The Full 90

Now it gets interesting

The goal for the majority of teams in the World Cup has been to get at least one point in the first game played. At least that’s the way it seemed.

This make sense, because if you want to have any shot of advancing out of group play, you can’t go into that last game with zero points. (Unless you’re the U.S. team at last year’s Confederations Cup, but that was an anomaly.)

So, we saw a lot of tentative soccer through the first games. A lot of tentative soccer. Sure, Germany, Argentina and Brazil went for the win, but they were the exceptions. Well, except for South Korea. That was kind of fun to see, wasn’t it?

Anyway, now we’ll see what teams are made of. A tie in the second game is not the end of the world, but a win will go a long way toward ensuring advancement out of group play.

And looking ahead to Friday’s big game between the United States and Slovenia, I was pleased that Slovenia won its first game. The U.S. can’t afford to sit back and settle for a tie, because if Slovenia pulls the game out late, it will have six points. Then if England wins -- as expected against Algeria -- it will have four points with one game to play. That would be against Slovenia which would have clinched a spot in the next round at that point.

That’s a nightmare scenario for the United States.

No, the U.S. is going to have to get the three points on Friday and Slovenia knows a win will punch its ticket to the next round, so I think this game could be a doozy. This may be the game when Landon Donovan puts his stamp on the tournament. I expect the United States to win.

Any thoughts on the second games in group stages? Any games stick out? How will the U.S. fare?