Archive | June, 2010

Five most memorable moments of the round of 16

30 Jun

There are no World Cup games today and that makes me quite sad.  I really don’t know what to do with myself, so I guess I could actually get some work done.  Or blog about the latest round of games.  Yeah, blogging wins that battle quite handily.  Anyways, I’ve compiled a list of my top five most memorable moments from the round of 16 – some things are good, some are bad, but they will all stick with you in one way or another.

1. Frank Lampard’s “no-goal” – Of course you have all seen this a million times by now, but it’s still shocking that a ball clearly two yards over the goal line was not ruled a goal.  I credit Germany goalie Manuel Neuer for that as he played the ball like it had merely bounced off the bar.  If Neuer had responded like he’d been beaten, I bet Jorge Larrionda would have given the goal.  Had the strike counted, it would have drastically changed the game. 

2. Ghana’s extra-time winner – You have no idea how hard it was for me to write that.  However, putting aside the fact that the U.S. was the team punished by Asamoah Gyan, it really was a great moment for African soccer.  Ghana is the lone representative of the continent to make it out of the group stage.  They withstood the pressure magnificently in the round of the 16 and now we will get to see if Ghana can become the first African nation to make it to the semifinals. 

3. Game-winning goal from Luis Suarez – Simply put, this goal is absolutely brilliant.  It also proved to be the game-winning goal to send Uruguay through to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1970.  Check it out for yourself.

4. Carlos Tevez is way offsides – Argentina took an early lead on Mexico, thanks to Carlos Tevez and a bumbling assistant referee.  Tevez was offsides by a mile when he headed the ball in the goal and even a conference between the head honcho and the assistant couldn’t overturn the call.  The entire arena saw the goal replayed and that wasn’t good enough either.  The goal stood and Argentina went on to claim a 3-1 win.  Oh and Tevez scored again in the second half, this time he was onsides.

5. Paraguayan penalties – The South American nation kept cool under pressure, sinking Japan 5-3 on penalties.  The drama didn’t really start until after Yuichi Komano of Japan missed his.  Nelson Valdez and Oscar Cardozo made the final two penalties for Paraguay to send the team to the quarterfinals.

It’s sad that poor officiating made it onto the list twice, but even FIFA has responded to the criticism and Sepp Blatter has said that the organization will reopen the case for goal line technology.

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Vuvuzelas will take over the world

29 Jun

Vuvuzelas have gotten plenty of flak since the World Cup started.  Sure they sound like bees and were mildly annoying at the beginning of the tournament, but they’re barely noticeable at this point.  One of the best things about the vuvuzelas?  All the awesome vuvuzela videos popping up.

My personal favorites:

What’s your fave?

World Cup results – June 29

29 Jun

We got our first penalty shootout of the tournament today as the remainder of the quarterfinal field was set.  Paraguay prevailed 5-3 on penalties after a boring 0-0 draw with Japan.  Yuichi Komano’s spot kick ricocheted off the cross bar and Paraguay’s Oscar Cardozo buried the game-winner to send the South American nation through.  With Paraguay’s win, four South American teams are in the quarterfinals for the first time ever.  There’s potential for the semifinals to be all-South American, but I think that’s rather unlikely.

Spain and Portugal battled it out for Iberian peninsula superiority (lame, I know, quarterfinal spot much more important) in the day’s second game.  Eduardo came up big in goal for Portugal after getting tested by David Villa and Fernando Torres in the first half.  After a scoreless first half, Spain broke through in the 63rd minute with who else but David Villa knocking in the game-winner.  Villa has now scored four of Spain’s five goals in the World Cup, not too shabby.  It was a solid display from Spain, but Portugal looked rather out of sorts on the offensive end of things.  Cristiano Ronaldo was hardly involved and that did not help their cause.

