I meant to do a long Euro 2004 post...

...but I'm SHOT, and not feeling really well at all. Actually, I feel kinda woozy, but I'll get one thing out before I lay down.

Sweden and Denmark needed a 2-2 tie to eliminate Italy from Euro 2004, and send the both of them through to the quarterfinal no matter what the Italy-Bulgaria result was. Oddly enough, the Scandanavian derby indeed ended 2-2, but it very likely should have been 3-2 Denmark. Now, a lot of people (especially in countries that look like a boot) are going to cry foul, but I disagree. I followed the match via Soccernet's Matchtracker, where the commentary was done by a quite neutral Englishman. Whoever it was, he insisted that the match was fairly-played, and I have to say I agree with him. The two neighbors have good relations, but both want to win...they had to win to ensure a place in the quarterfinals, for one thing. Also, posts were hit, people were flying into tackles, and most of the goals came from either amazing build-up play or opportunistic goal-poaching.

Not only that, but fuck an Italy...they got exactly what they deserved. Soccer-wise, they're an entire nation of whining fucking maggots...everything is always the referee against them, or the league is against them, or (insert bullshit excuse here). Not only that, but how does a nation with that much offensive talent continue to resort to the bullshit all-defense all the time gameplan they've used since time eternal? They could (and probably should) have beaten Sweden and Denmark outright...they didn't, so they put themselves in the position where they didn't control their own destiny.

Oh, and Latvia is Rick James, BITCH!


Russia worried about Euro 2004 refereeing -- with good reason?

From Soccernet :

Russia voice refereeing concerns

MOSCOW, June 10 (Reuters) - Russia are worried they won't receive equal treatment from referees in their Euro 2004 games against Portugal and the hosts' neighbours Spain.
The Russians play Spain in their opening Group A game on Saturday when Portugal take on Greece.

Asked about his main concern ahead of Euro 2004, Russia captain Alexei Smertin said: '[Fair] officiating is certainly on our minds.

'Playing in the same group as hosts Portugal and Spain, who are seen almost as co-hosts, the officiating has to worry you in a certain way.

'I just hope it will be fair to all the teams and it won't affect the outcome of matches.'

Playmaker Alexander Mostovoi, Russia's most experienced player, said he was convinced Portugal would get preferential treatment from match officials.

'I can recall the last World Cup (in Japan and South Korea), where Spain were simply dumped out in their quarter-final against Korea by bad refereeing in the bluntest possible fashion,' Mostovoi was quoted as saying by Sport-Express newspaper.

'They wanted to give medals to the host country at any cost and they achieved their goal,' said the Celta Vigo captain, who has spent eight seasons in the Spanish league.

'And now I have little doubt that referees are more likely to help Portugal than Russia. This is just a reality and I'm afraid there is nothing we can do about it.'

People thought I was crazy when I was saying that South Korea was handed a place in the semifinals, but when even teams that didn't play them at all are saying it.......


Some quick things before I go to work in this mind-numbing heat:

-- My god, the Giants lost to the fucking Devil Rays. And, from what I saw when ESPN was bouncing around during the Sox-Padres rain delay, the G-Men had the bases loaded in the 9th, and scored the tying run on a 6-4-3 double play. If THAT doesn't define this team outside of Bonds....

-- Arsenal is apparently going to shell out 2.1 million euros for Celta Vigo's backup goalkeeper. Yep, a guy who couldn't get a game for a relegated team, and who would be 600,000 Euros more expensive than Jens Lehmann. On top of that, we have young Stuart Taylor and even younger Graham Stack already...I know that Arsene Wenger Knows, but this is...well...weird.

-- Official IWEYS prediction for France-England: 0-0. Official IWEYS prediction for Euro 2004: Portugal wins on home soil.

-- Every time I see John Kruk on ESPN vainly trying to make a lucid point, I always think of one of soccer's funniest crowd chants: "Who ate all the pies? Who ate all the pies? YOU FAT BASTARD, you ate all the pies!"

-- While Shaddax makes a very convincing case about the Bird thing, I'm still bothered on the basic level that, underneath it all, it helps perpetuate that smirking "white people can't play sports" attitude that seems to be prevalent today. If being a soccer and rugby fan has proven anything to me, it's proven that there are fantastic athletes among all races, and in a pretty even proportion...pound-for-pound. There aren't very many Pacific Islanders, for example, but Samoa and Fiji both made the World Cup, and New Zealand is represented by its Maori population as well (actually, the All Blacks do a Maori tribal war dance before each match, and Fiji does something similar...it's intimdating as HELL).

-- I'm still debating as to whether this year's Stanley Cup Finals happened or not. I mean, Tampa Bay? Really? If Canada doesn't win the World Cup, I don't know if they're going to be able to function...they may need a national week of mourning first, especially with the impending Lockout O'Doom.

-- For those that didn't hear, a pro wrestler named John Bradshaw Layfield (doing a JR Ewing-style arrogant rich Texan gimmick) got himself into trouble on Smackdown's Germany tour for, of all things, goose-stepping and giving the Nazi salute to fans. Never mind even that this is ILLEGAL in Germany. I think it's indicative how a pro wrestler (in this case, a guy being pushed to the top of the card when he just doesn't have any particular skill for it, and who is obviously buckling under the pressure) can fall into the trap of believing the fantasy too much. Sure, these characters are their livelihoods, but nowhere, no way does "I was trying to get heel heat" serve as an excuse for ripping at a scar that still haunts an entire nation. It's not surprising coming from Layfield, who is almost a caricature of what left-and-center types dislike about the right. But, make no mistake...this is just as bad as if La Resistance came out and said America deserved 9/11, and wished it would happen again.

