23
May
09

Into the Doldrums

Originally created 7/1/2007

As June turns to July and summer wades into the blistering heat around these St. Louis environs, three things are constant: the Cardinals are almost always on television/radio and each game still only accounts for  0.62% of the final record; there isn’t anything else on the idiot box except for characteristically horrendous test shows like Comedy Central’s abortive Lil’ Bush; football season yet again begins its siren song that turns damn near 80% into drooling morons (I prefer to drool out the side of my mouth to avoid chapped lips).  The Cardinals themselves are in a bizarre season, even more so than last year, with several of teams starters injured, a relief pitcher two months dead, and the very real possibility of disgraced pitcher Rick Ankiel returning seven years after his debut as a power-hitting outfielder.  Albeit with the phrase “the Cubs would be a much better position if their bullpen hadn’t blown so many leads” warming hearts in Redbird nation, the title defense looks none too promising at this point.  There is always Major League Soccer, which putters along contently somehow without a team in soccer hotbed Stl but with one named “Real Salt Lake” who currently occupy the cellar in the Western Conference for their obvious crimes.  Although damn near everyone missed it, USA soccer defeated Mexico in the Gold Cup semis which is always a borderline riot, mostly because of devious Mexican hostility.  This remains one of the big undercurrent rivalries in sports that does not receive much attention but has become increasingly intense with the US team’s slow ascension.  Far more interesting is the US’s game Thursday (6/28) against Argentina in the Copa America.  Actually, it wasn’t; despite the fact that Brazil’s Argentine coach predicted an upset, the US played them to tie for 60 minutes then got walloped 4-1.  USA had the kids team out there as only two starters returned from the Gold Cup squad.  Brazil got a taste of its own medicine as it lost ugly against Mexico.  Argentina, if you recall, was a sudden favorite in the le Coupe de Monde last year after nuking Serbia but came up short against the Krauts.  This was the same tournament where the US laid a massive egg but almost beat the eventual winner, Italy.  Another well-kept secret in the States was the Guardian’s live-blog of the games, extremely entertaining in their entirety (see Rob Smyth’s commentary on the Italy-USA game at the bottom).

Speaking of other television, Comedy Central should pump out some decent fodder by turning to the depths of the internet and history past.  Everyone got thoroughly sick of both Tyler Perry’s House of Pain, which may be the most unfunny comedy in history, and TNT’s incessant “Drama” commercials.  Now we are being told that The Closer is supposedly a good show, which seems spurious given how incredibly annoying the lead actress’s voice is.  Then there’s Holly Hunter’s vanity project, Amazing Grace, remarkable because it does not seem to have any discernable plot other than Holly Hunter being a batshit crazy crackwhore.

What may occur in a midsummer night’s dream…

Wayne Brady in his own show: “The drama in the Wayne Brady Show comes from whether or not Wayne Brady is going to choke a bitch”

The Murphy Attack.  After the tomatometer demolition that Norbit caused (9% positive and a 3.3/10), Eddie and Charlie Murphy need to make amends, after getting the writing credits for one of the most momentous clusterfucks of a comedy.  If Eddie wants to play a varying assortment of characters, he needs to channel a lot more Coming to America and a lot less of anything after 1995.  Honestly, for summer purposes, these two could tell stories for an hour and that would be fantastic.  Although anything short of transvestite hookers knifefighting midgets at the end of a weekend bender while Charlie and Eddie bet on the winner and make fun of gay people and gerry curls might be something of a disappointment, I think you could thrown in Arsenio Hall, Sam Jackson, James Earl Jones, Eriq La Salle and anyone else in the Coming to America greatness.  That movie always seemed like more of a long drawn out sketch comedy.  In truth, the short attention span and fatigue caused by humidity that accentuate Midwest summers call for slivers of comedy rather than the long, but effective strands embodied by The Office and My Name is Earl

Danny DeVito in a dramatic special about our planet’s vanishing resources: “The drama in the Penguin comes from me being drunk and molesting penguins, which what I used as my inspiration for my character in Batman Returns.  Penguin molestation…the drama of nature.”

