And so the 2014 FIFA World Cup is underway, and what a treat we've experience in just a few short days. As one who is a relative newcomer to domestic and world soccer, this is my first World Cup where I've watched club soccer leading up to this grand stage. It's made this experience a delight.
This World Cup has had the usual ups and downs--highlights and lowlights. And it certainly didn't take long (I'm looking at you, Yuichi Nishimura along with the crew that took away two Dos Santos goals for Mexico on Friday). But the adventure didn't stop there. Let's shine the spotlight on my highlights and lowlights:
HIGHLIGHT: Costa Rica beating Uruguay 3-1.
Costa Rica bagged the biggest game in their history in beating a Luis Suarez-less Uruguay team--but that in no way should take away from this superb feat. This was also one of the biggest upsets in recent World Cup memory. Costa Rica's Joel Campbell impressed Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger so much that he will be given a chance in the first squad, making this Colorado Gooner happy. Uruguay plays England June 19 at 1:00 pm MT; Costa Rica plays Italy June 20 at 10:00 am MT. Will Uruguay be forced to play Suarez who is only a month removed from knee surgery? Will Costa Rica handle Italy, making them the darling of this World Cup? Who will be your 'darling' of this World Cup?
HIGHLIGHT: Golazos Galore
We've been treated to some spectacular goals, part of the offensive-mindedness of this World Cup (three cheers for zero draws thus far). Robin van Persie's goal for the Netherlands against Spain will live in immortality (tough to say as a Colorado Gooner) as should the pass delivered by Daley Blind from the half line. The goal by the Japan's Keisuke Honda player left the Ivory Coast goalkeeper frozen. And Mario Balotelli header against England was also a thing of beauty. And, while this certainly wasn't a true golazo, seeing Messi score for Argentina (even with a 'messy' first half--sorry) was worth the trip for many. Should the managers keep employing an offense-minded strategy, we will have more treats in store. What was your favorite goal thus far?
HIGHLIGHT: Goal Line Technology
After so many questionable calls by the referee (some already in this World Cup), seeing this goal line technology in use saw justice come for Karem Benzema on a beautiful goal against Honduras. This technology is not an enemy of the purity of the game, but a way to get the calls right. Just ask all of those players in the past who actually scored in World Cups, only to have referees take them away. We all want the games called correctly--no shame in having help along the way. Do any of you dislike this technology?
LOWLIGHT: Honduras Recklessness
I confess, I know very little about the respective French and Honduran sides as a whole, but when I see the display that I saw from Honduras and their recklessness (intentional or otherwise), my first thought is, "They can't keep up with them, and that's the only way to slow them down." Four yellows (two going against Wilson Palacios) was most generous of the Honduran side. Do you believe this was Honduras' way of keeping France contained? If not, what were they thinking?
LOWLIGHT: Justified Brazilian Unrest
While the World Cup games present an amazing display, we must not forget how the Brazilian government's partnership with FIFA has left the Brazilian citizenry in significant unrest. When the stadium in Manaus cost approximately $270 million, will only be used four times during this World Cup and likely not used again (no soccer clubs exist in the Manaus area), this leaves the residence of Manaus wondering why money cannot be spent to help the serious issues taking place there along with other areas of the country? This, along with FIFA's financial arrangements, make the residents of Brazil and the rest of the country wonder if they are part of a raw deal in the World Cup being there in the first place. Did Brazil's citizens get a raw deal?
Let's hear from you. I've asked questions. You have answers. Tell me I'm right. Tell me I'm crazy. Like I've said, any talk about soccer in the states is good talk.
Monday afternoon at 4:00 pm MT, the USMNT play Ghana.
See you Tuesday night at DSGP--our boys in Burgundy play Orlando City at 7:00 pm.
Here we go!