World Cup: Round of 16 predictions

So, we're at the important part now, where a loss sends a team home. This makes me very nervous about England. Ecuador could knock them out in tomorrow's match.

Not that any of it matters, though. Germany is playing better than anyone else. They seem to really be enjoying themselves, and are taking their time with opportunities. Rather than taking quick shots on goal when they reach the box, they wait a second, protect the ball, and make something happen. This relaxation could be because of they're playing at home, but it could just be because they're so damned good.

Argentina v Mexico is this afternoon. That should be a fantastic match, and I'd have to pick Argentina to win. Mexico didn't play nearly as well in the group stage, and Argentina has a crop of really talented men. I just hope it'll be a good game.

So, England and Ecuador tomorrow. The loss of Michael Owen puts a lot of pressure on Peter Crouch to perform, and frankly, England just hasn't played too well. Rooney is playing with passion, when he plays, but I worry he's going to get injured, especially if that passion turns to frustration if they wind up down against Ecuador.

Tomorrow's other game is Portugal vs the Netherlands. I pick the Dutch, who are playing incredibly well. But, really, I'm no expert.

Monday we've got Italy and Australia and Switzerland vs the Ukraine. I'd really like Australia to win. Jon Stewart described them this week as "the drunken us" which is appropriate. I hope Ukraine can beat the Swiss, as this is their first World Cup, and it's always nice to see a new team go far.

On Tuesday, Brazil will play Ghana in what I predict will be one of the most entertaining matches of this stage. Brazil should cruise to an easy victory, but wouldn't it be great if Ghana pulled out an upset? Ghana played very well against the United States on Thursday, and I'd like to see them go far. Good thing I'm not a betting man.

The second game on Tuesday sounds more like a 16th century war than a Round of 16 match. Spain versus France. Spain should win easily. They're playing well, though I don't know if they can beat Brazil. But more on the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Finally, I have to plug what has become my favorite podcast. Baddiel and Skinner's World Cup Podcast
follows two English comedians as they attend the World Cup. There are some brilliant bits in it, most notably when Morrisey and Bing Crosby make appearances. As I'm rooting for England, this has become necessary listening.

So, what do you think?


Podcasting through Odeo experiment

Please bear with me, readers of this entry. I am very curious to try out some of the embedding tools that are available in Odeo, and similar podcast sites. The audio below is from something that I posted to the Charlottesville Podcasting Network a few weeks ago. It's Live Arts' announcement of its upcoming season.

powered by ODEO

I think for podcasting to work, it will become necessary for producers to make it as easy as possible for people to share the audio. Each piece of audio needs to be in as many different places as possible.

I'm not about to cross-post everytihng I do, but I may begin using this blog to highlight podcasts I thought were worth listening to. I may even relay some experiment podcasts through here. Stay tuned.

Honest Thoughts on U.S. Match

We're not doing very well in this game. The one real chance we had, we messed up because Landon Donovan's kick went in the opposite direction of the goal. And, we only scored because Claudio Reyna let Ghana Dramani take the ball off of him.

We have all of these great set-ups, but nothing seems to come of them. We're not playing awful, but we're certainly not playing as desperately as we need to. We need to be playing much more like we have nothing to lose, because, we have nothing to lose.

Now Reyna is out, which causes me to make this bold prediction: His absence will help us get at least one goal, but maybe not two. Claudio Reyna is over-rated. Now, can Landon Donovan be a good captain and bring victory to our side?

Stay tuned.

World Cup at the Halfway Point

Okay, it's getting a little ridiculous now, working between games. It's a bit better this week, with all of the final games of the first round being played at the same time, so there are only two World Cup slots each day to work around.

Of course, today is the big day. The United States can get through with a little help from Italy, and with some actual scoring. We have got to score today, which will be tough. Ghana can also get through with a win, so they're going to play hard as well, but that could open up defensive holes for us to play through. But, Ghana is going to want this game possibly more than we do.

Although, as Stephen Colbert said last night (with help from Alexei Lalas) "Ghana, you're not 'ghana' win!"

I think I may have to take tomorrow off, because I have got to catch up on work!


Live Action Super Mario Brothers

Super Mario Brothers is firmly entrenched into my psyche. I spent a good chunk of the late 80's playing the game. It's nice to know I'm not the only, as evidenced in this skit from Gordon College in Massachusetts.

(the above should work - this is an experiment)


US: Not all hope is lost

Okay, I might have said "not all hope is lost" after the U.S. team lost 3-0 to the Czech Republic. Teams have been known to come back from such a stinging loss. But, then, Italy beat Ghana 2-0, which gives Italy an edge and forces us to beat them on Saturday. And then, Ghana will be playing to save face for all of Africa. So far, none of the African teams have managed a win.

That was just an ugly match, but it's not done anything to dampen my World Cup spirit. I'm really enjoying watching this tournament unfold. I'm glad to be watching Brazil and Croatia place. ESPN2 televised the entire opening ceremony for the match, something they've not done yet. Also in Group F play, yesterday's Australia-Japan match is what I needed to remember that things can turn around fast in this game. Australia's three rapid-fire goals felt great to watch.

I loved the Togo-South Korea match today. Though they got beat, Togo showed heart and managed a nice goal. It was very exciting to watch. Switzerland-France was kind of boring. I left with ten minutes left in the match in order to hear to an interview assignment for WVTF. Given the way France and Switzerland played today, I wouldn't be surprised if South Korea can win this group.

Also today, I caught more of the Adidas commercial, but was busy working, so I couldn't pay attention.


World Cup thoughts before the US Match

Fourth day of the World Cup. I've caught most of each match, but missed Sweden and Trinidad/Tobago. So far, the most exciting part of any of the matches for me has been the Australia-Japan match. Japan took an early lead on that controversial goal, but Australia kept up the attack. Tim Cahill came off the bench and scored two beautiful goal.

As Jim Duncan said to me in an e-mail, England and Paraguay were kind of boring. England has to play better, but their group seems a lot tougher now that it is clear Trinidad is not a pushover. If anything, this World Cup seems to be showing an awful lot of parity amongst the 32 teams. But, England has to play better.

Of course, we've not seen Togo yet, and Ivory Coast seemed more than a bit week. Portugal got what seemed to be a fairly easy victory over Angola on Sunday, but that was just because they scored in the first four minutes, and Angola could never recover.

Mexico and Iran were a good match to watch. Mexico overpowered Iran in the end, but Iran's play seemed sharp.

After all the hype over the weekend, it seems the U.S. may have a shot. I've not expected much, but that could be because I'm scared they'll have a disastrous World Cup, like they did in 1998. That year, I was in a bar in New Hampshire watching them play Iran in group play, and the bartender turned the match off when the U.S. began to lost.

In any case, 36 minutes away. I was hoping to go to a bar to watch the match, but I'm not sure if I'll make it as of this writing. Four years later, I have children, which changes quite a lot, doesn't it? Yet, it doesn't quell the fever...


World Cup Day One Over!

Well, I caught the first half of Germany v. Costa Rica, but the second half did not record properly. Our VCR is in need of repairs, or we're in need of buying a new one.

But, I managed to watch most of Ecuador v. Poland, a somewhat lackluster match, with two easy-looking goals for Ecuador. The second one was a total giveaway, which makes you wonder how Poland qualified. Still, the second match was infinitely more fun to watch because Tommy Smyth was the color man. How I miss the goal being described as "the old onion bag!"

Final comments for the day. I love the Adidas commercial with the two kids in what appears to be a South American slum picking their top world players. It's really quite lovely. However, I hope they actually show the match by the end of the tournament, because this is one commercial that's going to get old fast.

World Cup Kicks Off! Germany V. Costa Rica underway

I'm actually beginning this post ten minutes before the start of World Cup. I've been listening to BBC Radio 5 Live, listening to commentary about the Germany v. Costa Rica match that kicks off the month-long event. In an alternate future, I would be living in the U.K. right now, but I'm not. I'm in my basement studio, watching the tail end of Cold Pizza. It would be nice if ESPN had some sort of preview going on for the event, but you take what you get, right?

Oh wait! Eight minutes in, they cut away from the recorded show to have a little bit of American perspective. In one ear, BBC explaining what's going on in detail, and in the other, three American commentators explaining at a very basic level what's going on. I don't mind the disparity. The great thing about the World Cup is that it's about the entire world taking part in one event. There's nothing else like this. I'm actually sort of happy that American sports media doesn't pay too much attention to it.

I'm hoping to watch as many of the 64 matches as possible. I'm going to watch the first half of Germany v. Costa Rica, and tape the rest, because I foolishly took a reporting assignment for today. Shouldn't the entire world stop for this?

What I would like to do is find others in Charlottesville who are following the World Cup. There doesn't seem to be any online community to talk about these matches. Maybe we can create one? Create a blog or a space on hooville.net or something?

The two teams I'm following at this moment are the U.S. and England. I'd like to see someone other than Brazil take the whole thing.

ESPN is having technical issues already. Marcelo Balboa is a very scary looking man. I hope he's a good commentator. I hope Seamus is back!

Here it comes! Will Costa Rica surprise Germany? It's a national holiday in Costa Rica, I've just been informed. I'm so excited! And it's off!

Jim Duncan is also wondering where we'll all go to watch the matches.


Almost back home at Court Square Tavern

I was looking for a parking space downtown on Tuesday so I could go to the bank to drop off all my hard-earned podcasting money. Fifth Street was blocked by a truck carrying some sort of insulation. But, I didn't mind, because workmen were carting off the material into my bar!

I stopped and had a look. The place looks surprisingly like it used to now that all the soot and grime has been cleared away. The bar has been pulled away, and all the kitchen equipment is gone. It felt good to stand on the terrazo, and it's going to be good to pull beers again there.

When I asked the workmen if I could come in, one of them said "Sure, but there's no beer here yet!" That's okay, though. I was just happy to be back in the space, even if for just a quick minute or so.