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    #11
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    And so folks know what Charles is talking about.



    And to add more, the 1994 was a really hot WC in terms of the weather. Bulgaria-Nigeria at the Cotton Bowl hit well over 100F on the pitch. Sweden-Russia was held at the Silverdome. Not only was it hot outside, the stadium itself had no air conditioning since it had been mostly used to stage the Detroit Lions games. (Plus, the field was not up to FIFA regulation, being slightly too narrow, and it had sod laid on top of the old Astroturf, losing chunks after chunks)


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    #12
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    Another soccer legend passes away. Paolo Rossi, who led Italy to the World Cup title in 1982, dies at 64. Rossi had an odd career, marred by a two year suspension from a bribery scandal. However, he was reinstated just prior to the 1982 WC. Having began slowly and going scoreless for the opening four matches, Rossi became an Italian hero by scoring six straight goals - three against Brazil, two against Poland and one against West Germany - for which he was rewarded by being named the Player of the Tournament. No cause of death was given, except "long illness".



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    #13
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    I hope Maradona and Rossi don't mind me making another soccer post.

    Setting : Schalke's Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Schalke is one of the three-four big clubs in Germany but is having a super lousy season. It's on its fourth coach in 2020-21 and is stuck to the bottom of the table, having not won in 28 matches, one short of the all time Bundesliga record. In other words, they suck. They suck badly. The team has some talent but they still suck. They signed several young American players but had to loan the best American Weston McKinnie to the reigning Italian champion Juventus (the one with Christiano Ronaldo). McKinnie is having an excellent year and will be sold for a tidy sum. The only other remaining American on Schalke's books is a 19-year old kid from California named Matthew Hoppe. Hoppe got out a few run-outs this season but is scoreless.

    Club's fourth gaffer this season is one Christian Gross, a 66-year old Swiss with some success on his resume but someone who had been in Africa and the Middle East for most of the last decade. In the US sports equivalency, he'd be a former Big 10 coach, who's been also fired from jobs at Lafayette State and Akron. But Schalke is knee deep in crap, so they turned to Gross.

    This morning, in front of empty seats, Schalke is hosting Hoffenheim, the most hated club in Germany outside of RB Leipzig and Schalke itself. Hoffenheim is hated because it was in a suburban beer league until "purchased" by one of its fans. But it's good to have fans like Dietmar Hopp, one of the founders of SAP and someone whose current worth is estimated at $18 Billion. Hopp grew up in the village of Hoffenheim and decided to spend a few of his bucks to turn his pub club into a major team. It's seen ups and downs since his reign but does have quite a bit of talent.

    And so it is - Hoffenheim @ Schalke. Matthew Hoppe gets a start ... and proceeds to demolish Hoffenheim. One, two, three. In other words, a 19-year old Californian in his first season in professional sports scores a hat-trick against a decent quality opposition in one of the top four leagues in the world. Schalke's winless streak is over, they're off the bottom of the table and Matthew Hoppe is a 19-year old legend.

    Never has an American scored a hat-trick in the Bundesliga. Landon Donovan, who was a fake face of American soccer in the 00's spent nearly two years in Germany and never scored. This kid comes out of nowhere with a hat-trick. Furthermore, his goals were great too. Unbelievable. I can't believe what I just saw. In the year of the improbable, the impossible had happened. The Giants win the pennant. The Giants win the pennant. And so on and so forth.



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    #14
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    Oh, what the heck. Two more matches, two more goals for Hoppe. Schalke, however, lost both matches and is back in last place, with an 8 point gap from the relegation playoff spot currently occupied by another formerly big club in Köln.

    Fortunately for Hoppe, he's out of contract at the end of the 2020-2021 season and will be pursued by some big clubs, far above Schalke's budget range.


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    #15
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    Schalke got destroyed 0:4 by Bayern and looked like crap. Bayern is a European club champion.

    But here's an odd soccer story of the day. Arsenal just released a formerly great midfielder - an 2014 World Champion with Germany and someone who also started with his home town Schalke - Mesut Özil, who promptly signed with a Turkish club Fenerbahçe. Özil is Turkish, so that's not the crazy part. He was making ~ $25 M/Y with Arsenal but Fenerbahçe is already $630M in debt. The player agreed to take a huge pay cut but is still making about $5M/Y. So his new club is passing the hat around by asking their fans to donate ~ $3 each via a text message to the club.


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