Support Our Advertisers


Entries in Mike Dick (11)


World Cup 2010: USMNT Looks To Continue Run

Landon Donovan

Americans On Brink
Of Something Significant

One Great Season

The U.S. takes on Ghana Saturday in the knockout phase of South Africa 2010. The Yanks are coming off of their heart-stopping, last-minute victory over Algeria to turn a potential early exit into a group-topping finish.

The feat hasn't gone unnoticed. The drama of that win, coupled with the we-wuz-robbed moments of the Slovenia and Algeria matches, has generated a lot of pub -- even sympathy -- for this team. The casual or even non-soccer fan seems to be along for the ride, which is awesome.

The Americans are where they should have expected to be when the Cup began, advancing from the group stage. Nothing less should be accepted anymore. Now comes the time to show if the U.S. team has what it takes to make this a truly special tournament. If the Americans are as good as they like to think they are, and if our country wants to be taken seriously as a footballing nation, Ghana is the kind of team the USMNT must beat, period. No excuses (barring another d-bag refereeing decision late in the going).

A win will propel the U.S. into the last eight, and match the achievement of the USMNT in Japorea 2002. But this team has the chance to do something much more signficant. Much of that magical 2002 tournament run wasn't enjoyed by the masses, as many of the matches were played in the middle of the night U.S. time. Not so with South Africa. I expect big numbers (in the soccer sense) for the Ghana clash, which adds to the pressure and significance of Saturday's showdown in the Royal Bafokeng Stadium. Sure the world will be watching. But more importantly, Americans, and lots of them, will be as well.

It's a joke that the U.S. Women's 1999 World Cup triumph is the most watched soccer match in our country's history. It just goes to show what marketing and promotion can do. That was played up as some sort of improbable, feel-good story, when in fact the USWNT was one of, if not, the best women's team in the world, playing on home turf, with one World Cup already in their pockets. Now, this men's team has a chance to do something far more significant in the sporting and cultural sense. They may actually be able to raise the profile of the game outside the ever-growing group of hard-core football fans. Here's hoping the Americans are up to the task.

Click here for Mike's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


World Cup Preview: Group E Final Matches

World Cup 2010 Logo

Japan, Denmark Battle To
Join Dutch In Next Round

One Great Season

Japan v. Denmark

This looks to be a very interesting match on paper, with both sides looking to go through. The Japanese only need a draw, but the Danes need to go all out for the three points in order to advance.

Japan Keys

+ Maintain the organization that helped them defeat Cameroon and keep the Dutch at bay for a long time.
+ Punish Danish mistakes in their own half if the trend continues.
+ As has been the case throughout the tournament, find someone to hit the back of the net.

Denmark Keys

+ Must eliminate the silly giveaways in their own half that have turned coach Morten Olsen's hair from gray to white.
+ Use Rommendahl's speed and other weapons to stretch the Japanese defense and create chances for Bendtner and others.
+ Finish chances against a stingy defense.

Netherlands v. Cameroon

In contrast, the Dutch have already booked their place in the final 16, and Cameroon have been eliminated. Expect the Oranje to rest some of their mainstays, and the Indomitable Lions attempt to salvage some pride with a win.

Netherlands Keys

+ Use match to give some of the rest of the squad players a taste of the action in South Africa in case needed later.
+ Avoid injuries and cards!

Cameroon Keys

+ Come out motivated and cohesive, play with a point to prove.
+ A big ask, but give the Dutch as little time on the ball as possible.

Click here for Mike's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


Five World Cup Matches You Can't Miss This Week

World Cup 2010 Logo

Desperate Football On Tap
In Final Games Of Group Play

One Great Season

Tuesday brings the first day of the final round of matches in World Cup pool play in South Africa.

The first round saw some teams, even traditional powers, sitting back and playing conservatively.

The second round required some of those teams to step things up after less-than-positive results in those opening-round matches.

And now that we're on to the desperation round, it's OK to expect more excitement from many of the games over the next few days. A few of the One Great Season World Cup writers reveal below which must-see matches you won't want to miss:

+ Mike Mudd
USA v. Algeria, Wednesday (10 a.m. ET, ESPN)
Group C has been sort of a mess. The U.S. has played great in stretches, and, frankly, like crap in others. This is a must-win game for the Americans and it's going to be interesting to see if they can buckle down and play their best when a spot in the knockout round is on the line in a do-or-die game.

