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I know a lot of you out there are probably disappointed this morning, but a 2-2 draw for the United States against Portugal is a good result. Although it did come in brutal fashion. We were tantalizingly close to a 2-1 victory when the world’s greatest player Cristiano Ronaldo had his lone moment of brilliance in the match. His cross was laser guided to the forehead of Silvestre Varela, who sent it past Timmy Howard for the equalizer. The United States dominated for long stretches in the second half, taking advantage of the high heat and humidity levels in the Arena Amazonia.
Scoring in this match began less than 5 minutes in when Nani capitalized on a failed Geoff Cameron clearance, and finish home. Portugal dominated possession in the early stages, enjoying at times as much as 75% of the ball. The first half was a pretty nervous affair for the United States, they allowed Portugal to enjoy their possession, sitting deeply and allowing players to work into space. Beginning of the match was testy, and involved Kyle Beckerman elbowing Raul Meireles in the face. Timmy Howard kept the United States in the game, he made four saves during the match and every one of them was spectacular.
Following the halftime break, the United States settled into the game a bit better. They placed Portugal under much more pressure and it paid off in the 64th minute following a corner kick. The ball found it’s way to
Jermaine Jones who following one touch unleashed what may be the greatest goal in USMNT history. A right footed thunderbastard that Beto never had a chance to stop. That goal occurred in the 64th minute and for the next 15 minutes, the US dominated. Their efforts paid off in the 81st minute, when Yedlin drove to the corner, slotted a pass that was deflected to Bradley. Bradley moved it to Zusi who crossed it to the crotch of Demspey who scored with the most dramatic pelvic thrust since Elvis Presley first appeared on television.
Once again I think Michael Bradley was disappointing as was Graham Zusi, despite both of them having been involved in that go ahead goal. The United States were wasting time well, but Zusi left the pitch too slowly which caused the fourth official to add a 5th minute to stoppage time and that ultimately cost us. Michael Bradley lost possession in midfield. The ball found Ronaldo and the head of Varela for the 2-2 draw. Still a good result for the US, we are through to the round of 16 with a win or draw or a draw in the Portugal Ghana match. So USA fans should be rooting for low scoring all around and if necessary for Portugal.
Algeria defeated South Korea yesterday thanks to 3 first half goals form Islam Slimani, Rafik Halliche, and Abdelmoumene Djabou. South Korea played their hearts out and fought back to make the game interesting, Son Heung-Min scratched back first for the Koreans before Yacine Brahimi earned Algeria their fourth goal of the match. Koo Ja-Cheol the made the match 4-2 where the final scoreline would stay, but Korea fought it out to the end and pressed forward trying to find another goal. Neither of these teams are yet eliminated and this group is wide open with the exception of Belgium.
Belgium clinched their spot in the Round of 16, with a 1-0 win over Russia. This match was in truth boring for long stretches. Both of these teams possess talent but looked content to see out a scoreless draw. That is until Eden Hazard skipped down the left side and slotted a perfect pass to Divock Origi. Origi made no mistake for the finish and that 88th minute goal was enough to give them the clinching win. He is the first teenager to score since Lionel Messi did so in the 2006 World Cup. Romelu Lukaku again was disappointing, I wonder if he’s tired after a long season or if he’s battling an undisclosed injury because he does not look like himself right now.
On Saturday we had brother vs. brother as the Boatengs faced off in the Germany Ghana clash that finished in a 2-2 draw. After a scoreless first half the match opened up in the second half. Mario Gotze opened the scoring with a header from a Thomas Muller cross. It took Ghana only 3 minutes to respond, Harrison Afful sent in a cross which Andre Ayew rose to meet and equalize. Ten minutes later Asamoah Gyan struck after Sulley Muntari stripped the ball in midfield. Gyan blasted it past Neuer who never had a chance to stop it. In the 69th minute Miroslav Klose entered the match and two minutes later he equalized the all time World Cup record for goals scored with a poaching effort on the back corner. He celebrated with his trademark front flip.
Also on Saturday we had 1-0 wins for Argentina over Iran and Nigeria over Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nigeria’s goal came after Emmanuel Eminike bullied his way down the right flank and slotted a pass to Peter Odemwingie who finished home. Argentina’s goal was a spectacular stoppage time effort from Lionel Messi when it looked like Iran would be getting another point from a scoreless draw. The Messiah cut inside and somehow found a path through the parked Iranian bus with a heat seeking missile.
