The Ubiquitous Chicharito Tops Friday Linkage

Mexico’s rising star and child of promise, Javier “Chicharito” (Little Pea) Hernandez is everywhere. Scoring goals against the World Champs in Azteca, off his face against Chelsea in the FA Community Shield Cup; gracing the front page of the Daily Mail’s football section under “Premier League Podcast” (below, second from left), and last but certainly not least residing in the lung of a senior citizen.

The kid hasn’t played one game in the EPL and he’s put up next to League stars Fàbregas, Lampard and Gerrard. Hope the pressure doesn’t crush our beloved little pea…

and here is the smorgasbord that is, Friday Linkage:

The ‘Stros kind of get some overseas love, and yes she broke up with him but not over him letting her get hit by the foul ball...  The Faith of Katy Perry and the eventual fate of Katy Perry’s music…Yep, I’m one of these 40%ers Here’s a column titled, “America’s Biggest Jobs Program — the U.S. Military”, written by, wait for it, a Berkeley prof. Maybe not quite the inspiration for Gibby’s “eliminating the Pentagon” blast but… Apparently Jennifer Aniston drew the ire of former Inside Edition luminary Bill O’Reilly by believing it to be a good idea to drive a car with your feet. And oh by the way, Aniston paid it forward Puritan anchor babies, need I say more? Finally, we are less than a month away from seeing these boys (below) in action. #81 there to the right is all-around great guy Sam Acho, here’s a great story about him…

[Photo credit: Peter Read Miller/Sports Illustrated]

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Spain Wins The World Cup In Spite Of Debilitating Nike Ad

Truth be told, before yesterday the first part of the title was as absurd as “The Red Sox win the World Series” would have been 10 years ago or even “Longhorns top the Sooners” during the early naughts.

Spain’s National Team, La Furia Roja, had a knack for falling flat on their collective face World Cup after World Cup. This all changed yesterday to be sure, after La Furia Roja defeated the Netherlands, who have now lost 3 World Cup Finals (’74, ’78, 10), 1-0.

I believe however that the breakthrough which culminated yesterday began in Euro 2008, which the Spanish won by besting Germany by the same score they beat the Dutch yesterday. That tournament set them on a course of excellence, winning 35 matches in a row until they shockingly lost to the U.S. at the 2009 Confederations Cup held in South Africa.

They then proceeded to breeze through World Cup qualifiers, becoming a favorite to take home the hardware in South Africa entering as the #2 squad in the world according to FIFA. In their first World Cup match, La Furia Roja fell to the Swiss, prompting echoes of “Different World Cup, same old Spain”.

Spaniards readied themselves for another World Cup collapse by their beloved team, blame was sent down bizarre avenues.

Yet, here we are July 12, 2010 and the FIFA World Cup trophy will call Spain home for at least the next 4 years.

A more remarkable feat may be that Spain won despite three of their players’ involvement in Nike Soccer’s “Write the Future” ad (watch it here).

An ad made before the start of the World Cup featuring England’s Wayne Rooney, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Italya’s Fabio Cannavaro, Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba, France’s Franck Ribéry, Brazil’s Robinho and Ronaldinho. To say that the campaign was a poor prognosticator of World Cup success is a vast understatement, a rundown:

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Kabul: The New Live Music Capital Of The World

Look out Austin, you might have an usurper to your “Live Music Capital of the World” throne in the form of Kabul, yep, that Kabul.

At least judging by the enthusiasm and moxie of bands such as “Kabul Dreams”.  Check out their YouTube page here unless you think the Taliban’s ideology is just peachy keen.

They are profiled in the following story,

We’re the Tali-band! Afghan rockers challenge hardliners to a duel… with electric guitars

Bands such as this would have been jailed under Taliban rule, no doubt for using corrupt Western practices to pollute their religious utopia. In fact, when the Taliban were in power,

Playing musical instruments was banned. Singing was allowed, but only songs praising Allah or the Taliban.

Gee, that sounds like a lot of churches here in the States, not to mention universities, looking at you Bob Jones. Same tune, different key.

As for the music that is making the rounds in Afghanistan,

Rock music has made inroads since the fall of the Taliban. A smattering of music shops sell pirated CDs of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and other bands. Indian and Pakistani groups also are popular among the youth.

What? No one’s thought of slipping The (now disbanded) Afghan Whigs in to the mix? Or  at least Mr. Mister (below)


♫Take, these broken Whigs…♫

[Photo Credit: Tonymix’s Blog]

Somebody Get The Queen A Lime!

That and a good bottle of Scotch to get over her well-compensated subjects’ shoddy performance at the World Cup.

Speaking of which, the Argentina v. Germany showdown looms large this Saturday. The verbal broadsides being taken by players on both sides (not to mention Maradona) guarantee that the contest will be an epic grudge match. Can’t wait.

Finally, Vlad Guerrero busted up his former team last night to the tune of 4-for-4 with a Grand Slam and a solo shot. You think the fact that they didn’t want to resign him last off season might have motivated the man?

In case you’re wondering about the post’s title, this should help.

Team USA, Thanks for the Memories

The dream is over… Team USA fell to Ghana, 1-2, in the Round of 16, thereby ending their World Cup run.

Though I am Mexican, when Mexico loses tomorrow against Argentina, I will not be as distraught as I was after Team USA’s loss. For the simple reason that México is not expected to win, and even if a miracle happens, they’re up against the winner of Germany and England in the quarterfinals. Good luck with that one…

The U.S. on the other hand had the easiest path to the semis in recent memory. Get past Ghana and play the winner of Uruguay-South Korea (Uruguay won today). Not exactly a gauntlet of fútbol powerhouses.

I defer to the experten for the technical breakdown of this match.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have any thoughts on what transpired before the eyes of our 42nd President (below, Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)


That guy to his left looks vaguely familiar…

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USA! USA! USA!

