The U.S. defeat at the hands of Ghana this past Saturday was the inevitable letdown after the euphoric last-minute victory over Algeria last week. There are a lot of questions looming now for this team, with the coaching staff, some of its players, and whether their Round of 16 World Cup exit means back to the drawing board for winning over fans in the States. Losing is unacceptable to America. And if we can't thoroughly kick ass in a sport, we just pretend it doesn't exist. And with the FIFA refs doing everything they could to screw over the U.S. throughout the tournament short of throwing ninja stars at Langdon Donovan's face, the casual American soccer fan couldn't help but get caught up in the U.S. team's success. That is, until they lost. Still, it was a good run for the them, and their final match against Ghana garnered huge television ratings. So that's something. And, hey, at least we're not England!
On the anniversary of the infamous Hand of God goal, Argentina was once again aided by divine intervention (or perhaps it was just the usual dreadful FIFA officiating) when Carlos Tevez headed in the first goal of the match against Mexico despite clearly being offside. After pretty much the entire Mexican team surrounded the linesman like they were about to steal his wallet and protested the noncall, the Argentines took advantage of the momentum and continued to bring the pain. Gonzalo Higuain took advantage of a half-assed pass by the Mexican defense and took possession of the ball, sticking into the back of the net for Argentina's second goal. Tevez added a third goal in the second half as Argentina went on to a 3-1 victory and then proceeded to take part in their usual postgame hug-and-kiss fest with coach Diego Maradona. Argentina moves on to the quarterfinals in a huge showdown against Germany, which was also helped by crappy FIFA refereeing. Here's to a great match unaffected by another ref blunder. Here's to hoping for too much.
Argentina and their huggy coach faces Germany and their gold-digging coach this Saturday at 10 a.m.
While the Argentines continue to show flair and flash and then hug and kiss each other after every goal they score, the Brazilians and their one-named players continue to show their world dominance with cutthroat efficiency. Unlike Brazilian teams of the recent past, this team seems to be all business. There aren't any characters or egos. It's a team that, like Argentina, has taken on its coach's personality. Dunga, who won a couple of World Cups with them as a player, is a no-nonsense blue-collar type and has a finely tuned goal-scoring, samba-inducing machine at his command. After taking down Chile 3-0 yesterday, Brazil heads to the quarterfinals in a showdown against the Clockwork Orange Netherlands. Should Brazil continue to dominate, don't expect to see too much celebrating by the players. This is a team on a mission, and the only celebrating you'll see from them is if they hoist the golden trophy in the end. The fans, on the other hand, know how to throw a party for just about anything. Kaka just got a yellow card? LET US SAMBA INTO THE STREETS!
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Brazil takes on Netherlands this Friday at 10 a.m. Be sure to adjust your television color density accordingly.