The Beautiful Game

Heroes and Zeroes of the 2010 World Cup

Now that the World Cup is over, time to reflect.  I don’t have any huge cohesive commentary on the tournament as a whole, but rather some bite-sized tidbits regarding some positives, negatives, and indifferents about particular notables.  I’ll score these as “+” for positive, “-” for negative, and “0” for neutral.

  • 0: Team USA.  Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and the crew were good, not great.  Everything was just as I expected: one of the top 2 teams in their group and lose in the first knockout round.  Team USA is not an elite side, and it would have taken more than a little luck to get as far as the quarterfinals.
  • +: Jabulani. The ball looks better than the previous Cup balls that looked like they were decorated with feminine products. And the flight? Sure, it dips and swerves, but that’s attributable to physics rather than to ball design.  You who complain about the ball dancing around and through the goalkeepers aren’t the same ones who complain about low-scoring games, are you?
  • 0: South Africa. Too much was made of “the host country”. Too many 30-second and 30-minute commercials touted the wrong thing: the site and support of the spectacle rather than the teams and players.  I have nothing against South Africa, it’s just that the country is a location, a stage, not an integral part of the event.
  • -: People who aren’t soccer fans telling you why they’re not soccer fans. Again. I get it – you don’t have the attention span to appreciate a game in which scoring is rare.  Just because the score doesn’t increase rapidly doesn’t mean there’s no action or intrigue.  Scoring a goal is incredibly difficult for a team to do – doing something hard 0-6 times in 1:45 isn’t any less exciting or interesting than doing something much easier 150-220 times.  I don’t watch basketball and complain about it; you don’t have to watch soccer and complain about it.
  • +: Italy and France both going out in the first round.  I don’t hate the French, but their performance and attitude was disgraceful, not to mention the way they got the the tournament in the first place.  Italy was flat, and and kept up their tradition of rolling around on the pitch grabbing their shins at the slightest touch, fortunately for only 3 games this year.
  • -: The whole continent turned against Luis Suarez in the 3rd place match, booing his every touch.  His hand ball saved what would have been a goal by Ghana, putting Uruguay rather than the African nation through to the semifinals.  He committed a foul and was red carded for it, giving Ghana a penalty kick.  Many are making it out to be more about “robbing Africa” of a trip to the semifinals than Ghana just not being able to score more goals in the preceding 120 minutes.

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