[IMPORTANT NOTE: Now that the World Cup's first round is complete and the 16-team field of survivors is set, we will introduce a brand new, separate blog post for the remainder of the tournament -- Futblog II -- including a new predict-the-winner poll. Look for it to post Saturday at 8 a.m. sharp!].
THIS IS THE OFFICIAL WORLD CUP BLOG OF THIS BLOG: Let's talk soccer! We start by offering a short video that features a dusty sandlot soccer game featuring the following five people (pictured right, clockwise from upper left): Former Peruvian World Cup star and Fort Lauderdale Striker Teofilo "Nene" Cubillas; Dolphins legend Don Shula; Heat star Dwyane Wade; Miami Herald sports columnist and blog inventor Greg Cote; and former University of Miami athletic director Sam Jankovich. Click here to enjoy.
[Continually updated day-by-day results and commentary happen immediately after the poll...]
THE WORLD CUP POLL: I am limited to 10 poll answers. Sorry, Hondurans! Couldn't even list my own personal country, Cote d'Ivoire. Try to vote here with your head, not your heart, to the degree that is even possible in an event that is all about passion. And tell why you picked who you did if you'd like.
FRIDAY JUNE 25 / DAY 15:
Match of the Day:
Spain 2, Chile 1 (Group H) --- Today's four matches bring to a close the first round and set the 16-team field for second-round elimination games beginning Saturday. Spain, remember, was the favorite entering this Cup -- or at least the co-fave with Brazil -- but the Spaniards needed to win to assure advancement. Both teams advance with the result, but Spain wrests first place in the group, meaning Chile must face Brazil in the first elimination game.
Ivory Coast 3, North Korea 0 (G) --- North Korea was eliminated and Ivory Coast even if it won had a 99.9 percent likelihood of not advancing based on a goals-differential tiebreaker. We unabashedly took sides in this meaningless game: Against the Communist, nut-run Koreans and in favor of the official team of this blog, Greg Cote d'Ivoire.
Portugal 0, Brazil 0 (G) --- Tournament power Brazil had clinched advancement and Portgual had all but done the same even if it lost, so this was another match with little meaning. The draw was no big surprise, and no doubt about Brazil's favorite's role should be implied by it.
Switzerland 0, Honduras 0 (H) --- Honduras was all but mathematically eliminated going in, but Switzerland could have snuck into the round-of-16 had it won by at least two goals.
THURSDAY JUNE 24 / Day 14:
Match of the Day:
Slovakia 3, Italy 2 (Group F) --- Italy, the forgotten power in this tournament and (oh by the way) the defending World Cup champion, proved itself too old and stunningly is eliminated with today's defeat. It is a major humiliation for a big team. Slovakia advances instead in what was a winner-take-all-match.
Paraguay 0, New Zealand 0 (F) --- A draw was enough for Paraguay to advance to the round of 16 as group winner. The Kiwis are out after finishing third of four, but with the unexpected solace of having finished higher than once-mighty Italy.
Japan 3, Denmark 1 (E) --- Both teams were tied for second in group with three points, so this was winner- take-all in terms of advancement. Japan needed only a draw but won comfortably, Denmark had to win but dug itself a 2-nil hole early.
Netherlands 2, Cameroon 1 (E) --- Group-leading Dutch had already clinched advancement going in and cellar-dwelling Cameroonians already were eliminated. It was a play-nice-and-don't-get-hurt affair for the Dutch but they won anyway and could be a darkhorse to win it all.
Day 14 summary: Defending champion Italy failing to advance surely was the story of the day. Netherlands previously had qualified to move on. Japan earned the round-of-16 with a clutch, must win. A draw was enough for Paraguay because of prior good work, and it was Slovakia advancing at the expense of the crestfallen Italians.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 23 / DAY 13:
Match of the Day:
United States 1, Algeria 0 (Group C) --- Landon Donovan's goal in extra time is the Big Decider as America advances beyond the group stage to the round of 16. This is not an impartial blog and does not pretend to be. I watched the match at a sports bar, wearing a USA team shirt, and will further describe the atmosphere later. America deserved to win, after being cheated of a winning goal in its earlier game, and after having a goal disallowed on a dubious offside call in this match. A tremendous day for American soccer!
England 1, Slovenia 0 (C) --- England, the pre-tournament group favorite, saved face with a win-or-else decision to advance to the second round. There was enormous pressure on the Brits, who were the clear group power entering play.
