…and the first thing I resort to on this Monday morning. For purely football or nationalistic purposes, I have no rooting interest whatsoever in the progress of the U.S. National team. Whether or not the U.S. advances should play zero role in whether or not the World Cup makes for compelling TV over the next 3 weeks. That said, I would be thrilled to witness an unlikely result against the Czech Republic today if for no other reason than it would give that motherfucker Jim Rome one less thing to sneer about. Repeatedly. On the radio. Over and over again. And then on the television. And again the following day.

(I hate to be a pessimist, but beyond the starting 11, the US team looks kinda tiny)

This isn’t the U.S. against the World. It’s Landon Donovan, DeMarcus Beasley, Eddie Pope and Kasey Keller against Jim Rome.

(UPDATE : Czech Republic 1, U.S. 0. Jan Koller scores on a barely contested header in the 6th minute. Sheesh. Bring it on, Romey.)

Amazingly, the hosts of XM’s “World Cup Tonight” took the opportunity to dismiss ESPN’s Dave O’Brien as “a baseball guy”, in-over-his-head during the tournament’s TV coverage. Though I’ll not defend O’Brien, having listened to a few games over the weekend on XM, I’ll propose they get their own house in order. Alan Green comes off like Vin Scully compared to XM’s Bill McDerrmott. XM’s play by play coverage is useful only in that you’ll hear the correct score and be told (loudly) when there’s a goal. Other than that, it is virtually impossible to get any sense of the flow of an individual match, and this is not a sport that needs to suffer on the radio.

Still, I’m pleased that ESPN continues to employ Shep Messing, despite the awkward knowledge there’s a growing sex cult named after him.

Those stock broker-types are an absolute menace
; glad to hear the authorities are doing something to stop share trading hooliganism.

Australia exploded for 3 goals in their final 16 minutes against Japan earlier today, the first two coming off the boot of Everton’s Tim Cahill (above), as the Socceroos won their first ever World Cup match, 3-1.

There’s a small bit of (cough) controversy over Michael Owen’s removal from England’s 1-0 win over Paraguay on Saturday. The Fiver’s Scott Murray and Paul Doyle weren’t nearly as troubled.

According to a report in the Mirror, Owen spent the rest of the match “in a sulk” and was later “furious in the dressing room”. Which is fair enough: he was probably worried about the detrimental effect not getting enough minutes under his belt would have on his Newcastle career. But the rest of the squad are also rumoured to be annoyed with their manager, having been given conflicting reasons for Owen’s withdrawal. Was he tired (the official line)? Was it tactical (which is what Sven told John Terry after the game)? Was he injured? Was he pining for St James’s Park? Why, Sven, why?

Well, far be it from the Fiver to put words into Sven’s mouth, but what the eff else was he supposed to do? Owen couldn’t shift his little stumps any faster than 1mph, and by making even Crouchigol look pacy, he was worse than useless. Now, the Fiver doesn’t like to make calls, but we’re saying Sven made a proactive decision for the good of the team rather than pandering to a star name, and should be applauded for finally realising that you can’t make an omelette without breaking any eggs. Which reminds us of the time we tried to make an omelette without breaking any eggs, and we put some unbroken eggs in a pan, but no matter how long we left the unbroken eggs in the pan, the unbroken eggs did not turn into an omelette.

Former Bristol Rovers / QPR manager Ian Holloway, recently estranged from the latter while on club-imposed “gardening leave”, is said to be taking over at Plymouth Argyle. Prior Plymouth boss Tony Pulis, departed for Stoke a few days ago.