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World Cup, Volume 5.

Mon Jun 16-Fri Jun 20

An Irregular Series
Ronaldo bends the defense around him. He then manipulates it do give him something he wants.

Khedira returned the gift of the goalkeeper unopened.  How rude not to finish that.

Right now POR seems to have the upper hand in attacking while GER is generating some chances, they are mostly on errors... And now a card in the box for a takedown!  GER will have the PK chance!

GER 1, POR 0.  11:50 gone.

And a deserved goal from GER on a corner they earned on a break a moment earlier.  This is gonna be tough sledding for POR who has been in-fighting (of course led in part by the always churlish supremely gifted Ronaldo.

GER 2, POR 0.  34:26 gone.

POR seems continually unable to make the crucial pass despite creating dangerous offensive situations near the goal.  Eder looks a little pphysically overmatched, but that was a nice job getting his head on that cross.

WOAH!  RED!  Yeah, you can't headbutt a guy when he's down, either faking or for real.

This could get ugly.

I do not at all like these GER jerseys.  Sometimes they're okay, but not this version.

Another goal.  GER 3, POR 0.  First half stoppage time.

Fell asleep there.  I missed a goal.  It was not for POR.

Happy that Michael Ballack is back as a commentator/analyst.  I enjoy his observations and unique phrasing.
I have no idea at all what to expect from the Iran v Nigeria (IRN v NGA) game.  No clue.

This IRN GK is really not inspiring any confidence in this spectator.

IRN generates a great chance, but the NGA GK is doing exactly that.  Nice Save.  Neither team really seems coherent yet.  Maybe nerves, maybe lack of skill... not sure.

IRN jerseys are alright.  I think the cheetah needs to be a little bit bolder.  Just a little bit.  Also, the bands around the sleeves seem inappropriately inelastic.  We're not all Lebron or Ronaldo.

Scoreless into half.
Scoreless at the end.

Neither team worked well together on the attack, but were sufficient on defense.  Meh.  I've seen better.  And worse.  This was a middling game.

Up next?  USA v GHA!
And no we get to watch the USMNT play in the World Cup!

I expect a very quick pace and much pressing from both teams.  I expect that we will see the unveiling of a relentlessly attacking US style.  Clearly we're aware that GHA has frequently gotten the USA goat.  So to speak.

BANGARANG!!  Dempsey!

USA 1, GHA 0 1:11 into the game!

Yes, they are attacking... will they continue to do so???

I hope yes.

I am undecided about the GHA jerseys.  Not sure why the band of color and pattern doesn't go all the way around the shorts.  I like the band on the socks though.  And the low, wide second-color collar.

GHA is looking very solid attacking when they get a little bit of space.  I see the danger now.  There will be a slicing ball to a fast striker or a mid-range cross to a runner.

Huh.  Altidore, I barely knew ya.

Who's Better Who's Next?

Do we see.. Yes.  Johannson.

I have no complaints.

Let's hope/bet we get more Mix Diskerud too.

Loss of Size though.  Altidore can possess under duress sometimes.

24:00 in.

Yeah, you're right announcer, that was a rough one.  But shit happens.  Beasly needed to hustle back a bit quicker.

The USA is like a 4-3-2-1 or sometimes a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-2-2 with Michael Bradley doing all of the extra tunning to change the shape so regularly.

GHA is getting more frequent shots.  TIm Howard is good, yeah.

I assume someone else has made the Michal Bradley as the Silver Surfer jokes already?  I find him strangely calming.

That's soccer, folks:  Sometimes you get kicked in the face.  Prolly just a broken nose or at least bloodied.  Are We gonna see #MASKEDEMPSEY?

34:43 gone.

Beasley, quittit.  Do better.

Oh.  I hope that "Hamstring in the heat" doesn't become the story of the USA.  Not a fun one.

That's Beasley not getting back again.

1-0 at half.

This is a very PRO USA crowd.

The GHA team gets the inevitable goal as USA has been looking tired.  Damn.  Don't know what they did wrong... not enough salt?  Put some Pickle Juice on that, son.

That was a fantastic goal by GHA!

And that was Brooks following for USA!!

This is why you always attack.

Get up duuuude, you got more minutes to play yet.

GHA is gonna press now.

2-1 final.  USA comes out atop!
The next day!

Now ALG is ahead of BEL!  1-0 on penatly at half.
That is an incredible goal from BEL's Fellaini.
71min in. 1-1 BEL v ALG.

The Red Devils are starting to push more consistently, but still are not showing full coherence as a squad.  Fellaini really seems to be adding to the complexity of the attack and #17 is pushing forward rather aggressively.  Here comes another BEL corner.  Too deep to head well.

This is the sort of experience I was expecting in this game.  A sort of slog-it-out defensive affair... but I was expecting BEL to be up 1-0 or 2-0.  That ALG penalty reallt amde a difference.  If they escape with a point it would be the sort of thing that could change the whole of the cup by way of a seemingly innocuous tie.

And BEL with another goal on a truly beautiful pass enabled by a strongly angled run in the center... and finished by Mertens.  That was awesome.!  BEL 2 , ALG 1.

