It was a chaotic couple of weeks for the entire nation. A team that got slotted in the group of death, and was supposed to be on a flight home after 3 games, succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations. Nobody thought this team was getting out of the group, not most fans, not the analysts and experts, and definitely not their opponents. But the beauty of sports is that the only opinions that matter are the ones of guys in the locker room.
This is a cool clip and good example of that from ESPN Film’s USMNT’s March to Brazil:
Fucking Lalas what a chach.
Belgium 2 / United States 1
There’s simply no denying that we were out-classed and outplayed throughout this entire game. Belgium flat out dominated us. Tim Howard absolutely stood on his head and put forth one of the best individual performances I have ever seen in the sport. Belgium dominated possession, shots, scoring chances and every other category. But do people realize in Soccer…that doesn’t always matter? Like listening to the announcers was painful, you would have thought the score was 5-0. Yeah, maybe it could have and should have been, but it wasn’t…plain and simple. It happens a fair amount in soccer, 1 team dominates possession and the game for so long, but the other team capitalizes on 1 of their few chances and wins the game. Yesterday the chance was there, but we didn’t capitalize. Put all of the statistics aside, all that matters is that at the end of the day we had Wondolowski in behind the defense with an unbelievable chance to win the game, and he didn’t come through. Belgium was knocking on the door for 90 minutes, and there was no way Howard could keep them out for another 30. A couple of classy plays and finishes by 2 really good players in De Bruyne and Lukaku put the Belgians up 2-0 and it was all but over. Then the over criticized Michael Bradley plays a PERFECT ball in to the teen phenom Julian Green who clinically puts the ball in the back of the net. I honestly thought we were going to do it after that goal. We had several chances to get the equalizer, including one unbelievable designed set piece play that got Dempsey free, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Like i said earlier, it doesn’t matter how out-classed and outplayed we were all game, we had a chance to win it in regulation, and multiple chances to tie in extra time. There is no shame in losing to a great team like Belgium who is a legitimate threat to win the tournament.
Tournament in Review:
Getting out of the group was absolutely awesome, but I have to be objective and real here. Ghana was an absolute mess. They had 3 guys sent home in the middle of the tournament, and were going to boycott and forfeit their last game unless the government had their cash payments flown in before their 3rd game. I mean come on now, you can’t tell me beating that team at that point in time in this tournament with all of that going on is that impressive. They are talented, but obviously were not in form during this World Cup. Then we go to the Portugal game. Portugal came into the tournament ranked 3rd in the world soccer rankings which is laughable. Not only were they drastically overrated, but they were a disaster. Their best player and the best player in the world CR7 had knee tendenosis and was nowhere near full strength. Their second best player Pepe didn’t play in the game because he went Zinedine Zidane on a player from Germany. Don’t take it from me though, here is what Ronaldo said about his team, “It would be a lie to say that we are a ‘top’ team. We have many limitations and suffer from injuries such as with Pepe [who was suspended] and Coentrao. This limits us a lot. We have a very limited team and we are not at the best level. This does not enable you to beat top teams.” The tie was tough to swallow because we obviously should have hung on for the win which would have been cool. Not much to say about the Germany game, they just straight up beat us. They are a top 3 team in the world and are in top form, nothing crazy about that game they dominated. So the group of death term was rightfully coined at the time when the groups were drafted, but coming into the tournament this group was far from the group of death. Portugal and Ghana were nowhere near their top form, that’s not my opinion that’s just stating facts.
But that doesn’t take away from our feat of getting out of the group. All i’m saying is i think the group of death storyline was over dramatized. I am not taking anything away from this U.S. team. All they can do is play who’s on the schedule, and at the end of the day they reached the knockout stage which is a legit accomplishment. Getting to the knockout round isn’t easy for anyone. Look at your traditional Soccer powerhouses like Italy, Spain and England who all got knocked out. Croatia is another good team that was sent home early. So getting to the knockout stages of the World Cup is impressive no matter who the other 3 teams in your group are. Also, I kind of hate the idea of having a coach from another country, but Klinsmann was awesome. Every single button that he pushed ended up being the right button. It’s hard to find any flaws in what Klinsmann has done. When Altidore went down everyone said, “Well that’s why we should have Donavan on the roster.” No problem though, a couple of lineup changes and a formation change and we are up on Portugal with 15 seconds left. He was criticized for bringing Julian Green along…guess that move worked out too huh. Put Wondo in the game against Belgium, it opens up space for Dempsey and Bradley. Not Klinsmann’s fault that Wondo made a mess of that chance, he put him in the right spot.
This U.S. team provided us with some incredible moments and was a blast to watch. It was an awesome ride, and I think sets up the future for American soccer. We have some awesome young talent, and with Klinsmann at the helm the sky is the limit. The only negative part of this whole run was the ridiculous childish arguments between pretentious year round soccer fans and “bandwagon” fans. Social media was flooded with Soccer fans ripping on people for not knowing much and jumping on the bandwagon. There is no such thing as a bandwagon fan when cheering for your country. You don’t have to know a lot about soccer or consistently watch the sport to root for your country. Most people couldn’t tell you the first thing about most Olympic sports, yet every time they come around we all root for the U.S. to take gold. Plus it’s the World Cup…one of if not the biggest sporting event in the world. Likewise, people who never watch soccer and know nothing giving their analysis is comical. Root and cheer and post Instagram pics all you want, but don’t try to give me your take on why Michael Bradley should be benched. Infuriating.
No matter how it ends, this World Cup was a success because i won Rovell’s headline challenge.
The only thing we can now do is hope the #USNLT (United States National Lacrosse Team) can take home the gold at the World Games in Denver. I’m expecting the same type of passion and following for that tournament starting on the 11th. GO USA!
— Steve Butabi