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In Pictures: Denmark Celebrates World Cup Win

Denmark Celebrates World Cup win

One Great Season World Cup writer Steve Susi is spending this week touring through Europe, and its finer drinking establishments, to take in some of the local flavor as football fans flock to the bars to watch their favorite teams compete in South Africa.

Steve was nice enough to send in some pictures of his day in Denmark, Saturday as thousands watched on big screens in the streets of downtown Denmark.

Click here to see Steve's pictures, but please heed this disclaimer: his camera broke early in his trip so many of these pictures are taken with his iPhone. He hopes you'll understand!

And click here for Steve's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


In The Trenches: World Cup Coverage From Denmark

OGS World Cup correspondent Steve Susi is spending this week touring through Denmark, Germany, Holland and England, and sharing some content from the trenches. The three images below were taken Saturday at the Hyundai Fan Park in Copenhagen, where Denmark fans watched their team earn a 2-1 defeat of Cameroon in Group E play.

Thousands gathered in downtown Copenhagen Saturday:

World Cup 2010 Logo

The place went "ballistic," Susi said, when the Danes scored the game's first goal:

World Cup 2010 Logo

And at least one fan celebrated Denmark's second goal perhaps a little too much:

World Cup 2010 Logo

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


Serbia Wins In Red-Card Shocker

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Caught On Video:
German Fans Arrested
After Stunning 1-0 Loss

One Great Season

HAMBURG, Germany -- I just like saying "shocker."

Anyway, where to begin? Watching the Germany-Serbia tilt at the Hyundai Fan Fest in Hamburg promised to be a storied affair, and the excitement was far from lacking. The officiating, on the other hand ...

As I write this on a train somewhere between Hangover, Germany, and Copenhagen, the whistleblower and his trigger-happy tongue already have been well documented the world over. In the Fatherland, as you'd imagine, it was nothing short of tragedy. The CEO of BP can breathe a sigh of relief; someone else's lack of judgment has superceded his own, if only for one flatulent moment, on the front pages of tabloids and other legitimate news sources.

Check out the videographic evidence I shot last night of these two guys epitomizing the mood of the German nation:

Freedom of speech, baby!

It's no coincidence that the game's lone goal came just one minute after Miroslav Klose picked up his second yellow and a trip to the locker room for the remaider of the game and the next one, too. And Germany, long the poster-children for methodical, technically sound football, had 19 fouls, three yellow cards, and of course, Klose's red.

The World Cup does strange things to the men on the pitch. How could it be that this team, just days after decimating Australia 4-0 and looking every bit the quality of a potential champion goes scoreless to lose its first group stage match since 1986?

Another in my litany of questions: Lukas Podolski, how do you miss that penalty shot in the 60th minute? Even though Serbian keeper Vladimir Stokjovic guessed correctly for his dive, the ball was at a tame enough pace for him to routinely reject. This was Germany’s first missed penalty since 1974 — and the first one ever saved by a Serbia/Serbia & Montenegro/Yugoslavia keeper in a Cup match.

After watching Jovanovic tuck the ball under his jersey and skip his way off the field in ecstasy at the final whistle, a stunned German captain Philip Lahm said, "The referee made some strange decisions." Indeed he did, handing out nine yellow cards, a tournament high.

But I think Germany could best describe their own play using those self-same words.

Ghana Can't Take Advantage of Man-Down Socceroos

The men from Down Under soldiered on without midfielder Harry Kewell for 66 minutes to achieve a draw with Ghana after seeing the red mist for the second time in as many games. Kewell inexplicably blocked a shot from Jonathan Mensah with his arm, giving Ghana a penalty kick, which Asamoah Gyan buried in the 25th minute.

Both sides played spirited ball, with the Black Stars repeatedly breaking the Aussie defense with amazing speed but not adding to their tally, while Australia saw some excellent chances despite their man disadvantage, but they, too, failed to capitalize.

Australia coach Pim Verbeek said afterward, "We're still in the race. The boys were fighting for everything, and with everything they had. I can only be proud of the players." Of course he should say that. For a manager to say otherwise would be a breach of coaching protocol. However, I'm not sure what wizard he's consulting with — it's going to take a miracle for the 'Roos to emerge from group play and repeat their overachievement in Germany 2006.

It's hard for me to believe what I'm about to type here in my Copenhagen hotel room, but here goes before we run out to watch babes -- er, the Denmark v Cameroon match:

Ghana leads Group D with four points, followed by Serbia and Germany each with three, and Australia with one.

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


Spanning The World ... Cup ... For Great Headlines

One Great Season

So as you know the One Great Season research department spends countless hours scouring the Internet to find the most important World Cup information for you.

Here are a few of the better headlines we've spied over the last few days:

+ Brazilian in Bikini Top Featured in Slow-Mo TV Network Cutaway

+ One England Fan Not Insufferable, Arrogant Prick

+ Elephant Paparazzi: We Thought US National Team Bus Was Kirstie Alley

+ Connecticut Couple Surprised by South Africa's Natural Beauty, Black Population

+ Jabulani Ball Linked to Gary Coleman's Death

+ No One Knows If South Korean Players Wore Own Jerseys

+ Rhythm Nation Extends Scoreless Streak

+ African Whoopee Cushion Sales Plummet

+ Maradona "Extremely Disappointed" Sidelines Not Made of Blow

+ ESPN Field Mic Operator Won't Stop Messing with Bee Hive

+ England Keeper Blames Gaffe on New Ball, Prosthetic Arms

+ Billions Around World Scratch Groin Every Time Slovenian Fullback Jokič Mentioned

We'll keep looking for more interesting content, but if you find a gem, feel free to share it with us in the Comments section.

Click here for Steve's bio and a link to his previous stories.


World Cup 2010: Group D Recap

One Great Season

Conveniently, this writer is playing in the Woody Hayes Celebrity Classic charity golf tournament today in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio (paired with Gordon Jump). So in combined honor of my preoccupation with the task at hand and being horribly, terribly wrong about Serbia's poise to win Group D, I'll offer this review via iPhone in short-form type:

+ Germany defies clichés to neuter Socceroos with flair and imagination (and protypically stout defense).

+ Stat of the day: Germany made more passes in one half than South Africa, Uruguay, USA, and Nigeria completed in their entire matches.

+ Australia's odd 4-6-0 formation does nothing to slow German juggernaut.

+ Dismissal in 56th minute "shatters" Australia's Cahill.

+ Klose scored his 11th World Cup goal,  tying him for fifth all-time in Cup history with Jurgen Klinsmann and Sandor Kocsis.

