World Cup Update

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.

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Comments

  1. #1 Marcello
    June 18, 2006

    I watched the game in shock and awe. In my opinion, it had little to do with football at all. Why didn’t the players help each other back on their feet after tackles? The aggressive playing was even harder to understand.

  2. #2 sedeer
    June 18, 2006

    Actually, the US has a better chance if Italy beats the Czechs: then Italy will have 7 points and the Czechs 3. If the US can beat Ghana, they’ll have 4 and make it into the second round. If the Czechs beat the Italians (and the US beats Ghana) then both the US & Italy would have 4 points and it would go to goal difference…which means the US would have to beat Ghana by a margin of 6 points or so to make it into the second round.

    So, annoying as it may be (:-P), root for Italy in the next game!

  3. #3 Dennis
    June 18, 2006

    A 4 point margin of victory over Ghana is probably enough to guarantee a US position in the World Cup even if CR beats Italy by only one run in a 2-1 game. It would give the US the tie break vs. Italy (differential would both equal +1 goal, but US total goals would be 5 while Italy total goals would be 4). In the case of an Italy-CR tie, similar math would apply.

    Obviously, the ideal situation is an Italian win combined with a US win.

  4. #4 Ray
    June 19, 2006

    The US team probably didn’t help matters by announcing beforehand that they were ‘going to war’ – that’s just inviting close scrutiny and strict decisions from the referees. But the US team did cross the line between being competitive and being dangerous. The worst foul in the game was the Italian red, but there were a lot of bad US fouls that could easily have been carded.

  5. #5 Chad Orzel
    June 19, 2006

    Actually, the US has a better chance if Italy beats the Czechs: then Italy will have 7 points and the Czechs 3. If the US can beat Ghana, they’ll have 4 and make it into the second round.

    You’re right, of course. I was misremembering some discussions I read before the game, when people were assuming the Czechs would beat Ghana. (I sort of wish I’d seen that game, rather than the Portugal-Iran snoozer…)

    But the US team did cross the line between being competitive and being dangerous. The worst foul in the game was the Italian red, but there were a lot of bad US fouls that could easily have been carded.

    This is probably just American bias (in the sense of “our big sports are much more violent than that,” rather than just blinkered nationalism), but it didn’t look to me like there was anything that bad in the game. It really looked to me like the ref was too quick with the whistle as it was.

  6. #6 Ray
    June 19, 2006

    I don’t know enough about American sports to come up with any useful analogies, I’m afraid. From here, they seem to divide up into full-contact games where the participants wear a lot of protection, and games like baseball and basketball where there is not a lot of contact. The thing about the sliding tackle in football is that you can’t have a game without it, but if done badly it can cause a lot of damage. Even if it’s just late, it can break someone’s ankle. Going in studs up, or with both legs, makes it even more dangerous.

  7. #7 Roman Werpachowski
    June 22, 2006

    Susprisingly for me, Ghana won with the USA.

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