The World Cup Weekend

Staff writer Jeff Crandall breaks down opening matches

A picture is worth a thousand
words isn't it? Die-hard U.S. fan that I am, it took me nearly an entire day to
recover from Saturday's 1-1 draw with England. A friend of mine from back home
in Michigan sent the above photo of England "advisor" David Beckham's
disgusted look following "The Big Green Gaffe" in the game's 40th
minute.  




That mistake aside,
the result was fair....How many U.S. fans had flashbacks to the Czech Republic
four years ago when Gerrard broke through in the 4th minute? The greatest fear
with this team is that they don't play well from behind -- especially against teams
with the strength that England brings to the field. Kudos to Bob Bradley's men
for moving on from that goal immediately, picking the right moments to move
forward while still containing a dangerous England attack....

Before I move on to
the weekend's other matches, please be sure to check out Fire matchday
volunteer and current Fire World Cup correspondent Curtis White's (first row
center in photo)
Blog from South Africa as he follows the U.S. team around
the Republic...

Taking the one point
from the England match was enough. The performance -- not spectacular, but
sufficient. Colonial cousins now out of the way, the time for earning three
points comes Friday with surprising group leaders Slovenia, who downed Algeria
1-0 yesterday for that nation's first-ever World Cup victory. The desired
result from both the United States and England's perspective was a 0-0 draw and
it looked close to happening until Algeria's Abdelkader Ghezzal was sent off
for a second yellow card after an intentional hand ball in the Slovenia penalty
area.

Playing a man down,
Slovenia were able to push forward and Robert Koren's 79th minute strike had
just a tad more skill behind it then Clint Dempsey's lucky hit the day before,
as Algerian keeper Faouzi Chaouchi made a mess of the skipping ball.

For Slovenia, the
result keeps their hopes of advancement high, while Algeria will have to face
an England team reeling after their disappointing 1-1 draw on Saturday... For
both the United States and England, all you have to do is win to advance --
neither team should complicate things for themselves by dropping points to two
decidedly weaker sides.

In Group D, Serbia's 1-0 loss to Ghana has probably
messed up my World Cup bracket a bit.. Playing better for long stretches of the
match, another hand ball undid a side yesterday when Aleksandar Lukovic's hand
announced itself in the 74th minute. The result: Lukovic's second yellow card
and a sending off and the first penalty of the tournament was converted by
Ghanaian midfielder Asamoah Gyan. The strike made Ghana the first African team
to win a World Cup match on African soil and put them in poll position to
advance out of the group with Germany....

....Yes Germany. So
many derided this German team's chances coming into the tournament but
Deutschland made their presence known yesterday night with an emphatic 4-0
victory over Australia. Miroslav Klose, a World Cup fixture for Germany scored
his 11th career goal in the tournament, putting him within range of the
all-time record of 15 set by Brazilian Ronaldo just four years ago. The Germans
have scored a combined 20 goals in World Cup openers, conceding only two since
downing the United States in France '98 and it certainly seems they'll be a
handful again in this tournament.

On the flip side,
Australia looked just as dire as they did in their friendly a week before against
the United States. Things look pretty bad for the Socceroos who will need to
bounce back against Ghana on Saturday without Tim Cahill, suspended because of
a red card picked up in the 56th minute of the Germany match.

I'll check back in
later today to wrap up Holland-Denmark (already finished), Cameroon-Japan (in
progress) and the big one, Italy-Paraguay (this afternoon).

Happy viewing!