Sunday, June 18, 2006

489: World Cup Check

The World Cup is huge all over the globe, with the lamented exception of the Land of the Free and the home of the Atlanta Braves. As has been reported in other sources, one billion people are expected to watch the final match. I decided to get into soccer while in Thailand, and have been watching a lot of games. Team USA faced a rough challenge versus Italy this morning, so like a good American, I promised myself that I would watch the game, which was scheduled for 6/16/06 at 2 a.m. Thailand time. My bright idea was to sleep for an hour and a half or so before the match, set my alarm, wake up, and watch said match. The alarm part and the wake up part went according to schedule, but after my cell began blaring, I made a "mature adult decision" that I would later regret. I went back to sleep to get some rest for church. In 20/20 hindsight, I can't believe I did that as one commentator called the match the best of the Cup. USA battled Italy to a fierce 1-1 draw that included three red cards and an own goal (Italy). Goal keeper Kasey Keller was named the Budweiser Man of the Match. Oh well. Brazil and Australia's show down tonight should be pretty kicking, if you catch my drift.

For those of you who have not been following the cup (read, nearly everyone in the Union), here's the World Cup Check for Group E, which contains the Czech Republic, USA, Italy, and Ghana.

The Czech Republic entered the FIFA World Cup ranked #2, second only to certain national team that goes by Brazil. The Czechs showed their strength in a 3-0 overpowering of USA in the first match, and Italy beat Ghana 2-0. As a result, both of the losing teams stood on the bubble, for in the first round of the World Cup each team plays three matches, one against every group member. A match win earns the team 3 points, and a draw earns both teams 1 point, with any losing team receiving no points. The top two teams out of the group of 4 advance. Team USA came through in the clutch to tie Italy, and Ghana stunned the Czechs with a 2-0 victory, the first African win of the Cup. The current standings have Italy on top of the group with 4 points, the Czech Republic and Ghana tied with 3 points a piece, and USA in fourth with 1 point. The next matchups will occur on June 22, and have USA squaring off against Ghana, and Italy facing the Czechs. Quite simply, the teams that win are the teams that will stay alive in the World Cup, with the exception that Italy can advance with a tie.

That said, let the games continue.


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