• Section 1: Ribery enjoys spotlight
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer America Franck Ribery came out of nowhere to be one of the stars of the World Cup. He's only played two seasons of top level soccer and never played for France before being called up for the World Cup, but he's emerged as one of the key players in France's surprise run to the semifinals, where the Bleus face Portugal on Wednesday. Ribery's pace and dribbling ability have caused havoc for opposing defenders, and he can attack down either wing. ...
  • Section 1: Frings' suspension leaves big hole in Germany lineup
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer America The suspension of Torsten Frings has put a damper on German hopes of reaching the World Cup finals. The German national team was flying to Dortmund on Monday for Tuesday's Germany-Italy semifinal when it received news that the 29-year-old defensive midfielder was banned for his part in the brawl that followed the shootout victory over Argentina on Friday -- a game in which he had played a key role in shutting down the potent Argentine attack. "Torsten marked Riquelme out of the game against Argentina," Germany coach
  • WOITALLA: The Fan Fest Phenomenon
    By Mike Woitalla in Hamburg Fans who take the S-Bahn to the Hamburg Fan Fest get out the Reeperbahn  station and walk east down the red-light avenue. The McDonald's is flanked by Erotik Heaven and Blue Banana's Table Dance  Club. Across the street is the St. Pauli Theater, soon to stage "The Threepenny Opera" by Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill. There are five-star restaurants and sausage stands, American fast-food  joints and the Turkish doener booths; fancy nightclubs, brothels and a  church. At Operettenhaus, well-dressed couples will line up tonight  for "Mama Mia." ...
  • Section 1: Ronaldinho takes heat
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer America Ronaldinho, the reigning World and European Player of the Year, came in for heavy criticism in the aftermath of Brazil's shocking exit from the World Cup. O Globo and Estado de Sao Paulo, two of Brazil's biggest newspapers, ran identical headlines: "Ronaldinho was the big letdown of the Cup." "He played badly, he didn't dribble, he didn't have a shot at goal, he misplaced passes and did not, at any moment, take responsibility," wrote Estado. "It was a portrait of his participation ...
  • MAHONEY: Portugal wins banal battle
    By Ridge Mahoney in Gelsenkirchen   It is sometimes said of a match decided on penalties that neither team deserved to lose. In the case of Saturday's quarterfinal between Portugal and England, neither team really deserved to win, and the team less deserving to lose, did. Despite playing a man up for nearly an hour after the dismissal of English firebrand Wayne Rooney for assaulting an opponent, Portugal could only sporadically dictate the tempo and survived several English near misses before prevailing on penalties, 3-1. Goalkeeper Ricardo ...
  • Section 1: Toni answers critics
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer America Luca Toni came into the 2006 World Cup as one of the tournament's most hyped players. having scored 31 goals for Fiorentina in the 2005-06 season, the most goals by a player in Serie A since 1957. But Toni didn't score in Italy's first four games at the World Cup, drawing criticism from the hypercritical Italian media. Finally, in the Azzurri's quarterfinal match against Ukraine, Toni broke out, setting up Gianluca Zambrotta for Italy's first goal before scoring two himself as the Azzurri cruised into the semifinals ...
  • MAHONEY: The party rolls on
    By Ridge Mahoney in Berlin For a few more days at least, "PartyZone Deutschland" will stay on the air. A show by that title is running regularly on German television, portraying the activities and adventures of fans attending games as well as gathering at "FanFests" to party in front of big-screen TVs. After the round of 16, FIFA estimated that 11 million fans had watched matches at the 15 sites around the country. Just about every game has been ausverkauft (a sellout). But every party needs a gregarious host, preferably one that sticks around, and the host ...
  • 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 ...