World Cup: Who to Cheer For (or who I cheer for anyway)

For me to be really interested in a football match, I have to decided who I am going to be cheering for.  It’s not enough for love of the game, you have to be emotionally involved with the outcome.  I came up with a little spreadsheet that accurately reflected how I make choices on who to cheer for.  This is a little different than my attitude in the Women’s World Cup where I cheer solely based on what is best for the US.  I ranked them based on the things I care about.

  1. If your are related to the US Women’s National Team (which is to say the USMNT) then I award you five points.  It’s nearly a trump card.
  2. If you are in the same region (CONCACAF) as the US, you get one point.
  3. If you’re on Continental Europe, you lose one point.
  4. If you speak an Iberian Language (functionally Spanish or Portuguese), you get one point.
  5. If you’re uniforms are a pretty shade of sky blue, you get one point (Uruguay and Argentina).
  6. You get a point for every player I know and like.
  7. You lose a point if you were an Axis power in World War II.
  8. Any ties are broken by Five Thirty Eight’s Soccer Power Index — I will always cheer for the underdog, all other things being equal.

So I fed all that information into a spreadsheet and very happily got a list that put the teams that I knew I liked or hated in the right place, and gave me some insight on how to apply my preferences to teams I didn’t ever think much about.  If you’d asked me before I made this whether I’d cheer for Netherlands or Japan, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you.  But now I’ve got numbers telling me what to do.  As you can see, if it wasn’t for the association with the US Women’s team, the US would only be 6th on my list, and France, Germany, and Italy, who I only cheer against, are all at the bottom.  They really should be tied, because I can’t imagine cheering for any of them.  On principle.  (Thank you England for these wholly irrational prejudices).  That said, I love to watch Germany play, they make beautiful soccer.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 12.22.50 PM

 

For those who can’t read the chart:

  1. United States
  2. Uruguay
  3. England
  4. Spain
  5. Mexico
  6. Argentina
  7. Honduras
  8. Costa Rica
  9. Brazil
  10. Ecuador
  11. Colombia
  12. Chile
  13. Algeria
  14. Australia
  15. Iran
  16. Cameroon
  17. South Korea
  18. Nigeria
  19. Ghana
  20. Ivory Coast
  21. Portugal
  22. Netherlands
  23. Japan
  24. Croatia
  25. Greece
  26. Switzerland
  27. Russia
  28. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  29. Belgium
  30. France
  31. Italy
  32. Germany

Oh, you want to know who to cheer for in all the matches?  Many of the first matches have already passed, but I am going to put the whole list here.  Will update when we have knowledge on the next rounds.  A reminder that this isn’t meant to be a prediction of who will win, just who your heart should belong to for ~2hrs. Bold is who I cheered/will cheer for and gray is games that had passed at the time of posting this.

Brazil v Croatia
Mexico v Cameroon
Spain v Netherlands
Chile v Australia
Colombia v Greece
Ivory Coast v Japan
Uruguay v Costa Rica
England v Italy
Switzerland v Ecuador
France v Honduras
Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina
Germany v Portugal
Iran v Nigeria
Ghana v USA
Belgium v Algeria
Brazil v Mexico
Russia v South Korea
Australia v Netherlands
Cameroon v Croatia
Spain v Chile
Colombia v Ivory Coast
Uruguay v England
Japan v Greece
Italy v Costa Rica
Switzerland v France
Honduras v Ecuador
Argentina v Iran
Germany v Ghana
Nigeria v Bosnia-Herzegovina
South Korea v Algeria
USA v Portugal
Belgium v Russia
Australia v Spain
Netherlands v Chile
Cameroon v Brazil
Croatia v Mexico
Italy v Uruguay
Costa Rica v England
Japan v Colombia
Nigeria v Argentina
Bosnia Herzegovina v Iran
Honduras v Switzerland
Ecuador v France
USA v Germany
Portugal v Ghana
South Korea v Belgium
Algeria v Russia

Racism in Sports — It’s not just the men

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of the US Women’s National Soccer Team.  This past weekend there was a friendly between the US and Canada and one of the American players was the subject to racial slurs while she was on the field.

Sydney Leroux was born in Canada to a Canadian mother and an American father and wanted, from a very young age, to play for the US team.  This is undoubtedly because the US team would have been by far the greatest team in the world during her formative years and has developed quite the legacy.  (I would argue that Brazil has the greatest women’s player of all time).

Sydney is also not white.

So, last year when she played in Vancouver she got greeted not only with taunts about her being a Judas for going to play for the US but also with racial slurs.  She gets these slurs on a regular basis online as well.

Anyway, she scored an easy goal this weekend in overtime and pointed to her US Crest on her jersey and got a yellow card for it.  One of the tamest actions I’ve ever seen to earn a yellow card, and really, in response to the boos she’d gotten all game long and for her entire career, it’s so tame that I am surprised it earned notice at all.  But there you are.

After the game she went to twitter to say: “When you chant racial slurs, taunt me and talk about my family don’t be mad when I shush you and show pride in what I represent. #america

So everyone’s in a bit of an uproar about it all.  I always thought Canadians would be better about this sort of thing than the US is, and I am even more surprised to see it so prevalent in the women’s game.  But there we are.  I suppose the most important thing to get out of this is that Sydney’s twitter feed is terribly amusing.

https://twitter.com/sydneyleroux/status/341339503425896448

Blame Canada! USWNT liveblog

uswnt-canada-june-2-2013-toronto

6:37 And the game is over.  What have we learned in this rematch?

Canada are sore losers and USWNT is the best.  BAM.

6:36 Leroux, the Canadian who is now American, scores!

USA 3 – CAN 0

6:35 Camada still pushing pretty hard.  I imagine it’d be a major morale boost if they could get something out of these last few minutes, but the US is shutting them down.

6:34 A minute into 3 minutes of overtime.

6:33 Great cross from Canada leading to the only shot from Canada, but way, way off.

6:32 US basically playing keep-away with a few seconds and injury time left.

6:30 Corner comes to nothing.  But they come back at goal and earn themselves another corner.  USA has gotten so many corners this game.

But this one, like the others, doesn’t yield much.

6:28 US a bit sloppy with passes, Canada trying to be aggressive.

Corner earned for the US.

6:25 83 minutes and Canada has yet to get a shot off, much less one on goal.  They look much better than that stat would imply.

6:24 Press on for Morgan.  I guess they feel comfortable only 2 goals up with 10 minutes left in the game?

6:22 Abby gets in a tussle with Buchanan. And she’s all smiles.  Just grinning broadly.  It’s lovely.

6:21 Alex Morgan is in the top 10 scorers all time for USWNT and she’s quite young.  Fantastic.

All I could really ask for is a goal for Abby for her birthday.

6:20 Straight into the wall.  TAKE THAT, CANADA

6:18 Foul called against Mewis.  And it’s totally bullshit.  On the edge of the penalty box.  Well dove, I suppose

6:16 Leroux on for Heath.  Leroux was born in Canada but plays for the US.  So, she’s not popular with this crowd.

6:14 And on the rebound from the corner MORGAN BAMBAM

US 2 – CAN 0

6:13 Canada comes right back at the US and looking pretty dangerous.  Another sub from them and a well-earned corner for them.

6:12 MORGAN!!!

US 1 – CAN 0

6:11 Great chance for Canada, but the ball has no pace when it’s finally shot.

6:10 Another substitute for Canada.

6:09 Canada gets a little something together up front, but nothing much comes from it.

6:07 Nothing from the corner.  My TV is being annoying.  There’s a storm.

Foul means a good threatening position for a free kick, but hot damn that Canadian goalkeeper is there like BAM.

6:05 Beautiful run forward by Morgan, passes it in to Cheney, but Cheney can’t do much with it.  But!  Another corner.

Mewis is on now, which means we’re losing the awesome Crystal Dunn.

6:04 30 minutes left.  Canada subs a new forward.

6:02 O’Reilly offside.

6:01 Morgan gets up, but wastes her cross.

Pretty impressive that US has ensured that Canada has yet to find a way to get a shot off.

6:00 The pressure from the US has definitely gone up a notch.

Cheney tries from distance, but no pace, not on target.

5:58 No real threat during that corner, but it earns them a second.

Short corner, whistles goes off, retake it.

Fantastic header, great pace, but the goalkeeper is there.

5:56 Great passing, blocked, gets the US a corner

5:55 Alex Morgan gets past all the defenders, looks like a great opportunity, but the goalkeeper comes out and is stopped.  Tripped up.  Should have shot it.  Too many touches.  Come on ladies, get it together.

5:53 Morgan gets off a shot on goal with absolutely no pace on it. Easily stopped.

5:52 Can’t help but wonder how this game would look different with Pia.  Not sure they’d be playing better, Pia definitely had some weaknesses as a coach.  But whatever mojo the US had under her seems to be understated throughout this game.

5:50 Canada come forward, which the crowd gets very excited about.  Again, nothing comes from it.

Is it weird that in my mind the US is a bunch of individual players, but Canada is pretty much just a bunch of red avatars fror Canada.

Sinclair called offside. (See what I did there?)

5:48 Abby mentioned that it’s quite windy and that they’ll be playing with the wind during the second half.  So let’s hope that makes a difference for them.

5:47 Players are back on the field

5:45 Some stats for you, Canada:US

Shots: 0:3

Shots on goal: 0:1

Fouls: 7:4

5:36 From Tumblr

1st half thoughts:

  • Finally seeing the centennial kits.  Long overdue and I’m glad it’s not white shorts.
  • Those red kits are exceptionally bright.
  • Can we put something on our passes please?
  • I thought McLeod was hurt?
  • Canada is bunching in the middle on defense, if we get it outside we can make shit happen.  
  • OMG guys Tobin can get aggressive alert the press!!…Calm yourselves.
  • Stay on your feet Abby.
  • Cheney I could watch you hit long balls all day.
  • The counting is awesome, some of you need to get your panties out of your ass.
  • Missing KO’s overlapping runs.
  • The CB’s aren’t as on point as I would like, but not really detrimental either.
  • I love how Tobs and HAO can seamlessly switch sides. 
  • Yeah Dunn totally can’t hold her own against bigger players.  Hush yo moths doubters.
  • Cheney will cut you.
  • I love seeing Barnie come off her line like that, not usually her thing.
  • HAO I missed you last year, I’m glad you’re back :)

0-0 at the half

5:32 US not really playing as well as one might hope, but it’s a very hostile crowd.  They don’t look panicky, but they also don’t look as organized as Canada.

5:30 Nothing from the corner but Canada attacks again.  Not much action resulting and the US is back in solid possession.

5:28 Barnhart comes well out of the goal to stop a promising attack from Sinclair.  Very nicely done, but gives away a corner.

5:26 Good pressure near goal from the US, but they aren’t really coming close to scoring.

Canada steals it in the US half, but US gets it back quickly.  Again over-passes it forward and loses it.  Calm down ladies, strategy is just as important as aggression.

5:25 Nice series of passes from the US under intense pressure from Canada.

US gets forward, but good defense from Canada.

5:22 This is really what I like to call an Unfriendly.

Injury, Dunn kicks a ball into a Canadian’s temple.

5:21 Second corner in a row for US.  They spend a bit more time setting up for it.  Great deal of shoving.  Nothing comes of it, again.

5:19 Ooh almost a beautiful situation.  Dunn gets a great cross but the header from O’Reilly is blocked.  They earn a corner.  Nothing from that.  But they earn another corner.

5:17 This game has been very physical.  Canada has quite a few fouls already.  Their 5 midfielders are really keeping the attacks rare and not very solid.  They don’t seem to have a real offensive energy going yet.

5:16 And nothing comes from the corner.  The Canadian goalkeeper is doing quite well.

5:15 Wambach again denied.

Dunn wins us a corner.  I LOVE HER.

5:13 US free kick from midfield comes to nothing.  Canada threatens, but it’s cleared.

5:10 The ussoccer.com live coverage either is not updating correctly, or the play-by-play suffers a 5 minute delay.  That’s forever!

5:09 Another foul on the part of Canada, but the US fails to make anything of it.  Some back and forth.

US giving it away with some sloppy long passes, but tend to get it back, so I guess you can’t complain too much.

5:07 Canada apparently benefitted from the “unfair” loss and finishing with bronze.  The injustice made the nation really come behind the team.

Canada is being a little more aggressive now. Action on the US side.

I am loving this Crystal Dunn lady.  She’s aggressive, young, and fantabulous.

5:05 Barnhart easily handles the corner and the action moves quickly to the other side of the field.  Nothing from the American attack, Canada bringing it back through midfield.

The US offense looks a little sloppy in their offense.  Aggressive, but not really strategic.

5:03 Threat from Canada leads to Rampone kicking it out of danger, but giving away a corner.

5:02 Wambach earns a free kick in a dangerous area, but awkward angle.  Lots of jostling, the ref is trying to keep it calm.  O’reilly takes it.

Nothing interesting comes of it.

4:59 It’s very depressing to me that there’s no large online commentariat devoted to this game.  It’s way more exciting during the World Cup.  Come on people, what’s more fun on a Sunday than this?

Canada nicely picked off a pass, but Barnhart (Goalie) had it under control.

4:55 US a lot more offensively threatening, but not in any sort of convincing way.

Abby apparently is excited to be the enemy, according to the announcers.

4:54 Wambach threatening well again, but nothing comes of it.

4:53 Wambach gets up, but her attempt at a cross goes straight to the goalkeeper’s hands.  She and Alex Morgan seem to be connecting well, though.

4:52 It’s a shame that it takes so long for rematches to happen in the international women soccer.  I mean, rematch between Canada and USA shouldn’t take a year.

Nice cross by Canada.  They seem to be stronger in the midfield than I remember them.

4:50 And we’re a few minutes in and the teams are still warming up.  Some younger players on the field for the US which is nice to see, as our team is a bit old.  Nothing exciting happening just yet.

4:45 Info from the official blog:

  • The USA-Canada match will be broadcast live on ESPNews at 4:30 p.m. ET. It will be the USA’s first match in Toronto since May 25, 2009, a 4-0 U.S. victory at BMO Field. Fans can also follow along on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on Twitter at @ussoccer_WNT.

  • Abby Wambach is on 155 goals and is just three away from tying Mia Hamm on the world’s all-time scoring list. Canada’s Christine Sinclair comes into the game with 145 career goals, meaning the duo has scored exactly 300 goals between them.

  • The USA is ranked #1 in the world. Canada is tied for #7 with England.

  • The USA is 6-0-2 in 2013. Canada is 4-3-2 in the 2013.

– See more at: http://www.ussoccer.com/social/wnt-blog.aspx#plckblogpage=BlogPost&plckpostid=Blog%3Ad64c9a0e-f4da-40cf-ab0a-d80aab1b0a00Post%3Af4b2cbe5-7ec5-4fe3-9f2b-ebc54cdee46d

4:40 So, I just finished vaguely following the US v Germany men’s game, which we won, but it served only to prepare me for the US vs Canada WOMEN’S game.  Which is starting right now.  Just as soon as they get this whole anthem situation.

Apparently the game sold out in less than an hour because Canada is pretty awesome.  And they’re pissed at being beaten by the US during the Olympics.  Isn’t it awesome that they care?!

TAM Sunday: I give a presentation to a zillion people

I got up early to get ready to see the papers, and to make sure I was there to watch everyone else’s papers because they usually aren’t crowded.  TAMmers leave in droves on Sunday before the event is over and the papers were really poorly advertised this year.  There was no program, there was no schedule that anyone had access to, our names weren’t printed anywhere, certainly our subjects weren’t printed anywhere.  It was poorly done, I have to say — we’re not headliners, but we are people who still had to pay despite the fact that we’re talking.  The least they could have done is put our names somewhere so people would know what they were listening to.

Anyway, I went to the papers.  I was fairly nervous, but it was OK, I was the last to go, so I had to sit through 6 other papers before it was my turn and, unfortunately, the paper before me ate into my time a little, so I had to shorten mine up on the fly.  Which was also fine, because I could see anything thanks to the lights reflecting off of my glasses, so I couldn’t really read my notes anyway.

It went over very well.  The presentation was about the importance of using emotion and recognizing emotion in discussions, using the failure of the LGBT side in the Prop 8 campaign as an example of how emotional messanging works.  There’s a huge tone debate in the movement at the moment, for those of you who don’t remember DBAD, because some people think that other people are too mean or confrontational.  The point of my speech was to say that emotional content is one of our most useful tools, and being a dick creates an emotional response.  It’s a useful tool in the tool box.  But most importantly, just because the movement is about logic and rationality that doesn’t mean that ignoring emotion is the right way to go about convincing others — ignoring human emotion is irrational.  Including within the movement — skeptics are not immune from being human, we should start taking that into account better when we argue.

I got a large applause when I was done, and after I left the stage a little crowd of people came over to thank me or talk with me about the issues.  It was very cool.  I was expecting some backlash — perhaps from being on the internet for too long — I thought some people would tell me that emotions have no place in rational debates or that they didn’t appreciate my assumption that everyone in the room was pro-gay rights, but the responses were great.

I was too keyed up to sit through the next presentation, especially as the World Cup Final was about to take place, so I just went into the hallway and talked to people who came up to me to say thanks about my presentation.  To pat myself on the back a little, I’m going to write some of the Twitter responses:

kefox: Great talk this morning on communicating w/emotion. Our side is smarter & really ought to be the Jedi masters of this.

Tasutari: Ashley could easily have given a full talk – good slides, good content, well presented.  Plus, there was a Joss Whedon quote.

charlesj: Ashley tells us what we need to hear, continuing from Tavris’ talk yesterday

jennifurret: Ashley nailed it on using emotions when arguing skepticism.  Sometimes you need to be a dick!

TCTheater: Ashley is kicking ass and taking names.  Excellent capstone to papers segment.

SkeptiCareBear: Propaganda bad, but lack of all emotion worse.  Good talk by Ashley.

StevenTheWonky: Ashley is kicking ass.

ArcheoWebby: A presenter that knows how to use a computer.  Nice.  Good Job Ashley.

So that was awesome.  Then I went to watch the soccer game and it was so depressing, partially because there was no food at the bar and I was starving to death while also watching the US kill themselves — I’m happy for Japan, but we lost that game because we made a lot of stupid, careless mistakes and couldn’t get shots on Target.  My heart goes out to Abby Wambach.

Then I heard the end of the diversity in skepticism panel, which I sort of lost interest in thanks to DJ seeming to think that getting conservatives and religious people in the movement should be some sort of a priority.  I’m with Jamila on the whole getting active about causes that skeptic people should be able to see are ridiculous — the war on drugs, the prison policy.

Sean Faircloth gave essentially the same speech he’d given at the SCA Summit and it went over very well.  He’s a very good cheerleader.

Then there was the closing remarks from Randi and we were done.  I ran into Randi in the hallway and thanked him for letting me speak and he said he’d heard I’d done very well.  I’m sure he was just saying that, but it was still awesome.  I went down to the Del Mar and hung out with a lot of people who were still there and then went to Penn and Teller over at the Rio.  Boy are Las Vegas cabs expensive, by the way.  We were in the first seat in the Mezzanine, which was actually excellent because it was easier to see how they were doing the tricks.  A lot of their tricks have been on their show or on other shows, but it was still a lot of fun.  And then someone in the line for cabs recognized me and thanked me for my talk, so people at the Rio cab line probably thought I was some important person.  Buahaha.

Then I packed and went to bed.

Monday, I got on the airplane and swallowed my crown.  And I’m freaking out about it.  Yep.

Women’s World Cup: Weekend Summary: Insanity

Wow, what an insane weekend. So much overtime, so many surprises.

France defeated Australia with no surprises, except that Australia’s defense is even worse than we thought. A lot of people are saying that the Matildas have it in them to be a contender next World Cup, but they’ve got to majorly change their defense to pull that off.

In a huge shocker, heavy favorites Germany actually lost to Japan in one of the most surprising upsets in WWC history. Germany was expected to take home its third world cup in a row, especially considering the home field advantage, and instead they didn’t even make it to the semis.

Japan dominated the game, but didn’t actually score in regular time, despite their incredible possession percentage. They scored finally in the 108th minute, shocking the German crowd who couldn’t accept the way the wind was blowing. This is the first time they’ve ever defeated a European side in the World Cup, and if this didn’t make a hero out of the incredible Sawa, then nothing could. Unfortunately, because Sweden won against Australia, Germany won’t be going to the Olympics next year, which is absolutely absurd. Europe sends the two last standing teams in the WWC to the Olympics, rather than having a qualifying tournament, meaning that their best team isn’t going next year, which is legitimately a real shame, though I can’t say I feel anything but joy for Japan after this game.

France and England played an intense game that went all the way to PKs, a rarity in WWC matches. Although Sunday’s US vs Brazil game would prove to be a much more insanely intense game, France vs England looked like it would end up the best game of the tournament. France dominated play, but England’s goalkeeper kept them in the game and England scored in the second half. England then questionably used all three of its substitutions in the last ten minutes of regular time and France scored with just two minutes left, taking the game into extra time. Neither team scored so it went to PKs, where England lost 4-3.

Hope Powell, the England coach, is rumored to be stepping down after accusing her team of cowardice. Apparently none of her team stepped forward to volunteer to take the Penalty Kicks, except the two who ended up missing them — one was exhausted, and one was playing her first WWC game — but since no one else was volunteering, they did. Probably not the most political way of dealing with the situation, but it was a hard loss.

And then there was US vs Brazil. What a game. I think I’m still recovering from the adrenaline. 2 minutes into the game, the US forced an own goal on poor Daiane, whose head must be hanging low today. The US went on to dominate the game for most of the first half and into the second. And then the referee dominated the game.

I tend not to get upset at calls, I usually get upset at the lack of instant replay, which allows bad calls by fallible eyes to go unchecked. Marta, five time player of the year aka the female Pele, was going in towards the goal and facing a completely fair challenge by Buehler, but the ref decided it was a foul — it very clearly wasn’t on replay. Buehler got a red card and sent off in the 66th minute, meaning the US went on to play a man down for the next hour, and Brazil got a Penalty Kick. For a foul that wasn’t committed, mind you.

The unbelievably awesome Hope Solo blocked the PK, but the ref decided that someone was off their line (another bad call) and gave Solo a yellow card (a truly disgustingly bad call) and forced the PK to be retaken (seriously vomit inducing). Solo did not beat Marta’s shot, and Brazil came up for a tie.

And then something amazing happened, the crowd in Germany decided they hated Marta and Brazil. I mean, really despised them because of how unfair the calls were. It is amazing at any time when a US team is liked overseas, but this was brilliant. Every time Marta touched the ball the entire crowd booed, hissed, and whistled. She was like a horrible villain on the field.

In a beautiful attack by the US on Brazil’s goal, they got called offsides when they were well onside, and immediately after offsides wasn’t called on Brazil, who made a goal. Thanks to horrible calls, Brazil had a second goal, and the US was down by one.

And then Brazil got nasty, they started taking time when they didn’t need it. A player who wasn’t hurt crumpled to the ground when no one was around her in the most spectacularly cynical move I’ve seen to run out the clock, a move that makes Italy and France look like they hardly take dives at all. She stayed down for three or four minutes and got stretchered off the field. The moment play resumed, she jumped off the stretcher and joined the game. The ref only gave her a yellow card, but I would have sent that horrible woman off with a red and a severe talking to.

The German crowd started chanting USA! USA!

They added on 3 minutes of injury time to the game, taking them over the 120 minute mark and, in a truly unbelievable moment, Rapinoe sent a massive pass forward and Wambach headed it in with less than a minute of play left. It was incredible.

So it went into PKs on the anniversary of the 1999 final in Pasadena, where the US won in PKs and everyone was confident that the US was going to pull off the miracle comeback. And they did, thanks to perfect shots from all of the US and a brilliant save by Hope Solo, who is awesome, against poor poor Daiane who made the mistake of looking at the goalie. You never look at the goalie during PKs.

It was the most epic footy I’ve ever seen.