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World Cup Group Highlights
updated: Jun 21, 2014, 12:00 PM

By K. Prieto

[Ed Note: This article was submitted on Thursday 6/19, some games have taken place.]

Soccer enthusiasts were transfixed by the USA v. Ghana game at Old Kings Road on Monday.

With all of the first matches out of the way (and some of the second ones), it is safe to say that this World Cup is as exciting as expected. We've seen some great, average and poor performances. With 3 matches a day, this is not a sporting event that can be ignored. During the first week, I jotted down notes on cardboard bar coasters, napkins, and even receipts. Below are some of my highlights, low lights and honorable mentions.

Highlights:

Netherlands - with a 5-1 victory over the reigning champs Spain, it is clear that the Netherlands will go far in this tournament. They had a decent showing against Australia, but their resilience and focus leads me to believe they might be unstoppable this cup.

Germany - similar to the Dutch, the Germans whomped Portugal. They looked fit, strong, and in sync. I had anticipated a better match, but it was apparent Portugal failed to perform. They looked sloppy and their lack of communication played a major part in their loss.

Costa Rica - who would have thought Costa Rica would have defeated Uruguay, let alone beaten them by 2 goals? Granted, Uruguay played with a man down, but based on performance alone I don't think it would have mattered if Uruguay had a full squad. Costa Rica truly earned and deserved that victory.

Chile - defeating Australia and shutting out Spain, Chile has made a name for themselves. They are already qualified to move on to the knock out round, but fighting for a better seed during their game against the Netherlands. This should be a quality game. Don't miss!

Low Lights:

Spain - dominated possession and looked solid the first half against the Dutch. They broke down terribly in the second half and looked out of shape. It seemed they forgot there are two halves of soccer being played. Unfortunately, we won't be seeing much more of Spain as they are heading home after their game against Australia.

Portugal - Pepe's red card for irrational taunting or lecturing Muller for flopping is unacceptable. At this level, you should remain calm when emotions run high. However, I'm not convinced Pepe's absence mattered. Portugal can't rest on their laurels and will need more than just Ronaldo if they want to advance.

Uruguay - Again another red card. Pereira's senseless whack to Campbell's ankles, in stoppage time no less, was outrageous. Uruguay is another powerhouse of the tournament, but their flat first game start leads them trailing and in serious need of a victory. [Update: Looks like they got that victory over England on Thursday.]

Honorable Mentions:

USA - my oh my, the USA pulled off a solid victory. I snuck out of work a little early to join some friends for the game at Old Kings Road. The US was able to get 2 on the board without Jozy Altidore. John Brooks' header off the corner kick could not have been more textbook: low and to the corners.

Fans at Old Kings Road hovered around the bar to watch the USA game.

It's pretty exciting for the 21-year-old's first World Cup appearance. They will need to keep up the intensity and will need to see a better performance from Michael Bradley. Bradley will need to hold the midfield and provide more of an offensive assault, if they want a positive result against Portugal.

I captured a short video of the crowd at Old Kings Road celebrating the final goal by John Brooks giving a USA win over Ghana.
[Side Note: Be sure to watch the US play against Portugal on Sunday, June 22nd at 3pm.]

Ivory Coast - the comeback victory over Japan should be enough to get you excited. I'm also a fan of Didier Drogba coming in off the bench. He added a burst of speed and energy that his teammates, I think, fed and thrived off of. If they can beat Greece, they will most likely see the knock out rounds.

France - With Honduras defensive midfielder, Palacios, getting a red card towards the end of the first half, this set the tone for the remainder of the match. France dominated. The youth and new additions have really made a significant difference since their disappointing and disjointed 2010 appearance. This team will be very exciting to watch. I suspect they will advance to the elimination round with ease. [UPDATE: France completely trounced Switzerland by scoring 5 goals to the Swiss 2.]

Croatia - They may have lost to Brazil, but don't be fooled this is a strong squad, both smart and skilled. With a win and a loss, they will need to beat Mexico if they want to see the knock out round. This would be another match I'd recommend watching.

Where To Watch

  • SB Brew Co. Lounge (501 State St.)
  • Old Kings Road (532 State St.)
  • Press Room (15 E Ortega St.)
  • Dargans (18 E Ortega St.)
  • Uptown Lounge (3126 State St.)
  • Brasil Arts CafĂ© (1230 State St.)
  • Arlington Theatre (or so I've heard).

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  • June 10, 2014: The World Cup Is Here!

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    K. Prieto is a UCSB alum and former Gaucho midfielder. She's devastated by the poor English showing but will cheer on the US against the pretty boy of Portugal on Sunday.

     

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