Definitely more open than the previous round, but also a pretty obvious gap in class and creativity.
I'm pretty sure that Özil plays worse when he's in Hair Gel mode, compared to his classic Dickensian Urchin look, which reappeared during that rainy match earlier in the tournament.
posted by etagloh at 03:05 PM on July 04
Our national team will improve the longer we can keep our top players in Europe, away from the MLS.
But that can't go on for an extended period of time, with a disjunction between kids who grow up in the US and ones who have US citizenship but grow up elsewhere. It has to be transitional, to provide sufficient breathing room to change the development model underneath it.
Having your best players abroad is hardly a unique state of affairs: footballers from all over the world get scouted into European club systems, but their home countries still have the base level infrastructure for the scouts to know where to look.
The US federation isn't going to change the dominance of the NCAA and the lure of a scholarship, but it needs to sell the idea that there is a route to being scouted and playing professionally and not getting stuck in rec-league stagnation. Liga MX clubs are scouting 14-year-olds in the US, especially kids with Mexican heritage, and perhaps doing so more aggressively than MLS.
posted by etagloh at 09:15 PM on July 03
First touch in midfield. I'm not going to make excuses for Bradley losing possession, but if you're not confident that balls to feet will be controlled well, or passes to players ahead of you will be reached or given good first touches, there's not much you can do there unless the aim is to play Route One, hope to win balls in the air and then have support.
posted by etagloh at 11:33 PM on July 02
Focusing on Bradley just taps into bad American habits. That's daft. The first touch was lacking across midfield, and when you can't relieve pressure against a good side, then you make a rod for your own back. Howard was immense, of course, but I doubt he'll be considering his "record" in positive terms. This isn't the NHL.
The US did pretty much as well as they deserved: rank them alongside all the other teams who went out in this round to sides with a bit more guile and depth and stamina (and in some cases, luck). Most of the losing sides are going to get better, and will have days where they win. The question for the US is whether they can improve at the same rate.
The quarter-finals are probably going to be more open than the second round, because (as rumple says) the balance between teams has shifted again. No more "job done" victories here.
posted by etagloh at 09:37 AM on July 02
Yeah, Rodriguez isn't an undiscovered star, and he isn't short of a bob or two after the move to Monaco.
As the old terrace chant goes, it's just like watching Brazil, and it's weird to think that Colombia are missing a huge talent in Radamel Falcao (who the gossipy back pages believe is in Madrid right now). The bookies still have Brazil favourite for the quarter-final, and luck appears to be with them right now, but I'd love to see Colombia keep going.
posted by etagloh at 10:14 PM on June 28
is the US now obliged to enshrine Ronaldo as Mexico has enshrined Zusi?
Their primary debt is to Thomas Müller for the hat-trick that had Portugal starting their final match with a goal difference of -4. Giving him an extra one in the competition for the Golden Boot was partial repayment.
posted by etagloh at 06:09 PM on June 26
why is this punished more harshly than headbutting?
Would you rather be nutted or bitten?
There's your answer. The man's a biter.
posted by etagloh at 12:56 PM on June 26
Grantland's piece reminds me of how the salary cap rules make corporate acquisitions look like playing shop, but the motivation for LeBron isn't going to be the size of his own contract, but the prospect of a championship.
posted by etagloh at 10:08 PM on June 24
If Suarez were a dog, he'd have been sent to the place from where no dogs return by now.
The weird thing about all the Suarez incidents is that the recipients all reacted the same "what the fuck?!" way. They know how to embellish an iffy tackle, but they haven't got the experience in responding to a chomp.
posted by etagloh at 04:44 PM on June 24
The bookies still have Germany as the favourite to win, with the draw second favourite (7/4) though that might change over the next day or so.
