Watching World Cup

At home, I watch the World Cup on Univision. If it’s at 6 AM, I put it on mute, so that I don’t wake Joe up. Even on mute, I don’t watch ESPN2, because they have too many annoying graphic pop-ups full of pointless statistics that obscure the view. With the sound on, some of the ESPN2 announcers are really annoying.

Like the two who called the USA-Czech game this morning. Ugh, they were awful. The two sportscasters who called the subsequent game: Italy vs. Ghana was much better. There’s also two geezers, an Irishman and an Englishman who’ve made the rotation. They’re OK, but please, no more lines like “more moves than Mariah Carey.”

I was half-joking about the idea of watching different games in different bars/restaurants around the Bay Area, but it’s actually kind of taken root. And egad, I’ve watched all the games so far!

Germany – Costa Rica: Rose and Crown, Palo Alto. All the seats inside were taken by a crowd of Americans and expats. There was free orange juice and coffee, and a breakfast special of eggs, breakfast meat, and toast. Some of us ordered beer, me a Fat Tire. A lot of the crowd was rooting for Los Ticos. “The Germans are at Gordon Biersch.” A sprinkling of women. Multiple small screens, one big central screen that was a bit sub-optimal for viewing. ESPN2 on.

Netherlands – Serbia-Montenegro (didn’t they just split recently?): Woke up just in time to watch Robben score the only goal of the game, and remembered to switch onto Univision mute, for relief from ESPN

England – Paraguay: watched at home on Univision. The second surprise, England unable to score, winning only by virtue of a Paraguay own-goal. (The Paraguayan was trying to head the ball away from the goal, but ended up adjusting the trajectory of its path into the net.)

Argentina – Ivory Coast: watched at home on Univision. A good David and Goliath kind of game.

Mexico – Iran: Watched the first half at our local taqueria Los Charros. The waiters sported the green Mexican team jersey. The crowd was mostly the regular people in there for breakfast who didn’t know and care frijoles about World Cup. But there’s one TV in there over the counter. A Mexican family took those seats, so there were a handful of us paying attention. They had it on Univision. It’s hard to eat huevos rancheros down on my plate, and keep my eyes up on the screen at the same time. I should have gotten the breakfast burrito like Joe did.
Afterwards, as I walked by Alberto’s (the salsa dance club), I noticed a sign saying “SAB 6.10 Argentina, 6.11 DOM Mexico.” Came home for the second half. This was the one game in which I rooted for the team that ended up winning. Not that I have anything against Iran, but I just feel for Mexico (and their goalie) more.

Portugal – Angola: I had to meet a friend in Concord at 2 PM, so I hightailed after the Mexico game and made it to Mr. Pickwick’s right before kickoff. It was devoid of customers. The décor included football scarves are draped around: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Ireland.
They had it on Univision, “We’re trying to figure out how to change channels on this DirecTV system,” the barkeeper fiddled with the remote. I was hoping he’d fail, but nope. I got stuck with ESPN2 in the bar with Englishman and the Irishman. I was joined by a couple of older British women, who were politely cheering for Angola, and a local young college student with his patiently bored girlfriend. Angola played well, with spirit. I had a beer, so I can’t vouch for their fish and chips.

Japan – Australia: I got up too late and missed Japan’s only goal. I thought they’d coast to victory on that, hanging onto the lead for so long. But it was pretty hard to stomach watching their defense completely crumble after Cinderella Socceroos equalized and then score two more.

USA- Czech Republic: Bad, bad me. I stood up Trucie at the Britannia Arms on Almaden to watch the game. (I forgot and hadn’t confirmed with her last night. She showed up and had good time anyway, the crowd was large and a CBS TV newscrew was on hand to capture the crowd)

Instead, I had biked to Sports Page, a local divey sports bar in the industrial/R&D section on Mountain View. The tables filled up within ten minutes of kick-off, with male, mostly younger high-tech workers (Google and Microsoft are nearby) playing hooky. I think I was the only woman there.
I never realized Claudio Reyna was so cute.
They also had a breakfast special, but I just got toast and coffee. The enthusiasm was muted: but look at the way USA played . . . Ugh. The most frustrating game of the day. It didn’t help hearing these two ESPN2 sportscasters Marcelo Balboa and ??. Ugh Ugh. It’s made me resolve to watch the rest of the games in Latino bars, where they’d have it on Univision.

Italy – Ghana: The most ‘mun’ (exciting), fun-to-watch game of the day I caught at Senzala, a new Brazilian restaurant, in Sunnyvale’s R&D industrial district. Yahoo, and Juniper are nearby, SanDisk across the street. It’s close by the Borregas light rail stop. I had bottled passion fruit juice and a slice of Brazilian coconut pudding. The lunch entrees looked pretty good, but I decided to save some money and wait to lunch on leftovers at home afterwards. I half-hoped they would show Univision broadcast (since Portuguese is closer to Spanish), but the clientele was mostly English speaking, male, youngish high-tech workers. I was the only woman watching the game. The 2-0 score belies Ghana’s level of playing; they were holding up to the Italians pretty well. The 2nd goal Italy scored against them was especially a heartbreaker.
The crowd wasn’t too large; everyone moved the casual office-cafeteria style tables and chairs around the big screen TV for good views. Unfortunately, I’ll be at work for tomorrow’s Brazil game, otherwise Senzala might draw a bigger crowd for its ‘home game.’

It seems like the prime time for scoring is within the first 5 – 10 minutes of the game, when everyone’s just trying to settle down and find their rhythm.

The teams of obscure little countries are actually pretty fun to watch, they give the big dog Euro/So. American teams a good run for the money. I guess nowadays, the big money professional European leagues get players from everywhere, including Africa and Asia, which in turn helps raise the level of playing back home on their national teams. Sadly, a lot of the spectators at pro games are not above racial taunting of the foreign players. How ugly! Hence the Germany World Cup tagline: “No room for racism”

It’s interesting: soccer coaches rotate around for big bucks from national teams, the same way NBA basketball coaches rotate around the league. Hiddink coached the South Koreans in 2002, now he’s with Australia. It’s just kind of funny to see middle-aged Caucasian coaches on the sidelines, of teams that are of darker skinned peoples. Apparently, the US is different; they adopted a policy that the Team USA coach had to be an American. So whatever credit or blame for our successes or failures lies squarely on our own homegrown coaching talent, almost like how much of the Team USA plays in MSL, not Europe.


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