This is my first time posting drunk, as opposed to soberly posting something I had written drunk and not posted. What could I do? I don't own a TV and, while I was willing to depend on the kindness of strangers for free streams of earlier matches, this is knockout time... I was at a bar from 10am to around 5pm without working there so a few beers were inevitable. I did NOT start drinking at 10am though!
The South Koreans played valiantly against a larger and more physical team. I was impressed with the way they handled the ball, and I think that, had they survived, they would have played, at the very least, an admirable match against their next opponent.
A few random writers I have read have predicted that Asian teams would become more dominant in the future, but I am still not quite convinced. Being, unfortunately, a casual observer of soccer, a person who only makes the extra effort during international tournaments, I wonder how much impact the general level of play evident in a conference matters. My hypothesis, not belief, is that European and South American teams are always a bit more ready for the World Cup because the general level of play at the intra-conference tournaments (Euro, Copa) is probably higher.
As for Uruguay, well, as I said to the only other patron who showed up for the earlier match, the game was a win-win for me: I like South Korea's pluckiness, but also Forlan. That being said, I found it quite condescending how Uruguay acted as if their one-goal lead was greater than it was. That kind of laziness this far into the tournament is unwarranted, ESPECIALLY as they let South Korea have the ball for most of the game. If you are going to run out the clock, do it on your possession. If Uruguay does the same thing against Ghana, I expect them to suffer as Ghana adds their size and physicality to the speed they share with South Korea.
As for the second game today, well, team USA almost convinced me to cheer for them. Ghana played an excellent first half, and moved the ball as well as any team I have seen recently. They passed to where the recipient was going instead of to where he already was. They did not play as well during the second half, but I still don't think the United States was quite playing the best soccer possible. If football were football, I can't help but think that team USA is a team that has a good quarterback and a few good wide receivers. Those are, of course, good things to have, but without a good ground game (ie ability to maintain control, ability to run time and control the pace of the game), things get a bit predictable and propositions become a bit too all-or-nothing. America can score when the opposing defense makes mistakes or shows weakness. The best teams can score, period. You can't win the World Cup waiting for the ball to bounce off the goalie's gloves. Or rather, you can win with that happening but that can't be your strategy!
I may post in detail about the experience of watching the games today when I sober up. Suffice it to say it was weird spending time with all of the fair-weather fans who haven't paid much attention to soccer since they were little. Message: as much as you wanted Team USA to justify the 15 minutes you spent in the bathroom mirror putting on face paint, a 5 mph dribbler towards the goalie with no other players within twenty feet is not a "chance" unless you are watching a bunch of toddlers play. Just FYI, you know?
Now that America is out I should have no problem getting a seat for tomorrows matches. See you after those.
Edit: It is the silliness of this (see the bottom) (via) that makes me think my hypothesis above might have some merit. What would the USA gain by not going to Copa? The need to practice alone more? That doesn't make any sense. I used to play a bit of basketball when I was a kid. I could shoot very accurately from long distances. If basketball didn't involve another team trying to take the ball from me, thus depriving me of infinite time and concentration, I would have gotten a scholarship somewhere I am sure! Do they not want to sustain injuries? Would a tournament be a distraction? Man, this sports thing sounds like a hassle!