Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup Fever! Catch it! (WARNING: may cause spousal irritation)

Match Day 17- "Sun can't shine on the same dog's ass everyday." -Hoosiers

To start, I am very sad but it is easier to keep things in perspective these days with a child on the way. Last night felt like a Greek Tragedy. The US team had a fatal flaw and you know what the problem is with a fatal flaw, right? It's fatal... They once again succumb to a porous central defense. No single person is responsible for the first goal. It was a collapse down the spine of the defense that just hurt. I really thought that this game would be different. I thought they could hold off most of Ghana's offensive attempts, they would settle and then dominate the remainder of the game.

Eventually they did settle and the start to create chance after chance, but nothing stuck. They again had issues finishing. For whatever reason, Robbie Findley and Jozey Altidore just don't work well together. I'm not going to get into dissecting Bob Bradley's lineup choices because I am just not qualified. I have my opinions, but I wasn't with that team for the last few months so I cannot speak to the mechanics of that team and who works best with who. He had reasons for not starting Edu and Buddle. I think he did a great job with the squad and he should remain the coach for the next round of qualifying. Most of the plays were great, but the execution went lacking at times.

I'm still wildly proud of this team. They gave themselves a plethora of chances to win. They never gave up even after Asamoah Gyan's lightning bolt in the extra time put Ghana ahead for good. I think that US Soccer can be very happy with the progress shown if not disappointed that the team did not live up to it's full potential. I don't know if it inspired any young kids to want to take up the mantle, but every positive step in the United States counts for something. I think when we look at player's like Michael Bradley, we know that the system is still growing and prospects are improving. Hopefully the next World Cup will see players like Charlie Davies and Freddy Adu back in the mix and at the height of their powers.

Landon Donovan can walk away knowing he left nothing on the table. Whether he returns for another Cup or not, he has cemented his legacy as the country's greatest player of all time. Whenever anyone uses the term Landy-cakes now, you know that they mean it with affection and admiration.

I don't want to go on much further because I can write for days about the ups and downs this team encountered. I will say that they inspired the nation and gave it something to be truly proud of.

On the opposite side of the field, Ghana lives to fight another day as the only remaining African country left in the competition. They played a fast, physical style of football they gave us fits. While I don't see them getting past Uruguay, I know that their run in this tournament is important to the entire Continent. Ghana's footbal federation deserves a lot of praise for structuring a system that has developed some top World class players.

Speaking of Uruguay, they did a great job of neutralizing Korea's pace. Luis Suarez nabbed a couple of great goals, one brilliant, one lucky as hell. South Korea can hold their heads up high knowing that they also show great progress and promise. The match up with Ghana will be really interesting as it should look a lot more like the France game from a control perspective.

Tonight is another great match up with Argentina v. Mexico and England v. Germany. Time to get riled up and start making WWII references. Bloody Jerry! Never give up, never surrender! Fraulein, drei Hoffbrau mein damen! I don't know if England ever need help getting up for a game with Germany. I actually favor England in this game since Germany will be out their midfield general Bastion Schweinsteiger. However, German striker Miroslav Klose is back in action. It really could go either way.

Argentina and Mexico will hopefully turn into the game that Brazil v. Portugal failed to be. Mexico has some tough lineup choices to make at forward with speed and endurance needed to keep up with a wicked good Argentine side. I think Argentina will come out on top, but Mexico won't make it easy.

I'm going to call it good for today so I can have enough time to recover mentally to enjoy tonight's action.

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