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The Desai Invitational World Cup 2010

15Jul/14Off

Ze Germans Have Won! So has Rus!

What a fantastic finish to an exciting tournament. Hats off to the Germans, who played brilliantly throughout the World Cup.

More importantly, congratulations to our winner - Rus! He had the foresight to pick the following:

Germany 50
Chile 9
Netherlands 48
Cote D'Ivoire 6
USA 21
Croatia 9
Costa Rica 56
Algeria 28
Argentina
24
Brazil
12
Total: 263

That has to be close to the maximum number of points that could have been awarded this tournament.

I hope everyone had fun following along, we'll do it again in 2018. Until then, thanks to everyone for participating.

Be Well,

Rishi

27Jun/14Off

Copa de Copas

We're just through the group stages, and what a World Cup it has been!

If you've been reading about the tournament, or watching coverage on television, you have surely heard this World Cup being described as one of the best ever. As it currently stands (I started this post a couple days ago, so this is no longer 100% current), this World Cup has the highest number of goals scored per match in 56 years.

Yes, I'm cannibalizing the last world cup blog...

2014 also sets a high mark for "hearts broken by cannibal Uruguayans per game".

I think what's remarkable about this tournament though, is how many different kinds of fantastic games we have seen. An exciting 0-0 draw (Mexico v. Brazil), giant slayers (Costa Rica twice), last second heartbreak (against Iran, against the US, against Ghana - by the US), and clinical dismantling of the reigning champs (see previous post).

Now, some of you know my private views about the Suarez incident, and I won't rehash them in public. I'll just say, I think it added to the legend that is forming around this world cup (and Suarez himself).

Let's hope the magic continues. Happy watching everyone.

15Jun/14Off

Spain’s Decline – Not a Surprise?

The 2014 World Cup is in full swing, and the Desai Invitational is running at full speed.

An early look at our picks shows that Spain's shock drubbing by the Netherlands was perhaps not such a shock to DI participants. Only three of the 48 participants picked Spain from the top group of teams, despite Spain having won the previous World Cup and previous two European Championships.

I'm just tired of winning everything.

Even Xavi picked Brazil.

More worrisome are the losses by Uruguay (selected by 6), England (selected by 10) and Ecuador (selected by 7). While an early loss is not the end of the world for DI participants who selected them, these three teams have just seen their chances for advancement to the knockout stage reduced drastically. England and Uruguay will take heart in the fact that they both lost their first match, leaving their group wide open.

On the positive side, the Dutch have emphatically announced their intention to compete for the trophy at this tournament. A group stage exit for the Oranje seemed to be the most popular upset prediction from the pundit class (although, the sentiment may have been more of an endorsement of the Chileans than a slight against the Dutch.) If the Dutch can go on to win their group, they probably have the easiest route to the semifinals in the tournament - making them an extremely attractive bonus team for those who didn't select them from the start.

14Jun/14Off

Bem-Vindo! The 2014 Desai Invitational Has Begun!

Welcome everyone, to the 2014 Desai Invitational!

Many consider the Desai Invitational to be the second greatest sports-related quadrennial competition in the world that doesn't occur on leap years (sorry winter olympics). Many others don't. Let's not argue.

This year, we have 48 people participating from 12 countries and 4 continents!

The big rule change this year that everyone is chattering about (well, maybe not everyone) is the format change allowing each participant to add two bonus teams for the knockout stage. I'll explain the change in detail later in the tournament when the group stage draws to a close.

Again, for those of you who like spreadsheets, I've worked out the final kinks and it should be good to mess with here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1LRl4YGZ7wmcWEA2tBdumD50MqjOMHyvOmQzrYvI9-fQ/pubhtml

Thanks to everyone for participating, and check back here for updates and, if time permits, some World Cup analysis!

-Rishi

14Jul/10Off

Final Standings: Holland Loses, Holland Wins!

Congrats to our good friend Josh Holland (or at least my good friend) who narrowly emerged victorious at the inaugural Desai Invitational.  We'll do it again in 4 years!

8Jul/10Off

Penultimate Standings

Before the final.

