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Note #87: So close... (2014.6.23)

Ah. How disappointing. We were ten seconds away from sending Portugal home and guaranteeing a trip to the Round of 16. When Bradley missed that simple little back pass, time seemed to stop. I could feel it. I hoped I was wrong, but I wasn’t. And so we go away not with three points, but with one.

Objectively speaking, a draw against Portugal is not a bad result. But after the match the US played today, it is definitely a disappointing one. The US still have a fairly good chance of advancing out of group play; they still have their fate in their own hands. But the last group match is against Germany, and that is going to be rough. I’m cautiously optimistic, but you can’t deny that this right here was our best chance of securing a spot for ourselves in the second stage. We were facing a weakened Portugal, and the sword was in our hands to deliver the coup de grace. But we let it slip away, and now the future is again uncertain.

Still, the US played well. I think they outplayed Portugal for most of the match, and if they bring this game against Germany, well, who knows what could happen? There needs to be some tightening up on defense, which is solid for the most part but every now and then suffers spectacular collapses. I don’t think we can afford to do that against Germany.

For as disappointed as I am with this result, I am a lot happier about it than I am about Korea’s performance against Algeria. I don’t know where the side that played against Russia last week was, but they didn’t show up until the second half. I’m only half joking; Korea did not have a single shot (not just on goal, but a single shot full stop) for the entire first half. And after Algeria sliced through the Korean defense like a hot knife through soft tofu, scoring the first goal, Korea collapsed. Behind 3-0 at the half, something had to change.

In the second half, things did change: Korea finally decided to show up and play. They pressed hard for the first fifteen minutes of the half, and Son Heungmin scored on Korea’s first attempt of the match. They failed to build in this, though, and Algeria came back to restore their three goal lead. Koo Jacheol scored later in the half, but it was too little, too late. Korea never mounted the comeback they needed, and now they are at the bottom of their group.

Looking to the last match, the US is in a lot better position than Korea with four points. A win against Germany will obviously be enough to put the US through to the next stage, but a draw will also suffice. In fact, a Ghana-Portugal draw will also work, no matter what the result of the US-Germany match is. But if the US lose against Germany and either Ghana or Portugal win, it will come down to goal difference. This is why I will be rooting for Portugal, who are four in the hole in goal difference right now, in the final match.

Korea’s situation is a lot more bleak. For starters, they do not hold their fate in their own hands: if Algeria defeat Russia, it’s all over. If Algeria and Russia draw, Korea will need to beat Belgium by at least three goals, and then it comes down to Korea outscoring Algeria overall—if they end up tied in total group goals scored, Algeria will go through, since they won their match with Korea. It’s all very complicated, and you don’t really need to understand it. All you need to know is that the more complicated it gets, the bleaker your chances are.

Well, I think that will be all for today. I can still feel a little bit of the adrenaline running through me; I’m not looking forward to the crash I’m going to experience later today after having gotten up at four in the morning.

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