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Well, I expected to wake up Wednesday morning to the news that the U.S. men’s national soccer team had qualified for the 2018 World Cup after beating or, at the very least, drawing with lowly Trinidad and Tobago. After all, we only needed a point, and a poor T&T side were bottom of the group and already disqualified.
Instead, disaster struck.
The U.S. lost 2-1, giving away two bad goals and generally not putting up much of a fight.
It was an insipid performance.
We are missing the World Cup for the first time since 1986. The only good thing to come out of the failed campaign was the emergence on the national stage of 19-year-old Christian Pulisic, already a legitimate star at Borussia Dortmund in Germany. He performed admirably. The rest of the team? Meh.
Was it a lack of talent among players born in the 1990s?
Did U.S. soccer boss Sunil Gulati allow ex-coach Jurgen Klinsmann too much influence, then wait too long to fire him?
Was it simple arrogance — not preparaing sufficiently and playing like we’d already qualified?
Perhaps it was all those factors combined. I tend to agree with Michael Davies, who argued on the most recent Men in Blazers podcast that soccer is an immensely competitive game where small margins have huge effects, and that, crucially, teams in the CONCACAF region have gotten stronger thanks in part to the success of our increasingly popular MLS.
At least we’re in good company: Chile, the Netherlands, Ghana and Cameroon, among other sides that are better than ours, will also be missing out this summer in Russia.
📰 What I Wrote in The WSJ
— Uber’s India Rival Raises $1.1 Billion From Tencent, SoftBank. We reported last week that talks were on. Ola says it’s in negotiations with additional investors for a further $1 billion.
✏️ What I Wrote at Newley.com
— “Blade Runner 2049”: Some Thoughts. TLDR: it’s awesome, but too long; an unexpected intermission — or “interval,” as they call it here in India — can really ruin the flow.
📲 5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week
- 1. One reason for the rise in interracial marriage in the U.S.: online dating. People used to basically marry their neighbors. Now, according to researchers, “people are strongly connected to a relatively small group of neighbors and loosely connected to much more distant people.”
- 2. Facebook’s Oculus is releasing a new virtual reality headset. The Oculus Go, which is wireless, will cost $199. That’s about half the original cost of the Oculus Rift. Cheaper VR devices could make the technology more prevalent.
- 3. Good news for beach and pool-side e-book lovers: Amazon’s coming out with a waterproof Kindle. The new Oasis has a slightly larger screen than other models, an aluminum back, more storage, and costs $249.
- 4. The seven top TED Talk hand gestures, in case of use for your next presentation, include the “Expand and Clasp,” “Measure the Loaf,” and “Pinch and Point”
- 5. Travel pillows are ridiculous. They just don’t work, writes Kelly Conaboy in this Atlantic jeremiad.
💫 1 Silly Thing
- 1. You have never seen anyone rock at Slinky like this. I guarantee it.
💬 Quote of the week
“Some customers cry during or after the experience. One man came in following the death of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, and wept as he tore apart the room to Linkin Park songs.”
Rage Ground, in Los Angeles, is an establishment where you can go to take out your anger, busting lamps, throwing shot glasses at walls, and more. L.A-based NN readers can book online here. Packages start at just $13.99 for five minutes.
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👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,