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World Cup and MLS: Your Running Commentary

NeymarBrazil3-Chile (Getty)

By TIM FONTENAULT

Two of South America’s brightest stars will square off for a spot in the World Cup semifinals on Friday.

Leading the way for Brazil with four goals, Neymar has the host nation thinking that a sixth triumph at the tournament is within its grasp. Meanwhile, James Rodriguez leads all players with five goals, three more than any Colombian in World Cup history. The main man on a team that attacks with speed, Rodriguez has helped guide Colombia farther than it has ever gone in the tournament.

In the other quarterfinal matchup, France and Germany, arguably Europe’s top two performers at the World Cup, will fight for a spot in the semifinals. Both struggled against African sides in the Round of 16. Paul Pogba, France’s young star in the midfield, finally broke Nigeria’s defense in the 79th minute, heading in the winning goal to guide France to the quarterfinals. Germany, on the other hand, needed extra time to best Algeria.

Topping off the World Cup action will be a loaded lineup of Major League Soccer matches, highlighted by two nationally-televised showdowns. The Houston Dynamo and New York Red Bulls will start NBC Sports Network’s doubleheader from BBVA Compass Stadium. The Red Bulls are barely holding onto fifth place in the Eastern Conference while the Dynamo have not registered a point in MLS since May 17. After that, the Portland Timbers and Los Angeles Galaxy, both sitting just outside the top five in the Western Conference, battle for position.

The big game on the MLS schedule on Friday will feature the New England Revolution and Real Salt Lake, two of the league’s top teams. The Revolution have been struggling lately, having lost three straight matches. Salt Lake has not fared much better, however, taking only two points in five matches since May 24.

If you will be watching today’s matches, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action (today’s soccer TV schedule is after the jump):

TODAY’S SOCCER ON TV

12 p.m. – France vs. Germany – ESPN2

2 p.m. – Portland Thorns vs. Chicago Red Stars – YouTube

4 p.m. – Brazil vs. Colombia – ESPN

8:30 p.m. – Houston Dynamo vs. New York Red Bulls – NBCSN

9 p.m. – FC Dallas vs. Philadelphia Union – MLS Live

9:30 p.m. – Colorado Rapids vs. Columbus Crew

10 p.m. – Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution – MLS Live

11 p.m. – Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers – NBCSN

*All times in eastern time

118 comments
  • SBI TroII

    Löw caved and put Lahm at right back. That should change things quite a bit as France won’t have it quite as easy on the counter. Klose has also been introduced giving Germany a more traditional lineup. Could he break the record today?

    Like

  • doug

    How do you know Arsenal FC suck? All their players DROPPED except for Mezut Ozil. #8SeasonsAnd1Trophy

    Like

  • beachbum

    great play from Evra to step in front from the weakside and cut off the runner…probably saved a goal

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  • beachbum

    Germany squeezing forward with their backline, France trying to break it over the top with timed runs but not quite right yet

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    • K-Town

      Yeah, but getting much closer each time. Germany can’t afford to switch off for a moment if they are going to continue a line that high.

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  • beachbum

    Germans blasting Frenchmen whenever they can, physically hammering away

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    • K-Town

      Exactly. France has been looking good in the final third, but Hummels and co. are swarming them and not letting them take high quality shots on Neuer.

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      • beachbum

        there it was again right there to end the 72nd minute!

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      • beachbum

        and again ending the 75th! Hummels owning that space so far

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  • K-Town

    Benzema is looking good when he gets the ball, but the German D is closing him down quick and not letting him get a good shot at goal. I’ll be looking for him to score in the second. Think Germany will win it 2-1 though.

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    • beachbum

      so close that time Benzema was but cleared away again before taking a shot

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      • Citronomics

        Cheers Beachbum. Yeah. Besides the Valbeuna shot and rebound chance for Benzema, France really haven’t threatened.

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      • beachbum

        even used his face to enforce it! cheers Citronomics

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      • Increase0

        It felt like Hummels vs Valbuena out there. Those 2 seemed to care the most.

        The rest of Germany walked through it. Bezema…didn’t make much of the chances Valuena(or others) made.

        This match was weirdly boring. There were points where it felt France might have a good shot on target but… it never really happened. Then Germany wasted like 3 good shots. One pretty much a sitter by Schurlle.

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      • GW

        Apparently it was really hot and certainly in the second half it seemed like movement was limited.

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  • spectra

    Is this an awful atmosphere or an awful broadcast. Theres no energy at all. Most people seem to be holding their seats even in build ups and shots

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  • Mikeg

    Germany with there relentless pursuit of the penalty area, compact play on offense and defense, playing with a high Defensive line helps the team stay compact in defense and offense. Short passing game. Klinnsman sorted out the defensive part of the USMNT roster. 50% credit to that. Klinnsman never sorted out the midfield and forwards to play with possession and take pressure off the defense. In WCQ the USMNT attacked in order to qualify and they did enough on offense and defense in WCQ. The team performed better with two forwards. In the WC we lost the balance of offense and defense in group play. 3 DMF and point to Klinnsman. The difference in the USMNT at the WC was individual players scoring goals and not the result of a balanced team play in offense and defense. There is no denying this.Looks like Germany is doing something right, right?

