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Why the U.S. win against Algeria is the most important moment in American soccer history

I’ve needed to settle down for awhile after that riveting soccer game that saw Landon Donovan score the game winner in stoppage time before writing this post.  I’ve done that, now let me tell why this game (and win) were so important to the popularity of soccer in the U.S.A.

There’s basically three camps in the United States when it comes to soccer.

1.  There’s the “soccer sucks and the only way I’m watching is if I’m being tortured” camp.

2.  The “I’m not a soccer fan, but I watch the World Cup and I’ll go to an MLS game if I get a ticket” group.

3.  The “I have three fantasy league soccer teams with players from the leagues in Brazil, Greece, and Russia” camp.

In the past, the second and third groups have watched the U.S. soccer team with high hopes.  The team has been alleged to be good but in reality have flamed out far below expectations.  Moreover, there have been plenty of opportunities for the U.S. team to get that signature win which makes Americans take notice.  A 1-0 loss to Germany in 2002, A tie to Italy in 2006, and the 2009 Confederation loss to Brazil after leading 2-0.  In each case, the fans were told, the team played well but just was unlucky to win.  We’ll get ’em next time.

Hogwash!

It’s been obvious for years that the only way soccer gets any credibility is to get results and do some damage on Soccer’s biggest stage.  This World Cup gave the U.S. the perfect chance.  No overinflated expectations as in 2006, when the U.S. was ranked 5th in the world, nor any “just happy to be here” sentiments.  Win or failure.  An ideal most Americans, even the non-soccer fans, understand.

Then there’s been the way they played so far.  See, the only way Americans are gonna watch a sport they normally wouldn’t is if there is drama and excitement.   They need riveting theater.  This World Cup has given it to them.

First, they come back against England, yes with the help of an atrocious goal, but they came back nonetheless.

Theater.  They showed some true “American” grit.

Then they suck against Slovenia, but come back late to score two goals and the winner, only to be screwed by “the call.”

Theater.  There was action, drama, and outrage.

Everything led up to the game with Algeria, and the stakes were right where any red blooded American wants them.  Back against the wall.  Win or die.

For 90 minutes they let the drama simmer.  Lost chances?   Check.  More villainy?  Check.  The specter of those “unlucky soccer kids who played well but can’t win” hanging in the air?  Definitely check.  Add to that England’s goal that cemented the “win or die” storyline and you have the perfect set up.

And as the seconds kept ticking away, the tension built and built.  We’re talking “will they find the bomb in the schoolyard in time’ tension.

Then….as “official time” ended and all hope was lost, Tim Howard, goalkeeper, saves the day, keeping the ball out of the net and throwing (throwing?) the ball some 60 yards to a streaking Donovan…..

Hope.

Donovan pass the ball to Altidore…….

Hope.

Altidore gets the ball in to Dempsey who HAS THE SHOT SAVED!

Nooooooooooooooo!

BUT THE GOALIE CAN’T HOLD IT AND…..

long pause to hold breath.

DONOVAN SCORES!!!!!!!!!!!  OH MY GOD!!!!!!!

Bars, offices, schools, my couch, erupted in cheers.  The only people not happy were the Hollywood writers who wished they’d thought of this moment for a script.

Even more important was that millions of Americans saw a soccer game, a 1-0 soccer game, that was the total opposite of the “boring, unwatchable tripe” memo that sports talk hosts had been feeding them for years.

Now they understand what the world has known for years.  Soccer can be pretty darn exciting.

So do all the Americans who cheered Donovan’s late heroics start following the MLS?  Of course not, but some will.  And do all those fans leave, if and when the U.S. loses against Ghana, or Uruguay, or South Korea?  Some, but that really doesn’t matter very much because now U.S. Soccer has produced a split second where all Americans, soccer fans and detractors experienced what the game of soccer could give them.  Drama, excitement, exhilaration.

U.S. soccer now has its moment, and nothing or no one can take that away.

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Solving a problem Kevin Costner style

I’m a firm believer in conservation. However, I’m also a capitalist. I have always had disdain for the folks who carry on about “globalwarmingcoolingclimatechange” and then brag about driving their ’68 Volkswagon Bus cross-country, or those that fly privately to far off countries to complain about various climate issues.

You know the ones. The “Enviro-scolds.”

You want me to buy a cleaner car? Make one that takes me up the mountains at 75 like my car now. Make recycling easier and profitable. Incentives work way better than punishments.

This said, you can see why Kevin Costner is my newest idol.

British Petroleum – desperate for ideas – gave the okay to test six of (Kevin) Costner’s gizmos Wednesday, after the Army Corps of Engineers gave the machine a thumbs-up.

Costner’s $24 million centrifuge machine has a Los Angeles-perfect name, “Ocean Therapy.”