-- I enjoyed the Lakers' win in Game 2, but man, if that's all we can come up with at home, it's going to be insanely difficult to win even the one game it'll take out there to get the series back home. This Pistons team looks so strong in every facet of the game...unless they fall off a cliff (and I'm not betting on it), you have to say that they're the favorites to win at this point.

-- When I'm watching ESPN-level boxing, I have to laugh when I see guys who are like 45-6-2, with 38 knockouts. With that kind of record, what are they doing on ESPN still? Did 40 of those wins come over Glass Joe and Von Kaiser? Was Piston Honda just too much for them?


Metrostars 0-3 Dallas

I was long gone by the time the third goal was scored (it had to have been in about the zillionth minute of extra time, anyway), so I'm going to treat this like it was the 2-0 game that I left in the 90th minute.

If it had stayed 0-2, then I think this would have been about the one billionth soccer match where the visitors have won by that scoreline. You see, there are certain match templates, in the sense that they happen ALL THE TIME. There's the Dire 0-0 Draw, the 3-3 Shootout, the 1-0 Nail-Biter. This one is the 0-2 Perfect Away Match. Oddly, on the bus ride home, I saw an ad on the electronic billboard adjacent to the highway for the upcoming Liverpool-AS Roma friendly at Giants Stadium. I don't need to spend 60 bucks on that...I just saw the MLS version, with the Scousers winning on the road.

The first half was kind of gristly and the sort of thing you have to suffer through to get to the Metros 5-0 Los Angeles kind of matches. There was a lot of "Hey, that was a good idea" kind of stuff from the home side, but the execution just wasn't there. Specifically, the first touch after receiving a pass was what haunted the Metros all night...they just couldn't maintain control of the ball and DO something with it. It ended 0-0, but we did break through enough to force Scott Garlick into two decent saves. However, I don't think he was ever seriously threatened...he may be The Oldest 30-Year Old Ever (with the gray hair to prove it), but he's a terrific positional keeper from what I've seen, and he didn't have to do much to save the rare half-chances that we got.

What annoyed me throughout the evening was that the wing-backs -- Ricardo Clark and Cris Leitch -- made nice runs down the flanks all evening, and were left completely unmarked by the Dallas defense. It turned out to be a smart move, as nobody ever sent it out that way. Instead, the Metro midfield insisted on trying to smash through the wall of white that clogged the center of midfield and the Dallas penalty area. On the bright side, Clark is WAY too good to be rotting on the bench (even though he's probably better as a defensive holding midfielder than as a right back), and he's a SUPER-MEGA-RIDICULOUS BIGTIME upgrade over Craig "feel free to completely abuse me down this flank" Ziadie.

That said, Dallas came in with a game plan, and they executed it beautifully -- they shut the Metros down brilliantly, and tonight's loss (in my estimation) should be credited to their execution and defensive determination rather than accusing the home side of not playing well. They utilized a high-intensity press from the midfield on, and when they had the chance, used great one-touch passing to start counter-attacks. Speaking of which, they caught Leitch upfield, and Ronny O'Connor was wide-open on that flank. He had all the time in the world to pick his spot, and the resulting cross to Eddie Johnson (easily the MOTM) could only end with an easy tap-in goal. It was pretty much the only instance that I saw of our central defense combination of Eddie Pope and Jeff Parke losing their focus and allowing space inside the penalty area.

Of course, once the road team goes up 1-0 and are playing well defensively, you're heading into Perfect Road Match territory. The home team has to send more and more guys up in attack to try and equalize, and the visitors end up hitting back on the break to ice the game. Dallas should have went up 2-0 when a horrendous back-pass from Eddie Gaven was stolen by Johnson, but Jonny "Best Goalkeeper in MLS" Walker made a wonder save on the breakaway. However, with the base2/Downpore show tonight, I HAD to be on the first bus out. So, I was in the bathroom for Dallas' second goal, and on the bus for the third (assuming ESPNEWS was correct).

Whatever. Don't blame the Metros...they really weren't all that bad. They've definitely played worse and won, the first example being last weekend against a zombified Kansas City squad. Don't blame the referee...he was actually a B+ or so (all he really missed was the attempted open ligament surgery on John Wolyenic, but the linesman was looking right at it, and should have covered for him). To me, this was more a case of Dallas boring us to death and getting a result more than us handing them the game. At the very least, the second half was almost all one-way traffic (outside of the counter-attack goals), and we had some fantastic build-up play in the midfield. On the downside, our starting strike pair of Wolyenic and Sergio Galvan Rey were invisible (Galvan Rey having a nightmare match in particular), and their replacements (Fabian Taylor and Mike Magee) didn't end up as much of an upgrade (though we were much better once Galvan Rey left the field).

Still, DC United lost by the same scoreline, and the show was fucking great. So, the night was a wash, I'd say.

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