The Washington Times-Herald

Local Sports

June 25, 2014

World Cup: Amaz(on)ing Finish

How strange this World Cup is. Favorites Spain, Italy and England going home, Costa Rica making it out of their Group, the African teams doing quite well and then there is the U.S.

How can I explain going from shock to domination to total frustration, all in one game? One play even. The late goal by Portugal to salvage a tie and keep their slim hopes alive has covered up a surprising and powerful performance by our national team.

Playing Portugal, rated No. 4 in the world, giving up a terribly played ball in your own goal area that resulted in an easy goal in the first two minutes, would be enough to let the air out of many a nations’ soccer balloon. But don’t let that label come anywhere near this U.S. team. This team has chutzpah, grit, fortitude, whatever you want to call it. A staunch belief in their coach, pattern of play, confidence in teammates all resulted in a comeback that should have “come back”. Instead a heart-breaking literally last second goal took the win right out of our mouths and temporarily covered up the fact that we outplayed a world power with the best player in the world.

I don’t know where Ronaldo was for 89 minutes because someone else was wearing his No. 7. Lazy in his movements, taking errant shots that didn’t come close to the bars, constant whining to officials and griping at teammates seemed to define an attitude of wishing he was somewhere else. Well, he’s getting his wish because Portugal is going home.

On the U.S. side,heading into a match with a powerful German team, Jurgen Klinsmann shows not an ounce of fear, saying “We want to beat Germany.” There is a good chance that Jozy Altidore will have healed and Dempsey is, well, Dempsey. He’ll be there. While there are articles floating across the country to the effect that soccer has turned a corner, I tend to think that the U.S. needs to advance to the quarter finals to get attention. With many of the powers already gone, there is no mental block about taking on the world, not with this team.

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