World Cup 2010: This Is Where It All Begins

Spain's fans celebrate a goal as they watch the World Cup soccer match against Chile during an outdoor television screening in Madrid June 25, 2010. REUTERS/Susana Vera (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

The first round of a World Cup tournament is a mere dress rehearsal for what we are about to experience. Starting today, this is where the World Cup begins. Where every game matters. Where teams will either live or die by the sword.

During the first round, teams are often playing conservative and calculated soccer. In the first game, nerves are showing and teams try to make sure that they don’t lose. In the second game, the match opens up and can be quite exciting as teams push forward. But by the third game in the first round, games can often be as extreme as being completely inconsequential or as good as the winner takes all.

But now that we’re entering the second round of the tournament, every game from here on matters. Every moment will be treasured. Every referee’s decision is crucial. Every near miss oooh and aaahed.

The other benefit of games from here on in the tournament is that entire countries will be swallowed up in watching the match. With everyone knowing that at the end of the game, whether it’s decided after 90 minutes, during extra time or by penalties, one team will walk home as the loser while the winner advances to the next stage.

During an interview with ESPN this week, the US players talked about how they were physically and emotionally exhausted after the incredible last-gasp victory against Algeria. But what most pundits fail to acknowledge is how exhausting these type of games are for us, the viewers. Building up to each of the US games thus far, I’ve found nerves and anxiety creating tension in me before a ball is even kicked. And then comes the most exhausting aspect of the journey: the actual game itself. Ninety minutes of highs and lows, of incredible tension and – sometimes – wonderful exhilaration. After the USA versus England and USA versus Slovenia games, I was completely drained. Not only that, but my voice was so hoarse from screaming and shouting that it took a couple of days after each game to return to normalcy.

Now, imagine how physically and emotionally draining first round games are and imagine how much more so the second round (and possibly latter stages of the tournament) will be.

So, let me repeat. This is where, to me, the World Cup truly begins. This is when I encourage non-believers to sit back and watch the incredible spectacle we are about to see. Let’s enjoy it and hope for some wonderful soccer.

13 thoughts on “World Cup 2010: This Is Where It All Begins”

  1. Call it football please. The World Cup does not really start until the Yanks are eliminated. Until then it is a tournament that combines football playing nations with nations that promote little girls soccer. When the USA is eliminated we can breathe easy as football will safe.

    I sometimes wonder if professional girls soccer is a yank attempt to weaken the world game in order to try and conquer us with American sports. I am still not sure. Yanks taking to the World Cup does not impress me. They take to anything the USA wins at. Hopefully Ghana can shut them up today.

          1. I’m not as happy as you may think. I’m not saying i’m sad either. To be honest i wasn’t really bothered who went through, I just wanted to see a good game of football and the best team win.

            Stats don’t lie though and i saw today that the U.S was actually leading in a game for only 3 minutes, the rest of the time they were either level or behind, you can’t go far with that kind of stat.
            Unlucky America, you are improving but atleast now all the new fans can go back to baseball and we can get back to normal on this site.

          2. Will the U.S ever get a better chance to go far in this tourney? Beat Ghana for a place in the QF’s, I doubt it.
            Just popped over to MLS talk and it looks like there are some very unhappy new fans on there, saying they are not happy and saying goodbye to soccer. Talk about easy come, easy go, did they really think the U.S were going to win the World Cup?

          3. Rakeback….so you do have a rational side. Interesting.

            As for the U.S., you can only play with fire (giving up early goals) so often before you get burned. C’est la vie.

            We’ll be back. :-)

  2. Gaffer – you have probably just condemned us to 15 Switzerland v Ukraine’s. To those who don’t know what that means read any match report from that knockout game in 2006.

    Even just one of those instance can see Fifa come in and abandon the tournament.

  3. “the US players talked about how they were physically and emotionally exhausted after the incredible last-gasp victory against Ghana” – you mean Algeria, right?

  4. Too bad for the US.

    As much as I’ve dished out the banter with the US fans, I was really hoping they could continue to advance in the Cup. Though the US is not my birth country, they definitely had me cheering throughout the run.

    The main issue with the US (as I’ve brought up at least twice before) is that the defensive concentration is just not to a high enough standard. In the four total games they played, they let in a goal within the first fifteen minutes in three of them and needed the post to save that stat from being all four games. Being the come-back specialists only works so many times.

    I will put money down that Donovan finds himself at a big club by next season for a record transfer fee for an American.

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