Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Soccer

Greetings from Vancouver, where I have a Mercedes for my rental car, an upgrade to a hotel suite, and one fewer piece of luggage than I did when I departed home. Thumbs up, Avis & Hilton. Thumbs down, United.

I noticed that the new FIFA soccer rankings are out. The US is at 16, down from 5 before the World Cup debacle. 16 seems a little bit high, but then again -- we were the only team Italy couldn't beat.

I really enjoyed watching the World Cup -- so much so I bought the video game. I like international soccer and get excited at World Cup time. But besides that, there aren't too many other opportunities to get excited about international soccer. (Looks like I found one back in 2000.) There's the World Cup qualifying, and what else? There's the Gold Cup, but that's a blip on the radar.

So I've decided to try to follow Euro 2008. Like the World Cup, it has an extended qualifying period. It also contains most of the exciting teams from the World Cup (mainly omitting Brazil, Argentina, the US and Mexico).

Confusingly enough, even though qualifying is supposed to start on September 2nd, there are 3 matches scheduled for August 16th. Based on the FIFA rankings, they shouldn't be too exciting. There's Belgium (57) v. Kazakhstan (140), Faroe Islands (169) v. Georgia (87) and Estonia (82) v. FYR Macedonia (70). OK, the last one might be expected to be close, especially since it's at Macedonia. But I don't know that I'm going to interrupt our trip to California to find those on TV somewhere. September 2nd is more promising, with a full slate of games.

I suppose I should give a shot to our local club team, but I find club soccer (whether MLS or foreign) harder to get excited about. Maybe I'll try going to a game at some point.
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