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A USA Gooner And The Soccer World Cup

 

 

Sports are ubiquitous in the American South. It’s on TV everywhere, all the time. And that’s particularly true in Birmingham, Alabama. We consistently rank at or near the top of ESPN’s ratings – and that’s for almost all sports, not just college football. It’s tough out there if you don’t like sports. You’re going to get left out of a lot of parties. So, I’ve learned over the years to gather just enough knowledge to not be bored silly whenever a sporting event is on the TV. (Except for NASCAR. I refuse to watch NASCAR. It’s just stupid. Sue me.) I was never good at actually playing sports. (Ok, to be fair, I was on the tennis team in high school. But they were desperate.) But I could always feign interest. And then, in my old age, I discovered soccer (Sorry, but I’m American. That’s what we call it.).

 

Soccer, unsurprisingly, is not on the list of most watched sports here in Alabama. You can expect people to make fun of you if you admit to watching it. And you can expect people to make serious fun of you if you admit to being hooked on an English soccer team, getting up at all manner of ridiculous hours on weekend mornings to watch them play. Your co-workers will buy you gag gifts related to said team for your birthday, to include a squad photo of your favourite player (which you will proceed to put up in your office, because, hey, you’re a good sport). You will become an oddity to your friends. Every time they see you, they will say, “So. How’s Arsenal doing these days?” And you will regale them with the exploits from the most recent match, and they will smile and nod, indulging you in your odd hobby. But sometimes, they actually do become interested. After all, enthusiasm can be infectious.

 

One of the things I’ve loved the most about becoming a ‘rabid’ soccer fan, is bringing people along with me for the ride. It started at my house, when my husband finally stopped making fun of me and started watching with me. It was at first a case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, but he’s now as big a fan of Arsenal as me. (Well, almost. I still think I win that contest.) I also have a co-worker who actively follows Arsenal now. Another who follows Chelsea. (I tried, really I did. I consider it my biggest failure to date.)  And now, when people stop me in the hallway to ask about the weekend’s games, they often start with “I saw part of the Arsenal game on TV on Saturday.”  Baby steps, people.

 

All this leads up to my experience with the World Cup this summer. I’m sitting here on Saturday afternoon, surrounded by a house that needs cleaning, laundry that needs doing, dishes that need washing. And I’m planted in front of the TV, watching the World Cup, as I have done almost every day for the last two weeks. If you asked my husband, he would tell you that it doesn’t take much to distract me from housework…Martha Stewart I am not. But almost everything in my life (except work, darn it) has taken a back seat to soccer in the last two weeks. I’ve been to a bar to watch an England game with 200 other people, to a barbecue restaurant to watch a US game with some friends from church, and, on Thursday to a long lunch with 11 co-workers to watch the US play Germany. Now, if I’m honest, I was more interested in Mesut and Lukas and Per than I was in Dempsey and Bradley and Zusi. But it was fun. Everybody was talking about it. Even my daughter watched it. And I know that it has as its roots the patriotic fervour that I normally despise (USA! USA!…please stop…). But I hope you’ll forgive me if I’m just a little excited at the prospect of even a percentage of these folks getting hooked on the game that I’ve come to love so much.  Maybe I won’t get funny looks the next time I ask a bartender to turn the TV over to an Arsenal Champions League match on a Wednesday afternoon.  Hell, maybe when I walk in, it’ll already be on.

 

Sorry, Skipper, but Tuesday I’m gonna be all “USA! USA!” when we play Belgium. I hope you’ll forgive me

 

 

This post is by alabamagooner ( @kmwood02 )

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195 comments on “A USA Gooner And The Soccer World Cup

  1. I always liked Djourou and believed he could do a job in our squad. He obviously struggled with some injuries and didn’t do as well when he played RB during our fullback injury crisis. But he didn’t strike me as a starter. He seemed to want more games and AW just did not seem to envision him in his starting partnership. AW made that decision, quite apart from what the loudmouths on twitter etc… might say. It is his decision and he didn’t rate him enough to keep a player who became less happy sitting on the bench as he grew older and his national place position came under threat.

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  2. And, I think Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen and Sagna were all better centre backs. The problem now is Sagna has left leaving openings at both RB and CB. Watching Djorou do well makes me glad for him, but I didn’t watch and think we should have had him as our second or third choice CB. I would have been delighted to keep him as our 4th choice, however. If Vermaelen is sold, I would say having Djorou still in our team would be a great benefit. But I certainly do not want Vermaelen to go at all.

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  3. H13

    “killed”, via “emasculation”, perhaps?

    Or did Andy just have a bad day?

