Tag:World Cup 2010
Posted on: June 26, 2010 10:03 pm

A Fitting End to a Weak USA World Cup

First, I want to congratulate the great nation of Ghana, the continent of Africa and their soccer, erm, football fans on their victory today, especially the performance of GK Richard Kingson, who I think had a career game when the Black Stars needed it most. It was certainly a well-played game and deserved win. And certainly Ghana should take pride that they are 2-0 against the USA, both games in the World Cup, and both games eliminating the USA from the tournament.

Next I want to explain my title. When I used the word “weak” I mean the results of the USA fixtures, not the effort of the players (well, most of them) or the heart and determination they showed for the ninety minutes (and then some) in all their games. But overall, the USA just seemed to be the second best team on the field rather than the best. They never could get a complete ninety minutes in this World Cup, something that the USA also struggled with in qualifying at times as well.

But in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the USA did what they have always done, struggled. They give up early goals, they have defensive breakdowns, they fail to finish well earned chances on goal. It happened in the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan. It most certainly happened in 2006 in Germany. It happened in the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Despite the success in some of those tournaments, the USA’s overall play has been subpar. I mentioned all of this before the game started, but the USA tends to struggle in major FIFA tournaments, especially in the group stages. Yet in 2010, the talking heads were lauding the USA as international giants. They’re in a weak group. They’re in a weak bracket. The semifinals are a real possibility. Garbage. The way the USA has played in this tournament they would get spanked by Uruguay and not even Tim Howard could stop all the shots Uruguay would get on his goal.

Let it be known, that Bob Bradley had possibly his worst game as head coach/manager today, as shown in his substitution of Ricardo Clark after just thirty minutes for Maurice Edu. Robbie Findley’s questionable starting position resulted in nothing in his three starts but a handful of un-memorable moments of attack, his 35th minute effort today needed to put home. Findley lasted until just halftime, when he was lifted for Benny Feilhaber, who immediately had more impact in his first thirty minutes that either of those two players combined in the World Cup.

All that aside, the USA put several players on this squad that had a major impact during the warm-up campaign. Edson Buddle had two total appearances as a substitute for a total of 45 minutes.  In those 45 minutes he recorded two shots, one on goal. In three starts, Robbie Findley recorded zero shots according to the game logs on ESPN’s World Cup page. The only good thing Findley did was get a horrendous yellow card for an “intentional handball” against Slovenia to DQ himself from the game against Algeria. Herculez Gomez started that Algeria game, but was subbed off after a solid first half, but his two sub appearances weren’t as strong as his warm-up games. Jose Torres only got 45 minutes against Slovenia before being subbed off at the half, and he’s one of the best set piece guys the USA has. Benny Feilhaber probably should have been starting at center midfield with Michael Bradley, but he was also relegated to the bench for most of the World Cup. But clearly the American’s best lineup was never on the field that is for sure.

But you know what really is killing this USA team…expectations. Yes, that is a pun from those ESPN commercials. The USA had expectations to make it out of the group easily, they didn’t. They were given expectations to reach the semi-finals before even taking the field before the match with Ghana. They were handed expectations that they were not ready for. It happened in 2006 after a surprising 2002 quarterfinals run and led to a poor 2006 tournament. It happened this year after the USA reached the Confederations Cup final against Brazil, when the USA hardly deserved to make the game against Spain anyway, and led to a forgettable 2010 preformance overall in my opinion. They deserved to tie England, although how they did it remains questionable, the barely deserved a point against Slovenia and certainly were the better attacking side against Algeria before Donovan’s 91st minute heroics. But you can hardly say the USA deserved to win Group C with those results.

But the individual performances were tremendous. Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard all had spectacular tournaments, even if Howard wants that first Ghana goal back. Michael Bradley will be an impact player in the midfield for years to come. Jozy Altidore will hopefully use this experience to propel his career. I thought everyone associated with the USA defense had generally solid games with the exception of the first five minutes.