Follow | Subscribe | Donate

+ Steve Susi
England v. Slovenia, Wednesday (10 a.m. ET, ESPN2)
How will the Three Lions respond to this must-win situation (or at least must-draw and pray for help) after a week of discord, calls for Fabio Capello's head, Capello's calling out of John Terry for press-conference comments, Jamie Gallagher's absence due to two yellows and the tabloid mania that's drowned us all these past few days?

+ Jake Yadrich
Germany v. Ghana, Wednesday (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
After Germany blasted Australia 4-0 in their opening match, people were talking Cup favorite. But then a 1-0 loss to Serbia left the Germans likely needing a victory over group leader Ghana to advance to the knockout stage. The German attack will be without prolific goal scorer Miroslav Klose, and Ghana captain John Mensah and fellow central defender Issac Vorsah may both be available for the match (neither played the last game due to injuries). I imagine Serbia will take out Australia, leaving the Germans with no option but to win this game. It has added importance, not only because a world soccer power may be booted, but it could also determine who the Americans would play in the knockout round should they advance.

+ Mike Dick
Italy v. Slovakia, Thursday (10 a.m. ET, ESPN)
The Italians have looked completely devoid of creativity, lack a consistent goal scorer and have been shaky at the back at times. Can Lippi make enough tweaks to get the three points they so desperately need? Or are the defending champs catching an early flight home?

+ Mike Marshall
Chile v. Spain, Friday (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Spain will be looking to top the group, not only for obvious reasons like national pride, but avoiding a knockout-round game against likely Group G winner Brazil. Following a much-improved second match against Honduras on Monday, Spain will move forward often, and shoot the nets off of the Chilean goal.


Is It Time For Bob Bradley To Be Replaced?

World Cup 2010 Logo

Second-Half Comeback
Saves USMNT, But
Coach Needs To Go

One Great Season

Great fightback. Well done. And yes, the Americans got TOTALLY SCREWED out of the three points in their 2-2 draw with Slovenia on Thursday.

But let's not let the USMNT's fine comeback and the injustice done by the incompetent referee erase the fact that the Americans also bent themselves over with another pathetic first half performance. Every U.S. fan hopes -- and many of them actually believe -- our team is a force to be reckoned with in world football.

But the Slovenians made the U.S. squad look naive and amateurish in the opening 45. The Americans totally lacked passion and commitment aganst a team that called them out and guaranteed they would beat them. Bob Bradley's troops gave Slovenia all the time and space on the ball they wanted. USA couldn't maintain possession, had virtually no midfield and resorted to pumping hopeful long balls up to Jozy Altidore and Robbie Findley. The American defenders were all over the shop, and they paid dearly for it all. Sleepwalking through a match at the World Cup Finals with plenty on the line? They were Yanks alright, but in the masturbatory metaphoric sense.

How on earth the lads were not motivated from the start boggles the mind? The old sports cliche says "you can't fire the players, so you fire the coach." The players should be ashamed of themselves for that first-half effort, and for not coming out with fire in their eyes from the first whistle. But Bradley must take the blame. Many were calling for his ouster at the Confederations Cup until the U.S. did a surprising 180 and went on their improbable trip to the final. Bradley's job was saved, and he may well have gotten another get-out-of-jail-free card Thursday. A loss would have been devastating, and the cries surely would be going out for Bradley to get the sack. Well, no matter what happens from here on out, it's time for Bob to go after this tournament.

The Americans have progressed to the point where they are the top dog in our admittedly rather lightweight region. The next step is to take it up a notch, and try to challenge the best from Europe and South America. We should expect more than what we got today. The USMNT were nearly embarrassed by Slovenia (a useful side, but nothing close to Europe's best) with the whole world watching. If the U.S. is are to be a serious footballing nation, then the coaching job should be a hot seat. You either produce the goods or you're gone. It's not good enough to spin their wheels; the Americans have to move forward. It's clear that for that to happen, the USMNT needs new leadership in the form of a top-class manager with an international pedigree. Would that guarantee success at the international level? Hardly. But the time has come to give it a shot.

