June 16, 2002

US v Mexico: and Brazil v Belgium are next. Can the US pull it off? Will the Brazilian beat continue?

posted by worldcup2002 to soccer at 10:27 AM - 41 comments

This world cup has been absolutely barking so far, so I shouldn't be surprised if Belgium beat Brazil, can't see it though. U.S v Mexico looks very interesting. Is it right that the U.S have won 4 of the last 5 encounters?, that has to be a confidence builder. Friedel is in excellent form and is keeper of the tournament so far in my hapless opinion, though the Casilas save from Keane today has to be save of the tournament. Mexico have looked very lively but not particularly outstanding. Torrado looks like a footballer though. I would not risk a penny, a pfenig or a zloty on the outcome of this. However I suspect there will be mass apathy across the U.S, despite them winning. Mathis article from, as ever, The Guardian.

posted by Fat Buddha at 04:51 PM on June 16, 2002

I would however, risk an Argentine peso on the outcome... Agreed, the Mexico-USA game looks intriguing. Just how good are the USA? I didn't think they were much cop in CONCACAF qualifying, but they did well against Portugal and Korea. Was the Poland game an aberration, or is it a truer reflection of their quality? Games between these two rivals on neutral ground is a rarity. Gold Cups are always held in the USA, so most matches have been held on US soil, even if the majority of the crowd was supporting Mexico. As for apathy, I would think that if the USA wins, the sports media will jump on the bandwagon, at least as much as the US media ever will for football..

posted by salmacis at 05:06 PM on June 16, 2002

Mexico-USA has 'cup-tie' written all over it, in terms of the atmosphere on and off the pitch. I haven't really seen enough of Mexico to judge them, but a lot will depend on which US team turns up for the match: the one that lost to Poland would have trouble with Queen of the South. That said, I think that because the CONCACAF match makes it a familiar tie, you suspect that there'll be the assuredness that comes from familiarity on both sides. Brazil? Depends whether they leave the defence metaphorically on the bench, as they did literally in the comedy Costa Rica game. I suspect that Belgium may have to close down the game to get anything out of it, though.

posted by etagloh at 05:47 PM on June 16, 2002

Please, Mr Arena sir. Don't start Mathis. And increase security to ensure Agoos doesn't break free and get himself onto the field.

posted by kafkaesque at 08:25 PM on June 16, 2002

I second the anti-Mathis stance. The US played its best with Mathis on the sidelines, mediocre but still decent in the Korea game, and embarassingly bad in the Polish game. I think we all see the problem here....

posted by hincandenza at 09:41 PM on June 16, 2002

I third the no-Mathis stance. The goofball haircut alone should get him off the pitch. If he's scoring like Ronaldo or Klose, he could maybe even consider it, but right now, he can't even wash their underwear. Don't play him unless the others are crippled. I suggest starting with McBride, Max-Moore and Donovan up front, Beasley, Reyna and Jones in midfield, and Stewart, Sanneh, Pope, Hejduk in defence. Risky, but fun. And no Mathis, no Agoos. ;-)

posted by worldcup2002 at 10:35 PM on June 16, 2002

Just by coincidence, I've seen much more of Mexico than I have of the U.S. during the tournament, and they look awfully good. Even with recent matches between the two having gone largely in the U.S.'s favor, I would still consider a U.S. win today a shocker. By the way, Blanco is outstanding, but does he remind anyone else of the Hunchback of Notre Dame?

posted by Bixby23 at 10:36 PM on June 16, 2002

Bixby23: I fear you are right. I chose Mexico to go on in my fantasy picks. But I hope you and I are wrong this time. My emotional choice of Ireland over Spain didn't quite work out. In this case, I don't mind being wrong again. Perhaps the US can pull it out, with some real class soccer. Either way, I just want it to be good soccer.

posted by worldcup2002 at 11:04 PM on June 16, 2002

US 1-0! McBride scores 7:45. Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol!

posted by worldcup2002 at 01:39 AM on June 17, 2002

Halftime and still 1-0 US. And no Mathis or Agoos. It's good that coach Arena is a Sportsfilter fan. ;-)

posted by worldcup2002 at 02:18 AM on June 17, 2002

USA 2 - Mexico 0. Landon Donovan header 65 minutes. You could knock me down with a feather.

posted by squealy at 02:53 AM on June 17, 2002

The mexicans, I am afraid to say, are seeming to lack coordination in this game. Well-deserved goals for the U.S.

posted by vacapinta at 02:56 AM on June 17, 2002

Did anyone else watching on BBC1 find the commentary sickenly pro-US? I had to switch to Radio 5 Live commentary. Well done the US though.

