Handing out first stage first round awards while trying to figure out: When Sweden and
The world cup first round takes forever. I still think that raising the number of teams from 24 to 32 solved some problems (more seats for Asia and Africa, no best-thirds qualifying to the second round), but it is almost impossible for a functional human being to watch every minute of every first round game. After a first look at every team here are my first stage, first round, first annual awards:
The 1990 World cup and its all-time low 2.2 goals/game average award for the ultimate snooze fest: Too many games and too many candidates. Even the opening game that featured 6 goals had big dead times (between the 20’-65’ absolutely nothing happened), but that is a part of the game. England/Paraguay, Ecuador/Poland, Mexico/Iran were a waste of time. But the award goes to Portugal/Angola,(Figo) still has some gas left in his tank, but this game was as exciting as watching grass grow. I guess Group D is the true group of (slow) death.
The late Andreas Escobar award for “I am going to live, right? It was just an own goal in the first round, and I did not mean it! It is not only my fault, I can't get shot!!” : Paraguay’s captain 4(Carlos Gammara), who was trash-talking the English before the game calling them the third best team in the group and questioning Beckham manhood (who doesn’t?), only to deflect one of Beckham’s infamous free kicks into his own goal. That cost his team a valuable point, against a flat English team in a tough group. On the other hand, if you are
The Taribo West award for the most bizarre hair-do: Some trends that were thought of as weird when they first appeared are considered normal: the long curly hair (
21(Wilhelmsson)/Sweden: obviously he decided to get rid of his mullet before the cup and maybe thought it is too valuable to lose it all together, so he left a single strand of hair hanging from the left side of the back of his head.
9 (Kone) /
20 (Loco) /
9 (Takahra) /
3(Karim Hagguai) /
14 (Lee Chun-Soo) /
The 1990 Sergio Goycochea award for the substitute goalie who comes out of nowhere to lead his team to the promise land: 1(Shaka Hislop) of Trinidad & Tobago. After Argentina’s starting keeper (Pumpido) broke his leg in the opener Goycochea fills in, shuts out Brazil in the second round, blocks two PKs against Yugoslavia, another two gainst Italy (in shootouts) and almost gets to Andreas Brehme cup winning cheap PK. Hislop is not going to take TnT that far but they could sneak into the second round after the courageous showing against Sweden. This team plays hard and they have 19(Dwight York) anchoring their defense, after years of anchoring Man U’s front line. Plus, if you have an IV league education (Hislop played at
The 2002 Sweden/Senegal award for the game that dramatically exceeds expectations:
The (Masri-ya-7akam : calling a referee “Egyptian” to describe his lousy calls and to imply potential bribery, a Jordanian tradition based on the Basketball gold medal game against Syria in the 1992 Arab Games) award for refereeing incompetence: coincidently goes to the Egyptian referee of Japan/Australia. Al-Fatah helped ruin a great effort by both teams. On
The surprised/screwed husband award for the recipient of an overwhelming gift that caught him unprepared (WOW honey, you got me a car for Christmas! Mmmm, I made you a mixed tape and a sock bunny) : Mexico/Iran pre-game flag exchange. The genius couch potato award for second guessing professional coaches who are managing world class teams goes to The following two comments:
-So, the guy is the Italian Series-A second leading scorer last year, and he is a proven scorer on the international level (31 goals in 61 caps) and you could not find some playing time for David Trezeguet in a 0-0 game, but you think it is a good idea to play Vikas (the French are catching up to outsourcing), and now you have not scored in the world cup in the last four games.-
-So, you are representing too splitting countries and your backline is your strength, and you decided it is a good idea to play an offside trap right at mid field to start the game against a super fast Robben and Dutch team. It was almost broken in the first minute, and minutes later it was actually broken for the game winner, and now there is even a smaller chance of a S&M vs. TnT match up in the quarterfinals for the first soccer doubles ever.
The genius couch potato award for second guessing professional coaches who are managing world class teams goes to The following two comments:
The Jordan TV award for the worst coverage of a sporting event: ESPN. The self-declared World wide leader in sports is providing a terrible experience for the soccer fan who is forced to watch through them. They are constantly missing little details (no pre-game line-ups, no mention of the names of the refereeing crew, ignores substitutions, constant talking over live action, constant discussion of the American team). They are constantly trying to accommodate the American casual fan (who is NOT watching), using farfetched baseball and basketball analogies. The commentators and studio analysts are terrible. On the bright side it is relatively free (with cable). A few notes from the world wide leaders and their commentators:
During Iran/Mexico game: “When
Togo/South Korea game: “I am not sure how tall this player is but he looks like he is 6-13, laugh, Oh I mean 7-1. (The player was 2(Nibombe) and he is 6-5, and I guess the 6-13 was supposed to be a joke)
During Brazil/Croatia game: “They say in
During Angola/Potugal game: “Cristiano Ronaldo has more moves than Mariah Carey.” (I am not even sure what that means since Mariah Carey is not known for her dancing).
