2010: Not a great year in soccer

It was not the best of years for soccer.

The 2010 World Cup was rather boring. It was a pity the U.S. team failed to get past Ghana; England were very poor, and France imploded. ESPN did a great job covering the event with some fine commentators.

The MLS Cup was mediocre, while the UEFA Champions League final was about average, with two nice goals from Diego Milito.

 It was a dreadful season for D.C. United.

On a brighter note, the 2009-2010 Premier League season went down to the last game with Chelsea unseating three-time winner Manchester United with a single point. Chelsea won the title with an 8-0 win over Wigan. The Blues notched a Premier League record 103 goals to win the title.

Some musings over 2010.

Strange choice - FIFA choosing Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup. It’s going to be baking hot. Now some are asking for the finals to be held in January come 2022 due to the weather conditions. I think someone is moving the goal posts here. That all said, I’m all for spreading the gospel of soccer to new frontiers, but in the future, just spell that condition out in large print in the World Cup bidding papers.

Best Performance of the Year - Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bales’ two-game performance against European Champions League champion Inter Milan in the group stage games. In the first game, Bale helped Spurs come back from 4-0 to lose 4-3 on the Welshman’s stunning hat-trick. In the return game, Bale spent the night destroying Brazilian ace and Defender of the Year Maicon’s reputation. If Bale wasn’t British, notable veteran American writer Paul Gardner would have devoted a column too him.
Lionel Messi of Barcelona continues to produce amazing games.

Worst referee call - Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany in England’s 4 -1 at the 2011 World Cup. It was the Three Lions’ worst result in a World Cup finals.

Best player at World Cup - Diego Forlan, who helped Uruguay reach the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup after a series of outstanding displays. Forlan scored five goals and earned the Golden Ball award given to the best player at the tournament.

Best MLS players to watch in 2010 - San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski, the Philadelphia Union’s Sébastien Le Toux, and FC Dallas’ David Ferreira and Brek Shea.

Best MLS team to watch in 2010 - The Los Angeles Galaxy. You had David Beckham’s passes; Landon Donovan’s speedy runs; Dema Kovalenko’s nightmare tackles; decent goal-keeping from Donovan Ricketts, and, at times, some impressive defending from Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza.

My team of the year -Goalie: Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid C.F.); Defenders: Gareth Bale (Wales, Tottenham Hotspur), Ashley Cole (England, Chelsea FC), Philipp Lahm (Germany, FC Bayern München), Carles Puyol (Spain, FC Barcelona); Midfielders: Andrès Iniesta (Spain, FC Barcelona), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands, F.C. Internazionale); Thomas Müller (Germany, FC Bayern München); Forwards: Diego Forlán (Uruguay, Atlético Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid C.F.), Lionel Messi (Argentina, FC Barcelona).

Fact of the Year -Spain won the 2010 World Cup despite scoring just eight goals in seven games. Brazil won the World Cup in 1970 scoring 19 goals in six games.

Worst noise of 2010 - The vuvuzelas. Those noisy plastic trumpets almost killed the atmosphere at the 2010 World Cup.

Embarrassment of the Year - In its bid to host the 2018 World Cup, England gained just one vote other than that of their own delegate on the FIFA committee.

After reading the tea leaves, here’s what to look forward to in 2011:

* David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Juan Pablo Angel combine as the Los Angeles Galaxy win the MLS Cup over the New York Red Bulls in a 5-3 stunning game.

* Ronaldinho decides to join MLS.

* Under new coach Ben Olsen, D.C. United rise from the ashes and produce a winning season. Andy Najar will notch over ten goals; Marc Burch will convert a few free kicks, and Josh Wolff will win over the fans with at least six goals.

* Barcelona will likely win the UEFA Champions League.
BUT, in another scenario, Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Ji Sung Park will combine for four goals, as Manchester United nullifies Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat trick and downs Real Madrid 4-3 in the final.
AND YET, in another scenario, Jermaine Defoe, Peter Crouch, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon combine for four goals to nullify Lionel Messi’s hat trick, as Spurs beat Barcelona 4-3.

* For only the second time in the history of the Premier League one of the Big Three (Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United) will fail to win the title, as either Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur spoil the party.

* The U.S. women’s team will win the World Cup in Germany with a 3-2 win over the England. Heather Mitts will head in the winning goal off a corner kick.

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John Haydon

John Haydon has covered soccer for The Washington Times for two decades. He has reported on international soccer events in Germany, South Korea and Spain. John hails from Birmingham, England and has lived in the Washington D.C. region for over twenty years.  

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