Why Landon Donovan, in the 88th minute, passed on a clear shot to the goal to instead opt to push the ball into the clogged up middle and kill a desperately needed scoring chance (a few minutes after lofting a free kick past all players and out of bounds) is anybody's guess. Perhaps right then he had suddenly realized how to alter the flow of time and space and he figured he could gin up a wayback machine to travel back two hours and stop Claudio Reyna from making a hideous, fundamental, grade-school mistake with the ball in front of the goal box. So maybe, in the next few minutes, we'll hear something about how Landon Donovan went back, killed Hitler, cured AIDS, and told Reyna to beware the Ides of Stupid.
But I have a funny feeling this result is going to stand up to Donovan's eleventh-hour flux-capacitation. And why shouldn't it? Let's go to the tape: in just under a week, Ghana managed to personally eliminate the two most-overrated teams from the World Cup and while that sucks for the United States, it's good for soccer all around. After earning back their right to possess testicles in the Italy match, dreary and aimless United States soccer was back in full effect, the four and a half seconds it took for DaMarcus Beasley to connect with Deuce Dempsey being the exception.
A lot of these guys won't be back in four years: Reyna, McBride, Pope, probably Keller. I hope the NSA has got a tap on Freddy Adu's immigration lawyer and is readying a counter-offer. It sure looked today that Freddy backed the wrong horse. Whoever takes the field four years from now will hopefully have the following advantages over the current team:
- The ability to play the ball to a teammate's foot, as opposed to always kicking it into a general vicinity
- The knowledge necessary to realize that while crosses are important, they only tend to work when there are teammates adjacent to the cross
- The recognition, Landon, that you only have about half a second to make a decision
- No more in-the-box Agoosism
This is all I ask for. And what needs to be done to get Esky on this team?
With the United States rightly eliminated, my allegiance switches now to bloodline. Unfortch, that means I get a few days of trepidation before Sweden gets eliminated by Germany (Germany is THREE GOALS BETTER than Ecuador? THAT'S a statement. I've been waiting to see any of Germany's rumored weaknesses to materialize and so far, I don't see anything). Yes, Sweden. My Mor-Mor stepped right offa the boat to come to this country, so I recognize.
My mutt mix of various Celticky/Gaelickness just doesn't understand why I don't just scotch the whole rest of the cup and look for a good hurling match to watch on public televsion.
Sweden was last seen eking out a rather heroic tie in stoppage time against the Brits in a game tha ultimately meant almost nothing. I say almost because Albion'll take the field from here on out without the resources of Michael Owen. I know that everyone in England mainly lives and dies over the state of Wayne Rooney's fitness (though Huge Hugh Owen would probably prefer to see a team of Jamie Carragher clones. I, being a Fever Pitch fan (the book, not the almost certainly execrable Jimmy Fallon misadventure) favor the young sir Walcott--though one thing we can all agree on is that everytime a Tottenham player doesn't get a cap, an angel gets their wings), but I don't think much of England's chances without Owen.
Though, frankly, I didn't think much of them before. The England-Sweden game was pretty instructive, if you want to know why it's better than likely they'll be making some premature exits--Sweden has been great at nearly everything except for the part where you close the deal and finish, and England has played pretty mirthless, turgid soccer except for the fact that they have The Last Bit down pat.
Right now, I'd be terrified of Germany and Argentina--and frankly, I've a little more respect for the Dutch/Netherlandian/Hollandaise after they managed a draw without Robben.
Am I the only one, by the way, that thinks that Ghana could be a whole lot more than Brazil bargained for?
Finally, if you sense that I'm still a little miffy that my Swedes could only nip a draw with the Brits this week, don't worry. There is no extra time in the group stages of the world cup, so the matter could not be settled on the pitch. Off the field, however, Sweden has the only tiebreaker that really counts: