Showing posts with label soccer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label soccer. Show all posts

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Show in Town ~ Sporting KC

Whether you're on the Suck for Luck bandwagon or you ain't, one thing is clear for all Chiefs fans: The passion for this season is (*Denny Matthews voice*) GONE!

I just didn't know it had all transferred over to a different team in town. Who you ask?

Sporting Kansas City.

Last night I ventured over to Livestrong Park to take in my first Sporting game of the season. Simply put, it was the best sporting event I've attended in 2011 (take that Chiefs home opener!). I had previously attended a Wizards game at Arrowhead Stadium and was underwhelmed by everything but the opportunity to yell at Freddy Adu all game long. The difference was night and day.

Fast forward to today, and I'm still exhausted from jumping around like a fool and chanting along all game long. I was lucky enough to sit stand in "The Cauldron" where all the crazies sit stand (only 15 bucks). The coolest part about the game was (what appeared to be) elected fan leaders that faced the crowd and led them all in the team's chants (probably around 15) all game long. They made sure the crowd stayed rowdy through the entire 90 minutes, and they succeeded.

The next coolest part was cheaper beer for all the fans sitting in The Cauldron. While the peons paid 8.50 for piss in a cup, us fancy folk were paying 6 bucks for a big ass Drop Kick Ale (mmm delicious). Cheap beer also leads to great fan participation (are you noticing the pattern yet?).

I've always wanted to attend a European soccer game, or even on a grander scale, a World Cup game (on my sports Bucket List). I've always been infatuated by the atmosphere of those games, with what I call the most passionate fan bases in the world. Well, I gots me a taste of it last night. And it was good.

And Sporting KC is good. They clinched a spot in the playoffs last night, and currently sit in first place in the eastern conference after whooping up on the team that was in first place last week. A home playoff game is looking more and more likely, and would be an event that I wouldn't want to miss out on.

So while I remain a Chiefs fan first and foremost, my competitive fan juices might be saved up for Major League Soccer this year. And if you haven't made your way out to a game yet, I'd strongly advise you to do so sooner rather than later. Who knows if this city's passion for Sporting KC will run as strong when the Chiefs are trotting out Andrew Luck in 2012.

His Dirkness

Friday, June 25, 2010

2010 World Cup Knockout Round

United States 1, Algeria 0

Judging by the all-vuvuzela band marching the streets day and night since the victory over Algeria, I'd say the United States finally has themselves a world-class soccer team, despite the world's obvious efforts to keep us down. It only makes it sweeter that we have to put up with a controversial disallowed goal in every match from here on out. We even had to deal with Algeria cowardly playing for the draw, despite needing a victory for any chance at advancement. With all of the close chances and near misses, it felt like our time would never come, and would combine with our shortcomings from the 2006 World Cup concluding a failure of an era that looked so promising. However, none of that mattered, or maybe all of it mattered, when Landon Donovan boomblasted the game winner past the charismatic Algerian goalie in the 91st minute of the match (the unsung hero of the goal was Howard, who threw it to midfield in the air, and ignited the fast break).

That golden goal didn't mean more to anyone than our new national hero, Lando Donovan (portrayed by Billy Dee Williams in the movie). He would have found himself in the scapegoat role once again, albeit unfairly this time around, but that's the responsibility you take on when you wear the #10 jersey (Pele's number, commonly worn by the team's best player, even more popular than #23 in basketball). Instead, he has been a Top 5 player of the World Cup to this point. I'm convinced he cares more about winning than any other present day athlete. He cares, and we should care because he cares so much. It's an absolute joy to watch. He is the unquestioned leader of the team that has played with the most heart in this World Cup. No other team has crawled back from a 2-0 deficit. No other team has won a game in extra time (New Zealand tied one). No other team has fought through such egregious officiating. We never give up, we fought through adversity, and we laid it all on the line when it mattered most. These are the defining characteristics of a team, led by Captain Lou Albano, playing with a ton of heart.

United States vs Ghana

A rematch with the team that slammed the door shut on our slim remaining hopes in the 2006 World Cup. And anybody that needs some extra fuel for their fire...