+ Squeaky clean: Ghana's seen just three cards in five World Cup matches.

+ Evenly matched Ghana and Serbia see first African victory emerge from Lukovic and Kuzmanovic blunders.

+ Essien-less Ghana can mathematically advance before even playing second match.

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


World Cup Loaded With Interesting Personalities

World Cup 2010 Logo

American Keeper Tim Howard
Battles Tourette's Syndrome

One Great Season

Whether you're a savvy soccer fan with a legitimate rooting interest, or if you pick your World Cup winners based on uniform colors, you're bound to hear a few stories about some of the event's most interesting players over the next month. Before ESPN has a chance to tell them to you next week, keep on reading so you can sound like you're in the know at tomorrow's watch party: 

The Boateng Brothers (Kevin-Prince, Ghana; Jerome, Germany)

Half-brothers Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng grew up in Berlin as the sons of n Ghanaian immigrant, and in a historic turn of fate could actually end up facing each other in the World Cup on June 23, with one competing for the German side, the other for Ghana.

Jerome Boateng, 21, is a defender for the German national team. His mother is from Berlin, and though he's never actually laid eyes on Ghana, he feels a strong connection to the West African nation. He likes to listen to music from Ghana because it sounds happy, and he even has a few Ghanaian friends.

"But it was clear to me early on that I only wanted to play for Germany," he told Germany’s Der Spiegel in April. Why?

"Because it doesn't make any sense. Germany is my home. I like the people here, and the mentality," Boateng said. "The fact that Kevin made a different choice is his business. But he's my half-brother, and I'm happy for him."

Older half-brother Kevin-Prince Boateng also was born in Berlin and has 13 tattoos, some of which depict the continent of Africa. In official documents his name is just "Kevin," but he likes to go by the name Kevin-Prince to honor his father Prince Boateng.

Kevin-Prince's maternal grandfather is a cousin of German legend Helmut Rahn, who scored the winning goal in the 1954 World Cup. Both brothers' paternal uncle is a former Ghana international.

In contrast to his half-brother Jerome, Kevin-Prince prefers music by German rapper Bushido, whose music is about less-than-savory subjects which can't be discussed here. Most of what he knows about his father's home country comes from stories he's heard. "I'm proud to be an African," he told the paper.

He's officially one now, at least within the definition of a man who plays for an African national team; on May 12, FIFA approved his nationality switch application, just five days after Ghana head coach Milovan Rajevac named the 23-year-old to the 30-member finalist squad of the Black Stars, the nickname for Ghana's national team.

As kids, Jerome and Kevin-Prince played for the same club, Hertha BSC, in both the amateur and pro ranks, and then both left it in 2007. Jerome now plays for Bundesliga power Hamburg SV, though it's evident he wants to move to an English club next season. Kevin-Prince is a step ahead of little brother in that department, as he plies his trade for Portsmouth in England's Premier League.

Their paths are sure to cross again on June 23, when Germany takes on Ghana in Johannesburg's Soccer City Stadium — which would render the Boatengs the first pair of brothers to compete against one another in the history of the World Cup.

Germany v. Ghana will be the final match of Group D, which means there very well might be some incredible pressure on both teams, depending on how their first two Group Play matches pan out. And this won’t be just two guys occupying a field at the same time, i.e., goalkeeper on one side and fullback on the other, never to interact. Quite the contrary: it's extremely likely we're going to see Kevin-Prince acting the role of attacking midfielder and Jerome defending against him at all costs.

Now there's no going back. For either of them. Once one plays for a men's national team, he may only compete under that flag for the rest of his international playing days. (Ask Giuseppe Rossi of New Jersey.)

They both know that. They both have conviction in their choices. And they both have the weight of a nation on their shoulders — two sets of shoulders which, on June 23 under the lights of Soccer City, will both read "BOATENG."

Benoît Assou-Ekotto (Cameroon)

Tottenham Hotspur's very own French-Cameroonese fullback Benoît Assou-Ekotto has come under fire of late for making an austere, dark admission about his inner soul, his true self. Something so cold, from way down deep, that it's done no less than shock virtually everyone who's heard it.

Well, nothing provocative enough to move 10 million tabloids by any means, á la John Terry. In fact, Tiger Woods and Ben Roethlisberger would trade their respective, respectless PR predicaments in a heartbeat for this man's shocking entreat to the UK's Guardian. Ready? Okay, here goes:

"I play professional football solely for the money."

When I came to, I wasn't sure if I was more surprised at everyone else's shock and awe, or that a pro athlete came forward and finally said it without remorse or fear of reprisal.

"If I play football with my friends back in France, I can love football," he continued in the Guardian interview. "But if I come to England, where I knew nobody and I didn't speak English, why did I come here? For a job. A career is only 10, 15 years. It's only a job. Yes, it's a good, good job and I don't say that I hate football but it's not my passion."

Well I'll be. Knock me over with a feather. Be still my beating heart. Of course I'd rather feel like an extra on the set of "Field of Dreams" about the professional athletes who populate my daily angst, believing they'd rather play in the hopes of bringing a championship back to their hometown than feeling the bright lights and big dollars of Broadway or Hollywood.

But that halo went the way of the dodo one fateful day in 1975 when Andy Messersmith stepped out onto the diamond as a Dodger and also something called a "free agent." On that afternoon, the soul inside the vocation of a pro athlete took a permanent vacation. And here we are, 35 years on, when a valued footballer like Assou-Ekotto dares whisper "I’m yours for the Euros" and we're supposedly surprised. Seriously.

But these quotes alone aren't what make BA-E one of the more interesting men of the FIFA 2010 World Cup. No, it's not even his violation of locker room code and calling out fellow Premiership footballers who stream expletives out one side of their mouths when the camera's off, and then morph magically into Bobby Moore when the red light starts to blink. This 23-year-old doesn't suffer hypocrites or the two-faced lightly it seems.

Nor does he believe in office relationships. "I don't call footballers in my team," he told David Hytner. "I don't believe in friendships in football."

Brutally honest, yet the man can be a study in dichotomy. Assou-Ekotto is a native of Arras, France, the son of a Cameroonese father and French mother. Before he moved on to Tottenham Hotspur in England’s Premiership in 2006, his first professional club was RC Lens of France's Ligue 1, with whom he signed at the age of 10, and for whom he gave his all in seven of eight UEFA Cup matches before their dismissal to Udinese that year.

