Best World Cup ever?

The Covington News - - SPORTS - RAFE MAURAN Rafe Mauran is the di­rec­tor of coach­ing at the Rock­dale Youth Soc­cer As­so­ci­a­tion. Mauran is a na­tive of Cony­ers, Ge­or­gia.

At the half­way point of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, it cer­tainly has that kind of po­ten­tial. For the most part, the world’s big­gest soc­cer stars are liv­ing up to their po­ten­tial. We have had some un­be­liev­able mo­ments of in­di­vid­ual bril­liance.

The tour­na­ment field seems es­pe­cially deep with many “dark horse” teams emerg­ing. We have also seen many dra­matic fin­ishes and there seem to be great sto­ries in each of the eight groups when it comes to who has been elim­i­nated and who will ad­vance to the knockout stages.

So far in this tour­na­ment, there have been 94 goals scored. The best play­ers in the world have brought their goal-scor­ing boots as well. We have seen fan­tas­tic mo­ments from Brazil’s Ney­mar, Ar­gentina’s Messi, the USA’s Dempsey, Van Per­sie and Robben from Hol­land, Ger­many’s Muller and Uruguay’s Suarez.

Teams seem to be at­tack­ing games with a pos­i­tive ap­proach while look­ing to play at­trac­tive soc­cer and go for goals. This has led to a lot of late- game hero­ics and mo­men­tum shifts. It has been amaz­ing to watch.

You have to look no fur­ther that Team USA for ex­am­ples of lategame drama. I can­not re­mem­ber the last time I was so anx­ious watch­ing a sport­ing event. The first two U. S. matches have pro­duced seven goals. Four of those goals came in the last 10 min­utes of the game.

In our first match against Ghana, Ghana tied the score at 1-1 in the 82nd minute be­fore John Brooks put us up 2-1 in 86th. In our sec­ond match against Por­tu­gal, Clint Dempsey put the U.S. up 2-1 in the 81st minute be­fore Valera of Por­tu­gal equal­ized in the fifth minute of stop­page time. Not only did this goal tie the game, it also de­layed the United States’ chance to ad­vance to the sec­ond round. We must now wait un­til our last group game with Ger­many to hope­fully qual­ify for the knockout stages.

If the U.S. earns a win or a tie against Ger­many, we will au­to­mat­i­cally go through to the next round. With a win, we will top the group. With a draw, we will go through as the sec­ond place team. If we lose to Ger­many, things get a bit more com­pli­cated. Our goal dif­fer­ence (+ 1) is cur­rently bet­ter than Ghana (-1) and Por­tu­gal (-4), so if we lose, we still have a good chance to go through, but ev­ery goal in both games will be vi­tally im­por­tant. Our match with Ger­many will take place at the same time as the Por­tu­gal/Ghana game and all four teams in the group have a chance to ad­vance. Talk about drama!

Un­be­liev­able mo­ments and great story lines like abound at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. So, is this the best World Cup ever? If the U.S. can man­age their way into the sec­ond round, win an­other game or two and cre­ate a few more awe in­spir­ing mo­ments, it will cer­tainly have my vote!

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