A Glimmer of Hope and A Beautiful Game

The USA came into Saturday's bout vs. the Italians having a.) never won a World Cup match on European soil, and b.) never defeated the Italians.

Sounds pretty daunting, eh? Especially considering the way the boys of the red, white and blue fell flat vs. the Czech Republic. After AC Milan man Alberto Gilardino scored the first goal for the Azzurri off of an indirect free kick, the whole Tavern On The Square let out a groan of despair.

However, not to worry, shortly thereafter, off of a corner kick at the Italian goal, the Italians let the US back in with an own-goal that dribbled past Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon. The rest of the game was highly sloppy, with 3 red cards being handed out (at least one, to Paolo Mastroeni, not deserved) and multiple fouls. The score, at the end of it all, was a
1-1 draw. Pretty good, considering the USA was down to 9 men, and, as we repeatedly learned over the course of the match, no team has ever scored when down to 9 men. This result gives the USA a glimmer of hope. However, the US MUST beat Ghana...

Speaking of Ghana, there is a reason soccer is called "the beautiful game"
by some. Ghana came out in Saturday's match vs. the Czech Republic ready to play. Their ball movement was skillful, their athletic ability unmatched, and their technique and patience rivaled some of the best teams in the game today, of which the Czech Republic was supposedly one. Right away, Michael Essien bewildered the Czech goalkeeper at 2:30 minutes and put home a score to make it 1-0 in favor of Ghana. After masterful gamesmanship by the Ghanan squad, a second insurance goal was put home by Asamoah Gyan.

Excellent play, also, by Ghana's goalkeeper, Richard Kingson. He showed complete control of the area and rushed out with conviction to make save after save. Kingson gets my vote for man of the match. A lot of Ghana players certainly helped their own careers that day, as undoubtedly European clubs are salivating with the thought of signing them to a lucrative deal.

What remains to be seen, however, is how Ghana handles the USA. Both teams will be eager to prove themselves on Thursday, and move ahead to the round of 16. Expect me to be out of work on Thursday morning.