posted by Summer at 03:19 AM on June 17, 2002

Wow, that was some ugly play. Lots of pointless yellow cards, a few uncalled that could have been red cards, and lots of intentional attacks. I'm glad it's over and amazed the US came out on top.

posted by mathowie at 03:31 AM on June 17, 2002

Well, Bixby, it turns out we were wrong. :) A thoroughly deserved victory and well-taken goals. Mexico had a legitimate penalty call for that handball, but were otherwise unimpressive. After the goals, their play degenerated into desperate attempts, diving and nasty tackling. Lousy attitude, lack of imagination.

posted by worldcup2002 at 03:35 AM on June 17, 2002

USA! USA! USA! So big for US soccer. ESPN led off Sportscenter with the highlights. It was a handball, and that could have turned the game, but the US were the better team in any analysis. USA! USA! USA! And Donovan's goal? Beautiful. Goal of the Cup for me.

posted by kafkaesque at 03:46 AM on June 17, 2002

I just returned from the pub...what a game and what an atmosphere! We're lucky on the west coast of the U.S. that the game was a reasonable hour...but the next match against Germany will be 4:30 am Pacific time, 7:30 am Eastern. What am I to do? I must watch U.S.-Germany! kafkaesque...I agree, great goal by Donovan, but my praise goes to whoever played the ball forward to the guy who crossed it to Donovan. That pass was perfect and set it all up. The U.S. took advantage of it's scoring chances, and, as in the Korea game, Friedel stopped the best chances by the opposition. Mad props to Brad. U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A...!

posted by msacheson at 04:06 AM on June 17, 2002

That was Eddie Lewis, another former San Jose player! He plays for Fulham in the Premiership now. USA! USA! USA!

posted by kafkaesque at 04:12 AM on June 17, 2002

Well I'm having to eat large quantities of humble pie, whilst wiping egg from my face for scoffing at USA's chances in the World Cup. They were by far the better team in that match. Mexico were awful, yes, but these teams still have to be beaten. So it's on to Germany in the Quarter-Finals. They have a habit of busting people's dreams, but many would tell you they aren't the team they were. One thing I will say to our American friends is that you'll have every football fan in England rooting for you. Unless someone wants to contradict me on this?

posted by squealy at 04:53 AM on June 17, 2002

Beat the Germans. Please beat the Germans. The Germans have not deserved such a piss-easy route through the competition. Please beat them. and c'mon, Belgium!

posted by etagloh at 05:04 AM on June 17, 2002

A very impressive performance from the US. This world cup never fails to shock. Poor Cobi Jones took a right good kicking near the end. A savage headbutt from Marques and those two defenders sticking the boot in while he was down at the corner wouldn't have looked out of place outside my local after kick out on a Saturday night. There's been a pattern in this tournament of well favored teams being disasterously complacent about their easier fixtures. Arrogance has been punished ruthlessly so far. I'm waiting to see what Germany's attitude to the quarter final is going to be, but if they come out singing easy street then I'll be going down the bookies to place bet on the US.

posted by dlewis at 05:13 AM on June 17, 2002

Good win for the USA. I left for work at about 70 mins in, but USA thoroughly deserved their victory. They play in a similar way to England. Defend by pressing the atatckers hard, then break quickly. Mexico really created nothing of note. As a Brit, there are a few countries who always seem insufferably arrogant when they win at sports. Top of the list must be Australia, USA and Germany. It's always a pleasure to see these countries fail miserably - even though it doesn't happen often enough for my liking! Since it's football, I'm going to be supporting the USA. Any other sport, and I'd probably support Germany. I honestly believe USA have a good chance against Germany. This is a poor German side (by their standards). We've seen today that USA can play a bit. It should be a close match.

posted by salmacis at 05:34 AM on June 17, 2002

and c'mon, Belgium! This kind of comment is entirely uncalled for on a civilized board such as this. Nothing short of banning etagloh forthwith, perhaps with exile to Antwerp, will begin to undo the damage caused.

posted by Miguel Cardoso at 06:05 AM on June 17, 2002

Miguel, Miguel, while the prospective Brazil-England quarter-final as a contest is enough to make all neutrals salivate, in happy memory of 1970 -- and as much as I want to see the blessed Juninho do the business to the end, since he missed '98 after getting his leg broken by a disgusting tackle at Atletico -- as an England supporter, I'm shit-scared of the prospect of the little fella skipping past Danny Mills. Though I suppose I should take a deep breath and say that to win a World Cup, a team should win great matches, in which case, bring on Brazil. (Germany, take note.)