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    • Increase0

      Germany also played really really Narrow this game. Did you notice how the left back never never pushed into space? There were so many times on German attacks where both teams were just packed into the area above the 18 yard box and no one went wide.

      What they are doing right is winning. It should have been 2-0 but Muller missed a pass and then Schurlle managed to somehow hit the keeper…

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      • beachbum

        great comments here imo folks

        Germany looking old school to me, all the defensive things you’re discussing and swift to look to counter and to look to serve balls into the area

        but the biggest old school was the immense physicality imo, kind of put a physical beating to France. that takes a toll, don’t care who you are. that’s why the Germans have traditionally always done it, they’re bigger and stronger. seems so simple but it’s true. of course they’re good too but they have that physical edge and they amplify it

        Now another semi final, this one in South America. Just have to tip your hat

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      • Increase0

        It’s 4 Semi Finals in a row. France has far more talent than we do and while they had more chances…. They were all wide and tight angles or rebounds that didn’t really turn into a proper shot.

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      • Citronomics

        Bingo. Most chances France had were not really threatening as Germany’s D kept a very narrow and composed line (no frantic defending, no wide open channels) when France did have opportunities in the penalty box.

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      • Mikeg

        I think everybody is on to something. France played out wide left as often as possible. Nothing wrong, but it has limitations. Playing in front of the penalty area, passing side to side until you turnover the ball has it’s limitations too. INSIDE the penalty area with a through pass, give n go, chip pass, cross (with players IN the penalty area), by whatever means, gives the team a higher percentage of getting a goal. As the best teams in the WC demonstrate. I recognize what we all see and just state it.

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      • Mikeg

        Just want to ask, if a team has the ball just outside the penalty area, in front of goal, would it be more efficient to just get into the penalty area and take a shot or a quick pass/shot sequence instead of passing out wide, passing it back with back passes, while the defense recovers and gets organized until a turnover happens? Heaven forbid a US player beat a defender 1 on 1 near the penalty area for a shot on goal!!!!! This is where coaching tactics can help or hurt a team.

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      • GW

        Mikeg,

        ” Heaven forbid a US player beat a defender 1 on 1 near the penalty area for a shot on goal!!!!! This is where coaching tactics can help or hurt a team.”

        If you are Messi you can go for that 1 on 1 in the penalty area business but most defenses are designed to prevent that from working.

        I have not seen enough of Green but the US has no real one on one player who could consistently succeed at that anyway. The last US player that I can remember who was consistently good at that was Clint Mathis.The “modern game” breeds that out of players. That is what one and two touch football is all about.

        Keeping possession is not as macho but the idea is attackers need to only succeed on a very small percentage of their assaults while defenders need to be 100% perfect.

        So as long as you keep possession and launch half way competent attacks the odds are with the attackers.

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  • Iggy

    France showed no push and little interest in tying the game up. Germany deserved it.

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    • Mikeg

      That is the result of Germany playing compact defense. France had no room, but to take outside shots and hope for rebounds, credit Germany to that.

      Like

  • beachbum

    espn3’s pre-game stuff has been excellent for the home viewer experience. just showed the Colombian bus arriving and all the players as they made their way to the locker room. Next up Brazil. love all this stuff

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  • beachbum

    how about all of the Colombian fans…sounded loud during their national anthem

    but then the Brazilian anthem…WOW! electric atmosphere

    here we go!!!

    Like

  • Mikeg

    The team that gets into the penalty area with the ball the most should win.

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  • Mikeg

    Corner kicks = numbers in the penalty area and the ball coming in some way or another. Simulate this in the run of play as a formation/strategy/tactics/players selected. Coach’s empower the players to find solutions.

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  • Mikeg

    Brazil is playing compact while maintaining width on the left and right. A compact WIDE version of compact narrow. I like it.

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  • Citronomics

    Ummmm… Everybody on the ‘wall’ cheats up a bit but wow Neymar with 2 or 3 paces by the time the free kick was taken.

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    • El Comandante

      There was a short pass, I saw it. Once that’s done no need to wait for the shot. Basic football.

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  • Mikeg

    Too much separation between the Colombian lines. Colombia is finding players isolated. As a result teamwork and support for the ball will suffer. They have too many moments of this.

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  • beachbum

    super entertaining first half, attacking futbol everywhere, amazing spaces already with Colombia going for broke looking to get forward. they looked nervous early

    lots of energy spent by both teams, maybe they can keep it up but probably not. fatigue always a factor but perhaps moreso in the 2nd half because so man spent energy

    there are holes in behind Brazil

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      • beachbum

        but not the rest? just checking. I thought it was very entertaining with back and forth, lot of energy!

        Like

    • El Comandante

      However, they have suffered from poor judgement in that last one or two touches. Colombia is a sneaky team and in just one play the game could be back to square one.

