Just so ya'll don't think this site has become SOCCER ONLY, we've got some Bears news to report.
Hunter Hillenmeyer and Adrian Peterson have each signed extensions of five and three years (respectively). The Adrian signing is of extreme importance as it's almost a sure bet that we won't be seeing Thomas Jones in a Bears uniform after this season. The Hunter signing included a $5 million bonus which struck me as a bit extreme but I like rewarding young talent.
Get the Lance Briggs deal done, Jerry, and I'll be singing your praises throughout the remainder of the summer. With Vasher announcing he'll be in camp, this is the biggest issue for this organization.
Camp starts on July 27.
No more big rumors anywhere. We'll start having full reports on the site starting after the first couple days of camp and full reports on each of the preseason games.
No World Cup til Friday.
The kid was 4-0 on these last four, making me 6-2 for the first elimination round. Italy barely walked away from the Aussies with a win, the Ukraine outlasted Switzerland in what was easily the worst WC game thus far, Brazil didn't dominate Ghana on the pitch but did on the scoreboard 3-0 and France saved their best for last, beating Spain 3-1.
GERMANY V. ARGENTINA
If you're ranking the teams in the tournament right now, it'd be difficult to have these two teams anywhere other than 2 or 3...and you can flip flop them. I think the sides are even but I like two things about Germany: (1) They have two forwards playing at a world class level and (2) they've got the home fans. Add in that Marcelo "I am a total cunt" Balboa doesn't like their back line and they've improved every game. I'm taking the Krauts...2-1.
ITALY V. UKRAINE
Okay, let's talk about serendipity. The Ukraine made me sit through the worst game I've ever seen on a pitch and now they owe me a huge upset here. That's all. They owe me. I'm going to go somewhere with a lot of Ukranians and the Ukraine is going to win. That being said...I'll take the spaghetti bending cry-babies 2-0. And I hate picking Italy.
ENGLAND V. PORTUGAL
This is a really interesting game, not because it'll be exciting but because I have no idea who is going to win. This Portuguese side showed they are tough against the Netherlands and the English have showed absolutely nothing thus far except that without David Beckham, they'd have a great deal of difficulty scoring goals. So who should I pick? I'm going to go with my favorite player rule...whichever team has my favorite player always loses. Goodbye, Joe Cole! Portugal wins 1-0.
BRAZIL V. FRANCE
France is scoring again and they're offense is hot, thanks to the superb play of Ribery and Zidane. This could have a bunch of goals and I'll actually be rooting for an upset. I'll take Brazil, though, 3-2.
That would set up. Germany v. Italy, and Portugal v. Brazil. Germany v. Brazil in the final. Hopefully.
Perfect on Saturday. Awful on Sunday.
Though Ecuador might pressure. Thought the Dutch would win. Didn't think we'd see the most outrageous game of the World Cup between two technical sides like the Dutch and Portuguese.
And before looking on to tomorrow, I want to use this space to publicly defend David Beckham. Marcelo Balboa ripped Beckham again for the duration of an English match. Why? Someone tell me because I don't have a reason. Is he the best midfielder in this tournament? Of course not. We've got Ronaldinho. We've got Ballack. Does he have the best leg in the world? No. We've got Carlos and even Frings, Rosicky. Is he the best player off the free kick going? Without question. Remember, England has won three games in this tournament. Three. Two of which were won 1-0 with both goals coming off a free kick of his and finding themselves in net. The third win saw its first goal come off a brilliant ball from...Beckham. The man is winning games for this team and Balboa and company need to settle the fuck down and recgonize that England is home right now if Beckham didn't do magic.
TOMORROW AND TUESDAY:
(rooting for the Aussies)
(this one might drag on but rooting for the Ukraine)
(i'm hoping Ghana plays well but I love watching Brazil on the pitch)
(i'm thinking the French are going to surprise some people here. i don't care who wins)
So I'm watching the clock wind down on another disappointing U.S. soccer effort and a few things are abundantly clear. First, I don't like being right but if you look to my last World Cup column, you'll see that American did Chicago Bears the whole country. Second, we're just not very good.
Think about this. When England is down a goal and needs help, they go to Wayne Rooney. When Spain goes to the their bench, a fella named Raul comes in. America turns to Eddie Johnson. Eddie Johnson is not Raul.
I don't care about missed header opportunities in the second half. I don't care about bad calls at the end of the first half. This is a team that played with about as much urgency as a fat uncle after Thanksgiving dinner.
They were a team, so we were told, with rising stars. Landon Donovan and Demarcus Beasley were on magazine covers all over the country. And you know what? Yippee. Donovan was a non-entity and Beasley was a star for three minutes of the third game. We're sloppy passers within an uncontrolled offensive attack. Teams can not win in the World Cup when they can not generate offense from the midfield. It's not possible. Don't forget this team scored one goal this entire Cup...one goal...on a botched defensive effort by Ghana.
And let me criticize the player I believe deserves the most criticism: Claudio Reyna. Reyna was a disaster in this World Cup, no way to mix words. He's a glorified defender who happens to sit in the middle. GO BACK AND WATCH THE VIDEO. Reyna watches a ball stolen from him and watches the goal scored, then huddles over in pain. He wasn't hurt - physically.
It is ironic, I would say, for an American team to be unable to attack.
And let me say this...congrats to GHANA. Their country cares much more than ours does. And I hope they take out Brazil in the coming days.
And they've salvaged America facing the inevitable 7-0 loss to Brazil.
With the first 8 teams and 4 matches set for the elimination round of the World Cup, let's take a look and predict what's going to happen this weekend on the pitch.
MEXICO V. ARGENTINA
Mexico missed a penalty kick that would have tied a match against Portugal. That's their team in a nutshell.
I They played one good half against Iran and maybe another good half against Angola. They'll be outrun and
out-defended by an Argentina side at full strength and full rest after benching their prominent yellow cards
against the Netherlands. Crespo is back and the combination of Juan Riquelme and Carlos Tevez make this a
statement game for Argentina, 3-0.
GERMANY V. SWEDEN
The Germans have become substantially better since Michael Ballack rejoined their midfield but they still have
holes on the backline and until Lehman is challenged is challenged, I'm not buying him as the right keeper for
this side. Sweden has show a remakable ability off the set play and treated the second half of their stirring
match with England like they were an aging prizefighter defending a title. But the with the home crowd and
Miroslav Klose currently outplaying every other play in this tournament, the Germans should have enough to squeak by with a 3-2 win.
That'll set up a quarterfinal match between GERMANY and ARGENTINA. Sweet.
ENGLAND V. ECUADOR
I'm not going to read too much into Ecuador's performance against Germany as they were sitting the best pair of
forwards in the first two sets of matches: Carlos Tenorio and Augustin Delgado. Those two will be back and
they'll be fresh and I think England should be prepared for an initial 20-25 minute assualt where they may
very well fall back a goal. Can England play from behind? I don't think even another heroic performance from Joe
Cole can make up for the loss of Michael Owen, ineffectiveness of Wayne Rooney and inconsistency of David
Beckham. I like Ecuador, 2-1 and I hope I'm not wrong as they've been far more entertaining thus far than a highly touted / overrated English side.
PORTUGAL V. NETHERLANDS
This is the kind of game that makes the round of 16 brilliant. Netherlands went toe-to-toe with a terrific
squad without my favorite player in the tournament, Aryen Robben. Portugal was better than the rest of their
group but it was an unspectacular group at best. Netherlands dominates the possession and has a player like
Ruud waiting to breakout and a keeper like Van der Saar that's coming off a shutout of the most dominant
offensive around. I like it close, 1-0 Netherlands.
Here we come with ECUADOR and the NETHERLANDS. And that's going to be a one strike match in the 67th minute. And a fucking thriller.
AND LOOKING AHEAD TO TOMORROW AND THE UNITED STATES...
I'm looking for an inspired effort from the U.S. tomorrow but I'm a Bears fan and I can smell 2-0 Ghana from a mile away. Just to add insult to injury, the Italians will most definitely beat the Czechs.
USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!
No one is reading these but I don't care. It's fun to update a website so blow meeeeeee.
LET ME JUST SAY THIS! If you watched some soccer today and didn't find it exciting, you're a total douche bag and a completely inept sports fan. Sorry. It's true.
ARGENTINA V. SERBIA
1. Argentina is a phenomenal offensive team and listening to the reports, they are twenty-three deep. They're going to be one of the hardest outs in this tournament.
2. Serbia quit. Which doesn't surprise me. Because they're Serbia.
3. This was some of the most honest and disparaging broadcasting I've ever heard from a booth. The boys went so far as to say, in about the 60th minute, "the white shirts should just leave the field." Not bad, boys, I like it.
NETHERLANDS V. IVORY COAST
1. I've got a boner for Arjen Robben. I think he's one of the finest players in this tournament.
2. The Netherlands worry me. They get a lead and sit on it but they don't have the defense to really pull it off. They'll now play Argentina for the group and I think we'll get a chance to see them play from behind.
3. Ivory Coast has nothing to be ashamed of. I hope we see them again in South Africa in four years.
MEXICO V. ANGOLA
1. Big draw for Angola.
2. Bad draw for Mexico.
3. Mexico now finds themselves in a really tough spot. If Portugal beats Mexico and Angola beats Iran, we'll be looking at the possibility (depending on goals) of Angola moving on and the Chili Beans from down south sitting at home. This would be a massive upset.
PREDICTIONS SURE TO BE NOWHERE IN THE VICINTY OF CORRECT:
Argentina wins C
Netherlands finishes second
Portugal wins D
Mexico finishes second (but I'm rooting for Angola)
Argentina slaughters Mexico
Netherlands beats Portugal
AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO TOMORROW:
Listen, I'm going to be on the edge of my couch for American tomorrow but this team needs to play wildly better than they did against the Czechs to EVEN BE COMPETITIVE. They need to score first and keep pressuring. Play a sport the Italians haven't seen. And big K needs to make huge saves all day.
ECUADOR VS. COSTA RICA
Another terrific effort for Ecuador as the forward combination of Tenorio and Delgado has become, quite possibly, the best so far in the tournament. They manhandled both Costa Rica and Poland earlier and have moved on to the next round with surprising ease.
Remember this...if they draw Germany, they'll win Group A. Remember that because...
ENGLAND VS. TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
England won again late and unimpressively. They're going to win this group but I'm hoping Ecuador draws the Germans because it'll send the Brits home in the round of sixteen with a lose to the Kraut side.
Trinidad is a good side. Not deep. Not fit enough to last the tourney. But a good side.
SWEDEN VS. PARAGUAY
Sweden had chances all day and finally got their score late. They can't rest on their laurels here, even after sending Paraguay home. Trinidad giving up the second goal to England will probably sink them. The Trinnies will need to beat Paraguay by 2 and have the Swedes drop to the Brits by 2.
Confused? Gotta love the Cup.
Predictions for Group A and B:
Ecuador wins A
Germany is second
England wins B
Sweden is second
Ecuador beats Sweden
Germany beats England
That would put Ecuador in the quarterfinals. But I've been more impressed with them than the Brits and Swedes so what the fuck?
ADDENDUM! ADDENDUM! ADDENDUM!
Germany is the real fucking deal with Ballack in the midfield. He didn't play his best game today but he helped solidify them defensively and they dominated the center of the field.
With the continued brilliant play of Klose up front, the stirring bench contribution of Odonkor on the right flank and the ability of Frings to score from thirty yards out...I think this team can score on anyone. A very impressive offensive performance that would look even better if not for Polish goalkeeping heroics and bad luck.
On to the post...
Right...so...right. Jeff is actually on holiday so this is Hugh Grant reporting on the 2006 World Cup. I'm going to, well, basically sort of peruse the first matches and look a bit...ahead to the next set...and give some, well, general perspective on the whole American football, er, soccer thing.
Your American squad rather shit the bed against those slimey Czech bastards, didn't you? Well anything less than a win against the Italians on Saturday will end the dream for the Yanks. But here's the whole layout. I'm writing this because Jeff would rather not have DaBearsBlog dedicated to salary disputes any further.
All of the following depend on an American victory at 2:30 pm...which is not likely.
CZECHS BEATS GHANA
This would eliminate Ghana and all but seal the deal for the Czechs. The Czechs would go into a third match with Italy only needing a draw.
CZECHS DRAW GHANA
This would make things very interesting. It would put the Czechs up a point on Italy and the US. This would mean that the US beating Ghana and an Italy/Czech draw would actually give the US the group. The Ghana/US match is played before Italy/Czech so the latter two teams might know that the winner advances coming into it and - in this case - a draw would almost inevitably move the Czechs on being their goal differential looks beautiful with a 3-0 win over the US.
The five best performances (team) of the opening matches:
People are getting on them but don't be surprised if that Croatia advances out of that group. They played a hell of a match and looked like they might have beaten any other squad that day. Unsung hero of the match: Dida at keeper. He made several very good saves to protect the result.
I know nothing of the Ghana side other than they're one of those speedy, crafty African squads. Italy was never under duress and everything about aside, I think they're moving on to the next round.
They took it back a gear in the second half, removing Ruud quite early. But Arjen Robben was - in my opinion - the most impressive performer of these initial matches as the Chelsea forward dominated the first half with an aggressive assault and a fantastic goal.
2. CZECH REPUBLIC
Was it the Czechs or the Americans? Nedved was brilliant and the Czechs smoked the US squad all over the field. They certainly made it seem like the FIFA #2 ranking is not a mistake.