Going back to Friday, Costa Rica shocked Italy with a 1-0 win that officially eliminated England from the tournament. The Ticos looked great in this match, while Italy did not look so great. They struck just before halftime with a cross from Junior Diaz that was dunked home from Bryan Ruiz. Andrea Pirlo nearly struck with a free kick, but that was parried away from Keylor Navas. He made four great saves in the match and he was the difference maker for Costa Rica.
France ran riot 5-2 over Switzerland. It was a true team effort and a fantastic display from France who went up 5-0 before conceding two to the Swiss. French goals came from Olivier Giroud, Blaise Matuidi, Mathieu Valbuena, Karim Benzema, and finally Moussa Sissoko. Switzerland then scored twice including the tournament’s first goal from a direct free kick. Blerim Dzemaili scored by driving a low shot through the wall and past the outstretched hand of Hugo Lloris. Granit Xhaka then scored with a sweet little volley to make things a bit more respectable.
Honduras and Ecuador finished things on Friday with Ecaudor earning the 2-1 win. Carlo Costly opened scoring with a driven left footed shot. Enner Valencia responded 3 minutes later and was easily the man of the match. He tapped in on the far post after a deflected shot bounced into his path. He continued his red hot form in the second half with the winning goal. He posted up the Honduran defense and headed home the Walter Ayovi free kick. It was a great winning goal that puts Ecaudor in position to qualify with a result against France.
Going back to Thursday, we had a boring goalless draw between Greece and Japan. Kostas Katsouranis was sent off in the 38th minute for second yellow card. Japan failed to make them pay for that mistake.
Luis Suarez scored a brace which sealed England’s fate as Uruguay ran out 2-1 winners. Wayne Rooney finally managed to get on the score sheet at the World Cup, but it was not enough to lift them out of their very challenging group. Gerrard was awful. Frank Lampard didn’t play and the ideological shortcomings of Roy Hodgeson came to a head.
Goals from James Rodriguez and Juan Quintero lifted Colombia over C’ote D’Ivoire 2-1. The Ivoirian goal was a spectacular solo effort from Gervinho who dribbled through pretty much the entire defense before slotting home his finish. Once again Didier Drogba did not start the match.
We’ve got five NWSL Women’s League matches to catch you up with.
Before that a bit of news from the league, Hope Solo was arrested on charges of assault charges after she allegedly beat up her sister and 17 year old cousin at a party. According to police statements, Solo was upset and intoxicated. She will be in court today to face those charges. No statement from her management team or Seattle Reign as of yet.
Going back to Thursday night when the Seattle Reign managed to earn a 2-0 win over Boston Breakers. Beverly Goebel opened scoring the fourth minute and Keelin Winters added the second in that one.
On Saturday the Portland Thorns dominated and ran out 6-1 winners over the Washington Spirit. Christine Sinclair opened scoring for Portland in the 5th minute and Alex Morgan added a second only 6 minutes later. Following the halftime break, Washington pegged one back with a goal from Christine Nairn. Another goal from Alex Morgan, two from Jessica McDonald, and the sixth of the game from Allie Long closed out the scoring in that one.
A 76th minute goal from Jen Buczkowski gave FC Kansas City a 1-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars.
On Sunday, Sky Blue FC and the Boston Breakers played to a 1-1 draw. Kelley O’Hara scored in the second minute for Sky Blue, while Jazmine Reeves equalized in the 32nd minute for the Breakers.
In our final match of the weekend, the Seattle Reign ran out 2-1 winners over the Western New York Flash. After a scoreless first half, Samantha Kerr opened scoring for the Flash in the 61st minute. Kate Deines scored in the 82nd minute to even things up for the Reign before Sydney Leroux added the dramatic winner in the 90th minute. With that win Seattle is not 8 points clear at the top of the table, with two matches in hand over second place FC Kansas City.
Coming up today we’ve got four great World Cup matches.
At noon we’ve got Group B finishing with Australia taking on Spain in a battle of eliminated teams. The Netherlands and Chile face off to see who will take the top spot in that group.
At 4pm we’ve got Cameroon minus Alex Song, taking on Brazil and Croatia facing Mexico. It really should be a great day of football.