Featured, March 2011

Puck's Gameday Happy Hour: Get Better Acquainted with Argentina and Paraguay Edition

No Gameday is complete without a primer on your opponent. And we're moving past stuff we know, like, say, that Angel Di Maria is good.

By Puck Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back into another Happy Hour—a special GAMEDAY!!! Edition. This week has been bittersweet for Puck. On one hand, the Champions League Quarterfinal draw resulted in a very intriguing all-England matchup between Chelsea and Manchester United that promises to be a “real cracker.” On the other hand, Manchester City are slipping closer and closer to another season with no trophies and possibly no Champions League qualification. In NCAA news, the Syracuse men are out of the tournament, but my Richmond Spiders advanced to the Sweet 16, ultimately getting absolutely man-handled by bigger, stronger and better Kansas last evening. Apparently, some people have been calling my alma mater the “Ivy League of the South”. That is news to me. Sure I did a lot of studying on Sunday-Wednesday, but come Thursday we partied just as much as any other college student I knew. I guess a lot has changed since my time on Westhampton Way. As all USMNT fans should know, the Yanks have a couple tune-up games quickly approaching before this summer’s critical Goal Cup. These two matches against Argentina and Paraguay will be one of the final chances to make any lineup and formation tweaks. Before the USMNT hits the field, supporters should be familiar with the countries we will be playing. Which brings me to a segment a like to call (drum roll/intro music): “Get to Better Know a Country” Argentina

Argentina is known for Evita, Maradona, military coups, and some of the most attractive women on Earth.

The second largest country in South America, and the eighth largest country (in terms of total area), with a population just over 40 million, Argentina is a significant player on the world stage. In popular culture, Argentina is known for several different reasons. We can

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mostly divide its history into three categories: Diego Maradona, military coups, and incredibly attractive women. For example, if you’re a fan of Madonna, you most likely got the majority of your Argentine history in the third category (and the second, to some extent) from her portrayal of the lovely and beloved Eva Peron in the 1996 musical Evita. In researching this piece, I found one very interesting fact. I always knew that Argentines loved their beef, as their grass fed cattle are some of the finest in the world. However, I was shocked to see that they consume more red meat than any other country in the world, roughly 65kg a year per person. That’s a lot of beef. Maybe it’s the secret to their soccer success. Then again, given the fact that Leo Messi is roughly the size of University of Florida point guard Erving Walker—perhaps it isn’t the beef. Another interesting fact: Argentina is the birth place of one of the icons of what I like to call the “Anti Establishment Culture”, Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Che is probably the most misrepresented person on the planet. It must be easy for the patchouli-stinking, organic-milk-drinking, rainbow-sandal-wearing kids of the world to wave a Che flag around because they think they belong to some enlightened global youth resistance movement. I encourage them to get their facts right and realize that they are glorifying a mass murderer. Every time I see some jackleg in a Che shirt I have to resist the urge to scream, “That guy is a terrorist!” I digress, how about some sports facts. Argentina loves its sport. I know this is a soccer blog but I need to mention that over the last decade they have become quite the formidable Rugby playing nation. They are currently ranked 8th in the world and finished 3rd in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. In terms of soccer, just how good are they? Let me count the ways, 15 World Cup Appearances, 2 wins (one, in 1978, which they paid for to help prop up a military coup and dictatorship), 38 Copa America appearances, 14 wins, 3 Confederations Cup appearances, 1 win. In Olympic completion, they have earned two Gold and two silver Medals. Even with this long tradition of soccer excellence Argentina has underperformed greatly in the last decade when you consider the massive amount of talent it has at its disposal. They did not advance past the Group stage in the 2006 World Cup, and got bounced in the round of 16 last summer. With the cocaine-induced reign of Diego Maradona finally over, the federation has turned to Sergio Batista to turn talent into world domination. Overall, the USMNT is 2-6-1 against Argentina. The first win came in the 1995 Copa America Tournament with goals from Alexi Lalas and Eric Wynalda helping the Yanks to a 3-0 victory. Hopefully, we can put another tally in the win column shortly. Paraguay This former Spanish colony does not get much love internationally, but a country roughly the size a California with a population of 6.3 million is nothing to scoff at. Through the 1970s until 2009 Paraguay actually had the second fastest growing economy in South America. When it comes to famous people from Paraguay, I can honestly say that the only one I am remotely familiar with is Roque Santa Cruz. Clearly, he’s good at receiving awards and attending celebrity events, where he rubs elbows with dime pieces like Giselle. As a player– well, that’s a different tale. When he is not injured, which is almost never, he is completely worthless on the field. I am convinced that Santa Cruz has some type of “Hollow Man” device that makes him completely invisible during any game that matters. A neighbor of Argentina, Paraguay is also a growing Rugby nation, but has had significantly less success in terms of soccer. Currently Paraguay is ranked 24th in the world, and has made eight World Cup appearances. Their best showing came last year in South Africa with a trip to the quarterfinals. Other than World Cup competitions, Paraguay had made 33 appearances in Copa America competition, and they have lifted the trophy on two occasions. In Olympic competitions, they have managed to earn just one silver. The USMNT all time record versus Paraguay is 2-1-1. In 2003, Donovan and Ernie Stewart helped propel the Yanks to a 2-0 win. However, in the 2007 Copa America, we were crushed in a 3-1 defeat. Currently, the manager of the national team is actually Argentinean, and he played club soccer in Paraguay. His name is Gerardo Daniel Martino and for some unknown reason, he has the nickname “Tata”. Even after doing some research, I have no idea where this name came from. I can only venture three guesses. First, he is a very small dude. Second, he really loves Tater-Tots. Or finally, I suppose it could refer to some illicit sexual maneuver unheard of in North America, one that probably takes place somewhere uncomfortable, like the back of a Volkswagon. It’s Gameday kids: time for PUCK’S FREE ADVICE: This week’s advice comes from the man, the myth, the legend, and my grandfather, “It is better to fart and bare the shame, than not

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to fart and bare the pain.” Go Gators. Beat Butler. Sorry for partying… Puck is the Pop Culture Guy For The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at puck@yanksarecoming.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @PuckLovesPBR.  


  • Barbara

    Tata can also mean father.

  • deaven

    Puck, Argentina won their group in 2006 and lost in the quarterfinals on penalty kicks to Germany.

    They also lost to germany in the quarterfinals last year, not the round of 16.

    gots to check the facts sir, haha

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