Friday, September 21, 2007

Is the world abuzz with the World Cup?

There are a lot of stories coming across my Google news alert about the World Cup. Of course none of the ESPN "news" shows that I have seen pay it much attention. I guess they figure just airing the matches for two hours every other morning is enough.
But there has been print coverage of the event across the world. And despite the initial trepidations over the poor timing of the event, it has not gone completely unnoticed. Though, again, television coverage has been minimal.
The coverage that does exist, however, is pretty good. We're even starting to hear the p-word, parity. Yesterday at, columnist Mark Bechtel wrote a piece that suggests he is impressed by the teams in this year's tournament. The level of competition has changed for the better. As Bechtel notes only Brazil has gotten out of the first round of play without a loss.
Teams are getting better coaching and more attention--in the form of funding--from their national associations and this makes for greater depth in talent. Just look at England which seems to be the darling of the tournament so far. They travel now with their own chef (Chinese food messes with their digestion) and a sports psychologist.
Teams that had previously performed poorly in World Cup competition have shown their improvements. Australia has made it to the quarterfinals for the first time. And even though Nigeria lost to the US the other day, commentators were calling it a moral victory for the FIFA ranked 24th team, who held the US to just one goal.
US takes on England tomorrow morning. The US, of course, has a winning record against England, but England has a lot of momentum and while the US has not played the best soccer it is capable of, England is putting it all out there. I expect this to be a good game.

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