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  4. Limey;

    I think Sagna leaving hurts us almost more in the CB positions than RB as I feel Sagna started to show the injuries, broken legs and his age at the latter end of last season at RB. Not trying to denigrate him, as I would have like him to stay, but the number of times he was caught way out of position, further up field was getting ridiculous. I am not even sure Debuchy is the answer either, definitely NOT for the reported £12m! That is a crazy price and hopefully Mike Ashley inspired bluster.

    As for Cesc, well I just dont think he was needed, surplus to requirements, plus he is a selfish twat who is costing the chavs £200k a week.

    Ozil, Ox, Cazorla Jack and Zelalem should hopefully be able to pick up the slack of not signing him.

    What we DO need is some additions up top and wide forward, so the continued links with Sanchez (and Di maria, now that would be something, getting BOTH!), very exciting.

    Yes, I do like discussing a transfer or two. Sorry

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  5. Certainly no need to apologize to me–I like to discuss or hear about possible incoming players. I learn something from the discussion.

    But on Sagna, I actually think he had a tremendous season and was back to his best after the season before when he missed time due to his second leg break and took a while to return to his earlier levels. I’m not saying he would have been first choice RB in two years, but he could have transitioned to CB more regularly as well and provided continuity next season in what was a real strength for us, our back line. But he’s gone now, so it is a question of what to do now. I do think his loss as a back up CB is pretty big.

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  6. Glad you approve Limey! In that case, I can go a little crazy imagining an Arsenal team/squad with a front line that includes Giroud, Sanchez, Di Maria and Ozil!

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  7. Rantetta
    July 2, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    lots of.. aghhm ..training in the gym….burnt all his muscles….and brain matter….

    +++++

    transfers??? ahhh i like that ..lets play fantasy manager but rule number ..we dont trash other peoples selections ( no matter how non-sensical) …i go first ( remember this is fantasy….agghmmm ) :

    sell : selfie, the old guy with the nice hair, the one whose eyes are offside
    buy : mohawk chili, the unwanted son, rolls _ _ _ _ , monsier cannibal,

    extra bonus : keep the warrior and the cup winner keeper

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  8. That is a super group. Especially adding Sanchez. Good stats and even better attitude–what a battler he is!

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  9. defensively, no one is better than sagna as a RB the world over. no one is also as good as him in the air. though its true that age is catching up on him especially whenever he overlaps, he doesnt get back on time like he used to. but one on one, sagna against any attacker, no one is better.
    hamed musa has taught a lot of people who believe zabaleta is a better defender than sagna one or two lesson. musa must realy be disappointed not to find a zabaleta in france when the met. he may be better than bac when going foward but deffinately not in defence.

    germany vs france, 3 vs 2? not when we sign debuchry and schneiderlin. thats according to the media and twitter though.
    and until i see sagna in shity’s shirt, i still see him as part of us.

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  10. ‘Hummels overrated? champion in bundesliga x2…ch.l finalist..chl quarterfinalist… european u-21 champion….33 caps for germany…. lol….what has jdjourou done again?”

    Yes overrated. Sideshow Bob won the CL and god knows what else, but I still think he’s shit. I hope MU sign Hummels so you can see how average he really is.

    What has Djourou done? Oh, I don’t know, he was an absolute ace for us and his Switzerland team happens to have one of the best defensive records in world football. Did you see him put Messi in his shirt pocket again the other night?

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  11. “Not trying to denigrate him, as I would have like him to stay, but the number of times he was caught way out of position, further up field was getting ridiculous. I am not even sure Debuchy is the answer either, definitely NOT for the reported £12m! That is a crazy price and hopefully Mike Ashley inspired bluster.”

    To be fair to Bacary, we had zero pace on the wing last season and the boss demanded that he make over lapping runs in order to compensate for that. As far as Debuchy is concerned, he’s a solid enough RB, but there’s nothing about him which sets him apart from any other decent right back. There’s a reason Debuchy is at Newcastle and not at a top four team.

    The reason I like Serge Aurier is because he’s the same age as Jenkinson. You get them two competing against each other for the RB spot and the team is much better for it in the long run. He’s also young enough that he hasn’t picked up any bad habits that can’t be coached out of him. And when you consider how highly regarded he is among a very good crop of RBs in Ligue Une last season, there just may be something to the hype which surrounds him.

    Another RB option I hope Arsene is looking at is Efe Ambrose from Nigeria. I don’t know, but there’s just something about a 6’3″ right back who dribbles like he’s two inches shorter than Romario, can defend and resembles a locomotive when he’s running up the wing. Watching him play on the same pitch as a monster like Zabaleta made me appreciate how good this kid really is. He is also a CB/RB hybrid. Oh and he’s on his last year of a three year contract at Celtic.

