Lull Before the Storm

Not much of interest is happening in the soccer world during these last few days before the World Cup. Everyone is in Germany quietly training, or resting as the case may be.

England’s Wayne Rooney has reportedly been hitting bicycle kicks in training. I’ll still be shocked to see him contribute much even if England creep deep into the tournament. I broke my foot when I was about his age, and I’m still waiting to achieve match fitness 20 odd years later.

The new rumor is that England manager Sven Goren Erickson will be headed to Real after the Cup. That must be a joke. Talk about a square peg being stuffed into a round hole. Although there are probably many hot Spanish secretaries–must be what he’s thinking.

Unfortunately, beloved Ipswich just filled their vacant coaching spot. It is the perfect peg, I suppose, if their only ambition is to struggle to stay in the Championship for the rest of my life. They just pulled long-time fan favorite Jim Magilton off the pitch and stuck him in the spot. It was economical and the supporters won’t whinge–but the team won’t win, either.

Just read a piece in the local paper claiming Landon Donovan is the key to the US team. If that’s true, they might as well just pack it in now. It’s very hard for any American soccer player to be overrated–or rated at all– in this country, but Donovan clearly is. He is rested, though. One of the benefits of not having the talent to play in Europe.

As fans begin trickling in to Germany, their experiences over the next few days may be more interesting than what goes on in the various team camps. Non-whites have already been warned to stay out of certain areas of East Berlin. Several nations meeting up in the first round don’t care for each other much, and the fans will be drinking and singing in the same city. Doesn’t take much to set some of these old resentments seething again. We’ll have to see how the security forces handle things when tempers start flaring. So far, much of the security seems to be concentrated on keeping the US team from harm. Fair enough.