Over this past weekend, Diane and I attended two high school graduation ceremonies for family and friends. Good times to be sure and our niece and friend's daughter are respectively off onto the next chapter of their lives.
Another thing I did this weekend was watch the USA vs. England - or, more accurately, the second half of the game as we were on the road driving to the destination of the first graduation ceremony during the first half of the match. With a little time to kill before festivities started, I was able to catch the entire second half.
Here are my take-aways from the game as a whole and what I observed:
1) Team USA is VERY lucky to have tied England. By my estimation, England is the far superior team. They were faster, better able to control the ball, easily set up plays and get shots on goal. Sure, USA almost delivered the go-ahead and likely winning goal mid way through the second half, but that was a one-off charge by our best player. Meanwhile, England kept their wolves at the USA goal's doorstep most of the half.
2) USA goalkeeper Tim Howard is extremely good. He stopped several point blank shots from England that by all rights should have been scores. Despite the goal by England early in the game, Howard is nails. Glad we have him for the other games coming up!
3) A tie against England is good. Real good. American sports fans abhor a tie, and I know why. Hey, who wants to walk away from a game with nothing really decided? Someone should win, right? Well, in soccer a tie can be a win or it can be a loss. In the case of an underdog team playing a heavy favorite, if you come out with a tie...you actually have won while the favorite has lost. But it's not just moral wins and losses either. In soccer, you earn 3 points as a team for a win, 1 point for a tie and zero points for a loss. These points accrue and determine if your team moves onward in whatever league or tournament you're playing in. So, in the World Cup...USA ties England and both teams earn 1 point. USA has now greatly increased chances of moving forward in the tournament based on points because the main competition in their group has also only got 1 point. They don't need to worry about making up points against England in the standings. That's how soccer is. It's different than baseball, football and basketball - not better or worse, just different.
4) The England goalkeeper should probably think about new real estate back home if England fails to earn enough points to advance on to the next round of the World Cup. If that happens, "Jolly old England" will not be too jolly towards the keeper who bungled a shot by the USA and let it through for a score.
Next up is USA vs. Slovenia on Friday. The Slovenians won their game vs. Algeria over the weekend and thus posses 3 points in the standings to USA and England's one point. So, team USA really needs to beat their next opponent to jump up to 4 points and take the lead of their group. If they do not, then it's a do-or-die game vs. Algeria a few days later.