Clint Dempsey’s Strike: From Nac-Town with Love

Yesterday morning at the store, I ran into a friend of mine and he asked me what I thought the outcome would be of today’s England-US World Cup showdown. My response? A draw.

Can’t say that I called it because I didn’t predict a score. Even as my prediction rolled off my tongue, I thought about the feasibility of such an outcome and came to the conclusion that even a draw would be a victory for Team USA, given how loaded the English squad is.

While it would be best to leave the tactical analysis of the match to the experten, I cannot help but discuss Clint Dempsey’s equalizer.

Yes, English keeper Robert Green made the type of mistake which should never be made at the World Cup level or any level of soccer save Fun Fair Positive Soccer . However, not enough credit is being given to the Texan Clint Dempsey, the man who presented Green with the opportunity to embarrass himself, his family and his country before a captivated world audience.

Prior to firing the fateful shot, Dempsey had to break free, and he did so by juking English captain, Steven Gerrard, out of his expensive Adidas cleats. Here’s a shot from mid-juke, (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)


Es OK Esteven, there are embittered Mexican men in Nac-Town who feel your pain

Judging by the display, one might have thought that Dempsey must have learned these skills from Hakeem Olajuwon who as we can see in Exhibit A below, just abused David Robinson back in the 1995 NBA playoffs.

But no, Dempsey honed these moves in his youth while playing in Nacogdoches’ Mexican League matches. As is reported here, Dempsey,

…beat men more than twice his age, proud men from Mexico and El Salvador who’d throw you to the East Texas dirt for trying a fancy move on them.

And according to one of his childhood friends, one time Dempsey

“did some kind of weird trick—it was so awesome—and the guy got mad and spit in his face.”

Due to the fact that us Mexicans think fútbol is our game and not the Americans’, I can certainly understand the ire of the men he schooled.

It’s hard to swallow when someone beats you at “your own game”, just ask British columnist and America’s Got Talent judge, Piers Morgan who penned this:

I honestly can’t believe we drew with the Americans. Soccer is a complete non-sport in the US. It ranks somewhere below tiddlywinks in their national competitive psyche.

Now, Dempsey might have picked up a huge assist from the wildly unpredictable Jabulani but it is certain that the glorified beach ball had nothing to do with his dissecting of Gerrard.

Major props to Dempsey and the rest of Team USA for their win draw against a tough opponent. I do feel bad for Robert Green but I’d feel worse if he played for Colombia.

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The Arm of God Haunts México

[Para Español no oprima el #1, nada mas haga click donde se termina el Ingles]

I was not able to watch yesterday’s México-England match in its entirety yesterday given the fact that this small thing called work kind of prevented it.

Thanks to Telemundo’s live streaming of the events, I did manage to catch a good chunk of the 1st half and about a quarter of the 2nd half. Kudos to Telemundo legend Andrés Cantor for dropping an f-bomb on live television. His partner, Sammy Sadovnik asked him what Mexican coach, Javier Aguirre, shouted at English captain Steven Gerrard.

Cantor obliged him by repeating Aguirre’s “Hey Steven, F*ck you!” Cantor thought the mikes were turned off, fail. Oh well, I guess the FCC doesn’t care since it is a Spanish station.

To the match…

It was good to watch El Tri go up against seemingly top-flight competition without throwing up all over themselves. That is, if we’re not going to consider the inability to defend set pieces and to put the ball in net (looking at you Carlos Vela) as examples of throwing up all over themselves.

México’s performance was tantalizing and typical of what happens when they go up against world powers (Though England hasn’t won a World Cup since 1966, they are still considered one of the world’s best, if not by merit then by tradition.)

El Tri created a myriad of scoring opportunities and yet failed to capitalize. If you want to beat good teams you have execute in front of the net. England? They had 2 corner kicks in the first half and scored in both. Granted, in the second corner English forward Peter Crouch was offsides and brushed the ball into the goal with his arm, but still.

Seeing the Frankenstein monster’s-like 6’8″ Crouch tower over my diminutive countrymen was hilarious but things would have been far more humorous and haunted if the Mexican contingent would have invited noted Mexican ref and Dracula doppelganger, Marco Antonio “Chiquidracula” Rodríguez (below)

Good teams (México is not there yet) find ways to maximize the opportunities granted to them, that they create opportunities should be a given.

I know it’s just a friendly, but the flashes of brilliance shown by the usual suspects up front, Gio and Carlos Vela, gave us Mexicans a glint of hope that maybe just maybe we might have the horses to get out of the frigging Round of 16 in South Africa. Then Vela blows 2 clear scoring chances.

Oh well, my beloved Tri has pined to be in that top tier of squads, and dwell in the lofty spires where Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Italy make their home. Unfortunately that is not currently the case as evidenced by the setting of this very match. This was England’s World Cup send off.

The host picks a “lesser” opponent to play in the send off match. Very much like homecoming in American football. For your homecoming, you schedule a team you know you’re going to beat. England had no doubt that it was going to beat México, hence the 3 lions scheduled my Tri.

That’s OK, until México shows that it can beat top-tier competition it will reside in the middle of the pack.

That said, I think they earned the respect of the Brits, or at least their journalists judging by some of the pieces I’ve read from their newspapers.

Here is a fine example of one from the Telegraph,

England 3 Mexico 1: match report

Up next for México? The Netherlands tomorrow at 1:30 PM.

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Roberto Baggio, David Beckham, John Terry, Dwayne De Rosario, Brian Ching?

Penalty shoot-outs in fútbol are the bane of many a fan of said sport, but I think it is the haters that have the biggest problem with them.

Personally, I like the drama, the suspense, the finality of the thing. This despite the fact that my childhood was scarred by México’s inability to win a World Cup shootout (whether 1-4 in ’86 against Germany or 1-3 in ’94 against Bulgaria).

I’m guessing El Tri‘s shoot out woes have to do with our succession of vertically-challenged keepers (yes I know the current squad had a couple of “giant” 6-footers).

Back to the title of this post: What do these 5 guys have in common? They all fell prey to the same phenomenon: stars who choked during penalty shoot-outs costing their team the game.

The last 2 add their names to the list after their performance in last night’s SuperLiga final between the Houston Dynamo and New England Revolution. (the hometown Dynamo lost in a shoot-out)

Yes, I know that the 1994 World Cup final (Baggio, Italy), Euro 2004 quarters (Beckham, England), 2008 Champions League final (Terry, Chelsea) are infinitely bigger stages than a contrived tournament like SuperLiga, but why do star players continue to peter out at crunch time?

One of life’s great enigmas…