Live from the World Cup: Round of 16
Augusto Lima, a rising junior on the Crusader men's soccer team, calls Brazil home and this summer, Brazil is the host country for the 2014 World Cup. Lima will be blogging throughout the duration of the World Cup with his first-hand insight into the atmosphere, game action and more surrounding the global event.
There has certainly been a change from the group stage matches to the more recent ones from the round of sixteen elimination stages. The number of goals has certainly decreased but that didn't mean that the games were less exciting or that the level of play lowered. All the games were extremely balanced and no team had an easy time winning. Maybe the strikers didn't handle the pressure of being eliminated - in case of a loss - well. On the other hand, this same pressure had a very positive effect on the goalkeepers, who certainly helped lower the average number of goals from this round. Goalkeepers from Mexico, Brazil, Algeria, Costa Rica, Germany, and of course USA all had exceptional games.
At that point, I just wanted the match to end and go to penalty shootouts and that was what happened. Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar was the first of the goalkeepers to become a hero, saving two penalty kicks and giving Brazil the victory and the spot in the quarterfinals. The next day his picture was on every single newspaper's cover.
Even with the outstanding performance from many goalkeepers, nothing compares to Tim Howard's game. On the last match of the round of sixteen, the American goalkeeper had 16 saves, breaking the record for saves in any World Cup match. Belgium was the favorite to win the match but they had to bring their best game to get the victory. Like they've shown before in the World Cup, the USMNT was going to battle until the end and that was done throughout the entire match by playing strong defense and creating chances on the attacking side of the field. Speaking about chances… just like the Chilean shot on the crossbar, the Americans missed their spot on the quarterfinals by a few inches when, in the last minute of regulation time, a clear goal-scoring chance was unfortunately missed.
During extra time, the Belgians kept attacking but this time there was nothing Howard could've done on either of the two goals. But the Americans weren't done yet and they went to attack in hopes of saving the game. A goal with some time left on the clock only increased these hopes. Just one more goal was needed to tie the game but again on a clear opportunity to score, luck, which had been on the US side until now, did not help. Even with the loss, the USMNT goes home with their heads up. Coming out of the group of death and fighting until the end in their last match was enough to make the fans proud.