Monday, July 14, 2014

World Cup 2014 Aftermath: Chuck Kowalski's Top, Shittiest XI

Back again with another World Cup post of glory for yinz. I'm sure we all agree that the World Cup is packed with punctuated moments of scintillating skill and glory, and many more moments of utter embarrassment and humiliation -- all magnified on a global scale.

As the actors in this 'quadyearly' comedy, tragedy, or drama, players always lead us to joy, tears, and half-full beer cans chucked violently at the TV. As such, here are Chuck K's tournament formations for the Top and Shittiest XI:


Tim Howard and Guillermo Achoa, GK, The United States and Mexico
These two were pivotal in their team capturing points in the group stage. They were both so good, in fact, that they are just going to take turns playing goalie throughout the game. Tendency for heroics would lead one to believe that they will form first North American crime-fighting tandem.

Benoît Assou-Ekotto, FB, Cameroon
Got in a fight with a teammate as Cameroon’s odds for making the next round began to sour. That scrappiness could come in handy if the team gets in a fight on the field, in the parking lot, in the runway, or with one another.

John Brooks, CB, The United States
Highest ratio in the entire tournament of goals scored per minutes played. I mean, that pretty much sums up the point of the sport right there.

Pepe, CB, Portugal
No matter the circumstances, no matter the suspense – you can always count on Pepe to use his head.

Fabian Johnson, FB, The United States
I’m not even fucking around with this one. Did you watch this guy? He was really good.

Keisuke Honda, RM, Japan
I’ve owned the same Honda for more than ten years now and it still runs like a champ, so he’s got to have something going for him.

James Rodriguez, LM, Columbia
Beloved by all of Columbia and now heralded as its “King James,” Rodriguez will hold an ESPN special titled La decision where he will announce that he is taking his talents to the south beaches of Argentina, only to return to Columbia after he’s won the World Cup a couple of times.

Kevin De Bruyne, CM, Belgium
Deserves praise for being one of the tournament’s best players despite clearly only being ten years old.

Andrea Pirlo, CM, Italy
Sure, Italy didn’t make it out of the group stage, but you say no to the flowing locks of this 35-year-old stallion.

Luis Suárez, ST, Uruguay
A clinical finisher with an insatiable hunger for the game and the flesh of fellow man.

Samuel Eto'o, FW, Cameroon
The circles and arrows on this diagram are meant to convey the general position and movement of the player. In this case, though, Eto'o will not move from this spot, play defense, or stop mentally writing his autobiography until he is passed the ball – at which point he will lose it immediately and continue business as usual. He did buy the entire Cameroon national team 30,000£ watches when they qualified for the 2010 World Cup, however, so let’s sign him up and see if we can get some free gear.


Juan Zúñiga, FB, Columbia
Such a powerful presence on any backline, he can take down an entire nation in just one play.

And moving on...


Júlio César, GK, Brazil

Way to be the worst player on arguably the most talented team in the tournament – OK, Fred and his facial hair fit for adult films weren’t much better. But seriously talking Kukoč to Jordan, (Marc) Gasol to Bryant here. On even the weakest of shots, he looked like he was playing ‘hot potato’ with a live grenade and a stick of dynamite; given the riots leading up to and during the tournament, I suppose he was just happy it was a soccer ball instead.

Álvaro Pereira, FB, Uruguay

I can’t tell if Pereira is an opera singer, mythical sea creature, or Seabiscuit disguised as a Uruguayan defender. Every time this ‘guy’ – still holding judgment here – flopped aimlessly to the ground, he displayed a mouth so large it could likely inhale an entire bushel of hay… or he was just hitting his falsetto. Extra shit points for being utterly incapable of passing a ball that wasn’t darted straight up the line to nobody or passed directly to his right to nobody.

Sergio Ramos, CB, Spain

Now here’s a player kids can really look up to if they want to grow up to mug enfeebled women in streets, slash somebody’s tires out of spite, or just be that insufferable shithead that nobody wants to talk to at the family picnic… or fiesta – the fuck if I know. It’s just a shame he was too busy elbowing people in the back of the head and missing the net by a mile on free kicks instead of playing, you know, defense. 

