What can you say about a game like that? You could say that Germany beat Brazil 7-1, but can numbers possibly tell the story? Brazil capitulated, at the sport they love, on the world’s stage, in front of their own fans. To describe it as shocking would be a criminal understatement. I was reminded of the devastation felt when Liverpool gave up a 3-0 lead at Crystal Palace. But yesterday was on a wholly different magnitude. There is no adequate comparison.
What makes a man become a manager? We all aspire to play the game, but who dreams of becoming a manager? When you play, you have teammates and friends; when you are manager, you have nothing but enemies. The fans are demanding, the media hounds your every decision, and patient owners are a thing of the past. The failures of others will land on your neck. Why would you seek out the profession of manager?
I didn’t want it to be a penalty. It took about 10 views before I allowed myself to see that yes, Giovanni Sio committed a foul on Georgios Samaras in the box. Greece beat the Ivory Coast fair and square, but I so deeply wish they hadn’t. Les Éléphants were a lively presence in this World Cup, showcasing the skills of Gervinho and Yaya Touré and the percussion talents of their supporters. This sport can be horribly cruel sometimes, and it’s been sadistic for the better part of the past decade to the Ivorians. Blessed with more individual talent than any African side in history, fate and circumstances seem to have conspired against them.
No one will deny that Michael Bradley had a dreadful game against Ghana. When the USMNT desperately needed to maintain possession upfield, Bradley gave the ball away with an alarming regularity. That’s not like him, and he’d be the first to say that he needed to be much better against Portugal. He was, but a late mistake has largely overshadowed that performance.
It is a perverse sign of progress that the US is looking for a scapegoat after a draw against Portugal, but some fans are blaming Bradley for the result. Yes, it was Bradley who lost possession in the build-up to Portugal’s stunning equalizer, but the criticism he’s facing is largely an overreaction. Calls for him to be benched are silly.
The 2014 World Cup took its first three victims yesterday. Spain, Cameroon, and Australia will all play another game in. In the wake of one exit, a forest of eulogies has already been written. One of the eliminated teams needs nothing said about them. But Australia deserves some attention.
It was coming, and somewhere deep inside we all knew it. Ghana was going to score, even if we deluded ourselves into thinking that it wouldn’t happen until after the final whistle. When Andre Ayew scored, at the end of an admittedly beautiful move, it sucked the hope out of me. It seemed at the time that the only question was whether the U.S. would hang on for a draw or concede a second. Even Taylor Twellman, in the commentary booth, was of the opinion that the U.S. should try to cling to what it had. But Jurgen Klinsmann does not think the way you, Taylor Twellman, or I think.
For all the drama, pageantry, and excitement that surrounds the build-up to the World Cup, we had no right to expect such fun. The dirty secret of international soccer is that it’s generally disjointed, slower and less entertaining than the club game. The theory goes that attacking tactics require a bit more time together than international teams have, and that the format and massive stage of these tournaments leads to cautious managers. And so in 2010 Spain was coronated following a series of 1-0 victories. Despite complaints from goalkeepers about the dip and swerve of the Jabulani, the tournament averaged fewer than 2.3 goals per game.