Monday, June 22, 2009

What We Haven't Told You (Since You Don't Like Zebras)

For the last two days, the team stayed at the Bakubung Lodge outside Rustenberg that is situated in the middle of a game reserve. Within 50 feet of the restaurant patio you can see warthogs, exotic birds, and the occasional elephant grazing and drinking from a waterhole. Exotic birds wander comfortably in search of scraps. There's even a television channel dedicated to a live camera of the area in front of the hotel so you can keep an eye on whatever animals may be wandering by.

And then there's the monkeys. As friendly as they are fearless, these little guys would sit next to players in a chair by the pool, and then snatch any piece of food that wasn't guarded. And then have the nerve to eat it right in front of you! It made for some very interesting moments, particularly for one member of the staff who appears to have a phobia about animals of all shapes and sizes. That made for a two-day effort of trying to scare him at every turn.

The environment turned out to be a perfect tonic for the players to get rested and focused for the Egypt match. The weather is simply excellent in this part of the country at the moment, with day-time temps in the low 70's and not a cloud in the sky. So far we have witnessed cold and rain in Pretoria, varying temperature swings, and now the move to Bloemfontein where it is supposed to be 10 degrees cooler. All part of the total experience that hopefully gives us a leg up if we make it back next year.

Oh, what the heck. We'll give you another chance ...

16 comments:

Rosie said...

you guys are tooo nice!!! if i was in charge of the blog I wouldn't give those idiots another chance :p

but then again that's me.

on another note...
soo is it true that a monkey ran up on Jozy? :D

Jared said...

If you look at the close-up, you can see Guissepe Rossi heading back to New Jersey right there at the top of the frame.

mtgrizzlyfan said...

I like that you balanced this one with a quick follow up topic of post game reactions. The balance is good. I'm pretty sure the problem everyone had with the first zebra post, was that we were all clamoring to hear that the USMNT was getting stuck in mentally and working their tails off to turn things around. But all we really had was the referee week article and a post on watching zebras.

I'm sorry that folks on the inside don't seem to understand that so many of the US fans are absolutely committed to our USMNT. We are most likely a bunch of people who grew up playing the game all our lives, watching spanish language broadcasts even though we (some of us) don't speak spanish because it was the only way to see the games on TV, being ridiculed by fellow citizens who claim the sport is completely irrelevant behind American football, baseball, and basketball here in the US.

Just keep in mind we care, just like you do, probably at times to a fault. This is our game and our country too.

That being said, thank you for the work you guys do to give us a place where we can see, read, hear, and share our passion for the World's greatest sport AND our beloved country.

KO said...

"You're not going to fire Bob Bradley, but at least you can address the terrible dissapointment [sic] of the recent qualifiers/the Con Cup. Oh and thanks for the pictures of the zebra. Nice to see in a time of semi-crisis your eyes are on the prize"

June 19, 2009 1:26 PM (by marklop5)

I LIKE the zebras. I also loved Michael Bradley's post-game commentary (see soccernet.com).

Go U.S.A.!

Tana said...

what a good little zebra... :) GO USA!

Kevin said...

ZEBRA!ZEBRA!ZEBRA!ZEBRA!ZEBRA!ZEBRA!


The new US MNT chant

donovan2010 said...

i would kill to see a zebra just wandering into the field during a mnt practice

The C├ęsar said...

I, for one, am all for more Zebra.

datdan said...

Cool post. Any info on which lodge the team stayed @?
I have tix for next year in Rustenberg and trying to make arrangements! Thanks

yami1024 said...

Thanks for sharing you guys. I love how you have a great sense of humor and for the record the Zebra pics are cute!

Patty said...

Actually Jared, I think Rossi is walking towards the camera in that picture.

Kate said...

I dig the zebras. And the monkeys. When in doubt, go with the wild animals!

And I completely agree with KO about Michael Bradley's comments.

Chris said...

KO:

I understand Michael Bradley was venting frustration and defending his father - not just his coach; however, I thought they were a bit out of line and misguided.

First, I guarantee most of the critics out there are passionate about the USA and just want the best for the team.

Second, one good game doesn't absolve very valid concerns/observations made over the course of 5 games in the past month.

Despite one good game against an clearly less-than-100% opponent, the USA has struggled and even seemed to have players not giving their all. Criticism has been warranted.

If the USA plays with the aggression they showed for 90 minutes vs. Egypt, I'm sure most people would have little to say.

Sadly, Bradley seems to ignore that aspect in his comments. Prove it to us game-in and game-out. We have a tremendous opportunity Wednesday.

I am still stand by doubts with Bradley. With that said, I will always cheer for our boys, regardless of who is on the field or on the sidelines.

Gabe said...

How dare you post a picture of a Zebra?! If I wanted to see Zebras I'd go to natgeographic.com!! Focus on soccer!! This is terrible!!

