet another set piece goal, the Aztecs have revealed their weakness. They are terrible at covering corners or free kicks. They simply suck. There is no other way around it.

3)Mexico can beat down crappy opposition with the best of them. Let's just hope South Africa is the crappy opposition everyone expects them to be.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Players to know part I: A who's who of the Mexican talent

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez: This 21-year-old has risen quicker than a horny teenager's member at the Playboy mansion. Two years ago, he was playing local talent in Texas, contemplating whether to call it a career. A year ago he was a reserve member of Chivas de Guadalajara, trying to scratch his way onto the main squad. Now, he is a member of Manchester United (becoming the first Mexican who will ever play at the storied club), a scoring champion in Mexico (even though he missed 6 games), and Mexico's next great hope. "Chicharito" (Spanish for little pea) little scored four goals in his first four national team call-ups and has all but locked-up the starting spot against South Africa on June 11th. He is a skilled scorer with either foot, but more impressively, is a tremendous finisher with his head. Standing at only 5-foot-10, this little pea has hops like no other. Look for him to make many Man U supporters salivate at his skills this summer.

2) Giovanni Dos Santos: After yet another failed stint in England, this time at Tottenham, this 21-year-old seems to have found his groove in Turkey. Loaned out to Galatasaray in January, Dos Santos finally found playing time and made the most of it. He goes into South Africa as a lock to start at the right mid spot, having dominated at that position in qualifying. His speed and ball control have made him the target of important clubs like Barcelona and Tottenham since he was 17, when he won the Under-17 World Cup with Mexico. For "El Tri," he will be the main counter-attacker, turning a ball lost in Mexico's sector, into a fast-break on the other end. His left footed shot is a rocket, although not one with the greatest aim. Dos Santos won't be the focus of the offense, but without his input, the offense will be stagnant.

3) Cuauhtemoc Blanco: He's old. He's fat. He has a hunchback. He can't run. He doesn't play defense. He's temperamental. Basically, he has no business being a soccer player, let alone a World Cup starter. Yet, beyond any explanation, he continues to be one of Mexico's top players. Blanco has a field vision to rival that of any player in the world. Although his physical qualities may be non-existant, his technical qualities are off the charts. He's the Steve Nash of soccer, able to put place a pass with pin-point accuracy. Commentators in Mexico are still in disbelief at Mexico's reliance on Blanco, but the truth is that he is irreplaceable. There is no one in Mexico who can create as many quality scoring opportunities as him. Don't believe me, just ask the Chicago Fire. He doesn't have the stamina to finish all 90 minutes, but the 60 or so minutes he will be out there, he will wreak havoc for the opponent's defense.

4) Guillermo "Memo" Ochoa: A backup on Mexico's squad in 2006, this was supposed to be his year. That is until he forgot how to stop shots. The Club America standout no longer has a chokehold on the keeper position. In fact, he might be the one in a chokehold. A sub par season with his club, in addition to a shaky performance against North Korea in a friendly where he gave up an easy goal, have put Memo in limbo. He is now fighting it out with Luis Ernesto Michel of Chivas and 37-year-old Conejo Perez for the coveted spots. It's anyone's guess who head coach Javier Aguirre will pick. There is no denying Ochoa is the most gifted of the three, but his cold spell could not have come at a worse time.

5) Andres Guardado- Lost in the shuffle of promising young players like Dos Santos and Carlos Vela is 23-year-old Andres Guardado. This Club Atlas product has been a starter in Spain at Deportivo La Coruna for the past two years. This skilled lefty has already proven his mettle in one of the top leagues in the world, yet still doesn't get the acclaim of other less established players. Guardado has blazing speed and will constantly be attacking on the left side. With his skill when it comes to controlling the ball, Guardado a lot of the offense will start through him. He may not make a dent towards the Golden Boot, but without him, Mexico has no shot at taking down the big boys.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mexico loses to Holland 2-1

As opposed to the England game, Mexico dominates the second half. It was too little too late though as El

Tri drops its second straight game.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's not whether you win or lose...

It has been an inauspicious start to the World Cup season for both Mexico and the United States as both squads suffered two-goal defeats this week. England downed "El Tri" 3-1 at legendary Wembley Stadium in London on Monday while the Czech Republic took out the U.S. 4-2 in East Hartford, Connecticut, yesterday.

There is no need to hit the panic button yet though. Mexico dominated possession against England, clearly outplaying them in the first half. Arsenal striker Carlos Vela, the missed two clear goal-soring chances in the stanza (the 1:55 mark being one of them), showing the rust he has accumulated from riding the pine at Emirates Stadium. Vela played a total 0f 92 of a possible 1,800 minutes in Arsenal's last 20 matches. Were it not for Peter Crouch, the 6-7 giant of a soccer player, and Mexico's lousy marking on set plays, the Aztecs would have gone into the half with a lead.

A loss is not always a bad loss either. This was Mexico's first legitimate opponent since qualifying ended last year. Mexico showed it can play under pressure and play well. Granted, England did not have its A squad out there, skipper Fabio Capello gave the Chelsea and Portsmouth players a rest and mixed and matched line-ups. However, anytime you can go into Wembley and outplay a British squad you can chalk it up as a job well done.

The United State's loss, while not to an opponent of England's caliber, is equally as justifiable. Using the match as an opportunity to evaluate players on the bubble of not making the team, coach Bob Bradley sat many of his starters: Landin Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Carlos Bocanegra, Tim Howard. The Czechs were also at less than full-strength, but this game was clearly more about scouting players than getting a result.

