A clothes call in World Cup
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2

The Cooler is an all-World Cup zone today, dwellers. I've popped out the Sinatra disc from the boom box, switched over to AM radio and tuned in to KWCP -- all World Cup, all the time, where they don't accept requests from Ecuadorian referees out to screw bella Italia.

Landon Donovan
The rest of the world is losing sleep over the thought of Landon Donovan and Team USA getting even better for the '06 World Cup.
What, you came to the Cooler for weekend sports talk, right? You want interleague ball? My friend, analysis of the Marlins-Tigers and Rangers-Pirates showdowns are but a click of your mouse away, elsewhere on this worldwide-leading website.

In the meantime, we must binge! The World Cup is almost over, and now, with the plucky Americans ousted, we will never get to hear what Jack Edwards had up his sleeve for another U.S. win. After his "Mine eyes have seen the glory" gambit in the Portugal tilt, backed up his bold, if questionable, "The Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave" call in the Mexico clash, the anticipation was thick for the Germany tilt. My money was on a little "We the People, in order to advance to a more perfect semifinal!" if we toppled the Hun. Or perhaps, "Four score, and 10 minutes later, the U.S. is in the semifinals!" Or maybe "We have nothing to fear ... but South Korea in the semifinals itself!"

But now, no more U.S. magic. See what I mean? We must hold onto this Cup, cling to it, for in a few short days, it will be gone again, not to grace our TV screens until '06 in Germany. There, instead of thousands of red-clad home fans enthusiastically chanting for Korea, we will be subjected to thousands of skinheads kicking in windshields if their lager is two minutes late from the barmaid.

By '06, you gotta figure, the Americans will be kicking tail, and not even bothering with names later. This has the rest of the world in a cold sweat, which tickles me endlessly. There is, apparently, a global fear that we will get very good at soccer and start dominating the last worldwide stage we have yet to conquer. Apparently, there is some fear that the gauche Americans will ruin the party so wildly enjoyed by Europeans, South Americans, Asians and Africans, and we will force our boorish ways on them, sort of like building a McDonald's in Paris, or syndicating "Saved by the Bell" worldwide.

Yeah? Well, I'll take Landon Donovan on a breakaway -- and throw in an Extra-Value Meal with a Butterscotch McFlurry, just to rub it in.

But there are obstacles for us, no doubt. Prime among them is the fact that I had to get up at 4 a.m. PT to watch some of our noble contests. This simply won't do. If we're going to take over the World Cup like the ugly Americans we are, we must snap into action. We've got to send over to FIFA a crack team of TV execs -- your Ebersols, your McManuses -- who chomp cigars, talk on cell phones in the presence of others, and slam fists on cherry wood conference tables while arranging kickoff times for American prime time.

Bottom line, make them tee it up at 4 a.m. Korea time so we can enjoy a little "Looking for Love: Bachelorettes in Alaska" at 8 p.m., and smooth right into a live 9 p.m. World Cup tilt. You know, do it American-style: driven by money, without regard for taste or tradition, and maximizing ratings, baby.

And, while watching, I'll throw down a Quarter-Pounder -- avec fromage -- just for total American supremacy.

Chew on that while we motor into a World Cup Weekend List of Five, featuring a special, four-part scouting report on the four nations left in the semifinals:

1. Germany
Michael Ballack
Michael Ballack and the Germans have no chance in those garish jerseys.
Who has ever rooted for Germany in anything? Seriously. Anything. A less sympathetic band of people I cannot conjure. They're never the underdog, never produce flash or style, never look like they're having fun. In anything.

(Granted, if a kind German exec wanted to toss me the keys to his '02 Benz, I might reconsider some of this deep analysis. Same thing goes if Katarina Witt wants to discuss ... well, if she wants to discuss anything.)

At any rate, how can such a powerful soccer nation have such bad unis? I mean, look at, say, Italy's unis. World-class. The timeless blue, the crest of the flag on the left breast, worn by dudes who are surely shagging Milan supermodels in their spare time.

The German uni? Like, some sort of yellow, black and red logo on a white jersey, with black shorts. No flow there. Sort of jarring. They look like they were designed by coach Rudi Voeller who, while we're on the topic, carries the stigma of the Porn Mustache you see every now and again sports. Stateside, Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher and San Francisco Giants second baseman Jeff Kent either wittingly or unwittingly sport the Porn 'Tache. Voeller's got it, too. Bad look, man.

Conclusion: Lack of sympathy plus bad unis plus Voeller's Porn 'Tache mean Germany cannot win the Cup.

