the World Cup

American goalkeeper Tim Howard played the game of his life Tuesday but it wasn’t enough to keep the Americans in the World Cup.

After 120 minutes of play, the Belgians walked off the pitch with a 2-1 victory and a date with Argentina in the quarterfinals. Throughout the game Belgium was in dominant form, as it got 39 total shots. But Howard was phenomenal as he saved shot after shot, ending the match with the most saves in a World Cup game since 1966 with 16.

“That’s my job,” Howard said. “That’s what I signed up to do.”

Despite being under constant duress, the U.S. was able to push the game into extra time. But the Belgians were able to breakthrough in 93rd minute on a Kevin De Bruyne goal. Romelu Lukaku extended Belgium’s lead to 2-0 with a beautiful goal in the 105th minute.

But the Americans refused to go away. Julian Green pulled the U.S. to within one with a fantastic volley that Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois couldn't get enough of. Green is the youngest player to ever score for the U.S. in the World Cup.

The Americans gave it one more shot on a set piece. The U.S. was able to sneak the ball behind the Belgian defense but Courtois blocked a shot from forward Clint Dempsey. There were more opportunities as the game came to an end but the U.S. was unable to score the equalizer.

“We’re probably unlucky to get the equalizer there at the end,” midfielder Michael Bradley said. “You get to this point and everybody’s a good team. Every game is gonna be a hard game and you know that it’s gonna be a play here or play there [that’s] gonna make a difference.”

Belgium moves on to play the Argentines who scored a late extra time goal against Switzerland to move on. For the Americans, this is their second consecutive loss in the Round of 16. The U.S.’s last appearance in the quarterfinals was in 2002 after it defeated Mexico. The Americans followed up that victory with a 1-0 loss to Germany.

While the loss stings for a team that “believed” it could win against anyone it faced, the Americans showed improvement under the direction of German born coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann plans to be back for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and looks to continue pushing the U.S. name into the ranks of world’s best teams.

“We take a lot, a tremendous amount away from this experience,” Klinsmann said. “I think we grew a lot. We know now that we can play eye-to-eye with the big nations.”

Already, the 2014 FIFA World Cup has been historic in many ways, and we’re just 29 games in as of Saturday night. Here are the five biggest takeaways so far from the tournament, as well as a preview of the USA-Portugal matchup tonight at 5 p.m.

  1. South America has dominated

Teams from the host country’s continent have obliterated the competition, going 8-1-1 combined so far. But it’s not just South America, though, that has taken charge. The entire Americas have played well above their opponents at this point of the tournament. Combined, North America and South America have an 11-2-0 record. It could be a changing of the guard or it just could be that the Americas, especially the Southern continent, feel more comfortable playing closer to home. Whatever it is, teams from this side of the world are showing no sign of slowing down.

  1. Is this soccer or the NFL?

But really, the kind of offense we have seen from World Cup teams in Brazil has been incredible, and its comparison to the offense-heavy league we see in our American version of football might not be that far-fetched. The point is that this World Cup has been about scoring, and the numbers back it up. There have been 80 total goals scored so far. Compare that with 2010’s World Cup number with the same number of games played (29) and the result is 23 more goals this year. 23. That’s about one more goal per match so far at this World Cup.

  1. Star play has come from non-marquee names

We heard so much about big names like Neymar, Ronaldo and Messi before the World Cup, and while two of those three have already made an impact, they have not led the pack. It has been players like Germany’s Thomas Mueller, who’s in a four-way tie for most goals so far with three and leads FIFA’s Castrol Index: Top Player rankings, a statistic that measures the overall impact a player is having on the game. Then there’s Mexico’s keeper Guillermo Ochoa, who’s four world-class saves against Brazil were the reason El Tri was able to stun the host country in a 0-0 draw. In total, Ochoa has a World Cup-leading seven saves and zero goals allowed in what has been a surprising Mexican run so far. And speaking of surprises, there have been plenty of them already. Besides countries like Mexico playing well, not many predicted teams like Spain and England to already be out of contention. 

