23 June 2014

From a Jones Smash to a Ronaldo Punch in the Stomach

World Cup action takes one across the entire spectrum of emotions.  During yesterday's match with Portugal, I was elated when Jermaine Jones smashed an equalizer in the 64th minute.  I was really cheering 17 minutes later when Clint Dempsey used his stomach to move the US ahead, 2-1.  Fearing the five minutes of extended time, I was on pins and needles hoping my team could hold on and earn a berth in the knockout stage.  Instead, the great Cristiano Ronaldo, who had not had a great game to that point, fired a cross for the ages in the final half minute to give Portugal a draw.  I felt like someone had punch me in the stomach.  Now the US must go for at least a draw on Thursday against a powerful German team.

The image below shows Jermaine Jones as he fires his smash (click on the image for a larger view).
That smash was at the goal plane in just 0.97 s.  As the image above shows, Portuguese goal keeper Beto was partially screened from Jones, which explains why Beto looked slow to react to the shot.  The ball trajectory is shown below (click on the image for a larger view).
Three-dimensional graphics are always challenging!  I show the plane of the goal, plus the shadow of the trajectory on the pitch.  I also show a no-spin trajectory, but because counterclockwise (as seen from above) spin was small, there wasn't much curve.  There was enough curve, however, because the no-spin trajectory is just outside the goal plane!  Jones fired his shot at a phenomenal 73.8 mph (118.8 kph).  Note how Jones's right leg is fully extended from his rotation axis, which he moved by leaning, thus guaranteeing a lot of speed.

Ronaldo's cross was a thing of beauty.  The image below shows Ronaldo just as he kicked the ball (click on the image for a larger view).
As with Jones, Ronaldo leaned so as to increase his leg's rotation radius.  Both Jones and Ronaldo benefited from enhanced stability through their leans, too.  Note that Varela, who is about to head Brazuca right into my stomach, has yet to enter the penalty area.  The image below shows Varela as he is heading the neutralizer (click on the image for a larger view).
Ronaldo's cross was timed perfectly.  The ball left Ronaldo's boot with lots of counterclockwise spin (as seen from above) at a launch speed of 62.6 mph (100.8 kph), and then reached Varela's head 1.4 seconds later at a speed of 45.1 mph (72.6 kph).  The image below shows the trajectory of Ronaldo's cross (click on the image for a larger view).
The red curve is the actual trajectory; the thin, black curve is what the trajectory would have looked like without all that counterclockwise spin.  The spin pulled the ball back toward Varela, which meant it wasn't running away from him as much as the no-spin trajectory.

First and foremost, I was sick that my US team lost a win in the final seconds of the match.  After getting over the feeling of being punched in the stomach, I realized just how special Ronaldo's cross was.  There truly is beauty in a dark moment!

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