Archive for June, 2010

World Cup History: Bora Bora Bora … What Could Have Been?

June 6, 2010

My favorite World Cup moment just so happens to be my most disappointing moment as well. I’m purposely not doing any research or corroboration of this article to see just how accurate my recollection is after 16 years.

Let me set the stage:

  • Date: July 4, 1994.
  • Place: Sold out Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA.
  • Weather: Sunny, high 80s at game time.
  • Game: U.S. vs. Brazil; 2nd round of the 1994 World Cup.
  • Seats: My group was sitting right behind the north goal about halfway up.

All I could think to myself that day was what if the U.S. actually beat Brazil. Sure it was a tall order but the feeling was that given the date and conditions, it could happen.

Then things got interesting. Near the end of the first half, Brazil’s Leonardo intentionally elbowed Tab Ramos in the head, earning an immediate red card. The halftime score was still 0-0! Sure the U.S. had been completely outplayed but now being a man up, an upset definitely seemed possible. I could not believe my good fortune. I was going to be witness to one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history. Incredible!

What happened next (or shall I say what did not happen next) resulted in my greatest World Cup disappointment.

Instead of taking advantage of this good fortune, Bora Mulitinovic, the U.S. head coach, was content to continue playing a defense-oriented game and hope for either a counter-attack or for the game to go to penalty kicks. Eventually, this strategy failed when Bebeto scored with about 15 minutes to go in the game (at our end of the field). By this time, the U.S. was incapable of attacking and the game ended in a disappointing 1-0 loss.

It did not help that Ramos, arguably America’s best player, broke his jaw from Leonardo’s elbow and was not able to play. Had he, the U.S. may have been able to control the game more than it did. Unfortunately, and perhaps because it was daytime, Bora did not see that all the planets were perfectly aligned as well. Had he, and had he changed his strategy and just ‘Gone For Broke’, who knows what would have happened.

All I can say is, “Bora, Bora, Bora!?”

Advertisements

World Cup ‘Towers’ Worth Watching: Fernando and José Torres

June 2, 2010

Had you asked me two years ago who my favorite player was, it would have been Fernando Torres of Liverpool and Spain. Similar to Italy’s Luca Toni in height, size, and a nose for the goal, every time Fernando touched the ball inside the opponent’s penalty area, he seemed to give himself a chance to score.

Injuries slowed him down this season and with it, Liverpool’s season. The good news (bad news for opponents) is that it looks like he is recovered and rested and will be ready to play for Spain in South Africa. How affective he will be is anyone’s guess. But if he is near 100%, it may be the year of “El Niño.”

But this year’s World Cup may also be the year of “El Gringo!” American José Francisco Torres who plays for Pachuca in the Mexican professional league (that’s how he got his nickname) may also be poised to do great things in South Africa. Unlike Spain’s Torres, José Torres is a midfielder and a very good one at that. A midfielder is a team’s quarterback and normally dictates the action on the field.

I have not seen José Torres play much but what I saw in the U.S. game against Turkey was impressive.

  • He has great ball control. His dribbling in tight quarters is superb.
  • He receives the ball so well. The ball settles so softly onto his feet.
  • He is always running to the open space and asking for the ball. This is the telltale signs of a natural midfielder.
  • Though it appears he favors his left foot, he is equally adept with both feet.
  • His head is always up. He is constantly surveying the field, looking for his teammates, knows where the nearest opponents are, and you can tell he is always thinking two or three moves ahead.

This year’s World Cup is going to be exciting. Hopefully both Torres’ do well. If “El Gringo” does well, look for the U.S. to be very successful.