  1. Technology has made what’s already entertaining, even better

For those on social media, especially Twitter, the fun has existed beyond the pitch. Whether it’s the hundreds of memes that have been shared or the cool flags that twitter has created to go alongside each team’s country abbreviation, it’s safe to say this has been the most interactive World Cup to date. Never before has this sporting event been almost as easy to follow online as it has been watching live. But technology has not just been about the tweets or Facebook posts. It has also directly affected the games. This World Cup introduced goal-line technology that has eliminated any question of close-called goals. Situations like what happened in the 2010 World Cup, when a clear goal by England’s Frank Lampard was not counted as his team was trailing 2-1 in a second-round match against Germany, have been eliminated. Any close call has been easily resolved in this World Cup. Tracking player’s fatigue, among other playing factors, with specially designed chips inside of their jerseys, has also affected the overall quality of play during games. This technology has been important for team’s use in Brazilian host cities like Manaus, where the high humidity and temperatures can affect play.

5. No Vuvuzelas deafening every other noise

Everybody remembers the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and how much the loud, annoying Vuvuzelas became a part of the headlines. This time around, Vuvuzelas have been replaced with what we’re used to hearing at World Cup matches – screaming chants from fans. Brazil has provided stadiums filled with unbelievable atmospheres. For all of the talk of problems with getting the facilities ready before the games began and the safety concerns plaguing host cities, Brazil has, from a far, looked like a solid host. The fans have shown up with passion and the culture of South America has been ever-present. Between the high scoring and energizing crowds, this World Cup has been worth the four-year wait.

Quick Preview: USA VS Portugal, 5 p.m. CT at Arena Amazonia stadium in Manaus, Brazil –

Very simple. Win, and the U.S. is in to the knockout round of the World Cup. Not so simple, is how this game could play out. The Americans come in with pure confidence after their 2-1 victory over Ghana six days go and feel even better that they are facing a hobbled Portugal squad. 

The European team got dismantled by Germany, 4-0, in their first match of group play and lost one of their key defenders, Pepe, to a red card and suspension for this game. Cristiano Ronaldo’s injured knee is a concern for Portugal and a factor that will determine how powerful the team’s offense can be in attacking, based on how he’s feeling. 

But, with all that’s happened to this squad, they are still Portugal, and this is still the “group of death.” Portugal will not go out easily and they certainly won’t allow the U.S. to walk into the round of 16. Argentina’s Lionel Messi proved on Saturday, when he scored the game-winning goal for Argentia in the last minutes of the game against Iran, that if you have one of the best players in the world on your team, anything can happen. Ronaldo will try and second that notion Sunday evening. 

This matchup will be won in the midfield and in the counterattacks, where the U.S. could take advantage of a weaker Portuguese defense. Historically, the U.S. and Portugal are as even as you can get, each having two wins and one draw against each other with five total goals scored by each country as well.

Already, the 2014 FIFA World Cup has been historic in many ways, and we’re just 29 games in as of Saturday night. Here are the five biggest takeaways so far from the tournament, as well as a preview of the USA-Portugal matchup tonight at 5 p.m.

  1. South America has dominated

Teams from the host country’s continent have obliterated the competition, going 8-1-1 combined so far. But it’s not just South America, though, that has taken charge. The entire Americas have played well above their opponents at this point of the tournament. Combined, North America and South America have an 11-2-0 record. It could be a changing of the guard or it just could be that the Americas, especially the Southern continent, feel more comfortable playing closer to home. Whatever it is, teams from this side of the world are showing no sign of slowing down.

  1. Is this soccer or the NFL?

But really, the kind of offense we have seen from World Cup teams in Brazil has been incredible, and its comparison to the offense-heavy league we see in our American version of football might not be that far-fetched. The point is that this World Cup has been about scoring, and the numbers back it up. There have been 80 total goals scored so far. Compare that with 2010’s World Cup number with the same number of games played (29) and the result is 23 more goals this year. 23. That’s about one more goal per match so far at this World Cup.

  1. Star playi has come from non-marquee names

We heard so much about big names like Neymar, Ronaldo and Messi before the World Cup, and while two of those three have already made an impact, they have not led the pack. It has been players like Germany’s Thomas Mueller, who’s in a four-way tie for most goals so far with three and leads FIFA’s Castrol Index: Top Player rankings, a statistic that measures the overall impact a player is having on the game. Then there’s Mexico’s keeper Guillermo Ochoa, who’s four world-class saves against Brazil were the reason El Tri was able to stun the host country in a 0-0 draw. In total, Ochoa has a World Cup-leading seven saves and zero goals allowed in what has been a surprising Mexican run so far. And speaking of surprises, there have been plenty of them already. Besides countries like Mexico playing well, not many predicted teams like Spain and England to already be out of contention. 