Today at halftime, maybe Bob shoved some verbal vuvuzelas up his team's behinds. If so, great. But a match takes place over 90 minutes, and if we saw the commitment over the whole of the match that we got in the second 45, we'd all be celebrating a comfortable win with our place in the knockout stage all but assured. Instead, we were denied three points in part by some shambolic refereeing. But that shockingly bad decision likely would not have been as costly had the Americans shown up to play from the opening kick-off. Let's hope the Stars and Stripes can get after it from the very start in the Algeria match and then take it from there. Either way, let it please be Bob's last stand.

Click here for Mike's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


World Cup 2010: Group E Recap

Denmark Own Goal vs. Netherlands

One Great Season

In the first half of Monday's Group E opener, Denmark did exactly as they needed to do. They soaked up pressure early, then gradually came out of their shell on the counter attack. In spite of the overwhelming Dutch advantage in possession, the Danes created the best chances. Bendtner should have done better with his free header, either taking it to the opposite corner or heading to the back post to Enevoldsen. Stekelenburg also made a couple of good saves to keep it nil-nil. The Dutch had tons of ball, but lacked the cutting edge in the final third.


+ RECAP: Group D Openers
+ NOTEBOOK: More France Hate, Nike-v-Adidas & The Name Game
+ WORLD CUP PUB CRAWL: Where To Drink & Watch In 35 Cities
+ NOTEBOOK: Alexi Lalas, Oprah-Secada & Vuvuzela Accidents
+ TIMELINE: Diego Maradona's Long, Strange Trip
+ PREDICTIONS: OGS World Cup Experts Make Their Picks
+ KIT HAPPENS: The Best, Worst World Cup Uniforms

All the Danish organization went out the window at the start of the second half. An incisive ball from inside the Dutch half to van Persie caused all kinds of problems. Keystone-cops defending by the Danes led to a panicked header by Busk Poulsen, which went into their own goal off of Agger's back. Advantage Netherlands, and they would not look back. Van der Vaart nearly scored one of the better goals of the tournament with a cheeky flick, but Sorensen did well to save it. Later, Sneijder unlocked the Danish defense with a killer through ball to the very dangerous-looking Elia. Sorensen got a finger to his shot to push it onto the post. But Kuyt, whose tireless work at both ends of the pitch was obvious throughout the match, was first to the ball in front of a napping Kjaer to push it across the line. Later, another great chance for the Dutch, but Busk was able to acrobatically hook it off the line with the ball going in.

All told, the Dutch deserved the three points, but they will be looking for a sharper effort going forward. One of the few matches thus far where we saw good goalkeeping at both ends.

Japan 1, Cameroon 0

Ugly first half of play. Shaky goalkeeping at each end. Cameroon were totally disjointed. Sloppy at the back, virtually no link play through midfield, little threat up front. The Japanese were barely better. But as the half neared its end, the Blue Samurai began to show a little bit. Matsui's fine cross, combined with slack defending, found an unmarked Honda at the back post. Honda had the time and space to pick his spot, and slotted home inside the near post.

Follow | Subscribe | Donate

Within the first five minutes of the second half, the Indomitable Lions nearly equalized. Eto'o was in the corner with three Japanese defenders around him, but managed to power through them and pull it back for Choupo-Moting. He should have done better, as he pulled his first-time shot high and wide. Cameroon's passing perked up with the addition of Emana in the 63rd minute, but Japan was getting plenty of blue shirts back. The Lions then were resigned to a series of long balls and speculative efforts. None produced much until a thunderbolt by Mbia nearly earned a draw.

Needless to say, Cameroon are in big trouble and face a huge match against Denmark. Neither the Danes nor the Dutch will be quaking in their boots at taking on either of these two teams on the evidence from this match.

Click here for Mike's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


World Cup 2010: Group E Match Previews

World Cup 2010 Logo

One Great Season

Group E opens play Monday morning, with Holland and Denmark pairing up in Johannesburg (7:30 am ET, ESPN) and Japan and Cameroon tangling in Mangaung/Bloemfontein (10 a.m. ET, ESPN).

The first match is a statement game for each side. Are the Dutch truly ready for a run at the ultimate prize? Or will Denmark's team prove to be stronger than Holland's individuals?

