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Entries in World Cup (71)


World Cup 2010: One Final Review

Spain Celebrates First-Ever World Cup Championship

Attention Turns Toward
Brazil For 2014 Event

The dust has settled; the confetti has fallen. The World Cup is over and fans of the great event must now wait until 2014, when Brazil will entertain the top 32 teams for a futbol fiesta.

Here are a few overall Cup reactions from four of the OGS writers:

Ben Jackey
The World Cup Final was indicative of the type of play fans had to endure for the majority of the tournament: Conservative and bogged down. The few exceptions were the final days of the group stage and when Argentina or Brazil were playing. Germany scored a lot, but it was mostly done on the counter, not from a lengthy build-up. Surprisingly, I know few people who say they are "hooked" after having watched this World Cup. Imagine if it was actually entertaining. The same criticism I had of this tournament three weeks ago still applies now in its wake. The 2014 event promises to be a little more exciting off the field because it's in Brazil. Let's hope we can say the same for what happens on it.

Mike Marshall
Best Cup ever in my opinion. Why? All the complaining about the ball, the refereeing or how the tournament started slowly ... those issues are present in every World Cup.

A LOOK BACK: Complete World Cup Coverage

Bruce Sholl
All of the excitement and buildup had fans frothing, but the first two games for just about every team brought few surprises and plenty of draws. As we entered the final games of pool play, and then the round of 16, things got much more interesting and showed what the tournament was all about. Until the boring final game.

Jake Yadrich
The greatest sporting event in the world delivered in its first appearance on African soil, and there were multiple moments that will stick with me when I look back on the 2010 World Cup:

+ The first goal scored by South Africa, and the subsequent celebration, was a moment all soccer fans could embrace.
+ Two global powers -- Italy and France -- quickly collapsed, including a near implosion of the French, right in front of a world audience.
+ The Jabulani, billed as the most accurate ball ever created, swerved its way into controversy from the start, making scapegoats out of goalkeepers.
+ Referees' decisions that were proved wrong time after time, especially in no-goal-scored situations, led to more discussion of instant replay in soccer.
+ Landon Donovan providing me with the best sports-viewing moment of my life with the stoppage-time goal against Algeria.
+ Asamoah Gyan's penalty-kick miss against Uruguay was the most heartbreaking thing I have ever seen in a sports event. + Players like Xavi, Forlan, Sneijder, and Mueller showing that superstardom, most notably Rooney, Ronaldo, and Messi, isn't required for success in a World Cup. + Spain, raising the trophy after two years of questions about their heart and ability to play as a team, and finally taking a seat at the table of World Cup winners.

The World Cup provides more drama and excitement that many other sporting events can even dream of. Every four years, we are all treated to a month-long celebration of athleticism, patriotism, pessimism and optimism that is unmatched by any other event in my eyes. And despite all the moments of insanity, passion and pain throughout the past month, the beautiful game delivered on its once-every-four-years promise: to put on a show for the whole world to enjoy.


World Cup Snoozer: Spain Wins On Late Goal

Spain Celebrates First-Ever World Cup Championship

Sloppy Final Does
Little To Win New Fans

Thanks to Andre Iniesta's goal in the 116th minute, Spain finally claimed their first World Cup in a tournament that likely will be remembered less for the play on the pitch and more for the refereeing of it.

Here's what some of the OGS World Cup writers had to say about Sunday's boring thriller, if there can be such a thing:

Steve Susi
After 119 minutes of a snoozer — and 14 cartas amarillas — a goal was seen through mine sleepy eyes.

Spain, you have earned it these four weeks; Holland, you've deserved it for four decades, but alas, gravity chose against you. And so to finish:

+ South Africa, Spain, and ESPN, good on you
+ FIFA and your referees, shame on you
+ Every player who flopped in front of the entire world more than ever before, shit on you

Ehorabuena España!

Ben Jackey
This was like trying to fix up two of your attractive friends, only to have one of them -- heck, both of them -- show up with a cold sore. Soccer won very few fence-sitters yesterday. The game was exactly what everyone expected – bruising, compact, and boring. This trend of playing conservatively, so as not to lose, is becoming more common in big matches and it is excruciating. Spain truly dominated this game, but Netherlands had the better chances. A deserved result.

Bruce Sholl
Sunday's game showed exactly why most Americans dislike soccer: 120 minutes of boring play with occasional flurries of action sparsely sprinkled throughout. Even though Holland was trying to make it interesting with some MMA moves, Spain found a reversal and got out of the hold, stood up and delivered the winning blow.

Jake Yadrich
Although the 2010 World Cup final wasn't exactly a display of beautiful football, it still provided the drama that only a World Cup final can provide. In a game marred by yellow cards and blown calls, Spain was able to crack the opposition first, and it proved to be the difference between glory and disbelief.  The Spaniards continued what they've done all tournament, and despite not scoring as many goals as many would've thought, it's only fitting that the best team in the tournament was left to hoist the trophy at the end. As for the Netherlands, now having lost three finals, they have to wait four more years to shake the title of "Best Team to Never Win the World Cup."

