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.
US soccer is touches away from being competitive with the top countries in the world. Playing at world class level that is no small feat and more work than it may seem, but we are getting there. I find no need to summarize the game. I feel bad for you if you missed it. This tournament showed that our defense can make mistakes, we struggle to possess the ball in the middle, and we lack a natural goal scorer who just seems to find new ways to put the ball away. This tournament also showed that we can hang with the likes of Ronaldo, Gyan, Mueller, and Hazard. Yes some of those names still hurt us, but in no match did we have no chance to win. Bradley struggled all tournament, but his energy and chipped ball over top did lead to the teenager Julian Green scoring a goal that gave the US hope for almost 15 more minutes at the end there. Up top it was a shame to lose Altidore. Dempsey had moments of greatness and it will be interesting to see if he vies for a place in the team for the next World Cup when he is 35. Tim Howard is as good as his performance against Belgium. That was no fluke. He’s the reason we were in every game and he showed that he is absolutely a top 5 keeper in the world. At 35, I hate to think that he may have seen his last minutes at the World Cup. The future looks extremely promising though. Yedlin did a great job today, Julian Green gave us a preview of next World Cup, and Altidore, Brooks, Chandler, Diskerud, and Johannsson are all also under 25. Also the younger US teams have continued to feature greater talent and the MLS as a whole improves every year. It was something else watching these four games. I can’t wait to see what we bring to the tournament for years from now.
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.
Have y’all seen the clips of the camel picking the winners of the World Cup games these days? Well after a little research I was able to find out that the camel is named Shaheen and he even picked the Dutch upset over Spain. Shaheen didn’t even seem to consider Spain in his selection so he must have known something about the 5 goals by the Netherlands that were on the way. Shaheen also correctly picked Brazil, Argentina, and Italy as the winners of their first round games. I can’t find video of the other selections made so far. Maybe you remember Paul the Octopus who selected many of the winners of the 2010 world cup. He even got the final right. Unfortunately, only a few months after the 2010 Cup, Paul passed away. A moment of silence for him. I don’t know why animals picking winners has become such a thing, but I really get a kick out of it. Buffett the Manatee had picked the Super Bowl winner correctly for the last six years before his streak came to an end this year when he went with the Broncos. I don’t blame you Buffett. I didn’t see it coming either. Every year there seems to be hamsters, dogs, cats, and more picking NCAA March Madness brackets. On somewhat of a more serious note we have a groundhog that picks how long winter is for us. I suppose that still doesn’t really mean much though. I’d like to put forward the idea that we allow more trivial decisions to be made by animals in the future.
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.