By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
So that he has helped his team to win the World Cup and won the Golden Boot (as the competition's top scorer, with eight goals) for himself is immensely cheering. If Germany had won on Sunday, and if Ronaldo himself had played badly, the game might have scarred him for life. Rightly or wrongly, he would have gone down as one of the most talented chokers in sports history. That he escaped such a hideous fate is something to be grateful for. Certainly hewas. "Although both are very hard to go without, I don't think sex could ever be as rewarding as winning the World Cup," he was reported as saying after the match, sounding suspiciously like a Nick Hornby fan. "It's not that sex isn't great -- it's just that it's a lot more regular than the World Cup, which is only every four years." Since his wife is a rather good soccer player herself, perhaps she'll understand.
Having won the World Cup five times now (twice more than Germany and Italy, who come in second with three victories), the Brazilians are indisputably the most successful footballers in the world. But as this tournament demonstrated, things are becoming increasingly competitive further down the totem pole. America, South Korea, Senegal and Turkey have all memorably put themselves in contention. China is just beginning to stir. Nigeria and Cameroon will be back. And the Italians, Argentineans, Spanish and French will be hungry for redemption at the next World Cup. As for the Dutch, who inexplicably failed to qualify this time, they will be eager to prove once more that they are as good as anyone in the world. And there's nowhere they'd rather do it than in the stadia of their old enemy, the Germans, who will be the hosts in 2006.
Since that's four long years away, perhaps this is the time to point out that Americans who have just become interested in the game don't have to wait until the next World Cup to watch more of it. Locally, there's Major League Soccer, of course, but more importantly there's the wealth of European soccer to be seen year-round on any television set equipped with cable. Most of the world's best players belong to clubs in England, Italy, Spain and Germany. If you get the local Spanish stations or Fox Sports World, you can watch them play all season long. The English Premier League, in particular, is home to some of the most exciting football I've ever seen, not to mention the U.S.'s Brad Friedel, Claudio Reyna, Joe Max-Moore, Kasey Keller, Greg Berhalter and others. And the beauty of it is that -- as usual with soccer -- there are no commercials. You can enjoy an entire season of soccer from several different countries without having to sit through a single beer ad. As the Spanish commentators like to say, increíble.
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