Round 1 - Part 1 (Continued)
Spain 4 - Ukraine 0
The past few Cups must have been really hard on Spain fans. They always look so good, and then just seem to lay an egg. They certainly looked a lot better this time around. And at least the US won’t have laid the worst egg of Part 1. I don’t think the red card was deserved. I don’t think any foul should have been called, but since there was, I guess the ref’s hands were tied.
Round 1 - Part 2 (Highlights)
Germany 1 - Poland 0
What an exciting game! Germany had so many chances and Poland hung right with them. Great shot in extra time to send Germany on to the second round. I think this game epitimizes the frustrating parts of soccer for the American audience. A score of 3-2 would have been more representative of the game than the 1-0 victory. That’s just the way it is, I guess.
Ecuador 3 - Costa Rica 0
Wow. Ecuador has come a long way in four years. I’m now not so sure what to make of Germany. Maybe Costa Rica is better than they showed, but Ecuador controlled every part of this game (granted it was very close to being 2-1, no thanks to the crossbar… though I don’t think that would have been representative). I’m really looking forward to Germany v. Ecuador. I think that game will tell a lot about how both of these teams will continue in the second round. Oh! And did you catch the yellow Spiderman mask pulled (disgustingly) from the guy’s shorts after the third goal? Wow oh wow.
England 2 - T&T 0
I don’t know what to make of England yet. I guess you would rather start off slowly (still getting your points) and continue to build throughout the tournament. They certainly played a lot better than their first game, but they also had an incredible number of chances they really have to capitalize on to continue to advance.
Argentina 6 - S&M 0
The embarrassment of the Cup. Argentina looked phenomenal, and simply on cruise control. I’m not sure how much you can read into a game like this. Once you get to 3-0, everything else is basically like a scrimmage.
Netherlands 2 - Ivory Coast 1
What a great game. IC looked really good actually and took it to the men in Orange (everytime I see that color I think my TV is going to freak out). And with nearly the entire stadium that color! =) I still like Netherlands chances in the second round. They are such a fundamentally sound team. I believe its a mathematical certainty that Argentina and Netherlands move on at this point.
Czech Republic 0 - Ghana 2
Wow! Things are looking interesting! Ghana simply dominated! I’m really shocked. CR looked like a deer in the headlights from the get go.
Italy 1 - United States 1
The US earned back a little respect this time around with a very gutty performance. They still haven’t scored yet (the US was the lucky recipient of an own-goal), but they looked so much better. First red card was deserved – a vicious elbow by the Italian mid-fielder. The second was simply ridiculous. A yellow card definitely – but certainly no red. And then Pope getting his second yellow right at the beginning of the second period… the US was lucky (and good) to hold on to the tie. Keller had a few key saves which allowed the US to hold on. I don’t know how old Keller is, but I do hope he’s back in four years. He and Brad Friendel are two great keepers.
So what does this mean. Ok. If US beats Ghana by 5 or more, we control our destiny and move on (incredibly unlikely). The only other way is for Italy to beat the Czechs and have the US simply win (I don’t believe it would come down to goal differential in that case… Italy 7pts, US 4pts, Ghana 3pts and Czechs 3 pts). The latter is the more likely scenario. In the third part of round 1, both games of each group are played at the same time (to avoid having a teams fate decided by an earlier game). The US simply needs to dominate Ghana and hope Italy can be its own dominate self.
Looking ahead to Part 3
Games not to miss…
Germany v. Ecuador – Should be a fantastic game.
England v. Sweden – Another good test for England to see how this team will do later on.
Italy v. Czech Republic – Go Italy!!
United States v. Ghana – We need to come out of the gate fired up and ready to go. Simply a must win.
Netherlands v. Argentina – Very exciting matchup