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Tag: "soccer"

Random Jetlag Blogging

[ 9 ] January 12, 2011 |

I arrived back on the island where I am currently based “yesterday” morning (January 11).  I slept seven hours “last night”, awaking at 11pm (GMT).  I lecture in two hours or so.  I’m sure it will go well indeed, once I work out just where and when I am.

While the social science on a relationship between what passes for political rhetoric in the USA and the events in Tucson is understandably mixed, it is safe to say that the right wing are not the victims.  Unless, of course, you’re Trent Humphries, co-founder of the Tucson branch of the Tea Party International, who believes that “The Democrats are using this opportunity to bludgeon their opponents.”

Oh, if only we were that organized.  It shouldn’t take too much political moxie to work out that the best way to approach this if you’re on the hard right is to point out that Tucson was a senseless tragedy, that violence has no place in society or even politics, and maybe that some on the right have turned the rhetoric up perhaps a little too high on the inflammatory scale.  What you wouldn’t want to do is claim that you, too, are victims.  But at least he recognizes that guns are likely taking a back seat in politics for the time being: “I’m pretty sure that for a little while yet you won’t be seeing any politician holding an AK-47 or an M16. I’m pretty sure that’s going to go away, and the last place that would go away is Arizona”.

An AK-47?

In this review of the right blogosphere, the narcissism stretches far.  (h/t John Emerson and Mark Devlin).

UPDATE:  I was wrong.  It’s really all about Sarah.  “Blood libel” will henceforth enter the lexicon.

In different news, USMNT center back Oguchi Onyewu has moved on loan from AC Milan to FC Twente Enschede, the defending champions of the Dutch Eredivisie (and also located right across the street and rail line from my old office at U. Twente).

Random Sports Catch-up: Cricket, Plymouth Argyle on the Rocks, and UW

[ 4 ] December 29, 2010 |

I’m recently “returned” to Oregon from a week + in Kitsapland, hanging out for five days with my partner’s family, followed by an impromptu three-night stand with my fleet of cousins.  The latter was a non-stop holiday gala with excellent food, political debate, and, oh yeah, soaked with alcohol of all sorts (and at all times).  Beyond my phone I was well off the grid, literally, figuratively, metaphorically.

As predicted in Revelations, England retained the Ashes for the first time in 24 years in imperious fashion.  This now seems so long ago.  Whether or not this is a sign of the promised apocalypse I can’t say, but as the sun is currently shining in Portland, Oregon, I’m not making any long term plans.

In my other home, the third tier “professional” soccer team, Plymouth Argyle, are insolvent.  In American sports, this wouldn’t matter; when was the last time a major league baseball, football, or basketball team was allowed to go bust?  In Britain, it can, and does, happen; the most recent example being Scottish club Gretna FC who folded in 2008.  Argyle need at minimum something around £750,000 by February to pay their tax bill to the Inland Revenue, otherwise they appear to be done.  Indeed, Argyle face three concurrent “winding up orders” and require between £3 and £4 million by February to clear their immediate debts.  The board is in chaos, the staff (including the players) haven’t been paid on time for the second straight month, gates are significantly down from last year due to their relegation to the third division and their (charitably) mediocre play in said division, are under a transfer embargo by the league thus preventing them from so much as retaining a decent player on-loan from Chelsea, and they will certainly be forced to sell their two best players this January in order to possibly stay afloat.  In addition to selling off their best players, thus enhancing the probability of a second successive relegation, there’s talk of selling the stadium to property developers.

UPDATE: less than 24 hours after writing this, a bid has been accepted for winger Craig Noone.  As he’s in his final contract year, and the bidding team is fellow League – 1 side Brighton, the transfer fee won’t clear the tax debt.

