Saturday, June 26, 2010

US story reads the same but no Hollywood ending

*****Monday Update*****
Three of the top four teams in the world will be on display Monday as the Dutch, Brazilians, and Spanish will all enter the knockout round. Holland should handle Slovakia but look for them to try and get out quick in order to put the pressure on. Kaka returns from suspension and Brazil are unbeaten in their last 32 matches with him in the lineup. Lastly, Spain will have to look much better than they have thus far in the Cup if they hope to get by a potent Portuguese side.

Rest assured you have not heard the last about this topic but at the end of this World Cup there will be an equal amount of banter about the controversial calls as there will be about actual play on the pitch. In both matches this morning there were horrific calls made that possibly changed the course of the outcome. In the case of the Brits the offside call that was made cost them what would have been a tie at 2 and a chance to ‘mulligan’ their inauspicious start. In Mexico’s case it was a missed offside call that cost them a goal that clearly changed their strategy and forced them to move forward opening them up to two more scores, 0-3 deficit, and bringing Argentina’s 28-0-4 record in World Cup play when scoring first, thus signaling the end to their Cup chances. However, at the end of the day, terrible calls and human error should be nothing new to any of the participants as it has become commonplace and perhaps the players, coaches, and fans should be more cognizant on how they will adapt if/when it happens to their side. Now, I do understand the entire complexity of the game changes when you have to score just to equalize but both teams simply could not regroup following the travesty of justice. Also in both cases the goal differential of the game was more than two so although a factor (major) there was ample time to gather mentally and find a way to get back in the match.

US story reads the same but no Hollywood ending

The four matches the USA has played in this World Cup have pretty much followed true to the same script, give up a very early goal thus adding to already intense pressure, struggle to get even, then pull off the miracle ending and try to make it dramatic enough to get a “first look” deal in the future. For the first three matches it seemed to work each time the US snatching victory from the jaws of defeat but their first taste of the knockout round in eight years was re-written before going to post-production as Ghana scored a very cheaply earned goal in the 30-minute extra time period and hold on for a 2-1 win. Ironically the same score they ousted the US by in the previous World Cup. The most disappointing thing for the US was that they did not take advantage of a favorable draw as this was a very winnable game and seemed to be there for the taking. Those daring enough to look ahead also viewed a matchup with Uruguay as within their grasp as well. In the end the US just ran out of gas and didn’t kept getting beat to the ball and had way too many turnovers when fatigue set in, a poignant example of how as a nation we’re not quite ready for prime time. Soccer in this US will simply never reach the level of importance as it has around the globe, or if it does it won’t come in our lifetime, but perhaps that is one of the things that needs to change for us to compete consistently, as we simply set the bar for ourselves too low and getting out of the group stage is way to big of a moral victory. Similar to the way some schools are happy just to make the NCAA tournament and others will call anything short of a Final Four a disappointment. Once again, I understand true fans of the sport loathe it when correlations with other sports are used to explain soccer/football/fussball, but that’s exactly my point. We need to start bleeding it like others do or when it comes down to critical situations like the match with Ghana and both sides are digging deep to find a way to finish after 2 hours on the pitch, its that motivation that separates the countries moving on and the ones trying to find answers whey they’re not. Are you content with the US showing in this world cup? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.
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