Tag Archives: soccer

Happy Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day!


On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, in the eleventh month…

In 1918, the armistice ending World War I signed at Compiègne, France went into effect ceasing fire on the Western Front. Eight months later, on June 28, 1919, the Treaty of Versailles formally ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Forces.

French Marshal Ferdinand Foch orchestrated the major points of the armistice, which was signed in a railway car in the woods at Compiègne.


[Sidebar: Compiègne (both town and château) and its woodlands are quite lovely and you should visit them if you are ever in the Paris area, it’s a short train trip from the city, and is marred by much less mayhem than Versailles.]

President Woodrow Wilson inaugurated Remembrance Day in 1919, thusly:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

The holiday was renamed Veterans Day after World War II. In nations of the Commonwealth, November 11th is still referred to as Remembrance Day.

Most people are probably familiar with the red poppy as a symbol of this day. I recall as a child, every once in a while my mother would make a donation at an intersection and we would receive a paper or cloth poppy to twist around the rear-view mirror. Have not seen that recently though, ponderful.

The poem In Flanders Fields written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in 1915. It is from the popularity of the poem and the ubiquity of poppies it describes in battlefield and makeshift cemeteries that the flower is known in this context as the Remembrance Poppy.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Amidst all the cosmic excited surrounding the advent of 11:11:11 on 11/11/11 (which has apparently caused the Great Pyramids of Giza to be closed to the public today), it would behoove us to remember the men and women to whom we owe so much on a day to remember veterans.

To take one more sidebar: The wearing of the symbolic poppy on Remembrance Day in Britain was deemed so crucial, that Prince William, President of the British Football Association,  apparently got real with FIFA on the topic of poppies and footballers. English football/soccer players wanted to wear embroidered poppies on their uniforms for games held this weekend. FIFA’s determination to be apolitical resulted in a resounding ban on the poppies, so the Duke sent a harsh missive their way, using such terms as “dismay” at FIFA’s decision, declaring that “the poppy is a universal symbol of remembrance, which has no political, religious or commercial connotations.”

Ashley Cole's boot, Daily Mail

FIFA has given in, and players are permitted to wear arm bands emblazoned with poppies for the games this Remembrance Day weekend.



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Filed under Informative, On A Serious Note

United States of FIFA [12] Commercial with… Seth Meyers

This aired after the ‘Weekend Update’ segment of last weekend’s Saturday Night Live premiere.

I had to  stop fast-forwarding, rewind and watch again.

Also Steve Nash and apparently Hope Solo. But I am far more entertained by Seth Meyers. Obviously.


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Filed under Commenting, General Hilarity, Television

Apolo Ohno on Soccer Talk Live. True Story.

On Monday nights the Fox Soccer Channel features Soccer Talk Live, hosted by Kyle Martino a former MLS and national team player. Martino sits at a weird box desk in a faux locker room set hung with various team kits. It’s  little lacklustre, but you know… I mean honestly, how many people are actually watching this show? The jerseys might be the most expensive items on set.

Honestly. Sorry.

At any rate, Soccer Talk Live somewhat inexplicably featured a “Words to Bumble” favorite this week: Dear Apolo Ohno, why-oh-why did you just happen to “stop by?”

Oh,  you’ve finished your speedily ghostwritten autobiography entitled No Regrets: Be Greater Than Yesterday? Oh, OK.

He has you know. It sounds super inspirational.

I’m going to try to reign in my sarcasm which stems from my issues regarding speedily ghostwritten autobiographies in general, because as you probably know (assuming you have read this fantastic blog before), I’m a big Ohno fan. It’s just hard to lose the sarcasm once Kyle Martino has actually used this line on television: “[Stay tuned as]… Apolo Ohno skates by.”

It was a decent interview, although mildly inexplicable when pondering why on earth Ohno is promoting on a soccer talk show. I mean… it worked for me, but I’m a little odd.

He talked about his experience working on the autobiography, joking that half the book was written in the sauna, which is where (a) as an athlete he spends a lot of time and (b) he likes to meditate on life. So apparently his ghostwriter did a lot of following around, working out and sauna-ing with Ohno 8-10 hours a day.

Actually, maybe he wasn’t joking.

