June 05, 2002

Oh my gosh. Now this is an upset.: The BBC has already called the US win over Portugal one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history.

posted by rabi to soccer at 06:16 AM - 23 comments

Everyone here in Paris is in shock, well, including me. I only saw the second half, where things seemed to be in sort of a sloppy deadlock, the US desperately defending, and the Portuguese even more desperately doing the opposite, but Portugal must have just been horrible in the first, especially considering that Reyna and Mathis didn't even play. Wow.

posted by disblfsuspender at 06:31 AM on June 05, 2002

The Americans were much more aggressive in the first half. While they didn't control the ball in the midfield, they played a wide-open game, made some excellent set-up passes, and took advantage of a slow, fumbling Portuguese defence. I'll even forgive Agoos the self-goal, because it was a mistake of aggression, which they didn't dare commit in '98. While I don't know about it being one of the greatest upsets ever, it is probably the most important upsets in American soccer history, if only because of the credence this gives to the sport in the U.S. Now if I can only power my way through work, after being up since 4 a.m. ;-)

posted by avogadro at 06:44 AM on June 05, 2002

Yes, it should wake up some of the US public (if it can be communicated just how decent a team Portugal can be) and it was just a brilliant game to watch. Portugal didn't start playing until they scored their first goal, but that shouldn't take anything away from how the US team made their defence look slow and ragged. Good passing, good pace, incisive moves, great finishes. But Lordy, did Figo look knackered or what?

posted by etagloh at 07:37 AM on June 05, 2002

But Lordy, did Figo look knackered or what? I thought that the American midfielders did a good job of trapping him throughout the game, or at least until the 20th minute or so of the second half. But certainly Portugal was not playing their "A" game, and there was certainly talk before the tournament that they would have difficulty jelling as a team. It's a little disappointing that they underestimated the U.S. team so badly and put up such a meagre defence.

posted by avogadro at 07:49 AM on June 05, 2002

7:1 odds against us and I didn't do it because of a Louisiana online gaming law! Excellent match, but a little nerve-wracking in the second half. As an aside, 90th minute score by Ireland??? What a cool morning.

posted by mblandi at 08:22 AM on June 05, 2002

as an American who only began watching fanatically in '94, I certainly am not qualified to speak to all time greatest World Cup upsets, but it sure seems to be the biggest upset I've seen . while the Senegal upset of France was a surprise, I think the difference is that France was missing its heart and soul in Zizou, and the US was playing without its 2 most talented players, leaving a team that averages 23 yr old (minus Agoos), WOW. Before the WC, a Korean collegue and I were discussing how important the US v. Korea match would be in deciding who would join Portugal to the next round. Now, it may be a matchup of the 2 advancers! I think US needs at least a draw with Korea and a win over Poland, because I feel Portugal has heard the alarm, and will awake from slumber in the next 2 matches, and could still end up with 2 wins. But you have to love US chances - hard to ignore a disciplined team with speed.

posted by zombywoof at 08:22 AM on June 05, 2002

US beating England in 1950 was probably a more suprising result - hey, back then the only pro in the US side was somebody who played for Wrexham :) Football 365's all time top 10 shock results. I don't agree with the ordering though.. Poor old Poland are gonna get annihilated by Portugal and the US, leaving the South Korea vs US match as the crucial one.. Whoopee for Ireland - why can't they do first halves? Still, it means you go out on a high when the match finishes, as opposed to England Sweden when we ended on a loooow (mainly because we're picky supporters :).

posted by Mossy at 08:42 AM on June 05, 2002

zombywoof: Agreed. The US may not even need to beat S Korea and they should go on to batter Poland... ...if you can win the group then a nice little tie v Mexico on the cards... USA in the Quarter finals?

posted by i_cola at 09:09 AM on June 05, 2002

If the US loses against Korea but beats Poland(6 points) it will go through. If it draws against Korea and Poland(5 points) it will go through. Technically - it often happens - it may lose with Korea and draw with Poland and still go through, depending on the other results. A win is 3 points and a draw is 1. Quite a few teams will reach the second round with just 4. That's why winning the first game is so important.

posted by Miguel Cardoso at 10:38 AM on June 05, 2002

Always assuming Portugal will beat Korea, which it will.

