10 Things to Remember About the WC
There are so many great
memories of this World Cup which just concluded this past Sunday in
Johannesburg. Unfortunately the World Cup
Final between Spain and the Netherlands made my list of 10 Things To Remember,
but for all of the wrong reasons.
Before moving on to the list, I'd like to recognize South Africa for being a magnificent host. Many people said this nation could not get it done, but South Africa proved them wrong. Their stadiums were magnificent, as were their fans, who stayed loyal throughout the tournament even when their team did not get past the Group Stage.
The following is not a top ten list,
nor is it in any particular order. I’m writing this after 17
hours in the air, while the memories are still fresh.
Here’s what I will remember about
this World Cup:
1. The Vuvuzela
No one knew what that was until we
heard it at the 2009 Confederations Cup. To be honest, I got used to it, and it didn’t bother me at all. Having said that, I surely won’t miss
it though when I’m back calling MLS games.
2. The Jabulani Ball
Yes, it was juiced
and everyone complained about it, but the biggest gaffe (England’s Robert Green) occurred early
in the tournament. Teams got used to the ball.
3. The USA Wins Their Group
most people picked the U.S. to finish second in
group C, then lose to Germany in the round of 16, the Americans were group
winners for the first time. It
wasn’t always pretty or easy, but this team worked very hard throughout the
4. Landon Donovan
Did you know that Donovan,
with three goals, had more goals than Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne
Rooney, Fernando Torres, and Didier
Drogba ... COMBINED.
5. Switzerland’s Upset of Spain
In hindsight, this was a
wakeup call for the eventual World Cup champions. While there were other upsets in the
tournament, to me this was the biggest when you factor everything into the
6. Surprising Uruguay
Who would have picked Uruguay
to finish 4th in this World Cup? Raise your hand if you did. I don’t see any hands up, including mine. Diego Forlan was brilliant in this
tournament, certainly deserving of his Golden Ball trophy.
7. Frank Lampard’s Goal vs Germany
Or the goal that really wasn’t a goal, but it
really was. You know what I mean. Lampard’s strike will be
remembered forever if it brings video technology to the game in time for the
2014 World Cup in Brazil.
8. Controversial Calls
The Lampard goal was not the
only controversial play in this World Cup. In fact, the errors in this
tournament are far too many to mention. From goals that should have been called back, to goals that were not
counted that should have (USA vs Slovenia), we had far
too much controversy.
You have to love FIFA though,
saying the day before the final that their officials got the calls correct 96%
of the time. Does anyone other than FIFA
really believe that? I’m not
one to bash officials, so let’s find a way to help them more.
The game is faster today,
played by more skillful players. The stakes are higher because
of the money that’s involved. So let’s find a system that
helps the officials. Let’s use the
video technology that we have to make this a better game.
9. Early Exits
I am lumping three teams into
this category, but for different reasons.
Italy - Yes they were an
older team, and yes Gianluigi Buffon was injured, but surely they should have
had enough to get through the Group Stage. A healthy Andrea Pirlo would have helped, but this team
never looked good.
France - They disgraced themselves,
their country and the tournament. All anyone needs to know is that the team actually refused to train one
day in support of Nicolas Anelka who had been sent home for disciplinary
Brazil - While they never looked
like the Brazil we have come to love and admire, surely they had enough to get
to the final vs Spain. Losing in
the quarterfinals is horrible for them.
10. Finally, the FINAL
We surely expected better
from the two best teams in this tournament. While we will all remember a nice game winning goal by Andres Iniesta, we will also remember a record 14 yellow cards, one red
card, plus all of the fouls.
At the end of the day, I
think the better team won. Spain
has been the world’s best team probably for at least two good years now. Their roster of 23 was the best in this
tournament. When you can have a Cesc Fabregas coming off the bench, you are a deep team.
Happy to be back
Hope you enjoyed the World
Cup as much as I did. I am happy
to be back in the states, ready to work again in MLS.
Looking forward to my Seattle
at DC game on ESPN2 this Thursday at 8:00pm, and my Philadelphia vs Toronto game on
Saturday at PPL Park. I’ve only
seen PPL Park on television. Saturday, I get to work
I'll have a preview of the Philly vs
Toronto game later this week.