The Michael Showalter Showalter: began on collegehumor.com on 01/07/2007 and bears a resemblance to the PBS talk show Charlie Rose, according to Wikipedia.  Summer demands parodies of talk shows like Oprah demands butterscotch on her donuts, and this is one of the better on the net.  Stephen Colbert has set the bar pretty high, not only for this comedic medium but also guitar rock offs.  Showalter has abjectly bizarre interviews with people who make most of the general public think “oh yeah, that guy.”   But then they also think funny….after they stop watching porn.

Lindsay Lohan as an animated porpoise: “Drama comes from my character trying to get fisted by a 300 pound gorilla I met on the way to the bathroom at In and Out Burger…will I remember it after shooters and snorting the gross domestic product of Columbia?…That’s a dramatic question.”

Duckman Redux.   Jason Alexander, assuming he is still alive, is not doing anything right now and if we must animate him as water fowl, then Costanza’s going to the drawing board.  Duckman had potential because it was basically George Costanza as a duck solving mysteries with a pig.  The show seemed to suffer heavily from the horrible animation and was shown in an era of Comedy Central before South Park, where they were still some boundaries they feared to traverse.  I feel like Alexander could resurrect the series with the help of someone like Seth MacFarlane, and completely wreck shop by getting someone like the afore-videoed Paul Rudd to be his swinish compatriot.  That and converting a whole slew of celebrities into animals has potential: Seth Rogen, Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, John Stewart, Dave Chappelle, Patton Oswalt, Lewis Black…anybody who’s ever been on Robot Chicken…Jason Biggs after his funnyordie routine

Reno 911! at least six times a day.  This program seems built for summer as missing an episode doesn’t detract from the viewing experience (kind of like Law and Order).  And it has cops winging bricks at old ladies…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Pretty much everything on funnyordie.com.  I can guarantee, unconditionally, that Jason Biggs has never done anything funnier than this:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And finally, this monkey, for a solid two hours:

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7/28/02 – Speaking of doldrums in the withering Stl heat, down 9-4 in the bottom of the ninth to the rival Cubs, the Cardinals score six runs in the inning capped by Edgar Renteria’s three-run home run. The comeback came on the same day Ozzie Smith was inducted to the Hall of Fame.  I was there and it remains the best game I’ve ever actually seen in person.

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Despite how awesome Transformers looks and the hotness of Megan Fox, I have full confidence Michael Bay has made this movie completely unwatchable after one viewing (basically, after you move past how cool it looks).  Roland Emmerich has an iron grip the gold for the biggest disaster of an action movie with Godzilla which was well beyond awful, especially if viewed now, not to mention a rip off of Jurassic Park towards the end.  It’s not easy to rip off another movie in a remake of a completely different movie.  Don’t know if we’ll see that again, but as long as Bay is at the helm, there remains a dim and thoroughly depressing hope.

Despite Michael Bay dropping trou on another cherished childhood memory (you’re next, Thundercats!), this is the only new Transformers video anyone needs to see.

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The 50 Most Legendary Goals in Soccer History, as picked by some French guy.  As he claims on the daily motion site:

“Une compilation exceptionnelle des plus beaux buts de ces cinquante dernières années. Les plus grandes stars sont là et les buts sont tous extraordinaires !!!! De Van Basten à Maradona en passant par Zidane, Beckham, Ronaldinho et beaucoup beaucoup d’autres !!! Des buts sortis de nulle part, des retournés acrobatiques, des buts de loin, des merveilles de jeu d’équipe, tout y est !!! De tous les clubs (Chelsea, Arsenal, Milan AC, Manchester United, , Barcelone, Real Madrid, Ajax et surtout le PSG avec Coridon et Ronaldinho ^^) et toutes les nationalités (Brésil, France, Italie, Angleterre, Pays-Bas…) !!!!! Alors un conseil fans de foot : régalez-vous !!!!