Somewhere I think the USA needs to be in the underdog role that they flourish in so much. They feed on the general disrespect that they usually get from the international powers who laugh at CONCACAF like Duke laughs at their low-major, 15-seed opponent every March. They feed on the lack of attention their sport gets in between World Cups (the Olympics don’t count, it’s a U-23 tournament). But somehow the face of US Soccer is changing. The rest of the world is noticing, these guys are pretty good, when they play for a whole ninety minutes (see USA 2-0 Spain, June 24, 2009, Confederations Cup). Even the domestic fans took notice that his year the USA had a chance to make a splash. That maybe this was the year the rest of the world realized that the USA is no longer a team just happy to make the knockout stage, but instead a team that should be considered a threat to win the World Cup. That just maybe, this was the year that soccer could take off in the United States.

But overall, this was a year that I expected the USA to take that next step. To play a complete tournament. To play three complete ninety minute games in the group phase. To get to the knockout stages and compete with whomever they are paired with for ninety minutes. Those were my expectations for the USA in the 2010 World Cup. Regardless of results, I needed to see the USA show up from the first whistle and compete until they were eliminated. And in my opinion, the USA did not do that. Even with all the heart this team showed, it needs to be shown at the start of the game, not after five minutes when you're picking the ball out of your own net. But all that aside, the USA showed the world flashes of the brilliance that has them ranked as one of the world's best.

Sadly it was not meant to be in this World Cup 2010 in South Africa. But perhaps the seeds are set for 2014 in Brazil. Because I have seen what this US team can do and most of them will be back in four years. I have seen them dominate Slovenia and Ghana for stretches of almost thirty minutes. I have seen them relentlessly attack Algeria for over ninety minutes. I have seen them comeback against three teams in this World Cup, never quitting, never giving up and leaving everything on the field.

I firmly believe that the United States has one of the best sixteen teams in the world. I don’t need a World Cup to prove that to me. But I need the USA to take that next step in a World Cup, to prove to the world that they are a top international team. To prove to the fans at home that we can play with the best in the world and you should watch us year round, not just every four years. And to prove to themselves, that they the players deserve to be there, regardless of who they qualify against, or how low the rest of the world thinks about our domestic league (MLS) or even how little our fans care but for every four years.

Because when the USA takes that step, perhaps 2014 in Brazil, or maybe in 2018 as hosts potentially, the world will take notice. Because the most of the World will be looking up at us in the world rankings, the standings, and perhaps even the podium. That day will come, and it will come soon I think.

But today is not that day. Not yet. Today the United States says goodbye to the World Cup, save for one final mission that American fans must complete.

Rooting against England tomorrow morning. And only because France is already out.

Category: Soccer
Posted on: June 26, 2010 9:23 am

World Cup 2010 - Round of 16 - Day 1 Preview

I had half a mind to just write a rather long ranting piece on the attention this USA team is getting for a rather mediocre preformance so far. But today is not a day for angry ranting as we are just hours away from USA-Ghana. But I will say this. Everyone who is lauding the USA with praise and talking about reaching the semi-finals in a weak bracket are completely underestimating Uruguay and Ghana. Also, for reason that cannot be explained, it is official that the USA completely suck at group stages of major FIFA tournaments. Don't belive me? World Cup 2002, backdoor second place after losing to Poland in the third match. World Cup 2006, three games, one tie to eventual champions Italy. Confederations Cup 2009, backdoor second after 3-0 win vs. Eygpt and 3-0 loss by Italy. 2010 World Cup, controversy aside, 91st minute goal secures advancement and group win. Numbers don't lie people, and that trend after this year will be completely unacceptable. But all of that doesn't matter, the USA is through and Landon Donovan is the hero and the talking heads are going crazy. So, let's set the straight a little bit.

[URU-A1] Uruguay vs. South Korea [KOR-B2]

Original Prediction - Uruguay [A1] vs [B2] Greece

Okay, so anyone who saw my Group B preview probably realizes that I am an idiot, but my predictions, as seen here on the ESPN Bracket Predictor, are in the 85th precentile and I'm only out one Quarterfinal team in Denmark, who I took a flier on since my original sleeper team (Chile) got paired with Brazil in the 1st knockout round (got that one right too).