Placed on a barge, it sucks in oily water, separates out the oil and spits back clean water.

Awesome idea!  What makes it better is Costner’s quote about his new device.

“It’s prepared to go out and solve problems, not talk about them.”

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Why I’m glad I’m not living in Iceland at the moment

Volcano?  What Volcano?

It’s amazing how the most dangerous things can also be the most beautiful.

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Venezuela, a non-expert analysis

I just got back from Venezuela and had to make a few observations about how things are there.

First, I love Venezuela, but it definitely has some problems.  And it all stems from one person.  El Presidente, Hugo Chavez.

When you´re in Venezuela, it´s hard not to hear from, or about Chavez and his talking about the U.S.  In fact, there´s a great YouTube post (looking for the video, but can’t seem to find it) (It’s there now, in Spanish. thanks to Julia)from the OAS where the representative from Panama told the joke.

“When his wife cheats on him, a right wing fascist will beat her up.  A social conservative will plead with her “Why?” The communist will immediately collect all the stones around and start throwing them at the U.S. Embassy.”

In Venezuela, there is more than a little truth about that joke.

Throughout the whole country, there are rolling power outages and water shortages, all because Chavez long ago fired anyone capable of maintaining these infrastructures who was not Chavista.  So what does he do?  Does he try and fix the problems?

No.

Instead he throws rocks at the United States.  Chavez says U.S. planes are spying on him, that Obama is the same as Bush, and that a U.S. attack on Venezuela is coming anytime.

Listening to all this, there’s only one conclusion I can make.

He wishes the United States would invade.  It’s the only way he can get out of this complete fiasco he’s created for himself.

Think about this.  Ten years ago, Venezuela was exporting electricity to other countries.  Now there are shortages.  So much so that Christmas lights were forbidden in many areas.  Additionally, water is being rationed throughout the country.  In Caracas, the water is shut off so they can conserve.

Incredible.

Ask any Venezuelan about this.  They are tired.  Tired of lines 50 people deep waiting for the money machines with no power.  They are tired of shopping in dark malls because  whole cities lose power for hours on end.  They are tired of storing water so that they can use the toilet, or have a drink of water.  One woman said to me that if she had told people that Venezuelans were sitting in the dark”with no light and no water they would never believe us.”

It’s true.  And they know who’s to blame for it.

Oh yeah, elections are coming up this year, which could spell big trouble for Chavez.

If the elections are clean (a huge “if”, I know) there is a good chance that the congress could have a significant number of opposition members elected.  Why?  Opposition parties who have boycotted past elections in protest are instead organizing and winning.  There were several opposition wins last year for governor and mayors of major cities, including Caracas.  Of course, Chavez usurped the election and took away the winner’s powers, the police, etc.  That will be much harder to do if several opposition candidates gain seats in congress this year.

He will certainly try, but it may just backfire.

Many remember that when the first vote to change the Venezuelan Constitution, in order to let Chavez run indefinitely, failed Chavez tried to withhold the voting results until the military stepped in and said it would not support him if he didn’t acknowledge the results.

I can see a similar scenario unfolding again if Chavez, say, dissolves an opposition controlled congress.

His grip on the presidency is weak right now with many of his former supporters now turning against him.  He must tread carefully if he wants to remain president.

Chavez, of course, recognizes none of this.  He still grandstands, acts impulsively (devaluation anyone?), and still believes (and hopes) a U.S. invasion is coming.   It won’t of course.  And why would we?  Chavez is doing a fine job of losing his grip on Venezuela without our help.

So here’s to a hopefully happy, and Chavez free Venezuela in 2010.

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Foppa is back!

Forsberg returns tonight!

Peter Forsberg will make his season debut for Colorado tonight against Vancouver, a much-needed boost for the injury-riddled Avalanche.

Peter the Great is, in my mind, one of the best players of all time.  His size, speed, toughness and creativity makes him impossible to stop.  It will be nice to see him back on the ice in Denver, even if he is a bit older.

Looks like I’ll be watching Altitude tonight.

GO AVS!!!!

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Broncos v Titans Monday Night Football

Not fun getting here late and finding you’ve got more work to do, but anyway…..

Titans move the ball but get stopped, then the Broncos go 80 yards for a touchdown. A very nice play.

Now it’s Tennessee’s turn.

And another punt. What’s going on with the Broncos tonight. It’s o.k. they have plenty of time to blow this….and a td punt return.

WOW!! 80 yards by Glenn Martinez!!! The definition of a fast start.

END OF THE FIRST QUARTER…14-0 Broncos. Didn’t see that coming. Let’s see if they can add to the lead and win comfortably at home for a change.

By the way…each new line is an UPDATE: Just so you know.

UPDATE: Titans score. Dang it! 14 – 7 Broncos.

