World Cup wrapup: Sunday

World Cup wrapup: Sunday

By Adam Vaccaro

What happened Sunday: It was thought that if England could control the midfield, they'd be able to beat Germany. As it turned out, they didn't even get the chance to do so. The young German squad's dangerous counterattack was on full display Sunday. Three of Die Mannschaft's four goals came on sudden trips from one third to the other, where their attack was able to take advantage of a seemingly shell shocked English back line.

Miro Klose started the scoring in the 20th minute after receiving a long punt from keeper Manuel Neuer, as he easily skirted past former England captain John Terry and finished strong to score. Lukas Podolski would add his second goal of the tournament before England took one back, but two quick second half strikes from Thomas Muller put things out of reach for the Three Lions. The 4-1 final marked the worst defeat in England's World Cup history.

English fans will harp on the day's first instance of poor refereeing. With the score 2-1, a Frank Lampard bid was not deemed a goal after crashing off the crossbar and clearly landing over the goal line before bouncing back into play.

Yes, the decision to play on was awful. Yes, the non-call underscored that sometimes things just happen too fast on the field for the human eye to make correct judgment. Yes, it's stupid to continue to deny officials the assistance of technology, especially after seeing every other sport that's adopted replay benefit from its inclusion. And yes, the game may have seen a different result had England gone into the half locked in a 2-2 tie.

But that's not really the story to this match. Germany's quick counterattack and the Three Lions' slow defense are the primary reasons that England is disappointed once more by a premature elimination.

Also Sunday: In a 2006 Round of 16 rematch, Argentina similarly outclassed Mexico 3-1 in a match mired by questionable officiating. There's little doubt that Argentina was the better team, and they surely deserved the win. The first of Carlos Tevez's two scores, however, was very lucky to have stood up. Tevez got his head on a chip from Lionel Messi (again held scoreless, but still a force on the field) to collect the goal and put Argentina ahead 1-0. The problem was that he was undeniably at least two yards offsides. The officials met to discuss the play but the goal stood.

Mexico's confidence was wrecked, but it likely didn't matter. Argentina has given the tournament's most consistent quality performances and likely would have controlled the game the rest of the way regardless. Still, the poor officiating is really starting to pile up and will claim an unfortunate but rightful chunk of discussion as the tournament whittles itself down to the world's most elite teams.

What it all means: Argentina and Germany's quarterfinal match will be a fantastic battle between two soccer superpowers. Before the tournament, the Germans said that their goal was to reach the quarters with their young rebuilding squad. Today's showing makes you wonder if they might have a bit more in them than that relatively modest goal. It also instills a fear in the rest of world soccer; if this is a German rebuilding effort, just think of what Die Mannschaft will look like in 2014.

Argentina has now won all four of its contests and it's starting to look like Albiceleste just may be the team to beat in South Africa. They haven't seen anyone close to Germany's quality yet, though, so we probably shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves before seeing Saturday's match.

This was supposed to be the year that England became mighty once more. Instead, the Three Lions have once again broken their country's heart. Coach Fabio Capello is unlikely to return to manage the squad after what will go down as a failed World Cup bid, though he claims he has no intention of resigning. Perhaps there's a problem at the structural level with English soccer. Continually assembling a collection of high-paid superstars just hasn't yielded a winning team. It will be interesting to watch just how Three Lions' roster develops in the buildup to 2014.

Mexico remains in soccer purgatory, eliminated in the Round of 16 for the sixth straight World Cup.

What to watch on Monday: Brazil returns to action against Chile and will have Kaka and Elano, forced out of action against Portugal, and Robinho, who was rested for the match, back on the field. Chile impressed in the group stage by beating Switzerland and Honduras and giving Spain quality competition in a 2-1 effort losing. La Roja's attacking play, electrifying a country devastated by an earthquake earlier this year, has won over a lot of support, but Brazil is the world's number one team for a reason and is a tough draw for the upstarts in the first round of knockout play. They at least likely won't be made to look silly.

Also Monday: The Netherlands' carnival-like support will be out in full force for what is probably the second round's biggest mismatch. The Dutch, who along with Argentina are the only team to win all three of their group matches, will have the momentum and an advantage in crowd support against Slovakia. The fun-loving fans deserve to see its team go deep in the tournament, and they may yet get that opportunity this time around. The Oranje should at least make it to the quarters, beating a Slovakia team that made the Round of 16 with more thanks to Italy's failed campaign that to their own abilities. It's been a spirited run for Slovakia in its first World Cup as an independent nation, but it's hard to envision it lasting much longer.

Question of the Day: Will Sunday's two instances of horrible refereeing expedite FIFA's willingness to incorporate technology into the way it officiates games? The technophobia on display by one of the world's top sporting organizations is flat-out embarrassing in the year 2010. By and large, this World Cup has been very well officiated but that's been easily overshadowed by a few poor calls and non-calls. There's no reason not to institute a simple replay system that will ultimately help the officials' and by extension FIFA's credibility. It's time for FIFA to get with the rest of the world and fix this very fixable problem.
Full schedule (all times EDT): Netherlands v Slovakia Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban 10:00 a.m.; Brazil v Chile Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg 2:30 p.m.

Quote of Note: With two such huge decisions being proved to be incorrect within such a short space of time and costing both England and Mexico dear, the pressure will be on FIFA to take some action. - A spokesman for British bookmaking firm William Hull, suggesting that the odds that video replay will be included in the 2014 World Cup increased significantly on Sunday.

Lionel Messi says he is quitting Argentina national team


Lionel Messi says he is quitting Argentina national team

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Lionel Messi says he is quitting Argentina's national team.