During Holland/S&M nobody ever mentions the absence or even references the absence of the Dutch star player 10 (Van der Vaart). I find this annoying.
After the opening game the crew moves to the inside the studio mini-field so that Eric Wynalda can re-enact
And they have a girl doing studio analysis (Not that there is anything wrong with that).
The Bin Laden/ Gas prices award for the thing that most annoys the average American casual fan : A split between the offside, and the stretcher on the field. Just like Filippo Inzaghi, American fans will never understand the offside rule and will never accept it. Seriously, What is the point? Referees has problems correctly calling it, fans and players hate it, and the offside trap is the cheapest scheme ever invented. How do you think the first striker who was all alone, because the defenders moved up not because he moved in, felt?
Also, American’s feel offended when a player leaves on a stretcher and jogs back into action seconds after reaching the sidelines. It makes sense. When Germany's 8(Frings) leaves on a stretcher, comes back and within a second and rips the best goal in the cup from almost midfield, you have to feel that something is wrong. Any player who leaves on a stretcher should do the Jan Koller thing and let them carry him all the way to the locker room.
The Michael Owen award for the star who is prematurely announced “the best in the world”: These are the players who were very impressive in the opening game, and I hope they do not fade away, resembling Owen’s soccer career:
11(Arjen Robben) /
11(Pavel Nedved) /
10(Tomas Rosicky) /
The David Copperfield award for the best disappearing act: Did (Ronaldo) play against The 1990 UAE award for an overmatched team in a tough group:
The 1990 UAE award for an overmatched team in a tough group:
The unidentified awkwardly superstitious trend award: The number (3). If you are a player, especially a defender, wearing the number 3, you should ask to change your number or ask to be scratched from the starting lineup. Just check out some of these misfortunes and mistakes:
3(Avery John)/TnT was sent off (maybe unjustly so) against
3(Yuichi Komano)/Japan failed to clear the side throw after his keeper misjudged it, instead he slid and trapped the ball under him, to have it pop back to the Australian anticipating player for the tying goal. He was later denied what appeared to be a PK on his backline run and of course he was burnt and turned around by 15( John Aloisi) to give up the third Australian goal. (and by the way Yuichi, please tell Teruyuki and Seiichiro that it is impossible to read words that has three successive vowels.).
3(Ruda Tukar)/ Saudia Arabi cleared a cross to with his head to the middle (a basic mistake) to have it bounce of the back of his teammate right in front of 5(Jezeiri) who finished it in on a great semi volley. Of course Number 3(Haggui) of
3(Jean- Paul Abalo)/
The lesson is as always, I need a hobby. (I am kidding this is my hobby).
The Roger Miller Samba dance award for goal celebration excellence: Obviously players are saving their best choreography for the later stages when the stakes are higher, but the best so far goes to 4(Tim Cahill)/Australia, who after his late tying goal, ran to the corner and air punched the corner flag a few times before ducking under.
The US Weekly Fashion Police award for wardrobe investigation:
The award goes to those who were committed to their classic colors, offering a throwback look (
The uni-color (from head to toe) trend was dominant and annoying, especially for teams who wore all orange (
The Apparel providers were as follows:
Puma: (12) dressed more teams than anyone else. All teams shared a similar classic design with two pumas on the shoulders with the different teams colors (maybe with the exception of
Poland, Ivory Coast, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Angola, Togo, Czech Republic, Iran, Italy, Paraguay (purple blue atrocious color that looked like pajamas), Switzerland, Ghana.
Nike: (8) allowed teams to customize a little more. Also, Nike provided a cool checkered Goalkeeper suit (probably inspired by Dutch club Feyenoord Rotterdam or England's Blackburn Rovers).
Adidas: (6) The brand of choice for teams who wanted to go the classic, which looked better than everyone else.
Lotto: (2) Similar design for their two customers that has multiple offset color wedges in a circular distribution that extends to the shorts (go find a picture).
Serbia & Monte
So, until the round of sixteen rolls in, I am only watching significant games, and unless something big happens, (like that stupid Jumbotron hanging from top of Frankfurt Stadium drops on a couple of players and a ref, or another drunk Croatian runs on the field (this time actually stabbing somebody), I am not interested in the world cup till then.