Below are some keys to the game for both sides:

+ Robben is out, fortunately this side is still loaded for bear
+ Must get stars to play with a team mentality
+ The goals came easy in friendlies; that scoring touch must remain sharp or frustration/doubt could set in
+ With its attack-at-every-opportunity approach, the Dutch can't get caught on the counter

+ Keep it tight at the back
+ Win the battle in midfield, maintain possession, limit Dutch touches on the ball
+ Scoring chances must be converted
+ Use team cohesiveness to nullify and frustrate the Oranje

Look at the Danish National Team's sponsor. How the aforementioned factors play out will determine whether the Danes present a stiff challenge to the Dutch, or put forth a flaccid effort.


+ NOTEBOOK: Alexi Lalas, Oprah-Secada & Vuvuzela Accidents
+ TIMELINE: Diego Maradona's Long, Strange Trip
+ NOTEBOOK: Disappearing Divas, Slow White Broncos & The Jabulani
+ PREDICTIONS: OGS World Cup Experts Make Their Picks
+ MEMORY LANE: Longtime Soccer Fan Found Soccer Thanks To Africans
+ KIT HAPPENS: The Best, Worst World Cup Uniforms

Cameroon v. Japan

A draw will likely do neither of these teams any good. Each should go all out for the three points to show the group they're a serious threat to get to the knockout stage.

+ Must put dreadful results from recent friendlies behind them
+ Use technical ability to stretch and penetrate
+ Find someone to step up and score goals
+ Maintain discipline at the back and quit conceding own goals

+ Use strength and speed to their advantage
+ Eto'o doesn't necessarily have to score, and may be more valuable as a decoy, but he must be a factor
+ If attention is focused on Eto'o, Webo is the potential dangerman
+ Maintain shape all over the field, play smart

Click here for Mike's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


World Cup Notes: Disappearing Divas, Slow White Broncos & The Jabulani

World Cup 2010 Logo By MIKE DICK
One Great Season

Senility has obviously begun to set in, or I would have thought to write about this before now. But thinking about the start of the World Cup reminded me of the opening match of USA 1994.

I was lucky enough to be in Chicago at "old" Soldier Field that day, to see defending cup holders Germany open the competition against Bolivia. It was a day to remember for sure, and not really because of the match itself. We were up high behind one of the goals, coincidentally right where the stage was put up for the opening ceremony extravaganza. This location gave us a wonderful vantage point to witness some unintentional comedy of the highest order.

Obviously some of the finest minds in entertainment were involved in the decision-making process, as we were treated to a veritable who's who of American entertainment. First, there was Chicago's own Oprah Winfrey. The daytime diva served as a master of ceremonies of sorts as I recall. Trouble was, there was some sort of trap door thing in the stage that was left open. So as Oprah rumbled onto the stage to get the party started, WHOOSH! She promptly disappeared, falling right into the hole. To her credit, she emerged relatively unruffled, and continued on with the show.

Not long after, the sold out crowd was treated to the song stylings of another American icon, Jon Secada? Richard Marx was apparently busy. In spite of the Oprah mishap, the trap door remained open. So Jon bound onto the stage to serenade the soccer fans and worldwide audience with a selection of his pop classics. (If you remember any, please email OGS.)

Jon was working the crowd, belting out his tunes, moving about the stage. But he, too, paid no attention to that damned hole, and that's when it got ugly. Whereas Oprah went clean through, Jon only caught it with one leg. So he fell in with one leg while the rest of his body crumpled onto the stage. He was hurt, but sat there near the hole and continued singing. I was sure he broke his leg, but I found an interview with him from a few years back where he said he had only separated his shoulder. Apparently, he completed his stage time, went to the hospital, and they popped it back in. That's how World Cup legends are born.

The final episode in this tragicomic trifecta of entertainment involved one Diana Ross. She was spared the indignity of a trip into the hole. Rather, she created her own dubious moment. Di was cavorting about the pitch singing "I'm Coming Out," I believe, when a couple members of her dance troupe appeared with two halves of an inflatable goal. With impeccably timed choreography, they came together to form a goal when a ball was rolled in front of Ms. Ross ... and she was to slot home a make-believe penalty into the open net from close range. Sadly, as she continued to sing, she scuffed it wide. Think Frank Lampard in the FA Cup against Pompey, except instead of a foot wide, try 15 feet. Brilliant stuff!

