Tuesday, June 29, 2010

World Cup Tragedy

There are things far worse than your team losing in the World Cup.

If you are in New Orleans this weekend and have even kicked a soccer ball, go to Louisiana Avenue Field in New Orleans on Saturday from 3-7 p.m. Donations will be taken upon admittance; players will be charged $25 each. For more information, go to http://neworleanscoedsoccer.com/.

Monday, June 28, 2010

U.S. Men's National Team: Who Raised Their Stock At The World Cup

America has lost and exited the World Cup. As the players head to vacations and a little time off before returning to their clubs, there is always recriminations and reflections. But I want to look ahead in the next couple of posts.

First up is the summer transfer window which will open up July 15. There are some players who, when combined with the club form, really improved their value this summer and moves are possible.

1). Michael Bradley. Can we finally put to rest the notion that Michael is only in the line-up because his daddy is the coach? Over the course of four games, only Steve Cherundolo could come close to the consistency Bradley showed in this World Cup. Bradley is not a holding midfielder, he is not necessarily just an attacking midfielder, although he demonstrated that skill time and again. If you watch Bradley, he comes deep to pick up the ball and carry it forward. He sprays passes around that shows he sees the game that perhaps only Landon Donovan can see for the Americans. He is strong on the ball, strong in the air and shows that he is on the cusp of being a world class midfielder. What I think Bradley's greatest strength is his ability to make that late run that slices through the defense (see his goal against Slovenia and his strikes against Algeria). Combine that slashing run skill and his ability to strike from distance and to scrap it up in the box on set pieces, I can see Bradley, in the right set up, as being a 15 goal scorer and killer ball control midfiedler.

2). Benny Feilhaber. Feilhaber showed that he can control the ball, is comfortable on the ball and can be a game changer. His attitude and work ethic were suspect when he was with Derby County, which led to him being dropped by Derby County and leaving to play in Denmark, a lateral move at best. His form dipped at the same time and he dropped off Bob Bradley's radar, but he seems to have turned a personal corner and is working well. He did very, very well in his appearances, getting on the ball and moving it around in such a way as Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore and others could cut apart a defense. Feilhaber could do better on the defensive side of the ball, but I don't think it is a total liability.

3). Maurice Edu. Bob Bradley clearly likes Ricardo Clark, but when Edu was on the field, the U.S. were far more dangerous. Edu is naturally a defensive, holding midfielder, which allows Michael Bradley, Donovan and Dempsey to do their best work on attack. But Edu also shows that he can pass the ball around, and is getting better at it, and read an attack well enough to snuff out the counter attack. But Edu also shows well on attack, particularly set pieces.

4). Landon Donovan. Donovan made a statement with this tournament. Combined with his performance at Everton this winter and with his LA Galaxy form, Donovan showed that he can play at the highest level and can show that he can put a team on his back and literally drag them back into the game. His new maturity and emotion shows that he is a leader both on and off the field. He has all the tools, the soccer brain, the passing, the touch, the speed and the fitness to make an impact. Now that he has matured as a man, a leader and a player, Landon will be for the off perhaps in July (which I think he should) or in the winter. He is legitimate $10 million dollar transfer player.

5). Jozy Altidore. This might be a little suspect and sure to gain a little criticism, but Altidore at Hull and Jozy for the U.S. are two different players. If you can find a set up where Jozy Altidore is not set up as a target striker, you can have a forward that can make an impact. Jozy has the strength and speed to play off someone, and the skill to get behind players. Does he need some work on his touch? Yes. Is he spotty in his performance? Yes. Is he developmentally behind other world class strikers? Yes. But Altidore did work hard, moved off the ball well enough to make a nuisance of himself. Altidore has improved in the past few months and as long as he keeps his temper in check, he can be an impactful player.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is Open

About six months ago or so, I saw on Build It Bigger on the Science channel an episode on the construction of the Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore. I was amazed at the architecture and the engineering.

Now, I am impressed with the result as the hotel is now open. Check out the photos of the Infinity edge pool on the top of the hotel.

Funny Photo

Go Check out the Emotisun.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Say It Ain't So!

Liverpool set to announce Roy Hodgson as manager within 24 hours?Losing Roy Hodgson to become the England manager, but I can't stomach the notion of him going to Liverpool.

Say it ain't so Roy!

An end to fiscal stimulus?

One can hope. Could the concept of big bailout packages be coming to an end? Maybe, but will it. Sure, it is a situation where the public's willingness to accept deficits now to ease the blow is being tempered by the fear of being unable to pay the bill later or passing the bill on to later generations. But part of the problem is politics itself.
It's partly Obama's own fault. He hasn't convinced Americans that last year's giant stimulus actually created many jobs. Nonpartisan economists say the stimulus saved or created at least 1.2 million jobs and probably more, but many voters don't believe all that spending had any effect at all.

That's partly because so much of the stimulus was invisible, in the form of tax cuts and aid to states. But it's also because our wonky president, for all his policy-designing brilliance, tends to neglect the mundane blocking and tackling of politics. Sure, Obama has talked a blue streak about the importance of the stimulus — but when was the last time you saw him in a hard hat, talking with a construction worker who got a job thanks to the plan?
I was always skeptical of big bailouts, but it true that the Obama Administration has failed to politically sell the need. Add to that the favoritism that the bailouts have shown, particularly toward public sector labor unions, and the average American is no longer on board, even if they are in a state that is struggling.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hate to Say I Told You So, But I Told You So

ObamaCare threatens your health plan:
Late last week saw the first leaks of the administration's draft regulations for imple menting the ObamaCare law -- and everything is playing out just as the critics warned.

