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World Cup Surprise

Kings fall, peasants rise

Another wild week of World Cup action, with loads of goals, last-minute rallies and unprecedented upsets.
    Spain has been dethroned, eliminated from the tournament at the hands of high-flying Netherlands and red-hot Chile. After Monday’s meaningless win against Australia, the conquistadors walked off the pitch with their heads low and crowns removed. World Cup 2014 was an utter failure for the 2010 champions.
    France, dormant for nearly a decade, sprang to life with ever-convincing wins in Group E play. After dismantling Swiss rivals this week 5-2, the French sit pretty atop the group with a +6 goal differential. France will surely advance to the Round of 16, reversing the lousy effort of 2010: 29th of 32 teams.
    Pele, Zico, Ronaldinho: The No. 10 jersey has borne the name of many a Brazilian hero, and Neymar Jr. continues the legacy of great men in yellow. With a shocking four goals in just three games, Neymar is on pace to make history and bring home a golden trophy for his country. Brazil took care of Cameroon easily on Monday in a 4-1 victory. Chile steps up to the daunting task of slowing Brazil’s roll in the Round of 16.
    The United States led Portugal, the fourth-ranked team in the world, on Sunday with just 20 ticks left on the clock, on path to secure a Round of 16 position even before their third group stage game. The team dominated the entire game … overcame an early goal … shut down the greatest player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. Yet in the last 20 seconds, Portugal drew even, sending the U.S. to an impressive, yet hard to swallow, tie.
    The U.S. played one of its most memorable games, holding down the midfield to restrict the powerful Portuguese attack. Kyle Beckerman, Crofton native and starting defensive midfielder, played a crucial role in stopping the great Cristiano Ronaldo as coach Jurgen Klinsmann orchestrated a unique and effective strategy that heavily involved Beckerman, who has played every minute in this World Cup for America.
    Team USA plays Germany — ranked second in the world — on Thursday, June 26, in a win-and-you’re-in game. However, if the United States ties, or even loses, the team still has a good shot at progressing to the Round of 16. Beckerman and his team are now a force to be respected.
    With more than 100 goals, the 2014 World Cup ranks with the highest scoring and most exciting tournaments of all time. So join in. Enjoy the beautiful game.