The biggest drama of a long and interesting day of World Cup qualification was reserved for RFK Stadium in Washington DC. After a week that must have drained the U.S. players to the core, with the terrible near-death experience for forward Charlie Davies, Bob Bradley’s boys somehow found it in them to pull out a 95th minute equaliser by Jonathan Bornstein (“the ball just fell on my head and I put it away.”) against Costa Rica in a match that only mattered for their opponents.
And boy, did it matter for their opponents. That goal dropped Costa Rica into a tie with Honduras, who qualified automatically for the World Cup on goal difference after their 1-0 win over El Salvador (including redemption for Carlos Pavon). Honduras’ debt to the U.S. was summed up by this brilliant headline in English on a Honduran newspaper: “I love you so much Jonathan Bornstein”.
USA today reports that the win brought the turmoil-ridden country together for one night: “This is passion, this is love,” said Gerson Mendoza, an 18-year-old student celebrating in Tegucigalpa. “Here in the streets you have everyone — people who favored the coup and those who opposed it. But all are Hondurans.”
For Costa Rica, the sporting agony is almost too much to comment on: “¡Demasiado cruel!”
- One reason to love Fabio Capello is a quote like this: “Yes I was a bit surprised [with Beckham receiving the man of the match award]. I just thought it was like Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize after eight months as President of the United States. He gets the man of the match after 30 minutes here.” As for the England match itself, which it seemed to me didn’t matter very much despite the miles of column inches dedicated to it today in the British press, Kevin Gardside of the Telegraph perhaps sums up the absurdity of trying to draw any conclusions on England’s chances in South Africa by stating that “England’s B-listers looked anything but world champions.” Well right. But only last year, England’s A-listers weren’t even good enough to qualify for Euro 2008, so it seems a bit churlish to be complaining about this.
- So Argentina have made it to South Africa, and Maradona didn’t waste much time laying into the press. As Marcela Mora y Araujo comments, Argentina’s qualification masks deeper problems in Argentinian football that may now go unaddressed.
- When Saturday Comes looks at what happened to the Czech Republic, who failed to qualify for the World Cup, putting it down largely to the day Tomas Rosicky picked up a serious injury.
- Stan Kroenke continues to edge up his share of Arsenal, and comes closer to being the first owner of MLS and Premier League clubs.
- Most misleading headline ever? Goal.com’s headline turns up in my feed reader as “World Cup Special: Revealed – Italy’s 23 Players For The 2010 World Cup”. Boy, I think, Lippi’s not wasting any time, is he? Of course, the article doesn’t appear to be quite certain after all. “Others are fighting it out for a squad place,” Carlo Garganese writes, “While a select few such as Cassano are outsiders but cannot be completely ruled out if things go their way.” Oh. But then, Garganese seems to think he does have the list, as he continues “Below is a full run-down of how Italy’s 23 places will be taken…” What now?
The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.