Halfway Home

We’re two soccer games down and have made the final turn at the US Open.  So far, so good for anyone who has been following along with me.  First, we had the Elimination match in Group A of the Euros.  I had the Czechs winning 2-1 and that prediction looked great until about 3 minutes left in the game when the Turkish captain, Nihat, decided to take over the scoresheet.  He capitalized on a terrible error by goalie Petr Cech and then finished off a beautiful through ball in stoppage time, stunning the Czechs 3-2.

Then it was USA’s turn in their first qualification match for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.  I said they’d score 4 or more goals and they put in 8.  There was never any doubt after Clint Dempsey scored 53 seconds into the match.  The two teams will play again next Sunday and the USA will have to keep Barbados from scoring 8 goals in order to move on.  I think we’ll be alright.

Now Tiger is on the 13th hole at Torrey Pines with a one shot lead over Rocco Mediate.  Tiger and Lee Westwood just put back to back shots into oblivion.  This is Mediate’s chance to take the lead and become the oldest US Open Champion in history.  My money is still on Tiger.  Bum leg or not, he’s just incredible.  Woods just decided to take a drop while Westwood had decided to go search for his ball.  This finish is going to be something.

Euro Match Days 1 and 2

We’re two days into the European Championships and so far it’s gone exactly as expected. I guess the only shocking thing is that the underdogs have yet to score a goal.

Yesterday, the Czech Republic dispatched Switzerland 1-0 on a 70th minute goal from Václav Svěrkoš. In the late game, Portugal outplayed Turkey for a 2-0 win with goals from Pepe in the 61st minute and Raul Meireles 3 minutes into stoppage time. I wasn’t able to watch any of these games because we don’t get ESPN Classic and espn360.com was really choppy. I was able to see the highlights later here and here.

Today was more of the same. No surprises, but a little controversy in the opener. Croatia beat the hosts Austria 1-0 on a fourth minute penalty by Luka Modrić. The penalty, which I felt was a good call, was hotly debated by ESPN analysts Tommy Smyth and Julie Foudy. Smyth thought the play should have been let go citing that it was simply too early to give a penalty. I think that’s a little ridiculous; a penalty is a penalty in the 1st minute or in stoppage time. I will give credit to the Austians, however, they played quite well in the second half, but were unable to score. This is a far cry from the predictions for the 92nd ranked country in world. They were still shutout, but they played valiantly.

The second game of the day had some political undertones to it. Germany defeated Poland 2-0 behind two goals from Lukas Podolski. Germany carried the play for most of the match and Poland never really threatened. The game could have ended 4-0 pretty easily. Smyth and Andry Gray had a very spirited discussion about whether Podolski should be in the lineup after he struggled to crack the starting 11 with his club team, Bayern Munich, due to injury. Podolski proved his worth and them some, I think. Poland, competing in their first European Championship, will take on Austria on June 12th in an elimination match.

In other soccer news, USA will take on Argentina tonight at the Meadowlands in New York. The game will start in about 2 hours, so I’ll probably have some comments after it’s over. Argentina is the #1 ranked team in the world and the USA is 1-9 against top ranked teams all-time. The one win came when USA defeated Brazil in the 1998 Gold Cup Semifinals. It should also be Landon Donovan’s 100th appearance for the National Team.

Anyway, hopefully USA can prevail tonight and the Euro games will only get better tomorrow as France will take on Romania and the Netherlands will play Italy in my most anticipated game so far.

I’ll leave you with the newest Nike Soccer commercial, which I think it one of the coolest commercials ever.

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