Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Jurgen

Why so nervous, Klinsi? “Because I’ve read your scenarios below. HOW many games do we have to win to guarantee moving on?”

[EDIT: I realized after posting this piece that the minimum number of points the USA could advance with is zero – not one, as I originally stated.  I’ve updated the post to reflect this.  I’m not so great at math, obviously.  My bad.]

[EDIT AGAIN: Now I’ve realized that the USA is guaranteed a spot in the hex with only 4 points, not 6 as stated below.  I’m officially terrible at math.]

The final two games of the third round of CONCACAF 2014 World Cup qualifying are looming on the horizon for the USMNT: the first an away match in Antigua, and the second a home tilt against Guatemala at sold-out Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City.  With Guatemala, Jamaica, and the USA all sitting on 7 points apiece, this morning I started wondering exactly what sort of results the USA needs out of these two fixtures.  Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve gleaned from taking a look at the numbers:

The USA could find itself in the hex with 0 points from these next two matches.  I shudder to think that this could happen, but if the universe were kind enough to the USMNT in terms of other results, the USA could mathematically advance despite losing against both Antigua and Guatemala.  If the USA and Jamaica both lose their next two matches, Guatemala would finish at the top of the group, with the USA, Jamaica, and Antigua all sitting on 7 points.  Provided the USA had a higher goal differential than the other two nations (likely for Antigua, iffy for Jamaica), they’d finish second on the tiebreaker.

Needless to say, this scenario – even if the stars aligned and the USA went through – would likely be seen as something of a disaster.  USMNT fans would despair, and would probably be calling for Klinsi’s head on a platter.  Nobody wants to see this happen.

Sunil

“Waiter – bring me Jurgen’s head. I’m so very hungry.”

6 points guarantees the USA moves on to the hex.  If the USA wins these final two matches, they’ll finish with 13 points.  Under this scenario, only one other team (Jamaica) could possibly finish above the USA, if they also won their last two remaining matches AND had a higher goal differential than the USA.  Guatemala could finish with a maximum of 10 points under this scenario, with Antigua out of contention after matchday 1.  Thus, the message here is simple: win these two games and you’re through, most likely finishing first in the group.

Edit: 4 points also guarantees the USA moves on in the tournament, though not necessarily at the top of the group.  God, my math skills are terrible.  Whoops.

Qualification for the hex is possible with 1, 2, or 3 points, but would be practically as nerve-wracking as going through with 0 points.  There are many scenarios that would put the USA through to the hex with 1 point (a draw and a loss), 2 points (2 draws), or 3 points (a win and a loss).  But like the first scenario explored above, the USA’s fate with 1, 2, or 3 points would depend heavily on the results of other matches.  And let’s be honest – no USA fan wants to hedge the USA’s advancement on the outcome of other matches or goal differentials.

The bottom line: the USA’s fate rests squarely in the team’s hands.  Against weaker opposition, the USA should be able to comfortably advance to the hex with two decisive victories on the 12th and 16th.  The USA has the added advantage of facing the stronger of the two opponents – Guatemala – on home soil, in front of what should be a raucous, pro-USA Livestrong Sporting Park crowd.  And good thing, as the USA cannot lose there if they want to ensure that they go through to the hex on their own merits, rather than due to the fortunate results of the Antigua/Jamaica tilt.

Until next time – get those 6 points, and GO USA!

On May 30, soccer fans in Landover, Maryland will flock to Fed-Ex field to see the world’s greatest soccer team.  They’ll be treated to a dazzling display of highly-skilled offense, rock-solid defense, and spectacular goalkeeping.  That’s right, folks, these fans will have the once-in-a-lifetime chance of seeing our very own USA national team in action, right before their very eyes!  Oh, and they’ll be playing some team named Brazil.

USA Number 1 license plate

Sorry, Brazil.  There’s only room for one “World’s Greatest Team” in Landover, and you ain’t it.

People like to talk about Brazil like they are God’s gift to soccer.  I’d like to point out that they’ve only won 5 World Cups over the last 80 years.  For some perspective, the LA Lakers were recently crowned world champions of American basketball 5 times in a single decade (2000-2010).  Needless to say, I’m not impressed, Brazil.  And for the record, I’m not a Lakers fan either.  Go Clippers!

Look, it’s not like I HATE Brazilian soccer.  I like Neymar’s bad haircuts as much as anyone.  But when your team’s Wikipedia page says it’s a “common quip” about soccer that “the English invented it, the Brazilians perfected it”, I think you may have an arrogance problem.  The recent comments on Messi from Brazil’s greatest player ever, Pele, only confirm this diagnosis.  While I agree with Pele that Lionel Messi is not the world’s greatest player right now (it’s Landon Donovan, of course), he’s dead wrong that Messi can’t compare to Neymar – unless, of course, we’re still talking about bad haircuts.

Mohawk plus rat tail? Come on, Neymar. You’re no Brek Shea.

