Round of 16 Ends

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Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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24 Responses

  1. Avatar mark boggs
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    says:

    I, for one, remain enthralled with the event despite the exit of the Americans.

    To be fair, as much as I wanted the US to win, it was clear that Belgium had the better squad overall. It’s one of the odd things about soccerfutbol, sometimes a team can absolutely destroy the opposition in possession, shots, etc. but lose because of a lucky counter or just bad luck, or, shootout. If the US had gone to the round of 8, it would have been despite their quality of play. Having said that, I’d have been right on the edge of the couch, chewing my nails bloody, cheering on the Americans against the Argentinians. If heart counts for something, the US is world-class.Report

  2. Avatar James Hanley
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    says:

    Put on your orange and root for the Dutch, counselor!Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      The problem with that is they’re playing the only remaining CONCACAF team – and one that has shown it is well worth rooting for (I really hate to say this, but thanks to the way Miguel Herrera had them playing and also thanks to Miguel Herrera being awesome, there were moments when I found myself actually rooting for Mexico). I’ll root for the Dutch if they beat the Ticos, though.

      There are also so many spectacular matchups in the quarterfinals, I can’t imagine myself missing a single game despite the heartbreak of last night. Do you get any more epic than Germany vs. France? Colombia vs. Brazil promises to be one of the most enjoyable matchups of an already fantastic WC; Netherlands vs. Costa Rica features two of the most pleasant surprises in recent memory; and Argentina vs. Belgium could wind up being an amazing matchup now that Belgium is hitting its stride.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        Costa Rica has been the great story of the tournament. I wish the Ticos were playing anyone else so I could root for them wholeheartedly, and I can’t criticize anyone who roots for them in their next game.

        I keep looking at the next set of games, and I just can’t make my picks. They all look like good matchups.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      I’ve divided feelings about this, for reasons similar to those expressed by Brother @mark-thompson . As you note, the Ticos are the Cinderellas of the tournament. Would that they had been seeded against anyone but the Dutch!

      I shall surely root for the winner of that match.Report

  3. Avatar Michael Drew
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    says:

    Definitely wanted them to make it to the Round of Eight, mainly just because that would have meant making it to the weekend, when I’m seeing my siste for the first time in a year in Madison and just generally looking to whoop it up. Whoop!

    Now that whooping won’t involve USMNT soccer, which right now feels like a much bigger bummer than I wish it did, but I hope doesn’t feel that way come Saturday. It might even be a good thing, as I can be more indifferent and just have a good time, and also root for my second-favorite team, ARHJENTINAAAAAA!!!!

    (Also, this is me just putting on a good face. That was flippin’ CRUSHING. That Wondolowski miss, my god. Courtois did have it pretty well closed off, as he did on the Dempsey set piece shot. Still. Ack.)Report

  4. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    Howard was absolutely brilliant. The rest of the side was hopelessly outclassed. Just as an example, the US players were constantly having to corral the ball first, and then try to do something with it. At best it was sloppy; at worst, badly disorganized. That doesn’t cut it at this level. Either Belgium is just that good, or it was the worst game the Americans played in this WC.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Cain
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      says:

      Oh, it was their worst, no doubt. They were on a downward skid ever since giving up the equalizer to Portugal. If they don’t give that up, I think they can play Germany in a different way, get a result & win the group. Then they play Algeria & maybe go on to the 8 with the rest of the group winners. (Maybe not; they were clearly gassed, depleted, and banged up after their ridiculous travel schedule and group challenge.)Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        I’m not so sure about this, actually. Defensively, I agree that it was their worst showing, though a lot of that has to do with Belgium having a ridiculous amount of attacking talent. Additionally, a good part of that was also by design, since they went with the 4-3-3 and took out Beckerman.

        I’m pretty shocked by this, but after 120 minutes, the US actually wound up with a slight advantage in possession. Some of that was because Belgium invited so much pressure in the second period of extra time, but even without that fact, the possession statistics were surprisingly even. I thought they actually played pretty well in the first half of regulation on the whole, and Belgium actually only had three or four shots on target in the first half, which is about what the US had been allowing in previous games despite the fact that the US was intentionally leaving itself more vulnerable in the back against a dangerous opponent.

        The second half of regulation and first period of extra time were pretty poor, though, I’ll acknowledge, and the game would have been totally out of hand were it not for St. Howard (North Brunswick, NJ’s finest product). But the way they played in that second period of extra time almost made up for it- as much as Belgium was playing 10 men behind the ball, meaning that possession was easy to dominate, the way in which the US was able to break Belgium down at that point is not something that we’d have been able to do just a few years ago. Green’s goal was a thing of absolute beauty.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        I only heard the first half of reg. on the radio (JP Dellacamera is fantastic), so perhaps you’re right about it, but it sounded like a nightmare they only barely survived. Just corner after corner for Belgium. This actually speaks well of the defense; the issue was, always has been, in the midfield with this team.

        This seemed like a match in which they got utterly outclassed – again, I think that’s largely due to fatigue and injury, but regardless – and only stayed alive due to an historical goalkeeping performance. Even if possession was even, the amount of pressure brought during said possession just wasn’t close to even until the last period of extra time started to even it, after they were already down two goals. Whereas against Germany, it seemed that Germany had the better of it but not by nearly as much. Germany wasn’t playing to prevent elimination, but regardless of the reason the pressure they brought was not anywhere near as intense, and the U.S. gave closer to as good as they got in that match.

