Okay, I don’t know who exactly sacrifieced the fatted (spoon?) lamb to the Football Gods, but this World Cup just dropped into place for the United States. In the 90th minute against Algeria today, we were 0-0 and had one foot on the plane to go home. We’d dominated the game, but another horrible referee call had disallowed a perfectly good goal, and we just couldn’t catch a break against an Algeria team inexplicably playing for a draw.
In a jaw-dropping reversal of fortune, we got a 91st minute goal and I’m not ashamed to say that I felt tears welling up in my eyes just minutes before I pointed and laughed at Landon Donovan crying on international television. Bob Bradley nearly cried during his interview, too.
What a finish. I’m still blissed out and hope to stay this way until Saturday.
I was glad to see Bill Clinton chatting amiably to Sepp Blatter in the stands, but I think based on how the referees have treated us this tournament, that they must be Machiavellian frienemies in the Bilderberg Group.
In our group, England finished second, and in group D both Germany and Ghana advanced 1 and 2 like I’d hoped. This sets up for us like so:
USA vs. Ghana > Winner of S. Korea/Uruguay > Final Four. This is a very nicely balanced quartet, four good teams but no great ones. Ghana is the only thing resembling a home team right now, because they’re on their own continent, but if this tournament has proved anything, African teams don’t have a home field advantage.
Do you know why I think this is the case? The Vuvuzela. I hate them for what they are, but they are negating the home field advantage and absolutely shafting the African teams. Usually, soccer players know whether the crowd is behind them or their opponent based on the crowd’s singing, chanting and cheering. When you really need that extra energy, you get it from your home crowd, who are singing their lungs out for 90 minutes. The best crowds can intimidate the visiting team, as well as bolster the home side. At this tournament, all anyone can hear is BZZZZZZZZZZZZ*, and it is completely negating the home team’s advantage. Hoisted by your own petard, South Africa. Stupidest. ”Tradition.” Ever.
England get the buzzsaw quartet, pulling a round of 16 match against Germany and then most likely having to face Argentina if they are going to make it to the semifinals. That path was the fate that we dodged today, and I’m on cloud 9 right now. This is not to say we’ll cruise to the semifinals by any stretch of the imagination — with our defense as porous as it is, any opponent can beat us, but the USA won’t see a kinder path to a World Cup semifinal until my grandchildren are middleaged.
Things have really, really fallen perfectly for us.
For the neutral, Germany v. England will be a spicy, spicy affair. Lots of mutual hate in that one. I would love to see an England v. Argentina quarterfinal match to hotten it all up even further, but that’s almost as likely as Wayne Rooney pulling his prematurely balding head out of his ginger-haired ass.
Our rivals to the South (Mexico, not Texas) pulled Argentina, so this really can’t get any better for me. Mexico will get destroyed, and we are so well positioned, I don’t even know what I can dare to dream anymore.
* Except for when a Mexico opponent takes a goal kick, when you can hear the crowd scream “Puto!”