United States versus Germany in the FIFA World Cup: Exhilirating

The World Cup has grown on me.  I have not been this interested in soccer since the United States women won the title in 1999.  The iconic image of Brandi Chastain taking off her shirt after the win will forever remain in American lore.  I almost passed out at the time because a woman had never done that.  There is a first time for everything.  The U.S. men have not fared as well.  We were dispatched by Ghana in the last two World Cups.  It was an ominous sign that we had to face Ghana to open up these games.

Many people say that you have to face a bully to get to where you want to go.  Peacefully walking down the street is a blessing in many areas.  In the soccer world, no country has lost to another in three consecutive World Cups.  Clint Dempsey started us off on the right foot (no pun intended) with a goal within the first minute against Ghana.  The rest of the game was a tense chess match.  We were dropping like flies.  Clint Dempsey got his nose broken by a high kick from a Ghanaian player.  I remember the game four years ago against Ghana.  We couldn't get any traction and no scoring opportunities.  The Ghanaians tied the game against us late.  We substituted with John Brooks who got a header on a corner kick and won the game.



Gram, Hound and I were pretty hyped waiting for the U.S. versus Portugal game on Sunday.  Shawn was even watching the game.  Portugal featured the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo.  We featured DeMarcus Beasley and a tough cast of characters.  We have five German born players whose fathers were American servicemen.  They are integral parts of the team.  Jermaine Jones scored on a spectacular goal that energized the American fans.  We were in the 94th minute when lightning struck.  We had just attempted a goal at our end and Ronaldo was dribbling back towards our goal.  He passed a spectacular ball to Varela for a header goal.  We were totally deflated.  We got a point for a tie and can move on with a win or tie against Germany.

The Round of 16 is the next plateau for the U.S. team.  We did break at least one streak during the tie against Portugal.  Portugal had never lost when scoring the first goal in a game in the World Cup.  We put that streak to bed.  One that I wanted to break was never having beat a European team.  We were thirty seconds away from completing that task.  The tie is the beauty of sports.  Soccer has no timeouts.  A player that is substituted cannot return to the game.  I still do not understand off sides but I know what causes corner kicks.  I am usually not a soccer fan but this is the biggest sporting event in the world.

A couple of other side stories for today.  Jurgen Klinsman, the U.S. coach, won a World Cup for Germany in 1990.  He was one of Germany's premier strikers during the 1990's.  He cut Landon Donovan, a fixture of American soccer, from the team.  He also recruited the 5 German born players to the team.  I know that the German team does not want to lose to a former player and citizen.  He replaced Bob Bradley.  Bob is the father of midfielder Michael Bradley who is currently having a decent series for the U.S. team.  I would love for us to get to the second round today.  I hope we do not settle for a tie.  Let the game begin.
  

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