  1. Technology has made what’s already entertaining, even better

For those on social media, especially Twitter, the fun has existed beyond the pitch. Whether it’s the hundreds of memes that have been shared or the cool flags that twitter has created to go alongside each team’s country abbreviation, it’s safe to say this has been the most interactive World Cup to dat. Never before has this sporting event been almost as easy to follow online as it has been watching live. But technology has not just been about the tweets or Facebook posts. It has also directly affected the games. This World Cup introduced goal-line technology that has eliminated any question of close-called goals. Situations like what happened in the 2010 World Cup, when a clear goal by England’s Frank Lampard was not counted as his team was trailing 2-1 in a second-round match against Germany, have been eliminated. Any close call has been easily resolved in this World Cup. Tracking player’s fatigue, among other playing factors, with specially designed chips inside of their jerseys, has also affected the overall quality of play during games. This technology has been important for team’s use in Brazilian host cities like Manaus, where the high humidity and temperatures can affect play.

5. No Vuvuzelas deafening every other noise

Everybody remembers the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and how much the loud, annoying Vuvuzelas became a part of the headlines. This time around, Vuvuzelas have been replaced with what we’re used to hearing at World Cup matches – screaming chants from fans. Brazil has provided stadiums filled with unbelievable atmospheres. For all of the talk of problems with getting the facilities ready before the games began and the safety concerns plaguing host cities, Brazil has, from a far, looked like a solid host. The fans have shown up with passion and the culture of South America has been ever-present. Between the high scoring and energizing crowds, this World Cup has been worth the four-year wait.

Quick Preview: USA VS Portugal, 5 p.m. CT at Arena Amazonia stadium in Manaus, Brazil –

Very simple. Win, and the U.S. is in to the knockout round of the World Cup. Not so simple, is how this game could play out. The Americans come in with pure confidence after their 2-1 victory over Ghana six days go and feel even better that they are facing a hobbled Portugal squad.

The European team got dismantled by Germany, 4-0, in their first match of group play and lost one of their key defenders, Pepe, to a red card and suspension for this game. Cristiano Ronaldo’s injured knee is a concern for Portugal and a factor that will determine how powerful the team’s offense can be in attacking, based on how he’s feeling.

But, with all that’s happened to this squad, they are still Portugal, and this is still the “group of death.” Portugal will not go out easily and they certainly won’t allow the U.S. to walk into the round of 16. Argentina’s Lionel Messi proved on Saturday, when he scored the game-winning goal for Argentia in the last minutes of the game against Iran, that if you have one of the best players in the world on your team, anything can happen. Ronaldo will try and second that notion Sunday evening.

This matchup will be won in the midfield and in the counterattacks, where the U.S. could take advantage of a weaker Portuguese defense. Historically, the U.S. and Portugal are as even as you can get, each having two wins and one draw against each other with five total goals scored by each country as well.

Brazilian activists Andreia and Hamilton dos Santos discuss the impact of state violence on Brazil's black community. The talk they gave extends to police brutality and issues in the prison system. 

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

As Brazil prepares for the World Cup this summer and the Olympics in 2016, the country is doing its best to show the world an image of happy, healthy citizens — a far cry from life for the black majority, according to community activists Andreia Beatriz Silva dos Santos and Hamilton Borges dos Santos at a talk Friday.

Andreia and Hamilton dos Santos said racism is a pressing issue in Brazil, largely ignored and somewhat facilitated by the government, at the talk organized by the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and the Benson Center.

Kate Layton, a Latin American studies graduate student, translated the discussion from Portuguese to English.

Hamilton said while Brazil has made many economic strides, these new advances aren’t necessarily good for the people of Brazil. Hamilton said that while people now have access to consumer goods like cars and refrigerators, more important resources like health care and education are still unavailable.

“This development hasn’t changed the systems of inequality in Brazil,” Hamilton said. “This development has fortified the banks, system of credit, foreign companies and their exploitation of the country.”

Andreia dos Santos said the Brazilian government imposes many forms of oppression on black Brazilians.

“What they’re talking about here is a conjuncture of actions that have impeded four generations, and in many ways black folks, and she’s talking here of direct or indirect violence, the absence of the state and imprisonment, which has led to an eradication of a people,” Layton said. “Another factor, of course, is the absence of state and the absence of access to appropriate services like education [and] health.”

Christen Smith, assistant professor of anthropology and African and African diaspora studies, said being able to hear from people involved in this struggle is a rare occurrence because they barely ever get a chance to take a break to talk about their work.