Germany 1, Ghana 0 (D) --- Germany advances as group leader. Ghana, even with a los, advances in second place based on the goal-differential tiebreaker over Australia. Pressure was on the Germans to advance as group winner and stake their claim to being a World Cup title contender, and they did, if unconvingingly.
Australia 2, Serbia 1 (D) --- Both teams are out. Serbia could have advanced with a win. Aussies, even with the win, lose the goals-differential tiebreaker to Ghana.
Day 13 summary: "U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!" America's advancement on an extra-time goal by Landon Donovan is the story of the day, at least parochially. Others: England sneaking into the second round, Germany qualifying as expected, and Ghana representing beleaguered Africa.
TUESDAY JUNE 22 / DAY 12:
Match of the Day:
Argentina 2, Greece 0 (Group B) --- Today began the wave of Game 3s, four straight days of four games each that will conclude group play and set the round of 16. Argentina is so good that it won even though it didn't have to and Greece did. Greeks eliminated with the defeat, and Argentines reaffirming themselves as a bona fide threat to win it all.
Uruguay 1, Mexico 0 (A), 10 a.m. --- There was not much pressure on either squad here, with winner sure to advance, both advancing with a draw, and even loser likely to. Sure enough, Uruguay breezes to next round, and Mexico even in defeat advances with a +1 to -2 goals-differential tiebreaker over South Africa.
South Africa 2, France 1 (A), 10 a.m. --- Both teams are eliminated. France is by far the disappointment/embarrassment of this Cup with its chaos, discord and mutiny. (Handy headline: "French toasted!") South Africa isn't far behind, as the first host nation ever to expire in the group phase.
South Korea 2, Nigeria 2 (B) --- Argentina beating Greece in the match going on concurrently meant South Korea needed only a draw to advance, while Nigeria required a win. The back and forth match left the team from the home continent in tears, and South Korea in tears of joy.
Day 12 summary: Uruguay and Mexico advance from Group A, and Argentina and South Korea from Group B. Argentina looks as strong as any side in the tournament at the moment, while the day marks one of the darkest in the history of the sport for crestfallen France.
MONDAY JUNE 21 / DAY 11:
Match of the Day:
Spain 2, Honduras 0 (Group H) --- This match wrapped up Game 2s of the opening round and Spain (loss-win) -- to many the tournament favorite going in -- with its 2-nil win finds itself back in decent position advance. Spain is tied for second in the group but has a one-goal tiebreaker advantage over the Swiss entering Game 3s. Honduras (loss-loss) is not mathetically eliminated but its chances of doing so are infinitesimal.
Portugal 7, North Korea 0 (G) --- The 2010 Cup's biggest goal avalanche included one by Cristiano Ronaldo as Portugal (tie-win) all but clinched its advancement, staking its claim to move on from the group along with Brazil. North Koreans (loss-loss) were officially eliminated.
Chile 1, Switzerland 0 (H) --- Chile (win-win) puts itself in the driver's seat to advance, while the Swiss (win-loss) remain in contention but are now vulnerable to being leapfrogged by Spain. Switzerland was playing a man down but had a golden, missed opportunity to level the match in the closing minutes.
Day 11 summary: Pre-tournament co-favorite Spain breathes life into its hopes. Portugal and Chile position themselves for great chances to advance.
FIFA BENCHES REF WHO SCREWED U.S. --- FIFA has not included Koman Coulibaly, the referee whose egregiously erroneous decision cost the U.S. a win over Slovenia, on its roster of referees for the next round. That is tantamount to an admission by the governing body that Coulibaly made an awful mistake. Well, OK, it might not be. But it should be!
SUNDAY JUNE 20 / DAY 10:
Match of the Day:
Brazil 3, Ivory Coast 1 (Group G) --- Brazil earns game-of-day honors here as long as the U.S. isn't playing, given that Brazil has established itself as the 2010 Cup favorite and plays the most entertaining futbol around. (Besides, the opponent was the official team of this blog: Greg Cote d'Ivoire). Brazil (win-win) has clinched advancement to the round of 16. The Coast (tie-loss) remains in contention.
Paraguay 2, Slovakia 0 (F) --- Paraguay (tie-win) with this result assumes first place in the group and is now controlling its own fate to advance, while Slovakia (tie-loss) drops to last and needs much luck from here.
