Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Cup Predictions: Part Two

Here are my picks for the games between June 12 and June 14:

June 12 (8 AM, F)- Australia-Japan: The Aussies will try not to ruin their campaign in the first match and thus will play the first half cautiously. Japan will be seeking to prove they weren't just a one-hit wonder. Chances will be there for Viduka and Takahara but in the end nothing will come of it. I expect a rather dour display here. Final score: Australia 0 Japan 0

June 12 (11 AM, E)- Czech Republic-USA: We will come out with a bit of caution going against the Czechs and the first half will be a little bland as each side seeks to feel each other out. Nedved will cause a few problems and Poborsky will make some nice plays but nothing will come of it. The second half will see USA start to move forward and take advantage of the Czech's age. But just as Donovan is linking up with McBride and sub Johnson the US is crushed as BAROS puts the Europeans up on a counter-attack. But as the match moves into the last fifteen minutes age starts to catch up to Czech Republic. Subs Dempsey and Convey will start to push the Czech backline farther and farther towards Cech's goal. Finally the equaliser comes for MCBRIDE in a goalmouth scramble after a Convey shot is deflected. Final Score: Czech Republic 1 USA 1

June 12 (2 PM, E)- Ghana-Italy: The Italians come in with a distracted mentality as the scandal clouding Serie A and Juventus is on their mind. Ghana starts to make daring runs through Appiah, Amoah, and co. Meanwhile Essien in the middle doesn't let Del Piero get a feel for the game. A Ghanian goal through MATTHEW AMOAH after a nice ball in from Muntari always seemed inevitable and the Italians are shaken to the core. They are down by that one goal at half time and in the second half they seek to take control of the middle of the pitch. PIRLO gets the equaliser early in the half on a wonderful free kick, and LUCA TONI finds the winner at 70 minutes. Ghana tries to find their attacking flair of the first half but the Italian defense is much more aware and the Ghanians can't find an equaliser. Final Score: Italy 2 Ghana 1

June 13 (8 AM, G)- South Korea-Togo: Togo begins a shocker early on as ADEBAYOR gets through on the Korean defense and hits one in the first five minutes as Togo announce themselves to the world. Twenty minutes later and the Koreans are still reeling when ADEBAYOR adds a second on a wonderful solo effort. But the Togo defense and midfield cannot hold up all match and the Koreans start to show some of the flair they displayed four years ago. LEE-CHUN SOO puts the Koreans on the board shortly before the half and PARK CHU-YOUNG equalises on the hour mark. Togo doesn't want to lose the precious point and the game gets dirty and ends in a violent but scoreless thirty minutes. Final Score: South Korea 2 Togo 2

June 13 (11 AM, G)- France-Switzerland: These two neighboring sides are used to drawing and throughout the whole match a draw seems inevitable. Chances for Trezeguet and Henry for France and Frei and Cabanas for Switzerland don't fall and the two European sides end in a scoreless draw. Final Score: France 0 Switzerland 0

June 13 (2 PM, F)- Brazil-Croatia: Well finally the hosts take the pitch to defend their title. Croatia wants to be giant-killers but they know its unlikely. Brazil sets the pace early on as Kaka sets up a simple strike for RONALDO after only twenty minutes. Croatia tries to control possession but it only leads to a Ze Roberto led counter attack that ends in a header for ADRIANO that finds the back of the net. At the hour mark DADO PRSO pulls one back for Croatia on a set piece but a LUCIO header off of a corner gives Brazil a two goal lead again. Final Score: Brazil 3 Croatia 1

June 14 (8 AM, H)- Spain-Ukraine: Each team starts off cautiously as Spain take the pitch with the tried, tested, and criticized pair of Torres and Raul at the top. A scoreless and dull first half leads to Raul going off for Villa and play starting to open up. Ukraine however get the opener through the one-and-only SHEVCHENKO. Villa, Torres, and Xavi each have their chances late but Ukraine effectively kill the match. Final score: Ukraine 1 Spain 0

June 14 (11 AM, H)- Saudi Arabia-Tunisia: Tunisia gets three crucial points from the lone strike of the game through ZIAD JAZIRI in the first half-hour. Final Score: Tunisia 1 Saudi Arabia 0

June 14 (2 PM, A)- Germany-Poland: The first half starts off with Germany playing cautiously again against their neighbors. But as the match wears on the Poles don't look up to the task and two second half goals for the Germans through BALLACK and KLOSE go unanswered by the Poles and the Germans are atop the group. Final Score: Germany 2 Poland 0

More to come later!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Concerts of the Past Year

Living in Mandeville I never really got too many oppurtunities to see good shows. I mean yeah, New Orleans was right across the way but it took more than you might think to get over there for a show. Anyway I saw a few good ones in my Freshman year. Here is the rundown:

-Robert Earl Keen (October at SoGo Live)- This was a really great show. Keen is traditionally defined as "Texas country" and that is about right. Keen's style is much different from the pop-country played on country radio today and hearkens back to Terry Allen, Willie Nelson, and all the other greats of country's past. REK nearly came to blows to a kid in the crowd after the kid's drink went flying all over the stage. I was on the front row, essentially at REK's feet and got a drumstick, which was cool. Best songs: "Gringo Honeymoon", "Feeling Good Again"
Final Grade: 8 out of 10

-Pat Green (October at Varsity Theatre)- When I first got to LSU I went on a Pat Green kick. I still like him more or less but I don't listen to him anymore. Anyway Green is much younger than REK and in fact is heavily influenced by REK. Pat Green lost many of his fans when he "sold out" and signed with a Nashville label. The concert was alright, I mean I had more fun at the show than I would if I hadn't gone.... but it didn't quite live up to expectations. I've heard some live recordings from other shows and the energy just wasn't there. Everything was just very average and there really weren't any standouts. Best songs: Like I said there weren't any standouts but I'll suggest "Take Me Out To a Dancehall" and "Southbound 35" since they are his best. Final Grade: 5 out of 10

-Of Montreal (January at Spanish Moon)- This show was pretty amazing. OM's style just makes you so happy and energetic and just makes you feel sublime I guess. I really only started listening to them a couple days before the show and was surprised. Then I went to the show and was just blown away. The whole band just connected with the crowd. They debuted their "marriage to the crowd" act since Baton Rouge was the first stop on their tour. They absolutely took control of the crowd. The place was packed but it was wonderful. Best songs: "Rapture Rapes the Muses" "Chrissy Kissed the Corpse" "Oslo in the Summertime" "The Party Crashes Us"
Final Grade: 9 out of 10

-The Hold Steady (February at Spanish Moon)- I was really anticipating this show, and to be honest it didn't really live up to expectations. For starters it was almost empty and the band didn't seem hugely into it, which I perfectly understand. They sounded great or whatever but I could tell that it wasn't their best. Final Grade: 7 out of 10

-Wilco (March at Meridian's Temple Theatre)- The best show I've ever been to. It was everything I expected and more. Simply put Wilco is the best band in America. They played some new stuff ("Walken", "Maybe the Sun Will Shine Today" "Is That the Thanks I Get?") and it was great. Best songs: All were amazing but "War on War", "Kingpin", "Heavy Metal Drummer", and "Is That the Thanks I Get?" were especially great. Final Grade: 10 out of 10

-TV On the Radio (April at Spanish Moon)- Another fantastic show. TVOTR really made their sound convert well to the live atmosphere and they seemed really into it. Seeing them live was a very unique experience and I got a picture with one of the guys after the band so that was pretty cool. The only disappointment was that they played a relatively short set. Final grade: 8 out of 10

-Jimmy Buffett (May at Jazz Fest)- What can I say? Ever since I was like 8 years old I've wanted to see Buffett. Seeing him at the Fest in 2006 only months after we didn't think a Fest was possible was just amazing. The atmosphere was amazing and even though Jimmy couldn't play a full set the show was brilliant. Best songs: "A Pirate Looks at Forty", "Southern Cross", "Scarlet Begonias", "Pencil Thin Mustache" Final Grade: 8.5 out of 10

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Cup Predictions: Part One

Alrighty time for some WC predictions! First I'd like to point you to where I've been getting lots of great information:

-Big Soccer- Tons of information- you usually have to sort through some of the over-hyping or Euro-snop, etc. riff-raff but the content can provide information you don't find anywhere else.

-World Cup Blog- Great site that is fairly easy to navigate. Lots and lots of info on each team. Good place to find info on individual players, teams, etc.

-Soccernet- Great place for general news.

-Gunslingers- Intelligent and entertaining predictions with a nice geo-political slant.

Now to the predictions (All times US Central):

June 9 (11 AM, A)- Germany-Costa Rica: The opener sees a bright Tico side looking to shock the world but Germany's traditional style stymies them for the most part of the match. Germany looks nervous and cautious, something that is completely understandable given that the tournament is in Germany and they have so much pressure on them. The Germans get a goal on a counter-attack early in the second half for PODOLSKI. KLOSE adds the second on a set piece in the last ten minutes. Costa Rica's valiant efforts mean they deserve more after providing hope for a thrilling Finals but ultimately the hosts are too much. Final: Germany 2 Costa Rica 0

June 9 (2 PM, A)- Poland-Ecuador: Each team knows they need three to start themselves off here. Ecuador looks more the side we saw away from home during qualifiers rather than the dominant force at home high in the Andes. Poland is cautious at the start as they seek to feel out their opponents. The first half is a sleeper but as the second half gets on each of these squads will look to get a winner. Ecuador will come close through Delgado and sub Cristian Lara before getting a goal from a powerful strike by winger EDISON MENDEZ. Poland immediately pushes forward and gets the equaliser from ZURAWSKI just before injury time sets in. Final: Ecuador 1 Poland 1

