Late Night Ponderings: We Need Answers

Late night at TSG headquarters.

Due to TSG’s full-time employment that takes a good chunk of our waking hours, writing tends to take place late at night. This often leads Matthew and I to engage in Gmail chat that starts with a point, but then meanders its way through the soccer world.

Recently, we’ve been ending up with more questions then answers and we’re hoping our readers could help us out.

Any chance the NFL and MLB conspired to send Glazer and Hicks over to the EPL to eliminate future competition? American-run Manchester United and Liverpool are mired in debt…do Americans hate soccer that much that they will go to such great lengths to destroy it? (please note sarcasm.)

Any chance the boys on the other side of the pond will agree to start Premiership matches later in the day for us sunshine-soaked folks on the left coast? Jozy and the Tigers taking on City at 7:00am?…okay. But the Howard-Donovan Bowl at 4:45am?!?…c’mon.

Any chance we’ll see Jozy Altidore blast one in the back of the net versus City? The Altidore Goal Watch will stand at 154 days when he takes the pitch on Saturday. (I’ve got a feeling…I think.)

Any chance US Soccer will to stop pimping the USMNT’s 14th spot in the world rankings? The US has beaten exactly two non-CONCACAF team in the past year.

Any chance the World Cup will not sell-out? Ticket sales are said to be struggling amid cost and security concerns. FIFA will probably get there, but chances of going back-to-back England ’18 and USA ’22 are probably a little better as a result of the “learning experience.”

Any chance the soccer community (and FIFA) will be as outraged over the CAF decision to ban Togo for two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments as it was over the Henry handball? How can the “rebels-shooting-up-the-team-bus” principle not trump the “government-interference” principle? Disgusting.

Any chance the soccer media will abandon their best TMZ impersonation and return to their regularly-scheduled programming of actually covering the game? Sure, Terrygate may have an impact on the World Cup, but Wynalda and Harkes aren’t in the player pool according to US Soccer.

Any chance we’ll see Bob Bradley fill the two coaching vacancies on the USMNT sideline? FYI, Bob-O…it’s a World Cup year…might be a good idea to have the help.

Any chance each MLS franchise will team-up with a local micro / craft brewer to spread the word about the link between the beautiful game and the beautiful beverage? This beer-and-soccer thing is starting to catch on.

Thanks, Drew!

Any chance, speaking of promotional opportunities, that soccer can get more high-profile celebrity fans in the US? Drew Carey has done a great job, but he can’t do it all. Shouldn’t Galaxy be choppering-in Megan Fox or Matt Damon for the home opener?

Any chance the USMNT will mandate that injured players must rehab with Charlie Davies to get a understanding of the power of human will and determination?

71 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/04 at 8:38 AM

    I would love nothing more than if Jozy would put one in on a post-up of Lescott or the returning Wayne Bridge and then reach into his sock Terrell Owens style, take out a tea bag and pour it on the field.



  2. Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/02/04 at 9:01 AM

    You don’t want big time derbys to start any later…that gives the fans time to drink which will lead to trouble. Its why they have the big games (Liverpool versus Man U, Spurs versus Arsenal etc…) early kickoff…the EPL will give other reasons but i believe this is the main one.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/04 at 10:24 AM

      Plus there is the politics of it – if there is trouble later in the day (and away from the stadium), it’s not necessarily “football related”

      But the alcohol aspect is the main reason.


  3. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/04 at 9:05 AM

    So Shaun, I (in the largest TV market in the world) have to suffer because one too many Carlsbergs at Anfield?

    That’s not cool :>

    Why don’t they just ban alcohol in the 2nd half then….


    • Posted by Timmy on 2010/02/04 at 10:04 AM

      Speaking of alcohol on the grounds, did you know there is no alcohol sold at the Camp Nou…


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/04 at 10:29 AM

      It’s more of the pre-match drinking. Not sure if you’ve been to a EPL game, but the usual place to meet your mates is in the pub for a few cheeky pints (we don’t do tailgating). But some idiots get tanked up (and these are the ones who have a propensity to look for a scrap). I believe that is what Shaun is referring to when he says “that gives the fans time to drink which will lead to trouble”.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/04 at 10:31 AM

        Oh, I know all about it — most of this is tongue-and-cheek.

        You have to believe the fair weather fans these days at the stadiums balance out at least little bit of the unseemly kind.

        Then again stadiums are bigger.


        • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/02/04 at 3:19 PM

          fair weather fans can;t get a ticket cause they don’t have a buying history…plus its the fair weather ones that tend to cause the trouble as they get caught up in the emotion and passion, say or do something stupid and then all hell breaks loose. George’s expresses what i was trying to say much better.