Matt Slater at the BBC has the most comprehensive overview on the causes of what could be the end of a 124 year-old club.  Fans have taken matters into their own hands by setting up a supporters’ trust, in part organized by my student and friend John Petrie.  Ironically, Argyle’s Devon rivals Exeter City were saved from liquidation in 2003 by a similar trust, so there might be hope yet.  (Of course, it should be noted that when Exeter City drew 0-0 with Manchester United in the 2005 FA Cup at Old Trafford, the £675,000 cash infusion from the 67,000+ gate did not hurt City’s chances of financial survival).

Back in April, I posted here about how Argyle were officially relegated following their 0-2 loss to Newcastle United at Plymouth.  I had experienced a couple promotion seasons in Plymouth, that was my first relegation season.  Now, being relegated following a match against Newcastle United, or even Huddersfield Town, looks a lot more enticing than experiencing a rare, entirely possible, liquidation season.

And finally, there’s the small matter of my alma mater, the Oregon of the North, playing in the much vaunted Holiday Bowl in San Diego against 17th ranked Nebraska, tomorrow.  I’m certain that Nebraska are all aflutter with the privilege and honor of playing Washington.  I’m equally certain that Nebraska’s 56-21 victory in the third game of the season has absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the bowl game.

Umm, go Huskies.

Hail to the Conquistador!

[ 6 ] July 11, 2010 |

Some fabulous work from the LGM readership; two teams in the 99.9th percentile:

1 greller49 1A. Greller 22 20 24 32 32 130 99.9
1 tnpsc 1v. las vegas 22 20 24 32 32 130 99.9
3 I Sure Hope I Win This!D A Lempert 20 16 24 32 32 124 99.1
4 gj manateesb. junge 19 16 24 32 32 123 98.9
4 wang1870D. Sessoms 19 24 16 32 32 123 98.9
6 timeagan101 1T. Eagan 23 16 16 32 32 119 98.1
7 US CottagersD. Brennan 18 20 16 32 32 118 97.8
7 Jersey Burkers J. Theibault 18 20 16 32 32 118 97.8
9 wizardpeople 1D. Noon 19 16 16 32 32 115 96.9
10 Smarter Than YuoS. Fleury 21 20 16 16 32 105 94.5

A. Greller wins by virtue of having a closer “total goals scored” number. Excellent work. If Mr. or Ms. Greller would please contact me, prize delivery shall be arranged…

Oh, and congrats to Spain as well, I guess.

World Cup Challenge Standings

[ 2 ] July 5, 2010 |

Not that anyone cares anymore…

1 johnbparker1 1J. Parker 19 24 24 0 0 67 99.7
2 greller49 1A. Greller 22 20 24 0 0 66 99.5
2 bobby lenarduzzid. loveland 22 20 24 0 0 66 99.5
2 tnpsc 1v. las vegas 22 20 24 0 0 66 99.5
5 PALGOLAKp mac 21 20 24 0 0 65 99.4
6 NJLandfill1 1K. Hannigan 21 22 20 0 0 63 98.6
7 paul8462 1P. Inselmann 18 20 24 0 0 62 97.9
7 Eccentripity 1E. Cerevic 22 16 24 0 0 62 97.9
7 The HypnotoadD. Raskin 22 16 24 0 0 62 97.9
7 bourbon renewalh. hjklhljkh 22 24 16 0 0 62 97.9
7 Europa05 1m. allen 22 16 24 0 0 62 97.9

Penalty Kicks

[ 19 ] July 2, 2010 |

As I’ve said before, I can’t stand important games being decided by any kind of penalty shooting, although true aficionados of football will tell me that the nature of the their sport makes them the least bad alternative and I admit I don’t really have a good answer. (For hockey, there’s no excuse.) Under these circumstances, though, the team I’m rooting for suffering the arbitrary loss isn’t nearly as bad as usual.

But, damn.


[ 10 ] July 2, 2010 |

The Dutch defeat at the Second Battle of Guararapes now stands avenged.

World Cup Quarter Finals

[ 12 ] July 1, 2010 |

I was going to write something about this, but . . . no.  I’ve grown addicted to my monthly “paycheque”.

