World Cup Monday ...

It's World Cup Monday.

Team USA (full of Bruins) are going to play in their first game this afternoon in Germany. Their opponent is going to be a dangerous Czech team. To get a quick preview on the Czechs read up the preview from LD's Gunslinger:

The team is made up of seasoned professionals playing in all of the top leagues in Europe, with a great mixture of veterans and younger players. Pavel Nedved in the midfield is one of those key veterans. Tomas Rosicky should be a real force in the midfield; he's a solid attacking midfielder who just transferred to Arsenal for a pretty big bounty. They should be pretty good there, even with the injury to Smicer. The upfront players should put fear in the hearts of every opponent because of their size, skill and quickness. Milan Baros always seems to play better when he's not wearing a Liverpool jersey, and all 6 feet and 8 inches of Jan Koller should make every opposing fan sweat for every corner.

But the man to watch above all others is Petr Cech. He is, in my opinion, the best goalkeeper on earth. He's tall, long and agile. No other player can single-handedly take over and control games like he can. I envision a performance like Oliver Kahn's in 2002. Totally dominant (even though I don't predict him to be...).

The game gets started around 11:55 am EST. I am sure Sam's Army is going to be all fired up in Gelsenkirche,Germany:



And for those who are wondering why we (well at least the majority of BN) is excited about soccer, I will let Brian over at MGo Blog summ up why people like me get swept up by soccer (World Cup) madness:

All right: so we accept that there is a mysterious thing about soccer. There are mysterious things about all sports that persist to this day. They have survived because they appeal to certain facets of human nature. The truly dull things, aside from auto racing, have shuffled off the mortal coil. But that doesn't mean they're all the same thing. As anyone who's watched Sportscenter can tell you, baseball is intolerably dull without context. Literally nothing happens in a baseball game that you haven't seen a thousand times before: a strikeout, a diving catch, a homerun. Baseball's big moments are all about timing or numbers. It's a game of familiarity. Basketball provides a constant stream of moments both good and bad, but even the most spectacular play is only two points of a hundred. Both sports offer thousands of little compartmentalized events of minor signficance and string them together like beads on a rosary.

On the other hand, soccer and hockey* -- soccer's spiritual cousin and frequently a fellow object of American sportswriter ridicule -- are games that flow from one end to the other, steady as the ocean. This is the boring bit. A lot of nothing happens in any hockey or soccer game. This is granted. At any one point in either game, someone has the ball at a certain point and all that muck that happened before may as well have not existed. But if you will permit me to be zen for a moment, a scaffold of anticipation is built from the nothingness. Where your rosary sports feed you little bits of feedback all the time, with soccer and hockey there is nothing apart from great giant thunderbolts that bring feast or famine, with nothing in-between. The infrequency of these events, the unlikely ways in which they come about (there are no Ronaldinhos or Ovechkins in rosary sports because they restrict heroes to realms of the possible), and the sheer power of them lend them the same sort of magic that caused early men to dream up the idea of gods in the first place. It makes a lot of sense that the most infamous play in soccer history is called "The Hand Of God." These things are a religion, and watching them is a vigil, as anyone who's sat through four overtimes knows. It isn't for everyone, but if you can stand the nothing then your reward is the occasional moment when everything comes together that sears itself in your mind and lingers on like an old friend.

We all wish we could write like that.

For all updates on Team USA check out ESPN (if you have a better site to recommend, lemme know in the comment thread).

If you are all watching, this will be our world cup soccer open thread.

USA! USA! USA! (Go Bruins)
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