posted by etagloh at 06:41 AM on June 17, 2002

I'll be slurping coffee all day to keep the lids open, but it was worth setting the alarm for 2:30 am. I think Coach Arena deserves mammoth amounts of credit for what he has done with this team. Sure they are more talented compared to past USA teams, but using 4 fresh starters and playing the efficient counter-attack style was brilliant. And he set them up for positive results by saying in the media that he wouldn't miss his two defenders because he only brought players that could contribute. and after seeing a replay of the entire USA-Poland match, along with this match, I have to retract my statements about Reyna not living up to his potential. His run on the opening goal was brilliant, and set the tone for the match - the USA are this far because they deserve it, and can play.

posted by zombywoof at 08:46 AM on June 17, 2002

The Guardian's minute-by-minute match report of the US-Mexico game is very, um, amusing.

posted by Smackfu at 09:10 AM on June 17, 2002

Speaking of The Guardian ... I'm no big fan of Cobi Jones, but giving Marquez (the Mexican captain) a 10/10 match rating mostly because of his desperate, vicious assault on the Jonester after all hope was lost is a little ridiculous (though that may be the point, I suppose): "What with his silly hair and face that's made for kicking, the Mexicans didn't appear to like the cut of young Master Jones' jib too much and concentrated on causing the American substitute as much bodily harm harm as possible when it became apparent their World Cup number was up. Their skipper led by example, launching himself through the air, planting his foot in Kobi's backside before following through with a spectacular Guadalajara kiss into the side of the head. An outrageous challenge. Well, it would have been if he'd done it to anyone else."

posted by skronk at 09:48 AM on June 17, 2002

I seem to remember that Cobi Jones's tenure at Coventry City in the early 90s was rather like Luther Blissett's at AC Milan, which may have affected the Graun's one-joke write-up. Which is a pity. (Though 'kicking him up the arse' is funny, for some reason.) What I would like to know: is there a past between Jones and some of the Mexican players, whether through MLS or the CONCACAF qualifiers? It certainly looked like the settling of unfinished business out there...

posted by etagloh at 10:15 AM on June 17, 2002

And yes, skronk, that was the point: "It would be childish to laud the two-pronged assault on Cobi Jones that earned the Mexican captain a straight red card, so that's what we'll do because, to be honest, it merited two straight red cards." Remember, we're not good at the po-faced statting of US sports analysis, especially when the Graun's website is concerned: and as much as it pains me to admit it, I've cheered worse fouls than that in my time. Not much worse, but still.

posted by etagloh at 10:26 AM on June 17, 2002

Belgium got robbed!

posted by mkn at 10:35 AM on June 17, 2002

The Guardian report actually pisses me off, and so does all the snarky commentary on Metafilter (surprise!) regarding the win. So Soccer isn't big in America. So most of us call it Soccer. That doesn't mean the US doesn't "deserve" to win (as one MeFi poster artlessly put it). Hell, how do people expect this country to embrace the sport when all we get is fucking snobbery by its fans? I've loved this World Cup so far and have really enjoyed the games, the fans, and the drama. It's unfortunate to have to read commentary by "fans" and critics who just want to mindlessly bag on Americans. It sounds like the bleating dying whimpers of football establishment whining as the world shifts from Euro dominance to exciting upstarts in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

posted by elsoltano at 12:51 PM on June 17, 2002

It sounds like the bleating dying whimpers of football establishment whining as the world shifts from Euro dominance to exciting upstarts in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Don't think of it this way: yeah, the BBC has been playing the rather silly ABC reports which are the classic 'celebration by someone who doesn't know what he's celebrating', but it's impossible, even for people who've sniped at the 'win at all costs' mentality of US Olympic teams, or who joke about the odd status of football in the USA, to deny that the US totally deserves its place in the quarters (or as the ABC guy said, somewhat justifying the Guardian's harping-on, 'the round of 8'). The reason I'm happy about this? Because it pisses off most po-faced, navel-gazing, stat-saturated and frankly ignorant US sports writers. Because it pisses off the jocks on SportsCenter, most of whom probably regard football as a sport for immigrants and sissies, and wouldn't have invited Beasley or Donovan into their fraternity. Because it forces Dubya to engage to some extent with a sport he knows nothing about. Because it reminds you that there's always an America to love, even as there's an American to piss you off. Bizarrely, the US team is loveable, just as Senegal is loveable: this ain't no ego-laden 'dream team' like the ones that play in Olympic basketball (or: France, Argentina, anyone?) but a bunch of players who don't get the props they deserve, even when playing in the big European leagues, and who gel as a team. Most of the time. And may just beat the bloody Germans.

