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Archive for June, 2010

US 1 Ghana 2, 2010 World Cup


I have been following the national team since 1994, as what I would consider a serious bordering obsessive fan since 1999.  I’m totally bummed about the result of today’s match.  Tonight, when the disappointment started setting in, I realized that I am most disappointed that I won’t have the pleasure of watching this team play again in this tournament.  As a fan, I can’t ask for much more than that.

US 1 Algeria 0, 2010 World Cup

Landon Donovan’s stoppage time goal lifted the US to a fully deserved first-place finish in group C ahead of England, Slovenia, and France’s D team, Algeria, where dirty play, frosted hair, and hideous haircuts are all the rage.  After a nervy start in which Jay DeMerit and Steve Cherundolo whiffed on clearances, which resulted in good chances for the Algerians, the Americans took over and dominated the match until the final whistle.  Perhaps DeMerit was distracted by a gash in his tongue that required five stitches after the match.  Who would have guessed?  The US kept its doctors busy: Clint Dempsey’s lip required four stitches after being split open by a punch/forearm/elbow from Algerian defender Yahia.  The referees didn’t see the punch: if they did, Yahia would’ve been ejected earlier than he was and the US would have gotten a penalty.  The missed penalty, ejection, and a blown offside call that disallowed a perfectly valid US goal could have been major talking points if the match ended 0-0.  Fortunately for the US and its fans, on this day, Donovan made the petty details irrelevant by scoring a glorious goal.

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US 2 Slovenia 2, 2010 World Cup

There are many lingering questions after yesterday’s riveting 2-2 tie.

  • Is Malian referee Koman Coulibaly incompetent, corrupt, or both?

I think he’s simply incompetent.  If he was paid off or had a vendetta against the US, he certainly would’ve sent off Clint Dempsey in the first minute of the game when Dempsey provided the opportunity by elbowing a Slovene.  Coulibaly made many, many mind-baffling calls, but none more influential than the phantom foul he called against nobody-knows-who in the dying moments of the game, just before second-half substitute Maurice Edu slammed a Landon Donovan free kick into the back of the goal to seemingly give the US a 3-2 lead.  Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Coulibaly’s World Cup is likely over as FIFA is expediting his performance review.  I’d like to put him on an island with Hugh Dallas (2002 missed handball against Germany), Jorge Lorrianda (2009- ejected Bradley for an innocuous challenge in Confederations Cup semifinal then reported him for verbal abuse which got Bradley a three game suspension, 2006- ejected Mastroeni and Eddie Pope in group match against Italy) , Wolfgang Starg (2008- ejected Michael Orozco for a soft elbow in the 3rd minute in the final group match against Nigeria) and Peter Prendergrast (2001- called a phantom penalty for Costa Rica in stoppage time for a handball when in fact the ball clearly hit Greg Berhalter in the head) and see how these egomaniacs interrelate.  The America-hating NYT has come to Coulibaly’s defense, at least regarding the goal disallowing call, with a well-reasoned argument.  The problem with the argument, however, is that good judgment and the ability to understand the context of the game are the most important attributes of officials, and to make that call reveals that Coulibaly possesses neither.

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US 1 England 1, 2010 World Cup

Most of the talk after the most anticipated game the US has played in recent memory was centered on the mistake England goalkeeper Robert Green made.  I read and heard casual fans and fanatics alike conclude that the draw was a lucky result for the US.  What that conclusion fails to understand, however, is that the context of the game dictates the approach the players’ take.  In other words, if Green stops Dempsey’s shot, the rest of the game would not unfold just as it did Saturday.  The US would push forward more, and I am convinced, would have scored.  You could just as easily say that England was lucky to draw because Green made a wonderful save on Jozy Altidore, knocking his low hard shot off the crossbar after Altidore burned the hack of a defender Jamie Carragher…or that England surely should have won if not for Timmy Howard’s tremendous save after Emile Heskey broke through.  If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry World Cup.

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