I suppose there's something to be said for winning the group -- though it's hard to judge who's the strongest of the three potential qualifiers in Group H. The second-place team in group G faces a potential quarter-final against Argentina if they progress, while the strongest team on other side of the draw is... France. Um. Pick your poison.
posted by etagloh at 10:05 PM on June 22
This is a genuinely great World Cup so far. I posted elsewhere a piece talking about how it's got rough edges in terms of tactics: late-vintage tiki-taka vs fast counterattacking, and while Spain may be on the plane, there are possession-focused teams with the talent to win it all.
When things like this happen, and a team like Spain plays so badly it almost appears they are trying to do so, I wonder if there is a dark shadow looming in the background.
Nah. This was a knackered side picked on past glory over present form that got found out by the Dutch, and the players went into today's match knowing they'd been found out. Had they played Australia first, they might have won scrappily and built on it, but the 5-1 clogging undid them, and I'd expect the Socceroos to beat whatever side Del Bosque puts out.
Look at the link to the 2006 Argentina goal upthread: that method of building an attack now feels like it belongs to a different time, and it does.
posted by etagloh at 11:41 PM on June 18
I liked Barney Ronay's piece, written before Spain's exit, but accurately describing the fortuitous way this World Cup displays tactics in transition:
The retreat of all-out possession play is intersecting profitably with the advance of the counterattacking style, a clash that has produced rough edges, sparks, weaknesses in one system that can be exploited by strengths in the other.
posted by etagloh at 11:32 PM on June 18
During the opener, I wondered what a German side with strength and counterattacking pace might do to Brazil. Then I actually saw Germany play and realised that I underestimated them. The way the draw's set up, though, keeps them far apart.
Instead, Brazil will face someone out of Group B in the second round. We won't know whether Spain's opening horror-show is a sign of deeper malaise until later today, or whether the Dutch will do the Dutch thing once they get out of the group, but it's not a comfortable draw. (Brazil-Chile in the second round? Plausible.)
As for Ochoa, he may not have known much about some of those stops, which is true, but there's a tendency to discount positioning on the goal line for the ones that aren't acrobatic.
posted by etagloh at 08:30 AM on June 18
the play-by-play announcer and his analyst, both of whom were, I believe, of Hispanic descent, added a lot to the game for me.
Fernando Palomo (Salvadorean, works for ESPN Deportes) and Alejandro Moreno (Venezuelan, ESPN analyst and announcer for Philadelphia Union). They did the earlier Mexico match, and I enjoyed it a lot: very much 'Univision for English-speakers', and I'm only surprised that it's taken so long -- it's not as if ESPN Deportes doesn't have a stack of bilingual talent.
The ultimate voice of American football broadcasting is going to be one part blazered American sportscaster, one part Univision / ESPN Deportes, one part English football commentator and one part American ex-pro. It's still melding, but it's definitely getting there.
Ochoa was excellent; Brazil will need to improve.
posted by etagloh at 10:23 PM on June 17
Vanishing spray at the World Cup.
posted by etagloh at 10:21 PM on June 10
It's not a three-game series. It's not like a NASCAR season. Nor should it be.
The NBC hype is perhaps bound up with Americans not being exposed to horse racing outside of the three races that are lumped into the Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup, but the owner should know better.
here is the greatest performance by a race horse in history
Oh, it's impossible to compare horse racing across different settings and cultures, perhaps harder than any other sport. Red Rum, Desert Orchid, Arkle, Mill Reef, Nijinsky, Phar Lap: they all have their claims to glory.
posted by etagloh at 05:43 PM on June 08
The lead-up to tonight's Scotland-Nigeria friendly match was accompanied by reports of potential match-fixing.
