USA, Mexico, and Costa Rica all win – Recap and Video Highlights

October 11, 2009

“The CONCACAF region is still very close and all six remaining teams were in action on Saturday, October 10, 2009. The United States could clinch a spot with a win while Honduras and Costa Rica are in 3rd and 4th. Mexico will all but clinch a spot with a win as they have a better goal differential than Honduras and Costa Rica. Here’s a recap of all the matches in CONCACAF 2010 World Cup Qualifying along with video highlights.” (The 90th Minute)

U.S. Advances to 2010 World Cup
“Conor Casey plays soccer with the blunt, straight ahead resolve of a punch. His shaved head lends to that fistic impression. There is no need to go around others in his path when he can go right through them. His knees have often failed him, as has his touch with the United States national team. In 14 previous appearances, he had not scored a goal. His breakout performance Saturday night amounted to perfect timing, as did Coach Bob Bradley’s decision to put Casey into the starting lineup. The 6-foot-1 forward scored twice in a frantic, mesmerizing game that gave the United States a 3-2 victory over Honduras and a berth in the 2010 World Cup, which opens next June in South Africa.” (NYT)

Player Ratings: U.S. vs. Honduras
“It is this simple: the United States has qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa — 10s for everybody! Easy. Saturday night’s 3-2 win over Honduras in San Pedro Sula means the U.S. and Mexico have claimed two of the three automatic berths from the Concacaf region. The win, powered by two goals from Conor Casey, rendered Wednesday’s game against Costa Rica superfluous … for the United States.” (NYT)

Mexico 4 – 1 El Salvador
“Mexico became the first nation in North and Central America and the Caribbean to clinch a World Cup berth, beating El Salvador 4-1 Saturday to eliminate the visitors. Marvin Gonzalez’s own goal put the hosts ahead in the 25th minute at Azteca Stadium, and Cuauhtemoc Blanco (71st minute), Francisco Palencia (84th minute) and Carlos Vega (90th) added goals.” (ESPN)

Last-gasp Palermo wins it in the rain – CONMEBOL

October 11, 2009

“Substitute Martin Palermo struck two minutes into stoppage time to give Argentina a 2-1 victory over Peru in a dramatic finale to their World Cup qualifier on Saturday. The victory keeps alive Argentina’s hopes of reaching the 2010 finals as they climbed into fourth place in the South American group before their last qualifier away to Uruguay on Wednesday. The top four go through to South Africa.” (ESPN)

Forlan keeps Uruguay hopes alive
“Uruguay claimed a crucial victory away to Ecuador to keep their hopes of World Cup qualification alive going into the final round of fixtures in the South America zone. An injury-time penalty from Diego Forlan gave the Charruas victory at the Olimpico Atahualpa and they now need a win over Argentina on Wednesday to achieve automatic qualification.” (ESPN)

Madness reigns in South America
“Madness. That’s the only word to describe Saturday’s action in the South American zone as the qualifying competition for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ entered its penultimate round. Making the headlines were two Argentinians who share the same nickname of El Loco (The Madman); Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa, who saw his team win a thrilling encounter in Medellin to return to the world elite for the first time since France 1998, and Albiceleste striker Martin Palermo, who came off the bench to secure the most dramatic of winners for against Peru.” (FIFA)

Maradona’s redemption?
“It’s been a long and interesting life in football for Diego Armando Maradona. Outrageous talent, uncontrollable egotism, and a tendency towards controversy matched by few others (check out his crazy, stream-of-consciousness autobiography for all the gory details). Since he first laced up his boots as a jinking juvenile at Argentinos Juniors all those years ago, the Argentine icon has played a central role in quite some number of memorable matches. Sadly, the content of Maradona’s managerial career to date has proven rather less memorable. Until the events of Saturday night in Buenos Aires.” (Footballing World)

Fabregas and Mata on target for Spain – UEFA

October 11, 2009

“Spain remained on course to complete a perfect record in qualifying as they made it nine wins from nine with victory over Armenia in a rain-drenched Yerevan today. In a clash between a Spanish side who had already secured their spot in next year’s World Cup finals and an Armenia team whose outside hopes of going to South Africa had vanished long ago, it was the European champions who came out on top thanks to Juan Mata’s second-half penalty.” (ESPN)

Gilardino secures Italy’s spot
“Giovanni Trapattoni came within three minutes of a famous FIFA World Cup™ victory over his native Italy as the reigning champions got out of jail at the death to ensure qualification for South Africa 2010. Substitute Alberto Gilardino snatched a 2-2 draw with a 90th-minute strike just three minutes after Sean St Ledger thought he had blown the race for automatic qualification from Group 8 wide open.” (FIFA)

Rep of Ireland 2-2 Italy
“The Republic sealed a World Cup play-off spot while Italy confirmed their place in South Africa as group winners after a dramatic draw in Dublin. Stoke City’s Glenn Whelan gave the hosts the perfect start with a superb 20-yard strike after eight minutes. The Italians levelled on 23 minutes through Mauro Camoranesi’s header.” (BBC)

Statistics and the Form of the Soccer Match

October 11, 2009

“Back in May, before I knew that academic statisticians were eavesdropping on my thoughts, I mused on Sport Is a TV Show that “judging the footballing abilities of two football teams is so difficult that football itself is often a bad way to do it.” I was writing about matches that end in penalty shootouts, but the thought applies just as well to matches in which one team plays better than the other team but loses anyway. As we all know, that’s not an uncommon occurrence—it happens much more in soccer than in any other sport I follow—which is one reason the soccer punditry is so zealous in proclaiming after every whether the winning team really deserved to win. Scoring in soccer is so much more difficult than scoring in other sports, and matches are so much more likely to come down to two or three individual moments, that there will always be an interesting gap between results and merit.” (Run of Play)