Soccer has relied on human judgment to decide whether or not a player is offside for as long as we can remember, but is this system efficient in this day and age? In soccer, where each and every goal is so important, offsides has incorrectly been called on many occasions and has changed the outcomes of various extremely important games at both the domestic and international level. While a very high percentage of offside calls are called correctly, it seems like almost every time it is incorrectly called, it completely changes the game. Recently FIFA has implemented new rules and procedures to the game that I believe to have benefited the game without stopping play. The first change is goal-line technology which will vibrate the referee’s watch if the ball crosses the goal-line. This system has helped referee make crucial calls from potentially problematic angles. The second change has been the vanishing spray used for free kicks, which in my opinion has successful stopped players in the wall from creeping forward toward the ball. Yes, it has added a few seconds during each free kick, but it has helped monitor the wall to allow players to have a fair chance of taking free kicks. Continue reading
After the first two rounds of the knockout stage, I have predicted 11 out of 12 outcomes correctly. While there were a lot of upsets in the group stage, the knockout stage has seen the favorites advance to create two semifinal matches between the two most storied South American sides and two European titans. It will be interesting to see how these teams will fare as they have all gone through some struggle on their way to the semifinals. Will South America’s dominance at home continue or will Europe finally break through? I have already said that this may be the best World Cup of all-time and I am sure that the final three games will firmly cement Brazil 2014’s place in history.
Brazil vs. Germany
Brazil suffered some major setbacks in their quest for their sixth world cup title in their 2-1 victory over Colombia. Star man, Neymar, suffered a broken vertebra on a late challenge and will miss the remainder of the competition. To make things worse, Thiago Silva received a second yellow card for a stupid playground foul on the Colombian goalkeeper punting the ball out of his box. Silva will be missed just as much as Neymar against Germany and will leave the hosts with an uphill battle to win. An unsung hero will have to step up for the Selecao at a crucial moment in order to challenge either Argentina or Netherlands for the title. David Luiz came up big with the free kick of the tournament and it will take another play like that for Brazil to advance. Germany, on the other hand, did just enough to beat France on a header from their center back Mats Hummels. France had a greater number of chances in the game, but did not possess the final touch in order to find the net. The win against France and setbacks suffered by Brazil will give the Germans a lot of confidence heading into the semifinal as they look to become the first European team to win in South America. Continue reading
Calm down. See, you think you already know where this is going. You’re already riled up because someone is about to say something that’s not glowing about the global game of fútbol. Before I begin, let me preface by saying that I’ve played soccer my entire life. It just may be my favorite sport. But every four years, the World Cup brings a complex blend of bitterness, along with the obvious joy. In the United States, every four years brings the unfulfilled promise that soccer will soon rule the land. Soon, its biggest supporters say, it will eclipse basketball and baseball. Even American football too. Of course, it never does. I mean, how popular is it going to get when just surviving the group stage feels like we’ve won the World Cup final? Now, that’s not my issue with soccer. Actually, I don’t have any issues with soccer. I think the penalty shootout compromises how great the game can be, and I’m frustrated by the diving that takes place throughout the game. But those are minor points. What really gets me is the fans.
I understand the frustration that soccer fans feel in the United States. Especially when things like this are actually published. Purely asinine pseudo-jingoistic journalism at its finest. That’s what that is. All of the so-called journalists in the country who celebrated the US’ elimination from the tournament don’t deserve an audience. That is just Skip Bayless provocation. Sure, the United States went 1-2-1 in the World Cup. We get it: that’s not good enough for you, for the United States. And thus, doesn’t deserve all the attention that it brought. Pieces like that should rile up soccer supporters. Continue reading
Brazil 2014 is quickly starting to shape up as one of the best World Cup tournaments of all-time. As I predicted in my last post, all eight group winners advanced to the quarterfinals although Algeria, Mexico, and the United States gave me a run for my money. All three teams performed valiantly in games that many people gave them no chance in. Even with a loss, the United States has shown that they have made positive strides towards becoming a consistent contender in the knockout stage of World Cups to come. That being said, with all the group winners advancing, there are some very interesting quarterfinal match-ups.
France vs. Germany:
Two of Europe’s powerhouses will meet in the first of four quarterfinal games. Both countries are former world cup winners and have shown their skill in this tournament. Germany began the tournament ranked as the second best team in the world and while they have been solid, they have not looked like a top team. France on the other hand struggled mightily in the qualifications of the world cup. Having to beat Ukraine in playoff game for a spot in the tournament, many had ruled France out from contention; however, this French team looks to be peaking at just the right time. With some young stars coming into their own, France has looked very solid in this tournament. In a competition on this magnitude, momentum means everything and look for France to pull off the upset.