The match itself was fairly forgettable. Klinsmann scored, Etcheverry was sent off and Deutschland won. That was the start of traveling back and forth between Chicago and Detroit for all the matches played at those venues in the 1994 Cup. I had a friend and former co-worker who lived in Grand Rapids, Mich., and we crashed there a few times on our zig-zagging between the cities and matches.

When we arrived, we were informed that we had been oblivious to the beginning of one of the great legal and social sagas in U.S. history. While we had been watching the footy, we'd totally missed out on the slow white Bronco "chase" with A.C. Cowlings wheeling down the freeway alongside Orenthal James Simpson. In hindsight, the perfect day of bizarro entertainment might have been to see the cock-ups of the World Cup opening ceremony, then skip the opening match for a spot in front of the TV for the O.J. drama. But we let the football get in the way ... as it should be.

Jabulani Complaints Confirmed

The chorus of complaints about the Adidas Jabulani World Cup ball has reached a crescendo. The world's top goalkeepers, including Iker Casillas of Spain, Gigi Buffon of Italy, Julio Cesar of Brazil and Timmy Howard of the USA have all turned a big, gloved "thumbs down" to the new orb. They've echoed the sentiments of US backup Marcus Hahnemann who called the ball "horse shit."

They aren't alone. England legend Gordon Banks says the ball has "ruined the art of goalkeeping," and many field players don't like it either. There certainly seems to be ample proof that the ball does some funny things in the air -- floating, dipping, swerving and knuckling. But others have said the whiners should "man up," because everyone will be playing with the same ball.

But OGS can confirm in a worldwide exclusive that there very well could be legit gremlins associated with the Jabulani and its family tree of Adidas balls. Concrete proof of this anomaly was exposed during a co-ed indoor match at Mockingbird Valley Soccer club in Louisville, Ky., on Sunday night.

That's when this author was beaten by a long range shot that swerved away from me and into the top right corner ... by a femme, no less. My initial thought was to chalk it up to the fact that I'm approaching 50 years old, do my match training on a barstool, am grossly out of shape and have a pair of bum knees and therefore the agility of a turtle lying on its back.

But after many days of careful consideration, and wracking my brain to find a way to divert the blame from myself, the lightbulb came on. Taking inspiration from the higher-level brothers of the goalkeeping fraternity, I'm blaming the goal on the $20 Jabulani replica ball we were using! I feel better now.

Click here for Mike's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


Longtime Fan Found Soccer Thanks To Africans

Joe Fomunung

Former College Keeper Credits,
Misses His African Coaches

One Great Season

So here we are. The kickoff to World Cup 2010.  South Africa making history, as the continent hosts the world's greatest sporting event for the first time. But as football fans the world over look forward with anticipation, I can't help but take a look back at how Africa and Africans have influenced my experience with the beautiful game.

When I was in my early teens and just getting acquainted with the sport, many of our first coaches happened to be African graduate students at the local university. They were from several nations, but all possessed similar qualities in that they were very demonstrative and joyous in their love for the game, and in trying to transfer that love to us.

MORE: Complete FIFA World Cup Coverage From One Great Season

Babatunde Davies

From the sidelines they would bellow phrases we had never heard before, but remember to this day. For trapping: "Cool the ball." When dribbling: "Let the ball do the running!" And when someone needed to mark an opponent more closely: "Marry him! Marry him!" which sounded more like "Moddy him! Moddy him!" Needless to say, coming from a place once described to me by a TV news consultant as "demographically, the whitest place we've ever surveyed," it was pretty exotic stuff.

My African education continued in college. As a freshman from a place where soccer was barely played, I had no street cred with the team and apparently there were doubts that I had any game. Although it would change, I didn't receive the warmest of welcomes from very many of the guys on the team at first. So initially I was befriended by the Africans and roomed with them on road trips. They helped me settle in and become part of the team, and for that I will always be grateful.

Joe Fomunung

The Africans I was coached by and played with displayed the athleticism, power, grace, unpredictability and effusive personality that we see reflected in the players from the continent today. So here's to my former coaches Berhanu Amensisa of Ethiopia, Babatunde Davies and Kola Davies of Nigeria and Joe Fomunung from Cameroon; and to my former teammates Greg Okasia and Greg Salako from Nigeria, Victor Pesah from Ghana and Emmanuel N'Ko from Cameroon.

