World Cup – the final phase

Friday, Finally!
June 27, 2014

-A day off from the 2014 World Cup as it enters The Round of Sixteen, also known as the Knock-out phase.

Each game is a head-to-head match.  If at the end of 90 minutes the score is level, another thirty minutes (two fifteen-minute halves) will be played.  If still tied at the end of 120 minutes, it goes to penalty kicks.

Beginning tomorrow, here is how it breaks down:
Saturday:
Brazil vs Chile
Columbia vs Uruguay
Sunday:
Netherlands vs Mexico
Costa Rica vs Greece
Monday:
France vs Nigeria
Germany vs Algeria
Tuesday
Argentina vs Switzerland
Belgium vs United States.

The United States have been impressive.  Not the cleanest of performances, they’ve gotten the job done.  They came out against Ghana with everything they had, with Clint Dempsey scoring in the opening thirty seconds, and concluded with heroics in the final minutes to win the match, 2-1.  With Portugal, they faced the fourth highest ranked team in the world, and one of the best players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo.  After falling behind in the fifth minute, the US struck twice in the second half, providing the unfathomable dream that the US could qualify for the Round of Sixteen after only two games.  However, Ronaldo, in the dying stages of the match, sent in a quality cross, which ended up in the back of the US net.  Still, a 2-2 draw against the 4th ranked team in the world was enough to make advancing out of the group an almost certainty.  All they had to do against the powerful German team (ranked 2nd in the world), was win, draw, or lose by a narrow margin.  On a rainy day and soggy pitch, the US held Germany to a goal (after scoring six in their previous two matches) – a very impressive result, and one that did not eliminate them from the group stage.

Right now, kudos has to go to the US Men’s soccer program for selecting Jurgen Klinsmann as our coach.  Leading up to this moment, there has been a lot of questioning and criticism of the things he’s done, such as leaving Landon Donovan off the team.  Former USMT coach, Bruce Arena said, sarcastically, that the US must be favorites if there are 23 players in the lineup better than Landon Donovan.  In more recent World Cups, we’ve had college coaches who’ve had some or limited success as coaches in Major League Soccer – not one of the premiere leagues of the world – and no World Cup experience as either player or coach.  Klinsmann was a star for Germany who had both played and coached for the German team.  He knows football and how it is played at the highest level, not just skill and talent but also on training and development.  It was a bold move to step outside the ‘Merican box of selecting a home-grown coach, and so far, it’s working out to my satisfaction.

In any event, we’re in for a fun ride, starting Tuesday against Belgium.  We either win or go home.

-Finally, soccer returns to Cass Tech as Detroit City FC host Westfield Select (out of Indiana) at 5:00 PM on Sunday.  Enjoying the World Cup on television is nice, however viewing the beautiful game in the rowdy confines of Cass Tech High School’s stadium is an experience you should not deprive yourself of – especially if you live in the Detroit area.  This will be a tough match for DCFC, as this team is the only one to hand DCFC a regular season loss in almost two years.  From what I’ve heard, this Indiana-based team plays out in some cornfield where the cawing of the crows break the silence of their matches.  Their players are about to enter Our Heaven, Their Hell.

Photo by Michael Kitchen
Photo by Michael Kitchen

Enjoy your weekend!  Our union men and women fought hard for us to have them!

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