PBPP: Time is Now For Dutch, Spain, Union
When the 2010 FIFA World Cup
comes to an end on Sunday, the only thing we’ll know for sure is that there
will be a new World Cup champion since neither Spain, nor the Netherlands, have
ever won the world’s most coveted trophy. Spain has never reached this final
game, while the Dutch have been there twice, and lost both times, in 1974 and
in 1978. These are the two best soccer nations never to have won a World Cup. Soon,
we can reduce that number in half.
I’m looking forward to
Sunday’s match, hoping we will see the best of Spain and the Netherlands. I
know we haven’t seen it so far in this tournament.
I have seen a Spain team so
dominant in this World Cup with their precision passing, but have also
witnessed a team that can’t finish, except for David Villa. This is the best collection
of 23 players in the tournament, especially offensively, yet they have managed
just seven goals, and five of them by Villa. If the Dutch can shut Villa down
on Sunday, their odds of winning have greatly improved.
When I have watched the
Netherlands, their passing on a good day rivals that of Spain. On a bad day
though, it has looked more like teams who were eliminated at the group stage. The
Dutch really struggled vs Uruguay in the first half of Tuesday’s semifinal. Their
strength is in their big time players. Who else could boast about Arjen Robben,
Wesley Sneijder, Robin Van Persie and Dirk Kuyt? Did anyone at this World Cup
possess a more dangerous foursome?
This seems like a pretty even
match, and one that should be close. If you are looking for an edge, it’s
clearly in goal where Iker Casillas is far better than the Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg. From
the Netherlands standpoint, will an extra day of rest help them vs a Spain side
that played on Wednesday evening?
All I’m hoping for is a good
90 minutes of soccer, minus controversy. We started this World Cup talking
about the vuvuzelas, a juiced ball, goalkeeper gaffes, referee blunders, and
some empty seats. Let’s finish it by talking about the great soccer on the
As for the Philadelphia
Union, like the Netherlands and Spain, their time is now. A four game homestand
can really help this team pile up points to move up the standings. Of course,
it’s easier said than done. While San Jose, Toronto, New England and Columbus
are winnable games, all are important for those franchises as well, so no team
is going to take it easy on the Union.
From a Philadelphia
standpoint, fans have to be encouraged by the continued solid play of Sebastien
Le Toux. The former Sounder has six goals and six assists to go along with an
incredible 90 minute work rate from start to finish. Let’s also not forget the improvement of Danny Mwanga,
now a legitimate MLS Rookie of the Year candidate. All of a sudden, Mwanga leads
rookies in scoring, netting five goals in his last 6 games.
Other players to note, the
versatile Shea Salinas, who is a threat to go forward whether he’s the right
back or playing in the midfield. To me, he has been one of the team’s more
underrated players. Another player who has come a long way is goalkeeper Chris
Seitz. He has rewarded the coaching staff’s patience by playing his best the past
couple of games. He will need to continue if the Union are to start and finish
this homestand in a positive way. The next four games could be very telling.