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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 field.

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.