Across the U.S., an Explosion of Joy

June 24, 2010

Bob Bradley
“When Landon Donovan scored in stoppage time to rescue the national soccer team from elimination and sent the Americans to the Round of 16, it was just before noon on the East Coast, just before 9 a.m. on the West Coast, and just plain early in general across the United States. But Americans celebrated the same way, wherever they were.” (NYT)

Desperate Hope, Dramatic Ending for U.S.
“Chance after frantic chance the United States had Wednesday in its 1-0 victory over Algeria at the World Cup, each one more tempting and frustrating than the other. Finally, desperation seemed to tighten like a noose, strangling the Americans’ patience and accuracy.” (NYT)

Goal! The thrill of World Cup victory
“For weeks a multi-front soccer culture war has been raging in the blogosphere. But one goal by the man who just staked a pretty good claim to the title of ” greatest player in the history of U.S. soccer,” Landon Donovan, should permanently change the terms of debate. But first a little context: In the group round of the World Cup, scoring a goal in “stoppage time” — a few minutes of overtime after the end of regulation to make up for time lost to injuries — to break a scoreless tie and move on to the next round is one of the most dramatic things that can possibly happen in soccer.” (Salon)

A Foreign Game Looks Very American
“Tim Howard was playing hurry-up, booting the ball in desperation, watching the backs of his teammates, American athletes, as they raced downfield trying to save four years of effort. ‘It wasn’t a soccer match,” Howard said. “It was an athletics match, track and field.’ Sprinting has been, in its way, an American sport, whereas soccer has always been a foreign sport that frightens people — well, except for the millions of Americans lined up in pubs and dens and offices all over their country on a weekday morning, going crazy after the best, or the most dramatic, or the most important soccer match in American history.” (NYT)

Bliss, and a Belgian Spared
“It has been a beautiful day. It was a perfect match, offering up everything that draws us to football. The devastation of the goal-that-was-not, the relief as the team, rather than fumbling into frustration, kept carefully building up excellent plays, defending beautifully, and pushing, pushing, pushing. Raïs M’Bohli, the Paris-born Congolese/Algerian goalkeeper — who, I imagine and hope, will be moving on rapidly from his professional team in Bulgaria after this showing — stopping the goals relentlessly, seemingly on his way to becoming Algeria’s new national hero. In perfect if sadistic form, the team kept us all in suspense until the very end, when in a beautiful, invincible run, scrappy, a little enraged, bringing together Donovan, Altidore and Demsey in a gorgeous one-two-three, and here in Durham and throughout the country and the world there was that explosion of joy that can only come when it has been long-deferred, seemingly unattainable, and perfectly plucked from out of nowhere.” (Soccer Politics)

The American Ascendancy
“And then it happened. Sunil cried, too. And he woke up this morning to escort Bill Clinton and shake the trees for votes from FIFA’s 24-member Politburo for that 2002 World Cup bid. (Clinton is the bid’s honorary chairman; he got a big cheer when his face appeared on the video board last night.) ESPN was assured another weekend of USA-fired ratings. And given that we’ve landed for the first two knockout rounds in the best group since the Beatles, the possibility for advancing further than any modern US men’s national team are real. Project 2010, anyone?” (TNR)

The Two Escobars

June 24, 2010

“While rival drug cartels warred in the streets and the country’s murder rate climbed to highest in the world, the Colombian national soccer team set out to blaze a new image for their country. What followed was a mysteriously rapid rise to glory, as the team catapulted out of decades of obscurity to become one of the best teams in the world. Central to this success were two men named Escobar: Andrés, the captain and poster child of the National Team, and Pablo, the infamous drug baron who pioneered the phenomenon known in the underworld as ‘Narco-soccer.’ But just when Colombia was expected to win the 1994 World Cup and transform its international image, the shocking murder of Andres Escobar dashed the hopes of a nation.” (30 for 30)

Germany 1-0 Ghana: Ghana pay the price for not picking up Özil, but both progress

June 24, 2010

“Like yesterday’s Uruguay v Mexico game – a strange contest, because both teams were happy with the scoreline as it stood for most of the second half.
As such, mentality and strategy are difficult to assess, but these are certainly the best two sides in the group, and they put on a great show in Durban that resulted in a narrow victory for Germany, the group winners.” I(Zonal Marking)

World Cup 2010: Ghana 0-1 Germany
“If England supporters had reason to be concerned that their run of not having been knocked out at the opening stages of the World Cup finals since 1958 mind come to an end, then the question of what might be running through the minds of German supporters this evening probably also merits our consideration. Germany last failed to get through the opening round of the World Cup finals in 1938 and, unlike England, they have qualified for every tournament since then. Yet the precariousness of their position has gone curiously unmentioned in the British press. If Germany fail to beat Ghana this evening and Serbia beat Australia, Germany, who had everyone singing their praises after the opening match hiding that they dished out to Australia, will be out in the first round of the World Cup finals.” (twohundredpercent)

