There's no bigger soccer enthusiast in Flagstaff than Head Women's Soccer Coach Andre Luciano. Luciano provides his take on the 2014 World Cup as it leaves group play enters the knockout stage.
After an exhausting two weeks of watching at least 46 games, I am finally ready for the knockout stages of the World Cup.
Goals, Goals, Goals...
You cannot deny that the 2014 World Cup has been the most productive Cup in terms of goal production, shattering every World Cup record in the modern era.
Even for the casual fan, whose expectation is typically that the game is boring, has embraced the names of players such Messi, Neymar, Van Persie, Robben, Dempsey, and Mueller.
Champions Out, CONCACAF In
The biggest story globally in terms of this World Cup has to be the ending of the "Spanish Reign." The defending World Cup Champions unceremoniously exited the tournament after two games, making it the first time that a defending World Cup Champion did not qualify for the second round of the tournament. England, Portugal, and Italy also suffered early exits in this tournament validating how difficult it is for a European team to win in a World Cup held in South America (1930, 1950, 1962, 1978). Will 2014 continue that trend?
CONCACAF has been extremely well represented in this World Cup with three of the four teams moving on into the knockout stages, with the U.S., Mexico, and Costa Rica advancing.
No story is bigger, than the U.S. advancing out of the so-called "Group of Death."
Personally I felt that the group that should have been called that was Group D with England, Italy, Uruguay, and Costa Rica (three former champions), but who am I to disagree with experts?
All across this country, we have seen millions of people gathering in front of TV's, computers, phones, plazas, bars, parks, city centers, and malls to cheer for the U.S., in record numbers, signaling that the "evolution" of the sport in this country has taken a hold of our national conscience. With Major League Soccer having surpassed the NBA and NHL in average home attendance, and the U.S. vs. Portugal viewership surpassing the NBA, NHL Finals along with the World Series with 24.5 million viewers, it is safe to say that soccer is relevant in this country. In the immortal words of Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams "If you build it, they will come," the same goes for soccer "if you broadcast it, they will watch."
Brazil: A Beautiful Country, And The Beautiful Game
Finally, this World Cup is a special one for me. Having been raised in Brazil from the age of 2-13, Brazil has always held a special place in my heart as I was a citizen of that adopted country up until 1994. So much has been discussed about whether Brazil would be ready for the World Cup with stadium delays, lack of proper infrastructure, and all the protest witnessed during the 2013 Confederations Cup. But in the end, Brazilians enjoy a good party and watching their beloved team. So as long as Brazil keeps winning, nobody will complain.
Until the Quarterfinals...