Mike Marshall
I wasn't surprised as I predicted the final. Happy for Spain as many of my friends are enjoying themselves like never before. A new day for Spain. As for the Netherlands, who I was supporting in full Oranje regalia, they get their third second-place finish, which though not the top, is still respectable.


Germany’s Demise Trumpeted By Vuvuzela Guy On Pitch

World Cup

Spain Set-Piece Dooms
Listless German Side

One Great Season

A former German client (well, she's still German, but was a client of mine at a certain German luxury auto manufacturer) emailed me at halftime, and I quote: "Looks a bit weak right now. Not sure what happened between last Saturday and today. Need a bit more drive and power. Let's keep our fingers crossed. Natascha."

Unfortunately for this lovely fräulein, the Italian fan who jumped the fence at the fourth minute and headed toward midfield with the plastic horn in his lasagna-hole had better moves and more determination than did Die Mannschaft today.

From the opening whistle, La Furia Roja looked every bit the title contenders they've been touted as since their 2008 European Cup win, dominating possession and dictating play with a tight midfield that pushed forward constantly and waited patiently.

The double-pronged grand irony: Germany was beaten on a set piece -- long their area of dominance -- and it was Carles Puyol, one of the smaller guys on the pitch, who did the deed from the air. Odd for a German team averaging 6' 0.4" tall, who have through history gone Luftwaffe on opponents' asses. Puyol's a full two inches shorter, measuring in at a whopping 5-foot-10 and 172 pounds, but that didn't seem to matter. He rushed that shit like "Pour Some Sugar on Me" once did the Top 20.

Um, what? This little Puyol went to town. This little Puyol went to the finals. The diminutive center back had more unmarked space for that corner than Christina Ricci's forehead. This was in fact a microcosm for Germany's listlessness -- a corner kick on their goal at 0-0 is normally a near-guaranteed clearing of the ball. No one communicated, no one moved, and no one smiled after the ball buried deep into the net.

Hmmm. If German coach Joachim Low could just keep his finger outta his nose for 30 seconds, he'd have made substitutions to stem the malaise and somehow fire up a German national team that, until this match, had shown more flair and creativity than most can remember. Too bad, because heretofore they were "The New Germany."

All the props go to Spain, however. Piqué, Villa, Iniesta, Xavi, and of course, Puyol had great looks all day, and the average viewer just knew it was a matter of time. They pressed but weren’t hasty, and when Germany made its expected drives, they were as cool as Paul the Octopus.

So, enhorabuena to Spain. The 2008 European Cup champs replicated their 1-0 tally against Germany from those finals, and never has Uno-Cero sounded so exciting.

Click here for Steve's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


World Cup Notes: Misfiring Torres Will Sit For Spain

Fernando Torres

Semifinal Preview: Germans
Ready For Their Klose

One Great Season

The poor form of Fernando Torres may see him relegated to the bench for Wednesday's World Cup semifinal against Germany. It appears Pedro will get the start instead.

Spain should boast a full complement otherwise, minus the injured Raul Albiol, who wouldn't have played anyway. The Germans are without winger Thomas Mueller, who is the latest victim of FIFA's parade of officiating ineptitude. Shame. Toni Kroos is the mooted replacement on the right.

Torres has yet to score this tournament. If he continues goalless, he'll join Wayne Rooney, Kaka and Lionel Messi as superstars who failed to find the net.

Miroslav Klose

+ Speaking of players who are actually scoring, two Golden Boot contenders go head-to-head Wednesday: Spain's David Villa (5 goals) and Germany's Miroslav Klose (4).

+ On the subject of Klose's scoring prowess, the Poland-born striker needs only two goals to eclipse Ronaldo's World Cup record of 15. He's currently on par with countryman Gerd Müller (14), while France's Just Fontaine (13) and Pele (12) are left in the dust. Klose hasn't exactly captured the imaginations of football purists, who would prefer that Ronaldo's violent poetry remains forever ahead of the German's inaesthetic penalty-box poaching as a reflection of goalscoring greatness.

+ The Guardian has commented that this Germany-Spain matchup is a role reversal of their meeting in the finals of Euro 2008, in which Spain were the idealistic young spark plugs and Germany were chafing under the burden of expectation.

Click here for Jeremy's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


World Cup Notes: Vuvuzelas On Youtube, Football WAGs & More

World Cup 2010 Logo

One Great Season

The World Cup semifinal round kicks off Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET when Holland tangles with Uruguay. Here are some notes:

+ Uruguay won two of the first four World Cups, in 1930 and 1950. They've finished fourth twice since, but haven't made a semifinal appearance since 1970.

+ For all the talk about the popular Oranje, the Dutch have never won a Cup. They finished fourth in 1998, and earned runner-up finishes in consecutive Cups in 1974 and 1978.

