You Can Still Like Belgian Waffles

5 Important Questions That Juergen Klinsmann Must Answer

Dear Mr. Klinsmann,

Concerned US football fans and players would like to pose several questions to you in your capacity as head coach for the U.S. men’s team and the overseer of their noble but failed bid to advance in Brazil beyond the Round of 16.

1) Why did Michael Bradley stay in the entire game?

For that matter, why did Michael Bradley anchor the midfield for this entire run in Brazil? Bradley showed himself to be sporadic and inconsistent, giving more passes away arguably than any other player on Team USA. He has flashes of glory, I grant you that. South Africa, for example. And yes, the pass that set up Julian Green in the 108th minute was pretty, but flashes of beauty do not make for a solid, well-rounded performance. He should have been substituted at half time. (And there is a line of thinking that he should’ve been left off the roster altogether, and Landon Donovan should’ve been included instead, but we won’t go there)

2) Why tout Jozy Altidore’s return to fitness if you’re not going to play him?

Altidore’s speed and size was sorely missed, first and foremost by Clint Dempsey who fell into the role of sole playmaker at the front of the formation. Dempsey’s good, but not that good. Klinsmann (and US Soccer) was spinning Altidore’s return to fitness almost as a panacea or a shining ray of light to lead the Americans to victory. But then he sat on the bench the whole time. What’s that all about? I don’t fault Jozy; he was injured. Full stop. But why make a big deal out of it the day before the match if you’re not going to use him at all? Are you saving him for the next round, Herr Klinsmann? What good is that if THERE IS NO NEXT ROUND?

3) Why is the US defense so amateurish?

Much was made about Klinsmann’s constant shuffling of the defensive line in the run-up to Brazil. The recurring theme was doubt, and that showed itself in spades against Belgium, and in the opening round matches. Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley and Cameron showed themselves to be a disjointed and sloppy, allowing rank amateur defensive mistakes against Portugal and Germany. Belgium’s first goal by De Bruyne was pretty, no question, threading the needle to edge it past Howard’s right foot into the far left side netting. But it wasn’t Messi-ish. It wasn’t Ronaldo-ish. It was happenstance skill that could’ve been shut down by effective defense. (Of all the defenders deserving praise, it was clearly Beasley who was making runs down the left side repeatedly, even into the extra time. In a hot stadium after 1 1/2 hours of play, that’s determination. Beasley should be showered with praise).

4) Why didn’t Howard getting pulled forward at the end?

A lot of viewers– particularly neophyte American fans– were surprised to see a day-glo yellow jersey flitting around the box of the Argentine-Swiss game earlier on Tuesday. As it happened, the Swiss, down by a goal and facing elimination from the tournament, sent Diego Benaglio into the field of play and even into the opposing penalty box to press an 11-on-10 11-on-11 attack against the Argentines. This is a tactic used all the time in ice hockey; not so much in football. It sometimes makes for comical scenarios, but it’s a sign of a team’s perseverance and motivation. As for Team USA, Klinsmann could’ve sent Howard forward in extra time, particularly after the side got a jolt of inspiration from Green’s goal. But no. Howard stayed put. In the knockout round, a loss in a loss, no matter how many goals it is. You have to double down and move your goalie forward in this setting. Full stop. Klinsmann should be faulted for not.

5) Why don’t you consider cloning Howard? Or cryogenically freezing him so that he can play in 2018 in Russia?

Howard was a god against Belgium. Fifteen saves is unheard of for a World Cup goal keeper, and may well be a record. He batted, and whacked, and deflected, and turned away, and blocked, save after save after save after save. He was otherworldly against Belgium. If you weren’t aware already, the Twitter hashtag #TimHowardForPresident was trending for quite some time in the evening Tuesday. Everton FC in the Premier League should be offering Howard a bajillion dollars to stay with them because the match against Belgium showed how he is quite possibly the world’s best goal keeper (with Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa a close second).

Hey, at least look on the bright side: now you can calmly watch Messi work his magic and watch the Argentinians humiliate the Belgians in the quarterfinals, instead of Team USA….



Interact This

Take An Interactive Tour of Brazil’s Stadiums

All 12 of Brazil’s World Cup stadiums are spread across a vast land mass with dramatic differences in terrain and climate, from rain forest of the Amazon basin to desert-like conditions to the northeast. Construction of the stadiums presented unique challenges based upon extreme weather conditions, work stoppages and very short timelines. Take a look at some of the features that make them stand out.

News You Can Use

What Is The Universal Football Sign for AAAARRRGGGHHH?

Here’s a question I’m sure many non-football aficionados (a.k.a. heathens) have been asking themselves for weeks, as the World Cup runs into its third week and builds to a fevered crescendo:

Why do so many football fans grab the heads, with both hands, during moments of distress?

