Thoughts Through Day Four

Here are some quick thoughts after four days of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa:

  • The United States was lucky to get that goal against England, but played well enough to earn the draw. The shot that Altidore hit off Green then the post could be viewed as a bit unlucky that it did not end up in the back of the net.
  • Slovenia beating Algeria 1-0 was not a good result for the United States. Had that game ended in a 0-0 draw, the U.S. would have been in decent shape to advance from the group if they drew their match with Slovenia on Friday. Now, the pressure is on for a win against Slovenia.
  • The goalkeeping has been shoddy, but I'm not sure how much of it has to do with the controversial Adidas Jabulani ball. The ball is said to be somewhat unpredictable in the air, but some of the mistakes by the goalkeepers have been on fairly innocuous looking strikes – take Dempsey's for example.
  • At least two goals that came as a result of goalkeeping mistakes required skill from the scorers to get the ball in the back of the net. Miroslav Klose's gorgeous header against Australia required great skill, concentration, and a set of Jabulanis – if you know what I mean. Daniele De Rossi also struck a ball nicely into the back of the net after the Paraguay goalkeeper missed a punch attempt on a perfectly struck corner kick.
  • Most Impressive Team: Germany. Their match against Australia was a complete mismatch. The Germans completely overpowered the Aussies with precision passing and a very confident finishing touch. If not for a few near misses this could have been an even bigger rout. Lukas Podolski looked electric on the ball, and Miroslav Klose showed that he can still get it done.
  • Most Disappointing Team: This is a tough one. I can't pick just one team that really failed to impress, but there were several that got off to a slow start in their opening game. Obviously, the Aussies were horrible, but I wasn't expecting too much from the beginning. A couple of African teams haven't been too impressive – Cameroon and Nigeria. I expected a little more from the countries of the host continent, but so far the record of African teams is 1-3-1, with Ghana the only victor.
  • Gabriel Heinze's awesome header in the fifth minute had to be a huge sigh of relief for all of Argentina. To get such a convincing early strike against a supposedly tough opponent must have done wonders to erase a lot of the doubt that Argentineans had about Diego Maradona's ability to lead his country's team. Argentina took a circuitous route to the World Cup final, but the talent-laden team has to be considered one of the favorites.
  • All the buzz about the Vuvuzelas is getting just as loud as a thousand of the plastic trumpets. I know they're loud, and probably much more annoying for the fans in the stadium than those of us watching at home, but they are part of the tradition. In my opinion, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said it best in a Twitter post: …I don't see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country. Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?
  • I am really looking forward to the Group of Death matches tomorrow. Brazil should dominate N. Korea, but the Ivory Coast vs. Portugal match could be very entertaining.