Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Afterthoughts on Mexico vs US

The photo above was taken during Mun2's pre-game show. This NBC Universal channel (which also broadcasts some WPS matches) is sortof a shadow-station (they never seem to be identified in the digital TV's guide). They advertise themselves as "uniquely American" and, like several channels in the Los Angeles area, Mun2 broadcasts bilingually (commercials may be in either language, commentators for music video and sports programs will move between Spanish and English). In this case, however, Mun2 broadcast the match in English, using a visual feed from Telemundo. Going into the match, the guys pictured above said "It's time to choose!" - meaning, among our audience, it's not a given you'll be supporting one team or the other. Kindof fabulous. The commentary was really lame, though - typical American sports chatter in which they talk endlessly about nothing, especially when the US doesn't have the ball (which was most of the time). We started to wonder if they knew the names of Mexico's players.

So we switched to Telemundo, and lo and behold - you could hear the stadium. The announcers had to shout over the crowd's roar, the volume of which had most certainly been turned down for the English language broadcast. And you could hear 100,000 people shout "Puto" every time Howard took a goal kick.

It was a great game, and there is much to say (like: where was Donovan?). But I am most fascinated by the boy-drama of the second half: the Mexican players were totally out of line in trying to force Davies to his feet - three gathered around his prone body, and seemed to yank him up by his neck. (Davies had been hurt on a free kick and was subbed out shortly afterward.) There was nearly a full-on brawl between the two teams. (No cards issued.) Davies scored the US's only goal - quite dramatically threading himself past one defender, then another, then another.... He made genuine trouble for Mexico's back line through most of match. I was really sad to see him leave the pitch, and the fact this drama was centered on him didn't seem accidental.

Shortly afterward the weirdness around Davies, Castello tried to yank the ball (clearly a goal kick and not a corner) away from stalwart defender "Gooch" (Oguchi Onyewu). Those two moments reminded me a lot of our adult league. Every now and again, certain teams love to generate this sort of drama. And they often seem to win. It's as if they stir up the other team's emotions (and distract them), and then focus their own passion on scoring. Sure enough, Mexico scored right after all this. It's a form of psycho-emotional warfare, and it works more often than you'd think it would.

ESPN, by the way, did a pre-game show - the first they've ever done for a game they weren't broadcasting themselves. So much for "Americans don't care about soccer."

I close with this random question - should Brian Ching - born in Hawaii - be playing for the USNT, given this?


  1. Where's the birth certificate?

    Hmmm, I may have to become a birther, anything to get Brian Ching off the USMNT! I can't believe Bradley didn't start Altidore, Specter, and Holden. Both Bradley and his predecessor and mentor, Arena, favor the older players over the younger, with predictable results: the old guys get hurt, or hurt us, in the big tournaments. (See, Jeff Agoos, 2002; Eddie Pope, 2006, Claudio Reyna, 2006).

    I don't get mun2 or whatever that is so listened to the entire pre-game and game on Telemundo. Although my Spanish is limited to pelota and gooooooooal, I was able to follow the game very easily as (unlike all the horrible American announcers) the Telemundo announcers understand that their job is to tell me who is passing to who and what is the result. Why do all the American sportscasters think they are calling a baseball game where there's lots of time to tell stories while batters are adjusting their gloves, pitchers are shaking off signs, etc.? They do play by play for about 5 minutes then spin off into annoying irrevelance. My Mom called to tell me that Marcelo Balboa, last seen stinking up the airwaves with baseball announcer Dave O'Brien during the 2006 Cup, was ruining the broadcast for her.

    Charlie Davies may be the first American striker since Brian McBride who is a reliable finisher. Too bad the midfield was so bad for the US today. Donovan was joined by Clark, Bradley and Dempsey: Disappeared.

    Enjoy your blog.

  2. I was thinking the same thing about physical aspects of the last 15 or 20 minutes of the game, that it was pure gamesmanship. People I was watching with thought Mexico were getting emotional about needing the win, but I disagreed.

    Any possibility of getting into a rhythm or dictating the pace of the game was shot, the refs were completely intimidated -- missed some huge calls -- and the US became more disorganized and distracted. It was like playing against 10 John Terry's (sorry Chelsea fans).

    On the subject of which, it's finally EPL time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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