Lose but win
Never has a loss been so readily cheered by Americans.
The United States lost their final FIFA World Cup group match to Germany 1-0 earlier today, but the Stars and Stripes will still advance to the knockout round of 16. The Americans and Portugal, which defeated Ghana 2-1, each finished with one win, one draw and one loss for four points, but US was far superior on goal differential.
Portugal was done in by losing 4-0 to Germany in its first match. Portugal played much of that match with 10 men–one fewer than the maximum–after defender Pepe was given a red card for a violent tackle. Portugal was down 2-0 when Pepe was expelled, and not only did it severely hamper them defensively, it handcuffed the offense and prevented them from making up goal differential.
Portugal was behind the 8-ball from the get-go with the minus-4 goal differential. The US was plus-1 after defeating Ghana, and of course, the 2-2 draw Sunday between the Americans and Portugese failed to move the needle.
I did not watch the match at all. I left my home in Russell at 8:30 a.m. after watching far too many episodes of One Tree Hill on DVD. Since I had nothing but time, I detoured at Salina down I-135 to Wichita, then took the Kansas Turnpike northeast. i just checked in to the Overland Park Marriott, where I’ll be for the next week. I’m sure the sports bars were racous all around Kansas City, where Sporting Kansas City won last year’s Major League Soccer championship.
By moving into the knockout round, the US has advanced past the group stage in back-to-back World Cup tournaments for the first time since the World Cup began in 1930. The US reached the semifinals in 1930,, missed the tournament in 1934, and ’38, made it again in ’50, but then went from 1954 through 1986 without qualifying. Since qualifying in 1990, it was alternating between eliminationin the group stage (1990, ’98, 2006) and moving on (1994, 2002, 2010) until now.
The US most likely plays Belgium Tuesday at 3 p.m. Central. Might have to hunker down in the room and avoid the crowds again.