The quarter final brackets for the World Cup are . . . unbalanced.  Look for yourself:

Friday, 2 July
Netherlands v Brazil 15:00 BST, 10:00 EDT, 07:00 PDT
Uruguay v Ghana 19:30 BST, 14:30 EDT, 11:30 PDT

Saturday, 3 July
Argentina v Germany 15:00 BST, 10:00 EDT, 07:00 PDT
Paraguay v Spain 19:30 BST, 14:30 EDT, 11:30 PDT

I’m going to boldly predict that the final will include the team that wins the Netherlands v Brazil match and the Argentina v Germany match.  This should not be taken as a disparagement of Spain, the reigning European Champions, but they haven’t really appeared all that sharp, especially with a blatantly unfit Fernando Torres playing in every match.

As I am now happily ensconced in Oregon, catching up on research that I haven’t had the time to work on back in Plymouth (goal for the next month: three new articles sent off, and two book proposals in the can by September.  no, really!), I’ll be waking early to go visit a friend’s house to watch the Netherlands v Brazil match.  Since the USA were eliminated, I’ve transferred my allegiance to the Dutch.  Ironic, considering the only tournament held during my three years in the NL, the 2002 World Cup, didn’t feature the side at all.

This will not be one of the Holland Brazil matches of yore.  Both sides have adopted the more circumspect, cautious football that everybody save for the English have managed to master at this level (which in part may explain the relative paucity of goals at this tournament).  Both sides line up in what traditional nomenclature would refer to a 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3, but both formations are more nuanced than tradition allows: it’s really a 4-2-1-2-1.  England, of course, stay wedded to the tried and true (and outdated) 4-4-2.  It worked in 1966!!!  But then, they also stay wedded to the tried and true Single Member District / Plurality electoral system, but I digress.

Realistically, one has to like Brazil to win this match, but I am holding out hope for De Oranje, as Brazil have a few niggles and suspensions, whereas Holland manager Bert van Marwijk has an injury and suspension free 23 to choose from.

For those interested, I’ve read a few excellent books on Dutch football.  Indeed, I’ve found the quality of insightful writing on football soccer to be excellent at times, and both of these blend football with broader observations of Dutch politics and society:

Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football (at Amazon here).

as well as the brilliant Simon Kuper‘s Ajax, the Dutch, the War: Football in Europe during the Second World War.

Kuper also wrote the excellent Football Against the Enemy, which includes a chapter on the 1974 World Cup final between the Dutch and West Germany if I recall correctly, as well as coverage of the same two sides match in the finals of the 1988 European Championship.  I have several other suggestions, but, alas, my library is in England, and I’m in Oregon.

Cream Rises…

[ 0 ] July 1, 2010 |

LGM World Cup Standings following the Round of 16…

1 bourbon renewalh. hjklhljkh 22 24 46 99.4
2 Meinong’s JungleJ. Brown 20 24 44 98.4
3 johnbparker1 1J. Parker 19 24 43 97.7
3 wang1870 1D. Sessoms 19 24 43 97.7
3 1buddhacat 1R. Vaidya 19 24 43 97.7
3 welloiledmachineS. Rockhold 19 24 43 97.7
3 AlSuA. Berry 23 20 43 97.7
3 Great Russian DinosaursM. Jeffery 23 20 43 97.7
9 DelawhereJ Sellers 18 24 42 96.2
9 greller49 1A. Greller 22 20 42 96.2
9 bobby lenarduzzid. loveland 22 20 42 96.2
9 tnpsc 1v. las vegas 22 20 42 96.2
9 brokenax16 1D. Collins 22 20 42 96.2
14 Automatic BallpointG. Jenkins 21 20 41 94.2
14 Smarter Than YuoS. Fleury 21 20 41 94.2
14 With the Russians TooD. Merrill 21 20 41 94.2
14 PALGOLAKp mac 21 20 41 94.2

I’m currently tied for 82nd…

Culture War!

