The USMNT played liked they gave a damn last night against Ecuador in the Copa America quarterfinals, earning only their 4th knockout win in a major tournament, ever.
It was the first time in a long time that the USMNT looked dominant. We belonged on the pitch against a quality foe. Lots to talk about and dissect. Today I leave you with this, poor spelling and all:
I’m not having second thoughts, yet.
Tonight in Sodo the USMNT host Ecuador in the initial game of the Copa America knockout round. And I’ll be there live for the thrilling capstone of my Seattle pack of games. As Mrs. Raving Green said shortly after Columbia fell to 2nd in Group A, “I feel like we won the Copa America lottery.” Tonight’s game is now the ticket to have.
After being wildly stoked for the Argentina game, the context of soccer in Seattle has shifted dramatically. Messi and Co. were somewhat of a disappointment on Tuesday, as Argentina handily dispatched an overwhelmed and underwhelming Bolivian side. Down 3-0 at the half, the Bolivians just bunkered. That was some pretty cynical football, to focus on not losing worse instead of trying to get one back( or, God forbid, earn a result). Of course I am jaded, as I would’ve liked to see a more open game.
The atmosphere was lackluster as well at the Argentina game. Sure, the stadium was packed to Sounders capacity at 45,000, but it was deathly quiet. The Peruvian supporters brought it the previous game with drums and a constant supporters section, and the stadium was barely a quarter full. But the USMNT in a knockout game of a major tournament in Seattle?? Tonight should be very, very different.
BOLD PREDICTION: Who saw the Stars and Stripes winning their group (especially after that ludicrous display against Columbia). Columbia totally slept on a CONCACAF foe and the Ticos made them pay (Hellz yeah Ticos! The end of the game was edge-of-the-seat-nail-biting action. Very rarely does the result of a soccer game physically affect your universe (your emotional and mental state, sure, but physically? Rarely.)). Though now I wish we’d placed second and faced Peru (the least deserving Group winner), as La Tricolor can play.
The Yanks should be fine as long as they hold steady. Losing Yedlin will hurt the attack, but could benefit the D. And our attack has been clicking lately. I am keeping my eyes, as is most everyone else in the American soccer cognoscenti, on John Brooks, who is absolutely having his coming out party. USMNT 2-1.
Now if only they’d fire Jurgen.
Lionel Messi and Argentina bring their talents to South of Downtown tonight in Copa America Centenario action.
The excitement in Soccer City, USA is palpable. Hell, I don’t even know if Messi will log serious minutes tonight, it’s rumored he’ll play, but possibly not start, but Argentina is more than Messi. They are the #1 team in the world right now and playing like it.
My wife and I bought the full 3-match pack for Seattle’s tournament slate with Messi in mind. Very rarely do you get a chance to see such an athlete perform live. David Foster Wallace said, “To be a top athlete, performing, is to be that exquisite hybrid of animal and angel that we average unbeautiful watchers have such a hard time seeing in ourselves.” I’ve seen some live games from “the greats” (Abby Wambach, Iverson, Dempsey, Larry Fitzgerald, Cliff Lee) and I’ve seen some angelic performances that will go in no record books (Yohance Humphrey for Chugiak High School). I am hoping that even a limited Messi can etch a mark on my list. I very much want to be able to say, “I saw him when…”
Bold Prediction: My money is on Messi starting, but coming off once the game is clearly in hand, maybe by halftime. He displayed little rust with his hatter against Panama, but Messi still needs to round into 90 minutes fitness. And Argentina still wants to secure pole position in Group D, so we’ll most definitely see Messi tonight.
Sadly, Argentina will be without another star, as Angel Di Maria will probably not play. He picked up an abductor strain. La Albiceleste clearly don’t need him to dispatch the 82nd ranked team in the world.
Argentina 3-0. No Di Maria and a limited Messi keep this game from being too lopsided, but I’m taking the chalk.
The USMNT faces Paraguay (and Seattle Sounders DP Nelson Valdez) today in a Copa America Centenario action.
Despite Messi’s brilliance and the drama and controversy between Chile and Bolivia yesterday, I’ll keep those post short and get straight to the bold prediction.
Bold Prediction: Jurgen’s squad usually underwhelms, but after thrashing a quality Costa Rican side, the Yanks hope to be marching into the knockout round. Both teams are playing for their Copa lives today and Paraguay is no slouch. Luckily we just need a result, while Paraguay needs all three points.
If Jurgen starts the same lineup three games in a row (continuity? go figure!), I see a hungry home team punching their ticket through. If he gets too cute, things could get interesting and maybe we’ll all get our bittersweet wish of seeing Jurgen sent packing. I just don’t see it today: USMNT 1-1.
Copa America Centenario is in full swing. And Raving Green has been remiss in not feeding your soccer jones.
I’ve been a bad blogger lately. As a lifelong sports fans, and recent soccer convert, this blog is a passion project of mine. For the past 2 years, I had time and energy to focus on the site. This year life got in the way in the form of lots of good damn news for your humble author. Aside from a promotion at the rent-paying gig, the wife and I are remodeling the basement ourselves, and we’re expecting our first child later this summer! So yeah, time is consumed and the blog has fallen by the wayside. My soccer passion has not however.
Mrs. Raving Green and I were at the stadium last weekend for Haiti – Peru. We both have a soft sport in our heart for La Blanquirroja. We got engaged in Peru (in Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, to be exact. We were both recovering from different illnesses: food poisoning and altitude sickness. Despite the various bodily fluids, it was very romantic), on a trip to attend a friend’s wedding in Lima. Saturday’s game was typical of the Copa’s slow start, as Peru could only manage one goal (albeit a beautiful header) against the most overmatched side at the tournament.
Though the quality may have been lacking, the event was great for soccer in Cascadia. The sun was shining, the stadium was looking her best (the turf, especially), and Seattle continued to build its reputation as a quality destination for international soccer. Which is really (aside from seeing Messi, and potentially James) the super objective of any Seattle soccer fan’s goal for the Copa. If we can host the hell out of our three games, US Soccer will keep awarding quality international fixtures to the Emerald City.
I know this post is late to the Copa party, as Chile-Bolivia is about to kickoff and wrap up the second week of play. But I should have some time in the near future to knock out some writing and get you your soccer fix. I can’t promise six posts a week like before, but keep checking in and I’ll keep writing.
Thanks for reading, it’s good to be back.