Facing the prospect of a draw with Algeria and thus the abyss that would be an early exit from the World Cup, Landon Donovan managed to put a Clint Dempsey rebound into the Algerian net and propel Team USA into the Round of 16 as the winners of Group C to boot.

I could talk about the numerous chances America’s Team had throughout the match:  Dempsey bouncing a shot off the post, Hercules Gomez not blasting it past the Algerian keeper, Jozy’s numerous flubs.

I could even expound on how an elderly and visually-impaired D-Wade could have cost El Equipo de Todos (Our Team, that’s Univision’s nickname for Team USA) everything but…

No.

This moment belongs to one of the greatest sporting moments I have witnessed, not just in the World Cup but throughout all sport.  Yes there was Vince Young’s unworldly performance against USC, Gibby’s improbable blast off Eck back in ’88, the Houston Rockets going back-to-back etc.

I have loved fútbol (soccer to some of you, football to others) all of my life, it is the sport I learned before I learned to walk.  Being a native of México had a lot to do with this.  Throughout the years, baseball, basketball  and college football have take a large portion of the market share, but every 4 years, fútbol is king.

As has been extensively catalogued on these pages, I “live and die” with Mexico’s National Team (El Tri) from the time World Cup qualifers start to such a time we find ourselves in now, the World Cup.  Naturally, during qualifiers I root against the United States when they play my beloved Tri, but every other time I’m right there with Team USA.

Watching the USA-Algeria match today, my heart grew heavier with each passing minute as Team USA failed time and time again to get the ball past a stupidly grinning Algerian keeper.  As stoppage time came and Algeria headed a dangerous ball towards U.S. keeper Tim Howard’s goal, the flickering flame of hope waned…

Howard, arguably the U.S. best player, then sensed an opportunity and hurled the ball mightily towards a streaking Landon Donovan.  I sensed something special was going to happen because this is exactly how he looked last year when he scored on a counterattack against Brazil in the Confederations Cup final.

They got down to the box, the ball ended up at the feet of Clint Dempsey and the hands of the Algerian keeper, who made a mighty save.  The ball bounced right out off his hands and into the annals of history in the form of Landon Donovan’s right foot.

Elation…  Relief and Joy.

I may or may not have gotten a little-teary eyed at what I had just witnessed.  I can say with certainty that this moment surpassed anything I’ve felt watching México at this World Cup.  For me to say that…

What a country this is, where an Argentine (Andres Cantor) is calling the game on Spanish Radio and goes berserk calling Donovan’s goal.  So much so that he is unable to belt out his trademark “GOOOOLLLL!!!” because of the emotion of the moment.

What a country, where a Mexican fútbol/soccer/football chant, “Si se puede!” (“Yes We Can”) is used to fuel an historical election, only to come full circle by being plastered on posterboard in support of Team USA (Photo by Phil Cole Getty Images)

I don’t know what this victory means for the future prospects of soccer in this country, and to be honest I don’t particularly care.

Whether or not the sport ever gives baseball, basketball or American football a run for their money here in these United States is irrelevant.

Fútbol is king, and when it comes to watching your homeland (adopted or otherwise) at the World Cup, there is nothing like it.

Here’s a video of Landon’s historic goal.

México Wins, France Shrugs

Thanks to the vagaries and nature of my line of work, I was able to watch yesterday’s México-France match in its entirety. From the rousing national anthems to the exchange of jerseys, still one of my favorite customs in all of sport.

The second half I managed to watch in one of our building’s lounges with a couple of fellow Mexican expatriates. We departed in exultation after witnessing our beloved Tri demolish an indifferent French squad, 2-0.

If memory serves me correct, this is El Tri’s first win over a traditional fútbol power in a World Cup.

That the French squad is highly dysfunctional or that their effort can be summed up as a collective Gallic shrug doesn’t diminish the achievement. Nor is the win besmirched by the fact that Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was offside by a balding frog’s hair prior to scoring the first goal or that Pablo Barrera took a dive on his way to earning the penalty kick.

Here’s a brief analysis by the expertenPinche Klinsmann

Some thoughts on yesterday’s proceedings:

  • I have been beating this drum for a couple of weeks but why is Óscar Pérez (below, trying to pull a wool over our eyes) still starting at goal for México?  Yes, he posted a clean sheet but that had to more with the French being allergic to taking shots on goal than with his goalkeeping prowess.  I understand that after rocketing a shot off towards the Mexican goal, Florent Malouda had to go to the sideline and get an epinephrine shot before he went into anaphylactic shock.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

  • México potentially loses 2 starters for the next match:  Carlos Vela (injury) and Efraín Juárez (accumulated yellow cards).  Truthfully, it pains me to say it but based on the past 2 matches, it’s not that big of  a deal.  Vela has not been in top form when it comes to capitalizing on scoring chances .  Maybe he’s rusty since he doesn’t get on the field much with Arsenal.  Juárez should get an Oscar nomination for his rendition of the the invisible man since South Africa 2010 kicked off .
  • One way to tell that France didn’t want to play due to the fact that they had more than 10 set pieces and didn’t convert any of them into scores against my shorter countrymen.  Then again, the Mexican back line was solid all match long.  That’s the best I’ve seen them play in a long time.

Great win for México which more than likely puts them into the next round.  The question now is if they go for the tie against Uruguay (causing both to advance) or go for the win to avoid running into Argentina in the next round?

On a related/unrelated note, a South African man was beaten to death by his wife and kids because he changed the channel on the television to watch a World Cup match instead of the “religious program” his family was watching.

Tragic note to be sure, but how is a World Cup match which is attended by functioning adults sporting painted faces and all manner of accouterments not a “religious program”?