USA's World Cup Karma: Live and Die by the Walkoff Goal
The reality is that the timing of Selecção das Quinas dictated the emotional outlook of their American opponents.
Of course, Jürgen Klinsmann's charges have no choice but to buy into the existential zeitgeist of yet another German, Friedrich Nietzsche. Defender Matt Besler was a succinct as it gets:
|As players, we don't have a choice. We're not complaining. People can talk about the draw, they can talk about the travel, they can talk about the venues. For us, we just play. We don't have a choice about any of that. We try to look at things in the best way possible and use that to our advantage.|
Hopefully, Michael Bradley concurs with that attitude. Otherwise, the American trainers would be well-advised to keep him away from sharp objects. He had two horrorshow moments that virtually dictated the result:
- How does a player at this level not know how much space he has in front of a wide open net with the play in front of him? It was actually more of a feat to hit the lone defender than pop in what would have been a crucial score.
- How does a player in the waning moments of extra time, nursing a 2-1 lead, not put the ball into obvious space to his left -- where speedy sub DeAndré Yedlin had the range to reach it -- instead of bumping into a turnover that led to the tying goal just as the referee had the whistle between his lips and his cheeks puffed?
The hobbled Renaldo made no mistake of the offering by placing a spot-on cross to Silvestre Varela, and what seemed to be two certain points that would have ensured a spot in bracket play were removed from the American side of the ledger.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard typified the peaks and valleys of the USA's fortunes. First, he teamed with a still-shaky back four to do a strong impersonation of Ghana's opening minute Keystone Kops act. He clearly could have benefitted from spending time with the New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist as to how to cut angles:
It was a textbook offside crap.
Still, the Everton tender redeemed himself somewhat with a near-miracle save of a rebound later in the game:
That kept the deficit at one goal, setting the stage for a Jermaine Jones cracker in the 64th minute, followed in he 81st minute by captain and tilted-nose owner Clint Dempsey doing what leaders do when the rubber meets the road:
How perspectives change. Prior to the match, most in the USA camp would have been ecstatic with a draw, even though Ghana's leveling with Germany devalued a lone point to a certain extent. And the Portuguese would have been frustrated to settle for one.
German World Cup legacy bears a stain from 1982, when then-West Germany colluded with Austria to play for a tie, thus guaranteeing both a passage to the next stage and denying Algeria the opportunity. It's why the final matches in group play are now simultaneous.
However, no one can seriously consider the USA and Die Mannschaft conspiring. Too many sidebars, for one, including Klinsmann's desire to take out his home nation. For another, neither team is wired that way.
To date, the so-called Group of Death has seen its share of buzzard's luck; nothing's dead and no one's dying. But come Thu 26 Jun, it will finally be time to kill something.