11 Points

11 Points Live Blog - World Cup 2010, US v Ghana
written by Sam Greenspan

My second live blog of soccer...
  1. Oops - 11:31 am - So I thought the pregame started at 11:30 and the game started at noon. Turns out I was extraordinarily wrong. Anyway, based off the success of last game's live blog, I decided to do another one today. I'm not at all prepared, I was planning to spend the pregame getting my head straight. So let's talk some soccer!

    Based on what I saw on ESPN last night, Ghana's a very slight favorite. Also, there are no ties today, which I'm a big fan of. It's gonna hurt how I pace out my points on this list, but it's going to make for a much better game. Here we go...

  2. Well that didn't go well - 11:38 am - So, once again, the U.S. hemorrhaged an early goal. In the other games where they've done that it's been a brutally tenuous period until they tied it up. Of course, that's a totally presumptive, American statement -- until we do something that we don't fully understand -- but my statistics based off an inordinately small sample size assures me that the American tie is gonna come.

    The black star comes from their flag. Not because they're black and have star quality. Otherwise you could easily put Kanye West and Fantasia on the team.
    I love that Ghana is called the "Black Stars"... just calling them the Ghana team isn't descriptive enough. It seems like a lot of these national soccer teams have those kind of nicknames. It's a new one for me. It reminds me of how all the glee clubs on "Glee" have nicknames. "Vocal Adrenaline" or "New Directions" or whatever. (Yes, this is my second consecutive World Cup live blog with a "Glee" reference. It happens. Just nowhere else but here.)

    It looks to me like the U.S. is still hung over from their win earlier this week. They dominated that game. Even though it took 91 minutes to score, there were only a few tense, dangerous moments all game. Today there have already been several.

    Since I started typing after the goal, the U.S. has been strug-a-ling worse than the Jets during a Joe Namath-Suzy Kolber interview. The Liberal Media led me to believe that the U.S. was great at soccer and would never lose again. So now I'm freaking out.

  3. I'll put in a title later here unless I forget - 11:49 am - It seems to me like Ghana's already gotten cocky... taking deep shots, getting a little sloppy and a little too fancy. It's like watching the And-1 mixtape tour. If you through 40,000 alley-oops, eventually someone's going to reverse slam one in over two defenders. Then again, they have their color commentator actually stand on the court with a microphone screaming "Oh baby" over and over. So maybe that's not a 1:1 analogy.

    I'm trying to follow along with the comments but I'm definitely finding myself focusing on the ol' typey-type. At halftime I'll try to catch up with the comments a bit. Also, John, I'm going to try to edit your Uruguay comment -- I've never edited a comment and not sure if it's possible, but I'll try.

    Seeing a ball just go out-of-bounds is interesting. As soon as one goes out of bounds it seems that someone just runs over to it and tries to throw it in, regardless of who actually kicked it out. Occasionally the refs blow the whistle and tell the guy to back off because his team kicked it out, but that doesn't happen very much. I prefer this SO much to the NBA, where now every time a ball goes out of bounds all 10 guys on the floor start whining and begging the refs. That's as annoying, if not more annoying... no, wait, as annoying... as the flopping in soccer. (Especially since all the European and South American players have happily introduced flopping to the NBA.)

    I haven't watched all that much soccer, but this reminds me of when I was the goalie on my 8th grade middle school team (yes, I just revealed that -- I've definitely NEVER said that before on this blog) and we played a much bigger, more talented school who kept the ball on our half of the field for basically the entire game. I let up nine goals that day. It was one of the low-lights of my extraordinarily brief soccer career. (The highlight was a few games later, when a game went to penalty kicks and I stopped all five. I'd just watched "The Mighty Ducks" -- trust me, the time periods matched up -- and really tried to channel the goalkeeping moxie of Goldberg.)

  4. And the U.S. starts getting nervous - 12:11 pm - At this point, the announcer says that the U.S. should just try to survive this half without letting up another goal. That's a particularly unpleasant place to be.

    The U.S. really does look kinda lost and sloppy -- again, this coming from someone who doesn't fully know soccer. But I do know beat downs. I used to dish them out to Don Flamenco on a regular basis.

    There are quite a few people downstairs at my house watching the soccer right now. There was a mild pop for that moment where the U.S. had a shot a few minutes back but, otherwise, everyone seems fairly confused. "This sport we just started watching two weeks ago isn't going well. Sumbitch!" The other weird part -- I'm watching through my Tivo, which means that I'm on an ever-so-slight delay. So I knew the shot wasn't going to go in. It's like I'm in North Korea, only my delay is like 2 seconds and not 38 years.

    Again, I don't know the sport that well, but I do know I'm not a big fan of this Altidore fellow. I have no faith in him. It's like watching Jake Delhomme with the ball in his hands driving down the field. Something's gonna go wrong.

    Halftime. I'm displeased.

  5. The MLS - 12:27 pm - I feel so bad for the head of the MLS who's being interviewed right now during halftime. I have so, so much empirical evidence that says this isn't going to lead to the golden age of the MLS. I mean, everyone is going to go to Arby's if, for a month, they started giving out New York strip steaks. (With cheese sauce and a Jamocha shake.) But once they go back to just serving grade-D roast beef the business is going to drop off.

