I don’t have any idea what’s going to happen today.
Two games, four teams, and the possibilities seem infinite. Two games have come and passed, but Group G remains a mystery. It seems to me that any of these teams is capable of doing anything this afternoon. The World Cup was built for days like this, and if I was a neutral observer this would be a joyous occasion. But I am an American and until 12 p.m. (and probably for some time after) I am in hell. Join me, please, in the uncertainty and the chaos.
In the back of our minds, the comforting thought heading to Brazil was “it’s good that we play Germany last, because they’ll have wrapped up the group by then.” That draw to Ghana needlessly complicated American advancement in more ways than one. Maybe it was a sign of vulnerability. Alternatively, it was their usual second-match hiccup, a minor glitch in the machine. Perhaps they will struggle in the heat like their European counterparts. And perhaps the German version of struggling results in a 2-0 victory. In theory, needing only a draw, Germany will have mercy on the U.S. But in practice, Die Mannschaft doesn’t know the meaning of mercy.
Ghana have put together two very solid performances. For that, they received one point and none of the money they were promised. The cash has been flown to Brazil, and if the Black Stars play the way they did in the first two matches, Portugal are in trouble, as are the US. If rumors of internal strife are true, Ghana could be deflated and defeated. At this point, I am convinced that the west African country of 24 million people exists solely to ruin American soccer dreams. We thought those old ghosts were vanquished in Natal? Ha. This might just be their cruelest trick yet. In my nightmares Asamoah Gyan puts Ghana through on goal differential.
Portugal could recognize that the task ahead calls for a significant change in goal differential, and come out steaming to score. 4-0, 5-0, they have that sort of talent. That last-second assist might have awoken Ronaldo like one of the Old Gods, and he could Ghana like target practice for thunderbolts. Portugal could also view their chances of advancing as horribly slim and implode. The country could be adrift in the Atlantic, in chaos and slowly sinking by tomorrow.
And then there’s the paradoxical Americans.. The U.S. have stumbled their way into
six four points, and would logically seem to be on the verge, a knife’s edge away from qualification. Unless you expect Ghana to win, in which case all is lost. The U.S. has performed better than anyone could reasonably have expected; they also come off of a massive disappointment. They have more to gain from a quiet draw than anyone, but are perhaps the least suited team to provide it. Their performance is the most predictable of the four sides; whether it will be enough is anything but.
The World Cup is collapsing in on our heads, and I don’t know what, if anything, will be left standing amid the rubble. I have said that the U.S. is playing with house money after their first two performances, but…Advancement is within their grasp; they don’t even have to do anything to end up in the next round. Anything could happen today. Let’s do this already.
Hopefully I’ll still be alive at 2 PM.