Anyway, this is a bit of history here for South Korea (and Japan) as they qualified for the knockout stages for the first time on foriegn soil and since the 2002 World Cup. However the Korean's looked atrociously bad against the other team from South America that they faced (Argentina) and while Uruguay certainly lacks their attacking prowess, I certainly think that they have the edge in this game. Uruguay defeinately has a more defensive mindset for a CONEMBOL team, but I think they have more of the talent. Korea lacks playmakers with the exception of their captain, Man U's Park Ji-Sung but they have been scoring goals. The question is can the break down a Uruguay defense that hasn't yet conceded a goal. I say no.

Prediction: Uruguay 1-0

[USA-C1] United States vs. Ghana [GHA-D2]

Original Prediction - England [C1] vs. Austrailia [D2]

I apologize in advance for the follow mini-rant about the USA. Bob Bradley needs to bench Robbie Findley for Edson Buddle. Buddle earned his way onto this team and he's been effective when he starts while Findley's been invisible. Herculez Gomez should be coming off the bench in the 2nd half, perhaps paired with Dempsey up front if Bob Bradley wants too make some midfield changes as well. Michael Bradley might be the most underrated player in the World Cup but holding defensive midfielders never win awards (see Shalrie Joesph, NE Revs, MLS). But Mike Bradley needs a parter in the center midfield and I don't know who that is right now, but I like Jose Torres off the bench which probably means Ricardo Clark starts again. For all the complaints about the USA defense before the World Cup, they've done well. The USA needs to finish shots. I'm looking at you Jozy Altidore. End Rant.

The Ghana Black Stars eliminated the USA from the 2006 World Cup thanks to an Oscar winning-preformance to draw a penalty to help them win 2-1 in the final group game. And since the only goals Ghana has scored in this tournament have been penalties, they'll probably be at it again. Ghana are the only African nation left in the home continent's first Cup but they have lacked the offensive punch so far in this tournament. The USA are notoriously bad at starting games, giving up early goals to England and Slovenia and almost again to Algeria were it not for the crossbar aiding Tim Howard. I think the USA needs to score in the first half and establish themselves defensively. I think we also need the referee's to, what's the word I'm looking for...oh, not suck.

Prediction: USA 3-1

Enjoy the games guys, I'll be around for analysis of both games, no commentary, although I did think about doing it for the first game. I'd like to apologize for my shoddy posting, but I just work to much. I also robbed my wingman (mattries) a chance to give you his TV picks for the final group games, which was a fantastic idea on his part. I look forward to a USA victory and another chance at a quarterfinal match.

Posted on: June 22, 2010 7:28 am

World Cup 2010 - Group B Kncokout Scenarios

I’m on a roll this morning, third entry already. Unfortunately, they’re going to get harder later. Group C’s scenarios are a disaster. More on that later, right now it’s Group B’s turn and it’s still anybody’s game here. No team is safe, not even the in-form Argentines who top the group with 6 points. This is one of many groups where three teams could all have six points, but two teams will still advance. Someone needs to tell me why head-to-head is the third tie-breaker behind goals scored. Also, I’d like to render by Group B preview useless and just start from scratch here.

Argentina (2-0-0, 6 pts, +4 GD)

Matches – ARG 1-0 NGR; ARG 4-1 KOR; GRE vs. ARG
Knockout Scenario – Win/Draw vs. Greece

Easiest scenario for Messi, Maradona and the team that I was definitely most wrong about before the World Cup, get a point, win the group. Sounds pretty easy but remember they’re going up against a Greek side that desperately needs three points to advance. I have to hand it to Argentina though, they looked great against the normally organized South Koreans last week and should be considered a threat if the make the next round. And it would take a perfect storm to eliminate this team now.

