• Section 1: Return of the Galacticos
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer America When the World Cup began, Frenchman Zinedine Zidane looked tired, and his Real Madrid teammate, Brazilian Ronaldo, was overweight. The two Galacticos were dismissed as past their prime, but they played key roles Tuesday in leading their teams into the quarterfinals, where they meet Saturday in Frankfurt. An inspired Zidane led France to a 3-1 win over favored Spain, scoring an insurance goal in stoppage time. Ronaldo scored the first goal in Brazil's 3-0 victory over Ghana, setting the all-time World Cup record with his 15th ...
  • WOITALLA: The Kaiser's Cup
    By Mike Woitalla in Munich The German media often report on the VIPs at World Cup games like this: "German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German President Horst Koehler and Franz Beckenbauer attended last night's game." They see no need to introduce Beckenbauer. His campaigning is credited with landing this World Cup in Germany, the country he led to a World Cup victory in 1974 as captain and in 1990 as coach. Beckenbauer attended 19 of the first 21 games of this tournament, often appearing ...
  • Section 1: Crespo shines in spotlight
    Hernan Crespo can no longer say he's being overlooked. With goals in each of his three 2006 World Cup games -- he swears he touched the ball Jared Borgetti appeared to head into his own goal during Argentina's 2-1 overtime victory over Mexico -- and the nifty backheel to teammate Esteban Cambiasso for the goal of the tournament -- teamwork category (see video of the 24-pass sequence) -- against Serbia & Montenegro, Crespo has been indispensable to Argentina in its spectacular run to the quarterfinals, where it faces host Germany Friday in Berlin. ...
  • Section 1: Crespo shines in spotlight
    Hernan Crespo can no longer say he's being overlooked. With goals in each of his three 2006 World Cup games -- he swears he touched the ball Jared Borgetti appeared to head into his own goal during Argentina's 2-1 overtime victory over Mexico -- and the nifty backheel to teammate Esteban Cambiasso for the goal of the tournament -- teamwork category (see video of the 24-pass sequence) -- against Serbia & Montenegro, Crespo has been indispensable to Argentina in its spectacular run to the quarterfinals, where it faces host Germany Friday in Berlin. ...
  • Section 1: Ronaldo's goal -- a third title
    Now that Brazilian Ronaldo has the World Cup career scoring record, he says it's time to concentrate on his main goal: win another World Cup title. Ronaldo's first goal in Brazil's 3-0 win over Ghana gave him 15 in his career, breaking the record he shared with German Gerd Mueller. "That [the record] was never my goal, it's just something that's happened," Ronaldo said. "I'm happy to have broken this record; for seven World Cups it has not been broken. It's a great satisfaction to make this record, but let's not forget our main ...
  • WOITALLA: Expecting thrills from final eight
    By Mike Woitalla in Hanover Predictably, German tabloid Bild provided in-depth coverage of David Beckman vomiting on the field during England's 1-0 win over Ecuador. Under the headline, "David Barfman," Bild ran sequence photos of the incident accompanied by possible reasons why he lost his lunch. "Did he drink English beer instead of German beer?" "Can a metrosexual get pregnant?" "Did he see his wife's credit card bill?" "Did the quality of the game make him ill?" The last is the ...
  • Section 1: Ivanov the Terrible fingers Dutch
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer Ameica Russian Valentin Ivanov, the referee of Sunday's controversial Portugal-Netherlands match, said it was nastiest game he had ever called. Speaking out for the first time since the match, the 45-year-old Ivanov, dubbed Ivanov the Terrible for his calls, told Russian daily Izvestia, "Probably, from the point of view of rudeness, it was the worst match I ever had." Ivanov sent off four players (setting a World Cup record) and booked 16 players (tying a World Cup record). He said he was surprised by the actions of ...