Argentina and Messi lost a final for the third year in a row, with Chile winning the Copa America 4-2 on penalty kicks following a 0-0 tie Sunday night.

His nation's career scoring leader with 55 international goals, Messi sent Argentina's first penalty kick over the crossbar.

Messi tells the Argentine network TyC Sports "the national team is over for me. It's been four finals, it's not meant for me. I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn't get it, so I think it's over."

Messi and Argentina lost to Brazil in the 2007 Copa final and to Germany in extra time in the 2014 World Cup final. They lost last year's Copa final to host Chile on penalty kicks.

The 29-year-old Messi has led Barcelona to four Champions League titles.

Chile wins 2nd straight Copa America title as Messi misses


Chile wins 2nd straight Copa America title as Messi misses

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Lionel Messi still awaits his first title with Argentina's national team.

Messi put his penalty kick over the crossbar, Francisco Silva converted Chile's shootout finale and La Roja won their second straight Copa America title by beating Argentina 4-2 on penalty kicks following a 0-0 tie Sunday night.

Playing two days after his 29th birthday, Messi lost a final for the third year in a row following an extra-time defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup and a penalty-kicks loss to host Chile in last year's Copa America. The five-time FIFA Player of the Year has won four Champions League titles and eight La Liga crowns with Barcelona, but has never taken a trophy with Argentina's senior team.

For its 100th anniversary, South America's championship was expanded to 16 nations and played in the United States, and Argentina was hoping to win its first major title since 1993.

In an ill-tempered match that included an ejection on each side and eight yellow cards, the match was scoreless through regulation and 30 minutes of extra time, with Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain missing a clear goal-scoring opportunity for the third straight final. Argentina outshot Chile 16-4 and La Roja collapsed three, four and even five defenders around the bearded Messi, then chopped down the diminutive attacker when he tried to accelerate toward the goal.

Messi, who scored five goals in the tournament, had a free kick 28 yards out in the 115th minute after Francisco SIlva fouled him, but the ball deflected off the wall and over the crossbar. Messi's 35-yard free kick was headed on target by Aguero in the 10th minute of extra time, and Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo jumped extended his right hand to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved the opening kick by Arturo Vidal, and up stepped Messi, the best player of his generation and considered alongside Brazil's Pele and Argentina's Diego Maradona as the sport's greatest ever. While he won the titles at the under-20 and Olympic (under-23) levels for Argentina, in the minds of many he needs a title with his nation's senior team to solidify his place as one of the greats.

Messi sent his shot over Bravo — his Barcelona teammate — and into the stands. Messi turned, bowed his head and clenched both fists in frustration.

Nicolas Castillo and Charles Aranguiz converted their kicks for Chile, and Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero made theirs, leaving the teams tied 2-2 after three rounds.

Jean Beausejour put Chile ahead, and Bravo dived to his right, saving Lucas Biglia's shot and bringing up Silva, a 30-year-old midfielder. Messi briefly pulled his jersey of his face, as if not wanting to watch.

Romero dived to his left and the shot went in to his right, giving Chile another title.

Messi crouched over, as if in pain, then got up, took off his captain's armband and walked to the bench, where he was consoled by Angel Di Maria. After Messi came back on the field, Aguero put a hand on one of Messi's shoulders. And new FIFA President Gianni Infantino gave Messi a pat on the back when Messi came onto the podium with his teammates for his second-place medal. Messi almost immediately took it off.

It was the fourth final loss for Messi, who also played for Argentina in its penalty-kicks loss to Brazil in the 2004 final.

A crowd of 82,076 at MetLife Stadium — the largest to see a soccer game in New Jersey — raised the tournament total to just under 1.48 million. The average of 46,119, nearly double the 25,223 in Chile last year, will be used by the U.S. Soccer Federation as evidence it deserves to host a World Cup again, likely as part of a bid for the 2026 tournament.

Brazilian referee Heber Lopes became the focus in the first half, ejecting a pair of defenders: Chile's Marcelo Diaz in the 28th minute and Argentina's Marcos Rojo in the 43rd. After issuing six yellow cards during a World Cup qualifier between the nations in March, Lopes handed out eight yellows, including one to Messi for diving in the 40th minute, and the two reds.

Diaz got his first yellow for hacking down Messi about 28 yards out in the 16th minute, then got his second for obstructing a charging Messi about 30 yards out. Rojo received a straight red when he slid into Arturo Vidal from behind and poked away the ball, but Vidal's leg bent awkwardly under his body as he fell.

Higuain had the best first-half chance in the 21st minute when he picked up a giveaway from Gary Medel, dribbled in and chipped the ball over Bravo only to have it roll wide of the far post. It was almost the exact time he broke in alone during the World Cup final against Germany and also shot wide. Higuain also missed a tap-in of Ezequiel Lavezzi's cross during the final minute of regulation in last year's final, then sent his penalty kick during the shootout over the crossbar.

Revolution shut out by D.C. United, 2-0

Revolution shut out by D.C. United, 2-0

WASHINGTON -- Lamar Neagle had a goal and an assist to give D.C. United an early lead that stood up in a 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution on Saturday night.

D.C., after being shut out in its two previous games and four of six, opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Luciano Acosta chipped a perfect pass over the defense to the foot of Neagle, who volleyed it in from 10 yards out.

Sean Franklin scored the second goal, his first of the season, when he knocked in Neagle's cross. Albaro Saborio sent a long ball down the right sideline that Neagle ran down and crossed to Franklin for the easy counter.

D.C. (5-6-5) leapfrogged the Revolution (4-5-7) into fifth in the Eastern Conference with its fourth shutout in the last seven games and improved to 2-0-1 in the series this season.