+ For a complete list of World Cup final four results, click here.

+ ESPN's Bill Simmons wrote a pretty interesting 20 Questions piece about the World Cup right here. It's a few days old but still definitely worth a look.

+ The vuvuzelas have made their presence known on Youtube. Play any video, including this one, and you'll notice a small soccer-ball icon along the bottom of the player. Click it and you get to enjoy your video with the sounds of vuvuzelas mixed in. Nice touch.

+ OGS World Cup writer Jeremy Brown sent in a pair of clips over the weekend. Here's what a Brazil-Uruguay semifinal might have looked like, and here's Germany coach Joachim Loew eschewing the orange wedges for another delightful mid-game snack.

+ Dutch star Daniel Sneijder divorced his wife in early 2009, but just months later was reported to have begun dating supermodel Yolanthe Cabau van Kasbergen, who looks great in a white bra.

+ Not to be outdone, Uruguay star Diego Forlan's girlfriend shows that red is her color.


World Cup Notes: Dutch Masters, Franks & Beans And More

One Great Season

A big clogs-off to my good friend John Charlton, a Dutchman who celebrated his 39th birthday with an Oranje victory over Brazil in the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals in South Africa.

The Netherlands advance to Tuesday's semifinals against either Uruguay or Ghana.

Soccer, Eh?

PHOTOSHOP OF THE DAY: This one sent in from my dude Jason, a non-soccer fan who pretty much sums it up for all non-soccer fans.

MORE DUTCH MASTERS: What a monumental meltdown by Brazil. They had a pretty opening goal, easily carving up the slack-marking Dutch. The pass and Robinho's finish were lovely.

Then, as very much needed, Stekelenburg may have pulled off the save of the tournament to keep the Oranje in it. In the second half, a bit of fortune and unexpectedly bad goalkeeping from Julio Cesar made things level. And then the game truly turned when Brazil went into complete panic mode. They were in a state of complete disarray at the back, and conceded again off the corner. Felipe Melo summed up the indiscipline of his side when he needlessly got sent off.

Although both sides had chances from there on out, Brazil were done. They hadn't exactly lit up the tournament, with a mediocre display against North Korea, OK play against Ivory Coast and a stale effort against Portugal. But what surfaced here for the supposed Cup favorites was a weak and unpleasant mentality.

From the opening whistle they were complaining and whining, behaving like petulant little punks. It was distasteful at best, disgraceful at worst. Yes, van Bommel earned himself a card that never came, but shut up and play. For a side that was allegedly infused with the steel of the manager Dunga, they went to pieces when self confidence, determination and grit were required. -- Mike Dick

Luis Suarez and Warren From 'There's Something About Mary'

SEPARATED AT BIRTH? Is it me or did Luis Suarez, who scored both goals in Uruguay's Round-of-16 win over South Korea, conjure images of Cameron Diaz's special brother Warren in "There's Something About Mary" with his second-score celebration on Saturday?

HOT VIDEO: Here's a decent video clip showing some of the tournament's best goals up until a day or two ago:

And here's another video my friend Peri sent in with the subject line: "This guy is either an idiot or a genius." Hard to tell if he's serious. Let's hope he's not.

MORE GOOD STUFF: My boy Steve Susi wrote a good post the other day, an open letter to FIFA President Sepp Blatter.


World Cup Preview: Ghana vs. Uruguay

World Cup 2010 Logo

La Celeste Look To Keep
Africans Out Of Semis

Here's what the OGS World Cup writers are looking for in Friday's second quarterfinal between Ghanay and Uruguay (ESPN, 2:30 p.m . ET):

Jake Yadrich:
Ghana's athleticism proved to be a problem for the American squad, and with the support of an entire continent, I expect the Black Stars to do the same to Uruguay.  But I see Ghana's run coming to an end on Friday. Both Andre Ayew and Jonathan Mensah will miss the match due to yellow cards against the USA, and Uruguay's duo of Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez will provide more firepower than Ghana can handle. Uruguay 2, Ghana 0

Ben Jackey:
Ghana are extremely fortunate to have escaped with a win against the United States. Uruguay have conceded but one goal so far and are much more physical in the back than the Americans were. Ghana will be missing one starter in the back and another creative winger. And, let's face it, Ghana hasn't really lit up the scoreboard with the exception of two scores on poorly defended balls. Uruguay have two world-class strikers, one of  whom eventually will find net. Uruguay wins, 1-0. Africa's quarterfinal woes continue.

EXTRA: Complete World Cup Coverage From One Great Season

Mike Dick:
+ Ghana must cope with the pressure of being on the verge of becoming the first African side to reach the last four.
+ Ghana must find a way to crack the stubborn Uruguay defense, and in doing so, not leave themselves vulnerable to the counter-attack, which is a specialty of the South Americans.
+ Ghana's defense has to neutralize Uruguay's tremendous trio of Suarez, Forlan and Cavani.
+ Will the loss of Godin in the center of Uruguay's defense compromise that unit in any way?
+ Can Suarez and Forlan remain sharp in front of the goal?

