The Vuvuzela horn.
Blaring without a stop. Randomly getting louder depending on the camera angle. Sounding like a flock of rapid ducks while at the same time reminiscent of buzzing bees. They're driving me up the wall and this morning, as I was checking the news before the early match, all of my hope for a quieter World Cup was dashed. Lucas Brown at Goal.com reports:
The FIFA president was asked whether he felt that they should be stopped from being blown in stadiums due to the incredible noise created - and he defended their use.
“It is African culture, we are in Africa and we have to allow them to practice their culture as much as they want to," he told reports.
I'm all for respecting the culture of the host nation and I think hosting the tournament will be a really great thing for the people of South Africa - I just wish their expression of their culture through sound was a little - quieter?
Speaking of South Africa - has anyone else noticed the empty seats? It looks like the Olympics over there. I'm almost sure that this is not a sign of things to come at the World Cup but it is a little disappointing. Apparently most of the seats were bought by big corporations for giveaways. I understand that we're in a worldwide recession but these empty seats are really disconcerting since this is the stage for the biggest football event in the world. We've heard that central parking and bus rides make it easier for South African fans to get to the different stadiums - but are the prices too high? Today in the New York Times football blog ( which you should check out sometime ) Jere Longman writes:
The half-empty stadiums reflect several factors: Soccer is the favorite sport among blacks in South Africa, but even the lowest-priced tickets, at $10, are beyond the reach of many people here. AFP reported that nearly half the population here lives on two dollars per day.
Among whites, rugby and cricket are more popular than soccer. Whites have not tended to support the South African soccer league, although they have come in larger numbers to see touring club teams such as Manchester United and Barcelona.
So. US v Brazil. I woke up bright and early to cheer on my country, as I previously said I would try to do this time around. ( I also frantically prayed that the match wouldn't be too big of a disaster and embarrassment ) I hoped Tim Howard would have a good day - especially since he's the player I know the most and was the most invested in, given his past history at Old Trafford and now seeing him play with Everton. What they needed were players who knew their jobs and wouldn't wander about and they definitely needed a winger. They needed Beasley to show he was fit as well - he's only played ten times this year. Just because he has experience, I don't think he's what the US needed right now to beat Brazil. They needed men to step up in general due to injuries on the squad.
ESPN commentators mentioned US player Mauricio Edu. I'd like to know who that is - there's a Maurice Edu. I'd mention other mistakes - like how they said Torres played for United, Casillas was not the Spain captain, and the Zidane headbutted Zambrotta - but that would be an entirely different update.
The US gave Brazil a corner and two free kicks within the first six minutes - they scored on the second set piece ( Felipe Melo 7' ). I don't think there was a foul that warranted the free kick but the ref thought he saw it - that's the nature of the game. By twelve minutes there were three more set pieces. Four of the five goals Brazil scored against Egypt last match were on set pieces. It was exactly the kind of start that the US did not want. Then Robinho scored
( 20' ) after a mistake by Beasley. Off of our own corner kick - what a feat. I think that something like that - on a world level - is just unacceptable. After the goal I called a final score of 3-1 with Brazil ahead.
I didn't think it was a problem of getting possession. The US aren't making opportunities for themselves. They're not slowing down to look for an opening but are trying to make fast passes, which is leading to unnecessary turnovers. I think if Dempsey played a little more forward that might have helped develop a rhythm but as it is nothing is happening in terms of players coming together to take any legitimate shots on goal. Donovan needed players to be there to help in attacks in the Brazilian half and they just weren't there. Most passes seem to be incomplete - and there is the talent on the US sqaud to finish things off. I don't think the long game they're playing is working out for them this tournament.
As soon as the second half started, I was happy to see Casey in for Beasley. Within two minutes we saw the best shot the US had in the match so far, and multiple shots on goal in the first five. It was like watching a completely different team - Casey was doing well ( he later proved useless and didn't put any pressure on Brazil ) and Bradley and Spector looked more in control. But then - it happened again. Kljestan was sent off after a late tackle on Ramires - who was stretchered off. It was a late and reckless challenge. Really US midfield? Two matches in a row? The ESPN commentators kept saying how it could have been a yellow but I think the ref called a solid red. I think he called a fair match - no ref will ever call an absolutely perfect match, nor should we expect them to. Brazil went up to 3 soon after ( Maicon 62' ). I never expected the US to beat Brazil but its always disappointing when your country is completely outclassed. The US almost scored in the 83rd minute ( Feilheber ) - and Donovan had a good free kick to Casey that went off the woodwork - but Brazil easily won the match.
There's not much else to say on the subject, so I won't. Unless Italy lost to Egypt and the US has a blowout match against Egypt ( a three point clear winner ) its safe to say that we're out - and rightfully so. But wait -
Italy really disappointed- luckily for US and Egypt supporters. I wanted Egypt to win but was predicting a 1-1 draw. I think Egypt is better than they showed against Brazil. Egypt went up with a gorgeous header in the end of the first half ( Homos 40' ). They've had less shots but their shots are far more accurate, and their keeper ( El Hadary ) is doing a brilliant job keeping a clean sheet against solid shots from Rossi and Iaquinta. Egypt had the start of a good run at 60' until Italy put a stop to it right outside of the box. Possession was about equal throughout and it was a generally clean match; I was surprised that there wasn't a card until 58' and that it went against Egypt ( Eid ). El Hadary had another great save at 74' and kept a shot over the line from Iaquinta - I doubted he'd be letting anything through for the rest of the match. I was really impressed with Egypt's passing and control - in the same way I was impressed by Iraq - and think its exactly what the US needed this morning. El Hadary was well beat at 86' by a shot from the right from Iaquinta but luckily the woodwork saved it and sent it off to Egypt defenders. Gomaa had a sloppy handball in 89' but equally sloppy was Pirlo's free kick. At this stage in the game he should have delivered. At a corner kick in stoppage time, everything went mad for a minute. Two yellow cards to Egyptian players - including the keeer - and even Buffon went to the edge of the area to assist in a moment reminiscent of Kasey Keller ( US keeper ) against Ghana in the last World Cup. What a victory for Egypt! And they thoroughly deserved it.
An interesting tech note to end this post on! If you're a Chelsea fan, you know that there have been Chelsea cameras advertised on the club's site for some time. Well, they just signed a deal at Old Trafford that allows United to do the same thing! I found a short piece on Fox Soccer.com that says:
The five-year deal with aigo will see the firm promote United co-branded products such as cameras and mobile phones.
As part of the agreement aigo will become the title sponsor of United's game in Hangzhou, China, during the club's Asia Tour this July.
United chief executive David Gill said: "This deal is a further demonstration of the global appeal of Manchester United."
Brilliant. Something else I'll wish to emblazon with the United crest. I do need a new camera - wait. This day is ending with the US having a technical shot at advancement? What a sport football, what a sport.