This just happened. (The goal was disallowed, but still...)
posted by etagloh at 04:30 PM on May 28
NBC wins Olympic broadcast rights until 2032, so Americans will all be carrying personal holographic projectors or have iris implants and will still getting Vaseline-smeared tape-delayed coverage.
posted by etagloh at 08:01 PM on May 07
And while Floyd Mayweather certainly had one of his tougher challenges against Marcos Maidana, the judge who scored it 114-114 appeared to be going for the C.J. Ross Memorial Trophy.
posted by etagloh at 01:53 AM on May 04
This was Adam Silver's first big call as commissioner, and I'm sure he knew it was going to be a defining one after 20 years working for David Stern. A lot of the pieces talking about the transition mentioned how Silver was closest to the newer, younger team owners (Mark Cuban, Ted Leonsis, Robert Pera) with digital/tech backgrounds who supported his own efforts with NBA.com and NBA TV and other innovations; Sterling represented the other side of ownership.
posted by etagloh at 06:08 PM on April 29
I think a team in North Carolina would be to the Carolinas what the Rockies were to Colorado.
Colorado has Denver for everything in the big leagues, and can draw on a relatively concentrated metro population there; NC has Charlotte for the NBA and NFL but Raleigh for NHL, and its two biggest minor league baseball teams are the AAA Durham Bulls and Charlotte Knights, both of which have 10,000-capacity stadiums. And like I said, the A and High-A teams tend to pull decent crowds as well. The Carolinas and Virginia are a bit like 18th-century Germany: lots of little fiefdoms that have cheap tickets, cheap beer, good outreach to their areas, nice old-school parks... and higher allegiance to distant sovereigns.
You'd assume that if MLB wanted a Carolinas team, they'd look to the Triangle and the Bulls for the heritage and (perhaps) some of the demographics, but that leaves Charlotte out of the picture, which is the big reason it's trickier than Colorado. But as this Bulls fan suggests, if we're spitballin' here, how about moving the MLB franchise to Durham and making the Rays the AAA affiliate?
posted by etagloh at 05:39 PM on April 25
One thing this map shows is that a team in North Carolina would grab a huge chunk of ground really quickly.
Perhaps not quickly: as the NFL map shows, there's still legacy Steelers support in large chunks of NC despite the presence of the Panthers, and when you look at the number of Yankee fans in NC (and VA) and the relatively small support area for the Nationals, it suggests an affiliation that could last a while.
In addition, it's an area that seems to like its minor league teams well enough -- look at the cluster in NC/SC/TN -- and MLB owners may prefer it that way for their farm systems.
posted by etagloh at 05:13 PM on April 24
I thought it was pretty well-established that ESPN's Bristol headquarters was in the debatable lands between Yankees and Red Sox territory, and though the map hands it to the Yankees, I very definitely remember Hartford, CT being a split city and I'm not going to consider Facebook data as decisive here.
posted by etagloh at 05:01 PM on April 24
He broke the one golden rule in baseball: don't be blatant about breaking the rules that everyone breaks.
posted by etagloh at 09:14 PM on April 23
Is there a quicker hook in sports than being manager of a top Premiership side?
It's not a safe job anywhere, but especially not when you have to deal with shareholders and/or micromanaging plutocrats in charge. (The rumours seemed designed to help out people trading on the US stock market while the UK was on a bank holiday.)
Fergie's first season was a lot worse, but that was another era.
At both Preston and Everton, Moyes was dealing with old-school owners with a decent amount of patience and more modest expectations that he greatly exceeded. There aren't many of them around these days, though I'm sure he'll find a place at a club sooner than later, and there's always the pundit's desk between times.
posted by etagloh at 03:52 PM on April 22
'Don't Sack Moyes' banner at Man City's match tonight. Ah, such fun.
posted by etagloh at 03:03 PM on April 21
It's a weird situation to have a league that's very much an afterthought to the international setup and only just emerged (in semi-pro fashion) from the ashes of a failed league. You have players whose profile is defined by being in the national starting 11, no real benchmark for new selections other than international games, and not that many friendly matches.
US Soccer might want to focus on building a proper professional league for women first, and micromanaging the national team later.
posted by etagloh at 11:33 PM on April 11
I do think that you can safely assume that every big time program has something in place to facilitate eligibility, and that something most likely falls along the continuum between outright fraud and bending the rules.