But moving forward from book promotions, I bring you Ohno’s schpeel on soccer:

“I’ve always been a soccer fan, and I think the coolest thing  about soccer now, was this past World Cup—I think for me, and you guys may think differently—but for me as an outsider, looking at the sport I saw for the first time, I think domestically, as a nation people were saying ‘hey this is a really cool sport’… People were actually, you know, they were being true fans about it. They were buying jerseys they were supporting… So to see that… I think the reason that I think that’s so cool is because I see similarities between short track. We were a small sport and you guys were not a small sport, you’re a big sport but small in the United States but then finally being recognized, I just think that’s cool.”

That’s true. Afterall, my local cocktail bar rented flat screen televisions in honor of the World Cup.

The one true soccer tie-in to Ohno’s life went down during the 2002 World Cup, months after his first Olympic games in Salt Lake where there was a disqualification of Korean skater Kim Dong-Sung resulting in gold for Ohno… Korean fans were pissed, the Olympic Committee server crashed from emails, there were death threats, etcetera. That year the World Cup was held in South Korean and Japan. When the Korean team scored against the US, Ahn Jung-Hwan led a performance of the so-called “Ohno Dance,” which involved waving their arms wildly apparently as he had done when bumped during the Olympic final.


I mean I get really worked up about short track too, but then a couple of months pass and I move on with my life.

Apparently Ohno was out to dinner when he found out about his namesake “dance.” Someone to tell him to get to a television… and there it was.


I leave you with the mandatory Dancing With the Stars portion of the interview:

“First of all I had no idea what I was getting myself into; and second of all I had no idea how hard it was truly going to be. And then by about halfway through the show, that’s when I realized, ‘Ok, I better do my best to win this thing or I’m never going to be able to live it down.’ […] it would be really bad.”

So what you are saying is that Evan Lysacek must be feeling really down since he came in runner-up. Like, really down and out.

“Did you see some parallels to […] you know some of the coordination in your feet skating and trying to dance,” queried Martino.

“No,”  Ohno laughed, “zero.”

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Filed under Commenting, Television, [Obscure] Winter Sports

USA-Poland Soccer: Home Turf or Enemy Territory?

As you may have intuited by now, I was fourth row center at the USA- Poland FIFA international friendly last Saturday night (10.9.10). My social media activities have revolved around the event for the past few days.

I had never been to a professional soccer game before, but since I like to claim rampant expertise I have to say that going to a USA-Poland game in Chicago is probably one of the best introductions to be had in the States.

Why? There are a lot of Polish people in the Chicago/ upper Mid-West area. A lot. People came from Iowa, for example of dedication to the cause. Iowa.

It was festivity like I’ve never seen at a sporting event. I would hazard that 97 percent of attendees were in nationalistic gear, for either side, but mostly—let’s face it—for the Poles.

According to Ticket Master seat search options, special sections were designated for American and Polish supporters. In reality, pretty much every section was the Polish section.

Except of course for the American Outlaws super fan section, which featured… a brass band with drums.

It was pretty hardcore, and with the help of said band it was pretty loud at times, but Polish fans (including the one who accidentally spilled beer all over my little sister) stole the night. They dominated by virtue of numbers, by having watched soccer before the five minutes that were the World Cup, and by being able to pronounce the names of players on both teams. If you though Bastian Schweinsteiger of Germany was a long name to fit on a jersey, try Łukasz Mierzejewski. Then note that there are two players on the Polish side with that last name, so they also need to fit a first initial on their jerseys (Adrian Mierzejewski).

The point being, the nationalistically charged atmosphere at Soldier Field on Saturday night felt a little bit like an away game for Team USA (it also had something of the Quidditch World Cup about it, if you want my professional movie-goer opinion).

We sat in the thick of a mostly Polish fan section, where—truth be told—a throw down almost went down when a rather nasal American fan started getting argumentative. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like being at a sporting event with your whole family and having your dad attempt to put his foot down with the rowdy folks sitting behind you… sigh.

My family was split in allegiances. My sister was all Polska, complete with a flag-cape situation. My mother was too busy being entertained by the spectacle. My Dad was making friends with anyone who would chat with him in Polish. Since I don’t know any of the Polish players, and I do know the American ones… I discretely leaned towards an American win, and resignedly accepted the 2-2 draw, and consoled myself with the fact that the US never trailed behind.

