26 June 2010

World Cup 2010, Match Day 16

Another zombie day at the World Cup: All of the critical incidents (and most of the goals) came through a lack of braaaaaaaains.

Uruguay 2:1 Republic of [South] Korea — This game became a problem for South Korea as soon as they went behind; they have a significant tendency to overdo things trying to catch up (they're impatient), and that leads to later letdowns. That's exactly what happened in this match. There were three mental errors on the way to that first goal from Uruguay: Bad positioning by a lazy midfielder (one of the Parks, I couldn't quite see which one) left an open entry pass down the flank; the goalkeeper committed low too early when Forlan had no way to shoot, allowing a lofted ball over him; and no defender followed Suarez through to the line, allowing him an uncontested clean look for a rather simple (if not necessarily easy) finish. South Korea's answering goal came when Muslera foolishly attempted to punch away a looping ball that was a defender's responsibility, leaving Lee an open goal for his header. Uruguay's winning score had an element of luck to it, rather than mental failure. The referee maintained control throughout the match; fortunately, both teams were more interested in demonstrating their superiority at the game than anything else, so he was never really challenged. B/B/A-

US 1:2 Ghana — This time, the US was the zombie squad... and, unusually, one of the zombies was Bob Bradley. He made an ill-considered change to the side, putting Ricardo Clark back in in central midfield after his rather brainless performance against England... and paid the price, as Clark met expectations to allow the first goal. Howard should, perhaps, have done better with Boateng's shot, but he had been left completely exposed by Clark's failure to mark up (after a foolish, unnecessary pass in the first place). The US did well to fight back into the match; there was no question about the penalty, and a fussy referee might have awarded another one later. But the US fell asleep again at the beginning of extra time, and another of the usual suspects (Bornstein) was at fault for the eventual winning goal. The referee did a decent job being even-handed, but was too lax with timewasting; that said, the US had only itself to blame for being behind in the first place. B-/B/B

That sets up the first quarterfinal matchup: Uruguay will play Ghana on Friday.