“A voir et revoir…

“Après des recherches et mes connaissances personnelles, voici toutes les musiques dans l’ordre d’apparition :

1) U2 – Vertigo

2) Good Charlotte – I Just Want To Live

3) Lenny Kravitz – Are We Runnin’?

4) Lenny Kravitz – Fly Away

5) Green Day – Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

6) Three Doors Down – Let Me Go

An exceptional compilation of the most beautfiul goals from the last fifty years.  The biggest stars are there and the goals are all extraordinary!!!  From Van Basten to Maradona passing through to Zidane, Ronaldinho and many, many others!!!  ?Goals out of nowhere?, acrobatic returns, goals from afar, marveillous team work, everything is here!!!  From all the clubs (Chelsea, Arsenal, AC Milan, Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Ajax and above all PSG with Coridon and Ronaldinho) and all the national teams (Brazil, France, Italy, England, the Netherlands…) !!!  To counsel of football fans: reveal in it!

To watch and watch again….

After research and my personal knowledge, here are all the soundtrack songs in order of their appearance:

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Okay, so that music selection sucks rancid ass.  Here’s a selection I’d go with instead:

Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower

White Stripes – Death Letter

Gnarls Biggie – Victory Coming / Can I Get With Ya Crazy Butt / Smiley Faces Hypnotize

The Gray Album – What more can I say? / 99 Problems / Dirt Off Your Shoulder

Nirvana – Breed

Bloodhound Gang – Ralph Wiggum

Smashing Pumpkins – Zero

MC5 – Kick out the Jams

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Otherside / Funky Monks / Parallel Universe

Sublime – Seed / Same in the End

Cake – Going the Distance

Queen – Princes of the Universe (theme from Highlander)

Who – Baba O’Reilly

Elmore James – Done Somebody Wrong

Tribe Called Quest – Excursions / Vibes and Stuff / Buggin Out


What is being called the greatest goal ever scored, by the 19 year old Peruvian Andres Vasquez for the Swedish team IFK Gothenburg.

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Gilardino, 22; Zaccardo og, 27

Don’t forget to email rob.smyth@guardian.co.uk hangover cures, Larry Davidisms, The Like and the like to validate his miserable existence. Go on. Please. Rob Smyth Saturday June 17, 2006

It’s not paranoia if they think you’re a bald turd

Preshambles

Evening one and, indeed, one. If Roundball USA lose tonight they’re basically out, doing one faster than a plummy nympho. Italy need a win, just because. You see, if they don’t win tonight they would quite probably go out if they were to then lose their final game to the Czechs. All to play for then, children, so put down those oven-temperature cans of Watney’s Party Seven you were about to quaff and let’s get on with some Grade C soccer.

See him there, he looks just like… department “Does anyone else think Martin O’Neill is Woody Allen?” asks Gavin Monks. I’ve never seen them sweating and leering at a minor in the same room, that’s for sure. And, while we’re on the subject, anthem ignoramus Mauro Camoranesi is a ringer for Sopranos crowbar-wielding cookery expert Furio Giunta, no? While I’m looking more like Larry David by the day. Any other World Cup lookalikes you can suggest? That’d be a fun riff for the evening wouldn’t it, eh? Eh? I hear ya.

Prediction department

Another 2-0 Italy I reckon, Toni and De Rossi to put the hurt on the USA. Put your mortgage on it. Being totally, spectacularly wrong.

An email department “Half time in Ghana vs Czech Republic has seen Alexi Lalas claiming that Kasey Keller is ‘the best goalkeeper in the world’, winces Harold Dyson. “No sign of his crack pipe, but he could have hidden it during the ad break…” Right, now, as amusing as the USA commentators irrefutably and inadvertently are, it’s been done and done and done to death. And while I have no idea how you go about finding original humour, surely one of you out there must have something original we can “riff” on. Come on, people, let’s put the hurt on some funny bones!

Italy team Buffon; Zaccardo, Nesta, Cannavaro, Zambrotta; Perrotta, Pirlo, De Rossi; Totti; Toni, Gilardino.

