Who would have thought when this thing began, America would care even after the United States was eliminated. Apparently, soccer took hold here, and the World Cup concluded on Sunday with Spain versus the Netherlands.
Most of match was a parade of yellow cards and physical play, and Spain had most of the clean score chances. But 90 minutes was not enough; the fate of both squads was determined in extra time. In the 116th minute, Andres Iniesta kicked in the deciding goal giving Spain its first World Cup Final victory.
The Cup slowly converted this causal styptic to a soccer believer. Don't get me wrong. Touchdowns, dunks, and knockouts will always be first on my list, but there's always room for something new. Only time will tell if Major League Soccer can use the popularity of the World Cup down the road in the U.S.
Finally, the Chosen One made a decision during a live television special on ESPN. Picking Miami over Cleveland turned LeBron James from King to villain in a matter of seconds.
Through this entire process, James put his ego on full display. He’s ignored the Cavaliers and promised multiple titles for the Heat. Its unknown whether the self-proclaimed greatest trio in NBA history will produce a dynasty or even a profit for the organization.
One thing is for certain: The Heat took all the pressure off the defending champion L.A Lakers and painted a big bullseye on their own back instead.
It's no easy trick to write about the World Cup soccer tournament while it's happening. When you're not watching one of the 64 games, you're busy bantering about missed calls and poor coaching decisions, or you're emotionally spent from two hours of shouting at tiny men bopping a ball around your television screen.
As the 2010 World Cup builds toward its finale, one fact has stood head and shoulders above the rest: Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) must institute some kind of goal-line technology (if not instant replay) and/or referee accountability. This obviously means different things to different sports in America—challenges from a coach in football, reviewing whether a ball is fair or foul in baseball, the aforementioned goal-line technology in hockey, and out-of-bounds calls in basketball —and it’s hard to predict how it would ultimately occur in soccer. The need, however, is not difficult to see.
This is far from a homer issue, as Team USA, viciously robbed of two separate goals in two separate games, ultimately won their group in the first stage of World Cup play. Those goals, amazingly, turned out to be superfluous. However, in the Round of 16, Team USA was one of the teams that wasn’t a victim of poor officiating changing the course of those games and, perhaps, the rest of the Tournament. (Brazil dominated Chile and Paraguay defeated Japan on penalty kicks, in the only real snoozers of the Round of 16.) England lost its match 4-1, but lost a goal that would have made the game 2-2 and could have affected momentum. On the other hand, Argentina’s first goal over Mexico was scored by Carlos Tevez, who clearly appeared to be offside. With these mistakes being made in crystal-clear HD and being analyzed over and over on ESPN, it might seem as though FIFA has no choice but to revisit these issues. But Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, made it clear that the only thing that would be discussed in the aftermath of the World Cup would be goal-line technology. This is a good start, but it’s not good enough.
The bottom line is that, as long as the world is watching, as long as soccer is the most popular sport in the world, there will be a need for change. FIFA can start with the promised look at goal-line tech, but there needs to be more transparency in the officiating process, and some kind of checks-and-balances in place for blatant rule-breaking that isn’t seen in the first place.
The United States men's soccer team won its group in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa thanks to a dramatic 1-0 victory over Algeria. After a scoreless regulation game with plenty of chances on both sides, Landon Donovan was able to find the back of the net in the 91st minute off a rebound from the Algerian goalkeeper resulting from a great run by Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore.
With this win, the team accomplishes one of its goals for this World Cup: advancing beyond the pool play stage. When the group was revealed, many critics said that if the United States did not advance, it would be seen as a failure on our national team's part. Mission accomplished.
This team did not lose a game in pool play. The U.S. overcame two disallowed goals in two consecutive games that have roundly been proclaimed by announcers from multiple countries to have been fair goals. The team went down early in both of the first two games against England and Slovenia and narrowly avoided doing the same in the last game. The players continued to fight when other teams would have given up and when other teams, historically, have done so.
With this victory, the USA finishes pool play with five points, the same total as England. However, because of the goal differential, Team USA wins the group. This is the first time our team has won the group since 1930, when the first World Cup took place. The 1930 World Cup was also Team USA's best finish, when we captured third place. Worth noting, though, is that only 13 teams competed in that World Cup, as opposed to the 32 that compete in the modern tournament.
Team USA now awaits the runner-up from Group D, which could be either Ghana, Germany, Australia or Serbia.
When the World Cup began, my curiosity led me to give soccer a chance. I’m a causal American sports fan, so soccer wasn't on my must-see list. The United States isn't exactly a dominate power in the sport and with Major League Soccer (MLS) being considered an inferior league, catching the soccer bug hasn't been easy.
But in 2010 the United States was fielding a team with high expectations, and my attention has been squarely focused on the Cup. So far when getting my first real taste of soccer action, the lack of scoring made it a struggle to keep my eyes open. But then boredom turned into tense excitement—one move could change the balance of a match. Each match has the atmosphere of the NCAA tournament and the Olympics put together, which makes even Chile versus Honduras awesome to watch. From the vuvuzelas to stadiums covered in banners and flags, the environment makes the event unlike anything else in sports.
But when the dust settles in South Africa, will casual sports fans give soccer a minute more than its 15 of fame? Even if the U.S. team pulls off one of the greatest runs in the history of sports by winning the World Cup, there's no guarantee the soccer will enjoy a popularity explosion.
If soccer wants to matter, viewers need to watch the best the league the sport has to offer and not just MLS. Even though ESPN shows English Premier League matches throughout the year, there is still no program equal to “NFL Live” for soccer. It's a bummer because the future relies squarely on ESPN jumping in with both feet and pushing the sport.
For now, here's to the United States losing wallflower status and becoming just like any other nation in the soccer party.
The globe is currently caught up in football fever courtesy of the World Cup. Go Slovenia! But here in America, football (which we properly call soccer) is ... how can I put this? Strictly weaksauce. I figured it was proper to post a little tribute to the sport, but videogame soccer is even more boring than the real thing. So instead, here's Pinball Soccer Stars, a soccer-themed pinball game that's actually pretty clever. It's basically a two-sided pinball machine mined with crazy physics. You're competing against the player on the other side of the field (either DENmark or DENver), trying to knock the ball into his goal. Five goals wins the game. Good luck!
There is no sporting event more revered worldwide than the World Cup, the once-every-four-years soccer championship. While ad revenue people love to brag over the Super Bowl's viewership (just less than 100 million last year) the widely quoted figure for the 2006 World Cup was 715 million. This is something the world cares about.
But in America, we've struggled with soccer. Despite hosting the tournament in 1994 and making the field every year since then, the best we've ever done is finish third ... in 1930. This was, of course, before a 40-year run of failing to qualify. USA!
None of that matters now, though, because we'll be in South Africa competing in the 2010 World Cup. Our team looks strong (not too strong—Vegas puts our odds of winning the Cup at 60:1). We have a devastatingly powerful opponent in the first match of the round robin pool play: England.
A little backstory: In 1950, when the United States was near the bottom of the world's totem pole of soccer rankings, our team somehow triumphed over the English, 1-0. Add to this how highly regarded England was at the time, our shared colonial past and that the two teams haven't met in a World Cup match since then. It's easy to see why this is one of the most anticipated games in the first round.
The World Cup begins tomorrow, and the England-USA match occurs on Saturday, June 12, at 12:30 p.m. local time. The World Cup lasts one month, and almost all of the matches will be broadcast on either ESPN or ABC. Join the rest of the world in watching some great soccer—715 million people can't be wrong.