The World's Blog: Day 16

The first day of the World Cup knockout rounds have completed and Korea and the United states find themselves heading home. For Uruguay and Ghana, however, the journey continues.

Uruguay 2, Korea Republic 1

I awoke this morning knowing that this game was not going be like the others in our household. My team – Uruguay – would be playing my girlfriend’s – South Korea. Loyalties were divided, emotions were high, and nerves were frayed. At the end of this match there would be elation for one, and massive disappointment for the other. I’m not one to wish massive disappointment on those I love - but this is the World Cup. This is where massive disappointment is the final taste in the mouths of the 31 teams who do not win the title. It was either me or her.

Knowing this, she called in the reinforcements. Her sister stayed the night in order to wake up and catch the game with us – and of course to gloat should the Koreans win. Outnumbered in my own home, I cowered in the corner of the room hoping for a good result. Oh Uruguay, save me from the incessant gloating. Allow me the pleasure of obnoxious exuberance that I so long for. This could be a long day.

Uruguay came into this game having held their entire group to no goals. Nothing, the big grapefruit, nada, zero. Maybe it was luck or maybe it was skill, but it was probably a bit of both. Uruguay has been the anti-France; well coached, well disciplined, and working together – one for all and all for one. This approach was apparent in the opening moments, but not as apparent as the luck. In the fifth minute the goal keeper’s best friend – the post – saved the day as a Korean free kick banged off the outside of it and went out for a goal kick. Phew, that was close.

Uruguay went with an offensive line-up starring the three amigos: Forlan, Suarez, and Cavani. While it is usually Forlan who plays the starring role in this trio, today belonged to Suarez. A Forlan cross settled in the back of the net with the assistance of Suarez’s angled shot and the Korean goalkeeper who could not decide whether he wanted to go for the ball, or guard the net. He ended up doing neither; hanging out somewhere in no man’s land, looking at fault for the first score. As my hands rose to the sky on celebration, their heads dropped in disappointment. Needless to say I began to feel pretty good.

Thinking that this goal was the best thing to provide for an entertaining game, I sat back to relax. Unfortunately, so did the Uruguay because the rest of the first half, and the early portion of the second half, was spent with the Koreans dominating possession of the ball. Uruguay looked to be on their back foot, and with every pass I got more and more nervous as to what would happen next. My hope for a boring, scoreless, second half were shattered when South Korea found the back of the net. Uruguay had given up their first goal of the tournament. 1-1, it was a game again. My confidence was gone.

“We can’t keep playing negative football anymore,” I said. I don’t even know who I was talking to. I guess whoever would listen. Luckily, the coach was thinking the same thing as the teams roles again reversed. Korea began to play the defensive game, while Uruguay pushed forward seeming to want that next goal more than their opponents. That goal came in a moment of individual beauty and glory by the new talisman of the Uruguayan national team – Luis Suarez.

Having missed out on a golden opportunity header in the 73rd minute, Suarez came back with a bending shot that bounced in off the back post – hands down the best goal of the entire tournament. From that point on the final score was never in doubt. Uruguay would advance, and Korea would go home. I would be happy, and the rest of the house sad. With that wonder-strike Luis Suarez wrestled the torch of Uruguayan football supremacy from Diego Forlan. He is now the best Uruguayan player. Summer will see him gain millions as the best club teams in the world will bid for his services thanks to his performance today.

Uruguay, the two time World Cup champion, is still alive in the search for its third title. With Uruguay through to the final eight I must now focus my attention on more important things; helping my girlfriend get over her massive disappointment. I can’t forget that I may need her to help me get over mine in any game from this point on. At least we can unite for the next game; go USA!

Ju Kim

I am not so disappointed that South Korea didn't get through to the quarter final because they fought very well and didn't give up till the final whistle. It was a great performance by Koreans. In the ball possession, Korea had slightly more balls and somewhat controlled the game; however, it didn't matter in the end. Uruguay was the better team, and they won.

South Koreans showed how Asian football improved since the last world cup and proved that they are the best team in Asia.(Well, we still have to see how Japan will perform in the round of 16 against Paraguay, but I still think Korea plays better football than Japan.) Anyway, Korea also established themselves that they can play offensive and attractive football against great teams. They produced six goals in this tournament, and four of them were from set pieces. That's something Koreans were never good at. Still, they have some areas to improve on in future, especially in defense.

