[WORLD CUP TODAY: USA] Germany 6-1 over Armenia. Ghana 4-0 over South Korea. And Portugal 5-1 over Ireland Tuesday night with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo back on the field but not on the scoreboard. They make the USA's narrow wins over Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria look paltry, eh?
The Americans aren't putting too much into their first send-off series sweep, just as they aren't overawed by their opponents in what has been dubbed the Group of Death.
"In general, I think it’s hard to take much from any of these warmup games," U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley told media after Tuesday's morning practice at Sao Paulo FC. "The teams are trying different things, different guys get put on the field in different spots and its always important to remember that players get put in difficult spots in these games because now you want to be sharp, you want to play well, you’re trying to make sure that as the tournament gets closer that there’s confidence and there’s momentum."
PRE-WORLD CUP, Results:
May 27 in San Francisco
USA 2 Azerbaijan 0
June 1 in Harrison, N.J.
USA 2 Turkey 1
June 7 in Jacksonville, Fla.
USA 2 Nigeria 1
May 31 in Rotterdam
Netherlands 1 Ghana 0
June 9 in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Ghana 4 South Korea 0
May 31 in Lisbon
Portugal 0 Greece 0
June 6 in Foxboro, Mass.
Portugal 1 Mexico 0
June 10 in East Rutherford, N.J.
Portugal 5 Ireland 1
May 13 in Hamburg
Germany 0 Poland 0
June 1 in Moenchengladbach
Germany 2 Cameroon 2
June 6 in Mainz
Germany 6 Armenia 1
Ghana played mostly with its reserves against the Netherlands in Rotterdam and lost, 1-0. But the Black Stars, the only one of the Group G teams to drop one of their warmup games, came out Monday night in Tampa and ripped apart South Korea, which is returning to the finals for the eighth straight time.
"At the same time," added Bradley, "they’re still warmup games, so I think last night was a good example of that. It would be easy to look at the end and say ‘4-0, what a performance,’ but still, you know it’s a warmup game and regardless of how the game went last night, we have a lot of respect for Ghana."
One thing that has separated the USA -- so far -- from its three opponents is injuries. Clint Dempsey and Brad Davis both sat out one game each as precautions, but U.S. Soccer said the team was healthy upon its arrival Monday morning in Sao Paulo.
Germany crushed Armenia but lost one of its best young players, Marco Reus, with an ankle injury. Ghana lost central defender Jerry Akaminko, also with an ankle injury in stoppage time of the Black Stars' game in Rotterdam. The Ireland game marked the first action for Ronaldoand his Real Madrid teammates Raul Meireles and Pepe since the UEFA Champions League final. Ronaldo and Raul Meireles started and both left shortly after the hour mark when Pepe came on.
Bradley, who played with Reus at Borussia Moenchengladbach, does not wish injuries on any one.
"In a lot of cases it’s bad luck," he said. "There are certain things as players you do to try to prevent injuries, to try to stay fit, but at the end of the day, you step on the field, you play, you leave everything out on the field and unfortunately things happen at times. No player ever wants to see anybody else get hurt and have to miss a big game, a big tournament."
Another former teammate, indeed the player whose arrival contributed to Bradley's exit at Roma, is Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman, who is out of the World Cup.
"Kevin Strootman hurts his knee in the second half of the season at Roma and will miss the World Cup and Marco Reus rolls his ankle the other day and won’t be here," said Bradley. "Those are two guys, two friends who I hate to see them having to miss an opportunity like this. Part of sports is obviously dealing with injuries and knowing that there’s moments when things happen and there’s nothing you can do. I still think I speak for any of us to say that you hate to see it.”