Prediction: 2-1 France
The group stage of Brazil 2014 has not failed to entertain. With the focus prior to the World Cup being on Brazil not being prepared, the world’s greatest sporting event has started much better than many were expecting. There has been no shortage of goals in the games and just about every game has been fun to watch no matter what team you are rooting for. Many teams have surprised in the groups of death. Below I will share my highlights and disappointments of the group stage.
South America – With 5 of the 6 teams from South America qualifying for the final 16 (and Ecuador almost qualifying), South America has shown that it is the dominant continent in this tournament. Columbia has arguably been the most impressive team so far from South America this tournament and looks primed to battle for a semi-final spot. Both Brazil and Argentina have not been at their best, both have shown in glimpses why they are projected to face off in the finals. With both Neymar and Messi in great form, a Brazil-Argentina final would be one for the ages. Chile has also impressed by knocking the reigning champions Spain out of the tournament in just their second game. Unfortunately, four of the five remaining teams all been paired up in the same leg of the bracket, meaning only a maximum of two South American teams making it to the semi-finals. Continue reading
It’s easy to read the 40 times, the max bench presses, and the vertical leaps and forget that it’s real life. We’re relatively detached from the process, but we know what’s fast. 4.4 is fast. 4.6 is slow. After enough years of following pro sports, we’re conditioned to understand what’s considered normal for a pro athlete. For most people though, they never get to experience that level of athleticism, except through watching it on TV. Maybe you had a friend of a friend who went on to walk on at a major university, or your buddy was All-State in high school. But that’s different–that’s not the NFL.
What is it like to encounter one of these physical specimens in their early years of development? It’s not too hard to envision. Most of these guys are not exactly what you’d call “late bloomers.” Every player you see in any professional sport is used to being the best player at every level. Chances are, he dominated all throughout middle school, high school, and even college. And most likely, he dominated less and less as he moved up the ranks. Continue reading
Every four years, Americans try their best to like Soccer. Forgive me, I meant Fútbol. Nearly everyone bases their limited knowledge on his or her youth soccer career and experience playing XBox’s Fifa game. For anyone experimenting with the sport for the first time, trying to become a fan, the soccer snobbery can be an instant turn-off. Those few, impassioned fans of the sport, who reside in the United States, act as if their sport is being infiltrated by outsiders unworthy of its beauty. You will often hear sentiments, like this one in the New York Times:
“So it is with the new crowds of World Cup fans. If I feel a little protective of my game, it’s because my enthusiasm for it has been uneven and hard won. The good news is I don’t have to worry about this ever happening with cricket.”
Falcao has officially signed with recently promoted Ligue 1 side, Monaco. Falcao is one of the big money moves the club has already made this summer and the official transfer window hasn’t even started yet. Falcao will provide this new team a nice scoring touch and will make the club a contender for a possible Champions League qualification and Ligue 1 title. It will be interesting to see if Monaco will have the necessary chemistry to become a legitimate team. It may take time for the team to truly live up to its potential. That being said, with their wealthy Russian owner they will have all the necessary pieces to become a top club. We have seen this recently with PSG; money can buy success. Falcao is considered by some to be a top 5 player in the world and he has a great opportunity to great an identity for himself with this new club.
Jesus Navas Continue reading
10. Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard is the heart and soul of Liverpool. While he may not be their leading goal scorer, Gerrard is commanding in the midfield and is arguably Liverpool’s most important player. The England international can do a little bit of everything and is a threat to score from distance because of his powerful shot. In league competition, he scored 9 goals and assisted 9 more. At the age of 33, it seems like he may be close to the end of his prime, but he can now also help to develop Liverpool’s future stars. Liverpool finished 7th in the Premier League this season, quite low for the famous club, and are looking to rebuild their club to finish in the top four to qualify for the Champions League. Recently acquired young players, like Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, can learn from Gerrard as they begin promising careers at Liverpool.
9. Santi Cazorla Continue reading
2013 Champions League Champions: Bayern Munich.
Bayern Munich defeated Borussia Dortmund 2-1 to win the 2013 Champions League in a thrilling game. Before discussing what this win means for Bayern, Dortmund should be congratulated for an impressive performance in both the final and in the Champions League this season. Defeating an excellent Real Madrid team in the semifinal and dominating large parts of the final is remarkable and Dortmund showed how good they really are. Unfortunately, they came up just short and Bayern Munich finally ended their losing streak in the Finals. Continue reading