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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Losing never tasted so sweet!

I couldn't resist making a celebratory post about Germany taking First place and USA taking 2nd place in Group G!

Also, the Google Doodle is too good to pass up sharing.  This is one of my favorite ones yet!

Hope everyone enjoyed the game, whether in Germany or America.  And thanks to Portugal for winning their game!  Let's be real, G was by far the most exciting group to watch.
Our boss was generous and let us watch the game on one of the televisions in the office.

Did anyone take off of work to watch?  I know there were some office parties out there and plenty of conference rooms full of snacks and game watching.  I brought in surprise soccer cupcakes; half were Red, White & Blue inside and the other half were Gold, Red & Black inside.

Now lets just keep the soccer frenzy alive USA!!

(source: Business Insider)

USA vs. Germany! (and some nerdy analysis)

Today is the day!  Americans everywhere are finally excited for soccer and German-Americans are unsure who to cheer for.  It's exciting and nervewracking, even with statistics working in favor of both Germany and the USA.

Any real Patriot would be fine with red or blue outcomes (source: Forbes)

Some awesome person took the time to make that chart so lazier nerds like myself can see all the possible outcomes of the Group G games.  The chart is color-coded to show who would advance to the final 16 (the top 2 teams in each group advance).  It's like those Mendel Matrices we used to do in high school bio class to figure out the likelihood of a couple's child having blue or brown eyes.  This one is a little more complex, but works in the same way.  The US vs. Germany possible results are on the top and the Portugal vs. Ghana results are on the left.  Group G's top 2 depend on the outcome of both games.  So, for example, if it's a 1-1 draw in both games, Germany is 1st and US is 2nd, with both teams advancing.  In almost every outcome, if the US beats Germany, the US will be 1st and Germany 2nd, with both teams advancing.

Here's more of a breakdown:
  • -218/256 (85%) possible outcomes have USA and Germany advancing. (Red + Blue)
    Not going into more detail, it's slightly more likely that Germany will take 1st in these outcomes.
  • 30/256 (12%) possible outcomes have Germany and Ghana advancing. (Orange)
  • 3/256 (1%) possible outcomes have Germany and Portugal advancing (Green
  • 2/256 (0.8%) possible outcomes have Germany advancing and Portugal and USA drawing lots (Purple)
  • 2/256 (0.8%) possible outcomes have USA advancing with Germany and Ghana drawing lots (Army Green)
  • 1/256 (0.4%) of USA and Ghana advancing (Yellow)

I know most of my American friends will be rooting for the US to win, which is a totally fine outcome for me.  If they win, it's almost certain that both my teams will advance.
But, for anyone else cheering for Germany and USA to advance to the final 16, it's probably more important to cheer for Portugal.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

German-American Spotlight: Jürgen Klinsmann

The 2014 World Cup started 2 days ago, so it seemed like a completely appropriate time to write about a German-American soccer star.  Not only that, but he is Team USA's coach this year.  It's hard to consider his career and not admire Jürgen Klinsmann as a player and a coach.  Most soccer fans are aware of his days as a player in Germany, but in recent years, he has a German-American connection that's been criticized at times.

Klinsmann as the USA men's team coach (source:

Like most German kids (it's a stereotype for a reason), Klinsmann played soccer growing up.  He played for amateur football club, TB Gingen when he was 8, then played for SC Geislingen from ages 10-16.  He signed on with the Stuttgarter Kickers when he was 16 and when he was 18 began his professional career.  More German stereotypes: his family owned a bakery and made him finish his apprenticeship as a baker in their family business before he went pro.  Hard to blame them, with such uncertainty when it comes to careers in sports.  The best bit of trivia from that is that he is a journeyman baker (if he ever wants to fall back on that) and his family's bakery still stands in Botnang, Stuttgart, Germany.  Had I known that when I studied there in 2009, I definitely would have made the trip!

Klinsmann Family Bakery (source: Wikipedia)
In his professional career, Klinsmann played for several teams:  Stuttgarter Kickers (1981-1984), VfB Stuttgart (1984-1989), Internazionale (1989-1992), AS Monaco (1992-1994), Tottenham Hotspur (1994-1995), Bayern Munich (1995-1997), Sampdoria (1997-1998), Tottenham Hotspur (again from 1997-1998), and the Orange County Blue Star (2003 after retiring and moving to the USA under pseudonym Jürgen Göppingen).  His time on all these teams is interesting, but his Wikipedia page gives a better summary of that than I ever could.

During his professional career, Klinsmann also played for the West German team and the Unified German team.  He scored in all 6 major international tournaments he played in from 1988 through 1998 (Euro and World Cups) and was part of the West German team that won the 1990 FIFA World Cup and the unified German team that won the 1996 UEFA European Championship.  His professional career as a soccer player is nothing short of impressive.

