Final 2010 World Cup article for this blog.
Saturday hurt. A lot. The whole country (Korea) was excited all day about the prospect of moving into the quarterfinal. The actual game with Uruguay was almost secondary, and it seemed the majority of TV, people on the street, and the internet pretty much expected Korea to win. The game itself was very good. I think I can safely say that Korea is a stronger team than Uruguay. They ruled the game on ball control, their set plays were better executed, and that Park Jisung is electrifying. But as in all sports, the final score is what matters most. Korea exited the world cup, losing to a team they could have very well defeated. One can only wonder what could have been, if only that free kick had gone into the goal instead of bouncing off the goal.
A bad loss doesn’t usually leave me so depressed, but this loss coupled with the U.S. loss to Ghana just made me want to cry. Ghana is indeed a strong team, and the U.S. defense needs much improvement. That said, this is a game that the U.S. should have won. I don’t know what it was about Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, but in this game they had so many chances. Altidore is huge, fast, and bulky. I can’t really understand why he’s unable to finish and put the ball into the net. Dempsey had a horrible world cup. His only goal was the blunder by England, and he had other goals taken away from him by the referees. He’s a great player, but this just wasn’t his time.
These two losses hurt. I’m still depressed about them now. I could have dealt with one losing if the other was still alive, but both teams were killed on the same day, but teams they could have very well beaten. Now I have to wait four more years (assuming Korea and the U.S. qualify) to see either of them in the World Cup. It also hurts that my prediction that Korea and the U.S. would meet in the quarterfinal turned out to not even be half true. I should stop making predictions.
So what happens from here?
I predict Argentina will face Brazil in the World Cup Final (even though I just said I wasn’t going to make any more predictions), and I really don’t care who wins. The only non-Europe, non-South American team is Japan, and as stated before, I can’t bring myself to cheer for an arch rival. Ghana’s also still alive, but I’m still bitter.
Closing thoughts about your two teams?
Korea – They said this team was stronger than the 2002 one that went to the semifinal, and I believe it. Korea in 2002 was helped by home field advantage, and a lot of luck. Park Jisung probably has 2 world cups left in him, and undoubtedly the generation that saw 2002 as children and started to play soccer because of it is probably going to come of age soon. I think Korea will only improve in the future. We’ll be seeing more Korean players in Europe after this world cup and I am fairly confident that the team will qualify in 2014.
One thing I really dislike about Korea is the lack of support for the K-League. When I lived in Japan, the J League was instrumental in keeping my interest in soccer. I guess it was the fact that my city had a second tier team that played in a charming 8000 seat stadium, and they were able to get promoted into the J-League’s top tier. That was exciting. My K-League team is supposed to be F.C. Seoul I guess. Somehow I have trouble getting into F.C. Seoul however. I guess it’s similar to how I can’t really get into DC. United when I am the states. Something about an empty stadium is unsettling. If FC Seoul played in a stadium of the appropriate size (perhaps 10-20,000 seats) then I’d probably want to go see them more.
As for the 2022 World Cup Bid, I’d love for Korea to get it again, but the U.S. and Australia have more attractive bids in my opinion. I think the only way Korea gets the bid is if reunification takes place before the hosting decision is made, and… that’s only a few months away.
USA – They said this is the best team in U.S. world cup history. I believe it, but I think the team that played a year earlier in the confederations cup was better. Even so the defense of both teams is horrible. I don’t know what it is about the team that they always have to come back from behind. Algeria and Slovenia don’t strike fear into the hearts of quality teams, but both (with the help from bad referees) made the U.S. work hard. I can take comfort in saying that this team was far better than England’s, but England was simply garbage. Or is that “rubbish”? Is that how you guys in the U.K say it?
I don’t know if I can say that the U.S. team will get better. Everyone has always been saying that as the U.S. diversifies, and as the Hispanic population steadily increases, more Americans will be playing soccer at a younger age. But already, soccer is the most popular sport for young Americans. Even if the U.S. becomes more and more Hispanic, American culture is wrapped up in basketball, baseball and football. All of America’s best athletes gravitate to those sports. Case in point American NBA star, Kobe Bryant actually grew up playing soccer in Italy. He says he dreamed of being a soccer player. So why did he decide to go with basketball? Well, I’m not Kobe Bryant, so I can’t say with any certainty, but, I’d have to go with “money”.
I don’t think that American soccer can really ever take off until the professional league in the U.S. (MLS) starts to give players some serious money, and I don’t mean just David Beckham. I mean all the players. It seems the base salary for MLS players is $40,000 with bonuses. That’s almost as low as entry level at some companies.
Do I mean that I expect MLS to compete with all the European leagues? Of course not, that’s not going to happen. However, athletic people in the U.S. aspire to join the NBA, MLB, NFL, and NHL, specifically because those sports pay big bucks.
I expect that the U.S. will win either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup bid, so if that happens I’ll be really happy. Perhaps that can jumpstart American soccer.
Both Korea and the U.S. met their expectations in the world cup, and hopefully will only improve in later world cups. The waiting is simply too agonizing for me though.
Anything else about this or any future world cup?
It’s time for technology for referees! I’m not here to complain about goals being taken away from the U.S. or to say that Ghana defeated the U.S. because of bad judgement by the referee. Ghana was a better team. The same can be said about the Germans and their thorough drubbing of England. England had scored a goal and the referee didn’t see it. Germany was clearly the better side, so even if that goal had been counted, Germany still would have won.
That said, the refereeing here is terrible. And how can you expect one referee on a soccer pitch to be able to get every call correctly. How can he know from 30 meters away if something happened or didn’t happen? Technology is necessary to ensure accurate calls.
Some people call for instant replay, but I understand how that would change the game too drastically. Maybe installing a microchip into the ball that would activate when it crosses the goal line? This would eliminate error of deciding if the ball went in or did not.
About offsides calls taking goals away, instant replay is the only way that’s possible to avoid that I can think of. But then again, it would have to only be in situations where a goal was scored.
Enough about the World Cup. We’ll start talking about it again in 2014. Be well everyone!