South Korea (1-1-0, 3 pts, -1 GD)
Matches – KOR 2-0 GRE; ARG 4-1 KOR; NGR vs. KOR
Knockout Scenario – Win and Hold tiebreakers vs. Greece / Draw and Greece Draw/Loss

Here’s where it gets tough. South Korea and Greece are virtually tied, with the Koreans ahead right now on goals scored (3-2). So even with a win against Nigeria, they could still get passed by Greece on goal differential or total goals. Very confusing. With that being said, the standings say Korea has their easiest game of the tournament so far, but as poor as Nigeria has been attacking, they’re still not eliminated yet either. Best thing for the Koreans to do is take care of business against Nigeria and hope for the best.

Greece (1-1-0, 3 pts, -1 GD)
Matches – KOR 2-0 GRE; GRE 2-1 NGR; GRE vs. ARG
Knockout Scenario – Win AND Pass Korea on Tiebreakers / Draw and Korea Loss

Remember, they lost to Korea so if they end up tied on everything, head-to-head could be in play. Just like Korea the best thing they can do is win their match, easier said than done against the Argentines. The big question with this match is does Maradona feel comfortable with his position in the standings or and rest players or does he go for the result and a little insurance for first place? That I cannot answer, But the Greeks need at least a point to have a chance at advancing.

Nigeria (0-2-0, 0 pts, -2 GD)
Matches – ARG 1-0 NGR; GRE 2-1 NGR; NGR vs. KOR
Knockout Scenario – Win vs. Korea AND Greece Loss

Okay, stay with me on this one and just keep a Group B table near you while reading. If Nigeria beats Korea, even 1-0, they’d switch on the goal differential. If Argentina beats Greece, even by one goal, Greece would also fall behind Nigeria on GD. Nigeria would have at least a -1 GD and Korea/Greece would both have at least -2. Simple right? Good, because it’s the only way that Nigeria can advance so they’re rooting very hard for Argentina later. And I’d rather have this scenario, then what ever Korea and Greece have.

My original predictions had a Nigeria win and Greek-Arg draw, meaning Greece would advance with four points over Korea and Nigeria’s three. Again, anything goes here so that prediction is as good as any. Personally, I’m rooting for Nigeria or an epic fail for Argentina so I look smarter than my original preview, which should be burned.

Posted on: June 22, 2010 6:55 am
Edited on: June 22, 2010 7:01 am

World Cup 2010 - Group A Kncokout Scenarios

Group A

Sorry guys, been a little hectic the past few weeks and I haven’t been able to post much of anything. Since I was behind I decided to change up my original idea and do a massive recap/preview for each team before the group stages. Except I’m writing these very early in the morning about three hours before the games start, which I won’t be able to watch anyway. Good times. Anyway, here’s Group A, Group  B to follow, and it includes brief recaps and knockout stage scenarios for each team (more or less).

Uruguay (1-1-0, 4 pts, +3 GD)
Matches – URU 0-0 FRA; RSA 0-3 URU; MEX vs. URU
Knockout Scenario – Wins Group with Win/Draw vs. Mexico

I did get to see Uruguay’s game vs. France and was very impressed with their defensive organization in that game and really for the whole tournament. They have put themselves in a great position to advance out of the group phase and they’ve done it relatively quietly. Only a diehard could appreciate their epic defense against France and then solid finishing against South Africa in their last game. But, they only need a tie to win the group and Mexico will be playing for the win and the second place team gets Argentina, who’s red hot in the next round.

Mexico (1-1-0, 4 pts, +2 GD)
Matches – RSA 1-1 MEX; FRA 0-2 MEX; MEX vs. URU
Knockout Scenario – Win Group with Win vs. URU / Adv. With Draw

El Tri must be kicking themselves with the opening match draw against hosts South Africa. This puts them in a must win situation to avoid the aforementioned Argentina in the next round. Mexico put it all together against France after struggling for most of the South Africa game, but can they continue that trend? Even with a loss, Mexico and Uruguay have a solid cushion in the goal differential tiebreakers and it would take two lop-sided games to knock one of them out of the knockout stages.

