Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Final thoughts

What on earth was Zidane thinking? Ever since watching him in '98, I've had immense respect for him as a player. From the looks of it, he was definitely provoked. But to totally lose it and headbutt your opponent, in front of billions of people, during the most-watched game on the planet, at a critical moment towards the end of the final, in front of card-happy refs? How dumb can you be? I would love for someone with expertise in lip-reading to find out what Materazzi said (thanks to du Nord for the link).

Italy won on a shootout. If you've read any of my posts over the last month, you should have a pretty good idea what I think about teams who win matches on PKs, be they the result of penalties or a tie-breaking shootout. Needless to say, I was not happy watching this match.

On a much happier note, Germany soundly beat Portugal 3-1. It was beautiful. And even though I've been rooting for Germany all Cup long, I must say that the Portuguese goal - a diving header - was beautiful. It definitely scores as one of my favorite goals of the tournament, even though it was scored against my team. Good game, and no shootouts. Beautiful.

On a positive note, I'm suprised how many Americans were familiar with what was happening in the World Cup this year. Back in '90, I was completely unaware that there was a such thing as the World Cup. From '94 to '02, the number of non-soccer fans who I had contact with and who were aware of the World Cup grew slowly every tournament. But this year? Not only did a much larger number of people know that the World Cup was going on, but many of them had a basic idea of which teams were winning and had opinions to boot (pun intended). Soccer and the World Cup really are taking off in the US, regardless of how the USMNT does.

So after catching up with the final, it occurred to me that Columbus had a game this past weekend. (Yes, I really did forget a Crew match. It's really quite sad, though the World Cup is a good enough excuse for me.) Turns out they lost. Ugh. My soccer weekend may have started out well with the Germany win, but it ended quite poorly with Zidane's stupidity, the French loss to Italy, and a Columbus loss.

I think I'm going through World Cup withdrawal. Now it's back to four years of MLS for me. And besides, I have only one more year to wait until the Women's World Cup.

Note: edited to correct links


J. Michael said...

In the dark days of winter, when the MLS season is a distant memory, please consider the EPL as an alternative to life without the beautiful game. :)

Crew Fan said...

I actually have been following the Premiership as a Man U fan for years, though lately not as closely as I follow MLS. I'm one of those people who still consider the Premiership, Serie A, etc., to be a step (or more) above MLS.

Fisch said...

Hi -- just ran across your blog. I wanted to add my impressions of the Cup, from a maybe closer perspective. I was in Florence, in Italy, 1990 -- to watch the U.S. take on the Czechs and Austria. There were a few hundred USA fans in the stands -- I had the impression it was mostly soldiers and college kids who were in Europe that summer and thought a game would be cool (for me it was the reverse -- I wanted to see the Cup, so I got myself a job in England for the summer).

The only chants we had were the USA of Olympic hockey fame, and a Na Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye when one Czech player was shown a red card. On the field, the U.S. wasn't much better represented outmatched. Despite an unaccountably close match against Italy, the U.S. squad was horribly overmatched against the European teams. Only Tab Ramos seemed to have the courage to do try and do something with the ball.

In 1998, I was also in Nantes to watch the U.S. take on Yugoslavia, and the World Cup debut of Sam's Army. It was a small crew then, but game. Again, on the field, the U.S. just couldn't compete.

This June, I was in Nuremberg for the showdown with Ghana. It was a revelation to me. Thousands of Americans pouring off the train at the stadium stop -- proudly displaying the colors. On the train and at the park, lots of singing. And these were real fans of the team.

Sure, we still have a long way to go with our play on the field. And our fans aren't quite at the intensity of fans of Les Blues, with 20,000-30,000 strong bouncing up and down in the stands (I saw France upend Togo in Cologne). But this time, we served notice that soccer is taking hold in the United States. It's only a matter of time before we can expect our boys to regularly achieve the success we had in the '02 Cup (and better).

My blog? http://fischfry.blogspot.com