I don't know where my African friends are now, but I wish I did. I do know that my education in the game and immense love for it are owed a lot to Africa and Africans. And that surely is worth a few blasts on the vuvuzela.

Click here for Mike's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


World Cup Preview: Group E

World Cup 2010 Logo

Dutch Look To Overcome
Past Cup Disappointments

One Great Season


The Netherlands are ranked No. 4 in the world in the FIFA rankings, and are making their ninth appearance in the World Cup finals. The Dutch are the heavyweights of the group, having cruised through the qualifying phase without dropping a point. They've also bagged a ton of goals in the lead-up friendlies.

In Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, they have two players who have been in phenomenal form for their club teams Inter Milan and Bayern Munich. Each played a key role in those teams' winning their respective leagues and cups and making it to the Champions League Final. But Robben got cute in their latest friendly, and has likely put himself out of the group phase with a tragi-comic injury.

BIO: About Mike Dick

Even so, the Dutch remain loaded. The names include van Persie, Huntelaar, van Bronckhorst, van Bommel, Kuyt, Babel, de Jong and van der Vaart. But, their Achilles heel could very well be at the back. The corps of defenders is not outstanding, and there is little doubt that veteran Edwin van der Saar, of Manchester United, would have been preferred between the sticks.

With more disappointments than successes in the big tournaments, fans of the Oranje are hoping this current squad can maintain their cohesiveness and team spirit and make a serious run at the trophy.

Player To Watch: Sneijder

Denmark is making its fourth appearance in a World Cup finals, and is 36th in the FIFA rankings. The Danes could be the danger team of this group, but injuries are worrisome. They too had an impressive qualification, topping a group that included Portugal and Sweden. Under the guidance of the wily manager and former star Morten Olsen, Denmark is always very well organized and a tough nut to crack.

MORE: Meet The 2010 OGS World Cup Writers

One of the injured is Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner, who may well be the key man. He's capable of brilliant goals or jaw-dropping misses. If he is healthy and has his scoring boots on, it will spell trouble for the Danes' opponents.

Liverpool's Daniel Agger is one of the anchors of the defense. Two others, rising Palermo star Simon Kjaer and Stoke City goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen, both are among the injury questions ... as is Feyenoord's Jon Dahl Tomasson.

Potential X factor Christian Poulsen of Juventus can score goals from midfield.

Player To Watch: Bendtner


Cameroon are making their sixth appearance in the World Cup finals, the most of any African nation.  They are 19th in the FIFA rankings.

The Indomitable Lions have a lot to prove in South Africa. French coach Paul Le Guen helped steer their qualification campaign in the right direction after a bad start, but the team's inconsistent play is a worry. African Footballer of the Year Samuel "it's all about me" Eto'o, of Inter Milan, had a solid season for the newly crowned Champions League winners, but hardly has the same support group around him with his national team. Who knows where his head is as the tournament approaches. He's threatened to not go to South Africa, after a war of words with Lions legend Roger Milla. That, coupled with a lackluster-at-best effort in a recent friendly, are hardly indications that Eto'o is ready to lead his nation into battle.

There is undoubted talent in the side. Striker Achille Webo of Mallorca has found the net in the friendlies, but that hasn't resulted in wins. Perhaps this squad can draw something from the home-continent advantage, and it surely needs a boost from somewhere if it is to progress to the knockout phase.

Player To Watch: Eto'o

Ranked 45th in the FIFA World Rankings, Japan is making its fourth World Cup finals appearance.

Japanese manager Takeshi Okada clearly has been hitting the sake, making the audacious statement that his side are aiming for a spot in the semi-finals. The Japanese do possess many technically sound footballers, but have lacked punch up front.

In their recent friendlies leading up to the tournament, they've actually had no problem scoring ... with an unfortunate string of own goals. Finding someone who can put it in the opposition's net obviously will be key, and Shinji Okazaki, of Shimizu S-Pulse, may well the be the man expected to deliver.

