Saturday, June 19, 2010

Proud to be an American

Yesterday was a day full of upsets. It started off with Germany losing 1-0 to Serbia. After thrashing Australia in their opening fixture, Germany had become many people's tournament favourites. They even missed a penalty which hardly ever happens.

Then came game #2 for the teams in Group C. The first match was the best of the tournament so far, the second the worst. Initially, the US started in the worst possible manner against Slovenia and were 2-0 down at the break. However, their manager had the balls to make a couple of changes at half time which paid dividends. The second half started with Landon Donovan in inspired form, scoring almost immediately. When that happened, you knew Slovenia were in trouble and the second half would be brilliant. Right after that goal, the US had a free kick which almost went in, that would've been some comeback with two goals in the first 5 minutes since the restart. Chance after chance came the US's way and Slovenia had to revert to a number of illegal challenges to stop the US scoring. They were handed 3 yellow cards in 6 minutes which meant that there could even be a sending off before the end of the match. That didn't happen, but the US did score, twice. 8 minutes from time the manager's son, Michael Bradley, finally got the goal that the US needed to stay in the World Cup. Can you imagine how his dad must have felt seeing that from the bench? Another 4 minutes later came another goal for the US. However the referee incorrectly ruled it offside and it was disallowed. If anything, the goal should've stood or the US should've been given a penalty as Slovenian players were holding back 3 Americans from scoring. The match finished 2-2.

There will be many Americans who'll feel the ref was paid or the game was fixed but wrong decisions are a part of the game in football unfortunately. There's no video replay so whatever the ref sees at the moment of play is the only thing he has to use to make a decision. Disallowing the last goal doesn't make any sense at all the more you see the replays. However, the US shouldn't have needed to score a third goal to beat Slovenia so you can also look at the poor US defending in the first half as the reason that this match slipped away from them. Whatever, the US still has a great chance of progressing provided there isn't another upset when they play Algeria in their last group match. England are in exactly the same position after their hugely disappointing 0-0 draw with Algeria later on in the same day. Both sides need to win their last group matches to be assured of qualification for the next round. Anything less than that will be a massive embarrassment, but at least the US will always have their match against Slovenia to look back upon and draw confidence from the way they fought back. They fought like bloody lions in the second half. Altidore in particular was a real handful, and gets the MOTM award for me. If he plays anything like this when he gets back to domestic football it'll be a real treat to watch.

I'm not gonna write much about England b/c I'm so disappointed with their performance yesterday. They're on the same number of points as the US but in terms of passion, they were worlds apart yesterday. Yesterday, the US team was hot as hell. If you're American, you can wave your flag with pride. The English on the other hand, must feel like burying their heads in the sand.

-MOTM in the England game should go to David James in goal. He was a commanding presence and didn't put a foot wrong. At least one person had a good match.

-The US match was the first one that I've noticed where you could actually hear fans chanting and the crowd reacting to goals. That place must have been full of American fans.

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