          Mark – would you rather hang out and watch this game with me at 4:45 am when i’m tired, maybe hungover etc or at noon when am all amped!😉


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/04 at 4:00 PM

          You’d be surprised by the amount of Cockney Liverpool or United fans that wander into a pub close to Selhurst Park, White Hart Lane or Upton Park and wonder why “pints get spilt”…

          Football has become trendy, especially Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United – full of the prawn sandwich brigade.


  4. On Altidore’s goal drought, ManCity is just the type of team to “slip up” against Hull. The whole is not yet better than the sum of the parts, which has bit them in the backside so far this season. Though, Mancini’s influence is starting to turn that tide, he doesn’t have enough speed on the flanks defnsively to deal with Hunt (unless SWP is tracking back all day), and his central defenders have been in horrid form all year. It’s the perfect recipe for Jozy and Hunt to bag at least one apiece.

    The USSF will never stop pimping FIFA ratings. This country thrives on Top 25 lists so much that USA Today has been ranking High School Football, Basketball, etc. for some time now. And no one in the US without a semi-intimate knowledge of soccer knows that FIFA’s ratings are bunk.

    USA ’22 is sounding ever more likely now that Europe is assured the 2018 Cup, and I think the FIFA ideal of bringing the game to new places is going to take a backseat for a few cycles given South Africa’s issues, and lord knows what could happen for Brazil in 2014 (rumor has it that some of the bigger South American cities are pretty dangerous for tourists). Australia would probably be an awesome host, but selling out tickets would again be a possible issue as flights from the US are insanely expensive, though i’m not sure how much it would cost from Europe (where most fans will be coming from), South America, Asia, or Africa.

    The ban of Togo is shambolic, but the following quote from the movie Sahara hits the nail on the head as far as the soccer media is concerned: “No one cares about Africa.”


    • Posted by Mark T on 2010/02/04 at 10:00 AM

      I am glad Altidore went to Hull as it introduced me to Hunt. Maybe it is due to his short legs, but it just seems like that guy goes all out whistle-to-whistle and finds a way to be in the action.


      • Posted by Berg on 2010/02/04 at 10:18 AM

        Very much agree on Hunt. The guy has turned out to be a great value for Hull. I heard Bullard might be back for the game, he’s another Tiger that’s grown on me.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/04 at 10:27 AM

          With Hunt, Zaki and Geovanni we might have the All-Pinball Team…all those guys have great balance combined with good driving to the hole.

          …and one more thing from that game…how come (and let’s forget the other John Terry news) that everyone knows that you can beat Chelsea on set pieces yet John Terry is regarded *still as such a great defender.

          He used to be awesome; I think he gets away with *murder now…but maybe I’m being jaded a bit….

          While I mentioned Defoe and Rooney up top yesterday…you have Rio and Terry in the middle…that’s not chopped liver but it’s not exactly Nesta Cannavaro either.


      • I watched a lot of Hunt while following Convey and Hahnemann at Reading. Scrappy player, never gives up. Though I wonder what effect caving in Petr Cech’s skull has had on his game.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/04 at 4:43 PM

          Didn’t he injure Cuducini in the same game and Terry had to go in goal, or am I making that up?

          He is a little terrior. I think one would call it Napoleon Syndrome!


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/04 at 11:00 AM

      You have to take the FIFA rankings with a pinch of salt, as there are so many limitations. For example, you have France and Portugal earning ranking points for play-off games, but the winners of their groups don’t. African and CONECAF teams can earn more, because their Confederation plays their tournament every 2 years instead of 4. I think a ranking table can be helpful, but it does need some tweaking and fine tuning for it to be meaningful and taken seriously.

      I think that Blatter mentioned something about the WC returning to Europe in 2018, but he is sitting on the fence by saying that everybody can submit except Africa and South America. And I also feel that USA and Australia have a great chance for 2022. With the stadia the US has, that’s got to be an advantage.

      MatthewSF: I don’t think (m)any centre back pairing can be compared to Nesta and Cannavaro (perhaps Lucio and Silva?) – they are awesome. I don’t think anybody in their right mind would even try to put Terry and Ferdinand in that category. But, Defoe and Rooney are banging them in (36 between them I think) and Lampard is going OK too…


      • Nesta + Cannavaro are truly great, but perhaps these two gentlemen most benefit from Italy’s uncompromising Catenaccio defensive based system. Outside of Eastern Europe, does anyone play more defensively than Italy?


        • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/04 at 2:36 PM

          Pretty much any team with Bora Milutinovic at the helm.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/04 at 2:52 PM

          Catenaccio? Wow, that is a blast from the past… I haven’t heard that in ages.


        • Looks like I just tipped my age eh George?


        • I withdraw the use of the term Catenaccio, which i inappropriately used. I hate when I discover a term I use has become an obsolete technique.