Italy 1, New Zealand 1 (F) --- Italians (tie-tie) dominated the Kiwis (tie-tie) in time of possession, shots and corner kicks but the Azzurri settled for a second straight disappointing draw. It will be must-win for both in their third and final first-round match.
Day 10 summary: Brazil is, appropriately, among first teams to officially advance beyond first round and continues to look like the team to beat for the world championship. Italy continues to join France and perhaps England as the major teams most struggling in this Cup.
SATURDAY JUNE 19 / DAY 9:
Match of the Day:
Netherlands 1, Japan 0 (Group E) --- Netherlands wins 1-nil as the march of Game 2s continues. Not a scintillating day on the calendar but this rated as the MOD because Netherlands is the biggest team playing, the one of six in action today with a realistic shot of perhaps winning it all. N'lands (win-win) advances to next phase; Japan (win-loss) still is well in it. Oh, and whatever happened to the word "Holland"?
Ghana 1, Australia 1 (D) --- A disappointing draw for Ghana (win-tie), which remains possibly Africa's best hope to advance. Aussies look like one of the weaker teams in the Cup field and remain on life support in terms of reaching the round-of-16.
Denmark 2, Cameroon 1 (E), 2:30 p.m. --- Denmark (loss-win) puts itself in reasonable contention to advance, while Cameroon (loss-loss) is officially eliminated. African teams now have one win from 11 matches on their own continent.
Day 9 summary: Perhaps the least eventful day yet in the first round, highlighted by the Netherlands underlining itself as a second-tier favorite to win it all, and Cameroon epitomizing the overall disappointing showing by African teams.
FRIDAY JUNE 18 / DAY 8:
Match of the Day:
United States 2, Slovenia 2 (Group C) --- Landon Donovan, minutes after the match ended: "I don't know how they stole that goal from us." What a wild, crazy result. As an American fan I'm not sure whether to be thrilled or angry. U.S. (tie-tie) trailed 2-0 -- such an enormous hole in soccer -- but fought back for a dramatic 2-2 draw with Slovenia (win-tie) to keep alive American hopes for advancing to the round of 16. But! America had scored for an apparent 3-2 lead in the 85th minute only to have the goal disallowed -- "Stolen," said Donovan -- by the referee. The apparent call, offside, was wrong according to TV replays. And if it was a foul call in the box, replays showed the only obvious foul was American Michael Bradley being held. Bottom line: A 2-2 draw is a remarkable comeback for the U.S. and a great result. But by consensus of replays and all commentary this was a shoulda-been 3-2 American victory denied on a very, very dubious call by a referee who had a nightmarish game. By the way, in case you didn't guess this is unabashedly a patriotic blog and I do not feign impartiality. During the match I I was wearing a U.S. soccer jersey I bought at a Sports Authority store at Sawgrass Mills. Seriously. I paid 50 bucks for a glorified T-shirt. God bless America!
Serbia 1, Germany 0 (D) --- Germany (win-loss) on the wrong end of a stunning upset by Serbia (loss-win), a result that means neither team has clinched nor been eliminated from advancing to round two. Die Mannschaft was a clear favorite but was hurt by playing a man down after a red card, and by a missed penalty kick.
England 0, Algeria 0 (C) --- U.S. caught a break with just the result it wanted: a draw. England (tie-tie) was a huge favorite to send Algeria (loss-tie) to a second straight defeat, which would have made Algeria the first team eliminated. A win by either team would have left America in third place with one game to play in the first round and needing luck to advance. Instead, Uncle Sam is tied for second in the group and will be in great shape to advance if it wins it final first-round match, vs. Algeria.
Day 8 summary: In one turbulent hour U.S hopes went from being on death's door (at 0-2) to skyrocketing with joy (at a shoulda-have-been 3-2) to being somewhere in between with the final tie. Germany's loss continues the trend of unpredictabilty. And England fell in with France as the tournament's biggest big-team underperformer so far.
FOR U.S. TO ADVANCE: Americans next play at 10 a.m. Wednesday, vs. Algeria. England and Slovenia play concurrently. And it's pretty simple: U.S advances with a win, and is out with a loss. Period. If the U.S. ties, we are in if Slovenia beats England, and out of England beats Slovenia. If both group matches tie Wednesday it would come down to a tiebreaker. The first TB is goal differential, and the second TB is goals scored. Simplest bottom line: Win and in.
