Mission Not Accomplished Hope Solo

Unclear on the concept.

That’s Hope Solo.

Following the Americans 3-0 win over Columbia on Saturday, Solo foolishly turned to twitter in order to vent her frustrations. Hope Solo was less than thrilled with the way former American national team player Brandi Chastain was criticizing the defence and goalkeeping.

In 1 of her 4 tweets, Solo wrote “lay off commentating about defending and gking until you get more educated @brandichastain the game has changed from a decade ago. #fb.” Her final tweet read “I feel bad 4 our fans that have 2 push mute, especially bc@arlowhite is fantastic.@brandichastain should be helping 2 grow the sport #fb”

She basically says that Chastain’s comments are hurting the growth of soccer in the United States rather than helping it.

It’s pathetic really. Solo sounds unhappy that Chastain was doing her job with professionalism and objectivity. Her comments indicate that she would rather have an announcer who is as homer as Hawk Harrelson. Essentially, she condemned Brandi Chastain for not being pro-American enough.

News Flash Hope: Not everything can be sunshine and lollipops.

You would think that a figure as publicly recognized as Hope Solo could let the criticism roll right off her back. She must have heard her fair share of critique throughout her professional career. It’s odd that after a convincing 3-0 victory she would take to twitter to criticize an American soccer icon (Chastain was the player who took off her shirt, showing nothing but her sports bra, after her game winning penalty shot in 1999).

It’s ludicrous that Solo believes a little constructive criticism from a commentator is somehow harmful to the state of women’s soccer in the US.

Brandi Chastain didn’t say anything outrageous. Deadspin posted a 20 second clip where Chastian remarks that “as a defender her responsibilities are defend, win the ball and then keep possession. That’s something that Rachel Buehler needs to work on and, I think, improve on in this tournament.”

Blasphemous?

The state of women’s soccer or women’s sports in general throughout North America isn’t going to be affected by the somewhat negative observations from a single commentator. In fact, that kind of stuff is probably better for the sport. If Hope Solo wants the women’s game to be respected across the country, then the commentators have to announce the game the way it should be.

Seeing the game through rose-coloured glasses sure won’t make anything better.

Hope Solo speaks of Chastain’s supposed lack of focus on growing the game of soccer but the intent of her tweets clearly show that she is more worried about matters unrelated to that very issue. She is an ambassador for soccer throughout North America but she selfishly chose to attack Chastain in the most public realm possible.

They say bad publicity is good publicity but Hope Solo’s twitter tantrum might be one of those exceptions. If she wants to help the sport grow, it might be a good idea to show America that she is more concerned with winning a gold medal than attacking a critic. This is not the attention that women’s soccer so desperately seeks.

She utilized her power as the most recognizable member of U.S. women’s soccer to unnecessarily put the target on the back of an innocent commentator. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but it is not Hope Solo’s place to be intervening in a matter such as this publicly.

Bringing publicity to the release of her upcoming memoir? Getting in a shot to continue some bad blood with an old teammate? Showing support for her current teammates? Protecting herself? Sending out not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 hate filled tweets possibly accomplished a number of things.

Helping to grow the game?

That’s one item on Hope Solo’s agenda that won’t be achieved as a result of this.

Also, please vote for me to become Canada’s Next Sportscaster! I am one of the 24 finalists and I need your votes. It only takes a few seconds. Just follow the link: http://www.drafted.ca/finalists/chris-ross/

You can follow me on Twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts. Agree? Disagree? You can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com or reply in the comments section below.

Lampard non-goal didn’t matter…are you kidding me!

England leaves the 2010 World Cup with another disappointing finish

Earlier today European soccer powers England and Germany faced off in the round of 16. Germany went on to take the match by a seemingly lopsided 4-1 score. After 32 minutes England was down 2-0 and looked defeated. However, a Matthew Upson header inside the box cut the deficit in half as England started to pour it on. They continued the pressure after the Upson goal as Lampard thought he had tied the game with a chip shot the bounced off the bottom of the crossbar, over the goal line and out. But alas a goal was not awarded by the referee. Thus at half England was still down 2-1 despite giving a poor effort for the first 30 odd minutes. England continued strong in the second half and came very close to breaking through a number of times with the best of those chances being a Frank Lampard free kick that hit the crossbar. The English push allowed numerous German counter-attacks and against the flow of play Muller scored in the 67th minute and then again 3 minutes later to make the score 4-1. Many people may be saying that the disallowed Lampard goal didn’t have any real effect on the game. They will say that the Germans were ultimately the better team and that the score was 4-1. If you’re in that boat then you are sadly mistaken.