France (0-1-1, 1 pts, -2 GD)
Matches – URU 0-0 FRA; FRA 0-2 MEX; FRA vs. RSA
Knockout Scenario – Win AND make up tiebreaker (GD) against MEX/URU

Les Bleus should change their nicknames to Les Miserables. Shame on you if none of you get that joke. Anyway, France is a mess. Their entire team mutinied on Sunday, their front office has no idea what’s going on and they need a win and help to move on. And they have to do it in front of a home crowd armed with vuvuzelas and looking at the exact same scenario. But could France win and make up 4 goal on Mexico, hard to say no.

South Africa (0-1-1, 1 pts, -3 GD)
Matches – RSA 1-1 MEX; RSA 0-3 URU; FRA vs. RSA
Knockout Scenario – See France

The host find themselves in an even tougher position than France, as they are even lower in the goal differential. This means they need a win and 5 goals to make up against Mexico and 6 against Uruguay. Highly unlikely that this will happen but South Africa doesn’t want the dubious honor of the first host country to not make it out of the group phase.

I'd like to point out that my wingman, mattries, correctly predicted this on his comment to my Group A preview. Going off my original predictions, I have both games ending in draws, but that was with Mexico and Uruguay having wrapped up the Group by winning the first two games. Either way, I did predict Uruguay would have the edge on goal differential and I still like both Uruguay and Mexico to advance, in that order.

Posted on: June 22, 2010 6:27 am

Open Letter To Sepp Blatter, Pres. of FIFA

Dear Sepp Blatter,

I have quite frankly had it with this World Cup. I have had it with you and your assistants that run FIFA. I have had it with trying to watch these soccer matches for the past two weeks.

I can put aside the constant droning of the vuvuzelas. I can put aside the stampede before a Nigeria-North Korea friendly that you say you had nothing to do with. I can put aside the fact that half of the stadiums can be practiced on because FIFA wants to keep the fields in game shape. I can put aside the fact that no one liked Adidas’ new soccer ball.

But I can’t put up with your referees. I’m done.

The world has asked you for video replay. You’ve shot them down. The world has asked for extra officials behind the penalty area, and you’ve experimented and shot that down too. Now your World Cup has turned into a catastrophe because your officials don’t know what they’re doing. There have been a total of ten red cards so far in this tournament. Half of which are highly suspect in my opinion as a USSF referee. Germany’s Miroslav Klose was sent off in the first half against Ghana for a two tackles that weren’t all that bad in my opinion. Brazil’s Kaka received a dubious second yellow card after a nice bit of acting from an Ivory Coast player. But you won’t over turn that I bet since your appeals process is a joke too. Switzerland’s Valon Behrami was given a straight red for an elbow that wasn’t today vs. Chile, again, thanks in part to another Oscar winning acting job. And Australia can’t be happy with you since they’ve had two red cards and neither of them were all that impressive. Tim Cahill was given a straight red for a challenge against Germany and Harry Kewell was sent off for a deliberate handball on the goal line the definitely wasn’t deliberate (penalty, probably, but any higher and the ball is hitting of his shoulder, which isn’t a handball). And FIFA’s already upheld every suspension except for Kaka’s to my knowledge.

And don’t get me started on the USA-Slovenia ending or Emile Heskey going studs up into Tim Howard’s ribs or the card-fest that was the aforementioned Germany-Serbia game. But Mr. Blatter, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Not holding your referee’s accountable in your sport doesn’t go over well with fans, especially in the USA. But to have the head of refereeing (Jose Garcia-Arnada, FIFA) say that he’s “very, very satisfied” with the officiating so far at the World Cup is a joke.

That means FIFA is very satisfied that most of its games are being affected or ruined from poor officiating. FIFA is very satisfied that the USA, Australia (twice), Switzerland and Germany have all been screwed out of potential wins in this tournament. FIFA is very satisfied that half of its referees shouldn’t be officiating on the sport’s biggest stage. FIFA is very satisfied that referees Koman Coulibaly (Mali, referee of USA-Slovenia) and Stephane Lannoy (France, referee of Brazil-Ivory Coast) were unable to attend Monday’s media session because they were travelling. That, Mr. Blatter, despite what you and your cronies say, is unacceptable.

