Sunday, June 13, 2010

Group C: A Few Thoughts

A few thoughts at the end of the first go-round of Group C play:

* I think Algeria might have managed to hold onto a 0-0 draw with Slovenia if not for the knuckleheaded move of having one of their strikers suddenly decide he was Jerry Rice and try to catch the ball like a touchdown pass in front of the goal.

* I don't think I've ever enjoyed a draw as much as I did the 1-1 result with England. What a great victory for the USA. But we should have seen it coming. The USA always plays tougher against the good teams in our group. 1994? Defeated tourney favorites Colombia! 2002? Defeated tourney favorites Portugal! 2006? Drew with eventual champions Italy in another 1-1 war. Know your history and these things aren't quite so shocking.

* The USA is very fortunate to be playing our Eastern European opponent in the second game rather than the third of the group stage-- because we always lose to an Eastern European team in the third game. 1994? Loss to Romania. 1998? Loss to Yugoslavia. 2002, when we made it all the way to the Quarterfinals? Didn't matter-- we still got bulldozed by Poland (Poland!) in the third game of the group stage, even as we moved on to the next round (and they didn't). It's remarkable. The downside to this argument: In 2006 we actually drew an African nation as our third opponent-- and lost to them, too. And now we have another African country as our third opponent: Algeria. Can we break this awful string? I think we'll have to, if we want to advance.

* Who will win and who will advance from this group? While it's not as encouraging now, seeing Slovenia ahead of us, just remember-- we play them next, and then we finish up with the weakest side, Algeria. We've already played the best (by far) team in the group and we took a point from them. Things look very good. We just have to remain focused and get it done.

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