Ghana 0-1 Germany – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 23 June 2010
“Germany and Ghana played their final group stage match with a chance at the knockout stage still alive. The winner would win Group D and likely play England in the next round. Germany would be favored but Ghana came into the match with the lead with four points.” (The 90th Minute)

Australia 2-1 Serbia – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 23 June 2010
“Australia needed a win and some help while Serbia could advance with a draw as the two teams played in Group D. Serbia would favored but Australia will be wanting to show their run into the round of 16 in 2006 was not a fluke. Australia was unlikely to have a chance to win the group while Serbia could with a win and better goal difference then Germany (if they won).” (The 90th Minute)

2010 FIFA World Cup Group D Final Standings: Germany & Ghana advance
“The matches in Group D are finished in the 2010 FIFA World Cup as Germany & Ghana have advanced. Ghana topped Australia on goal difference while Germany led the final standings with six points. Australia just missed out on goal difference as they beat Serbia 2-1 in their final match. It was a close group in the end and all three teams still had a chance going into their final match. Germany will now place England in the next round while Ghana faces the USA.” (The 90th Minute)

Slovakia 3-2 Italy – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 24 June 2010

June 24, 2010

“The defending World Cup Champions, Italy, needed to get at least a draw against Slovakia on Thursday, June 24, 2010 to advance out of the group stage. For Slovakia, they could advance with a win as long as the other match ended favorably for them.” (The 90th Minute)

2010 FIFA World Cup Group F Final Standings: Paraguay & Slovakia advance
“Group F in the 2010 FIFA World Cup has wrapped up with Paraguay placing first and Slovakia getting second place. Those two teams will advance to the next round of the tournament while Italy and Slovakia are eliminated. It’s a surprise result to see the defending champions eliminated but they just couldn’t get the result. The final group standings are below.” (The 90th Minute)

Paraguay 0-0 New Zealand – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 24 June 2010
“New Zealand has surprised with two draws but now needed a win to advance to the knockout stage as they face Paraguay. The All Whites came into the World Cup has one of the lowest ranked sides but has showed an ability to compete in this tournament. Paraguay could clinch the group title with a win or a draw and an Italy loss.” (The 90th Minute)

Late Italian rally falls short; Slovakia advances to round of 16
“Defending champion Italy was eliminated Thursday from the World Cup with a humbling 3-2 loss to Slovakia, which advanced. Slovakia finished second in Group F to Paraguay. The Italians were last, the first time they’ve ever finished at the bottom of an opening-round group.” (ESPN)

England 1-0 Slovenia: England more balanced and better in possession

June 24, 2010

“A much improved performance from England that sees them narrowly progress into the knockout stages of the competition. Slovenia looked to be through at full-time, but a late goal from Landon Donovan against Algeria sends them out. England made three changes from their 0-0 defeat with Algeria. Matthew Upson replaced the suspended Jamie Carragher, with John Terry shifting across to play as the right-sided centre-back. James Milner came in for Aaron Lennon, and Jermain Defoe was ahead of Emile Heskey.” (Zonal Marking)

Slovenia 0 England 1: match report
“It’s the Germans again. It’s history and hysteria again, hopes and fears rolled into one heaving, epic confrontation again. At 3pm on Sunday, the nation will stop, tune in and watch nervously the pictures of the drama unfolding in Bloemfoentein. The streets will be empty, the front rooms full because it’s England versus Germany, the fixture that fixates.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter)

James Lawton: Dare we believe the hype again? A little fighting spirit can go a long way
“England are not much nearer to winning the World Cup, not with rampant Argentina as potential quarter-final opponents, and finishing second in the Group of Extremely Unlikely Death will never rate as one of the great battle ribbons. It’s also true that the old nemesis Germany lurks in Bloomfontein on Sunday. No, the path to World Cup glory has not exactly opened up. Germany, Argentina, Spain, and then Brazil, maybe, are a series of hurdles that stretch out to a Himalayan degree.” (Independent)

Altitude may be dragging Wayne Rooney down
“No footballer has ever seemed less enigmatic than the Wayne Rooney who erupted on to the scene as a pugnacious teenager, still 16 when his spectacular last-minute goal at Goodison Park ended Arsenal’s 30-match unbeaten run in the league. At 17 he was given his first start in a senior international match, and those who were at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light to see him inspire the defeat of Turkey in a Euro 2004 qualifying match will never forget the impact of a player to whom fear and self-doubt were strangers.” (Guardian)

Listening to the World Cup: Waka Waka, Zangaléwa and Vuvuzelas

June 24, 2010

“From the first 2010 World Cup broadcasts on ESPN, my fellow tweeters cracked jokes about The Lion King. We imagined Rafiki calling the matches, or James Earl Jones (who provided the voice for Mufasa), and half expected the referees to raise the Jabulani aloft to announce the arrival of the New Ball. Most folks simply observed, ‘I feel like I am watching The Lion King.'” (From A Left Wing)