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World Cup – Day 8

Germany 0 – Serbia 1

Wow .. talk about throwing a monkey wrench in the group!

The Germans went to 10 men on 37′ because Klose didn’t adjust to the referee being card-happy and got two yellows.  But the real reason that they lost was that they couldn’t finish. Podolski missed a penalty, and the Germans missed 5 or 6 great chances.  It almost looked like they “shot their wad” in the first game.

Slovenia 2 – USA 2

I am not sure how to feel about this game.  USA showed great poise and composure coming back, and should be proud of that.  But they should never have been down in the first place.  USA was the better team, but mental errors gave two goals away.  This game is certainly a story of what might have been …

The Slovenian goals were from bad defensive lapses.  On the first, Birsa was given plenty of time and space in the middle at about 25 yards, and calmly deposited the ball in the corner. Howard could do nothing as he was screened and caught by surprise.  On the second, USA ran the offside trap poorly (Onyewu …) and a nicely timed pass put Ljubijankic in behind everyone.

Landon Donovan scored a beautiful goal early in the second half, closing in from a terrible angle on the right and roofing the shot.   Michael Bradley scored the equalizer on a nice run and header from Altidore.  Maurice Edu scored an apparent winner from a beautiful Donovan free kick, but it was waved off by the referee.  The reason for the whistle is not clear. No USA player was offside, and there was no substantial pushing and shoving in the box. The FIFA play-by-play appears to say that Edu committed a foul, but he looked to be the only player in the box not touching anyone!

The referee was horrible.  Although the single biggest bad call in the match nullified the USA winning goal, the ref was terrible both ways.  Dempsey should have been cautioned for his early elbow.  Robbie Findlay will miss the next USA game due to a phantom yellow card (intentional handball, when the ball hit his face). And there were plenty of poor fouls called throughout the game.  I don’t want to think about conspiracies, but rather suspect that Mr. Koman Coulibaly (from Mali) was just in over his head.

One interesting theory (supported by the quick whistle) is that Coulibaly decided that the original foul was harsh and was negating it rather than calling anything specific in the scrum. Not an unreasonable thought .. I have done similar things refereeing water polo matches.

England 0 – Algeria 0

This wasn’t a great game to watch.  England was better, but not a lot better, and they didn’t have much venom in their attack. To thrash a metaphor, none of the Lions had very sharp teeth.  Wayne Rooney was basically AWOL, and Steven Gerrard was involved but couldn’t get things going for the team. Algeria had some defensive brilliance and some offensive opportunities, but they also missed rather than being denied.

This was the best possible result for the USA. They should be optimistic, and have every reason to believe they can beat Algeria and advance.

Group C Advancement Analysis

Great group!  All four teams can still advance, and Algeria is the only team that needs help. Algeria advances if they beat the USA and Slovenia beats England. The USA advances with a win over Algeria, or a draw and an England loss against Slovenia. England advances if they win. Slovenia advances with a win or draw against England.

If both games on Wednesday are draws, Slovenia advance, Algeria goes home, and FIFA tiebreaker decides which of England or the USA advance. USA holds the advantage because of the extra goal scored.

If Algeria beats the USA and England beats Slovenia, England wins the group and Slovenia or Algeria advance depending on goal difference. Stupidly, the FIFA tie-break rules don’t consider the head-to-head match, which in this particular case Slovenia won handily.

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