Unfortunately. As in, the end of the World Cup is near. Fortunately, a great month of soccer should conclude with what shapes up as a great match.
Spain takes on the Netherlands today at 2:30 p.m. The winner will be World Cup champions for the first time. Dutch fans are used to disappointment, having lost to West Germany in 1974 and Argentina in 1978, both times on the opponent's home soil. They won't have that disadvantage this year as whichever European side wins will be the first to win a World Cup outside Europe. Good thing they get to host a lot of World Cups, huh? History isn't on Spain's side - no team has ever lost its first game in the tournament and gone on to win it all. Spain lost to Switzerland, 1-0, what seems like years ago now.
Maybe that loss woke Spain up. The team has played very well since the loss, led by David Villa, Xavi and Carles Puyol. Spain figures to try to possess the ball with its short passing game, much like it did against Germany. The difference? I don't think Holland will let Spain play keepaway like Germany seemed to do. The Dutch will pressure the ball more and try to find its own offense.
Holland is led by Wesley Sneijder, Robin Von Persie and Arjen Robben and has the firepower to match Spain.
Prediction: Spain 2, Holland 1
Soccer is a cruel sport
That's about the only way to describe the Union's 2-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday at PPL Park. It was the first time I was unable to attend a home game.
But what I grasped from watching the game on FSC:
Once again, the Union totally dominated a game only to come up short. Maybe I'm a homer, but I feel like this team is significantly better than its record/results. The Union could have been up 3 or 4-0 against San Jose. They had several golden opportunities in the second half, including Danny Mwanga getting pantsed before Jon Busch made a great save, then Busch robbing Sebastien LeToux a couple of times. Then LeToux got bodychecked by a San Jose defender at about the 18-yard line. The defender made no attempt to play the ball and simply used his body to prevent LeToux from getting to the ball.
But the game was lost on a poor free kick from Roger Torres that led to a breakout by San Jose. Torres has been a major disappointment after a great start to his season. At the other end of the field, Jordan Harvey was between Arturo Alvarez and Chris Seitz. You just can't let the guy get a shot off there. Take him down. Take the yellow card, give the free kick and allow your teammates to get back and get set up. Of course, once the shot got past Harvey, you just knew it was going past Seitz, right? I mean, other than a PK in his belly against Seattle, the guy hasn't made one clutch save yet this year. I was ready to give him the year a few weeks ago. Now, I want Brad Knighton a start. Even if its against Celtic and Manchester United, let's see if he shows any better in game action. It's time for a change.
On the same front, I want the central defense shored up and changed. This team has allowed two goals in all but three of its matches. It has yet to record a clean sheet. Why? As much as Seitz is at fault, he's not the only problem. Danny Califf is big and physical. Too bad he isn't any good. Get him off the field now. Cristian Arietta was supposed to help out when he joined the team. He was the Defender of the Year with the Puerto Rico Islanders in 2008 in the USL. He must have had a hell of a team around him. This group just isn't cutting it.
Two games this week - the Celtic friendly Wednesday at PPL and another home MSL match Saturday against a Toronto FC team that the Union should have beaten earlier in the season up in Canada. With five of the next six league matches at PPL, its the perfect time to play a push for a playoff spot. If the team doesn't pick up a bunch of those 15 points, the playoffs are probably going to be out of reach.