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2010 fifa world cup moments…so far

by Keith Barber

USA’S phenomenal comeback against Slovenia

Down 2-0 in the second half of its match against Slovenia, it looked as if Team USA would be making an early exit from the 2010 World Cup. But brilliant second-half play by the US, including two goals by Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley, tied the match with nine minutes remaining. Despite Maurice Edu’s goal in the 85 th minute being waved off by an official in perhaps the most controversial call of the tournament, the tie with Slovenia keeps Team USA’s championship hopes alive.

The controversial penalty call against team USA

Edu’s goal in Team USA’s match against Slovenia on June 18 — a goal which would have given the Americans a 3-2 victory — was disallowed by referee Koman Coulibaly. The official never explained the call to USA’s players or coaches, nor did FIFA, soccer’s governing body, offer any explanation. Countless replays of the free kick by Landon Donovan reveal no offsides infraction by the US team. The only apparent foul should’ve gone against Slovenia for a takedown of USA’s Michael Bradley. If the correct call had been made in Bradley’s case, the US would have at least received a penalty kick. FIFA has since dropped Coulibaly from the 2010 World Cup.

Univision’s Live coverage

If you can’t catch ESPN during the day, you can always go to the website of Univision, the Spanish-language media company that serves the US market, and check out streaming video of all the World Cup matches. Univision’s commentators are much more enthusiastic than ESPN’s even if you can’t understand what they’re saying. One word, however, needs no translation: GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAA AAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!

Switzerland Shocks Spain

Nothing sparks fan interest like a big upset. Switzerland’s Gelson Fernandes scored the only goal during the Swiss squad’s stunning 1-0 upset of European champion and tournament favorite Spain on June 16. Fernandes’ goal and Switzerland’s resilient defense handed Spain just its second loss in the last 50 games.

Underdog New Zealand beats Italy

On paper, there is no comparison between New Zealand’s All Whites squad and Italy’s Azzuri team. Italy, the reigning world champion, boasts a roster with some of the world’s best footballers. Until last week, New Zealand had never scored a single point in the World Cup. New Zealand has only one club team and it must travel to play in Australia’s A-League. Furthermore, the Kiwis are 800-to-1 underdogs in the tournament. But early in the Italy match, Simon Elliott’s free kick was headed into the back of the net by Winston Reid, giving the All Whites tons of momentum. Italy’s Vincenzo Laquinta scored on a penalty kick to knot the game at 1-1. It was a stalemate the rest of the way, and when the final whistle sounded, the Kiwis had pulled off the biggest soccer upset in New Zealand’s history.

A tremendous boon for South Africa

A study released by the consulting firm Grant Thornton in 2008 predicted that the 2010 World Cup will draw an additional 500,000 foreign tourists into the African country during 2010, which will pump an additional $8.5 billion into the nation’s economy. The study predicted the World Cup’s total contribution to South Africa’s gross domestic product to be $55.7 billion, with $33 billion being spent on stadiums and infrastructure.

Palacio brother shine for Honduras

Wilson, Jhony and Jerry Palacios of the Honduras squad are the first trio of brothers to compete in the World Cup. Unfortunately for the Palacios and Team Honduras, they play in Group H, which includes tournament favorite Spain, surprising Swit zerland and a talented Chile squad. It appears Honduras will not qualify for the round of 16 but the Palacios still made history.

Fabiano gets away with hand ball goal against Ivory Coast

Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano admitted that the second of his two goals in Brazil’s 3-1 victory over Ivory Coast first hit his hand and his arm before he knocked it into the back of the net. It was, in Fabiano’s words, “one of the most beautiful goals” of his career. Ivory Coast manager Sven Goran-Eriksson claimed the officials had given a free goal to five-time champion Brazil. Fabiano didn’t dispute Goran-Eriksson’s claim. “In order to make the goal more beautiful, there had to be a doubtful element,” he said.

Favorites struggle

England and Spain were two of the clear favorites coming into the 2010 World Cup, but so far, things have not gone well for either club. England has gained only 2 points, playing to a 1-1 tie against the US squad and a scoreless tie against Algeria. English goalkeeper Robert Green allowed Clint Dempsey’s 25-yard shot to slip through his hands in the tournament opener, which appears to have started the Englishmen’s downward spiral. And Spain, the European champion, mysteriously fell to underdog Switzerland in the opening round, making a tough road to the round of 16.

Local interest surges

In the Piedmont Triad, local pubs carrying all the World Cup matches on big screen TVs appear to be doing brisk business. In coffee shops and restaurants, all eyes are glued to the most watched, most popular sporting event in the world. Soccer has steadily grown in popularity in the US over the past several decades. And if participation in area soccer leagues is any indication, the world’s favorite sport has gained a strong foothold in America.

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