And for all their accolades, it’s worth noting that Brazil hasn’t been entirely flawless as a soccer nation.  In 1950, Brazil had the honor of hosting the first World Cup since World War II began.  They made it to the final, facing Uruguay in Rio De Janiero, needing only a draw to be crowned world champions.  The ensuing 2-1 loss they suffered still stands as one of the biggest upsets in soccer history, and is known in Brazil to this day as the “fateful final”.  32 years later, Brazil was eliminated in the World Cup quarterfinals at the hands of Italy, another massive upset known today as “the Sarrias Disaster” (for the stadium the match was played in).  Here’s an idea for a saying: “England invented soccer, but Brazil perfected choking at it”.  It’s not really true, but whatever.  We’ll see if it catches on.

Losing Brazil Fan

Brazil may win a lot, but it’s important to remember that sometimes, they lose. Like on May 30, 2012!

Here’s the breakdown:

Statistics sez: The USA and Brazil have met 16 times before, according to FIFA’s website.  The results are sure to bring a smile to any USA soccer fan’s face: we have a 1-0-15 record against Brazil.  Yes, you read that right.  WE’VE BEATEN BRAZIL!  Based on our prior history, the USA has a 1/16 chance of beating Brazil on May 30.  For some perspective, this website puts the odds of “being injured by a chain saw” at roughly 1/4500.  That means the USA is about 280 times more likely to beat Brazil than the likelihood of me being injured by a chain saw.  As a person with sweaty hands and little knowledge of power tool safety procedures, I’d say I’m pretty damn likely to be injured by a chain saw at some point in my life – so I’m liking the USA’s odds in this one.

Chainsaw Massacre

The only thing being massacred on May 30 will be Brazil’s defense, with Clint Dempsey as the chain saw, and Jurgen Klinsmann as the crazy guy. On an unrelated note, I’d imagine a high percentage of self-inflicted chainsaw injuries come from holding it above your head, like so.

What I’m eating: According to Know Thy Enemies’ Brazilian correspondent (spoiler alert: it’s Wikipedia), the national dish of Brazil is feijoada – a stew made from black beans, pork, and beef, cooked over low heat in a clay pot.  It’s usually served with white rice and deep-fried banana.  Although that admittedly sounds delicious, it’s not my job to support Brazil by eating their food.  No, it’s my job to support the good ol’ USA by eating a crappier, Americanized version of Brazil’s food.  So here’s my plan: a can of off-brand franks-n-beans, microwaved in a plastic bowl and served atop a slice of white bread and a deep-fried twinkie.  Bonus points since this meal would fulfill the daily caloric requirements of an entire favela.

What I’m drinking: Brazil’s national cocktail is the caipirinha – made by combining cachaça (Brazilian rum), sugar, and lime.  The name of the drink is derived from the word caipira – the Brazilian Portuguese equivalent of “hillbilly”.  Please, Brazil.  You want a real hillbilly cocktail?  Try Hillbilly Gatorade – BBQ sauce, pickle juice, and a can of Miller High Life.  That’s what I’ll be choking down, suppressing my gag reflex like the USA defense will be suppressing Brazil’s attack.  True USA fans will do the same.

What I’m singing:  “Ego Check”, sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”.

Brazil’s good but way too vain, think they’re God’s gift to soccer
Pele says Neymar’s world’s best?  Please get Pele a doctor
Time to show Brazil they’re wrong, their glory years are all up
Brazil needs an ego check like Neymar needs a haircut

Bonus track!  “Neymar’s Haircut”, sung to the tune of “Dreidel Dreidel”.

Neymar, Neymar, Neymar, your haircut is so bad
Looks like you killed a hedgehog, and glued it on your head!
Please get this man a barber, he needs one oh so bad
He’ll never play like Messi with a hedgehog on hishead!


What to say to the Brazil fan next to you if, God forbid, they score: “Wow, that’s SO original of you to be a fan of Brazil’s soccer team.  Way to set yourself apart from the crowd!”

Until next time: Go USA!

Just a quick note to know anyone who happens to mistakenly stumble across this site that I am indeed working on new content.  The USA U-23’s loss to El Salvador certainly sent me into hibernation for a while – that and the fact that neither the U23’s nor the senior USMNT team have played a match since that fateful day meant I wasn’t putting anything up here on the site.

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my Know Thy Enemy: Scotland piece, and am just getting started on Brazil.  Look for each one to be posted about a week (maybe a little bit more) before each match.

In the meantime, here’s an inspirational photo of Mr. American Soccer himself, Landon Donovan, giving Mexican fans the ol’ Dos a Cero salute.  Just a little something to keep you going for the next few days.  I saw the photo on US Soccer Daily‘s website.  USSD is a great blog/Twitter follow, if you’re into that sort of thing.  This photo makes me so happy I could cry.

You tell ’em, Landon.

Until next time – Go USA!