Zachary Roth's Best and Worst
July 08, 2010
Best goal: Van Bronckhorst’s, no question. Where the ball ended up was the only place it could have gone while still eluding the keeper. About as close to a perfect strike as I’ve ever seen. Watch him repeat it right-footed. Best player: David Villa. Forlan gets honorable mention, of course, but Villa somehow looks dangerous every time he gets the ball. Yes, he gets great service from the Spanish midfield, but with Torres slumping, he’s had to do it without a threatening attacking partner. Best goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer.
Is the World Cup Too Long?
July 07, 2010
It’s not that I want fewer games or fewer teams or anything. What I’d like to avoid is that sad feeling of diffusion, mixed with an odd short-term nostalgia, that always rears its head around now. Remember the first match, that thrilling 1-1 draw between South Africa and Mexico?
June 28, 2010
I’m finding this England defeat easier to take than previous ones, and I think I know why. There’s pretty much no worse feeling in football than being cheated. If you apply for a job, and lose out to someone better qualified, you might feel disappointed. But if you lose out to the boss’s son-in-law, who’s less qualified than you, the feeling is likely to be much harder to bear. At halftime yesterday, after the blind linesman disallowed Lampard’s equalizer, I started to play out in my mind (in between searching frantically for my fiancee who appeared to have been kidnapped from Brookly
England Saved By The Return Of The Winger
June 23, 2010
So far this tournament, out-and-out wingers had seemed to be going the way of the 5-man attack and the leather ball. They'd largely been replaced by attacking systems heralded as more flexible, sophisticated, and creative. Funny, then, that it was old-fashioned wing play that saved England today. As Michael Cox of Zonal Marking rightly notes, we’ve seen a lot of systems that involve players on the wing who don’t naturally belong there. Take Germany. They use two holding midfielders and a playmaker.
Why The World Cup Has Been Crap So Far
June 16, 2010
Alex takes on the important question of why the World Cup has been crap so far. Or, if you want to stick to a proposition that's not debatable, why we've seen so few goals -- just 23 in 14 games, a clear drop-off from previous Cups. I agree it would have been better to have had Croatia for Slovenia, the Czechs for Slovakia, the Russians for Greece, and anyone for Denmark -- whose utter lack of anything resembling goal-scoring ambition against Holland I had the misfortune to watch live Monday.
The England Catastrophe
June 13, 2010
Well, I said 1-1 before it started. (Not publicly or anything, so you'll just have to be believe me.) And although that prediction was partly a defense mechanism, I never shared the conviction of most of my fellow England fans camped out at Foakeng's Lucky Bar yesterday afternoon -- or of the jingoistic papers from which they seemed to take their cue -- that this would be easy. Those England fans, by the way, seem to have mellowed a bit. I may be wrong about this, but I have the feelling that if, hours before the kickoff of England's first World Cup game in say, 1986, you'd worn a Germany
Sunil Gulati: U.S. Are Creative, Gosh Darnit
June 12, 2010
JOHANNESBURG -- The U.S., of course, gets set to kick off its World Cup campaign tonight against England in Rustenburg. But Sunil Gulati, the president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, which runs American soccer, was already in town last week, promoting the U.S. bid to host the tournament in either 2018 or 2022. My friend Jonty Mark, a soccer reporter for The Star, a Johannesburg daily, interviewed Gulati, a Columbia University economics professor, in his well-appointed hotel suite, and let me tag along. We asked him about the bid, but also about how far he thinks U.S.
June 11, 2010
As South Africa gets set later today to kick off the biggest international event Africa has ever hosted, the phrases we've coined in the past like "World Cup fever" seem badly lacking as descriptors of what's going on here.
England vs. USA
June 08, 2010
As someone who, like Luke, grew up in England and now thinks of himself as an American, I can sympathize with his decision not to watch on Saturday, out of a feeling that there's just Too Much There. I also strongly agree that America is awesome. People have an attitude of openness to possibilities, and to improving their lives, that you don't find anywhere else. There's less cynicism and poorly-disguised jealousy when good things happen to someone else. American girls are more interested than are English girls in English men—and some even play soccer.