Tuesday, July 06, 2010

ATH: Some Last Minute World Cup Thoughts

Down to four teams, and this afternoon we will be down to three . . . here's a few notes beforehand . . .

A) i'm rooting for the Netherlands and Spain. i have a soft spot for Germany as well, but it's larger for Spain . . .

B) why? . . . Holland was the team that changed the game of soccer forever, and for the better in my estimation, and that was during my playing and early coaching years. i was on to Clockwork Orange, long before most Americans had any clue what was going on and were mired in 60's British soccer (where some of them still are) . . . needless to say all of my coaching since evolved from those early ideas -- first touch, first opportunity, changing shape and positions, the tornado, multiplying forwards, etc., etc., and so it should come as no surprise that i credit them with all the successes i had . . . and Johann Cruyff was my favorite player, along with Pele, both for his magic on the ball and for his classiness as a human being . . . no secret too that i consider those two the best players the world has ever even seen . . . Spain i like because they were coached by Cruyff who initiated the fluid and fast style they play now, because i am enamored of Iniesta and Torres, and am a new convert to Villa . . . and because i think if there is an up and coming heir to the title of best player it is Bojan Krkic, who is young, but i was dismayed to see him not included on Spain's cup roster . . . nevertheless, the team comes closest to my style of play, and i'd love to see them win . . . nothing against Germany, they are a machine, and a pretty dang exciting machine . . . Uruguay, Forlan is fun to watch, but i am in no forgiving mood for their lousy handball against Ghana . . . the wrong team advanced there . . .

C) was really nice to see Fernando Torres start the other day . . . he created no real chances, but i thought he was dangerous every time he touched the ball, which was a lot as he was far and away the hardest working human on the field for his half . . . he is amazing to watch, and i hope he gets his time in tomorrow . . .

D) i think i'll post a long blog sometime this week about the mistaken belief that soccer still has to catch on in America . . . part of the problem is all the old-school writers with big columns getting to write about something they are ignorant of . . . let someone write who gets it . . . more to come

E) which partly brings me to the idea that the beauty of soccer, and it's difficulty for old-school Americans, is that it's a players' game, not a coach's game making an understanding of the game (not just the rules) crucial to its enjoyment . . .

F) another of those things Americans don't get is that offsides is NOT a difficult or complex rule to understand, not at all, it takes me sixty seconds to explain it . . . the complexity of it comes from the calling of on the field in play . . . a linesman has to be focused in two places -- the line and the touch of the ball in order to make a correct decision . . . you never know in advance which that touch is, even on set plays, so in effect every touch of the ball has to be compared to player position . . . it is nerve-wracking, exhausting, delicate, and pretty impossible to get right most of the time . . . i think we should be applauding the ones they get right . . . and maybe using replay if (and only if) a push results in a goal, to check that all folks were in place -- easy to do post-goal when time is being tracked . . .


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