The 3,000-odd pages of legislation left most of the really important (and controversial) policy decisions to the regulations that government agencies were told to issue once the bill passed. Now that those regs are starting to take shape, it's clear that the Obama team is using its new power to exert tight control over the payment and delivery of all formerly "private" health insurance.

The ObamaCare law references the Secretary of Health and Human Services almost 2,200 times and uses the phrase "the secretary shall" more than 725. Each reference requires HHS to set new rules on medical care, giving control to an existing federal office or one of 160 new agencies that the bill created.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (who was once the Kansas state-insurance commissioner) has taken to these tasks with zeal. In some circles, she's now known as the nation's "insurance regulator in chief."

She's starting off by applying new regs to health plans offered by large employers -- even though these costly rules were supposedly only going to apply to plans sold in the state insurance "exchanges" that don't get created until 2014. This twist is spelled out in an 83-page draft of a new regulation that leaked late last week.

Bottom line: Sebelius means to dictate what your insurance plan must look like almost from day one, no matter how you get your coverage.
Next bottom line: first comes regulation then comes rationing. It is as inevitable as the sun rising in the east. Regulations cost money, when plans start costing more, the government will respond with price controls. Price controls won't lower the actual costs (just the price paid) and in the end the only way to stop the cost spiral is with rationing.

Told you so.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/you_re_losing_your_plan_O2H1EFmYlHSoQmqp48uDHI#ixzz0qppiDTaS

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

World Cup

I have to admit, in the past I may not have been as excited for the World Cup since U.S. 1994 as I am now. I can't really pinpoint why, but something about this World Cup just has me really jazzed up. World Cup 2002 was hard, I was in law school and had a young baby (and the 12 time difference didn't help either). Germany 2006 was a bit more involved, but when the U.S. crashed out after stinking up the joint in the group stage, I was not as involved--although the final was spectacular!.

No, for some reason I am really ginned up about this World Cup. Part of it could be that it is taking place in South Africa, the first time in Africa. Part of it could be that I have been following the game much more closely than I have in the past. Maybe it is that now I am older and no longer rue the fact that I may have wasted my game as a young man (although objectively, I was never that good to make the World Cup Team). Maybe it is my children are now old enough to see and appreciate the game (although my oldest is not that into the game, but my 4 year old is almost as excited as me--but probably can't sit through a game right now).

So the U.S. will open against England--and maybe that helps. The history between the sides, the political relationship, the fact that so many people in America follow the Premier League. I have spent some time thinking about going to a bar to watch the game--but I don't know if my nerves could handle it. I have to say that I am getting distracted at work (a dangerous time for that to be happening).

So, I want to express my passion for this game and never seem to know where to start. First, this is a game filled with history, with links to the past and projections into the future. Much has been made of the England-U.S. match, the first such meeting since 1950 when the U.S. pulled the now famous upset. But there is the interesting fact that Brazil could win their sixth World Cup--the first to do so and the only country to have been in every World Cup final tournament.

Then there is the rarity of a winter World Cup (as they don't happen in the Southern Hemisphere very often, the last being in Argentina in 1978). There is the history of South Africa being made.

But for me, soccer is the ultimate team and individual game. A stellar singualr performance by a goalkeeper can keep a team in the game (see Tim Howard against Argentina in a friendly last year). Then there is the striker or midfielder who throws a team on his back and carries them to the win (see Zinedine Zidane) or Pele. There can be subsets of the squad, the intricate dancing of the Spanish midfield that can simply make you just sit down in wonder. It is the creativity and artistry going forward. It is the discipline and shape of a defensive squad. The tactics and countertactics all going on at the same time. The fluidity and the power of the players. The passion and delight of the fans. The nationalism and internationalism of the tournament. It can be the passion and unexpectedness of a team like U.S. beating Spain last year in the Confederations Cup, the first time Spain had lost a game in 37 matches. Then there are the games of two halves--U.S. vs. Brazil in the Confederations Cup or more recently U.S. vs. Turkey in a friendly.

How about this for history--no European nation has ever won the World Cup held outside of Europe? How about in 18 World Cups, only seven nations have won the World Cup. How about Didier Drogba, the striker from Cote d'Ivorie who may have single-handedly stopped a civil war?

Why am I passionate about this game? It is the greatest game on Earth. It has heroes and villians. It has history and spontaneity.

The World Cup Finals--the single most watched sporting event on the Planet. Billions of people hanging on every word, every shot, save, kick and goal. The pride of nations tied up in the deeds of 23 men from 32 nations--all striving to do one thing--lift this trophy and be crowned Champions of the World in the World's game.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

China ousted from finals

In 1999, the U.S. Women's National Team played China is one of the best Women's World Cup Finals ever. With a game that ended in penalties (and Brandi Chastain's iconic celebration), it was clearly a game between teams that were equals. At the time, the top women's teams in the world were U.S., Norway, Germany, Brazil and China. Fast forward 11 years and the story is very different as China was ousted from the Women's World Cup over the weekend. Talk about a fall from grace--or is it a growth of other teams? The Aussies, North Koreans and Japan will represent Asia in the Women's World Cup next year.