It pretty much seems to be a universal sign of anguish for footballers, one that transcends culture, language, time zones and generations (one could argue that football culture is its own subculture of humanity, I suppose).

A thoroughly unscientific review of the scientific and popular literature that’s been published on the subject (and there ain’t much) turns up the conclusion by Chris Ulrich, a senior instructor at the Body Language Institute in Washington D.C., who tells an ABC News Web writer that the gesture is called a “pacifier” gesture “because it’s meant to self-soothe in times of disaster.”

The Guardian investigated this critical element of humanity 11 years ago and found:

“They [are shutting] out the world,” says Robert Phipps of Smart Training UK Ltd and resident body language expert for ITV’s Trisha. “They don’t want to see anything, and they don’t want anyone to see them. They want to hide their blush of disaster. Footballers may also collapse on to their knees – all their energy has been sapped by the embarrassment.”

Another expert– a man named Allan Pease, who is identified as a bestselling author and expert on body language– offers the British paper a slightly different theory: “The head cradle is a replication of a mother holding the baby’s head to give comfort and reassurance in stressful circumstances.”

You be the judge:

 Brazil Soccer WCup


Or this:

France Soccer WCup France Nigeria


Or how about this:

WCup Soccer Surge


what about this one:

Brazil WCup Soccer Brazil Chile


and there’s this one:

Greece Brazil Soccer WCup


don’t forget this:

Brazil soccer fans react as they watch penalty shootout against Chile during a 2014 World Cup round of 16 game, at Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo


 I feel your pain, man: Fan of Chile reacts after losing their 2014 World Cup round of 16 game against Brazil at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte


Mario Madness!

Mario Balotelli’s 5 Craziest Moments

Illustration of Mario Balotelli setting off fireworks in his bathroom.

Illustrations par Steve Fuchs | VOA

As many football fans know, Mario Balotelli of Italy is quite the character. Here are five of his craziest moments on and off the field – a list that only scratches the surface of his many exploits and adventures:

5. Use fireworks in his bathroom

In 2011, Mario Balotelli was on fire as a star player for Manchester City. Unfortunately for him, his house in Cheshire was also on fire one night…and it was entirely his own fault. When firefighters arrived at his house to put out the blaze, he told them that four of his friends were playing with fireworks from the window of his bathroom. The fireworks caused some towels to catch fire, which spread to an entire floor of his house.

4. Trying to break into a women’s prison

In 2010, Balotelli and his brother decided to make an impromptu visit to, of all places, a women’s prison in Bresica, Italy. When stopped by police in their Mercedes at the entrance, Balotelli explained, in all seriousness, that he and his brother wanted to see the prison and decided to go on a whim. Unfortunately for them, the authorities turned them away.

3. Using his karate skills…on an opponent

Italians can have a reputation for being hot headed, and Balotelli is apparently no exception. But Balotelli takes his anger to a whole new level. In a crucial match between Manchester City and Kiev in March 2011, Balotelli’s frustrations got the best of him when he delivered a ninja kick to one of his opponents. In response to this blow, the referee dealt Balotelli a blow of his own: a red card.

2. Dueling with rolling pins in a restaurant

In 2011, before an important match against Chelsea, Balotelli went to an Indian restaurant for dinner. One thing led to another, and somehow, by the end of the night, he and a friend were playfully dueling… using rolling pins. His amateur swordfight cost him a week’s worth of wages – £150,000 – but didn’t seem to affect his playing: Balotelli would go on to score two goals the next day, as Manchester City beat Chelsea 6-1.

1. Earn over $10,000 in parking fines

Mario Balotelli loves Italians…Italian cars, that is. He also apparently loves racking up parking and traffic fines. He racked up an impressive $10,000-plus in parking fines; as a result, his Maserati was impounded 27 times. Not that the fines are any burden: one time, when stopped by the police, Balotelli had over $25,000 next to him on the passenger seat. When they asked him why he was carrying so much money on the front seat of his car, he simply replied: “Because I can.”

(this post courtesy VOA’s French language World Cup blog. Check it out at

Fans Look to Get Bitten By Suarez

He may be back home in Uruguay, but Luis Suarez is still having a huge impact in Brazil after his infamous biting incident.

Well, not Suarez himself. But rather, his face.

Suarez ad.

An Adidas advertisement along Rio’s Copacabana Beach prominently features Suarez, mouth agape, ready to chomp. As you can see in the images below, tourists have taken notice, and are using the ad to get some memorable souvenir pictures…without the feat of actually getting bitten (photos by AP and Reuters).

Suarez ad. Suarez ad. Suarez ad. Suarez ad. Suarez ad.