Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

World Cup History: Bora Bora Bora … What Could Have Been?

June 6, 2010

My favorite World Cup moment just so happens to be my most disappointing moment as well. I’m purposely not doing any research or corroboration of this article to see just how accurate my recollection is after 16 years.

Let me set the stage:

  • Date: July 4, 1994.
  • Place: Sold out Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA.
  • Weather: Sunny, high 80s at game time.
  • Game: U.S. vs. Brazil; 2nd round of the 1994 World Cup.
  • Seats: My group was sitting right behind the north goal about halfway up.

All I could think to myself that day was what if the U.S. actually beat Brazil. Sure it was a tall order but the feeling was that given the date and conditions, it could happen.

Then things got interesting. Near the end of the first half, Brazil’s Leonardo intentionally elbowed Tab Ramos in the head, earning an immediate red card. The halftime score was still 0-0! Sure the U.S. had been completely outplayed but now being a man up, an upset definitely seemed possible. I could not believe my good fortune. I was going to be witness to one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history. Incredible!

What happened next (or shall I say what did not happen next) resulted in my greatest World Cup disappointment.

Instead of taking advantage of this good fortune, Bora Mulitinovic, the U.S. head coach, was content to continue playing a defense-oriented game and hope for either a counter-attack or for the game to go to penalty kicks. Eventually, this strategy failed when Bebeto scored with about 15 minutes to go in the game (at our end of the field). By this time, the U.S. was incapable of attacking and the game ended in a disappointing 1-0 loss.

It did not help that Ramos, arguably America’s best player, broke his jaw from Leonardo’s elbow and was not able to play. Had he, the U.S. may have been able to control the game more than it did. Unfortunately, and perhaps because it was daytime, Bora did not see that all the planets were perfectly aligned as well. Had he, and had he changed his strategy and just ‘Gone For Broke’, who knows what would have happened.

All I can say is, “Bora, Bora, Bora!?”

U.S. Men’s International Soccer Has Come a Long Way

May 30, 2010

My first World Cup memory was in 1974 when my family lived in West Germany (West Germany not only hosted but also won the 1974 World Cup). To this day, I recall that Zaire and Haiti were two teams in that World Cup.

To nobody’s surprise, both teams lost big. Zaire, which is today called Congo, lost 2-0 to Scotland, 9-0 to Yugoslavia, and 3-0 to Brazil. (I did not realize until now that Zaire was the first African country ever to participate in a World Cup.) Haiti lost 3-1 to Italy, 7-0 to Poland, and 4-1 to Argentina. At least Haiti scored two goals!

Only much later did I learn that Haiti was part of CONCACAF and was the only country from the North or Central American region to qualify for the 1974 World Cup. Not bad for a small island country that had to compete against the U.S. and Mexico to qualify.

The U.S. had competed in past World Cups and actually came in third place in the 1930 World Cup. However, back then there was not the rigorous qualifying process that exists today and many teams were invited simply if they could afford the trip (the 1930 World Cup was held in Uruguay). However, it was not until Paul Caligiuri’s miracle goal against Trinidad & Tobago that qualified the U.S. for the 1990 World Cup that the U.S. started to establish itself as a regular on the World Cup scene.

The United States’ best World Cup performance was in 2002 when it beat Portugal and Poland and tied host South Korea in the group stage. Then they beat Mexico 2-0 in the second round but lost 1-0 to eventual runner-up Germany in the quarterfinal match.

The biggest disappointment was in 2006 when five minutes into their first game against the Czech Republic, the U.S. gave up the first of three goals, essentially ending their World Cup before it ever started. They did, however, manage a 1-1 tie against eventual-champions Italy in a game they really should have won. It was also the only game the Italians failed to win that year.

Who knows what 2010 will have in store for the U.S. team? The chances are good that they will advance out of Group C despite having to play England in its first match. If they don’t advance, 2010 will be considered a huge disappointment. Should they advance, the best potential second-round opponent–Germany–will be without their captain, Michael Ballack. If last year’s Confederation Cup is any indication, when the U.S. beat Spain and lost in the finals to Brazil 3-2 after being up 2-0 at halftime, the U.S. will do very good.

Good luck. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Penalty Kicks Decide U20 World Cup

October 16, 2009

Congratulations Ghana! To beat powerhouse Brazil playing a majority of the game down 1 man … well deserved. With Ghana having qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, July 2010 can’t come soon enough for the entire African continent.

The game came down to penalties. Brazil had an opportunity to win but could not convert when it counted. The result of this game reinforces an earlier post about penalties. They have to be kicked on the ground, with decent force, and hit the side netting. Otherwise, a player and team is asking for trouble.

I have embedded a video clip below and below it, I have added my commentary along with the time the kicks appear in the video and a score for each kick. There is no video with all the kicks but the video I have shows all the misses.

Alan Kardec (Brazil)
Best Brazilian penalty in the shootout … hard, on the ground, and hit the side netting. The goalie guessed correctly but never could have saved the kick (Score–10).

Ayew (Ghana)
The kick was high. The Brazilian goalie guessed correctly and actually got his fingers on the ball. Because kicking the ball high into the net has the danger of going over, the score is lower (7).

Guiliano (Brazil)
Same comments as the previous kick (7).

Inkoom (Ghana)
The kick was once again high but had the goalie guessed correctly, the kick could not have been saved. (8).

D. Costa (Brazil)
Same comments as the previous kick (8).

4:40–Mensah (Ghana)
Terrible kick. It was 1 foot off the ground and worse, only 4 feet in from the center of the goal. My 94-year old grandmother would have saved that kick (1).

5:00–Souza (Brazil)
Just an average kick that was saved. Once again, it was 1 foot off the ground but not close enough to the side netting. The Ghanaian keeper started to employ a clever tactic because his team was down and he needed to make a save. Just before the kick, he took a big step to his right. By guessing correctly, he was able to make the easy save (4).

5:16–Addae (Ghana)
Another poor kick. It was slightly better than the previous Ghanaian kick because it was on the ground and a little further toward the corner. But there was not much force behind the kick. My 94-year old grandmother would have had trouble with this kick but my 10-year old would have saved it (3).

5:45–Maicon (Brazil)
This one was for the Championship but the Brazilian kicked it over the goal.  As I have posted before, you can’t kick the ball over the goal if the ball is kicked on the ground. I’m willing to bet that Maicon was worried that the goalkeeper was going to take that same big step before the kick and therefore felt it necessary to kick the ball higher. Once a player changes how he/she is going to take the penalty, the odds of a miss increase dramatically. In this case, had the penalty been a kick on the ground and into the side netting, Brazil would have been the Champs (3).

6:03–Adiyiah (Ghana)
With all the pressure on Adiyiah, he scores. The penalty was similar to Ghana’s first kick but because of the pressure, I’m giving it an extra point (8).

6:35–Teixeira (Brazil)
Brazil’s third miss in a row. The kick was about 2 feet off the ground and halfway between the center of the goal and the post. Once again the goalie took 1 big step in the correct direction and saved the penalty easily (3).

6:57–A. Badu (Ghana)
Badu saved the best Ghanaian penalty kick for last … low, hard, and in the corner. Even if the Brazilian keeper had guessed correctly, he never would have saved the kick (10).

Congratulations Ghana and Brazil for making it to the finals. See you in about 9 months.


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