posted by Miguel Cardoso at 10:44 AM on June 05, 2002

Miguel: True, but 6 points does not necessarily guarantee qualification for the second round. or instance, from Group D, what if Korea beats USA and Portugal beats Poland? If then USA beats Poland and Portugal beat Korea then Portugal, USA and Korea will all be level on 6 points, and it will come down to goal difference. While it's unlikely that all these will pan out, individually, none of these results seem all that unlikely. Ireland's last gasp goal against Germany was important becuase they would almost certainly have gone out of the competition if they had lost to Germany 1-0. From what I've seen of Saudi Arabia, Cameroon and Ireland will both beat them. Teams on 6 points after 2 games rarely seem to want to win the third game as much as their opponents, and often end up drawing or losing. That would have been enough for Cameroon and Germany to both qualify with a draw in the last game. Now, Ireland will progress if the Germany-Cameroon game is not a draw, or if they get a better result against Saudi Arabia than Cameroon.

posted by salmacis at 10:48 AM on June 05, 2002

Congratulations to the USA on a stunning result, by the way.

posted by salmacis at 10:49 AM on June 05, 2002

*Wipes egg from face after England winning World Series jibe from another thread* Well, you could knock me down with a feather. I was under the impression that the USA struggled to score goals but obviously if the opposition stand around like statues this doesn't apply. Congratulations to the USA on an immense victory. So, where now? Korea look an excellent side and could easily win the group at this rate. The Poles looked hopeless against them, but surely can't play as badly again? Portugal are a far far better team than they displayed today and could also easily win their remaining two games. What a great open group. Qualifiers from this group will end up facing probably Mexico or Italy if I've read my World Cup wall chart correctly. Now beating Italy in a competitive game, *that* would be an upset. I just hope the American public takes note.

posted by squealy at 11:38 AM on June 05, 2002

salmacis: I think there's less of an incentive for last game carve ups this year, because of the dynamics of the draw. (Although I think it may work against England, because of France's early defeat.) Come second in Ireland's group, and you'll more than likely face Spain in the second round, and you'll have to travel to Korea to do it as well. Win the group, and you'll still have to travel, but you'll be facing (I suspect) one of Paraguay or South Africa, which is a little less daunting. And as squealy says, this makes Group D astonishingly competitive now, so that every match is likely to be played as if it's a knockout tie. No-one will want to face Italy from the look of them, even the hosts on home territory. And yes: congrats to the US team. I know it was fun last time when Iran beat them, but damnit, I want American sports writers (and news stations) to have to take the world's game seriously, and you could have no greater shot in the arm.

posted by etagloh at 11:49 AM on June 05, 2002

Three minutes into the game (as the U.S. slammed one in) I knew this game was going to be an upset. Figo did look tired and Baia, the goaltender, seemed to have no focus. Although I dont want to discredit the U.S. offense or Mcbride's attacks, I have to say that the Portuguese defense had the substance and strength of cardboard. Portugal will have to worry now about Korea. It'll be tough because the Koreans are playing strong as if they have nothing to lose.

posted by vacapinta at 05:59 PM on June 05, 2002

Nicky Butt. heh. I had no idea the US was supposed to be so bad. I mean, I knew we weren't good, but I didn't realize this was going to be such a shocker... almost makes me mad that I didn't watch....

posted by Bernreuther at 09:08 PM on June 05, 2002

Bern: the thing is we aren't that bad. Last I checked we're 13th in the FIFA World Rankings, which isn't exactly Portugal [3rd or 4th] but it isn't exactly chopped liver, either. But 'we' are the US, and so in soccer, anytime we accomplish anything it is a shocker to the rest of the world, even when it shouldn't actually be that surprising.

posted by tieguy at 09:58 PM on June 05, 2002

I went ahead and looked up the official FIFA rankings, and France is #1, Senegal is #42, Portugal is #5, and the US is #13. So... as flattering as it is, the notion that US-Portugal is the greatest upset in WC history or even close is pretty laughable- it isn't even close to the biggest upset this week.

posted by tieguy at 01:50 AM on June 06, 2002

If anybody believes the FIFA rankings, they need their head examined. A better systems can be found at World Football Elo Ratings. The US win pushed them up 7 places to 15th according to this system.

posted by salmacis at 02:25 AM on June 06, 2002

Another system here by Ron Kessler is also better than FIFA's. The last update from just before the World Cup put USA at 17th. Interestingly both systems have USA comfortably ranked as 2nd seeds for their group.

posted by salmacis at 02:33 AM on June 06, 2002

Um.... what's that last little comment? It doesn't look like a properly formatted post at all, not even close.

posted by hincandenza at 06:54 AM on June 06, 2002

So that's what Jeff Lynne has been doing since his musical career went tits up.

posted by Fat Buddha at 11:47 AM on June 06, 2002

Yeah, the FIFA rankings are bizarre: France hasn't played a World Cup qualifier since the team failed to get to the USA in 1994, so according to the ranking guidelines its number one position is based almost entirely on the performances in France '98 and Holland/Belgium 2000.

posted by etagloh at 12:07 PM on June 06, 2002

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