19th FIFA World Cup - South Africa 2010
11 June to 11 July 2010
DAY 2 SCORES (SATURDAY/JUNE 12)
- Group B - South Korea 2, Greece 0
- Group B - Argentina 1, Nigeria 0
- Group C - England 1, United States 1
DAY 3 SCORES (SUNDAY/JUNE 13)
- Group C - Slovenia 1, Algeria 0
- Group D - Ghana 1, Serbia 0
- Group D - Germany 4, Australia 0
DAY 4 SCORES (MONDAY/JUNE 14)
- Group E - Netherlands 2, Denmark 0
- Group E - Japan 1, Cameroon 0
- Group F - Italy 1, Paraguay 1
DAY 5 SCORES (TUESDAY/JUNE 15)
- Group F - New Zealand 1, Slovakia 1
- Group G - Ivory Coast 0, Portugal 0
- Group G - Brazil 2, North Korea 1
DAY 6 SCORES (WEDNESDAY/JUNE 16)
- Group H - Chile 1, Honduras 0
- Group H - Spain v. Switzerland
- Group A - South Africa v. Uruguay
I finally waved off the last of the houseguests this morning, and was able to finally sit down and watch an entire match from start to finish. Yeah... this has truly been a weekend from hell. Now that isn't to say that I didn't like having my sister and father in the house, nor our other friend that came down for my sister's graduation from the University of Oregon. But given that I work in catering at same university, and graduation is always our busiest time of the year, I had little time in between for more than glimpses at highlights and follow the action through gamecasts on my phone.
Thumbs down for ESPN Radio's inability to broadcast the matches; at least I can say with certainty that my local station, 95.3FM here in Eugene, hasn't carried the games. I had been hoping for at least the sound from South Africa to stave off my withdrawal shakes. Thank goodness for that little piece of technological magic! I had only recently signed up for a full data plan on the phone, and that has been the sole salvation during this period as this Non-Traditional Sports Fan in America desperately tries to keep up with the preeminent quadrennial single-sport tournament in the world.
The phone keeps me up to speed, but a lot of the flair is lost when you try to follow a text-based format. I love soccer over the radio -- that's how I first started following the sport, picking up feeds of English Premier League games on the internet's nascent broadcasts when the satellite couldn't find a televised match. Half the time, when I'm "watching" a match, I'm writing on the computer simultaneously... so it often comes down to sound, anyway. But while the ESPN broadcast of Spain-Switzerland was going, they were kind enough to tell me to watch the games on television, the internet and the phone -- nothing about radio coverage. The "worldwide leader in sports" really missed an opportunity to expand their base even further. And I'd gladly get a Spanish-language radio broadcast, but the local station recently shut down.
Even then, though, having company around afforded little writing time. Funny how that works. Normally I would just wake up at my usual pre-dawn hour to watch the opening match of the day and maybe the second of the three before work... but with guests in every room (including my den, where the desktop lives) it was nigh impossible to get that morning reverie. It took me four days just to write my Day 1 Musings. The stars just weren't aligning for me this weekend...
So here I am, trying to parse down my thoughts on a crazy opening round as I finally digest a match in its entirety -- and of course, it is the last match of the first round of group play. And what a hell of a match it is! Finally a genuine upset in this tournament! We still haven't had a genuine gunfight amongst any two teams in South Africa so far -- the goal glut by Germany was the closest we came, but with Australia bringing a Bowie knife to the duel it was far too one-sided to qualify. But at least, right before Uruguay took on the hosts in the second match of the tournament for both teams, we had one upset amongst the first group games.
One thing I notice as I watch this match: Why in hell was everyone complaining about the vuvuzelas?! Sure, I understand that networks have taken the tactic of reducing the volume of the crowd feed... so they aren't as powerful as they sounded in the first few days of broadcast. Still, those who are clamoring for chanting and song should just listen. It isn't an incessant droning. You can hear definite pitch and timbre in the horns. And voices are certainly also coming through. I enjoyed it thoroughly, as it set the tone. I knew I wasn't watching just another of the myriad soccer matches you can catch on television and the internet these days.
At least I got this Spain tilt versus Switzerland. Spain had almost all the run of play in the first half, but Switzerland -- especially goalie Diego Benaglio -- were game to every challenge. Nothing was getting through, and the Swiss even had a few chances of their own. But the game was scoreless at halftime. That changed drastically once the teams resumed play. Gelson Fernandes scored seven minutes into the second half. They almost had another later in the half. It was a shock for the ages. European champions Spain pressed forward from there, still valiantly attacking, but Benaglio proved resilient and impenetrable and the Swiss pulled off a huge upset to tie themselves with Chile atop Group H. Remember -- no team has ever won the World Cup after LOSING their first match. A draw is safe; a loss is damn near catastrophic.
The match I regret missing most? That Brazil-North Korea tilt yesterday. I would've been at work anyway, but that match was a thriller even watching just the replays. North Korea proved that their moniker as the most elusive team to get a read on before the tournament was accurate. What a stunningly talented side they have, and their showing against Brazil despite the loss should have both Portugal and the Ivory Coast a little concerned, especially after their dour goalless performance...