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.
Well I’ve reached over 1,000 views a month after I started my blog. I had a head start on posting, but I didn’t publicize the existence of my blog until May 26th. I had almost 250 views that first day and I’ve had days with less than 10 views since. There’s always gonna be ups and downs. I haven’t written as much as I’d like to or networked on WordPress as much as I’d have liked to, but I’m still getting views and more followers from time to time. I’d blame the fact that I’m practically worthless after work some days for my decreased activity. I still enjoy the process though. You have to remind yourself that slow progress is still progress. A lot of people don’t understand that, but I think it’s important. You could use it as an excuse, but I’m just saying slow growth doesn’t mean you should stop. I still like to think that my writing consistently gets hundreds of views a day somewhere down the line. On another note I don’t exactly see myself doing concrete work further off into my future. It’s not all bad, but I hope for something else for myself. Sometimes I’m not stoked to be up at 5 in the morning, but I am getting really good at telling the time by the sun’s position in the sky. Unless obligated, sometimes even opposing social norms, I don’t wear a shirt so I’ve managed to avoid a concrete worker’s tan. In case you didn’t know a concrete worker’s tan is very similar to a farmer’s tan only with the addition of pale hands from extended glove use. I plan to have the world’s strongest back by the end of summer with all the shoveling I have to do. A new kid started yesterday. We’ve actually been working at his house for a while now and I guess bossman asked if he wanted any work. He’s a few years younger than me so I’m not longer the new guy or the youngest. He does total new guy things like ask a ton of dumb questions and follow me around. I’m just giving him a hard time, I was doing literally the same thing a few weeks ago. Now that I’m not the new guy I’m brimming with confidence. I do more on my own without asking questions and I even get to give orders from time to time. It’s a lot better than answering to absolutely everyone all the time. I’m a natural born leader… or something. On another note the US finagled it’s way through the ‘group of death’ into the round of 16. Finagled isn’t the perfect word here by definition, but by sound it is, so I’m going with it. Unfortunately with the 12 o’clock start times today I didn’t get to see any of either game, but I checked my phone the few times it was possible. Ronaldo didn’t even look happy when he scored his goal. He was like whatever there you go USA that just about seals it. Well thanks anyway CR7. We’ll play Belgium next game who I had beating us and making it to the final against Germany in my early predictions, but I think we just might have a chance to play more than one extra game. If you ignore how the two teams should play based on stats or potential, I think the two teams are competing at similar levels. The US played pretty solid soccer against Portugal and Ghana and while I didn’t see the game, a 1-0 loss to Germany isn’t terrible. Belgium really hasn’t played as well as I had expected them t,o not looking as potent on the offensive as I predicted they’d be. Nothing too exciting to write about right now, but things are looking up. Hopefully I have another snake encounter over the weekend.
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.
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.
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.