I'm already looking forward to see the Koreans in 2014 again. I expect that there will be lots of young Korean players who will get to play overseas after the World Cup. By the time of the next World Cup, these player will be more experienced in international competition. Some young players to look for new few years are Lee Chung-Yong(Bolton), Ki Sung-Yong(Celtic), Park Chu-Young(Monaco), Lee Seung-Ryul(Seoul), Kim Bo-Kyung(Trinita), and Jung Sung-Ryong(Ilhwa). Hopefully, these players will help to improve Korean football.

Thank you for reading my entries, and enjoy the rest of beautiful games!


Ghana 2, USA 1

Stephen Ishmael

The first thing I remember when I was picked to be the World Cup blogger for the country of Ghana is that I could be as bias as I wanted to be. And so today I have decided to be extremely bias.... for the USA.

The only thing I can clearly remember about last night is that 1) Ricardo Clark should have never been on the field and 2) seeing player after player on the Ghana team "proudly" represent their country and the continent of Africa by crying on the ground, continually trying to waste time. 

So out of respect for my country, America through and through, I refuse to say anything good about Ghana. I just wish that a World Cup that "could've been" for the US wasn't over and that a country representing their continent, knew how to fake cry a little better so at least I would have thought they were actually hurt. 

So today I lift a pint of beer to pay my respects to the good ol' yanks of the USA!!!!!!! Cheers boys!

David Martin
Username: dvmartin

This sad afternoon, not even the Bill Clinton/Mick Jagger fellowship could pull the U.S. back from the precipice.  In the end, even a cat still only has nine lives.  The same recurring nightmares haunted the Stars and Stripes from the beginning: an impossibly early goal concession, a lack of imagination in the build up, and innumerable poor crosses.  Will there be a day when the U.S. side can consistently play one-two passes, or even just play one-touch football for a while?  All too often a player made the attacking third without any support.  An easy tackle, a wasted chance.

I enjoyed the game relatively quietly with my wife and family at my parents’ home.  Naturally, I kept the cursing to a minimum.  Mostly.  My family have been big supporters for me during the World Cup by passing on my blog to friends and reading faithfully about an unfamiliar sport.  I can’t think of a better place to watch the final match.

So up comes the sickeningly obvious and over-asked question: what does this mean for the sport of soccer in the United States? 

I read a CNN opinion article stating that soccer would never become a dominant American sport.  His proof?  “Eh, I just don’t like it.”  Most detractors from the sport take roughly the same issue with the game: too little scoring is too boring.  We are Americans.  A score should never dip below the hundreds, and if a player misses a basket, send him to the line because we don’t want to see a player not scoring for even a moment.  Detractors say that until soccer involves pads, helmets, an oval ball, end zones, and a bar you kick over instead of under, it will not catch on.

The fact is, soccer is catching on.  Our problem is how we define its success.  If soccer does not replace basketball in the weeks following the World Cup, is it dead in the water?  Of course not.  In truth, the soccer fan base is growing at a faster rate than that of any other sport.  So is Major League Soccer.  Within the last decade, Major League Baseball has considered eliminating two teams and contracting its league.  The MLS, on the other hand, has been adding teams every year, lately.  New soccer-devoted stadia are being built across the nation.  International superstars are increasingly finding a home in the MLS.  Our fan base is young, enthusiastic, and creative. 

Finally, if this World Cup has proven anything, it’s proven that if one actually puts soccer on television, people will watch and enjoy it.  Fans were not just watching to cheer on the U.S.  They were chit-chatting about all the teams and games, all the drama.  All they ever needed was the opportunity to actually watch it.  Bravo to ESPN for treating the tournament with legitimacy and airing all the matches.  I encourage them to actually discuss soccer on SportsCenter, pick up more than just one MLS game every week, and I implore them to actually advertize the game of the week rather than seeming bashful and reluctant to have to show it.

Thanks to the U.S. for another thrilling journey and for those moments that unite an entire country, even for just one heart-stopping second.