Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.
Email Jon to talk about soccer.
It has not been a good World Cup so far, for the conventional wisdom.
Conventional wisdom: Especially in the first week, everyone is still getting into the swing of things; look for a lot of low scores and draws.
What has happened: Every game has had a winner, and with the exception of Mexico beating Cameroon 1-0, every winner has scored at least three goals.
CW: Spain plays so well as a team that the Netherlands, who generally spend the lead-up to every major tournament getting in fights with each other in training, have no chance. And besides, Spain just play such pretty soccer.
Happened: Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie scored twice apiece and blew the doors off Spain, 5-1, including at least three of the type of goals that just make you happy to be alive, and one that made Spanish keeper Iker Casillas look like he'd been selected from the stands at halftime to play goalkeeper. Meanwhile, Spain's only goal was a questionable first-half penalty.
CW: Uruguay are dark-horse tournament favorites; they've got a strong team, they're playing next door to home, and they have Luis Suarez.
Happened: Uruguay led at halftime, but three second-half goals from Costa Rica - who hadn't won at the World Cup since 2002, and have reached the knockout round once ever, in 1990 - put Los Ticos on top, improbably, in Group C.
CW: Greece may be having a little difficulty scoring lately, but they're almost impossible to score against. Besides, Colombia are missing striker Radamel Falcao, and who knows who will pick up the slack?
Happened: Colombia was ahead 1-0 after just five minutes, and added a pair in the second half for a 3-0 win.
CW: Uh... Australia have no chance?
Happened: At least the conventional wisdom was right about this one; Chile beat the Socceroos 3-1, and now the Australians have to play the Netherlands and Spain. That said, while Chile led 2-0 after 14 minutes, the ageless Australian Striker, Tim Cahill, brought his team within 2-1 before halftime. It took Chile until stoppage time to get a third.
CW: I'm not doing so well.
Happened: There's a lot of time left; things could be worse.
CW: At least I know for sure that England-Italy, which is taking place in the jungle, will be a boring 0-0 draw.
Happened: It's 1-1 and there have been two goals in the last four minutes.
CW: Ah, pickles.
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