Ghana 2, US 1

June 27, 2010

1. Ghana had 3 chances to score, according to my memory. They scored on 2 of them. I don’t really remember them having anything else than that, including marginal chances. The US had a ton of marginal opportunities, and quite a few great chances as well, but failed to convert any of them.

2. Ghana in this World Cup has often controlled possession and not created anything that could be remotely called a “scoring opportunity.” I wasn’t really that bothered in the first half when Ghana had possession but no scoring opportunities, even with the score 1-0. I felt like the US scoring was almost inevitable against Ghana’s less-than-impressive individual defending, I was just worried about giving up a second sloppy-defending goal like Ghana eventually scored to open overtime.

3. We took Jozy Altidore out because he was cramping, right? Because without him, the US attack just looked lost.

4. Couldve, shouldve, wouldve. I never got the reason to start Robbie Findley. He, and his substitute Benny Feilhaber missed two golden opportunities.

5. As a team, the US has some significant holes. Yes, they were largely caused by injury. No Charlie Davies and essentially no Ogunchi Onyewu hurt alot. Some countries can overcome that. The US can’t. There are a couple positions where we have depth, but those two positions are where we have the least depth. Ouch.

6. I purposely didn’t put anything about the refs until point 6. Isn’t that a penalty and a redcard for like 95% of refs? Isn’t it supposed to be a redcard according to the rules? I’ve written before that I dislike the penalty and red card, because it is something like a 1.5-2 goal penalty, but penalty and yellow is less than a 1 goal penalty. That gives an incentive to commit the foul, which is why FIFA instituted the rule. I suppose that this goes back to the problem with the current laws of the game: a yellow card is insignificant, a red card is massively game-altering. So I find myself in the odd position of agreeing with the call hypothetically but feeling quite unlucky that the red card wasn’t shown to the Ghana player.

7. It wasn’t the easiest call, but there should have been a penalty for the foul on Feilhaber when the Ghana player tripped him and then stepped on his ankle in the box?

8. After watching the game, I have the uncomfortable feeling of thinking I may have overrated both Ghana and the US even after being careful to discount the “it’s only one game” sample size factor. Uruguay has gotten quite lucky to draw Korea and then Ghana.

9. Lots of talk by the US about being the best conditioned. Maybe…but other than Michael Bradley, the US looked dead in extra time. On attack they just always looked discombobulated in overtime.

10. Tim Howard had a very sub-average game for him, in my opinion. No blame for the goals, but I think there are lots of days where he makes saves on both Ghana goals.

11. The US gave up early goals in every game. England in the 4th minute, Slovenia very early on, Algeria a ridiculous chance in the 6th minute, Ghana in the 4th and again in the 3rd of overtime. That’s really bad.


I’m still out of breath

June 23, 2010

1. Well, the US won its group. That extra time goal took us from eliminated to deservedly winning the group. Hey, Zinedine Zidane said we are better than England! (O RLY? Has he lost his vision?)

2. I think the significance of the win isn’t so much that we advanced. It’s that we advanced despite being the repeated victim of refs. The old agage about not being good enough to beat the other team AND the referees? Well, the US was good enough. There’s no other country that has been victimized once the way we have been victimized several times by the refs. I can’t even begin to make the list, with the first two obviously being the most important: the goal against Slovenia, the goal against Algeria, the ball that struck our starting striker in the face yet got him a yellow card suspension, the multiple elbows to Clint Dempsey’s jaw which should have been penalties, one of which drew tons of blood, etc etc.

3. It’s important to remember that the US was quite fortunate to draw a weak group. Obviously Italy and Argentina’s groups were weaker, yes. The fact that England struggled so much validates the fact that the group wasn’t horrible. In fact, England scored only 2 goals against this group, equal to the number of goals the US had stolen by referees. Maybe stolen is a strong word for the goal we had called back against Algeria, but…it’s not that far off. Dempsey was onsides, even if it was extremely close.

4. Michael Bradley has been impressive, has he not? He’s covering a ton of ground, getting forward when necessary, and being exactly the box-to-box midfielder that the US needs.

5. It will be interesting to see who we play. Serbia is probably one of the most underrated countries, player-wise, yet they’ve never really gotten the results to prove it. Germany is Germany (but this is one of their weaker years), and Ghana would be interesting. So we’re likely to get a winnable draw, and after that we probably get Uruguay, assuming they beat Korea.

6. Our defense is shaky. We got pretty lucky not to go behind in the 6th minute because of a Demerit error. It would be nice if Onyewu wasn’t so shaky after being out for a year.

Worst Call of the World Cup

June 18, 2010

Last night I complimented the World Cup refs on an excellent performance so far, especially the linesman….Well. That was before Koman Coulibaly. That was before the referees decided the outcome of BOTH games so far today.

The Mali refs disallowed the 3rd American goal, and there is no reason why. Did he call offsides on Bradley? On Edu? Did he call a foul on Bradley for trying to free himself from the two armed bearhug that the Slovenian defender gave him? No one knows, and so far they are not saying why. US Coach Bob Bradley claims that he heard it was the latter. If so, that is probably a story chosen after the fact by the refs because it is a judgment call, and thus less likely for FIFA to have sanctionable grounds.

Even if the linesman screws up the offsides call, then you give the penalty kick. Easy game. Horrible horrible call, and pretty apparent. The linesman sometimes have difficult calls to make, but this was not one of them.

Really, it was not a strong performance by the ref before the wrongly disallowed goal. Jozy Altidore gets taken down outside of the box by the last defender? That is why the rule was originally created so that a red card can be given. Was the red card given? No.

There were quite a number of dangerous Slovenian challenges in the second half. Or the yellow card against Robbie Findley for the ball that hit him in the face. And do not even get me started about the (only!) 3 minutes of injury time that were all used on the Slovenian injury. Erroneous.

On top of that, was this questionable red card against Miroslav Klose of Germany in the first game of the day.

While this is at least arguably correct under the FIFA rules of the game, I doubt that is given a red card very frequently. It was his second yellow, but even so, I doubt this is given very frequently. Either way, when a ref goes card happy in the first half (the ref gave out 6 cards in the first 35 minutes), results like this happen quite frequently.

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