A French man of African heritage, he says he has absolutely zero allegiance to Les Bleus, but sources close to the team claim he had his heart set on joining the French national team for the 2010 Cup until it was apparent that Arsenal's Gael Clichy and Manchester United's Patrice Evra would be France coach Raymond Domenech's choices for starting fullbacks.

In all, he spent 12 years becoming a professional footballer in the Lens system in France. "The country does not want us to be part of this new France," he was quoted, somewhat contradictorily. "Me playing for Cameroon was a natural and normal thing. I have no feeling for the France national team; it just doesn't exist."

Yet when Harry Redknapp was named manager at White Hart Lane after Spurs' worst-ever start to a Premiership campaign in 2008, he told radio station RMC point-blankly, "I'd love a return to France."

Refreshingly honest, sure. Interesting, certainly. But also a little sad. Yeah, we all know that pro sports anymore is by and large a cash play, where team and city loyalties disappear with the stroke of a billionaire's pen. When it comes to the World Cup, however, shouldn't it be more about competing for the love of the game and the pride of representing your country? Even just a little bit?

"I play for the money. Football is not my passion," he reiterated.

"I arrive in the morning at the training ground at 10:30 and I start to be professional. I finish at 1:00 and I don't play football afterwards. When I am at work, I do my job 100 percent. But after, I am like a tourist in London. I have my Oyster card and I take the Tube. I eat."

Tim Howard (USA)

To describe the United States starting goalkeeper's journey to the world's biggest stage as "interesting" is a deliberate understatement. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound North Brunswick, N.J., native started his career on the pitch as an outstanding midfielder in high school and a star on the basketball court, averaging 15 points a game and carrying his team to the state finals his senior year.

By the age of 15, after drawing attention from America's top junior soccer brass, Howard had made the transition to goal and waited until the boys in front of him got hurt before starting for US National Youth teams. When he got the chance he never looked back.

The tale of a typical athletic phenom, right? Hardly. In fifth grade, Tim was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome, the potentially all-consuming neurological disorder that causes involuntary movements and tics.

The condition is supposed to increase with anxiety, and one might guess that standing in goal before 40,000 fans and facing rocket-fire from opponents is stress-provoking. Nonetheless, Howard learned how to subdue both the Syndrome and anxiety — through willpower. In games, he says, his concentration is so intense that Tourette's doesn't affect his play.

"T.S. is part of my life. It's like breathing to me," Howard told USA Today. "I don't feel that I missed out on anything, and I still don't take medication for it."

In a day when the average inbox is choked with spam emails hawking pharmaceuticals for every ailment perceived or otherwise, Tim Howard is a living monument to "mind over matter." Incredibly, his longtime childhood mentor and coach Tim Mulqueen (currently the US Under-20 National Team goalkeepers coach) claims that this affliction has developed into one of his biggest strengths. It forces Howard to achieve a state of total and thorough focus, which only history's greatest goalies had at their disposal when all hell broke loose in the box.

In 2001, Howard became the youngest ever to win the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, and just a few years later, in 2003, English football giant Manchester United paid a $4 million transfer fee mid-season for him to replace Fabien Barthez as their starter in net. Today he plays for Everton, also in the English Premiership, and last season captained the squad in a match against Chelsea.

Not surprisingly, Tim was named 2001 MLS Humanitarian of the Year for his work with children with Tourette's. Somewhat surprisingly, on June 22, 2009, he was drafted by the Harlem Globetrotters as an ambassador, having fulfilled the position's requirements of being a "great athlete, great entertainer, and outstanding citizen."

Click here for Steve's bio and an archive of his recent stories.


World Cup Preview: Group D

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Difficult Group Belongs To
Serbia, Banged-Up Germany

One Great Season

Since the ping pong balls were drawn in December, Group D has remained the most difficult group to predict for many, thanks to the overall high quality of all four teams involved and the rash of big-name injuries that's dominated the news and insomniated the managers these past few months. So let's take a look at what was, at least when the groups were announced, what had been termed this World Cup's "Group of Death."


Top seeds in the group are Joachim Löw's Germany. Semifinalists on home soil in 2006 and European runners-up two years ago, the Germans polkaed through qualifying without a loss — on the scoreboard, anyway. The departure of, among others, captain Michael Ballack to torn ankle ligaments suffered in Chelsea's FA Cup final victory over Portsmouth is as big a blow to their midfield's strength, leadership and overall spirit as anything that could befall them. He's asked his teammates to forget about his injury; the opposition won't, you can be sure of that. Without having to scheme around the experienced, respected 33-year-old veteran, the rest of Group D's game plans just got a lot less complex.

BIO: About Steve Susi

The group's other European candidate is Serbia, which won its qualifying group with France, Austria, Lithuania and Romania — and earned the right to join the World Cup ranks in South Africa as an independent nation for the very first time (they were recognized as Serbia & Montenegro at WC06, and their previous nine appearances were under the Yugoslavian flag). Serbian pride will ooze from every pore and into every decibel, on the pitch and in the stands, as this fiercely nationalistic country has finally achieved its dream of representing its own people before the world on its biggest stage.

FIFA's No. 32-ranked Ghana hope to exert their will upon opponents in Africa the same way they have in winning four African Nations Cup titles over the years. However, in an incredible turn of misfortune eerily similar to that of group-mates Germany, their own midfield powerhouse who plays club ball for Chelsea, Michael Essien, is off the roster due to injury, leaving the middle to Serie A specialists Stephen Appiah (Bologna) and Sulley Muntari (Inter Milan). Without the superstar lovingly nicknamed "The Bison," Ghana will have to play out of their heads if they hope to advance to the second round. Where better to do so than on their home continent?

MORE: Meet The 2010 OGS World Cup Writers

Completing the foursome are Australia, who made it to the final 32 after competing in the Asian qualifying zone for the first time, albeit against a pretty easy group comprised of Japan, Bahrain, Qatar, and Uzbekistan. In fact, they finished with 20 points and a +11 goal differential. Led by Dutch coach Pim Veerbeek, the Aussies will be hopeful of equaling their 2006 display, when, coached by another Dutchman, Guus Hiddink, they advanced to the second round and were barely topped by eventual winners Italy, 1-0. There's quite a bit of talent on this side — nearly a quarter of the 23-man roster play in the Premiership — and with a crafty Dutch coach mandating total football, overlook them at your peril.

Team Roster Average Height:

  • Serbia 6' 1.1"
  • Germany 6' 0.4"
  • Australia 6' 0.1"
  • Ghana 5' 11.1"

Historic Sidenote

Group D may see a pretty cool bit of history made on June 23 at Soccer City in Johannesburg. If Germany defender Jerome Boateng and Ghana midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng take the field at the same time, they will become the first brothers to compete against each other in the World Cup.


Germany (nickname: Die Nationalmannschaft [The National Team]) 

The three-time Cup champs and seven-time finalists are always poised to vie for the 14-pound gold trophy, and South Africa 2010 should follow in that tradition. However, a wave of injuries has the quadrennial title contenders in a state of disarray, with the losses of skipper/midfielder Michael Ballack (torn ankle ligaments), defender Heiko Westermann (broken left foot), midfielder Simon Rolfes (knee), first-choice goalkeeper Rene Adler (ribs), and midfielder Christian Traesch (ankle). Yes, you read correctly — three middies including the captain have been carted off the final roster, severely limiting their options and depleting the composure and experience so crucial to advancing in this tournament.

COMING MONDAY: Mike Dick Previews Group E

In Ballack's absence, the immense weight falls to the shoulders of Stuttgart's Sami Khedira and Werder Bremen's attacking midfielder Mesut Özil, the latter of whom possesses an uncanny ability to unzip defenses with his speed and ball-handling, and might make the difference in helping the Germans eke their way out of what promises to be a close group.

To add to the team's cascade of question marks, both Schalke 04 striker Kevin Kuranyi and Werder Bremen midfielder Torsten Frings have been left back in the Fatherland, much to the anger of many supporters and a scrutinous press, and Joachim Löw must make a decision as to which goalkeeper will be his No. 1: experienced and unfortunately named Bayern Munich stopper Hans-Jorg Butt, Bremen's Tim Wiese or 24 year-old Schalke 04 keeper Manuel Neuer.

With such chaos, look for young, lesser-known German talent, of which there always seems no end, to step up and make names for themselves — or it could be an early auf Wiedersehen for the men in black, red, and gold.

Serbia (nickname: The White Eagles)

Led by the only man to coach La Liga’s "Big Three" (Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, and Barcelona), Radomir Antic, the White Eagles qualified for South Africa in intimidating fashion, decimating Romania 5-0 in their final match and tallying more points than WC98 champs France to win their group and secure a place at the 2010 Cup table.

This defense is stout, boasting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic, Borussia Dortmund's Neven Subotic, and Man U's bruiser Nemanja Vidic. I wouldn't want to come across any one of the three in an alley, dark or otherwise. In other words, I expect them to give out more black eyes than goals in group play.

The tallest side in Group D — the average Serb has a full two inches’ height advantage over his Ghanaian opponent — is unbeaten in its last four matches, and you can be certain they'll expect Birmingham City's giant 6' 7.5" striker Nikola Zigic and Ajax sensation Marko Pantelic to bully their way into the back of the net and on to the second round.

Ghana (nickname: The Black Stars)

The Black Stars took full advantage of their first World Cup campaign in Germany 2006 when they reached the Sweet 16, only to be handed walking papers by Brazil.

Four years later, they're coached by cerebral tactician Milovan Rajevac — the team's third Serb and tenth manager in six years — who's laid down the hammer and instituted a new level of discipline that was first met with disdain, and then celebrated when Ghana made it to the African Cup of Nations finals (losing 1-0 to Egypt). Crowd support from all African national attendants will give these speedsters a big boost of confidence during the group stage, which they'll need in order to soldier on without their superstar, Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, and surpass their Round of 16 performance in Germany.

Despite an otherwise experienced midfield that includes Inter Milan's Sulley Muntari and Bologna's Stephen Appiah, who are backed by a solid core of defenders, they have a shallow bench and lack a world-class forward. However, if the games stay close, they have every chance of making the quarters.

Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for the devious Olympique Marseille winger Andre "Dede" Ayew, son of Ghanaian legend Abedi Pele. The 20-year-old is the only African captain to win international titles at every level, and has a lot to prove — he's French-born, and many fans of Les Bleus resent his opting to play for Ghana, despite multiple overtures from the European nation's football authorities.

Australia (nickname: The Socceroos)

Under the guidance of Dutch manager Guus Hiddink in 2006, the Socceroos overachieved, in many viewers' minds, by making the World Cup Round of 16 before being dismissed by eventual champions Italy. This time around, with another Dutch manager at the helm, Australia will make every effort to return to the knock-out stages as the surprising underdog.

Coach Pim Veerbeek has been criticized widely for his boring style of play, which builds slowly and relies heavily on switching fields with long crosses. He finds such a statement a compliment, however, as all Australia have done is achieve their goal of qualification without a single loss and allowing just one goal during the process. A disciple of total football himself, you can bet this edition of the 'Roos will be well-drilled and ready for a fight.

Everton’s Tim Cahill and Fulham Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer had great individual Premiership seasons and hope to keep that momentum going in one of the tournament's toughest groups. Young and talented Galatasary forward Harry Kewell is still recovering from a groin injury, but has resumed training with his national teammates, following a season which saw him notch 14 goals for his Istanbul side.


Mesut Özil 

After an outstanding season that started with stunning performances at the European under-21 Championships in Sweden last summer — leading Germany to the title and earning Man of the Match in the 4-0 victory over England in the finals — and culminated in 11 goals for Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga, this attacking midfielder hopes to achieve national team success again, this time with the big boys.

After fending off many invitations to play for his parents' country of birth, Turkey, the German-born playmaker is often accused of having eyes in the back of his head and a smooth seventh gear you’ll only find in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. This rare combination of acceleration and deft ball-handling results in dizzied defenders and dazzled spectators, and German supporters far and wide claim he's their next No. 10.

It doesn't take a Beckenbauer to assume Coach Löw intends for Özil to create the kind of chances that Miroslav Klose can finish — and knows that this kid might be the key to scoring enough to overcome the goals allowed by an injury-laden, Ballack-less midfield.


  • June 13 Germany v Australia: Durban
  • June 13 Serbia v Ghana: Pretoria/Tshwane
  • June 18 Serbia v Germany: Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth
  • June 19 Australia v Ghana: Rustenburg
  • June 23 Ghana v Germany: Johannesburg
  • June 23 Australia v Serbia: Nelspruit


Out of the gate, Group D was tagged as the "Group of Death," but now on the doorstep of the World Cup, we’ve seen injuries reduce the star power of this group dramatically, the two best examples of which being Chelsea teammates Ballack (Germany) and Essien (Ghana). Expect the matches and point totals to be tight the whole way, with the likelihood that a number of games will be drawn and tensions on the final day will reach critical-mass levels. Ghana and Australia will most certainly have their chances to see the second round, but a physically imposing, fearless Serbia and an admittedly hobbled Germany will prove to be too much in the end. (Hey, they’re still Germany for chrimeny’s sake.) Serbia wins the group and Germany limps alongside them into the Round of 16.


