100 Days until the World Cup

3 03 2010

TODAY MARKED THE START OF MY COLUMN IN THE DAILY JOURNAL. SUPER EXCITED TO BE WRITING IT. IT SHOULD BE A LOT OF FUN. HERE’S THE LINK TO THE NEWSPAPER’S WEBSITE http://bit.ly/d8b8JG

Let the countdown begin
March 02, 2010, 01:41 AM By Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff
Are we there yet?We’ve all been on that long trip, to a long vacation or to see a loved one, and the closer you get to destination X the more you can’t help but feel that time is purposely torturing you with its crawl of a pace. The truth is, you can’t get there soon enough.I think Einstein called it relativity, right?

The fact is that we’ve almost arrived to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but despite having waited out over 1,300 days for it to come around, for soccer fans, it’s the next 100 that will feel like an eternity.

So the question becomes, what do you do to make that final stretch bearable and not go crazy waiting for D-day to come around?

The process can be maddening, but the answer for me lies not in ignoring this feeling, but embracing that there is so much to talk about as we countdown to June 11.

Tweet-tweet

A must for any soccer fan is to hop on Twitter. In this day and age of real-time information there isn’t a faster way of obtaining news about your favorite team than to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth (or is it bird’s beak?).

There are several players on the United States squad with Twitter accounts that you can follow. On Sunday DeMarcus Beasley, a two-time World Cup player for the U.S who is trying to show coach Bob Bradley that he should make a third trip, tweeted as he landed in Amsterdam to play in tomorrow’s friendly against the Netherlands. “Good to be back in Holland. I’m only speakin’ Dutch for the next 3 days!! LOL.” A couple hours later he’d go on to drop a couple of tweets in Dutch. I guess he wasn’t kidding.

It’s also a great way to keep up with how some of the injured U.S players are doing. Case in point, Saturday Charlie Davies, who is doing his best to come back from a car crash tweeted in reference to his rehabilitation, “Week One Complete.. 2 more to go. Let’s go!!!” In response his teammate Jozy Altidore said, “Keep on the grind my boy. We need you!”

Other United States tweeters include Landon Donovan, Oguchi Onyewu, Maurice Edu and Stuart Holden.

Drug Testing

Steroids are an inevitable topic nowadays, no matter the sport. FIFA just announced they’ll be performing a slew of random drugs tests in the months leading up to the World Cup in South Africa as they try to establish a fair playing field.

But an interesting and unique note about this version of the World Cup lies in its location.

Concerns have risen over traditional African medicines (plants, insects etc.) and their steroid-like effects on the athletes. We’ve all heard of HGH, the clear and the cream, but Umhlabelo and Hoodia plant?

“I have a big concern — and I can confess that. We were learning a lot about the traditional African medicines and we are not sure what all of these products contain,” FIFA medical committee chairman Michel D’Hooghe said in an interview with the Associated Press. “I think some products are not detectable. This makes it difficult. They can deliver stimulation and diuretic activity.”

FIFA boasts a very good success rate in their testing for performance-enhancing drugs, but this is uncharted territory. How big of an issue is it really? We’ll see as soon as the first player gets caught.

Last chance to impress

Earlier we mentioned Beasley being in the Netherlands to play in the United States’ next World Cup warm-up against FIFA’s No. 3 ranked team, Holland. This isn’t your typical international friendly, with the U.S. trying to figure out how well they measure up against the world’s best.

The good news is the Stars and Stripes will have a lot of their best players on hand who weren’t available, because of their European team commitments, for games against Honduras and El Salvador (3-1 loss and 2-1 win). The bad news is even with players like Donovan and Tim Howard on the roster for this game, the U.S is nowhere near full strength with injuries (to Davies, Onyewu, Clint Dempsey and Benny Feilhaber) continuing to take their toll on the team, making a task like the Dutch that much harder.

That said, this is the last chance for players on the proverbial bubble to make an impression on Bradley who will soon (sometime in May) have to select the 23-man roster for South Africa. A great showing by Beasley, Maurice Edu or Eddie Johnson, might help stamp their ticket to the World Cup in June.

 Questions? Comments? Concerns? Julio Lara can be reached at Julio@smdailyjournal.com

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29 12 2010
So long 2010 … You were AWESOME! Pt. 1 « Oh My July!

[…] World Cup surpassed my expectations and desires. Professionally, I got to do a lot of things — anchor an entire weekly column and put together an entire preview section. And as a fan, I got to witness the bulk of it with […]

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