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    • beachbum

      that’s how they want to play but there was lots of space actually after about the first 20-25 minutes or so, not so compact were they then.

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      • Mikeg

        Brazil and Colombia are playing. The USMNT is not one of them.

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      • beachbum

        what do you mean? I’m not talking about USMNT. your tone seems confrontational…am I mistaken? if so, I apologize. if not, slow down please

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  • beachbum

    Colombia looking to play the game up the flanks early 2nd half, Ramos on to do that. may help open the middle a bit

    ref missing some calls here early too

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  • vlad

    This referee seems bogus. Both Neymar and Thiago Silva should be suspended for the next match

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    • Citronomics

      Yeah. Watching the replay, that knuckleball (not sure whether it was intended through how Luiz struck the ball) was a beaut dipping down into the net with zero chance for the keeper. “Sideshow Bob” strikes!

      Like

    • Bac

      Am I the only one who is bothered by the fact that dooofus looking side show Bob can do that…..

      The good news for Germany is DL has yet to have his obligatory WTF moment

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      • beachbum

        cheers Bac! Colombia a moment of brilliance away from tying it

        come on baby!!!

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      • beachbum

        maybe, we’ll see. that was a fun ride all the way to bringing it to Brazil at home

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      • El Comandante

        Bringing it to Brazil? What the last 15 minutes? What about the other 75 minutes, what was Colombia bringing?

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      • beachbum

        they sure tried! didn’t sit back in any defensive posture in the entire match. down 1-0 early will do that. I’m not denigrating anything Brazil accomplished and they are awesome on set pieces. nothing but respect

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  • beachbum

    set piece delivery been lacking all game for Colombia

    2 set piece goals for Brazil

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  • Mikeg

    MLS resumes it’s normally scheduled time about the same time the USMNT is out of the WC. Will MLS ever go to a FIFA Fall schedule?

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    • slowleftarm

      No. Have you ever been to the northern half of the US in winter? Then you would understand why. It doesn’t make any difference, just something for the eurosnobs to complain about.

      Like

    • beachbum

      the ref struggled imo but exciting play even though foul fest (ref) for me

      cheers Pace

      Like

  • vlad

    This reminded me too much of the confed cup. The referee let Brazil kill the game off by fouling every single time Columbia got past the half way line. The lack of yellow cards completely favored Brazil and allowed them to to kill any rhythm Columbia tried to get until he started pulling the cards out.

    I hope neymar doesn’t come back because he should be suspended anyways on the free kick

    Like

    • El Comandante

      Ahh stop it already with the refs and Brazil. Zuniga should’ve been red carded for that challenge on Neymar. The ref was attrocious, but not in favor of anybody. He would not show yellow cards yet whistled every time a Colombian player dropped to the ground with no contact.

      Like

    • El Comandante

      I don’t want to call you a name, but hear this well … There was a short pass on that free kick which enebled Neymar and anybody to encroach the shot.

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      • vlad

        Please. Your beyond obviously a Brazil fan besides trying to pass it off below. Every single thing about the game favored Brazil. Had the ref been calling it tight Brazil would have 4 players out of the next match. And the keeper in fact should have had a straight red.

        Like

      • vlad

        Not to mention thiago should have had 2 yellows his second being the play on the keeper. I don’t hate Brazil I hate teams that have favorable conditions put on them every single game

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  • beachbum

    great game, bummed for Colombia’s run to end. enjoyed that team as much as any team ever who was not the USA

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      • beachbum

        haha! right on man. I hope Brazil wins it now. have pulled for them throughout but just not today because of the opponent. otherwise, always hoped they would win. enjoy the win my man

        cheers

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      • El Comandante

        Thnx for your honesty. I am not a Brazil fan, but hate the bias here against them. Other than that pk called in the first game, they haven;t been given any breaks, as a lot people here seem to suggest. I believe Germany will be in for a surprise if they think that they are going to “finish” Brazil.

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      • beachbum

        cheers again. just hang in there you’ll be fine here🙂

        really wanted Colombia to win the Cup 20 years after Andres Escobar. still a great World Cup for Colombia!

        Like

  • El Comandante

    Having said all of the above, this is the worst Brazil team I have watched in World Cups since 1982 when I started watching them. Filipao has commited the same sin as Klinsmann, poor judgement when selecting the team. In this case Brazil has a huge hole in the middle of the field as there are no players capable of holding the ball.

    Like

    • vlad

      Clearly you didn’t watch them last world cup where they were 100% a counter attacking team

      Like

    • Chris

      The team in 2006 was worse. All big names, but with the exception of Ronaldinho (who went into it as world player of the year) every single player was coming off their worst season. Adriano started every game up front and he was like on a scoreless streak that had been going on for about a year (both club and country). The only other Brazilian player in form going into that cup was Fred, who only played 5 minutes (and he did score a goal in those 5 min).

      Like

  • Shawn

    sigh. i rather watch RSL vs NE. Portland and LA isnt that great this year

    Like

  • deepvalue

    Just read that Michael Bradley is going to play for Toronto v. DC tomorrow. The man is a workhorse.

    Like

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