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CommentaryEuropeGermanySpainThe AmericasUnited StatesWorld Cup

Klinsmann, Rainforest Conditioning and the 1953 Hungarian Golden Team

June 17, 2014 — by Rob Kirby

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[Extreme conditioning, cribbed from 1950s Communist Hungary? After last night's 2-1 victory over Ghana in the coastal heat of Natal, that's the ideal method for Klinsmann and the U.S. team as they stare down the barrel of the Ruffhouse in Manaus, heart of the Amazon, against Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal. Enjoy the Cult Football at Large article here in excerpt or over at Vocativ.com.] It’s no secret that the U.S. Men’s National Team is not a favorite going into the World Cup in Brazil. The media has panned the team’s chances, pointing to its unfavorable inclusion in Group G—what some call the Group of Death, with some justification. The U.S. faces three big opponents in the group: Ghana in Natal on June 16, Portugal in Manaus on June 22 and Germany in Recife on June 26. Ghana has knocked the U.S. out of two straight World Cups. Portugal boasts Cristiano

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BrazilCommentaryEnglandEuropeGermanyItalyWorld Cup

The Real Group of Death

June 12, 2014 — by Rob Kirby

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[Editor's note: The good folks at Vocativ.com asked for an article on the Real Group of Death, and Rob from the Cult Football crew gave it his take. Check out the excerpt below and the full article on the Vocativ site. Another article on Klinsmann and lessons to learn from the Hungarian Golden Team of 1953 to follow.] Fans salivate over the Group of Death that every World Cup inevitably thrusts upon unlucky heavy hitters cage-matched in the same group. This year, however, regional factions are debating which group qualifies as the real Group of Death for Brazil 2014. American media says Group G—Germany (FIFA rank: 2), Portugal (4), the U.S. (13) and Ghana (38)—holds the title, hands down. In England, tabloid headlines sound a different alarm: English Premier League high-scorer (and convicted biter) Luis Suárez leads Uruguay (7) with canines bared against Italy (9), England (10) and Costa Rica

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advertising

World Cup 2014: The Ads

June 6, 2014 — by Suman

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Generally we're skeptical of modern corporate football, but the marketing creatives are good at what they do. These ads--which are really short films--are getting us hyped for the tournament to begin: The new 5min Beats video (AdWeek: "Did Beats by Dre Just Out-Nike Nike With This Incredible World Cup Ad?"):   The Nike one, which you've prob seen since it came out at the end of April (via AdWeek: "Nike Reaches High and Low in Perfectly Gleeful 4-Minute World Cup Spot"): In contrast with those cameos by current stars, this ESPN ad features a bunch of historical "cameos": Another ESPN segment--trying to get the the US public to believe in the USMNT: Finally, Nike does a fun one featuring the host country's celebrated Seleção--"Dare to be Brasilian":

Schedule

World Cup 2014: Fixture List and Viewing Guide

June 3, 2014 — by Suman

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Nine days until it all starts. In case you haven't bookmarked this (or an equivalent), here is ESPNFC's table of all 48+16=64 WC2014 fixtures (group stage+knockout rounds), including kickoff times, venues, and (US) TV coverage: http://www.espnfc.com/fixtures/_/league/fifa.world/fifa-world-cup?cc=5901 Actually we've copied and pasted the table in below, but we've also done you the service of choosing one match per day (from the group stage) that you should plan your day around: (all times ET, and all games on ESPN unless otherwise noted) Thursday, June 12: Brazil-Croatia (4pmET) Friday, June 13: Spain-Netherlands (3pm) Sat, June 14: England-Italy (6pm) Sun, June 15: Argentina-Bosnia (6pm) Mon, June 16: Germany-Portugal (and also Ghana-USA later that day, at 6pm) Tues, June 17: Brazil-Mexico (3pm) Wed, June 18: Spain-Chile (3pm) Thurs, June 19: Uruguay-England (3pm) Friday, June 20: Switzerland-France (3pm) Saturday, June 21: Germany-Ghana (3pm) Sunday, June 22: USA-Portugal (6pm, again on ESPN--why not put this one on ABC??)   For the last

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Player ProfilesUnited StatesWorld Cup

Get To Know Your USMNT: Who is Fabian Johnson?

June 2, 2014 — by Suman

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Fabian Johnson's name recognition with the semi-casual US soccer fan (i.e., the sort of fan who has watched few if any of their matches since 2010, but might tune in for a WC tuneup) shot up yesterday, as he scored a fantastic goal in the USMNT's World Cup tuneup match against Turkey yesterday at Red Bulls Arena in NJ. Here's the video, ICYMI: So who is Fabian Johnson? He's one of Jurgen's numerous German-American imports, and especially after yesterday's performance, he's likely the US's starting right back in Brazil. (Note: the pattern of importing Germans with American parentage predates Klinsmann. Jermaine Jones joined the USMNT in 2010, a full year before Klinsmann took over, but the trend has definitely accelerated under the former German NT manager and legendary striker, to the point that a site like AmericanSoccerNow recently ran a listicle a year ago titled "The 10 Best German-American Soccer Players" (which

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CommentaryEngland

Liverpool, Awoken from a Dream into a Dream

May 8, 2014 — by Rob Kirby

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On the eve of the final weekend of the 2013/2014 Premier League season, we’d like to thank Bryan Belyea, heart-on-sleeve Liverpool supporter, for breaking it down and sharing his thoughts on the heels of Liverpool's crushing draw with Crystal Palace on Monday night, when the fairytale title challenge may have faltered at the last. What to make of Monday night? Pain, disappointment, nausea. Having time to reflect I pondered why does this hurt so bad? Who likes being slapped in the face whilst in the midst of a beautiful dream?  Being slapped by reality. The reality we all knew was lingering over our heads amidst this improbable title run. The reality that a team that panics in defense the way we do under pressure has no business making a title run. Yet our beautiful dream went on for so long that we thought it was becoming reality. That despite our

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