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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My 2014 FIFA World Cup Confession

For my friends in the rugby blogosphere, it's rare when I write about the round ball as opposed to the oval ball, but I was a soccer/football fan before I ever discovered rugby, so please excuse me while I digress about the current FIFA World Cup.
I may stand like a rock-but I am not infallible.

Before the World Cup Started, I had a lot of thoughts and predictions. As the round of 16 matches ended today with victories by Belgium and Argentina, I have to admit that there is much about this World Cup where I have been mistaken.

-I did not think the USA would get out of the "Group of Death" with Germany, Ghana and Portugal. American and Everton Goalkeeper Tim Howard helped the Americans stay in every game with some heroic goalkeeping.

-I thought there would be two African teams that would make it to the round of 16, but I was wrong about the countries. I thought Ghana and the Ivory Coast would go through, instead Algeria and Nigeria made it.

-I never would have imagined little Costa Rica, not only make the second round, but they would win their group that had former World Cup Champs Uruguay, Italy and England. The Ticos would also, for good measure, make it to the quarterfinals for the first time in that countries history.(They get Holland in the Quarterfinals).

-I never thought CONCACAF would produce 3 round of 16 participants in the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica.

I never thought I would find myself actually rooting for Mexico and their boisterous, colorful coach, Señor Herrera. I usually hate "El Tri", but I really liked this Latino version of the late comedian, Chris Farley.

_ I did not  think that England, Italy and Spain would ALL crash out the first round.

-I did not think that Julian Green would even get on the field during this World Cup, but the young American born, German-raised forward scored a great goal after coming on as a sub for the Yanks to make the game interesting against Belgium.

-When French and Bayern Munich forward Franck Ribéry  had to forfeit for this world cup because of a sore back, I really wondered if Les Bleus would be able to be a factor. Well, they play Germany in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

-I thought that a FIFA World Cup played in tropical Brazil, with day time start times to cater to European TV, would be a yawn fest of boring games. What we ended up with was  a World Cup that has had the most goals since the 1958 World Cup in Sweden that introduced the world to Pélé and Frenchman Just Fointaine and his 13 goals in that World Cup-a record that will probably be never broken in my lifetime. There have been some seriously entertaining matches in this World Cup.
My son Ian(Named after Ian Rush) and my Grandson Duncan play some ball.

Twenty some years ago, It would have been impossible to imagine a couple of thousand people in Omaha, Nebraska gathered around multiple TV screens at a bar/Restaurant watching, cheering and holding their breath as the USA and Portugal played out their drama in 4 parts that ended with Portugal tying the game with about 30 seconds left in the match, after some pulsating end-to-end action. But yet, my son Ian and I were part of the fun at World Cup watch parties in Omaha, Denver, Montrose, Colorado and Los Angeles. The game has come a long way in my country.

There. I feel so much better after getting all of this off my chest.
The Horsefly Brewing Company in Montrose, Colorado-one of several places  my son  Ian and I  caught World Cup action as we drove from Minnesota to Los Angeles.

This World Cup shows what can be great in sport. Even if you have been a long time fan, you can still be pleasantly surprised.

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