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.


The 2010 Brand Spanking New York World Cup of Brands

Once again we've called on branding expert Steve Susi, founder of the brand consultancy Brand Spanking New York, to share an early preview on the World Cup Of Brands.

World Cup of Brands

One Great Season

I read somewhere that a flatulent howler monkey exiled from his troup deep in the jungles of Bolivia has no idea that the World Cup is nearly upon us; his web access must be down, or provided by Time Warner Cable. However, he's the only lifeform on the planet who remains unaware.

Of course, in this country, the World Cup is widely known but, until recently, almost as widely shrugged off. Thankfully this is changing, due largely in part to ESPN's unprecedented marketing push and production undertaking, the tour-de-force sports network's largest investment ever in an event in its 30-year history. For the second straight Cup, ESPN has shelled out major cash for U2's participation in the campaign, and has been unabashed about its massive multimedia efforts to drive hard-core football fans and an audience network heavies term "big event sports fans" to the TV and web.

And from a branding perspective, the activity surrounding the World Cup is almost as frenetic and loud as the action will be within South Africa's nine host stadiums (and the entire world's pubs). Logos abound in ways that could only happen every four years (or in "Blade Runner"), lest the clutter blind us all to marketing messages from every business vertical imaginable.

Of course, football equipment manufacturers (see World Cup of Branding Bracket above) take center stage, which is obvious and makes perfect sense. From there, we’re hammered by sports drinks, beers, liquors, car companies, airlines, personal care products, banks, computers, mobile providers, electronics, cigarettes, and of course, TV networks like ESPN.

To read more of this story, click here. (And don't forget to give Susi a follow on Twitter @brandspankingny.)


French Open: Women's Preview

Justine Henin, Venus Williams

Venus Gets Close, But
Henin Will Be Too Much

One Great Season

Aging superstars, nagging injuries and brash newcomers abound in 2010, making this year's French Open the most wide open it's been in a few years.

Will there be a French-born champion hoisting the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen in front of a gushing center court on June 5? Will Serena Williams pick up her second title or will big sis Venus nab her first? Will the Russian Army outflank the Yanks? Who's going to play the role of the proverbial X-factor?


To answer those questions, let's take a look at the X-X Chromosomes side of the draw (OK, that was bad; but the French love Jerry Lewis, so that's all the apology you're getting):


Serena Williams. Evidently inspired by Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor in "Superman II," Williams the Youngee claimed Australia earlier this year, the season's first major, over a resurging Justine Henin (see below). She's one of only four past French champions in the draw, so her experience should come into play, as it may have done already Monday in her closer-than-expected win over Swiss Miss Stefanie Vogele, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2. However, a troublesome knee has been her bugaboo this year, which very well may have been the difference in her losses to Jelena Jankovic in Rome and Nadia Petrova in Madrid.

Venus Williams. After bowing out to China’s Na Li in the quarters at the Aussie in January, Venus went on a 15-match tear that included the Dubai and Acapulco titles before falling short to Kim Clijsters at the Sony Ericsson in Miami last month. An appearance in the quarters in Rome and another in the finals in Madrid surely will pay dividends on the terre battue of Paris. With Clijsters out due to a torn foot muscle (zoiks) and little sister Serena already showing some wobbles on clay, this might be Williams the Elder's best chance yet to bring home some Gallic hardware.

Justine Henin. All we can say is 'um, WOW.' If Australia had a Hollywood, it would have probably created something wholly unoriginal like a comic book character movie, and then, hopefully something like we saw in January from the intrepid Belgian, losing a tough one in three sets to arch-nemesis Serena in the final in Melbourne. It would be rather unwise to bet against her in these championships, as she's all over the nuances of the claycourt game like white on rice. Since then, however, the four-time French champ hasn't kept up that pace, what with a weird hand injury keeping her practice time to a minimum. She won the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart against heady competition, but an early adios in Madrid (albeit to eventual champion Aravane Rezai) leaves a few question marks floating overhead. Where there's no question, however: Henin is the class of claycourt tennis in the women's game, and she knows better than anyone out there what it takes to win at Roland Garros. With a low seed this week, she'll probably have to call on that experience more often than we've seen in her previous trips to the French, but overlook this underranked No. 23 player in the world at your peril.

Jelena Jankovic. For a while there, we thought we'd have to get accustomed to Jank ruling the roost in the women's game. Then she got lost for a while. She's back in the top five, courtesy of an outstanding showing in Rome — beating the Sisters Williams on her way to the finals, where she ultimately fell to Maria Martinez Sanchez. Look for the Serb to do well this year, but nothing less than on-fire status will get her to the semis.

Aravane Rezai. What could be better for a 23-year-old French gal than to win going away in Madrid the week before her home country's major? If you're unfamiliar with this 5-foot-5 cannon from St. Etienne, do yourself a favor and tune in to her toute de suite. She was unstoppable in Spain last week, mowing down the likes of Henin, Jankovic and Venus without concern for life or limb. I'm pretty sure we haven't seen anyone this small with so much power since Truman took office. If her groundstrokes are on, she's indomitable from both sides as well as at full stride, which wowed 'em in Madrid — but you ain't heard nothin 'til 15,000 Frenchmen roar in unison at one of her blazing passing shots. Simply put, watch out for Aravane Rezai. If she can keep it going, as she did Sunday with a first-round 1-and-1 win over Egyptian Heidi El Tabakh, she could be the new French Perfection.

Dark Horses:

Sam Stosur. This upstart Australian's made the quarters or better at her last five tourneys, and last month, did the Charleston after winning the Family Circle Cup in South Carolina.

Caroline Wozniacki: Can the third-ranked player in the world realistically be considered a dark horse? If she’s got a bum ankle and no real victories this spring you can. Still, she made the finals at last year's U.S. and started the claycourt season 8-0 before her injury forced her exit from Warsaw.

Shahar Peer: She's playing well so far this season on clay (semis in Stuttgart and Madrid) and has made fourth-round appearances at the French (in 2006 and 2007). If the breeze blows just right, the Israeli ranked 18th in the world can pull a rabbit out of her hat and surprise someone.

Ana Ivanovic: Does her semis run in Rome portend a resurgence of this elegant Serb who’s already won here in the 16th Arrondissement? Men all over the world are praying so.

Francesca Schiavone: The 23-year-old Italian has backhand-sliced herself to 20 wins at Roland Garros, including a quarterfinal and three consecutive fourth-round appearances from 2004-2006. In April she won on clay in Barcelona, so she's shown the WTA she knows what to do in the red dust.

Prediction: It's less predictable than the past six years, because, honestly, the trophies have been pretty equally distributed thus far this season. The Williams sisters have shown drawbacks (nothing worrisome by any means, but still, they've been beaten this year, so the sharks are circling), Henin's no longer the lead-pipe lock she once was, and a fearless class of youngsters like Rezai could throw a wrench in the works for bettors everywhere.

My crystal ball shows a Henin-Venus final for the ages, with the Belgian lugging a slightly heavier carryon bag than her opponent does at Charles DeGaulle. Her mastery and sheer genius on clay — and sizable knowledge of her familiar foe's tendencies — make Henin too tough this year.

In 1989, Steve earned High School Tennis All-America honors. Since then, his life's gone straight downhill. Today, he is founder and chief creative officer of New York branding consultancy Brand Spanking New York. Be sure to give him a follow on Twitter — he's at @BrandSpankingNY.


French Open: Men's Preview

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal

Expect Another
Federer-Nadal Final

One Great Season

With apologies to the sterling standard set by One Great Season and its savvy audience — the tennis world's second major kicked off Sunday and I'm just submitting this piece — here's a super-quick look at what we can look forward to on the men's side in the brick dust this coming fortnight. (Check back Monday for my thoughts on the ladies):

A huge victory can already be counted by the American men, as lo and behold we have a whopping three Americans populating the draw (two of whom had to qualify no less). I type this with as much sarcasm as I do wistfulness, as the Stars and Stripes were as dominant at Roland Garros, admittedly our weakest surface, as any other nation during my entire youth. Now, alas, with Title IX having thoroughly guillotined boys' junior tennis in this country, we're left clinging to the hope that even one of our men will see the second week.

Save for, say, the rapture occurring in the 16th Arrondissement, who most certainly will see the latter half of the draw are the usual suspects of Rafael Nadal (Spain), Roger Federer (Switzerland) and Novak Djokovic (Serbia).

It's practically impossible to bet against Rafa, who's coming in 15-0 this season on the red stuff, claiming titles at Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid — the last of which saw him take down the ATP's top-ranked Federer in a fantastic 6-4, 7-6 (5) fisticuff. Federer's backhand is on fire, however, and if anyone knows how to push Rafa wide and stretch a match out against the fiery, athletic Mallorcan, it's Fed.

To make matters more challenging for the field, Nadal has transformed his serve to a considerably more offensive weapon. He's moved much closer to the center and is dictating the point straight away, then standing tighter to the baseline instead of six or seven feet back as he did even as recently as last year, hitting loopier ground strokes and allowing his opponent some semblance of a rhythm. This has been extremely effective in shortening rallies; quicker points mean short matches; short matches mean more time to rest; more time to rest means, well, you get the idea.

Additionally, he's switched strings from an obsolete, 15-year-old model to a modern, 17-gauge Babolat string for even more power. Perhaps the only thing that might interrupt his dominance is the $425,000 Richard Mille watch he's debuting this week in Paris. As a two-handed backhander myself, I know how hard that can be on wrist flexibility. Something tells me he's tested it.

Anyway, here's my extremely bold prediction: Rafael loses. Wait, I'm not finished — he loses one set in the entire tournament, to Federer, in the final, on the way to his fifth Coupe des Mousquetaires.

In 1989, Steve earned High School Tennis All-America honors. Since then, his life's gone straight downhill. Today, he is founder and chief creative officer of New York branding consultancy Brand Spanking New York. Be sure to give him a follow on Twitter — he's at @BrandSpankingNY.


Smiling Tiger Seems To Be Thinking: "I Got Away With It"

Tiger & Elin Woods

Special To One Great Season

Just as Tiger claimed to wonder how the Augusta practice-round patrons would receive him at the first tee this morning, I had no idea what to expect from Monday's press conference, his fourth interaction with the media since IdiotFest 2009 opened for business last Thanksgiving in the front seat of his Escalade. I can also admit I had zero expectations too.

Nothing Tiger's done so far -- the wooden, ingenuous, no-questions-allowed farce of a press conference he staged for select media personnel and friends (and his mother, who looked more sedated than Bob Geldof in "Pink Floyd The Wall") at his home clubhouse at Isleworth; Tom Rinaldi's playing of 20 Questions with Tiger in five minutes, which generated nothing new but endless ESPN replays and Rinaldi's heir-apparency as the next FedEx super-fast-talking guy; and a similar interview with Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel, who asked a few more relationship-centric questions but received as precious little as her ESPN counterpart -- appeared genuinely contrite, just annoyed.

(And we can't blame those two reporters for asking those questions. It's their job. They had to, though they also had to have known they were going to be the first two people in a long time who wouldn't be getting any from Tiger.)

But then, today, something finally changed. Tiger was laid-back, engaging, humble. Maybe it's because I'd much rather hear about golf than about another of the million pro athletes who cheat on their wives, but I saw a veil lifted. For the first time, he wasn't outwardly angry —- more a consequence of getting caught than of regret this whole time. He took the questions and accepted all responsibility like a man. Maybe it's because he has the "I was wrong" answers down cold by now, or the fact that he'd just played a practice round with the coolest guy ever, Freddy Couples, but he was different. He was ready.

He was relieved.

And when an inquiry about his dealings with Canadian HGH shill Dr. Anthony Galea arose, he didn't bristle with anger at the mere implication as he'd have done a few months ago. He just answered, a heretofore-novel approach. Good job, Tiger. Keep it up. That's called "credibility."

The one thing I did find a bit disingenuous, though, was how he claimed he was "blown away" by the gallery's reception this morning. Now, the fact that Tiger got caught, and the circumstances leading to his discovery (sending text messages to a dozen low-life moneygrubbers with arrogance and impunity), are the definition of sheer stupidity. But even he knows that no man on earth -- certainly not in or around golf, the essence of the "old boys' club" mentality -- is going to boo him for stepping out on his wife. Sorry to drop the news on you, ladies, but if anything, the guy's an even bigger stud to men out there. No male I know even talks about the cheating part, only the "getting busted" part. So I found this faux surprise a bit coy. No one would have had the Titleists to boo him out there today, and Tiger knew it.

And now that Day 1 of his return to the sport is behind him, there should be no questioning why he smiled and even laughed at times under the press tent today. There, in front of exactly 206 journalists, it all finally dawned on him: "I'm still a billionaire, I'm still married, and I'm still the best golfer on the planet."

