What makes a World Cup legacy?
When Spain won the 2010 World Cup whilst executing a transplant version of the famed total football tactics of the Dutch against the Dutch in the final–a surreal case of the body snatchers indeed–coupled with the parallel success of Barcelona at the club level, it became clear that Spain was the soccer capital of the world.
This impressive achievement was stylistic and generational.
Thus far in the 2018 World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored four goals in two games, which includes the game-winning goal in Portugal’s 1-nil win today against Morocco, while Lionel Messi hasn’t registered a goal or assist after 90 minutes against Iceland in the group stage. Both Ronaldo and Messi, for instance, are world-class soccer players and generational icons. The point is whether Ronaldo is genuinely tipping the scale in his favor in real-time in his rivalry with Messi for best player in the world because he’s scored/scoring more goals than his Argentine counterpart on soccer’s biggest stage?
If the 2018 World Cup ends up tipping the scales in this heated debate–this premise being a whole other debate–will goals or style of play weigh heavier in defining the (proposed) best player of his generation?
Either way, Messi will have his shot(s) tomorrow to add some goals to his tournament résumé and for his country, as well as some weight to his side of the scale.
If you essentially always keep a fork in your left hand after cutting a piece of meat, then that is what everyone expects to see when eating a knife-and-fork meal with you. To try and eat a meal with a fork in your right hand after cutting a piece would be silly.
The thing is that, on very rare occasions in private, you’ve been practicing cutting steak with a fork in your left hand, but eating the succulent piece of meat with the fork in your right hand.
Once dinnertime arrives, what will your guests think when they see this unusual spectacle?
Just ask Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart. He found out how that felt last night in the Champions League game at the Etihad Stadium when Arjen Robben of Bayern Munich cut and ate the best piece of steak (delicately covered in seasoned salt and gently dipped in A-1 sauce) from his plate right in front of him, with Robben’s “fork” held awkwardly and unsuspectingly in his right hand in the 60th minute.
One thing is for sure: Hart will be remembered as being one of the rare few who have been scored on by Robben’s nearly invisible right foot.
And not only that, but Hart was beaten near post (ie- the keeper’s post!).
Just imagine the possibilities if Robben continues to attack the goal using his left and right foot…
There will be jubilation for some and chaos for others at many a future dinner party.
A tale of two halves in the most explicitly literal sense.
Bosnia-Herzegovina owned the first half and darted two goals past the frustrated American pipe-master Tim Howard for a 2-nil lead (the worst lead in soccer…).
The United States of America owned the second half where competent and creative ball movements by Michael Bradley led to great finishes, three of which from the man who has been on a hot streak of goal scoring this summer: Jozy Altidore. A hat trick is always a nice souvenir. The U.S. won the game in surprising fashion 4-3.
Who saw that coming after halftime? Actually, perhaps Bosnia-Herzegovina should have been more perceptive to this possibility after they substituted half of their team (six players) with slightly slower and slightly weaker replacements. Regardless, a valiant effort on the part of the USMNT.
For the game’s analysis, a short list has been created that details the highlights and lessons from last night’s comeback victory in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina:
-There needs to be “A Bradley Touch Tracker” as a graphic on the television screen (when he touches the ball, good things tend to happen).
-On a similar note, there should be “A Donovan GPS Tracker” (Just so the coaches and viewers can confirm he’s still on the field for those big games when he disappears for 15 minutes or so. “Oh, there he is! Yes, he’s still out there somewhere over there…”)
Important Note: Landon Donovan was not there last night and I’m a fan, but this would still be very useful
-The USMNT did not (and has yet to) start a back-line that can successfully play a staggered defense where the two outside defenders can frequently go forward, mostly due to the lackluster performance of Cameron and Brooks together in the middle.
-Brad Evans: once again, good job.
-More time and more touches for Aron Johannsson, please!
-Jozy Altidore: keep shooting and flexing your muscles for 90 minutes.
-Spread the field from sideline to sideline with outside midfielders who will attack with vigor!
-As Taylor Twellman said, the real ticket to buy is the one for Jürgen Klinsmann’s halftime speeches: wow! Plus, Klinsmann continues to be a master of substitutions. Gut gemacht!
One constant that is becoming increasingly apparent is that the USMNT will be a second half, come from behind squad. The challenge is that most of the top teams in the world are well-versed in the “two halves of soccer” strategy. And most will not take off their best players after 45 minutes…
Just as I wrote about “Fool’s Gold” regarding the Gold Cup, there are still some smoke and mirror effects going on with these recent results. The head coach has yet to put the 11-men onto the pitch who will amaze an audience for 90+ minutes without those very same spectators being skeptical and wondering what the catch was afterwards.
Klinsmann can no doubt work his magic towards something potentially historic, but the fans are still stuck watching the mistake-prone rehearsals with the “big show” less than a year away…