Past precedent suggests that the NCAA has thresholds of toleration for institutional-level shit, and only asserts itself when institutions start to get too cocky, and when there are no pending TV deal negotiations. That's to say, it's an entirely predictable hierarchy of power built upon preserving a billion-dollar product.
The linked piece gets to the heart of the collective self-delusion that sustains high-end college sports in the US: it is no longer possibly deploy the "but they get a scholarship" argument if colleges are not actually providing an education to large numbers of their "scholar-athletes".
If there were an obvious alternative arrangement that could preserve the rivalries, the local ties and the bullshit ethos, I'm sure that it might stand a chance. But there isn't an obvious arrangement, and the people who matter (i.e. those with the money) are largely not prepared to give up the spectacle and the bullshit.
posted by etagloh at 09:02 PM on March 05
I had to laugh at the Onion's (NSFW) video suggesting that Sochi would be turned into a resort where Russian oligarchs could take their prostitutes.
The interesting thing about Sochi is that the main stadium, which only hosted the opening and closing ceremony, was built with the intention of becoming a training facility and venue for the national football team.
Atlanta's venues were often arranged in a pretty crappy spread-out way, and I'm pretty sure it set a precedent for the IOC to demand something more coherent, even if that leaves the problem of what to do with venues afterward.
When I was in London last year, I headed out to the grotesque Westfield mall and got to see the park from the edge of the large fence surrounding it: it re-opened briefly later in the summer for a few events, but it's only going to be (somewhat) open again in April. That's a reminder of how the "legacy" requires a lot more work on top of everything done for the few weeks the Olympic roadshow is in town and access is eased by hundreds of volunteers.
posted by etagloh at 12:58 PM on February 25
Here's the whole interview with CNBC, where you can see that he's yanking the interviewers' chains, given that the first question was about those bloody suits.
I'm going to focus on his point about 'a few lone wolves': as a rich country with a population of 300+ million, the US has enough sporting capability to compete at a high level with countries that focus on a much narrower range of sports, but there's a tacit assumption that raw talent plus a little bit of funding plus NBC's broadcast focus equals medals. Sometimes that happens and you'll see Americans representing an indifferent nation break the hearts of people who live and breathe and throw tons of investment into a sport. But not always.
Now, the counterargument would be that the foundation of American Olympic success is usually at the college level, where the 'foolish sports' subsidise everything else to some degree.
posted by etagloh at 05:38 PM on February 23
Here's a NYT piece on the question of participation in 2018 which notes that not only do the players want to go to Korea -- and the CBA gives them a role in the decision -- but NBC can also make fairly pointed suggestions as broadcast rights-holder.
Frankly, the Islanders' GM talking about refunds would be funny if it weren't sad, given the team's performance in recent history.
posted by etagloh at 09:38 AM on February 23
The Tavares injury will go a long way to discouraging NHL participation in the Olympics.
Garth Snow's Olympic experience ended with fuck all, which is why he can huff and puff about how it should be an amateur competition. That horse, it has bolted. You might as well whine about the risk of playing outdoor games.
Let's revisit in four years' time. If it's still brewing, then somehow I don't think you'll see Finns and Swedes and Canadians responding particularly well to the suggestion they shouldn't travel to South Korea.
posted by etagloh at 05:29 PM on February 22
I do agree that EITHER of these games would have been a better gold medal game than whatever combination comes out of the semis.
Two potential classics instead of one. They won't have the intensity of the gold medal match in Vancouver, but that was never going to be replicated in Sochi because of the location.
Has anyone checked to see whether Finland has suffered a mysterious outage in its gas supply yet?
posted by etagloh at 09:13 PM on February 19
It will be extremely interesting to see whether his draft status moves based on his courageous and financially risky decision to come out.
SI already has a lot of NFL personnel talking (without attribution) about how picking him would "chemically unbalance" a locker room, along with other nuggets that explain why they're without attribution.