[ 17 ] June 29, 2010 |

Actually, that’s not true. Indeed, I should emphasize that this is not an anti-soccer post; it is an “anti-using egregious cherry-picking to exaggerate the popularity of soccer as a spectator sport in the United States” post. Not only because the claims are empirically erroneous, but because who cares? The whole genre of writing that involves obsessing over how many people like the sports you like is just bizarre.

UPDATE: I should add that my “cherry picking” comment is not directed so much at Tim, whose claims are pretty reasonable, but more at the much stronger claims being made by the people Chait is engaging with.

LGM World Cup Challenge Update

[ 0 ] June 25, 2010 |

After group play it’s still anyone’s game, except for those who did really badly during group play:

1 Better Legs on SofasB. Mizelle 24 24 99.6
2 AlSuA. Berry 23 23 98.8
2 timeagan101 1T. Eagan 23 23 98.8
2 Great Russian DinosaursM. Jeffery 23 23 98.8
5 Eccentripity 1E. Cerevic 22 22 97.0
5 greller49 1A. Greller 22 22 97.0
5 The HypnotoadD. Raskin 22 22 97.0
5 bobby lenarduzzid. loveland 22 22 97.0
5 QAS410 1, 22 22 97.0
5 tnpsc 1v. las vegas 22 22 97.0
5 bourbon renewalh. hjklhljkh 22 22 97.0
5 brokenax16 1D. Collins 22 22 97.0
5 Europa05 1m. allen 22 22 97.0

I’m sitting at 21 points, tied for 14th, which is much, much better than I had any reason to expect. Will be cheering hard for USA in tomorrow’s W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Bowl.

Now You Have A Reason To Whine And Cry!

[ 26 ] June 24, 2010 |

I think I feel the way about Italy being eliminated the way most people feel about France. The really weird thing is how attractive I find most of the cultural products of these countries otherwise. Lots of people hate France on principle, but for me the puzzle is how two countries this great produce football teams that are so reprehensible…

World Cup Predictions Foolishly Revisited

[ 19 ] June 24, 2010 |

Back in December, immediately after the draw for the World Cup, I had the temerity to write a long post breaking down each group, and I foolishly offered predictions as to how the sides would finish.  I’ve been meaning to write this post prior to the last round of matches from the group stage, but a series of events have intervened.

Now, half way through those matches, let’s see how I have fared.

Group A

Prediction: 1. Mexico, 2. France, 3. Uruguay, 4. South Africa

Result: 1. Uruguay, 2. Mexico, 3. South Africa, 4. France.

The difference between Mexico and South Africa was down to goal differential.  At least I was smart enough to state “And Uruguay don’t suck either”.  I don’t think I can be faulted for horribly mis-predicting France, as I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the circus that France became in this tournament.

Group B

Prediction: 1. Argentina, 2. Greece, 3. South Korea, 4. Nigeria.

Result: 1. Argentina, 2. South Korea, 3. Greece, 4. Nigeria.

Not a bad prediction, only a point separated South Korea from Greece.  Of course suggesting that Argentina take the group isn’t exactly a risky proposition.

Group C

Prediction: 1. England, 2. USA, 3. Slovenia, 4. Algeria.

Result: 1. USA, 2. England, 3. Slovenia, 4. Algeria.

As predictions go, as I was only off by the “goals scored” tie breaker, I can’t feel too bad about this one.  Furthermore,m I did say “Don’t underestimate Slovenia, any of you”.  I should have also said “don’t overestimate England”.  Furthermore, it was a lot closer on the final day than most would have predicted, and had those two 1-0 scorelines been reversed, it would be Slovenia and Algeria progressing, not the USA and England.

Group D

Ill-Advised Prediction: 1. Germany, 2. Serbia, 3. Australia, 4. Ghana.

Result: 1. Germany, 2. Ghana, 3. Australia, 4. Serbia.

