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Gone

June 26, 2010 at 11:44pm By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

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Team USA, that is, courtesy of Ghana. This should become known as the “Ghana Curse” since it’s the second time now in recent memory that the Ghanaian team has sent us out of the World Cup. Team USA’s run this year can only be described as both frenzied and wildly manic, as illustrated by their play today. Still, not many people expected the team to get past this stage, so in that sense we can chalk this one up for another great performance overall for the USA, which consistently seems to do “pretty good” in the World Cup. Of course, “pretty good” isn’t enough, but it has still been a great experience for USA fans.

I am really looking forward to the Germany-England match tomorrow morning. Needless to say, it’s always a huge event anytime these two hated rivals play one another.  I am supporting Germany, and believe they will easily dismantle England. There is no question that Germany has great team play, great attitudes, and a powerful attack in Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, and their new star Mesut Ozil. Miroslav Klose has scored more goals in the past few World Cups than England has as an entire team. What does England have? An overrated domestic striker who chokes on the international level, and a very dubious goalkeeping position.

3-1 Germany over England. I can already hear the England fans groaning in misery.

World Cup 2010 Commercials

June 20, 2010 at 10:04pm By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

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Some times you just have to sit back and enjoy it.

There have been some pretty awesome pre-tournament commercials this year, like ESPN’s ubiquitous main theme teaser, its #10 commercial, and Telkom’s commercial.

As we enter the final week of group play, we’ve already been inundated by that Budweiser penalty kick commercial, and those really strange “Lord of the Ring”-style Adidas series of ads with Zinadine Zidane (full version here).

Clearly, Nike’s Write The Future ad is the king of this tournament’s commercials (so much better than the Adidas’ Star Wars one despite the cool cameos and concept). Not only is Write The Future the best commercial of the tournament, it might be the best sports commercial ever. The Nike ad featuring some of Didier Drogba’s philanthropy and work against HIV/AIDS is also an excellent one. There are also some memorable shorter spin-offs from Write The Future like the brief clip with Roger Federer on his cameo,  and another rather prophetic short about Rooney messing up.

Speaking of England, a month ago England supporters were boasting that their team would win the World Cup. Now they are praying to survive group play. But there was a really nice EA ad for FIFA10 featuring Rooney (I consider it World Cup related), and another South African commercial poking fun at England’s rivalry with Germany. 

Nike also has a few commercials of the Mighty Orange for the Dutch market which are cool, like this one and this one.

Pepsi has some feel-good commercials featuring Henry, Drogba, Lampard, Kaka, and Messi, like their main ad, and this spin-off.

Sticking with the Africa theme, Puma has a really cool “Journey of Football” short celebrating African teams and fans, another focusing on Ghana’s Black Stars, and a short film called “Of the Same Earth” with Samuel Eto.

Of course, one of the reasons we like soccer is because it DOESN’T have television advertising until half time. But all in all, this has been a pretty good World Cup for commercials.

World Cup Heartbreak?

June 19, 2010 at 12:47am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

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What a strange and exciting first week World Cup 2010 has been. Few people realistically expected Team USA to do well this year. But contrary to popular predictions, England’s performance has been remarkably poor, FAR worse than ours. You have to be sorry for veteran English footballers like Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard who are excellent players but are cursed with playing for a national team that always seems to do so badly when it counts. And let’s set the record straight about Wayne Rooney: what a dismal disappointment he has been for England.  After our tie with Slovenia today, one could only have prayed for an Algerian win over England. Although that didn’t happen, the next best thing did with an Algeria/England 0-0 draw. What a disaster England has been so far, as I predicted. This means that USA is now ranked 2nd in group after Slovenia based on goals. It’s very likely we could get out of group into the knock-out stage but we have to beat Algeria next, or England has to lose against Slovenia if we draw with the Algerians. But make no mistake about it: we could lose against Algeria easily.

There have been some amazing upsets this week, including Spain’s loss and this morning’s upset in the Germany/Serbia game. Personally, I have been supporting Germany, France, and USA. This week’s play has thus been emotionally difficult for me because all three of these teams have fared significant challenges. After an awesome performance against Australia by Germany, I was stoked this morning to watch Germany’s insane scoring robots Lukas Podalski and Miroslav Klose.  I am a big fan of both these footballers, especially Podalski. What a boot today against Serbia and a card-crazy referee. Although Mr. Wilson concurred that the second yellow against Klose was clearly a trip, one has to ask to what extent the game becomes dominated not by the players but by the referee after 8 yellow cards are drawn.

Germany’s group is wide open and tomorrow Ghana plays against Australia. This will be an interesting game to catch seeing as how we’ll end up playing SOMEONE in group D if we get out of group.  Every game counts, and in that sense this tournament has been awesome so far. I’m just disappointed that the teams I’m supporting have had such difficulties this first week.

In anycase, if anyone is looking for some excellent World Cup-related podcasts, check out the Worldview interview with Simon Kuper, author of Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey—and Even Iraq—Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport. This was a really interesting interview breaking down the relationship between national economic conditions, fan and athletic culture, and performance in football. Really good stuff.

Big Day

June 11, 2010 at 12:53pm By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

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I’m still a little mystified at all the hype over England this year. Yes, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are great footballers, but at core this England team is almost the same as the last go around minus Beckham and their goalkeeper is pushing 70 years old (and their key striker is also injured, again). As usual, the England supporters always get super pumped up because they believe this year is THE year for them to finally win it all again. Whatever. What they do have going for them is that the strongest team in their group is us, and a lot of people aren’t too keen on our team either. But I think we’ll win on goals tomorrow if we keep up the speed and be aggressive like a Germany-type offense. USA over England 3-2.

Happy World Cup 2010 everyone!

EDIT: There are lots of cool tournament commercials out there like the Write the Future one by Nike or Bono’s one for ESPN. But if this Carlsberg commercial is supposed to inspire Team England to win tomorrow, all I can think of is total fail ala BP. This commercial is an AWFUL train wreck that deserves a viewing. Truly horrible.

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