Thursday, July 15, 2010

World Cup in the Rearview Mirror

Since we have four years to go until the next one (Rio, baby!), it's definitely not too late to look back on South Africa 2010. It was a tournament with some of the most exciting soccer action I've ever seen, and also some painfully awful play.

I gotta say, doing the pool was a blast -- I probably feel better about it because of Spain, but really everybody had a shot at one of the two rounds. Now where's my money at?


Most Valuable Player: Diego Forlan, Uruguay Forlan was inspirational, scoring five goals, all from long range, while leading La Celeste much farther than anyone expected.

Honorable Mention: David Villa/Iker Casillas/Xavi/Carlos Puyol, Spain, Thomas Muller, Germany

Least Valuable Player: Federico Marchetti, Italy Okay, so you lose the world's best goalie in Gianluigi Buffon early in Game One. You'd think they would bother to have a decent sub on hand, no? Marchetti failed to stop a single on-target attempt over the next three games. Just one stop and Italy had a good chance to advance. Just one! Observe his awfulness below.

Dishonorable Mention: So many to choose from! Altidore/Gomez/Buddle, USA, or anybody from France/Italy/England, basically.

Best Match: Uruguay-Ghana The early goal by Ghana from long range and the answering Forlan 35-meter strike were both things of beauty. Midfield and defensive play was clean and beautiful to watch for the most part. The drama of two underdogs in the Elite Eight made for high excitement, and the ending?

Oh, that ending.

Ghana's first two shots on goal in late extra time barely rejected, the third denied on a desperation handball by Luis Suarez, the ensuing PK and MISS (!!!) by Asamoah Gyan (that's karma for diving in the late going against USA), and the final, beautiful penalty kick by Sebastian Abreu ("The assassin"), lofting it gently into the center of the goal... what a game. What a game.

Honorable Mention: USA-Algeria, Spain-Portugal

Worst Match: Brazil-Portugal Okay, so you're two of the best teams in the world. I understand that you both want to advance to the second round, but seeing guys like Melo, Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, etc. basically just loaf around all game when we know they're capable of so much more?

I would have wanted my money back on this one, had I bothered to watch the whole thing. Come on guys! You have a history of colonial oppression! WTF?
Dishonorable Mention: Any French game, Spain-Netherlands

Most Inspiring/Surprising Team: Germany They were young, they were fast, they shocked the world with a significant break from what German soccer is supposed to be. Most of all, they were fun to watch.

Honorable Mention: Ghana, Uruguay, USA, Japan, Spain, New Zealand

Least Inspiring/Most Disappointing Team: France Granted, the French weren't defending a title, and everybody knew it was something of a team in flux. But one loss and the Frogs started doing what they do best - backstabbing, blaming each other, and surrendering in spectacular form. What an implosion.

Dishonorable Mention: North Korea, Italy, England

Biggest A**holes: TIE between Netherlands and The Referees The case for the Netherlands is simple. They are a team full of whiny, arrogant players. They yell at each other, they yell at the refs. Oh, and they play filthy, dirty, uninteresting soccer.

Nigel De Jong's kung fu kick into Alonso's chest should have been an auto red. As it was, it was one of 14 yellows (14!) assessed during what was supposed to be the biggest moment of the Cup. Thanks, d-bags.
The case for the refs? A terrible mystery call against the US by a Malian with no business in the Cup. An obvious blown goal in England-Germany that would have profoundly changed that game. Numerous questionable off-sides calls. FIFA better do something, because they're starting to give the NBA a run for its money.

Best Goal: Landon Donovan vs. Algeria With extra time winding down, this was the goal that the US absolutely HAD to have.

It capped an immensely frustrating game, watching America's forwards (see: Least Valuable Player Honorable Mention) be slow and unispired, like the Algerian goalie had some sort of America Kryptonite in his pocket and strewn around the box. (note: White Castle?) And it was just a hugely heads up play by Donovan.

Honorable Mention: Landon Donovan vs. Slovakia (in yo' FACE!), Diego Forlan vs. Ghana, Carlos Puyol vs. Germany.


Winner (Round 1): Steve Noffke Three out of four of his teams (Germany, USA, South Korea) advanced to the second round, and Switzerland scored some serious points, too, with a win and a draw.

Winner (Round 2): Mark Fodor Got two teams into the Final Four, and Spain was the class of the tournament by far.

Worst Luck, Draft Edition: Dan Noffke Getting England and France at No.'s 8 and 9 had to look great going in. Actually, they were outplayed by Dan's last two choices, Australia and Japan. Ouch.

Worst Luck, Elimination Edition: Ryan Parrent Ghana got handballed out of the Final Four by Luis Suarez, and Netherlands made it to the final only to stink up the joint.
Best Pick, Top 16: Uruguay went No. 15, and finished fourth. That's the definition of a steal.

Worst Pick, Top 16: Italy at No. 3. The saddest part is I offered to trade for them and was rejected. Every other first round team at least made the elimination stage.

Best Pick, Bottom 16: Japan at No. 25 scored good points and almost beat Paraguay in the first round of elimination. That gives them the edge over New Zealand (2pts, picked last), South Korea, Switzerland and Ghana, also great value picks.

Worst Pick, Bottom 16: Both of mine. Denmark was outscored by five teams below them in the draft. North Korea laid an egg while New Zealand would have scored me enough points to sweep both rounds. And their captain guaranteed advancement! That's the last time I trust a Commie.

Who can't wait for Brazil 2014? THIS GUY! (oh, and her)
Okay, fine. Her too.

See y'all there.


  1. The only reason you picked Diego Forlan is because he was on one of your teams. If you didn't have Urguay you wouldn't even know the guy.

    Someone on Spain's D or Spain's GK should get the award. Winning the World Cup by only scoreing 8 goals in 7 games and winning each elimination game 1-0. They clearly deserve it.

  2. Um, if I picked one of Spain's guys, I'd still be picking somebody from one of my teams. But, see "honorable mention" - there are just too many great players from Spain to single one out.

    That said, Casillas would have been my second choice. But Forlan had an amazing run. He really did play his heart out.