I was awakened rather too early yesterday by the dog, so wound up dozing on the couch for a lot of the Portugal-Iran game. Which was pretty doze-worthy, actually– Portugal approached the game sort of like an NBA team, and played eleven loosely connected games of one-on-one, and while Iran was game, they just didn’t quite have the players to keep up.
We had a bunch of shopping to do in the middle part of the day, so I missed Ghana’s stunning upset of the Czech Republic, but we did make it home in time to see the entire USA-Italy game. The US team played with a lot more energy than they showed in their first game, but the game was marred by controversial refereeing, with three players being sent off two US, one Italian), and dozens of fouls being called. In the end, it ended up a 1-1 tie, which was a pretty reasonable outcome given how both teams played– the US dominated the early going, Italy scored a nice goal off a free kick, followed quickly by the equalizing own-goal from an Italian defender. And then the ejections happened, and everything went wacky.
I don’t think the referee was inconsistent or biased, I just think he was a little too quick with the whistle, and much too quick to reach for the cards. The second yellow card for Pope, for example, was clearly a yellow card given the other stuff he’d handed out cards for earlier, but I’m not sure it deserved a yellow card in an absolute sense.
The tie sets up a showdown Thursday between the USA and the surprising Ghana team, with a spot in the second round on the line (provided the Czechs beat Italy). Both teams will be missing players due to cards handed out yesterday, but it should be an entertaining game.