long way round

2010 World Cup Round of 16 Review – Part 1

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It was 94 degrees today, and people were crazy enough to play soccer. Every time I sucked hot air into my lungs, it was immediately transformed into lead and coursed its way down to my legs. After 90 minutes of running in what was like the sahara desert from the movie Lawrence of Arabia, a few chances at goal came and went, and it began to dawn on me that the Suarez-esque late winner I was envisioning was never going to happen. At least I didn't make a Kim Nam Il mistake. Or is that a Cha Du Ri error. Or a Lee Dong Gook miss. Oh well. I guess I should be content that I'm still standing and not keeled over because of the heat.

Korea Packs Their Bags

Korea made history by advancing past the group stage for the first time on foreign soil. But, history ended there, as they were bested by Diego I-have-abs-you-should-be-jealous-about Forlan and a better Uruguay. As much as I am sad, I am very optimistic about Korean football and its future. Yes, I ranted on some of their errors and mistakes, but overall they performed valiantly and garnered much respect, almost beating out the South Americans. The real challenge now is to develop a stronger defense, one in which many of them have top level international experience. The difference between Korea and Uruguay (besides having superior strikers Suarez and Forlan), was in the back line. While Uruguay's defense has regular exposure to Champions League football, the Korean defense mainly plies their trade in the K league or in a mid table team in Germany (i.e. Cha Du Ri). Once we have defensive center backs who can handle the pressure, pace, and guile of a Forlan or a Suarez, we will be much more competitive.

Meanwhile Suarez, and his goal that is perhaps the best goal in the tournament so far, put Uruguay back into the quarter finals since 1970. Well done.
Kudos goes to all the Koreans who showed up to plazas, public places, and Seoul City Hall (pictured here) to root for the team, even in ungodly hours such as 1am or 3:30am. They were religious in their chanting and meticulous with their thunder sticks (who cares if the team can't hear it in South Africa). Bleary eyed children and old grandmothers made their way through Lawrence Plaza here in the bay, and we laughed and we cried together with the team's successes and failures. 

Now, I expect many Koreans to start following the EPL, SPL, and Ligue 1 with some of the stars playing in Europe. You can still pick up a Ki Seung Yeung Celtic FC shirt (the "bumblebee" strip will be a collector's item for sure) and begin to support Koreans playing abroad. 

Ghana Did It For Africa
Ghana also made history by advancing to the quarterfinals by beating USA. Maybe the grueling battle with Algeria sapped the energy out of the Americans, but they were definitely the weaker side. I happened to be rooting for Ghana (yes, I was born here, am a citizen here, and enjoy my freedom to consume in safety) because having the tournament in South Africa, I really want to see an African nation go far. I was actually cheering for Ghana in the company of friends who were all cheering for the US. After the match, I got an earful from the mrs and in retrospect realize that perhaps I was not respectful enough. On top of that, I also got a schooling on priorities and loyalties that are still ringing in my ears. 

So having said that, let me just say the USA, while technically not as advanced as a Spain or Brazil, has tremendous heart and a "never say die" attitude. They played with all they had, and was unfortunate to be beaten by a Kevin Prince Boateng strike and a Asamoah Gyan goal. The good news about the US is that MLS is a growing breeding ground for quality soccer players, and more cities and teams are investing in soccer-specific stadiums (it's atrocious how many MLS teams play on astro turf). I vowed to never watch an Earthquakes game again (high ticket price for a mediocre game at best), but perhaps I should also put my money where my mouth is so that soccer can continue to grow in this country. The best US player this tournament is Michael Bradley, who did a lot of everything: hustling to win 50/50s, passing through to move up the offense, hustling back to cover D, and scoring the dramatic equalizer in the cracker of a match against Slovenia.

And instead of incurring the wrath of the mrs, I will root for the USA next time around. USA! USA! USA!

The Fatherland Marches On
Perhaps we all saw it coming. The birth place of soccer, England was supposed to march to glory but would be thwarted by a far superior, athletic, and young Germany. The Guardian has bemoaned the loss with some stingers in their titles:

"English Football – The End of the World"
"England Hit A New Löw"

Even though Frank Lampard was denied a goal (oh the injustice!), Germany was the far better side, with their crisp passing and delicious dribbling skills that left the likes of Glen Johnson and even Cashley Cole confused and bewildered like a deer caught in a pair of oncoming headlights. Klose, who was largely silent with his club Bayern Munich throughout the year, has found his World Cup mojo and is closely catching up to Ronaldo's World Cup scoring record of 15 with 11 of his own after today's match agains the English.

Maradona Wrong Footing Everyone
I read an interesting article about how Maradona may just be "wrong footing" everyone this tournament. Argentina barely qualified, and much of the malaise was blamed on Maradona's inexperience with coaching, his troublingly odd antics, and his puzzling selections using over 100 players in a myriad of combinations. He may just fooled everyone and this World Cup may reveal just how much he is a genius as a manager as he was as a player.

Posted via email from Long Way Round


Written by shindz

June 28, 2010 at 4:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Great blog you got going here and a very well written article! I think it was brutal to see the Germany-England game go the way it did. Also, you think you check out my post cuz I really wanna hear your opinion on my thoughts. http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/lampard-non-goal-didnt-matter-are-you-kidding-me/

    Chris Ross

    June 28, 2010 at 5:50 am

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