The only people having a worse tournament than FIFA referee’s are probably, France, England, Italy and the ESPN commentators for the Mexico-Uruguay game. That’s it. That’s the list of people/teams doing a worse job than you. And England and Itlay are questionable.

Now, I don’t know whether you’re trying to kill soccer in America. But did you see the ratings for the two USA World Cup games yet? We’re watching (sort of). And maybe some of us are trying to watch the other games too, but most of the country has probably given up by now. They don’t understand what’s going on. American’s cannot grasp the fact that referees are not help accountable for their actions. When Jim Joyce robbed a pitcher of a perfect game, he owned up to it. When Ed “Guns” Hochuli missed a call that would have clinched a Chargers win, he manned up to his mistake. These are two of the best referees in their respective sports. The NHL has largely been proactive with its rule changes, with hits to the head and the “Sean Avery  rule” for goaltender interference just off the top of my head. I’ll leave Gary Bettman’s idiotic we’re not playing at Sochi 2014 out of this for now and his failure to capitalize on the amazing Olympic hockey tournament. (Whoops.) But dare I say that FIFA is taking a page out of the book of Bud Selig and MLB?

Yes, you are. Your sport has a problem and yet you are more enthralled with the human element of the game rather than getting the call right. Any appeals that both your sports have end in failure, so why bother appealing cards or protest games in MLB? Why are the processes there? Why even have them if it is impossible for someone to win. You want to know why baseball isn’t the number one rated sport anymore Mr. Blatter? Do you want to know why soccer will never be more than a second tier sport in the USA?

Because you’re doing nothing to attract fans to your sport right now. At least not in the United States. You had a great chance to keep a large soccer following in this country, ESPN has been shoving soccer down our throats since 2009 with MLS, the Confederations Cup, 09-10 EPL and other European leagues and even more MLS. And in less than two weeks you’ve already had the worst World Cup in my memory. I thought in 2002 you were cracking down on embellishing? I thought in 2006 you were going to judge studs up tackles more harshly? I thought in 2010 you would have your referees in order.

I guess I was wrong. And that’s a shame. Because there are 300 million people in this country, which means right now there are 300 potential million soccer fans. And even a certified referee cannot explain to them what is going on.

Category: Soccer
Posted on: June 16, 2010 8:16 am

World Cup 2010 - Group H Preview

Unfortunately had to finish this one during the Chile-Honduras game, but luckily for me I did those two teams last night and finished Spain and Switzerland’s previews just now to finally wrap up my World Cup previews. God I wish I could get paid to do this instead of working a real job, but alas…and now, the final World Cup preview with Group H.

Group Previews - [A] / [B] / [C] / [D] / [E] / [F] / [G]

Chile [CHI] – Rankings (18 FIFA / 7 SPI)
Qualifying – CONEMBOL – Finished Second
Recent Matches – W 3-0 vs. Zambia; W 1-0 vs. N. Ireland; W 3-0 Israel

If you’re looking for a sleeper team in the World Cup, look no further. They’re favored to come out of the group behind Spain and since only teams from Europe and South America ever win this thing, why not? A potential knockout round match against Brazil could be looming, and Chile lost both games by a combined scoreline of 7-2. But this is a team with talent playing all over the world and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Honduras [HON] – Rankings (38 FIFA / 32 SPI)
Qualification – CONCACAF – Finished Third
Recent Matches – T 2-2 vs. Belarus; T 0-0 vs. Azerbaijan; L 0-3 vs. Romania

Honduras has certainly not looked good heading into the World Cup and might be one of the coldest, out of form teams in the tournament right now. Combine that with their qualification, gaining the final automatic berth when the USA scored a late goal to tie Costa Rica and this could be a recipe for disaster. Also, this is a roster that is full of domestic talent that will be facing the best in the world, and you have to wonder if this team can hold up.

