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    Costa Rican Qualification defies Conventional Thinking

    Pura Vida indeed.  Coming into Group D the Ticos were supposed to be fodder for the three traditional powers.  Three nations that had been World Cup winners in their past; the first time ever a group has showcased three such teams. With today's victory over four time champion Italy, Costa Rica has eliminated England from the World Cup.  If someone had told me by the end of the second game for Costa Rica that Spain and England would be gone and the tiny haven of Costa Rica would have a stranglehold on Group D, I would have laughed long and hard in their face. And so would've the rest of the world.

    Remember this team was victimized in the "snow bowl" of Colorado in CONCACAF Qualifications, but now it is looking cool in a much more appropriate manner.  And FIFA did us all a favor by making goal line technology a reality, Costa Rica is the first of many to benefit from the addition of sense and reason to the jurisdiction of these matches.

    Their victories over Italy and Uruguay are deserved and not flashes in the pan or the manifestation of divine fortune.  The Ticos have demonstrated a collective sense of appropriate pacing and execution to claim their current six points. When high pressure is needed they step forward and succeed.  When the game needs to be slowed down and the bunker mentality is required, they have stood firm.  What is refreshing (as their two wins validate) is the ability to transition from one mode into the next and have a collective and unspoken synchronization of the needed tempo.  This is why they are winning, they are a unit that is playing in the same pulse, regardless of which pulse is needed, decelerated or thumping.

    Well done our Tico brothers!  I, for one, and thinking about how smart we were to give you the "cold shoulder."


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    On Field Crimes within American Soccer's Most Accomplished Victory

    June 17, 2002- Jeonju, Korea- US and arch rival Mexico are playing yet again.  But never have the stakes been so high, the prize so meaningful.  Mexico has pushed through group play with two wins and a tie and finished first in a group including Italy and Croatia (Mexico's next game in Brazil 2014).  The US has squeaked through thanks to South Korea's defeat of Portugal while the Americans are being demolished by an already eliminated Polish side.  Knowing a win would secure the US a round of 16 match up with their CONCACAF rival, the Koreans do the work to put the American's thru with a 1-1-1 record.  The opening victory against Portugal (US's next game in 2014), and the against all odds tie with their Korean hosts, and Bruce Arena's side has done enough to limp into the round of 16 match up against the in form and high flying Mexicans.  

    The US will win on a goal in each half.  Brian McBride's first half strike is matched by Landon Donovan in the second stanza and, unlike the Ghana dram of 2014, there is never a doubt the US will win.

    Here is an excerpt from The Odyssey of a Soccer Junkie that says it best:

    The 2-0 dismantling of Mexico in the round of 16 is a permanent announcement that CONCACAF is now the United State's region to lose.  There’s a great deal of satisfaction on the day when the US show their class and that particular Mexican team shows their lack of it.  Rafa Marquez’s aerial head butt of Cobi Jones is one of the more criminal acts seen in the game.  It ranks up there with Toni Schumacher’s assault of Patrick Battiston in the Germany France 1982 semi final. Probably the single most violent episode on the World Cup stage in modern times, Schumacher went unpunished for breaking the Frenchman’s neck.  It wasn’t his intent to do so, but whatever he intended, Schumacher’s assault was sickening. Both done under the guise of attempting to win a loose ball, more than fouls, both were pre meditated criminal acts that arguably could be considered as felonies in a court of law.

    While these two received no civil justice, there actually are players who were charged and even arrested for on field behavior: Eric Cantona of Manchester United and Duncan Ferguson while in Scotland.

    Cantona was red carded at Selhurst Park in 1995 and while leaving the field an abusive fan must have struck a nerve because the French legend lost his mind and launched a karate kick over the rail and he was to be known as Kung Fu Cantona from them on. Ensuing civil justice levied a hefty fine and he was sentenced to a two week jail sentence which was later relieved in exchange for many hours of community service. 

    As for Ferguson, Everton was his main club but he also spent a couple seasons with Newcastle.  But it was early in his career in 1994 with Glasgow Rangers that he crossed the line.  He was convicted of head butting a player in a match and sentenced to three months jail time and actually served it.  In truth he was already on probation for an off the field incident when he delivered the head butt, there was a history of other assaults as well, and the Scottish courts said ‘enough is enough’ and incarcerated him. Ironically he was caught by video evidence after the fact and not the match officials. 

    Some would say the 2-1 American conquest of Ghana was a crime.  Call it what you will, but we'll all take the three points.  And nobody will worry about justice being served after the fact....  



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