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  12. Here’s a clip of Efe Ambrose playing CB

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  13. i dont knwo gains..one has achieved things in his so far career and luiz has been wonderkid and commanding transfers from /to benfica chelsea psg at 25-35m range ..while djourou ( although good) has just had a good spell with us and i cant say ive followed his switzerland performances that much….

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  14. no man you cant call david luiz shit…lol..thats too harsh…. jones and evans are shit …luiz is a top defender..slightly crazy but can play with ball too, scores free kicks and is a bit of a beast..

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  15. in fact …mou selling him put a smile on my face….

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  16. _ _ _ @_ _ _ __ _@ _ _ _ _ _ _ _@ _ _ _

    hoooooowhooooshhhhhhh

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  17. Again, I agree with Gains. Ambrose has been impressive for Nigeria and very good–a standout for me on Celtic–in the CL matches I’ve seen over the last couple of years. But layksite and others really were down on Aurier’s defending. I haven’t watched enough. What about Uchida and Pisczek, whom layksite really rates? I believe Uchida is near the end of his contract for Schalke (just looked it up, but I haven’t seem him play very much or noticed him in the CL matches for Schalke). They have CL experience. Pisczek was always good in the Dortmund games I saw. I am not a fan of Debuchy, really, but familiarity breeds contempt. He was fine in the PL but not really outstanding.

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  18. I thought the other Swiss CB, Schar I believe, was very good alongside Djourou. It might be heresy to say it, but my rough and unanalyzed impression was that he was better than Johan… That whole defence has been typically stingy as Hitzfeld teams always are. I think it has as much to do with team set up and approach than it has to do with the individual defensive abilities of the Swiss back line alone. Which isn’t to say they aren’t very good individual defenders. But in other teams with other pairings, the results might not be as excellent. Greece is usually very hard to break down too. But its central defenders don’t necessarily flourish elsewhere, do they?

    For me, the key to the Swiss relative success vs. Argentina had a lot to do with Behrami and the other midfielders. They were really effective for a long time in repelling Argentina’s attack.

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  19. Transfer Gossip seems to have dropped off the agenda……….. nothing happening. Wenger enjoying himself playing beach foot volleyball, perhaps also enjoying some of the local samba sauces to mix with his chorizo, taking it easy, having a good time, paid by french TV and letting others do the groundwork for him. gertchaaa…. and why not!

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  20. Gains
    Thoughts on the RB who on came on for the US?

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  21. Lime, one constant of that Swiss defence has been Johan Djourou.

    Fin, he’s a new kid that Klinsmann plucked out of the MLS. I was very impressed with him. The way he tracked back to get in front of Hazard opened a lot of eyes. He’ll probably end up going to Germany on the back of that game. Deandre Yedlin is his name.

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  22. As soon as Yedlin came on and he made one blistering run, I knew he’d handle Hazard. Brilliant job he did. Real talent for now and the future.

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  23. does anyone else get these highlighted and underlined words in various texts on the internet combined with annoying pop-ups and disappearing browsers plus outrageous vocal ads from nowhere and survey awards ? …..is this the cia hacking us all on the 4th ?

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  24. What an evening in prospect

    The two best footballing sides in Europe to clash early. A battle of the big players, physically and mentally, and surely the thinnest of margins will part them at the end of 90 or more probably 120 minutes.

    I fancy the Germans by a nose, Kroos, Mesut and Schweini to eventually wrest the centre of the park from Pogba, Cabaye and Matuidi (dirty bastard who will be under refereeing scrutiny tonigt)

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  25. This game could be decided on the call to play Lahm with Kroos and probably Schweiny in midfield (it will probably be decided by a scuffed shot and a fluke of a deflection). Will they be overun by France? Khadira looked far more effective then Kroos after he came on, two outstanding crosses, good energy a result of his own improving fitness and tired opponents. With Lahm predominantly sitting back will Kroos’ mobility will be a problem?

    Deschamps and Wilmots have had the luxuary of rotation, but they’ve done it well. And we have perhaps seen top national managers having no option but to rotate their squads in a football tournament, a result of the tournament starting so close to the end of the season and the conditions. Incredible how many plundits are so lame and reactionary that they don’t acknowledge how Deschamps has been deliberatley alternating between Giroud and Griezmann, tiring out opponents, keeping players and tactics fresh, it’s been happening since the warm up games. But then as Arsenal fans we’ve become used to such piss poor plunditry.

    Jurgen Klinsmann on the importance of ‘match fitness’ at the top top level:
    “In order (for the US national team) to get further and further, we need to add the workload, we need to add the competition level, we need to make them understand what recovery time means.”

