Sunday, June 11, 2006

World Cup Matchday 3

I'm once again holed up in my apartment on a wonderful late spring morning here in DC, coming to you live during today's slate of World Cup games. A few thoughts on the first two days:

- Poor officiating. While the refs haven't been as card happy as usual, they haven't been letting people play (what was the deal with all those bad throws in the Trinidad game). Lots of free kicks, lots of touchy fouls.
- I'll say it again: Paraguay's Paredes was a real disgrace. He seemed like a pretty decent player when he wasn't rolling around on the ground.
- Overall, positive attacking play. Ivory Coast and Argentina were both a treat, with Argentinian efficiency just edging out the exciting Africans. Look for Ivory Coast to bounce back and compete for a second in the group (*I'm currently watching the Dutch play, and they look sharp).
- TV coverage has been a little iffy. Marcelo Balboa wastes not only his breath but mine -- when I have to swear at the TV and/or criticize the worthless (and often incorrect) observations he makes on the air. John Harkes panders a little bit, but he and JP Dellacamra are a solid team. At least Harkes remembers what it was like to be a player and shares that experience with us as commentator. Also, Wynalda just came on TV and he's pretty good. At least he's got some attitude and cuts to the chase. American TV guys are so worried about saying negative things about games, but after the England game, Wynalda was spot on in suggesting that their play was very dissappointing. I spoke with a couple friends last night who said they were watching on Spanish-speaking TV (they happen to speak Spanish -- an unfair advantage) and that the coverage was pretty good. Comments welcome on this topic.


The Dutch have looked sharp. I usually hate Robben -- mostly because of his dive vs. Liverpool which got our keeper Reina tossed -- but damn, he's looked good. You can always count on Holland to come out and really knock the ball around. Lots of possession, lots of quick passing -- no team finds angles in quite the same way.

Robben's goal came with the Serbs pushed up high and pretty flat, leaving a lot of space behind. Some high pressure from the Dutch won the ball back and Arsenal's Robin van Persie (impressive so far) released Robben with a nicely waited through-ball. The ESPN guys keep harping on it, but it does stand out: the Dutch had 66% of the possession so far. That said, Serbia has had some chances and if Milosevic gets a little space...wait, they just subbed him out...not sure why, had a very active first half...

Game's back on. I'll take 2-0 to the Netherlandish...


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