Unfortunately for the extended Ramos family, Spain’s failures in the tournament mean Sergio will make it home in time for the fiesta they scheduled purposefully for him to miss, where, I can only assume, he will steal small change from the neighborhood children and bicycle kick a relative of advanced age in the teeth for asking how that “football tournament thingy” went.

Gerard Piqué, CB, Spain

The Chris Kirkpatrick of Spanish soccer – yes, the one from ‘N Sync who was so revolting that none of the teenage groupies even dared, by folly or by choice, to conjure up an image of him in an attempt to make their hormones run wild. Piqué reinforces one of the most underlying foundations of humanity: being tall and having pedigree are more important than actually being able to do your fucking job.

And as if one pop music reference weren’t enough, the guy is married to Shakiri – absolutely fucking ridiculous. I can only imagine she tops as Piqué cries underneath her,  playing ‘Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely’ over and over in his head and fantasizing about the Carter brothers.

Brayan Beckeles, FB, Honduras

Did you watch Honduras? God, they were fucking awful, and nothing summed it up like their defense attempting to foil the opposing attack by forcible amputation and decapitation. 

Kyle Beckerman, CM, The United States

Listen, this sad combination of Shaggy and Chris Kirkpatrick (yes, him again) was given one job to do the entire tournament: take up space. Not cover a specific player; not be a reliable outlet for the back four defenders; not connect the defense with the offense – no, his task was literally to exist in a solid physical state for 90 minutes in the hopes that his repulsive hair would push the other team to the sidelines or that opposing forwards would trip over his nearly lifeless body lying in the middle of the field because, you know, playing soccer is really hard. Plays regularly in front of Mormons.

Nigel de Jong, CM, Netherlands

Admittedly, a victim of the role stipulated for him, which was to do nothing but follow around players better than he is and physically assault them until he had to be subbed because the authorities arrived at the field with a warrant for his arrest. By fouling players 7000 times, he successfully took what could have been an exciting game and slowed it down to the point that it was more suitable to sedating geriatrics than being a live sporting event.

Also completely useless in possession because his go-to technical maneuvers – throwing violent haymakers, premeditatedly kicking someone in the abdomen, and the Tombstone Piledriver – don’t work on a soccer ball.

Raul Meireles, CM, Portugal

I don’t think another human has ever rubbed his or her own jaw that long in muted pain without having first performed marathon fellatio. Portugal’s version of De Jong, but so shitty that I only have two sentences worth of material to complain about.

Wesley Sneijder, CA (central asshole), Netherlands

As if watching this dickhead lazily romp around the field weren’t enough, I actually had to put in more effort and redo the formation just to make a spot for this infuriating asshat. While many teams will play a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, I had to create a 4-3-2-who gives a flying fuck, so that I could field a guy so pained by work that he can list it as a severe allergy on his medical forms. Makes the unemployed look industrious.

Neymar, FW, Brazil

Just not the kind of player who can carry the whole team on his back – or more specifically, his third vertebrae. 

Gonzalo Higuain, FW, Argentina

I really feel bad for Higuain … not because he missed a gift from Toni Kroos in the final that, one could say, cost his team the game – not that at all. I empathize because he must suffer from a very serious psychiatric disorder – one that seems to convince him that he isn’t irrevocably offsides on every other decent run of play, that he should haphazardly shoot the ball anywhere but on target, and that he is somehow the player teammates should be targeting on the field, a sign of either massive hallucinations or early-onset Alzheimer’s, as he has clearly forgotten about players named Messi, Di Maria, and Aguero (who should both still get the ball over Higuain, even when injured).