Team USA of America team Keller; Cherundolo, Onyewu, Pope, Bocanegra; Dempsey, Mastroeni, Reyna, Convey; McBride, Donovan.

I’ll show you mine if you show me yours department “OK, we’ve sent you a lot of traffic this week, but now we’re telling people not to go running over to you and bash the US commentators,” says Beau Dure of USA Today, where do a similar minute-by-minute thing only with, like, humour and stuff.

Things you didn’t know department This is the World Cup final! Well, it is according to the ITV continuity announcer who just, erm, announced that “Italy are playing America for the World Cup after the break”. So now you know.

Right, here we go then “Lookalikes?” says Chris Bond. “My too-gorgeous-for-me ex-girlfriend reckons they’ve taken Matt Damon’s head and put it on Michael Ballack’s shoulders. She’s not wrong is she?” She’s not wrong in the 2+2=5 sense, but making such observations might just be wrong in the dreaming-about-David-Mellor-doing-a-kinky-naked-rain-dance-wearing-nothing-but-a-Cameroon-football-sock sense.

Nuggetwatch Cut to the crowd during the anthems and some Italian stallion wearing nothing but a pair of blue-and-white Svens. That really does put the ‘prat’ in ‘patriot’. What an utter, utter, utter nugget.

1 min Italy kick off from left to right. “Not bash the US commentators?” thunders John Lockhart. “Come on, bashing sawkker commentators is an old British pastime. Who remembers Colemanballs in Private Eye – e.g. ‘I’d like to be a fly on Larry Lloyd’s shorts’?” You made that up didn’t you?

2 min Perrotta’s cross scrapes the head of pretty boy Toni and drifts away for a goalkick. “I thought the nugget was quite fit,” says Rona Skene. He was, to be fair, but those Svens!

3 min Nothing doing so far. “I’m sure someone must’ve mentioned this before,” says Paul Gordon, “but has anyone ever seen Pete Doherty and Cherie Blair in the same room?” Which one of them’s in the World CUp?

5 min Totti is booked for a mistimed lunge at Dempsey on the halfway line. Not quite an Andrex-soft booking, but it certainly wouldn’t have been a yellow card in my day etc.

6 min “I misread that David Mellor comment as him dressed only in a Cameron sock,” says William French. “Which is even wronger. Though Mellor would probably wear it if it got him back into the Shadow Cabinet.”

8 min It’s utterly bitty at the moment, the highlight being some dry humping on the halfway line on Toni by Onyewu, who is giving new meaning to the concept of man-marking. America have come out with more purpose and energy than they showed against the Czechs, and there really is nothing else to say because eff all has happened.

10 min “Any chance of your posting a photo of you up on the MBM a la the guys over at USA Today?” says Jez Smith. Absolutely none whatsoever.

12 min USA are bossing this at the moment, but the Italian defence aren’t exactly rattled yet. “Pete is,” says Paul Gordon of his 3rd-minute quip. “3rd goalkeeper for Ecuador Has some connections on the border there apparently.” Honk!

13 min Italy get a free-kick wide on the left, from which De Rossi deliberately stands five yards offside. The trouble is that, when the cross does come on, he then activates himself by heading the ball. Duh!

14 min Nesta cleans Convey out from behind right on the edge of the box – a ridiculous challenge, and a free-kick in a dangerous area… which is hit by the zesty Convey and deflected wide.

16 min When the resulting corner comes back in, Convey, 10 yards out and at a slight angle, sweet-spots it miles over with his right foot. That was at least a half-chance – maybe even a three-fifths chance – and the USA have done really well so far, which will make it all the more annoying when some buggerlugs makes a mistake to give Italy the lead.

18 min The impressive Dempsey’s daisy-cutter from the edge of the box goes only a couple of yards wide. The USA are all over Italy at the moment; it’s surreal.

