Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Randomization: 06/13/06

OMG PHIL STEELE!!! It's out. And it's time to cram. 328 pages of college football. For crying out loud, Phil writes two pages on EVERYBODY, including I-A stalwarts like Florida Atlantic, Buffalo, and Temple. You'll know more about every team in college football than you'd ever care to know, and his predictions are, annually, better than any other preview magazine on the market.

If this sounds like a shameless plug, it is...kind of. I don't work for Phil. I've never met Phil. However, I've been on board with Phil and his magazine since 2000, before the current groundswell of support for Phil's work among college football bloggers nationwide. I've interviewed Phil on the air, given away copies of his magazine, and it's the only magazine that I will enthusiastically endorse on the radio or on this blog.

(Full disclosure: I usually will pick up the Sporting News book, and I bought the Lindy's preview this year for the first time. After reading Phil's book, any other pales in comparison, and I usually only buy them to track predictions and look at pretty pictures of football games.)

Phil's book is everything a college football junkie could ask for, and it also satisfies those who are into betting on games, as Phil covers betting trends pretty thoroughly, too. He has complete depth charts for everyone, full schedules, results from the past five years, and offensive and defensive statistics from every game in 2005. It's simply an incredible season-long resource, and it's also a great bathroom read for, you know, the next two months.

Go buy it. And enjoy.

Can we get the World Cup banned from Europe forever? I'm not into old history playing a role in present-day stuff, especially stuff like the World Cup, where there is severe roster turnover all the time. So I don't buy that our soccer team just sucks in Europe. I don't think that guys like Eddie Johnson and Josh Wolff really care that this team has had virtually no success in Europe over the years, because they weren't part of those teams.

But with that in mind, let's stop having World Cups in Europe so we can remove any doubt about it. In fact, I'm fully in favor of moving the rest of this year's event to, say, Chicago. Let's just make sure this isn't a Europe problem.

In all seriousness, this isn't a Europe problem. It's a character problem. The Americans played like they should have been handed the match on a silver platter, and the Czechs took advantage of the poor effort from start to finish, punishing every mistake and making the American team look every bit like the Trinidad and Tobago outfit that everyone expected to be the worst side in the tournament.

Where the hell was Landon Donovan yesterday? Watching the first half a second time later yesterday, I was horrified to see Donovan basically disappear after drawing a rather hard foul from a Czech defender (who was carded on the play). I didn't bother to watch the second half, as the game was over, the pressure was off, and I'm sure that, as a result, Donovan played just fine.

Donovan wasn't the only one. Oguchi Onyewu, as already pointed out, was terrible. Claudio Reyna didn't have a lot of help in the midfield, but he wasn't very good outside of the early shot that clanked off the goalpost.

And Bruce Arena is to blame, as well. It looked like Arena set his team up to try to win 1-0 against a team that is too powerful to shut out, no matter how good the defense is. The team isn't built for that kind of philosophy. They're at their best when they are attacking, but when they are more focused on defense, it seems as if they are less creative when they do get the ball in the midfield. Arena seemed to take them right into that weakness yesterday, and the offense lacked spark the whole match.

That said, this is on the players first. They simply have to bring a better effort Saturday to avoid being labeled another US disappointment. And as of late, it seems like we've had too many disappointments on the world stage (hockey, basketball, baseball, and now soccer).

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