          I submit the term defensive or counterattacking football as a substitution. I guess no one really plays with a sweeper anymore.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/04 at 3:48 PM

          Charles, I was going to say that Catenaccio was very specific strategy rather than a general term for defensive tactics, but I didn’t want to be pedantic as I knew what you were getting at.

          Still very impressed (not in a patronising way) that you busted that one out though – seriously haven’t heard that term in a long time.


        • Thank you very much sir. I’ve followed the beautiful game since the summer of 1986 when NBC televised the World Cup complete with cutting away to commercial during the game.

          You’re right though, Catenaccio and Zona Mista are no longer used, and were apparently made obsolete by the innovation of Total Football.

          I did the research, but only to bail myself out after I opened my gap [grins].


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/04 at 4:52 PM

          I am going to give my age away, but my earliest memory of football was the 1979 FA Cup Final. Before the PL / Sky TV money, the FA Cup used to be a big deal – the whole country used to watch it.


      • @George – a pinch of salt? The FIFA Rankings are pretty much pointless because as you said, France and Portugal get points for their playoff games that they, by their FIFA rankings, shouldn’t have ended up in. Here’s something I wrote about the world cup seeding commitee using the current rankings in their equation: “If an absolute joke is used as a criteria for determining who deserves a seed, does that not make the whole seeding formula a joke as well?”

        My point was that American fans in the know understand that FIFA’s rankings don’t hold too much validity, but the USSF will continue to toss those rankings around to sports fans who may casually notice soccer because we as a nation are in love with ranking everything.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/05 at 1:56 PM

          If you were to rank your top 15 counties as of Nov. 09, how different would it be? I think the countries would be more or less the same, but maybe the order would change a little, no? So that’s why I do not “totally” disregard it.

          Not sure if you noticed but FIFA badly wanted Portugal at the WC – did you see them gain 12 places in 2 months? Glad that they weren’t seeded.


        • It’s not necessarilly the countried who I’d rank in the top 15, it’s the predisposition to rank the countries on assumed stature and talent instead of actual results, the same thing happens all the time in College Football. If the rankings were based on how the team performed against its opponents, Portugal wouldn’t have found themselves anywhere near being seeded for the Euro playoffs or the World Cup. Granted it’s tough to figure out if England’s lackluster 2 or 3-0 victories over European minnows should count more than the US’s lackluster 1-0 or 2-1 victories over CONCACAF minnows, but when a team playing as sadly as Portugal jumps 12 spots in 2 months, something’s terribly wrong and/or fishy.


  5. Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/04 at 10:13 AM

    With my DVR, I don’t recall the last time I watched anything live. If I haven’t seen it (and had any of my knucklehead friends call me to spill the beans) it’s live to me. If they want to play at 5:00 AM, let them. You can watch it over coffee at 10:00 AM.

    Even if the WC sells out (which might be a bit of a stretch) there might be plenty of empty seats as I’ve read stories of people abandoning their travel plans due to price gouging by airlines and hotels.

    The CAF decision on Togo was entirely expected. It’s typical of a committee that finds it safer to adhere strictly to the rules without any consideration of common sense. IOW, it’s chickenshit. I’d be willing to bet they wouldn’t have penalized Nigeria or Ghana or South Africa for doing what Togo did.

    Oh, let the soccer media have its fun. A good adultery controversy sells ‘papers’ and the Harkes/Wynalda connection is a legitimate one that sheds some light on our miserable performance in ’98.

    I don’t think DC United has connections with any local breweries, but they are sponsored by Pollo Campero, a fried-chicken joint, so that’s almost the same, right?

    Get our injured USMNT players to run hills with Ray Lewis. No game they play in will work them as hard.


    • Posted by Mark T on 2010/02/04 at 10:17 AM

      Does anyone else find it interesting / unfortunate that Jose Cuervo is the “official spirit” of US Soccer?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/04 at 10:28 AM

      Holy smoke Matt Mathai — what a great idea. Why don’t we bring Ray Lewis with us to fire up the team down to train the team and fire them up in South Africa.


      • Posted by cesar on 2010/02/04 at 11:22 AM

        you want to bring Ray Lewis to South Africa?

        isn’t the murder rate there high enough as it is?


    • re: UK early kickoff times:

      I only get up for the games with clubs containing the US lads. Secondly, I go to Soccernet and check the lineups, if the American player hasn’t even made the bench…I go back to sleep.


  6. Posted by Evan on 2010/02/04 at 12:10 PM

    I don’t know about you guys but I think its worth it to get up at 4:45 to watch Landon even if that only means 3 hours of sleep. I did it for the Beijing Olympics. It will all be fine when Landon scores two this Saturday.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/04 at 12:13 PM


      Shaun (a Liverpool fan) and I (an Everton fan) are planning to get up and do some running commentary…if we throw in a few bloody mary’s we might even have some fisticuffs.


    • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/04 at 1:47 PM

      I used to do this all the time. I’d get up (or stay up) for whatever time a match began.

      Now I just don’t get whole lot of time to sleep, so I guard that time jealously. NOTHING gets in the way.
      (Maybe I’m just getting old.)

      So long as I don’t don’t know the result, it’s all live to me.


  7. I have this philosophy about watching only live sporting events whenever possible. Part of what makes cheering on your team exciting and sometimes enjoyable is that the result is not only unknown, but hasn’t happened yet.

    When other commitments force me to watch recorded sporting events I find myself saying things like “Way to have done it!”, “Way to have scored!”, “That shot had been awesome!”

    As we cheer on our favorite players or clubs, we like to think we have some influence over the outcome, that we can almost will the result happen as we wish through a groundswell of positive energy and belief. None of this is possible if the result is already a fact. To watch a recorded event is to be truly disconnected from it, leaving you as an observer of history instead of an impassioned participant.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/04 at 3:05 PM

      I try to watch as much live football (sport in general) as I can, but sometimes it doesn’t happen for whatever reason. I know Shankley will be turning in his grave, but ‘you have to pick your (football) battles’ once you get married…

      However, if the game in question is an England game, then there’s no question!


      • I respect your commitment to the Three Lions. I was fortunate enough to marry someone who likes sport. When the missus is the one saying “We can’t make plans that night because Cal is playing UCLA in basketball.” you know you have a keeper.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/04 at 3:34 PM

          I managed to delay my honeymoon and go to the World Cup, obviously I had to do non-football related stuff, like wine country and safari, but that is fine with me!

          My wife likes sport too, but she has jokingly said that if I had my way, we’d never go out as I would always be watching football. For a change, and a treat, we’re going to the pub to watch England vs Wales in the Six Nations!!

          Seriously, I just try to watch as football much as I can (read: allowed).


        • I wish we could meet up for that Six Nations match. It would be a good time and we would buy first round. I wonder if it’s going to be on Setanta.

          I’ve been meaning to get more involved with local rugby. The University of California has a very good rugby side, and I imagine the cost of tickets is very low or no money at all. We’ll have to check it out this winter as the missus is an Old Blue.

          Best regards sir,



        • Posted by Mark T on 2010/02/04 at 3:43 PM

          Sounds like we have enough numbers to form the First Husbands Club of Football / Soccer. My wife is a much better soccer player than I ever was and here genes are the only chance that my still unborn kid(s) will have a shred of athleticism. Thankfully, she enjoys soccer and supports me in this endeavor…although I know I push the limits at times.


        • That is an organization I would actually join. Cheers, Mark.

          Cal Bears footy is only $8 for a ticket. Pints after at Bear’s Lair, Manny’s, or Beckett’s? What say ye George, Mark?


        • Posted by Mark T on 2010/02/04 at 3:53 PM

          Charles, I would love to, but Matthew (who is de facto married) is the one in San Francisco, I am down in San Diego.


        • Drat and double drat! It’s the thought that counts though yeh? Stupid geography!


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/04 at 4:18 PM

          And I am in NYC (which means I can watch the “early” televised Saturday game at a respectable 07:30).


    • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/04 at 3:16 PM

      I used to think this too.

      Then life got in the way…


  8. re: The CAF ban on the Togolese:

    The CAF are truly a gutless organization. I’m going to guess FIFA won’t intervene, as they are, arguably, equally gutless in Zurich as well.

    I wonder what it must be like living in places where you fear criminal acts not from common criminals, but from governments and organized criminals operating in the open.

    A sorry day for civilization in general.


  9. Posted by Mark T on 2010/02/04 at 3:49 PM

    As for the early start times, I am all for getting up early to watch World Cup matches. There is just something about being huddled in a bar watching soccer when most of the US is still asleep.

    My point was more focused on EPL trying to gain more than a toehold in the US market. It just seems to me that perhaps the match that generates the most American interest should start a little later to get the maximum exposure on this side of the Atlantic. That being said, America doesn’t really register on the priority scale of the EPL quite yet.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/04 at 4:35 PM

      The issue is that if they move kick off one way to positively affect the US audience, it will negatively affect those in negatiive GMT time zones – like the Far East…


      • Posted by Mark T on 2010/02/04 at 4:38 PM

        We are Americans…we don’t care about anyone else! (kidding, of course, but with some kernel of truth among my fellow citizens.)


  10. Posted by Ryan R. on 2010/02/04 at 5:48 PM

    Jesse Marsch will retire before the MLS season and take one of the US assistant jobs.


  11. 4:45AM? Why bother going to bed?


  12. Posted by Mark T on 2010/02/09 at 8:17 AM

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/09 at 8:23 AM

      They zoomed in on him during the game on Sunday – couldn’t quite believe it myself. My wife, the proud Bostonian that she is, was very happy about that!


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