There is a wealth of talent in the midfield, with Keisuke Honda of CSKA Moscow, Yasuhito Endo of Gamba Osaka and Daisuke Matsui of Grenoble all solid. Former Celtic man Shunsuke Nakamura has been declared fit, and has scored some memorable free kicks in his careeer. He will be a definite threat at set pieces. Junichi Inamoto also adds experience to the side.

Player To Watch: Honda

1. Denmark
2. Netherlands
3. Cameroon
4. Japan


World Cup Notes: Buddle Shines, Ball Blues & Nike

World Cup 2010 Logo

One Great Season

With Jozy Altidore out injured, Edson Buddle and Robbie Findley each had opportunities to show their stuff to Bob Bradley in the USMNT's tuneup against Australia on Saturday. It was a classic example of one player seizing the opportunity, and the other ... well ... slotting it wide.

Buddle clinically finished two balls in the first half, but Findley shot wide after rounding the keeper and later blazed off the bar in a goalmouth scramble when both should have been put away. At this level, solid chances created simply must be converted.

Buddle, who has been hot for the L.A. Galaxy this season, showed how to do it. Real Salt Lake's Finley showed why his surprise inclusion in the final Cup roster was questionable. Never thought I'd be saying this, but ... Brian Ching, anyone?


As the World Cup ball controversy bounces on, we had more glimpses on Saturday of how the orb may impact the upcoming games. Australia keeper Mark Schwarzer looked none-too-sure of himself in the first half. The sun also may have been a factor, but the big Aussie offered nothing on Buddle's fierce drive and awkwardly fumbled a cross out for a corner.

At the other end, Tim Howard got down to parry a tricky crank that had movement as well. We also saw several field players struggling to judge some of the higher-flighted balls. Even if Ballgate is much ado about nothing, it's fairly obvious it's put a dent in the keepers' confidence.

All this would lead us to believe we will see quite a few gaffes/oddities when the matches start this week. While it's true that everyone plays with the same ball and it will be the same for all teams, it won't be cool to see matches decided on flukes. Let's hope it doesn't happen, at least not much.


As the U.S. team continues to try to carve out some sort of identity in the world game, its kit flounders to find some sort of relevance. Year after year, Nike cranks out the most boring designs in the game. And the Swoosh seems to save some of its least creative efforts for the good ol' U.S. of A. Sadly, this Cup is no different. Same old, nondescript, boring all white for the Yanks. Even the Aussies' green and gold looked more like a training top than a proper kit top. Well done, Nike.

When you flip on a match, it takes no time to identify the yellow of Brazil, the blue and white of Argentina, the orange of the Netherlands or the blue of Italy or France and on and on.

The USMNT needs this same sort of color identification, preferably with color. The nod to the 1950 team is cool, but sadly and predictably muted. A blue sash would obviously bring too much color to the party, so Nike opted for white on white? Gray on white? I have no problem with the away shirt, which looks fine. But then again, it has color! Now I'm not suggesting a return to the denim vomit or acid-trip stripes of 1994, but we need to develop our own iconic design that is easily and instantly recognizable. Just say no to being to world football what Penn State is to college football. Leave the all-white stripe to Real Madrid.


Meet The 2010 OGS World Cup Writers

One Great Season is proud to announce it will be covering World Cup 2010 from start to finish. Group previews begin Thursday and once the games begin, we plan to update at least twice daily with match coverage, analysis and other news and notes. Please take a moment to get to know the nine contributors who will make One Great Season the only online destination you'll need for outstanding World Cup coverage.

Jeremy Brown

Jeremy Brown is a New York-based freelance writer. He's worked as a staff writer covering English and international football at UK and has contributed to several publications over the years, including the New York Post, Scientific American, Seed, Entertainment Weekly, Draft and Star. On Sundays he can be found groggily galumphing around not-always-trash-strewn pitches in the city's Cosmopolitan league, thankful that he never tried to go pro because man that looks like a lot of running. Jeremy will be covering Group B.

Mike Dick

Mike Dick got turned on to soccer by Pele's arrival in the NASL. Living in a virtual soccer vaccuum in Terre Haute, Ind., Mike's love of the game grew via broadcasts of Soccer Made in Germany and the odd NASL match, BBC World Service football coverage on shortwave radio and traveling to see live matches on occasion. He got to see Cruyff, Beckenbauer, Best and others in person in the NASL days, and as a semi-regular at matches of the Indianapolis Daredevils of the Amercan Soccer League, had the privilege to see an aged Eusebio as he pulled a Willie Mays at the end of his career. A former college goalkeeper, Mike enjoyed the 2006 World Cup in Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt. He supports Nottingham Forest and considers himself to be "the special one" when it comes to prowess on the barstool. Mike, a television producer in Louisville, Ky., will cover Group E.