There is no doubt that Germany was the better team for the majority of the first half as the England defence looked about as stable as a 3 legged horse. However, there is no denying that after Germany took that 2-0 lead England transformed into a completely different team. The 2-0 deficit removed the tension from the squad, gave them a sense of urgency that was lacking, and allowed them to just play the game. Being down 2-0 in soccer is such a difficult thing to comeback from. Being down 2-0 to a supposed superior team is even more difficult.

For a long time we are going to be hearing people say that Germany was the better team and that the Lampard goal didn’t even really factor into the game. The German squad would have won eventually anyways.

I don’t understand this thought process in the slightest bit.

First off, any sports fan should know that if the Lampard shot is counted it would signal a significant turning point in the game. England would have gone into the half with all the momentum on their side, where as the Germans would have been deflated like a pin to a balloon.

Also, despite losing a bit of the momentum because of the non-goal the English squad were still able to come out very strong in the second half. England was carrying the play and creating potential scoring opportunities. Yes it is true that the English did not capitalize on some of their almost chances but you have to remember this is soccer. What do you expect?

The Germans may have been the better team at the end of the day but the reason they won 4-1 was not because they were the better team. The reason they were able to blow the game open was because the England push for that all important tying goal allowed odd man counter-attacks from the German side. If the Lampard goal is counted there is no reason to believe that the Germans would have been able to have the amount of odd man rushes like they had when they were up 2-1. If the English had not been down by a goal they would not have been forced to attack in the manner that they did. The game would have been a much different game had that 2-2 goal in the 38th minute counted. As a hockey fan I see this happen all too often where a team down in the final period of a game are constantly exposed defensively as they give their all out push to salvage a good result . This situation is very similar in soccer and was very apparent today.

It should be mentioned that prior to this game, the previous 4 encounters between England and Germany resulted in extra time. This is not American football or hockey where scoring isn’t at as much of a premium. This is soccer.

This also brings to greater light the importance of video replay. I highlighted this point in an earlier post and even though controversial goals do not come about very often, the ability to have video review on hand is very crucial. I strongly believe that the key to a game is getting the calls right. I have heard it over and over that fans do not want to stop the game because it ruins the “flow” of the game. Think about that and realize that getting the call right is much more important than a few minutes of stopped time. Ruin the integrity of the game or ruin the flow? Your choice.

The Lampard non-goal was the biggest deciding factor in today’s 4-1 German victory. It is indisputable that England would have gone into the half with all the momentum, they would not have been forced to play so offensively, and thus the outcome would not have been the same

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

Also check out howiGit’s blog, a guaranteed great read every time.

Fever Pitch

Soccer fever is upon us and come world cup time it is most contagious. The World Cup brings neighbourhoods, communities, towns, cities, and countries together. Almost nothing can compare to the beautiful game during the World Cup. Players from the best soccer nations on the planet all gather for a chance at immortality. To be crowned champion of the world. All eyes are going to be on South Africa on June 11 when the 2010 edition of the World Cup begins, but I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you why there has to be changes made to the game of Soccer.

Soccer fans will be the first to tell you why there don’t have to be any changes made to the game. The first thing they will point out to you is that Soccer is the most popular game on the planet, so if it’s the most popular game in the world there’s obviously no reason for change. First of all, if you think that that argument is correct you must be wearing blinders. It’s like meeting a hot girl and not noticing that she could very possibly be the most annoying person you have ever talked to. Soccer is the most popular game in the world because it is cheap to play, and also because there are leagues all over the world that local fans can cheer for unlike the North American based sports such as Football and Basketball. There is no reason to believe that anything could not be improved in some manner, and soccer is no exception.

Time after time, game after game, it is clearly evident that the glaring problems in the game of Soccer are just screaming for change. However, FIFA’s consistent close-minded approach is always willing to overlook the need for change.

