What Hurts the Most
The only regret that will stay with me after The One Month is that I started doubting this team. My swagger frayed and I leaned on horrible thoughts like, "we had a good run" and "nobody expected us to be here" to console me even before the game begun. Over the weekend I worried to my father that Forlan can't do it all himself. I said that we'd miss Fucile. Not only did he not share my sentiment but he didn't understand what I meant. It took me until ten minutes into the first half to start believing we could win and if there is one thing I could get back it'd be those ten minutes.
The haters out there who walk around slightly depressed and flinch whenever they first breathe fresh air looked at Uruguay in the semi-finals and feigned outrage. They started by predicting Uruguay wouldn't advance out of the group, then they said Uruguay wouldn't win the group. These are the people that stuttered when Diego Forlan banged home the equalizer yesterday and looked confused when Uruguay bossed fifteen-minute chunks of the game. They are also likely the people I screamed at unknowingly when Jim put me on speaker-phone to some self-proclaimed dutch fans after Doug Fresh added more supplements to his patent on Truth Serum.
Uruguay played really well. They did the whole tournament and they certainly paid homage to Nate Silver's pre-WC ranking of 9th as opposed to Fifa's 22nd. It was the largest discrepancy between Fifa ranking and SPI's ranking of any team I might add. But that's the point. Hardly anybody thought we belonged - those people are stupid.
Dutch Delight... More Like Dutch Disgrace
A Dutch housewife decides to clean up the house a bit while watching the game. While vacuuming she accidentally backs into the TV and Arjen Robben falls down.
They are the best team that has never won it. It can stay that way. I can't believe I'm going to castigate simulation but Robben has forced my hand. From my informal statistics, not only did Uruguay never intentionally foul him (even Perez's harsh yellow was a 50/50 ball), but the dives to fouls was approaching 10 to 1 in the second half. I counted three consecutive flops, none of them called (thankfully). It was embarrassing. When I'm at boring dinner parties and people air their grievances about soccer, one of the (tired) complaints is that the players writhe around in pain too much and every time they are touched they freak out. I will still defend the sport heartily, but if someone brings up Arjen Robben I'm pretty screwed. I have a much easier time defending Cristiano now.
Van Bommel is a donkey. It's amazing he doesn't play in England where he can run around kicking achilles, grazing on pasture, and cleating shins. He is a disgrace and Mark Van Bommel is the reason I want the Netherlands to lose on Sunday.
What We Learned About Uruguay
In no particular order:
- The recent heat wave along the east coast is actually a result of Diego Forlan having mistakenly made a phone call to a wrong number in Baltimore. But more seriously the man has written his name in Uruguayan soccer history with permanent marker. I've had my doubts during qualifying, but there can be no more doubts. He is the soul of this team and he has certainly written the future as Nike might say.
- Doug Fresh and Luis Suarez (and Honda) proved that the Jabulani ball is not an issue for forwards.
- I actually do look like Fucile. I've now gotten it 4 times on completely isolated occasions.
- If you need a defensive midfielder who shut down Wesley Sneijder (sorry, a fluke deflection screened by an offsides player doesn't count), Kevin Prince Boateng, Park Ji-Sung, and Youann Gourcuff who costs hmmm, five dollars maybe, talk to Egidio Arevalo. He was the pitbull-looking-fellow who roamed the midfield.
- If you need a striker who plays in Italy with a (laughable) 25 million-euro opt-out fee who unfortunately just ended any hype surrounding him for years, talk to Edinson Cavani.
- Feed Luis Suarez beef cooked medium rare and the man will do wonders with his feet. Do you hear that Tottenham/Citeh/Chelsea?
- This hurts to write but Shakira's Waka Waka, after losing, lost a little luster for me.
- Oscar Washington Tabarez is a phenomenal manager with a future in politics. His goal-celebrations make me smile every time. I might miss Tabarez the most. Until 2014.
JS: I just wanted to add a few things that were too long for a comment and too related to what you've just written to warrant their own post.
First things first: Amen to just about everything. Forlan is fresh to death. If Uruguay wins the third place game on the back of another good performance by him, he's easily the Player of the Tournament for me. And though it hasn't happened since 1990, a player from a team other than the finalists ought to be seriously considered by FIFA for the Golden Ball, and he is that player. (A certain Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Villa, or Mesut Ozil may yet have something to say about that, of course.) Either way, he's a shoo-in for the Tournament Starting XI. And if I had my way, he would be joined there by Lugano, who got better and better throughout the tournament until his unfortunate injury, and your doppelganger, Senor Fucile. I bet if you put on a Uruguay shirt and walked through Montevideo, people would ask for your autograph - you should consider investing in his jersey. But I digress, so back to the point; other than Lahm (or maybe, MAYBE Capdevila), I can't really think of a better fullback this tournament than Jorge Arhancet, excuse me, Fucile. Cointreau and Salcido were pretty good, but didn't get far enough.
As to your ten minute lapse, I honestly thought they'd make the finals from the start. And that's why I put you on speakerphone - the bandwagon Dutch "fans" around me who were talking about awful, nasty, cheating naughty-man Luis Suarez ("Or is it Gonzalez? Whatever.") and how the match had "four-nothing Holland written all over it" needed to hear the voice of someone who actually cared about the outcome. Because they didn't listen when I said Uruguay would make a game of it. They needed a Doug E. Fresh reality check. They needed to learn, the way I learned from my father. The way he learned from his father. If Diego Forlan were my father, that is.
So the dream is over, but what a run it was. At least the nation will always have this:
And I know this got put in a comment earlier (and those who are fans of Forlan's excellent twitter account will have already seen it), but just look at this team. Uruguay should be proud: