- U-17 World Cup Final. About as entertaining a nil-nil gets. Nigeria and Spain both displayed astonishing technical ability for a bunch of teenagers and the teams played some quick, attractive stuff. Chances may have been at a premium, but that's de rigueur for cup finals and there were some spectacular efforts from distance and a few good saves from the keepers. It's always a shame to end on penalties, but a memorable final to be sure.
- DC United Takes Charge. Three games in a week against three of their four rivals for the regular season crown, and United emerge with two wins and a draw to set the stage for a run at the Supporters' Shield. Despite the final being in our house, the Shield has to be priority number one right now as it offers the same rewards as MLS Cup does. I'd rather bank on winning the league than chance the vagaries of a cup competition. Besides, winning the Shield guarantees United home field throughout their playoff run, so in effect, winning the Shield is actually a big step towards winning MLS Cup. The only two worries on the horizon are: (1) Copa Sudamericana may prove a distraction and (2) we need to start pulling hard for the Rapids and Crew as a 1 v 8 would land us with the Fire at the moment, and they've always been a bit of a bugbear for us.
- No Fear. My two favorite performances from the US loss to Brazil were those of Dempsey and Bradley. Both players showed no fear and no hesitation in trying to impact the game. Sure Dempsey isn't the most accomplished of forwards, and Bradley did give away the late penalty, but the courage to express yourself upon the game is what some other, more high profile, folks in the US camp seem to be lacking (see below).
- The Trouble with Landon. You can see how terrific a player he has the potential to be in spurts. He has skill, vision, and quickness - all that seems to be lacking is a bit of fire, the drive to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and bend it to his will. The frustration is that I think he genuinely has the ability, the physical gifts, and the vision to be a world-class player, but something is missing. Perhaps that nebulous "testicular fortitude" that everybody's favorite Geordie is so high on?
- FIFA Money-Grubbing. Don't get me wrong - I love international futbol. But for the good of the game and its players, I think FIFA needs to scale back the friendlies and cut down on the number of qualifying fixtures for the major tournaments. Sure they're great fun, but when your show ponies are constantly pulling up lame, it's time to reassess the situation. Spread things out a bit - make the international fixture something special again, a match with meaning that players can take pride in pulling on the national shirt for, rather than a watered down, mundane trial - rather than "just another game".
- Call the Exorcist. Dave O'Brien's Reign of Terror has gone on for over a year now with no sign of improvement. By the love of all that is holy - there has to be one competent play-by-play guy out there in the sportscasting universe who was raised on, understands, and loves the game. Based on FSC and GolTV continuing to go with the likes of Max Bretos, Lindsey Dean, Phil Schoen, and the spawn of Satan himself, Christian Miles "of crap spewed in a frothing, reeking, polluted deluge of inanity the likes of which drives sane, courageous men to drink, despair, and the ultimate annihilation of self rather than continuing to exist on the same corporeal plain as this Sultan of Senselessness, this Vizier of Vapidity, this Lord of the Ludicrous, Duke of Ditz, Prince of the Puerile, Marquis de Moronity, Dauphin of Daft, Earl of the Absurd..." Breathe, one deep one after another. It's all going to be okay. You will wake one day and this will all be but a bad dream.