NorCal fans in SoAfrica

By CHRIS ZIEMER

(Editor’s note: Chris Ziemer, Sonoma Academy athletic director and head girls soccer coach, is blogging for The Press Democrat at the World Cup in South Africa).

June 26, 2010

DURBAN, South Africa –

USA comeback rally falls short…

My wife Renee and I watched the game with a group of Americans at a restaurant/bar in Ballito, which included the Renkin family (Ingo, Kerin, Cami and Christian) and four Sebastopolians (including the Bianucci boys – my second World Cup experience with them- and Wyatt, and Devin). We got there early and a group of approximately 25 Americans gathered in the back to watch together amongst the South Africans (many who cheered for Ghana) and some English fans who certainly weren’t supporting the U.S. (must have been us topping the group).

We were ready, but, unfortunately, the U.S. team less so. With a starting lineup that will surely have Bob Bradley second-guessing himself, the U.S. spotted Ghana an early goal. To Bradley’s credit, he brought on Edu early and we took it to Ghana in the second half. We scored and we all had the feeling that the winner would come. When it went to overtime, we (the fans) were ready to take the game to them. After the Ghana goal, all of us (and, from the looks of it, the U.S. team too) lost a little steam as a comeback didn’t seem realistic this time around.

So, we bowed out today. There was plenty to celebrate, including some gutsy performances and winning our group, but also plenty to ponder for the future.

Does Bradley continue? What changes can U.S. Soccer make to allow us to consistently perform amongst the World’s elite?

Why were there no Northern California players on the team?

Plenty of questions, but many of which will take time to be answered. The important first step in to ask questions and evaluate the World Cup from every angle.

You know Italy and France are asking questions, and although we advanced a step further than them, we need to be asking similar questions if we want to be considered in the same conversations.

Beach soccer…

No, beach soccer isn’t the answer to help the U.S. continue to develop, but it sure is fun.

Today, we played a 5v5 game on the beach in Ballito. What a blast. After the game ended, we took a dip in the Indian Ocean, which was surprisingly warm considering it is winter here.

0-for-2 in predictions thus far…

Last night, I had a virus in my computer and somebody picked South Korea and the U.S., who both lost, so please don’t wager any money on my picks.

For Sunday, I was wavering on my England vs. Germany pick. My heart says Germany, but I feel like England is due for at least one quality performance in South Africa.

I picked England, but after seeing how happy they were that the U.S. lost tonight, I have made a switch against my best instincts. Germany will beat England.

World Cup extras…

I have tickets for my wife and I for the Holland vs. Slovakia game here in Durban. But, first is Mexico vs. Argentina and Germany vs. England.

Is there a better day of matchups? You can feel the intensity starting to pick up here. At the start of the tournament, there was big hoopla whenever a team arrived, but World Cup’s are remembered not for when you arrive but for when you head home.

Who will be the last team standing?

Unfortunately, Bill Clinton wasn’t right, as he had the U.S. team slated for the finals. Many are saying his presence added to the pressure which the U.S. team felt.

Well, he wasn’t on the field, and soccer fans should never complain about any media coverage they get … it’s the coverage soccer doesn’t get which deserves complaints.

I did find it a bit strange that he was photographed with some of the U.S. players having a beer in the locker room after the Algeria win.

Although, I suppose it is better that Clinton was pictured with a victory beer in the locker room than a victory cigar.