    This happens over and over. The World Cup happens and everyone starts believing that this is FINALLY when the U.S. embraces soccer. And then it fades. Think of how many people signed up for curling leagues after the Olympics earlier this year. And now how many of us are putting stones in hooses? Three? Four? I'm so sorry soccer. I just don't think it's a realistic dream.

    Second half starting now. Come on, guys.

  6. Hungry, Hungry Americans - 12:33 pm Here's what I know about soccer. In the next 45 or so minutes, the U.S. is going to have a few shots on goal. A few great chances. A few times when the British commentator raises his voice (by the way, he's fantastic). And now we play the waiting game (which is awful compared to Hungry, Hungry Hippos) as we hope they convert one or two. Ghana will also have some chances. Those will be more like Jenga than Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

    I can tell the party downstairs is tense as I lay up here on my bed typing away. It's almost silent. And those people have been drinkin' for hours.

    The U.S. looks much better this half. Unfortunately, with the magnitude of soccer goals, it's like a football team waking up when they're down 31-0. At least they're getting chances. Again, I just have no faith in this Altidore guy.

  7. American Idols - 12:44 pm - Landon Donovan is am amazing face of U.S. soccer. Goofy looking, balding, and incredibly talented. It's like when Clay Aiken was tearing up "American Idol" -- we love when a goofy looking guy embodies the American dream.

    Ghana just blew a chance. I'm gonna go ahead and still believe.

    The U.S. is definitely getting better runs (am I saying that right? "runs"?) this half. I'm liking how they look on the pitch (am I saying that right? "pitch"?) as well. They look embiggened (am I saying that right? "embiggened"?)

    Hoooooo boy we got ourselves a penalty kick. I'm publishing and I'll fill this in later.

    Edit: That balding son of a bitch did it! And someone downstairs started blasting the "Team America" theme song. I really have like-minded roommates.

  8. P=mv - 12:52 pm - It's like a whole different game. The American guys look so confident now. All the momentum is pointing toward the U.S. Where clearly the win means more than it would win to Ghana. Uh....

    I am so sick of that Altidore guy. Literally, no faith in him. Also, Mick Jagger is just freaking me out, man.

    So, at some point, a terrible call has to go against the U.S., right? Gotta be coming soon I'm thinking.

    The U.S. goalie really has a good arm. I'm afraid he's been spending time in bathroom stalls with Jose Canseco. Isn't that how we do things in America?

    On the list of "World's Best Wagons"... I think band- comes just after chuck- and red- and ahead of the Dixie Chicks' sin.

  9. Now you're playing with power - 12:59 pm - The non-British commentator just made a "why don't we just start the game in the second half" comment w/r/t the U.S. and their first-half struggles. It's moments like that I wish I was watching at a loud bar.

    I also notice that some of the players are wearing gloves (and not the goalie). I suppose you can do that in a sport that requires no hands. You could wear Power Gloves there. But only if you wanted to beat an autistic kid at Rad Racer.

    Not gonna lie -- I'm having a love affair with soccer right now. I think my main hope for the U.S. to win is that this run gets to continue... I know they can't win it, but I'd love to watch them on July 2nd against the Uruguay/South Korea winner. And while I'm very sarcastic (in points above, and in general) about how much of a lasting effect this will have on U.S.-soccer relations, it's almost impossible NOT to be captivated by this.

    I know I need to conserve my points in case there's overtime so I'm gonna stop typing for about 10 minutes now. (Is it called overtime in soccer? I'm sure it's not. This sport has proprietary lingo for everything. Well -- proprietary if it hadn't been stolen by quiddich. Come on, Donovan, knock that quaffle and grab that snitch!)

  10. Extra time - 1:24 pm - Don't worry -- I refused to jinx things by typing "extra time" until the regulation time went final. I'm not gonna be That Guy. (Thanks to Daniel in the comments for confirming my suspicion that "overtime" was the incorrect parlance.)

    Question for the people who know soccer better than I -- if two yellow cards makes you miss the next match, how do they keep any law and order during the final championship? Wouldn't the guys just be murdering each other?

    Oh my. Ghana just scored. It is silent.

  11. Second overtime - 1:44 pm - Rather than go over 11 points -- or stay radio silent -- I'm just going to keep updating this point. I gotta be honest -- I had no idea they'd play a second overtime if one team had a lead after the first. Americans aren't used to that.

    I sit here, angrily clutching my remote, hoping. Things look grim. Very grim.

    The good chances continue to fade away. The clock could not be less favorable. (Also, how good of condition are these guys in? Unreal. 109 minutes of running and they're still going. I know adrenaline's great and all but man, this is super human.)

    And now a Ghana player is taking a nap.

    This is hard to watch. Between the Ghana stalling and the Americans sputtering in desperation I'm just in a bad mood. Also I'd love a sandwich.

    The commentators are eulogizing the U.S. team. Sigh.

    They've got to add on four minutes, right? The Ghana guy had enough time to enter REM sleep.

It's been an absolute blast doing these two live blogs... the games have been great and hanging out with everyone on the blog has been even greater for me. I don't know that I'll do any more of these during the World Cup but I will do these for other events -- sporting and non-sporting -- in the future. It's been a great run. Thank you so much for joining me for these two games, now back to indifference. Ahoy!

This post was originally published on Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 11:30:00 AM under the category Sports.

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