Goals a Plenty and Maybe Two Pairs of Golden Boots

11 07 2010

(Toronto FC 1-0 Colorado)

Germany 3-2 Uruguay

The final weekend of the World Cup and for me it started out at the most fitting of venues. I hadn’t been to either of the Toronto FC games during the tournament, but I had my ticket for the game against Colorado under the sun.

BMO Field had its usual full house, but for most this game was part of a bigger picture. Whether it was people getting into the stadium, people walking along the concourse or those in line for food and drinks, thoughts were on where to watch the third place match following the game and which team was going to win the big match on Sunday.

The jersey of choice amongst the crowd was naturally the TFC red, but as it World Cup time a few people came out in their national colours. There was the usual smattering of England jerseys and the woman in the Swiss jersey can look back on her side’s win over Spain. The guy in the Austrian jersey must have been dreaming, but at least you can say it’s red so it fit in around here. The pair in the Xavi and Iniesta Barcelona jerseys showed their loyalty for the final, but without doubt the second most popular team at BMO after the home side were the Dutch as best exemplified by the block of fans in the north grandstand all in the now familiar oranje with van Persie, van Bronkhorst and even an Edgar Davids retro jersey amongst the dozens and dozens that clearly stood out when viewed from the other stands.

My last three appearances to BMO all ended up scoreless draws so when Fuad Ibrahim muscled a shot into the Colorado net in the 61st minute it was an even better sight than usual. The TFC win put me, and thousands of others, in the right frame of mind as we all made our way out quickly to any available TV screen to watch the third place match.

What can you say about the third place match? Two sides that only a few days ago still thought they had a shot at winning the whole thing have to stick around and play each other just for the right to say they finished third. One positive is that unlike the second place team, one team here gets to win their last game of the tournament.

Another plus is that with no pressure on either side and only pride at stake this game has proven to be an entertaining match with its share of goals as this year’s edition proved. It also provided some interest amongst the football fans in these parts as Winnipegger Hector Vergara was manning the sidelines making his fourteenth officiating appearance at the World Cup. We can’t produce a team capable of playing but we have developed one of the best amongst the match officials.

Germany opened the scoring in the 19th minute when Bastian Schweinsteiger fired on net from well outside the area. Fernando Muslera gave up a big juicy rebound to Thomas Mueller to fire home for his fifth, and probably easiest, goal that brought him level with Spain’s David Villa and Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands for the tournament’s leading scorer.

With so little actually at stake in this game Uruguay wasn’t going to defend and play cautiously. In the 28th minute Edinson Cavani struck beautifully from inside the area sliding away as he watched his shot go in against far post to level the score at one.

While the sun gave everyone at BMO a bit if a tan, the rain fell heavily down in Port Elizabeth as the first half came to a close. With the sky opening up so too did the goals. Six minutes after the re-start Diego Forlan continued his outstanding World Cup with a beautiful volley from the top of the box that put Uruguay up 2-1. Like Mueller in the first half, Forlan now had five goals and had really given his campaign for the Golden Boot and Golden Ball a real shot in the arm.

Five minutes later Germany again drew level. Marcell Jansen found himself the only German player in the crease challenging Muslera for the ball. Jansen’s head won the battle and surprised everyone, including himself, by scoring the goal.

With eight minutes to go Germany went back on top. Mesut Oezil delivered a corner into the box that confused the Uruguayan defense. In the ensuing scramble Sami Khedira headed it home for the 3-2 German lead.

In stoppage time the stage was set and the script seemingly written. Uruguay was awarded a free kick dually taken by Forlan. The chance to equalize with the last play of the ninety minutes. The sixth goal that would have given him the outright scoring lead. How did it play out? Forlan came about as close as you can to this fairytale finish, but nailed the crossbar. Alas, it wasn’t to be and the Germans hung on to win it 3-2.

Two weeks ago the world was singing the praises of the South American sides, now with Spain and the Netherlands in the final and Germany winning the third place match it is Europe that swept the podium showing how quickly fortunes can change at a tournament such as this.