2. Brazil
What was Brazil doing against England? They broke out the rarely seen blue jerseys! This is entirely unacceptable. They were beyond lucky to beat England in those outfits, considering the bad vibe they were asking for. (You can vote here on the best look for Brazil.)

Ronaldinho and Brazil were lucky to beat England in their blue jerseys.
Brazil in the World Cup means Brazil wearing the French's Mustard-yellow jerseys, and dominating in the French's Mustard-yellow jerseys. Those French's Mustard-yellow jerseys carry with them the connotation of utter supremacy. The jersey simply says: "I am going to dribble the ball through your legs, meet it on the other side, then do it again, just for utter humiliation, and to make you look like Larry Fine trying to play soccer. Then, I will score on you, and later on, meet my Brazilian supermodel girlfriend, who just flew in from Rio, where we will dance to the distant drumbeat and make passionate love on the shore, all while wearing my French's Mustard-yellow jersey."

By the way, I'm a little worried about Ronaldinho. Questionable look, bordering on drag queen.

Conclusion: By merely introducing the blue jerseys for a match this late in the Cup, Brazil has killed its mojo. They cannot win the Cup because of this, and must settle for dancing all night to the distant drumbeat, then making passionate love on the shore with their supermodel girlfriends, all of whom hail from Rio.

3. Turkey
Uh ... uh ... uh ... say, did you hear Turkey is in the World Cup semis?

Uh, yeah.

So. Great. Good for Turkey.


Anybody got any takes? Throw me a one-liner, please.

I'm dying here.

Conclusion: Turkey cannot win the World Cup, because I have no material on them, other than the fact that the 1970s thriller "Midnight Express" supposedly took place in Turkey, and produced that theme song, "The Theme from Midnight Express" that served as background music for nearly every football highlight in the early-to-mid-'80s. You can't hear it without thinking Jaworski to Carmichael; or Alzado coming hard off the edge.

4. South Korea
Here's where it gets weird, man.

What in the name of selling your Seoul is going on here?

South Korean players
The South Koreans have apparently made some type of deal with the devil.
Prior to the '02 Cup, South Korea had little to no game. They were always the 13-seed in the NCAA tourney, the Ivy League champ, full of hard-working kids who are going on to law school and who bust ass, but the team that has no shot. None.

Now, guys are painting their faces like ancient warriors -- on the field! -- and beating Portugal, Italy and Spain? Meanwhile, they're doing this in front of 60,000 Stepford fans, every one of them in red, chanting, singing and clapping in unison. Inspiring, if not frightful. The Korean Red Wave makes game day in Lincoln, Neb., look like an old Cleveland Indians game at Municipal Stadium in the mid-'70s, with Duane Kuiper at the 2-bag and 650 of his closest friends scattered throughout the cavernous climes.

As for Korea's run: The bogus call to get Italy a man down? The questionable calls against Spain? The face paint, the drums, the surge to the semis?

The fact that they call themselves "The Red Devils"?

Hey, this is getting awfully suspicious. I should have known something was up when the Korean coach made that late sub against Italy, removing a guy named Park and inserting a guy named "Beelzebub," which is not a Korean name. Later, after the win, they were heard singing "You Gotta Have Heart" in broken English in the locker room.


Conclusion: The paranormal is normal in Korea. It's not a cult; it's occult. It's "Amityville Horror" time, with flies in the opposing team's locker room and stuff.

South Korea wins it all.

5. Random musings on the rest of the Cup
The club owner in Italy who cut that Korean dude for scoring the Golden Goal is the kind of owner who can own my team any day. Give me spite! Give me enmity! Give me bitter losing!

Guy scores a goal to oust your home nation? You cut him! Take food off his plate! Brilliant, really.... I miss the Cameroon coach already. I'm growing out my mane in tribute to him, and firing up the blow-drier for maximum fluffiness. If he's back in '06, he needs an assistant coach roster of David Cassidy, Willie Aames and Jason from "Room 222" to complete the look.... Anybody know where I can get some of those Italian team warm-up jackets? Coolest garb of the Cup, by far, but that's no surprise. In style and look, the Italians are constantly the Cadillacs of the field. ...

Final guesses on the Jack Edwards' call if the U.S. had beaten Germany: "Mr. World Cup, tear down that quarterfinal Wall!" or "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the U.S. World Cup semifinal team?" Or the most likely: "Ask not what Claudio Reyna can do for you, ask what you can do for Claudio Reyna!"

Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes the "Weekend Water Cooler" every Monday for Page 2.



Brian Murphy Archive

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