Head Injuries at the World Cup

There has been some criticism of FIFA after players suffering from what certainly appeared to be pretty significant concussions were allowed to continue playing after a very minimal evaluation. Given what happened to Christoph Kramer during the final, I don’t believe this criticism is going away any time soon.

“I can’t really remember much of the game,” he told the German newspaper Die Welt (as translated by The Independent). “I don’t know anything at all about the first half. I thought later that I left the game immediately after the tackle. I have no idea how I got to the changing rooms. I don’t know anything else. In my head, the game starts from the second half.”

No, in fact he played for 18 minutes after the injury, until he literally fell over and had to be helped from the field. But, no the examination he was given was thorough. Sure it was.

Foul or Flop? Mexico Lose a Heartbreaker

So was Arjen Robben of the Netherlands fouled in the box, leading to the winning penalty kick in stoppage time, or did Arjen Robben take a dive?

How about both? Clearly the Mexican defender, Rafa Marquez, comes in late, and makes contact with Robben. That is a foul, no question about it. Now was there enough contact to warrant Robben’s flight through the air like he was being spit out by Godzilla? Obviously, no. So in the end I’m OK with the call, and I’m OK with the internet mocking Robben for the diver that he is.

Now that Mexico has been eliminated though, let’s say a kind word about their coach, Miguel Herrera. Recall last year when Mexico was on the verge of not qualifying at all for this World Cup. They were an absolute mess when Herrera took over, needing the US, of all teams, to beat Panama just to get to the playoff against New Zealand for a chance to get to Brazil. Somehow, he managed to get that team out of the group stage and into the final 16, with a glorious draw against the home team in the mix. That’s good coaching, plain and simple. Plus, he’s always entertaining to watch!

Meanwhile, in the other round of 16 match, it was Costa Rica surviving. Down to 10 men, and after another stoppage time equalizer by Greece seemed to break their hearts, they managed to keep the game a draw and take it to PK’s, where they went 5 for 5 and move on to face the Netherlands. Amazing results for Costa Rica!

Ghana Takes Team Disharmony A Step Further

We’ve definitely had teams at the World Cup in recent years that just don’t seem to click, for whatever reason, and teams that dislike their coach and don’t play hard, etc. Ghana though, seems to have taken that a step further as Kevin Prince Boateng and Sully Mutari have been dismissed from the team and sent home before the last group game against Portugal. Boateng for “vulgar verbal insults targeted at coach Kwesi Appiah:, and Muntari for an “unprovoked physical attack on an executive committee member”.

How much of this has to do with the team’s threat to boycott the game over unpaid appearance fees, we do not know.

Let’s see, the government having to charter a plane to send cash to Brazil in order to avoid having the team walk out because the players hadn’t been paid properly, physical attacks against team officials, and players cursing and insulting the head coach. I’d say things have not gone smoothly for Ghana this time around.

Where We Are After Two Games of the World Cup

Last night was truly an amazing statement about the evolving expectations surrounding the US National Team in this year’s World Cup. Three weeks ago, even people who kind of understood why Landon Donovan wasn’t included in the side would have said that there was really a good chance that the US would go 0-3 in this group.

In fact, yours truly believed that anything more than a repeat of 1998 when the US went 0-3 and had the worst goal differential of the teams not to get a single point, thus finishing 32nd, would have been a pretty positive result.

Two games in, and we’re devastated by a late header that got us a tie against Portugal and one of the world’s best players in Cristiano Ronaldo, temporarily preventing us from advancing out of the group. Now, with any kind of points against Germany, or a tie between Ghana and Portugal, or even just both games being close enough to not change the current goal differential, and the US will still go through, but it is in question. Germany will not be an easy opponent, and both Portugal and Ghana know what they need to do in their game on Thursday.

But really, a couple of weeks ago, very few people thought we’d be here. So yeah, last night was disappointing, being so, so close to clinching advancement without needing to worry about the game against Germany, but let’s not forget where we are.

Enjoy Thursday’s game for what it is, a chance to beat one of the world’s best and top the Group of Death. #IBelieve.

US Steals Win Because Klinsmann

So the US Men’s National Team opened World Cup play with a victory. I can’t say it was a well-deserved victory, because it really wasn’t. After an early goal by Clint Dempsey, Ghana really had the better of play. After Altidore went down, they absolutely dominated.

After the half, with Besler also out with an injury in central defense, it really was just a matter of time before Ghana equalized, and sure enough in the last 10 minutes that’s exactly what happened.

And yet, somehow, the decisions made by Jurgen Klinsmann, which seem so confusing to those of us who aren’t savants like him, somehow worked out.

Besler goes down and forces him to bring in John Brooks, a guy who many didn’t feel would make the squad, let alone play. While desperately defending a 1-0 lead, he brings in an attacking midfielder in Graham Zusi.

Naturally, after the equalizer, and with Ghana completely dominating and looking to get the winner, the US wins a corner kick, and Graham Zusi finds John Brooks for the winning goal.

Because….. Klinsmann, am I right? 😉

On to the next game against a wounded Portugal on Sunday. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond to their drubbing by Germany today. I expect they will come out angry and desperate for 3 points against the US. Can the US turn that desperation against them? They may need to get points from this game to advanced, it looks like getting points out of that final game against Germany will be a tough one to get any points out of, but you just never know!