Klinsmann with the 1990 FIFA World Cup trophy (source:
After Klinsmann moved to California (in 1998, and became an American citizen), he made a long commute (seriously) to coach the German national team from 2004-2006.  He had many critics because of initial poor performance among other reasons.  But, the team did well in the 2006 World Cup and only lost in the July 4 semi-final against Italy (still among my least favorite teams for that fame).  The team finished in third place, and Klinsman had many fewer critics.  Though many wanted him to continue coaching, he declined and took over as the coach of Bayern Munich from 2008-2009.  This team also did well, but it wasn't long because Klinsmann became the head coach of the US Men's Soccer Team in 2011, a position he is contracted to hold until 2018.  He's faced criticism again in this position.

One major criticism this year is Klinsmann's decision to not include Landon Donovan on the team roster for this World Cup.  Klinsman said that Donovan was not performing as well as the players who were chosen and it is more important to consider current level instead of past accomplishments.  The criticism rode to pretty harsh attacks with many saying Klinsmann should leave American soccer to Americans (people don't seem to realize he is an American) and go back to Germany.  The whole situation was messy, but everyone seems to have come out okay from it.  This blogger did a good job of explaining the situation.

Another round of criticism related to nationality came soon after, but this time the target was the nationality of the players chosen for the US team.  It may have stemmed from Donovan being cut, but fans became angry that seven of the players are dual-nationals; all of them are American citizens because they have an American parent or were born in the USA, but they grew up outside of the USA.  These men are Norwegian-American Mix Diskerud, Icelandic-American Aron Johannsson, and five German-Americans: Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler, John Brooks, and Julian Green.  For many of them, English is their second language, just like Klinsmann (though he is fluent in German, English, Italian, and French, and I'm unsure which is technically his second language).  It's interesting that there are also four first-generation Americans on the team: Omar Gonzalez (parents from Mexico), Alejandro Bedoya (parents from Colombia), Jozy Altidore (parents from Haiti), and Tim Howard (parents from Hungary).  It's a very diverse group, and some are not happy that players like Donovan were passed over for others who are not "fully" American.  Or, these critics don't understand that all of them are US citizens and not that different from a lot of us Heinz 57s with heritage rooted worldwide.

One other reason Klinsmann has been criticized in the past few months is because of his statement that "we [the United States] cannot win this World Cup."  This comes from an understanding of the sport from the perspective of a player who has won the trophy and a coach who has come close, but Americans don't like being told that we can't do something.  We've had underdog stories pushed on us since before all those 80's movies and we want to be the underdogs who prove everyone wrong.  We want to be The Big Green.  But, the team's record in the past has not been wonderful and they will be lucky to get out of Group G, also known as "The Group of Death," and advance to the final 16.  Americans definitely believe in miracle stories though and Klinsmann being realistic doesn't jive well with that.  He has faith in his team, but feels they are "a work in progress" and "doing fine."  That's hard to argue with, but we'll see what happens!

Despite the critics, Klinsmann had had an continues to have an amazing career.  He also does amazing charity work.  Here's to seeing even more great things from him!

Best coaches of 2014 (source:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Musik Monday - Steh Auf

Life's been busy, things have been tough.  But, I've decided to commit to at least one post a week.  Musik Monday posts are my favorites, partly because they get the message across even without a lot of writing on my part.  They also are a way to share music I love with people who may not find it otherwise.

Since I've been in a bit of a stress-filled rut lately, I decided on an empowering song that helps me feel stronger and able to get through the tough times.  I first heard the song in 2005 or 2006 at German Camp even though I had some very different songs from Die Toten Hosen on my iPod before that.  Part of language immersion and instruction was learning through song and this is one of the songs the counselors taught us in our morning music session:

I love music for the music, but I also appreciate lyrics a lot.  That's why it's great that the group also recorded the song in English so that a wider audience can enjoy it:

I prefer the German version because I don't actually know the lyrics in English, haha.  I'm a person who needs to sing along with songs.  Hearing the British-esque accent preference is definitely interesting though.
The next couple of weeks have the potential to be very rough, and I know this song has helped me keep things in perspective and stand strong when life tried pushing me down in the past.  Hopefully someone else who needs that encouragement will find it too!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Father's Day Shirt and Tie Card

Father's Day is a week away!  I don't really think I've ever gone big with presents (for this or Mother's Day), but I like giving my parents cards.  Sometimes I buy them, but the handmade ones are always more special than store-bought.  There are still things I made for my parents as a kid lying around their house even though they're only worth the sentimental value.  Even last year, when I was 24, I gave my dad the handmade card below (though since I had already bought one for him, the handmade one was from my cat, Spartacus, obviously).

Pattern below