World Cup Pass & Move: I Can’t Believe That We Did Draw!

June 23, 2014

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“Looks like we picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue! That was a pretty turbulent soccer match on Sunday. To try to make sense of it all, we’ve got a bunch of Grantland writers on hand to talk it out. This is a safe space! Blame Game. Bill Barnwell: When the clock struck 94:00, DeAndre Yedlin had the ball in the opposite corner of the pitch while trying to shield it from Portuguese defenders. At 94:24, the ball was up for grabs in the Portuguese half of the field. Eight seconds later, at 94:32, a bullet header from substitute Portuguese striker Silvestre Varela hit the back of the net. Given that the final whistle blew almost immediately after the ensuing kickoff, had the United States managed to hold the ball for another 10 seconds, it would have come away from Manaus with three points. It’s a bitter blow.” Grantland (Video)

USA eyes bigger picture after letting World Cup chance slip vs. Portugal
“They were 30 seconds away — half a minute from clinching a spot in the knockout stage of the 2014 World Cup after only two games, an achievement few could have expected prior to the tournament. ‘It’s the Group of Death,’ goalkeeper Tim Howard said. ‘Most people counted us out.’ They were 30 seconds away from writing a new chapter in U.S. soccer history. Never before had the U.S. men advanced beyond the first round in consecutive World Cups. Only 30 seconds separated the Americans from a seminal victory over a European power that would have opened the eyes of millions around the world and galvanized an increasingly engaged public back home. Thirty seconds proved too long.” SI (Video)

Late Shock Interrupts U.S. Party
“The ball was barely past United States goalkeeper Tim Howard, and already he had put his hands to his head. On the bench, Jurgen Klinsmann spun away as if he had seen a ghost. Up the field, not far from where he lost the ball, Michael Bradley could only stare. This was what shock looked like. The Americans had advanced, hadn’t they? Hadn’t they? The celebration had been epic after Clint Dempsey, the captain, the man with the black eye and the broken nose and the swollen cheek, scored just nine minutes from the end to put the Americans in front and surely — surely — into the knockout round of the World Cup. It was bedlam. It was overwhelming. It was historic.” NY Times

World Cup Tactical Analysis | USA 2 – 2 Portugal: The Americans exploit down the right
“The two sides came into this game with contrasting opening fixtures. While the Americans were lacking expectations at the World Cup, they managed a positive result against Ghana, while the Portuguese disappointed with a 4-0 loss to Germany (though a victory was never likely). In what was the last late game of the World Cup, both teams certainly left it late. Although they shared the points, the US certainly were the more impressive side and looked deserving of all three points, while the Portuguese can count themselves extremely lucky for not having been knocked out of the tournament already.” Outside of the Boot

How the Portugal Draw Boosts the U.S.’s World Cup Advancement Odds
“The United States was seconds away from defeating Portugal on Sunday when Michael Bradley, normally one of the steadiest American players, mishandled a ball in midfield and gave Portugal a last opportunity. Silvestre Varela took advantage, scoring on a header. But the 2-2 draw was a result the U.S. might have been happy with before the match began. It improved the Americans’ odds of advancing to the knockout round of the World Cup. Those chances are up to 76 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast, an improvement from 65 percent before Sunday’s match.” fivethirtyeight


World Cup 2014: group stage, day 11. BELGIUM 1-0 RUSSIA. ALGERIA 4-2 SOUTH KOREA. USA 2-2 PORTUGAL.

June 23, 2014

“… A very exciting game – USA dominated for the majority, but conceded a very late equaliser, meaning all Group G sides can still qualify. Portugal left / USA right. There were various changes to the sides for this game – Portugal’s backline was decimated through injury, while Jurgen Klinsmann switched to a 4-2-3-1 in the absence of Jozy Altidore, with Clint Dempsey upfront alone. Incidentally, this is probably what should have happened after Altidore’s injury against Ghana, and USA played much better football in this match, even if they didn’t eventually record a victory. But this game was basically all about the battle in one area of the pitch, as always with Portugal’s matches. Usually Cristiano Ronaldo starts on the left flank and cuts inside onto his right foot before shooting. The starting structure of Portugal’s side suggested this was the plan again, but Ronaldo played an even freer role, appearing as something of a second striker for the latter period of the second half, before eventually becoming Portugal’s highest man up the pitch. The left-wing position was left bare.” Zonal Marking


World Cup 2014: Belgium Defeats Russia, 1-0

June 23, 2014

“Belgium booked a place in the Round of 16 after a late goal from Divock Origi earned a 1-0 victory over Russia in Group H. It was the second game in a row that Belgium needed a late score from a substitute to win. Origi, who replaced the ineffective Romelu Lukaku in the 57th minute, is only 19 years old and became Belgium’s youngest ever World Cup goal scorer. He combined with Eden Hazard, the skillful midfielder, down the left wing to engineer a counterattack in the 88th minute. Both goals in Belgium’s previous match, a 2-1 win over Algeria, came from second-half substitutes.” NY Times

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Belgium 1 – 0 Russia
“A game which was fairly fought out for 80 minutes, was suddenly stolen away from a team that showed it’s individual brilliance. A game in which man to man ability was the thin line between three points and zilch.” Outside of the Boot


World Cup 2014: Algeria Defeats South Korea for First Cup Win in 32 Years

June 23, 2014

“First-half strikes by Islam Slimani and Rafik Halliche helped Algeria defeat South Korea, 4-2, on Sunday and become the first team from Africa to score four goals in a World Cup match. Algeria led by 3-0 at halftime and withstood a stronger South Korean performance in the second half to claim its first Cup win since 1982 and move into second place in Group H with one match left.” NY Times


Towards an Ethic of World Cup Fandom

June 23, 2014

“Sometime before he died, my uncle told me that in his youth, his dream had been to watch a World Cup game in person. He passed away before he could do it, so when Costa Rica qualified for the FIFA World Cup, I seized the chance to go. I contacted welcoming friends in Brazil, bought a ticket to see my team play football against England, and planned my trip. Like many fans around the world, I wanted to appreciate the beautiful game played at the highest level.” New Republic


The World Cup’s top 100 footballers of all time – interactive

June 23, 2014

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6. Johan Cruyff
“Welcome to the Guardian’s choice of the World Cup’s top 100 footballers. Led by Lothar Matthäus and Zico, our international panel of 40 experts compiled a countdown of the finest players to grace the globe’s greatest sporting event. You can see who the judges are and read how we compiled the list here. Starting with No1 in the top left corner, click on the individual players to read more about them.” Guardian


World Cup Brasília, a Capital City That’s a Place Apart

June 23, 2014

“The Brazilian flag reads, “Ordem e Progresso” — “Order and Progress” — which is somewhat curious in this wonderfully jumbled and beautiful country. For an outsider who has visited the samba-infused nightclubs of Rio de Janeiro, the Amazonian jungle or São Paulo, with its ramshackle favelas and snarled traffic, order is not what springs to mind. Until you arrive in Brasília. In a country known for its flair for improvisation, Brasília stands in jarring contrast, a city so orderly, it is hard to believe it is really in Brazil.” NY Times