Goal difference, to get the definition out of the way first, is the difference between Goals Scored and Goals Allowed (also known as Goals For and Goals Against). Goal Difference is most importantly known for usually being the first tiebreakers in soccer leagues where teams are level on points. GD is chosen to be the primary tiebreaker in these cases because aside from results, it is the best way to determine whether one team is better than another.
In fact, one could make the argument that Goal Difference is ultimately more indicative of a team’s quality than a
Points Total and that it can reliably be used as a way of determining how (un)lucky a team might be. Over the course of a long season, with weight of data evening out extreme peaks and valleys, goal difference reveals the injustices of modern soccer and with the European leagues coming to an end, a perusal of the GD column can reveal who was hard done by and who the gods smiled on.
Office Space, initially a disappointment at the box office, has become one of those films that’s seemingly everybody’s favorite — as evidence, look no further than this Onion AV Club article about how Office Space has become one of those films that’s everybody’s favorite. It’s not hard to see why as it’s a broadly-painted comedy (always popular) about how the modern workplace sucks (also always popular). So imagine my surprise when I was talking to the esteemed David Hexler and he claimed to not only to not like to the movie; he also found it somewhat insulting. Since Mr. Hexler is an articulate and thoughtful fellow, I felt that this was an opinion worth exploring and documenting in view of contrasting it with the current pop-culture judgment of the film. Which is what happens below the cut!
The US heads home from the latest World Cup in a bittersweet fashion. It’s hard to tell whether this team over- or underperformed. Going out at the first round of the knockout stages feels right, even if the team had the potential (and the weak quarter of the bracket) to make it to the semi-finals and indeed, had the possibility of upending some disinterested high-level team to claim third place to join other recent surprise outfits (Sweden ’94, Croatia ’98, Turkey ’02).
While the team did have potential, it was also heavily flawed, lacking strength in various areas of the field, weaknesses that were exacerbated by questionable coaching decisions before games, even if those decisions were often completely reversed with in-game substitutions and tactics.
In other words, this was a highly schizophrenic cup for the U.S.A. and thus it’s perfectly appropriate that the final result was somewhere halfway.
No sooner did I slobber all over Zonal Marking when they go and release this preview of the United States for the World Cup.
As you can see, that they’re predicting that Bradley will go with his preferred 4-4-2, with the most notable squad selections being Dempsey up top with Altidore and Beasley playing at left midfield. Although Bradley did experiment with Dempsey playing as a second striker in the first half of the recent friendly against Turkey (and it is something that has been suggested by many U.S. fans, including myself), the inclusion of Beasley is odd as he hasn’t really played for either club or country for over a year (although I did bring up the possibility of Run DMB being used as extra defensive cover on the left side of midfield in my post on the US 30-man squad). Read more…
A new(ish) site has been making waves amongst the soccer fans that I know here in the US: Zonal Marking
You can think of ZM as the soccer answer to the statistical trend that has become more and more prevalent in sports analysis and commentary, with baseball being the sport that has seen the biggest changes and the biggest divide between the old guard and the new guard. Soccer doesn’t lend itself quite as well to statistical analysis because of the simplicity of the sport, instead, you have an emphasis on tactics, on where players line up and what their general roles are.
ZM is a great site not because of the type of content; it’s because whoever they have writing for them are extremely smart: they know the game. I say this of course because their opinions line up with my own: the Czech Republic of the middle of this decade, Barcelona of the last two years and the Dutch pretty much every year are the most fun teams to watch; Roma over the last decade has been one of the most entertainingly unconventional top teams of all time; Greece winning Euro 2004 was an unprecedented feat of tactical maneuvering; etc. If they confess to having loved Klas Ingesson on Sweden ’94, my brain may explode.
Bob Bradley recently released the preliminary 30-man list of players that will eventually be pared down to 23 before the US starts playing in the 2010 World Cup. Technically, the players on the 23-man squad could come from outside of the 30-man squad if there is an injury and somebody needs to be replaced.
Initially, I felt that this could wind up being a loophole to get Charlie Davies on the roster. Since Sochaux has not given him medical clearance for the training camp, he could thus avoid pissing off his employer and still stand a chance of playing at the WC. On reflection, this is almost certainly lazy thinking on my part purely based on wanting to see the kid play this summer.
Right off the bat, I’d like to point you towards REDDER. Yes, it’s on Newgrounds. No, that doesn’t have much to do with the quality of the game.
I’m going to get into spoilers of various depths in the rest of this, so for those who haven’t played it yet: go play it and come back. It’s short and more importantly, it’s excellent. Excellently designed, excellently scored and sounded, plus the graphics are pretty nice. Plus it’s free and there’s a save system so long as your cookies don’t get zapped. If I must do the review-by-reference thing, it’s an exploration-focused puzzle-platformer based on a fantastical Mars that reminds me of Knytt, Metroid and Portal while being pretty dang original in its own right.
Spoilers after the cut, so make your merry way, people.