What did we find out? For starters the defense is not as strong as it was during the Confederations Cup. Oguchi Onyewu is clearly not back to full form having sat out most of the year at A.C. Milan with an injury. Jonathan Bornstein is still as unreliable as ever, having been burned a couple times during the match. Heath Pearce...well, the book is closed on him, there is no chance in hell he makes the final 23.

We also learned that Demarcus Beasley may not be washed up after all. The former Fire star played a stellar game in the midfield, showing pace and control. He may have won himself a spot on the team with his performance. Club teammate Maurice Edu also played well, scoring a goal and giving Bradley a tough choice at who to start at defensive mid, him or Ricardo Clark.

On the offensive side of things, Herculez Gomez might have booked a ticket to South Africa with yet another goal scoring performance. Edison Buddle is probably staying stateside and Brian Ching will somehow make another World Cup squad.

In the end, it sucks to lose at home. Hopefully Bradley saw what he needed to see and will take the best 23 players America can offer.

Momma's Boy: How I came to root for the green, red, white and blue

If someone said you could only love one parent and made you choose between your mom and your dad, who would you pick?

You deeply love both and feel they are a big part of your life. How can you just turn your back on someone that means so much to you? This is the dilemma I faced when it came to choosing my allegiances between the men’s national soccer teams of Mexico and the United States.

On the one hand, I had Mexico, my “mother” country. I was born and raised there, learning to love everything about it. It molded me into the person I am today.

Yet, I have lived in the United States for 13 years now. It has given me more opportunities than I would have had in Mexico. Like a true father would, it has taken me in and provided more than I could ever wish for.

I am loyal to both, as most children are to their parents, and want both to succeed in whatever it is they are doing.

As avid fans know, though, this is unacceptable when it comes to soccer. You’re either for the U.S. or you’re for Mexico. Dual alliances are equal to treason in this rivalry.

After all, it was Mexican fans that chanted Osama Bin Laden’s name during a game between the two in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2002. And it was American fans that brought green cards to a 2007 Gold Cup game in Chicago and pulled them out against Mexican fans during the game telling them to get out of their country. (And you thought the Duke and North Carolina rivalry was bad.)

Both acts are despicable but go to show the deep seated hatred that lies behind the rivalry. There is no wiggle room on either side. You are either for us, or against us.

Believe me, I have tried to cheer for both of my parent nations. In the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, I would wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. whenever Mexico or the U.S. would play. Fittingly enough, they ended up playing each other in the knockout round of 16.

I was a wreck. If you have ever witnessed your parents fight, I mean the "I'm about to throw the hairdryer at your face" fight, you know what I'm talking about. This was a fight to the death. There would literally be only one still around after the final whistle.

The U.S. came out victorious in what will forever be known as the dos a cero (2 to 0) game. Strangely enough, instead of climbing onto the U.S. bandwagon full force after the W, I stepped off of it. I have no idea why either, all I know is that since that game, my allegiances have been primarily to "Los Verdes.

That is not to say I don't root for the U.S. though. I cheer for them, I know all about them, and I want them to keep improving to keep growing the sport here. My dream scenario would be to have both teams playing in the World Cup Final, with Mexico winning, of course.

While many fans on both sides will see this as an easy way out, a politician's stance in a sense by rooting for both teams, it is the honest truth. I love both my mother and my father. Why should I have to pick between them?

I love me some green, red, white and blue.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Welcome: The world cup is kind of a big deal to me

Can you feel it?

Soccer commercials are dominating ad time on the TV, football stars graze magazine covers, and even newspapers are running little stories on American players.

It's that time of the decade again. The World Cup has arrived!

On June 11th, Mexico and South Africa will kick around a little white ball in front of, oh, 2 billion people, to inaugurate the greatest spectacle in the world, a month-long showcase of talent, desire and pure unadulterated passion.

Just thinking about it makes my knees wobble. I get like a little kid hyped up on sugar the days before the games begin, but once they arrive, I become a nervous wreck. I'm like a convicted felon awaiting trial, I expect the worst and hope for the best.

Just to put things into perspective, when Mexico was beaten by Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez with the luckiest goal in world cup history in the round-of-16, I became depressed. Well, only for a few days, but it was bad. I sat in the car listening to the Beatle's "Don't Let me Down" asking the heavens why I was let down.

I can't wait to see what kind of breakdown I'll have this time around.

Yes, my panties are all up in a bunch because of this. I check blogs ESPNDeportes for new videos about the Mexican National Team more than every 15 minutes. I log into Soccer by Ives to get the latest scoop on the U.S. National team every few hours. Heck, I even browse foreign newspapers online for futbol news. I'm like a crack addict in need of a juicy rock when it comes to this stuff.

I have already cleared my mornings for days when Mexico or the U.S. play, and big matches like Brazil vs. Ivory Coast, and teams I enjoy watching like the Netherlands and Spain play, and teams I detest like Italy and Argentina play, and teams in groups A and C play, and quirky teams like South Korea and Nigeria play, and boring teams like Greece and Denmark play, and crappy teams like North Korea and New Zealand play. In other words, I plan on watching every single game. I am that obsessed.

In 2006, I watched about 60 of the 65 games. A few of them weren't live because the third games of the group stages are always played simultaneously and I didn't feel like switching back and forth. From the games I watched, I made a notebook logging who scored when, what the final score was, and how much I enjoyed the game.

Four years later, I plan on doing a similar, yet much more sophisticated log through this blog. I don't want to wax too poetic on every game, just a few key ones, but I do want to jot down notes on every game. Hopefully it doesn't come out as boring as it sounds right now. I will try to mix things up and maybe have some guest commentators as the tournament progresses.

Thanks for clicking over here and taking the time to read my ramblings. Be sure to check back every so often for new content.