Tuesday, July 06, 2010


WAYNE'S WORLD CUP: Holland Closer To Its "Goooool!"

by Wayne Robins

The semifinal World Cup match between the Netherlands and Uruguay was so interesting that I watched the first 20 minutes for a second time tonight in Spanish on Telefutura's WFUT, channel 68 in New York, which has been repeating key games of the day. (The Spanish network Univision carries the games live, simultaneously with ESPN and, on weekends, ABC.) Actually, I watched because I knew in the 17th minute Giovanni Van Bronckhorst would score an extraordinary goal, a long left foot strike that bounced off the post and in. "An absolute firecracker," ESPN announcer Ian Darke aptly called it. But I wanted to hear the great Argentine-born soccer announcer Andres Cantor call his now famous "gooooooooool!," stretching the single syllable word for about 15 seconds, one more time. (You can hear it often as your cellphone rings: Cantor's trademark call is available online as a ringtone.)

Ian Darke was in fine fettle as always. Both he and American sidekick John Harkes (a former U.S. team captain) took the Dutch to task for their sometimes lame "histrionics and amateur dramatics" in trying to induce the referee to call a foul on their opponents. The comment was piercing, because Holland is otherwise one of the class acts of world soccer, and certainly earned its place in the final, having run Brazil out of the tournament and finally beating the brave and resourceful Uruguay 3-2.

I don't know if a player on a team that loses in the semifinals can be World Cup MVP, but Uruguay's charismatic Diego Forlan, who evened the score in the 40th minute with his fourth goal of the tournament, certainly deserves consideration. Forlan was taken out in the 85th minute, his thigh hurting, with Uruguay trailing 3-1. A Uruguay goal in extra time made it 3-2, and the South Americans mounted a desperate attack only to be finally turned back.

So the domino theory, so discredited as the political and military concept behind the futile United States war effort in Southeast Asia in the 1960s, seemed to be accurate in this World Cup. All the South American dominos with the potential to dominate have fallen: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay. The Netherlands will play either Spain or Germany on Sunday for the championship. In the saddest contest in all of sports, 90 agonizing minutes of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," the loser of Spain vs. Germany plays Uruguay in the third place game Saturday afternoon.

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