World Cup preview — The Quarterfinals

Featured image So far, this World Cup has delivered almost everything a soccer fan could want: lots of scoring in the Group Stage, plenty of matches decided by late goals, star performances from most of the tournament’s superstars, the emergence of major new stars, seven tense matches of the eight games played in the Round of 16, and six or seven formidable teams remaining in the tournament’s last eight. The only thing »

World Cup Update: How good is the U.S. team?

Featured image Now that the U.S. has been eliminated from the World Cup, the excitement our run generated has given way to disappointment over the realization that we were constantly on the back foot against Germany and Belgium. So how good, really, is the U.S. team? The answer, I think, is clear. We’re one of the top 20, and probably one of the top 16, teams in world. But we aren’t in »

World Cup preview — the Round of 16

Featured image The Round of 16, which begins today, usually doesn’t produce many upsets. And, although this year’s World Cup has been exceptional, I wouldn’t expect major upsets this time around, either. Argentina, France, and Germany have all drawn clearly inferior opponents (Switzerland, Nigeria, and Algeria, respectively). Brazil faces a good opponent in Chile, but it would take a very brave man to pick Chile to defeat Brazil in Brazil. Still, the »

World Cup Update — Where have all the fullbacks gone?

Featured image I have always thought that the key to success in the World Cup is being “strong up the middle” — i.e. at goalkeeper, center back, central midfield, and center forward. But on reflection, I can’t think of a team that has won the World Cup in the last few decades without a good pair of fullbacks (the members of the defensive back four who patrol and protect the flanks). The »

World Cup Update — Show me the money [UPDATE -- U.S. advances]

Featured image The team from Ghana may be in disarray over a dispute about payments to the players for their World Cup services. This sort of thing happens a lot with African teams. In fact, the Cameroon team was going to stay at home until its federation showed players the money at the last minute. They might have been better off at home, though, considering Cameroon’s miserable showing in Brazil. Ghana has »

World Cup preview — the moment of truth for the U.S.

Featured image Tomorrow at the World Cup, the U.S. will face powerhouse Germany in the final game of the group stage. Simultaneously, Ghana and Portugal will play. If Ghana and Portugal tie, the U.S. will advance to the knock-out stage regardless of what happens in the match against Germany. That’s because the U.S. already has four points (from a win and a draw), while Portugal and Ghana have only one point each. »

World Cup update — reality bites

Featured image The first two rounds of group-stage play at the World Cup produced the best set of early-round matches I can recall seeing at the event. It was as if all of the 32 teams (well, almost all of them) woke up one morning and decided to play clean, open soccer. And it was if the referees, in response, decided to cease halting play for borderline infractions and handing out cards »

World Cup update: Colombia dazzles, England disappoints

Featured image So far, the 2014 World Cup is living up to the hype. And no team is living up to it more than Colombia. Yesterday, in one of the best games of the Cup so far, Colombia defeated a good Ivory Coast team, 2-1. Earlier, they overran a good Greek defense to win 3-0. But the real story is the flair with which Colombia plays, a flair reminiscent of the wonderful »

World Cup update — our cardiac kids do it again

Featured image There was a time when the World Cup was a boon for United States soccer. Indeed, the 1994 Cup, which America hosted, gave raise to Major League Soccer, our professional league. These days, though, U.S. soccer is a boon for the World Cup, as our men’s team continues to provide some of the event’s most dramatic moments. Yesterday, the U.S. upset Ghana 2-1 on a goal in the 86th minute, »

World Cup update — a fast start

Featured image After eight matches, involving half of the field, it’s way too early to say whether this World Cup will live up to the hype. But it’s certainly off to a good start. The eight matches have produced 28 goals, more than twice as many as at the corresponding point in 2010. Not only have there been no goalless draws, there have been no draws at all. And the only 1-0 »

Evertonians at World Cup 2014

Featured image Everton is well-represented at this year’s World Cup. Six players who were with us at the end of the season made World Cup rosters. They are: Tim Howard — USA Phil Jagielka — England Leighton Baines — England Ross Barkley — England Kevin Mirallas — Belgium Romelu Lukaku — Belgium (on loan from Chelsea) Bryan Oveido would certainly have made the Costa Rican team but for his broken leg. In »

World Cup preview

Featured image Jurgen Klinsmann has come under fire for saying that the U.S. soccer team, which he coaches, cannot win the World Cup. Michael Willbon even declared that Klinsmann should “get the hell out” of America (though this may have had more to do with Klinsmann saying, not without justification, that the Lakers are overpaying Kobe Bryant). One can debate whether Klinsmann should have disparaged the U.S. team’s chances to that extent, »

What’s wrong with the World Cup?

Featured image The World Cup kicks off tomorrow in Brazil. I’ll probably put up a preview of sorts between now and then, but today I want to focus on the event in general. Sir Alex Ferguson says there hasn’t been a good World Cup since 1986. I don’t agree. However, I concede that no World Cup has lived up to the hype since then, and I doubt that this one will. The »

Okay, Maybe I’ll Watch the World Cup

Featured image Normally I leave the soccer beat to Paul.  Actually, normally I leave soccer to anyone.  But this two minute video promoting the World Cup is almost enough to get me to tune in.  Almost. »

Landon Donovan’s World Cup exclusion — is it wise?

Featured image Earlier this week, Jurgen Klinsmann named his squad for the upcoming World Cup. Landon Donovan, the face of American soccer and for my money the best player we’ve ever produced, was not included. Did Klinsmann make the right call? I doubt it. There’s no question but that at age 32 and with 156 games played for the national team, Donovan isn’t the player he once was. Klinsmann is almost certainly »

Spain’s soccer triathlon nears its climax

Featured image Certain competitions — a pennant race, for example — are sometimes described as a marathon, not a sprint. The cliche certainly applies to European soccer league competitions, which last from mid-August to mid-May. But the most competitive leagues can more aptly be described, for the top teams at least, as a triathlon. The likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea may find themselves competing simultaneously in their respective »

Without Everton’s help, Liverpool may walk alone [UPDATED]

Featured image As the English Premier League season winds down, Manchester City and Liverpool are battling for the title, with Chelsea still in the mix. City will claim the crown for the second time in three seasons if it can win its last three matches. Anything less, and Liverpool will be champions if it can win its last two. Of City’s three remaining matches, only tomorrow’s contest at Everton looks problematic. The »