posted by etagloh at 01:19 PM on June 17, 2002

Great comments holgate, I can see your point. You have to think of it though from an American fan's point of view: we get it from both sides. We get stupid remarks from our own sportscasters and we get pithy putdowns from foreign ones. We get sports radio only talking about the US Open (even this morning!) and the BBC laughing that we're idiots. Coworkers baffled that we'd even be interested. Yet right when we're on the verge of putting something together that will shut all these people up we get crap like this. Here's the deal, this morning Brian McBride scored the second goal in our win against Mexico to put us farther than we've been in 72 years. Brian McBride literally lives blocks away from me. On rainy Saturdays I can go to the local soccer stadium and see him play. Every now and then you catch one of the players at your corner pub. They're not being paid millions and living exotic lifestyles ignoring their fans or going on strike, or intentionally beaming each other with a baseball, etc. The sport is actually watchable because it's untouched by the complete callous greed of many other US Professional sports (ok.. baseball and basketball). So to hear all the snide remarks, well, it makes you wonder why Americans don't watch the game - is it because we're too dumb or uncultured or is it because of the ridiculous arrogance of these commentators and fans?

posted by elsoltano at 01:37 PM on June 17, 2002

Oh dear, Gary Lineker just reported that Guardian write-up as if it were a real US report. Ah well. Though, actually, I can see the point of that MeFi post: that the US could go on and win the cup, and it'd rank lower on the public radar than Brandi Chastain's sports bra. But that's part of the insane joy of being a football fan: the knowledge that you have to perfect your devotion over that of the part-timers, the semi-believers (who are worse than the unbelievers). But I don't think that US fans can get away with dopamine's holier-than-thou attitude right now: the aim has to be to open your arms to people stumbling into the game, not demand snotty adherance to all-nighters. Now, time for South Korea to live up to the example of the North in 1966.

posted by etagloh at 01:59 PM on June 17, 2002

The Guardian takes the piss out of everyone. Its photo gallery after England beat Argentina was very snide towards England. I shouldn't get too upset about it. Having the piss taken is part and parcel of it, the more successful you are, the more you will have it ripped out of you. It's better than being patronised as plucky underdogs.

posted by Fat Buddha at 02:21 PM on June 17, 2002

Here's the deal, this morning Brian McBride scored the second goal in our win against Mexico err, Donovan scored the 2nd :) the aim has to be to open your arms to people stumbling into the game This is true.

posted by kafkaesque at 03:34 PM on June 17, 2002

I don't want to jinx this, but does anyone get that whole "Miracle on Ice" vibe from this run that the US is putting on right now? Comparisons:

  • Hockey team made up of unknown young players. Soccer team made up of (relatively) unknown young players (in the eyes of the average American sports fan).
  • Hockey team was not expected to be competitive. Soccer team wasn't expected to make it out of it's own group this time, and was 4 years removed from it's previous humiliation in the World Cup.
  • Hockey team had to beat the favourite (Soviets) in the semi-finals and then beat another surprise finalist (Finland) to win it all. The soccer team will have to beat one of the favourites (probably Italy) and may face a surprise finalist as well (England, Senegal, Japan, if Brazil stumbles).
  • Hockey was very low on the sports radar at the time but grew to the point where everyone was watching and cheering that game against USSR and then Finland. Soccer is still pretty low on the radar, but if the US beats Germany and plays against Italy for the chance at the finals, it will be the top sports story of the day/week/month/year.
Yah, I'm probably stretching the comparison too far, but I guarantee you that if the US makes it to the semifinals, sports writers will be tripping over themselves to use the phrase "Miracle on Grass". As a Canadian (we have a soccer team too, but it's more on the level with Monserrat than the USA), I find it hard to cheer for American teams because of the natural rivalry, but I'll be rooting for them all the way in this World Cup. Unless they face England, of course. It's just a heritage thing I can't escape.

posted by grum@work at 03:37 PM on June 17, 2002

But don't think too far ahead. It's Germany next, that's all. Focus. Focus. Focus.

posted by worldcup2002 at 03:51 PM on June 17, 2002

I have to say, I've been impressed by the US. I did expect them to progress to the last 16 (although I doubted after I saw their group) but I didn't expect them to play such attractive football. They probably have the fastest counter-attack of any team in the World Cup. Truly impressive. They fully deserve to be in the quarter-finals and I could well see the team beating Germany.

posted by Kattullus at 05:09 PM on June 17, 2002

I just finished watching Belgium-Brazil, and Brazil did *not* look very solid. Belgium were basically one good finisher away from beating Brazil quite soundly with all the chances they got. And the goalie made some great saves too.

posted by sauril at 06:56 PM on June 17, 2002

I felt pretty bad for belgium. if that header had been allowed we could well be looking at a different result.

posted by juv3nal at 07:05 PM on June 17, 2002

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