June 10 (8 AM, B)- England-Paraguay: England have a mess in attack on their hands with Rooney out going into their opener with the South Americans. Crouch partners Owen up front to start the match out. In the beginning each looks tentative but gradually Gerrard and Lampard start to take their hold in midfield. But a foul in their own half leads to a well-struck ball by EDGAR BARRETO which beats Paul Robinson. The second half leads to a frantic England side who know they cannot lose their first match. Joe Cole starts to get forward but Crouch is anonymous up front and Owen is lacking a partner. Eventually about half-way through the first half a run by Cole leads to a chance for Owen which is saved but bounces right back to LAMPARD who cleans it up. Initially England presses for a winner but a sublime chance for Julio Dos Santos is missed on the counter and England are lucky to still be even and feeling lucky decide to kill the match. Final: England 1 Paraguay 1

June 10 (11 AM, B)- Sweden-Trinidad & Tobago: Sweden come out with confidence against the Carribeans and immediately make their mark on the tournament. The first-half sees goals for IBRAHIMOVIC and ANDERS SVENSSON. T&T get back in the match early in the second with a STERN JOHN strike and briefly they are rejuventated and look to equalise. But a LARSSON strike quickly ends that. Sub and Championship Manager favorite KIM KALLSTROM adds a fourth late in the match for the Swedes. Final: Sweden 4 Trinidad & Tobago 1

June 10 (2 PM, C)- Argentina-Cote d'Ivoire: One of the most anticipated first round matches gets underway with the African side pushing forward Akale, Drogba, and Kone. But Sorin and the Argentine defense manages to keep the Elephants in check for the whole of the first half. The second half starts with a bang as Argentina finally starts to get in an attacking groove. Riquelme, Tevez, Gonzalez, and sub Messi lead the attack against Eboue, Toure, Toure, and co. At the hour mark the Argentines finally find their way through as a wonderful pass from Riquelme sends TEVEZ through and the Corinthian makes it a lead for the South Americans. The Elephants immediately throw on Bonaventure Kalou for a more attacking outlook and are rewarded when he provides DROGBA with a rebound chance and the Chelsea man equalises. Late efforts from Messi and fellow-sub Aimar as well as Riquelme and Cambiasso don't find the back of the net and Group C opens with a draw. Final: Argentina 1 Cote d'Ivoire 1

June 11 (8 AM, C)- The Netherlands-Serbia & Montenegro: ORANJE takes the field against newly seperated S&M in another intriguing Group C match. The match opens with Oranje seeking to impose their attacking style through Van Der Vaart, Robben, Kuijt, and Van Nistelrooij. S&M tries to keep the attack at bay with their very strong backline led by Vidic and Kristajic. The Netherlands open their account half an hour in with a Van Bronckhorst cross finding the head of VAN NISTELROOIJ. Ruud's shot beats Dragoslav Jevric and Oranje have the lead at 45 minutes. The second half starts with The Netherlands feeling more complacent and this leads to Stankovic, Djordevic, Kezman, Zigic, and sub Vucinic all go close. Marco Van Basten subs in Landzaat, Boulahrouz, and Van Persie but the close calls lead to Oranje going back to an attacking game. Van Persie and Van Nistelrooij come close but the match remains at the same scoreline. Final: The Netherlands 1 Serbia & Montenegro 0

June 11 (11 AM, D)- Mexico-Iran: Two teams I won't be cheering for open up Group D play looking for three crucial points. Mexico scores a quick goal through BORGETTI and adds a second from LUIS PEREZ just before the break. Iran fights their way back in with a strike VAHID HASHEMIAN off a Mahdavikia pass early in the second half but Marquez and co. kill off the rest of the match. Final: Mexico 2 Iran 1

June 11 (2 PM, D)- Angola-Portugal: The Portuguese take on former colony Angola to open their account. Most Louisiana residents watching will no doubt make clever jokes about that other Angola, but unlike the Angolese we are most familiar with in Louisiana we should definitely cheer for THIS Angola. Anyway the match starts off with a stunner as AKWA gets the opener within five minutes. Surely the Portuguese aren't reliving the humiliation of World Cup 2002? They figh back though and DECO evens it up before the half. CRISTIANO RONALDO gives Portugal the lead at the hour mark and sub HELDER POSTIGA adds a third late to give Portugal the victory. Final: Portugal 3 Angola 1

More predictions coming later!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Barcelona 2 Arsenal 1

Overall the game was exciting, I was particularly impressed by the way the teams were able to move the ball up the pitch. Ronaldinho and Henry didn't necessarily live up to the hype considering they each had their oppurtunities but their teammates stepped up to create an exciting match. I do wish Messi had played though.
As far as the Lehmann red card goes I don't think Hauge should have given it, I would have played the advantage for Barcelona. Also Hauge was completely fooled by Eboue's dive at the edge of the 18 which set up Sol Campbell's header off the Henry free kick. Larsson was definitely the crucial sub, and ultimately so much attacking flair was going to penetrate especially since the Arsenal back line was being pushed farther and farther back.

