Daily Cup Check: Day 18
Controversy and tension. Isn’t that what you want out of the second round? Well, you got it today and more!
Netherlands 2 – Mexico 1
The absolute agony that was the 30 minutes thinking that Mexico could make the quarterfinals outside their own country, and have a decent shout to be the first CONCACAF team to make the semis in the modern era, was so worth it after watching them spit it up in the last five minutes. I swear this added five years to my life.
While they may rant and rave about Arjen Robben’s dive or the ref being conned, you can only toss Rafa Marquez out there so many times before he indeed becomes Rafa Marquez.
Just where was Robben going to go there? He was surrounded by at least three Mexican defenders and on the end line. He could only go one way. There was no reason to dive in there, because once you do you it gives Robben the opportunity to pay a visit to the turf, which you know he’s going to do. Why take the chance?
In truth, when the Mexicans are done bitching (sometime during 2017 I would guess), they would see they had the chance to put this game away. Instead, Miguel Herrera went all Pekerman, and Mexico completely sat back and let Holland find their game.
The Dutch hadn’t created anything other than Ochoa’s save off a corner all game. They didn’t look likely to create anything either, and Mexico had controlled most of the game.
Layun and Moreno were scoring the lefthand side all game, and they could have found more from there had they tried.
But they didn’t, and in this tournament when you sit and sit and sit, you’ve generally been punished. There’s something so satisfying about watching a player slam one home so authoritatively as Sneijder did to equalize. It’s the violence of that ball at such speed hitting the net from such a short distance. It’s almost sexual.
The marking from Mexico was anything but: there’s no way a player like Sneijder should have enough time to do a sudoku before shooting inside the box. Get what you deserve.
It even ruins Gio Dos Santos’s first goal for Mexico in two years, which only makes it better. This was just the latest tournament that he was going to flourish in. Save that narrative for another time. We can recite it by heart by now.
As for the Dutch, they’ll get a sweetheart quarter against Costa Rica, no matter how surprising the Ticos have been.
In truth,however, these Netherlands have only been impressive against an over-the-hill Spain and its town drunk goalkeeper. They labored against Australia and Chile, and looked less impressive here.
If they don’t find another half-gear or more, then Costa Rica may become that first CONCACAF team in a World Cup semi in the modern era. Perhaps getting Blind back on the wing would help? Starting Depay?
Costa Rica 1 – Greece 1 (Costa Rica wins 5-4 on penalties)
Here’s nearly three hours I won’t get back. The Greeks turned this mush into everything we feared they would, and the first half went by without any event of note. The second only perked up when Bryan Ruiz was able to cause the world to stop, or at least do the Dr. X thing with the Greeks where they all freeze, and watch his slotted attempt almost apologetically crawl into the corner. It was as if the ball kept checking to see if it was ok with everyone if it kept going.
It’s funny that Greece were done in by their inability to accept an invitation to attack. They got 55 minutes with an extra man on the field and half the Costa Rican team about ready to puke, and they could only manage the one goal. They fucked up a 5-on-2 break. How do you do that? I suppose the will of the Ticos‘ defense should be credited, but it’s easier to look lionheart-worthy when you’re being attacked by a bunch of hairy clods.
But good for Costa Rica, who were well worth their Group D win and certainly are the more palatable winner here by far. The Greeks brought nothing to this tournament, couldn’t produce anything when they needed it most, and will hardly be missed by anyone as they slink off back to the Aegean. Good riddance.
Obligatory Herrera GIF of the day
We’ll miss the Mexican Dan McNeil. But not all that much.
OTF Player Of The Day
The Costa Rica backline I hope they got into an ice tub. With several models. They’ve earned it.