“Both of them have a considerable history of action and struggle in the community that goes from organizing around questions of police brutality and of police violence all the way to organizing in the prison system,” Smith said.

Hamilton and Andreia dos Santos gave the talk in Portuguese — which was then translated into English by Kate Layton, a Latin American studies graduate student — and Hamilton said the main barrier to their campaign right now is language.

“[The purpose of this discussion is] to amplify the voice to these fights that are pretty anonymous and unknown in most parts of the world and to affirm the importance of this fight of being able to speak for ourselves,” Hamilton dos Santos said.

Texas quidditch team members attended the World Cup with teams from around the world and defeated UCLA to claim the sport’s highest honor in Kissimee, Fla. This is the club’s first year on campus.  

“Our goal was first and foremost to win the World Cup,” said Christopher Morris, finance senior and Texas Quidditch co-captain. “And to prove that we are a great team.”

That’s exactly what they did at the 2013 Quidditch World Cup VI in Kissimmee, Fla. The tournament featured 80 teams, some from Canada, Mexico and France, but most from the United States.

The Longhorns have two travelling teams that competed. Texas Quidditch is considered a division I, or “varsity,” team, while Austin Quidditch is division II, a “B” team.

Austin Quidditch did not advance to bracket play, but the team’s passion for the sport continues to grow.

“We wanted to go out and prove to everyone that Austin Quidditch isn’t just a ‘B’ team,” Austin Quidditch Captain Nathan Vest said. “We wanted to show that we’re a force to be reckoned with and that we can compete with the top teams from all over the world.”

Although the game of Quidditch may be foreign to many, it is extremely competitive to those involved. The sport resembles its namesake, the Quidditch played at Hogwarts, from the magical world of Harry Potter. Of course, there are no flying brooms and animated balls, but the two are very similar.

The main objective is the same: Score points by throwing quaffles into hoops at each end of the field, knock opponents off their brooms by throwing bludgers at them and most importantly try to catch the snitch to end the game. In a world with no magic, there is no enchanted equipment. 

Instead the players use a broom in between their swift legs as a means of traveling, kickballs to throw at opponents, volleyballs to throw into hoops and a human snitch that has a tennis ball in a sock to protect.

The players have the same responsibilities as in the magical game. There are keepers who defend the hoops and chasers who attempt at scoring. There is a snitch runner who tries to keep game in play by guarding the beloved snitch and seekers who try to catch the snitch.

At first glance, the sport may seem a little silly.

“I actually got into Quidditch kind of accidentally,” chaser and seeker Darian Fazeli said. “I saw two of my friends walking by on campus carrying very unusual objects. When they told me it was for Quidditch, I kind of rolled my eyes and said something snarky. Eventually, they convinced me to come out and give it a shot. After the first day I was hooked, and I knew right then that I had found a life-long love.”

Quidditch has become a passion for many students, both as players and fans, and Texas Quidditch showcased that at the World Cup.

“It is extremely hard to stand out amongst the other student organizations since there are so many,” Publicity Chair Caitlin Amthor said. “We have been very lucky to receive a lot of support from our fellow Longhorns, but our biggest strength is definitely the passion that our players have. When Texas Quidditch decides that they want to win the World Cup, they don’t stop working hard until they get what they have been dreaming of.”

After Texas Quidditch advanced to the World Cup bracket play, it defeated Texas A&M and Bowling Green State University and later went on to beat UCLA to claim the championship, prompting the UT Tower to be lit burnt orange.

In its first year as a club sport on campus, Texas Quidditch has proven to be a passionate organization with dedicated players.

“Winning the World Cup has been the goal of the Texas Quidditch team since it’s inception,” Morris said. “Taking the title as World Champion is something that very few people get to claim in their life and that crowning moment of victory is something that I will treasure and look back on for the rest of my life.”

Women's Soccer

Abby Smith missed the first portion of the season while playing with the U.S. under 20 team in the World Cup. Her immediate impact has turned around Texas’ season (Daily Texan file photo).

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

With three shutouts under her belt, Abby Smith has quickly made her mark on the Texas program. She missed most of the nonconference schedule while playing internationally with the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National team. While Texas was at home fighting through a scoring slump, Smith was part of the U.S. team competing for the World Cup in Japan.

“Being with the U20 girls helped a lot,” Smith said. “Being over there because the speed of play is a lot faster, and coming back over here it’s also a high level.”