Just kidding!

Haha, thanks guys. I for one appreciate the inside info and non soccer related stuff. There are plenty of other sites where I can get information about the soccer info, and I can read interviews from the players. I come to this blog for stuff like this, I love to here behind the scenes stuff, and see what it's like to be traveling with the team. Keep up the good work, you have my dream job!

Goodluck vs. Spain!! I'll be watching from here in the UK.

KO said...

Chris,

Not sure where everyone is getting the "defending his father" junk. I don't see that anywhere. If people are putting words in his mouth, that's just ridiculous. There assuming things based on their own prejudices.

AGAIN, I agree that criticism has been warranted. But seriously. People say they can't win. Then, they win and people say it was against a banged up team. Next, people say Bradley's tactics were weak. Then, Bradley's tactics work to get a result we need and everyone says that he was lucky.

Bradley doesn't need to answer for anything. No coach does. As Daisy mentioned earlier, the coach only answers to the BOD and USSF. Bradley's answer came in the form of a big win on Sunday. We'll see if he answers again on Wednesday.

In short, the most important thing in your comment is this: "I will always cheer for our boys, regardless of who is on the field or on the sidelines." As far as I am concerned, no matter what we may disagree on, we are both on the same page on that bit, right?

I do agree there have been problems in the last couple of games, and I won't make excuses. But that was a tough string of games, right? Away to El Salvador, away to Costa Rica (where we have never won), home to Honduras (1st in the Hex), and then Italy (10 men for 67 minutes) and a Brazil team that proved they are in a different skill class than we are. I think the biggest problem for our team has been a lack of discipline and concentration. I can think of six or seven simple decisions that have led to problems for us. Those are fixable.

Again, I know that sounds like I am making excuses, but let me be clear: I am not. With our quality, we should have beaten EL Salvador (even away); we could have challenged Costa Rica (even though we haven't won there...ever); and we should not have given up that atrocious goal to Honduras (I was at the game, and let me tell you the Americans dominated the majority of the game). But Italy? We played them straight up and without fear, even with 10 men (stupid tackle by Clark...see, discipline and concentration). Brazil? Man, they were good. but we still showed that we could rattle the cage a couple of times (could we do that a decade ago? And don't mention the 1-0 win...for heaven's sake Keller was playing out of his MIND).

But then we play Egypt, the African Cup champions, and everyone makes excuses. It's just never that simple. This was a tough stretch of games? Was the team perfect? No. Did they meet our expectations? No. But those 5 games are a poor measuring stick for the Coach.

Chris said...

KO:

I'm not in the business of criticizing success. Ultimately, the USA entered the game against Egypt with a very clear goal - win, and win big. And they did.

What I don't appreciate, however, is the middle finger MB gave to people raising - as you admit - very serious and warranted concerns. He should be happy people at home care - not making this a USA team vs. the country issue. He has the privilege of representing our country; we're entitled to speak up if we don't feel like we're being repped well. Of course there are ultimately certain people/entities that have the final say but don't kid yourself and think fan/media unrest won't have an influence.

I can't speak for anyone else but my concerns with BB's ability go back WELL before the Confed Cup. Also, I challenge your logic to suggest: his coaching tenure will most likely come down to 3-5 games next summer. We had time to prepare for this tournament and we didn't fair well. You're absolutely right, the Italy game got us off to a rough start when we were placed in a tough position with Clark's card - but that's not a valid excuse for the Brazil game (which was atrocious; I really don't think anything positive can be taken from that came) and it's not an acceptable excuse had this been the WC and we drew this tough of a group (like 2006). You have a finite number of games to play and you have to find a way to succeed, whether that's a win or a draw.

This is easily the biggest stage of BB's tenure and it has been rough. I reserve my final judgment for after its conclusion because I desperately hope our boys can build on the win. You mention his resume and I think one thing that jumps out to me is a lack of marquee wins that Arena was able to amass (Germany, Brazil...not Switzerland and Poland). Honestly, though, it's not the record but how are team looks and is designed.

And, I believe Egypt being depleted of their best players is as legitimate a consideration as the red card leading to the Italy game outcome is.

I guess my ultimate point is: it is great the team rebounded and responded with a tough performance. But for MB and fans to suggest it quiets any and all criticisms is a joke, in my opinion. Whether it's fair or not, people are going to wait and see if they can play the same way, again, versus Spain. Not that they must win but they play with the purpose they lacked until they met the Pharaohs.

We can go back and forth on a bunch of points but, as I've said, my concerns remain. This was a tough stretch of games but if we really want to talk about competing for the late stages of the WC - it is nothing more than another excuse.

I love MB's commitment to this team but he should know more and more people are watching with increased expectations and the team will hear it if those cheering for them think something is wrong.

As always, a USA supporter through and through. Thanks for the discussion.

Go USA!