"I got away with it."

Susi is the founder of the brand consultancy Brand Spanking New York and is a special contributor to OGS. Give him a follow on Twitter @BrandSpankingNY.


March Adness: Cheers To Dos Equis

If you're like us, you've probably got some opinions on the many commercials you absorbed (or ignored) in front of your television or computer watching the NCAA Tournament all weekend. That's why we thought we'd take a different route today and have once again asked Steve Susi, founder of branding consultancy Brand Spanking New York, to chime in with his thoughts on a few of the ads aired/streamed the most often during those many (oh, so many) timeouts.

Special To One Great Season

Of course, we all know the Super Bowl is the holy grail of football, and — aside from the self-absorbed ad industry itself — probably the only time and place where advertising is legitimately included in the main event. But long after the cocktail flu kept you home that fateful following Monday has faded, the month of March belongs to the high-profile NCAA Basketball Tournament, which has in its own right become a hugely important vehicle on the media calendar. For advertisers with new creative seeking a "captive audience" (if that even exists anymore outside of a jail cell) of college-educated, 18-to-59 year-old men to show it to, these few weeks of Madness represent the first reason to live since Drew Brees shocked the world with his admission that he was going to Disneyworld.

Over the course of this frenetic weekend, here are the five spots which appeared to be in heaviest rotation and their requisite critiques

Dos Equis, "Snow Monkeys", "Lady Luck", "Ice Fishing" (Euro RSCG)
Courtesy of Euro here in New York, the latest ad flight of the “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign from Dos Equis stands as one of the few beacons of creativity remaining, seemingly, on earth. Or at least the American TV ad landscape. His mother has a tattoo that reads "son." How much fun is it to handle this account? Must be great. Excellent scriptwriting (by now a constant), tasteful shooting, and A-plus editing render this marketing push the best in broadcast by far today. And what often goes uncelebrated in rare moments like these is how smart and gutsy the clients are. Talented creatives can be found in agencies all over the country (and world), but it’s only because of great clients that spots like these see the light of day. (Client-side marketing execs, this means you.)

Miller Lite "Love – L-L-Love" (DraftFCB)
In stark contrast to the above, this beer campaign succeeds only in its achievement of greater levels of embarrassment. Someone please tell me what DraftFCB and their clients at Miller Lite are thinking, assuming they are. We all know that it’s been the currency of beermakers for decades to prey on the young single guy’s inability to commit to relationships as fodder for their ads. But what research is showing men are now being forced to choose between the two? Not sure about your college, but in my experience, they were often found together in close quarters. Anyway the campaign isn’t funny, and worse, what the hell kind of alcoholic is your target that he’s ready to sacrifice his dog, mother, and okay-looking girlfriend for a bottle of see-thru beer? Bad, half-brained, insulting.

Southwest Airlines "Battle Cry" (GSD&M)
The Texan discount carrier is betting that the US traveler is so against bag fees that he'll select the friendly airline famous for it’s Cincinnati-Who-concert-bumrush-style seating process. That might be a stretch in my opinion, but whatever. What certainly will be a stretch is the public’s tolerance of seeing this spot 20 times every basketball game. The five-second shelf-life of the humor of outta-shape Joe Sixpacks removing their shirts to reveal “BAGS FLY FREE” painted across their collective chests is so predictable, but not insulting or anything like that. It’s just, now that ad inventory has plummeted throughout the TV world in favor of more digitally focused media budgets, the traditional advertisers left standing see their spots rotating over and over again during any given program, guaranteeing viewer fatigue and annoyance and multiplying exponentially its lack of surprise. This one included.

Capital One, "Ivan Brothers" (DDB Chicago)
“What’s in Your Mullet?” has to be one of the most universally despised campaigns in history. (The “Hands in Your Pocket” spot that ran in Canada is the high point, and the David Spade units were OK, I guess.) For nearly a decade we’ve been treated to nitwit dads and buffoon desert island castaways performing low-quality slapstick before delivering the same rhetorical question/tagline. (I’ll give them that, though — consistency is key to great branding; unfortunately for the world’s largest credit card issuer, so is interesting, relevant creative). But this new “Visigoths” push takes mediocrity to brand new heights of dumb. Our country is so litigious that no one can target anyone as the butt of a joke anymore because the client might be sued or flamed by some watchdog organization, so agencies are left to create stories around fictitious “people.” (See also Geico’s “Cavemen.”) Sure, this alleviates legal risk. But how much longer are we going to be subjected to these idiot Vikings (including Ogre from "Revenge of the Nerds") with Cockney accents putting change in their laptop disk drives, sniffing rental bowling shoes, putting a mace through the airport metal detector, bringing goats to the ski slope, and raising bearded children? Who wrote these things, seventh-graders? Enough already. I speak for the world when I beg of thee: please, please stop. With sprinkles on top.

HP, "Let’s Do Amazing" (72andSunny)
I want so badly for this new $40 million campaign for the computer giant from 72andSunny — a departure from HP's agency of record, San Francisco’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners — to be great, what with the casting of Kiwi comic genius Rhys Darby of "Flight Of the Conchords" and all, but they’ve underwhelmed. Smacking of Cisco’s current campaign, which uses Ellen Page to go around her hometown and explore the awe-inspiration that is Cisco, we see Darby barge in on Dr. Dre during a recording session, bumble with questions at a UPS facility, and touch things he shouldn’t in The Venetian’s security office. That’s it? Come on, guys. When the best bit you write in for a hilarious dude like Rhys is his little beat-boxish noises at the end of the Dre spot (which I do find genuinely funny), you’ve wasted a massive opportunity to separate yourself from other tech concerns like, lo and behold, Ellen and Cisco. I pray we see you flex your comedy-writing muscles (or let Darby do it) soon.

Be sure to give Susi a follow on Twitter. He's at @BrandSpankingNY.


Fashion Week Special: The Top 10 Looks In Sports

In honor of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2010 Collections, which kicks off here in New York on Thursday, Steve Susi — founder of branding consultancy Brand Spanking New York, and video and photography director at the previous 13 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks — takes a moment to list his Top Ten Looks in Sports for One Great Season. 

NOTE: To eliminate all bias, the author has excluded his favorites from consideration: Ohio State and all Ohio pro teams.