THURSDAY JUNE 17 / DAY 7:
Match of the Day:
Mexico 2, France 0 (Group A) --- The appropriately named Les Bleus, France (tie-loss), sought to reestablish itself as the pre-Cup group favorite but failed miserably in a 2-0 loss to Mexico (tie-win). Stakes were huge. Mexico, El Tri, now joins Uruguay as faves to advance from the group. France, probably the disappointment of the Cup so far, is in a world of hurt and facing elimination.
Argentina 4, South Korea 1 (B) --- A virtual co-match of the day, except there will be more sheer desperation in France-Mexico. Argentina (win-win) routed SK (win-loss) 4-1 on a hat trick by Gonzalo Higuain and will dance into the second round. Argentina when on its game is as entertaining as any team with its Lionel Messi-led attacking line. Messi's role in Higuain's hat trick (the first in the World Cup since 2002) was huge. Argentina is getting the Messi that Barcelona got, which feathers the growing championship hopes of Diego Maradona's La Albiceleste.
Greece 2, Nigeria 1 (B) --- Greece (loss-win) overcame a one-goal deficit to claim its first-ever World Cup victory and keep alive its chances to advance. A crushing defeat for Nigeria (loss-loss) in its home continent, one that realistically, if not quite mathematically, eliminates any hope to advance beyond round one.
Day 7 summary: Argentina reaffirmed itself as having the best overall Cup showing thus far, while France did the opposite, underlining itself as the greatest disappointment. And Nigeria continued a letdown showing overall by teams from the host continent Africa.
DEFENDING THE WORLD CUP: Click here for my column, online and in Thursday's pulp-edition Miami Herald, defending soccer and this World Cup against its critics. Refreshing unpredictability has been a hallmark, giving rise to possibility for teams like the U.S.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 16 / DAY 6:
Match of the Day:
Switzerland 1, Spain 0 (Group H) --- Oh my. The upset of the World Cup so far. Spain is the favorite of many to win its first WC and was predicted to handle the Swiss without much struggle. (Then again, that's what we said of co-favorite Brazil before it managed a 2-1 decision over plucky North Korea). Well, Spain dominated by most measures, leading in shots (24-9), corner kicks (11-3) and ball possession (74 percent). But the lightly regarded Swiss won the only statistic that matters. This was the 16th Cup match and completes for each team the first of three games in the first round.
Chile 1, Honduras 0 (H) --- Not a marquee match but somebody was going to be ebullient as Chile celebrates its first World Cup victory in 48 years against a country, Honduras, in the WC for the first time since 1982. Chile is generally seen as the favorite to advance from this group along with Spain and established that.
Uruguay 3, South Africa 0 (A), 2:30 p.m. --- This began the wave of second games in the three-match first round. Uruguay, impressive, now has tie/win and is positioned to advance or perhaps even win a group in which favored France has appeared vulnerable. Host South Africa, now tie/loss, is in jeopardy.
Day 6 summary: Spain losing is the upset of the tournament so far. Uruguay, arguably, has made the Cup's most impressive showing so far.
TUESDAY JUNE 15 / DAY 5:
Match of the Day:
Brazil 2, North Korea 1 (Group G) --- Brazil went up 2-0 on gorgeous Robinho through-pass finished neatly by Elano (shown celebrating) in 72nd minute. Had been 1-0 in 55th minute on Maicon shot off extreme angle near end line -- on what could have been an intended crossing pass. North Korea scored with one minute left. The scoreless first half was a stunner. I gave North Korea no chance not involving the deployment of nuclear weapons by Kim Jong-il. This was the match of the day because it is BRAASSIIILL!! It is the World Cup bow for the tournament co-favorite, and that alone made it special.
New Zealand 1, Slovakia 1 (F) --- The Slovakians (the Slovenly?) should have prevailed in this match and led late before squandering the lead to the Kiwis. Can't see either side reaching the second round.
Ivory Coast 0, Portugal 0 (G) --- If not for Brazil's debut this would have been match of the day: a fierce battle to advance between two even teams, with two of this Cup's most exciting stars in Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Les Elephants' Didier Drogba, and -- not to forget -- the Official Team of This Blog in Ivory Coast, a.k.a Greg Cote d'Ivoire. Alas, all that came of it was nil-nil and not much Drogba, who entered late. One of these teams will advance from the Group of Death along with Brazil, but today gave no clue which it will be.
