Adopt-A-Team: Maybe I should stop following teams around... it's too early to tell, but I either suck at picking teams at random or I just seem to select teams doomed to mid-table obscurity. But it's early in the season, so there's still time for Defensa Y Justicia to make some noise, but so far... it's been kind of a rough start:
L to Temperley (Copa Argentina)
D with Gimnasia
W over Estudiantes
L to Union
L to Colon
D with Huracan
L to River Plate (Copa Argentina)
Not a rousing start to the season so far! 2 draws, 1 win and 2 losses. I did do a little more digging on my team though and found out that the club has been around since 1935- but in kind of a bummer bit of news, there's nothing out there about how the club got it's name. The colors of green and yellow were the colors of the bus line 'El Halcon', which belonged to a former club president- it's also where they get their nick name of 'The Hawks' or 'El Halcones' which is kind of cool I guess.
Black Tuesday: For the first time since 1986, the US Men's National Team failed to qualify for the World Cup. The post-mortems have been coming down all week, but I don't know what's worse. The fact that the Men's Team put itself in this position and thus was forced into a 'win or die' situation heading into the Hex that was just begging for a slip-up given their maddeningly inconsistent play during qualification. The game against Panama put us into a simple position. Win and you're in. Tie and you might be okay. But for cryin' out loud, don't lose... and yet, that's exactly what we did against Trinidad and Tobago. Fair play to them. I didn't even watch the damn game, because Trinidad and Tobago were at the bottom of the group and after the victory over Panama, I figured there's no way, no way, that we would lose. Until we did.
So, we put ourselves in this situation. That was bad enough. The salt in the wound is this bullshit: the ball didn't fucking go in! HOW IS THERE NOT GOAL LINE TECHNOLOGY ALL OVER THE WORLD IN EVERY GAME? This also more or less sums it up.
I don't know how Bruce Arena still has a job. When England lost to Iceland in the Euros, Roy Hodgson had the decency to quit almost before they had even walked off the damn field. Arena should have resigned last night. Sunil Gulati, President of US Soccer? He's done bunches for the game, but he's gotta go too. We're not Germany. We're not Brazil. We're not Argentina. We're not England. We're not asking to WIN the World Cup every four years... but qualifying in our region should not be a difficult bar to clear. It's not an unreasonable ask, given the level of talent and the sheer number of athletes in this country. And if you can't get it done, then you gotta go.
I have no idea how I'm going to channel this depression into something useful, but I might officially join the American Outlaws. That seems like a decent idea to look into.
MLS Quest: I remain a terrible excuse for an MLS Fan... I will attempt to do better heading into the playoffs, but my tally is at:
Shout-out to the Missus, who liked the looks of these two teams the best. I'm going to consult the Elder Spawn to see which one he likes best and I think that might do it. (You'll find out soooooon!) In the meantime, in the wake of the USMNT crashing out of the World Cup, finding an MLS Team and making a concerted effort to care about the domestic league seems more important than ever.
COYG: Oddly enough, the ship has tentatively righted itself since the disaster at Liverpool. Since then, Arsenal's fortunes have looked like this:
W vs Bournemouth
W vs FC Koln
D vs Chelsea
W vs Doncaster
W vs West Brom
W vs Bate Borisov
W vs Brighton
I'll take it. They're currently sitting in 5th in the table, lurking behind Chelsea on goal differential. I'm sure that I should just enjoy this good feeling while it lasts, but I'm pleasantly surprised. Weirdly, I think the tactical challenge of balancing multiple competitions is actually bringing out the best in Wenger and Company so far. There's pitfalls ahead: Ozil and Sanchez are probably gone and for free as well, the ownership is still dreadful, while a draw against Chelsea is always nice, results against the top 4 are going to make or break the season. If they can start snatching a victory or two against the big boys, I'll move from 'tenatively righted' to 'cautious optimstic.' Until then, Come On You Gunners!!!!!
Hawkeye Football: So, we're 4-2 which is nothing to sneeze at, given we had a new starting quarterback heading into the season and lots of question marks all over the place. Despite the frustrations of the Michigan State loss, I don't think water is coming over the sides. The outlines of a really interesting offense are all there, it's just the execution is lacking. Stanley has the arm to toss balls down the field with accuracy and his misses so far seem to be a combination of overthrows and our receivers not catching them. One of these games, he's going to connect and that will be an interesting game indeed.
Our defense has been a pleasant surprise so far this season and their performance against Penn State was nothing short of legendary. I was honestly chewing my nails expecting them to get gassed by the end of that game, but in a weird twist, it seemed to be Penn State's offense that gassed out a little bit until that final drive put a dagger in our hearts. Here's how I see it the rest of the way:
at Northwestern: W
vs Minnesota, W
vs Ohio State L
at Wisconsin L
vs Purdue W
at Nebraska W
I guess this means I have them going 8-4 and heading to a decent bowl game. But I can also see 6-6 and 7-5 easily enough as well. (Northwestern on the road worries me, but it's the one victory I demand for my Christmas letter!) If this is a typical Ferentz era team and it starts to peak once we get into November, then I could see them snatching either a victory against Wisconsin or Ohio State but I could also see them losing both of those. Ohio State seems to be finding it's footing and looking more Ohio State-like after a sleepy start versus Indiana and a loss against Oklahoma. Wisconsin is always tough on the road. Of course, if we beat one or both of those two, I can see us losing to Purdue as well. Just because that would be a very Iowa thing to do.
Knowing Iowa, I'm sure there are going to be maddening losses, agonizingly close wins and a sweet, sweet victory or two down the stretch. I would say that it would be a huge (yuuuuuuuge) disappointment not to get to 6 wins and a Bowl Game of some variety, but based on what we've seen so far, I think this team has more than 6 wins in it.