So there you have it, jags. Another World Cup, another series of unmatched highs and myriad more life-shattering lows. Be sure to follow up here throughout the summer on Sports Unfiltered, as I tackle... I dunno... football or some shit.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

World Cup 2014 Aftermath: Where Does Brazil Go Next -- Aside, Of Course, From The Therapist

Hi again, jag(ettes). Hope yinz enjoyed the World Cup final that featured Argentina using, more or less, a modified version of the 'Crooked Sword Defense' I described in World Cup final preview, opting for the high-risk maneuver of adding the guy who got lost on his way to work into the attack.

While Jesus H. Messi and company suffer misery in their defeat, Brazil wishes they had even made it far enough to feel that shitty. Instead, they were butt-pounded yet again by a team whose nation's people sound like they are speaking German, anyway, so I suppose the psychological connection was in and of itself capable of further derailing Brazil's runaway train. 

So, after the Brazilians spend a few months participating in team-building exercises that involve lying on a couch and exploring suppressed trauma caused by their European counterparts, where do they go next to prepare themselves for a return to glory in the years to come and 2018? I imagine Dairy Queen -- or to explain to the population why it was worth investing billions of dollars into a World Cup that produced an effort only valuable for inducing vomit or, in the case of the game against Columbia, demonstrating what simple assault looks like.

From a tactical angle, though, what happens with Neymar, Fred, Jo, Oscar, Dante, et al?

After such a putrid display, one can argue that we will see a significant change of the guard in Brazil. Scolari will surely be ousted by Brazil and likely used as kindling by an angry mob. Meanwhile, debate rages on regarding who would potentially stay in the lineup once World Cup 2018 rolls around. Below is a layout of what we might see:

Four years is a long period of time, and a lot of young Brazilian players, particularly those showing strong technical skills and even some creative flair, will get a look.

Neymar is certain to hold his place as a left forward or play the classic No. 10 position -- with permission to drift as sees fit to get the ball.

Fred and his 70s-era porno 'stache are out the door, and with Jo showing minimal success in creating space or making other contributions as center forward, it's possible Frank could be the man for Brazil in Russia.

Oscar, too, has to be put into question, and his form in club ball will determine whether he makes the lineup. It is fair to say that Todd could push his way into the favored XI by the time four years have passed.

Hulk, whose consistent place in the starting squad was already a point of contention, has probably seen the last of his international appearances, at least as a starter. And by 2018, promising youngster Santo Rodriguez Hernandez Luiz Rovario Guacho, affectionately known as Ted, ought to be ready to take the reigns and provide Brazil with another dangerous talent who can play out wide or drift into the center of the field.

In the back, Dante may be able to see more time as things move forward, but it is likely that Maicon and company make way for some more blossoming talent to get into the act. This possibility may include additions of Bill, Bill Jr., Biff, Dennis, Phil, and Greg, with Nick taking over in goal as Julio Cesar deals with PTSD after getting shelled by the Germans.

So, will the Brazilians make major changes over the coming years or will they rely on the same lineup with minor adjustments? That will be for the new manager to decide. Meanwhile, keep posted for more post-World Cup coverage in the come days. Til then, jags.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Germany: Luckily Now Using Its Strengths For International Sport, Not To Invade Foreign Territories And Systematically Exterminate Their Indigenous Ethnic Groups

Özil, Klose, Boateng -- not names yinz would typically stumble upon in a discussion of something sounding German.

People change, however, as do dispositions; and now the Germans, too, have turned over a new leaf, relying on their cold, uncanny efficiency and professionalism not to wipe out throngs of humans whose race, creed, political convictions, sexuality, or whatever arbitrary characteristic they considered inferior, but instead to ruthlessly disembowel those of inferior soccer-playing acumen -- proverbially speaking, of course.

Meanwhile, the Argentinians have made it to the World Cup Final by means that resonate from all great success stories: hard work, determination, and a path that, by pure coincidence, happened to be significantly easier than the one mostly everyone else had to take.

