We spend most of our time on this site discussing the accomplishments of young men either barely or not even into their 20s. While those young men make for compelling storylines for college, it's expected that at the very highest level a bit more experience is required before making a lasting impact. For the US national team yesterday, though, it was 21 year old defender John Anthony Brooks who powered a header down into the turf to secure an absolutely vital three points. Brooks is established at Hertha BSC in the German Bundesliga, but I suspect this is the first time the youngster has landed on the radar in his home nation.
Tuesday will see a couple of the teams from Group A get back into action and Group H finish out the first set of opening round games.
Belgium v. Algeria- 12pm- ESPN
The Belgians are a trendy dark horse pick to win the World Cup, and not just because they have Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku heading the line. The Red Devils are deep throughout the field and really lack on the experience generally thought to be needed for World Cup success. Algeria is very happy to be in Brazilian, which has roughly 100% more Brazilian women than Algeria.
Interest level: Like seeing if Creighton can put 150 on whoever they warm up against.
Brazil v. Mexico- 3pm- ESPN
Now things start to get interesting. Brazil swept aside Croatia in their first game, and Mexico beat Cameroon 3-0 but only got credit for a 1-0 win. The Mexicans will be desperate to get at least a point in order to hold the advantage when they meet Croatia. All they have to do to get that point is draw with the prohibitive favorite to win the tournament and the hosts, Brazil. The Brazilians are now past the nerves of opening at home and will be expected to turn on the swagger.
Interest level: Mid-season game in a major conference. This one matters.
Russia v. South Korea- 6pm- ESPN
If Belgium is the new darling of Group H, Russia is the one that has been pushed aside. Bright, entertaining, and inventive in Euro 2008, Russia has since drifted into a sort of international footballing malaise. Back in the World Cup after missing 2010, the Russians are the second best team in this group, but the Koreans will see ways to win this game. South Korea will run, run, and run some more in an attempt to make their seemingly endless energy the deciding factor. Igor Akinfeev, the Russian keeper, will be tested frequently in the game between two teams that aren't going far.
Interest level: Pac 10 game that tips at 2am Eastern. Someone will win, but do you really care?