Best Goal: By miles (which, ironically, seemed like the distance the ball traveled), Giovanni van Bronckhorst against Uruguay. Simply unstoppable. Most important goal (to Americans): Landon Donovan against Algeria, of course. To prove that soccer is now "mainstream," all you have to do is look at the many sports columnists (Bill Simmons, most notably), in their obligatory Lebron articles, using Donovan's goal as an example of what sports can be.
Best Goal: Fabio Quagliarella's superb chip against Slovakia. Such coolness! Such precision! Such class! Under such pressure! Runner-up: Sebastian Abreu's penalty in the shoot-out against Ghana. Audacious and nerveless in equal measure. Reminiscent of Panenka vs. West Germany in the 1976 European Championships. Tournament Hero: Luis Suarez. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Cunning and lithe in attack, Suarez also excelled in defense. His handball in the last minute of extra-time against Ghana gave his country a glimmer of a chance. What more could any player do in such circumstances?
Best Player: Xavi, but not without Busquets. While Xavi orchestrates plays and controls the rhythm like no one I've ever seen, with a patience and precision of a miniature painter, none of it would be possible without Busquets. Busquets gets the ball, passes it to Xavi who passes it on to Iniesta or someone else, forever available--and they do that hundreds of times each game, over and over again, and everyone knows they will do it and they do it still.
On the way home from Johannesburg, I picked up a copy of the Mail & Guardian, which calls itself “Africa’s Best Read.” Here’s the headline on the lead story that day: “Danny Jordaan’s brother cashes in on 2010.” The newspaper reported that a company controlled by Andrew Jordaan, brother of the head of the local organizing committee, is being paid around $15,000 a month by the World Cup’s official “hospitality-services” provider to serve as a “liaison” in one of the host cities. He also happened to own a share of a consortium that built one of the World Cup stadiums.
I apologize in advance to all Manchester United fans, including, but not limited to, my brother, his son, Alex Ferguson, and the majority of the 79,005 people on the last day of July, 2003, who traipsed to the hateful Giants Stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey, to watch the Reds play Juventus in a pre-season friendly. I apologize because I’m about to state that the best player in this South African World Cup—and the best player by far—is none other than Diego Forlan. My hand doth shake to even type such a claim; I should probably drink deeply of some kind of poison, and thank god that’s not a da
I will admit under the cover of darkness, with a long head start from those who might disagree, that I supported Uruguay against Ghana. Beirut had been gutted by the Brazilian loss in the afternoon (and here there are the Brazilians and there are the Germans, all else being commentary), so all that was left behind was a sense of solidarity for the little guy, for Africa, for the Third World, for the poor… Which is why, at a football dinner last night, the air turned to permafrost when I, rather alone, cheered Sebastian Abreu’s cheeky penalty that won the match for the “Celeste.” Echoes of the