Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Heartbreaking Draw

The USMNT has really earned the respect and admiration of the country after the grit and dedication they showed in the win(s) (well, win and almost win) against Ghana and Portugal. I am teeming with confidence that we can achieve a good result against Germany and advance to the knockout round. The worst part of that gut-punch goal in the last three seconds of stoppage time was that it prevents our guys from getting some much-needed rest against Germany. Now, we really have to give our all to that game.

While the media wanted to play the blame game with Michael Bradley on that last-gasp goal by Cristiano Ronaldo, I don't have any interest in doing that. Bradley played his heart out, and was simply out-muscled for the ball. He did what he should have done in trying to keep possession and force a foul; if his first touch didn't betray him, he would have definitely had the presence of mind to kick the ball far away or out of bounds rather than turn it over. He shouldn't be faulted for that. The first goal, though, was totally inexcusable. 

The way in which we dominated our match-ups with supposedly superior individual players was truly impressive. Ronaldo didn't do anything worthwhile all game, except for his ridiculously perfect cross into the box with about 4 seconds left before the final whistle blew. 

His hair was perfectly gelled throughout, though, so you have to give him credit for that. 

Compared to Portugal, we looked like a team rather than a collection of individuals. There's a good chance we come out and attack Germany and get them (or their B-Squad) on their heels. If Ghana could earn a draw and get plenty of chances against them, there is no reason that we shouldn't be able to achieve a similar result. 

Nate Silver has the U.S.'s chances of advancing somewhere around 75.8%. My only fear is that Ghana just runs away with the game against Portugal because they are a vastly superior side physically and Portugal is still blighted by injury. Hopefully, Ronaldo will have a game that lives up to his billing and the team will take some pride in getting a good result against Ghana before they suffer an ignominious exit from the Cup.

If the U.S. can advance as the 1 seed somehow, that would set up an ideal matchup against someone from the Belgium and Russia group. I'd be confident in #USMNT against either of those teams, but would love to see us up against Russia. The problem is that we would have to face someone like Argentina in the next round. Given their recent form and near-inability to close out against Iran, we shouldn't have too much fear of them either.