The United States failed to make the cut this week, and along with England, Chile, Slovakia, Japan, Portugal, Korea and Mexico, have been sent home to live their lives out of the world soccer spotlight.
Some MLS teams will see players return to their fold, and our domestic league will gear-up for the rest of our 2010 season. Other players will return to their teams, most of which are in their off-season, and prepare for some exhibition matches, or continue with their national teams prepare for friendly matches, before the rest of the world's winter leagues start training in August.
The remaining World Cup teams will meet in the Quarterfinals beginning on Friday:
Holland and Brazil will meet in what many were hoping could have been the final. Both of these teams are undefeated in this World Cup competition and have strong rosters that include some of the best players in the world. Brazil may have a deeper roster, but Holland is a formidable opponent that should not be dismissed in the darkness of Brazil's massive shadow. I predict Brazil will go through.
Uruguay and Ghana meet in a match of the unlikelies. It is unlikely that either of these teams will win the big prize; but it would be foolish to dismiss either of them since they have made it this far. Ghana is a strong, fast team that may be lacking a team spirit that I'd expect from a champion. Uruguay is a formidable team filled with talent and imbued with a team-spirit that can carry a team further than you'd expect. I go with Uruguay.
Argentina and Germany meet Saturday morning and this match-up offers the greatest contrast of playing styles. Germany plays in a very technical, almost boring manner and execute with a precision that is almost imperceptible. Argentina, on the other hand, plays emotional, stylish football and are led by a sociopath whose reputation precedes him. My prediction is Argentina wins.
Paraguay and Spain meet in the fourth match. Paraguay makes its first appearance and comes to the field with an intensity and can-do attitude that might surprise Spain. Spain is arguably the best, most talented team in the world, and should go through this round. But, last year, they were expected to go through to the final of the Confederations Cup, also played in South Africa, and they lost to a determined USA. So, do not discount Paraguay. In the end, though, I predict that Spain will go through.
Who are your picks?