Well, two out of four isn’t bad.  And I did say the following about Ghana:

And Ghana may be all about Essien in the international media, but they have a reputation of being well organized in a disorganized way. Which, as a faux statistician, I can appreciate. But more critically, they have a lot of youth, and their kids have done well in FIFA tournaments in the past decade or so. That said, I still see them finishing last in this tough group. Serbia are that good.

If one chooses to ignore the final two sentences, I come out looking pretty good.

Group E

Prediction: 1. Holland, 2. Denmark

Situation: 1. Netherlands 6, 2. Japan 3, 3. Denmark 3, 4. Cameroon 0.

Fina matches: tonight, 19:30 BST.

The Dutch should win the group — they play Cameroon tonight, and all they need is a draw to win the group.  Even if the Oranje were to lose, their goal differential advantage (+3 over Japan, +4 over Denmark) should be enough to protect them.  The big match is Denmark v Japan.  They’re only separated by goal differential, and that’s one goal; however, that logically means Denmark have to win in order to progress.

Group F

Prediction: 1. Italy, 2. Paraguay, 3. Slovakia, 4. New Zealand.

Situation: 1. Paraguay 4, 2. Italy 2, 3. New Zealand 2, 4. Slovakia 1.

Final matches: today, 15:00 BST.

Any of the four can still progress, and any of the four can still go out.  If Paraguay draw New Zealand, they’re through.  Nothing separates Italy and New Zealand at the moment, they’ve both drawn two, scored two goals, and conceded two goals.  This will be a fascinating one, much like Group C yesterday afternoon.

Group G

Prediction: 1. Brazil, 2. Cote D’Ivoire, 3. Portugal, 4. North Korea.

Situation: 1. Brazil 6, 2. Portugal 4, 3. Cote D’Ivoire 1, 4. North Korea, 0.

Final matches: Friday, 15:00 BST.

Brazil are through, but have not secured the top seed.  However, if Brazil and Portugal merely draw, Brazil are through as top, Portugal are through in second.  The Ivory Coast will beat our reclusive friends from North Korea, but even if Portugal were to lose, the commanding goal differential advantage currently enjoyed by Portugal (+7) over the Ivory Coast (-2) dooms the Ivory Coast to third with near certainty.  Unless Brazil win by a couple, and the Ivory Coast put seven or eight in against North Korea.  An unlikely proposition.

Group H

Prediction: 1. Spain, 2. Chile, 3. Switzerland, 4. Honduras.

Situation: 1. Chile 6, 2. Spain 3, 3. Switzerland 3 , 4. Honduras 0.

Final matches: Friday, 19:30 BST.

The Switzerland victory over Spain threw a spanner into the works of this group.  Chile are through, but (UPDATE: as per the first comment below, there is a scenario, not improbable, where Chile don’t get through) face Spain in their final match.  All that separates Spain from Switzerland is a single goal on goal differential.  Again, this will provide for an engaging set of matches.

All said, I haven’t done terribly bad.  I horribly overrated both France and Serbia, and have slightly overrated Italy and England.  I predicted England 2-1 over USA, which was ever so slightly off, and predicted USA 2-1 over Algeria.  I knew we would beat Algeria, if I began to seriously doubt that around the 80th minute of yesterday’s match.

At least I seem to have nailed the North Korea position.

I fly to the USA on the 28th, which means I’ll miss a couple of the first knockout matches, but I’ll be able to watch USA v Ghana from home on Saturday (with my daughter no less).  If the USA make it past Ghana, and I think we will, I’ll be able to watch a USMNT quarter final match in the USA, which will be a pleasant change.  The next match would be against the winner of Uruguay and South Korea . . . and an English friend of mine here sent me an email this morning predicting that the USA make the semi finals.  He thinks we’ll get past both Ghana and Uruguay.

Me, I’m happy getting out of the group.  Not getting out of the group would have been a major disappointment.  Finishing top means we avoid Germany (for the time being), which does help our cause for progression.

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