Of course, the Argentinians are now put into a weird historical and political paradox: once the country that gladly housed escaped Nazis and offered them a cushy life of seclusion, its national team now faces a German machine that has completely separated itself from its violent past, but only by displacing it into the pain and suffering of opponents on the soccer field and their fans. The Germans have shown that they aren't afraid to provide a good metaphorical fist-fucking to one country in South America, and they seem posed to lube up and have another go.

So how do the Argentinians defeat the Germans if they can't compel them with a respite from being convicted for crimes against humanity? To begin, let's look at the standard formation Argentina has employed throughout this tournament.

 Initial Formation, a.k.a., "Messi and Company"

If the Argentinians wish to cling blindly onto serendipity and the potential of one player actually scoring a goal during the course of the game, then they can stick to their standard deployment.

Argentina, after an unsuccessful bout with a 3-5-2 formation, have landed upon a somewhat staggered 4-2-3-1, giving Messi license to roam as a playmaker: dribbling forward in some cases, coming deeper to collect the ball in others.

This formation is typically much more successful, however, when the guy who runs like a horse is available and the guy with thinning hair is able to overlap, causing an overload for opposing defenses who concentrate on Argentina's Jesu... err... Messi. The guy who runs like a horse's injury puts this formation into question already. 

Furthermore, the defensive onus has more or less been bestowed upon the guy who looks like a gremlin. It's hard to believe, though, that the gremlin will be able to deputize the midfield so readily when the Germans will overload it with so many technically-skilled players and possibly a strongly-worded symposium on the need for finance reform in the EU. By overstimulating the gremlin, he may begin attacking his own teammates in a state of insatiable bloodlust, and the gremlin keeper hasn't proven enough in this World Cup to show he can overcome it.

If the initial formation doesn't work, then what other options stand ready for Argentina? Well, Chuck K has drawn up a couple options for them to avoid complete utter embarrassment that would result in further rioting throughout South America.

Strategy #1 -- Crooked Sword Defense

If Argentina would like to hold on for dear life -- hey, it got the Dutch as far as it did -- then they can attempt to utilize the 'Crooked Sword Defense.'

This proactively defensive 9-1-1 formation not only provides a powerful line of defense in the final third, but will also remind the people of North America the phone number to call to report the gruesome scenes of soccer-related manslaughter they are witnessing in the stadium or on TV.

Argentinian defenders can close their eyes and whisk themselves away to those glorious days when the only thing to fear was death of inhalation by toxins or the mine shaft collapsing -- not Toni Kroos breaking your face with a blistering volley, Mesut Özil snapping your ankles on the dribble, or Manuel Neuer beheading you with a knife-edge chop just for shits and giggles.

Further up the field, Messi H. Christ can wander around the field dribbling through six opponents, only to be bust by the seventh, while Gonzalo Higuaín can make runs to nowhere and get mad when he doesn't get the ball, failing to realize that Argentina has only possessed the ball 0.6% of the time.

Strategy #2 -- Messi at Sea

Some people think it is remiss to boil Argentina's approach down to what Messi can deliver for them, referencing the play of the gremlin against the Dutch and versatile players, such as the guy who runs like a horse. Those people, simply put, are imbeciles.

But, if Argentina would like to prove a point that they can succeed without relying on Messi, the 'Messi at Sea' tactic may work for them.

In this formation, the players create a shield around the penalty area, giving them the opportunity to protect a player, in the rare case that one actually touches the ball, so that he can blast it up the field to Messi who will have already broken in behind the German defense because he will be offsides by a three-mile stretch.

Defensively, instead holding a higher line and getting pegged in the face with shots, the outside players can also get crushed in the family jewels attempting to block crosses from the wings.

Strategy #3 -- Faith and Prayer   

By just getting out of Messi's way, the Argentinians can remain pious by attending church on the Sabbath and hoping, like usual, someone will bail them out in the end.

So, what strategy will the Argentinians go with in Sunday's final? Whatever the case, be prepared for the game to be ended prematurely after the U.N. judge it to be on par with a global injustice.

Regardless of the final result, don't forget to check in after the World Cup for some more soccer articles about this year's tournament and where some teams will go next. See yinz.