Don't think that ALG has it in them to get another score here.  This whole game has been their inability to truly maintain and create on offense.  The other part of this game has been the ALG ability to play strong, coherent defense.  Individually passable, but no coherence.  BEL now, with 82 min gone, can maintain possessions rather easily against what ALG has shown thus far as a pressing offense.

And Fallaini is still creating opportunities.

BEL Wins.
Now we get to watch BRA and MEX.  The first half has been a flood of defense.  While BRA has created some very solid scoring chances, MEX has proven up to defending the BRA attack for the majority of the game.  While they have been able to push forward against BRA intermittently, they have been unable to do so for any sustained stretches of pressure, both mental and physical.

Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo are still the players who are near-impossible to take your eyes off of.  Fellaini, Bradley, Robben, RVP, Pirlo, are on the second level in this list, for varying reasons, as is Alexis Sanchez.

0-0 a bit after half.  The ref here is on the verge of losing too much authority.  The thing is that there has been a lot of (legal, allowable) contact in this game.  Think there is some truth to the notion that there could have been a few cards earlier, but I'm not sure that the game would have been improved in any way shape or form.  Restraint in World Cup refereeing is a virtue.  Long-term effects can be ruinous.

Unclear who will come away from this game with benefit at this point, but MEX wants this one pretty badly and are working very hard to not allow BRA to move confidently up the field. BRA players are not showing frustration at this point, but they are already looking more aggressively forward than they had in the first half.  This is to be expected.  If they are to win the World Cup, then they must beat teams like MEX.  But right now?  MEX is readying the counter.

What the matter at hand will grow to be is whether the BRA last line of defenders will hold up during this.  The key being that MEX has shown little to no ability to hold the ball under pressure in the front third or so of the field.  There possession in the rest of the field has been solid.

Neymar is stronger than you or the defenders on him think.  He is constantly using good-technique hand-fighting to redirect defenders and keep them off of his body.  His slender frame and near-weightless aerodynamic design (+headspoiler) combine to guarantee that he doesn't want to be rerouted as he slides between defenders.  Instead, he accelerates, pushes off and glides.  Else, all could be disastrous for him.

Some of these long range shots from MEX are verging toward danger.

The way that MEX played was based on aggression in their defensive side paired with a cautious look forward on the offensive side.  The reason the looks forward were cautious had a ton to do with the outside midfielders being unable to receive the ball while moving.  The counter would start, but then as soon as the ball was played wide to an attacking mid, the ball would be mishandled and everything would have to slow up, allowing BRA to catch up just enough.  That MEX was consistently firing off 20-25yd shots while attacking was likely their best option, knowing that they had proven unable to string together enough passes to mount a valid attack.


Man, sometimes I forget how many suits there are in DC.  Here I am out at a random bar watching the World Cup and there are not one but two company meetings or parties going on.  Split to either side of the bar, there are toasts and folks talking about what they've accomplished, all looking very relatedly dressed in each group.  That is, there is a self-similar style within each office group.  The one looks like it should be a law firm of some kind, the other seems to be a technology firm or a foreign group of some kind.  I don't know how better to describe that, but that is indeed the way it seems.


Wish I could continue watching the Cup... I'm gonna go play some league ultimate instead.  Maybe eventually I'll see Russia??
We won the league game, I think.
Don't you see?  Robben is going left!!  That was a nice play-through of the foul by Robben as that guy kicked at him.

NED is pressing AUS, but up until this point, there was no real attack.

AND CAHILL!  Volleys are so damn dangerous!  What a strike.

NED 1 AUD 1.  21:00 gone.

The classic NED defense against players turning into the box:

 "Oh, I shall mark that guy?"
   (Then raise hands in depression communicated to teammates as goal goes in.)

Seems like AUS is working very deep in their own side on purpose, in an attempt to force NED to work harder.  And NED is knowingly taking the bait.  A lot of Robben and Sneijder pressing and switching.  Shaping up for the sort of ugly game which RVP is built for.  At some point he'll sneak open for a 1 v 4 goal, right?

Nice first half from NED v AUS.  AUS seems stronger on the whole, but that is their ability to possess deep in their own territory.  NED seems more adept at pushing forward when they have the ball, though this seems mainly a function of getting the ball deep in AUS territory rather than the result of developing an attack over it the length of the field.

That is some truly bad luck for NED.  Now the AUS PK.

Buries it.

AUS 2 NED 1 53 min gone.

And Van Persie responds!  Just like that!  The counter counter-counter goal!
Terrible play by the fullback-- you gotta keep a line with your central defenders or that kind of goal happens.

Now NED is turning the ball over deep in their own territory.  A near-goal from AUS... now NED #21 with the wonderful strike from distance.  NED 3 AUS 2.  68 gone.

Cahill subs out for AUS... Now NED generating multiple chances just after the other goal.

NED does look dominant, eh?
And the way that soccer players walk out, both teams at once... this i love.  This is a chance for the fans to just scream for everyone at once.  Not sure what I think about the kids walking too.  As long as they like it?