This is the game changer for North American pro sports.
Up to a point. The SI quotes show that there was already a willingness to push him down to the lower rounds of the draft, and since it's pre-combine, it gives teams who aren't prepared to draft a player who is gay plenty of time to come up with a plausible sporting justification. If he goes undrafted, then there's also deniability in numbers.
It's a game changer to the extent that we don't know how many gay players were passed over by teams based upon stories from their campus. It's a game changer to the extent that it will put teams on the record (and off the record) regardless.
posted by etagloh at 11:28 PM on February 09
It's the same thinking behind WatchESPN: streaming coverage is "earned" by paying the cable company for TV service. In 2012, I paid for a month of cable to earn the right to watch the NBC streams, and ended up watching the BBC instead through alternative arrangements.
The 9-12 hour timezone difference means that a lot of events happen overnight for US viewers, and I'd assume there'd be a small but decent audience for live coverage. But cable company relationships take precedence.
posted by etagloh at 03:57 PM on February 08
Grantland, on the impact of Wilson's rookie contract vs. Manning's free-agent deal: "Manning is probably a better quarterback than Wilson, but is Wilson plus $16.8 million worth of players better than Manning? On Sunday, he very much was."
posted by etagloh at 11:57 AM on February 03
Can't really overlook how Wilson played, though.
Wilson played a Bruno Mars kind of game: it was competent, professional and not especially memorable. And unless Chevy was going to hand out more of those grotesque trucks, they had to pick an individual for MVP.
posted by etagloh at 10:11 AM on February 03
posted by etagloh at 11:28 PM on February 02
The section about scouting, agents and the successful Americans in Europe being late flourishers rings true: is a talented 16-year old going to close the door on a college scholarship in order to seek a professional club overseas, especially when European clubs are already sceptical about the US development model? The Red Bulls' GM wants a professional development league for 17- to 21-year-olds, which would be a direct competitor to the college route, but it would be a system that foreign teams understood and might be more willing to respect.
posted by etagloh at 09:18 PM on January 31
The Man Utd - Sunderland cup tie just ended with possibly the worst (and thus most hilarious) penalty shootout in the history of professional football.
posted by etagloh at 05:30 PM on January 22
Posnanski's commentary does not address the fact that 99% of all NFL players handle postgame on-the-field interviews without making an ass of themselves.
99% of all NFL players who do postgame on-the-field interviews are QBs (extra media training) and/or players who haven't come directly off a big play. When was the last time you saw a cornerback get the mic thrust in his face?
There are some weird expectations at work for people in those particular roles to switch from Berserker Mode to Interview Mode in fifteen seconds. I frankly want more berserkers.
posted by etagloh at 06:42 PM on January 20
I just don't like him.
American professional sport has relatively few genuine no-love-lost rivalries; Seattle-SF is becoming a decent one.
posted by etagloh at 05:15 PM on January 20
I don't know why all the major sports have such a hard-on for traditionalism and this idea of the infallible ref. No human can be all places at all times, so use technology to insure the right call is made at all times
The flipside there is the hard-on for technology. One person on the desk might spot something that can be zoomed in from a 4K shot covering three frames, another person might miss it. The canonical replays don't appear by technology magic.
You're basically empowering the network camera and production crew in pretty significant ways, which sets up a weird dynamic when it comes to rights negotiation. Suppose the CBS crew has a technical fubar one Sunday: a camera breaks, or an editing console has a glitch, or the producer only comes up with a definitive replay after a decision has been made.
There's also the potential for subtle changes to the interpretation of rules -- especially holding and pass interference -- through constant exposure to replay.
