Welcome to the Weekly Open, a new weekly thread we’re trying here during these long summer months.
The goal of the Weekly Open is to provide you, the savvy reader/commenter/smart person who came to this website a place to just hang out. Most of our comment sections are directly related to the article in question, and usually stay as on-topic as possible, so we wanted to create a space where you can just hang out for the week, talk about whatever you want to talk about, regardless if it involves UCLA or not.
RANDOM WORLD CUP MUSINGS
- This weekend featured the most LA matchup the World Cup could offer, as Mexico faced Korea in the group stages. It was a big game for both sides - a win would almost guarantee Mexico moving on to the knockout round, while Korea needed a win just to keep their hopes alive.
- As an aside, I came down to LA and went to a local bar near my friend’s house for the 7 AM kickoff because it felt like the proper thing to do. The place was packed and was singing the Mexican national anthem and I couldn’t help but root for Mexico. Sorry Korea, I still love your food and you.
- That said, there is something magical about watching soccer in a group setting. I can’t say any sport is like it. Yes, sports like football or basketball will come close with the roar that a great play can cause, but the constant stops and starts can turn those events into marathons. Soccer is a 45+ minute sprint, followed by a small break to catch your breath (or in my case, eat some huevos rancheros con chili verde), and then a second 45+ minute sprint. It’s exhausting and invigorating at the same time.
- This goes double for the World Cup, which throws in nationalistic fervor that the Olympics can only dream of creating these days. Soccer is interesting because it’s one of the few sports where the USA does not have a clear dominance of just due to their willingness to throw a Brinks truck worth of money at the sport. Soccer doesn’t have the same cultural penetration in the US that it does everywhere else in the world, which makes international competition truly competitive in a way that maybe only hockey can claim to do among the major sports. Which is not to say international soccer does not have its haves and have nots, but there is much more parity on the international stage.
- Which brings us around to this game. Mexico is a regional power but has never been considered one of the true international powers, but thanks to an upset of the last World Cup winner, Germany, they were in the drivers seat of their group, and their supporters knew it.
- The game itself was full of action - Mexico scored on an early penalty kick, then Mexican hero Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez added to his legend with a goal in his 3rd World Cup. Korea made things interesting late with one of the most beautiful goals I’ve ever seen, but at the end the Mexican team got through with a 2-1 victory.
- (as an aside, if you were wondering why there were fireworks going off in LA Saturday morning, this would be the reason)
- In any case, this World Cup has been entertaining to watch as a neutral observer, and I have no idea who is going to win this tournament. The favorites have all looked vulnerable, some dark horses have risen (Mexico, Croatia), and England looks extremely competent. It really is anybody’s ballgame.
- Also, I’m real glad I delayed posting this until after the Group B final games because THE ENDINGS OF THOSE GAMES GOT REALLY CLOSE. Portugal was getting killed by the VAR system, Spain scored a goal at the exact moment they needed to to avoid elimination, and it was all extremely fun to watch. Soccer is good.
This is your weekly open thread. Have fun.