Tuesday, June 29 results
Paraguay 0 (5 pen)
Japan 0 (3 pen)

Spain 1 (Villa 63)
Portugal 0

Complete Quarterfinal field
Netherlands vs. Brazil – July 2 at 10 a.m.
Uruguay vs. Ghana – July 2 at 2:30 p.m.
Germany vs. Argentina – July 3 at 10 a.m.
Spain vs. Paraguay – July 3 at 2:30 p.m.

World Cup results – June 28

28 Jun

Well, the refs did not take center stage today.  In the day’s opening game, the Netherlands notched a 2-1 win over Slovakia.  Arjen Robben made his first start of the tournament and made his presence known with an 18th minute strike.  Wesley Sneijder added a goal of his own in the second half after Dirk Kuyt did all the dirty work and gave Sneijder a lovely cross.  Slovakia’s Robert Vittek scored on a penalty in stoppage time, but the final whistle blew before they even had a chance to get a equalizer.

Brazil ran rampant over Chile in the second game of the day with a 3-0 win.  Juan opened the scoring in the 34th minute with a header off a corner kick.  Luis Fabiano added one of his own a mere four minutes later.  Robinho put the exclamation point on the win with a goal in the second half.  

Both the Netherlands and Brazil are starting to get on a roll, so the quarterfinal match between the two teams should be stellar.  I can’t wait.

Monday, June 28 results
Netherlands 2 (Robben 18, Sneijder 84)
Slovakia 1 (Vittek 90 – pen)

Brazil 3 (Juan 34, Fabiano 38, Robinho 59)
Chile 0

Quarterfinal matchup
Netherlands vs. Brazil

Get out of the stone age, FIFA

28 Jun

Ok, Sepp Blatter and FIFA, it’s time to get your heads out of the sand.  Soccer needs technology.  You’ve been saying for years that the sport doesn’t need it and that “human error” is part of the game.  Human error is part of life, but that doesn’t mean that technology can’t help reduce those errors.

Of course, yesterday’s incidents made you look foolish.  Mr. Blatter, you pooh-poohed the idea of adding additional refs or any sort of video replay after Thierry Henry’s handball heard ’round the world.  I knew then that your decision would come back to bite you in the ass.

Now, I admit that instituting video replay in soccer would be difficult due to the nature of the game.  Difficult, but not impossible.   Since you couldn’t go to replay every time there was a controversial foul or call, you would have to implement rules about the usage of the replay.  I realize that would mean altering the time-worn rules of the game, but it’s time that the sport caught up with the available technology.  (The opening goal from Carlos Tevez yesterday would have been a perfect chance to use replay, especially since the ref had to consult with the linesman anyways.  It would have taken a replay guy about three seconds to let the ref know that Tevez was offsides – hardly slowing the game at all.)

A good first step into the wide world of technology would be goal line technology if you aren’t ready to commit to something as big as video replay.  Our society has progressed to the point where we can make computer chips the size of a fingernail, but you can’t tell when a soccer ball is 100% over the goal line?!  That, my friend, is some bullshit.  There’s no reason that there can’t be a chip in every ball and sensors in the goal to help determine when the ball crosses that line.  FIFA has experimented with this technology at some youth tournaments, but has never brought it to the highest levels.  Why the heck not?! 

One of your argument against technology, Mr. Blatter, includes the fact that you couldn’t do it at every level of the game.  You don’t have to.  No one expects an under-10 tournament to have video replay.  No one will complain that there’s no goal line technology at high school games.  The NFL successfully uses replay and the ATP has pulled off its own version of goal line technology easily.  It hasn’t altered how the game is played at any level.  The technology is in place to help the referees do the best possible job they can for athletes at the very top of their sport, realizing that it’s not physically possible to get every call right every time.

Frank Lampard’s goal, had it stood, would have radically altered the course of the game with Germany.  England still might’ve bowed out, but it would’ve made things a lot more interesting.  Both teams would have changed tactics after an England equalizer and who knows what would have happened.

For the love of all that is holy, Mr. Blatter, please join us all in the 21st century.

