Written by Will Parchman

2009-u21

On Monday, Four Four Two released an article examining the German developmental revolution. It’s an excellent piece of popular history. In particular, it looked at its peculiarities and why it can’t truly be replicated anywhere else. At least not easily. The German model is the envy of the world at present, but as recently as 12 years ago it was viewed to be in turmoil by those within its inner sanctum.

As Americans, how do we look at the developmental castle the Germans built for themselves? Some of the brickwork FFT laid down is worth examining in more depth through an American prism.

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Written by Will Parchman

messiii

Ron Vlaar was very nearly perfect for 120 minutes against Argentina. Through two regular time halves and two more in extra time, Vlaar converted 100 percent of his tackles, won 100 percent of his aerial duals, intercepted five balls, marked up eight clearances and was probably the man of a largely cynical match. He was imperious.

He was also, ultimately, the first domino to fall in the Dutch collapse.

Perhaps Vlaar should have never gone first in penalties. Perhaps it should’ve been Huntelaar, or Sneijder (who also had his shot saved), or someone who wasn’t asked to track Argentina’s breaks and Messi’s tricks for 120 minutes. But here he was, and his woefully-taken penalty that Romero smothered easily set the tone for a 10-minute burst of penalties that’ll be thrown on the scrap heap of Dutch international history. Vlaar’s on the left. Sneijder’s on the right.

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Written by Will Parchman

heads

Incredibly, the World Cup is drawing to a close. All we have left is Argentina-Netherlands today, a third-place game between the loser and Brazil and then the grand finale on July 13. Hard to believe it’s almost done, eh?

Fear not. With only a handful of spectacular moments left in the hopper, here’s a look back at the ones that’ve wowed us already. The best goals, the top pass and a save of a lifetime. Dig in.

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Written by Will Parchman

gurrr

Years down the road, when our digitized images and 1080i resolution look like anachronistic, sepia-toned artifacts, we will still be talking about the night Germany smacked Brazil 7-1 in Belo Horizonte to dump the hosts out of the World Cup. This was that seismic. The performances that stark. The night that memorable. We may never see anything like this again. In fact, we probably won’t.

Historically there are few examples to follow that get us to this point. The seven goals Germany scored are tied for the most allowed by a host nation in World Cup history. It’s the worst loss in Brazilian team history, and it’s the first loss Brazil suffered on home soil in a competitive game in 63 matches. That stretches back to 1975. Brazil is now 43-1-19 over that span. And the one loss was by six goals. And it could’ve been more.

The first five game inside the first 30 minutes. The reactions were immediate and rendered in comic disbelief. Steve McManaman’s running, blistering commentaries on Brazil’s lack of ability to stay together were ubiquitous and well-placed. None of it made sense.

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Written by Will Parchman

This whole Tim Howard-is-the-greatest-human-ever-of-all-time thing got a bit out of hand in the aftermath of his otherworldly performance against Belgium. That gif there gives you a pretty good idea as to why. Howard basically stood on his head for 120 minutes and let in two relatively un-saveable goals. It was arguably the most imperious keeping performance in World Cup history. Apologizes to Memo Ochoa.

Anyway, whether Howard was stopping a pseudo-stalker from hugging him in an airport or being repeatedly blamed for not coming to a quicker rescue of thousands of failed marriages, it’s been a weird/amazing couple weeks for the Everton man. If they weren’t before, Toffee fans are certainly appreciative of their netminder now. Even if he couldn’t rescue their divorced parents in time.

 

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Written by Will Parchman

It’s the Lego recreation of Brazil-Colombia. What’s not to like? Highlights include a recreation of the white foam spray, the keepers wearing hats (!) and the awesomely over-the-top reenactment of the Neymar injury. These never get old.

 

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Written by Will Parchman

howard

Heartbreak.

This was a tough one. The U.S. went out of the World Cup with a 2-1 loss to Belgium AET in the Round of 16, the second straight World Cup the Americans crashed out in the first knockout stage. An all-out defensive effort wasn’t enough to deny the Belgians, who dominated but finally broke through with two after the end of regulation.

How’d the U.S. fare individually? A look at the fourth and final USMNT performance in a 2014 World Cup to remember.

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Written by Will Parchman

algeer

Say this about the Germans. When the switch isn’t flipped and the bulb flickers, they very frequently come up with a trump card anyway. Monday’s 2-1 result against Algeria was one of those days. A poor first half, a wasteful second half and two extra time goals against a depleted Algeria side that’d been running wind sprints on dangerous breaks for 90 minutes. Hardly the convincing Germany many of us expected.

The one thing you can say with certainty is that Algeria tested Germany in a far more substantive way than did the U.S. There are times when you can learn more about yourself from an outside prism, and that’s the case here.

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Written by Will Parchman

france

France’s group stage was impressive, but its relative ease left some questions as to whether this team was for real or not. The team’s 2-0 win over wasteful Nigeria may not have provided any definitive answers, but it did push my tourney dark horse (shameless – so shameless) into the quarterfinals to face Germany.

The eyeball test proved that France was mostly toothless until about the 75th minute, and a huge contributor was its imbalanced attack. In short, it too often listed to the right like a tanker taking on too much water.

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Written by Will Parchman

demps

Less than a week ago, Cristiano Ronaldo clustered American heartstrings together and snapped them with a cross that practically fell from the saturated night sky in Manaus. Quiet for 94 minutes, Ronaldo’s tornado of a cross sunk Americans to new levels of desperation. Was this a draw? It didn’t feel like one.

Cut forward to Thursday, and suddenly Cristiano Ronaldo played the role of American savior. Loathed days before, suddenly he was a cult hero for bundling in a rebound in the final 10 minutes to seal a 2-1 win over Ghana. At the same time, the U.S. was dragging its leaden feet to a deserved 1-0 loss to Germany. It didn’t matter. Portugal’s result was America’s result. Now the U.S. is through. What a day.

A week ago an American villain. Now an American savior. This World Cup. Only this World Cup.

Thursday was a manic day. Here’s a look at some of the finer points from the most nerve-racking 20 minutes you can probably remember.

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