Yes, that garbage you see at the 1:20 mark actually leads to a penalty kick (hey, another bad call against the US! Blame it on the Black Stars). Ghana is the only remaining African team and will probably have the roar of the vuvuzelas behind them. It'll be interesting to see how partisan it will be and if it'll affect the U.S. team at all. So far, Ghana was impressive in beating Serbia 1-0, uninspiring in a 1-1 draw with a shorthanded Australia squad, and respectable in a 1-0 defeat to a desperate Germany squad. Both of their goals have come off penalty kicks, so they have yet to see the ball pass the goalie in normal play. It's difficult to forecast a soccer match, but I believe the United States to be the superior squad. We may have a feeling of playing with house money now after coming so close to elimination, and find ourselves with a somewhat favorable draw with Argentina, Germany, and Spain opposite us and no Brazil or Netherlands until the Semifinals. That doesn't mean anything will come easy, but the path is atleast plausible. Dirkness, for one, already feels satisfied with our showing, mostly due to the fashion in which it's been done.

Dirkness prediction: United States 2, Ghana 1 OT
Goals: Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore
Number of Disallowed Goals for the US: 2

Power Rankings heading into Knockout Stage:

1. Brazil- Kaka has been the second best player I've watched
2. Argentina- Messi has been the best
3. Netherlands- More concerned about style than result which I like
4. Spain- Rough first draw in Portugal should be round's best game
5. Uruguay- Most surprising dominant team of the tournament
6. Germany- Podolski (The Polish Rifle) has the fastest slap shot in the world
7. Portugal- Ronaldo's sissy play makes me outspokenly angry
8. Chile- My adopted team of the tournament, second cheering interest
9. England- Wayne Rooney is my biggest disappointment so far (besides the Floppin Racist terms)
10. United States- Keep an eye on the unheralded Benny Felihaber, I dig his style
11. Ghana- Should have the host fans behind them
12. Mexico- Worst team of the best foursome (Arg, Ger, Eng)
13. Japan- Fit their hard-working Asian stereotype and outrun teams to death
14. Paraguay- Winner of the weakest group
15. South Korea- See Japan and Slovakia
16. Slovakia- Here for the knockout swag


Monday, June 21, 2010

World Cup Power Rankings

I'm starting to recognize that soccer is the equivalent to the sporting world that art is to our culture. The game is relatively self-policed and referees step in only when necessary, which creates a fantastic flow of play. It's something the NBA sorely lacks and needs to adopt (more on this in a developing post coming soon!) It's unlike other sports in that it operates in a gray area, outside of absolutes, where referees govern the game on intent and don't have defined regulations to follow.

The so-called soccer gods are said to reward teams that play the game the right way. Fans and analysts praise teams for their creativity, risk-taking, and style of play, rather than the score, which is a rather superficial judgment. The beauty extneds beyond the end result. It's a better representation of life, if you care to take it that far (I do). I believe the reason it hasn't fully caught on in America is that we'd rather be told what to think. Forming our own opinions is not a strength of our people. The lack of action argument makes no sense. With no down time, there is actually constant action. Sure, there is less scoring, and sometimes even no scoring, but the subtleties are something to be appreciated, with the game apt to change at any one moment. There are plenty of ways to judge a match or squad, so don't let the score tell the whole story for you. Embrace the gray area. Don't be scared. And remember, only siths deal in absolutes.

Power Rankings (as of 2 games played for all teams):

1. Brazil
2. Argentina
3. Netherlands
4. Spain
5. Portugal
6. Chile
7. Germany
8. Mexico
9. Uruguay
10. Switzerland
11. Paraguay
12. United States
13. Serbia
14. Ghana
15. England
16. Slovenia
17. Ivory Coast
18. Italy
19. South Korea
20. South Africa
21. Algeria
22. New Zealand
23. Japan
24. Greece
25. Australia
26. Denmark
27. Cameroon
28. Nigeria
29. Slovakia
30. France
31. Honduras
32. North Korea

Thy Shirkness

Thursday, June 10, 2010

2010 World Cup Preview Extravaganza

I'll start off with my thoughts on the United States team (uh, squad) before getting into predictions for the 2010 World Cup. I'd like to give a shout out to my DVR for the load it is about to handle, and for making it possible for me to witness the World Cup sans a 6 A.M. wake up call (I wouldn't have stood a chance 8 years ago). But, please World Cup, return to Asia soon so I can once again experience live sporting events in the midnight to 6 A.M. hours- the original reason that I got into the sport of soccer (er, futbol).

United States~ They are better set up for success this time around than they were in 2006, when unfair expectations were placed on them due to an overachieving 2002 team. You follow? Overachieving leads to expectation, which ultimately leads to failure. You see it all the time in sports. This year they bring a more seasoned team ready to handle more moderate expectations. This is my analysis based on no soccer knowledge whatsoever.