I mean, I didn’t want to get punched in the face.

Clint Dempsey already had a black eye and I figured that at least one person on the premises was enough for the night. Plus, a black eye is no fun unless you have to be awkward yet badass about it at work the next day, and I don’t go to work.

Seriously though, it was serious fun. Soldier Field became Little Poland for a night and everyone there was swept up in the experience. The last sporting event I went to was a White Sox game a couple of weeks ago; I think I stood up twice, and that was only because I cave easily to peer pressure. On Saturday night, I was in and out and on the edge of my seat the entire time—and so was everyone else, even my mom.

As noted in my write-ups of attending figure skating events, there’s really nothing like seeing it in person. Seeing your favorites from international competition do their awesomeness just a couple of yards away from where you sit is excellenc. The line-up on Saturday included favorites like Tim Howard (remember his orange knee socks of joy?), Jozy Altidore (first goal), Oguchi Onyewu (second goal), Maurice Edu (dear my World Cup favorite), Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley with his baldness.

It was joyous from the second we parked amongst the tailgaters to about halfway through the three hundred years it took us to exit the parking lot when it was all over, bouncing along to Polish techno blasting from the Camaro inching along besides us.

Top non-game related moment?

There were a couple of fan girl types sitting a few rows away from us and they went to stand at the rail and wave their various Team USA We ❤ You signs. Obviously. One of them must have had a sign for blondie Stuart Holden, because after the compulsory handshakes and sweaty half-hugs, he turned towards our section, pulled off his jersey, jogged across the field and tossed it up to one of the girls, who may or may not have just died right there.

I obviously took low-res pictures of the happening on my phone.

You are welcome.

I digress.

I venture to state that every single person (even my sister who as you may recall had an entire beer spilled on her) had hugely enjoyable night.

And why? Because soccer is easy to watch. It is easy to have fun watching soccer. It doesn’t last four hours, it doesn’t pause, you don’t have to know the finer points of the game to follow. It. Is. Just. Fun. And the fans are crazy. Crazy fun.

So I guess I’ll go ahead and say it: Someone should organize a trip to South Africa for the upcoming friendly in a few weeks. And then we can compare Little Poland enemy turf experience, to a real away game.

I don’t imagine it can be much different.



Related: Picture Gallery

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Filed under Adventures, Commenting, Out & About, Sports of All Seasons

US Men’s Soccer National Team vs. Poland Picture Gallery

A myriad of photos from the USA – Poland international friendly played in Chicago at Soldier Field on October 9, 2010 are now up. Isn’t it exciting? I was excited.

Pictures of both teams from pre to post game, particulars of Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Stuart Holden, Łukasz Mierzejewski, Artur Boruc and more.

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Filed under Out & About, Photo Gallery Links

Banning Vuvuzelas

Yes, my dog IS hiding from the plastic horn.

Yeah, so I was not allowed to bring my vuvuzela to the USA-Poland friendly last night. Way to go Soldier Field.  True, they are annoying; sitting in a pit of vuvuzelas would make my head explode.

But if I can’t bring my vuvuzela to a soccer game, then what am I supposed to do with it? Torture my dog all day? After a while, it gets boring, even though she is convinced that it is alive and might eat her.

Pictures and more on the game coming shortly.

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Filed under Really.


Ok, so I took myself a little (a lot) hiatus, but if Tina Fey gets one, shouldn’t I? I mean, my life is super busy too.

Possibly I should have mentioned that I’d be taking a break to make a major move (dear six flights of stairs, I hate you still; I also hate 108 degree summer days, for the record), do some traveling and generally stagnate for a while in order to come back fresh with awesomeness.

It’s going to be awesome.

What’s coming up you might ask. WELL: I’m going to be (according to my calculations) just a couple yards off the field for a USA Men’s National Soccer Team friendly versus Poland at Soldier Field in Chicago next Saturday. I will clearly have my camera and beloved vuvuzela with me (dear the best going away present ever from one of my favorite Brooklynites—such a Brooklynite).

So, get ready for that madness.

Oh, and I would still really like you to hire me.

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Filed under Dear Life