Spain [ESP] – Rankings (2 FIFA / SPI)
Qualification – UEFA – Group Five Winners
Recent Matches – W 3-2 vs. Saudi Arabia; W 1-0 vs. S. Korea; W 6-0 vs. Poland

Say what you want about Spain and their lack of success in big international tournaments (see 2009 Confederations Cup), but this team has what it takes to go the distance. They have one of the most talented rosters in the world, they’re experienced and they’re in-form, something that can’t be said about all the favorites coming into this World Cup. Plus, they have a relatively easy draw and should have no problems in the Group Stage.

Switzerland [SUI] – Rankings (24 FIFA / 35 SPI)
Qualification – UEFA – Group Two Winners
Recent Matches – L 0-1 vs. Costa Rica; T 1-1 vs. Italy

Another relative unknown here is the Swiss, who won a rather tame qualification group that included Greece, Latvia and Israel. Featuring a roster full of European talent, this is a team that probably can compete with the best on any given day, but since they lack a lot of experience in major tournaments, they could be overlooked. Regardless, this is a team that could surprise some who are unprepared.


Sorry lads, but since the best game in the group should be meaningless, not much to see here.

PREDICTIONS                                     STANDINGS

HON 0-2 CHI                                       ESP 2-0-1, 7 pts, +4 GD
ESP 2-0 SUI                                         CHI 2-0-1, 7 pts, +3 GD
CHI 2-1 SUI                                          SUI 1-2-0, 3 pts, -2 GD
ESP 3-1 HON                                       HON 0-3-0, 0 pts, -5 GD

Spain [H1] and Chile [H2] move on to play Portugal [G2] and Brazil [G1] respectively.

I really think that by the final group of games this group will be finalized I don’t see any other teams threatening unless there’s a draw somewhere, probably by the Swiss. I fully expect to see the second teams for the Chile-Spain fixture and also expect a poor tournament from Honduras.

Posted on: June 15, 2010 8:29 pm

World Cup 2010 - Group G Preview

Yes, I am aware that this entry is about 14 hours or so too late, and I do apologize. I finished writing it this morning but was unable to post it before the games got started. Either way, the information is not affected by today's results, and certainly had I had prior knowledge about today's game, this preview would look very different. But, this is not about today's games, but the group as a whole, so here's the preview for the World Cup's "Group of Death"...

Group Previews - [A] / [B] / [C] / [D] / [E] / [F]

Brazil [BRA] – Rankings (1 FIFA / SPI)
Qualification – CONEMBOL – First Place
Recent Matches – W 3-0 vs. Zimbabwe; W 5-1 vs. Tanzania

The normally dominant Brazil and Joga Bonita style of play were significantly absent during the 2010 qualification campaign in CONEMBOL. While Brazil did top the group, both Chile and Paraguay had more wins (10) than Brazil (9) but Brazil had the fewest losses in the group with two and had the most goals scored (33) and fewest allowed (11).  Despite a weak warm-up schedule, this team does seem to lack the creativeness known around the world for Brazilian teams, but it still should be a favorite to lift their sixth World Cup.

Ivory Coast [CIV] – Rankings (27 FIFA / 14 SPI)
Qualification – CAF (Africa) – Won Group E
Recent Matches – T 2-2 vs. Paraguay, W 2-0 vs. Japan

The Ivory Coast comes into the World Cup in good form, but injury bug has bitten perhaps the best player for the Elephants in Didier Drogba, who suffered a broken arm just eleven days before the start of the World Cup questions are abound on whether he will be available and whether this African team in just their second World Cup appearance can carry the hope of a continent in the most talented group draw.

North Korea [PRK] – Rankings (105 FIFA / 78 SPI)
Qualification – AFC (Asia) – Finished 2nd Group B
Recent Matches – L 0-1 vs. Paraguay, T 2-2 vs. Greece, L 1-3 vs. Nigeria

In the happy to be here files, North Korea makes their second World Cup appearance, hoping to channel the magic of their first appearance. In 1966, North Korea shocked Italy 1-0 and led Portugal in the quarters 3-0 before losing 5-3. This team is the great unknown in this tournament and I would expect a staunch defense from this side with almost all of their attack generated on the counter. Their tournament got off to a rocky start with a roster error, forcing striker Kim Myong-Won to play as a goalkeeper. Plus, isn't it good to talk about North Korea and not have it be awkward for the next two weeks?

