Thursday, June 08, 2006

My World Cup send-off

I'm not in the business of making predictions, so we'll leave all that to the pundits. (Okay, I'll make one: Arjen Robben will take at least one dive this tournament). Here's some random, World Cup-related detritus that's been piling up in my alcohol-soaked brain as of late.

  • Join me in rooting against all Manchester United players. Particularly Portuguese pretty boy Cristiano Ronaldo. Before a match, there's no one in the EPL who spends as much time on his well-coiffed locks as Ronaldo. Conversely, there’s no one who spends as little as teammate Ji-Sung Park.

  • I see this picture of goaltender Oliver Kahn and all I can think of is a lion, yawning on the Serengeti, following a nice snack of gazelle and zebra. Scary. Recently, it was announced that King Kahn was relegated to Germany's No. 2 behind Jens Lehmann, thus denying me the opportunity to scream a Shattner-esque "KAHN!!" every time he delivered a save.

  • Thanks to a tie against Switzerland in a must-win final qualifier, we will not be able to watch this brilliant lad. But take heed, distraught followers of The Boys in Green! Your esteemed countryman, Mr. Bono, has decided to cheer on the Ivory Coast. Why, pray tell? Because their flag is just like Ireland's –- only reversed! Crazy!

  • "He's big, he's red/His feet stick out the bed/Peter Crouch, Peter Crouch . . . ." I say this as someone who will be staunchly supporting fair Albion: Every time Crouch does The Robot, Western Civilization as we know it takes another giant step backwards.

  • Eddie Johnson has emerged as my favorite American player. I'd like to say it's on account of his status as one of the States' most exciting players to watch. But it's not. It's because Johnson goes by the nickname "GAM," which is short for "grown-ass man." Once asked by a reporter what video games he plays, Johnson replied, "I don't play video games. I'm a grown-ass man."

  • Further proof of English club football's recent dominance: 102 of this year's 736 registered World Cup players are members of English club squads, 29 more than the nearest challenger, Germany; Arsenal and Chelsea, with 16 players each, top the clubs sending players from their squads.

    Hear it for yourself. Download: "Ally's Tartan Army" by Andy Cameron. This ditty by Cameron -- once described as a "Glaswegian Milton Berle" -- was a tribute to the 1978 Scottish national football team, which failed to advance past the group stages. The flipside was the cringeworthy "I Want To Be A Punk Rocker," but we'll save that classic for another day.