116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Oranje Unrest

Watching eight matches in three days was enough to give us here on 116th street a headache (okay, it's more likely that our Friday flip-cup marathon in Queens did that, but let's not get into semantics). Of course, we're not done, as we have a date with Nevada Smith's and the USA-Czech game tomorrow. Of course, no matter how scrambled our brain is, we have to admit our happiness at not being on whatever ganja Robin van Persie was blazing after today's Netherlands victory over Serbia & Montenegro. After Arjen Robben torched the Serbians for a full 90 minutes, with very little help from his teammates, van Persie actually said this about Robben: "He must take into account his teammates. Sometimes he makes decisions for himself and not the team." As usual, we here on 116th street are lesser authorities on matters of this type, but it doesn't seem far-fetched to declare that for the majority of the match, Arjen Robben was the team. Nobody else stepped up to get on the end of his crosses, nobody else bothered to take on a Serbian defender one on one, and very few even bothered even taking a shot.
Van Persie had an OK game, but if he's gonna call anyone out, it shouldn't be Robben; maybe he should grow a pair and call out Ruud van Nistelrooy, who was invisible, and eventually had to be substituted. Anyway, if I'm Robin van Persie, I don't know I'd find coach Marco van Basten's post-match statements very comforting:
"Our game was too concentrated on the left-hand side because Arjen was in form but that was to the detriment of van Persie on the right wing. This imbalance must be addressed." Sounds like maybe Marco van Basten has a nice spot on the bench for you, Robin van Persie; you're not the only Dutch winger, after all.

ESPN/ABC's presentation has been surprisingly well-done, a few mistakes notwithstanding; they've effectively walked the thin line between a dumbed-down broadcast for new viewers and an informative broadcast for the serious fan. Even Marcelo Balboa has been tolerable, and he has actually been able to provide analysis beyond a simple, "they've got to knock it around." Let's hope he can keep it up a little while longer. On the flip side, Shep Messing's constant, nonsensical analogies to other American sports during the Argentina/Cote d'Ivoire game made me want to stab myself in the ears. Shep, we're not that stupid, and no, the Ivory Coast is not playing a "box and one" on Juan Riquelme. Anyway, you can see that the network has worked hard to get up to speed with their knowledge of the tournament, and I haven't heard any more "Kasey Keller is the best goalkeeper in the world" proclamations, so ESPN/ABC gets a pretty good mark so far.

Finally, props to Trinidad & Tobago, for pulling off the most exciting 0-0 draw I have ever seen. The power of context is amazing; I have never seen a 0-0 match that had a clear winner and loser, but I suppose that's the beauty of an event like this. No matter the score, each team's post-game reaction clearly outlined who the victor and the vanquished were. That T & T did it with 10 men in the second half made it that much more amazing. Also, isn't it funny that both T & T and Angola have token white guys?


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