I believe ...
I believe that ...
I believe that we will lose by one ... and the other result will go our way!
And welcome to the worlds game, USA! Do we still like it anyway? The USA, while not exactly triumphant on Thursday, managed to get the result it needed. We got by with a little help from our friends, as the song says. Specifically, one Cristiano Ronaldo (he, of the heartbreak goal from Sunday) bailed the U.S. out with a goal against Ghana. At the time it was looking a little dicey, with a single goal, if scored by Ghana, separating the Americans from a plane ride home. If Ghana scored to put them up 2-1, that result, combined with a loss to Germany would send the U.S. home and put the Ghanaians through.
That goal, had it been scored, would have seen American hearts broken again by Ghana! It also might have necessitated another private jet full of cash to be dispatched from Accra, as one was earlier this week when the players from Ghana threatened to go on strike if not paid their World Cup bonuses in cash.
At the bar I was in, in Seattle, all of the possible permutations were being discussed. Ian Darke, the esteemed ESPN commentator, couldn’t even finish the sentence, the thought too horrifying to imagine: “If Ghana scores again ...” This being Seattle, spreadsheets were pulled up on smartphones (OK, it was by me but ...) and the possible outcomes discussed.
Let’s be honest here, it wasn’t that great of a game, but it did provide drama. In the end, the U.S. got the result, as they say in soccer, that it needed to advance to the knockout stages. Nobody scripted it this way, but hey, we’ll take it! How does that chant go? I ... I believe ... I believe that ... I believe that we will lose by one ...
Now we have a quick day off and then begins the knockout phase of the tournament, the proper games as my dad might say. Win or go home from this point on. We will probably see a PK shootout, no doubt won by Germany. At this point the usual suspects begin to emerge triumphant, but there may be a surprise or two left. While Brazil and Argentina seem to be on a collision course for the final, don’t be too surprised to see an upstart like Costa Rica or, dare we say it, the U.S. join them in the quarterfinals. Brazil has a very tough road to the semifinal, with Chile, Colombia and Uruguay all on their quarter of the bracket and with huge bands of traveling fans.
DAY OFF TODAY
Take a day off today, there are no games. Go fishing or ride your bike before it starts up again Saturday. I will be spending the day off watching soccer at the U16 national playoffs of the Elite Clubs National League, and then making a quick jaunt to Portland to see the famed Timbers play so do as I say, not as I do. What is it about the first step, acknowledging you have a problem?
Here are the best matchups of the Round of 16:
Brazil vs. Chile, Saturday at 10 a.m.: Chile is a bright team with a chance to knock out the favorites. In the other game that day, Uruguay should lose to Colombia after their leading scorer has been banned for four months for going all Zombie on an Italian defender.
Netherlands vs. Mexico, Sunday at 10 a.m.: This should be a great game, between the Mexican attacking flair and the disciplined Dutch trying to hit them on the counterattack. Later that day Costa Rica will try to keep their Cinderella run alive verse a determined and defensive Greek team.
France vs. Nigeria, Monday at 10 a.m.: Get to work late Monday so you can check out this French team! Germany will likely advance later that day against Algeria, 14 of whom were born in France, but that’s another story.
Tuesday, July 1 is the big one: USA vs Belgium at 2 p.m. Can the USA make it to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002? I believe!
David Cope teaches social studies and coaches the boys and girls soccer teams at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards.