In 1988, the world was given a special gift. (Simmer down, simmer down—I'm a product of '85.) I'm referring, of course, to the movie Willow, written by George Lucas, directed by the ginger-genius that is Ron Howard and starring Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer (back when he was still Val Kilmer). This movie, which was ahead of its time and set precedents for such sci-fi-afficiando-fodder as LOTR, GoT, and Harry Potter (cinematically, at least), revolves around lovable protagonist, Willow (Davis), who is begrudgingly sent on a quest to save a small child from an evil sorceress qu—

That guy's worse than Kanye. Where was I? Oh, yeah… lovable dwarf chosen to save a chosen child from an evil queen. It's a true underdog story, and it's got a little of everything—love, war, laughs (Enter: Brownies), trolls, the unwavering perseverance of the human spirit, etc. If you haven't seen it, please join me in requesting Apple make this American classic available to rent or purchase on iTunes.

So where am I going with this?

No one believed in Willow. He was doubted, disparaged, and dogged at every turn. And how did he respond? By proving everyone wrong.

Costa Rica plays England this afternoon. Los Ticos are my Willow. England is, well, England (though I don't think Elizabeth holds a candle to Queen Bavmorda in the evil department). Regardless of the outcome today, Costa Rica has already played their Willow role to a T. If you'd said before the World Cup that Costa Rica would make the knockout round in a group that features Uruguay, England, and Italy, I'm selling a flying penguin you might be interested in.

Fresh off wins against Uruguay and Italy, Los Ticos are looking to complete the group sweep as they face an England side with nothing, save pride, to play for. Costa Rica, my 2014 Willow-incarnate, are just one reason to keep watching what has been a riveting World Cup.

Match to Watch: Japan vs. ColombiaI've selected this match not because it's the day's best matchup (it's not), or that it's the most star-studded match (it's not). I picked this match so I could bring the world our tasty Miso Chicken recipe. I'm on a mission to cultivate culture, folks. Won't you join me? My Pick: Colombia 2, Japan 2

Player to Watch: Shinji KagawaHe was disappointing this season for Manchester United, so what makes Kagawa the player to watch in this match? He may not even start, after all. You should watch him because Japan's World Cup hopes and dreams may depend on whether or not he decides to turn it on today. Colombia have already qualified, but Japan have everything to lose. They'll need Kagawa, and they'll need him to be good.

Match Day Dish: Miso Chicken (Japan)Miso glaze? Sign me up. To the un-indoctrinated, miso is a paste created from barley and fermented soybeans or rice malt, often used in Japanese cooking. Umami taste on top of "taste like chicken" is a winning combo. Make this dish, take pictures, and send in to our Instagram contest for a chance to win prizes (details here). Have a happy World Cup day 13, everyone! Cheers.

Miso ChickenHands-on Time: 22 min. Total Time: 1 hr. 22 min. 

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar