What a match! Ghana 2 - Czech Republic 0. Great for Ghana, a team that didn't show it's good stuff in the Italy match.
Now what? Well, a lot rides on the US-Italy game. My original prediction for this group was the Czechs taking it, Ghana pulling off the upset and moving on to the knockout round, Italy being sent home, and the US - though strong - coming in last. This could still happen. In fact, anything could still happen.
Even if they can't be eliminated today, the US has to beat Italy to make this all interesting and to keep a slim hope alive of moving on. Italy nearly wraps up a place in the next round if they beat the US by a couple of goals. The Czechs are still looking okay, but they'll have to win the Italy game. The earlier 3-0 result against the US gives them a leg up on goal differential.
So, let's say (hope) the US beats Italy. This brings the whole thing down to who beats whom in the last set of games and by how many points since we would then have all four teams tied at three points each. Basically, the winners of those final two games would go on.
There are many scenarios left, however, in this group. Fun game coming up. Go USA.
p.s. Oh yeah, look for both Italy and the US to try to light up the scoreboard.
A wild first half: US 1 - Italy 1. The top scorer for the US at this point is an Italian. The US is looking solid. Great attacking, slightly shaky but stronger defense, and excellent possession in the center and up front. A missed goal towards the end of the half was one of the most beautifully constructed plays I've ever seen the US make.
But... what I really want to say is go to hell de Rossi.
That was a moral victory for the US, despite the 1-1 final score. Playing one extra man down the entire second half and tying Italy is a tremendous feat. And, contrary to ABC's call, I thought the officiating was pretty good. The send-off of Pope was a bad call on a good tackle. Mastroeni's red card was deserved - you can't slide into an opponent cleats up. It could have been a yellow card, but the red is in the rulebook. So, forget complaining about the officiating.
As for Italy, well, I can't stand them. Spitters, divers, whiners, elbowers. That's their game and it's ugly, regardless of the individual talent they have every year. The problem is that it's now to the US' advantage - assuming they can beat Ghana next match - to have Italy beat the Czechs. I simply can't bring myself to root for Italy. A Helmutian Dilemma.
A final update on soccer today.... Click here for the mp3, "Kasey Keller" by the band, Barcelona.
OK, Final UPDATE:
Mastroeni went in cleats up. I didn't know he was Argentinian (and all a-het-up for the good lovin'). What is the US thinking? (Thanks to SuperFrenchie).