Daily Cup Check: Day 11
That’s what it feels like, a bit. Certainly a memorable day for those of us who pledge allegiance. Guess we’d better hop on in…
Belgium 1 – Russia 0
Who’s surprised that a match where Fabio Capello was managing one of the teams was a cure for insomnia? What’s that? No one?
I will admit that I fell asleep somewhere around the half hour mark of this one. I woke up right at the start of the second half or so. I’m sure that I didn’t miss anything.
Belgium have failed to show what they’re capable of this tournament, but that probably should have been expected with so much of that team never being in a tournament, much less their first World Cup.
They weren’t at either Euro 2012 or 2008 along with the last two World Cups. It’s clear they’re still finding their way here, and we’ve seen none of the movement and flair from their front four we thought we might. But they’ve found a way to get maximum points, which is about all you can ask.
And you still wouldn’t want any part of them in the next round, because aside from Vertonghen’s error against Algeria, they haven’t much looked like conceding. Perhaps Origi starting the next game, which he will assuredly do, will provide more mobility and space for the three behind him, which Lukaku hasn’t done.
As for Russia, well, Algeria don’t look much like a pushover do they? And now a Capello team is going to have to go for it, which is basically unheard of. He’ll probably be cursing himself for letting his one offensive impulse per year get the best of him late in this one, opening the counter that Belgium scored on.
Algeria 4 – South Korea 2
I’ll admit to missing most of the second half of this one in full US prep. But the game was decided before that anyway. You at least expect the Koreans to be organized and smart. Instead today they were torn apart by simple long balls heaved up to the lone forward.
How does that happen? And how does Russia manage only one goal against them but Algeria four? Football is weird.
USA 2 – Portugal 2
Trying to get a handle on your feelings on this one is like trying to grab a fish with your bare hands.
I know I’m supposed to be devastated and shattered, but I’m just not at the moment. Maybe I’m just numb and that’s worse. I never really expected the US to equalize, and when they did I was sure they’d give up a late winner because that would just be so them.
So maybe I’m relieved it only ended up being a late equalizer? I know that’s weird. What I will say is that’s the best I’ve seen the US play in a World Cup match since at least the quarterfinal against Germany in ’02. Nothing in ’06 was close, and the US was functional more than quality in South Africa.
This was actual performance with attacking intent, and if they could have found a midfielder to consistently get in the box behind Dempsey they may have had more than the two they got (his name is Mix, by the way). Jermaine Jones has played his best two matches in a US shirt this tournament, and that would be the case without his Zeus impersonation for his goal. Fabian Johnson was a menace. Matt Besler barely put a foot wrong. So it definitely feels hard done by to only get a draw.
But you can’t have your best player turn the ball over in midfield in injury time. You can’t give the best player in the world time to shape a cross (though if you try and close him down he probably just ghosts past Beasley and there are bigger problems. It was just that quality of a ball I guess).
And you can’t have your central defender ball-watching instead of marking the only attacker anywhere to be found. These are things you just can’t do if you want to play with the big boys, and beat them.
I feel like if the US can score first against The Hun on Thursday, and at least make them wait for an equalizer, they’ll get the draw as everyone looks at each other and nods in agreement. They can’t count on Portugal to do them any favors, because they know they’re out and have never been the most mentally fortified team.
The US could get crushed by The Hun of course. This backline isn’t going to hold up against that attack. But Germany’s backline isn’t armed with turrets and ditches either.
It can be done but good lord it won’t be easy. Buckle up.
Awkward Analysts Today
I’m pretty sure Steve McManaman hates Alexei Lalas’s guts. And that’s ok with me.
OTF Players Of The Day
I’m giving it to Jermaine Jones, who was simply a monster. And hey, he looks like Ice Trey from Fear Of A Black Hat.