Ben Jackey

Ben Jackey is an Emmy Award-winning former television news journalist from Louisville, Ky. He is a soccer addict who didn't pick up the game until World Cup 2002. Since then, he has travelled to watch and cover the USMNT and was producing a soccer documentary before he left the TV business this year. He is an avid supporter of Aston Villa FC of the English Premiership and may be the only person on the planet with cornhole boards adorned with the Villa crest. Up the Villa! It's important to note that Ben is a Leo, is fun at parties and is a great dancer. Ben, now a communications specialist in Louisville, will cover Group G.

Mike Marshall

Having played football continually for 28 years in some form, fashion or level in six countries — with teammates and competitors hailing from more than 50 nations — no other game could have given Mike Marshall a better perspective both on the human condition and how it might be changed for the better. With interests in history, international relations, anthropology, and design, Mike finds time for kick-ups whenever possible. Professionally he is the principal behind Marshall Arts, a graphic design and other creative works company. Mike will be covering Group F.

Mike Mudd, an assistant sports editor at the Louisville Courier-Journal, is a lifelong competitive soccer player, coach and fan whose claim to fame was making the second team Indiana all-state team in high school in Jeffersonville, Ind. Mudd covered college soccer while a student at Ball State University in the early 1990s. He also gets asked a lot about the time he scored four goals in a varsity match back in 1990. Mudd has watched every World Cup since 1986 and is more of a fan of South American soccer than European, though he has a soft spot in his heart for England. Mike will cover Group C, and can be followed on Twitter @mudd4goals.

Wade Murray

Wade Murray learned to play soccer at an early age while growing up in Iowa. He was a Division III All-American player at Luther College, then played semi-professionally in Minnesota and New York. His favorite national team is the US side, of course, but on the club level he roots for Everton. Wade is currently a digital marketing professional in New York City, and his favorite player is Cristiano Ronaldo. Wade thinks Ronaldo is simply the smoothest son of a #$%^ he's ever seen, although he dives waaaay too much. Wade will be all over Group A.

Bruce Sholl

Bruce Sholl started playing pickup soccer as a kid on the dirty streets of Toledo, Ohio. He then went on to captain the Upper Arlington Golden Bears in Columbus, Ohio, and started for the men's club team of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He currently plays for The Barnstonworth Rovers third team, a New York City club group. Along with being a fan of his hometown Columbus Crew, he has traveled abroad to play and watch, most notably the Man U-Man City Derby in 2008 and Espanyol vs. Villarreal this year. His aggressive style of play has translated well to the pub when watching matches and head-butting. Bruce, a retail marketing specialist, is on the general assignment beat.

Steve Susi

Steve Susi is founder and chief creative officer of Brand Spanking New York, a NYC branding and creative consultancy. Steve has attended numerous Premiership matches over the past two decades — most of which involving his beloved yet hapless West Ham Hammers — attended the 2006 World Cup in Germany (watch the video) and is a devout Ohio State and all-teams-Cleveland fanatic. Mr. Susi will spend the second week of World Cup 2010 watching the national teams of Germany, Holland, Denmark and England at pubs located in those countries' respective capital cities, and reporting/photographing the proceedings for One Great Season. Check out for more about Steve and follow him on Twitter at @brandspankingny. He'll be covering Group D.

Jake Yadrich

Jake Yadrich has worked in the video production industry since 2004, spending mroe than five years as a videotape editor for FOX 4 News in Kansas City. While at FOX 4, he and the station's film critic earned acclaim at the 2009 and 2010 LA Press Club National Entertainment Journalism Awards for their weekly interview segments with Hollywood's biggest stars. In January 2010, Jake obtained what he considers a dream job in becoming the head of video operations for the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer. Jake is an avid soccer fan, his favorite team being Barcelona, and brings an industry insider perspective to One Great Season's coverage of the 2010 World Cup. Jake will be covering Group H.