Finally. After a rough first twenty minutes, the US side calmed down and got back to playing possession and--wonder of wonders--remembering they had a midfield, eventually beating the devil's own Swedes 2-0. I would still prefer to see Lilly in the midfield and O'Reilly up top and Lloyd squarely on the bench for now, and would like the defense to wake up 20 minutes before the game rather than 20 minutes into it. There were far too many weak clearances and corners conceded (five in the first ten minutes of the game? WTF?).
Comeback Player of the Match goes to Boxx. After a horrible outing on Tuesday, she entered as a second-half sub and appeared to be back to form as a holding midfielder.
Wombat x 2: her penalty was poorly struck, but thank god it was on frame and the keeper guessed wrong. The second-half goal from the run of play was brilliant, chesting a long flighted ball from Lilly and hitting a rocket of a half-volley high into the back of the net. Perfect execution from both Lil and Abby left the keeper helpless.
Note to ESPN: please get those fucking graphics off the screen now, or choose better times to put them up. As it is, you have the uncanny knack of blocking off the entire bottom third of the screen when the ball's down there.
Another note to ESPN: yes, it's amusing to hear the studio hosts moan about how early in the morning it is. And yes, 5 a.m. is pretty early for New Yorkers. But just once I'd like to hear some acknowledgment that those of us in the devil's own Pacific time zone are hauling our asses out of bed for a 2 a.m. start. Which is three hours earlier. Suck it, 5 a.m.-ers!
Note to Nike: your Jim Mike commercials still suck. Could you at least toss in a little variety? I'm pleased to report, though, that my reflexive mute-button stabbing every time I hear your announcer say brought to you by the best team you never heard of in what I assume is meant to be a smug growl has worked pretty well. I can't decide if the players in those spots are good actors who manage to convey complete disgust and embarassment, or if they're lousy actors who can't conceal their complete disgust and embarassment. Whichever it is, every time I see Rainn Wilson flopping around in that sports bra I want to rip my eyeballs out. Great campaign, Nike.
In other WC news, Japan showed definitively that you cannot lose your focus for a second against them until the final whistle blows. Once again they snatched a victory in stoppage time, this morning's victim being Argentina. England fought out a well-deserved draw with Germany in what may have been the best game of the tournament so far. England might even have had a chance to put one in late, had Kelly Smith perhaps thought about laying the ball off to the wide-open left wing and making a run to goal. Think the organizers are worried yet about their showcase field coming up in toddler-sized divots?
Game plan for the rest of the day: coffee, coffee, and some more coffee, preferably directly into a vein.