Live From the World Cup: South Korea vs. Belgium

June 13 Blog
June 18 Blog

Today [June 26] I had the chance to go to a World Cup match: South Korea against Belgium in Sao Paulo. It was a unique and unforgettable experience. I was very surprised, in a positive way, with the high level of organization and civility in all aspects of the event. From the subway to the bathrooms in the stadium, everything was extremely organized. I didn't have to wait in any lines, I didn't see a single piece of trash on the ground, I didn't witness any misunderstanding between fans – all of which are things us Brazilians are very used to, especially at soccer stadiums. It was a different atmosphere. At times it didn't even feel like I was in Brazil but the slum in the background of the stadium made sure I knew where I was.

Tomorrow I head to Belo Horizonte to watch the match between Brazil and Chile. Since this was a last minute arrangement, we were only able to get these tickets today. We weren't as lucky in relation to plane tickets since those were all sold out so we will have to drive six hours to Belo Horizonte. I couldn't be more excited and nervous at the same time: I don't want to be the one to bring bad luck to Brazil's team!

About luck, the American team certainly had some ups and downs with that. Against Portugal, luck certainly wasn't on their side: two very unlucky goals, including one with less than thirty seconds remaining, delaying the qualification to the next round. On the third and last match of the group round, luck certainly helped the Americans. Even with the loss to Germany, the game between Ghana and Portugal ended up with a favorable result, allowing the US national team (USMNT) to qualify.

But luck is not the only weapon of the USMNT. The American team has shown everyone that individual ability is nothing compared to good tactical implementation and teamwork and maybe that is why Landon Donavan was left off the squad. When individual quality is needed, though, the team can count on players like Clint Dempsey, who has been a major contributor in the first three games. Mentally, the US team is also very solid and mature.

That being said, the next game is against Belgium, one of the youngest teams in this World Cup. Individually, the Belgian team is very qualified but throughout this tournament the quality shown has not been convincing. Even though Belgium did win all of its games, all three were by one goal and against opponents that shouldn't have caused any trouble for them. I believe in the USMNT.