Turd of the Week #22

The Holy Matrimony of a Bad Singer and a Good Winger: Best man Gary Neville, speaking at the wedding of David Beckham and Posh Spice: “The rest of the Spice Girls wanted to invite the entire Bayern Munich team because they reckoned they’d never known blokes to be on top for 90 minutes and still come second.”

Clearing Up Some Items From Our Recent Hiatus

Hero From Three Weeks Ago: Alexi Lalas. The slow-footed hack actually is a nice guy, signing an autograph for my son Jason after the Women’s World Cup US-Nigeria matchup. (If Jason had gotten Tisha Venturini’s phone number then I really would of been impressed! Jealous too …)
Goat From Two Weeks Ago: US defender Brandi Chastain for quite possibly the worst own goal in the history of soccer. Under pressure, Chastain’s tentative pass back to a charging Brianna Scurry was aimed inside the post, and that is just where it went: inside the post. And the goal. ‘Scored’ in the first few minutes of the quarter-final against Germany, the resulting 0:1 deficit nearly proved fatal to the US chances of winning the Women’s World Cup. It was one of those Jesus Christ Moments: You know, the kind where you leap out of your seat and empty your lungs for the Good Lord’s divine intervention. The kind where the neighbors two houses down wonder if you are having an orgasm or a heart attack.
Hero of the Week: Is this Hollywood, or what? The US-China final end 0:0 after 90 minutes of regulation and another 30 minutes of golden-goal overtime. After four and a half rounds of PKs, the US was even with China, 4:4, needing only one PK to win the whole enchilada. Normally ancient warrior Michelle Akers would take that kick, but she had gone out of the game late in regulation, with an injury. Who did Tony DiCicco pick to take the deciding kick? Who had yakked her previous deciding PK, in the Algarve Cup, earlier this year? Brandi Chastain — and she nailed it. It was a scriptwriter’s wet dream. I tell you, Turd of the Week is on the cutting edge of glitz and glamor …

Stillitano Proves He is Smarter Than the Average Fan: Defender Mohammad Khakpour was signed by the RotMasters from Iranian 1st division side Bahman Teheran. If he proves as adept at shutting down various Jamaican, Panamanian and Salvadoran forwards as he was at shutting down American forwards at World Cup ’98, then he should be an adequate addition. Defense, however, is the least of the RotMaster’s many woes. Providing no attack (though much offense), the RotMaster’s have left opponents free to come forward in waves, with even the ball boys and the drunks in section C joining in the deluge. Ah, but Charlie was thinking inside the mental curve of us mere mortals, also signing Serbian midfielder Sasha Curcic from English first division mediocrities Crystal Palace. (Wow, there’s some good P.R. sense! How do you top signing an Iranian and a Serb, sign a Libyan?) Okay, Palace’s 58 goals in 46 league games is still a significant improvement on the RotMaster’s current pace of one per, but you wouldn’t know by the way the RotMaster’s celebrated Stillitano’s coup: losing 0:2, rescuing the Chicago Fire from their recent perilous loss of form. “I checked with alot of players in Italy. And every time they said the same thing: ‘Walter, you are in America now, do you know Stillitano in New York? Because he has already talked to me.’ New York must have talked to 1,000 players,” said NE Revolution player/coach Walter Zenga. Apparently he also told them they were better off riding the pine in Serie C than traipsing the AstroPlastic at the Meadowlands. So, Charlie turned southward, adding Colombian forward Henry Zambrano, last seen coaching under the alias ‘Octavio’ for the now rampant LA Galaxy. Zambrano, nicknamed “El Ferry,” should make his MLS debut in a darling pink over-the-shoulder number at the RotMasters next home game.

(You might be wondering at this point if all the cynicism regarding the RotMasters is a little misplaced and slightly fevered. No. Because the team of Tab “I’ve Been Injured All Year But Logan’s Casual Fans Voted Me an All-Star” Ramos celebrated their final foreign signing by losing to their A-League neighbors, the Staten Island Vipers, 2:3.)

In the meantime, Bolivian soccer club The Strongest fired its entire team, giving hope and inspiration to RotMasters fans everywhere.

More Spin From the Centrifuge: “We know where we’re going. In the next five years we will be in 18 to 20 cities, and we will be the fifth major sports league in the United States. We’re not shooting to top anybody. We’re more realistic than that.” (MLS Commissioner Doug Logan, proving that dropping LSD didn’t go out of style in the 60’s.)

