Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Round of 16 & MLS

So Brazil beat Ghana 3-0 and France beat Spain 3-1. I was rooting for Ghana against Brazil (can we say "underdog?"), but I was fulling expecting Brazil to win by 3-4 goals if Ghana played normally, and by 2 goals if Ghana played exceptionally well. Having just watched the highlights for the game, I was surprised by how easy Brazil's goals seemed. Granted, it is Brazil and that's what they do, but don't even try to tell me that their third goal was a hard shot! Hmm...Brazil beat Ghana. Ghana beat the US (and yes, I say Ghana still would have won, regardless of that insane PK call). The numbers don't speak too well for the quality of the USMNT's play. Just sayin'.

I was rooting for France against Spain, and was naturally thrilled when they won. It reminded me of the exuberance I felt back when they won the Cup in '98. Today's match was an exciting game, despite my initial ambivalence after seeing Spain's PK put the first goal on the board. I remember thinking that this game had better not be decided by PKs. (I really want to see the stats on the number of PKs called and cards given this year, in comparsion to previous Cups.) Thankfully, it wasn't. France scored three beautiful goals in a close, hard-fought game. This is what World Cup matches are supposed to look like - hard-fought games between two evenly matched teams that are not decided by dubious calls. Beautiful.

Now as for the quarterfinal and semifinal results, I'm seeing a Germany-England or an '02 Germany-Brazil rematch as highly likely.

The quality of MLS seems to have gone up over the past decade. I remember my first post-World Cup sabbatical MLS game I watched back in '98. I could not believe the huge disparity between the level of play in the Cup and the level of play in MLS. 4 years ago wasn't so bad, although I certainly did notice the difference. This year has been a bit different. Not only have I not taken a complete World Cup sabbatical from MLS (yep, I've followed the scores and actually watched a game), but the level of play in MLS seems to be a lot closer to that of the world. Now it certainly is not on the same level as, say, the Premiership or Serie A, but it has gotten a lot better.

Edited for typos

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