UPDATE: Broncos score a field goal….yes a score, but they should be disappointed. More trouble in the red zone. Gotta turn those into touchdowns. 17-7 Broncos.

UPDATE: The Broncos let up lots of yards, but the Titans fumble it. The Broncos take it down the field but only get a field goal. 20-7 Broncos.

UPDATE: So the Broncos call a timeout on a 56 yard field goal. He missed, but gets a second shot and makes it. This is the reason they won’t outlaw the whole “calling a timeout to ice the kicker”. You take a chance when you call the timeout. Gambling doesn’t always work. By the way, 20-10 Broncos.

UPDATE: Halftime. Time to get some ice cream, and hot dog, and chips, and maybe a cookie, oh yeah, and something to drink. Be back in a while.

UPDATE: Awesome halftime show…dogs hurdle racing. That was fun. Time for the second half.

UPDATE: Nice drive by the Broncos to start second half. Finish it with a 41 yard strike to Brandon Marshall. 27-10 Broncos.

UPDATE: Broncos force a punt..and then fumble. Not good. Martinez is lucky he scored a touchdown on a punt before, or he might have been seeing a waiver.

UPDATE: It sure looked like Young scored, but they don’t review it and Young gets knocked out of bounds…But Denver calls timeout. Timeout? Why? They’ll review this and Young will get a touchdown. Two stupid timeouts to keep Tennessee in the game. Sheesh.

UPDATE: Young did score a touchdown. So lets see, the Broncos lose a timeout, lose the fourth down, lose the challenge, and the Titans score. Not good. Broncos still lead though, 27-17.

UPDATE: Selvin Young is having a tough game. He has a sprained knee and his return is questionable. No word on John Lynch and his injury.

UPDATE: Titans add another field goal to make it 27-20 Broncos. Feeling nervous? Yeah, me too.

UPDATE: Not anymore thanks to Andre Hall and his 62 yard TD run. 34-20 Broncos.

UPDATE: Surfing the web and thought this might be fun.

UPDATE: Titans drive down the field and get intercepted by Dre Bly. That’s been the story of the Titans tonight, move the ball and don’t score.

UPDATE:  About 4:00 minutes left and it’s time for me to head down to the locker rooms.  Should be fun.

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Broncos v Steelers

I’m at the game but not very interested. I’m watching baseball and hockey….I can’t believe I just typed that but it’s true….anyway it’s 7 – 0 Steelers. Let’s see if the Broncos show some fight.

UPDATE: Oh my God a touchdown!!!!! 15 yards to Brandon Stokley. Wow, I’m in shock, not Rockies win the pennant shock , but shock none the less.

UPDATE: With :10 seconds left in the first quarter…the Broncos aren’t behind. That’s a win in my book. 7-7 end of one.

UPDATE: Still 7 – 7 in the second quarter. There have been some interceptions and some tackles, but the big news is the Broncos are still NOT losing.

UPDATE: I don’t know who peed in the Broncos water bottles but they just took the lead. I can’t believe it, and neither can the 20,000 Steeler fans in attendance. Wow, Broncos up 14 – 7.

UPDATE: Dumervil gets the sack and Crowder picks up the fumble? Well he does and takes it to the house. 21-7 Broncos. Too bad the game goes 4 quarters instead of 2.

UPDATE: Is it just me or does Mike Tomlin look like Omar Epps? Just Sayin’.

UPDATE: Don’t know what happened but the Denver defense looks fired up. You don’t suppose they didn’t like all that extra running the last two weeks? They look inspired. Nice to see. Pittsburgh trying a field goal with :03 seconds left. And it’s no good. Dre Bly returns it…for nothing. End of the first half Denver 21 and Pittsburgh 3. Time for some more ice cream.

UPDATE: Start of the second half and the Broncos are still winning. I repeat, the Broncos are still winning.

UPDATE: The Steelers score and the optimism of every Bronco fan goes just a bit dimmer.

UPDATE: Broncos driving but Cutler…FUMBLES!!! Lucky to get that one back.

UPDATE: A nice catch by Stokley for a first down. Stokley and Marshall have both had nice games so far. The Broncos need to punch it in for a touchdown this drive….Marshall makes a nice effort and gets it down to the 1.

UPDATE: Cutler throws another 1 yard TD to a tight end to make the score 28 – 14. All the Steeler fans weren’t expecting this….and neither were the Broncos fans to tell the truth.

UPDATE: Steelers score again…what is this Boise State v Nevada? 28 – 21 Broncos still lead.

UPDATE: It’s starting to snow. Yea!!!!

UPDATE: Steelers driving with 5 minutes left to play. Denver can’t seem to stop them. This could be key.

UPDATE: Time to go downstairs. Talk later.

UPDATE:  Well that was lucky, and exciting.  A good win against a quality opponent…just what the Broncos needed.

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