Penultimate Scores

30Jun/10Off

World Cupdate

Updated standings: I'm now tied for last. An Argentina win over Germany will make it impossible for me to finish in last place - although a Germany win makes it nearly impossible not to.

Current Scores as of June 30th, 2010

Also, here's a link to the spreadsheet I've been using.  feel free to plug in some potential numbers and see how you would fare.

23Jun/10Off

GOAL!!!

Forget Dempsey's goal against England. Forget whatever happened in Concord in 1775.  THIS was the shot heard 'round the world.

After an unbelievable 90 minutes, Landon Donovan scored his record 44th goal for the US National Team.  His scoring line reads:

Shots on Goal: 1

Goals: 1

What else could possibly be today's World Cup Indicator?

1

Is where we finish in our group.  Is the number of minutes of stoppage time we spent wishing we were somewhere else.  Is our goal differential for the group stage.  1 is the number of goals scored in today's game, the margin of victory for our team. I've heard it's the loneliest number, but today it's got more friends than it can count.

For that matter, so does the number 10

22Jun/10Off

Podcast With The General

We were fortunate to get an interview with "The General", Brian Young.  On today's podcast, we talk about France's meltdown, America's resilience, and suntanning. The interview can be downloaded here, so you can put it on your ipod, otherwise you can listen to the embedded version below.

21Jun/10Off

Today’s World Cup Indicator

Today's World Cup Indicator is:

66%

In the USA's last 12 World Cup-related matches (the final qualification round, and the two recent group stage fixtures) they have allowed their opponent to score first 8 times (or 66% of their matches).  In those 12 games, they went 6-2-4.

Team USA struggles early

The United States are 6-2-4 in its last 12 games, but only 3-1-4 when they don't score first.

What does this mean for our beloved Yanks?  One viewpoint is that it shows our grit and determination.  Our "never-say-die" attitude qualified us for the World Cup, and has brought us from the brink of elimination (half-time against Slovenia) to the verge of knockout-round qualification.

As you'll hear Brian Young profess in tomorrow morning's podcast, this team is undoubtedly more lovable because of this.  We love being the underdog, we love picking ourselves up off the mat, and we love snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Example: Clint Dempsey's wonder-goal against Juventus capping an incredible comeback from a 3-1 deficit.  Read the full story.

In the last 45 minutes we played against Slovenia, we saw an American team that was firing on all cylinders, playing with a passion and drive envied by teams around the world (Frenchmen Zinedine Zidane and Arsene Wenger certainly think so).

This knack for spectacle hides an unfortunate truth: that we are uncomfortable with our position in International football.  We languish somewhere between being the best of the world's worst teams, and the worst of the world's best teams. Pundits tell us that we are good enough to compete, but not good enough to win. When we play the Brazils and Englands of the world, we are too intimidated to play aggressively when the scoreline is 0-0.    Our team ends up so afraid of letting in an early goal, that we spend the opening minutes of every match trying to find our rhythm instead of the back of the net.  We're like someone's kid brother at a party: desperately wanting to be cool, and consequently doomed to be anything but. We're nervous and tentative until the game sees a goal (whichever side scores it).  When we have an objective (chasing a lead or protecting one), we loosen up, our passes connect, we push the tempo, and we start creating scoring chances.

When we find ourselves the favorites, we again don't know how to behave.  Now we act like we're meeting our girlfriend's family.  "They're going to love you" we're told, "just be yourself."  Our play is tentative, our attacking uncreative.  When an underdog scores, it's exciting.  So we try to be bland. We figure that if the game is ordinary, our latent skill will allow us to end up on top.

This is not going to work.  We can't keep coming from behind.  Everyone at the party thinks you're awkward.  Your girlfriend's parents think you're boring.  Loosen up.

If we are going to beat Algeria, and if our national team wants to be successful, we need to come out swinging. We should hit on older girls and do the worm when the dance floor clears. We should make fun of our future in-laws and have an extra glass of wine. And even if coming out swinging means we go down - then we'll go down swinging too.  What's more American than that?