Of course, in the grand technical future, everyone in the stands will have a high-def ultrazoom camera on a contact lens, and every play will be reviewable from 50,000 slightly different angles, just as long as there's a datacenter hooked into the feeds.
posted by etagloh at 08:43 AM on January 20
Pretty nifty coaching from Carroll on the 4th and 7. The primary target was to draw the 49ers offside and shorten the 4th down; the free-play throw and TD was just a bonus.
posted by etagloh at 09:22 PM on January 19
US figure skating team picks marketable blonde girl with endorsement deals for Olympics, even though she fell on her backside in the national championships.
posted by etagloh at 07:26 PM on January 14
LSU punter Brad Wing was recruited from Australia, signed by the Eagles after being undrafted, and got released before the season began.
I think there's potential for punters whose skills are established in other codes, but it also means building a coverage team around them, and that's tricky when the player market is mainly comprised of conventional punters.
posted by etagloh at 07:23 PM on January 14
Since I was also curious, Saints' non-divisional road schedule, in order:
2010: 49ers, Cardinals, Bengals, Ravens
2011: Packers, Jaguars, Rams, Titans, Vikings
2012: Packers, Broncos, Raiders, Giants, Cowboys
2013: Bears, Patriots, Jets, Seahawks, Rams
There's actually not much room to get "adverse conditions" experience in the NFC South, unless they get sent to London on a damp Sunday in October.
posted by etagloh at 12:38 AM on January 12
I don't know what they've been putting in Blount's cheerios
And while Dierdorf was getting some grief on the twitters, you can see that he's the reason why commentators now actually show blocking patterns on replay, when it was black magic for so long. And his years as a player are taking a pretty rough toll on him.
posted by etagloh at 12:26 AM on January 12
posted by etagloh at 08:02 PM on January 11
Rocca's argument is that he's boycotting the steroid era, including Maddux and Glavine because they had "standing" to blow the whistle. But Nomo doesn't count because Japan. Or something.
Personally, I think Halls of Fame are stupid, but like college rankings, the baseball HoF is there for the arguments, not the decisions.
posted by etagloh at 01:39 PM on January 11
Now his vote may be taken away.
Indeed it has. But given that the annual complaints against the BBWA circlejerk seem to do nothing, perhaps it's time to escalate.
posted by etagloh at 05:00 PM on January 09
And that concludes a chilly weekend where all the hosting "cold weather" teams lost.
Similar feel to the Saints-Eagles game, this one, especially at the end.
posted by etagloh at 08:58 PM on January 05
Well, that was a comeback. And a war of attrition in the one indoor game of the four.
I wonder if you're allowed as a Wednesday fan to be happy about that upset
You'd be more happy about Leeds getting beaten. Wednesday have a replay, but there's still the chance of a Sheffield derby in the fourth round.
posted by etagloh at 08:13 PM on January 04
Still a little bit of magic in the FA Cup: Villa go down to Sheffield United, Leeds to Rochdale.
posted by etagloh at 12:58 PM on January 04
Oh yes. I am no fan of OSU (and particularly Meyer) but I thought Clemson played with a bit of the Dirty South there: there might not have been a game plan to bash up Miller, but that's how it played out.
The Orange Bowl is a huge fuck-off bowl of oranges? Who knew?
posted by etagloh at 12:28 AM on January 04
Catches win matches.
posted by etagloh at 08:29 PM on January 02
We both had a nap during the first period.
It got less WTFish towards the end, at least. I like the Winter Classic as a spectacle, but as a game of ice hockey, it's generally a bit of a shitshow. It also reminded me of how I'll be glad to see the wide rink back in Sochi.
posted by etagloh at 11:08 PM on January 01
They also interviewed Lovie Smith which covers the Rooney Rule
And Smith just signed with the Suckaneers, probably with an option to take over the Man Utd job when the Glazers' patience with Moyes runs out.
posted by etagloh at 11:00 PM on January 01
Saturday night in Philly is forecast to be cold, but not snowy. That may change as the day draws nearer, but Cincinatti and Green Bay aren't going to be balmy, either.
It might be in keeping with the JoiseyBowl that wintry conditions matter in the playoffs.
posted by etagloh at 11:28 AM on December 30
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