What's the key on the field (ahem, pitch)? Jozy Altidore. He is their chance. What I remember from 2006 was that we fielded a good team throughout the field, but lacked a striker, which when it comes down to it, is the name of the game. We had to work too hard for goals. He is our chance at a difference maker.

So what are The Dirkness' expectations for the United States? Anything less than reaching the knockout stage would have to be considered a disappointment (the top two of each group advance for those not in the know). I say winning a game in the Round of 16 is a great success, and anything above and beyond is just tea and crumpets (?). If they can just come out of the England game with a tie (draw) than they are in great shape, with the belief that England is the most celebrated team of the group. But, this is no "Group of Death" (the term applied to the toughest group of the World Cup) where the U.S. found themselves in 2006, and we should expect The Yanks to make an appearance in the knockout round.

Prediction Time~

Group A:
1. Mexico- Odds on winning it all went from <125-to-1> to <60-to-1> ruining my betting plans (but helping my online gambling problems).
2. Uruguay- No I'm not....not that there's anything wrong with that.
3. France- Handballs won't be allowed in this tournament, Henri.
4. South Africa- Would become the first host country to not make the knockout round.

Group B:
1. Argentina- Led by the former (Diego Maradona) and current (Lionel Messi) best players in the world.
2. Greece- I find Greeks to be tough and resilient.
3. Nigeria- The worst team from the original FIFA Soccer game for Super Nintendo.
4. South Korea- Midfielder Park Ji-Sung is nicknamed 'Three-Lung Park' for his impressive stamina.

Group C:
1. England- History of dominating the Group stage but faltering in the knockout round.
2. United States- Chuck Klosterman really believes soccer could be the sport of the future in the U.S. (and if you don't know who he is, quit reading me and read him!)
3. Slovenia- Dominating defense scares me a bit.
4. Algeria- Awesome nickname- 'The Desert Foxes.'

Group D:
1. Serbia- Makes me think of Siberia, which makes me thinks they'll be tough.
2. Australia- You can never question the heart of a Socceroo.
3. Germany- My shocker. Lots of missing players due to injuries (and their top goalkeeper committed suicide!) Would be the first time missing the knockout round since 1938.
4. Ghana- Suffer in this year's 'Group of Death.'

Group E:
1. Cameroon- My choice for African team that rides the wave of home turf.
2. Netherlands- My favorite European team (despite leaving Chili Peppers' lead man Ruud Van Nistelrooy-pictured-off the squad) donning the fresh out of the penitentiary uniforms (kits).
3. Denmark- Something about Denmark.
4. Japan- Can't imagine them being good at soccer.

Group F:
1. Italy- 'The Floppin Racist Terms' have the best goalie in the world, Gianluigi Buffon.
2. Paraguay- Dedicating the tournament to their top qualifying scorer who was shot in the head. Sold.
3. Slovakia- Won't be motivated because they've already advanced further than their former name sharers, Czech.
4. New Zealand- Just here for the swag.

Group G:
1. Brazil- Led by forward Kaka (Spanish for poop) and coach Dunga (American for poop). Cue Clay Davis: Shieyyyyyyyit!
2. Ivory Coast- My personal favourite (!) player from the 2006 World Cup, Didier Drogba, may or may not be out for the tournament.
3. Portugal- Soccer is no place for pretty boys like Cristiano Ronaldo...or atleast my predictions aren't.
4. North Korea- Suffer from this year's 'Group of Chinese Water Torture.'

Group H:
1. Spain- The World Cup Favourite has lost one time in its last 45 games (to the U.S. baby!)
2. Chile- Their coach is nicknamed El Loco for his sideline antics (he most likely gets liquored up on Loko's before games).
3. Honduras- Come oh so close to being the tournament Cinderella.
4. Switzerland- They plan to stay neutral in hopes of not upsetting any of the other Group H teams.

Knockout Stage:

Round of 16:

Mexico over Greece
England over Australia
Cameroon over Paraguay
Brazil over Chile
Argentina over Uruguay
United States over Serbia
Netherlands over Italy
Spain over Ivory Coast


England over Mexico
Cameroon over Brazil
Argentina over United States
Spain over Netherlands


England over Cameroon
Argentina over Spain

Third Place Game:
Cameroon over Spain

World Cup Final:
Argentina over England


His Dorkness
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