Toronto Maple Leafs

+ Coolest pro uniforms

Toronto Maple Leafs, hockey
*Honorable mention: San Diego Chargers’ powder blues

Not sure if it's our northern neighbors' penchant for understatement or the thinly veiled Canadian nationalism, but the Leafs' simple, unchanged-for-decades look is the definition of Walk softly but carry a big stick. And I don't care if you're a Montreal Canadien, you just gotta respect the fact they said Not on Tim Horton’s life are we going to use proper English and proceeded to mis-pluralize their mascot. Leaves? No way. LEAFS. Fantastic.

+ Coolest college uniforms

University of Michigan, football
*Honorable mentions: University of Texas, University of Iowa

Michigan Wolverines

So you may have read up top that I'm an Ohio State fanatic. How on earth then could I choose Meat-Chicken's uniforms as "Coolest"? Because I call a spade a spade. They're our archrivals, sure, but if those helmets and that basic contrast color combo generate half as much love in its fans hearts as it does hatred in mine, then it's done its job. Most certainly, U of M's Maize and Blue are the most recognized college colors on earth, and for good reason. They have more wins than any school in history, and way back in the days before Photoshop or Adweek, they knew that branding and visual differentiation could be just as important as winning in propelling a program to national prominence. When they brought all three together, it became nearly unbeatable. (Trying extremely hard not to bring up the fact that, as of this writing, it's been 2,270 days since the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes on the football field. Darn. I failed.)

Ana Ivanovic

+ Best-dressed female athlete

Ana Ivanovic, tennis

OK, ya caught me. She's smokin'. But whenever the press catches her in a bikini, at a post-match press conference or even picking up after her lap-dog on the sidewalks of Belgrade, Ana is absolutely stunning. A few years ago I scored third-row seats for her second-round match at the Open. I couldn’t feel my teeth for an hour. But there are a bunch of beautiful female athletes, right? Sure, but that alone doesn't win a gal the "best-dressed" prize. This one oozes elegance, style, and sex appeal like no one we've seen since Gabriela Sabatini. And unlike Anna Pornikova, she actually wins and stuff.

+ Best-dressed male athlete

David Beckham

David Beckham, soccer
*Honorable mention: Tom Brady, football

He’s got more product sponsorships than Tiger used to have, so maybe his look is the product of some stylist or something. If it is, or it’s his wife putting together his Garanimals, then my bad. But for a self-admitted dolt, Becks always takes a page out of Paul Smith’s book for a mix of Savile Row, Tanqueray bulldog, and "Snatch" gangmember. He just pulls it off — and even with that dumb faux-hawk phase he had a few years ago, his hairstyles seem to change all of Europe’s in about a day and a half. And Europeans don’t like anyone. Particularly the most-liked Europeans.

+ Best athlete-turned-fashion- designer

Bjorn Borg

Björn Borg, tennis

The Ice Man was the Anti-McEnroe during my 7- to 9-year-old age range, and boy did he piss me off. Never yelled, never smiled, never respirated as far as anyone knew. And when Mac finally beat him in the 1981 Wimbledon final, he calmly picked up his racquet bag, ignored the press, and walked away from pro tennis forever. The Swede was, in effect, a kind of character study for the Cold War — and for that matter Ivan Lendl, so I guess he was ahead of his time. As were his fashion label’s underwear magazine ads. I had a cardiac when I saw his line's first print spread. To this day I've never seen anything like them, and can't even link you to them online anywhere, so you can have a heart attack too. Suffice it to say they weren't kid-friendly, and focused more on what one does without underwear on than with it.

+ Best designer in sports

J. Lindeberg, golf

Finally someone broke down the barriers between golf and modern fashion. The dominant look for the younger and skinnier players on the PGA Tour is clearly European, with equal parts retro, techy and preppy that provides a fashion-forward contrast to Nike's boxy cuts, boring patterns and big fat logos. Sorry Craig Stadler, you're not invited to the J. Lindeberg party, and that's the point. Only the younger, fitter players can wear this stuff, which makes a brand statement all its own.

+ Best Athlete Brand-Named Shoe

Nike Mac Attack

Nike Mac Attack

John McEnroe, tennis
*Honorable mentions: Original Air Jordan, Michael Jordan, basketball; Stan Smith, tennis

Classic, cool, and for the first time ever, a mid-top shoe made specifically for tennis. This was the most American of designs from the most despised Yank on Tour. But their simplicity rendered them as acceptable on Centre Court at Wimbledon as easily as they could to a pub in King's Road. The original gray, white and black model even looked like it fell off a New York skyscraper. Great job, Mac. Now bring 'em back.

+ Coolest national team uniforms


Holland, soccer
*Honorable mention: USA Women’s Beach Volleyball

Until Puma took over — and summarily ruined — La Forza's kits, Italy's was hands-down the best kit in international sport. Now they're cheesy with tons of lines and shading all over the place. So now the mantel now belongs to the Dutch, whose famous orange and white uniforms (and occasionally the red, white and blue of the Netherlands' national flag) are instantly distinguished across the planet as the Clockwork Orange, a nod to their meticulous style of play. P.S. Hey Ivory Coast, get your own style, will ya?

+ Best-dressed coach

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola, FC Barcelona, soccer
*Honorable mentions: Mike Nolan ex-San Francisco Forty-Niners, football; José Mourinho, Inter Milan, soccer

This dude is as cool as he dresses — and he can back it up too. A native of Barcelona, he played for his hometown club FC Barcelona on a "dream-team" that brought home the team's first Euro Cup crown in 1992. He's now its manager, and prowling the sidelines in the coolest suits ever, he's only nabbed the Champions League crown, the European Treble and the UEFA Super Cup. And he's just getting started. Can't find the suit label he prefers, but they look like Brioni. I'd guess he wears only Italian suits, but then, Guardiola is such an all-things-Spain kinda guy, I wouldn't be surprised if they were Zara. Either way, he still looks like he could play 90 minutes without loosening his tie.

+ Coolest cheerleader uniforms

University of Southern California Trojans, football

USC Song Girls

Right on the cusp of too revealing for college cheerleaders (the tops are tight but not too tight; the skirts are short but too much so), the classic long sleeves and solid white with garnet and gold trim have become the trademark of the USC Song Girls, having graced the sidelines for decades without undue change or getting slutty. The founder of the Song Girls, Bothwell Lindley, summed it all up with a quote: "Have pride without arrogance and confidence without conceit." Sounds like good fashion advice to me.

Addendum: And because I was taught to keep my mouth shut if I couldn’t say something nice, I won’t approach Rafael Nadal’s capri pants, Oregon football’s taste in uniform design, CBC’s Don Cherry or the wardrobe selection of 90 percent of everyone on ESPN.

Be sure to give Susi a follow on Twitter. He's at @BrandSpankingNY.

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