Portugal [POR] – Rankings (3 FIFA / 8 SPI)
Qualification – UEFA – Finished 2nd Group A, Won Playoff 2-0 (agg.) vs. Boznia-Herz.
Recent Matches – T 0-0 vs. Cape Verde Is.; W 3-1 vs. Cameroon, W 3-0 vs. Mozambique

While their warm-up matches got off to a rocky start, tying African minnows Cape Verde, the Portuguese finished strong against two solid opponents. Cristiano Ronaldo has not been scoring, but his presence will be instrumental for this side who are quickly establishing themselves as one of the world’s best teams, despite their young soccer history on the international stage.

IMPORTANT MATCHDAY – June 15, 2010 – CIV vs. POR; BRA vs. PRK

Basically, these games (yes, they already took place…) will set the stage for the rest of the group matches. Brazil wants a strong start against the weakest team in the group and the Ivory Coast-Portugal match could be a defacto elimination game in someone wins, which will force the loser to beat Brazil to advance to the knockout stages.

PREDICTIONS                                     STANDINGS

BRA 3-1PRK                                        BRA 2-0-1, 7 pts, +4 GD
CIV 1-2 POR                                        POR 2-0-1, 7 pts, +3 GD
BRA 2-0 CIV                                        CIV 1-2-0, 3 pts, -2 GD
POR 3-1 PRK                                       PRK 0-3-0, 0 pts, -5 GD

Brazil [G1] and Portugal [G2] advance to play [H2] and [H1] respectively.

I like Brazil and Portugal to come out of the group and both teams should have everything wrapped up when they meet in their final match, making that game an irrelevant contest between the second teams. I don’t think North Korea will win a match, but they’re going to put up a heck of fight doing so. There are too many questions about the Ivory Coast for me to pick them to advance, even if they have home continent advantage.

Posted on: June 12, 2010 3:19 pm

World Cup 2010 - USA 1-1 ENG - 1st Half Analysis

The USA found themselves in an early hole after Steven Gerrard (4') made a nice run in the early stages of the game past a unorganized US defense and past Tim Howard to score the opener. But the USA was handed a gift when English keeper Robert Green fumbled Clint Dempsey's (40') shot from distance and put the USA back on terms. The US defense have not looked great early, but for the most part have been able to get the job done so far. The USA have had some good chances off of set pieces and corners, particularly Oguchi Onyewu's headers and a nice cross from Donovan to Altidore that also went wide. The USA has done a pretty good job of possession, at one point having 60 percent of the ball in the middle stages of the half. Apart from the early goal I like what I'm seeing from the USA for the most part. Yes, the defense needs to get organized but the attack is there.

KEY INUJRIES: GK Tim Howard (USA) - Took a hard tackle from Heskey in the center of the penalty area and stayed down for few minutes. Heskey also stayed down late in first half after a challenge but also was back onto his feet after a minute.

KEY SUB: Milner, OFF; Wright-Phillips ON (ENG) - Milner picked up a yellow after a second hard challenge on Cherundolo on the wing. Also apparently has been ill and coach Fabio Cappello wasting no time taking him off.

KEY CARD: Steve Cherundolo picked up a card and that would probably mean he's coming off at some point which is a shame. For all the emphasis on the outside defense for the USA, he's been great today, especially on the attack.

2ND HALF: I expect to see much of the same from both teams. England seem almost content to protect their lead in the first half before the USA equalized but revved up the attack after Green's blunder. Both teams have had their chances on set pieces, free kicks and corners but nothing really has come of any of them, especially for England as the US has been much more dangerous on set pieces. Clearly the weakness for England in goal has come to a head and further fuels the questions for England moving forward in the tournament.
Category: Soccer
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