Someday, millions will make the claim that they were there for that incredible game in Denver Friday night. Especially if Team USA goes on to win, or at the very least contend mightily, for next year’s World Cup in Brazil. I might even be tempted to say I was there, myself. But no….I was there in spirit only as my wife and I watched it at home on TV here in snow-covered, but not snowy SW Wisconsin.
The World Cup qualifying tilt came hot on the heels of a week of (alleged) team controversy. Anonymous grumblers and others allegedly close to Team USA spoke (anonymously) about dissatisfaction with Jurgen Klinsmann and his tactics and team selection and a whole host of other vaguely Chelseaesque turmoil….the sort of turmoil that got AVB canned and gave fuel to the current Rafa Out fire. Longtime skipper Carlos Bocanegra was demoted to the bench and then left off the squad with his captain’s badge handed to Clint Dempsey. With Boca out, the defense is a bit dodgy. But he’s been out of form and not getting games for his Segunda División club, Racing Santander….he was an unused sub for their 3-2 loss to Lugo yesterday.
But against the backdrop of the turmoil and the snow, Team USA came together and played together in a win that just might have turned the corner for them. Dempsey led the charge, scoring the opening and winning goal, as a captain should. And Michael Bradley was stalwart in the mid-field. With maybe one tweak at the back, Klinsmann should run the same squad out against Mexico on Tuesday….then we’ll see how sharply we’ve turned the corner.
Meanwhile, despite agreeing to bravely playing on in the snow, Costa Rica is now filing a protest of Friday’s match due to the snow. It sounds a bit like sour grapes to me, and shame on them as they played a good match and this whining reflects badly on them. Maybe we should file a protest when we have to play down there when it’s 110º and 90% humidity. Both teams soldiered on through the match in the same conditions. And on the night, the better team won.
Well a lot of people, including the facking President of the United States didn’t see this one coming. The Prez had Wisconsin going to the Elite 8 and losing to Ohio State. I had Wisconsin beating Ohio State and going the Final Four, then losing to Louisville who loses to Indiana in the National Championship Game.
There were other upsets in the works. LaSalle toppling K-State. Harvard tipping over New Mexico. Iowa State beating Notre Dame was not too surprising though I didn’t pick that one, but it was the way they did that was a bit surprising…76-58?? Are you kidding me?? Cal beating UNLV was not a surprise either; I had that one in another bracket, but not in the one I was holding near and dear to my chest. I say chest since I don’t have a heart left after that Ole Miss/Wisconsin debacle.
But the mother of all upsets was Florida Gulf Coast running Georgetown out of the gym 78-68. No one, and I mean NO ONE had a perfect bracket after that, and that included THE FEW who actually picked that upset….they might got one over there, but somewhere else in their bracket, they were grievously focked. I’ll leave it at that.
And despite it all, after yesterday, as the upsets continued, we have one thing to be thankful for for the rest of the tournament: We won’t have to hear Dicky V shout out, “It’s GONZAGA, Baby!!” The Zags were shocked by, who else, the Wichita State Shockers, 76-70. Nothing ironic there.
No. I was not up at 4 AM to watch the Malaysian Gran Prix today, though I should have. Evidently I missed the parade to the finish line. Well…it should have been a parade. But Seb was going to have no part of that. Seb hates a parade. And thus he disobeyed his team orders and instead of marching along, raced his teammate Mark Webber to steal himself another win. Team Red Bull had the 1-2 win well in hand. Team boss Christian Horner didn’t want to risk wrecking his cars. Webber and Vettel were both told to shut ‘er down and coast along to the finish with Webber in the lead and Vettel riding shotgun.
But Seb would have none of it. He whined that he was faster than Webber and wanted to cut loose for the win. Horner told him repeatedly to hold line. Finally, on lap 46, Vettel started racing his teammate for the win, after some side by side racing that thrilled the fans, and angered both Webber and Horner, Seb got his precious little win. He shared the podium with Webber who wanted no part of congratulating his teammate, and Lewis Hamilton, who unlike the lad who won, had followed team orders, albeit reluctantly.
Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg finished 3 & 4. Rosberg had the faster car, and Hamilton agreed. But their owner, Ross Brawn, also told them to shut ‘er down and hold their line. They followed the orders and finished as designated. After the race, both Hamilton and Rosberg agreed that Rosberg should have been allowed to pass and finish 3rd. But unlike Vettel, Rosberg dropped back and left a gap. And unlike the situation at Red Bull, there should be no contentiousness going forward between Rosberg & Hamilton.
Team Orders eh? Well as a NASCAR fan I’ve always found that concept a little bemusing. The only time a driver steps aside there is when they’re already a lap 0r 3 down.
