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Manya's Musings After the World Cup's Opening Weeekend


It’s that time again…when the world stops what they are doing and the World Cup starts. More sick days are taken during this time than any other. It’s called soccer fever. I’ve got it, and if you don’t have it, plant a big sloppy kiss on someone who does so you can get it too.

The World Cup has begun and you can already see why this is the greatest show on earth. After the first three days of the tournament, there have been surprises, disappointments, and a whole lot of downright amazing fúbol.

I was upset to see that Michael Ballack was out of Germany’s first game against Costa Rica. Not only is he one good-looking guy, but he’s such a skillful and entertaining player. My desire to watch Ballack play was semi-quenched as the camera kept focusing on the handsome German on the bench. Also, the broadcast had a nice shot of Bernd Schneider’s rippling muscles through his sweat-soaked jersey… Okay back to reality, where I should be commenting on the soccer, or I’m going to get in trouble with my boyfriend.

The first goal of the game was a beau-ti-ful bender that hit off the right post. I scored a goal like that once…then I woke up. Philipp Lahm juked his defender, causing the Tico to slip. If he hadn’t lost his footing, he might have been able to block Lahm’s shot. Forgot your studs back in San Jose, I see?

I was disappointed in the effort put forth by my country of heritage, Poland. I decline further comment on this game.

I was really looking forward to the England vs. Paraguay match. I had heard that Paraguay’s Carlos Gamarra had warned England before the tournament started, telling them that they were the third best team in their group. What a slap in the face! Do you really want to talk smack to Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell? I think not. Well, instead of retaliating with words, David Beckham and his mates answered with a goal and a win. And it was an own goal by Gamarra. SLAP!

(P.S. I can’t tell you how bad I wanted to see Crouch’s robot dance again. Hmm, maybe next game).

The Sweden vs. Trinidad & Tobago game ended up being the most exciting up to that point, even though it ended in a 0-0 draw. (Did I tell you I’ve been to Tobago? We played our U-19 CONCACAF qualifying there in 2002. Great island, great people, great food, great beaches). The T&T keeper Shaka Hislop played the game of his life, and he didn’t even know he was starting until pre-game warm-ups. That is one of the best stories of the World Cup so far, maybe of any World Cup. T&T’s first-ever World Cup game may not have been a W, but there is no doubt it was the biggest tie in the island country’s history.

To watch the Dutch play, I wore my white and orange Nike Van Nistlerooy t-shirt that I had purchased during my trip to Holland with the U-21s. I even had my orange tabby, Marty, as the mascot. The Dutch team has always been a favorite of mine. Not just because one of my favorite colors is orange, but because of their speed of play, ability to possess the ball, and their slew of creative players like Ruud Van Nistlerooy, Phillip Cocu, Arjen Robben, and Robin van Persie. Even though Netherlands’ coach Marco van Basten, is the youngest and most inexperienced in the WC, I did agree to sub out Joris Mathijsen, Van Nistlerooy, and Mark Van Bommel (some of the best players) to give their legs a rest even though it was just 1-0. Risky, but Robben was still running around like it was the start of the game. He could still be running.

I have really been enjoying Studio90 on ussoccer.com. If you haven’t checked it out, you should. The Studio 90 classic of the week was when host Neil Buethe went around asking Germans if they could identify U.S.
players by looking at photographs. I’m not usually prone to violence, but I can’t tell you how much I wanted to dropkick that guy that kept saying “Rooney.” Hey buddy, Rooney plays for England. Even my mom’s fourth grade class knows that.

Question of the Day for the fans out there: Which team has the coolest-looking uniforms? Personally, I’d go with Netherlands’ orange get-up, which looked absolutely stunning with the orange Nike boots. If you agree, or don’t agree, or have any other thoughts on the World Cup, let me know at manyasmusings@ ussoccer.org

Thanks for reading and look for my next entry soon.

I’m out,
Manya Ballack

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