Day 5 summary: North Korea pushing Brazil was the story of the day. It doesn't mean North Korea is big enough to make the second round or that Brazil is fragile enough not to. But it sure made for an unexpectedly interesting match.
WC TELLY RATINGS A HIT: Michelle Kaufman, our writer in South Africa, passes along that rating for U.S.-England drew 16.7 million American viewers -- more than the first four games of the NBA Finals. Go soccer!
MONDAY JUNE 14 / DAY 4:
Match of the Day:
Italy 1, Paraguay 1 (Group F) --- Italy, ranked fifth in the world, is defending World Cup champion, a heavy group favorite and not an unreasonable longshot (10-1) to repeat as champ. Therefore this rain-drenched result will please Paraguayans much more than it will fans of the Azzurri. Paraguay could be group's next-best team and was out to show it has the cred.
Netherlands 2, Denmark 0 (E) --- Group favorite Netherlands, ranked fourth in the world and judged a second-tier Cup favorite, was a clear pick over a Denmark squad whose advance to the round of 16 would be a surprise. Dutch rolled thanks in part to an own-goal by the not-very-great Danes.
Japan 1, Cameroon 0 (E) --- Only goal by Keisuke Honda. I used to drive one of those in the '80s. Japan's win is an upset that is certainly deflating for Cameroon, the favorite in this match on its home continent. Japan now has inside track to advance past first-round along with group strongman Netherlands.
Day 4 summary: An awful lot of people think Netherlands -- if not Spain or Brazil -- is the smart money to win it all. Today did not damage those beliefs. But Italy's hopes of repeating its world title probably were not enhaced by its opening draw.
WILL THE BUZZING STOP?: It was being reported (click here) that FIFA might ban vuvuzelas and their incessant buzzing drone from inside World Cup stadiums. But latest reports (click here) are that the noise will continue. Dear South Africans: Can't you just blow those damned horns after goals or something? Must it be constantly!? Every stadium sounds like it has been overrun by a billion bees.
SUNDAY JUNE 13 / DAY 3:
Match of the Day:
Germany 4, Australia 0 (Group D) --- Match of the Day? Not for competitiveness, surely, but because Germany was the only "big" team in play. Routine win was expected and, true to form, Germans won in 4-nil rout. (You like a whole lot of white people on the pitch? This was your match!) Though Aussies looked weak, result verifies Germany as a solid second-tier title contender, right after co-faves Brazil and Spain.
Slovenia 1, Algeria 0 (C) --- Well, this makes it interesting. For all of the good work by England the U.S. in yesterday's draw, Solevnia is now the Group C leader with this win. Slovenia! That torques up the pressure on the Americans to beat (not just tie) Slovenia when they meet this coming Friday. Slovenia won on a sloppy play by the goalkeeper for Algeria, which played a man down.
Ghana 1, Serbia 0 (D) --- Ghana (coached by a Serb) scores late in match on penalty kick off a hand-ball. Another match well off the marquee, but an interesting affair. Ghana earns inside track to advance (along with favorite Germany) beyond the group.
Day 3 summary: Germany was the day's biggest winner by score, but Slovenia took those honors otherwise, with its outright victory putting unexpected pressure on the U.S. and England in Group C.
SATURDAY JUNE 12 / DAY 2: U.S.-ENGLAND IN SPOTLIGHT:
Match of the Day:
United States 1, England 1 (Group C) --- A draw that will please the American side more than it will the Brits. U.S. evened score late in first half on a fortunate goal by Clint Dempsey, a shot that should have been routinely saved but trickled past the English goalkeeper, an egregious, costly mistake that one British tabloid headlined "Hand of Clod." Brits had led 1-0 on a score in fourth minute, underlining two concerns for U.S. going into the match: Defense, and surviving early nerves. England possessed the ball more effectively but the U.S. overall was not outplayed. Original post: Let me say unequivocally this is not an impartial, dispassionate blog. "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!" And I say that even though England is my best bet in my WC pool. This might be the most highly anticipated American soccer match in history. Says U.S. Soccer Federation prez Sunil Gulati: "This game is about where the sport is in the U.S." Highly regarded England, led by Wayne Rooney, is dreaming of its first World Cup title since 1966. The Americans are out to prove they are worthy of fathoming such dreams.