        I think in the earlier matches Beckerman really took pressure off of Bradley to be the defensive midfielder he’s used to being in order to try to be the offensive one the team needed him to be; with Cameron in for Beckerman Bradley had to do both things, and couldn’t do either well enough. Cameron had a good game marking Fellaini (according to Klinsmann), but they paid for that with barely being able to advance the ball through the midfield when they had possession for 4/5ths of the full game. That problem is always there for them and it was there for them against Germany, but not as much so, so i still think yesterday was their worst game.

        That being said, they played Baelgium to a nil-nil tie for 90+ minutes, so it was hardly an embarrassing outing. But damn, I wish that Wondo chance had gone in. I really wanted a holiday weekend full of USA soccer celebrations, even if they ended in a loss to Argentina. I kind of just let that game happen without getting into it, counting on a game on Saturday. Stupid group stage got me used to planning one or two USA games ahead; I didn’t adjust fast enough. There should be consolation games for the losers of every knockout stage, damnit! (No, there really shouldn’t…)Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    How often does it happen that ever single top-seeded team wins in the round of 16?Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Mike Schilling
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      says:

      It has literally never happened until this year. To pick a nit, it didn’t officially happen this year. The higher-seeded team won only six times, since once a match goes into penalty kicks, it is officially a draw. But your point is still valid; the higher-seeded team advanced in all 8 matchups.

      Last year the higher-seeded team advanced in 7 out of 8 matchups. The only upset was when the US lost to Ghana 2-1 a.e.t.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to ScarletNumbers
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        says:

        Thanks for the info. I was thinking that since a second seed in a strong bracket might be a better team than a first seed in a week bracket, and the games were mostly so close, with many being decided on penalty kicks, that seeding would mean pretty much nothing. But 15/16 over the last two years argues otherwise.Report

  6. Avatar Mark Thompson
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    says:

    I have to say that my interest isn’t going to wane for the reasons I stated above in my reply to James.

    In any event, I’m feeling a lot more optimistic about the USMNT’s future than I did 4 years ago, when I thought that the cupboard was going to run dry for this WC campaign.

    Yedlin was an absolute revelation in his appearances and I suspect MLS is going to have a hard time turning down offers from Europe for him – I’d actually love to see him move within the next year or two to somewhere like the Eredivisie, where I think he could blossom into something really special.

    Green showed with his run and volley exactly why he was such a coup for Klinsmann to grab, and Johannsson’s abilities are tantalizing.

    I’d love to see what Johannsson can do in a couple of years paired with Altidore up top, Green on the wing, and Yedlin either on the other wing or at left back. Add Timmy Chandler in at right back, Bradley moving back to his destroyer spot instead of the attacking spot he was forced to play this time to accommodate Jones and Beckerman, and you’ve got speed and talent on the outside and forward positions that we’ve never had before combined with an absolute rock in the central midfield.

    Yes, we’ll be losing Tim Howard, but Brad Guzan is no slouch, so GK will remain a strength of the team – there were even some (not terribly bright) people who were calling for him to start over Howard this year. Oh – and Gonzalez, Besler, and Cameron should all still be around, with Gonzalez likely a bit more polished; that will probably still be our weakest part of the lineup, but it shouldn’t be any worse than it was this time around, and probably will be a little better.

    That just strikes me as a team that will be well set up to play the attacking style that Klinsmann’s been promising since he took over.Report

  7. Avatar Kim
    Ignored
    says:

    @Baseball game last night. Everyone kept saying how slooooow baseball felt after watching soccer.Report

  8. Avatar El Muneco
    Ignored
    says:

    After a night to reflect:
    – The #13 team in FIFA’s rankings got what is basically the 13th best result out of the 32 teams. Neither an upset or, at the end of the day, a disappointing performance.
    – JK was magic with substitutions throughout the tournament, but I wonder what would have happened if he’d made the last two in the opposite order – Green in normal time, and Wondolowski as the roll of the dice one goal down. Full disclosure: I’ve never rated Wondo at this level… I think that there’s a class of striker (Fowler, Owen, Inzaghi) who don’t get the results for their country that their physical gifts should dictate – because “goalmouth poachers” need that little bit of extra time that a club GK allows them to set up that a Courtois does not.
    – I saw an analysis post somewhere that by inserting Cameron for Beckerman (aside: who would have believed in 2009 or so that a broadcaster would say in all seriousness “I disagree with Klinsmann, I’d move Cameron to right back and bring Beckerman into midfield” during a substitution in a 2014 World Cup knockout game?), JK won the battle (take Fellaini’s aerial presence away as a weapon) but lost the war (Cameron lost possession 10 times in the middle third of the field).
    – What’s the equivalent of “vamanos!” in Russian? To wit:
    Boyd
    Green Johannsson Yedlin
    Bradley Jones
    Chandler Johnson
    Gonzalez Besler
    Hamid
    Dempsey (62′)

    (The above is going to look like crap unless you have a monospaced font)Report

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