France replace Holland as underperforming star studded chokers. Made the mistake of watching the game, but what saved extended misery when I finally decided to submit to slumber. Good decision.

Australia played well and my pre-tournament prediction placing them in the Quarterfinal could prove a reality. I currently have them pitted against Italy (no longer my favorite to win). They could do it.

On the topic of Italy, obviously no one told them that you do have to try and win games every once and a while. As for that game, I was struck by two things 1) the US fans were diversifying their chants slightly (Thank God), and 2) the US team are a bunch of whiners – plucky fighters, but whiners all the same.

Per observation #2, it is never down to the other team being better or them not being good enough. For example, the loss against the Czechs was due to them "not being up to par," not the the Czechs wholely and completely outclassing them and stiffling what passes for midfield creativity on that team. Donovan and Beasely were out of the game partly due to decreased effort but also because they were marked out. Opposing teams like to do that sort of thing. This loss against Italy has been blamed on a poor referee, because apparently, late two-footed studs up challenges where one connects with the ankle of the planted foot and not the passing foot are totally kosher. Also, you can tackle people from behind outside of the 18 yd box and not expect a yellow card.

I find it interesting that the US Squad, who qualify through CONCACAF by playing Mexico and various Central American countries, would be so shocked at players diving and engaging in dirty man on man tactics. This is especially so when I hear Marcelo Balboa acknowledge how much Onyewu uses his hands while defending, because "you can get away with that in CONCACAF." But when Itay is cynical (shocking), it ruins the game.

Finally…Ghana rule.


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