I wonder if push comes to shove this season between Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch for example, what sort of orders Joe Gibbs would send down to the lads. Ditto Jack Roush with The Biff, The Carl & Daniça Patrick’s Boyfriend®. My thinking is the orders 9 times out of 10 would amount to “Have at it, Boys!”
Then again F1 cars are a wee bit more expensive than the Gen-6 sleds that NASCAR roars around in these days so bringing them home in one piece is bit more apropos.
That settled, the finish probably would have been, should have been, could have been Webber-Vettel-Rosberg.
Have at it, Boys! Let the bitch-slapping begin.
It was almost as afterthought given the mayhem that ensued on the final lap and afterwards, but yes, Kyle Busch won the Auto Club 400 yesterday. While leaders Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin were banging on each other, racing side by side, Kyle Busch was coming and slingshotted past them on the high side just before Logano and Hamlin ended their thrilling finish by wrecking each other. Logano was smashing up the track into the wall, and Hamlin slid down the track and took a massive hit into the inner wall that lifted the rear end of his #11 FedEx Toyota 3-4 feet into the air on impact.
Hamlin got out of his car on his own accord, but then collapsed on the ground and had to be airlifted to the hospital for observation. As of this writing he’s fine, but he reaggravated an old back injury. So hopefully it will not be anything serious. Hamlin’s probably the toughest guy out there, so if it’s not serious and major, I’m sure he’ll make a quick recovery.
Logano, meanwhile got involved in a little argy-bargy with none other than Tony Stewart. Tony apparently took exception to Logano blocking him down the low on the restart. But I saw Logano’s move and Joey did nothing wrong. Stewart has/had no real cause to complain about that, or any blocking move since HIS last little blocking move at ‘Dega last October triggered a 25 car wreck. All Logano’s blocking move triggered was Stewart’s hair-trigger temper. So after the race, Stewart went to take a poke at Logano, calling him a spoiled rich kid, a little bitch, among other things. Logano threw a water bottle at Stewart, as the crews got involved. So it was all purses and handbags.
Meanwhile, Kyle Busch took his trademark bow to a chorus of boos, but was he left wondering if anyone but his detractors had even noticed that he won the race. Also slipping in under the radar unnoticed was the fact that NASCAR’S Most Popular Driver® is now the new points leader.
As for Tony Stewart, I think his cleverness and energy and time and effort and verbiage would be far better spent on the inner workings of his own team. He has two other drivers whose cars are not performing up to their ability to drive them. Ryan Newman is reunited with Matt Borland, but clearly something is amiss with sled he’s rolling out there. Daniça can certain drive the wheels off a car at high speed ((think, Daytona, for example)), so where is the speed on the intermediate tracks?? Maybe Tony should obsess a bit less about (what he perceives to be) a little twat like Joey Logano and turn his obsessions to his team’s overall performance.
This is a match in the World Cup Qualifying that despite any protestation to the contrary, scares the piss out of England. Montenegro would be tough if they were playing at Wembley. But this one is away at Podgorica. And England, win, lose or draw will happy to get this one over with and get the fock out of town as quickly as possible. This will be a hostile environment, but to be honest, the arrogance of England and the petulance of Wayne Rooney has made it so…made it more hostile than it might be otherwise. Montenegro is a not as talented nor as deep a squad, but they are tough as nails, tougher than England and they punch above their weight. I’d stay clear of their punch if it were me. While I’d normally root for England, I’m pulling for Montenegro in this one. Sorry England.
No, I’m not sorry at all.
And while we’re on the subject of hostile territory, 6 hours and 30 minutes after Montenegro v England tees off, Team USA’s qualifying tilt with Mexico tees off at the Azteca in Mexico City. It’s a hostile place for the USA to play since the stadium is packed with over 106,000 facking Mexican’s who want nothing more than to beat the United States, and they’re very vocal about it, not in any sort of hateful way, just in a very jubilant and exuberant way. Hell, if I was from Mexico I’d want to beat the fuck out the United States soccer team every chance we’d get as well. So it’s not a fun place for Klinsmann and the lads to play at. We’ve only won once there in the last 10 years….a 0-1 win in a friendly last August. Our previous win before that was a 0-2 win back in June of 2002.
We’re coming off that mad crazy win in the snow over Costa Roca. Mexico, however is coming off a shock 2-2 draw to Honduras who came from behind to steal a point. Mexico will be amped up for this one…and the pressure will be on to take all 3 points at home. On any other occasion I wouldn’t begrudge them. I root for Mexico when they’re not playing the USA. In the last World Cup, I cheered their win over the facking Frenchies.
So I’m sorry Mexico. I truly am. But Team USA simple HAS to kick your ass Tuesday night. Please accept my apologies in advance.