Not for nothing but the Ukraine can't be that bad. Spain put on a show and they're going to walk through their group and - I think - into the semifinals.
ENGLAND - Lifeless and lucky to get the result against Paraguay.
PORTUGAL - Angola played well and I may be underrating them. I'd like to see how they perform against an attacking team and Iran may mount a challenge to them.
GERMANY - Costa Rica lost to a province before the cup so I'm not getting excited. They'll get past Poland but Ecuador will give them fits if they continue to be obsessed with the trap. Plus they're dirty krauts.
SOME COOL PLAYERS
Wanchope, Costa Rica
Heslop, Trinidad & Tobago
Rosicky, Czech Republic
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE SECOND MATCHES
Thursday the 15th
England vs. Trinidad (Will Trinidad become Cinderella?)
Saturday the 17th
All Group E action (Will America wave bye bye to the World Cup?)
Sunday the 18th
Brazil vs. Australia (Aussie aussie aussie!!)
France vs. South Korea (France is desperate for a win...or a fucking goal.)
You're Big Ben Roethlisbergeskgklsjehjr.
You're the biggest celebrity in your home city, albeit your home city is Pittsburgh.
You've just won a Super Bowl in your second year in the NFL.
You're probably nailing every fat pollock in Pennsy.
So what do you do yesterday? Instead of sitting on your gigantic couch wih a couple of gorgeous chicks who'll probably blow you for the complete duration of the Japan/Australia match (which happens to be the first match of the World Cup I missed and, fucking of course, it was awesome)...you go for a cruise on your motorcycle. Helmet? Nah.
Yada, yada, yada...you've got no head.
Now let's talk about this a second. We know what happened to Jay Williams and Kellen Winslow. So did Ben. You know how we know Ben knows? Because he gave an interview to ESPN in 2005 about why he'd never give up riding his motorbike and how safe he is with it.
NEVERMIND that the Pittsburgh Steelers have invested millions of dollars and their future in the man.
NEVERMIND that the city of Pittsburgh lives and dies by what those twenty-two do on Sunday.
NEVERMIND that he became an instant local hero, complete with sandwiches and all.
Welcome to the age of the selfish athlete. Where's Joe Theismann today, I wonder? Big Joe was very quick to come out and destroy Ricky Williams, who chose maryjane over twenty-five carries. Where's the ESPN media? So quick to knock T.O. as unconcerned with anyone but himself? Where's everyone who knocked Kellen Winslow like he was the second coming of Hitler?
Because Big Ben is nice.
And he's hurt. But he'll be okay. The Steelers. Rooney. The city. Will not. I don't care what Bill Cowher says publicly this week. He's thinking this:
WHAT A FUCKING ASSHOLE. SERIOUSLY. WHAT AN ASSHOLE.
And he's right. Because Benjamin was not just responsible for his own well-being but responsible to make good on the Steelers contract and for the other 52 on the that roster.
If he was the Chicago Bears quarterback...
This website would be filled with my concern but you wouldn't need to be Captain Subtext to feel my rage.
You don't move to London without an umbrella.
You don't fuck a Asian hooker without a condom.
You don't ride a motorcycle without a helmet.
Not when you're Big Ben. Not when a city depends on you.
I hope he ends up okay. I wish had the Steelers on our schedule THIS year.
Just ran through the articles in the Suntimes, Trib and Daily Herald...also checked around the national sites (full props to CNNSI and ESPN)
Griese looks good and everyone is mum on the idea of a quarterback controversy. But I'll be anxious to see the first preseason game or two. If Griese outperforms Grossman by any significant margin, it wouldn't surprise to see him square off against Favre the first week of the season.
First, Thomas Jones wants a re-structuring of his contract and I just don't see how he can leverage that with all the money being spent on Benson. I can see TJ pulling a holdout this summer and trying to force the Bears into a trade.
No healthy fullbacks right now but the rookie Runnells is starting make strides to take the job.
Mark Bradley is running routes and looks good. He's having mental problems but I haven't heard any reports that he's a moron or anything.
Roberto Garza is ahead of Terrence Metcalf at guard which is interesting. There's some good depth at the position.
DEFENSIVE LINE AND DEFENSIVE BACKS
Lots of youth, lots of talent.
Lance Briggs came to the voluntary and I think this contract is getting done. Everyone wants it done.
Anybody hearing anything else?
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Today on PTI, Tony Kornheiser posited that if they put cameras in voluntary minicamps and aired them on ESPN, the ratings would be better than the NHL Finals. Do you agree?
(On a side note, I'm watching two women make love on Cinemax as a type this and I'll tell you two words I don't need to be thinking about while watching it: Tony. Kornheiser.)