I first “discovered” the World Cup back in 1982. Spain was the locale, and PBS was showing the matches in the US. On my bookshelf is a book by Franz Beckenbauer recapping that event. I knew nothing about soccer at the time, but I was fascinated by the passion and the spectacle. The story of Paolo Rossi and how he redeemed himself in the World Cup was just a fantastic drama.
Every four years since that 1982 World Cup, I become completely obsessed with the tournament, even though I watch little, if any, soccer in the interim. Nonetheless, the highlights stay with me to this day.
1986 – Maradona scoring both the “Hand of God” goal and the “Goal of the Century”
1990 – The snoozer final, but the return of the US!
1994 – Baggio with his ponytail skying the PK over the crossbar
1998 – Zidane for Les Bleus
2002 – Ronaldo leads Brazil
2006 – The Zidane head butt
Each edition of the World Cup seems to get more attention here in the US, with this one being no exception to that. Perhaps because of that, I have been seeing a lot of comments on Facebook from friends complaining about the games and soccer, in particular. I must say that I think that all of them are missing something special.
If nothing else, the cardiac-arrest-inducing run of the US in this tournament has been most entertaining. The “Hand of Clod” in the England game, the dramatic comeback and blown call on what should have been the winning goal against Slovenia, capped off with the extra time counterattack goal against Algeria showed that the US is on the rise. The loss against Ghana was disappointing, but it was encouraging that the US had an attack in the second half that could have won the game.
However even if you know very little about soccer, the quarterfinal games had all the drama and excitement that you could hope for. The Dutch comeback against favored Brazil, the heart-stopping last few minutes of the Uruguay-Ghana match, and the back-to-back-to-back PK in the Spain-Paraguay match. Even the Germany 4-0 win over Argentina was interesting to watch to see the forced sanity of Maradona crumble while the entire world was watching.
Right now, I am hoping for Netherlands-Spain final for the reason that I would like to see the reaction in one of these countries that has not won a World Cup yet. Although seeing Angela Merkel dance might be worth it as well.
The United States has put in a bid for either the 2018 or the 2022 World Cup. Those events will both be awarded in December. The below will take you to the official website of the bid committee.