    Shame no one told Rooney…

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  26. But then as Arsenal fans we’ve become used to such piss poor plunditry.

    still though…it wont stop us from hating luis 🙂

    have you read martin samuels? yesterday “debate” …..ahahah i cannot believe that man gets paid and has a house and a car and generally makes it in society…….

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  27. Don’t think anyone here hates Luis!

    Never read Martin Samuels, never will. Once I was unfortunate enough to briefly hear him attempt to talk about football: he’s a professional idiot. Just another court jester.

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  28. he sure is ( professional idiot) which makes the fact that he makes a living via football journalism all the more insulting and disgusting…

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  29. omg…4th of july !!!!!! who remembers what happened this day ten years ago? georgaki????????????????????????????

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  30. Gains and Limey
    Thanks for the replies. There haven’t been many outstanding FBs into is tournament but I thought Yedlin had a great game for a rookie. Now, where did put Dickie Law’s number, he was engaged last time I tried. Or he just put me on answerphone *sniffs*.

    On RBs I think the only thing that will help me overcome the loss of the warrior Sagna, easily my favourite player (after Theo, who is quick!) for years and years and years will be the elevation and success of Jenkinson backed up by Bellerin, who looked ridiculously good in a brief midfield cameo against West Brom if my memory is correct. Of course only those watching him every day know if he (& Bellerin) has the tools, I don’t! But he’s had bigger nights and tests then Shaw so far in his career (against Udinese and a younger Di Natale, 0-2 in Munchen, victory at the Bus Stop etc…) whereas the most notable thing that Shaw has done to date on and off the pitch is to admit that the Arsenal were the best football team he played against last season (in the first game. Of course they were.) when he couldn’t get a touch of the ball.

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  31. Bellerin

    i went once to watch the kids league vs west brom i think and gnabry scored an unbelievable volley ..that team had eisfeld frimpong myachi etc etc and bellering was in fornt of us and looked ready for the first team then. isnt he the barcelona kid? fuckin la messia they do know …..cruyff…

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  32. Although they came on as subs in extra-time against West Brum the game was early on in the season and the PL opposition should’ve been fresh, both Akpom and Bellerin looked very exciting.

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  33. Afobe is still at the club. He needs another season of rebuilding after injury horrors so I guess that he will probably go on loan.

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  34. With thanks to the Theo Walcott Appreciation Society :
    https://mobile.twitter.com/mixedknuts/status/484985133951643650/photo/1

    I’m glad that Walcott turned down Liverpool for all that Wonga that Arsenal offered. I don’t mean to comment on any other transfer rumours *coughs*, nope! It’s not like I would be just a little excited at the strong rumours surrounding another super duper speedster up top. Never.

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  35. Finsbury,
    Maybe we can’t all help feeling a little smug nowadays when we see all the rom ours if such high quality players seeming to be queuing up to joking the Arsenal Evolution, especially as these players know they have the chance to work for one of the finest mangers in world football for at least 3 more years, as well as working in a high quality training and coaching environment and with a club of the calibre of Arsenal.

    I.e. Stuff that up yer pipe hole and smoke It, John W Henry ya feckin amature clown! Nobody messes Arsenal around.

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  36. Jerez, WordPress- word mangler.

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  37. who theo? he has been immense the last two seasons before 2013-2014 ( the last one with robin and the first one with poldi/santi) which was basically due to that fucking stupid unlucky injury…such a shame…… very dangerous wide forward….. “doesnt have a football brain” …lol…. once when i was still in school in final math exams for the year the subject was some outrageous system with 3 equations with 3 unknowns x y and z plus algorithms and square roots and some other alien language …i had no hope ..so i wrote on the exam paper “he who has no brain… has legs” and i walked out….the tutor laughed found it so hillarious and to his credit he did not fail me on maths …i passed !!!

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  38. i did a lot better than my mate phillip a few seats forward who took the exam paper and made an airplane with it…he didnt pass..he failed…. you shouldnt push the teachers limits and disrespect them like that…..

    theodore walcott …gods gift walcott

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  39. Fin, Bellerin is the real deal. I would love it if it were him and Jenkinson fighting for the RB spot. However, I think they’re still a bit too raw to handle a whole season of league, cup and CL commitments. I would love it if Arsene bought someone like Nacho and give the two boys game time little by little. Bellerin is someone I’d like to see in Arsenal’s colors for a long time.

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  40. Five Arsenal players and only Mesut on the field. Makes it easy to decide who to support.

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  41. Allez les Bleus…….. France to win tonight

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  42. I’m back, new post is up . NO MORE FUCKING SMILEY FACES.- BAD POSTERS.

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  43. fkn hell..big game this…

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  44. I guess one obvious reason DD had played OG was for extra cover from free kicks and corners.

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