Best Player(s): Prior to the semi-final matches I would have said Schweinsteiger--but he will be watching the final on tv after disappointing against Spain. I will go then with Xavi and Iniesta--yes Villa has scored the critical goals, but it’s the Spanish midfielders who made those goals possible with the metronome- (metronome analogy thanks to the Fiver) like precision of their endless passing. I hear, “Xavi to Iniesta... back to Xavi” in my sleep.
Best Goal: It was not the most asthetically pleasing (I give that honor that to Tshabalala’s against Mexico, Maicon's ‘did he mean it or not?’ against North Korea, Tevez's long range strike against Mexico, and van Bronckhorst's against Uruguay) but nothing was more thrilling than Landon Donovan's clutch put back against Algeria with time running out to save the U.S. from elimination.
Worst Team: They came, the saw, they quit. What a disgrace le Bleus were. If soccer really does explain the world, France is in big big trouble. Had an American team mutinied, cable tv would still be talking about it endlessly.
Best Description of the French Fiasco: Shades of '68 and '89: “The French have put down their tools.”
Best Description of a Player: Puyol as looking “like a bass player in a heavy metal band.”
Most Disappointing Team and Player: England and Wayne Rooney. Messi may not have scored but he still played well and created opportunities. Drogba and Ronaldo underperformed but each at least scored once, and Drogba was playing with a broken arm. Rooney looked absolutely lost and bewildered on the pitch--problems he shared with his teammates. Never was so much expected and so little delivered. By the way, if you haven't seen Wayne Rooney's tv show--Street Striker--which is an American Idol like search for England's best undiscovered footballer--you should. It and he are utterly charming in it.
Moment When Soccer Arrived in the US: When the New York Post put Donovan's love life on the front page.
Best Kit: Serbia and Portugal, both home.