A 3-0 loss to Germany sent the U.S. in the quarterfinals as the second team from its group, but wins over North Korea and Nigeria set up the rematch with Germany in the final. The U.S. would not fall a second time and took the gold with a 1-0 win in the final Sept. 8.

Meanwhile, Texas had just completed a road trip through Utah that saw it shut out by both BYU and Utah while giving up six goals for its fifth and sixth losses of the season. Smith joined Texas for the first time with the Longhorns riding a four-game losing streak. Her presence would change that.

Smith shut out her first opponent as Texas rolled to a 3-0 win over Fresno State in Austin. Her next game was not quite as comfortable, as Denver came in fresh off of a win over Kansas and scored three goals on Smith. But Texas answered with three goals of its own to force the tie.

“[Getting Smith back] is huge. It helps tremendously,” sophomore Whitney Jaynes said. “Her communication is awesome. Coming from someone who plays in the back line, it helps so much. You just have this trust in her.”

Having only played two games as a Longhorn, Smith was thrown into conference play on the road against Iowa State and Oklahoma, and she did not disappoint. She recorded six saves on the way to shutouts of both Iowa State and Oklahoma as Texas went from the cellar to the penthouse in the Big 12 standings.

Despite being only a freshman and missing most of the offseason, Smith has gotten off to a fast start thanks to her time overseas with the U20 team. But Smith’s time away has not dampened her expectations.

“I expected all the girls to be ready to go, and obviously we were because we won two big games,” Smith said. ”Our expectations are on both sides because they were expecting me to be ready and I was expecting them to be ready for the game, and we were.”

Smith brought new energy to the Longhorns who were struggling through their first season under head coach Angela Kelly. But Kelly was not worried. A similar start in her first season at Tennessee had prepared her for the ups and downs that came along with the grind of the season.

Now Texas must prepare for what may be its biggest test of the season. The Longhorns host Oklahoma State Friday. While the Cowgirls are off to a rough start in Big 12 play, they are still the defending regular season champions and are one of the best teams in the conference. They are one of only three teams in the Big 12 with at least 10 wins and are the highest-ranked team in the conference at No. 22. But Texas has had the week off to prepare for the Cowgirls’ attack, but more importantly, it’s given Smith a week off to rest.

“We chose not to schedule a game this weekend knowing that Abby Smith would have to be emotionally and physically responding to what would hopefully be a World Cup victory,” Kelly said.

With the World Cup running into early September, Smith has played 23 games since February while traveling all over the world.

Texas and Oklahoma State will kick off Friday at 7 p.m.

Printed on Friday, October 5, 2012 as: Smith gives Texas new energy

Taylor Hoagland belts a two-run homerun during the World Cup Softball title game. Hoagland led Texas with 15 homeruns last season.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Texas’ rising junior Taylor Hoagland hadn’t been playing at her best as she stepped up to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning of the World Cup of Softball Championship game against Japan. Earlier in the game, defensive problems had plagued Hoagland and, even though the United States was clinging to a 4-2 lead, a strong Japanese team was threatening to take the momentum.

With a full count and a teammate on third, Hoagland connected on a pitch from Japan’s new pitcher for a home run, her first of the World Cup. It gave the United States a comfortable 6-2 lead and helped them on their way to a 6-4 victory.

“We’ve been up, we’ve been down because of inexperience and youth,” head coach Ken Eriksen said. “I have to commend the young lady from Texas. She made a bad play then comes back with a clutch hit that was basically the difference in the score tonight.”

The win secured the United States’ fifth consecutive World Cup of Softball title. Japan handed the U.S. National Team their only loss in 2005, the year of the tournament’s inception. The tournament is hosted in Oklahoma City, Okla. each year by the Amateur Softball Association of America based in the United States.

In preliminary play, the United States went 4-for-5; their only loss was to Canada, which took home the bronze medal on the third night of the tournament.

Hoagland, who started the national team season on the bench, started five of the six games during the tournament — though she made an appearance in the sixth game. The Longhorn finished the tournament with a .600 batting average with three RBI and three runs scored. She also achieved a fielding percentage of .824, lower than her average for the Longhorns last season.

The World Cup of Softball marks the end of the U.S. National Team’s summer schedule, meaning Hoagland will return to Texas to begin fall training with the Longhorns, who hope her championship ways can rub off on the team.

Printed on Thursday, August 4, 2011 as: Hoagland's homerun helps Team USA win fifth consecutive title