July 02, 2014

Belgium 2, U.S.A 1 [A.E.T.]: Some miscellany about last night's game:

  1. Until the overtime started, Belgium pretty much dominated the match for 90 minutes, nearly scoring in the second minute and putting constant pressure on Tim Howard;
  2. The defense for the USMNT was shambolic, forcing Howard to make a record number of saves;
  3. Chris Wondolowski is going to have nightmares about his miss in the 90th minute for the rest of his life;
  4. Starting with the start of extra time, the tone of the match shifted, with the US dominating play.  In spite (or because) of that, Belgium was able to strike twice off the counterattack, set up by the speed of late sub Romelu Lukaku;
  5. There were at least four times when Clint Dempsey was inches from taking the ball in with a clear chance at the goal, only to have the ball bounce the wrong way;
  6. Whether Julian Green becomes the next Pele or the next Michael Owen, or somewhere in between, his shock selection will still be Jurgen Klinsmann's best move in the pre-Cup stage, since it now establishes one of the world's best prospects as a U.S. player into the distant future.  Actually playing in a key game, and scoring a spectacular goal that inexplicably brought the US back into the game in the second extra period, is gravy on the birthday cake;
  7. On the other hand, in all likelihood we've seen the last World Cup games for Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, and DeMarcus Beasley (all of whom were brilliant), since they will be in their mid-30's in Russia 2018 
  8. Belgium has improved markedly from game to game, and their quarterfinal match-up with Argentina on Saturday may be the de facto Cup Final;
  9. The elimination of the USMNT will only slightly reduce the ratings for the remainder of the World Cup.  The tournament has received decent ratings going back to 1994 (with the exception of 2002, when the games from the Far East were shown in the middle of the night), and the ratings for the Final have typically exceeded the best marks received by US games.  It is the event itself, and not necessarily the US performance, that drives public interest among sports fans;
  10. It will have little impact on the domestic popularity of the sport   Fans know the difference between an international competition featuring the greatest players in the world, and a domestic league that is, at best, behind 10 other national leagues in terms of quality.  Hard core fans already know enough to set an early alarm Saturday morning to watch the Premiership; everyone else will wait for the next big international tourney.  Which, come to think of it, is one year from now in Canada...    

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