Tag Archives: United States Men’s National Team

I Believe That We Are Through

In the end, it all went according to plan. Leading up to the World Cup, the most likely scenario for the United States to survive the Group of Death was a victory over Ghana, a draw against Portugal, and a likely close loss to Germany thus relying on goal differential.

That’s exactly how things played out, and the U.S. took a pretty similar path back in 2002, riding a spot in the knockout stage to a dramatic 2-0 win over Mexico.

A few thoughts:

  • First off, explaining the meme used for this post — Michael Wilbon had a scorching take following Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision to leave Landon Donovan off the World Cup roster. Suck it, Michael Wilbon.
  • The fact that the U.S. pulled this off without getting anything out of Jozy Altidore is damn impressive. Next Tuesday will be 15 days since the hamstring injury. Hopefully he’s ready to go.
  • Some people on Twitter seemed to celebrate when Ghana scored against Portugal to tie their game 1-1, and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why. Sure, a draw there would have gotten us through, but it also left the U.S. a kick away from being eliminated. We were much better off with Portugal up 1-0 than 1-1. I would have thought with how much the scenarios were pushed over the last few days, folks would have familiarized themselves with them, but evidently that wasn’t the case.
  • Thank you Cristiano Ronaldo for that goal. After helping Mexico get to the World Cup and keeping Portugal alive on Sunday, it was time someone helped us. Portugal realistically knew they were going to be eliminated but did the job anyway.
  • Would have to see the game again to verify this (sometimes #analysis becomes difficult when watching in a bar), but Clint Dempsey just looks gassed. Hopefully the time off between now and Tuesday does him some good.
  • Tim Howard’s playing out of his mind, well enough to keep the Americans in a game against Belgium. Aside from maybe pushing the ball wide instead of straight on the save before Germany’s goal, I’m not sure what else he could have done. Love you, Timmy.
  • It’s official — Jurgen Klinsmann, third favorite coach in sports. Not passing Chip Kelly but win a couple more games, and he might jump ahead of Pete Carroll.

Tuesday ought to be fun. Let’s do it.

Jurgen GIF

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An Unfulfilling but Kinda Fun Sports Sunday

Sports giveth and sports taketh away.

With a full slate of baseball, the NHL schedule release, and a United States World Cup match to top things off, yesterday was supposed to be enjoyable, and in many ways it was. Things just didn’t go exactly according to plan.

Surprising? Not really, but damn, I wouldn’t have minded sticking to the plan here.

Unlike every other blog post I’ve done, this one doesn’t really have a honed-in topic. I just hadn’t written anything here for a couple weeks and was in the mood to share some thoughts.

My three big concerns yesterday from a sports standpoint were the Phillies trying to complete a rather surprising 6-1 road trip, hockey, and of course, a pretty important soccer game.

Blog Post Tweet

This never happened. The Phillies blew a 3-0 lead and failed to finish off an impressive mini-stretch of games. Oh well. I may write a separate post about this at some point, but my stance from about a month ago remains the same. Nice to see them show some signs of life over the past week but still feels more like a mirage than any type of sustainable turnaround.

That’s alright though because while the Cardinals took command of that game, I had something else to look forward to. Normally, seeing the NHL schedule wouldn’t get my juices flowing too much, but this year, I had something specific to look forward to.

See, a month ago, I won a contest for tickets to a Penguins game next season.

Contest Winner

My friend and I had it all figured out. We were seeing Flyers-Pens in enemy territory. All we needed was a weekend game (preferably next spring when there was no football to watch).

I figured our chances were pretty good as I waited for the minutes to pass by leading up to 4 p.m. This is the type of Metropolitan Division matchup that you expect to see on NBC late in the season with Doc Emrick’s soothing voice narrating the action.

In the nine seasons since the 2004-2005 lockout, the scenario we wanted had unfolded every year, so history was on our side. I checked the Flyers website around 3:55 p.m. No dice, but the Penguins schedule had already been posted. My heart raced as I plugged “Flyers” into a Ctrl+F bar. A few seconds later, it sunk. The Flyers are only in Pittsburgh on two random Wednesday nights.

We still have some great games to choose from and are pumped to see Consol Energy Center for the first time, but damn, I thought that was pretty close to a slam dunk. Nope.

Eh whatever, almost time to watch the U.S. seal their spot in the knockout stage of the World Cup. Maybe I was running on an adrenaline high from last Monday, but in the days leading up to the match, I texted a few of my friends something along the lines of:

I just have this feeling we’re gonna crush Portugal. 

If we could have the first five minutes back, I think it might have happened too, but obviously it didn’t.  Everyone watched the game but just a few broader points

  • Holy shit, that shot from Jermaine Jones was something else. Even my mother who isn’t too into sports was going crazy, but now that I think about it, she did the same thing with Landon’s Algeria goal in 2010, so yeah, go Mom. The Univision call was also fantastic.
  • I realize I’m stating the obvious with this one and not adding much, but the final 20 seconds could not have been handled worse. If five USA players walked off the pitch, they might have been better off than what happened. Obviously Portugal is trying to score, but between the Bradley turnover, the time and space space given to Ronaldo, and three defenders losing track of Silvestre Varela, a breakdown on so many levels just can’t happen in this tournament.

Bradley Turnover 2

Well said, dude.

  • Is it over the top to say that Jurgen Klinsmann might be my third favorite coach in sports? Chip Kelly is one; Pete Carroll is second (I have a thing for former Pac-12 college football coaches). If this was written a few years ago, Mike Krzyzewski would have easily been three, but four years at Penn State kinda takes away your passion for Duke Basketball. I love what Klinsmann is doing, and it goes way beyond the effective substitutions. He has this team believing in itself, and right or wrong, he’s sticking up for them every chance he gets. (His accent is also delightful)

(via SB Nation)

Jurgen Quote

  • We are going to advance. In both 2002 and 2010, it took until the third set of group play, and the U.S. got through both times. Am I nervous? Sure, but I’d take our position over Ghana’s right now any day.

Unrelated to the game, but I’m not entirely sure what Dan Shaughnessy’s Boston Globe column about hating soccer was looking to accomplish. In general, this whole ‘my sport rules, your sport sucks’ argument is ancient and tiresome. It normally reaches a fever pitch on Twitter right around June when the Stanley Cup Finals and NBA Finals are running simultaneously.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the NBA and professional basketball. I don’t appreciate a lot of the finer details, advanced statistics, and nuances of the game that I like to believe I notice in other sports. That said, there’s a ton of people who sleep well at night between late October and mid-June knowing that there will be NBA basketball the next day.

I don’t mean to come off as unicorn and rainbowy, but if people stopped taking pot shots at sports they dislike, I think we’d enjoy the ones we do like more.

**

On a quick non-sports note, today is the first day of camp at Southampton Summer Day Camp, a place I spent 14 years at as a camper and counselor. For my final two years, I was in charge of 20 third grade boys. I never thought that I would stay 14 years, but it became in many ways my second home.

Aside from visiting once, I haven’t been back in three summers. Unless you’re going to be a teacher, everyone moves on at some point, but I always get a little nostalgic when the first day comes around.

To those working now, you have 39 days to make an impact on a child’s life that can last way longer. Always remember why you’re there, and do it the right way.

**

Back to the core of this post though, parts of yesterday were awesome, and other parts really sucked, especially at 7:53 p.m. eastern time when a victory for the ages was snatched away. I suppose that’s life though. Things don’t always go according to plan.

If you somehow made it this far, thank you. It was fun rambling a bit.

It was more fun America-ing with all of you over the past week. We’re going to make it out of this “Group of Death.” We just have to wait four days.

#SeeYouThursday