There are two words that make me wonder what goes on during the meeting of the mind’s at FIFA headquaters. Those two words are video review. I don’t understand why FIFA is so reluctant to implement video review, mainly because it is such an easy fix. Video review is better than ever now-a-days through the combination of technology and the many different camera angles that can be provided. I think one of the keys to a great game is allowing the players to decide the game. I don’t mean this in the sense that the ref should put away his whistle. By all means the referee should make all calls that are specified in the rule book, but when it comes to disallowing a good goal or allowing a bad goal sometimes the refs just can’t tell. But with the implementation of video review, all the controversy that results from “was it or wasn’t it a goal” would be taken away. A wrong call on a goal could be the difference between a world cup title and a runner-up finish. Video review has been proven to work very well in American Football, Hockey, Tennis and Basketball. The key is getting the call right, and the fact is that humans are not perfect. It is inevitable the some big calls are going to be wrong. The most recent example of this would be in Major League Baseball when a perfect game was taken away from the Detroit Tiger’s Armando Galarraga because of the wrong call by umpire Jim Joyce. MLB has begun to use video review but has not utilized fully. FIFA would be best to use the same approach.

For the most part, I find soccer to be an incredibly boring game. Now don’t get me wrong I love to play soccer and I have my whole life, but watching it is a whole other beast. The only soccer that I can watch with enjoyment  is the Champions League and the Euro and World Cup. The main reason for this is a lack of offensive chances, and most importantly goals. So much of a soccer game is either the better team dominating possession, while the weaker team sits 10 men back in its own third of the pitch hoping for a tie. The other option is two more or less equal teams cautiously trying to penetrate each others defence, while most of the play is in the middle third of the park. The only time I ever see good soccer is when two top teams play without any caution and are constantly trying to attack and make plays, not worrying about the defensive consequences. Hence, lots of offensive opportunities. However, even the best of soccer games still lack scoring, which essentially is the most entertaining part of any game.

The question is how do we fix the problem?

Here’s my solution. Change the offside rule. So often the weaker team plays in its own third, but on top of that they are playing an offside trap. The offside rule in soccer condenses the field so much as it only allows strikers to play up to the last man on defense. So often strikers are thwarted  because they are offside, despite being deep in the offensive end. Getting rid of the offside rule all together is not the answer though. The answer is to make an offside line similar to the one in hockey. It prevents cherry picking, yet at the same time it prevents teams from shrinking the pitch deeper in the offensive third of the pitch. I am thinking more of a combination between hockey and soccer. For instance, the offside line would go somewhere between each opposing goal and the center line. I think that the rule should be that if the ball is inside the offiside line then there is no more offside, thus expanding the offensive end. If the ball is not inside the offside line then have the traditional offside rule in place. It also should be said that offside, other than diving, is probably the most difficult call to make in soccer. The call is constantly made wrong and I don’t blame the refs, I blame the degree of difficulty that it takes to make an offside call. Where to place this line is not an easy answer, but I think an easy solution to a big problem is inputting an offside line.

Diving is an issue in soccer that almost no sane fan condones. It seems that a Cristiano Ronaldo game is not complete without his best Vince Carter “injury” impersonation. Diving is one of the things that refs have tried to crack down in recent years, but refs alone have been unable to stop it. This is because diving is so often an impossible call to make live. What has to happen is that the head of the leagues have to review all questionable plays that could be considered diving. Depending on the severity and the player (i.e. repeat offender), a hefty fine or game(s) suspension should be placed on the player. It is so easy and it would immediately cut out all diving from soccer. Players afraid of losing pay, or top players having fear of missing a game or two is the solution to stopping one of the most despicable displays in sports. It’s sad to see that on youtube there are such videos entitled “Best Soccer Dives.”

One last thing that I’d like to mention quickly is not really a change to the game of soccer but to the competition in soccer. Every year you see the same teams at the top of the table, whether it be Manchester United and Chelsea in England, or Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain. You rarely see a non-big name team reach the top 4 of any league, and never will they win. Just like in baseball where there is essentially no salary cap, the rich owners just buy all the best players in Soccer. There needs to be some sort of salary cap in soccer that prevents the richer teams from just buying all their championships. Not like the cap in baseball where the only penalty is paying money, which the rich owners are more than willing to pay for championships. I’m not sure why the middle of the road teams in the top division ever get fans to a game. All you’re going to see is a perennial average team playing some boring soccer with no fear of being relegated and no excitement of a potential championship. Even though soccer garners tons of enthusiasm, a salary cap would provide more competitive soccer, making for more exciting finishes to the seasons.

This Utopian vision that is being provided for you right now is one that probably will never come to life. However, I strongly believe that if people opened their eyes to see the light, the game of soccer would truly be a beautiful game.

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