Monday, July 12, 2010

South Africa World Cup remembered

What a month! What started with 32 nations hopes of a World Cup championship comes down to only 1 victor. A congrats to Spain, a worthy World Cup champion. I am amazed at the composure it takes from a whole team to win that many games 1 - 0. Often, that goal came very late in the game. At any time one player could lose his concentration and make a mistake that leads to conceding a goal. Not Spain. I give tons of credit to captain Iker Casillas. Way to skipper the ship.

One more note on the Final: if that was the USA playing, there would have been 2-3 red cards coming our way. I keep hounding on the word respect. This is the example:

Only a yellow. WHAT!!! In 2006 the US got red cards for much less. And I'm not even arguing that we didn't deserve them, I'm just saying that perceived soccer ability and respect gives you calls that others won't get. Hopefully those days our over with our performance in this year's Cup.

So although I didn't want a European team to win, I am glad a team hoisted the trophy for the first time. Here are my other Break Out Moments.

Diego Forlan - Uruguay.

Even before winning the Golden Ball (player of the tournament) I was saying "He stood out above all others." (David Villa is my number 2 player). Where would Uruguay be without him? Above all others he made goals out of nothing. He will receive a huge payday, and personally I would love to see him at Arsenal.


I admit, I never have given Germany the respect they deserve. But following 2 third place finishes and a runners up finish, I am starting to believe. I am probably going to follow a German team in the fall (Schalke) that's how much they impressed. They played solid team defense, held possession of the ball, made solid passes and (most importantly) they put the ball in the net with precision. That is a rare combination. I credit the Bundesliga for their success, they really know how to develop talent and they how to play the game. The MLS could learn a lot from them.

Top 3 games of the World Cup:

Spain v The Netherlands: The Final
It was ugly. It was choppy. But in the end, it was exciting. All the chances in extra time were amazing, especially with any goal almost securing a WORLD TITLE! And then to have the latest World Cup winning goal in history? Amazing. Also, why didn't Spain start Cesc Fabregas? He was a creative beast when he entered the game.

Ghana v Uruguay: The Handball.
I was rooting hard for the last African hope. The game was exciting. The goals were exquisite. Then, with penalties looming the Ghananians threw a barage of shots at the goal. With time running out they gave one last effort only the have it batted off the line.

Listen, this is the truth. 90% of players would have done it too. I really thought "Nice effort, but Ghana wins." The rest is African history. Hitting that crossbar demoralized the whole team. Uruguay advanced, but not without some of the best drama I've ever seen.

USA v Algeria: The Goal.
Both teams could advance with a win. Yet, with England comfortably ahead of Slovenia, Algeria starts playing for a heartless draw. Do they know where they are and what's at stake??? Still the US carries on, creating chance after chance.

Then came the goal.

I admit, I ran around the house. Ran. My kids joined me. It was incredible. Overjoyed. And I wasn't alone. Anyone who witnessed that goal Live knows what I'm talking about. The tension up to that point was unbearable. The release.....will be remembered for generations.

This my favorite game not only because the US won. It is how we won. This is why I love soccer. Sure, you're never really sure the goal is coming. But when it does come.....

I seriously doubt anyone makes fun of how soccer players celebrate goals anymore. Because we've all been there ourselves.

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