2010 World Cup Preview

Posted: June 12, 2010 in world Cup 2010
Tags: , , , ,

It is time for the biggest event in football. No, not the Super Bowl. What we call soccer herein America the rest of the world calls football. It’s time again for the World Cup. I know most American’s don’t care about soccer. We tend not to like thing that we are not good at and other countries are. Like polo or math.

I am not a big soccer fan. I like the Big Three Sports; football (the American version), basketball and baseball. I don’t think I have ever watched a full MLS match. I don’t even know if David Beckham is still playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy, and I live in L.A. But when my good friends at Global Grind asked me to write about the World Cup, I couldn’t say no. So we’re all going to be on this journey together. I hope you’re ready.

The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, outside the United States. Countries literally shut down when their team is playing in a World Cup match. It’s like having the Super Bowl, he NBA Finals, the World series and the Olympics all in the same month in the same country.

How serious do other countries take the World Cup? Take the sad tale of Colombian soccer player Andres Escobar Saldarriaga into consideration. In 1994 the World Cup was played here in America. In the first round Colombia was playing the United States. Saldarriaga accidentally scored a goal into his own net. (The only event that I can come up with that would even be close was when Scott Norwood of the Buffalo Bills missed the game winning field goal in Super Bowl XXV). Colombia went on to lose to the USA 2-1 and Columbia was bounced from the tournament in the first round. After returning home to Colombia, Saldarriaga was promptly shot and killed. That’s right, he was murdered for making a mistake during the World Cup. I bet Scott Norwood is thankful he lives in America.

Here are a few things you should know about the World Cup so you can sound knowledgeable when you are talking to your friends.

As you know, the World Cup is played every four years, just like the Olympics. Qualifying for this year’s World Cup started way back in 2007. That’s right, it took nearly three years to whittle down 204 teams to the 32 that will compete in South Africa.

How the tournament is played.

Each of the 32 teams are randomly placed into eight groups of four teams each. Each team will play the other three teams in their group. Teams are assigned points based on the outcome of the matches. A win is worth three points, a tie is worth 1 point and a loss is worth zero points. The two teams with the highest point total after the three matches move on to the Round of 16.

Once the tournament has been reduced to 16 teams the format changes to a single elimination. At that point it’s “win or go home.”

Here is an interesting fact; only seven countries have ever won the World Cup. Brazil has won the most with five titles. Italy has four, Germany has three, Argentina and Uruguay have two each and England and France each have 1.

The United States best finish has been third. And that was back in 1930 during the very first World Cup.

GLOSSARY

You are going to hear a lot of terms that may not be familiar to you and the announcers are not going to stop and let you know what they mean. So here is a quick list that will have you talking like a Euro in no time.

Pitch – The place where the game is played. We call it a field.

Box – A rectangle 18 yards from the goal line where the goalie stands.

Yellow Card – A warning from the referee for player misconduct. Kind of like a technical foul in basketball.

Red Card – An act of violent conduct – or a second yellow card – that results in the offending player being sent off the field. He cannot be replaced, and thus his team must play with 10 men, better known as being “a man down.”

The Flop – When a player falls to the ground and pretends like he has been injured. Soccer players. . .er. . .footballers flop a lot. They fake more injuries than Paul Pierce.

Offside Rule – Here is where things get a little tricky. In order to receive a pass in the opponent’s half of the field, there must be two players between the guy receiving the pass and the goal. One of those is almost always going to be the goal keeper. This rule does not apply on passes to players running behind the ball. It’s hard to grasp, I know. Just know when it gets called it probably really if offsides.

USA v. England

USA is in Group C along with England, Algeria and Slovenia. Their first game is against England on June 12th. While there is no real rivalry between the two countries (unless you want to go all the way back to the Revolutionary War) this should be a good match. Team England will be without their captain Rio Ferdinand who is out with a groin injury. Algeria and Slovenia look like wins to me. So that gives the USA a great chance of getting out of their group and into the Round of 16. After that, all bets are off. But at that point they would have, in theory, a 1 in 16 chance of winning the whole thing. Which is still better odds than the New York Knicks have of making the playoffs every year.

So take some time over the next month and support your country and enjoy the biggest sporting event in the world.

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