Tuesday was a good day -- if it began early

By Paul Kennedy

Watching soccer is a piece of cake these days. All you need is a smartphone and a television app and you're set to go. Anywhere. Any time.

You could lay in bed and watch the USA's U-20s play host New Zealand even though the game kicked off at 3 a.m. ET (midnight PT). There was even the choice of networks: Fox Sports 1 or NBC Universo with the great Andres Cantor and Carlos Hermosillo calling the match.

It wasn't as easy the first time we watched the U-20s' head coach, Tab Ramos, play in a major senior competition. The USA was scheduled to open at the 1988 Olympics in South Korea against Argentina, but there was a small problem: the game in Daegu didn't kick off until 3 a.m. our time, and NBC, the lone U.S. broadcaster, wouldn't dare air the match.

Our solution? We befriended the owner of an Oakland tavern who had installed a satellite to watch rugby, his favorite sport. We asked him if he'd let us stay after he closed up and watch the Mexican feed of USA-Argentina game on satellite. To our amazement, he agreed and we were rewarded with an excellent effort from Lothar Osiander's boys -- this was before they had even qualified for the 1990 World Cup -- and they earned a 1-1 tie in a game they probably deserved to win. It went downhill -- for us and for  them -- after that.

By the next game, others got wind of our secret viewing party and showed up before last call. Our friendly barkeep was OK with a couple of soccer nuts staying after hours but he didn't look kindly on a whole crew hanging around. As for the USA, a bunch of players went out to celebrate with pizza in Daegu after the tie against Argentina and got sick. Short-handed, the USA exited after three games.

I don't know what holds next for the USA in New Zealand -- it plays Ukraine on Friday in Auckland, again at 3 a.m. ET and is assured of playing in the round of 16 -- but I know what I saw on Tuesday morning. Like his '88 Olympic team, Tab's U-20s rewarded us for staying up late. All I can say is watch the highlights of their 4-0 win over New Zealand or the video of Gedion Zelalem's every touch. Forget how bad the All Whites are. Rubio Rubin, Emerson Hyndman and Zelalem, to name three, are very, very special players.

Our Tuesday continued with the news that Sepp Blatter is resigning, or at least intends to resign after a successor is elected. I, for one, was not jumping up and down.

Blatter's departure does not guarantee things will get better. Wait, say, until after the Russia 2018 World Cup, and come back to me with your opinion about how things are going at FIFA.

FIFA has been corrupt for many years. That isn't news. Just the scale of the money being looted has gotten bigger. A lot bigger. Many are applauding us Americans for bringing down Blatter -- though many more are probably looking at us suspiciously.

Yes, it took "political courage" for Sunil Gulati to stand up and vote for Prince Ali and the commitment from the Feds, including the now Attorney Genera Loretta Lynch, to make the case against FIFA a priority. But they were only doing what should be their jobs.

I'll remember for a long time watching the U-20s.

But the day Blatter went down? Not so much.
5 comments about "Tuesday was a good day -- if it began early".
  1. John Mcdermott, June 3, 2015 at 6:18 p.m.

    Until FIFA changes its one country, one vote system, those who controlled past elections and kept Blatter, and Havelange before him, in power are still able to determine the outcome of future elections. They know it. And so do all potential candidates. The electorate will want another Blatter. And they will find one. So no, I wouldn't start thinking that because Blatter is stepping down that things will dramatically change for the better. We may get Platini(Blatter Light) or, worse, Sheik al-Sabagh of Kuwait. In other words, expect little, if any real change in how FIFA does its business.

  2. Jeffrey Organ, June 3, 2015 at 7:07 p.m.

    We in the U.S. seem to be focusing on Sepp Blatter and the supposed corrupt and unfair awarding of World Cups. Then there is the endless talk about how much better we will be at hosting the 2022 World Cup than Qatar. Quite a bit of self-righteous posturing everywhere.

    Meanwhile, the fact that we have allowed the den of thieves from CONCACAF to operate their schemes with impunity in the United States for years seems to be getting swept under the carpet by the U.S. Soccer community and media. It is kind of hard for U.S. Soccer to wash their hands of this stink. If you look at the CONCACAF site, U.S. representatives are on most of the operating committees. The Gold Cup is held in this country every two years. When have you ever heard U.S. Soccer step up and call out CONCACAF, even when there was open and cynical discussion about the cash envelopes handed out by the head of the Asian Confederation a few years ago to the smaller countries. Additionally, there has been lots of talk about transparency in the confederation since Jack Warner was expelled as head. So where is it? Sunil Gulati made a point of saying that the U.S. would not bid for another World Cup unless things changed at FIFA. I would respect him a whole lot more if he had said that the U.S. would not host another Gold Cup in this country until CONCACAF cleaned its act up. We should have been using our bully pulpit to force the changes needed in CONCACAF many years ago. How embarrassing is it that the South American Confederation is talking about cancelling Copa America Centenario because of the rot in CONCACAF? U.S. Soccer shares some of the blame for this humiliation.

    Now that Gulati and the heads of the Mexican and Canadian federations are in charge of CONCACAF operations, it is high time to stop talking,start making changes and actually be transparent. Let's fix our own house before we start trying to fix all of the world soccer problems.

  3. Chris Sapien , June 3, 2015 at 7:07 p.m.

    Yeah, things are a little easier these days with the access to games, although we still occasionally have to engage an owner here and there and convince them of a game's importance. Like you PK, all we can do is ask and be persuasive with a win, win pitch :)

  4. Santiago 1314, June 4, 2015 at 3 p.m.

    @ Jeff... Sunil probably "Flipped" BLAZER in 2010/2011, via FBI...Sunil only became Pres.of USSF in 2006..least anyone forget... Sunil is Professor of Economics at Columbia.. Worked for World Bank...and had been dealing with these Crooks since 1980s via National Team Scheduler. ...He knew were the "Bodies were Buried"..Just had to wait for the right timing...and as I recall the Pizza incident in Korea was in Pusan, versus Host Team..The LOC, wouldn't let us Travel down to Pusan until day before game...5hours back then.. So instead of arriving late in the evening, we left at 12:01am(Teagu then). but when we got to the hotel in Pusan, so early, there was no Food... Hence the Unauthorized Pizza(Sabotaged Food Poisoning, Just like the Bonfire game in El Salvador)

  5. Santiago 1314, June 4, 2015 at 3:53 p.m.

    P.S. We still managed to Tie S.Korea... but the Soviets Kicked our A$$.. 4-2...They ended up winning the Gold Medal vs Brazil (Romario-Bebeto)(who Beat Klinsman led W.Germany in Semis..If Bruce Murray hadn't High Pressed a Throw-in, 95 yards from Goal, 80th minute leading 1-0... we probably beat Argentina and Advance

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