Sunday, July 09, 2006

2006 FIFA World Cup Presented by Adidas

It was an OK World Cup. The fact that Italy won disgusts me. They should never have gotten past Australia. But you knew going in that a European team was going to win. The Cup has alternated between Europe and South America every tournament dating back to 1958. Anyway, here are some of my observations from the 2006 FIFA World Cup Presented by Adidas:

I got really sick of Marcelo Balboa for a number of reasons, but mainly for his applauding players for falling after the lightest of fouls. Does he not realize that flopping is the single biggest problem with soccer today? Although, the worst announcer of the cup was Shep Messing. He's the Dick Vitale of soccer broadcasting. Luckily he was done after group play. Sadly, so was Tommy Smyth, the crazy Irish announcer famous for his blunt honesty and catch phrases like "a bulge in the ol' onion bag."

I was rooting for Portugal vs France despite the way they played against Holland and my great dislike of Drama Queen Cristiano Ronaldo (the World's best flop artist). The thing I did like about Portugal is their coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari. I actually got my picture taken with him when I was in Brazil and he was a club coach there. It was in 2001 right before he was named Brazil's 2002 World Cup Coach. Our tour guide was a trainer for the team so he took us into the locker room after a game and we got pictures with a lot of the players, including Scolari and Argentina's Sorin. Sadly, I didn't bring my camera to the game so that picture is not in my possession but with someone who did bring their camera.

Out of the 15 games that mattered in the knockout round, only twice did the team I was rooting for win: Argentina over Mexico and Germany over Argentina.

Australia got screwed. So did Tunisia (vs Ukraine). Speaking of Ukraine, how about Switzerland being eliminated despite not giving up a goal in the entire tournament? Of course, a little more offense wouldn't have hurt and their showing on PKs vs Ukraine was worse than England's showing vs Portugal.

Say what you will about Bruce Arena. He did take the US to new heights in 2002. However, this time the US was a disappointment, but I don't know that many other coaches would have done better. Landon Donovan was terrible, so was Claudio Reyna. I could go on. Speaking of the US, Group E (US, Italy, Czech, Ghana) turned out to be the group of death after all. The media kept calling C (Argentina, Netherlands, Serbia & Montenegro, Ivory Coast) the group of death. I'm sorry, but the group of death doesn't have 6-0 results and teams resting players carrying yellow cards on the last day. E was the group of death because it was the only group heading into the last day where any of the four teams could advance and any could be eliminated. No other group could claim that. They all had either at least one team guaranteed to advance or at least one team eliminated after two games.

Further proof that soccer hasn't arrived in the US yet: during games ESPN would often cut away to show hoards of people gathered in famous plazas. During the US-Ghana game they showed Time Square which had maybe 50 or 60 people and cars driving though as if it were a normal day.

I enjoyed the World Cup. I'm just glad that my school schedule allowed me to see so many games (most of my classes were in the afternoon). I look forward to South Africa 2010. After that the 2014 Cup will most likely be in Brazil. Sherstin and I are planning on being there.

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