Jeremy Brown:
Two things will decide this match: Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez. Ghana have yet to face such a formidable forward partnership. Sure, Germany's Klose, Mueller and Podolski are firing on all cylinders but benefit enormously from exceptional midfield table-setting. The Uruguayan duo can make something out of nothing with the best of them. The Celeste also are stingier at the back than Monty Burns, and will not allow any solo efforts or bush-league goals like the Americans. Uruguay wins, 2-0.


World Cup Preview: Brazil vs. Netherlands

World Cup 2010 Logo

OGS Cup Experts Say
To Expect A Tight One

A few of the One Great Season World Cup writers are weighing in on Friday's quarterfinal match between Brazil and Netherlands (ESPN, 10 a.m. ET).

Jake Yadrich:
Although Ramires is suspended, Elano is out with an ankle, and Felipe Melo may not play due to injury, Brazil still has too much firepower for the Oranje. Brazil has cruised to the quarters with an unmatched balance of offense and defense, and the star-studded lineup will take down the Netherlands without much trouble. Unless Arjen Robben puts up a hat trick and keeper Maarten Stekelenburg has the game of his life, the Dutch will be knocked out by the five-time champions for the third time in the last five Cups. Fabiano and Robinho each put one in, and Julio Cesar posts a clean sheet in a 2-0 Brazil victory.

Ben Jackey:
This could be the best match of the tournament. Period.  Brazil have been very impressive since their first match against North Korea. Scoring is coming from all over the field. Tactically, they match up very well against the Netherlands. Don't be surprised if Kaka comes up big in this one. This is just the type of match where a rare breakdown can happen and he can find the back of the net. But Holland are slowly starting to gel together. The return of Arjen Robben has been a shot in the arm. The Oranje's back four have truly not been tested yet. This could be very interesting. Had I not chosen the Netherlands before the tournament, I'd lean 2-1 Brazil. However, being loyal to my pick, I'm calling it 2-2 Freaky Deeky Dutch on PKs.

Mike Dick:
+ The Netherlands must be organized and disciplined at the back. If they yield as many chances as they have in their matches so far, particularly against Slovakia, it will spell trouble.
+ Stekelenburg made some big saves in that Slovakia match, and will likely need to make more Friday if the Dutch are to prevail.
+ When presented with chances, Brazil must put them away.
+ Brazil also must not expose themselves to the counter attack too much when the outside backs push forward into attack.
+ Brazil's midfield destroyers must win the battle with Sneijder, van der Vaart, etc.

Jeremy Brown:
I personally don't see any team taking Brazil, but Holland, in my opinion, have a better chance than any of the remaining teams in the tournament. Brazil owns Argentina and Germany, and Spain, I think, will have difficulty implementing their gossamer passing game against this rough and tumble incarnation of the Selecao. Holland's Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong compose as strong and nasty a defensive midfield duo as you'll find, while a front four containing any of Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijer, Arjen Robben, Dirk Kuyt and Rafael van der Vaart will create a headache for any side, even the vaunted Brazilians. 2-1 Brazil.


Soap Opera Storylines Abound At 2010 World Cup

LeBron James

Dissension Among Ranks
For At Least Five Teams

One Great Season

Disgruntled players griping about their managers is nothing new in sport. The reasons are myriad: They either don't play enough; play out of position; blame the coach for poor results, don't like the coach's practice methods, his tactics or the cut of his jib; maybe the previous guy was better. Or perhaps they're just mentally unhinged like Carlos Zambrano.

Or Nicolas Anelka.


We're all familiar with France's nightmare World Cup campaign, in which cliquishness, mutiny, heated arguments, flying epithets, lost sponsorships, baffling player selection, sex scandals, unshaken hands and confused, passionless, execrable performances conspired to produce soap opera of the most delicious order, especially for those basking in the schadenfreude of watching a collection of overpaid, overrated prigs get unceremoniously dumped from a tournament they cheated to get into.


+ NBA: Free Agency -- Let The Drama Begin
+ ADVERTISING: Nike Fails In Bid To Write The Future
+ FOR FEMALE READERS: The 5 Hottest Players Left In The World Cup
+ NBA DRAFT: Who Said What On Twitter?

It all started -- oh God, who knows when it started? Probably with the appointment of coach Raymond Domenech, the Rodney Dangerfield of the footballing universe, some eight years ago. But for our purposes, we'll start here: "Go fuck yourself, you dirty son of a whore." These are the now immortal words uttered by Anelka to Domenech during halftime of that 2-0 defeat to Mexico, prompting the offended party to send Le Sulk immediately packing for London. Over the next few days, it got worse -- or, let's be honest, funnier -- as a squad rent by personal dislike for one another united to abstain from training just to stick it to Domenech, who was shockingly reduced to reading a prepared statement from the players to the press explaining why he was getting William Bligh-ed.

