So we’ve now played 1,260 minutes plus stoppage time of World Cup soccer, witnessing the overexposure of the White Stripes, bad Volkswagen commercials, some captivating matches, and a mosquito invasion. And it’s still only the group stage!
If you missed the first notebook, you can go back and read it here.
Now, let’s dive into some of the talking points from the tournament, shall we?
Donovan’s new team: Although it’s hard to overshadow the fact that Mexico defeated the defending World champions Germany 1-0 Sunday, U.S. Men’s National Team legend Landon Donovan might have done that as the self-proclaimed newest fan of the Mexican national team.
In case you somehow missed it (although with social media, it’s impossible to miss anything), Donovan has aligned himself as a fan of Mexico for this year’s World Cup.
The move, which is part of a partnership with Wells Fargo, caused a bit of an uproar from purists of the U.S. Men’s National Team, including Donovan’s former teammates Carlos Bocanegra and Cobi Jones.
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Nah man!!! Mexico is not “my team.” Mexico is a rival in CONCACAF. In sport there is something sacred about rivalries. Meaning and history behind them!!! I don’t see Brazil cheering for Argentina. England cheering for Germany. Barca for Madrid. Man U for Liverpool or Lakers for Clippers. Yankees/RedSox etc…It’s sports and you’re allowed to cheer against someone. Let alone your regional rival!!!
Jones somewhat nailed the reasoning on why this move should be frowned upon, considering the bitter rivalry these two are immersed in. However, Donovan spent the past couple of months in Mexico playing for Leon, so he has probably learned to appreciate the cultural impact the Mexican National team brings to the country. Still, it seems like a bit of a sellout on Donovan’s part just to make a quick buck.
I’m curious if the supporters of El Tri are on board with this, considering Donovan’s alleged antics at Jalisco Stadium in the past (Google it).
VAR is a WIN: The virtual assistant referee, commonly known as VAR, has been a big success in this year’s tournament. So far, it has helped reward teams with a couple of penalties in the box on some questionable judgement calls, and the decisions don’t disrupt the flow of play.
VAR had been implemented in a number of professional leagues prior, including MLS. The Premier League has gone against using it, but that could change if it continues to prove to be effective.
No system is perfect though, as VAR does have a miss.
Everyone loves Iceland: I’ll just leave this here.
This tournament is wide open: Belgium’s 3-0 win against Panama was the first win for a team in the FIFA top five rankings this tournament. That match, along with Russia’s 5-0 victory against Saudi Arabia and Croatia’s 2-0 win against Nigeria, are the only three matches so far that have been decided by more than one goal. We’ve also seen four late goals, with three of them resulting in a victory. From what we’ve seen so far, there’s no clear cut favorite.
Oddsshark has Brazil currently as the betting favorite (+400) to win it all as of Monday, while Spain (+450), France (+700), Germany (+750), and Belgium (+900) to round out the top five. Only two of those teams listed came away with victories during their opening matches, so no one is truly safe.
Let Jorge Perez-Navarro call every match: Other than Derek Rae and Aly Wagner, Fox’s group of commentator teams have been pretty sub optimal during this tournament so far.
However, Jorge Perez-Navarro is a national treasure and we must protect him at all costs. [Disclaimer: This is not a consensus opinion among the Golden Goal crew…but Andy took the time to write this piece so he gets the final say!]
I’m glad I’m not alone on this.