World Cup results – June 26 & 27

27 Jun

Heartbreak on Saturday, massive controversy on Sunday.  In the opening game on Saturday, Uruguay dispatched South Korea, 2-1.  Luis Suarez gave the South American side an early lead, but Lee Chung-Yong equalized midway through the second half.  Suarez notched the game winner in the 80th minute on a beautiful curling shot into the upper right side of the goal.  It’s Uruguay’s first trip to the quarterfinals since 1970 and it is well-deserved.

And in the day’s second game, an early extra time goal from Ghana was enough to send the U.S. packing, despite several golden chances for the Yanks to equalize.  (I’m still way too depressed about this game to get into much more detail.)

Anyways, Sunday’s games were characterized by controversy and once again raised questions about the place of technology in soccer.  Germany took a shock 2-0 lead over England in the first 30 minutes, thanks to goals from Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski.  The game looked over before it had started, but England got back in the mix after a Matthew Upson header.  Frank Lampard leveled the game moments later…or so everyone thought…except the ref.  Lampard’s shot bounced off the crossbar and over the goal line, but referee Jorge Larrionda waved play on.  (You might recognize his name from the three red card debacle between USA and Italy in 2006.)  Clearly an equalizer from England would’ve changed the game dramatically.  Thomas Muller scored twice in the second half to put the game away and give Germany a 4-1 win.

The Argentina-Mexico game saw its own bit of controversy.  Carlos Tevez gave the Argentines a lead in the 26th minute, but he was clearly offsides.  A conference between the ref and the assistant yielded no change and the goal stood.  (Note to self: write post about technology/refs.)  Gonzalo Higuain  added a second for Argentina in the 33rd and Tevez added a second (totally legit) goal in the second half.  Mexico got a late consolation goal from Javier Hernandez.

Saturday, June 26 results
Uruguay 2 (Suarez 7, 80)
South Korea 1 (Lee Chung-Yong 68)

USA 1 (Donovan 61 – pen)
Ghana 2 (Boateng 4, Gyan 92)

Sunday, June 27 results
Germany 4 (Klose 19, Podolski 31, Muller 67, 69)
England 1 (Upson 36)

Argentina 3 (Tevez 26, 52, Higuain 33)
Mexico 1 (Hernandez 71)

Quarterfinal matchups
Uruguay vs. Ghana
Germany vs. Argentina

Cardiac kids can’t do it again

26 Jun

Team USA gave us late game heroics to get to the knockout round.  They came from a goal down just to get to extra time against Ghana, but they couldn’t pull off a miracle comeback against Ghana, losing 2-1 in extra time.  It’s a heartbreaking loss for the U.S. as they had a multitude of opportunities, but just couldn’t convert to level the game.  Of course, it doesn’t help giving up a goal five minutes into the game or the eventual winner three minutes into extra time.

Forgive me, I’m still a little distraught over the loss and I’m not really sure where to go with this post.

I guess my big question for Bob Bradley would be this: Why did you change the lineup that was so successful against Algeria?  Bradley started Ricardo Clark for Maurice Edu in the midfield and Robbie Findley for Herculez Gomez up top.  Clark was the culprit on the early goal, giving away the ball in a bad position.  He did the same thing against England.  Edu is a much more consistent player and more of a goal-scoring threat than Clark.  Plus, he’s much better about not making stupid mistakes.  I think Bradley realized the mistake early on, substituting Edu for Clark in only the 31st minute.  That sub never should have had to been used though as Edu deserved the start.  As for Robbie Findley, so much was made of his speed, but he never did anything with it.  His passing was generally poor and he couldn’t finish to save his life despite a couple stellar opportunities.  Gomez replaced him at halftime.

I just don’t understand why the U.S. continues to give up early goals.  If it’s a problem, fix it.  It’s something that has plagued the U.S. throughout qualification and the group stage, but they just couldn’t figure out a way to get past it.  Is it nerves?  What is the issue?  Whatever it is, it has got be fixed for the future.  If the U.S. wants to make a deep run in tournaments like the World Cup, they’ve got to get their emotions and nerves under control prior to kickoff.

More to come later…