Often times this is dangerous, but I’m gonna go ahead and write this one at half time. Brazil is being completely outclassed. Their feeble attempts at playing balls over the top of Germany’s back line has created 1/2 a chance so far. Aside from Müller’s goal off the corner kick which was the first drop of water that drowned Brazil, all goals so far have come off of short, connected passes in the final third of the field. More specifically inside the 18. This really demonstrates how lost the Brazilian defense is without Silva. Germany was composed throughout, moving as a single unit as opposed to the sporadic movements that have left Brazil in chaos. I predicted Germany to win this game, but I certainly did not see this coming. They do appear to be in stellar form moving into the championship game where I picked them to win before the Cup started as well. It really is unfortunate for Brazil. Neymar is hurt and Silva can’t play because of a stupid yellow card. Firstly, I don’t like the timing at which cards are ‘wiped out’ throughout the tournament, but we can move past that for now. The consecutive yellow card rule simply has to go. Not being able to play in the next game after receiving a single yellow card in back to back games is ridiculous. There’s more than one way to get a yellow card. See Silva’s goalie incident. Or maybe you’re an idiot kicking the ball away after a foul is called. Maybe you had to take your shirt off after a goal for an unforgettable celly. But also, maybe you had to make a string of hard tackles as an imposing offense tried to break through. Maybe you made a last ditch effort to stop a speedster like Ronaldo make his way down the line. Yellow cards are not few and far between in the World Cup. It is way too easy to get back to back yellow cards and I think that rule has to go. Watching Germany pick apart Brazil for the first half, and an unbelievable concentrated 15 minutes, was remarkable. I think we all agree, at least for competition’s sake, that these two teams faced at 100% though.
Dempsey’s goal was incredible. I thought it looked like he meant business when they were playing the national anthem and then he just went and took it to the g-palace. From the minute after the goal to the Ghana equalizer I thought we completely
lacked connection. Hardly any possession and we just faced cross after cross into the box from Ghana’s wings. One of the commentators, Taylor Twellman, said that good teams suffer. This was said in reference to the US continually dealing with advances to goal from Ghana and not possessing the ball much of their own. Just another example of absurd commentary. Good teams move as a team, connect passes, and possess the ball. All three of these were strongly lacking the majority of the game. I was happy to see that we certainly didn’t give up after the equalizer. A lot of people have taken to saying there’s an America spirit and determination on our team and I don’t want to be cliche, but there’s definitely something there. Brooks’ goal was somewhat reminiscent of Landon Donovan’s goal against Algeria last World Cup. Welcome to the big leagues kid. His celebration was a little excessive, I wondered if he would ever get up, but I can’t even imagine what was going through his head. I had predicted earlier that we would tie with Ghana 1-1. I’m happy I got this one wrong. Interestingly, two players I mentioned to pay attention to already showed up in this first match. With the Altidore injury about 20 minutes in, Aron Johannsson was called into the game. Overall he wasn’t spectacular, but he was able to make a few positive passes and did create one significant chance. We may need to see more from him later in the tournament. The other player I mentioned to be on the lookout for was Graham Zusi, the man who hit the corner kick assisting John Brooks goal. Zusi had been known for his set piece prowess in the MLS. 3 points after the first game is excellent. Also with 3 of the Portugal starters from today likely out for our next game against them, things are looking up for the boys of Stars and Stripes. Cristiano Ronaldo seemed to be playing Germany on his own today and that is not a compliment. He is so demanding of the ball from his teammates that he gives up and pouts if he doesn’t get it. His teammates seem to be scared of
him sometimes giving up better opportunities for themselves to give him the ball. If we can control him when we play, we definitely have a chance to get another 3 points.
I have mixed emotions about the first game this year. Although the final score was probably exactly what it should have been between the two teams, I didn’t think it completely reflected how the game went. First off, the first goal of the tournament being an own goal was a bit of a bummer. In comparison, you may remember Tshabalala’s rocket that opened the World Cup in 2010. (Thank goodness vuvuzelas aren’t a thing anymore) I’m all for Neymar scoring and he has all sorts of pressure to perform in the tournament, but his first goal should have been saved. He did do well to cut it back underneath the outstretched leg of the defender though and if you place it off the post like he did you don’t always have to connect 100% with the ball. I absolutely despise Fred for his dive in the box, but I guess he did well enough to sell it. Neymar was lucky again to see his pk go in. After 20-30 shuffle steps he finally struck the ball to see it go off the goalie’s hands into the back of the net. Saving a pk is one of the hardest things in sports so I compliment the goalie for doing as well as he did, but it seemed like he should have been able to make the save based off his read on the shot. The final goal by Oscar, who toe poked the ball into the near post, was the last thing the Croatian keeper needed for his confidence. Despite reacting well to the pk shot, it appeared as though the goalie for Croatia was moving with concrete in his boots. I know a thing or two about how that can slow you down. He really should have done better on the first and third goals. He wasn’t the only one to blame though as Croatia wasted the few good chances they were able to create, particularly headers right in front of the goal. In terms of officiating I don’t enjoy wasting too much of my time talking about it. I will say that Brazil learned early in the match that going to ground was going to yield calls from the referee and they used that to their advantage throughout. It’s frustrating to me because for how much great soccer Brazil plays, they seem to spend an equal amount of time employing conniption after conniption across the field. Stepping away from that match, I’m more than excited about the month of soccer ahead. The commercials have been entertaining and watching that entire stadium sing Brazil’s national anthem was really incredible. Although nothing quite rings true like the Star Spangled Banner for me (it’s probably the language barrier most of the time) it’s awesome seeing both players and fans get really into it. Just tomorrow we have a rematch of the 2010 final match between Spain and Netherlands. Now teams change over four years, but I can assure you that will be a fun one to watch. Before that game we have Mexico vs. Cameroon and later in the day Chile vs. Australia. Three or four games being played every day from now through the 26th is exactly what I need in my life. Mentally preparing myself for the USA game against Ghana Monday night. END