World Cup Analysis

The Glorious Ticos


So they caught Uruguay off guard. Two quick counter attack goals left the 2010 semi-finalists stunned. Uruguay was not prepared to play without their biting talisman, Luis Suarez. Surely, the Costa Ricans were in ecstasy that wouldn’t last long. Friday’s match with the Italians would return them back to earth. Except it didn’t. The Ticos didn’t even play like an underdog. They truly appeared to be the class of the group. Remember, the Group of Death this tournament is Group G… only because Costa Rica wasn’t good enough to be in a Group of Death. England, Italy, and Uruguay are a terrifying trio that understandably left Costa Rica as an afterthought. Through two games, Costa Rica is through to the knockout stages.

One of the beautiful aspects of the World Cup is seeing a player who has lost all confidence with their club team get a new life playing for their country. Bryan Ruiz was a spark for Fulham initially, but fell out of good graces with a new manager and was eventually loaned out. Essentially, Bryan Ruiz is a player not good enough to play on a relegated Premier League team. However, with Costa Rica, he is a key player in their menacing counter attack. Ruiz headed in a beautiful cross to beat a team full of stars on Italy. However, only talking about Ruiz takes away from everything that Costa Rica is about. Ruiz symbolizes many players on Costa Rica. They are a squad full of promising, but not extremely successful club players. However, give them 90 minutes to play organized football and they can beat 11 club superstars from Italy, Uruguay, and likely England next week.


World Cup Analysis

Group Stage Round 1: Three Key Thoughts

The initial 16 games are in the books. (Let’s act like Brazil and Mexico haven’t played their scoreless draw yet) It’s been a whirlwind of a week. It’s a tough life consuming 24 hours of football over 6 days… but someone has to do it. There should be a day off tomorrow to denote the next round of group matches, but I would run the risk of being too efficient at work. These are my quick thoughts on the tournament so far:

1. Goals. 3.09 per match so far. It’s a popular theme in the American media to praise the amount of goals being scored. If goal scoring is up, casual fans will be interested and TV ratings will follow a similar path. I’m just excited the popular theme is not about a crazy, uncontrollable ball, such as the Jabulani from South Africa. Although the heat and humidity conditions are a popular mention, it doesn’t necessarily breed unexciting football. Generally, the start of a major tournament can be lackluster. Teams play conservatively, not minding a draw. With the exception of a couple of matches, the run of play has been wide open and free flowing. 

2. It’s natural to overreact, but don’t. Writers have to be salivating at a shot to dig into the end of the Spanish dynasty, the massive meltdown of the Portuguese squad, or the demise of Uruguay while their polarizing star looks on. Expect these teams to bounce back. These teams have all been here multiple times before and are too talented to fold after one bad result.

3. ESPN is the big winner. American fans can be dismissive of watching or supporting “soccer” for a number of reasons. Ties, low scoring, USA is not elite, flopping, lack of masculinity, etc. These reasons are scapegoats for the lack of interest in the U.S.A. To those casual fans – This has been a high scoring, only twice drawing tournament featuring a broken nosed Dempsey helping the USA win. Not only can point to real solutions to those issues based on the initial 16 matches, we can resolve the real issue why football is not as popular in the United States relative to the world. We don’t have it shoved down our throat on ESPN like we do baseball, basketball, and american football. Casual fans don’t know 20 of the 23 United States squad members because they don’t play their club games on American television. There are a lot of reasons why football isn’t on ESPN more, but with the World Cup, we get non-stop coverage. Americans have no choice but to get interested. We will gradually accept anything that is pushed on us. (See most all of pop music radio) It just really helps American interest when we have such a fantastic start to the World Cup. A start that nixes the aforementioned issues from casual fans.