Sunday, December 20, 2009

Invictus and more...

Colin, Cammy, Lyndi, and I saw Invictus on Friday. Great movie about the 1995 World Cup of Rugby in South Africa where Mandela rallied the country around their squad on their way to a championship. The most exciting part about watching the movie was seeing Ellis Park Stadium featured several times, and learning some of the history behind it before we will be there watching the USA take on Slovenia. ESPN gave a great run down about all of the stadiums in South Africa featured for the World Cup. Here's the one on Ellis Park:

Ellis Park

For more information on the other two venues the USA will be playing in, visit the two links below:

Lotus Versfeld Stadium

Royal Befaking Stadium

Finally, it looks like the USA has scheduled some more friendlies to warm up for the World Cup. First, Honduras in January and then Mexico in February. The tour will be capped off by the already scheduled game against the Netherlands in March. These games will hopefully give players like Jermaine Jones, Edgar Castillo, and some other fresh faces a god look before the cup run.

Happy Holidays.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Draw and Flights

It's been a while since we've posted so time to catch everyone up to speed.

As far as flights, either we all have or we're all close to having booked. Cammy and I are flying out June 9th and arriving June 10th. I leave Phoenix and fly Delta to JFK and then to Accra, Ghana. From there, we hop on Air Namibia and go down to Johannesburg about 24 hours before the start of the tournament!. We leave on the day of the start of the knockout round flying Air France from Jo'Burg to Paris to Atlanta and back to Phoenix arriving back on June 27th, just in time for work on the 28th. Colin's staying the whole month and going to the final. Lucky turd. We're now working on renting 2 SUV's to accommodate the group. After that we should be set!

As for the draw...FREAKING AWESOME!!! Let's start with the US group on move on accordingly...

Group C: Wow O Wow O Wow. USA England on June 12th for my first ever World Cup Game! The first time the countries have met in a match of consequence since the infamous Miracle on Grass back in the 50s where the US upset England to advance to the Semi's and their best finish in their World Cup History. This is going to be huge, and I can't wait to hear the roar of the Three Lions crowd. As far as the rest of the group, the US got a very favorable draw with a couple of upstart teams in Algeria and Slovenia. Neither is going to be a cake walk but the draw could have been A LOT worse (see group G). The other great part of the draw for the US and for us: All of the matches are within a 2 hour drive of their base camp and ours. They are also playing in all the same venues they played in during the Confederations Cup. Even better, should the United States advance to the knockout stages, Spain, Italy, Brazil, and the Netherlands are all on the other side of the brackets. Overall, this is the best situation the US has been in the modern era.

Prediction: England and the US advance.

Group A: So another lucky draw for Mexico at first glance, but something tells me it won't be. Host countries have only failed to reach the knockout phase once and Mexico has the difficult task of playing host South Africa in the opening match in front of all those god awful horns. To make matters worst, they also have to take on upset-capable Uruguay and France. The poor Irish. They probably were seeking justice from the Soccer Gods with France getting the group of death but they received a draw far less difficult.

Prediction: France and South Africa advance.

Group B: This group is very interesting: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, and Greece. Any team in this group is capable of making it out. Argentina under Maradona has been nothing but inconsistent. Nigeria playing on their own continent has the athleticism to compete with anyone. South Korea, as always, will be extremely fit and well organized. And Greece, well that ugly style of soccer can frustrate anyone and the team knows how to win close games. Your guess is as good as mine.

Prediction: Greece and Argentina advance.

Group D: This group is my runner up for the group of death. Germany, Australia, Serbia, and Ghana. Everyone knows the Germans can play. The Australians cruised through qualifying and became the second country to qualify for the World Cup. Serbia dominated their group in qualifying. Ghana has produced some of the finest players out of Africa and always contends. The edge for the group has to go to the Germans, but after that, I think it'll come down to who gets out to a good start. This group will match up with USA's group in the knockout phase.

Prediction: Germany and Ghana advance.

Group E: Another tough group. Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, and Cameroon. The Netherlands are the 3rd best team in the world and should advance out, but not without a fight. In fact, they may not even take first place in the group. Denmark and Japan are both going to be challenging draws. However, I think Cameroon is going to take this group. They're very talented and should be pumped about the first African World Cup.

Prediction: Cameroon and the Netherlands advance.

Group F: Cakewalk. Talk about a gift for the defending champs. Italy should advance out 3-0 with the only challenge coming from Paraguay, who were very impressive in qualifying. New Zealand is just happy to be there, and unfortunately for the Kiwis, they'll be lucky to score a goal. Slovakia shouldn't be to tough to dispatch, but may contend with Paraguay for the second spot. Fortunately, things shouldn't be so easy for Italy when they'll have to meet either Group E team in the knockout phase.

Prediction: Italy and Paraguay advance.

Group G: Welcome to the "Group of Death." Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, and Portugal. Unless Kim Jong-il with his amazing sports accomplishments joins the team, the North Koreans are going no where. Brazil comes in as tournament favorites but now things aren't as certain for them to go deep in the tournament. Ivory Coast is widely recognized as the first African team to really have a shot at winning the whole thing. Portugal is ranked in the top 10 in the world, even though they struggled through qualifying. However, they still have Cristiano Ronaldo who can take over a game on his own. At the end of the day, Portugal's lack of depth up top does them in. The craziest part about this draw: Brazil could meet Spain in the Round of 16.

Prediction: Brazil and Ivory Coast advance.

Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile. Another group that looks easy for Spain at first glance, but I think this is a pretty tough group. The Swiss aren't going to just lie down. Honduras is very similar to the USA in style of play and could really frustrate the Spaniards. Chile is playing great soccer right now. Yes, Spain should still advance out, but I wouldn't be surprised if they lost a game in group play.

Prediction: Spain and Chile advance.

That's it for now. We'll jump back on from time to time as we continue our planning or get some news from the US camp.