For the past month, my life has been dominated by the world's game. I'm sad that I won't get the chance to view any more games with my family and friends. As the Spainiards hoisted the World Cup trophy earlier today, it's now prime time for me to summarize my thoughts about the 2010 tournament.
- While I loved watching the tournament (running a cable TV line into my office was well worth the effort), the overall play was incredibly average. I can't recall any one match where the play was compelling. This tournament provided some moments, but it was lacking in stellar games.
- South Africa was a decent host, but attendance and field conditions were concerns that were validated. FIFA would do well to allow the US the opportunity to host another Cup, but they couldn't care less. They're making too much money to care and they're an arrogant organization.
- The United States probably would have advanced further if Charlie Davies were on the squad. Still, Bob Bradley was a sub-par manager; his passive leadership and poor decision-making led to our ouster. I still see progress in the USMNT and predict a World Cup Final appearance in my lifetime.
- FIFA head Sepp Blatter is completely out of touch with reality. His refusal to consider any use of instant replay is archaic. The man is hampering the game and making the sport look silly. Yet one of the many reasons why main stream America might never embrace the sport.
- This tournament will long be remembered for poor officiating. The players continue to exploit this with cheap fouls and dives. FIFA must better prepare their referees to manage the flow of the game. And I cannot recall any cards assessed in the tournament to players taking a dive. Until the referees have the guts to call this out, the game will be plagued by wussification (everyone looks like the Italians). Until this happens, Americans won't buy in.
- I'm not convinced Spain was the best team during the tournament, but they forced the best teams to succumb to their style of play. They're perfect poster children of this World Cup.
And a few final thoughts about today's final match:
- It was a sad game and the referee made it so. He doubled the record number of cards assessed in any final and was inconsistent in his awarding (awarding yellows when they were petty fouls and refusing to red card certain infractions). The professional fouling made for an ugly game.
- And the way that FIFA instructed officials to call the game contributed to the game winning goal. On the original volley toward the box, Iniesta was in an offside position but the Dutch defender got a foot on it. The new ruling says that the linesman shouldn't call offside unless the player actually touches the ball, so the play continued off the poor clearance and it later returned to Iniesta's foot. In the old rules, Iniesta would've been given a free kick. As it is, what happened happened.
- I'm not saying that the Dutch were the better team today, but Spain was far from superior. The game should have came down to penalties. It would have been a fitting end to a boring match.
Still, it's all over and I can now remove the television from my office at work.