  • MAHONEY: Last beating of the U.S. dead horse
    By Ridge Mahoney in Hamburg (This will the final installment regarding the U.S. performance in Germany, replete with references to criticisms, valid and otherwise.) FORMATION. The 4-5-1 formation used primarily by Bruce Arena took a lot of abuse, of course, since a simplistic, knee-jerk reaction is to deride it as defensive. Well, it ain't. With the outside players pushed up as wingers, the formation resembles a 4-3-3 used by many teams out to score goals. If the midfielders are deployed in two lines ...
  • WOITALLA: Why Spain may finally prevail
    By Mike Woitalla in Munich With each World Cup, the Spaniards search for a reason why things will turn out different. Spain entered the last seven World Cups as potential champion but never passed the quarterfinals. 2006 is the year, really, says the Spanish press. It has been citing 16th century French soothsayer Nostradamus' prediction that "in the sixth month of 2006 the King of Spain will cross the Pyrenees with his troops" and after a battle in Central Europe, "the Holy Grail will then come to Spain." ...
  • Section 1: France ready for high-flying Spaniards
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer America Averaging 2.67 goals per game, Spain enters Tuesday's match against France in Hanover with the highest-scoring team at the World Cup, but the Spaniards haven't faced a defense as experienced as the Bleus' backline. All four starters won league championships in 2005-06: right back Willy Sagnol with Bayern Munich (Germany), center backs William Gallas with Chelsea (England) and Lilian Thuram with Juventus (Italy) and left back Eric Abidal with Lyon (France). "A strong defense is a basis, something you can build on," said France coach
  • MAHONEY: Heroes on a night of high comedy
    By Ridge Mahoney in Nuremberg The first few words of the Portuguese national anthem are, "Heroes of the Sea." There isn't an ocean anywhere near the Frankenstadion where a fascinating round-of-16 match took place Sunday, yet those who wore the Portugal colors will be feted as such after they outlasted the Netherlands, 1-0, on a goal by Maniche to set up a date with England in the quarterfinals. Sadly, this game rife with riveting drama and courageous performances won't be remembered for those elements. Instead, before Russian referee
  • Section 1: Hiddink aims to upset Italy again
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer America Can Guus Hiddink do it again? Four years ago, World Cup 2002 co-host South Korea, coached by Hiddink, beat Italy, 2-1, in overtime in the round of 16. This time, Hiddink leads Australia against Italy Monday in the round of 16 in Kaiserslautern. "It's difficult to compare these two games," he said, "but from a starting point, I think it might be the same in that they [the Italians] are 100 percent favorites." Like South Korea, Australia never won a game in the World Cup until Hiddink took charge. Australia ...
  • MAHONEY: El Pato stymies El Tri
    By Ridge Mahoney in Leipzig   The incredible dipping shot that Maxi Rodriguez drilled over Mexican goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez in extra time decided the tense round-of-16 match for Argentina, yet the match was truly won at the other end of the field. Stuck in glide mode for much of the game, as if they would rather tango than tangle, the lordly Argentines had their dainty dancing toes stomped on by a fleet of feisty, focused Mexicans and needed a stunning strike from the skies to subdue them. Mexico took ...
  • WOITALLA: Grinsi and Grumpy
    By Mike Woitalla in Munich He sure is a grump. That's a sentiment about Bruce Arena I heard from U.S. fans here in Germany, ones who watched on TV in the USA, and members of the press. And I saw that grumpiness frequently. The scowls, frowns and curses from the sidelines, and the irritability at the press conferences. Arena can be delightfully witty and refreshingly honest. Obviously, he's an  excellent motivator. But his negativity at this tournament became his overbearing trait. Players who glanced toward the sidelines during the Ghana game ...
  • Section 1: Van Basten apologizes for Ruud remarks
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer America Dutch coach Marco van Basten said he regrets publicly criticizing struggling star Ruud van Nistelrooy. "Regret is a big word," van Basten said before the Oranje's match against Portugal, "but what I did was not correct to the player." The Manchester United star had been substituted during all three group games, and van Basten hinted that Dirk Kuyt might start at center forward against the Portuguese, saying the position was "a point of discussion." "We might expect more from Ruud," van Basten said on Thursday. "He ...