19 min “After the snafu with the mix-up between the flags during the Iran/Mexico game on US broadcasts, I’m impressed that ABC managed to figure out which flag goes with which team for this game!” says Susan Dysktra. “ Oops, not supposed to be mocking the American coverage….” Well, it’s better than no emails at all.

20 min Shades of 2002 for Italy so far, when they were so authoritative in winning the first game 2-0, and comically inept in losing the next game, 2-1 to Croatia. I still reckon they’ll win this, mind.

21 min Eddie Pope is booked for sitting on Gilardino. That looked a bit harsh – they were all over each other and just fell in a heap. Anyway, the ref had a great view from about 60 yards away, and he got his yellow card out.

GOAL! Italy 1 USA 0 (Gilardino 22) Told you. A quite wonderful free-kick from Pirlo on the right, curving into the no-man’s land between keeper and defender, is headed emphatically past Keller by a stooping Gilardino. The marking was pitiful – it was Pope who let him run – but it was a fantastic ball in.

25 min “Are you just watching all these games on the TV?” says Chris Jackson. “You’ve shattered my illusions.” You know that tooth fairy? That’s your mother, that is.

26 min If Bruce Arena was wearing a toupee – which he absolutely does not, folks – he’d be scratching it now, because his side started so well. Instead he’s scratching his perfectly natural and full head of hair.

GOAL! Italy 1 USA 1 (Zaccardo own goal 27) A slapstick own goal from Zaccardo. Convey whipped in a deep free-kick from the right and Zaccardo, trying to welt the ball clear, shanked it in his own net from six yards with his swinger.

RED CARD! De Rossi off! Bloody hell, now Italy are struggling. Moments after the goal, De Rossi walks for sticking a really nasty elbow on McBride, who has blood coming out of various parts of his face. Blimey.

29 min “We have the worst effing defense,” says Chris Grovich. “Effing Christ on a bun.” Well…

31 min Toni, slipped through in the inside-left channel by the immaculate Pirlo, skews a cross-shot comfortably wide.

32 min “But you didn’t predict a stunning Italian buggerlugs-fest in response, did you?” says Rona Skene. Not even Mystic Nostradameg could have predicted such a spectacular double buggerlugs as that.

34 min No tactical changes as yet from Italy, who are now simply playing a 4-2-1-2 with Totti doing a bit more defensive work. But Gattuso is coming on soon apparently. For Toni maybe?

35 min Totti off for Gattuso, which is reminiscent of Roberto Baggio being brought off in the first half of Italy’s second game of USA 94 because of a red card. With 10 men pragmatism is on the menu, so it’s the fantasista who has to go. Totti looks, not unreasonably, utterly naffed off. Gattuso’s first touch is to welly the ball into the top corner from 20 yards, although the flag had already – erroneously – gone up for offside.

38 min “I did like de Rossi’s “wanker” hand signal to the ref,” says Gordon Hundley. “I guess it can’t be worse than a red card, so you might as well.” If I was a horse, I’d be watching my head – De Rossi looked like he wasn’t finished with the referee.

40 min USA have done bugger all as an attacking threat since the red card. From having the freedom of the underdog, they now have the responsibility of the favourite, and with that has come a certain fear and a more tentative approach.

42 min A lovely, swirling, long-range hit from Mastroeni, who I reckon is going to be sent off inside the next, ooh, three minutes, lands on top of the net with Buffon beaten.

43 min “I’m no friend of Italian football, but they are getting screwed by the refs the second World Cup in a row,” says Christian Haesemeyer. What planet are you on?! That move from De Rossi was straight out of The Sopranos – he had to walk. Ah, you meant the offside? Er, fair point. I’ll get my ultra-trendy Penguin mac.

RED CARD! Mastroeni sent off! The referee predictably evens things up by sending Mastroeni off for a tackle that was, In My Haughty Opinion, a yellow card at worst. He was late on Pirlo, with studs showing, but it was a genuine attempt to play the ball and there is no way in the world that was a red card. Well, no way in the world it should have been, anyway. That was disgracefully weak refereeing.

Half time That was lively stuff, with a goal and a red card each, but you have to feel that America have missed a McManus-sized chance of winning this game by having Mastroeni sent off just before half-time. We shall see.

The permutations A draw here isn’t that bad for USA – it means that, if they beat Ghana, they would go through if the Czechs lose to Italy. For Italy, a draw is slightly iffy as it means that, if the Ghana beat the USA, defeat to the Czechs would put Italy out. I think. So, to summarise: don’t ever drink Chimay on an empty stomach.

46 min We’re off again. “The BBC apparently ran a poll on De Rossi’s card and found 83% agreed he should be sent off,” says Kyle Brown. “What do the other 17% think should be required – guns or knives?”

47 min “Are you kidding me?” says Toby Koschalka (and a couple of (hundred) others). “I’m no fan of the Italian game or the Azzurri but that was as red as they come – straight in on his ankle, whether it was intentional or not.” It was a mistimed slide tackle – a slide tackle, not an over-the-ball tackle – with no malevolent intent deep in the opposition half. If that’s a red card we might as well all enjoy a game of chess and forget football.

RED CARD! Eddie Pope off! Team America up a creek sans paddle! It’s 10 v 9 now, after Eddie Pope gets his second yellow card. In fairness, that was definitely a booking, a lunge at Gilardinho from behind that got nowhere near the ball.

50 min “I was just out for brunch (at Mecca in Seattle’s Queen Anne district, if you must know),” says Nick Denny. “The waitress managed to use the phrase ‘it’s not rocket surgery’.” Inadvertent genius.

52 min USA substitution: the excellent Convey (a left-winger) off, Jimmy Conrad (a centre-half) on.

53 min Pirlo’s dipping, whipped free-kick is headed onto his own crossbar by Bocanegra. This game is a comedy of errors, only without the comedy.

54 min Cannavaro brings down MC Dempsey, and Del Piero has come on for Zaccardo. “Someone might want to tap Schlepp Blather on the shoulder and remind him that the United States of America could turn FIFA headquarters into an ashtray at any time of its choosing,” chuckles Whitley.

56 min So far Italy haven’t really threatened. Okay, they did hit the bar but there’s been no sustained pressure. It’s like everyone’s just taking stock for 15 minutes, allowing the chips of this increasingly ridiculous match to fall where they may before Italy get on with the job of winning it.

57 min Robbie Graham has pointed out that this referee is now described as “a wanker” on Wikipedia. And they say it’s unreliable!

59 min The chips still haven’t fallen. “I’m an American who loves football, but I am sick and tired of seeing European and South American players go down at the slightest touch like a bunch of pussies,” says Norbert Knapke. “If someone goes down for an injury, they should be forced to stay out for 10 minutes.” Yeah, send McBride off for 10 minutes after getting his snorkel rearranged!

60 min USA have a half-hearted appeal for handball by Nesta inside the box turned down. It would have been an absurdly harsh decision, which makes it surprising he didn’t give it etc and so forth. Let me rephrase all of the above: that was handball by Nesta.

61 min Perrotta wangs one into orbit from a nice pass from Pirlo. And then an Italian substitution: Toni off, Iaquinta on.

62 min MC Dempsey off, DaMarcus Beasley on.

63 min A smart thrust from halfway by Donovan ends with an inviting ball to McBride, screaming HIT ME like a really annoying, smelly nerd with a sticker discreetly put on his back, but McBride slices it well wide. That was a real chance.

64 min “That would be “mistimed slide tackle” like Keane’s attack on Alf Inge Haaland, would it, Rob?” chuckles Man City fan Matthew Cobb. “Back to the chess…” There is no way you can compare those two, Cobblers – everyone knows Keano got the ball.

65 min Where to start? DaMarcus Beasley has a goal very dubiously disallowed. When it goes in Peter Drury screams “equaliser” even though they’d have gone 2-1 up. Everyone’s lost it! It was disallowed for McBride being offside, even though he didn’t touch the ball. He was, however, right in Buffon’s line of vision. It’s a controversial decision, that – and it lets Buffon off a proper howler – and I think that, with the modern interpretation of offside, USA are a bit unlucky there.

