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.
Getting the point was crucial, but we all know it should have been three. My reaction to Varela’s last second header was very similar to my reaction to Austin River’s last second three to beat UNC at the Dean Done in 2012. I’m not one much for screaming or fanatics. I’m an internalizer. I made my lunch for today, took a shower, and went to sleep. Used as few words with my parents as possible. I hadn’t been so frustrated about a sports result probably since that February night after the basketball game in 2012. I still remember turning off the tv, walking past my parents without saying a word, and lying face down in my bed until I ultimately fell asleep. It’s funny that I had to look up who scored that goal for Portugal because all we heard about was Cristiano. It was a nice ball. I thought the US played exceptionally well overall. Only two big mistakes. The problem is you can’t make big mistakes in the World Cup. The first one is obviously don’t let the arguably best player in the world have the ball for like 20 more seconds and we’re on to the knockout round. Second, the whiff of a clearance that lead to Nani’s early goal. Howard seemed to go down early in anticipation of a low shot to the far post which opened up the goal about as much as it possibly can be while still having someone in between the goal and the ball. I really wasn’t worried about that goal though. You never want to give up a goal, but I remembered how I felt after Dempsey scored so early against Ghana. They were going to start bringing the heat. We were the better team both halves. I refuse to describe Jones’ goal as anything less than a wonder strike. It was one of the nicer goals so far this tournament. From just outside the box, his ability to hit it with pace as well as curve it around the defender and have it come back to side net was beautiful. I’ll remind you again that I said Zusi would be an important player for us. I absolutely thought he was putting to ball on frame, but the chip pass to Dempsey was fantastic for the second goal. Besides the goals, Dempsey is the man. He’s the most talented player on our team and he’s just a no nonsense, hard worker. Obviously I wasn’t happy with the outcome, but a win against Ghana and a draw against Portugal is already way more than many expected out of the boys of Stars and Stripes. Funny enough after that finish last night, US supporters will find themselves cheering for Portugal against Ghana although a tie is preferred for less cardiac stress. The game against Germany should be more than interesting. Both teams advance with a tie. Even the simultaneous group matches can’t prevent collusion. I’m not suggesting anything of the sort will happen, only that in this case I’m more than welcoming of a 0-0 tie. Last night’s match was the most viewed soccer game in the US ever. It’s really fun to watch so many people get behind this team and I think United States soccer will be something for other countries to fear in the not so distant future.
Just about two weeks out from the greatest sporting event in the world. I’m incredibly excited, but honestly I hadn’t been thinking too much about it just yet because it was still a ways off from the end of school. Earlier at the gym I saw on ESPN that there was a US friendly against Azerbaijan tonight. Honestly, I had no idea about it previously and figured I’d watch it, but also knew there’d be hockey and basketball going on to watch as well. As time for the soccer game grew nearer I realized where my priorities lay. It’s soccer time. Watching the game really got me excited about the month of soccer I have ahead of me. The game wasn’t particularly pretty, but there were some flashes of brilliance here and there. I feel like we’re just one touch away from some really good soccer a lot of the time. But lemme tell you, sometime that one touch really lacks some quality. Overall the performance wasn’t spectacular, but at least we got the clean sheet, put a couple in the back of the old onion bag, and came out with the win. Tim Howard is still a world class goalie and I’m more than comfortable having him between the posts. Bradley was playing attacking center mid and appeared to get pretty tired as the game wore on, but also did a good job controlling the middle and spreading the ball wide to the wings and finding Altidore a few times up top. Graham Zusi playing wing looked really good to start and created a lot of chances with balls played in the box. I think he’s gonna be huge in determining our success and definitely someone to keep an eye on. I was bummed out not seeing Dempsey out there, but there wasn’t any reason for him to play if he wasn’t feeling 100%. All the speculation about his health during the game from the commentators was absolutely killing me. Commentary is a lost art if you ask me. I don’t remember the last time I wasn’t vehemently repulsed at the futile attempts of commentary in an attempt to fill empty air space (strong language!). I’d rather just listen to the ball bounce or get kicked around. Sometimes I’ll turn the volume off and listen to music if I’m really feeling sour about the whole thing. I don’t mean to go off on a rant though. I also refuse to go on a tangent about how completely ridiculous it is that Landon Donovan was not named as one of the 23 on the roster. I have nothing else to say. But back to the squad we did field, the one major concern I have is our defense. DeMarcus Beasley has had some great caps for the US, but at 32 years old he’s not what he once was out wide. With very little experience on the back line besides Beasley, and especially without a strong center back presence, I’m concerned about how we’ll match up against high profile strikers. In Group G with Germany, Portugal, and Ghana, we have our work cut out for us , but I think we’ll advance. I believe that we will win, right? In our first game against Ghana I’m going with a 1-1 tie. I don’t think we’ll come out the way we want to and this will have everyone writing us off already. There will be hours of talk if Donovan is gonna get called and whatever other conspiracy Alexi Lalas feels like throwing at us. Next match-up against Portugal is interesting. If Christiano Ronaldo isn’t the best player in the world right now, he’s probably top 3 and undoubtedly top 5. It was truly a treat watching him and Ibrahimovic go back and forth as Portugal finally got the upper hand on Sweden knocking them out of tournament contention. Moment of silence for this World Cup not being blessed with everything Zlatan. Have you seen that guys’ twitter? It’s such a shame that the Gods had to choose between Christiano and Ibra, but if we’re honest with ourselves I definitely think Portugal as a team deserved the World Cup appearance over Sweden. Well keeping track of Ronaldo is going to be an issue, but I don’t think he scores against us. Maybe an assist, but no goals not counting penalties here. We’ll probably have 3 people face guarding him the whole game. He’s still gonna have a game, even if it was him and a goalie against us he’d still probably have a game, but it’s gonna take someone else to beat us. However, I think we surprise everyone here with a win. I think we might see some magic from Dempsey and watch out for Aron Johannsson coming off the bench. Johannsson may be more of a threat in the 2018 World Cup, but I think he’s gonna be a something to pay attention to if he gets some quality minutes. Germany is a whole nother story. I can’t see us getting the win here. I don’t think anyone in Group G is going to beat Germany. There’s simply too much talent and high level experience there. Germany will advance with their 9 points and the US fills the second advancing position with 4 points. Portugal and Ghana tie in their match-up giving Ghana 2 points in Group G and leaving a very disappointed Portugal with only 1. Yes, these predictions are a bit bold, but I don’t think they are incredibly out of the question. Unfortunately the second slot of Group G matches up with the first slot of Group H which I believe will be Belgium. I really like the young talent on the Belgian team and have them making a run to up until the Final where they lose to Germany. The home country Brazil loses to Germany in the Semi-Finals and the reigning champions Spain meet their demise in the same round on the other side against Belgium. In 2002, I remember watching the opening games at an indoor soccer camp I was at. In 2006, I ran out of the car just in time to see the Zidane headbutt. In 2010, I remember watching almost all the games with my friends talking about how we’ll be halfway through college the next time the World Cup comes around. If you forgot how that one went...I’m sorry about the background songs. There’s still a little time to get your scarves, flags, and jerseys for this year. We’ll see what our boys can do.