World Cup As a Bandwagon Fills, a Team Fails Forward

June 27, 2014

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“The United States soccer players seemed to pass the ball to Germany more often than they did to their own teammates. Late in the game, two Americans — Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya — were left splayed on the field after running into each other and knocking heads. Jones had also hit the turf earlier when he ran at full speed into the referee. No matter. After their World Cup match here on Thursday, a 1-0 loss, the American players hugged, high-fived and pumped their fists, while their coach flashed a goofy grin. Their fans, soggy from the torrential rain, chanted: ‘U-S-A, U-S-A.’ Weird thing, this World Cup. It generously laid a giant red, white and blue welcome mat at the back door. The United States escaped the Group of Death by enduring a lot of self-inflicted wounds but never fully losing its pulse. As if by miracle, even in defeat, the United States will advance to the Round of 16, and it is scheduled to play Belgium on Tuesday.” NY Times

World Cup Tactical Analysis: USA 0-1 Germany | Germany expose and dominate wide areas
“On the last day of the group phase, one of the most exciting groups, Group G, drew to an exciting close. All 4 teams were in with a shot of going through to the next round. There was a lot of tension in the air in the build up to this game as a draw was enough to take both sides through, and many had doubts after Germany’s performance against Austria in the 1982 World Cup. That aside though, this was also set to be a very tough game as two very evenly matched sides very going up against one another. Coach Jogi Low, who was assistant to Jurgen Klinsmann during the latter’s time in charge of Die Manschaft went up against his former colleague as well, to add some more spice to the occasion.” Outside of the Boot

U.S. Moves On With Assist From Portugal
“This time, there was no moment. No tingle in the spine, no shiver in the neck, no blood rush to the ears. There was no memory that will live on in hearts and minds and YouTube videos forever. This time, there was only this: About 10 minutes before the end of the United States national team’s World Cup game against Germany on Thursday, a U.S. Soccer staff member sidled up to one of Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s assistants and informed him that Portugal, playing simultaneously about 1,200 miles away in Brasília, had taken a one-goal lead against Ghana. The assistant, Andi Herzog, then turned to his left on the bench and tapped Klinsmann on the arm.” NY Times

U.S. needs possession to continue run
“The emotional ups and downs the U.S. went through in surviving Group G required a year’s supply of Dramamine. The Americans withstood withering pressure to beat Ghana 2-1, played brilliantly before coughing up a late equalizer against Portugal and finally concluded group play with a 1-0 defeat to Germany. Omar Gonzalez summed up the experience perfectly when he said, ‘Last game’s draw felt like a loss, and today’s loss felt like a win. It’s pretty weird.’ Taking the big picture view, the Americans had every reason to feel joyful. The U.S. had emerged from arguably one of the two toughest groups in the tournament, a magnificent achievement that many observers thought was beyond this side.” ESPN

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World Cup 2014: group stage, day 15. GERMANY 1-0 USA. PORTUGAL 2-1 GHANA. ALGERIA 1-1 RUSSIA. BELGIUM 1-0 SOUTH KOREA.

June 27, 2014

“Thomas Muller’s fine goal won the game, but both sides progress. USA narrow. The major tactical feature was the narrowness of the USA without possession, which is something we’ve become accustomed to. Before the tournament it seemed Jurgen Klinsmann was going to play a midfield diamond, and while they’ve switched to more of a 4-4-1-1 formation, they still focus upon defending the centre of the pitch and preventing the opposition playing through the middle, which made sense against a German side boasting multiple playmakers. It also made sense considering the lack of proper full-backs on the German side. Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Howedes are both more accustomed to playing at centre-back, and therefore the USA were content for these players to have the ball.” Zonal Marking


Group stage round-up

June 27, 2014

“A few brief points to make… 1. The three-man defence has been highly successful so far. A three-man defence has played a four-man defence (at least from the start) on ten occasions. These matches have produced eight victories for the three-man defence, and two draws. A back four is yet to beat a back three. There have been two meetings between three-man defences, Uruguay 1-0 Italy and Netherlands 2-0 Chile. …” Zonal Marking


In Bronx, Joy and Agony for Ghana’s World Cup Match

June 27, 2014

“The faithful filed into a tiny back storeroom of the Malata African Market in the Bronx, making their way past the bins of giant yams and the freezer of dried fish, and took their seats in rickety rows. A 46-inch television, propped on a shelf next to 50-pound bags of white corn meal, was tuned to the only soccer match that mattered there: Ghana versus Portugal in the final group play match of the World Cup’s Group G.” NY Times


Group G – ESPN

June 27, 2014
Group G Overall
POS TEAM PTS GD P W D L F A
1 Germany 7 5 3 2 1 0 7 2
2 United States 4 0 3 1 1 1 4 4
3 Portugal 4 -3 3 1 1 1 4 7
4 Ghana 1 -2 3 0 1 2 4 6

A Dark Horse Is Adjusting to Rising Expectations

June 27, 2014

“It was always the neighboring Dutch who painted their houses orange for the World Cup, drove orange cars and wore orange outfits until everything and everyone in the Netherlands was the color of a traffic cone. Belgium, meanwhile, could only wonder when its Red Devils would give fans another chance to carry plastic pitchforks around in foreign lands with yummy drinks and sandy beaches. Sure, Belgium reached the semifinals in 1986, but since then, its most notable achievement might have come at the 1994 World Cup in the United States, when players wore hair gel that also acted as a coolant and sunscreen.” NY Times

Algeria’s Chance for Revenge
“I had been thinking of 1982 World Cup even before the tournament began. Socrates had been on my mind. I wanted to write an essay about him, but couldn’t come up with anything that hadn’t been said many times before. I worshipped him as a player and respected him as a man. I hated the Italy team that defeated Brazil, thought them too cynical for some reason, but not as much as I hated the West German team. I hated them before the tournament that year and loathed them after that scandalous game against Austria. All I had to do was see Rummenigge on the small screen and I’d feel the blood in my face boil, steam whistling out of my ears, and imaginative curses in at least three languages escaping my lips.” New Republic


Group H – ESPN

June 27, 2014
Group H Overall
POS TEAM PTS GD P W D L F A
1 Belgium 9 3 3 3 0 0 4 1
2 Algeria 4 1 3 1 1 1 6 5
3 Russia 2 -1 3 0 2 1 2 3
4 South Korea 1 -3 3 0 1 2 3 6