Pride for Africa, Gold for Spain
Is it just me or did the World Cup seem to last a lot longer when I was a kid? Argentina, Spain, and Mexico those World Cups all seemed to last half the summer. The entire summer seemed to revolve around them. This year it just blew by. And it blew by far too quickly in my opinion. Perhaps they could spread it out a bit more in four years….but then again we already have those Euro teams getting ready for the new season so I guess that’s a request which won’t happen. It’s a shame though; one month every 4 years just ain’t enough.
So we have us a new World Champion. If I were asked two months ago if I’d rather see a new champion rather than one of the teams who have already won a previous World Cup win again, I’d have gone for a new winner. In that respect I guess I got my wish.
I don’t think anyone can really complain about Spain taking the trophy. They won when they had to. Besides, based on the way the Dutch played in the final, do we really wanna give it to them? Don’t get me wrong. I grew up watching and loving Total Football. Johan Cruyff (as well as Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen) was a hero of mine as a kid. The US didn’t have much of a team back then—it was still a few years until I supposed to have done the Landon Donovan thing long before him—so it was all about the English and Dutch for me. Honestly, that negative performance from the Dutch in the final even hurt the great Cruyff.
Speaking of the US. I keep going back and forth on how to evaluate their performance in South Africa. On the one hand, they made it through the group phase. On the other hand, they only made it through the group phase. You can’t knock the way they fought back. Well, except that they had to keep fighting back. I’m not unhappy with the overall performance. However, we (yes, I’m American) should have knocked out Ghana. Seriously, say what you want but there is no reason why would couldn’t have beat them. Had that been accomplished, Uruguay weren’t that great—even though they went further than any other South American team. Who knows? I’m sure ESPN wouldn’t have minded. TV ratings were pretty good for them. A couple more US wins and…well, isn’t it sad we still have to look at things like TV ratings in the US to justify our love of the sport? Anyway, I don’t think replacing Bradley is the right move right now but we should also be setting our sights higher in Brazil.
When will the English learn that they aren’t the great soccer nation they thought they were in 1966? It may not happen in my life-time but I have gone on record numerous times saying that the US will win their first World Cup before England win their second. I didn’t see anything in South Africa to change my mind there.
Italy and France…Bwahahahahaha!!!
Then there’s all the controversy that the media love to stuff us with once the second round is complete and they are looking for something….anything to cover. Here’s some quick takes:
- The Jabulani Ball: Every four years it’s the same thing. All 32 teams are given a new ball to get used to a few months before the competition and because Adidas have to push the development of the ball to new levels each time (probably to justify the massive price they charge for them in retail stores) it will always behave differently from what they are using with their club teams. It’s all pretty much died down now but my 2¢ on the topic is; why wait until the finals to introduce the new ball? There’s about a 2-year cycle from the time teams start to qualify through the final. Why not use the same ball for all the qualifying matches as well? Players would have had 2 years worth of practice and matches with the ball by then so there won’t be as much room for complaints.
- Poor calls: The English are having a field day complaining about “the one that really crossed” the line. However, it made as much difference in the final outcome than the one in 1966. Perhaps it was a bit of karma 44 years later. Sepp Blatter apologized to England (and Mexico for the incorrect offside call) but I’m still waiting for him to about the two (not 1 but 2) that hurt the US. Not gonna hold my breath waiting for it though. The media, especially here in the US, have been all over using the latest technology to correct those errors. If I’m being honest, I actually have to agree with Blatter’s comments that errors by officials are a part of the sport. One thing I hate about football (the American version) is all of the stoppages reviewing plays over and over. I’d support the use of a couple of other officials positioned on the other side of the goal from the existing linesmen and positioned further up the field. They should be able to see more and reduce the number of errors like we saw. The only time I would support the use of video replay would be to review diving after the match. If a player makes an obvious attempt to gain an advantage officials should be able to suspend them. It’s the only way we will reduce the amount of diving.
- That goal line handball: Suarez was sent off and a penalty was awarded. The Ghanaian player missed his spot kick. I don’t see why anyone is complaining. He and his team were punished. Move on.
So now we have to wait another four years until the next festival. It is what it is. I keep waiting for the day when CONMEBOL and CONCACAF merge so we’ll have the Copa America two years later with decent competition to look forward to sooner. But I don’t think I need to hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Instead, we get to wait a couple of years for a meaningful Copa Oro to win that will send us to the Confederation Cup in 2013. I wonder what ESPN’s coverage of the qualifying matches the next four years will be like?
Anyway, back to MLS now. Congrats to Spain.
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