Now that it's all over, Thierry Henry would like a word with French president Nicolas Sarkozy to explain his side of things. That meeting must surely be superfluous as Domenech is now gone, Henry will probably retire from international play and Sarkozy will never be able to sum up events better than his sports minister: Les Bleus are "no longer heroes in the eyes of the nation's children."


Nothing at this World Cup can compare to the French fiasco, though other squads have endured their share of internal strife. Where England fared only slightly better than their Gallic neighbors, the level of dissent was a hundred times milder, but John Terry's bald criticism of his notoriously militant coach Fabio Capello was the fiercest exercise of English player power since the Robsons Bryan and Bobby butted heads at Italia 1990.

After the drab 0-0 tie with Algeria, Terry spoke to the media about the team's displeasure with several of Capello's policies, including the omission of Joe Cole, the use of Wayne Rooney and the prohibition on alcohol. It was done not without defiance: "If it upsets him then I'm on the verge of just saying: 'You know what? So what? I'm here to win it for England.'"

Terry added: "I will probably get in trouble now." He was right. In an interview with ITV, Capello shot back, "When you speak, you have to speak privately. This is a big mistake." Nonetheless, Terry avoided any official censure, while England won their crucial match against Slovenia and the right to consume beer on the eve of matches.


Sulley Muntari, of Ghana, however, was nearly sent home following his potty-mouthed freak out on Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac for lack of playing time. It was only the intercession of captain Stephen Appiah and President of the Ghana Football Association, Kwasi Nyantekyie, that kept him on the side after they squeezed a reluctant apology from the midfielder, who also rides the pine for Champions League winners Inter Milan.

Losing his place to the young Andrew Ayew prior to the tournament presaged a pattern of surly rebellion. He's gone against team policy to request his own bedroom, sought outside medical attention without notifying the physios and harangued teammates in changing rooms and team buses alike. With Ayew suspended for Ghana's quarterfinal against Uruguay, will Rajevac forgive his fiery charge?


The Netherlands have a long and rich history of tearing each other apart, and Robin van Persie has kept that proud tradition alive. Two weeks before the tournament he, a propos of who knows what, publicly announced his own preferred attacking lineup — and made no mention of Dirk Kuyt. This did not make Dirk Kuyt feel very good. Well, it became a big hubbub in the Dutch camp, with van Persie finally concluding, "I will have to be more careful when I speak from now on at the World Cup." No kidding.

But how soon we forget. He was substituted during the 2-1 victory over Slovenia, and before taking his place on the bench, entered into a very animated discussion with coach Bert van Marwijk. The kind of very animated discussion that looks a heckuva lot like unbridled petulance. Done, you know, in front of everyone in the world. And for all we know, his two-year pissing match with Wesley Sneijder could still be tinkling away.


The battle of Iberia ended with Portuguese tears and a Cristiano Ronaldo controversy. When asked about the loss by reporters after the game, the moody star answered "How do I explain Portugal's elimination? Talk to Carlos Queiroz." This set off quite the firestorm, though Ronaldo has since explained, rather convincingly, that his sullen words were due more to the agony of defeat than blame shifting.

Forward Hugo Almeida, however, did take a half-hearted stab at Queiroz, much like the half-hearted stabs he took on the field all tournament. "I was not surprised with my substitution," he said. "I was upset because I wanted to play, but the coach is the one to make decisions. I was not worn out."

Deco also got in on the act, criticizing the gaffer's tactics after drawing 0-0 to the Ivory Coast. In what amounts to a pretty comprehensive fly-swatting, Queiroz simply chalked up the complaint to "verbal excesses" and got on with the job.

Click here for Jeremy's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


Nike Fails In Bid To Write The Future


Cup Quarters Devoid Of
Stars From Glitzy Mega-Ad

One Great Season

When Nike unveiled its three-minute Alejandro González Iñárritu-helmed World Cup "Write the Future" mega-ad, one thing amidst all the pageantry appeared just slightly out of place: Ronaldinho, prominently featured in the spot, didn't quite make the Brazil squad. It seemed a gross miscalculation on the Swoosh's part, considering the fading Milan maestro hadn't been picked for the Selecao since April 2009. But as the big names rolled out and the cameos piled up, there perhaps grew a sneaking suspicion that this first failure, emulated so pointlessly by Kobe Bryant, would in fact prove a sign of things to come.

And it wasn't just Ronaldinho. Theo Walcott, after all, missed out on a place in the England team, never to be the target of a misplaced Wayne Rooney pass, the most painfully prophetic aspect of the whole video. A week prior to the tournament, Didier Drogba, the first bold-faced superstar we see, suffered a broken elbow in a friendly against Japan, throwing his availability into question and ultimately spiking his influence. And France's Franck Ribery has had a few months to forget: he missed Bayern Munich's Champions League final for a reckless tackle in the previous round; arrived in South Africa under investigation for sleeping with an underaged prostitute (he faces up to 3 years if convicted); reportedly played a key role in locker room divisions and the sad mutiny against coach Raymond Domenech; and did next to nothing on the field.

EXTRA: Complete World Cup Coverage From One Great Season

These players suffered their misfortunes before the commercial ever aired. Others had to wait until they laced up those fancy purple and orange boots.

After a series of geriatric showings led to a group-stage elimination, it's safe to say that Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro won't be getting the C'e Capitano treatment from Bobby Solo and his sequined band of flying figurantes and cartwheeling dudes in wifebeaters.

Patrice Evra was apparently in it, too. But blink and you'll miss him, just like at the World Cup. His most notable contribution was to lead the aforementioned French mutiny against the man who'd named him captain.

Rooney at least made it to the Round of 16, though he failed to score and, I imagine, will fail to be knighted. But let's not bet against him throwing a lager bottle through his bedroom mirror. And while Cristiano Ronaldo did manage to put one run on the board in that 7-0 boxscore over North Korea, the people of Portugal may have to lay that giant statue on the ground if they want to truly commemorate his performance at this World Cup.

Indeed, it looked for a fleeting, glorious moment that Tim Howard and Landon Donovan, awarded a whopping split-second joint cameo, would turn out to be the unlikely success stories of the ad. That is, until a Kevin-Prince Boateng wormburner and some shifty Scouser strumpet killed that dream.

All that's left are three envious Spaniards: Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique. But Cesc might want to pick that paper back up as he'll need something to read while riding the bench. The latter two, however, are enjoying a fantastic World Cup, and have so far emerged as the only players worthy of such glitzy apotheosis.

So go ahead, write the future, fellas. But the way it's going, that future will see Paraguay in the semifinals.

Click here for Jeremy's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


The 5 Hottest Players Left In The World Cup

Diego Lugano

One Great Season

I probably won't be shattering any stereotypes by saying I like watching the World Cup because the guys are hot. The sport is fun to watch, sure, but when all the players are international men of mystery, young, buff and fighting for national pride? And at the end of each game they exchange jerseys? Yes please!

Here are the guys I'll be watching once the quarterfinals begin on Friday:

Holger Badstuber

5. Holger Badstuber: Defender: Germany – If "Gossip Girl" ever does a soccer episode, they should cast Badstuber as the coach.

4. Diego Lugano: Defender: Uruguay – Lugano is the Jim Halpert of the World Cup: tall with an adorable mop of hair, he has the good-looking nice guy thing down. He can stop by my desk anytime.

3. Rafael Van Der Vaart: Midfielder: Netherlands – Blonde and beautiful, I’d learn Dutch for this man. Though talking would probably ruin it.

David Villa

2. Kevin Prince Boateng: Forward: Ghana – This guy is intense. Dark brow. Goatee. Neck tattoo. Every girl’s dream meets every dad’s nightmare.

1. David Villa: Forward: Spain – That flavor-saver soul patch and faux-hawk is the "dirty hot" reason girls study abroad.


World Cup Notes: Donovan, Bing, New Rules & More

World Cup 2010 Logo

One Great Season

If Landon Donovan's 11th-hour goal against Algeria saved his marriage last week, then his flat elimination-game effort against Ghana put it back in jeopardy, what does his future look like with actress Bianca Kajlich now that Manchester City appears to be interested in the capable midfielder?

I'm guessing the marriage has been saved, because Donovan, the best American player who earns slightly more than $2 million per year with the MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy, could earn as much as twice that wage if he signs with the world's richest soccer club. Man City plays in the English Premier League and has beefed up its roster with high-priced talent since Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan bought the outfit in 2008.

CUP REVIEW: OK, so we're more than two weeks in, and despite being a novice football fan, I feel like I now have some semi-educated takes on why Americans -- or non-fans anywhere -- don't like soccer:

+ It's not a contact sport. If it was, there wouldn't be so many divas diving after the lightest of bumps, and there wouldn't be so many whistles after those cheap stunts. Contact does not equal pain. Man up.

+ The clock should stop. Soccer is the only sport whose players fake so many injuries simply to waste time. How about this renegade approach: Don't let them waste time. If not card them for their manufactured theatrics, at least stop the clock so they can't eat it up.

+ Add referees. If a soccer field is far larger than an NFL field, and seven officials are used in each NFL game (and many think they still can't get it right), why not add more referees to soccer? Or at least to World Cup matches? I can't believe how many incorrect calls or non-calls have negated goals in a sport where maybe only two or three are scored each game. In the NBA, if a ref misses a traveling call that led to a basket in the third quarter, the victimized team still has plenty of time and scoring opportunities to overcome it. But in the Seligian game of international football, where it doesn't seem like video replay will ever be used, it would make sense to add more eyeballs.

BIIIIIING: You know that sound a door-stopper makes when you flick it to the right or left? It's often used by unfunny FM-radio DJs to imply the sound of a man's erection, and usually goes something like, "Boi-oi-oi-oi-oi-oi-ng."

