Monday, July 12, 2010

World Cup 2010: Final Thoughts on South Africa

We have reached the conclusion of the 19th edition of the World Cup. The end of a World Cup always feels like the end of a long vacation; returning to reality is tough, but there are plenty of great memories. With no place else to put these, here are some random parting thoughts on the 2010 World Cup.

Kudos to ABC/ESPN on their outstanding coverage of the tournament. Remember 20 years ago when TNT would break for commercials mid-game, or even four years ago when we had the painful announcing duo of Dave O'Brien and Marcelo Balboa? This year we were treated to eloquent crews and non-stop coverage, highlighted by the legendary Martin Tyler. The mix of personalities in the studio was great, although the addition of a couple South American voices would be a nice add for 2014. The big ratings should ensure that ABC/ESPN deploys the same armada of coverage again in Brazil.

Following some of your favorite soccer journalists and fellow fans on Twitter is a great way to enhance your match day experience. For a mix of US national team views, insights on the host nation, and a great global perspective on the game, Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated is my favorite to follow.

Best goal of the tournament was easily Giovanni van Bronckhorst's thunderbolt against Uruguay. Second-best goes to Carlos Tevez against Mexico. (The blast from outside the box, not the one where he was blatantly offsides.)

All the World Cup talk in this country from December until kickoff surrounded the U.S.-England match. In the end, that match was the least memorable of the four the U.S. played.

Funny how quickly perceptions of a tournament change. We went from hailing South America and mocking Europe to watching Europe take the top thee spots for the second-straight World Cup.

The yellow card accumulation rule needs a major overhaul. Thomas Mueller missing the semifinal because of a very iffy hand ball yellow card against Argentina was one of the tournament unfortunate moments. Either wipe the slate clean after the group stages, or increase the number of yellows that trigger a suspension from two to three. I would also add post-game review of any yellow card that results in a suspension, but we're more likely to see a man on Mars first.

Pimp move by Spain after the Final- when they changed into their traditional red jerseys for the trophy presentation, the World Cup winners star had already been added to their kits.

While the list of World Cup winners is always referenced as an exclusive club, there's plenty of diversity among recent champs. Six different nations have hoisted the last seven trophies: Argentina (1986), West Germany (1990), Brazil (1994, 2002), France (1998), Italy (2006) and Spain (2010).

Speaking of former champs, we'll no longer look at the list of former champs and say "Uruguay? How did they make that list?" Instead the skepticism shifts to England and France.

As a Liverpool fan, I love this shot of Fernando Torres, remembering his club during the post-game locker room celebrations. Everything about Torres says great teammate. What a shame he couldn't showcase the full breadth of his talent in South Africa.

All the coverage about Brazil and their preparations for the 2014 World Cup, portray an absolute mess getting ready. But people said the same thing about South Africa, so I'll reserve judgement for four years. My early picks for the Final? Brazil and Germany.

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