MLS Signs Players for Savings Bonds: Proving he also knows where he’s going — and it sure ain’t the cesspool in the Meadowlands — star University of Virginia forward Chris Albright left school early, destined for either the LA Galaxy or DC United. Albright has sufficient star power to register on the telescopes of such European powers as Bayer Leverkusen (which appears to be trying to transform itself to Project-40 Europe), and so was able to dictate terms to a league which owns all the teams’ players. As to whether Albright’s wishes to play for a certain team are being taken into consideration, Doug ‘the Centrifuge’ Logan said “to an extent.” (Translation: “Albright pulled out his wiener and said ‘Suck.’ I asked ‘How deep?'”) But avoiding the clutches of Stillitano wasn’t Albright’s only demand: No, he wanted the same money Leverkusen had offered Landon Donovan (roughly $1 million over four years, which is an international bargain, but a domestic jackpot). What did he actually sign with MLS for? $40,000 annually plus an annual educational stipend of $7,500 should he return to school. Yes, MLS has been reduced to signing players for saving bonds. And where will the missing $800,000 or so come from? An endorsement deal with Nike, which can afford it now that they are selling a bajillion black bras every week.

P.S. – Is the NCAA (National Colleges Against Athletes) aware that MLS is horning in on their monopoly on indentured athletic servitude?

Several months ago TotW briefly visited the subject of Asia’s innumeracy (“Asia Watch”, 3/19/99). Continued developments in Asia’s inflated sense of self-esteem demand that we return to the subject. Plus, Charlie Stillitano was TotW last time out, and even the TotW staff feels a little sympathy for such a hapless figure.

The spoiled brats at the Asia Football Confederation (AFC) have been threatening to take their ball and go home if FIFA doesn’t increase their allotment of World Cup slots from four to five. (Hosts Japan and Korea get two guaranteed slots, leaving two for the other awe-inspiring Asian teams to fight over.)

Yes, the same Asia that despite having half the world’s population has only managed to send two national side’s through to the second round of the World Cup since 1930, the year the competition was first held. Those legendary sides? Saudi Arabia in 1994 and North Korea in 1966 (making it’s only appearance due to yet another Asian boycott.)

Yes, the same Asia that is 4-8-31, giving up 102 goals, while scoring only 33. The only confederation with a worse record — yes, there is one that is worse — is Oceania, home of the mighty Vanuatu. (When Australia is your power, you just don’t hack it as a confederation.)

Yes, the same AFC that finished dead last at France’98. (The US may have been the 32nd of 32 countries, but CONCACAF finished much higher overall than the AFC.)

Yes, the same Asia where Thailand and Malaysia trembled in such fear of playing Vietnam that they tried to score against themselves so they could play some other country. And it’s not like Vietnam puts punji sticks and boobie traps in front of its goal.

Yes, the same Asia you use for cheap cannon fodder when you’re trying out new moves on your EA Sports Playstation game.

How much lower can a confederation go?

Yes, the same Asia where the RotMasters troll for marquee players.

UEFA — out of the goodness of boss Lennart Johannsen’s shriveled, black heart — was kind enough to give up a half chance to the AFC, having the 15th placed European team play the 5th place Asian team for the final World Cup spot. Which is the 5th place Asian team, Bhutan? Some place where they still play with severed ox heads?

So the AFC walked out of a meeting with FIFA and went home to cry to mommy because they didn’t get their way. And now they are threatening to completely withdraw from World Cup ’02. (One assumes they wouldn’t be joined by co-hosts japan and Korea, whose teetering economies have already committed billions to staging the World Cup.) Will the squalling crumb snatchers at the AFC get their way?

FIFA won’t ban Japan and Korea, but it can tell the rest of the AFC to stick their chopsticks where the sun don’t shine when it comes to automatic bids. But Asia does, as ESPN.com wrote, have “a huge trump card to play: It is the market into which every major FIFA sponsor wants to expand. Were Asia to pull out of FIFA and become a renegade confederation, it would take with it trillions of potential dollars and billions of television viewers — and major players like Anheuser-Busch and Coca-Cola would scream murder.”

For using coercion to get more than they’ve earned:

Asian Football Confederation

Turd of the Week

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