Anyway, it's no coincidence that the fine people at BING, in their ad that's been running endlessly since the beginning of the Cup, use two very sexy Latin women whose every syllable is meant to induce such a reaction from their male-heavy audience.

Both of the women are beautiful, but that Filomena in particular seems to boast some curvaciousness that I find quite appealing.

TIPS FOR SPOUSES: Though there are fewer games ahead, the stakes are greater and the play will be better between now and the Cup final on July 11.

If your husband has been glued to the set and you've got some extra time on your hands, here are some tips from MSN on what to do while he's watching.

WORKPLACE PRODUCTIVITY FALLS: A new study out Monday shows there was an alarming drop in workplace productivity in the United States Friday, and the Cup is the obvious culprit.

The figures showed that Americans spent a total of nine man-hours -- perhaps as many as 10 -- of company time on Friday, as office workers from coast to coast printed out elimination-round brackets and tried to figure out where Italy and France were on the schedule.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Labor said the figures clearly demonstrate a growing interest in soccer.

"The figures clearly demonstrate a growing interest in soccer," he said.


World Cup Notes: Group D = Damn Strong

World Cup 2010 Logo

One Great Season

In the wake — pun intended — of the US Men's National Team's second loss to Ghana in as many World Cups, I felt I'd scour that match's post-game news conference transcript for words from the players and coaches themselves instead of streaming my own 18 yards of heartbreak-laced profanities. OGS has been, after all, a family website for more than 40 years.

This means that, with Sunday afternoon's thrashing of England, Germany and Group D-mates Ghana have moved into the quarterfinals, proving that "D" stands for "Damn Strong."

P.S. Now that Ghana has moved into the Quarterfinals, the author deeply regrets Korea's loss to Uruguay, as this would have realized his lifelong dream of watching the first "Ghana-Rea" match in history.

USA Coach Bob Bradley

On post-match sentiment:
"There's a pretty empty feeling right now because I think coming out of the first round, we felt that there was a real chance of doing something bigger."

On benching central defender Oguchi Onyewu in favor of Jonathan Bornstein on the left and Carlos Bocanegra in the middle:
"We thought that it was important to have both our outside backs being active and trying to get into the attack. Johnny Bornstein had fresh legs coming into this game and his running on that side of the field and his energy would help us. Carlos and Jay (DeMerit) have been a good pairing. The fact is also that in Gooch's comeback, before we got going with (the tuneup games) and then the first two games of the group, he had been out for a long time. You have to factor in minutes."

On opposing players who feign injury:
"I hate to see players acting like they've been hit getting away with it. That is the simplest thing of all to clean up. When I see Kaka get sent off, it's too bad for the game because he is a great player. That is play-acting at its best — or worst. I like to see real competition. I would be in favor that, if it's as obvious as somebody getting pushed in the chest and grabbing his face and laying on the ground, I would rescind the red card and suspend the player who did it for a good number of games.

On the growth of the game in the US:
"We understand that every four years, to some degree, that growth will be put to the test by the results of that World Cup. That's just the way it is. If we do take it further, then maybe that shows people the progress. When you don't, then you still have to keep going. So we've got to keep going.

USA Midfielder Landon Donovan

On losing to Ghana:
"Soccer is a cruel game. Sometimes you're at the top and sometimes you're at the bottom of the mountain. It sucks, man."

On his team's errors:
"I think the way we went out is frustrating because we played a pretty good game, but made a couple of mistakes and got punished for it. It's a tough lesson to learn when you don't get a chance to redeem yourself. I guess the warning signs were there, getting scored on early, and it came back to bite us."

On whether the energy spent fighting back for three straight games took its toll:
"I actually don't think so. I thought we were the fitter team and had more energy in the second half and into overtime. But when you're consistently behind in games, it's very difficult to get back into it."

On the end of the World Cup for Team USA:
"The finality of it is brutal. You realize how much you've put into it not just in the last four years, but your whole life. There's no guarantee there's another opportunity at that. It's disappointing."

USA Goalkeeper Tim Howard

On the future of American soccer:
"We're one of the biggest countries in the world so we've got to start producing some megastars somewhere along the line. But you have to catch that bug first, so you hope this is all part of it for the next generation coming up. I'm sure it will be. I have no doubt."

USA Defender Jay Demerit

On Ghana's second goal:
"When you have sharp forwards that sit on your shoulder, they wait for balls like that. For defenders, we have to worry about the ball in front and the ball behind, and sometimes you get caught in two minds or you just get caught in the space and have to react. The athleticism that they have on that team, they were able to react a little bit quicker than us and showed good strength and a good finish.

Ghana Coach Milovan Rajevac

On the USA-Ghana match overall:
"Both teams deserved to win (Saturday), but only one could go to the quarterfinals. During extra time we needed strength and we had this strength."

On midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng's injury:
"Boateng was injured against Germany already. It is going to be a huge problem to get him ready for the next game."

On the challenges the team faces in the next match:
"It is fantastic to be in the eight best teams, but our problem over the next six days is an injury to Kevin-Prince Boateng that will have our medical staff working hard, and two players (André Ayew and Jonathan Mensah) suspended through second yellow cards."

Ghana Striker Asamoah Gyan

On team perception:
"I said it before: most of Africa turns to take us for granted, but we have proved the critics wrong. I'm the happiest man in the world we did it."

Ghana Midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng

On the injury sustained against the USA:
"I don't know if I will play in the quarterfinals. I don't know if it is a big tear in my hamstring but I will be devastated if I've to leave my friends and brothers like that, but I am praying."

Click here for Steve's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


Cup Run Over: USA Falls To Ghana, 2-1

Jonathan Bornstein

Americans Start Flat,
Can't Carry Momentum
From Wednesday's Thriller

One Great Season
The spirited second-half comeback against Slovenia, the 91st-minute goal to beat Algeria and the global sympathy offered up after questionable referees' calls were all once cute storylines, but they'll eventually pale in comparison to this harsh reality after the USA lets Saturday's Round-of-16 loss to Ghana sink in: the World Cup was a rather large disappointment for the American side.

Had the U.S. been eliminated by a traditional power like Germany today, and had they done so despite playing a full match with the heart and determination so evident through much of their Group C win, then perhaps a silver lining would be obvious.

But the Americans came out flat and though they eventually increased their intensity for a stretch, they'll be remembered for an overall punchless performance in an elimination game against an inferior team.

Ghana are no slouch; they're among the top footballing sides in Africa, but the USMNT is no slouch either and winning knockout games is something credible teams do with regularity at the World Cup. Lost in all the drama of Landon Donovan's 11th-hour goal Wednesday was the fact that the Americans were supposed to have advanced past the group stage.

Now that it's been an hour, here's how a few of the OGS World Cup writers are weighing in following the difficult loss:

+ Jeremy Brown
Landon Donovan's divorce will be finalized.

+ Bruce Sholl
We looked like shit, no intensity. What else do you want me to say?

+ Steve Susi
Having just returned to the States as the OGS European Bureau correspondent, the US Men's National Team today reminded me of a wheel of Holland's famous Edam cheese: waxed on the outside, soft in the middle, and if you leave it out too long, it starts to stink. In contrast, Ghana played like a nice Manchego, the Spanish varietal with a black rind that gets really runny when warm.

So proud of our boys, though. Heartbreaking, yes — but only after three performances which even the English fans I met all last week had to admit rendered us an international laughing-stock no longer.

+ Mike Dick
The U.S. laid an egg. Were it not for the crossbar, the Americans would have conceded goals in the first 10 minutes of each match and extra time. Piss poor. Can't create chances or finish them and crappy midfield.


World Cup 2010: USMNT Looks To Continue Run

Landon Donovan

Americans On Brink
Of Something Significant

One Great Season

The U.S. takes on Ghana Saturday in the knockout phase of South Africa 2010. The Yanks are coming off of their heart-stopping, last-minute victory over Algeria to turn a potential early exit into a group-topping finish.

The feat hasn't gone unnoticed. The drama of that win, coupled with the we-wuz-robbed moments of the Slovenia and Algeria matches, has generated a lot of pub -- even sympathy -- for this team. The casual or even non-soccer fan seems to be along for the ride, which is awesome.

The Americans are where they should have expected to be when the Cup began, advancing from the group stage. Nothing less should be accepted anymore. Now comes the time to show if the U.S. team has what it takes to make this a truly special tournament. If the Americans are as good as they like to think they are, and if our country wants to be taken seriously as a footballing nation, Ghana is the kind of team the USMNT must beat, period. No excuses (barring another d-bag refereeing decision late in the going).

A win will propel the U.S. into the last eight, and match the achievement of the USMNT in Japorea 2002. But this team has the chance to do something much more signficant. Much of that magical 2002 tournament run wasn't enjoyed by the masses, as many of the matches were played in the middle of the night U.S. time. Not so with South Africa. I expect big numbers (in the soccer sense) for the Ghana clash, which adds to the pressure and significance of Saturday's showdown in the Royal Bafokeng Stadium. Sure the world will be watching. But more importantly, Americans, and lots of them, will be as well.

It's a joke that the U.S. Women's 1999 World Cup triumph is the most watched soccer match in our country's history. It just goes to show what marketing and promotion can do. That was played up as some sort of improbable, feel-good story, when in fact the USWNT was one of, if not, the best women's team in the world, playing on home turf, with one World Cup already in their pockets. Now, this men's team has a chance to do something far more significant in the sporting and cultural sense. They may actually be able to raise the profile of the game outside the ever-growing group of hard-core football fans. Here's hoping the Americans are up to the task.

Click here for Mike's bio and an archive of his previous stories.