My third football post in three days. Sorry to those who are not fans. There is a gay rights post in the works, I promise. But I do want to update the tournaments I have been following.
First up, the Neymar Tournament. Although Brazil and Argentina only managed raws in their third matches to far inferior opponents (Argentina with Venezuela and Brazil with Bolivia) the draws were enoughto send both squads to the next round. Since there is no seeding in the next second round (it’s round robin), both Brazil and Argentina can rest their starting XI for their final matches should they choose. If I were Brazil’s coach, I would sit Neymar (who did not score for the first time this tournament) out the next match. No risk harming him when nothing is on the line. Major props to Bolivia for the draw–this is only the second time Bolivia has ever drew Brazil at this level. Brazil won the other 24 times the two sides have played.
In the other bracket, Argentina also advanced, still without looking good. In fact, the first truly impressive performance at this entire tournament not featuring Neymar came from Uruguay which demolished Chile 4-0. Uruguay’s place in the next round is not assured yet, but their next opponent is the very weak Peru whereas Chile and Venezuela have to face each other. I hope the young Uruguayans continue the renaissance that the senior national squad started at the 2010 World Cup. Uruguay has been missing from the upper echelons for far too long, and most of us thought it would be permanent. It would be nice to see the sport’s first great champion return to the top.
In women’s play, the Four Nations Cup has taken a somewhat dramatic turn. The USWNT beat Canada 2-1 and China beat Sweden by the same score. All four teams are tied on points, so the tournament is still wide open. The USWNT plays China in the final match and Sweden plays Canada. I would recommend reading the very worthwhile posts that US midfielder Yael Averbuch has been writing for the New York Times Soccer Blog. Her take is certainly more meaningful and insightful than mine. With respect to Averbuch (and wishing her luck in making the 2011 World Cup and the 2012 Olympics), I will end this post and let her have the final word.