Saturday, June 26, 2010

World Cup 2010 Game 49: Uruguay 2, South Korea 1

Congratulations to Uruguay for its first knockout victory in over thirty years. Congratulations, too, to South Korea, which fought hard and valiantly in the second half, scoring an equalizer in the second half before giving up a beautiful curving corner strike from Luis Suarez.

Uruguay now plays the winner of the United States vs. Ghana and will like its chances. It has conceded one goal thus far in the tournament and is toughened by having survived what was, apparently, the most challenging regional qualification process.

Two stories to keep an eye on that ESPN has mentioned but perhaps not highlighted:

--Once again, there were a lot of empty seats. I understand that these are not two teams with huge international fan bases, and from a neutral standpoint was the least sexy of the matchups, but FIFA has to be concerned about this matter. I could not find attendance reported in any of the stat sheets, but the figure I saw for the US-Algeria game was 35K. I would think, if anything, this bodes well for the US bid to host 2018 or 2022. It certainly puts a hamper on the argument for more host nations in non-traditional (i.e. South American or European) sites. (Incidentally, ESPN's Bob Ley mentioned there were also a lot of empty seats for the U.S.-Ghana game. The explanation offered there was that these could have been bought by English fans expecting their side to win the group, but I'm not sure I'm buying that. Anyone who has been around a tournament knows that there are usually fans hanging around after the game trying to pick up tickets for the next game from fans of the losing side. So maybe some English fans had tickets they didn't want to use, but the bigger story would be that there was nobody there to take them off their hands.)

--The field was not in nice shape. Okay, one commentator used the phrase "terrible." There are other knock out games scheduled for here, including, perhaps a game with the popular (and pass oriented) Brazil. Could the field conditions affect the run of play at a key moment? Stay tuned.

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