FIFA World Cup: USA vs. Belgium – Within Devil’s Den
Let me fill you in with my experiences watching the FIFA World Cup from Shanghai, China. I’ll preface this by saying I’m not a true soccer (football) fan; I think the last time I watched a full match was during the last world cup. Truthfully, I’m a rugby guy and American football fan. That doesn’t make my support for the US team any less real though! USA! USA!
Anyway, I watched this match with friends. Belgian friends. Quite a few of my good friends in Shanghai are actually from Belgium, so naturally I would like to watch with them. The game was slated for 4 a.m., Shanghai time on July 2nd. That’s a bit earlier than I’m accustomed to rising!
Went to my friends’ house the Tuesday night, chatted a bit then went to bed for a quick nap before the game started. We all had a little trouble waking up after only a few hours of sleep, but we got up nonetheless! I didn’t have any USA gear to wear, by had my classic Batman shirt on (Batman is an American comic, so that counts, right?). Although my friend had his fresh Belgium jersey on, purchased on Taobao.com.
For me the game was really disappointing, not only because of the outcome but also because the US seemed so defensive and timid the whole game. Belgium may not have scored during regulation, but they at least had consistent shots on goal. Tim Howard, the US goalkeeper, was astounding. He wasn’t getting much help from the US side. Belgium seemed to be able to move the ball at will, while it seemed that US lost possession every time there was a forward pass. All the while, Tim Howard was able to keep the US in it during regulation.
One couldn’t help but think that if there were some adjustments made during the game, the US could have come out on top. For instance, the US was knocking on the door during the second half of extended time. If we at least had spurts of that type of offense prior to that, we could have put more pressure on the Belgian Red Devils. My opinion is that we were far too conservative, and should have played to score rather than defend. At least in segments to keep the Belgians honest!
While I got chastised for my US pride, my Belgian friends were more so angry that Belgium seemed to be its own worst enemy. They complained that with so many shots, it was just like Belgium to never finish. Until they did. Now, I’ll be rooting for Belgium for the rest of their world cup campaign! Who doesn’t love delicious beers, chocolates, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and fries? Plus, I’m sure my friends would appreciate the extra support.
The World Cup seemed like a fairy tale ride for the US. Surviving the ‘group of death’ surprised and excited most every American. Who didn’t have Germany and Portugal coming out of the group stage? Aside from the homers? Nobody. Luckily for the US there are 4 more years to hone and game-plan for the next FIFA World Cup.
Lastly, thank you Tim Howard for not making this a blood bath! The score honestly makes the game seem much closer than it was, and that’s due to some miraculous saves. Now to prepare for the 4th of July!