ESP v CHI...

There is a chance that ESP lost the Cup with those shiny white warmup jackets.

Sure, announcer-guy Ian Darke... it was a free header for CHI, but that ball a sheer tonne of spin on it.  No way to clearly direct it.

CHI is attacking consistently.  This could be a GREAT game.  Contrast btw contain to attack (ESP) and attack to contain (CHI).

Awesome pro-Chile crowd here today.  I like ESP under duress.  More fun to watch.  This might be more like beseiged all evening.  Or day.  Or whatever.

Hey other announcer guy:  Everybody can look distressingly slow against Alexis Sanchez.

This is gonna be a good well-paced game.

CHI scores on a STRONG finish from VARGAS #11.  Beating keeper and defender who were both sure.  Now ESP will be stretched out in attack all game.  They are technically capable... but mentally?  Physically?  We shall see.

ESP #11 is fixin' for a fight or a card if he continues at this rate.

"Chile are working manically hard."
Fo sho sho, Mr. Announcer.

Yes, Mr. Announcer, that was in fact perfect refereeing.  Attempting to use advantage to let CHI play through and waiting... until it was clear there was no advantage.

Nice rip onto goal on the direct kick,  followed by the outside of the foot to catch the GK wrongfooted after a difficult direct kick.

The rebound.  Follow the ball liekyou follow a disc on a huck.


44 min gone.
And CRO scores first on CMR!

11 min gone.

And CRO would not stop scoring on CMR.
Now COL opens up a 2-0 lead over CIV!  COL had just scored and survived a siege on the part of CIV, who shows no sign of doubt now that Drogba has returned, no matter the score.

COL seems an odd mix of quick tempo passing and effectively disorganized play.

Most dangerous lead in the game emphasized by Gervinho.  COL 2, CIV 1.  73 min gone.

Andbutso it ends.
Wow Wayne Rooney.  That was almost a pass-through-the-generations set piece goal.  Now just another of your not-goals.

10:33 gone in ENG v URU.

I wanted that URU goal to go in.  I'm just a spectator here, a USA fan.  A feller who played soccer for a long time as a kid.  I wasn't very good.  But I still like watching it.  I see what they're doing... I know how it works.  And when I see a shot like that?  I can't help but hope it goes in no matter which team has shot the ball (non-USA-opponent, of course).

I'm waiting for USA to make a run in this World Cup.  THAT is the only thing which will spark a USA revolution in soccer.  A run on the grand stage in a World Cup which everyone is watching.  They are on their way...

Sterling is strong.

Suarez is so Suarez.  Nice header on a nice cross.  Terrible defense though... neither the defender nor the keeper applied any real pressure there and certainly they did not apply team-level pressure.

This is gonnabe a rough ride indeed.

Though Sturridge is strong too.

Out of half, still URU 1, ENG 0.  Rooney keeps adding to his not-goal total.

Sturridge down the right... to #2 who gives a fantastic cross and Rooney provides a perfect finish!  He's finaly got a World Cup not-not-goal!  URU 1-1 ENG 75 min gone!

Oh Luis Suarez.  Oh wow.

Nevermind, WRooney.

Predictably defensive, but both teams are creative in the other team's half.  Balotelli is being Balotelli and CRC, while they are taking long shots, are also passing quickly in combination.  The key to this will be which team gets just a tough more space on one of these counters or developed attacks.  It looks like both teams are competent shots and there should be a goal or two before all it told.

Wow.  that's a not-a-good no-call.  That Costa Rican got trucked.

I like the collars on the ITA jerseys.

That's an incredible cross with a perfect header off the crossbar into the goal.

CRC 1 - ITA 0.  45min gone, 2min stoppage time to go.

Those dang substitutes gettin into it in the tunnel.
Pretty certain that ITA is more likely to generate a scoring chance when CRC has the ball than when ITA has the ball.

Nice save 20 yards outta the box, Buffon!

I do not like the CRC jerseys.

The closeup of the neck area of the ITA jerseys make me like them even more.

And CRC qualifies for the elimination round!  ENG out!
ITA v URU is gonna be a BEAST.
That header from FRA seems like it should have been saved by the SUI GK.  Maybe I'm too used to MEX and USA GKs saving e'rything.

AND NOW ANOTHER QUICK GOAL!  FRA has immediately erected the most dangerous lead in the game!  FRA 2, SUI 0.  18 min gone!

Every crest with a single star is made to feel lonely by the BRA shirts.

An incredible break, cross counter from FRA!!!  FRA 3 SUI 0! 40min gone.

Ton of space for all involved.  Counter Counter Counter.

That SUI defender on the third goal needed to "do his work early".  He did not.

Pretty sure that SUI is going to lose to FRA.

This second half could be great (but I'll be watching in the background).

 (Oh and That goal by Benzema?  Incredible service.  Now 4-0 FRA over SUI.
 Border non-war, sirs.  That was the editing time.
 And just now at 72 min gone, FRA has scored again.  5-0 over SUI)

See you seeing me next time 'round the bend.

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