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 Player(s): Prior to the semi-final matches I would have said Schweinsteiger--but he will be watching the final on tv after disappointing against Spain. I will go then with Xavi and Iniesta--yes Villa has scored the critical goals, but it’s the Spanish midfielders who made those goals possible with the metronome- (metronome analogy thanks to the Fiver) like precision of their endless passing. I hear, “Xavi to Iniesta...
Best Uniform: Uruguay, for the insouciant way they wore their collars. No two players agreed -- should it be up, a la Eric Cantona; non-existent, a la Brazil, or all messed up? All messed up seemed to dominate. Worst individual performance: Ricardo Clark, USA. Phew, he was dreadful. Substituted after half an hour against Ghana? That's a starting pitcher giving up 8 runs in the top of the first. On two grand slams. No one out. In the post-season. Least enjoyable game: England vs. Algeria. Did anything at all actually happen?
Nike's cursed "Write the Future" advert, re-edited Jonathan Wilson: Brazil vs. the Netherlands a potential classic A new book on the darker parts of World Cup history Zonal Marking: a preview of Argentina-Germany Richard Williams: Kaka "could ignite the tournament" Dunga vs. Johann Cruyff Brian Glanville: "England's pitiful debacle" Jon Stewart interviews Bob Bradley and Landon Donovan
PRETORIA, South Africa -- The guy standing near me was crying, too. It was my new best friend, Ian Ainslie of the fan group American Outlaws, and after the fourth Foer brother -- tell me that Landon and this blog’s editor aren’t separated at birth -- scored the most important goal in American soccer history (later, Paul Caligiuri), tears were streaming down his face. Streaming, I tell you.
Yesterday’s dizzying stoppage-time goal by Landon Donovan put the U.S. World Cup squad through to the next round of the tournament, and that dramatic finish probably created a new crop of American soccer fans in the process. Up next for Donovan and company is Ghana, a physical team that, despite an injury that sidelined their star midfielder Michael Essien before the tournament, should test the U.S.
When Landon Donovan finally slammed the Jabulani into the net, 91 minutes after the kickoff, there was one part of me that wondered “Will it count? Will it count?” And not, Alex, because I think there’s been a massive anti-American conspiracy, but simply because the refs in this group stage have been terrible. Contrary to popular prognostication, Koman Coulibaly, according to FIFA's official report, called back Edu’s goal for a foul not by Bocanegra, but by Edu (who didn’t commit a foul); there's a reason FIFA gave Coulibaly a "poor" rating and dropped him for the second round.
Every fan is a bit of a conspiracy theorist. Every outcome can be chalked up (unjustly) to poor judgment or prejudice on the part of the referee. If the U.S. wanted to insure themselves against such a fate, they could have learned from their match against England and played with urgency from the first whistle. Torres could have tucked back and picked up Birsa rushing on to score the first goal. Demerit and Onyewu could have communicated to keep Ljubijankic offsides on the second.
Has soccer arrived in America? ABC/ESPN and Univision certainly think so -- they paid over $400 million combined to air the World Cup on their stations. The mainstream media think so as well -- the World Cup has been featured on the covers of Time, Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated and newspapers around the nation. But the surest sign that soccer has hit the big time in the States? Matt Drudge thinks so. Last night the Drudge Report website led with the speculation that World Cup organizers might ban the vuvuzela horns. Earlier in the day he led with a picture of poor Robert Green looking haple
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.