Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I Predict a Riot

I'm not as good a swimmer as I used to be, thanks to evolution
USA v. Latvia, Rentschler Field

This past Memorial Day weekend was probably as good a time as any to catch a USA soccer match-- the first that I've ever been to, besides, scratching yet another thing off my "things to do" list (I'm saving the UConn basketball game for last). Since I know pretty much nothing about soccer football, I didn't realize that the U.S. is ranked 5th in the world by FIFA, which is even higher than the U.S. hockey team is ranked by the IIHF. That's pretty impressive, if you figure that there's probably at least a hundred more countries that play football than play hockey.

The U.S. football team is no sad-sack squad, by any means, and on this day (the team's final tune-up game before heading to Germany for the World Cup) they took care of the Latvian team fairly handily, 1-0. From what I understand, a 1-0 score in football is darn near a blowout, plus the U.S. did manage to cover the over, which for this game was, like, 5/8ths or something.

One day I had an asthmatic attack. These three asthmatics jumped me
A lumpy Brian McBride

Brian McBride of the USA bumped heads with Latvia's Genadjis Soloncins-- I looked it up-- when they both went for a header at the same time, raising a huge knot on one side of McBride's forehead. McBride went on to score the only goal of the game a few minutes before the first half ended, leading to a bunch of paper streamers being thrown out onto the field which the two teams just played through, as if they weren't there, for the rest of the half.

Like Ryan Seacrest, I once had a large gay following, but I ducked into an alleyway and lost him
#9 for the U.S., Eddie Johnson

The U.S. team had special Don't Tread On Me jerseys worn just for this game, explaining the red "Don't Tread - nikesoccer.com" towels that were handed out to all 24,636 fans before the game (and not because the folks at Nike are all big Cro-Mags fans, which is what I was thinking).

There were a large number of Latvian fans at the game, including almost a whole section at one corner of the stadium, above a big banner reading "Let's Go, Latvija". At the opposite corner, next to where we sat, is where the most rabid of the U.S. fans were (that's them in the photo at top). Their chanting, horn-blowing, and drum-banging continued non-stop throughout the entire game, which is commonplace overseas, but not something that you'll see that often at "major sporting events" over here.

On the other hand, I think I've seen less diving and crying at a pool party for 5-year-olds.

Since I'm kind of a dope for details, here's some of the game story that ran in Reuters:

Striker Brian McBride's header two minutes before halftime gave the U.S. a 1-0 victory over Latvia in a physical World Cup warmup game on Sunday.

The U.S. dominated their third and final preparation match in six days, coach Bruce Arena using nine players likely to start his side's opening World Cup Group E game against the Czech Republic on June 12.

Latvia goalkeeper Alexsanders Kojlinko was busy throughout the opening 45 minutes, making a handful of impressive stops.

McBride was involved in a clash of heads and returned to the field with a large welt above his left eye before nearly putting the U.S. ahead on 27 minutes with a fierce long-range shot.

Kojlinko denied McBride again in the 38th minute when his firm header from seven metres was gathered but two minutes from the interval, the U.S. broke through.

Landon Donovan linked with Steve Cherundolo on the right flank where the defender made a strong overlapping run before sending over a cross for McBride to climb above two defenders and nod in from six metres.


The U.S. upped their record for this year to 5-2-2. After the game, the players kicked soccer balls into the crowd, which was pretty cool.

I like a woman with a head on her shoulders-- I hate necks
Latvian team practicing at Rentschler (photo from www.lff.lv)

It was a surprised me, but apparently this game was a big deal, since it aired on ESPN (not even ESPN2) and there were a bunch of other networks there, also. We sat in the front row on the end, where most of the media photographers were, and during the game a number of sideline reporters set up right in front of us, including Shelley Smith of ESPN (who looks even more like Wynonna Judd in person), someone from RAI International, and Kenny Choi of SportsNet New York (the network of the New York Mets). Like most up-and-coming reporters, Kenny Choi has a blog, too, which you can check out by clicking here. Be warned-- he's no James Mirtle.

Drew Carey set up in the photographers' row practically within arm's reach of us, which was funny not because only about four or five people realized it was actually him ("Hey, that dopey-looking camera guy looks a lot like Drew Carey!"), but because there was a two-person camera crew filming him while he was taking photographs. It was part of a documentary series that Carey is doing about the World Cup for the Travel Channel, and if you think I'm making this up, there's even a web site that you can go to, so there.

If you're wondering why G12 doesn't have his own Travel Channel show, for that I can't help you.