More late drama for the USA, although not the kind they were looking for this time around. After that terrible early bounce/mishit they fought so hard to come all the way back and take the lead (with the gracious help of about 15 careless Nani giveaways) then one bit of soft defending and the first decent play Ronaldo made all day and they gave it right back. One ironic part was the how well Ricardo Costa played in place of Pepe, even somehow getting between Michael Bradley and a gaping open net to keep the USA from taking the lead even sooner. For a moment I was thinking maybe that idiotic headbutt of Pepe’s may have been a blessing in disguise for them, but then I remembered that their goal differential is 5 worse than the US because of it and realized, adios Portugal.
What a showing by Algeria, showing skill on a completely different level than the Koreans. Of course, that 3 goal half-time lead convinced their coach to send them out for the second half with strict orders to do everything exactly the opposite of the things they did to get that lead, I can only assume so they could make it a fun, competitive game. As a fan I thank him. Either way, first win of the World Cup for anyone in that last group of teams so, hey, thank you, weird African-French-Arab hybrid people.
A little more late magic put Belgium through to the final 16 with a game to spare, undoubtedly the least convincing 6 points around. Maybe it’s not my place to say, but I think that a) Mirallas should be starting, b) Hazard should be the focal point of the offense (not to mention the team), and c) anyone who thinks de Bruyne is a #10 playmaker is either clinically delusional or a big fan of clumsy redheads. Just sayin’.
On the standings front, Jeff Humm has moved into a tie for the lead with Beckett, and a pair of handsome fellows by the name of Dinojay1 and Dinojay2 have settled in at 6 and 7 like a pair of swashbuckling, breaking all the rules buddy cops. Or a pair of distant cousins. But considering 1st and 20th are separated by just 7 points I wouldn’t suggest anyone get comfortable just yet.