World Cup wrap-up

| by Ken | in Sport Add comments

Every four years I tune in to see the beautiful game played on the national scale and every four years I’m let down by the current state of international soccer. There is some fantastic skill level but the inability for some of these national teams to coalesce into a unified force is disappointing (I’m looking at you, England!).

I think what is even more depressing is the extent to which fouls impact the game. Maybe I’m to naive to remember but it seems to me that fouls are having more of an impact than they used to. And the players (and presumably the coaches) are using that to game the system. That translates into lots of embellishments and dives which detract from the game. It’s hard to explain to my friends who don’t get soccer why they should watch when any given 10 minute stretch has a couple of fouls where a player goes down with a look on his face indicating he is near death only to be revived with a few hits of the magic cold spray.

The biggest offenders of the faking were the Netherlands and in particular Arjen Robben. The so-called “Glassman” (due to how easily he is broken) is a skilled player – he doesn’t need to and shouldn’t resort to the theatrics. And I’m quite happy that Netherlands didn’t win the final because we certainly don’t want to reward that nonsense. Spain deserved to win the final and I’m glad that they did.

The standout player of the whole Cup was Diego Forlan of Uruguay. Team Uruguay did well to get to the 3rd place game but I don’t think you could say that they would have gotten there if it weren’t for Forlan. His ability to put the ball where he wants it is a skill that too infrequent in today’s game. It’s great to watch him because you feel like there’s less “kick it and see what happens” to his game.

One more complaint about the Cup before I wait another 4 years to whine again: we need more goals. No, I’m not saying that so we get more American viewers (all that would sure help interest). But I think more goals would better ensure that the better teams go on in the tournament and cut down on the number of fluke wins. Spain had so many games that were 1-nil and even though they did win and I think they were the best, they were close being knocked out a number of times. I know that it doesn’t make my case that the best team did win but the fact that they were close to not winning is the key. If anyone has suggestions for how to get more goals scored, I’d love to hear it. The only one I have is to substantially alter or remove off-sides altogether.

One Response to “World Cup wrap-up”

  1. AK says:

    I was happy with the World Cup, but I didn’t think it was the best game wise. Happy to be engrossed during the US games, happy to see the Germans light up the English and the Argentineans, happy to see the Dutch with success (though I hated their gameplan for the final), happy to see Spain’s dominance end up with the cup though I wish they would have taken more of their chances. If they were going to so dominate Germany in the semis and beat them, I’d rather the final was 3-0 so it was more obvious what they were. They played as a team. They’ve taken the lovely possession game and sublimated the #10 into a five man midfield, a style that few others can actually match. (I’m sure the Italians, with all of their talent, will come up with a way to kill it and make me hate them even more.) The US team showed the ability to comeback in qualifiers again and again, and I never would have thought they’d be able to do that in the World Cup also. Even against Slovenia. Unfortunately, they also showed a lack of depth, which is needed because of the frequency of games, even if your not constantly trying to come from behind. I got tired of the vuvuzuela (co-worker who went to South Africa said earplugs and cotton balls were sold out the first day he was there; pharmacist told him to buy aspirin for the cotton balls in the bottles) and Jabulani (Forlan didn’t seem to have an issue with the long shots, did he?) and referee mistake (I don’t buy the ‘it has to be the same for every level of every game in every country’ argument either; get two goal judges for all continental championship tournaments and/or FIFA championship tournaments) discussions. I thought there was some atrocious crossing and goalkeeping. I think the altitude played a bigger part than spoken about, especially when coupled with a ‘new’ ball. I was disappointed in Tim Howard’s play (yes, the quick, long and accurate release to Donovan against Algeria was huge) overall, but also in the US’s defense. (I guess I should be happy we didn’t play bunkerball). If we’re going to continue the myth of how great American goalkeepers are, I’d like him to be the a force in the outcome of the game every once in a while. He’s not Oliver Kahn, but I think he could be. And what the heck was the structure between our defensive midfielders and our fullbacks? How does that area get exploited repeatedly? And on freakin’ restarts?

    And as a follow-up, I completely support Dan’s “Shame! Shame!” amendment.

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