There is only one universally recognized diagnosable illness that can garner one an excused absence from work without a doctor’s note. That illness is of course, footballitis. As you can see from this Adidas ad circa World Cup 2002, it is an illness that affects one mentally and physically which means you’re going to be utterly useless at your workplace if you have it.
No worker with footballitis can be expected to adequately concentrate on any task with a match as big as U.S. v. Germany going on. If you think you might have footballitis, the responsible thing to do is stay home from work tomorrow and watch U.S./Germany. It’s vital for your health; after all, there is no cure for footballitis. You can only hope to manage the symptoms and the only way to do that is to not do anything important like your job and just watch the U.S. play Germany.
So there you go, it’s simple: call in sick with footballitis tomorrow. Your employer will surely understand, and if they don’t, do you really want to be working at a place insensitive to the hazards of footballitis anyway?
Feel free to share your methods for coping with footballitis below…
And if you need a way to help pass the time until kickoff tomorrow, check out my brand new non-fiction book Dallas ‘Til I Cry: Learning to Love Major League Soccer, now available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle e-book versions.
It wasn’t often pretty, but Team USA ended their World Cup losing streak against Ghana on Monday evening, thanks to substitute center back John Brooks’ unlikely 86th minute winning header goal off Graham Zusi’s corner kick. The U.S. limps away from the Ghana street fight battered and bloodied (literally), but with the vital three points that pundits have insisted for months is a prerequisite if the U.S. has a chance of advancing from Group G.
The U.S.’ dramatic win is tempered only by the slew of injuries they suffered: defender Matt Besler didn’t play the second half as a precaution because of a hamstring issue, Clint Dempsey likely broke his nose, Alejandro Bedoya left with a limp late in the second half, and most notably, Jozy Altidore’s hamstring strain which may sideline him for the rest of the tournament. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s on-the-fly adjustments worked out against Ghana, but additional changes to the starting 11 may be necessary for the U.S.’ clash against Portugal on Sunday.
John Brooks worked in a pinch (sliding in at halftime for Matt Besler), and his winning goal certainly can’t be overlooked, but Brooks had some shaky moments trying to withstand the Ghanaian barrage. If Besler isn’t fit to start the match against Portugal, Omar Gonzalez may be the more conservative pick to partner with Geoff Cameron in central defense. Gonzalez has been dealing with his own knee issues however, so if he isn’t completely ready, Brooks will get the nod, as the U.S. has no other center back alternatives.
Alejandro Bedoya has been surprisingly dynamic for the U.S. in the run up to this World Cup and he put in a hard-working shift against Ghana, but if he is unable to start against Portugal, the U.S. has several capable midfield wing options in Graham Zusi, Mix Diskerud, or Brad Davis. If Bedoya’s unavailable, Zusi seems most likely to start with his crossing ability and defensive backtracking know-how.
As for Dempsey’s apparent broken nose, he won’t get much sympathy from Klinsmann, who told reporters in his post-match press conference that he knows from breaking his own nose “three or four times” that Dempsey will be fine in a few days. Still, the injury seemed distracting to Dempsey who wasn’t the same threat post-injury that he demonstrated with his amazing first-minute goal against Ghana. A U.S. lineup without team captain Dempsey seems unthinkable; indeed, it will take more than a broken nose to keep Dempsey off the pitch.
Perhaps the biggest lineup conundrum for the U.S. then is how to move forward without striker Jozy Altidore. Aron Johansson is an exciting young player, who filled in capably when Altidore left the game, but Dempsey and Johansson were not tuned to the same frequency, and the U.S. doesn’t have another bench option at striker with physical strength comparable to Altidore’s. Certainly, Altidore’s injury makes the Landon Donovan omission all the more glaring. Chris Wondolowski may be a bit of a wildcard selection, but his superb movement and uncanny knack for being in the right spaces at the right time might prove a surprise foil for Portugal’s back line. While he is a very different striker than Altidore, Wondolowski is a pesky go-getter with a track record of scoring when Klinsmann calls on him.
It was an exciting win for the U.S., but one that definitely came at a price as the match took much more out of the team than is ideal from a World Cup opener. Fans saw a lot of scrappy character in this U.S. side against Ghana, but with the injury setbacks, we’ll really find out what they’re made of when they face a chastised Portuguese team this Sunday.
On a side note, don’t forget to check out my brand new book Dallas ‘Til I Cry: Learning to Love Major League Soccer which is now available on Amazon.com and on Amazon Europe sites!
Chelsea’s win over Wigan and draw with Fulham were discouraging
It feels odd to be disappointed after a win against Wigan (last Saturday) and draw with Fulham (last Monday), yet Chelsea’s play was utterly lifeless in both matches. The Blues’ effort was particularly dispiriting for fans leading up to the two biggest games of the season: this Sunday’s FA Cup Semifinal against Tottenham and Wednesday’s Champions League first leg Semifinal against Barcelona. If the Blues don’t discover an entire new gear they are in for a very rough end to an already turbulent season.
Chelsea didn’t deserve the win over Wigan. A missed offside call facilitated Ivanovic’s goal and Juan Mata added the winner in extra time, but Chelsea’s attack was extremely bland for most of the match. Where’s the spark? Where’s the energy? Chelsea is a shell of the attacking team they were the two previous seasons. Ironically, Carlo Ancelotti was fired and Andre Villas-Boas brought in at the start of this season to craft a more “attractive” attacking style and yet the attack is far less fluid and effective than it’s been in years.
The draw with Fulham was unacceptable as it blew an opportunity to catch up with Tottenham and Newcastle in the league standings. Once again, Chelsea’s attack limped along, with the only goal coming from an iffy PK call that happened to fall Chelsea’s way (Frank Lampard reliably converted the kick). The Blues’ defense held onto the lead for most of the game until Clint Dempsey’s late header made it 1 – 1. Very frustrating.
I think I’ve been delusional about Chelsea all season because I thought they were much better than this. Most fans would probably agree it feels like we’ve been waiting all season for the team to get up to speed and they never quite have. They’ve come close several times, and are still capable of occasionally heroic efforts (like the second Napoli Champions League game!), but overall performances are painfully lackluster. Chelsea is simply very average right now. The air of near-invincibility fans have enjoyed about the club for years has turned into considerable vulnerability. Every Chelsea match seems a toss-up now.The bad Wigan and Fulham matches coaxed me to purge all my negative feelings about Chelsea’s current state. Hopefully doing so will temper my expectations for the big Tottenham and Barcelona matches. This purging stuff is therapeutic, but it takes some time. So tomorrow I’ll continue by addressing a few specific player issues in part two of Dismal Blues.
What do you think? See any positives for Chelsea during the Wigan/Fulham games?