World Cup South Africa 2010, Part Three.

10:52 AM: Good Lord, the US team sucks today. No central defense. No buildup in the midfield, nothing but boom-ball–I’ve got no idea what Michael Bradley is trying to accomplish. Findley and Altidore look lost up top.

To be continued.

11:05 AM: HOPE! If Donovan misses that, it’s hit squad time.

11:39 AM: 2-2! Way to redeem yourselves. Please don’t choke away the finish!

11:53 AM: Re the disallowed goal… The only thing I can figure is that the ref saw the one American holding a Slovenian, and missed the three Slovenians holding Americans. That should have been a goal. That said, if you don’t let the bad guys score two early goals to begin with, if you get the midfield making better passes, if the team shows up to play from the very first whistle instead of waiting until the second half, then the ref becomes moot.

I think Argentina’s 4-1 win over South Korea has been the best game so far. Messi showed his dominance without scoring a goal and Higuaín’s hat trick showed everybody why he’s in the lineup. South Korea didn’t cower against the Argentines, and probably should have had at least one more goal. The final score may have overstated the real margin between the teams, but that’s why Argentina’s a cup contender and South Korea’s still “next time’s team.”

Greece 2, Nigeria 1: Kaita’s stupid red card turned this into a fun game to watch. Hopefully it didn’t earn him a visit from some death squad a la Escobar in 1994. This was probably my second-favorite game so far.

Spain’s loss wasn’t quite as big an upset as many thought; it’s not like the Swiss have never been to the Cup. And I don’t care how badly they outplayed Switzerland, it’s like di Stefano, who briefly played for Spain, said: “Goals are not deserved, they are scored.” They can still advance with good results against Chile and Honduras, and once they’re in the elimination rounds, who knows what’ll happen?

I do. Spain’ll choke again.

Italy got off to their typical crappy start against Paraguay. They should still advance. I loved watching Mexico beat the Frenchies, especially because of Javier Hernandez’s story: his grandfather scored against France in the ’54 Cup, and he scored the winner against France this time around. Beautiful.

I think Brazil looks really, really dangerous… their win over the Norks wasn’t that inspiring, but if the Brazilians can win that kind of game and remain perfectly calm, then the coach is on to something. This could be 1994 all over again: Brazil winning it all by being clinical and calculating instead of stylish and spectacular.

Serbia’s defeat of Germany this morning hopefully helped to soothe some of the pains left over from that minor kerfluffle between the two nations 96 years ago. It reminds me of why international soccer, whether you think it’s fun or entertaining or not, is so much deeper than every other sport combined: players walk on that pitch with decades, centuries of history on their shoulders. These matches can provide redemption, or revenge, or, in some cases, reconciliation. Today we saw a modicum of revenge.

Now off to the bookstore and to pray for an Algerian win or draw against England.

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