2010 World Cup: Cape Town, South Africa

by Dakota Sagnelli

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Every four years since 1930, each nation around the world comes together to compete on soccer’s greatest stage for a chance at capturing the long sought-after World Cup.

The World Cup Tournament began as the brainchild of Rimet, the President of the World Football Federation during the 1920’s and 1930’s. President Rimet hoped that soccer would inspire peace and harmony across the globe, leaving war and hatred behind. Even now, President Rimet’s dream comes true, and this year, thirty-two teams assemble for arguably the world’s favorite sport.

No matter the year or location of the World Cup, six teams frequently reemerge as unstoppable powerhouses: Brazil, Italy, England, Argentina, Germany, and France. In the very first World Cup, Uruguay sailed past the competition, and was eventually crowned champions of the world. However, quickly afterward, Brazil and Italy captured the title almost every year they had the chance, passing the Cup back and forth between them and seeming to mocking the competition. Until 2006, the last Cup tournament, Brazil had won six times, with the Italians following close behind with five overall championships.

In South Africa this year, the Cup is truly open for anyone to take since no single team is significantly ahead of the pack, leaving everyone clawing at a unique opportunity that may never present itself again.

This year, upsets are expected across the board, with “nobody’s” and “favorites” dropping like flies. No expert or analyst can predict the outcome of the tournament with any true certainty, leaving potential for a pure underdog can come up from nowhere and sneak away with the Cup.

US Goalkeeper Tim Howard

The most unexpected team with the greatest chance of winning it all is the “Stars and Stripes,” the United States. With veteran goalie Tim Howard protecting their net and superstar forward Landon Donovan up front, the U.S. has the highest probability of winning.

The country’s best performance is dated back to their first World cup appearance at the 1930 tournament. The U.S. managed to capture the bronze medal, while Uruguay acquired the title. Although 1930 was the team’s best showing, it got booted in the first round four years later at the 1934 tournament. The country’s performance went downhill and the U.S. failed to qualify for ten consecutive World Cups in a row, an embarrassingly long forty-year span.

In recent years, the United States have regained momentum, reaching the 16th round in 1994 and the quarterfinals in 2002. This year, the U.S. team appears to have an easy schedule, almost pre-paving a golden path to the second round. Their only major roadblock comes in their first World Cup game against the always-dominant English team. Although England is heavily favored in the game, any U.S. soccer fan can cite the 1950 World Cup game against England where the United States pulled out a victory against their opponents, shocking both nations. If history repeats itself and the “Stars and Stripes” manage to beat England once again, they simply have to beat the mediocre Slovenian and Algerian teams in the proceeding games. If everything strings together and the U.S. wins Group C, the next round will be much more difficult, since both Brazil and Italy will be awaiting their arrival.

When the United States faces either Brazil or Italy, their 2010 World Cup run will most likely come to an end, but they will have had one of their greatest World Cups in history. If nothing else, the U.S. will gain experience and confidence that will enable them to have an even greater chance at winning the 2014 World Cup.

2010 World Cup Bracket

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*Images from: http://www.realbollywood.com/news/up_images/11116769.png,

http://i.usatoday.net/sports/_photos/2008/06/08/ussoccerx.jpg, and http://espn.go.com/blog/sportscenter/post/_/id/7411/2010-fifa-world-cup-brackets

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