Friday, June 09, 2006

We're Speechless

Everyone knows that international sporting events such as the Olympics and world cup are notoriously bad at creating "global mascots," but this year's mascot is beyond belief. We're speechless.

The pictures speak for themselves. His name is GOLEO IV and his sidekick is his talking ball friend Pille. If you'd like to learn more about GOLEO and Pille check out their bios at the FIFA website.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Don't Tread on This

By now you have probably heard Clint Dempsey's Nike recorded rhymes but have you seen the video of Don't Tread?

Studio 90: Welcome to Local Public Television

So, has a new webcasting daily video show called Studio 90. (There's another failed attempt at a cool name for something in US soccer.) And, here at Reckless Abandon, we take it personally when the US soccer media does a bad job; and we think that Studio 90 is crap.

Before launching Studio 90, US soccer provided raw video feeds of locker room scenes, training, match highlights, press conferences, and other behind-the-scenes detritus that the intense fan craves.

But, in an attempt to make their coverage of this World Cup better, they hired some amateur TV host/reporter/wannabe comedian/loser named Neil Buethe to anchor a web show featuring all of the video content that was previously just posted on the website.

Thanks to Buethe and Studio 90's editing team, all of the video material is now cumbersome, it now loads slowly, and it is now hard to access individual video segments that are packaged within the show.

Reckless Abandon still watches every show because we want the video access to the team, but now we have to sit through Neil Buethe's pathetic attempts at playing TV show host. The worst segments are the studio interviews with players. On the June 7 episode, the facial expressions of Bobby Convey and Eddie Pope clearly convey how lame they think Buethe is and accurately reflect Reckless Abandon's sentiment.

Why did they take the excellent raw video feeds and turn them into a crappy, local public television show?

Getting Ready for the Czechs

As you begin studying at the Czech side we'll match up against on Monday, don't get psyched out about their #2 FIFA World Ranking. The US knows about inflated FIFA rankings as well as anyone. Past success just doesn't seem to equate well into future predictions. "Two years ago, we were playing great football," Smicer, an injured Czech forward says. "Now maybe the World Cup is one or two years too late. I don't think we're too old, but we have a problem of fitness."

Note: Bruce Arena is reading this too. Morrocco game's post-match quotes from Bruce Arena, "I take the blame for this loss. I probably over-trained our guys."

Jere Longman of the NY Times, whose becoming a trusted voice in American soccer journalism for Reckless Abandon, explains how time will be a factor for the Czechs, who want to follow up on their recent success, reaching the semifinals of the Euro 2004. Czech midfielder Vladimir Smicer, who will miss the tournament said, "Expectations are high because people know this is the last chance for our generation. Unfortunately, we're going to the World Cup and we don't know what shape we are in."

For Reckless Abandon's part, the Czechs seem like a team with a fragile ego, not unlike the US. Both want to prove themselves in this World Cup, to assert their place on an international stage, and to affirm their past success. Both have a mix youth and experience. Both have great experienced keepers, Keller and Petr Cech, who they'll lean on, and honestly will need to make a few impossible saves, ala Brad Freidal, for these teams to go deep in the tourney. Both have aging midfielders, Nedved and Reyna, who want to end their international careers colorfully. Rosicky for the Czechs, age 25 and a play maker, mirrors young American talent like Donovan and Beasley as the next generation of national talent.

Look for this game to be close, without many goals, but with two teams fighting for their international reputations and the upperhand in the Group of Death.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Czech Republic Wins the Cup in Xbox Simulation

EA Sports' FIFA 2006 and Xbox have just finished a simulation of the World Cup, and the Czech Republic came out on top, narrowly edging out Brazil in the final on the back of Pavel Nedved.

Fortunately for the US, an 84th minute Beasley goal helped them to a 2-2 tie with the Czechs in their opening game. The US also upset Italy and beat Ghana before going on to lose to Brazil in the second round.

But, that just sounds a little too good to be true. Reckless Abandon has a feeling that Group E will be a little messier than that. We don't think the Czech team can get out of the group with two wins and a tie, and we also don't think that Italy will just lay down twice—to both the US and the Czech.

But, why are we wasting time even speculating about this? Because we just forgot that we're talking about a fake tournament played by a video game. Here at Reckless, we're so information starved with no games yet that we've resorted to analyzing computer simulations. Anyways, we all know the joga bonita is sloppier and more nuanced than a computer can ever be.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Some Quality Soccer Journalism

If you're like Reckless Abandon and you spend way too much time scouring the internet for any media about US soccer, then you've probably already seen the New York Times' latest edition of their sports magazinePlay. Actually, if you've even found this blog, then you probably spend way too much time scouring the internet for US soccer media.

In the current Play, there's a good article titled, The Americans, Seriously. It's got some great writing about the American player, style, and psyche, as well as some quality Bruce Arena quotes. Here's a little of what Bruce had to say:

"We have a fairly intelligent team. I've said this many times: if they awarded the World Cup trophy on who could do crossword puzzles, we'd win it easily."

And, then after admitting that if the Czechs and the Italians play their best possible games he said, "Chances are they'll beat us. But I'm here to tell you they are not going to play their best possible game against us. So we have a chance."

Reckless Abandon certainly agrees.