We can't say that people have been banging down our doors to spread the virtues of Ecuador, but don't look now: A win this morning puts the team in the field of 16. Costa Rica had the difficult distinction of playing the first game of the World Cup, against the host, no less.
Anyway, that's how we PUMP YOU UP for some early-morning soccer: It's Ecuador vs Costa Rica. We'll confess, we don't know anyone from either country, but we're kind of rooting for Costa Rica, since they're known as "Tico." That's fine with us.
It's The Mighty MJD once again for us this morning; he has kind of rocked all week, and we can't wait to see what he's got today. When we wake up. Email him your thoughts, follow along in the comments and enjoy, after the jump.
94:00: And I'm out. Have a good one, everybody.
94:00: And that's it... Ecuador has clinched a spot in the knockout round. Probably a hell of a lot of fun to be in Quito right now. An efficient and entertaining effort by La Tri today. They could be a little bit of a sleeper in the knockout round.
92:33: This beating has been thorough and efficient.
91:42: 3-0 now. Perfect pass there by Mendez, as he was running down the right side... absolutely perfect ball ahead, landing on the foot of Kaviedes, as he was streaking down the middle. Ah, I'll just quote Shep Messing. "It's a thing of beaut-aaaaaaaaaaay!"
89:50: It's a long, slow, death for Costa Rica... plus four minutes of misery-prolonging stoppage time.
86:27: Saborio JUST misses, banging one off the cross bar... some kinda nice work there from the Ticos. Not the prettiest of attack, but it yielded an excellent look at the goal.
85:53: Hey, Ben Roethlisberger was released from the hospital. That's terrific. I wonder if he went home on his motorcycle.
83:50: Substitution for Costa Rica. Now there will be a different guy out there on the field when they lose. Brilliant move.
83:15: Nice long cross, perfectly off the head of Kaviedes, but he pops it well up over top of the goal.
80:53: Ecuador playing keepaway here. This one's all over but the crying.
78:58: Great chance for Ecuador on some more nifty passing. Kaviedes just couldn't put it home. Good save there.
77:10: They do no such thing.
76:29: Costa Rica forces a corner here... they'll need to get something out of this if they want to have any chance to get back in the mix.
74:57: Glenn Davis keeps saying that Costa Rica needs to find some inspiration. I don't know what he wants to happen... I guess they could show Rocky on the Jumbotron, with the Spanish subtitles turned on.
72:48: Valencia is removed from the game, for an emergency hair-relaxing session. Patricio Urrutia comes on.
71:51: A long shot from Hernandez goes wide for the Ticos. They're forcing the action here a little bit.
70:52: Saborio fouls the goalie... despite the fact that the goalie came out and plowed into him. Wanchope also had his first halfway decent look of the game right there.
69:22: Goal into the back of the net for Ecuador, but they guy was offsides. Not by a lot, though. These officials assistants, the guys with the flags, are pretty sharp.
68:01: Hey, he's back on his feet. This guy's a warrior.
67:04: I think Giovanny Espinoza was just taken off on a stretcher for a cramp. I can't be sure, but they were working on him like it was a cramp. And then he got the stretcher. That has to be a first, right?
65:19: It's the wave again. The Germans really love doing the wave.
64:08: Valencia is down... a Costa Rican guy pretty blatantly stepped on his leg. That wasn't very nice.
60:35: Shot by Luis Valencia forces the keeper to make the save... he was knocked down on the shot, and of course, here comes the stretcher. If they did this in basketball, Vlade Divac would've been stretchered out upwards of 20 times per game.
59:45: "Have to love a guy who paints his face for the World Cup, though. Look at him. Nice." - Shep Messing.
59:03: Great run by Mauricio Solis (awesome name, by the way), and he earns a shot on goal for himself. He covered a lot of ground there. I think the shot was off-target anyway.
54:51: Shep Messing's call of that was just ridiculous, by the way... he started yelling, "BANG!" like a drunken John Madden. And Glenn Davis seems not to notice things until 3 or 4 seconds after they've happened.
53:39: SOUL GLO! Delgado scores for La Tri, and it's 2-0. A throw-in and some beautiful passing and flipping... and a great tight shot by Delgado finishes it off. Just beautiful.
52:17: Ecuador finally gets it going in the second, and a lasered shot makes the goalie have to step up and make a play. All set up by a bad giveaway by the Ticos.
49:39: Shot by Ronald Gomez goes just wide for the Ticos... they've looked a little bit sharper here in the second.
48:59: A nice possession for Costa Rica ends with a cross that was a little too deep and handled easily by the keeper.
47:25: Costa Rica looks more determined to attack here, early in the 2nd half.
46:17: Ecuador has started the second half with a substitution... Carlos Tinorio is on the bench, for some reason. I thought he had been playing pretty well. Maybe the coach was mad because he dripped jheri curl juice on the carpet in the locker room.
45:00: That's the half. Carlos Tinorio has the only goal for La Tri. Excellent first half for them, but they should probably have more than one goal. I'll be back for the second. Enjoy Julie Foudy.
45:00: Ecuador just playing with them... and DAMN that was close. Another great cross, I think it actually hit Delgado's foot before he was aware of it. Should've been an easy goal.
44:12: Harold Wallace was open down the sideline there, but the pass to him was deflected, allowing the keeper to come out and get to it first.
43:12: Paolo Wanchope is getting the Shaq treatment. Costa Rica can't get him in any kind of a position to do anything. Also like Shaq, Wanchope is on the team with vastly inferior talent.
41:44: Long cross on the counter by the Ticos, and it JUST misses. The header required a fingertip save by the keeper. That was close.
41:11: Great save by the Costa Rican keeper on a deflected cross. Ecuador's getting at least one more today.
39:09: Carlos Tinorio is getting an earful of trash talk from a bald Costa Rican guy. I think he was telling him how much money he saves on hair care products. Little does he know that Tinorio's home weave products are really taking off.
38:23: Another near chance for Ecuador, as the ball just slid past the foot of Mendez on a run into the box. It's been all Ecuador.
35:51: A long shot for the Ticos... and he hit it hard. I'll say that for it. If there was a goal stacked on top of the goal, this game would be 18-6, Ecuador.
33:17: Free kick for Ecuador, in a nice position. Just outside the corner of the box. Mandez takes it, and puts it high over the top of goal.
30:40: Headed out nicely by Delgado.
30:14: Good ball ahead by Costa Rico, but the Ecuadorian defense is quick to get it out of danger. Corner for the Ticos.
28:05: Substitution for the Ticos already. Out is Danny Fonseca, in is Alvaro Saborio. Striker in for a midfielder. Looking for more offense. Credit to the Costa Rican coach not screwing around and waiting for the second half to do that.
26:27: Nice ball ahead for Wanchope, and it looked good for a second... but a nice job by the Ecuadorian keeper to come up and snag the ball.
24:00: Little tiny bit of token pressure from Costa Rica. Insight from Shep Messing: Ecuador isn't going with a flat back four, because of Paolo Wanchope... they want to give him as little room as possible.
22:33: Corner for La Tri... long shot, over the bar by about 28 feet.
22:05: Ecuador... they're pretty good. They'll be a big underdog against Germany, but... that might be a solid bet.
20:43: Long, sustained possession for Ecuador. Crisp, short, passes... getting into space. And eventually, Douglas Sequira just spikes someone in the foot and forces a free kick.
17:53: Hey, the wave is busted out by the Hamburg crowd. I'd like to make fun of them for being German and lame, but... I still see too damn much of the wave here in America. It's an international problem. The UN should get involved.
15:28: I don't think Shep Messing has said anything extraordinarily dumb yet (you may disagree). His name is still Shep, though.
15:09: Ecuador is just hammering away. Another shot has to be blocked away, from just inside the top of the box. It's been all La Tri here for a while.
12:38: They go short with it. Not much happening there.
12:09: Long shot from Mendes... knocked past the goal line by the keeper, and it's a corner kick.
10:44: Uh-oh. Bad challenge there, and a man is down. Here comes the stretcher, as it does for any hangnail or mild scratch. Tinorio is being carted off. And hey, look, he's back. Good for him. Things like that never happened to, say... Jack Lambert.
7:40: GOOOOOOAL! Goal, Ecuador. It's my man Tinorio... A beautiful little cross from just outside the box goes off his head and into the goal.
7:21: There's a nice cross from Ecuador, just headed it... they keep the pressure on...
6:30: Lots of non-threatening movement here... I think Carlos Tinorio orders Soul Glo by the case.
3:50: Have to say that Costa Rica's had the better of it so far... nothing too significant, but the ball's spent a lot of time in Ecuador's third of the field.
1:46: Nice ball movement for Costa Rica there. Final shot was harmless.
0:53: The Ticos are in a 4-4-2, which I guess is new for them.
0:30: Man, La Tri has a lot of greasy, wavy-haired guys. Who's coaching them, Al B. Sure? Jermaine Jackson. They are letting their Soul Glo, that is for damn sure.
0:00: Thanks to the German blitzkreig of Poland yesterday, one of these teams is getting through to the knockout round. Score one for the little guys.
0:00: No foreign guys this morning. We've been spoiled. Glenn David and Shep Messing. That's a perfect way to ruin someone's morning.
0:00: And on the Costa Rican tip, Paolo Wanchope is the ringleader. Against Germany, he was Bruce Springsteen, and the rest of the team was the E-Street Band. Paulo was a stud. He was actually recruited to play some basketball at Michigan State, but he went with soccer instead. If you're into nicknames, call them the Ticos. I kinda like that. TICOS, MY MAN. They're pretty solid underdogs here.
0:00: Alright, let's get you primed on Ecuador. Agustin Delgado is the star striker. He scored once against Poland, and set up another goal. Edison Mendez is another candidate for some goal scoring. And while it may not be the most star-studded team in the field, they do play some attractive soccer, and clearly, they've shown they have the power to take down some heavyweights. You may call them the Tricolores, if that's your style. La Tri, for short.