It’s that time again. Every four years, I jump on the bandwagon, induce jet lag while living in my native time zone, drink more beer in a month than I usually do in a year, and brush up on my Spanish futbol vocabulary: pelota, partido, esquina, izquierda, derecho, “Ce laaaaa perdiiiooooo!”
Univision vs. ESPN – At home I only get Univision (free broadcast). When I go out to watch the game, it’s been mostly been on ESPN, except for at the Mexican and Brazilian restaurants, where it’s been on Univision. I like Univision better, because . . . don’t laugh now . . . the commercials shown during half-time are more soccer-oriented and more entertaining. I never realized this before, but even the same corporation will have created different commercials for the English and Spanish channels for World Cup. For instance, the McDonald’s commercial on Univision is my favorite – all these people carry their TV’s out and assemble them in the plaza to form a single large screen TV, so they can watch the game together while eating their Big Macs. It’s not on ESPN. The only good commercial that translates well both ways is the Budweiser one, where the fans opposite the goalie put on a card show of a undulating hula girl to distract him, but the player taking the penalty kick is distracted by fans putting on a card show of bottle of Bud. He misses the goal. The Nike ad “Write the future” which depends on star players (Rooney, Portugal’s Ronaldo, etc) set in funny situations feels to contrived and dependant on celebrityhood.
Radio vs TV: During joong making, I listened to the ESPN broadcast on the radio in my kitchen, and then rushed over to watch the replays of scored goals on Univision TV. There was several second lag between TV and radio, unfortunately, the TV was ahead of the radio.
Teams: The World Cup is where I can full-heartedly support Team USA, since they’re the underdog (unlike in most sports in the Olympics). All hail Tim Howard! Donovan has matured, and is no longer the whiny twit he was. He was extremely charitable after the Slovenia match referee fiasco, saying “It was the ref’s first World Cup match, maybe he got caught up in the moment.” It’s too bad Brian Ching didn’t make the team.
My second team is probably Mexico (hey I live in California after all!)
If I had to root for a European team: it would be Germany. I like Ozil!
If I had to root for a South American team: tough choice between Argentina (Messi) and Brazil.
If I had to root for an African team: the host South Africa
If I had to root for an Asian team: I don’t know between Japan and the two Koreas. I wish they’d expand the berths for more Asian teams.
Is it me, or did this tournament have a greater than usual number of star players sitting out or delayed by injuries? Beckham, Drogba, Ballack, Robben?
Surprises: Lots of Cinderella teams – Chile! The World Cup always has surprises, but is this a sign that the ‘traditional’ Western European and South American powerhouses have lost their dominance. Italy and Paraguay playing gingerly in the rain and tying. Brazil not scoring at all in the first half against North Korea. England tying their first match (I felt for Green, but hey we’ll take that tie anyway we can!) . . . and their second game against Algeria. Algeria! It’s not that England was that bad, but Algeria is better than people give them credit for. (Their players play internationally in Europe.) The USA game against Algeria is not going to be cakewalk. Spain losing to Switzerland, which they deserved to – the champions of Europe played like a conglomeration of egos, not a team. France – what is going on with them?
Vuvuzelas: the only time they’ve been drowned out was when the English fans were booing their own team against Algeria. Wow.
In spite of all the technology we have and will have in the years to come, we still can’t do anything about time zones. If you want to watch the matches live, and you do, you put up with the crazy hours. I always have fun comparing notes with my cousins across the world as to what hours we have to stay up to watch the matches. In California, it’s 4:30 AM, 7 AM and 11:30 AM. I have not been able to get up for any of the 4:30 matches, so I missed the Argentina- South Korea game, and the Portugal blow-out over North Korea (7-0). I get up naturally at a little after 7 AM, and miss the first goals that are scored in the first 10 minutes. Pfff.