What does this mean in terms of my two teams at the WC (USA and ORANJE)?
Well it didn't mean too much for USA considering neither team had anyone who features in any of the Group E squads but we could face several of the featured players in the 2nd roud against Brazil (Gilberto Silva, Ronaldinho, Belletii, Edmilson). ORANJE however had Gio Van Bronckhorst and Marc Van Bommel starting for Barcelona and Ivorian opponents Eboue and Toure started for Arsenal. I have mixed feelings about Van Bommel, I like that he pushed forward at oppurtune moments but ultimately he was just a little inconsistant. He seemed a bit anonymous at times- there is still some questions about who will start in midfield with Cocu and Van Der Vaart but regardless of whether or not he or Landzaat starts against Serbia & Montenegro Van Bommel will get his chance. As far as Gio goes I think he played pretty decently, I mean I can't really say much since Gio is practically our only option at LB. I just hope he doesn't push up as far as he does for Barca, especially against a team like Argentina. I thought Eboue played a similar type game against Barca to which he will play against Holland. His famous runs were largely kept in check by Eto'o, and I expect Robben and Kuijt will keep Cote d'Ivoire largely in check on the flanks. Toure was pretty solid, I expect him to give Van Nistelrooij a tough time but I am still largely optimistic about the Dutch chances. Ruud will always score goals.

Other WC notes: Giuly should be on the French squad, no doubt about it. Its a shame Eto'o won't be there either. Also we saw a good bit of the Espana squad with Puyol, Iniesta, and Cesc all playing. I think Henry could be a disappointment in Germany much like he was in SK/Japan and Portugal.

Only three more weeks!

Impressions

Well I've been a bit inactive but with the end of the school year coming 'round and the World Cup kicking up in three weeks I figure its time to get down to business. First I wanted to start off with some of my impressions regarding LSU and college in general after my freshman year.

The strongest impression that I get of my first of year was that it was a huge waste of time. I took one Mass Communications class in my two semesters, and that one class was a completely generic survey class of the media. Most of what was taught was throwaway information like product placement in movies and the history of radio. As far as the other classes go I took two semesters of Math (algebra/trigonometry) and two semesters of biology. Both of these were complete wastes of time. The math I learned has absolutely no use in the rest of my life. Likewise the biology is largely irrelevant. Even if it was important information the teaching style (power point readings in class, power points available on the internet) meant that actually learning the information wasn't the point- regurgitating it every three weeks was the point. In my opinion making students take courses that don't have any use to them or have to do with their major is a mistake. If many of these surplus requirements were eliminated students would possibly be able to double major. Whether or not the Math or Chemistry or whatever is difficult isn't the point... the complete meaningless of several of the classes I took definitely took away my will to actually learn the information.

Also I came into the year thinking that Student Government was important but as time wore on I started to realize that they did little other than debate procedural rules. When they weren't debating procedural rules they were spending money unnecessarily on blackberries and dinners (for the SG) and making rulings on issues that have nothing to do with SG (voting to not allow Iran to manufacture nukes for example). That along with the fact that the race for positions was almost non-existant makes SG like some kind of elaborate joke.

Those were my two of my main impressions from Freshman year, I will be posting a bit more about some of the games I saw, concerts I went to, etc. in a bit.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Pass That!

I interupt my studying to tell you the shock news of the day.... England national team manager has decided to include Theo Walcott in his provisional squad for the World Cup. For those who don't know.... Walcott is a 17 year old at Arsenal who has NEVER played a Premiership game! Walcott was chosen over the likes of Darren Bent and Jermaine Defoe to join injured Wayne Rooney, an unfit Michael Owen, and Peter Crouch in the England attack line. Sven has balls, I mean I realize he is leaving the job after the World Cup but I mean this is England.... and Walcott is so completely untried its crazy. I mean granted Walcott is a prodigious talent but he has NO experience. Crazy.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Noosy

Had my last class today, exams are next week. I've been gearing up for next week so I haven't had much time to post. Anyway I just found out that I will be a writer for The Daily Reveille, LSU's student newspaper next semester. I didn't get a chance to attend Jazz Fest last weekend due to various circumstances but I will be at the Fairgrounds tomorrow to see Jimmy Buffett and others. I really want to see Yonder Mountain String Band Sunday but I'm not sure if I am going to be able to make it. Anyway enjoy the weekend, and as my favorite string bad would say: "Keep on goin' ya'll."