Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Olympic Long Shorts: The Games Are On, Baby!

WHAT COULD BE BETTER THAN AN OLYMPIAN FOOTBALL (SOCCER) MARATHON, the women today and the men tomorrow! The U.S., of course, picked up where they left off, as the team to beat.

Rollin', rollin', rollin' down the river ... Team USA are once again the clear gold medal candidates, beating medal contender France, 4-2, after being down by 2; likewise, Brazil of Marta, Cristiane & Co. spanked Cameroon 5-0. Not a big fan of easy wins to kick things off for Brazil because the world's most talented female footballers have a tendency to get cocky; so here we go again. On the bright side, Brazil's two awesome forwards (below) make beautiful magical football together. Like the phrase, "they complete each other's sentences," Marta and Cristiane complete each other's passes. These women have been playing together so long that they have a psychic connection.

On the goal scored by Cristiane, Marta made a diagonal run skirting the box, right to left, sidestepping defenders. But she held onto the ball as Cristiane was offside in front of her. Intuitively, Cristiane slipped onside behind Marta and made a run into the box. Changing direction as only the sublime Marta can, she spun and fed her teammate a perfect pass into open space. Cristiane did the rest. She coolly dribbled the goalkeeper and, with the sang-froid of the great finishers, calmly stroked the ball into the back of the net as a defender scrambled vainly to cut off her angle.

A beautiful masterpiece to crown Cristiane as the top goal scorer of all time in Olympic women's football. They're the greatest players in the world, these wonderful Brazilian women, and the Americans for all their prowess, hustle, and physicality still speak of the Brazilians with respect, admiration, and a touch of envy: The Brazilian women are "volatile," they feed on "emotion" but can be rattled and knocked off their game. All true, which may be why, if it comes down to a Brazil-USA confrontation somewhere down the line, the remarkably plucky American women will be rightfully favored again.
The GREAT Marta. Cristiane Scores Her Record-Setting Masterpiece. Air Abby Scores Again.
Marta's team deserves better from the Brazilian Football Federation. In Brazil, it's a man's game. The women have no "program" to speak of, few resources or support structure, no league in which to hone their skills although the stars play abroad, and most importantly, no college "soccer" program to develop the young stars of the future and give young women athletes a leg up on physical conditioning. As President Obama said, no matter how good or talented you are, you can't do it alone. It takes a village, indeed.

Team Brazil's problems persist: Andrea their goalkeeper, solid on all fundamentals, is four years older and four inches too short. Which is a definite liability in penalty shootouts. Andrea usually guesses right, but the ball is, frustratingly, just out of reach of her outstretched fingers. The team still concedes too much territory on transition. Marta is the greatest ever, but she's only human. And the team lacks an anchor reference in the middle, like Team USA's great Abby Wambach, powerful air warrior swooping down like an eagle from on high. Marta and Cristiane like to roam, far and wide. Sometimes too wide, along the flanks. Isolate them and the team loses its punch. For when they connect, magic happens.

And so it goes. Who knows, one of these great teams may falter before the anticipated duel. The competition is strong. Sweden looks real good, and even in defeat France is a talented side that can surely bounce back. But me, I could watch Marta and Cristiane and Abby play all day.

Colombia's looming EPIC fail ... AGAIN. It was said that Colombia's top priority in these Olympics was to "get revenge" against the U.S. for their last defeat to the American women in the World Cup. REALLY?! How infantile. It's axiomatic in any high level competitive team sport that "looking ahead" to your next opponent is courting disaster. Today, the Colombian women lost to the North Korean swarm, 2-0.

Now they're in a deep hole and their next game, against the USA, becomes a MUST-WIN. Good luck, ladies. This isn't the first time Colombia has failed at this level. In their 1994 World Cup (men's) elimination to the U.S., the defender who failed to stop Team USA's winning goal was assassinated upon his return to Colombia. Sheer insanity that one hopes will never repeat itself. In this game, hubris without conditioning is a deadly combination.

The North Korean communists remind me of the Republican Right. They swarm the ball in numbers. They're like a collectivist hive. Ever noticed how the Republicans are given their simple talking points, then set off as a team of communists to repeat them over and over and over again in a mind-numbing exercise: job creators-job creators, tax cuts for the (rich) job creators, class warfare, cut bank regulations, drill-baby-drill, death panels, Obama is foreign, weak, apologizes, doesn't understand American business, wants to cut the military ... swarm; swarm; swarm.
 The Tea Party/Republican Caucus Refuse To Take The Field; Delay Game By An Hour!
It matters not if they're lies and gross distortions. These Republican right wingers are all communists, hard to tell them apart, a moving target, a hive — swarm; swarm; swarm. Individualism is discouraged. The Team is stronger than the sum of its parts. Communists; swarm; swarm; swarm. The hive. But a leader — not an individual — emerges. A swarthy, lumbering woman. (They've been suspended for taking illicit body-building drugs.) It's Limbaugh! It's Rushbo! It's Limbaugh! As she flops on her stomach after another failed goal attempt, hoping something sticks. In the end they eke out a 2-0 victory. Swarm; swarm; swarm.

Yup. Right wingers and Republicans are really like communists.

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