67 min Perrotta, crunched heavily by Bocanegra, is limping badly on the touchline – and Italy have used all three subs. It could be 9 v 9. This game is an absolute shemozzle.

68 min Zambrotta coaxes a curler just wide from the edge of the box.

69 min Perrotta’s back on although he’s not exactly motoring. It’s like the FA Cup final again with bodies shambling around all over the place.

70 min Zambrotta booked for breathing the same air as Cherundolo. From the resulting free-kick Bocanegra, four yards out, can’t get over a header.

72 min Re: the McBride offside, I agree he was interfering, but doesn’t interpretation of activity these days depending on touching the ball? Oh, apparently it doesn’t. Well, anyway, he didn’t touch the effer, but he was in Buffon’s line of sight.

73 min Keller makes a cracking save to deny old man Del Piero. The ball was floated beautifully in behind the defence by the brilliant Pirlo and Del Piero, stretching to volley with the outside of his left foot, saw his effort pawed away by Keller at the full extent of his dive.

75 min The US are still going for this when they can, and the game is ridiculously spread. But half the players look out on their feet. If anything, the 10 men of Italy look more leg-weary than the nine Americans.

77 min Gattuso wellies one miles over from 30 yards. I think this will finish 1-1; Italy aren’t putting any significant pressure on at all.

78 min The indefatigable Cherundolo, who has been hugely impressive, finds McBride at the back post with a fine cross, but McBride’s header ricochets off the defender and him for a goal kick.

79 min Another good save from Keller, this time to repel Del Piero’s curling 25-yarder. Or his 25-yard curler. Take your pick.

80 min “Rob, what your view for the Argentinian wonder goal?” asks Andy Bradshaw. “The best ever or a well worked goal that was easy to score due to S&M deciding to go their separate ways at the first whistle? I’m going for the latter – a good goal but against woeful opposition.” Definitely. A great goal but the best ever? Do me a favour.

84 min Nothing is happening. At all. “How did Leslie Nielsen get the Italian manager’s job?” chuckles Frank, to himself.

84 min Pirlo slices and dices the defence with a quite sublime through pass… and Iaquinta eight yards out completely miscontrols it.

85 min “Are the Czechs and the Americans part of some High Concept Hollywood Lindsey Lohan comedy where people, or indeed football teams, change identity through a fortune cookie or a kiss or whatever…” asks Rick Burr, not unreasonably, given their respective performances the other day and now today.

87 min How the hell did that stay out? Del Piero fizzed a cross along the six-yard box, and it was somehow smuggled away for a corner with Gattuso about to score.

88 min “ABC just showed a few people standing on a median strip in Times Square “watching” this game on a big screen outside ABC studio,” says Regan Fitzgerald. “Can you feel the excitement?” Not quite. I can feel my sweat-coated Y-fronts disappearing into a big, dark hole, but that’s not exciting as such.

89 min USA are struggling now, and Bocanegra heroically heads some fella’s cross behind for a corner. Conrad could then easily have given away a penalty after manhandling Gilardino/Iaquinta/I haven’t a clue which inside the area, but the referee was having none of it.

90 min Gilardino heads Nesta’s cross well wide. “Ooh la la” adds David Pleat for no particular reason.

90 min +2 One minute of added time left, and it looks like that’s it. USA are playing 6-2-0 now.

Full time: Italy 1 USA 1 That’s the end of one of the most surreal matches in World Cup history – three red cards, one slapstick own goal, a dubiously disallowed goal and lots of other stuff to put the hurt on the funny bone. To return to an unpopular theme, it was a talking dwarf and some gentle erotica away from being a David Lynch film. The USA deserved their point, and can go through if they beat Ghana and Italy beat the Czechs. Thanks for all your emails; apologies for not using them all – Rob.

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