The Better Team Tied

Ties are supposed to be  like kissing your sister, but Slovenia will take their tie today.  A very bad call by a referee from Mali  deprived the US of the go ahead goal in the 85th minute. The referee disallowed the goal, and gave no explanation for his decision. The US was not offside,  and did not appear to have committed a foul. My guess is that the referee may have thought  George Bush was still President of the United States, so this was payback.  Then again, coming from Mali (#187 of 208 countries in the world in per capita GDP at $290  in 2003), the month at the World Cup may have been a rare opportunity for the ref to eat like an American- three big meals a day, so he may have been a bit tired and bleary eyed from all the calories by the end of the game.

In any case, this was a tale of two games, not one.  Tiny Slovenia, a country with 1/150 the population of the U.S. in an area the size of New Jersey,  and the smallest country in the 32 team field, dominated the first half, and took a well deserved 2-0 lead into halftime. The US scored early in the second half, and had its way for the remainder of the game. Landon Donovan , in particular, played like a man possessed in the second half.

In this household,  there are divided loyalties on those rare occasions when the US and Slovenia compete in sporting events.  My cat Milan,  named by my daughter after the first President  of   Slovenia (an independent nation since 1991), Milan Kucan, watched today's game without expressing a strong preference for either team.

Slovenia was a big surprise to make the World Cup field. They emerged with Slovakia from a group that included Russia, and Poland (in years past, this qualifying group might have been described as Marx Madness).
I would be happy if both the US and Slovenia got through to the round of 16, which is still possible, especially after England showed again how overrated it is, by playing to a scoreless tie with Algeria. If the US beats Algeria and Slovenia ties or beats England, the U.S and Slovenia will advance.  If the US ties Algeria, and Slovenia ties England, then Slovenia will advance and the other country to advance will do so based on the number of goals scored over three games. As of today the US is up
3 to 1 on England in that department.

Had Slovenia held on for a victory, today would been a big day for the countries formed  from the former Yugoslavia (how often do you get formed, from and former in any 4 word sequence?). In the first game today, Serbia got its revenge for the NATO bombing of their country in 1999 with a 1-0 surprise  win over Germany.

Politics and the World Cup go together like Pau Gasol and the whiniest athletes on the planet. An article in the Jerusalem Post indicated that Israelis can find few nations to root for in the 32 team World Cup field, if attitude towards the Jewish state is the determinant for rooting interest.  Only the U.S. (pre-Obama, presumably), Denmark, and the Netherlands were selected in the Jerusalem Post article. I think Australia qualifies as the 4th. If Canada (at least under Steven Harper) or the Czech Republic were in the field, they would qualify too.