South Korea 2, Greece 0 (B) --- Not a sexy match except to fans of either country, but the first outright win of the Cup, and an upset to boot. Greece, ranked 12th in the world, was seen as solid favorite against South Korea squad ranked 40th and judged a 250-1 WC longshot.
Argentina 1, Nigeria 0 (B) --- This one had Match of the Day cred if not for US-England. Argentina is thinking itself a World Cup title contender, led by the brilliant forward Lionel Messi and the volatile coach Diego Maradona, and did as it needed to here against a tough Nigeria squad. In the fourth game of this Cup, after two draws and an upset, Argentina becomes the first favorite in the win column.
Day 2 summary: A good start for the United States, tying an English squad that fancies itself a championship contender. Also a solid opener for Argentina; Diego Maradona has earned himself some luxury time on the bidet, perhaps? Greece's result is by far the poorest in the five games so far.
FRIDAY JUNE 11 / DAY 1: SOUTH AFRICA KICKS IT OFF:
Match of the Day:
South Africa 1, Mexico 1 (Group A) --- Host South Africans led 1-0 on goal by the fabulously named Siphiwe Tshabalala, went on to tie Mexico, 1-1. That's good, pleasing result for the hosts. South Africa is considered perhaps weakest team ever to host Cup, and was seen as in danger of being first host ever to lose its opening match.
Uruguay 0, France 0 (A) --- France was lucky to qualify for the Cup on a Thierry Henry handball not called, and, although favored here, I'd seen them as fodder for an opening upset and was right.
Day 1 summary: A robust start for host South Africa. Opening results underline that Group A could be the toughest call on which two teams will advance to round two, with France a clearly vulnerable favorite, Uruguay and Mexico just about as good, and South Africa parlaying the considerable tailwind of adoring crowds.
ELEPHANT DELAYS U.S. SQUAD: The U.S. team bus en route to practice Friday was delayed four minutes by an elephant that blocked the roadway while casually snacking on a tree. Cannot confirm the pachyderm was working undercover for the English side.
A HUMBLING EXPERIENCE: Click here for my World Cup column, online now and in our special WC preview section. I have followed and appreciated soccer since the Fort Lauderdale Strikers days, circa 1977. I also played soccer at the college level, although that begs explaining. It was only a club team, and I was only the backup goalkeeper. In my only start, we lost at the Florida Institute of Technology, 8-0.
VUVUZELA!: The damned tournament hasn't even gotten underway yet and already I am tired of hearing and hearing about the "vuvuzela" (which you may know by its Setswanna name, "lepatata"), the horn South Africans blow at soccer matches. The sound is mournful, like a cross between a foghorn and an elephant giving birth. Plus, whenever I see a picture of someone blowing a vuvuzela (as left), it reminds me of me in my college days, drinking a yard of beer.
FAVORED NATIONS: Bookmaker.com calls it a near dead-heat between Spain (21 percent chace of winning) and Brazil (20%), followed by England (15.5) and Argentina (14.5). Second-tier: Italy, Netherlands, Germany, France. Over/under on total goals scored is 160.5. Other over/unders include 650.5 corner kicks, 295.5 yellow cards, 18.5 red cards and 15.5 penalty kicks scored.
WCFF (WORLD CUP FAST FACT): I am taller than Lionel Messi, the greatest soccer player in the world. And by a good two, two and a half inches.
CHAMPIONS IN THE FIELD: The seven nations that have combined to win the 18 previous Cup titles all are in the 2010 field: Brazil (1958-62-70-94-02); Italy (1934-38-82-06); Germany (1954-74-90); Argentina (1978-86); Uruguay (1930-50); France (1998) and England (1966).
SOCCER FOR NERDS: I stumbled upon and reccomend a site called SoccerQuantified. It caters to the cerebral, mathematical you. Particularly like the tone-setting quote from the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (pictured): "In football everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team." Any doubt the coming month shall prove him right?
WORLD CUP IN MIAMI?: SoFla is a major part of U.S. bid to host World Cup in 2018 or (more likely) 2022, and you can help Miami's effort by signing an online petition at gousabid.com/miami.
This World Cup blogpost will be updated continually throughout the June 11-July 11 tournament. Don't worry. We'll have other posts, too. I mean, I love soccer, but I'm not trying to commit blogicide or anything.