Yeah, it's time to start looking ahead in the World Cup, but let's look back for just a quick second.
What an incredible World Cup this has been for the United States. Each game has been one we'll remember for different reasons. And can you really say that about any of the previous World Cups the United States has participated in?
A quick breakdown:
**The England game. Wow, the buildup to this one was overwhelming and then the Americans get a tie. The image of Robert Green's gaffe will certainly be played again and again through the years.
**The Slovenia game. Absolute devastation at halftime. Pure bliss at equalizing. White-hot anger at having the game-winner disallowed. This game even drew in the non-soccer fans in this country. It might be the most talked about U.S. game ever.
**The Algeria game. Landon Donovan's goal was stunning. It was beautiful. It released all the frustration that had been building for the previous 90 minutes. From out of the tournament to group winners in a blink of the eye. We'll long remember that tally.
Can you recall each game in 2006? The Czech game was forgettable. Ditto for Poland in 2002. The whole 1998 experience was terrible. The U.S. tied Switzerland, had that key win over Colombia and then played, who? (the answer is below). And, of course, 1990 was over before it started.
No, this World Cup has been amazing for the U.S. Clutch goals. Terrible officiating decisions. And, yes, justice. Had Slovenia gone through in place of the U.S., that would have been plain wrong.
So, quickly, let's look ahead. First up is Ghana on Saturday. Alexi Lalas tried his best to paint the U.S. as underdogs on ESPN, but come on, the Americans should win this game. Lalas' point was that Ghana will have a home-continent advantage. But from my standpoint, the vuvuzelas will negate any edge from the crowd. The U.S. knows how to play in that deafening din, and they have been better finishers.
Then, the U.S. would get the winner of Uruguay-South Korea in the quarterfinals. That's a very, very winnable game regardless of who the Americans face. So a semifinal run seems possible.
What are your thoughts?
| Pete Grathoff, email@example.com